Thursday, May 17, 2012

Emperor Jade Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

On the recommendation of Peter Stuckings, fellow photographer based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, I visited the Emperor Jade Pagoda for a quick photo shoot. The Emperor Jade Pagoda (Chùa Ngọc) is a Taoist Pagoda located at 73 Mai Thi Luu Street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It is also known as the Tortoise Pagoda due no doubt to the large number of tortoises in a pool in front if the temple.

My timing was perfect as on arrival there was a ceremony going on with the head priest leading a procession of followers dressed in black. The chanting, drums and burning incense really added atmosphere to my visit. The highlight was when the overhead sun came out and created these wonderful beams of light through the overhead slatted roof beams cutting through the haze of smoke from the burning incense.

The temple was very authentic and was obviously well used on a daily basis by local worshippers. The ancient old fans hanging from the ceiling made the place look like a set from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Tyler Stableford - Adventure Photographer

Tyler Stableford was in Malaysia today to present a seminar as part of the Canon's EOS Master Craftsmen Southeast Asia Tour 2012. His presentation was very inspiring and showed Tyler's skills in both photography and cinema-photography in a number of adventurous situations. Much of this recent work was shot with the new Canon EOS 1D X and 5D Mk III cameras and used the latest wireless Speedlight 600 EX-RT flash units with the ST-E3-RT transmitter. These situations also displayed the durability and ruggedness of the Canon equipment which was used in some severe weather situations and arduous environments. As well as displaying his work he presented a live shooting demo with one of Malaysia's national cycle team highlighting his approach to making a shoot and using an array of Canon Speedlight 600 EX-RT flash units to enhance the lighting of the shot.

About Tyler Stableford

Aspen photographer and director Tyler Stableford has earned an international clientele for his commercial and editorial work. His clients include Disney, Patagonia, Stetson and The New York Times, among others.

Men's Journal named Tyler one of the seven "World's Greatest Adventure Photographers". He is one of Canon's distinguished Explorers of Light, as well an ambassador for the SanDisk Extreme Team and Adobe's digital imaging software.

Tyler's work has won numerous awards from Communication Arts, Photo District News, American Photography, the International Photography Awards, National Geographic Traveler, and more. His short film "The Fall Line" won the Official Best of Fest competition for "Award-Winning Films To Inspire."

Tyler is a graduate of Dartmouth College. His passion for photography extends beyond commercial work: He volunteers to shoot at least one week per year for nonprofits, and is an active member of the environmental-business organization "1% For The Planet".

You can check out his work at

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Abandoned & Decayed - An HDR/URBEX Paradise

Decaying and abandoned old buildings are a treasure trove for the photographer or the urban explorer (URBEX) and these types of environments just shout out for the use of HDR and other post-processing styleization techniques to produce a moody and atmospheric image. The inside of these buildings are normally very dark and where there is bright light spilling in from the outside you can get large changes in dynamic range which can be limiting for most camera sensors. Hence the need for taking multiple bracketed images over a range of exposures to bring out the details in the shadows and properly expose the washed out highlights.

The above image, taken inside an old abandoned colonial house in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, was created by tone-mapping 3 bracketed images as shown below.

0 EV
-2 EV
+2 EV
For dynamic ranges like this where there is a large difference between the dark shadows and the bright highlights of the open doors and windows I would normally have taken more brackets; 5 or even 7 to cover the dynamic range of the scene. However in this case I was taking hand held as I was sans tripod so shot off 3 quick brackets to try and miminise any camera movement.

The images were imported into Aperture and then tone mapped using PhotoMatixPro. I subsequently did some additional post-processing in  Viveza 2 from Nik Software to enhance the colour and texture of some areas such as the wall on the left hand side and the wonderful eroded ceiling beams.

Looking at the final image compared with the "normal" 0 EV photo it really highlights the benefits of HDR techniques to bring out the full dynamic range of the scene.