31.10.09

Travel Photography 4

Over the years I used Nikon SLR cameras to shoot photos. Nikon cameras are good for taking fine colours and texture. Once one has got it, it is difficult to switch brands. Switching brands necessitates buying new camera and lens. Investment on good lens can be higher than the camera. Canon's edge is speed. It's the choice of most sports reporters.








Details, texture and colours are shown optimally with Nikon D70 Camera, Nikon 24-70mm and Tokina 80-200mm lens.

The best handy lens fitting most occasions is 28-70mm. It's good for taking landscape photos. I moved into digital photography in 2004. With the smaller framing constraint, 18 - 55mmis a better choice of wide angle lens. With the advance of technology, a lot of automatic digital cameras can achieve very good photo quality. I owned two. Samung L700 and Fujifilm F70 EXR acquired in 2006 and 2009. F70 EXR comes with 10x Optical Dual Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7 inch LCD. It can take quality pictures in extreme situations, e.g. low light.


Rocky Mountain  by Samsung L700.  Passionfruit Cheesecake by Fujifilm F70 EXR.

Wanna acquire a latest model of digital camera?  See my Digital Camera Store:


Travel Photography 3

Shutter Speed
Shutter is a small plastic sheet that opens and closes to allow light onto the film/sensor or prevent light from reaching the film/sensor. Shutter speed controls the amount of time that your film/sensor, is exposed to light. It is measured in fractions or units of seconds. The lighter the environment, the shorter the time the shutter is needed to open for the light to reach the film or sensor, e.g. 1/250, 1/1000. When it gloomy, a slower shutter speed is required to maximise the time for the light to reach the film/sensor, e.g. 1/30, 1 second.

Focal Length / Lens















The focal length of a lens determines how much the subject will be magnified or distant. Lens are categorised as standard, wide-angle and tele. Standard lens is 50mm. It does not magnify or distant a subject. Wide-angle lens allows to take lots of things into the framing of a photo. It stretches the perspective and make the object closer to the len look bigger. Wide angel lens start from 10 and cand can be up to 28mm. Focal length higher than 28mm and below 50mm does not accommodate lots of things into the framing.

Tele lens draws distant objects closer to show details. The range starts 70/80mm. It can be up to 800mm. The higher the mm, the closer the objects is drawn for clear details.

Lens can be fixed or zoom which the focal length can vary within a range. For example, a wide angle lens ranged 10-24mm, a tele lens ranged 80-200mm. The more zoom a focal length becomes, the smaller the aperture is resulted. Say, a lens ranged 10-24mm. Its aperture value is f3.5-4.5. When 10mm is selected, the maximum aperture is 3.5. When it is zoomed to 24mm, the maximum aperture will be 4.5. The higher the aperture value, the smaller the amount of light can enter into the camera. Zoom lens with fixed aperture (i.e. whatever the focal length is the maximum aperture measure remains the same) is much more expensive than those with varied aperture.

With technology advancement, you can leave the shutter speed, aperture to digital cameras. However, you should practise more on leveraging the light, compose photos with optimal perspectives, utilise the metering and focal length to create stunning photos.

25.10.09

Vigevano - North Italy

Vigevano is famous for its beautiful cathedral façade lying at the end of the Ducal Piazza. It is just a 27-minute train journey from Milan’s Porta Genova station. The city dates back to the middle ages. It was a thriving trading centre of textile but gave away to shoe manufacturing industry.  Our first sight visit is a building formerly used as a stable. It is enormous and part of the Sforzesco Castle.











Slowly we arrived at the Ducal square. It was designed by Bramante and it is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. The square is an elongated rectangle and enclosed with arched porticos supported by 84 columns. Cafe and shops are on the two sides. The floor is tiled.  The central pathe path leads to the cathedral facade.

Sight seeing points were closed at lunch time. We and other tourists had been waiting for a long time (the staff came 15 minutes late) to climb the Bramante tower so as to have a panoramic view of the town. One roof has many chimneys – interesting!

Did you ever hear that the great Saint Francesco could talk to birds? Check out the evidence! A beautiful fountain of the saint in front of the Church of St Francesco tells!

