Stone Steps in the City

High Dynamic Range Photo

HDR Tip #5

The week of HDR Tips continues with Rick Sammon. Today, I called mine, Tip #5, Don’t Forget the Zooms. I have haphazardly used the word “zoom” in a plural manner that is both irresponsible and confusing. But that’s the way I roll.

Daily Photo – Stone Steps in the City

How do you guys feel about hyper-manufactured situations like this?

I don’t always know what to think. There are a lot of urban areas like this around Beijing where they create little natural-looking areas. They certainly look cool, and perfect in many ways. But, perhaps it is a little too perfect. No, that’s not the right way to say it. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something doesn’t feel right about it. It’s almost because I can picture the designer deciding to put a tree in a certain spot or the selection of a certain shape of stone in another part. Maybe if the placement of items was truly accidental — true randomness — then it might look more natural.

But I see a lot of this in China. They have communities with giant apartment blocks. The new ones are all very modern and nice. And in the middle of them are fountains, small groves of trees, paths, swings, and everything. There are families out mucking about and enjoying it… but I wonder if it “feels” as funny to them as it does to me. I sometimes feel like I’m on a holodeck.

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The Terminal

Want some Awesome Aperture Presets and Goodies?

Do any of you use Aperture to organize your photos? If so, my friend Joseph Linaschke, has released some New Aperture Presets with my Textures. Really amazing stuff… After you follow that link, just click on “Adjustment Presets” and you’ll be in the right area.

Joseph plucked some of his favorite textures out of my texture tutorial package and integrated them into those presets. It’s a pretty dang simple way to use them!

Besides the presets, Joseph has all other kinds of goodies in there too… ebooks and a little bit of everything. He wrote that remarkable ebook for about the Canon camera, so he’s a real pro. His stuff is the EXACT opposite of mine! I’m Nikon/Lightroom, and he’s Canon/Aperture. But we get along fine… like ebony and ivory.

HDR Tips Continue!

High Dynamic Range PhotoHere we are on day 3 of a week of HDR Tips with Rick. Today’s Tip #3 is “Leave Some Mystery”.

You might remember this shot on the right from Nimes, France. It is of an old Roman colosseum where they still have bullfights and concerts. I was thinking about visiting my friend Fabien (the website designer) this summer to see Sting there. It’s supposed to be an amazing place to see live music.

Daily Photo – The Terminal

You guys know I love the Asian airports. I can’t quite figure out why they are all so awesome. I suppose that the government just pours a ton of money into them. But, I don’t really understand the economics of airports, even though I spend a lot of time in them. I know the airlines have to lease the gates, so that provides a regular income, but probably not enough to pay back the billion dollar pricetag to get it built. I’m pretty sure there is a lot of incestuous stuff that goes on… I know some giant Asian airlines are subsidized by the government, which in turn give money to airports that are owned partially by the government, and it all gets more messy from there. I suppose I’m just used to the government doing everything badly here.

This is one of the smaller terminals in Beijing. The main terminal is huge, and you get to this one after you pass through security. The floors are so glossy, I feel like wearing ice skates!

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The Saucer Section Separates

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Since today’s photo has a reference to the great series of yore, I thought I would share a few of these videos. You may remember this episode on the right. It’s one of those special episodes you just can’t get out of your head.
And who could forget the comic stylings of Geordi and his wacky sidekick Data? When those two get together, you never quite know what will happen.

Even better, when you mix in the softly-bearded Riker, he can take things to a whole new level of unexpected heights. That show was genius…pure genius.

The Saucer Section Separates

You know you were in for something special whenever the Enterprise got into one of those situations where the saucer section would separate from the warp nacelles. It always happened in the most extreme situations, and there was always a vital emergency. But the actual separation process seemed to involve about four minutes of special effects, which was surely long enough for the Borg to assimilate everyone.

What would have been better, in retrospect, was if the Borg would just assimilate the special effects department and modernize it a bit.

Can anyone figure out from where this photo actually hails (ahem).

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NBC Interview – Behind the Scenes

NBC Video and Behind-the-Scenes

Besides the video below, there is an extended article with more behind-the-scenes stuff you might enjoy. Jim Swift from KXAN here in Austin did a nice story on the whole thing. And, thankfully, he cut out the parts of the video where we REALLY look like idiots.

100 Cameras in 1 (iTunes link).

Is an Android Version coming?

If you scroll to the bottom of the KXAN Article the question came up and we addressed it there. I know you are excited about it! So am I, obviously! 🙂

Sunday Approaches…

The big video release is just two days away… It took me a small eternity to finish, but you’ll zip through the whole thing in a matter of minutes.

