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Managing Google My Business Listing and managers 

Using Google My Business in a browser 

From a browser go to Google My Business sign in Page. Once signed in you will be taken to a page with the Businesses you are the owner or manager of.  

Google My Business List View

ListView

Fig 1: The list of business that you are owner or manager of.

 

Google My Business Card View

Card view is a graphic representation of all the business and I find is not the best place to start from.

CardView

Fig 2:This is Card View option of all businesses

Change from Card to List View

Pull Down Menu and View Options

Fig 5: Pull Down Menu and View Options

If you click on the 3 vertical dots(Fig 3)  a menu appears to review the business listing from Google Search, Google Maps, the Google+ Page, see the Dashboard, look at insights and manage and view reviews.

To switch between List View and Card View click Lines icon (Fig 4) Red Circle

Click to lines to List view

Fig 4: Click to lines to List view

Manage or Transfer Business listing Ownership

Figure 5: Click on the Listing name from the list view

Fig 6: Click on the Listing name from the list view

 Note: Google has made changes to the transfer ownership option when managing the managers on your pages.

Fig 6: Link to ask to have ownership transferred.

Fig 7: Link to ask to have ownership transferred.

The link to transfer ownership used to be on all Managers tabs. I have looked and the ONLY place I was able to find the option was to click on the name of the business in the List View see Fig 6. To transfer ownership the current owner needs

to add a manager and after 24 hours (information from Google) the new manager can request ownership. I expect Google will confirm with the original owner if they agree to the ownership transfer and the Manager requesting ownership will be made the owner and the current owner will become a manager who can remove themselves later if they choose. I have removed myself as a manager of a page once I have updated Profile, Cover and other information for clients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google My Business Listing Home

When you click on the Google My Business Icon (the Blue link to the left of the 3 vertical dots) in Fig 3. From the home page the tabs on the top are repeated in the graphic interface and in the body of the listing. You can Edit listing, View Insights, Reviews (manage and respond) and Manage Photos. 

Fig 7: Google My Business Home page for a business

Fig 8: Google My Business Home page for a business

Google Insights

When you click on Insights Google provides graphic representations. In Fig: 9 shows below 2 graphs of 4 are shown. In the Views section you can look at last 7, 30, 90 or all time views and what was viewed. In Click section you have the same 7, 30, 90 and all time click from the listing. Since many people use mobile devices and are able to make a call directly from their device phone calls and driving directions are tracked.

Fig 8: Insights Google My Business' Data Gold mine!

Fig 9: Insights, Google My Business’ a Data Gold mine!

 Call me at 905.929.3660 or email terry@terrybabij.com to begin our conversation

Google Market Research 7-8/2015 

A quick post to share some market research conducted by an independent research firm.

These images are from a Google page tied to Google My Business where business owners can create and manage their free Google listing that is used to provide content for all Google listings pertaining to their business.

Virtual Tour Double interest in business listings

 

Virtual tours are wanted by searchers

Virtual tours are wanted by searchers

Google is the search provider of choice for local search

Google is the search provider of choice for local search

GSV Research Page 4

 

 

New Way to Share or Embed Google Virtual tours 

Google Street View virtual tours New Look

Early in September Google re-branded Google Maps Business View to Google Street View a name most have an understanding of. With the change the Google Maps interface has be adjusted as well. Google has moved once again the Share Embed functionality of a Tour or Map in Google Maps. As with everything online change is a constant so we need to keep up. Below is a screen capture of a tour I have done recently with the steps numbers. As little as 3 steps to share a map or tour and 5 to 8 steps to find and create HTML code to embed the tour. Once you have the code you can add the code to your website, and even Facebook business pages as well.

8 Easy steps

Navigate to the the tour and the location of the tour you want to share in Google Maps NOT from Google Search. The view can be zoomed or pointed to a particular place in the business. You can easily pick multiple locations in a larger tour to create shortcuts or easy navigation to the particular department or spot. 

