Monastery hike and Komoot

Near my home town there is a small village called Zenderen. It has a rich history of monasteries and churches. So, I decided to take the Monastery hike. Without actually noticing, I took the 9 km hike instead of the 13 km one.
On occasions like this I take my GPS with me for two reasons:

  • to know where I took my pictures
  • to create a gpx file, so I can share it with others

I normally take my Garmin GPSmap 60CSx, a very versatile and accurate gps, and download the track to my iMac using Garmin BaseCamp. Then I make some corrections (I often forget to switch it off when getting back to my car), and export a gpx-file. This can easily be imported in Photo Mechanics to assign the GPS-coordinates to the individual pictures.
Recently, I discovered Komoot, an iPhone app (also available for Android). It is mainly intended to plan routes for hiking or biking, and share it with others. However, it also allows me to record a hike, to store it in the cloud, to share it with the Komoot community, and to export a gpx-file. It has many nice features, among which giving directions on my Apple Watch. So, there is no need to take my iPhone out of my pocket to find out where I should go. Check it out, I am really impressed.
To come back to my Monastery hike, here are my pictures. The hike took me along De Zwanenhof, Karmelietenklooster, Carmelitessenklooster, Het Seminar, and the Mariakapel. Nice buildings to see. Enjoy hiking and shooting pictures.

Street photography in Barranco

Peru 2015

During my trip to Peru we stayed some time in Lima, to be more precise in Miraflores. However, Barranco, a neighboring district, is my favorite. It is famous for its romantic and Bohemian character. A lot of artists live in this district. Both during the day and in the evening it is nice to stroll around. We mainly walked around in the area between the two churches (Iglesia La Santísima Cruz and Iglesia La Ermita) and the Pacific Ocean.
Here you can see my pictures that were taken during daytime. All of them were taken in Aperture priority mode. There was more than sufficient light to choose the Aperture I wanted  and still have a fast Shutter speed. As you can see the dominate colors are red and yellow ochre. You can also see that enjoying live has a high priority.
In the evening, as you can see here, the place is even more crowded, and on every square you will find live street music. All pictures were taken in Manual mode. I choose the Aperture and Shutter speed I needed and the rest was handled by the automatic increase of the ISO. Although all of them ended up at ISO 6400 the pictures still look very good. During post-processing it is important to keep the dark areas dark. For daytime pictures it is nice to open up the shadows to show more detail. You should avoid doing that for night pictures. Keep the dark areas close to black by increasing the Blacks.

Iglesia La Santísima Cruz

Be selective

City of Amersfoort, the Netherlands
City of Amersfoort, the Netherlands

Nowadays it is quite easy to make hundreds of pictures and put them on the internet. You can find these type of pictures everywhere and of course they have their purpose, however, with a little bit more effort it is quite easy to improve them.
When I started submitting pictures to Dreamstime I found out that half of my pictures were not good enough. Besides that some of them were of no interest as commercial stock, most of the refusals had some issues:

  • Poor composition Eyes are drawn to specific parts of a picture. There is the Rule of Thirds saying that the important objects in your pictures should be at the grid point of a 3-by-3 grid. From a visual point of view it makes the picture more pleasing and interesting. It has a lot to do with the way eyes wonder over the picture. For example, bright or dark spots on the edge will pull your eyes off the picture. Rule of Thirds is a good way to get started, however, there are also approaches based on visual mass and (circular) flow of your eyes. In a future blog I will come back to this (see also this blog).
  • Out of focus  This may be caused by several reasons. One is that if you are in a hurry you do not correctly focus on the object. Another one is that the depth-of-field (DOF) is too small causing some parts of important objects to be out of focus. If there is not enough light, do not open the lens, instead increase the ISO.
  • Incorrect lightning Parts of the picture might be over- or underexposed. For example, dark buildings and a very bright sky. This means that details have disappeared in the lighter or darker parts. If the dynamic range of your camera is large enough you may still correct this by lowering the Highlights and getting more lights in the Shadows. Otherwise, avoid these kind of situations.
  • Distorted pixels This term is used quite often in the Dreamstime community. The definition is given by examples. Distorted pixels do not exist in your camera, either a pixels works or not. Looking at the examples, the main reason is overprocessing the picture: too much sharpening., too much contrast. The algorithms are not always able to handle this resulting in blurred pixels in your pictures, or outliers as far as color is concerned.
  • Lens fringing When you enlarge the picture to 100% you may see purple or green lines on lines with high contrast. This is caused by the lens, which is sometimes not able to project light of different wave lengths to the right position. Lightroom has a simple way to remove this. Please always check at 100%.
  • Logos For Royalty Free pictures all logos and brand names have to be removed. It is also possible to submit as Editorial picture, the question is of course whether it is of any value as Editorial picture. Again, check at 100% because small logo on somebody’s watch is overseen quite easily.
  • Identifiable persons For Royalty Free pictures for all identifiable persons you need a Model Release Document, which provides information about the model and the fact that the model agrees that the pictures are sold.

Sacred grounds of Yungay and snow-capped Huascar‡n during sunset, Peru
Sacred grounds of Yungay and snow-capped Huascar‡n during sunset, Peru

Nowadays I am more aware of the above issues. I have learnt quite a lot from the refusals. I hope you will do the same.  At the same time, I do not always agree with the editors. Above and on the left two of my recent refusals (poor composition). Dreamstime has the advantage to ask for a second opinion. This past year my acceptance rate is well above 90%. Please enjoy all my pictures at Dreamstime.
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Past and Present: 33 years apart

Chavín de Huantar
Chavín de Huantar 1982

Chavín de Huantar is an archeological site near Huaraz that goes back to 1200 BC. It has, among others, been used by the Chavín culture, a pre-Inca culture, until around 500 BC. During my first trip to Peru, 33 years ago, I made the above picture. It is a digital scan of a diapositive (slightly processed). In those days I used film, however, for this trip they advised me to use diapositive film because of the colorful projections by the light of a projector. Due to the scan the picture is not as good as the original.
Since then, a lot of things have changed:

  • Chavín de Huantar is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which means that it is kept in optimal condition and that continuously archeologists are working there.
  • The route to it has been improved quite a lot to make it more accessible for the tourists.
  • The original diapositive (slide) was taken with a very simple analog camera (I forgot the brand); currently I use a semi-professional camera Nikon D800.
  • The analog camera had a fixed lens; here I used a Nikkor 28-300mm zoom lens.
  • In those days I had my camera on Automatic; nowadays I mainly shoot in Aperture-priority and NEF (see my blog on this).
  • The diapositive film was developed in a darkroom and not by me; currently I turn NEF into JPG by using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
  • In those days GPS was used for military purposes; now everybody has at least one GPS (e.g. in your smartphone).
  • Sharing my slides meant setting up the projector and a screen in the living room; in digital form there are many ways to share your pictures with everybody all over the world.
  • In those days I had no idea there was an interest in my pictures; now I sell licenses to use them via Dreamstime and I can sell it to several customers (not just one).

The thing that has not changed is that in those days I was very proud of my pictures, and this still holds.
Below I substantially cropped a picture I have taken on my last trip to Peru to get a similar picture as the one from 1982.

Chavín de Huantar 2015
Chavín de Huantar 2015

For more pictures of Peru accepted by Dreamstime, click here. Enjoy! Update: licenses of all pictures of Chavin de Haunter have been sold.
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