New Photography Website

Helo!!

I miss all of you who have kindly followed my photography blog, and I would love it if you would navigate over to my new, professional photography webite http://www.cathywagner.co.za and follow me there.

I will be posting all new blog and portfolio updates there, because, yes, I have quit my Financial Management position and taken the leap into full-time, professional photography!

I would greatly appreciate hearimg from you again, as I always enjoyed your comments and compliments on this blog (who wouldn’t?) and I can use all the encouragement I can get right now 🙂

Yours creatively
Cathy Wagner
Cathy Wagner Photography

Photography: Monte Casino and The Pivot at Night

I am starting to LOVE night-time photography!

I was always under the impression it was “too difficult” and I would have to use a flash (which I hate) – but I tried it when I was in Dubai, and now I am thoroughly HOOKED!

Last night, I took my dear Hubby to a slap-up dinner at Monte Casino, in Fourways Johannesburg, in exchange for his body-guard duties and patience while I indulged myself in some outdoor shots of the beautiful Casino and Hotel complex (which Glenn was partially responsible for building about 10 years ago.) Glenn is a Landscape Architect and a Director of Landmark Studios. He was involved with the fountains, gardens and lighting of the Casino. I am very proud of him – the place is stunning 🙂

The entrance to Monte casino:

Canon EOS 60D, f/5.6, 1.3 seconds, ISO 125, Canon 20mm Prime lens

Once inside, you are instantly “in Tuscany.” The complex is inside a huge warehouse structure, with buildings that imitate Florentine architecture to the “T” – right down to washing strung across balconies (even bloomers, bras and a g-string!), pigeons nesting on ledges, dozens of Italian restaurants, and a “sky” full of stars. The detail is truly impressive!….

My favourite part of Monte Casino is the outdoor (for real) Piazza, with its fountains:

Canon EOS 60D, f/5.6, 1 second, ISO 125, Canon 20mm Prime lens

Canon EOS 60D, f/5.6, 2 seconds, ISO 125, Canon 20mm Prime lens

On the hour, every half-hour, visitors are treated to the beautiful musical fountain, accompanied by Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, or some other dramatic piece of music:

Canon EOS 60D, f/2.8, 2.5seconds, ISO 125, Canon 20mm Prime lens

We wandered back across the road to the Pivot hotel and office complex, which was another one of Glenn and Landmark Studios’ beautiful projects.

Canon EOS 60D, f/5.6, 0.8 second, ISO 125, Canon 20mm Prime lens

In case you’re curious about that tall glass and steel structure, here’s a close-up:

Canon EOS 60D, f/5.6, 2 seconds, ISO 125, Canon 20mm Prime lens

And, in an alcove, this statue entitled “Autumn”:

Canon EOS 60D, f/5.6, 2 seconds, ISO 125, Canon 20mm Prime lens

Getting good night-time shots is really pretty simple. Here are a few tips:

  • Use a good, sturdy tripod. Hand-held will not work at exposures shorter than about 1/40th of a second, and even then only if you have EXTREMELY steady hands
  • Exposure times should be between one and 10 seconds, if there is enough ambient light in the scene.
  • If it’s really dark, use your “Bulb” setting and a remote release so you don’t bump the camera during the exposure
  • Use a LOW ISO. to avoid graininess. You want the blacks to be black – not full of little coloured spots! Start at about ISO 100 and gradually increase it if necessary.
  • I tried to include some watery reflections in every shot to add movement and colour.

I hope you give night-time photography a go, if you have never tried it before. It’s very rewarding 🙂

Photography: Florence, Italy

In 2010, Glenn and I took our first overseas holiday together. I had dreamed all my life of visiting Italy, and especially Florence. I even tried to learn a little Italian, which came in handy when we were trying to find our way around airports and train stations.

We spent 4 days in Rome (see my previous blog) and then caught the bullet train to Florence. That was quite an exciting experience – the train travels in excess of 300km/hour and a LOT of the trip is underground.