Google Street View, Virtual Tour, Embed Tour,

Easy as…

  1. Click on vertical 3 dots top left of view in Google Maps
  2. Select Share or embed image.
  3. To Share link copy text in the highlighted box PC Ctrl C Mac Command C to copy to your clipboard and then Ctrl V or Command V to paste where you want to share. Alternatively right click on the text and pick Copy then switch to other document or application and right click and select paste to paste the link.
  4. For some applications you may wish to share a short link. Google will create a shorter version of the long URL. To do this click on Short link box to check and a shorter link will be provided to copy and paste as in step 3
  5. To Embed a tour Google creates HTML code that creates an iFrame or active window for a website where there is content from your tour hosted with Google. When you click on Embed image Google defaults to medium size and the HTML code is in the circled area in figure 5. You may have to double click on the text in the box to highlight all the text to copy then paste where needed.
  6. To change the size  Google provides a Pull down menu with 3 standard options Small, Medium and Large with the bottom choice Custom size.
  7. With Custom size I like to use a 2:1 ratio instead of default 4:3. as offered in Figure 7.
  8. My choice for my website is 600 X 300 a 2:1 ratio as entered in Figure 8. Find the size and shape you like for your needs.

 

Google does provide a link (top left in the title box) in the embedded tour when it opens in Google Maps with the option to View on Google Maps to view in a new full size window. 

 Call me at 905.929.3660 or email terry@terrybabij.com to begin our conversation

Google Updates Embed Functionality in Google Maps 

Google has added several options to share Google Maps Business View tours on many channels.

There is a great value in adding your Google Maps Business View tour to your websites. Your website visitors are likely to spend more time exploring the tour. Google provides the HTML code to add to your site that creates an iframe or box that contains your tour. This is very similar to the embed function to add a Google Map with your business location. The new embed tool provides a much streamlined line of code that can be customized for size and now has the link View full screen in Google Maps as well. The link is in the title box top left of the frame.

I have numbered steps in the image below and the steps are listed below the image.

New Google Maps Embed Options

As easy as…

  1. Go to the Google Maps Business View tour on New Google Maps and click on the gear icon lower right corner of the page.
  2. Click on the Share or embed image.
  3. To share the tour click on the Share link option and you can copy and paste the link in email, messages, posts on most social media platforms or channels.
  4. I you want to have Google provide a shortened URL link select the Shirt URL box and then copy and paste. Note: some people do not like to follow shortened links since they may not know where the link will take them.
  5. To embed the image in an iframe select the Embed image option. From there you are offered 3 sizes of iframe or you can select Custom size. 
  6. When you select custom size you enter the preferred frame width and height in pixels. This is dynamic and automatically changes the contents of the code generated. If you want to see the actual window on your screen resolution you can click on the blue Preview link.

I have selected to use 600 X 300 frames for both my website and my Facebook Page. I have posted about how to add a Tour to Facebook Pages with the Woobox app here

 Call me at 905.929.3660 or email terry@terrybabij.com to begin our conversation

Google Maps Business View Elevator Widget 

Google’s Elevator Widget will whisk you from floor to floor in multilevel businesses.

Updated June 8, 2016

New Google Maps Elevator Widget

New Google Maps Elevator Widget

In Google Maps the elevator widget will be at the lower right corner of the browser window above the compass arrow. To change floors simply click on another floor to visit that floor in the tour. The floor you are on is the highlighted or darker number. Booth of these examples are on the first floor.

 

Updated view form iOS 6/16

Google’s Maps mobile APP for iOS now has the floor selector on available on the lower left of the tour display.  

Latest Google Maps view from Google Maps App on iOS

Latest Google Maps view from Google Maps App on iOS

 

Below is an entire New Desktop Google Map page layout with the elevator widget at the lower right of the browser window.

Elevator Widget

 

In the tour preview window of a Google+ Places page there is now an option to select to start a tour at inside or outside the business. Multiple Views from Places PageWhen there is more than 1 floor a viewer can select the floor he or she want to begin the tour. The image below show the various starting points for a tour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0757

Fig 5: 6/16 Google Maps APP Business search results with new icons and thumbnail links to tour and photos

IMG_0756

Fig 6: 6/16 When clicking on any thumbnail the searcher will be delivered to the photo or tour. Now tours are active and you can spin the view.

