Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

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

Tenerife Sunsets

Here are a few sunset timelapses and other scenes from Tenerife’s west and north coasts. Tenerife is a beautiful island if you avoid the super-touristy parts. Enjoy!

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Taken with a Nikon D7000 using the built-in intervalometer, and an 18-200mm VR lens.

Tenerife Sunset

Posted 17 years, 8 months ago at 8:30 am.

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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, 9 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, 9 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 6 years, 2 months ago at 11:41 am.

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Weilheim Discgolf Sunset

Indisputably, the best place to play frisbee golf near Munich is Weilheim. It’s a town near the south end of Starnberger See, about 30-45 minutes from Munich. I met up with a few locals who were already on the course and we had a great time playing together. Here’s the evening view from hole 13:

View of Weilheim's hole 13

The sunlight only got better as evening approached. Just picture yourself in this red-orange, side-lit forest:

Pines in beautiful evening light

The texture on this tree struck me, highlighted by the orange sunlight.

Blur to texture

I only had my 35mm f/2 on hand, but it gives a good idea of the forest-feel as the last edge of the sun slipped below the horizon.

Sunset in the forest

Hole 19 at Weilheim: whoever is closest to the hole 1 basket wins. You can barely see it at the bottom of the hill, right side. A tricky throw!

Overlooking hole 19

Bonus points to whoever can tell me exactly what this picture is!

What is this photo?

A beautiful sunset silhouette…

Sunset silhouette

And a realistic HDR of the same scene.

HDR Sunset over Weilheim corn

So, the next time I’m fired up to play disc golf at Weilheim, you’ll know why – friendly locals, and the course is at one of the most beautiful parks in Bavaria!

Posted 6 years, 9 months ago at 12:13 pm.

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Munich’s Olympiapark in HDR

I’ve prepared some more HDR photos to show you the view from Olympiaberg (made of WWII rubble) around sunset. It’s a bit too far away for a view of Munich’s downtown, but the Olympic buildings themselves are stunning! Here’s the Olympiastadion (where I saw Genesis a few years back):

Olympiastadion HDR

The last few moments of sun before the disc slipped below the horizon:

Olympiastadion HDR Sunset

And a perspective-corrected view of the Olympiaturm, with BMW Vierzylinder (the HQ of BMW, called “four cylinders”) in the background. BMW Welt and BMW Museum are tiny.

Olympiaturm HDR Sunset

High Dynamic Range photography is an interesting way to show detail in areas of shadow, without blowing out the highlights in a photo. It currently requires taking several shots of the scene, then doing lots of PC processing after taking the pictures. Due to this post-processing, I’m anxious to hear if any of you have problems viewing the photos on your monitors (do they look too dark)? If so I might need to calibrate my monitor.

Now I’m just waiting for the first camera to come out with built-in HDR processing. I predict this will be on a pro- or pro-sumer camera in less than five years, more likely 2-3. What do you think?

Posted 6 years, 11 months ago at 1:02 pm.

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HDR Photography in Cambodia

So, I’ve finally processed a few of the High Dynamic Range photo sequences that I took on the RTW trip. Here are a few from Cambodia, which you can also see (in higher resolution) on my Flickr page.

This is probably my favorite of the final prints, taken from the third floor of the Angkor Spirit Palace hotel in Siem Reap where I was staying. The benefit of HDR is that you can see detail in both the bright and dark areas of the final “composite” picture.

Cambodia Sunset over Rice Paddies

Here’s an interesting shot of an approaching storm, which killed the sunset I was waiting for at this temple. Unfortunately the software I have isn’t good at aligning images, and has no manual feature. So they didn’t line up perfectly, something you can see in some of the edges where light meets dark (but only in the higher res versions on Flickr). Either way, the scene is great – everything from rain, to black clouds, to blue sky!

Angkor Storm - Badly Aligned

Finally I’ll close up with another photo from the rice paddies sunset over Siem Reap. There was actually someone burning brush over behind the trees, that’s why there’s an area with smoke rising.

Cambodia Sunset 2 over Rice Paddies

There will be a lot more HDR photos coming, as I go through the Camera RAW images that I took all throughout the RTW adventure. Stay tuned!

Posted 6 years, 11 months ago at 2:56 pm.

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Cambodian Sunset

Finally, after a long stretch of nothing, I saw a good sunset in Asia! That’s apparently not so easy during the rainy season. This sunset is actually from yesterday, but I only took a couple photos today (July 21st), so I’ll combine ‘em.

Sunset over Siem Reap, Cambodia

Like I’ve said several times on this trip, I might post an HDR of this sunset eventually – rice paddies in the foreground. But I need to get some software (and get home to my more-powerful PC) first.

Siem Reap sunset

Today’s shot: a White Russian at The Banana Leaf bar & restaurant on Siem Reap’s Pub Street.

Banana Leaf - White Russian

I can’t agree with Tyler Durden’s theory of “single serving friends.” It’s cool to meet other international travelers from all over the world, even if it’s just for one evening of Khmer food and drinks. Cheers, LH… hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!

Mmm... Tequila Sunrise!

I highly recommend Khmer Kitchen, on the corner near Le Grand (which is across from one of the Viva – Mexican locations). My guide Saron’s suggestion of #15 and #42 on the menu was spot on. You can’t beat 42, the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything. And the dishes were cheap (for Pub Street) at just $3!

Tomorrow I’m off with Saron again, this time for a half-day trip to Tonle Sap lake, which changes level drastically during the rainy season. Stay tuned to learn more!