Daily Photo – Girl in Hat

One morning I woke up early to go visit the Summer Palace in Beijing. Since it was the week of the national holiday, I was not the only guy that woke up early. Around the outskirts of the palace, there were thousands of celebrants in all sorts of garb. And plenty of cute kids in fanciful headwear. I saw this little girl, so I got down to her level and took a quick shot with the 50 prime.

I hope this one is sharp enough for you… I know on Flickr sometimes I get a few photo-nerds that complain, “errr…you’re a little soft in the lower right quadrant.”.

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Austin PhotoWalk at SXSW

The Big Austin PhotoWalk – Don’t miss it!

Come join us at SXSW for great night of fun photography. All skill levels are invited! Join the Plancast event and/or the Facebook Event.  We’ll be meeting at the gorgeous and famous Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin, which has always been very nice to me in the past… so they get a big thumbs up in my book.

  • All skill levels invited – from beginner to beyond
  • Great prizes for you!  My friend Jack Hollingsworth is coordinating all of this, so more news to come
  • Is it your first PhotoWalk?  Don’t be scared!  Come along with whatever camera you wish.  There will be all kinds of coaches and other nice photographers to help you out.

We recently had an amazing PhotoWalk in London – check that one out and you can see a video, photos, and more.

Daily Photo – In Old China

I was nursing my cracked ribs at this point after my clumsy slip down by the boats. But I had a bit of that post-accident adrenaline that numbed it enough to keep shooting a bit. Also, I think I was a bit loopy because of the pain, but that can make for good artistic endeavors, I think. When I remember walking around this area, it’s all a bit more foggy than some of my other experiences, which are more crystal-clear. In some ways, I almost feel like I didn’t take these photos, even though I know I did. It’s strange thinking about it now.

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Time Frozen in the Ancient Village

Bad Internet Marketing

Because of the popularity of this blog, I get these emails just about every day. It is so crazy… I want any potential “internet marketers” that are reading this site to know that I don’t do paid-blog posts or any of that nonsense.

Companies send me FREE STUFF all the time. You should see my studio – I’ve got piles and piles of crappy stuff… everything from camera equipment to gadgets. I always tell people ahead of time that I only review it if I actually like it. This is because I am super-busy… and people are too busy to read 1000 reviews… so I just stick with the best stuff.

So, of the hundreds of things I have to review, I usually do only about one every two months. Don’t get your hopes up, marketers… and certainly don’t send me lame emails like this one I got a few days ago:

One of our major clients are currently working on making their website more visible in a particular Google search and we have indicated your site as a potential partner in this venture.

What we would like from you is a banner on the homepage and/or an article in the form of a blog post, product review or something similar. Our content is bespoke, tailored for your site and written by one of our professional in-house copy writers; we always ensure that content is relevant to both the client and the hosting site.

Daily Photo – Time Frozen in the Ancient Village

I feel like I’m in a hurry to take photos of all these ancient places before they become homogenized. I worry that in 10 years that every place will look like a typical street corner in Plano, Texas. Know what I mean? There’s nothing horrible about having a Home Depot and an Applebee’s within every five mile pod of super-structure, but it can lose a bit of charm after a while.

This is a famous old village in China where the legend tells of two phoenixes hovered endlessly, transfixed by the beauty they saw below. It’s located in the western part of central China’s Hunan Province. It’s called Feng Huang Cheng (“feng huang” being the Chinese name for the phoenix), and I’m happy I got to spend a few days wandering around its mysterious bits. This is a good overview of the city, and I’ll have many more from the insides coming soon enough.

BTW, if you are wondering how I made this… you may be interested in the textures tutorial.

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A Child in Tiananmen Square

Game of Thrones

I’m so excited! This is my favorite series of fantasy books in the world… I think George RR Martin is pure greatness. I heard HBO was making this series, and I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting. They just came out with a behind-the-scenes preview of the first season. See the preview here on YouTube!

Fail Pictures

My friend John P over at One Man’s Blog put together the best Fail Pictures. Nothing can make you feel better than some idiot doing something stupid.  And I’m not talking about John P there.

Daily Photo – A Child in Tiananmen Square

After I left the exciting-sounding (but actually cool) Beijing City Planning museum, I walked under the street to get to Tiananmen Square. There were thousands of people out celebrating a national holiday. Kids, parents, families, and all sorts of festive activity. Asian kids are always cute aren’t they? You just can’t get away from it…

I found this little one with a busy mom snapping away nearby. Everyone was taking photos everywhere…. it was kind of crazy. I knelt down to grab this one before moving on to find more cute kids.

High Dynamic Range Photo

The Chinese Mothership

Thanks!  And New Version coming Soon!

A few days ago, I asked if you had media connections to help with 100 Cameras in 1.  And now we have stories on Wired, The LA Times, TUAW, AppAdvice, Toucharcade, and many more!  And this was in addition to the Gizmodo / Kotaku reviews…  Thanks very much! You guys rock!  