 

Updated 6/8/16

In Fig 5: The searcher is delivered location information  with a thumbnails for original “See inside” and “See outside” views. The “Photos” tab contains all Google and customer uploaded images. When the searcher clicks on one of the three thumbnails the Photos grid is presented to the searcher. If there is an entry point or virtual tour the thumbnail is active and moves when scrubbed over. To open photo or tour the searcher only need to open the image.

 

Original post NOTE from 8/14: At time of posting the Elevator Widget does not work with Google Mobile Maps and the view selector does not work in the G+ mobile APP on iOS, I cannot speak to Android. The Widget will work on iPad in the Chrome and Safari Browsers, by tricking to stay in the browser rather than opening the Map APP.

Your Google Business View tour on your Facebook Page 

A quick overview on how to embed your Virtual Tour  to a Facebook Page with the WooBox APP


 Updated 2/19/16

As with everything Google, steps and processes change. Google removed the “Old Maps” option and has now moved Google+ to a very different User Interface.

The WooBox app still works and installs the same way as before. The important steps is to install as the admin or owner of the page not as the Page. The link and embed option is NOW found by clicking on the 3 vertical dots in the top left corner of the Google Maps See inside window. The embed functions are very much the same as before from there. Here is a graphical look at the steps.

Google Street View, Virtual Tour, Embed Tour,

The Steps:

  • Login to Facebook as an admin user for your Page NOT as the Page.
  • In the APP box on the Left, click More
  • Search for WooBox Page Tab and select Install
  • Authorize the App to your Page
  • Click Settings in the Tab Admin options box
  • Scroll down to the Page Source section where you can paste HTML code (should be selected by default)
  • Google has a NEW embed code creator in New Google Maps here is the  Link to Blog Post 
  • Once you have found the place you want visitors to start copy the embed code from the link section on Google Maps and paste it into the Page Source box on your Facebook Page tab
  • Save the settings and leave the tab and go back to your Page then click back on the Tab to make more edits
  • I Like to rename the tab from default Welcome to Virtual Tour, See Inside or something else that will work for you
  •  Below is the default Gate selection I used. These selections appear to work fine and even non fans will be able to see the tour

Admin options

  • I created a 111px X 74px thumbnail image to replace the WooBox default image and uploaded it. Then Saved Settings again
  • Go to the More Pull down menu under your cover image and select Manage Tabs and move the Tour to a place you want the tour to reside
  • Your tour is now accessible from The Link under the cover image and it is also in the on the left side in the Apps Box

 Call me at 905.929.3660 or email terry@terrybabij.com to begin our conversation

Google My Business 

Google recently introduced “Google My Business”, This is your opportunity to make your first impression on Google a hit.

In Canada there is now a unique Canadian landing page http://www.google.ca/business/  This is where you can create or update existing Google Places for Business or Local pages.

If you do not have a Places Page follow the link above and provide as much information as you can. Make sure you provide a good introduction for your business.

Unverified Pages

Updated 11/04/14:

There is a link on Unverified pages “Manage this page” in the Box “Is this your business?” When you click on the link you will be taken to the Google My Business portal and you will be able to manage and update the page. If the phone number and name is correct Google will phone the number in the listing to verify over the phone. You will be called in seconds and you will be provided with a code you enter online that immediately verifies the page.

Before a page is verified only the About and Photos can be updated. Here is what an unverified page may look like.

Unverified page

Verified Pages

After your page is verified the ability upload videos and add posts similar to Facebook are now available for use. There is a place above the Business Name for a Profile Image and on the right is the Cover Photo. There is a little shield icon near the profile image with a check-mark in it to signify the page is verified. Below is what a verified Places Page looks like.

Places Verified

Once you completed updating your information now is the time to update 2 important images.

