Monday, September 30, 2013

Photographic Opportunities Everywhere–Up To Nearly 8,000 Photographs So Far!

Good Morning Everybody,

We said our good-byes to Hungary on Saturday morning and headed  to Croatia, our next official stop on our middle and eastern European journeys. But that was not going to happen until we stopped by Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.

On The Rainey Road To Party Town Ljubljana, Slovenia

Our friends Roland and his wife Ildie talked us into making the side trip on our way to Croatia – we didn't mind at all.  The weather was not the greatest, being mostly overcast but at least not raining.

Slovenia countryside

LaDawn was in charge of the “drive-by” shootings but the foggy day and steamy car windows made it quite a challenge.  She did manage a pretty cool shot or two though.  About 2 1/2 hours later we were caught up in the Saturday morning traffic of a big city.

Two things added to the crowds – first it was market day and all the vendors came out, set up their stalls, and offer the finest and freshest fruit, vegetables, flowers, cheese, breads, nuts, grains… all visitors of the market. 


I have never seen produce, flowers, meats, and cheeses look so fresh and inviting – yes, we even picked up some fruits and veggies for the rest of our trip.

The second thing adding to the larger than normal crowds was the fact that there was a big parade taking place and starting in the center of town at Preseren Square.  All the parade participants were dressed in period attire with musicians,  jugglers, ladies in waiting, knights in shining armor, and even the duke himself.


Head guy

The town square with exquisitely alive with the energy and activity of the townspeople.  I think the highlight of the visit was seeing the children “going crazy” by two “bubble blowers” down the road in the middle of one of the bridges.  The children were laughing, screaming with delight over the thousands of bubbles flying everywhere. It was exciting and truly refreshing to watch the children young and old enjoy these beautiful bubbles of color.

Soap Bubbles

Sadly, we bade our friends Roland and Ilde good-bye, climbed back into our car and continued the three hour trip down to Rovinj, Croatia. 


Heading To The Jewel Of The Adriatic: Rovinj, Croatia

Rovinj is one of the crown jewels of the north Adriatic Sea coast.  The population is just over 14,000 and has become an especially popular tourist destination and is an active fishing port.  I should also mention that Croatia is the new hotspot destination these days.  We were especially  looking forward to our visit.

The rest of the drive was pretty much the same – wet and rainy, gray overcast skies with the exception that the countryside changed to beautiful mountains and deep valleys – it was a beautiful drive. 


Welcome to CroatiaLaDawn had made previous arrangements for our accommodations in Rovinj with a doctor friend of ours.  His wife, Snow, is a native Croatian and offered to make all our housing arrangements for us via her cousin in Rovinj.

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about our next stop.  Once we arrived at Rovinj, we were to pull into the parking lot next to the Café Casablanca – wherever in the world that might be ;~)  Once in the car park we were to text Snow’s cousin who doesn’t speak English, “We are here.”   That’s it – he would magically appear and take us to our apartment. 

As we approached the town I spotted the Café Casablanca and there was the car park just as Snow described. We were fortunate to find a parking lot right away – the problem was that is was completely full and the ticket gate wouldn’t open to allow more cars to enter, including us.  After about 10 minutes, with us holding up the line to the car park, several cars left and the gate rose to let us enter.

OK, here we go – I texted Snow’s cousin, “We are here.” as she instructed and crossed my fingers.  Within 30 seconds he texted back, “On the way – about 5 min.” That was it, we were saved ;~) 

He and his daughter, Andrea, helped in transferring the luggage to their car and drove the short distance to our accommodations which are right in the center of “Old Town” Rovinj.  Please click this [link] to get the flavor of where we would be staying the next six days – totally enchanting!!!  we felt it was truly a step back into time. LaDawn and I both felt that we were about to engage in one of our most exciting travel experiences.

Balbi's ArchWe made our way through the Balbi Arch, circa 1680, (click here to get more great views of Rovinj) and made our way to our apartment up the steps you see in this image below.

