Building my DIY light box / light tent

A light box or light tent is an enclosure that you put items to be photographed into (rest assured, I struggled with myself greatly to put that weak definition in writing). The lighting inside the enclosure is very even and soft. This produces an ideal environment to photograph standalone objects. Ever noticed photos of iPods, sunglasses, cocktails, mobile phones, etc. with a bright, white background? Chances are they were taken in a light box.

I've been having an urge to build one of these babies on my own for some time now. The urge reached its peak over Christmas when I was in Hamburg with my in-laws (don't even try to connect the two!). So, I did some research on the Internet and found several DIY projects for a light box. Ok, research is probably an exaggeration here - I simply googled "light box" and "light tent". Most of the DIY light boxes I came across were constructed using PVC pipes or cardboard boxes / cartons. Considering my lack of knowledge in the art of plumbing and my extensive experience with packing boxes, I decided to take the latter approach.

Google's image search function can be a formidable ally for such projects as well. By browsing through the images of different light boxes, I was able to get more ideas, analyze the pros and cons of each construction, refine my architectural design and outline my game plan (you're probably wondering at this point in time if I'm still talking about the same project - yes, I am). I decided that I wanted a light box that could be easily adjusted, enhanced and played around with to get different effects. I didn't want to be stuck with a light box that restricted my creativity. In other words, I wanted to be outside the box, not in it (that's what happens when an engineer starts talking philosophy!).

The following describes how I built my very own light box. It also serves as a step-by-step guide for those of you who plan to build a light box:

1. Things that are needed: cardboard box / carton, knife / blade, scissors (optional), tape (any kind that will stick firmly to the box), white tracing paper (enough to cover three of the four sides of the box) and thick, white paper to be used as the backdrop (enough to cover the base and broad side of the box).

2. First, I needed a cardboard box / carton. I remembered that I had a couple of IKEA boxes in the cellar and decided to use one for my project "L-i-g-h-t-B-o-x". The IKEA boxes are pretty sturdy, making them ideal for a light box. However, the drawback is that they're very rectangular. Something more squarish would probably be more ideal. Nonetheless, it was what I had and I didn't want to go hunting for another one.

3. I drew borders on three of its four sides to mark the sections I was going to cut out. The borders were 3 cm from the edges.

4. I used a blade to cut out the marked sections. I also cut out the flaps at the top of the box.

5. I measured and cut the tracing paper to cover the three exposed sides of the box. Then, I glued the tracing paper onto the box.

6. I ran some tape along the edges of the box to fasten the tracing paper to it and to reinforce the construction a little.

7. I placed the thick, white paper inside the box and used a couple of paper clips to hold it in place.

8. Here is where my "ingenuity" came in. I expanded on the designs that are typically available on the Web to optionally include a couple of reflectors on the sides. The reflectors were made by gluing some white, glossy paper to the leftover cardboard pieces. Now, if you would like to place your light source(s) on the sides, remove the reflectors. If you would like to place your light source above, use the reflectors to bounce off the light towards the sides of the object being photographed. Having the reflectors does soften the shadows and makes the white backdrop glow even more intensely. This is the out-of-the-box thinking I mentioned earlier.

You're probably curious to see some photos taken with this light box. Here are some shots that I took right after finishing the project.

A light box makes a great DIY photography project and I'd be happy to recommend it. Whether you are an eBay retailer, a stock photographer, a regular photographer or simply bored, you could well benefit from this project. I hope you found this guide and my experiences informational. Do drop me a note to tell me what you think.

Oktoberfest by night

Oktoberfest is a 16-day beer festival that is held every year here in Munich. It runs from late September to early October. For more information and facts about Oktoberfest, here's the link to the entry in Wikipedia.

