Review: Sony A6000 & Switching From a Canon DSLR to a Sony Mirrorless

At the end of 2014, after shooting for a decade with Canon, I completely switched to a Sony Mirrorless.

Just before the Christmas holiday, I sold all of my Canon equipment and ordered the Sony A6000, Sony 10-18mm f/4, and Zeiss 16-70mm f/4 in one shot. I paid $2000 in total. Sony lenses are always pricy but I found that the price of the complete kit was very reasonable.

The switch surprised some of the readers on my blog, my followers and even a few of my fellow photographers.

To address these issues and explain the reasons for the switch, I wrote the blog post titled, Top Reason Why I Switched from Canon to Sony which became one the most popular articles on my site. It looks as if the topic of switching from DSL to Mirrorless is on the minds of many photographers.

I also promised to put together a full review of my new Sony gear. After six months of using my new equipment and, after taking about 10,000 photos, I am ready to give you comprehensive feedback on my experience in switching to Sony. [Read more…]

Niagara Falls Sunrise Explosion (Canada)

The Niagara Falls can be extremely crowded in the summertime. Sometimes it is difficult to find the spot to take a picture without strangers walking into the frame. It is especially bad around sunset hours.

The only time when you absolutely can have a place for yourself with the total freedom to set up a tripod anywhere you want is when all tourists are sleeping; the sunrise hours.

I took the featured photo at 5am and at that time I had only 2 other photographers around taking pictures and enjoying the freedom.

Canada. Ontario. Niagara Falls.
Loc: 43.09094, -79.06899

Shooting & Processing

I took 3 bracketed shots on a tripod (-1, 0, +1). Even though I was shooting directly into the sun, the light was not too extreme because the sun was partly shielded by the clouds and the water dust.

I used the combination of Lightroom Preset Based editing and Luminosity Blending techniques.

First I applied Lightroom preset Warm Day from my new collection called Cross Processed to all 3 bracketd photos and later used luminosity masks blending in Photoshop (for more details check my Review: “The Art of Digital Blending”).

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Camera: Canon 60D
Lens:  Sigma 10-20mm
Focal Length: 10mm
ISO: 100
Aperture: F8
Bracketing: 3 shots (-1, 0, +1 )
Tripod: FEISOL Tournament CT-3442  – Check my FEISOL Tournament CT-3442 Review.
Ballhead: FEISOL CB-40D

Processing:

Lightroom: import, tagging, preset based processing (Warm Day preset from Cross Processed Collection)
Photoshop: I opened 3 bracketed photos directly in Photoshop and placed each image on a separate layer. Then, I used luminosity masking techniques to blend everything together.

Photoshop Plugins: 

Archiving: I saved photo as JPEG (quality: 100%) at full resolution and with the help of Lightroom plugin, I synchronized it with my portfolio on SmugMug (read my review The Way I Use SmugMug in My Photography Business) for safekeeping, sharing, image hosting and online sales.

Church Across Saint Lawrence River (Montreal)

I’ve already featured the similar view in my earlier tutorial How to Use Telephoto Lens Creatively.

On the day I took this photo I was testing the brand new Canon 70-200 mm telephoto lens. This photos is another demonstration on how the focal length changes the perspective in our photographs. Because I was shooting with the long focal length of 109mm on cropped sensor (equivalent of 170mm on full frame) the 1.5 km wide Saint Lawrence river looks like a narrow stream.

Canada. Montreal. Lachine. Parc René-Lévesque
Loc: 45.428014, -73.676910

Shooting & Processing

I took 3 bracketed shots on a tripod (-1, 0, +1). To edit the final photo, I only used one exposure. The HDR technique was not necessary because the light was not very dynamic. I used Lightroom Preset Based Workflow where I applied various Lightroom presets to the image and selected the best looking version. I Preset used: End of Summer from Landscape Collection. [Read more…]

Vermilion Cliffs Beautiful Colors (Arizona)

I took this photo on day 4 of my trip to American Southwest. I spent the entire day driving around the enormous area of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

The Vermilion Cliffs is the one of the five giant natural steps of the Grand Staircase. And it is probably my favorite one. I’ve already featured it on my blog (Vermilion Cliffs National Monument) after my last year trip to the Southwest.