Steps to apartment

We quickly got settled in and decided to head out and explore the town. 

We are at the beginnings of low season so the town was pretty much devoid of big tourists crowds – a good thing for us.

We enjoyed a glass of wonderful Croatian wine at a small café over looking the water and then made our way a short distance back near our apartment and had a delicious dinner at one of the popular local restaurants. 

After dinner we just strolled the streets and tried to soak up as much of the town as possible on our first evening – it was wonderful!  I think it was the rain and wet streets  that added to the beauty of the old town during our first night here.





I could go on forever but I think that will give you a taste of our new surrounds for the next few days.  I’ll share a few more images and experiences here in Rovinj as we continue to explore the area. 


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  Tomorrow I want to bring you up to date with our last Master Class day of shooting back in Budapest.  That will nearly wrap the Budapest series and then I can share with you some more  of our exciting photographic experiences during our trip.

Hope to see you soon, David

Friday, September 27, 2013

”The Beginnings Of A Great Day!”

The Beginnings Of A Great Day

”The Beginnings Of A Great Day!
©David A. Ziser

Good Morning Everybody,

Today I thought I'd share with you an image I took on the way to Ptuj two days ago. We were out early in the morning for our hour+ long trip.  The day started a bit overcast but as we drove through the countryside the clouds started to break and let a few of the suns rays peak through.

Just by chance those rays of light we're falling on a small country church in the distance, I quickly pulled the car over and made a few quick images.  I liked this one the best.  

LaDawn and I both felt the same way when we viewed the final image - it captured the exact magical feeling we felt when we first set our eyes upon the scene.  Hope you enjoy the image too.

Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Tamron 28-300mm VC lens at 164mm, 1/400 second at F10, ISO 200. Enjoy!  David

DAZNOTE:  Today is our last day in Hungary.  Our friend Roland and his wife Ildie are making the 3 hour drive over from Budapest and joining us later today and then for dinner tonight – I’ll be the Hungarian chef preparing the festive meal – where’s my paprika ;~)

Tomorrow we are heading out to all points west maybe stopping at Ljubljana the capital of Slovenia and spending the day.  For LaDawn and I, it's then onto the Adriatic Sea to the beautiful town of Rovinj, Croatia about five hours away where we will be spending all next week.  Once we get settled in I’ll check back in with you and give you all the latest, greatest updates.

See you then, David

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

”Too Beautiful For Words”


”Too Beautiful For Words
©David A. Ziser

This is probably my favorite image from the Bulgarian State Opera House shooting session.  Why?  Because of it’s “wide angle wonderfulness”!  I’m always stoked by the ultra wide view of my Sigma 12-24mm lens.  In this spectacular setting, the wide angle view really added to the ultra dramatic look of this image.

Composition was simple – I simply centered the subject in the middle of the frame and lined up the edge of the frame with the horizontal lines on the floor to add to the perfect centered symmetry.  The easy pose and beautiful lighting did the rest to make this a beautiful bridal image.

Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Sigma 12–24 mm lens at 12mm, 1/20 second at F5.6, ISO 1600.  Lighting camera left with Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite through my Zumbrella. Additional backlighting supplied by a second Canon speed-light positioned on the floor about 12 feet behind the bride. And a third speed-light behind the bride illuminating the ceiling behind and above her. Enjoy!  -David

More Slovenian Travels & Budapest Master Class Update: A Day At The Opera – Part 2

Good Morning Everybody,

Yesterday we headed out to explore more of the countryside. We had heard about the quaint little town of Ptuj – pronounced pa-too-ee – I know, our letters in the US don’t sound the same in other parts of the world but with a little practice you eventually figure it out ;~)  Anyway, Ptuj is the oldest town in Slovenia and is located on the Drava River. It also is home to one of the oldest wine cellar in Slovenia dating back to 1239.  You guessed it – we had to take the 90 minute tour.


