Tag Archives: hdr

Visiting Confucius Temple, Taipei

Last weekend, I took the chance to venture to a part of Taipei I hadn’t yet seen to visit Confucius Temple, located in a northwestern district of the city. It is located near Bao-an, a large Taoist temple, so I was able to see both sites in one visit quite easily.

I was struck by how minimal this temple was compared to a complex designed for the gods.  There were incense pots, but not much incense in the air.  There was artwork, but nothing like the extravagant displays in other temples. Where other temples can be chaotic, this was quite relaxing.

Starting off is an HDR. I took this hoping to increase the dynamic range, so I tried not to overdo saturation here. I think it worked well – because of the very bright sunlight, it was impossible to make out the shadows of the surrounding buildings in the original.

With such an empty place, I took the chance to look around at the different designs and architecture. This was a good chance to practice composition of different shapes and forms.

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Have a (Late) Merry Christmas!

I’ve always been the one in the family that sends the Christmas card a week late.  I’m not sure if it’s procrastination – I think it’s more of the idea of “eh, Christmas seems like it’s too far away…” which I guess could be interpreted as procrastination… anyway, that’s the case this year as I think I sent cards back to the US on the 22nd or 23rd.  Not good.

This photo was taken with the theme of a photo club in mind.  I actually had plenty of time for this, but never got around to it, partly because Christmas is more minor in Taiwan.  This was taken at a church in Hsinchu on the day AFTER Christmas, and I thought the HDR complimented the theme well.  I think it’s a bit over-processed – as I’ve said before, I’m moving away from HDR in general, but pull it out from time to time.

I took it with the multiple focus points enabled (rare for me anymore) at f/3.5 to accentuate the difference between the foreground and the church in the back.  I also increased the saturation (too much?) of the reds to make them stand out and tried to hilight the garland and flowers more than they are showing up.

Even if it’s late, I hope everyone’s holidays are good.  I’m looking forward to my time off in a month – for Chinese New Year.

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Giant Buddha, Hsinchu

These were taken last weekend while visiting a monastery near the Lion’s Head Mountain site.  This temple is under construction and a massive Buddha statue has been erected.  This is not the first time I’ve seen a “Giant Buddha” (see this Hong Kong version) but this one was quite impressive.  We managed to be treated to a nice sunset, too – perfect for some HDR shots.

Now that I’ve been weaning myself off of HDR all the time, though, I’m not sure if I like these!  The second one had a crane taken out in Photoshop CS5 – mostly just because I can and wanted to practice my skills doing it.  See if you can see any lighting inconsistencies - I’m sure they exist!

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Country Temples

Today’s post includes some country temples. These shots were taken while visiting Yuling’s grandparents who live in the countryside.

I was amazed at how many temples there were in such a small area – and even more, how large and intricate they were as well.

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On the Edge of Heaven

Last weekend, I visited Miaoli with Yuling to go hiking on Lion’s Head Mountain, a trail and mountain ridge located in a national park.  While we had beautiful weather and a decent hike, I was a bit disappointed at first to note that the “peak” did not have anything worth looking at… it was too crowded with trees.  Once we made our way further down to a temple complex, however, things changed.  We were met with a 180-degree view and a temple complex that works its way down the side of the mountain.  It was pretty amazing.

This HDR image was taken to capture the sunset and how the rooftops looked with the mountains in the background.  I’m proud of it, but it’s given me some headaches.  First the picture… I’ll describe more below.

First, I’ll mention that the image deserves to be seen full-size.  You can do that by clicking on it and ending up in Flickr.  Or, you could right click and open it up in a new tab/window.

I’ve shot HDRs for this blog before, but had trouble with this one because of the lighting.  On one hand, I wanted my subject, the dragons, to be well-lit and easily visible.  On the other, the sun was setting BEHIND them.  I shot this at f/11 on the 35mm at 1 1/500 shutter speed and bracketed the pictures to a -2, 0 and +2 EV setting.  The ISO was 200, though I did de-noise the final product because of Photomatix giving me more crud to deal with.

After de-noising, I had to deal with the dragons.  Taking away too many shadows meant making a dreamlike/creepy HDR.  The kind that I hate.  Including what was originally there meant taking away from the wonderful detail of this temple.  I went for a mix and spent quite a bit of time brushing the layers on where necessary.  It wasn’t an ideal way to spend my time, but I think it worked.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

If you’re a photographer and want to criticize/critique, please feel free.

I’ll probably post more photos from this trip tomorrow.

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Vanishing Point

Few words today.  I think the title speaks for itself.  This was taken while getting the shots of the egrets and herons Saturday.  I made this black and white after turning it into an HDR to accentuate the lines disappearing into the “VP.”

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HDR: Hsinchu City East Gate

Today, Yuling and I went to the Hsinchu City Glass Museum to check out a culinary festival.  There were a few photo opportunities there and while we didn’t eat enough (we stupidly had lunch before we went!) I did get a chance to check out a gate I alluded to at one point in the past in this blog, the Hsinchu City East Gate.

The gate was built when the Chinese began heavy colonization of Taiwan.  Hsinchu is actually one of the oldest cities in Taiwan, dating back about 400 years.  Before the Chinese took control of it, the city was a Taiwanese aboriginal settlement.  In 1827, it was completed by the Qing dynasty, though the Japanese colonizers later tore down much of the wall when they redesigned the road system.

I liked how this shot shows not only the gate, but the other things that have sprung up around the roundabout that surrounds the structure.  The advertisements and signs of an affluent 21st-century city contrast in an interesting way with the structure.

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Hsinchu Train Station (HDR)

This HDR is a three-exposure shot taken at Hsinchu Train Station, a famous landmark from the era of Japanese colonization in this very old city.  I’ll have to get back to Hsinchu to get sites like the rennovated city gate, but until then, I’m digging through some older shots I took that were never posted.  This shot isn’t completely natural looking – still not sure what I think of it…

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Peacefest, TáoShān, Wufong Township

This post is the first in a series of two regarding Peacefest, an expat-led world music festival in rural TáoShān, located in Wufong Township, Taiwan.  While I’m not much of a music festival enthusiast (especially if the title is “Peacefest” as I tend to be a bit of a realist/pessimist), I decided to check out my second music festival in two weeks after realizing that I hadn’t explored much of this part of Hsinchu County.

The most interesting part of Taoshan (I’ll go away from pinyin now) is the aboriginal heritage of the town.  You can tell this even in peoples’ faces – they’re certainly not of Chinese origin.  Taiwanese aborigines have had a history that is much like that of other natives – being pushed off their land, being given minimal resources with which to work, and succumbing to social problems such as alcoholism.  You can tell that in this area – Taoshan itself is certainly more wealthy than the surrounding villages, and even then, it is the exception.

While most spoke Mandarin and all the signs were in Chinese, there was a certain non-Chinese personality to the place.  I’ll have to visit places like this again.  Of course, I’ll have to be prepared to have things sold to me… nearly all of the food vendors greeted me with a happy “HELLO!”

Anyway, on to the photos.

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A Bit Different…

This shot was taken near NTU – National Taiwan University on the day of the Taipei Artist Village Daniel Pearl Music Fest.  It’s a lot different than most of my work – even my HDRs in that it’s probably overprocessed.  I decided to go with this look to capture the movement and the detail of everythiing going on.  In addition, it’s a bit small below  (click on it for the Flickr lightbox, please!) due to a crop I made to put the focus around the movement – people, traffic, bikes, scooters, etc.

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