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Daibutsu of Kamamura

Daibutsu of Kamamura

Back when I lived in Tokyo for a couple of years one of my favourite places to visit was the ancient capital of Kamakura, which is a short rail trip from the modern capital.

The Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha) is a magnificent structure, dating back to the 13th century.

The Daibutsu was originally housed in a hall, which was twice destroyed/damaged in storms during the 14th century, before being washed away in a 1498 tsunami. The Daibutsu has now been an outdoor feature for some 521 years!

The challenge for photography here is the crowds that flock to visit this site throughout the year. Weekends in particular are crazy busy in the area.

To counter the crowds, I setup to incorporate the base, which is actually a couple of metres above the surrounding ground level and then waited patiently to have the fewest number of people in shot. I have then cleaned up a few errant individuals in Photoshop.

The day we visited was actually quite a rainy day, and this provided a dramatic sky (and kept the crowds down a little).

I highly recommend a visit to Kamakura to any visitor to Japan.

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Torre de Hercules

Torre de Hercules

Hercules’ Tower (Torre de Hecules) is the oldest Roman lighthouse that is still in use today.

Located in the city of A Coruna in Spain’s Galicia region, the lighthouse was built in the 2nd century (CE).

This image was created in the morning of a cloudless summer’s day. Although many photographers prefer some cloud to provide contrast in the sky, I actually like a clear blue sky, at least sometimes.

In these conditions a polarising filter is an important part of the toolkit.

Image was processed using Lightroom CC and Photoshop, and there was some distortion correction and a small amount of object (people) removal applied.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
  • L: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO
  • E: Lightroom, Photoshop
Gog and Magog

Gog and Magog

The Twelve Apostles, near Port Campbell on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, is an incredible part of the Australian southern coastline.

Gog and Magog

While not technically part the Twelve Apostles, which are behind me while shooting this image, these two rock mounts—known as Gog and Magog—are wonderful features in their own right, particularly in the dawn’s morning light.

This coastline is stunning, carved out by millennia of waves and wind coming up from the Southern Ocean.

Some of the cliffs and sea mounts have collapsed in recent years, meaning that many vantage points are potentially dangerous. The natural vegetation also needs some protection, so for these two reasons it is important that photographers stick to the appropriate viewing points.

These points provide good views, although they are popular, so you need to get there extra early to find a spot and setup so that you are ready for the light.

My intention on this morning was to shoot the Twelve Apostles actual, but I’ve always made it a rule to turn around and look behind me. On this day it really paid off, providing me with a whole other composition.

View this image on Flickr

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Back in 2015 I visited the U.K. (among a number of other countries1), and visited Stonehenge.

This place is set up for tourists, with a major visitors centre and car park a couple of kilometres from the actual site, with constant people carriers ferrying visitors back and forth. Or you could walk (which my colleagues and I did).

With the crowds you might think that it would be hard to find a composition with few people. But if you worked your angles carefully and shot tight, it was possible to have just a couple of people in scene. In this image I only cloned out about four individuals.

The sky was quite dramatic on the day, but the SOOC image had a fairly washed out sky. This was restored using Photoshop and the Color Efex Pro 4 filter that is part of the Nik Collection by DxO package.

Stonehenge was a great location to shoot an iconic landmark and to enjoy the British countryside.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr


  1. Join the Navy see the world! 
A New Zealand Adventure Begins

A New Zealand Adventure Begins

Flightpath to Queenstown

Queenstown, a city on New Zealand’s South Island, is sometimes referred to as the ‘adventure capital of the world’, a title it has earned through the variety of outdoor and adventure activities that can be pursued in and around this alpine city.

Even the flight into Queenstown is regarded as the world’s most scenic approach, as well as one of the ultimate landings for thrill-seekers.

This is due to the need for the pilots to fly in over Lake Hayes, navigate through some very mountainous valleys and finally land on a runway that seems to lead straight into Lake Wakatipu.

Runway to Lake Wakatipu

The image at the top of this page shows one of the valleys through which arriving aircraft must fly, and a careful look will reveal an Air New Zealand Boeing 737 on final approach. The second image, just above shows the final valleys and peaks to be navigated, with the runway of the airport leading to Lake Wakatipu.

Skilled pilots of major New Zealand and Australian airlines regularly and safely make this flight, but it is nonetheless an amazing arrival for first time visitors and residents returning home alike.