When you drive along US Route 89A, for 50-60km you see the Vermilion Cliffs in such a close proximity that you almost can touch them.

Arizona. Vermilion Cliffs
Loc: 21.272665, -157.6987727

Shooting & Processing

This is the pure road trip photograph. As I drove on Route 89A and I saw the amazing colors in front of me, I just stop the car, took a couple of shots and in 5 minutes I was on my way to Horseshoe Bend. I did not see any mindful composition, but all I wanted to capture is the unreal colors and textures of the desert and the cliffs. [Read more…]

Sunrise at Hanauma Bay Rim Trail (Hawaii)

I took this photo while visiting Hawaii for the first time. The highlight of the trip was early morning hike along the Hanauma Bay Rim Trail on O’ahu Island.

It was a beautiful and warm morning but when I reached the top of the crater the wind became extremely strong and gusty. I had to hold my tripod with the both hands to minimize the camera shakes and to prevent it from flying away.

Hawaii. O’ahu. Hanauma Bay Rim Trail
Loc: 21.272665, -157.6987727

Shooting

The light of the scene was very dynamic with the bright sun and the dark shadows. I knew from the beginning that in order for me to pull this shot I had to shoot for HDR. I took 3 bracketed shots with 2EV intervals  (-2, 0, +2) plus I used exposure compensation -1EV so the actual exposure values of the shots were -3, -1, +1.

Processing

I keep experimenting with my editing workflow trying to streamline it and make it more efficient. [Read more…]

East Coast of O’ahu from Makapu’u Lookout (Hawaii)

I took this photo while in Hawaii at the end of the January. That was the day when the rain started at least 20 times. Sometimes it was just for a couple of minutes and a few drops of the water but when I reached the Makapu’u area of the O’ahu, it was practically a storm with the heavy wind and pouring water.

I spent at least 40min in the car at Makapu’u Lookout parking waiting for the rain to stop. It was totally worth it.

Hawaii. O’ahu. Makapu’u Lookout
Loc: 21.309611, -157.657027

 Shooting & Processing

Because of the spots of the really bright spots and some areas of the dark clouds I decided to shoot for HDR, taking 3 bracketed shots (-1, 0, +1) on a tripod.

[Read more…]

Beautiful Sunset At Lake Powell (Arizona)

When I visited Lake Powell the first time I did not know that it was a man-made reservoir on the Colorado River. I was under the impression that it was natural phenomena.

The first time I laid eyes on the lake I knew it would be one of my favorite photography destinations. It combines everything I love in landscapes; the water, the canyons and the desert. I was glad they decided to build it so we can enjoy completely mesmerizing and unusual scenery.

Arizona. Lake Powell
Loc: 36.878861, -111.513808

Shooting & Processing

It was easy photo to take and to edit. I was driving along the Lake Sore Drive and when I saw this amazing view I just stopped and took few shots from the side of the road. The think clouds defused the sunset light making it soft and photo friendly.

I used Lightroom Preset Based Editing where I applied Harsh Shadows present from my Landscapes Collection (you can always download free lightroom presets here) to the image and finished it up in Photoshop. [Read more…]

Day 4 – U.S. Route 89 Loop

This is a series of blog posts where I recap my latest photography trip to American Southwest.

Southern Utah – Northern Arizona Loop

Day 4 of the trip was a driving day. There was no hiking or climbing involved.

Originally, I discovered Hwy 89 Loop by accident because of my poor planning while visiting Southwest for the first time. I was on my way from Grand Canyon to Kanab with the plan to visit Lake Powell but due to the landslide the Hwy 89 was closed and I was forced to take Hwy 89A instead. Since then, the Hwy 89A became one of my favorite driving destinations.

This year I decided to complete 300km loop counterclockwise, taking 89A first and on the way back to use 89.

My plan was to visit and photograph the following destinations: Vermilion Cliffs, Marble Canyon, Lees Ferry, Echo Cliffs, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, Grand Staircase. It is amazing that all that could be accomplished in only one day.

Horseshoe Bend

I was very excited about visiting Horseshoe Bend for the first time. I’ve seen hundreds of photos of the bend but not too many of them really impressed me. They all looked very similar without any compositional variety. I was hoping to come up with something different.

When I reached the bend I understood the reason for the lack of the variety in photos and challenges facing every photographer.

