26 March 2015

Beautiful end of the day

Daily photo - Beautiful end of the day

While I'm still preparing some longer posts about Thailand (and thinking about the ways to get back there), today I would just like to share this sunset image from Phra Nang beach in Krabi district. Phra Nang beach is probably one of the most impressive place I've ever been to with numerous tall limestone formations sticking out from the sea.

I had clear idea what I wanted to achieve with this photo - I wanted the sun to be between various formations and create star-like effect. It worked pretty well. And you can see that Canon 16-35 f/4 L IS creates really nice star-burst effect.

BTW for this image (which had some crazy dynamic range) I used luminosity blending technique - not HDR. I tried to tone-map the image in Photomatix but this time I like manually blended result better and so went with this approach.
Admiring the Sunset

Continue reading for more details »

24 March 2015

What I like and dislike about Thailand

What I like and dislike about Thailand

I really enjoyed my stay in Thailand and today I would like to share with you things I loved and which I didn't like about this country (as there is no rose without thorns).

Let's start with the list of things I liked most about Thailand:
  • Amazing sunsets - really. One of the most impressive ones I've ever seen with colours in the sky ranging from golden to red to purple. Sunrises left me a little disappointed though as I found them rather boring but it's quite possible I simply wasn't lucky enough with them. Maybe more luck next time
  • Beautiful landscapes - do you remember Avatar movie? And all those amazing rocky formations standing out from the sea? I mean that kind of landscapes. Krabi district in southern Thailand is just full of them.
  • Fantastic cuisine. When I was going to Thailand my expectations weren't very high in this regard. I like a lot of Asian cuisine (especially Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian) but Thai wasn't my favourite. But it changed. Due to the fact Thailand was raided by surrounding countries in the past its cuisine reflects that - is full of influences from countries like India but yet it still has something very own to it.
  • Good transportation possibilities to move from one part to another - it's very easy to find transport (by boat, plane, bus or train) from one end of the country to the other. And once you buy a ticket you don't need to worry much anymore as you will be picked up and directed since then.
  • It's cheap - you can find both hotels and meals at very reasonable prices. Also prices in the shops are generally lower than in Europe.
And things I disliked:
  • Poor English. Most of the folks in the places I visited spoke no or very poor English. Even in the hotels and restaurants what made it quite difficult to communicate. Please note, however, that I didn't spend time in the places most popular among tourists (like Phuket or Bangkok) so I can't say whether it's true for whole country.
  • A lot of rubbish and dirt lying around. Beaches and popular places are generally quite clean but try to get a little bit of a beaten track and you will find a lot of rubbish. Also I didn't notice a lot of trash bins even in the cities I visited so most of the rubbish ended up being thrown on the grass for instance (also, or even mostly, by tourists!)
  • If someone says it will take a minute to do something it will take much more - eg. our ferry travel was supposed to take 1:30 hours. It took around 3:30. It makes planning a little bit more difficult.
  • Some places are overcrowded with tourists - in some famous places it's even not possible to get decent photo without dozens of tourists in the frame. Those crowds are also quite tiring.

Daily photo - Admiring the Sunset

Today I would like to share HDR photo of a hotel boy enjoying the sunset while seating on a trolley he uses to transport luggage. Photo was taken during low tide in Railay West beach, Krabi district, Thailand. Low tide created a lot of puddles that reflected the sunset and made the image much more interesting.
Admiring the Sunset

Continue reading for more details »

23 March 2015

My Thailand Trip

Recap of my Thailand trip

As I mentioned yesterday, this time I would like to approach my trip a little bit differently. I intend to post not only photos but also some useful tips if you would like to go where I did (if you would be interested in me organizing photography workshops there, I'm open for suggestions though as I intend to start teaching later this year anyway). So it would be something like a guide for the places I visited.

Today I would like to recap my trip. Our, I should say as I was travelling with a person who got me interested in travelling years ago - my fiancee.

Let's start with a map of places we visited:
I started my trip from Warsaw, Poland from where I went with Aeroflot airlines to Moscow and from there also with Aeroflot to Bangkok (Aeroflot had best offer for that date). Here I would like to tell one thing about Aeroflot - if you find any negative reviews about that airline make sure to check review's date. This airline is constantly improving in recent years and my experience is that it is as good or even better than many popular airlines from western Europe. From kind staff to very good meals to choice of entertainment you have in Economy class (e.g. a lot of movies including some newer ones). Similar thing applies to Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport. It isn't dirty and lacking shops and restaurants as you might read in the Internet reviews. It is airport that meets modern standards and have all necessary facilities (I ended up eating in Burger King but anyway...).

