Recently I found myself in a situation that many of us I am sure have experienced. I took some photos I was rather proud of and posted them on a forum. Now I knew that I am a beginner in this area of photography and I still have a ways to go, but I still wanted to show off my work. I do have rather thick skin and wouldn’t have minded some constructive criticism.
Water Smorgasborg by Joseph Calev
The response though was certainly not what I expected. A different poster basically said “yeah, that’s not bad for two months with this equipment. Now take a look at my awesome shots! You should try taking something like this!”.
To be honest, I did not appreciate this at all. Yes, his shots were clearly better than mine. However he provided no constructive criticism on my own shots. I was just a beginner hoping to shine a bit and he threw a giant gobo on top of me.
This brings back an earlier story where I was on the other side. A photographer posted several recent shots and asked for criticism. I wasn’t crazy about either shot and posted constructive criticism. I offered opinions on cropping, post processing, and angles. I did not post any of my own shots.
Another photographer also responded and included several of his own shots in the discussion. He offered much of the same feedback that I did. Shortly after this, the individual left the forum never to return.
I believe it is worth having a discussion about photographer etiquette. In general I find photographers are decent in terms of etiquette when actually shooting. When I am photographing a patch of flowers, another photographer has never sat right next to me. Similarly, I have not yet had an issue with another photographer interrupting wildlife I was photographing. I do often have issues with non-photographers, who thrust their point and shoots on top of me when I am photographing macros, stand in front of me when I am photographing landscapes, and scare away wildlife I am photographing.
However I am discussing photographers here. When it comes time to online discussions though, it seems we photographers are far less knowledgeable. Therefore I would like to present my list of dos and don’ts. Feel free to add your own.
Never post your own photo to a thread someone started to show off his/her own photos unless it is requested.
Photographers post their photos for different reasons. They may want to show off or they may want criticism. The general rule is never post your own photo on the same thread. It simply is not polite. You are taking the opportunity from another photographer and disregarding their work.
There are exceptions of course. Sometimes a photographer will say “show me your best x shots”. Other times the photographer may have a question on technique. He may show an example photo where a problem occurred and ask for remedies. In these situations it is perfectly acceptable to post your own shots.
If you comment on someone’s photo, add a “like” if the feature exists on the site.
This is a small courtesy. Even if you’re not crazy about the shot, if you take the time to comment then click the ‘like’ button if the site has it. This provides a good feeling for the other photographer. If you want to provide constructive criticism, do it in the comments and still like the photo anyways. Few photographers want to hear “this sucks”. Many do want constructive criticism, but would like positive comments mixed with the negative.
The way I look at it, if the photo caused me to write a comment, then it must have been a decent photo for me to notice it in the first place.
Understand what the photographer is aiming for before commenting
Different photographers have different goals. The goals of a stock photographer and a fine art photographer are quite different. Make sure you understand these goals before commenting. An awesome photo for stock photography will likely suck for fine art and vice versa. If you strongly criticize a photo using the wrong goals, your comments will not be useful to the original poster.
Be careful about posting your own photos as example shots
Say someone has a question about lighting. You response with a photo showing the discussed lighting technique. This is perfectly OK. Where the line becomes grayer is when someone mentions he/she is having a difficult time taking a type of photo and you reply saying “look at these awesome photos I took using this technique. If you were nearly as awesome as I you would do the same”.
You are trumpeting your own horn here rather than providing any constructive proof. Try to be more modest when posting. It is OK to post awesome (in your eyes) example shots, but simply mention them as an example of the technique. If the shots are truly awesome, others will call them out as such.
Try to understand what the photographer is looking for in critique
I am admittedly quite difficult in my critique. If I do not like a shot I will plainly say so. I will also give very specific reasons why I do not like it. Some people greatly appreciate this feedback. Others do not like it at all.
