Thursday, June 11, 2009
Some more images took along the drive, we are heading towards volcano area, to our 2nd destination, Sailimu Lake.
A different crop of above image.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Taking cropped picture or cropping the picture? Xinjiang is so big, so big that the format of picture became a choice even before taking the picture. But one really does not need to consider those many format of cameras anymore, you just need to see the picture as a final artwork when you took it, rather than try to crop a picture that was not originally planed to do so. Why? Because the grandness of the landscape, the dramatic lighting often disacourage to take some picture that may otherwise be a great image. Look at those portion you need, take the picture that exposed for the area you want, you may simply ignore the area you dislike, or cannot be exposed correctly. Of course HDR is also a solution, I just don't like it too much. I preferred the tight image with pictoric composition of my own style. Certainly, camera like Nikon D3X today is perhaps the best gift ever developed for an experiecned photographer. For its sheer file size, it is not just a 135 type DSLR, it is also a medium format of 6X4.5, 6X6, 6X8, or 6X9, and if you further stitch the pictures, it might as well be a 6X12 or 6X17. Limitation in photography today is no longer bound to camera format, it is the vision. A great camera such as Nikon D3X is the powerful tool to free the photographer.
Also with some shot of the rising sun, fast moving clouds, and the beautiful Lujiaowan Grand Grassland 鹿角弯大草原. And I tell myself, what a start for this good day.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Entering into the Tien Shan, we are ever nearing our first destination of the trip, Lujiaowan, ending a long day drive. There are farm lands, grasslands, cows and cowboys, sheeps, and beautiful landscape. Although I brought along a bagful of lenses of different focal length, I found the Nikkor AF-S VR 70-200/2.8G ED-IF mounted on D3X all the time, taking most of the shots, as it will be for the rest of the trip. Xinjiang, big in a grand scale, one has to visit to know what this means.
Monday, June 8, 2009
This image is taken by using Nikon D3X, with AF-S VR 70-200/2.8G IF-ED setting at 86mm, close down to f/9, 1/100s, ISO 100. To exhibit the largeness of the grassland, I took 8 individual captures and stitch them for this final artwork 39,001 pixels wide, 4,198 pixels height. Few tips, since I was shooting RAW, the WB setting does not matter, but if one is shooting JPEG, make sure the WB is manually set, so is the focus, and manual exposure, forget about the CP-L or graduate ND in most cases. Today’s stitching software is very powerful, I am using Capture One Pro 4.8.1 to develop the Nikon NEF file, export full size JPEG and stitch them in Photoshop CS4 or RealViz when I also need to export the QTVR file. It is suggested if you can mount the camera/lens on a tripod or VR drive and make sure the camera/lens is leveled. You can also free hand shooting, just to make sure you have adequate overlapping area between each capture. Why do I use Capture One or export the file in JPEG will be covered later in separate section.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Few images here took while moving along the Tien Shan Highway.
From Chengdu en route Urumqi, taking CA4151, don’t forget to at least keep a small camera with you, may be some nice aerial images. While waiting for departure, I took a snap shot of Chengdu airport waiting hall, using a Canon G10. Time to board!
From Chengdu, the aircraft will fly thru Gansu and Qinghai province, presented outside the window a great diversity of landscapes. I made these two images using a Canon G9 and Sigma DP-1, took a few with each one, I have the G10 and Nikon gear inside the overhead bin but did not touch it, I thought G9 (taken from my wife) and Sigma DP-1 (in my pocket) will do well and I did not disappoint. The Sigma is a fine cmaera, excellent image, very easy and straight forward interface, but somewhat clumsy to use and built quality is so so, but its picture quality earn all the forgiveness. I have had G9 before and contine with G10, it is a second nature for me, although its image quality is not close to Sigma DP-1. It was a clear day, morning sun bathe the snow capped mountain range, a small lake in the distant, deep blue sky.
What’s in the bag?
For this trip, I prepared my camera equipments, all digital, from 39 million pixels digital back – Phase One P45+ mount on Contax 645, with 5 Carl Zeiss lenses: Distagon 3.5/35mm, Vario-Sonnar 4.5/45-90mm, Apo-Makro-Planar 4/120mm, Sonnar 4/210mm and a very rare Super APO Tele-Photo-Powerpack 2.8/300mm with its matched 1.7X, in Hasselblad FE mount, adapt to Contax with a MAM-1 converter.
The DSLR for the trip was 2 great Nikon. The top of the pack 24.5mp D3X and the king of the dark, 12.1mp D3. 6 latest Nikkor lenses: AF-S 14-24/2.8G ED, AF-S 24-70/2.8G ED, AF-S VR 70-200/2.8G IF-ED, AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105/2.8G IF-ED, PC-E 24/3.5D ED and PC-E Micro 45/2.8D ED and a SB-900 AF Speedlight.
What I missed? The AF VR 80-400/4.5-5.6D ED and AF-S 200-400/4G IF-ED. I could have better images if I have these two with me…..next time! But I did bring a converter so at least I can use D3X on the medium format Carl Zeiss TPP.
Varies sizes of B+W CP-L filters and graduate ND. Spare batteries. All these cameras, lenses, accessories in 2 Lowepro backpack and case.
2 reasons to leave my Canon 1Ds3 system home and go with Nikon were (1) the 14-24/2.8 zoom (2) the unique D3 for available light photography. I also missed my Leica M8 at home, I packed the bag barely in tme to catch the flight, could not find the charger, have to leave it, besides my bags are all filled, no room for even a M8. This image, however, taken with a Canon 5D2 - Chinese nickname "Invincible Rabbit" 無敵兔, borrowed from my friend Wanbing 萬兵, as well as his EF 24-105/4L lens.
Of course, my main focus will be on images, rather than on gear talk and how they compared. All the image were captured in RAW, except some jPEG on G10 by accident. Conversion and choice over software will be on separate write.
And by the way, lots of CF/SD cards, a 500GB back-up hard drive, Apple Macbook Pro 17” Core2-dual 2.4ghz with 4G of RAM.
What’s not in the bag?
A unique limited edition Gitzo with reverse leg column suitable to work on sand, wet land, with a Arca Swiss B1 headhead. The choice of tripod is not a good one, more on this later.