The Oktoberfest this year ended a few weeks ago - this was my second time experiencing it. During this festival, about 6 million liters of beer, 500k chickens and 200k pork sausages are consumed (based on 2003). The festival sees about 6 million visitors and about a billion EUR is spent during that time (based on 2003). That equates to about 1 liter of beer per person. That sounds decent enough but if you assume half the visitors to be children, it comes to 2 liters of beer per person. I could go on speculating and making my own assumptions but I'll stop my rambling for now.

I don't know the statistics for this year but I heard that the numbers dropped a bit. This was probably primarily due to the current financial crisis and to a lesser extent, some terrorist threats. Regarding the latter, I have to say that the German authorities did a splendid job and beefed up security tremendously. Of course, it was a little cumbersome for visitors but definitely safer - from terrorists at least (I heard an unvalidated report that there was a spike in crimes against women during this Oktoberfest).

Here are some photos of the Oktoberfest that I took from my apartment.

(Above) The Oktoberfest during the day. You can't see much of it in this one but if you look closely, you'd notice a ferris wheel - that's the Wiesn (the famous grounds where the festival is held every year).

(Above) You see much more of the festival at night. The lights from the Oktoberfest do indeed light up the sky. I had to use a tripod for this. I used ISO100, f16 and a 30-second exposure.

(Above) Once again, the Oktoberfest by night. I decided to catch more of the well-lit sky in this one.

Seeing Bristol

This photo blog post is about a recent trip of mine to Bristol, UK.

I've been to Bristol twice in my life and both trips were in this year. I was there on business. On my first visit, I stayed pretty far outside the city and closer to my office. I didn't get to see much of Bristol then but I did spend a couple of nights in London on the way back, which was very worthwhile. I saw much more of London than I did of Bristol in my first trip.

I decided to do things differently on my second trip. This time I stayed in the city center and was able to do some sightseeing during my stay there. Bristol is indeed a beautiful city. Here are some of my favorite photos.

(Above) Taken along the harbor. There are many bars and restaurants along the harbor and I had dinner in one of them on the first night - Pitchers & Piano.

(Above) As you can see, the weather was fabulous on the second day. As soon as I was done with my meetings, I rushed back to the hotel, grabbed my gear and went off to so some sightseeing and photographing. It was pretty late afternoon when I took this photo but thanks to summer, it was still bright. I love the deep color of the water in this one.

(Above) An old brewery between a couple of new buildings. I found the contrasting subjects rather interesting. I used the handrail and barrier to frame this photo. I increased the contrast significantly in post processing to keep the frame black.

(Above) A castle in the middle of the city. The grounds are pretty large and it's a great place to hang out on a nice, sunny day. I feel that the boat in the foreground adds some life and depth to this photo.

(Above) This photo was taken right outside the restaurant I had dinner in on the last night. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the place but it was recommended by a colleague of mine for having authentic "Bristolian" food. I tried to play around with lens flare in this photo. The sun was reflected by the windows and did result in an underexposed photo but I managed to fix it with a lot of fill light in photoshop.

Overall, I enjoyed my visit to Bristol and I hope you enjoyed this photo blog post.

Oktoberfest and Munich's skyline

This photo blog is about the Oktoberfest in Munich. You can see the Oktoberfest from my apartment. We're not living very close to the "Wiesn" (the open field where the Oktoberfest is held), but you still get to see it, especially when it's all lit up at night. Tomorrow is the last day of the Oktoberfest and I decided to take some night shots of this festival from my balcony.

I just took the panaroma below about an hour ago. I was so happy with the results that I had to share it straight away. It was created from a set of six photos and merged together in Photoshop. I used a small aperture of f11 and ISO of 100. Using aperture priority mode, the shutter speed was set to about 30 seconds. Of course, I needed to use a tripod. The sunset to the left of the picture has created some lovely colors in the skyline. You would also notice a well-lit spot to the right - that is the Oktoberfest. Look closely and you'll see a ferris wheel there.

This picture was taken with my Nikon D60 D-SLR, Nikkor AF-S 18-105mm VR lens and Slik Pro 400DX tripod.

