In 2012 there was a wonderful Chinese Light Show in Rotterdam. A perfect opportunity to practice night shots. It is important to try to make areas where there is ambient light as dark as possible. Therefore, preferably work in Manual Mode, and
keep the ISO value low (no noise),
keep the Shutter Speed low (no ambient light),
use an Aperture for the required Depth-of Field (DoF).
These suggestions of course contradict each other, so it is important to find the right balance, to get sufficient light on the sensor. In this case I used my D700 which even for high ISO values produces very little noise. So, this gave me the freedom to set the Shutter Speed to 1/60 sec, enough for not noticing my shaky hands (it was in the middle of winter). I also used my 50mm prime lens, which is very light sensitive. Because most of the objects were far enough so even with an Aperture of 1.8 I had still enough DoF. Here are some of the pictures I took at the Chinese Light Show in Rotterdam. Maybe you recognize the Temple of Heaven, which I visited in 2013.
The Forbidden City is a special place to visit. It used to be a place where only a limited number of people were allowed to be and now you are surrounded by hundreds of tourists.
Hearing the stories how the women of the emperor were transported in a carpet to the emperor himself for their nightly encounter gives a feeling of a cultural gap. The place is really beautiful to visit and it gives a good impression of how it used to be in those days.
It is difficult to imagine where all the marble comes from. You find it everywhere. The incense burners representing the 18 provinces of China in the Qing Dynasty are enormous. The symbolic value is obvious. Furthermore, looking at pictures of the Forbidden City it looks like it is equivalent to roofs. One can see these yellow roofs everywhere each with your own sequence of animals on it to show the importance of the building. Here you will find my pictures of the Forbidden City accepted by Dreamstime. Some of them are Editorial because recognizable persons are on the pictures, others required a lot of processing (removing logos, announcements, and other stuff) to fulfill the requirements for a Royalty Free license.
Last Sunday I hiked near Oosterbeek (see map below). It is a really beautiful area, a mix of woods and open areas, just north of the river Nederrijn. This particular morning you could see the frost and the sun was still pretty low with warm colors. Here you can see some of the pictures I took.
This track comes from www.wandeleninoosterbeek.nl
I always shoot RAW, this allows me to change some of the settings, for example, the White Balance. I set White Balance always to Auto White Balance, AWB. When I am back home I set it to an appropriate value.
Changing the White Balance can have a substantial impact on the way the picture looks: if a picture is taken during normal daylight and we set the White Balance to Shade it will start adding red colors (to compensate the bluish colors in the shade), making the picture warmer. The same happens, however, to a lesser extent when setting the White Balance to Cloudy.
Looking at my RAW pictures I noticed that the pictures looked cooler than I remembered and intended, so during processing I set the White Balance to Cloudy, giving the pictures a warmer expression and also making the effect of the backlight of the sun more visible. Setting it to Shade was a bit overdone. It is just a matter of experimenting.
Keep in mind that we do not have to make an identical copy of reality, we want to make a picture that expresses what we felt when we took the picture.
Last year was my first visit to China. My program was packed with business and touristic activities. The day we arrived we hurried to see the Summer Palace of the emperor in Beijing. It was just before closing time and we had a long discussion whether they would take us by boat to the palace. As it turned out this delay turned into a golden opportunity: perfect sunset colors shining on the various buildings of the Summer Palace and on another boat accompanying us in a city where there is fog almost every day.
Another advantage was that the touristic market at the Summer Palace was completely desolate giving the opportunity to see the buildings and the boats. This was the first day of a sequence of days I will never forget.
During this trip I used my D700 and general-purpose lens: Nikkor 28-300mm. Here are my pictures of the Summer Palace accepted by Dreamstime. The one with the boat has been sold four times.
The Alps are a mountain range in the middle of Europe. The peaks range from 3000 to 4000 meters. The Mont Blanc, which goes all the way up to 4811 meters, is really an exception. We often hike on the southern side of the Alps, on the Italian side (Ticino).
There are two regions where we hike: Blenio District (several places) and on the border between Wallis and Ticino (Nufenenpass). Most often we take the car to around 2000 meter and hike further on up to 2600 meter. These hikes last a whole day (6-7 hours). Below the map of the Nufenenpass.
The area is really beautiful: rocks, some green, sometimes snow (in the middle of summer). Most of the time perfect sunny weather, although sometimes it is a bit foggy and then it can be pretty cold.