Uploading images is done from the new dashboard that is access from the Google My Business Link. The Profile image managed on the My Business link. Simply click on the square beside the Company Name to change the photo and follow the steps.

Too Large

Too Large

Good Profile Photo

Good spacing

Profile Photo

I suggest that you use a Photo or Graphic with your logo as your profile picture. This is an opportunity to increase your Branding. Google makes a circular image from for the Profile Photo. I suggest you have a square File that is 250 Pixels wide and high.

The Image on the left has a nice large logo however when a circle is created part of the L and maybe the end of the O may also be lost as well.

 

The Dashboard Menu

The Dashboard Menu

Cover Image

The Next image to change is the Cover Photo. The best quality size is 2120 Pixels wide by 1192 Pixels high. The smallest image size is 480X270. This may produce a photo that will not look good on a desktop or even a tablet with a high resolution screen.

To find the spot where you can change the cover image click on the My Business button (image to the right) on the top left of the page manager and select Google+Page. This will open the your page and now hover over large image on the right side. A Change cover link will be presented to you. When you click you will be provided a gallery of stock images, ideally select upload from the top menu to upload the image you want to be your cover photo.

Here is what a customized verified page looks like.

The Mill Ridgeway

 

 

 

 

 

 Please feel free to reach out with questions if you are encountering problems. If you are not ready to proceed with a virtual tour there is not time like the present to make your first impression on Google count.

2 & 3 Finger Touches in Lightroom Mobile 

Adobe has added Lightroom Mobile to the Creative Cloud Photography Bundle

Still for the low price of $9.99 US per month.

The Lightroom Mobile Look

The Install

I needed to update my Adobe CC Desktop and update to the latest version of Lightroom now 5.4 that supports Mobile and ?? The iTunes Store has the Lightroom Mobile app, I found the  APP on both Canadian and US stores. You will need your My Adobe credentials to login and prepare the app to sync with your computer catalog(s).

Lightroom Mobile uses Collections that you create on your laptop or desktop and select to sync. Right click on the collection(s) you want to share and pick Share with Lightroom mobile.

How to sync collections with Lightroom Mobile

from Collection Panel in Lightroom 5.4. How to sync collections with Lightroom mobile

I selected a folder to share with the mobile app and jumped right into trying out the APP on my iPad.

Grid View

When you select the the collection the Grid Type view from Lightroom fills your screen. If you 2 finger tap on the grid, Iconic info is provided on each image. f Stop, ISO and shutter speed.

2 finger tap from default view

2 finger tap from default view

Another tap of 2 fingers will deliver the Info panel we are used to on our computers. 1 more tap clears all panels.

2nd 2 Finger tap from default view

2nd 2 Finger tap from default view

Develop Module

To open and work on an image simply tap on that image. The Mobile equivalent of the Develop Module appears.

You are able to pick, unpick or reject by 1 finger dragging in the middle of the image. I am not sure I would be using this on the APP for picks (Flag), unpick (Unflag) or reject, this is the very first thing I do after I import projects.

The lower icons are from the left. The Film Strip view shows thumbnails along the bottom you can select to work on in the main window. The 3 sliders Adjustments is the view below. The Bullets looking icon is a choice of mobile Presets, not nearly as broad and our computer version. and Last on the far right is the Crop Tool that will be covered later.

In any view to move from 1 image to the next or before just swipe right or left.

The Develop Module

The Develop Module

There is the logical flow left to right White Balance etc. Simply touch the adjustment and then drag right or left.  The screen capture below has been 2 finger tapped twice to show the info panel and the histogram overlay.

Whites & Blacks Adjustments

Whites Slider

Whites Slider

I was wondering how the Whites & Blacks sliders would work when they work in-conjunction with the Alt(PC) and Option(Mac) keys on our computers. This is where 2 fingers make it easy!

2 Finger drag to show the white point

2 Finger drag to show the white point

Just like in Lightroom you can 2 finger slide the Whites and Blacks sliders right or left and the screen will look like you are pressing the Alt(PC) or Option(Mac) keys and sliding the adjustment. When you tap with 3 Fingers at anytime the before or unedited view will show just like the “\” on your computer!