Jakarta by night

I visited Jakarta a few weeks ago on business. I didn't really get to do any sightseeing but a colleague of mine did take me to a place to buy some souvenirs. I stayed in Hotel Mulia Senayan while I was there. It's indeed a very nice hotel and I would gladly recommend it. Here are some of my favourite photos taken during my visit.

(1st) A view of Jakarta from my room. I used a rather small aperture (f11) and long exposure time (about 30 seconds). A closer look at the street reveals the light beams created by head and tail lamps.

(2nd) Bedside notepad. I had just gotten my Nikkor AF-S 35mm f1.8 lens a few days before and wanted to experiment with the Bokeh effect as much as possible. I found this to be quite attractive compositionally as well with the pen serving as a leading line into the picture (and Bokeh).

(3rd) Nothing like unwinding to a cold beer at the end of a long day. This was taken at a bar in the Jakarta International Airport.

(4th) I spent the weekend with my family in Malaysia. I flew with Air Asia. This shot was taken from inside the plane. I used a pretty large aperture of about f3.5 as I needed to get the shutter sheet high enough for my camera to be handheld. Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised with the depth-of-field in this one.

All photos were taken with my Nikon D60 and Nikkor AF-S 35mm f1.8.

Walchensee, a beautiful lake close to Munich

In my last post, I shared some of my favorite photos of Kochelsee (Lake Kochel). There is another lake very close to Kochelsee called Walchensee (Lake Walchen). As beautiful as Kochelsee was, I have to say that Walchensee was even better.

Walchensee is located at about 800m above sea level and is further into the Alps than Kochelsee. It has its bustling spots but is rather quiet in general, which is what we loved about it. The drive from Kochelsee to Walchensee only took about 15 minutes although we spent quite a bit of time finding the best spot for some R&R. There is a passage on one side of the lake that requires an entrance fee. This stretch was much quieter and more pleasant than the others. We found a nice spot, unpacked, took a dip and while the others napped, I went to take some photos.

(Above) This panorama was created from a set of four shots that I took with a tripod. I was amazed how easy it is to generate panoramas automatically from a set of photos with Photoshop. I had to edit the photo a little after Photoshop did its magic but that wasn't too difficult. Panoramas are definitely something I would consider taking to add variety to my collection.

(Above) I guess it's quite typical to place boats in the foreground when taking shot of lakes, rivers, beaches and so forth. Nonetheless, it works well. I had to boost saturation and fill light quite a bit in post-processing to accentuate the colors of the boats.

(Above) I took this on the way back from Walchensee. I got as close to the water as I could and used the rocks as the foreground for this shot. The water there is extremely clean. You could drink it - I did.

Kochelsee, Kochel am See, close to Munich

If you're a fan of nature, Munich won't disappoint you. It's only about an hour's drive away to the Alps, the River Isar flows through the city and there are many beautiful lakes in and around Munich. I haven't visited them all but have definitely seen quite a bit of Munich.

This photo blog is about Kochelsee (Lake Kochel). About a month ago, I visited Kochelsee with my wife and parents-in-law. It's only about 40 km south-east from where we live but we had to endure some traffic jam to get there. Nonetheless, it was worth every bit of it. The lake it very close to the foot of the Alps and the view was fabulous. The sight of stone meeting water has always been something that fascinates me - you'd notice that from my shots below. A little further south from Kochelsee is another lake called Walchensee (Lake Walchen). Walchensee is beautiful too, if not more so than Kochelsee and there is a famous hydroelectric plant between the two lakes - for more information (in German), click here. Anyway, I'll leave Walchensee for the next post.