This helped us to finally pass Camera+, which is quite an accomplishment!  BTW, I keep advising that you pick up Camera+ too since my friend Lisa made it… support your local internet artist! 🙂

Even though these ratings vacillate, you might be interested to know that we are in the top 0.16% of all the 300,000 apps in the store.  Amazing!  In the US, we’ve stayed in the top 10 all week for photography.  For that category in other countries, we hit #3 in the Netherlands, #8 in Australia, #9 in Brazil, #3 in Finland, #8 in France, #4 in Argentina, #5 in Belgium, #7 in India, and #6 in New Zealand!  Thanks countries of the world!  We’re working on some amazing updates with secret surprises… stay tuned.

Oh China, let’s be friends!

As opposed to the stats above, in China, we are a depressing #268. Oh China, why oh why? We’ve been such good friends, and I’ve tried to take such pretty pictures of you, China. Don’t be like that. Maybe I just need a Chinese version of the app, but I’m not sure how to do that.

Even worse, in Russia, we are #310. Was it something I said? Oh China and Russia… I don’t wanna fight… can’t we just be friends?

Daily Photo – The Chinese Mothership

Look at this magical place in Beijing… it’s on the edge of belief.

I could hardly fathom the nature of this place. I expected the lights to appear on the grid with melodic tones a mystical, alien language, like in Close Encounters. But none of that happened… So I just stood there for a long time, thinking about how incredible this place was… and took my time, setting up my system for a fitting photograph.

Remember when we were kids, and we never finished our food, even under the threat of starving children in China? Now, I say to my kids, you better eat your food, or else Chinese children will grow up and create an economic powerhouse. Well too late for that!

This is the amazing National Centre for the Performing Arts, or as I like to say, the ????? — I find that rolls of the tongue a bit easier.

The Chinese Mothership

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-08-12 06:08:50
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length16mm (16mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

The Inner Museum

Photography Gadgets, Updated

I updated the Photography Gadgets page, and that thing is still a work in progress. I know perfect is the enemy of good… so my usual method is to put up pages while they are still incomplete, and then I iterate on them over time. That page is on its third iteration, but not quite where I want it yet!

Part of that page is a “Photography-related Gadgets”, which involve things that are in the orbit of my camera. One cool new thing I added was the Moshi products… There are two on there, and I pictured one to the right. I’ve tried three different iPad cases, and this one is the best.

Moshi iPad Case

Daily Photo – The Inner Museum

This is the Capital Museum in Beijing, and it houses some famous and exquisite pieces. Many of the works were still incomprehensible to me, but it’s nice how there seems to be an international feeling of beauty around different objects.

The lighting was very unique in here, and the layout made for a challenging shoot. Of course I did use a tripod here…I’m not sure it is possible to capture it otherwise.

High Dynamic Range Photo

The Mysterious Chinese Woodwind

Waiting for the Sunset in Atlanta

High Dynamic Range PhotoWhen I was in Atlanta last year, I set up on the top floor of the W Hotel for a sunset shot. I was there with my friend Scott Kublin. So much of taking photos is just patience… in this case, I laid down for a bit to think about things. I didn’t realize it until just yesterday — but Scott took this photo of me! Anyway, I thought it came out kind of nice… and it shows that most of what I do is not really as exciting as it might seem.

And guess what? The sunset was really boring, so I never got a good photo. These things happen quite a bit… But I never have a photo to show of it… the absence of a photo is not a photo that is worth sharing…

HDR Camera Recs

I updated my camera recommendations page with the old good/better/best categorization. I’m sure not everyone agrees, but that’s okay! I could easily describe 10 different Nikon models, but that gets a little overwhelming for new people that are just getting into the sport.

But about that “Entry Level” option. Maybe you can make a case for a better one? I want to recommend something VERY inexpensive that can do bracketed JPEGs. Not everyone can afford $900+ for the better DSLRs, but they really want to make bracketed photos for HDR.

The Mysterious Chinese Woodwind

In one of the older areas of Beijing, I visited several different operas. Luckily, my team on the ground there was able to talk to the management to make sure I could walk around anywhere during the performance to find interesting things. I saw this woman playing this most unusual instrument, so I stayed in her area for a while until the light was right.

This opera had some very unusual instruments, and I heard sounds that were completely foreign to me. They say that these instruments and styles have been handed down over centuries, and I suppose that is why they sound so unique.

There’s one sound in particular, not made from the instrument, that I can’t ever forget. It sounds vaguely, forgive me, like a large metal mixing bowl, 1/3 full of water, that is struck with another, empty metal bowl. It’s a jarring but mystical sound… maybe you know the instrument I am talking about? Or maybe you recognize the one from this photo?

Edit: Smart Commenters below point out it is called a “The Chinese sheng” (Chinese: 笙; Pinyin shēng).

High Dynamic Range Photo

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