An amazing trip – just in time

This April I went on a trip that I will not forget: It took me to Nepal and events should tell that I went exactly at the right time.

I arrived in Kathmandu to stay there for three nights exploring the city and its surroundings. It did not take long for the city, the country and the people to really make me enjoy my journey. Staying close to the Boudhanath Stupa I naturally started my trip to go exploring there and was not disappointed. Just a five minute walk and I was standing right in front of it:

Boudhanath Stupa
Right behind my hotel in Kathmandu was the Boudhanath Stupa. A buddhist place of worship it is visited by locals and tourists alike. Walking around it clockwise you can go with the flow and enjoy this remarkable structure, which is surrounded by coffee shops and small shops selling singing bowls, praying drums and other more or less usefull goods to those who are interested. I preferred watching the sunset from one of the numerous rooftop bars and restaurants and that is where I took this beautiful photo with the sun setting behind the stupa.

It is just an amazing structure and once you see it during sunrise or sunset with the buddhist devotees praying and walking around it you are already captivated and drawn into the spiritual feel of this place.

Having always focused on taking city- and landscape photos during my trips around the world, I specifically wanted to take more photos of the people in Nepal, especially after buying the Sony 70-200mm F4 lens during my last trip to New York. Armed with my new toy mounted on my Sony A7r I made my way to the old town of Thamal and when walking into a shop selling cashmere I could not resist to take a photograph of this gentlemen:

Cashmere Dealer
In the heart of Thamel, the old town of Kathamndu I walked into a small shop to buy some cashmere scarfs as gifts for friends and family and stumbled upon this gentleman who owned the store. With the business done and more than enough new pocessions in my bags i asked him if I could take his photo and he gladly agreed.

After exploring Kathmandu i went to Nargarkot, which is approximately four hours east of Kathmandu as you are supposedly have amazing views of the sunrise behind the Himalayas. Unfortunately I was not that lucky and the clouds were blocking the view and it was rainy. I used the time however to explore the ancient town of Bhaktapur, which, similar to its counterpart in Kathmandu was just mind-blowing and is definitely worth visiting.

From Nargarkot I went back to Kathmandu only to take a plane to the lakeside town of Pokhara and start hiking in the Annapurna region.

Blue Hour at Pokhara Lake
Enjoying a stroll along the shoreline of the Phewa lake, which is the large lake on which’s border the laid back backpacker city of Pokhara is situated. With the majestic mountains of the Annapurna region in the background it is a great starting point for your hiking, trekking and/or climbing adventures in the surrounding mountains.

And what can i say? Even though it was only a short three nights/four days hike it was absolutely fantastic. Staying at beautiful guesthouses and being able to finally witness the sunrise behind mountains higher than 8000 meters. Mindblowing.

This is a panorama I took standing on the roof of one of the guesthouses I visited and I could just not stop taking photos until my memory card was full.

Himalaya Sunrise
Waking up ealy only to find that finally the clouds have cleared and to have an awesome view on the sun slowly climbing up behind the 8000m high mountains is truly majestic. This photo is actually a panorama created from more than 6 photos taken in portrait orientation and then stitched together in Photoshop. Might be a nice background for the living room walls…

After stretching my legs trekking I took a car back to Kathmandu to continue exploring the buzzing city and take even more photos. This is a photo of a monk I took from a rooftop bar and I just love how the monk together with his colourful umbrella are in contrast with the negative space around him.

Under my Umbrella
Enjoying a cold drink on one of the beautiful rooftop bars surrounding the Boudhanath Stupa I saw this monk in his red clothing and his colourful umbrella walking around the stupa in the inner circle. With a little bit of patience, luck and – admittably – the help of Photoshop, I was able to capture him with a lot of negative space surrounding him to create a really strong image.

Before leaving Nepal again I had to do one more thing though: See Mount Everest up close!

So I took a scenic flight in the morning and thanks to Buddha Air I was able to come Eye to Eye with the worlds highest mountain.

On Top of the World
Ok, I did not climb it (yet). But I was eye to eye with its peak from the window of my scenic flight: Mount Everest! The peak to the right is Mount Lhotse, which is 8516 m high, second to Mount Everest only with its 8848m.

 

Following the scenic flight in the morning I enjoyed one last day in Kathmandu and flew out back to Germany in the evening. Three days later the terrible news of the earthquake in Nepal reached me and I was and at time of writing this post still am devastated by it. Having been able to stand on the Durhbar Squares of Kathmandu and Bhaktapur taking photos just days before they were badly damaged or possibly destroyed, having been able to walk through the buzzing roads of Thamal and meeting so many awesome people on the way that I was and partly still am worried about is an experience I really would be happy not having to make.

