Travel, going abroad, elsewhere

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Do you get stressed as well feeling how much you want to travel. There are so incredible different places to go to. How to even begin to narrow it down enough to make any sort of concrete plans. I visited about 98 countries outside of my birthplace up to now, though I suppose if you count layovers and such I have been to 105 countries, but the last I think doesn’t count at all.

I’ve hit up the Northern States of Africa, some of them twice. I basically lived in France, Russia, Japan, Greece, Hong Kong, Switzerland…. seems I’m quite getting around. I spent some time in the US and Canada as well. How many layovers I had on my trips I can’t even remember.

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On the other hand I often met people who have no ambition to travel at all. They don’t even want to go cross country let alone across an ocean. I’ve never understood that, how can someone be that way?

Lately my travelling has mostly been all over Asia and Australia but at the same time I’ve always wanted to traverse all other parts of the earth, parts of Africa, South America, Russia, India,…you name it. There are some reason why I couldn’t manage to go to certain areas up to now. Honestly I’d jump on a flight to literally any of this countries if you handed me a ticket.

Today I started daydreaming and it got pretty bad I’m just now looking desperately at my bank account, looking at the calendar, starting to look for flights and accommodation. I’m just eager to leave the country for any period of time to somewhere. I know how to budget, how to save. I can get by on very little (just looking at first class flights, five star hotels, resorts ..…) - daydreaming!

But apart from the joke the only richness I’m looking for is the richness of travel, of experiencing cultures, of living a different life in a different place. That’s all I’m asking.

I’ve looked around me, and all I know is that I need to be elsewhere.

Beat the monkey

Photography is actually quite a simple process. All you essentially need is a tight box where only the light is captured you want to be there, you don’t even need optics to concentrate the light, a mere well done hole will do and at least a sensitive medium to capture the light.

Instant film taking with Polaroid 350 land camera

Instant film taking with Polaroid 350 land camera

Getting as well some optics in this setting will give provide you with fun and incredible creative possibilities for many years to come. Pinhole cameras, Holga’s, Diana’s and more sophisticated other brands up to the expensive Leica’s are the creative tools you can use. 

Now as we are in the digital revolution and everything is going easy peasy a lot had been swept aside. When everyone nowadays can do photographic project our ancestors could only dream off I like to ask the question if this brought as well ” better?” photographers and better images? Looking through thousands of images on Flickr, 500px, Facebook, Google plus or alike it seems sometimes it’s getting worse, less creative, more slavish and lemming like. Everyone is just part of the big herd trampling down the same road.

Back in the day when most professional cameras were not automated and didn’t do the thinking for you you had really to think about how to control the flow of light onto your film plane and because of this fact you started to know how to expose, external meter what the heck. Practice makes perfect. Don’t get me wrong I like as well the easiness of todays fast workflow from shooting and getting the instant result on the back of my devices. But once in a while going backwards and making it harder for yourself might give you different insight how light and your gear works.

Hong Kong in square format

Hong Kong in square format

You’re no longer a monkey pushing a button. You certainly start to see different things; you start to notice light again in not letting the machine do the thinking for you.

Try to get the hang on the sunny 16 rule (wikipedia helps). By far it's not 100% accurate but neither are the light meters in camera especially when you don’t know what kind of metering is best to use. As a matter of fact film has some latitude to compensate for a guessing f stop. Don’t be obsessed  to much the more you practice  the better you will be able to estimate the correct exposure for your purpose.

So get creative don’t get in the monkey habit just pushing buttons as well as pray and spray but do some conscious creative work. And most and foremost: Have Fun!

Rangefinder shot taken in Bangkok

Rangefinder shot taken in Bangkok


Leather wraped camera

Today has been one of the nice sunny days here in Hanoi. Apart from nice sunny places sitting in a coffee shop and looking at the ongoing pedestrian traffic there where as well some hazy skies. Walking around the Westlake I suddenly got the message from my "leather man" telling me that my leather camera is ready. 

Quite exited I met him in a coffee shop and he presented me with my new designed leather wrap for my Leica M2. Here the first images. I think it looks quite well. Easy going with a wrap like that. Just pull the camera out, fold the wrap, put in my jacket and good to go. It's as well a fine protection if I just put everything in my bag. 

 

A glimpse of my new wrap

A glimpse of my new wrap

Brown buffalo leather as wrapping with a lighter colored strap  

Brown buffalo leather as wrapping with a lighter colored strap  

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Going geeky crazy into Polaroid

With several new innovative products Polaroid came kind of back at this years 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In the 1960s and 1970s, Polaroid was in a way what Apple is today: one of the coolest technology companies on earth. In its heyday, Polaroid was an absolute innovation machine—a scientific think tank that periodically kicked out a fantastic products. 

