Writing with Light

Archive for September, 2011

The Words of the Prophets Are Written on the Subway Walls…..

And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls”  Simon & Garfunkel

So I’m standing on a subway platform waiting for the train to take me to the Colusseum. The train on the other side of the tracks comes in but I’m talking to my husband not paying attention until it starts to pull out and then I look across and see this very cool subway train with graffiti all over it. What happens next…the train pulls out of the station…missed opportunity. After I stop kicking myself I think…well maybe I’ll see another one like it on our way back.

Guess what……I was ready this time!

You can click on the image to see a larger version.

About these ads


Project 52 – Entry #18

I’m taking you back today to the Jewish Ghetto in Rome. This little bar/restaurant was just a perfect scene from, the weathered building, the cobblestone sidewalk, the chalkboard menu and of course the Vespa parked outside.  If this shot looks familiar it should. I posted it on this blog while I was still in Italy. You can see it here. I was on the go and only had my iPad with me and I used the Snapseed app to process it. I think Snapseed is a terrific app and I use it quite a bit but I shot 3 brackets of this image so that I could ensure that I’d capture the whole dynamic range of the scene. It was early afternoon, the sun was shining but because of where the restaurant was situated on the street it was a bit on the shady side.

I processed the 3 brackets with Photomatix and then brought it into Photoshop and adjusted levels and sharpened it slightly. I then selectively masked the cobblestone side and used Topaz Adjust to bring out a bit of detail. What I’m very happy about with this version is the detail that it brought out especially the bar area inside the restaurant and the reflection in the glass door and window.

Trattoria Della Stampa

While walking along a small street in Rome I came across this lovely little restaurent. It was still too early for dinner and we had to continue to our intended destination but I had to stop and capture this perfect little scene. Okay here’s where you come in…which one do you prefer…the color version better or the desaturated version. The second image was processed using Topaz Adjust & Topaz B&W Effects.

You can click on the image to enlarge it.

The Kiln

Back to the Toronto Brickworks. In my post a couple of days ago (which you can see here) I posted a wide angle shot as you entered Brickworks. Today’s image is of the kilns that were used to fire the clay and produce the bricks.

This was 3 bracketed exposures tone mapped using Photomatix. I then brought it into Photoshop and adjusted levels slightly and contrast. I used Topaz Black & White Effects to convert it into B&W and then the adjustment tool to bring back a touch of color.

The Inspired Eye 3 By David duChemin – eBook Review

The Inspired Eye 3 – Notes on Creativity for Photographers by David duChemin



You know what I like about David duChemin besides him being a brilliant photographer? The man can write. In his newest release, The Inspired Eye 3, it feels like duChemin is giving you a private tutorial on how to embrace your strengths, fine tune your imagination and trust your process to lead you to your own creative style.

“Our measure of talent, or our feeling about the lack of it, are far less influencial in our own creative process than how hard we work.”

This is not a book that will lead you to technical proficiency, it’s a book about your creativity process. Regardless of the equipment you use, if you can make a good exposure and focus the camera the rest depends on the choices you make and the way you want to express yourself as an artist.

 If you want to create great photographs, gear and technique won’t get you there. The continual focus on gear at the expense of creativity is why so many who love this craft become frustrated. After all, a camera, for all the bells and whistles, is just a box with a hole in it. Add a lens and there’s little else. Spend too much time on the peripherals – gear and technique – without tending to the core, and we risk ending up really proficient at creating photographs that are uninspired and uninspiring. If you have any interest in expressing yourself and creating beauty, if you’re more than just a camera-collector but a photographer, then creativity is your core asset. Investing in that asset, and understanding how it works, is key.

The Inspired Eye, Volume 3, is the third and final installment in the Inspired Eye series, an eBook full of discussion about the way we think and create – it’s about what happens before and during the time the camera comes to our eye and the shutter is pressed. It’s about how we deal with constraints, challenges, and inspiration; it’s about how we light and feed the fire of creativity.

 The Inspired Eye 3 is now available for PDF download for $5, or pay just $4 if you use coupon code EYETHREE4. You can also download 5 or more PDF eBooks at 20% off when you use the discount code EYETHREE20. These codes expire Saturday, September 24 at 11:59pm (PST). Click Here to purchase your copy now.





Toronto Brickworks

Project 52 Entry #17

I went exploring last weekend. It’s funny how sometimes we forget that there are great places to photograph in your own city.

The Don Valley Brick Works company was established in 1889 near the Don River in Toronto. This quarry & brick making plant operated for nearly 100 years producing high quality brick that was used in the construction of many famous Toronto landmarks including the Ontario Legislature and Casa Loma. By the mid-1980’s most of the usable clay had been quarried and the company decided to sell the land to the government for conservation purposes.