After the first shock and being relieved having been able to contact the guide who took me around while hiking I already contributed to the immediate relief efforts with his support but still would like to do more. So, I have decided that all income I am able to generate with photos of my Nepal gallery in 2015 will be donated to the German Red Cross and/or other reputable international aid organisations supporting the relief and reconstruction efforts in Nepal.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

You can see all photos I took during the trip here. Kindly note, that I will add more and more over the next couple of weeks due to the amount I took, so come back from time to time to explore what is new.

 

Down Below Times Square

The idea was to go to the Apple Store close to Central Park this evening but when changing subways at Times Square a band busking inside the station took my attention. I was soon to find out that it is called “Eric Paulin Ensemble” and a regular act in the New York Subway system.

They were playing some really great oldies like “Billy Jean”, “Summer of 69” and “Rebell Yell” and attracted a growing crowd. So, instead of continuing my journey I stopped and while listening to the music got out my camera with my new Sony 70-200mm F4 lens to take photos of the band and its fans.

(Check out the price of Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS Interchangeable Lens for Sony Alpha Cameras on amazon.com)

This was only the second time that I used this lens, following my first experiences shooting the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York, which you can read about here.

This time shooting was a lot more challenging as I was taking photos inside the subway station in a low light situation. So I shot in aperture priority mode at its lowest possible setting of F4 and used “auto ISO” to ensure sharp images. Now, it is no secret that the auto focus speed of the A7 series is not the best and with the A7r being the expert for landscape photography I would have to work hard to get “the shot” but with the continuous focus mode, I was able to take some really cool images.

(Check out the price of Sony a7R Full-Frame Interchangeable Digital Lens Camera – Body Only on amazon.com)

 

Eric Paulin Ensamble

I especially like this image of a preacher, who was not only enjoying the music but also spreading the word of god in between the songs, while carrying a billboard informing about his cause:

Eric Paulin Ensamble

Please click on any of the images above or this link to enjoy all photos I took during the unexpected concert.

The photos taken were edited inside Lightroom and then converted to black & white.

I will post a review of my experiences with the Sony 70-200mm F4 lens once I have used it more often and am able to draw conclusions but so far I am very satisfied with the results.

 

 

St. Patricks Day in New York

Having been able to get some very cheep tickets to New York I decided on short notice to visit some friends here and later this week in Boston.
And the timing could not have been better: I arrived just the day before St. Patricks Day.

St. Patricks Day 2015 New York
St. Patricks Day 2015 New York

With the parade on the tourist plan I quickly visited my personal Disneyland B&H Photo and Video in the morning and bought myself the Sony 70-200 F4 FE G OSS lens, which I have been planning to buy for a long time and which would be great to have for shooting the parade.

(Check out the price of Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS Interchangeable Lens for Sony Alpha Cameras on amazon.com)

It was a beautiful day and I really enjoyed trying out my new toy with my Sony Alpha A7r camera.

(Check out the price of Sony a7R Full-Frame Interchangeable Digital Lens Camera – Body Only on amazon.com)

It is too early to draw any conclusions about the quality of the lens but you can have a look at the entire gallery of photos I shot of the St. Patricks Day Parade, which were all taken using the Sony A7r together with the Sony 70-200mm F4 lens here.

St. Patricks Day New York 2015
St. Patricks Day New York 2015

Back to Germany

After a little more than five months my journey through Australia and New Zealand has come to an end and I am back in Germany.

I have shot thousands of photos during the journey and it will take quiet a while to go through all of them but I do not see that as a burden but am rather looking forward to doing it and to come up with on or the other additional one that will be displayed in my galleries here.

If you want to have a look at the photos of the trip I have published so far please visit:

Australia

Sydney

Byron Bay

New Zealand

Wellington

 

Enjoy exploring!

kridpics.com photography featured by WildChina

We are very pleased to see our work of Beijing published on the WildChina website.

WildChina is a travel company offering customisable private, small group and education journeys in China.

Destinations do not only include the big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong but offer a lot more options for the more adventerous traveller such as: Urumqi, Lhasa, Xi’an and many more.

Our photos have been used in the Beijing’s Past & Future section of their website, which you can find here.

If you want to have a look at all our photos of Beijing, please visit the kridpics.com Beijing Photo Gallery.

