Walking Through Yangshuo

A buddy with an umbrella

Can I tell you what a luxury it is to have someone hold an umbrella for you in the rain while you take photos? It is unbelievable! I love to shoot in the rain, and always struggled with also holding an umbrella and trying to operate all my equipment. Plus, I refuse to get one of those hat-umbrella things… I must have at least a little bit of dignity!

Daily Photo – Walking Through Yangshuo

This was the only moment in the night where it stopped raining long enough for me to get a shot with a tripod. I took many other handheld shots this evening with my other Sony A7r, using Leica lenses. Of those, probably only 10/200 turned out interesting… but I was happy this one came out good. I do like to set up for the occasional wide-angle shot to try to capture the whole scene.

Walking Through Yangshuo

Photo Information

  • Date TakenJune 5, 2014 at 1:37am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture4
  • ISO3200
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Floating Over Bora Bora

DJI Phantom Quadcopter Review

I’m putting together the beginnings of a DJI Phantom Review here on the site. I’m adding the specifics of my setup as well as a little behind-the-scenes video if you want an early look! Or, if you just quickly want to know my setup, here it is: DJI Phantom 2 with Zenmuse H3-3d 3-axis Gimbal and Gopro Hero 3+ Black Edition.

Video: Floating Over Bora Bora

Here’s my latest video that I thought you might enjoy! Thanks again to the team over there at the Four Seasons Bora Bora for making such a fabulous resort that was so amazing to shoot from the skies above… wow what a week!

(be sure to click the little gear to make it hi-rez!)

The music in there is “Jetstream” by the incredible Luscne. Click that link to see their Soundcloud channel!

Some favorite Aerial Photos

As you’ll read in the review above, I set mine up in such a way so it records HD video and also takes a photo every five seconds. Every one of these photos below is taken using that process!

HDR Photo

I love aiming the camera straight down… I think this is also why I like looking out of a plane window so much… I want to do it all day long!

 

DCIM101GOPRO

Oh my gosh – how beautiful is this place? Even though it is beautiful from the ground level, it’s really remarkable how surprising the view is from just a bit above. I showed this photo to several people that have worked there at the Four Seasons for many years, and they were absolutely shocked at the angle. I think taking photos from new perspectives like this is so exciting!

 

DCIM101GOPRO

If you watch the behind-the-scenes video for this on the review page, you can see more how this shot was made… mostly just lucky!

 

DCIM101GOPRO

Just what I always wanted, my own small deserted island! How cool! I find that when I do these straight-down shots that I prefer to have the GoPro set on the wide-angle mode because it makes it look like the quadcopter is much higher than it really is.

 

DCIM101GOPRO

Now, I don’t love this shot, but I’m putting it up anyway. The light was starting to get low here, and this is when the GoPro doesn’t do so hot. There are many artifacts and other problems with this photo. But, I still kinda like it, despite the flaws.

 

DCIM101GOPRO

I love that the top-down view is often kind of confusing. This was taken wide-angle, but I used the Profile Correction in Lightroom to make all the lines nice and straight again.

 

DCIM101GOPRO

The amazing blues that the GoPro can capture!! This is a view of the Pacific ocean in the other direction off the island.

 

DCIM101GOPRO

Here’s my Yoga teacher Sara doing some light paddleboard yoga in the morning! And here’s a shot of me!! hehe

 

DCIM101GOPRO

Another view looking towards the north and the little deserted island you may remember from before.

 

http://stuckincustoms.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-jB79565/A

Another crazy view from above that shows the lovely colors of blue. I also profile-corrected this one so the horizon was straight across. Sometimes I leave it curved though, because I like the effect.

 

DCIM101GOPRO

This is one of my favorite shots and I didn’t even take off yet! This kind of shows how awesome the GoPro camera is!

 

DCIM101GOPRO

Which one do you want to live in? I shot this from room 101, right below. I was laying on my back by that little plunge pool. Actually, one of my favorite ways to fly this thing is laying on my back!

 

Spire through the Morning Fog

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Daily Photo – Spire through the Morning Fog

Every morning here near the Li River is different. I walked all the way up here one morning only to be surrounded by pea-soup the entire time! This time I woke up again at 4 in the morning to come up here to try again. This time, I was rewarded with some truly beautiful mists and foggy cloud layers that made everything feel like a dream!

Spire through the Morning Fog

Photo Information

  • Date TakenJune 7, 2014 at 11:21am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture4
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

The Safe Slums of Fes, Morocco

Safest Scary Place You’ve Been?

I know those words are kind of the opposite: Safe & Scary. But I suppose I mean where is a place you were really scared to go and then, after arriving, you found out it was totally awesome and safe?!? I find these kind of places all the time. I don’t know if I would say I was super “scared” — just kind of on high alert. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not going to walk around the bad parts of Rio or Detroit at night by myself with my camera, but you know what I mean.

