Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Photography quote of the week


“To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

~ Elliott Erwitt ~

Wednesday, November 19, 2008



I have spent this year the best vacation and "adventure" so far. Going trekking for a few days in the middle of Nowhere in one of the most magical countries in the World, Iceland, was pure bliss.

I went there with 2 of my friends for (originally) a 10 days hike. We ended up doing just 6 days.. Why rush when you can go slower and enjoy the scenery?

With our 30 Kg backpacks, we headed from Gullfoss towards the Glacier North-West.
While our first day was quite nice and sunny, it very fast became colder and windier with loads of rain.
On our path, we every day stopped by some shelters that are used by shepherds during wintertime. Most of these shelters had minimum accommodation, bunk beds, sometimes gas (for heating) and leftover food (often expired).

Each shelter we stopped was better equiped and cleaner thn the previous one.
After a long day under the rain and facing wind, we stopped at this shelter overlooking a large field of moss and surrounded by mountains. It was truly a beautiful scene.

We spent the night there and in the morning, tried to heat the place by using logs. unfortunately, the chimney was clogged, resulting in a lot of smoke inside the room!

But the Sun decided to shine at that moment and I jumped on the occasion to take the shot!

I shot this at 1/13 sec, f/8 and ISO 100. The photo was then processed in Photomatix, tonemapped and adjusted in Photoshop for contrast.

I wanted it to have an old abandoned and dirty look with the rays shining through the window as a sign of hope and renewal.

That day as indeed a very beautiful day!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Tower


First of all, Hope you'll excuse me for this week absence. Had many things to attend to and had no time to update.

This summer, I went on a trip to one of the most beautiful countries in the world: Ireland.
I spent the first few days of my trip wandering around in Dublin. It's an old nice city full of Life (can't say that Irish people don't know how to live ;) ).
I also liked the monuments all around the place, you never get bored walking and shooting everything around.

I went visiting the Trinity College with one of my friends. Once there, equipped with my Wide angle lens, I just wanted to take nice dramatic shots of the old buildings around.

It is amazing how sometimes getting up close and filling the frame with just one part of a building can change the whole perspective.
This shot is actually the corner of one building. It's not even a tower! But by filling the frame and using my wide angle lens, I was able to give it a dramatic Tower look.

I shot this at 1/250 sec, f/10 and ISO 400. The photo was then tone-mapped in Photomatix and processed in Photoshop to give it a dramatic and menacing look.
I also played a little with dodge/burn to highlight and darken parts of the photo.

So next time you are wandering around town, go up close with your camera, take parts of buildings and fill the frame, you might have some good surprises !

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Photography Quote of the week

"The job of the photographer, in my view, is not to catalogue indisputable fact but to try to be coherent about intuition and hope".

~~Robert Adams ~~

Saturday, November 8, 2008



There are some classic shots in photography that you always end up wanting to try them yourself too. The "Ring shadow on a book" is a classic one and this one is my interpretation.

I shot this photo in my earlier days of photography. It is mostly popular amongst the "female viewers", probably because it is a "romantic" shot (or maybe it's because the guys don't want to admit it haha).
When I first came accross this shot on the internet, I liked the idea of it so I tried to experiment and do the shot myself one boring day. I used my old engagement ring (it's still useful apparently, even after break-up hehe) and a french dictionary.
I positionned the ring on the page with the definition of "Aimer" which means "to love" to give it a nice touch.
Only natural lighting was used, with sunlight coming through my window.

I shot this at 1/250 sec, f/5 and ISO 200. I chose the take the photo diagonally to give it more "dynamism".
The photo was later post-processed to adjust the colors and the contrast to make the "heart-shadow" pop out a bit more.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the outcome. First I am happy because It turned out the way I wanted it to be and it is different from what you usually see on internet. But I am upset because I did not pay attention enough to the framing (The word "Aimer" is cut..). Also I think I have overdone it while postprocessing because it is a bit darker than I wanted it to be. I guess I'll have to work on it once more at least for the colors!
This has taught me valuable lessons as to always pay attention to the framing and look at the four corners of the image before pressing that shutter.

"Aimer", a beautiful word.. so go out and spread some love to the people around you, it's free and makes you feel great!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Beach Gossip


I guess this has to be the only "People" photograph I have in my portfolio.

I am more a Nature / Landscape photographer but would love to try portraiture and people shots too.

So by now you should all know I live in a warm country where we can go camp all year long (except for summer, too hot). Many friends also like to come from abroad to visit us and take advantage of the weather!

One of our friends had 2 of her best friends coming over from the US. They reached the country at night. We directly picked them up from the airport and headed to the beach for camping, what a way to start a holiday! Funniest of all is that we reached the camping spot at Sunrise!!