Crop Tool

I usually like to crop earlier in my work flow and you can do this anytime. There are several preset ratios from 1 X 1 to 16 X 9 along the bottom. If you want to make a custom crop click on the lock to unlock at the right of the image and your crop is free form.

Preset Crop Ratios

Preset Crop Ratios

When the crop tool is active you can 2 finger TAP on the crop to change the overlays. There are 3 choices.

Rule of Thirds

You can touch and hold anywhere outside of the selection to rotate the crop as well. If you have landscape crop selected and want a portrait orientation you need to drag to one side and up to change to portrait.

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds

Golden Ratio

Golden Ratio

Golden Ratio

Grid

Grid view

Grid view

Once I have had more time to dig into the APP I will report back. For more information Here is the link to Adobe for the APP

 

How to Embed your Google Business View Tour on your web site 
 

Embedding your Google Business View Tour is a great way to highlight your business’s tour. Google is migrating users to their New Google Maps interface. If you have changed to New Maps please follow this link for updated instructions.

There are several ways to link to and feature your Google Virtual Tour. The steps tested are done with the Google Chrome Browser.

Here is a short video that shows the steps I used to create the embedded tours on the “LINKS TO CLIENT TOURS” Page on my website.

Search for your tour on Google Maps, once you find yours click on the red map pin to  bring up you location information. RIGHT CLICK on the more info link and select Open link in incognito window.

Fort Erie Historical Museum, Google listing, +Local, Google Business View

Fort Erie Historical Museum, Google listing, +Local, Google Business View

The reason to select “Incognito” is to remove your unique browsing data from the address bar. When you are browsing Incognito a Grayed man in a Hat with Dark Glasses is at the top Left corner of the browser window. By clicking on the the Link Icon (the chain button to the right of the print button) the Paste Link Panel appears. You can send the link by copying and pasting the top link into a message. If you want Google to provide you with a unique shortened link select the Short URL box and a shortened link will be provided.

The Link Panel

The Link Panel

The lower box is the HTML code that you can paste into your website

Code to add an interactive tour window on your website.

Code to add an interactive tour window on your website.

Here is the tour posted on the Links to Client Tours page on this site

Interactive tour window on the wbsite

 

 

There are so several ways to use and share your tours, opening your doors to many more prospective clients. Harness the power of a virtual tour I can create for your business.

  Call me at 905.929.3660 or email terry@terrybabij.com to begin our conversation

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Granola 
 

I love to have this on my fresh Oatmeal on winter mornings! Or as a great trail mix.

Terrys Granola

Terry’s Granola

 Dry contents

1 LB 5 Cups rolled oats (Large flake slow cook)

1 Cup unsalted raw pumpkin seeds (Optional)

1 Cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds

1 cup raw sesame seeds

2 cups natural almonds

After baking 2-1/2 cups blend of raisins and craisins

 

Wet contents and spices

¾ Cup applesauce

½ Cup maple syrup

4 tablespoons of runny honey

1 cup loosely packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

3 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees or 300 degrees pure convection.

Combine wet ingredients and spices in a saucepan and cook together at a low temperature to make the coating for all the other ingredients.

In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients with the exception of the raisins and craisins.

Pour coating mix over the dry contents and mix together to uniformly cover all the contents.

Line two jelly roll or baking sheets with parchment paper and spread the mixed ingredients evenly between the 2 pans.

Bake for 45-60 minutes and stir 20-30 minutes into the baking cycle. The look should be evenly gold and not too brown or toasted.

Remove the sheets from the oven and add the raisins or craisins to the baked granola and let stand until cool. Store in an air tight container.

Feeding your Photographic Muse 

This post is from an article I wrote for In Focus the Niagara Falls Camera Club newsletter in September, highlighting some of the many podcasts I subscribe to for inspiration and information.