Today the space has been readapted by Evergreen, a Canadian non-profit organization that works to make cities greener and more environmentally friendly. Restoration to the main building which houses the kilns included structural reinforcements and preserving the building original red brick masonry.

Click on the image to make it larger.

Farewell Hero

Directly across the river from Trastevere is the old Jewish Ghetto of Rome. The ghetto was built in 1555 to keep the Roman Jewish population separate from the rest of society. At the time, this 4 block area housed approximately 1,000 people but in time the Jewish population within the ghetto walls grow to 4,000. The ghetto had 3 gates that were locked at night to keep the Jews in. Outside each gate the Romans built a church in order to encourage the Jews to convert to Christianity. In 1870 during the unification of Italy the new Italian government ended the oppression and the walls of the ghetto were torn down.

Less then 100 years later the oppression and persecution began again in earnest. Largo Square is in the Jewish Ghetto. On the wall within the square is a plaque that reads “Largo – 16 Ottobre 1943″ This is the day that the Nazis demanded that the community pay over 100 lbs of gold within 24 hours or the Jews that lived in the ghetto would be taken to the concentration camps. Both Jews and non-Jews came together and met the demand. The Nazis took the gold but they also took 2,100 Jews away. At the end of the war only 7 survivors returned.

On the day that we visited the ghetto I was touched by some freshly spray painted writing that was on the side of the Jewish Day School. One of the Holocaust survivors had passed away the previous day.

It reads as follows: “Farewell Hero. We will not forget you.”  The number preceding this inscription was his Auschwitz number tattoo.

Today this little four block neighbourhood, while still called the Jewish Ghetto is home to both Jews and non-Jews alike.

Synagogue & Jewish Museum of Rome


Walking through Rome, we passed by this art museum (I really wish I know which one it was) and the building itself was very interesting with Latin words carved into the stone but frankly it was this gentleman that fascinated me. I was across the street framing the shot and he just stood there….didn’t move an inch. I don’t know if he realized that he was in my shot but if he did it obviously wasn’t bothering him. I’m glad he was their I think he made the shot for me.

I converted this to black & white using Topaz B&W Effects as I think it enhanced the overall mood of the image.

As always you can click on the image to enlarge it.

Seeing the Light

The Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere (as mentioned in my last post) was originally built in the 3rd century and then rebuilt on the same foundation in the 12th century. The beauty of the interior are the golden mosaics that were added in the 12th century.  As I was admiring the intricacy of the design a stream of sunlight came through one of the windows which illuminated the mosaics and brought out some of the finer details.

Lunch in Trastevere

Project 52 – Entry #16

One of the most distinct neighbourhoods in Rome is Trastevere which literally means “across the Tiber.” I spent an afternoon walking through this very bohemian neighbourhood just taking in the quaint homes, little restaurants whose walls were covered in ivy and decorated with flower boxes and little shops that were a magnet for locals and tourists alike.

The main square in Trastevere is the Piazza Santa Maria. Within the piazza is the Church of Santa Maria which dates back to the 3rd century and is the oldest in Rome. The church itself is lovely but I’ll save that for the next post.

As we were coming out of the church, directly across the piazza was the Sabatini restaurant. I loved everything about this scene. The building with the shuttered windows, the texture of the wall, the umbrellas at the tables and the casual Sunday afternoon atmosphere.

So as we head into the weekend I share with you the perfect weekend scene.  Have a great one!

Sunday Afternoon Dip in Montreal

This was taken on the side of Montreal’s old city hall which I posted last week. The fountains are are really pretty and I was setting up to take a head one view but then this little girl came up and started leaning into the fountain and playing with the water. I thought it made the shot a bit more impactful and perfect for for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Don’t forget I’m drawing for a free copy of Topaz Black & White Effects tomorrow. To be eligible follow me on Twitter.

It’s A Job

I hope that everyone had a wonderful labour day weekend. Keeping with the street performer theme of my last post…which you can see here I thought that this would be a fitting addition as it was just “labour day”.

Once again I’ve used Topaz Black & White Effects to convert this image to monochrome. The folks at Topaz have given me a B&W Effects to give away this week. All you have to do is follow me on Twitter to be eligible, so if you’re not following yet go ahead and click on the follow button on the right. I will be drawing the winner on Friday and will be announcing it on Twitter.

Canon XTi, Sigma 18 - 200mm, f/5, 1/50

Happy Feet

Project 52 – Entry #15

A quick post this morning folks.

Street performers, in general, are a very talented. They dance, they do acrobatics or they simply clown around. Now clown feet isn’t something you’d think that I’d focus on but couple that with a cobblestoned street and well…I just couldn’t resist.

As always you can click on the image to enlarge it.

Have a HAPPY Weekend!

Canon XTi, Sigma 18 - 200mm, f/5.6, 1/50. 115mm


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,461 other followers