It is not always easy to take well exposed shots during daytime, especially when the sun shines like crazy. I know the rule for well exposed shots which is f/16 and shutter= 1/ISO (If your ISO is 100, it's 1/100 sec) but I didn't know that by that time ;)

While my friends were talking together and catching up about the latest events, I sneaked behind without their knowledge and shot this at 1/250 sec, f/9 and ISO 100. I liked the way it was composed as it was not even intentional!
I processed the picture in PS just to add some contrast and adjust the colors, I also added a slight bright vignetting to put the focus on the center of the photo.

After I finished, It really looked like three old friends gossiping together on the beach, hence the title.

I just love candid shots!

Sunday, November 2, 2008



Since childhood, there were 2 countries I always dreamt of visiting.
For my 30th birthday, It was time I realized those dreams... So I went on holiday to Ireland and Iceland.

Iceland had always attracted me, something magical and mysterious about that lost volcanic island in the middle of the ocean, with a spine-chilling name.. The Land of Ice.
Stories of vikings, geysers, volcanoes and northern lights always kept fascinating me. I had never thought that the country would actually look so beautiful!

Despite the name, "Iceland" is not covered with Ice and is not having freezing temperatures all year long. Iceland is actually quite green, with vast desolate and wild landscapes. No trees in here, you'll find mainly moss.

Iceland has also many famous touristic sites to visit. One of them is this waterfall, Gullfoss.

This majestic waterfall, one of the biggest in Iceland is part of the popular "golden circle" tour.

I wanted to capture the strength of this waterfall, together with the low clouds giving it a dramatic feel.
I shot this at 1/80 sec, f/11 and ISO 100. I did not have much choice for the composition.
I processed then the RAW file into a pseudo-hdr and tonemapped it with photomatix.

You should definitely visit that magical island once in your lifetime.


Saturday, November 1, 2008



"In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the Heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair"

Howard Thurman

Sitting alone on the cold sand, listening to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, I was contemplating the Moon ruling the nightsky before leaving its place to the Sun's splendor. All was so quiet, so peaceful. And, for a moment, as I closed my eyes, all seemed so .... still.

I felt like capturing that feeling, like a piece of frozen time. A very relaxing moment for the soul.
Can that be possible through a picture? I tried.

Thanks to my handy tripod, I placed my camera right in front of the shore, included the moon in the composition and took a looooong stare with my camera.
I shot this at f/8, a 32 second exposure and ISO 400. I chose a higher ISO than normal because I wanted to have time to experiment many shots and the waves were getting closer and closer.. Also originally, I was thinking of converting my photo to black & white, so noise would give it an original old touch (like grain).

The long exposure was to smooth the Ocean and give it a still "creamy" flat look. Also it was quite dark so I needed to capture the light/colors of the sky.

I processed slightly to shot in PS to add some contrast and saturation and crop the final shot to make it more "square-ish".

The final result was better in color than in monochrome as the blend of colors really mix well together. I think I kind of succeeded to reflect the feeling I had during that moment, a frozen piece of time. Staring at this photo really relaxes me.

Hope you share that feeling with me.

Photography quote of the week

"To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of Nature and Humanity which live or are latent in all things."

~ Ansel Adams ~

Friday, October 31, 2008

Against Time I stand


I have always been attracted by those lonely trees you find in the middle of the fields sometimes.
It's not often I see this kind of scenery in the UAE (ok, ok... never is a better word, there are no fields), so when visiting Ireland, I saw this lonely tree, I had to snap it!!

This was shot in Carrowmore, Ireland. We were straying off path checking out a few horses in the fields. I saw the tree on our way back, we were kind of rushing so I did not have the opportunity to take my time for the shot.

I shot it handheld, at 1/30 sec, f/8 and ISO 100. I suppose I should've chosen a faster shutterspeed because the sky turned out a little overblown behind the tree. Big mistake: I did not check my histogram..
Back home, I still wanted to save the shot! I turned it into a pseudo-hdr, tonemapped it a little and then decided to warm up the colors in PS. The "pinkish" color against the greenery gives it a nice mood. And the sky looks a little better than before! I also loved how the small details were showing on the tree thanks to the pseudo-hdr.

Before choosing my titles, if it is not obvious the moment I take the shot, I just put it full screen on my computer and stare at it a few minutes.. I let my emotions speak up. What Am I feeling looking at this shot?
I saw a lonely tree, standing there against time and weather. I kind of looked like an old survivor, with all the knots on the trunk and the way it was leaning a bit.

I wish it to survive many many years to come.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trespassing in Ireland


There is something about Monochrome HDR photos that makes it so special..