We also toured the Ptuj Castle as well which turned out to be quite a nice surprise with so much to see from the castle including rich historical details,  to 15th and 16th century paintings, weapons,  armor, musical instruments, and cultural costumes.  It was a very nice day in Ptuj. 

Ptuj Castle

We then discovered we were less that an hour from Zagreb, Croatia.  We decided to add a third country to our itinerary for the day.  After a few passport checks we were on our way.  Zagreb was a busy, bustling city of nearly one million people.  We also hit it during rush hour and were stuck in traffic for a while.

GafrittiThe first thing that hit LaDawn and I was the amount of graffiti painted everywhere – a real turn off for the both of us.  But in all fairness we need to give the city a second look since it is always on the recommended list of most travel guides.

We finally got back to our cottage about 6:15, just in time to enjoy the evening sunset and a glass of fine Slovenian wine.  It was a good day.

OK gang, that was the travel update.  Now let’s get on with more images and descriptions from my Master Class two weeks ago – here we go…

Budapest Master Class Update: A Day At The Opera – Part 2

0001_DPT.Opera-DAZ_2314I mentioned a few days ago that the highlight of my Master Class with my good friend Clay Blackmore was shooting at the famed Hungarian State Opera House.  Check out  A Day At The Opera – Part 1 right here.  I had so many favorite images from that day’s shoot, I decided to spread them out over two posts.  Good news – today I finally get to show you the rest of my FAVS.  I hope you enjoy them.

After shooting on the main staircase of the Opera House from about every conceivable angle, I couldn’t resist trying a few more locations.  We had three instructors working at this location – that would be Clay, Jared Platt – our Lightroom instructor who was also on board for the week, and myself. With a little exploration of the surrounds here are a few more images from the day’s session.

Photo 1: I wondered out onto the balcony to see what was happening – photographically speaking.  The street surrounds were cluttered with buildings, power lines, signs, cars, trucks, pedestrians etc.  It was mid-day direct sun-light, not the ideal lighting but often what we face on a wedding day. I did spot an area that I thought would make for a nice portrait of our Daniel Craig look-a-like male model. I’m thinking…. if I can really constrict the background and just use the windows of the building across the street as my background, those windows would create the repeating element I’m often seeking to enhance my portraits. It became a tight crop but I think it worked well for this image.


Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Tamron 28-300mm VC lens at 200mm, 1/500 second (HSFS) at F5.6, ISO 200.  Lighting camera right, Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite directly.

Photo2:  This image was made from the balcony of the Opera House as I looked down at the street below.  While photographing the portrait above, I looked over to the street below and loved the lines I saw in my potential composition. Look at the gentle S-curve line running through the scene just to the right of the bride.  The row of traffic barriers across the top of the image served to frame out the top part of the composition. The street lamp offered a nice visual balance to the rest of the scene.

All I had to do was light my subject.  That was accomplished by having my assistant, Roland in this case, bring the light in from camera right.  I got the direction of light I wanted without having to settle for the less dramatic/flat natural light.  I love how the image turned out.


Roland in shotDAZNOTE:  Roland was pretty close to the subject to get the intensity of light on the subject that I wanted.  In fact, he was in the image.  But, like I’ve said many, many times, when you need to photograph your assistant to capture the lighting needed to enhance your image, be sure they are in a “Photoshop-able” area of the scene so you can simply remove them in post ;~)

Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Tamron 28-300mm VC lens at 50mm, 1/800 second (HSFS) at F5.6, ISO 200.  Lighting camera right with Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite directly.

Photo 3: On our way back into the Opera House, LaDawn suggested that I make an image at the main entrance and try to pick up the beautiful ceiling detail.  I thought it was a great idea and we set up the shot. 

The problem was that the ambient light was so bright, we were going to lose the ceiling detail in the exposure.  I decided to not only backlight the bride, but light the ceiling as well with a third Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite directed toward the ceiling. I got the exact result I wanted.


Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Sigma 12 – 24 mm lens at 22mm, 1/200 second at F5.6, ISO 200.  Lighting camera right with Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite through my Zumbrella. Additional backlighting supplied by a second Canon speed-light and a third speed-light on the ground, behind the bride pointed towards the domed ceiling above the bride.

Photos 4, 5, and 6: Next we headed back into the Opera House.  Everyone else was hanging out on the second floor of the building which gave me complete reign on the first floor and what spectacular sights awaited us! Just look at the architecture and detail of the mosaic tile work throughout the floors, walls, and ceiling – unbelievable!!!

Lighting was basically the same for each of these three images – one on the bride, one for backlighting, and one on the ceiling behind and above the bride.  The only real change was in camera position or lens zoom setting to modify the composition and/or crop of the images. Pretty cool, don’t you think?




Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Sigma 12–24 mm lens at 24mm, 20mm, and 22mm respectably, 1/20 second at F5.6, ISO 1600.  Lighting camera left in the first image, then moved my assistant to camera right with Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite through my Zumbrella for the second and third images. Additional backlighting supplied by a second Canon speed-light positioned on the floor about 12 feet behind the bride. A third speed-light behind the bride illuminating the ceiling behind and above her.

Photos 7 and 8: As I continued to explore the surrounds I discovered a great vantage point with me laying on the ground shooting up to the ceilings of the other floor levels above me.  WOW! What a site.  It was tricky to get the bride in a somewhat comfortable position – I was in “pain” by the way laying on my back in a half “sit-up” position to frame the bride up the way I wanted.  Who says wedding photograph can’t improve your abs :~)

Again, exposure and lighting was pretty much the same as with the previous three images with the addition of that third light illuminating the ceiling above and behind the bride.



Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Sigma 12–24 mm lens at 22mm, and 13mm respectably, 1/20 and 1/30 second respectably at F5.6, ISO 1600.  Lighting camera right for the first image then camera left for the second image using a  Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite through my Zumbrella. Additional backlighting supplied by a second Canon speed-light positioned on the floor behind the bride. And a third behind the bride illuminating the ceiling behind and above her.

There you have it, a great set of images from a super fun filled day of shooting at the Bulgarian State Opera House.  Boy, I can’t wait to go back – maybe next year :~)


Hey gang, that’s going to wrap it for today.  I’ve got one more day of shooting to share with you so I hope you’ll check back.  It’s another fine set of images I think you’ll enjoy.

Have a great one and I’ll see you soon,


Three Little Announcements About Three Big Events!

Good Morning Everybody,

We’re still basking in the Hungarian sunshine but today we’re heading out early this morning to Malibor and Ptuj, Slovenia.  Before we leave though, I've got three juicy items I’d like to share with everybody.

#1 - My Photo Walk In Salzburg, Austria

SalzburgOK, OK – I know a lot of my DPT readers would like to visit beautiful Salzburg, Austria and not just because I’m doing my SK Photo Walk on October 5th, but if you are in the neighborhood, please feel free to sign up right here and come join the fun.

We’ve got a small group so far and I know we’re still a few weeks out so I‘m hoping with a few more people jumping on this great walk it will be a grand time for everyone participating. You can find all the complete details and register for my Photo Walk right here, or take the shortcut to my Photo Walk page right here.

Steigkeller[4]I'm pretty excited about the Photo Walk we have planned. We're going to be covering about 2 1/2 miles of historic Salzburg including some dazzling views from hilltop vistas overlooking the entire city. We end up at at the famous StieglKeller Beer Hall & Restaurant where we can freshen up and enjoy a cool refreshment.

So why not check out my Photo Walk home page right here to get all the details.  I hope to see you there in just a few weeks, David

#2 - Cincinnati, Ohio Photo Walk -  A Great Time Too!

Nicholas V new picHey gang, the second thing I want to mention to you is the Cincinnati, Ohio SK Photo Walk [link] coming up in just a few weeks, on October 5th, being conducted by my good buddy and ACE #1 Assistant, Nickolas Viltrakis.