Travel Photographer of the Year 2015 Award – Winners Announced

Since 2003 the Travel Photographer of the Year Awards are being given to outstanding photographers around the world.

And now the winners for 2014 have been announced: Travel Photographer of the Year Awards

This years winner is Philip Lee Harvey from the United Kingdom whose two winning galleries showcase the rock churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia and the women of the Himba tribe in Namibia.

You can explore the images here.

There you also find the images of all other winners and runners-up in the different categories of the award such as Young Travel Photographer of the Year, People & Cultures Portfolio – TRIBES, Natural World Portfolio – EARTH, AIR, FIRE, WATER, etc.

You will be able to explore a large number of really great images and when browsing through all those images I often catch myself wondering how do you come up with this composition, where can I find such an interesting subject or how was a specific image post-processed?

It is a great way of reflecting on your own work and inspires me to go out and shoot again today.

Gallery Clean-Up Time

It is getting close to Christmas and when starting out on making my photography public I also decided that once a year I would go through my work and tidy up the work I show online.

And I can tell you that is not much fun! You have invested so much time to create each individual photo and then to say: “No, I do not like you anymore – you have got to go!”, is a difficult thing. Nevertheless I do believe it is important. It is important as people will judge you by the work you show and I firmly believe that people will judge you by the least appealing work they see. So if you show five great photos and have one poor one in a gallery, guess which one they will remember!

This is even more important when looking at your portfolio. In your portfolio you have to have only your absolute best work! This is what you share with people that are interested in hiring you and it has to be the best of the best!

So, today I sat down and went through all my public galleries and my portfolio and decided which photos to remove. And that are tough choices! Especially if you only have started professional photography recently as myself, where you can really see the learning curve in your work. There are a lot of photos and sometimes even entire galleries that do not match your own personal quality standard anymore and you have to remove them to ensure that the overall feel of your online portfolio and photo galleries is of the highest possible standard and consistent at the same time.

Now, that is what I did the last couple of hours and my heart is bleeding after having hit the delete button for images that have been representing my work in the past. But I know it is worth it as it helps to show also to my audience that I am consistently working on the quality of my work trying to improve.

 

But now have a look at my portfolio and my galleries and let me know if you can see the difference!

I hope you have a great experience!

The Raglan Coast

Having spent a month in Byron Bay early during my journey people highly recommended to visit Raglan when in New Zealand and that is where I spent the last five days. It is famous for its surf beaches but is different from Byron bay in many ways: First and foremost there are far less people – so empty here – even though the high season is starting and then the sand is black and white.

But that did not make a difference at all when it comes to surfing. Staying at a backpacker hostel we packed our boards every day and made our way first to the “house” beach right in front and then the last two days a little bit further down the coast to a better spot. I can really recommend this place as it does not only provide for great surfing but also provides amazing spots for sunset photography.

Here are some of the photos I took over the last couple of days while enjoying the place:

Te Toto Gorge Sunset
What a better place to go surfing in new Zealand than in Raglan. A famous long left handed wave, awesome empty beaches and great backpacker accommodation! Surf’s up Ace!
Hobbits Missing
Driving from Raglan to the Te Toto Gorge along a coastal gravel road you pass this mazing hilly landscape that would have made the perfect setting in case you would have wanted to move the Hobbiton movie set closer to the sea.
The Cliff
Driving south from Raglan along the coast is an adventure in itself: Gravel Roads, winding tracks, left the mountains and on the right the abyss… But this rough environment makes for an amzing photography playground and with its low hanging clouds this evening the sunset turned out very dramatic.
Into the Blue
Awesome colour play of the ocean and the sky at sunset! How does this come about? It just looked so awesome that I totally forgot that I am on a road. Just stopped my car in the middle of it, got out and set-up my tripod… Good that there are not that many cars on the road along the Raglan Coast but it made for some good laughters when the first cars arrived.

Review Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) for the Sony E-Mount

In the middle of November the waiting had an end and I was finally holding the long awaited wide-angle lens Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) for my Sony A7r in my hands.

(Check out the price of Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T FE F4 ZA OSS E-Mount Lens and Sony a7R Full-Frame Interchangeable Digital Lens Camera on amazon.com)

While I wrote about my initial experiences here, including a number of unedited photos for you to explore in full size for yourself and the story of me having to return my first copy of the lens due to quality problems, I now feel comfortable to share some more experiences of myself shooting with the lens. As I am currently traveling through New Zealand I basically am using it every single day and have produced the first set of images for my photo galleries with it.

You can find the photos of my trip through New Zealand here.

