Tag Archives: travel photography

Photographing “China B”

Spanning into the mists of time, its history has predicated thousands of years of philosophies, dogmas, and customs. It’s population, a conceptually difficult to imagine 1,357,000,000, is ultra diverse in its cultures, languages, and cuisines. It’s also very large, the same size as the United States, as it borders 14 adjacent developing countries.

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Shanghai, or as Anthony Bourdain put it, as city that makes his New York City look like a third world country.

What many envision China today, perhaps through news programs, tourism, or the Beijing Olympics, may be a rapidly developing economy with shining beacon cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing. However, few casual tourists or tie-wearing business people will have the opportunity to venture into China’s countryside, to rural roads less traveled, and to what one scholar termed as “China B.”

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Power lines stretch across resting winter farmlands.

In my recent travels to China during Lunar New Years, I had the opportunity to travel to an old town on the outskirts of Xi’an, in the Shanxi province, right in the middle of the country. Along the 1.5 hour car ride, I pointed my Sony A7 out the window and capture a side of the country rarely seen. Every image below was shot with a Sony A7 with a Zeiss 35mm f/2.8. The lens focused quickly and confidently, but it was the micro-contrast of the images that really inspired.

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Traveling Through Iceland (Part 1)

With the winter just around the corner, some of you might already be starting planing ahead their winter trips. Why not Iceland this year?! For many years it has been a quiet place, only few travelers to test the winter conditions at the time. Now this island has become the new photographer’s paradise and is getting more and more popular. And this for a good reason : it is indeed undeniably a place like nowhere else in our world. Travelling in Iceland during the winter season is “slightly” different than during the summer time…

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The length of the day, the weather conditions, the road access or even the number of tourists will be different! Doing photography in such a cold destination can be tricky and remind you quickly how hurtful a frozen nose can be. Iceland is not the coldest place on earth, temperatures stay at a reasonable level but the windchill is something you need to be prepared to deal with.

So first of all, and before preparing your camera gear, prepare some good and warm clothes. This will definitely make you a happy photographer. Use the « onion trick » to keep warm, the more layers you stack the less cold you feel. Having some good boots will allow you to walk into snow conditions and not loosing one of your toes ! Multiple gloves is also a good help when it comes to photography.

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You need at least two different types, big and warm outside gloves and slim ones to be able to correctly use you camera gear. Also put some grip ( tennis racket grip i.e) on a section of your tripod. If not already done, you will thank me later for that when you try it!  Continue reading Traveling Through Iceland (Part 1)

Got GAS? Honest Questions We Need to Ask Ourselves

So here I am, thinking about dropping some hard earned cash on another camera system. I’ve definitely been a sucker for hype and the latest generation of cameras have lured hours of my attention from actual work. Maybe I was going to procrastinate either way, but at the end of this tunnel, I will probably be losing a hefty amount of cash to replace it with several hundred grams of magnesium alloy housing some serious CMOS circuitry.

Photographer or Photo Enthusiast?

As large camera manufacturers start churning out the hype machines, many photo-enthusiasts will start salivating for these new imaging monsters; bigger resolution, better dynamic range, higher sensitivity, faster processing, more connectivity, etc. It’s enough to make you go out and justify maxing out your credit card in order to ignite a spark that hasn’t been lit since the last time you purchased a camera.

But before you do that, you need to ask yourself this question: What do I need this for? It’s pretty simple but for many, this could be like walking through a land mine.

It doesn't matter how good your gear is, if you're not going out there photographing then you've purchased yourself an expensive paper weight. This sunrise shot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was captured at 5am.
It doesn’t matter how good your gear is, if you’re not going out there photographing then you’ve purchased yourself an expensive paper weight. This sunrise shot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was captured at 5am. I’m not an early bird but when you get shots like this, it’s enough to get me out of bed!

As mirrorless  cameras start eating away at DSLR sales worldwide, the old guard of photography; primarily Nikon, Canon and Pentax have been trying to stop the hemorrhaging of their entry level and enthusiast range of cameras.

To this day, nothing excites me more than placing my eye against my Canon 5D Mk III eye piece and seeing a tried and tested system in that reflex but for many, it’s totally unnecessary to carry a bigger, heavier camera all for the sake of that mirror box . You see, many families now want great image quality without carrying the big DSLR, these mirrorless cameras can provide just that but on the other end of the spectrum, enthusiasts might require a sturdier built machine that can withstand nature’s elements.