I openly do not like FlickR. The reason I do not is due to what I call “the FlickR syndrome”. This syndrome is very easy to catch if you are active on FlickR, as it is extremely easy to receive a ton of very positive feedback on an otherwise awful shot. This leads some photographers to believe that every shot that leaves their hard drive is blessed and all other photographers will be blinded by the sheer awesomeness of their photos.
These photographers then post their photo someone where someone like I sees it and they simply cannot believe that something can be wrong with one of their photos. I must clearly be an idiot for not recognizing the genius of this photo that hundreds of mindless FlickRites have proven.
The lesson of this is to try to understand what the photographer wants. Sometimes it is OK to specifically ask what type of feedback the photographer desires. Other times this is obvious from the original message. If the photographer states that he took some shots he is very proud of, maybe it’s best not to comment. If on the other hand the photographer states “give me your worst”, then absolutely do so.
If someone follows you or friends you, consider following them back
You are not above any other photographer out there and they should not be thought of as your flock. When someone friends you they are truly interested in your work. It does not mean they think you are better than they – just that your work interests them. Do the right thing and take a look at their work. Many times I have been greatly surprised that immensely talented photographers – way above me in talent – have chosen to follow me. I use that as an opportunity to follow them as well so that I may learn more from their photography.
Be careful when commenting on photos about people
We have all seen a lot of photos of ugly people. We have also seen photos of nice looking people in truly awful poses. I remember one photo a photographer posted to a forum that he was quite proud of. It was of a rather pretty girl stooped down in a way that looked like she was about to go to the bathroom. In another I saw a very young girl posed in a way that in my opinion was completely inappropriate for the age.
You have to remember before commenting on these photos that the subject may be the daughter, spouse, or close relative of the photographer. Also, the subject himself/herself may read the post. If you want to provide constructive criticism, provide it on what the photographer did – not the model. Be careful when stating what you don’t like about a shot though as many models are quite self conscious. Remember, most of these people are not professional models at all but are simply someone who volunteered for the shoot. If you say something about them that makes them uncomfortable, they may never volunteer for that photographer again.
Always assume your photo sucks when posting it
Few people like posts that say “see my awesome shots”. As I said before, post your shots with humility. Let others call out the quality of your shots.
Posted 1 year, 3 months ago at 5:49 am. Add a comment
This year I have decided to do my own 365 project in order to improve my photography. The experiment has been extremely rewarding and I have learned a ton so far. I am currently on day 103 and the rules simply are that I must take at least one photo each day and post it at my 500px site.
Another rule is that I must pick one shot and only one shot. This means I need to go through my shots until there is one left. Often this can be quite tricky as I may like several shots. This exercise, however, teaches me to find flaws in my photos. Until I realize these flaws, I won’t know how to improve.
This weekend I was presented with an interesting dilemma. I had photographed during lunch by my office that day and had taken a number of photos. That evening, I sat down with my wife and kids to select that day’s photo. After a bit of culling, it came down to two shots.
Red Leaf by Joseph Calev
At first glance, the first photo seemed the best to me. I rather liked the pattern caused by the missing part of the lea. I wasn’t crazy about the gleam on the left of the shot or the fact that the right most “point” is off the photo. In addition some of the points are more OOF than I would prefer. Still, I thought it deserved being the shot of the day.
My wife preferred the second shot. She couldn’t narrow it down, but really liked it. The funny thing about the shot is I took just this one, then moved on. When I looked at it in the viewfinder it didn’t look like anything special. Typically I wait until it is downloaded on my machine before deciding whether to delete it. Upon examining it on my machine it escaped deletion (I delete around 70% of my shots each day) but I wasn’t keen on using the shot.
In terms of criticizing the shot, I am not crazy about the blown out highlights, but most of all it didn’t really impress me as being that unusual. The first shot tells a bit more of a story. There used to be a leaf with this shape and some insect had a snack – leaving the outer edge of the leaf (which evidently must not have been as tasty).
In the end, my wife preferred this shot and I had already published the following shot a few days earlier.
