Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

Photo shoots. World travel advice. Tips on Munich & environs.

Da Nang Music Festival

When walking around Da Nang looking for a restaurant, we happened upon a music festival. With a restaurant across the street. Which had a free table on the upstairs balcony overlooking the festival+river. Nikon D7000 timelapse awesomeness!

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I used a mini-tripod with the Nikon D7000 and (if I remember) around a 4 second exposure, taking a photo every 5 seconds. Between the motion of the lights, the people, and the cars, it makes for a cool scene.

Da Nang, Vietnam Music Festival

Anyone have some cool crowd timelapses to share? Link ’em in the comments section!

Posted 4 years, 10 months ago at 4:19 pm.

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Phu Quoc, Vietnam

I’m just back from a 3w trip to Vietnam. Let me tell you, Vietnam is the country of adventure! It seems relatively safe, if you manage to avoid the touts, cheats, and duplicitous taxis/motorbikes.

The final stop on my journey was Phu Quoc island in the ocean off the southwest tip of Vietnam. As it had been a long and stressful trip (avoid night trains!!), this last stop was just for relaxing on the beach. The choice was Bo Resort with their long private beach.

Bo Resort Beach

It’s a bit more pricey than some other resorts, but in my opinion worth it (we paid $64/night with breakfast for a bungalow for 2). The grounds of Bo Resort are well kept, the beach is much cleaner than most areas of Vietnam (only some trash washes up from the ocean), and it’s a nearly deserted private beach belonging to the resort. There’s a limited number of guests allowed, around 40. During my timelapse videos (several hours), only 2 dogs and 4 people crossed the frame.

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(filmed with a Nikon D7000 and some filters like the Tiffen Variable ND and a circular polarizer to get 5s+ long shutter speeds in full sunlight)

One note about Bo Resort: the bungalows are open (think geckos and mosquito netting) and have no A/C. If this really bothers you, think twice. But if you’re there in a cooler season (temps *below* 30C at night), the lack of A/C wouldn’t be a big issue. When I was there it was HOT.

The Bo Resort restaurant is a bit pricey ($4-8 for most entrees which is a LOT for Vietnam), but it’s very high quality ingredients and beautifully prepared in a French-Vietnamese style. Way better than almost everything else I tasted in Vietnam. They clay pot caramelized shrimps were one of the culinary highlights of my 3 week trip.

Here’s a gratuitous distant thunderstorm with stars above the clouds… photography junkies may now start drooling…

Bo-Resort-Thunderstorm

Thanks to Bo Resort for helping to relax a bit at the end of a long adventure vacation!

Posted 4 years, 10 months ago at 2:45 pm.

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Las Vegas Nights

These are not the lights of Las Vegas, Nevada… but rather a different kind of lights in the tiny town of Las Vegas, Tenerife. I set up my Nikon D7000 and tried out some Milky Way star trail timelapse sequences. By pure chance, one of the nights happened to be the 2011 Geminids meteor shower! Lots of Sternschnuppe made it onto my 30s-exposure photos.

See how many shooting stars you can count. Can you find Venus, the Pleiades, and the Andromeda galaxy? I recommend 1080 full HD on Youtube to give your peepers the best resolution possible!

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As I’ve been doing a lot of timelapse stuff lately, here are

Dave’s TOP 10 Night Timelapse Tips

  • Make sure nothing annoying is moving in your photo, like trees that cover a large portion of the frame.
  • Avoid super bright lights being in the shot, they can create lens flare at long exposure.
  • Beware of battery life. Even my D7000 (one of the longest battery-life cameras) lasts under 400 shots at ISO 2000 and 30s exposure.
  • If possible, choose a location without motion detector lights. Unfortunately I couldn’t do that in this video, so I minimized the amount of scenery that was hit by the light.
  • Watch out for the moon. If it comes up during a night timelapse it will wash out all the stars.
  • Use a steady tripod and put it somewhere it won’t be disturbed by wind gusts, pets, or other people while you (hopefully) sleep.
  • Make sure to set a fixed (manual) focus, and don’t let the camera autofocus during the shoot. I use Live View on a bright star or very distant house light for the initial focus.
  • Keep the aperture constant to avoid changes in depth of field during the shoot.
  • Use manual exposure mode and fine-tune the ISO and shutter open time with some test shots. Of course you’ll want to set the widest aperture of your lens.
  • Last but not least: Check the weather report and pick a day free of clouds! Forecast should be 0% chance of rain unless you want a wet camera.

Tenerife Night Sky

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 7:20 pm.

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Timelapse Sunsets in Greece

On a recent trip to Greece, I tried out timelapse photography on my Nikon D7000 D-SLR. With about 500 photos you can get a great 20 second sunset sequence in 24p! Taken in Athens and on Aegina island. Here’s a shot of the setup I used:

Aegina Sunset Timelapse Setup

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With my Intel-Atom-powered Asus Eee PC along, I was able to check out the results directly after each timelapse shoot. I used free software (Virtualdub with the deflicker plugin) to compile the single shots into a video. This quick feedback enabled me to fine-tune my techniques on the fly and get increasingly better timelapse videos each day.

I foresee a lot of changes in cameras during the next 5-10 years. Higher-end models will have (real, quality) HDR functions integrated. The sequential photo setting now used for timelapses will integrate the photos automatically into a video in the camera, including exposure adjustment to avoid flicker. This is going to need a more powerful, yet still low-power processor built into the camera.