DAZNOTE: I pulled this image from Nicholas’s Photo Walk page.  Granted, I haven’t seen Nickolas in several weeks but I really don’t remember him ever smoking a pipe or ever sporting a beard – but, like I said, Nicholas is always full of surprises ;~) 

Anyway, I've happily been conducting the Photo Walk in Cincinnati for the first four years of the Scott Kelby Photo Walks. Last year I had to skip Cincy because we were in Rome, Italy and we conducted a very exciting SKPW there.

This year we’ll miss it again because we’re going to be in Salzburg, Austria – see above.  Nevertheless, at my urging, my good friend and Ace #1 Assistant, Nicholas Viltrakis will be leading his very own Photo Walk in Cincinnati [link].

Nicholas is a very talented photographer and a really great guy. If you jump in with him this year in Cincinnati I promise you a wonderful experience. Nicholas is a lot of fun and will certainly add to your Photo Walk experience. You can get all the details about his Photo Walk right here.

#3 - Dave Cross Tour - Make Photoshop and Creative Cloud Pay!

Hey everybody, don't miss the upcoming 8 city seminar series with my good friends Dave Cross and Jeff Leimbach. They will be covering all things Photoshop and at a price that everybody can afford.

I've known Dave for a number of years and he does work “keyboard magic” when it comes to Photoshop. Jeff Leimbach, my good friend who helps with my programs at Photoshop World, is also an extremely talented photographer/retoucher and brings those sets of talents to the program in partnership with Dave Cross. I certainly hope you'll check out what they have planned – it promises to be a wonderful experience with time well spent learning from these talented artists. You can get all the details right here.



Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  We’re off and running to see some more of this wonderful world.  Check in again, I promise to get the Budapest Master Class wrapped up shortly with plenty more images.

See ya’ soon,


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

”A Magical Slovenian Countryside”

Jeruzalem Countryside

”A Magical Slovenian Countryside
©David A. Ziser

This image was taken yesterday during our visit to Jeruzalem, Slovenia, the land of white grapes, hilly vineyards and pleasant wines.  LaDawn and I both agreed that because of the steep sloping hills the view from the ridge road was absolutely beautiful. I composed the image to feature the country church you see in the distance.  Notice how all compositional elements from the flow of the hills, the repeat of the grapevines, and even the tree line lead you right to the point of interest.

I tweaked colors and densities to my tastes throughout the image in Lightroom 5 for best presentation.

Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Tamron 28-300mm VC lens at 300mm, 1/1000 second at F11, ISO 400. Enjoy!  David

Heading To Jeruzalem–But Not To The One In Israel

Good Morning Everybody,

We are pretty much settled into Nemesnep here in western part of Hungary - each day has been incredibly beautiful since we arrived on Saturday.  LaDawn and I have been tooling around enjoying the lovely countryside in this very peaceful, VERY rural part of Hungary.

MApAs we sit on our veranda and survey our surrounds, it appears on the surface that we are in the middle of nowhere among the small farms and cornfields.  The nearest small town, Lenti, is about a 20 minute drive away.  But upon closer inspection of a map of this area it turns out we are in the middle of everywhere.

SlovaniaOK, I'm exaggerating just a little, but in reality we we are sitting in the Southwest corner of Hungary just a few miles (kilometers) away from Slovenia, and only slightly further to Croatia, and Austria!  Yesterday we exited the Abbazia Country Club, turned right then a quick left and were crossing the Slovenian border in about 3 minutes - all pretty cool.

We headed to Jeruzalem, Slovenia which was once visited by the crusaders in the 11th century.  They too we're amazed by the beauty of the countryside just as we were yesterday. 




GrapesJeruzalem is a small region of rolling hills only a few square kilometers in size but the region is known for it’s fine white wines.  Yes, we had to stop at a few of the wineries and sample the local favorites. Anyone that knows us, must be giggling to themselves that even in the rural areas of Eastern Europe that LaDawn and I could still manage to find some wineries and try the local wines!