Imagination by Joseph Calev
As I try to do something different each day, I went with my wife’s suggestion and published the red leaf.
The next morning, I awoke to a ton of e-mails and my first 100 vote photo! I find it rather intriguing how so many people liked this photo but it has now reached the rare echelon of photos my wife wants me to print.
The next day, I let my wife make the full decision. She chose this photo, which promptly received not a single vote or comment.
Calligraphy by Joseph Calev
For the record, I and my older son preferred this shot, which in retrospect I probably should have made the photo of the day. It’s not a great shot, but I have a feeling it would have at least received one vote.
So what have I learned from this experience? What seems obvious is you never know how some photos will be received. Everyone judges photos differently and there will always be someone who hates a particular shot.
Going forward I will continue to listen to the opinions of my wife and kids. At times I will let their choice trump mine, while at other times when I am more sure of myself I will make the choice. One thing with the Red Leaf photo is my wife really, really liked it. So perhaps the lesson is when someone really likes a photo, it is best to pay attention.
Posted 1 year, 3 months ago at 2:12 am. Add a comment
The journey begins – Tashkent
To sum things up, Tashkent is not Uzbekistan. Tashkent is an ugly Soviet city with a bit of megalomaniac government built in. It is rude and bureaucratic and is not a good introduction to the country. We knew this before going there and planned to spend as little time as possible in Tashkent.
Our flight arrived at four in the morning and we headed straight to our hotel to sleep. Unfortunately we found it difficult to do so as we had slept some on the plane and sunrise was at 4:30. Normally when we travel far I try to arrive at night so we can go straight to bed and then be on their time zone. However that was not an option this time.
The strange thing about Tashkent are the number of huge parks and buildings with literally no one in them. Imagine that there were some rich billionaire out there that decided to collect massive buildings instead of cars. Instead of a showroom for his buildings, he placed them a fair distance from each other in huge parks with nice landscaping and paths so he could take walks and admire his buildings. That is a bit what downtown Tashkent looks like.
The photo below is us in a park next to our hotel. Despite the fact that we visited this park during the middle of the day, notice the entire lack of people save for the cleaning woman. All of the parks had a number of cleaning people patiently waiting for some dirt to fall from the sky. I do have to say that the lack of people was very welcome compared to our trip last year to China where we felt like sardines at times.
Tashkent contains a mix of old Soviet architecture and newer what I call Central Asian style buildings. Currently they are rapidly tearing down the older Soviet buildings in favor of the newer style. Our hotel in Tashkent is a good example of the Soviet style.
I actually found it to be rather pretty from the outside. The hotel itself was OK but still a bit Soviet. For example at the restaurant on the bottom floor they have a water cooler. We helped ourselves to some water while we were eating at the restaurant and were scolded because the water is intended only for visiting athletes. Also, we stayed at a different room each time we came back to the hotel from other areas of Uzbekistan and each room had something that did not work. In various cases the refrigerator, television, or air conditioning did not work. Still, I had fun coming up with compositions for the exterior of the property.
The Central Asian style is a bit similar to the building at the very top of this post – though I am not exactly sure if that building is new – it could be a remodeled Soviet building. The Central Asian style is generally very clean with few details. They have few curves but look remarkably modern compared to the older Soviet buildings – particularly the apartment buildings. A lot of them also have a very peculiar blue glass that I presume makes them cooler as during the summer it is quite hot there.
Like any good Soviet city, Tashkent contains its share of monuments. With the exception of the Lenin statues, all of these still stand with their original propaganda. They are in your typical Soviet style. This monument is from an earthquake that occurred in 1966.
This is a well done monument and I was very impressed at the solemnity and seriousness of it. Interestingly, by the official Soviet propaganda at the time only ten people perished during the earthquake. In truth it was several thousand. The next monument is for those who perished in the second World War (by official Soviet propaganda – more than ten).
Historically, Tashkent is a minnow within Uzbekistan. Before the Russians occupied the country, Uzbekistan was split into three khanates or emirates.