We had booked a room at the L’Orologio Hotel, within walking distance of the train station. The hotel was wonderful – I can truly recommend it, if you’re not scared to spend a bit more for a luxurious double-storey suite, a marble bathroom, a beautiful pub, and a sumptuous breakfast every morning. As an added bonus, the place SMELLS so nice – cinnamon, cloves and a touch of tobacco…

The most prominent building in Florence is the Duomo, which is part of the most elaborately coloured and carved cathedral I have ever seen.It was built by Brunelleschi and completed in 1436, 140 years after work on it had begun.

Fuji FinePix S9500, f/4, 1/340 second, ISO 100

For a few Euro you can induce your own heart attack by climbing up to the top of the Duomo – a tortuous climb that gets steeper and narrower and seems to go on for hours. When you finally get to the lookout platform, it’s really all worth it (once the black spots in front of your eyes disappear and your heart rate returns to normal!) Do you see the people in the picture above? This is their view, looking straight down!

Fuji FinePix S9500, f/6.4, 1/600 second, ISO 200

Florence is full of beautiful buildings and incredible art, but my favourite place was on the Piazzale Michaelangelo, a hillside outside of Florence, across the River Arno, where visitors and locals congregate to chat, drink wine and watch the sun go down. Here is the view in the middle of the afternoon (at 7pm!)

Fuji FinePix S9500, f/8, 1/420 second, ISO 200

The sun stayed high in the sky and it seemed it would never set…. it finally started getting dark around 9 pm, and we were treated to this beautiful sight:

Fuji FinePix S9500, f/5.6, 1/2 second, ISO 200

We sat for hours on the steps, watching the city and the people, drinking Chianti out of plastic cups, and when it was dark we found a nearby restaurant and had pasta to soak up the alcohol before the walk back to the hotel. It was a great evening!

There are 10 bridges in Florence.  The oldest is the Ponte Vecchio. It is built on the site of at least three preceding bridges, dating from as early as the Roman Empire. It doesn’t look too impressive from a distance, until you walk across it and find that it is lined on both sides by jewellery shops absolutely STUFFED with gold, platinum, diamonds… Completely unexpected!

Fuji FinePix S9500, f/3.1, 1/58 second, ISO 200

We walked for at least eight hours a day in Florence. There was so much to see, even though it is quite a small city. I caught this beautiful sunset, walking near the river one evening:

Fuji FinePix S9500, f/4.9, 1/320 second, ISO 200

We hung around on one of the bridges for a long time, waiting for the sun to go down, and the lights to come up, and I got this shot, looking back at the Ponte Vecchio:

Fuji FinePix S9500, f/2.9, 1/4 second, ISO 400

Florence was everything I hoped it would be, not least because Glenn proposed while we were there. I bought my wedding ring on the Ponte Vecchio, my wedding dress in one of the boutiques in town, and we were married four days later on a hillside overlooking the city, at sunset …

We are planning to go back to Florence for our third wedding anniversary next May – I can’t wait!

My new Photography Blog

I have decided to split my photography blog posts from my other posts, because I’m sure many photography enthusiasts who visit my site would not necessarily want to wade through my rantings about psychics, auras and the like!

The focus here will be on the incredible fun I’m having, learning how to really understand my camera and lenses, and how to use Photoshop Elements and Lightroom 4 (I’m still contemplating shelling out for the latest Photoshop software – it’s not cheap, and I can still get good results with Elements and Lightroom.)

My dear Hubby and I like to travel, and we hope to visit Canada later in the year, and go back to Italy for our wedding anniversary next year. I see those trips as pure Photo Safaris!

Dubai in May was completely awesome, and Italy in 2010 was the trip of a lifetime – not least because we got married on a hillside outside Florence!

Image

I know….what a setting! The professional Wedding Photographer who took this shot, and a hundred others, made this day even more special – he expertly captured the candid moments, he knew how to pose us, his compositions were excellent, his colours and exposure were spot on…. I hope I can learn to capture the important moments in the lives of myself and my family with as much expertise. That is my goal!

I hope to share the best of my creative talents here, as well as hints and tips I pick up along the way 🙂