The people were friendly and although very little English is spoken here, we still had a great time.  Nemesnep Signs2

DAZNOTE:  Even though the language barrier is somewhat of an issue, note the traffic sign, it is not an insurmountable problem.  With gestures, almost like charades to some extent and the basic understanding of a word or two of English by the locals and us in Hungarian, we manage to communicate without too many problems.  Hey, it's just part of the fun of traveling to other parts of the world that don’t speak English.

With WinemakerThis photo is of LaDawn and I with a local winemaker who was thrilled to share his wines with us. What you don’t see is the rest of his staff laughing as he was so excited that we wanted him with us in our photo, not just a picture of us in his restaurant/winery. I think we made his day!!


Hey gang, that’s it for the travel update for today.  After our two mile morning walk along the horse path, we're just hanging around the resort and catching up on a little business. Tomorrow it’s off to Ptuj and Malibar.

Have a great rest of the day and I'll check in again soon.

Viszla’t for now,  David 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Heading To The Country: A Visit To The Lenti Hungarian Folk Festival & A Cool Video

Abbazia CC

Good Morning Everybody,

I know I still need to finish up with some more images from my Master Class in Budapest but I thought I’d bring you up to date with our travels so far.

On Saturday it was time to sadly say good-bye to Budapest and adventure west to the Zala Region and the very, very small community of Nemesnep, Hungary.  According to the front desk receptionist -  population 36, and just a few miles from the Slovenia, Austria, and Croatian borders.

We have reservations at the Abbazia Country Club for the next week. To call this a country club by American standards would certainly be a stretch of the imagination but we are definitely out in the country, surrounded by corn fields, small farms and more cornfields. If you’re looking for peace and quiet this is your place!

Taking In The Local Flavor(s) In Neighboring Lenti

Sunday morning LaDawn and I decided to adventure into the village of Lenti, Hungary and look for a church to attend for Sunday services. We easily located St. Michael’s Parish Church, a church built back in the 1300s and filled with beautiful mosaics. I’m always surprised how richly ornate and beautiful these churches are in even these small European towns.

St. Michael's Lenti

Unfortunately, we missed the services – never did quite find out when they were - but we discovered a small festival outside of church organized by what appeared to be the Kindergarten just across from the church.

Lenti1We walked around Lenti for over an hour or two just taking in the community as they prepared for the festival to open. The festival included several craft booths, a few booths selling candy and honey and several games.

The games are what caught LaDawn’s attention. As a former pre-school teacher she was delighted to see the simplistic activities presented for the children’s participation. Tug-of-war, stilts, bean toss, lasso the bull’s horns, a kind of table-top shuffle board, go fish, sifting, scooping and playing in large wood bowls of flour, measuring and grinding corn plus many, many more.

There was a wonderful merry-go-round type swing activity that the children loved. There were also many games to enhance eye/hand coordination skills that young children often need help in developing during their early childhood development…. at least according to LaDawn.  We sat and watched for over an hour as parents and grandparents ushered these young children thru the many activities. Even LaDawn and I tried a few of the games.

Here is a short video we would like to share with you. I put it together using the software Photodex ProShow Producer, a very powerful slide show program which knocks the socks off any other similar software on the market.  I easily combined the stills with the video into a pretty cool little show. LaDawn and I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed our easy Sunday afternoon.

Hungarian Folk Festival from David Ziser on Vimeo.


Hey gang, that’s it from me today.  Today we’re heading across the border to Slovenia just a few miles away.  The plan is to visit Malibor, Ptuj, and maybe Jeruzalem , if time permits, all in Slovenia. Please hit the links to these three destinations – you will be surprised by their beauty.

Have a great Monday and I’ll se you soon,

David (and LaDawn)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

”Goodbye To Budapest”

Goodbye to Budapest

”Goodbye To Budapest”
©David A. Ziser

Today we bid our goodbye to the beautiful city of Budapest.  It has been a wonderful 12 days beginning with our Master Class almost two weeks ago and spending the last several days exploring this energetic, fun-filled, rich-in-history, beautiful city – most of it on foot.  LaDawn and I figure we have walked over 75 miles since we arrived here 12 days ago.