18.10.09

Taking Great Photos 2

Basics of Photography:
Light / Exposure
- the subject should face the light source
- exposure compensation / ISO to adjust the strength of light





Click the image to magnify it.


Composition












Metering
Centre-weighted and Multi-zone are the common metering methods.  The previous assigns the greatest weight of metering to the centre of the frame.  The latter measures the light density of various zones, combines the results to find the best metering.  Normally, I take multi-zone.  When contrast of light is emphasised, I will switch to the centre-weighted mode.

Aperture
Aperture controls the amount of light entering into the camera.  One can adjust the aperture if aperture-mode is available or at manual exposure mode.  It ranges from 1.4 to 32.  The lower the numeric the bigger amount of light can be taken for shooting. 

References:
Kindle version with big savings is available!

No theory, jargon or complicated concepts but simple instructions to shoot dramatically better-looking, sharper, more colorful, more professional-looking photos. Wanna take a person with blurred background. Use a telephoto lens, set your f/stop to f/2.8, focus on the flower, and fire away. It’s that easy. It is written by Scott Kelby, the author of no.1 best selling book The Photoshop Book for Digital Photographer.
What's more?  Volume 2 and 3 are available!
The Digital Photography Book, Volume 2
The Digital Photography Book, Volume 3


Need a kindle? The latest version is available.  Thousands of customers love it!
 Kindle allows you to surf internet, select, download from 350,000 ebooks and store up to 1,500 copies.  It can read out books, newspaper and is easy to carry around.  Reading is such a pleasure!  What's more?  Kindle books are more cost effective and environment friendly than paper books.

Taking Great Photos 1

Taking great photos is not a privilege of professional photographers. You and I, whether with an automatic or high end camera, can do it. Photography is communication. It conveys what you see to the audiences. A good photo gets people’s attention because it tells a story, invites imagination, delights, freezes the moment of beauty, memories…..

Once or twice a year, I take photos when I travel. I acquire basic photography knowledge by reading, seeing others’ photos and practice. Before taking a photo, think yourself what you want to communicate, record. A purpose helps shooting great photos. Then consider the light source, composition, perspective and focal length. Most cameras optimise the combination of aperture and shutter speed well. Unless you aim for special effects, you can let the camera do its job. It’s a pleasure to share some basics and tips for taking photos.

Photography is.....
- Memory / Reporting
- Creativity / Art
- Communication







Essence of taking great photos is:
- Capture what is happening
- Convey a message
- Tell a story
- Create imagination beyond what is seen

Here are e-references on cameras, what makes a good photo, ways to take stunning photos.......
http://www.learndigitalphotographynow.com/Shoot-Digital-Pics-Like-the-Pros.pdf
Digital Photography Success
Digital Photography Secrets
Take Better Digital Photos (Photography)

13.10.09

Accommodation in Croatia

Order: upper left to right:
Exrta dining area outside our apartment at Gruz, Dubrovnik.
Room in Zadar located in the centre.
Spacious apartment in Pula next to the Arena. 
Compact apartment in Split.  Outside our room is a garden with a dining table.

Referred by a friend, I tried out Hostelbookers.com for this trip.  Don't be misled by 'hostel'.  Registered accommodation places are private rooms with full facilities.  We made our daily breakfast tea and cooked our dinner occasionally.  Hostelbookers.com provides instant availability check, location map, accommodation photos, rating and reviews by guests.  It eases the decision-making.  I compared prices against other web-based booking sites.  It's the cheapest at time of comparison and does not charge booking fee.  To confirm the booking, one just needs to pay 10% deposit.  No worry, you can book accommodation in over 2,500 destinations.

Our apartment in Dubrovnik is located at Gruz.  It's close to the bus terminal.  Arriving or departing from here is a big convenience.  The dining area outside our apartment is a luxury.  We had our breakfast and evening tea in the lovely garden.

We had a little garden outside our apartment in Split.  The location is central, just cross a street from the palace.  We accessed all tourist spots on foot.

Our room in Zadar is very central.  It is private accommodation and has no sign.  Thanks to a jewelery shop owner downstairs who knocked the door of the owner's mother to let us in.  At time, the owner was out of town.