- The Kokand khanate with its capital at Kokand. This included Tashkent. From what I heard little remains within Kokand itself.
- The Emirate of Bukhara – with its capital at (where else) Bukhara
- The Khorezm Khanate – with its capital at Khiva
Before this Samarkand was the capital of Timur’s empire that stretched from China to Delhi to the borders of Europe. Therefore, while Taskhkent does have several interesting structures history-wise it is wisest to see it first as Bukhara, Samarkand, and Khiva all blow it away.
Tashkent does have though the world’s oldest Koran – supposedly stained from the blood of Osman – which is definitely worth seeing.
Most of the old structures of Tashkent are very close to each other and can be visited in a few hours. The above example is very typical of the architecture there. This architecture also extends to the rest of Uzbekistan, though the structures in Bukhara, Samarkand, and Khiva are far grander, more ornately painted, and older. Despite having the largest population though, few people venture to see old Tashkent.
We did stop a party of people we ran across to take their photo. Generally it is OK to take photos of people in Uzbekistan – even women. Many women are modest though and prefer their photos to not be taken – particularly by a man. We had much more success when I handed my camera to my wife and she asked to take their picture.
The dresses are typical of Uzbekistan. For my wife’s relatives (originally from Tajikistan) they now where these clothes only for special occasions. However over there this is just the standard way they dress. Unlike some other countries the culture of Uzbekistan is “authentic” and not just for show.
For our kids the highlight of old Tashkent was a group of storks in one of the gardens. They are kept as pets there (as they are considered lucky) and cannot fly. If you have bread you are free to feed them. When my older son was younger he used to call them “dorks” and would often shout “look! a dork!” when he saw them – generating a few interested glances.
For me, the highlight photography-wise in Tashkent was the market. Markets are extremely important in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan (and pretty much all of Central Asia) as they are the main place where pretty much anything is bought and sold. The vast majority of Uzbeks do not frequent supermarkets or retail shops for their needs but instead barter at the market.
Above are one of the reasons we travelled to this part of the world in the first place – lepyoshki. Lepyoshki is the Russian word for them and locally it is just called naan – which is the word for bread. Incidentally this is the same word used in India and the breads do have their similarities. My wife had been craving this bread ever since she left Tajikistan 16 years ago and even when we travelled to New York and bought the bread there she declared that it was just not the same thing.
Lepyoshki is considered the national bread there and in Samarkand they even go as far as creating artisan breads with writing and decorations that are intended for hanging on the wall. I honestly can say I have never considered hanging a loaf of bread on my wall but the opportunity is there for those so willing.
For many Russians, Uzbekistan is known as the source of many of their fruits and it therefore comes as no surprise that any Uzbek market is full of them.
Uzbekistan is famous for its grapes in particular and everywhere you go there you will see vines – particularly in the courtyards of houses. Grape vines serve many purposes there – not just providing a nice snack to eat. In the summer the vines provide useful shade against the hot sun. Interestingly while their grapes are considered amongst the best in the world, their wines have no such distinction so they are intended strictly for eating.
Also not to be missed in any Central Asian market are the spices.
I honestly had no idea what the majority of spices are, but there are a lot of them and I had a lot of fun photographing them. We went through the Tashkent market rather quickly, but I had much more of an opportunity later on in Khujand, Tajikistan. I suspect though that you can buy pretty much any spice known to man there and there are a great many stands there selling them.
Every market is divided into sections. In one part of the market you can buy fruits, in another part bread, another part meat, fish, spices, nuts, and so on. However, just outside the “food” area of the market are the “everything else” sections. Here just name it and they have it – electronics, dresses, furniture, kitchen utensils – anything. I found this rather interesting.
My wife had told me about these but this was my first opportunity to actually see one. This is a baby bassinet. It looks fairly standard with the exception of the hexagonal hole towards one side. You see, there diapers are pretty much non-existent and even though they are technically available, the vast majority of the population cannot afford them. This is the solution to the problem. Baby waste falls through the hole to something below it that collects the waste – which is then emptied. While this sounds a bit gross, keep in mind that children there are potty trained at a much earlier age than children here. It is practically unheard of over there for a one year old to not be potty trained.