I went to Ireland in summer 2008 for my 30th birthday (Ireland + Iceland.. Best Bday ever so far). I found it  such a beautiful and magical island, so green, it's no exaggeration!
We hired a car to explore the west coast as much as we can in a short time (9 days) from Kilorglin's Puck Fair up to Sligo.
One of the most famous places on our way was the Cliffs of Moher, near the little town of Doolin!

An incredible place, but very very touristic... People actually had to pay to park and visit the cliffs!
No way!

We ended up driving through small villages trying to find a hidden path until we arrived at a locked gate. There was a huge empty land for sale surrounded by a fence and a small rocky wall with a big note : <>

Nobody was around to check so.. we climbed the gate, went through the muddy fields all the way down to the windy cliffs to take the shots away from tourists.
We also got to visit an abandoned medieval watchtower closed to the public (Not O'Brian tower).

I took this shot just before jumping the gate. I loved the gloomy and dramatic effect the HDR gave to it and  the clouds turned out excellent!

Well... if we didn't trespass.. We would have missed all the fun and the great shots!

"If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun" 
~ Katherine Hepburn ~

(The Photo of the day is posted earlier than usual today because I am going on a visa run to Malaysia so I won't be able to post anything tonight here in Thailand.. Cheers!).

Dance with the Clouds


I just love sky shots, and especially when there are clouds around (which is quite rare where I live).

After a long wait for dawn, the Skies rewarded me with this beautiful scenery just before sunrise. It was beautiful seeing those huge clouds just changing and dancing around while the rising sun was painting the whole scenery with an orange tint.

As it was quite dark still, I manually shot this at 1/6 sec, f/11 and ISO 100. I always try to keep my ISO as low as possible to avoid noise. The main subject are the clouds of course so I composed the picture with just a little ocean and mountain line to add some depth to the photo.
The photo was processed to adjust the curves/levels and add some very slight saturation to make the orange color pop out.

Looking at the scene, I imagined those clouds waltzing together in the immensity of the sky, with the slight breeze as their leading music. I closed my eyes for a while and joined them up there... hence the title ;)

I wish we had more cloudy days, not only is it better to shoot on overcast days, but it also gives excellent sky shots!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Awakening


What can be more gratifying than the Sun rising and washing away all your bad thoughts?

I have already talked about how I feel in the desert, how the desert can be a therapeutic escape.
It was again another camping in the desert. I was in a bad mood that night, being heartbroken by some girl (yeah, happens ;) ).
Once again I waited for sunrise alone to capture the beauty of the awakening Nature (yes, even in the desert).

As Mr. Paul Shepard already said:

"The angularity of desert landforms imparts a monumental architecture to the clouds as well as to the land"

Add a rising sun to it... And you have this!

The beauty of the scenery blew me away and completely washed away all the negative feelings and thoughts I carried within me the whole night.
Sitting there, alone on the highest dune of the region and watching a new day arise felt like a new awakening of my soul. Bliss!

I tried to capture the scene as perfectly as I could. I shot this at 1/250 sec, f/10 and ISO 100. I paid attention to the composition, and waited for the perfect moment to press the shutter. I wanted to sun to be behind the clouds to prevent it from being too bright, and to capture the shadows of the rays blocked by the clouds.
The photo was then processed through Photoshop and Photomatix (HDR treatment) with curves/levels and saturation adjustment.

Finding the title wasn't really hard again. It was an "Awakening" for me as well as Nature.

A new day...... Forget the past, live today.

The Ocean forgot me


I think of all the photos I have, this is the one that made the most impact due to its title.

I love to shoot at dawn. While everyone is sleeping, Nature is slowly waking up and the colors are so beautiful. It's a moment of Peace.
I am always the only one awake when camping with friends, wandering around at dawn trying to capture whatever I can and taking advantage of the beautiful Light.

I was sitting on the beach, watching the sunrise and the ocean. It was low tide, the waves slowly backing up. I was looking at this little shell that was being carried back and forth with each wave, until it got stuck in the sand.
It was forgotten there by the Ocean.

I wanted to capture that feeling, being left behind. I lied down trying to avoid getting sand on my camera, and shot this at 1/25 sec, f/8, ISO 100. I wanted a good DoF and adjusted the exposure so to avoid blowing up the sky (I was facing the sun! tricky) but get a good exposure of the sand+shell. I also tried to pay attention to the composition: Placing the shell and the horizon according to the rule of thirds.
The photo was processed afterwards, contrast adjustment and slight HDR treatment.