Here are some of my favourite photos of Kochelsee. All shots in this photo blog were taken with my Nikon D60 and Nikkor AF-S 18-105 mm VR lens.

kochelsee, kochel am see, photo blog(Above) A house on stilts typically used to store boats. I guess you could have a little "beach party" in there too. I got down very low to take this shot - my camera was only a few inches above the platform. I used the platform as a leading line into the picture. I boosted saturation a little to enhance that gold-ish tone just below the roof.

kochelsee, kochel am see, photo blog(Above) This shot is similar to the one above. It's a different house though and I used the rail as a leading line instead.

kochelsee, kochel am see, photo blog(Above) Kochelsee with the Alps in the background. I got as close to the water as possible and composed the shot with some rocks in the foreground to add more depth to it. I increased saturation in post-processing to make the elements stand out more (it was pretty flat before that).

kochelsee, kochel am see, photo blog(Above) On the way up to Walchensee, there was a small rest spot with an excellent view of Kochelsee. We decided to get down and take some shots. Kochelsee is about 600m above sea level whereas Walchensee is about 800m. This is one of the two shots I took.

Hope you liked them. Let me know what you think.

Nikon 35mm lens

I went back to Malaysia for a weekend some weeks ago. I was in Jakarta on business for a couple of weeks and decided to fly over to Malaysia for the weekend. It was a short but pleasant trip. I had the chance to see my family, play with and photograph my adorable nephews, enjoy some local food and... guess what? I got myself a Nikon AF-S 35mm f1.8 lens! Well actually, my parents got it for me as a birthday present. Boy, oh boy am I pleased with it.

I haven't used a prime (fixed focal length) lens for some time now. Some people often herald the benefits of prime lenses over more conventional zoom lenses. Ok, zoom lenses used to be a rarity but it has been the norm for some time now. Old 35mm cameras such as the Yashica FX-3 SLR that I had, came with prime lenses - usually 50mm. 50mm lenses (35mm equivalent) are often called normal lenses because they generate images that generally look natural to an observer under normal viewing conditions. By the way, that's the Wikipedia description.

The Nikon or should I say Nikkor AF-S 35mm f1.8 lens is a normal lens when paired with a Nikon DSLR with an APS-C sensor (non full-frame sensor). Nikon DSLRs such as my D60 have a cropping factor of 1.5. So, a 35mm lens on these cameras is equivalent to ~50mm (i.e. 35mm x 1.5 = 52.5mm) on a 35mm / full-frame camera.

I decided on this lens for three reasons. First and foremost, I wanted a fast lens for low light photography. A fast lens is one with a large aperture (small f-stop number). There is a good article on Digital Photography School about fast lenses if you'd like to know more - click here. I've tried photographing kids indoor with my zoom lens and unless I use a flash or really bump up the ISO (which results in noisy pictures) the images usually turn out soft because the shutter is too slow. With a large aperture, I figured that I'd be able to use a faster shutter speed and avoid soft images. While I have found this to be true, the large aperture also results in a very narrow depth of field and you have to be careful when focusing to ensure sharp images.

I have found this lens to be a little soft and blurry when used at its maximum aperture of f1.8. I recommend stopping it down to at least f2.0 to get the best shots. The picture below, which was taken at f1.8 is rather soft.

Secondly, I wanted a fast lens to get the bokeh effect in my shots, especially portraits. Bokeh refers to the part of an image that is rendered out of focus on purpose by using a narrow depth of field (large aperture, small f-stop). This is often done to isolate the subject from a distracting background and / or foreground. There's a good article about bokeh on Wikipedia - click here.

Finally, I wanted a prime lens. Prime lenses typically produce better photos than equivalently priced zoom lenses. However, you sacrifice some flexibility and convenience since you have to "zoom" with your feet. I find that with this lens the color reproduction is better and my shots are sharper than with my AF-s 18-105 VR zoom lens.

All the shots in this post were taken with my D60 and Nikkor AF-S 35mm f1.8 lens - judge for yourselves. Overall, I'm very pleased with this lens and would gladly recommend it.

Web album on Marienplatz, Munich

I hope you enjoyed my 3-part photo blog series on Marienplatz, Kaufingerstrasse and Karlsplatz. I realize that this has been a long time coming, but here's a slideshow of my web album from the photo shooting session that I had.