Continue reading Got GAS? Honest Questions We Need to Ask Ourselves

4+1 Photography Tips for the Business Traveler

Imagine this scene. You’ve been walking through the forest/city for days, mentally preparing yourself for the moment your subject/scene will appear before you. You know your camera, you’ve studied the weather, the lighting, the time, you can even see with your mind’s eye that one image that you want to capture. Finally, the time and place is right. Your subject is there, the light is right, the camera is purring in your hands. You look through the viewfinder, you feel the rush, the connection between you and that small part of the world you see in front of you. Click. The perfect photo. The trip was worth it.

A view of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. A little known fact is that, according to my dodgy guide (who even introduced me to the last nephew of the last emperor, not a scam, promise) entry to the City was not forbidden, it was just that males entering the city had to be castrated to do so - which justifies the name. An even lesser-known fact is that I hiked up the hill in Jingshan Park behind the Forbidden city to take this photo wile every hung-over from a late dinner with collaborators in a business suit.
A view of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. A little known fact is that, according to my dodgy guide (who even introduced me to the last nephew of the last emperor, not a scam, promise) entry to the City was not forbidden, it was just that males entering the city had to be castrated to do so – which justifies the name. An even lesser-known fact is that I hiked up the hill in Jingshan Park behind the Forbidden city to take this photo while very hung-over from a late dinner with collaborators – in a business suit.

The above scenario is what dedicated photography trips are all about. You choose the place, the time and think about the images you want to come away with. Most importantly, you have set aside a good amount of time to allow you to concentrate on getting that perfect image. That means time to explore the scene, time to try different viewpoints and techniques, time to make sure that as many of the key elements of your image come together before that crucial final capture. This is the stuff photographers’ dreams are made of and the reason why people pay considerable sums of money to embark on these highly organised and professional led trips.

A view along the river Rhine in Strasbourg, France. Camera on a portable mini tripod, photo taken while eating a decidedly mediocre lunch with a work colleague.
A view along the river Rhine in Strasbourg, France. Camera on a portable mini tripod, photo taken while eating a decidedly mediocre lunch with a work colleague.

What if you don’t have the time and/or money to do that though? What if you do have the opportunity to travel, say since work sends you to different places around the country/world, but not the dedicated time to allow you to take photos? Is it time to give up, take some quick snapshots through the taxi, buy a souvenir at the airport on your way out and call it quits? Not to fear fellow business traveller, photography beyond casual snapshots and selfies is still possible, provided you’ve done a bit of homework and are dedicated enough to make it happen. Let’s see how you can have your cake and eat it.

A view from the top of St Peter's Cathedral in Munich, Germany. One of the good things about work travel is that lunch time can usually be your time and is also a time where popular spots are free of tourists. In this case I didn't have to cue up to climb to the top of the bell tower, which meant that I was up, photographing and down within 40 minutes.
A view from the top of St Peter’s Cathedral in Munich, Germany. One of the good things about work travel is that lunch time can usually be your time and is also a time where popular spots are free of tourists. In this case I didn’t have to cue up to climb to the top of the bell tower, which meant that I was up, photographing and down within 40 minutes.

Continue reading 4+1 Photography Tips for the Business Traveler

Are the Extra Dollars Worth the Upgrade to the Full Frame Sensor?

Most professional photographers work with full frame cameras. No surprise here, it is known to yield the best image quality. That said, the latest APS-C size sensors have improved drastically lately. The Sony A6000 and the Nikon D7200 and the D5300 are the proof that this sensor size can be excellent (for the most camera geeks of you, you will have noticed that these 3 have the same 24.3MP Sony sensor but Nikon has its own way of working with it).

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This test here is showing how close it can be. The gap seems to get smaller and smaller lately, so is it worth upgrading your gear to have a full frame sensor knowing a full frame camera and all the lenses are significantly more expensive? There are many criteria to take into account.

Investing into a camera system can be very costly. The body itself is expensive but the lenses are the most expensive purchases. Fortunately, the lenses can last for decades if well maintained and treated. They also lose less value over time then the camera body. But even if we can change the camera body relatively more easily, the system we invest in determines the lenses you will buy.

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Questions: Is it worth investing in a full frame sensor nowadays knowing the APS-C size (and even the micro 4/3rd sensors to a lower extent) have a great image quality, most of the time similar?What criteria are to take into account?

Continue reading Are the Extra Dollars Worth the Upgrade to the Full Frame Sensor?