Boats on Sanur Beach

Sanur is considered the original upmarket tourist destination on the Indonesian island of Bali, and remains a photographically spectacular place today.

The long beach looks over towards Nusa Penida island (which can be seen in the background of this image).

I only had a couple of days in Bali on this trip as I was visiting for a seminar, so didn’t have the flexibility to shoot at the times that would have better suited. That said, I did enjoy the chance to explore the beach, and really liked the traditional fishing boats all along.

The challenge here was isolating the subject. The beaches are busy, and there is a lot going on. I managed to isolate the image nicely and using a polariser I reduced the glare of the mid-morning sun.

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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.
  • 500px and Flickr are two apps that allow you to pre-explore an area to see what other photographers have done. Its 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 500px and Flickr to plan, but they remain great ways 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. 

Trevi Fountain

Perhaps the world’s most famous fountain (and certainly the most famous in Rome), the Trevi Fountain is a spectacular baroque masterpiece not far from the Pantheon in the city’s centre.

In my other Rome images I have discussed my preference for the pre-dawn blue hour as an opportunity to get nice light and few people. This image was made after sunrise, but before the crowds.

The image was created with a very wide angle of 7mm (14mm in ‘full frame’). A little bit of straightening was done with DxO ViewPoint, and basic editing in Luminar.

20171125 Trevi CrowdsThe small image to the right was shot in the middle of the day a couple of days before the post’s featured image in the middle of the day. You can see the significant crowds (noting it was late November), and the harsher mid-day light.

It really is worth getting up early for sunrise photography, and waiting around until the later evening for evening blue hour. In the European winter this is a little easier given the shorter days!

Check out my Italy 2017 Photo Gallery.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Image Data

(For the featured image)

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
  • L: Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4
  • E: Lightroom CC Classic, Luminar 2018, DxO ViewPoint 3

Stormy Forum

Stormy Forum by Des Paroz on 500px.com

After shooting the Roman Forum one dawn, we visited the site, easily spending a good half day exploring the various Roman ruins.

Spectacular.

It was a brilliant Rome day, with beautiful weather, but some fairly ominous clouds came over the site, providing quite a spectacular sky.

I found a composition that I liked with the column and dome.

As shot, the image had some distortion with the straight lines of the column and the building on the right leaning inwards. I fixed the image with DxO ViewPoint 3.

Check out my Italy 2017 Photo Gallery.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Image Data

I’m borrowing an idea I picked up on the interwebs — I think from Brian Matiash — to include some basic image data in these blog posts. So I will experiment with including camera (C), lens (L) and editing (E) details in brief. I might also add in data such as other accessories (filters, lights, etc).

C: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
L: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO
E: Lightroom, Luminar 2018, DxO ViewPoint 3

Vatican Night

This is the third in a series of photos made of the Vatican, from Rome’s Ponte Umberto I, down the Tiber River and across the Ponte Sant’Angelo.

After staking out a good vantage point , I stayed in place from golden hour, through the sunset and into the late blue hour, when this shot was made. As can be seen a single composition can deliver very different results with the changing light.

This image shows about the point in the late blue hour where I normally call it quits. The darks of foliage are really blacks.

In this case, the golden hue from the lights contrasts nicely with the blues of the water and sky, with wonderful reflections on the river.

The point is, work a scene. Don’t quit too soon and take your time to get a range of images.

View my Italy 2017 Image Gallery

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Castel and Bridge

Castel Sant’Angelo represents the uniqueness of old old Rome.

Built originally as a mausoleum by Emperor Hadrian in around 123-139CE, the complex was later used as a Papal residence and fortress and then a prison. It is still in use today as a museum and tourist attraction.

In researching Rome photography using 500px, Flickr and the Modern Atlas app I realised that Castel Sant’Angelo would present a range of shooting opportunities. This was backed up in Elia Locardi’s Photographing the World Part 3 tutorials that utilised this site as one of the featured shots for a tutorial.

My preferred image is with the bridge on the left (Bridge of Angels), and drawing the eye left to right to the Castel.

In some respects the featured image on this post gives more prominence to the castle, and the starbursts of the lights on the bridge work well in this composition. So it was worth shooting from several different angles.

20171126 Bridge to CastelAnother angle, the smaller one to the right, shows the bridge in full daylight, with people crossing the old bridge between the castle and the city.

For me telling the story of a photographic subject is an important part of the experience. And it gives you a better chance of getting a unique image.

Please visit my Italy 2017 Photo Gallery.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Pantheon Blue

Even with a fairly featureless sky, blue hour is the best time of day to shoot for the clear, balanced light, and for the lack of crowds.

To get this image in frame required setting my tripod up on the fountain in the piazza in front of the Pantheon, using a wide angle lens. I accepted the bit of lens distortion, but found that I framed it too tightly to straighten the image up ‘in post’, but I am very happy with the image nonetheless.