The title was kind of obvious to me, depicting the feeling I had while watching that poor shell. I guess the title gave much more impact to the photo and made people react every time they saw it. This is why I always give a big importance to the names of my photos. I guess it wouldn't be as popular as it is if I called it "Shell on a beach at dawn".

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Heaven and Hell


It is beautiful how Mother Nature can reward us after a nice long hike in the mountains.
This photo was taken on the 14th of December 2007. We went hiking in the mountains of Oman (Musandam - Wadi El Bih) with a bunch of friends. It was pretty cloudy, even foggy while on top.
the hike went well and while the sun was setting down, we headed back to our cars. And this was our reward.

I shot this handheld on manual mode at 1/60 sec., f/18 and ISO 100. I slightly adjusted the contrast and saturated the colors on Photoshop afterwards to give it more impact.
When I first saw the scene, I loved the difference of colors between the horizon with the sun setting down, and the sky above still nice and blue with the white fluffy clouds.
I chose to shoot this vertically for composition's sake. The right and left side had more clouds and less color so I decided to focus on this part and split the photo in 2 parts.

The first name that came to me was: "Heaven and Hell". The top being nice and bright, with a lovely blue sky and white clouds, and the bottom being darker, with the harsh mountain horizon and warm colors.

What a beautiful way to finish a nice long walk!

Desert Ripples


"The desert is the environment of revelation, genetically and physiologically alien, sensorily austere, esthetically abstract, historically inimical"

~ Paul Shepard ~

Let's start with one of my most "favorited" photos on various sites, I would love to have your opinion on it.
This is an old photo taken in March 2008 while camping in the deserts of U.A.E.
Along with a group of friends, we often go camping here and there during our weekends to escape the stress of big cities. We mainly go camp on beaches (so we could swim/dive when hot) but we also go camp in the desert from time to time for a change.

There is really something magical about deserts. Being surrounded by beautifully curved sand dunes, with no sound except for a slight wind. One can only feel inner peace in places like this.

This shot was taken during the night, it was pitch dark, no moon. The sand was very thin and warm.
I used my camera with a tripod, a 30" shutterspeed at f/6.3 with an ISO of 400. I used a torch light I left on the ground on the right side of the photo to emphasize the ripples left by the wind on the sand dunes. I decided to shoot the ripples diagonally to give it more dynamism. The photo was shot in B&W.

It turned out to be as I wanted. No manipulations whatsoever where done on this one. Looking at the abstract forms kind of "relaxes" me, almost like a zen garden, leading the eye into the darkness.
It is times like this that one searches for answers from within, surrounded by Peace.

"To the desert go prophets and hermits, through the desert do pilgrims and exiles. Here the leaders of the great religions have sought the therapeutic and spiritual values of retreat, not to escape but to find reality"

~ Paul Shepard ~

Welcome To Canvas of Light!


Welcome dear readers to my humble photoblog: Canvas of Light.

After hesitating for a while, I finally decided to take that step and jump into the world of blogging to share my passion of photography with everyone.

Although I already post my photos on numerous photo-community sites, I felt like I wanted a more personal blog where I can also relate the stories and ideas behind each of my photos as well as some tips I have discovered during my journey in the photographic adventure. I find it always interesting to have a glimpse of what is happening inside of a photographer's head.

I guess I have to tell a bit about myself, I am Daniel, a French-Armenian 30 year old guy with a boring day job in a boring office. I had a passion for Arts since my childhood.

My main interest at first was drawing.. I loved to draw, and kept on drawing for the past 25 years.

One day while camping, I envied one of my friends who had bought a brand new DSLR camera, snapping amazing photos. Less than a month later, in November 2007, I purchased a DSLR too (Canon 400D)… And that's when a new passion was born.

I am a complete self taught amateur. Everything I learned I did it alone, with a lot of practice (I used to take my camera EVERYWHERE!), a lot of reading, a lot of experimenting and of course, browsing the net to get some ideas and inspiration.

I intend to quit my job in 2009 to jump into the world of freelance photography and finally follow my dreams.

Why Canvas of Light you say? Because as a photographer, I use the available Light and my camera as tools to "paint" my photos like an artist in front of his canvas. My intention is always to tell a story, trigger an emotion through my photos. A photo should not be only "beautiful" or "perfectly done"… it should trigger something within the viewer.

And that is what I hope I will be able to do.

I will be posting some of my oldest photos as well as new ones. You would be able to follow the evolution and improvement through time. For each of them I will relate the story behind it, the technical details and my own view on it. I will do my best to keep the blog updated frequently (preferably once a day).

Feel free to ask any questions, I will be happy to answer them.

I thank you in advance for your interest.

Alright then… Let the journey start!

And may there always be Light!

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