There are only a few hotels in Plitvice.  Most accommodations are far away from the national park.  We picked our accommodation from Adriatica.net.  The advantage is you can contact the owners directly and save the commission charged by booking engines.  Our accommodation is a few hundred metres away from the park entrance.  Our host, Ivana, was very kind.  The buffet breakfast was gorgeous.  She drove us to the bus station to catch our bus departing before 7am.

It's a long trip from Plitvice to Pula.  We were rewarded with a large apartment.  It offers a fantastic view of the Arena.  We cooked and dined at home every night.  It's like home.

Our last accommodation in Poreč is half-board in a hotel.  Choices of the dinner buffet were identical in the three nights.  The central location, €59 for two and friendly staff leave no room for complaint.  Overall, we are very happy with the accommodation.

12.10.09

Major Cities and Unesco Sites in Croatia

There are many attractions in Croatia. With two and half weeks, we picked the cities along the coast to maximize the resort feel combining historical sites. Here summaries the characteristics of the key cities in Croatia:

Split – A lively city and Diocletian's palace is located (Unesco site)

Dubrovnik – The pearl of Croatia (Unesco site)

Šibenik – Gorgeous white St James church with superb sculptures (Unesco site)

TrogirUnesco Romanesque city

PorečUnesco mosaics and very tourist town

Rovinji – A bit like Venice and its cathedral tower is the highest found in Croatia

Zagreb – The capital and cultural hub

Motovun – Romantic hill town with lots of artists

More About Croatia

Apart from wonderful beaches scatter along the coast, Croatia is blessed with countless beautiful islands, cities with different characters, national parks and Unesco sites. The many resorts to relax, archeological remains and cultural heritage will please all sorts of holiday makers.

Here are some recommended sites to have impressions of the country and facilitate itinerary design:

http://www.croatiatraveller.com/
It provides practical information such as transport, when to go….along with cities / regions of special interests.

http://www.planetware.com/croatia-tourism-vacations-hr.htm
It shows tourist attractions by city and the surroundings

http://www.croatia.hr/English/Home/Naslovna.aspx – official site

I’ll post key cities, islands, beaches, national parks and Unesco sites in the upcoming updates.

Cheers!

Croatia Itinerary

The only airline connecting Hong Kong and Dubrovnik conveniently is Lufthansa. I transited at Munich. Instead of waiting 7 hours boringly at the airport, I visited a nearby medieval town, Freising.

A bus connecting the airport and the town runs every 15 minutes. Once stepping into the town, all sorts of teddy bears greet you in every corner. Houses have different pastel colours and exist in harmony. I enjoyed the walk although it rained,  Don't miss out the best bread in the world and German cheesecake (made with Quark, a white soft cheese which is unique in Germany).

We started the trip from Dubrovnik and headed up along the coastline to the north. Below is our itinerary May 2009:

~3 nights in Dubrovnik + day trip to Lokum
~3 nights in Split + day trip to Trogir
~2 nights in Zadar + visit of Šibenik
~2 nights in Plitvice Lakes
~3 nights in Pula + day trip to Brijuni Island
~3 nights in Porec + day trip to Rovinj

Hong Kong Independent Traveller - Croatia














I am a Hong Kong resident but never join arranged tours. As an independent traveller my footprints have been to Europe, Asia and America. This blog is created to share tips to make independent travel planning easier and more cost-effective.

I visited Croatia in May 2009 and will share the tips on planning this trip. Croatia is part of the former Yugoslavia. It is a very popular holiday destination for Europeans and packed with visitors in summer. I chose May to avoid the crowd. It is not yet well known for Asians.

I take pictures as an amateur. If you would like to take more stunning pictures, feel free to leave comments and your email, I will send you an ebook on the tips of taking great photos.

Click here to view my photos taken in Croatia http://picasaweb.google.com.hk/meyanyeung/2009Croatia#

Valued accommodation is a key concern for independent travellers. My chosen double room accommodation in Croatia ranged between €36 and €59 (Half-board). I will share tips in the upcoming articles. Look for information of my visiting places. 



Interested in learning more about Croatia?  Here are some recommended books:
Time Out Croatia (Time Out Guides)
Croatia (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
Lonely Planet Croatia
Best of Dubrovnik