21071130 Pantheon ScaleI love the cool light of the sky and the warm light of the illumination of this 2 thousand year old religious structure. Ironically, the lights were turned off moments after this image, changing the look altogether.

The second image, without illumination has my wife standing at the base of the columns. This gives some perspective on the engineering awesomeness of this structure.

20171125 Pantheon PiazzaIn the daytime there are many crowds around the Pantheon, with horse buggies and other street vendors. Daylight and crowds lead to very different shooting.

Visit my Italy 2017 photo gallery.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Colosseum

Merry Christmas

Wishing visitors a very Merry Christmas. Have a safe and happy holiday.

Colosseum

The Colosseum is such a large and important part of both the history of the Roman Empire and the City of Rome that it is actually hard to write something new and interesting about it.

Photographically, any trip to Rome really needs to include an early morning or late afternoon flight. Not only is this to allow the best chance of getting good light, but also to catch the place when the crowds are minimal.

In this case we made images at the Roman Forum at Sunrise, and the went directly to the Colosseum. The crowds were far smaller than in the middle of the day, but it is almost impossible to shoot without people in the image.

We visited in late November, perhaps one of the quietest times of year, but there were still lots of people about.

In this case, I considered deleting some of the people in post, but decided that the people visiting the place is part of the Colosseum story.

After these images, we went for some breakfast before touring this wonderful structure. I remain blown away by the sheer amount of history this place represents, starting in the Roman era, moving through the early Christian Church and into the modern era.

It is a truly impressive structure, and the engineers of the Roman Empire must have been outstanding, and you could only imagine what they might have been able to achieve if they had modern technology to support their construction.

View the Italy 2017 image gallery.

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Vatican Sunset

After staking out a good vantage point on Rome’s Ponte Umberto I, I stayed there from the late afternoon (golden hour), through the sunset and into the blue hour. The exact same composition can deliver a range of different images.

In this image shot in late November, the evening progressed and the river smoothed out, providing stunning reflections of the Vatican and early Winter sky.

I watched as small boat rowed down the river. Knowing that the water’s smooth surface and the reflections would soon be disturbed I worked timing to take an image with the boat approaching the reflection.

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The Roman Forum

Rome is full of history, most of it within an easy walk of the centre of the city.

A friend once said something to me along the lines of:

For Europeans 200km is a long distance, and for Australians 200 years is a lot of history.

There is a lot of truth to this, as any building in Australia that is 200 years old is likely to be a heritage building. In Europe there are many buildings many centuries old still in daily use, and real heritage can be found in sites like the Roman Forum, which dates back for more than 2,000 years.

We sought out a spot that is commonly referred to as the Forum Lookout, but found on scouting that there was a lot of scaffolding in place as key features are being cared for.

20171126 Roman ScaffoldingSo I came back to shoot a sunrise, carefully setting up to avoid the scaffolding and taking in a broad view of the Roman Forum.

We also arrived quite a bit before sunrise, and after setting up the illumination lights were turned off. An HDR image was the best option here to bring out the most in this image.

Scouting and perspective are important, and with a bit of thought a decent image can be made.

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Lateran Obelisk & Aqueduct House

Lateran Obelisk

The Lateran Obelisk is the largest standing Egyptian Obelisk in the world, and stands prominently in a piazza in Rome, not far from the Colosseum.

We kind of stumbled across this monument after visiting some basilicas in the area. I took a look at the Modern Atlas iOS app and found mention of the obelisk, so we wandered over for a look.

In a busy piazza it would’ve been very easy to snap a couple of shots with one of the surrounding buildings in the direct background of the obelisk. I took a few minutes to find a vantage where I could frame the structure with sky behind.

Because it was the middle of the day, I had to adjust my bottom crop to cut out the traffic and people out, with a quick bit of tidying up in post.

Aqueduct House

Aqueduct House by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Adjacent to the Lateran Obelisk are various sections of the old Roman Aqueduct system.

Each section has been built into surrounding buildings, like this piece which has several houses built in and around it.

The Aqueduct will likely stay in place for as long as the surrounding buildings remain there — and vice versa.

Bridge of Angels

Bridge of Angels by Des Paroz on 500px.com

One of the amazing things, at least to me about Rome is that so many centuries old buildings and structures remain in use today.

A great example of this is Ponte Sant’Angelo — a bridge built in 134CE, and still used today as a main pedestrian thoroughfare. Distinguished by its 10 angels, the CBD of Rome lies on one side and the Castel Sant’Angelo lies on the other.

I created images of Ponte Sant’Angelo on two separate nights, and preferred this angle with the bridge on the left, drawing the eye left-to-right into the castle. Beautiful reflections and the star burst patters made for an image that I really like.

I’d love to have had more drama in the sky, but happy with the overall result as it stands.

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