Well it's no secret that I'm crazy in love with photography. So as you might imagine, I was thrilled to see any news about photography from this years CES Show. But there weren't many. But Polaroid reminded me of an old Polaroid Land camera — which it seems was created especially for geeks like me - which I dusted of and got shooting again.

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Taking a photograph and having the print in front of you instantaneously is quite different even in digital times. I own a Polaroid 350 Land Camera which is in general, one of the higher-end Polaroid pack cameras which are well-designed and tough. The bellows are nearly indestructible, and the body still very solid.

Part of the Polaroid camera series start with the Automatic 100 and finish at the Automatic 450, they shares some common set of features:

Folding Bellows

Automatic Exposure

100-series Packfilm

The 350 is one of the higher end models of the 100-400 series line of folding Pack film Land Cameras; the main difference being the inclusion of a development timer on the rear of the body, and a smaller eyepiece on the rangefinder. The shutter speed is automatically chosen from a range between 12-1/1200s.

The main advantages of this higher end model over others is:

Zeiss Ikon-designed rangefinder

projected frame lines and parallax compensation.

Tripod mount on all-metal body

3 element glass lens (114mm f8.8)

What about the availability of film you might think. No problem at that. Apart from the Impossible project there are film packs from Fuji

– FP-3000B Professional Instant Black & White Film (10 Exposures) 

– FP-100C Professional Instant Color Film ISO 100 (10 Exposure, Glossy) 

The Polaroid version of this cameras are all expired, not in production, expensive, and hard to find, I think the Fuji films are the way to go.

Here a trial of long exposure at Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi

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First Photo Walk of the Hanoi Photo Club and than it starts to drizzle

Getting everyone together for the first photo walk in Hanoi - exiting, exiting. And than it starts to rain, rain, rain….

Sitting dry warm and cozy in a taxi

Sitting dry warm and cozy in a taxi

At least I didn’t have to go alone, but it has been a very close group (two wet driven enthusiasts).

As often and everywhere in the world most photographers do not like taking pictures in rainy conditions because of different problems. They might be astonished to learn and see what sometimes breath-taking world can exist and enfold during rain.

TET, Vietnamese New Year, is not far away and you'll see these fruits everywhere

TET, Vietnamese New Year, is not far away and you'll see these fruits everywhere

Looking on these conditions in a favorable way you’ll see that rain provides photographers with an opportunity to let their creativity run wild. The possibilities to capture some stunning pictures, as there are not so many taking photos in these conditions, is quite great. Many professionals consider photography in the rain to be a form of fine art photography as it requires skill and patience to capture remarkable images.

However, everything is not as difficult as you might imagine. Just be aware to set your shutter speed and ISO at an appropriate setting – considering that the main light source is reduced by the clouds and the drizzle.

Two Vietnamese elders grinning at the dumb foreigner walking unprotected through the rain

Two Vietnamese elders grinning at the dumb foreigner walking unprotected through the rain

If it is your cup of tea to show the falling rain to add additional impact to your rain-drenched background try the following tip. All you need to do is putting your shutter speed to about 1/30 or 1/15 (think of using a tripod or monopod), and try different apertures.

Flower with rain drops

Flower with rain drops

Photographing in the rain can be very exciting. You can capture shapes, shadows and colors that cannot be captured on a sunny day. Raindrops hitting the surface, rain on petals and leaves, water droplets, reflections and color casts by wet objects. Just some ideas that you might include in your project on a rainy day.

Cheap rain protection can help considerable

Cheap rain protection can help considerable

Apart from all possibilities it is important to protect your camera and equipment. Cameras are quite sensitive to humidity. A few droplets will not do any harm, prolonged exposure under rain without any protection on the other hand is not advisable.Some tips that can help to protect your gear when photographing in the rain:

Under shelter

Under shelter

Change your lens under a shelter. This way, the camera is protected and you get a moment to dry likewise.Place the camera under your raincoat whenever you are moving around to find a photo location or if the camera is not in use. Otherwise just try to embrace the different weather and let your creativity flow!

A wall with drops of rain running down

A wall with drops of rain running down

Getting dry - nearly impossible

Getting dry - nearly impossible


Victoria Harbor

Walking along the new built shore of Victoria Harbor I happened to approach the Star Ferry coming from Admiralty in late afternoon as the sun started to get lower behind Central and the peak. This winter day had been quite grey and grey but at about one o'clock the sun started to burn through and at least burn away the kind of grey veil of the city. At last the two big towers IFC and ICC representing a kind of big entrance door to the harbor could be seen very clearly.