Another fun fact is actually paying people in the market. The currency of Uzbekistan is called the Sum. Officially, there are 1,700 Sum to the dollar – at least when I was there. Unofficially the rate is 2,400 Sum. However this rate is only available through the black market and foreigners are strongly advised to not attempt to exchange money themselves because many of the sellers at the black market are there to catch you and force you to pay a very high fine. Instead, it is best to ask someone you trust to exchange the money for you.
The interesting part comes when you actually receive the money. You see, the largest note there is 1,000 Sums and in the market they will often give you only 500 Sum notes. The result is an awful lot of cash. I had to dedicate an entire pocket while I was there to holding cash. Below is a bit less than $200.
While most souvenir shops will accept dollars, restaurants and people in the market will only accept Sums. This was a bit of a pain while we were there.
We returned to Tashkent several times as it is used as the start of many tours and is the main location to fly in and out of. I certainly would not recommend spending a lot of time there, but there is enough to keep one’s interest for a day.
Our next day, though, when we headed for Samarkand, was far more interesting.
Posted 1 year, 10 months ago at 5:24 am. 1 comment
This summer, we chose to go somewhere different and spent three weeks travelling to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The trip was rarely dull and was extremely interesting. What follows is a (rather long) summary of our trip. To make this easier to read, I will split it into multiple blogs.
To get to Uzbekistan for all practical purposes you need to fly into Tashkent’s airport. Tashkent is slightly tricky, though not too difficult, to get to. The only direct flight from the United States flies from New York to Tashkent on Uzbek Air. Other airlines that fly there include Aeroflot (from Moscow Sheremetyevo), Turkish Airlines (from Istanbul), and Asian (from Seoul). As we were departing from Seattle, the best flight for us turned out to be to fly from Seattle to LAX, then LAX to Sheremetyevo on Aeroflot, then to Tashkent also on Aeroflot.
Needless to say the travel time was quite long. The flight from LAX to Sheremetyevo is about twelve hours and the flight from Sheremetyevo to Tashkent is another four. At the end of the trip we certainly did not feel like flying any time soon.
Sheremetyevo is a modern airport and pretty easy to navigate. LAX, on the other hand, was a nightmare and I will definitely try to avoid it in the future. On both our in and out connections we almost missed our flights (despite having 5 and 4 hours in between connections and no delays) simply due to the inefficiencies of this airport. In particular you have to exit the terminal and either walk a ways or take a bus that is rather difficult to find. You then have to recheck in and go through security again. On our trip back the line for customs was so long that we almost missed our connection.
Uzbekistan is not one of those countries you just buy a ticket to and go. For citizens of most countries, a visa is necessary and you cannot purchase it on arrival. In order to obtain a visa, you must have a letter of invitation – typically issued from a licensed travel agency. Along with your letter of invitation your travel agency will explain where you are travelling to in Uzbekistan. This is not a place where you may go freely anywhere you desire. The government wants to know where you are going and for how long.
We considered long and hard which agency to go with and looked at a variety of tours. There are generally two types of travel agencies that can arrange trips to Uzbekistan.
Local agencies – These agencies typically reside within Uzbekistan and have the best prices.
Foreign agencies – These agencies generally hire one of the local agencies and charge their customers several times the price.
We obviously only looked into local agencies as we did not care to pay extra. The following are agencies we heard of.
Advantour – This is the company we wound up going with. They were very well priced and we were extremely happy with their services. We spent a lot of their time in planning the trip and they were very helpful.
Orexca – We spent a great deal of time planning an itinerary with Orexca and originally planned to book with them. Their site is much more professional than Advantour and they were very helpful to deal with. They also offer a number of excursions that Advantour does not have. The only reason we did not go with them was the price – as they were double Advantour’s price. From talking while on tour in Uzbekistan, they are considered reputable but are a bit unpredictable in their prices.