Podcasts Capture

Screen Capture from my iPad

To start, I have been using PCs for years therefore I am a Windows(7) user. I however have embraced iOS (Apple) for Phone and Tablet. On my PC I installed iTunes, the easiest way to synchronize media (Videos and Audio files) on my computer with several devices. There are many ways to sync media, I choose to only sync when I plug my device into computer with the provided USB cable. If you have videos there are ways add them to your iTunes Library. Only the files I have checked are added onto my devices.

A podcast is either an audio or video file. These files can be downloaded to your computer and or devices from the iTunes Store or publishers’ sites. Many websites have direct links to the store or they may provide a way to save the file from their sites. The downside of directly downloading is this is not easily automated. In iTunes you can choose to Subscribe to a Podcast and it is automatically download programs when you have iTunes opened. If you have not listened to a particular series in a while iTunes will mark the Series with an “!” when you open you are told that you have not listened to recent episodes so iTunes has made the decision not to add more unless you tell the program to continue. Right now including music there are more than 62 days (115GB) of media in my iTunes Library (space is cheap). You can delete files anytime to free up space.

I will listen to Podcasts while in the car, cycling, cutting the lawn and any other time I might not be focused on a particular task. Instead of prime time television (we have cut our cable off) I will watch video podcasts either on the computer, tablet or on the TV via Apple TV. Watching video podcasts in the bike or in the car is NOT a good idea.

Some of my subscribed programs:

Rick Sammon and Juan Pons record a podcast on the 1st and the 15th of each month.  http://dpexperience.com/ there are regular interviews providing new prospective and sneak peeks into photo industry developments. I always look forward to each new podcast.

Tips from the Top Floor:  Chris Marquardt is the longest continually running photography podcast with more than 600 episodes http://www.tipsfromthetopfloor.com/  Chris publishes podcasts weekly except when he is traveling. He covers topics ranging from analog (film) to digital techniques, trends and stories. Interesting Q&A that can become very technical.

Martin Bailey is a very interesting British photographer and author now living in Japan. His podcasts are chock full of information. He leads and participates in several photo tours around the world. Martin tries to post weekly except when travel interferes. He wrote a great book “Making the Print” with Craft and Vision. He also regularly writes columns for other Craft & Vision publications. http://www.martinbaileyphotography.com/ I have heard him as a guest on several other podcasts.

I have been a long time subscriber to LensWork a very high quality Monochrome magazine that comes out of the Pacific Northwest 6 times a year. It is published by Brooks Jensen. Brooks also has over 800 podcasts that he recorded and blog musings at:  http://daily.lenswork.com/ most podcasts are 4-7 minutes of thought provoking content. An interesting aside is LensWork publishes colour on the Extended or digital issues while the print version has remained monochrome.

Photoshop User TV is a weekly video podcast from Kelby and Co. looking at all things Photoshop http://kelbytv.com/photoshopusertv/

Another KelbyTV podcast is The Grid. This show brings much of the news in a weekly hour video program hosted by many of the key Kelby writers and instructors. http://kelbytv.com/thegrid/ you can watch live online Wednesdays at 4:00 PM EST.

Digital Photography Café: with Trevor Current and Joseph Cristina talk weekly about technology and Business usually posted Monday each week http://digitalphotographycafe.com/

TWIP This Week in Photo is a weekly podcast from Fredrick Van Johnson typically posted on Friday and live Thursday night. This podcast can run up to 2 hours and is a look at new gear and news stories from the past week. He usually has 3 people in the conversation. Topics can be geeky. He regularly interviews photographic thought leaders. http://www.thisweekinphoto.com/

Craft & Vision is a unique eBook publisher from Canadian explorer and photographer David duChemin. He has gathered an amazing group of photographers and authors to produce a broad catalog of excellent photographic centered eBooks that sell mostly for less than $5 along with some free. Matt Brandon interviews David duChemin and many of the authors in 50-60 minute monthly podcasts that can be found at:  http://craftandvision.com/craftandvision-podcasts/

Photofocus is published the 5th 15th and 25th of each month by Scott Bourne and Rich Harrington discuss current news stories and interviews. http://photofocus.com/

I have seen Michael Reichmann of Luminous Landscape speak in the past. There is a forum on his page that connects photographers from around the world. http://www.luminous-landscape.com/index.shtml Lots of good and interesting info in the many forums.