This is the view of our home away from home these last two weeks, the Gellert Hotel from the Pest side of the Danube, as we crossed the Liberty Bridge for the final time last evening.  The view is just as beautiful as the first time we cross it so many days ago. Even when we returned from dinner with our friends Roland and his wife Ilde late yesterday evening, the river was full of activity.  I had to wait several minutes for long boats, ferries, and tour boats to pass before making my exposure.

This image is an in-camera HDR photograph with my Canon 5D Mark III set to Auto HDR – I’m so lazy ;~) but it does give me a great result almost every time. The point about Auto HDR is the fact that the camera makes 3 exposures, the first at what is considered the best exposure, the second exposure is 3 stops under and the third exposure is 3 stops over. The camera then automatically combines all 3 exposures maintaining the mid-tones of the correct exposure,  the hi-lights of the underexposed, the shadows of the over exposed for the final HDR exposure.  I simply need to anticipate the slowest exposure as I’m hand-holding the camera for these images. In this case, the exposure ranged from 1/8 to 1/500 second to get to the final result.  I’m pretty good hand-holding my camera at the 1/8 second but still I needed the high ISO, as posted below, to capture the final image.

Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Canon 24-105mm IS lens at 55mm, 1/60 second at F4.0, ISO 12,800. Camera on Auto HDR setting.

p.s.  I’ll plan a more thorough wrap up sometime next week once we get settled into our new surrounds at the Abbazia Country Club down in Nemesnep, Hungary.  We’re about a three hour drive and hope to arrive around 2 p.m. this afternoon. Here is a map to give you an idea where we will be staying. 

To Nemesnep

It’s a small village of only 146 people nestled among the borders of Croatia, Austria, Slovenia, and Hungary.  The adventure continues ;~)

David and LaDawn

Friday, September 20, 2013

My Budapest Master Class: A Day At The Opera, Part 1

Good Morning Everybody,

We continued to have our photographic socks knocked off with the magnificent locations set up for us by Jeff and Roland. Thursday’s shoot, I think, was the “pièce de résistance” for the week!

0001_DPT.Opera-DAZ_2314On Thursday morning it was off to an on-location photographic shoot at the VERY impressive Hungarian State Opera House for our morning session. Built in 1875, the richly-decorated building is considered one of the architect’s masterpieces and one of the finest opera houses in all of Europe and the largest in all of Hungary. Built in the neo-Renaissance style, with it’s gilded vaulted ceilings covered in gorgeous murals, it’s marble columns, chandeliers, floor to ceiling mirrors,  vast sweeping staircase, rich velvet draping's, arches, arches, arches……truly a spectacular location.

0018_DPT.Opera-DAZ_3406The auditorium was being used for rehearsal for the upcoming production of Falstaff and was off limits for any interruptions. We were allowed a sneak peek at the end of our 4 hour session. The auditorium was built in a horse-shoe shape, holds 1261 seats, impressive box seats, spectacular staging and is said to have the third best acoustics in all of Europe. It was a first for the Opera House to “rent” the location for a photographic event and we extend to Jeff and Roland for making the arrangements a VERY BIG thanks.

A Day At The Opera: What a Shoot!

I’ve included several photos I want to share with you today.  I’ve given a brief recap of each image, what I was seeing in my mind’s eye and how I put the image together. Please enjoy the series.

Photo 1: This first image was really a lesson in composition. Look at the marble staircase.  Notice how I position the subject, Gary, at the intersection or where “X” marks the spot.  My rule: Wherever the eye is being led in the image – place your subject there.


Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Canon 24-105mm IS lens at 40mm, 1/50 second at F5.6 ISO 3200.  Lighting camera right, Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite through my Zumbrella.

