MATTEO DALL'OMBRA

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2016 National Geographic – Travel Photographer Of The Year

May 5th, 2016

It’s that time of the year again. The National Geographic is now accepting submissions for the 2016 Travel Photographer of the Year Contest.

The National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest is now accepting entries. Harness the power of photography and share your stunning travel experiences from around the globe. Enter your most powerful photos for a chance to become the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year.

Even if you are not participating, make sure to check the gallery of already submitted works. There are already – of course – great shots, like the one below.

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The picture was taken by Christoph Schaarschmidt who has to say the following about it:

I took this photo in july 2014 at Trollstigen in Norway. Standing there alone in the fog, I was waiting for the view to become clear. And then it happened, the fog disappeared and though it was 1 am already, one car came slowly up the steep serpentines. It was my dream for a long time to take a photo of lighttrails like this in Norway – and it was just an awesome feeling that it worked out on the most beautiful and famous street. A few minutes later the fog returned, even thicker than before.

So envious of the ability and the quality of the result. But I’m especially curious about learning more about that place in Norway, and maybe organise a drive there. It looks like an amazing place to be.

That’s the real power of the National Geographic, it never fails to spark your imagination.

The Food Of A Spy

August 19th, 2015
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Photographer Henry Hargreaves is known for using food to tell a story, and his latest series tells a story about James Bond. Specifically, it tells the story of the globe-trotting agent’s culinary appetites—as distinct from his carnal ones and his bloodthirst. “Dying To Eat” brings to sumptuous visual life the vast array of meals Bond dined on mostly in the book series, which fans could previously only imagine. Interestingly, the meals reveal more about this inscrutable man than most of his films do.

Amazing collection of picture, around a very neat idea. It’s almost like taking a peek behind the curtain of a celebrity.

The iPhone 6 Camera

October 2nd, 2014

It’s funny to think that one of the most impressive feature on the new iPhone 6/6+ is also the most “hidden”.

I’m talking about the new camera sensor, which is a significant step up compared to the previous generation. Why would I say that it’s a hidden feature? Well, try and find the camera in any of the side-view promotional pictures on Apple.com and see for yourself.

As you may have heard by now, the new sensor creates a “bulge” on the back of the phone. Rather than going the Android way with very big protuberance in the back of the device, Apple simply has let the new sensor out on its own, in favor of an overall much slimmer device.

Aesthetic aside (you can easily solve this “problem” by using a case – leather ones are fantastic), the new camera represents a huge step forward, despite the same sensor resolution of the 5s at 8mpx.

We all know that size doesn’t always matter and this is a great example. Despite having the lower amount of mpx than any another top-tier-smartphone on the market, the iPhone 6 is still the best pocket camera money can buy. It’s fast, it’s precise, it’s powerful, it’s compact.

When I’m out and about I always snap pictures (mostly of food – sorry) and since the iPhone 4 I constantly rely on this device to be the perfect camera for any moment. I found myself leaving my DSLR home more often even when the overall capacities of the camera meant that you could only shot in full-auto.

Since iOS8, Apple has given developers the ability to exploit all built-in features of the camera. More and more apps are coming out with the ability to shoot in full manual: you can change ISO, set your shutter speed, exposure is faster and dynamic focus allows for almost-instant re-focus (even during video recording).

The iPhone has always been great is low light situations, and this version is no exception. The iPhone 6+ also has OIS (a.k.a. Optical Image Stabilisation), meaning that the sensor itself is automatically moved around by the accelerometer in order to compensate your movement , enabling sharper pictures even at longer shutter speeds. Adding everything together, makes the iPhone 6/6+ the best device to reliably shoot pictures in low light situations.

An example of an un-retouched picture in low light (using the HDR setting)

An example of an un-retouched picture in low light (using the HDR setting)

The new iPhones stepped up the game even on the video-recording side. With these new models you can now record standard video @ 30fps and 1080p, plus you have now a new option for dynamic timelapse. But the brand new jewel is the slow-mo video, now capable of going up to 240fps!