Anyway, after getting to Bangkok I changed to Bangkok Airways and flew to Krabi International Airport. From there I took taxi to the city of Ao Nang and there I got on a long tail boat to Railay West beach on Railay Peninsula (this peninsula is only accessible by boat - very high cliffs separate it from the rest of the continent). After 10 - 15 minutes I arrived on Railay Peninsula. Unfortunately it was low tide so I had to drag our bags through the sea (it was around 150 - 200 meters at most but my bags were quite heavy due to including some photography equipment like steady, and heavy as hell, tripod). There are some rocks near the shore and I almost fell down a couple of times but somehow managed not to. Mission accomplished - reached Railay Peninsula after something around 24 hours of travelling.

I spent 8 nights on Railay Peninsula and during that time I photographed a few amazing sunsets there and also made a few trips to local islands (like renowned Phi Phi island, paradise Bamboo island or impressive La Ding island). I will share details and photos about them in separate posts. Railay beach was once selected as one of the 3 most beautiful beaches of the world. As impressive as it is, it is quite funny that there is even more impressive beach nearby (just about 10 - 15 minutes by walking) called Phra Nang beach. It's probably the most impressive beach I've ever seen and let me tell you - it looks much better than on images you can find on-line.

After 8 days on Railay I moved to Koh Lipe island which is even further south, near Malaysian border. To get there I first had to travel to the city of Trang by bus and from there by Tiger Line ferry. All in all whole journey took around 7.5 - 8 hours even though it was supposed to take much shorter. Koh Lipe is a very relaxing place with not so many tourists and very nice views. Sunsets were rather boring there as there were virtually no clouds during our stay there but I managed to capture some starry skies there and some very beautiful sunrise photos.

After 4 days I went back to Ao Nang and on the next day to Bangkok from where I flew back to Europe.

Summing up - 14 days and close to 5000 landscape photos taken :) quite a lot of post-processing work ahead! But it might be very easy this time as even unedited images look really spectacular.

Daily photo - Sunrise on Koh Lipe

For today photo I decided to select single exposure image taken during sunrise on Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe island. This image shows traditional long tail boats that are nowadays mostly used to move tourists from one place to another.
Sunrise on Sunrise Beach on Koh Lipe island

Continue reading for more details »

22 March 2015

Back from Thailand

Back from Thailand

I've just returned from my 2 weeks trip to Thailand. During that trip I visited two southern districts of Thailand: Krabi and Satun. I skipped cities this time and focused solely on the islands and beaches (including beach which was once named one of the 3 most beautiful beaches of the world by National Geographic magazine!) so it was trip full of opportunities for landscape photography. And given how beautiful sunrises and sunsets are there expect some great photos on my blog very soon. BTW there is SOOC image (i.e. directly from the camera without any editing applied) attached to this post to illustrate what I mean by beautiful sunset :) they were really gorgeous and I hope I managed to capture that beauty with my camera.

Also during that trip I was testing Canon 16-35 f/4 L IS lens extensively so expect its review pretty soon. My first impressions are very positive.

This time I also intend to share some tips on travelling in Thailand, about its cousine and things like that - that is not only photos but also some general information about that fascinating country.

Now it's time to start importing images and editing them :) Can't wait to do that.

Continue reading for more details »

27 February 2015

City Hall in London

Daily photo - City Hall in London

This impressive structure that you can see in the photo below is London's city hall. I took this photo from Tower Bridge on a rainy day and for that reason the image looked really boring in colour. I decided to try black & white and it worked quite well.

All editing for this image was done in Lightroom and the adjustments involved desaturating and increasing contrast and clarity.
City Hall in London

Continue reading for more details »

23 February 2015

Kensigton Gardens

Daily photo - Kensigton Gardens

Today I decided to share another high dynamic range photo I took in London - this one shows one of the buildings in Kensigton Gardens.

Although this might not be obvious at first glance, this scene was really challenging as far as light is concerned. The building was quite dark and was back-lit. It is that kind of scenes where HDR really shines - by bracketing and tone-mapping I was able to create image with balanced exposure across whole frame without too dark and too bright areas.
Kensington Palace

Continue reading for more details »

17 February 2015

Sunrise on Fuerteventura

Daily photo - Sunrise on Fuerteventura

This is quite an old photo that I processed not that long time ago (you know with photo library containing thousands of photos it's quite easy to fall behind). This was pretty tricky photo that required me to use slightly different workflow that I normally use. Most of the time I load photos into Photomatix, merge them to HDR, tone-map resulting HDR image and then I work further on tone-mapped image in Photoshop to improve contrast, colours and clarity.

However, in this case moving water was quite tricky to get it right - there were a lot of ghosts in the HDR image. So instead I used manual blending using luminosity masks and simply masked water from one of the source exposures.
Sunrise on Fuerteventura

Continue reading for more details »