Photo2: This image below looks like it was taken pretty much like the first image but, in fact, there was a BIG difference in the lighting. The light was brought in from camera right obviously but not through my Zumbrella.  There just was no room for it in this tight corner space of the opera house.  I asked my assistant to remove the Zumbrella, flip the speed-light 180 degrees and bounce the light off the beige marbled wall.  Since the light is still coming from the same direction, the lighting pattern is still the same as if I used my trusty Zumbrella.


Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Canon 24-105mm IS lens at 40mm, 1/80 second at F5.6 ISO 3200.  Lighting camera right, Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite bounced off the wall camera right.

Photo 3:  Set up for this image is pretty much like the first image with the minor exception that I wanted the bride’s head to be positioned at the corner of the two intersecting arches you see behind her.  I also added a second speed-light behind her dress to give a bit more background separation or backlighting to the bride.  I really love the final results in this image.


Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Sigma 12 – 24 mm lens at 24mm, 1/80 second at F5.6 ISO 3200.  Lighting camera left, Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite through my Zumbrella.  A second Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite is place on the floor behind the bride about 10 feet away pointing up at her shoulder blades.

Photo 4: This image was made seconds before the above image.  I simply moved a bit closer to the bride and re-positioned the bride’s face in the arch you see behind her.  A nice close up, don’t you think?


Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Sigma 12 – 24 mm lens at 24mm, 1/80 second at F5.6 ISO 3200.  Lighting camera left, Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite through my Zumbrella.

Photo 5: Here is another image where I’m playing around with subject placement in the space of the opera’s magnificent staircase.  This time I wanted to see more of the grandeur of staircase.  I carefully positioned the bride’s head with in the interior frame element, or better said, in front of the window you see behind her.


Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Sigma 12 – 24 mm lens at 13mm, 1/80 second at F5.6 ISO 1600.  Lighting camera left, Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite through my Zumbrella.  A second Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite is place on the floor behind the bride about 10 feet away pointing up at her shoulder blades and dialed down from the earlier image above.

Photo 6:  In this next image I took the top position on the staircase and shot down the steps.  The composition is quite different that in all the previous images yet still strikingly impressive!  To add to the impressive scale of the space, I used my Canon fish to bring in as much of the grandeur of the surrounds as possible.  I subsequently did a giant lens correction in Lightroom 5 to remove any hint of the fisheye effect. beer koozie

Lighting-wise: Due to all the highly reflective marble of the staircase railing I really needed to control the light on the railing camera right.  Using my Zumbrella would have heavily illuminated the rail.  I reduced the “cone of light” coming out of my flash by placing a black “beer koozie” over the flash head to give me a very restricted “cone of light” falling on the subject but not on the marble railing. Pretty  easy, cheap and cool solution, I think ;~)


Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Canon 8-15 Fisheye at 15mm, 1/40 second at F6.3 ISO 1600.  Lighting camera right, Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite through my beer koozie.  A second Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite is place on the floor behind the bride and groom about 10 feet away pointing up at their shoulder blades.

Photo 7: This is a signature “Ziser” shot, as LaDawn likes to call it!  I take this photograph at every wedding – but not necessarily is such spectacular locations.  Wide lens, add some backlighting and shoot away. This image was again captured using the Canon 8-15 Fisheye but correcting the “fish” effect in Lightroom 5 certainly added to the dramatics. If this had been an actual couple the next image would have been the couple sharing a kiss and then sometimes I even have the groom dip the bride, all in the same location and using the same lighting.


Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with my Canon 8-15 Fisheye at 15mm, 1/80 second at F6.3 ISO 2500.  Lighting from behind supplied by my Canon 600 EX-RT speed-lite placed on the floor behind the bride and groom about 10 feet away pointing up at their shoulder blades.


Hey gang, I’ve still got about another half dozen images to show you but time is running short on this end so I’ll try to get them up over the weekend.

Have a wonderful weekend in what ever part of the world you’re reading this and I’ll see you again soon.