First of all, the bend is enormous and it is hard to grasp the scope of the place looking at photos. Even with the widest lens (10mm) it is impossible to fit all elements into one composition. And if you want to step back to use wider perspective, the edge of the cliff abstracts the river below.

I also discovered that there are only a few spots from where you can capture the entire bend.

On top of everything, after I managed to take a couple of shots, the rain started to poor and I had to wait at least 40min before I could resume shooting.

This is when I realized that my photos would not be too different from the rest.

Arizona. Horseshoe Bend
Loc: 36.878861, -111.513808

To give you the better idea about the scale of the bend, I included 100% crop of the area of the Colorado river from the right side of my photo where you can see the paddler. [Read more…]

Lighthouse in the Field (Prince Edward Island)

This is one my favorite early photographs. I took it almost 10 years ago on Prince Edward Island in Atlantic Canada. I was driving along the North Shore of the island towards the Darnley Point approaching the ocean and this is when I saw the lighthouse in the field. The ocean was not visible at that point, still hidden behind the hill and the lone lighthouse in the field looked very surreal.

The ocean was not visible at that point, still hidden behind the hill and the lone lighthouse in the field looked very surreal.

Canada. Prince Edward Island. North Shore
Loc: 46.559486, -63.656975

Shooting

It was late morning and the light was not too favorable. I had to shoot almost against the sun and I could see that the sky was too bright with not too many details.  I took 3 bracketed shots (-1, 0, +1) hand-held.

Processing

Even though I took 3 bracketed shots and I managed to properly expose the middle bracket the right side of the sky had no details.

As the last resort,  I decided to replace the sky. I used the photograph I took half hour earlier on the same day and used it as the source for the sky area.

First I applied Point Lobos preset from my Landscapes Collection to both images and then I fine-tuned them individually using ToolKit adjustments (check my tutorial here).

Next, I loaded both images as layers in new Photoshop document. I used transparency masks and the Gradient Tool to blend them together.

Finally, I used the Stamp Tool to clean up the image and to remove the electric poles and the wires.

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Camera: Canon 60D
Lens: Sigma 17-70mm
Focal Length: 17mm
ISO: 100
Aperture: F8
Shutter speed: 1/200
Tripod: hand-held

Processing: Lightroom & Photoshop Based Workflow

Lightroom: import, tagging, preset based processing (Point Lobos preset from Landscape Collection).
Photoshop: I blended 2 images together using transparency masks, contrast, color correction. I used the Stamp Tool to remove the poles and the wires.

Photoshop Plugins: 

Archiving: I saved photo as JPEG (quality: 100%) at full resolution and with the help of Lightroom plugin, I synchronized it with my portfolio on SmugMug (read my review The Way I Use SmugMug in My Photography Business) for safekeeping, sharing, image hosting and online sales.

Lightroom HDR – Shooting for HDR with Compact Camera

That was the day when we had amazing cloud formations over Island of Montreal. My original plan was to wait until evening and try to capture sunset colors over Sait Lawrence river.

But when I saw these shapes and colors in the local park around noon, I knew I had to stop and take a few shots. All I had with me is my favorite compact camera – Pansonic Lumix Lx7.

My goal was to come up with the composition that emphasizes an amazing color contrast between white clouds, deep blue sky and green grass, and at the same time to make the shapes of the clouds the main attraction.

Canada. Montreal. Lachine
Loc: 45.429813, -73.690427

Shooting

Lumix LX7 allows to shoot maximum of 3 bracketed exposures, but it was more than enough because the clouds acted as the huge natural light diffuser, making light much softer than you would expect on sunny day in early afternoon.

I shot 3 bracketed shots (-1, 0, +1) hand-held.

Processing

For the processing, I used Lightroom HDR based workflow. I outlined this technique in my latest tutorial “Lightroom HDR – Natural Looking HDR In Lightroom”

After I produced HDR image I used a Lightroom preset based workflow, using Point Lobos present from my Landscapes Collection (you can always download free lightroom presets here).

The main challenge while editing the featured photo was excessive digital noise produced by small Lumix LX7 sensor and I had to apply very aggressive settings in Topa DeNoise to reduce it.

 

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Camera: Lumix LX-7
Focal Length: 4.7 (24)mm
ISO: 100
Aperture: F5.6
Tripod: hand-held [Read more…]