Posted 6 years, 12 months ago at 3:43 pm.

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Angkor Sunset Storm

Admission to Angkor Archaeological Park, to see Angkor Wat and the other temples, is simple: choose a one-day, three-day, or one-week ticket. The multi-day tickets are usable over a longer period (I think a week and a month, respectively).

One really nice thing that I prefer over Machu Picchu: with the one-day ticket, you can enter the park a day before your visit, after 5pm, to see the sunset. Sweet!

Unfortunately for me, the sunset on July 19th got rained out. But I did get to climb up to the “sunset temple” (I can’t remember the Khmer name, but every tuk-tuk knows it). Eventually I will post some HDR (High Dynamic Range) shots of the rain approaching across the low-lying forest. Here’s the temple itself:

Sunset viewing temple at Angkor park

The stairs are quite steep. Go slowly and don’t look down – yeah, that steep. The idea of these temples was to imitate mountains, because Cambodia doesn’t have any majestic peaks like the Himalayas. Gods would be persuaded to visit these simulated mountain peaks, and even the King had to climb hand-over-hand up the stairways, humble before the gods.

Without HDR, the best one can do to capture the majestic clouds is to silhouette the foreground. Fortunately, the temples of Angkor lend themselves perfectly to this strategy.

Silhouette at Angkor park

Yes, that baby thunderhead was an omen of things to come. I waited out a brief shower from the west after talking to a tour guide who said it didn’t look too bad. Ten minutes later I saw another wall of rain moving toward us from north. When the guide saw that, he said, “Oh. That direction it usually lasts longer. I have to talk to my tour group, maybe we go down now.”

I took my cue and headed home, beating the rush to the tuk-tuks by ten minutes. My hotel driver unfortunately didn’t have any roll-down sides for the tuk-tuk (which every other one had), so I got soaked anyway.

Just as an aside: compare the shot above with a similar one where the silhouette is centered.

Example of bad framing at Angkor park

Bo-ring! The more interesting framing of the first shot captures the sky and the silhouette much better. Using the “Rule of Thirds,” place your subject on imaginary lines dividing the frame into thirds (vertically and/or horizontally). This composition makes a much more aesthetic photo.

As for a Cambodian sunset: I did see one a couple days later. Coming up soon! What was your best sunset ever, or worst attempt at seeing one? Flickr links please! <grin>

Posted 6 years, 12 months ago at 3:17 pm.

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A Wonderland of Volcanoes

Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland sounds pretty cheesy, like something Weird Al might parody a la “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota.”

It’s not.

Just 700 years ago, thermal/volcanic eruptions blew up this whole area and sprayed rock and ash all over the region.

Today you can see the remnants: a hotbed of thermal activity which somehow results in all the colors of a kid’s chemistry set, sprayed on the ground and leaking from various acidic pools.

The edge of the Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu

Another strange feature is that visitors are constantly dosed with hydrogen sulfide gas, with very little warning about the dangers. At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, I was constantly reading signs about dangerous volcanic gases; but on June 16th at Wai-O-Tapu, people were wandering around with toddlers (not recommended). Breathing a gas that converts to sulfuric acid when it dissolves in the moist membranes of your body (think nose, lungs, and eyes). So, if you’re pregnant or have small kids with you, think twice about visiting this park.

Since I have so many pictures and stories from Wai-O-Tapu, I’ll probably do a full article about it sooner or later. For now I’ll leave you with a picture of Lady Knox geyser, which would naturally erupt every 24-72 hours. In order to allow everyone to view it, they “seed” it with surfactant daily at 10:15. This basically forces the geyser into a regular schedule. The photo is a bit tweaked to bring out the rainbow:

A rainbow in Lady Knox geyser at Wai-O-Tapu

After Wai-O-Tapu, I decided to head to Coromandel Town. This turned out to be a much longer drive than I anticipated, because the last 50km of it is a super-windy coastal road going through a dozen tiny towns. But it did afford me a few classic (and sunny!) views of New Zealand’s beautiful coast.

The Coromandel coast near sunset

After arriving in Coromandel, I found a lovely Holiday Park where I could view the sunset from a beach. Here’s one of the best shots:

Sunset over Coromandel, New Zealand

For those who’ve been following me since Hawaii, you might remember the Green Flash, a strange atmospheric effect at sunset just as the sun disappears below the horizon. It only occurs when conditions are right, and just over the ocean (but apparently some very low and distant islands don’t disturb it). Here’s my latest flash:

The Green Flash over Coromandel, New Zealand

This flash was about 2 seconds long. I set the exposure compensation to –2 stops, so that I could capture more of the green color than last time. Success! This is a 100% crop (meaning this is zoomed in to show the actual camera pixels, and not resampled). The photo is not modified in any way! Now, I need some extension tubes to magnify my view a bit more. Mu-hahaha.

In the evening it was clear and a bit darker than I’m used to, so I tried some nighttime photography. However, it wasn’t anywhere near as dark as in the Peruvian rainforests. You can see the effects of even minimal light pollution in the bottom half of this photo.

Night Sky over Coromandel Town

I could barely see these trees; even after my eyes adjusted to the light they were just silhouettes. But in a 30s exposure, a few lights from nearby houses and roads washed out the horizon on an otherwise beautifully dark sky. I did see a shooting star – it was just a few degrees out of my camera’s field of view on one of the photos. So close.

Tomorrow I finally get on an Auckland ferry, and find a good spot for night shots of the city!

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago at 3:27 pm.

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