 

With my new 16-35mm Zeiss lens I got a very good shot. I enhanced everything in Lightroom, cropped it for Instagram in a square and voila her you can see it.

Hong Kong Heritage

Past and present of PMQ (Police Married Quarter). 1862 was the year when the Queens College was established at Gough Street as first government school in Hong Kong. The school existed until World War II when it was severely damaged. In 1951 it was rebuilt as the first Police Married Quarter and used until about the year 2000. 

In 2009 the building was brought into the project to conserve Central and in 2010 it was decided to transform the site into a creative industries landmark. Now there is a new platform for Hong Kongs creative industrie. 

Apart from insights into history you'll find some of Hong Kongs newest design crews here. 

You can get more information at: www.pmq.org.hk

 

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Bangkok hipster time

Srinakarin Train Market (Talat Rot Fai) is as i already stated one  of the coolest night markets in Bangkok. “Talad” means market and “Rot Fai” means train. Some years ago  it was an open-air bazaar beside an abandoned railroad tracks. Now it has moved into a new location (Srinakarin Road) behind Seacon Square.

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This night market has it’s own character and you'll find mostly retro and vintage styled items. But apart from this Talat Rot Fai does not only attract the city’s hip and stylish, it is a popular hangout area for friends and families as well.

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Cinematic look

Looking around the Internet and looking for different ideas I came along some photographers who are producing images that have a look as if they were stills captured from movie films. A couple of them are based in New York and I had a look on their projects to get a grip on their approach on the cinematic look. 

What I came up with it apart from the content is how the image is processed or “treated” (color correction and grading, much like film footage). The intersection between stills photography and motion, is quite interesting to look and I thought others might like it too.

Here are some steps and one of different ways to apply the widescreen look and details of achieving this look:

Step 1 – Take the RAW image and import to Lightroom

Step 2 – Play with split toning to achieve the start of a color look (warmth adding t)

Step 3 – Adjust color saturation and luminace to suit

Step 4 – Adjust blacks, color temperature, shadows and saturation

Step 5 – Add a slight vignette and grain, to go for a “film-like” look

Step 6 – Export to PS or another post processing software. 

Step 7 – Add a black solid layer underneath the background layer

Step 8 – mark a fixed ratio for width and height. 16:9 widescreen image.  and crop it

Step 9– Select a fixed ration of 2.35:1 for an anamorphic look and add an Adjustment Layer

Step 10 – Go to Layers panel. Apply Layer Mask to apply the mask to the image

Step 11 – Align the image and Apply Layer Mask to apply the mask.

Step 12 -  Select the entire document and align Layers select Vertical and align the layer vertically

Here some examples

Preparing food for the masses

Preparing food for the masses

Shop for mixed snacks

Shop for mixed snacks

Asking for ....

Asking for ....

Street photography tips

Street photography can be intimidating as everyone who tried it knows. But when you’re up for the task, be sure to take some hints in consideration before facing the streets.

1. What gear to take up?

A small combo is mostly better to use. Like a small lens with a 35mm or 50mm, so you don’t appear to obvious. A normal to wide-angle lens give you the capability to capture your scenes and surrounding context easily. 

2. Know the law

Different countries, different laws. Try to get to know the laws up on the region you are shooting to avoid trouble. 

3. Don’t look to obvious 

Don’t lurk around suspiciously – don't take to fancy gear. Be respectful and considerable.

4. Apart from automatic mode try aperture as well

Aperture priority is made for street photography. Set your f-stop between f/8 and f/16 and don’t be afraid to bump your ISO as far as you're certain to go.

5. Focus

Autofocus can be your best friend but try manual  focus as well  as you will need to quickly focus on a subject on a busy street, automatic focus can, depending on camera model slow and you might get lost.

6. Storytelling

Street photography is all about moments and stories. Try capturing the context and telling your story.

7. Look for striking elements

Light and shadows, reflections in puddles or windows are all interesting elements that work well in street photography.

8. Angles

Crouch down, stand on your toes, climb on a ledge, take care as well, lay down, use tilting screens and alike. 

9. Stealth mode

Some of the best street photographers shoot without using the viewfinder – sometimes the only way to capture natural moments. Practice shooting at chest level or from the waist, the hip, backwards and so on.  It might require practice sometimes luck, but can gives you eventually  gems you wouldn't have got otherwise.  

10. Smile

A smile or a cheeky grin can be the best for upcoming difficult situations.

Did I miss any tips? Let me know!

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