In summary I am now satisfied with the quality of the images that the lens is producing together with my Sony A7r.

Having to return the first copy of the lens left me very disappointed having desperately waited for the lens for a long time and even settling with the Samyang 14mm, f2.8 in the meantime for my landscape photography.

(Check out the price of Samyang SY14M-E 14mm F2.8 Ultra Wide Lens for Sony E-Mount on amazon.com)

After the exchange episode I was obviously very careful and scrutinised every single image in depth that I shot with the lens and by now am seeing good quality images being produced. However, I would like to highlight that I use the word “good” and not “amazing” or “outstanding”. Comparing the images with those that I produced and am producing with my Sony 24-70mm F4 Vario-Tessar T* FE OSS lens, it is clear that the 24-70mm is producing significantly sharper images. Obviously it is not fair to compare a standard zoom with a wide-angle zoom in that regard but as the lenses overlap in the range 24 to 35mm it is worth noting.

(Check out the price of Sony 24-70mm F4 Vario-Tessar T* FE OSS Interchangeable Full Frame Zoom Lens on amazon.com)

This observation is also being confirmed by DXOMark here.

Aside of the final image quality there is not much that I am interested in when looking at a lens. The build quality is really good as you would expect from a Zeiss lens and the handling is very comfortable having the experience with the 24-70mm lens.

In my personal opinion there is no alternative to this lens in the wide-angle area for a professional photographer using the Sony A7 camera system as it is definitely sharper than the 14mm Samyang lens and that is what you are looking for but for an amateur showing your photos on a computer screen or making the occasional smaller print I would say the price difference between the Samyang 14mm, f2.8 and the Sony Zeiss 16-35mm, f4 lens is too large to justify the investment.

To give you an idea of what images I produced with my new 16-35mm, f4 lens, please have a look at the following images and remember to check out the unedited photos in my previous post here.

Hobbits Missing
Driving from Raglan to the Te Toto Gorge along a coastal gravel road you pass this mazing hilly landscape that would have made the perfect setting in case you would have wanted to move the Hobbiton movie set closer to the sea.
Te Toto Gorge Sunset
What a better place to go surfing in new Zealand than in Raglan. A famous long left handed wave, awesome empty beaches and great backpacker accommodation! Surf’s up Ace!
Stream from Ruapehu Mountain
Hiking in the Tongariro National Park at sunset rewards you with the most amazing colors and views. Crossing one of the many streams coming down from Mount Ruapehu I got this capture with the water leading the viewers eyes nicely into the photo and up to the mountain top.
MY Sam Simon
Arriving in Wellington I am delighted to see the MY Sam Simon in the harbour. It is part of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Fleet dedicated to disrupt or hinder illegal whaling, fishing and sealing operations. I find it quiet amusing that it was actually built in Japan, the very country who’s whaling fleet is now facing it when trying to perform their illegal whale hunting.

Book Review: “Light, Gesture, and Color (Voices That Matter)” by Jay Maisel

I am a big fan of the work of Jay Maisel and following the good initial reviews his new book “Light, Gesture, and Color (Voices That Matter)” has received I bought myself the Kindle edition.

(Check out the price of Light, Gesture, and Color (Voices That Matter) on amazon.com)

The paperback edition has 264 pages and the book is structured in three major sections that are surprisingly Light, Gesture and Colour. Of the three section Colour takes by far the largest portion of the book with approx. 90% of the entire content.

The book is structured in a way that Jay Maisel introduces a concept and then underlines it by a matching photo. These “concepts” are – to give you an idea – for example:

– Bad Light at Dawn
– Surprise Light
– Less is More
– Wander Around
– Look Around
– Not enough Lens to get Closer

Personally I have to say that I am a little disappointed after reading through the book for the first time (I mention that as it sometimes happens to me that I discover the true value of a book only once reading it a second or third time.) as messages such as “always carry the camera” or “Do not judge yourself against others” are not really strong enough for me to justify buying a book from one of the best photographers out there.

Do not get me wrong: The photos in the book alone are amazing but the text around it is just not appealing enough for me to recommend the book to the general audience, especially as – at least in the Kindle version – the photos are quiet small.

I think the book can be of interest to fans of Jay Maisel and his photography who want to learn more about his thought process behind individual photos. To me the concept however is not as appealing as I would have hoped.

(Check out the price of Light, Gesture, and Color (Voices That Matter) on amazon.com)

If you want to learn more about Jay Maisel and his work, you can explore his work at: www.jaymaisel.com.