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Featured Photo

Memorable Moments, A Trip to Bangkok

A big thanks to our featured photo by from Richard Wintle. If you have a photo you would like to have featured, please email me at submissionsatdigitalcamfandotcom . Every Wednesday I’ll spotlight a new photo. Don’t forget to include links to your photography site, Flickr, twitter you get the point, we want to be able to see your work!

This photo is of a night market, near Bangkok’s Victory Monument. Bangkok’s heat is oppressive during the day, and in many ways the city seems to come alive at night, with markets selling seemingly everything – this one, mainly clothing, jewelry and food. My host was kind enough to drive myself and another guest around for several hours, resulting in some wonderful locations that I would never have come across by myself, including this vibrant market. You can see a view of it from an elevated walkway above it here:

The photo was taken at about 9:30 at night, which was long after sundown at this time of year (early October). I used my fastest lens, a Nikkor 35mm f/1.8, nearly wide open at f/2.0. On Nikon’s crop-sensor (“DX”) format, this sees an angle of view approximately equivalent to 52mm on a full-frame camera – a “normal” lens, more or less.

The lighting was quite tricky. Although there are streetlights, the scene was mostly shaded by the overhead pedestrian walkway and skytrain track, and by the market awnings. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself by firing flash, so the light is all ambient – some bleed from the streetlights, but mainly small sources in the individual vendor booths. This resulted in a very wide range of brightness, from the well-lit parts to the deepest shadows. I shot in aperture priority mode at f/2.0 (near maximum for this lens, just leaving a hair “on the table” for a bit of added depth of field) and ISO 1,600, which put the exposure at 1/80th of a second. That was just about quick enough, although there is some motion blur. This lens isn’t stabilized, so a slower shutter speed might have been problematic given that this was hand-held. ISO 1,600 is nearly as high as I like to go with this camera, although I’ll push to 2,000 or 2,500 if necessary. A full-frame sensor would be much less noisy at the same ISO.

Looking at the EXIF data after the fact, I see that I had the exposure bias set to -2/3 EV, a result of having forgotten that I had previously set the camera for exposure bracketing. I usually shoot at +2/3 EV, to compensate for the D5000’s meter typically underexposing by about a stop.

The photo was processed from the raw file using Adobe Camera Raw v. 5.6 and Photoshop CS4 (v. 11.0.2). Even with the meter set incorrectly to under-expose by 2/3 of a stop, I still ended up pulling back both the exposure and brightness from default, to tame the very bright background highlights. I then pulled the “blacks” slider back to zero to regain some detail in the darkest areas, and used the “fill light” slider to even out the darker portion of the mids. Noise reduction was set to default for colour and zero for luminance, and sharpening also set to zero, since I prefer to use Photoshop itself (rather than Camera Raw) for both NR and luminance sharpening.

In Photoshop, I usually lift the shadows a little with the shadows/highlights adjustment. I then apply a little luminance NR, convert to LAB colour mode and sharpen only the lightness channel using the unsharp mask, then convert back to RGB mode at 8 bits for saving as .jpg. Most likely, this is exactly what I did with this photo, although I don’t keep detailed notes from one shot to the next.

Shooting details:

camera: Nikon D5000
lens: AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G
exposure: 1/80th sec.
aperture: f/2.0
ISO: 1,600
Aperture priority mode
Multi-segment (scene) metering

More photographs from this trip, including several others of this market and surrounding streets, are in the Flickr set linked below. The set description also links to some blog posts describing different aspects of the trip.

Trip to Bangkok

[Richard F. Wintle is a professional molecular biologist, and what he calls a “spare-time photographer”. He photographs a lot of motorsports and wildlife, but is rarely without a camera when traveling. Be sure to check out his blog –  Adventures in Wonderland, and more background on Richard Wintle Photography.]

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