In the beginning I took all my lenses with me. At the end of the day they became a bit too heavy. Now I only take my camera (D800) plus a Nikkor 16-35 mm with me. Perfect for taking landscape pictures. On sunny days there is enough light to close the aperture opening a little more (f/20) to obtain a sufficiently large Depth of Field (DoF) without using a tripod. Here are beautiful views of the Alps accepted by Dreamstime for on canvas; both horizontal and vertical pictures.
Dreamstime is a micro-stock website where photographers like me can sell their pictures. Since March 2009 I am a member and since a couple of years I am an exclusive photographer with Dreamstime. The amount of money I make out of it is, however, nothing compared to the investment in equipment. What is rewarding for me is getting pictures accepted by Dreamstime and that somebody actually buys a picture. The acceptance procedure is quite tough (my acceptance ratio is now 65%). This means that on the average two-third is accepted.
Above you see my first accepted picture. It is the river the Maas flowing through Maastricht at night. My currently last accepted picture is of my last visit to Beijing. It is one of the buildings of the Prince Gong Mansion.
In total I now have 350+ pictures accepted, ranging from landscapes, cityscapes, seascape, and portrait. In total I sold almost 250 licenses. The best selling picture is of Budapest covered by snow (12 times).
Although the pictures in this blog look like they are of low quality (this is needed for a fast download) the original pictures are of high quality. Please contact me if you are interested in one of them. Here are all my Dreamstime images in chronological order.
If people know you take a picture of them they pose. Their faces and body language are different than when pictures are taken by surprise. The ultimate goal of portrait photography is to make people look natural, as if they are not aware of the photographer. From my own experience I know this is not always easy.
The idea of street photography is to take pictures of people in there normal habitat, just being themselves. Most of the time these pictures tell a better story than regular portrait photography where everything is arranged.
However, there is one issue about street photography that I like to address: privacy. Is taking pictures of people in a public space without asking for permission an intrusion in their privacy. In a sense it is. At the same time it is regarded as art. Look at the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson or Vivian Maier of very nice black and white pictures taken out on the streets. In my opinion it is essential not to embarrass people with pictures in awkward positions.
Street photography is not always easy with a full frame camera with a long lens. Everybody will see you pointing with your camera. Taking away the unexpected moment. Vivian Maier always used a small compact camera hanging around her neck. Therefore her pictures capture all the emotions in a very natural way. They are really storytelling pictures. And Henri Cartier-Bresson is of course famous for his “The Decisive Moment” with the famous picture of a man just about to step in a puddle of water. Here are some of my street pictures taken in China.
Last summer we spent a couple of weeks in Barcelona. It is a truly internationally oriented, mediterranean city, where sun, sea, and food play a central role. Everywhere there are nice restaurants.
We had rented an apartment close to the Diagonal in a very luxurious area of Barcelona. Shops of all major brands were present, all of them having a doorman. Given our budget we just had a look from the outside 🙂
Barcelona is of course also the city of Gaudi: La Sagrada Família, Park Güell, Casa Milà, Parc de la Ciutadella, and many more places worth a visit. Here you will find my Barcelona pictures approved by Dreamstime, including many nice pictures of the interior of La Sagrada Família,
and here some pictures of the many nice districts of Barcelona, each having their own character. Enjoy!
Normally, I take my Nikkor 28-300 mm while visiting a city. It is a very convenient lens. However, this time I took my 16-35 mm and 70-200 mm. For example, the pictures of details in La Sagrada Família required a small depth-of-filed (f/2.8), so I used the 70-200 mm lens.
First, four hours by bus from Hefei to Zhaixicun, then by cable car through a thick layer of fog. Fifty meter before arriving at the terminal station of the cable car the fog disappeared and suddenly it was a sunny day. Yellow Mountain, Huangshan in Chinese, is, if it is sunny, a beautiful fairy tale landscape. In the evening, however, the fog actually enters the hotel and it becomes pretty cold.
Together with tens of Chinese tourists we got up very early to see the sun rise (6:22 am). The only thing we saw was just fog.
The second day was pretty windy. The landscape continuously changed, one moment there was a clear view all the way down to the valley and the next moment the peaks of the mountains almost completely disappeared in the fog. An amazing landscape definitely worth visiting.
Below the track we followed.
In Zhaixicon we heard that we could not take our luggage up the mountain. So I just took my camera backpack and my pyjamas with me. Somebody else carried my wash bag 🙂
All pictures were taken with my Nikon D800 with a Nikkor 16-35 mm, a perfect lens. Here you will find my pictures of Yellow Mountain accepted by Dreamstime. Update: more than 35 pictures of Yellow Mountain have been already sold.