You can also visit my public gallery via this link.

Photo blog @ Karlsplatz, Karlstor

In my last photo blog post, I ended at Kaufingerstrasse. I continued along Kaufingerstrasse, away from Marienplatz.

At the other end of Kaufingerstrasse is a gate known as Karlstor, which is shown in the first picture in this photo blog post (above). For this photo, I set my tripod very low and found a spot where the sun was hidden behind the buildings. I did this to ensure that I had an overall well-exposed photo without flare and too many blown out spots.

The second picture in this photo blog post (above) is also of Karlstor. It's a different shot from the first one above. In Photoshop, I used the curves adjustment tool to dramatically increase the contrast and subsequently increased the saturation as well. I managed to get a retro look here.

Beyond this gate is a square called Stachus and there is a beautiful fountain in the center of it - shown in the third picture in this photo blog post (above). People often hang out here and sit on the stones surrounding the fountain. It was difficult preventing my lens from getting wet here. In fact, I had to wipe my lens with a microfiber cloth (that I always take along in my camera bag) several times. Anyway, I took this shot at an angle with the stones positioned further and further away to add some depth to the shot. I also wanted to capture that beautiful building in the background. The truth is, I don't know what is it.

Stachus was the end of the road for the day. It was about 9 am when I got there. After that, I made my way back to Marienplatz on foot and took the train home. I bought some rolls from the bakery on the way back for breakfast. It was a good start for the day.

Photo blog @ Kaufingerstrasse, Marienplatz

This is part two of my photo blog post on Marienplatz.

photo blog, pictorial, MarienplatzIn part one, I ended at the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche). Next, I continued along Kaufingerstrasse, moving away from Marienplatz and towards Karlsplatz. It was indeed a pleasant walk. It was still early and wasn't crowded yet. There are places to sit and relax along the way, beautiful plants and flowers, a nice fountain, fruit stalls, cafes, etc.

I surreptitiously took the first photo in this photo blog post (above) of this man reading his morning paper. This scene with the man reading his papers lends a sense of tranquility to the shot. I reduced the saturation, making it (almost) black and white to eliminate bright distractions in the scene. The red canvas sheet of fruit stall in the background for example, kept pulling away attention from the subject, which is the man reading the papers.

photo blog, pictorial, MarienplatzThe second photo in this photo blog post (above) shows one of the many fruit stalls along Kaufingerstrasse. It had gotten very bright and sunny when I took this shot, resulting in a slightly blown out sky.

photo blog, pictorial, MarienplatzThe third photo in this photo blog post (above) shows a poor man collecting trash from Marienplatz. Munich is one of the most expensive and wealthiest cities in Germany. Scenes like these are not often seen during the bustling hours of the day. Nonetheless, they obviously do exist. With this photo, I try to capture this contrast in society. In the foreground, a man is collecting trash for a living while in the background, you have George Clooney sipping his Nespresso.

photo blog, pictorial, MarienplatzThe final photo in this photo blog post (above) is my favourite from the outing in Marienplatz that day. It does suffer from a bit of lens flare in the bottom right but I still like it. When I took this photo, I was a little tired from lugging my tripod and camera gear around, embarassed from the quirky stares of the people there and a little pissed off that I hadn't really gotten a spectacular shot yet. I wanted to capture the "street mall" side of Kaufingerstrasse and I think I achieved that with this shot here.

I used two trees to frame the shot. Their different distances from the camera gives this photo more depth. I took the shot low, just a few inches off the ground, to make things look larger than life. Call it a cat's perspective.

More to come in my next and final photo blog post on Marienplatz.