Middle Earth

It is thrilling arrival to the start of an adventure to some of the incredibly picturesque landscapes in the world.

Diving PNG

Diving PNG

Belinda and Elephant Ear Coral by Des Paroz on 500px.com

I was surprised today to see blog post from DeeperBlue on Diving Papua New Guinea, featuring one of my images from a trip my wife and I made there in 2006.

We love PNG, and have dived at Kavieng, Kimbe Bay (Walindi), Milne Bay (Tawali) and Tufi. These are all amazing diving locations, and I am happy to see one of my images being used to promote diving in this part of the world.

With that said, a bit of advance notice and link back would have been nice!

Colourful Clarke Quay

Colourful Clarke Quay

Colourful Clarke Quay by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Singapore is a colourful city.

I didn’t tropical business-hub to be so vibrant and vivid, so as a photographer I was delighted to experience not just the modern architecture mixed with Asian heritage, but also the colourful expression of city’s colonial past.

We explored the city mostly by foot, but a boat tour from Marina Bay to Clarke Quay was a great way to explore a variety of locations, and to scout things out.

Along the river several colourful areas were quite photogenic. With the sun direction on the day, Clarke Quay proved particularly attractive.

I created this photo in the middle of a bright, sunny day. With the sky and the water, my polarising filter was critical to getting a good base image. I did some colour correction in Lightroom, and a little bit in Luminar and the resulting image represents the picture I saw on the day quite nicely.

Image Data

C: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
L: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO
E: Lightroom CC Classic, Luminar 2018

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Apps for Photography

Apps for Photography

My iPhone, and to an extent my iPad, are really important parts of my seascape, landscape and urban photography.

PhotoMenuThe iPhone itself makes for a good scouting camera, a good camera for a sneaky pano and a tool for making images of my image making. Its true power, however, lies in its abilities to assist in planning, managing, editing and sharing photos.

I thought I’d share some of the apps I use, and how I use them in my photography adventures.

Planning

  • Modern Atlas is a wonderful app that allows you to explore an area ahead of time with a map based interface that pulls in data from Wikipedia and other sources. It also features a lot of photography of an area, so it is a good planning tool.
  • Flickr is an app that allow you to pre-explore an area to see what other photographers have done. It’s a good source of ideas for image making starting points in a destination.
    TPE
  • The Photographers Ephemeris is perhaps my most used planning tool. Once I get an idea of where I want to shoot from TPE allows me to work out optimal times for shooting, noting sun angles and elevations, as well as timings for sunrise/set, golden hour and blue hour.
  • Weather Apps are an important planning tool to know whether it is worth planning to get up early, and what you can expect as far as temperatures. At home in Australia I use WillyWeather, and when travelling internationally I tend to use the native iOS Weather app. Rain Parrot is a great tool for providing me with alerts if rain is expected.
  • Maps – While I use Apple Maps at home and when I have good 4G coverage, I really like Maps.me when travelling internationally where I might not have good data coverage, or very limited data allowance. Maps.me is a superb tool for planning and then locating a photo location, even when coverage is unavailable. I am also playing around with what3words as a very interesting concept for planning and tracking locations.
  • Bear is my place for logging my ideas for both writing and photography. It provides a cool interface on macOS and iOS for notes using a modified Markdown format.

Shooting

  • Geotag Photos Pro 2 is a tool I use to do GPS logging for my images.
  • Panasonic Image App is a remote app for shooting with Panasonic Lumix cameras.
  • MiOPS is a tool to integrate with my MiOPS smart triggers.
  • LEE Filters – Stopper Exposure – I use Lee Filters Little Stopper (6 f-stop) and Big Stopper (10 f-stop) filters for many of my images, and this app allows me to quickly calculate the shutter speed I will need for a given aperture.

Managing

  • Photos – used mainly for supporting images taken on my iPhone. Getting more and more powerful with every release.
  • Adobe Lightroom CC – I do most of my digital asset management (DAM) on my Mac, but the new version of Lightroom CC allows me to do some of this work on the go.1

Editing

  • Affinity Photo – I do most of my editing in Luminar 2018 on my Mac, but when I do need to do stuff on the go, Affinity Photo is a very capable editor on iOS.
  • Plotagraph+ Photo Animator – I love still images, but adding some movement to a still is a different way of enjoying photography. Plotagraph+ is a fun and easy tool to do just that.
  • When I am editing in Luminar 2018 on my MacBook Pro, and I don’t have a Wacom tablet with me, I use Astropad Studio on my iPad with an Apple Pencil to bring graphics tablet functionality to the table. This is very on the go.