Stantours – This company is mentioned quite often on the Lonely Planet forums and many of these replies occur coincidentally on a Central Asian time zone. Although I never dealt with this company directly, it seems a bit fishy. The hotel and tour operators I spoke with there had never heard of them.
Tajik visas are much easier to obtain. No letter of invitation is necessary and they are very easy going. Unfortunately getting from Uzbekistan to Tajikistan is not trivial as the countries are not very friendly. At the time we went the Penjikent border was closed and the only border we could use (because we needed to go to Khujand) was Oibek. Advantour was not able to arrange anything in Tajikistan for us and we needed to arrange this part of the trip ourselves.
Going through customs
Upon entering Uzbekistan, you must fill out a customs form. It is extremely important that you fill this form out correctly. Any jewelry, electronics (computers, cameras, cell phones), and money must be entered in the customs form in the correct places. When you exit Uzbekistan, you must fill in the same customs form and again state all of these things. The amount of money taken out must be less than that brought in.
If you do not enter your camera equipment or other electronics upon entering it is subject to confiscation. This is not just theory – but practice. Our laptop was almost confiscated on the border because we entered “computer” instead of “laptop computer”. In addition, make sure the money you write down is correct. Upon leaving the country they will likely ask you to count all of your money in front of them and they will search your bags for more. If you miscounted your money or forgot to write it in, the excess will be confiscated. This did happen to me and a number of others upon exiting (nothing was confiscated though as my numbers were correct).
For those taking cameras to Uzbekistan, it is illegal to take photos that display Uzbekistan in an ill light. They did ask me to show them the photos I took when exiting but for some reason they only wanted to see my son’s G11. Regardless I had prepared for this by replacing the main cards in my cameras with photos I knew would not be an issue.
Posted 1 year, 10 months ago at 11:06 pm. Add a comment
After thinking about this a bit more, I have a much better idea on how to implement this – allowing me to include more prices and a lot more info. Currently it takes me some time each day to update the used prices – time I can spend instead making the system work better so I do not need to spend this time.
Therefore for the next several weeks I will not be updating the used prices section.
Posted 2 years, 2 months ago at 4:31 am. Add a comment
This typically is not a review website, but in some cases I feel that I need to share something. In this case it is Zerene Stacker. Zerene Stack is an application that allows one to create a single image out of multiple photos taken with different parts of the image in focus. In my opinion, this is an essential piece of software for every insect photographer to own.
There are a number of stacking applications out there, but what sets Zerene Stacker apart is its ability to align photos. This is critical for insect photography as most photos are hand held. This means that the chances that they will perfectly align are practically nil.
Zerene Stacker is extremely easy to use, though it does contain an impressive list of options. It also contains a very powerful retouching feature that allows one to explain from which image to take different parts of the final image. This is extremely useful in a number of cases, though with care I have found that it is often not necessary. Typically I use the retouching feature when I specifically do not want a particular part of the final image to be in focus. Often this is for artistic reasons. I want the insect to be in focus but not this part of a leaf, etc.
There’s a common expression that a picture is worth a thousand words, so without further ado I’ll show you what it can do.
Posted 2 years, 8 months ago at 12:39 pm. 1 comment
I am sure we have all had frustrations when photographing various things. Perhaps the light isn’t what you hoped it to be. Perhaps you were expecting to be alone only in a church only to find three hundred other photographers armed with strong flashes also camped out there at the same time.
For me, this happens in particular when I am travelling. Typically when I travel I have one chance to get the shot. After that, we will visit a different place or leave the area. On some occasions when I have a good hotel location, I do receive multiple chances – but the reality is I usually have to take what I get.