You can see an example of the slow-mo below:

In conclusion, I can safely say that Apple made once again a huge leap forward, placing the iPhone once again on top of its category.

Now the only thing that Apple has left to fix is a good photo management solution. Especially since the disappear of the Camera Roll in iOS8, it became once again a major hassle to organise all my pictures.

Apple already teased a new Photo app for the Mac (in order to replace the defunct iPhoto), plus an iCloud Photo Library (that should come with the next iOS8 update) but so far I’m definitely not impressed with them. I guess once again we’ll have to wait and see. In the mean while, I’ll be out filling my library even more.

My Holiday, All In My Pocket

January 30th, 2014

Usually every time I go on holiday I have my DSLR with me, ready to capture precious memories and why not, cool pictures ready to be shared with the world. For my recent holiday I decided to change this trend.

I just got back from a short skiing weekend where I decided to leave my big camera behind and go all-in with my iPhone.

I’ve been an iPhone user since the 3G was released and the camera has gotten better and better, but despite that I’ve always seen the iPhone not as a serious replacement for a camera. By that I mean that for me the iPhone was good for a quick Instagram share rather than for a “fine-art” composition ready for 500px.

After this weekend I think I’ve changed my mind.

I used my iPhone constantly while I was on the slopes, capturing the beauty of the mountain around me in a way I couldn’t have practically done with my Canon. I applied the same deep principle of composition and attention to details that I regularly apply and the I’ve been really please with the results.

The other thing I was worried about was related to post-processing. I’m a big fan of Lightroom and I always apply some level of color correction to all of my pictures to bring back some of the details that I may have lost when taking the picture.

On my iPad I sometimes use Snapseed, but this was the first time I used it on my iPhone. Despite having a much smaller canvas to work with the controls were still very easy to work with, giving very good results to the final picture.

Even in low light conditions, with very minimal re-touching the iPhone proved itself to be a good choice to cover my holiday.

I will still heavily rely on my DSLR, but now I’ve been reminded of the power I’ve got in my pockets.

Behind the scenes of “On The Rocks”

February 23rd, 2013

My latest picture went live yesterday night, after a lot a preparation and a carefully studied setup.

As you can see by the above picture, I had my Canon 500D on a tripod with my 50mm prime lens and a ring flash around to provide direct light to the glass. Placed on a tray there was the glass (the one used in the final picture is different), surrounded by aluminum foil.

Then I had one more LED source of light which I was able to move around to have different shading effects (you can see it on the table on the right in the next picture).

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I used the aluminum foil to reflect the light around and create a nice and soft effect for the background.

The camera setup was directly tethered to my Mac, using Adobe Lightroom 4, so I cold immediately see the result of the capture.

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Then it was time to prepare the drink! I used cold dark tea and I blended it with some ice, to try to recreate the feeling of a Scotch On The Rock.

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After a million tries and some retouched with Lightroom and Photoshop this is the final result:

On The Rocks by Matteo Dall'Ombra (matteodallombra)) on 500px.com

To be honest I’m quite happy with the result but I recognize I have room to improve. First of all towards the end of the shooting session I ran out of ice so I couldn’t really test all the different possibilities I had in mind. Secondly the lighting setup in general is not yet at its best. I found a nice lighting kit on Amazon that is already on my wish list and that will be surely able to improve my “studio” setup.

What do you think?

Bonfire Night

November 6th, 2012
Light the Night by Matteo Dall'Ombra (matteodallombra) on 500px.com

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up King and Parliament.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

Looking at the light by Matteo Dall'Ombra (matteodallombra) on 500px.com The Clock Is Ticking by Matteo Dall'Ombra (matteodallombra) on 500px.com Fire by Matteo Dall'Ombra (matteodallombra) on 500px.com

London

October 20th, 2012