Miscellaneous

  • Lenstag is a great tool to allow me to track my camera and lens equipment.

Sharing

  • I’ve mentioned before that I use Flickr to plan, but it remains a great way to share my best images.
  • Micro.blog is a great, relatively new, platform for owning your own content, but sharing with a social layer. I am finding this to be a great way of sharing my images and photography thoughts not only to the Micro.Blog platform, but also to Twitter and Facebook (if I want to). Find me on Micro.Blog

New Additions

  • Really Good Photo Spots is a social based photo location sharing and planning tool. It has potential, but I haven’t used it enough, yet, to incorporate it into my standard workflow.

Conclusion

The biggest challenge with much photography, particularly landscape photography, is the challenge of time. It is a limited resource, and good planning and execution makes the job of making photos simpler and more fun.

The above apps have made my life easier. I’d be interested to hear other’s experiences, and also any suggestions on other apps worth considering.


  1. I haven’t emotionally committed to Lightroom at this time – still waiting to see what the upcoming DAM features in Luminar will look like. 
Positano Rising

Positano Rising

Positano Rising by Des Paroz on 500px.com

This series of photos from Positano in Italy have showed different aspects of the town, its stunning coastline and some individual characteristics of the township.

This image, shot from the same western overlook from which I shot the image East from Positano shows the scale of the town growing up from the Piazza dei Mulini area in the centre of the town, extending up the heights of the surrounding mountains.

The township is very much situated in what looks to me to be a fjord cut into the mountain range by the sea.

The building next to the green roof in the bottom of the frame is the wonderful AirBNB place we stayed at, and is situated right in front of Piazza dei Mulini.

As a photographer it is also important to sometimes turn the camera around to do a different perspective. While the East from Positano image has an amazing vista, this one is pretty good too, and is a key part of my Positano story. I think this image helps to illustrate the scale of the heights of Positano as it rises from the sea into the mountains.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Six Passengers

Six Passengers

Six Passengers by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Famous for its spectacular coastline, seascapes and mountain vistas, life in Positano is literally built around the sea.

The township is a year round magnet for tourists, and the crystal blue seas are a way that many get to and from the area, and are a major part of their enjoyment of it. Swimming, snorkelling, diving, sailing, fishing and other marine tourism are all important.

During the quieter winter months fewer people swim, but there are constant reminders of the role that the seas play in the town’s rhythm of life.

After shooting the vistas of the township each sunrise from different overlooks, I felt the need to do something different. Along with the steps of Positano, I felt that the working sea is an important part of the township’s story.

Image made as the sun began to rise over the headland further east on the Amalfi Coast. A 6 stop GND filter helped to balance out the strong highlights with the dark shadows, as well as providing glassy smoothness to the sea.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Stepping Up in Positano

Stepping Up in Positano

Stepping Up in Positano by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Positano is known for many things – beaches, restaurants, bars, walks, magnificent scenery and more. Perhaps however it is most known for its many, many stairs.

The town really has only two roads – the main highway the winds between Sorrento and Amalfi that cuts through the high part of town, and a second road that winds down from the main road near Chiesa Nueva (New Church) and rejoins the main road near the Sponda bus stop.

Footpaths on these roads are limited, to say the least. Getting around town, from the heights down to the beach is generally done on foot and by the many stairways.

Shooting these stairways can be challenging as the light range can be quite broad. Shooting early or late in the day, or on an overcast day, can help. This image was made in the morning, and was framed to accentuate the winding stairway, and to use a slightly downward angle to emphasise the nearest stairs, and to crop out the brightest parts of the scene.

Positano’s stairways are part of this township’s story, and are worth exploring, photographically.

View this image on 500px.

Looking Up from Positano

Looking Up from Positano

Looking Up from Positano by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Like the other towns on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Positano stretches from its beautiful coastline up into the surrounding mountains.

Standing on the beach, the signature dome of the church of Santa Maria Assunta is framed between an enclave in the ridge-line of the mountains. Buildings stretch much of the way up.

This image was made a few minutes after sunset, giving a love even colour across the buildings and hills. A tripod is an important tool in this type of imagery, as the relatively low shutter speed (0.4 of a second) would make a sharp image difficult to achieve if handholding.

View this image on 500px or Flickr