Until recently, I found I would get annoyed quickly. I would get impatient at the person with a camera cell phone attempting to photograph something that just isn’t possible with it but refusing to believe that this is the case while standing right in front of my camera. Even more annoying was on a recent trip to China a guy sat right in front of what I was photographing and then motioned for me to get away so his wife could take his picture. OK, I still get frustrated at these people – but I now have a new strategy.
Posted 2 years, 8 months ago at 12:03 pm. Add a comment
Recently while attempting (unsuccessfully) to photograph several water striders in a pond, I came across several ants that appeared to be swimming in the water. Well, it didn’t look exactly like they were swimming as they certainly had a tough time of it – but likewise they did not appear to be drowning. So can ants swm?
Posted 2 years, 8 months ago at 1:40 am. Add a comment
As many of you know, one of my strongest passions is for travel photography. Every year a great deal of time is spent determining where we will go on our next trip. Once the next trip is decided upon, I spend a great deal of time debating which lenses and equipment to take on the trip and what types of things I want pictures of.
After spending seventeen days travelling through Beijing and Xi’an in mainland China, then Hong Kong, the following is a post mortem of what wound up working well for me and what did not.
What went well
Having two cameras
This is the first vacation where I took both my 5D2 and my 7D. This provided quite a few advantages over a single camera – primarily that I did not need to change lenses often and could rapidly switch between closeups and wide angle shots.
The configuration I most often used was a TS-E 24 II on my 5D2 and a 70-200/4 IS on my 7D. I would often zoom in on details of a building with my 7D, then take the entire building with the 5D2.
I did not always have both cameras around my neck at the same time, and on some short trips I took only one camera (typically the 5D2) so as to not overly annoy my wife, but overall the combo was extremely useful.
Using tilt shifts
As I use my tilt shift lenses more and more, I really am starting to feel that autofocus is truly overrated. Sure, it is extremely useful for action, sports, and wildlife shots – but for most travel photos it is just a convenience – not a necessity.
On this trip I brought my TS-E 17, TS-E 24 II, and TS-E 90. By far the TS-E 24 II was the most used. I also used my TS-E 17 for a number of situations – though for the majority of situations it was too wide. The TS-E 90 was used sparingly – primarily from our hotel room.
I used shift far more than tilt for most shots. I did take a few shots playing around with tilt – such as above, but the majority of shots used shift for architecture.
Arranging for private tours in Xi’an and Beijing
Mainland China can be difficult to figure out. I chose to not bother trying and pay a local to do this for me. This enabled us to very quickly move from site to site – whereas in other trips we would often spend a tremendous amount of time finding places.
What went OK
We used China Tours (ChinaTours.net) to book the private tours. The guides were cordial and we saw for the most part the places we wanted to see, but what we really did not like was that each day we had to stop at one or more shops and spend a specific amount of time there. We paid for a tour – not to stop in shops.
For others travelling to China, I would not recommend this agency and I would instead specifically enquire whether any time would be spent in shops. Once already there, it is generally much better to just hire a taxi – as they were OK with us not wanting to go to shop (they didn’t even ask).
What didn’t work well
I did not use this a single time and for our next trip I will not bother to take it. A monopod works extremely well when shooting with longer lenses such as my 300/4 or 100-400, but for the shorter lenses it is fine to just shoot hand held or when not a tripod is required.
Posted 2 years, 8 months ago at 1:46 am. Add a comment
Dandelions have always been one of my favorite subjects – in particular the seeds as they fall. Sure, they’re weeds – but they’re graceful weeds.
This particular image is a focus stack from two images. I have been working a bit more with focus stacking using Zerene stacker and find it very useful – in particular for someone like me who does not have a lot of time.
Dandelion seeds can actually be rather tricky to photograph. I usually find that more than 1:1 magnification is required so I use my MP-E 65 anywhere from 1:1 to 2:1. Generally the seeds do not stay still so a flash is required. It can be quite tricky though getting the seed in your viewfinder and in focus as they tend to sway quite a bit in the wind – causing the seed to come in and out of my viewfinder.
Posted 3 years ago at 2:15 pm. 5 comments