Photo blog @ Marienplatz

If you've ever been to Munich, you'd have most likely visited Marienplatz, which is situated in the heart of Munich. Marienplatz is usually bustling with people. Kaufingerstrasse, which is one of the streets leading towards Marienplatz is filled with shops for just about anything, departmental stores, restaurants, cafes - you name it. People often go there to shop, window shop, hang out, eat out, watch a movie or simply just chill. It's a very popular spot. Besides these, Marienplatz is the location where some festivals and events such as the Christmas Market, St. Christopher's Street Day and political rallies are held.

This is my photo blog post on Marienplatz.

photo blog, pictorialOn the 11th of July, I got up very early in the morning and went out to do some photo shooting. My stop was Marienplatz. I left my apartment at about 7 in morning hoping to beat the crowd to Marienplatz. However, when I got into the train I realized "I ain't gonna beat no crowd". The train was practically already full. So much so that I couldn't even get a place to sit. I was hoping that most of them would not be getting off at Marienplatz and that was true for the most part. It seemed that most of them were headed somewhere else. Anyway, the train ride took me about 12 minutes.

As soon as I got out of the station, my heart sank. There was a huge stage and some tents being set up for the St. Christopher Street Festival and they had sort of blocked that "great view of Marienplatz" I had been planning for before - see the first picture in this photo blog post. Anyway, I did the best that I could considering the restrictions at hand. I took out my camera , set up my tripod and started taking some pictures.

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The most prominent monument you would see as soon as you get out of the train station in Marienplatz is the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) - shown in the second picture in this photo blog post (above). This picture is a HDR image that was created in Photoshop using a set of three photos with different exposures. For more information on HDR photography, check out my introduction to HDR post. The light was still quite soft at this time of the morning and I didn't really have any problem with shadows. I went close to base of the building, tilted my camera up, composed the image and took the photos. I used a portrait (vertical) composition since the dominant subject is the tower, which stretches vertically towards the sky.

I don't know any details about this building other than the fact that it really looks captivating. It's white and has a certain Gothic look and feel about it. It looks even more majestic at night when it's lit up. That will be the subject for another photo blog post on night photography.

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The New Town Hall also houses the world famous Carillon (Glockenspiel), which is shown in the third picture in this photo blog post. At 11 am, 12 pm and 5 am, the clock chimes and figures on this Carillon dance around for a minute or so. Somehow is was really difficult to get the photo straight. Thanks to digital photography, I was able to easily straighten the picture in post processing. I also reduced saturation and increased warmth in this photo to give it a sepia look. I feel that this gives the photo a nostalgic and timeless feel, which suits the Carillon.

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As soon as I was done taking some shots in front of the New Town Hall, I made my way towards the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) - see the fourth picture in this photo blog post (above). There is a nice Biergarten close to the church and imagined myself sipping some Weissbier while admiring this majestic building on a warm summer day. I tried to capture that feeling in this photo. I set my tripod to the eye-level of someone sitting down on a chair in the Biergarten, composed the shot to ensure that I got the full tower in it, set the aperture to f22 and used my infrared remote shutter release to take the shot.

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I decided to compose the photo above with some people in the foreground to better illustrate the size of the Church of Our Lady. I also like the reflections of the clouds on the windows of the building to the right. I find that reflections really do enhance photos.

I'll continue in the next post. Stay tuned.

Web album on Landshuter Hochzeit

My wife and I visited the Landshut Wedding or better known as Landshuter Hochzeit a few weeks ago. The Landshuter Hochzeit is a medieval festival that is celebrated once every four years in Landshut, which is a city in the state of Bavaria. It is one of the most famous and as far as I know, the largest medieval festival in Germany. As you can guess, there are other medieval festivals in Germany as well. During the Landshuter Hochzeit, the city and its folks turn back time to the middle ages. People dress up in medieval costumes, set up huts and stalls typical of those times, parade through the city playing music, perform juggling acts and so forth. They become a medieval community. This year, the Landshut Wedding was celebrated from the 27th of June till the 19th of July.