You can also find even more free tutorials on YouTube where you can search and subscribe to a wide variety of content. This could be another article.

Many of these podcasters have profiles on various social media platforms so you can follow and interact directly with them.

Using an EF-S Lens on Full Frame Canon Camera 

UPDATE:

August 15, 2014; This lens is is doing a great job with the interior images of businesses for my Google Maps Business View clients. When zoomed wide to 12-14mm there maybe slight vignetting, it is easy to crop for content.

October 17, 2013. I ordered the back cover for a Canon EF 50mm f1.8, Canon part CY1-2394-010, from Global Electronic Supplies in Mississauga for $1.68 plus $7.00 for shipping to cover the circuit board on the camera side of the lens. I have also applied a stack of two very thin 5mm or 3/16″ strips of gaffer tape at 2 places to the inside barrel at the front of the lens to limit zoom to 12mm and remove chance of the mirror contacting the rear element of the lens. There is still noticeable vignetting of the corner of the frame.

The image below was captured using a Canon 10-22mm EF-S lens on my Canon 5DMKIII. I plan to eventually purchase either a 14mm F2.8 L or 16-35MM f2.8 L wide angle lens. Right now I cannot justify the acquisition.

Peace Bridge Test 10-22

The Peace Bridge Sunday July 28th 2013 from the causeway below the bridge

 

The image was processed in Lightroom 5 to Warm the image and apply other develop steps. I continued to edit in Photoshop CC to downsize the file for posting. (At this time there is a problem with Lightroom 5. When you save an image to less than 33% of original size no noise reduction or sharpening will be applied to exported files.) Before down-sampling the file was treated in Topaz Adjust 5.

This image Data is:
ISO 100
Focal Length 19mm
F Stop F22
Exposure 60 sec
Filter B+W 110 Pro 10 Stop

Here are the steps to use a Canon 10-22mm EF-S lens on a Full Frame Canon camera.

NOTE: You might damage you camera and lens if you try to zoom TOO wide. Ideally while looking through the viewfinder look to the corners to make sure you have no vignetting (darkening of corners).

 

Canon EF-S 10-22MM By Terry Babij

Canon EF-S 10-22MM Back Element at 22mm By Terry Babij

2: Zoom lens to 22mm to move rear element away from back of lens.

Canon EF-S 10-22MM Stopper Pried up By Terry Babij

Insert a finger towards the lens contacts through the optics hole and pry up the EF-S stopper that will usually stop the lens from being attached to your camera. Save the stopper to replace when needed.

 

Canon EF-S 10-22MM Stopper Removed up By Terry Babij

Stopper removed
Caution exposed circuits, avoid touching and moisture.

Canon EF-S 10-22MM Mounted on 5DMKIII By Terry Babij

Attach the lens to your camera, the small white square on the lens will be just to the right of the red dot on the camera body when looking at from the front for lens installation

 

Again take care not to zoom too wide or less than 14mm to avoid mirror contact with lens during exposure.

There are ultra wide Fisheye lenses that produce circular Fisheye type images on full frame cameras while when used on cropped sensor APS-C camera the top and bottom of the captures are cropped off. When you zoom too wide you will see strong vignetting and when you use single or stacked filters the vignetting is more apparent.

Test images:

The images below are of lens test cards I have had for several years. You can still see darkening of corners even at 16mm. Much of the darkness can be recovered in Lightroom using Lens Correction tab. All images have had Auto White Balance, and Sharpening applied since these were captured as RAW images. These images are all 1024PX wide with no compression. I have posted 2048 PX and original size 5760 X 3840 PSD on Flicker at Should you want to see larger files.

