Photographing Northern Xinjiang

As featured on Manfrotto Imagine More blog.

A few months ago, I travelled to Xinjiang (Northwestern part of China) with a few friends. Visiting the coastal Chinese metropolitans time and again, it is easy to forget, and at times, underestimate the vast varieties of terrains, landscapes and culture that the country has to offer. And Xinjiang is definitely as rural as it can get. Before travelling, I suggest downloading Baidu Map use this instead of Google Map, and purchasing an overseas SIM card that allows you to use globally accessible apps. However, be prepared to be without internet for long periods of time during the trip. Xinjiang is geographically massive, taking up a sixth of China. For those who are unfamiliar, that is 2.3 times the size of Texas.The landscapes are vast, and every scenic attraction a lot more than a stone’s throw from each other.

Our road trip began from Urumqi, the biggest city in Xinjiang. First stop –  Kanas National Geopark – twelve hours drive from Urumqi. Kanas is famous for its untouched nature. The two main attractions are Shenxian Bay and Guanyu Observation Tower. We were able to make good on time and reach Kanas right before sunset…

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Finding shapes in architectual photography

As featured on Manfrotto Imagine More blog.

In big cities, more often than not, you’re surrounded by architecture and skyscrapers. Finding shapes while shooting architecture is not difficult. The ‘easiest’ and most straight-forward shot, is to stand in the middle of the building and get a perfectly symmetrical shot. Be sure to turn on the grid function on your camera or phone for perfect symmetry in your shots that satisfy your compulsive tendencies. But there is more to it and mountains of skills to earn in order to capture more creative photos of the same building to create different compositions.

A look-up or look-down shot is good for starters. If the building you’re in is pretty tall – say 20+ floors high – try shooting from the bottom level, then go to the mid level (e.g. 10th floor), then go to the top level to scout the building and get the most out of your stroll. Each floor will offer a slightly different angle, that could make or break your quest for the perfect shot. Having a deeper understanding of the building will help you find the perfect floor, for the perfect angle, leading to a perfectly framed shot.

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5 golden rules to shooting fireworks

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1. Find the best location to capture fireworks.
Firework displays always attract big crowds, so make sure you get there early to set up camp. I try to find places where you can get a variety of shots, where the photos look good when it’s close up or wide. Perhaps it could be an object or crowd in the foreground that can add to the composition, or use a tele lens and compress the depth so you fit more in the frame.

2. Set up your tripod
Once you’re set on a spot, set up your tripod and either hang your bag on the hook under the tripod, or place some heavy bags around the legs of the tripod to avoid it being bumped around, making your photos blurry which can be really frustrating.

3. Set a timer or use a remote trigger
Night photography always looks better when it’s set at low ISO to eradicate noise. When the ISO is low, you usually end up using a long shutter speed so as to let enough light enter the camera. It is very important to make sure that there are no movements, when the lens is capturing the shot. Not only is tripod a must, you should be using a timer or remote trigger as well. Without a timer or remote trigger, the camera might shake a little when you press the shutter button manually. I also use manual focus as some cameras have a hard time focusing at night. With manual control, you have a better grasp on your shot or the end result....

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