Our visit to the Landshuter Hochzeit was a splendid one. You can read all about it in my Living in Munich blog. I have published three posts on our vist and here are the links to them: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Apart from sightseeing, our visit to the Landshuter Hochzeit was an excellent photo shooting session for me. I was truly able to put my recently acquired photography skills to the test and I'm pretty content with the outcome. I have finished working on the shots I took that day and just uploaded them to my Picasa Web Gallery. Click on the image below to get to the album. Unfortunately, I've not had the chance to include captions yet but I promise to do so a.s.a.p.

Landshuter Hochzeit (07.09)

In the next post(s), I'll share some learnings and experiences gained from the visit and discuss the technicalities behind some of my favorite shots.

Do tell me what you think about the photos.

Reflections and forced perspectives from Nymphenburg

If there is one website that I have learnt most about photography from, it would be Digital Photgraphy School, also known as DPS. DPS is a blog where professional and semi-professional photographers regularly share tips, ideas and learnings about photography gained through their years of experience. The posts are typically quite short, which makes them easy to chew. They are also very inspiring and has often given me new ideas for my photography sessions.

During my visit to Nymphenburg Palace a few weeks ago, I used a couple of ideas I had previously learned from DPS. First, I was inspired by an article entitled "20 Effective Reflection Photos" by Nate Kay. This post really encouraged me to look for opportunities to take shots with reflections in them. This wasn't too difficult in Nymphenburg Palace since there is a lot of water in the palace grounds. Nate mentions in his article that reflections can make simple shots look extraordinary. Looking at the 20 pictures he selected for his article and the ones I took that day in Nymphenburg Palace, I tend to agree. Of course, compositional rules are still absolutely vital but reflections can make the difference between charming and captivating.

The second article that inspired is "15 Forced Perspective Technique Examples", by Nate Kay as well. Honestly, I had never heard about forced perspective techniques before reading this. As quoted in the post, the forced perspective technique manipulates our human perception with the use of optical illusions to make objects appear larger, smaller, farther, or closer than they actually are.

When I was in Nymphenburg Palace, I was on the lookout for compositions that would constitute a forced perspective. This indeed made things more fun as it gave me some idea of what I should be looking out for. The picture on the right is one of the "forced perspective" shots I took that day. The statue is indeed much smaller than the palace but the picture has been composed to convey a different message altogether. The image makes the statue look a whole lot bigger than it really is - well, at least that was my expectation.

I hope this has given you some ideas for next photo shoot. You can see my other shots of Nymphenburg Palace via this link.

To HDR or not to HDR ?

In my last photography tips post, I promised that I would share some HDR and non-HDR photos from my outing to Nymphenburg Palace, which is located here in Munich. I was there two weeks ago. You can read about my outing and the Nymphenburg Palace in general on my Living in Munich blog. Here's the link to that particular post. Overall, the outing was fun and I'm pretty content with most of the shots I took.

Above is a HDR image of the Palace's facade and the beautiful lake in front of it. To the right is the regular version. I find the colors to be more vibrant and dream-like in the HDR version. The regular one looks less vibrant, but more realistic. Most photography tips I've gotten point out that this is a general characteristic of HDR images.

To the left and below are slightly tighter shots of the facade. The one on the left is the HDR version and the one below is not.

Like the pair above, I find the HDR version to be more idealistic and less realistic as compared to the regular version.

Here we have pictures of the palace's rear. To the far left is a HDR image of the palace and a pond behind it. Next to it is the regular version.

The regular version has a slightly over-exposed sky and because of that there is almost no detail visible in the clouds. The HDR version on the other hand has successfully kept the sky correctly exposed (for the most part) and much of the detail intact.

Now we come to the final set. Once again we have pictures of the palace's rear but this time in landscape composition. To the left is the HDR version and below is the regular one.

HDR photography, high dynamic range, photography tips

In this set, I find the regular version to actually be more outstanding. Contrasts are stronger in the regular version and this accentuates the reflections in the pond.

Tell me what you think. Hope you enjoyed this photography tips posts on whether to go for HDR or not.