Daily Photo – The Safe Slums of Fes, Morocco

I went through this dodgy area of Fes one night to try to climb up a hillside to get a view of the mountain. It was actually perfectly safe, and everyone was smiling and happy. I now know how to speak just a little bit of Arabic, at least enough to get by. I thought this run-down area was actually kind of beautiful in its own way, so I set up to take a photo…

The Safe Slums of Fes, Morocco

The Safe Slums of Fes, Morocco

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 16, 2014 at 8:02am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time8
  • Aperture7.1
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

Way Over Wanaka

Borders on Photos

I don’t usually put borders around my photos. I don’t have anything necessarily against borders (as long as they are not too garish). But my friend Jackie Ranken made a good point about them — that they help define the borders of a photo when shown on a black screen when projecting. I think a lot of people also look at them full screen on their computers or TVs with a black background, so it is nice to have that sharply designed border there.

Daily Photo – Way Over Wanaka

We had an amazing helicopter flight over the Southern Alps and ended up flying over some mountains near Wanaka. They were covered in a fine fog and mist and looked absolutely epic. I took dozens and dozens of shots. This is one of the first that I have processed, and I love the way it turned out in black and white.

Way Over Wanaka

Way Over Wanaka

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMay 3, 2014 at 11:28am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture10
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length44.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

The Path in Rabat

Reflective Path Trick

The path was already nice and shiny, but here’s a good way to get it to be extra-reflective and goody-shiny in the final photo:

1) Duplicate the layer
2) Blur the new layer on top (Gaussuan around 30)
3) Set the blend mode to Overlay (you’ll see the path get all shiny-shiny!)
4) Duplicate the bottom (original) layer again and move it to the top
5) Mask through to the reflective path!

Daily Photo – The Path in Rabat

This is the very first place I stayed when I got to Rabat, Morocco. This is the interior courtyard and it was pretty in the day, and I had a feeling it would be even better in the night. Indeed it was! I like setting up these kind of shots where the path does not go down the very center, but a bit off to the side, disappearing at the Phi point.

The Path in Rabat

The Path in Rabat

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 1, 2014 at 11:04am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time30
  • Aperture9.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length13.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+2

Crossing the Sahara

Mystery in your photos

Having little strange things in your photos is nice little touch, I think. For example, in this photo below, there is that one guy just walking off into the distance… it raises more questions than answers.

Daily Photo – Crossing the Sahara

I had an amazing and rather hot time in the Sahara. To get this photo, I had to go up a huge dune on foot. I gave my own camel a break and decided to walk up the dune. How hard could it be, I figured. I figured wrong. And that night, I got so dizzy and sick, then realized it was probably because I hardly had any water… even though I've seen thousands and thousands of shows and movies about people not drinking enough water in the desert, I was so excited that I forgot to drink water!

Crossing the Sahara

Crossing the Sahara

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 8, 2014 at 6:48am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/160
  • Aperture5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length70.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Woman getting goodies in Tokyo

Interesting Effect

I know many of you bought my Lightroom Presets from the Stuck In Customs store up there (thanks!) — so you might notice this one is from “Fire of the Chandrian” — and I think it made such a cool effect in the background. Can you see what I mean? Once you see it, the shapes in the bokeh came out in a pretty and surprising way!

Daily Photo – Woman getting goodies in Tokyo

When I was in Tokyo last, there were a group of these traditionally dressed women who were walking around, shopping, laughing, and basically being perfect little Japanese people! They would often stop and get little snacks, which was also awesome. I just like watching them… even the way they purchase and eat snacks is so interesting!

Woman getting goodies in Tokyo

Woman getting goodies in Tokyo

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 20, 2014 at 8:09pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1500
  • Aperture
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Walking to Glacier Isobel

Environment-sensitive Quadcopters

I’ve been thinking how awesome it will be when quadcopters have built-in lidars so they can sense when objects are nearby and automatically avoid them. My vision is not that great (since I only see out of one eye), and so sometimes it hard for me to have depth perception once I lose parallax. Anyway, I’m looking forward to that collision-avoidance soon!

Daily Photo – Walking to Glacier Isobel

Here's my friend Curtis walking towards Glacier Isobel there in the distance. We landed the chopper (with Choppy!) about 100 meters behind us and we walked up as close as we could. Well, we didn't actually get that close because there was a super-steep cliff where we called it quits.

I came to this place back in the summer, and the ground was covered in these bright red tussocks. But now in the Autumn when it starts to snow, it looks like a totally different place!

Walking to Glacier Isobel

Walking to Glacier Isobel

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMay 3, 2014 at 11:48am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/320
  • Aperture10
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

Little Girl in the Streets of Morocco

Bokeh Processing Tip

When processing photos in lightroom that have a bokeh (or out-of-focus) area, don’t use the “Clarity” slider in Lightroom. Many times, when everything is in focus, this is my favorite slider. But watch out because it will make those softer areas less soft… and that’s the whole purpose of bokeh! Anyway, a quick tip there that is not immediately obvious because you can tend just to look how much better the “sharp” bits look when playing with the clarity slider, but be sure to look at the other bits too!

Daily Photo – Little Girl in the Streets of Morocco

While I was walking around this wonderfully blue city, I saw many kids out hanging around the outdoors. They all had on cute outfits that seemed to go so well with the powder blue paint of the city. Here is one of the little girls I saw. No one seemed to mind me taking photos, and that was nice because there were so many cute kids!

Little Girl in the Streets of Morocco

Little Girl in the Streets of Morocco

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 5, 2014 at 6:33am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

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