Let’s see what happens as cameras + processors improve. One thing is for sure, technology isn’t slowing down yet!

Posted 5 years, 5 months ago at 10:53 pm.

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Oktoberfest Nights

What better time that Oktoberfest for a Guided Munich photo tour. I took some clients around the city on the first night of Oktoberfest 2011, and we were lucky enough to get this beautiful sunset.

Munich Sunset

A nice longer exposure shot:

Olympiapark Sunset

Then off for a few really long-exposure nighttime shots before a thunderstorm brought our evening to an end. Yeah, I was too lazy to perspective-correct these in Photoshop (hehe).

Car trails in Schwabing

I love the stationary car in front of the archway!

Cool trails + stationary car

So get out your tripods and let’s see some long-exposure car trails! (All photos here with a Nikon D7000 and 18-200mm VR lens)

Posted 5 years, 5 months ago at 10:31 pm.

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Beauty around Buda Castle

Buda Castle sits high atop a hill overlooking both sides of the city, Buda and Pest. In the evening you can find stunning nighttime panoramas. But under the castle is yet another world of caves and tunnels, used by man since prehistoric times. Unfortunately the Labyrinth of Buda Castle was misused during the Cold War, turned into a concrete-lined bunker. Since then it has been converted into an interesting artistic display of history.

In some caves are reproductions of prehistoric art, mostly copied from Lascaux in France.

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With a mini-tripod and a bit of patience you can get a nice naturally-lit shot like this without needing flash. You’ll need low ISO for a clean photo, and custom white balance. The hardest part was staying still for 15s…

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My favorite display was about a newly-discovered extinct race of hominids found in Hungary. You’ll have to visit the Labyrinth to learn more about Homo consumes.

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Outside Buda Castle it’s spring!

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I’ll leave you with this lovely sunset shot taken from near the castle.

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If you’re headed to Eastern Europe I highly recommend to make Budapest a priority on your itinerary. It’s well worth the trip!

Posted 5 years, 10 months ago at 11:41 am.

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Relaxing in Budapest

German holidays are great, as long as you can avoid the traffic. Leaving at 7am from Munich we missed most of it and made it to Budapest in the early afternoon. Our greeter was an enthusiastic howler in need of a toenail trim:

Budapest Doggie

Late lunch at the hotel restaurant. This fantastic dish of homemade smoked salmon and quail eggs was six euro. (The pumpkin soup was also up there with the best I’ve ever had, for 2.50).

Homemade Smoked Salmon and Quail Eggs

After wandering around the beautiful castle above the city at sunset…

Budapest Cathedral

…we had a coffee and enjoyed this great night view! I think this is officially the best view I ever had from a coffee shop. It was definitely worth the pricey cuppa. (Hungarian expensive = Munich standard price!).

Budapest Night View

I’m already looking forward to the next 2 days of sightseeing!

Budapest - Castle at Night

Happy Easter. Just to cover my bases, I’ll be pouring one out for JC… probably a real Czech Budweiser 😉

Posted 5 years, 11 months ago at 9:38 pm.

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Verona at Night

When I arrived in Verona with a friend, the first thing we found was a lingerie fashion show in the central square. Verona is one happenin’ city! I’m going to have to pore over those photos… maybe I can find one or two that are (ahem) suitable for a later post… but here’s what we saw afterward. All photos taken with a tripod.

The Arena in Verona dates from Roman times:

Verona Arena

As the evening’s pop concert emptied out of the Arena di Verona, I got some ghostly photos of high heels and a bike on the Piazza Brà. ISO200, f/5, 2s.

Verona's Piazza Bra

Here’s what 0.8s will get you:

Street scene in Verona

And finally, an interesting church, well-lit at night.

Verona Church

Verona is a great city to visit, and even though you can’t shop at night, the town is abuzz with activity. Bars, events, and restaurants are packed full, spilling out onto the streets. It’s definitely worth a full weekend looking around this beautiful city!

Posted 6 years, 4 months ago at 5:20 pm.

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Oktoberfest Lights

On my way to a friend’s party I saw these spotlights over Oktoberfest 2010. As I didn’t have my camera or half an hour to spare, I made sure to go back another day and try these long exposures.

Oktoberfest 2010 Lights 1

The church in the foreground is the St. Maximilian Kirche.

Oktoberfest 2010 Lights 2

All these exposures are 10s at ISO200 with a wide aperture. I didn’t want to go longer, because the lights moved too frequently.

Oktoberfest 2010 Lights 3

It was a great Oktoberfest 2010; hopefully Oktoberfest 2011 is just as much fun!

Posted 6 years, 5 months ago at 3:29 pm.

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Toytown Photo Walk – October

I met up with the Toytown photo club and walked around Munich in the dark for a few hours. Here are a few shots I managed without any tripod.

f2 Cafe

I was going for a different angle on this red-lit mannequin.

Authority

Shooting from the hip in the dark at f/2…

From the hip

Eisbach surfers! I played with the strobe effect of my Nikon D90’s built-in flash. Next time I’ll bring a tripod and my SB600, turn down the ISO, and pump up the flash. That should blow out the orange highlights from the d*mn sodium vapor lights. I am too lazy for flash gels and a white card, heh.

Eisbach Surfing - Strobe Effect

That’s all for today!

Posted 6 years, 5 months ago at 12:40 pm.

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