 

Canon EF-S 10-22MM at 13mm By Terry Babij SML

Canon EF-S 10-22mm at 14mm By Terry Babij SML

Canon EF-S 10-22mm at 15mm By Terry Babij SML

Canon EF-S 10-22mm at 16mm By Terry Babij SML

Canon EF-S 10-22mm at 17mm By Terry Babij SML

Canon EF-S 10-22mm at 22mm By Terry Babij SML

Post Processing Key for Best Results 
 
Full Frame Capture out of camera.

Full Frame Capture out of camera.

At the January Competition of the Niagara Falls Camera Club our judge selected my Image ” Deep Brass” as “Judge’s Choice” out of all images presented that evening. The image was captured with my Canon 5D MKIII with the 70-200mm 2.8 IS Ver1 lens. Settings: ISO 1600 1/80 sec at f 4.0 200mm hand held IS Mode 1. To the left is the image as captured at the Niagara Symphony Orchestra’s concert on December 15th 2012 at Brock University`s Sean O`Sullivan Theatre

I enjoy concert photography because you have to deal with the lighting on stage that can be harsh and yet dramatic. I challenge myself to find the compositions. We do not have the controls when we work in a studio. One of the great things about newer SLR cameras is the improved low light capabilities and with the MKIII its full frame sensor with more great pixels to work with in post.

My workflow is to bring all my images into the computer with Import as a DNG in Lightroom 4.3. First I Keyword and and apply Standard Lens Correction. I then work with the develop module to non-destructively adjust the image.

Lightroom is great for global adjustments as well as area tweaks using the adjustment brush. I start with Basic White Balance (always checking Auto first because sometimes this gets you real close) then I work the Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks. I add in some Clarity and Vibrance most times. With the new 2012 Process, Clarity is far more powerful and it can be pushed more then ever before. Any healing or clones are done in Photoshop because this tool is impossibly slow in Lightroom. Noise is easily removed in the Details Tab. I have been able to produce images for publication from ISO 6400 captures that are well exposed thanks to the new Adobe Camera Raw in Lightroom and the new camera bodies.

I cropped this image in the develop module for composition before editing the balance of the image in Photoshop. When you select “Edit in” from Lightroom the edited image will appear in your Library unless you save as. If you save as you will need to go back to the folder in Library and “Sync Folder” to import the file into your library. The effect in this image is from the “Bleach Bi-pass” filter in nik Color efex Pro 4.0™ now a Google product  and finishing touches with a “Make it Glow” process using Luminosity Masks where you actually blur to sharpen. Below is the final Image as projected at Niagara Falls Camera Club’s 5th Critiquing Night January 21st 2012.

 

 

Deep Brass Final

 

Adding Drama with Zoom 
 

I entered the image below into the Niagara Falls Camera Club’s December 2012 competition as a colour print. I had a few comments and questions with regard to how I achieved my final results.

Morning Fog

China, Zoom, Art, Photography, Post Processing, Lightroom, Photoshop

This image was captured around Shangri-La in China in late June while I was building my body of work.

Camera EXIF data is;

  • Camera Canon 5D MKIII
  • Lens Canon 24-70mm EF 2.8L VER I
  • ISO 100
  • Aperture F 22
  • Exposure 1.3 seconds
  • Zoomed to 24mm from around 50mm
  • I used a Circular Polarizer to provide a longer exposure

Capture and in camera considerations;

Camera on solid tripod

  • If needed use the hook on your tripod to stabilize even more
    • Be aware, if it is windy a bulky bag can induce shake by swinging in the breeze
  • I use an Induro AX214 not the heaviest duty however adequate, rated at 8kg and it is relatively light until I added my ball mount
  • My ball mount is a Really Right Stuff BH-40 LRII
  • The 5D MKIII has a Kirk L Bracket to facilitate taking portrait and landscape images quickly with a minimum of recomposing. The L-Bracket also keeps the weight of the camera and lens over the center of the tripod unlike tipping your camera into the drops on your tripod moving the center of balance away from center of the support. All my DSLR cameras have L-Brackets.

Capture

  • Look at where the Light is coming from and use from and use for drama and definition
  • Make sure your camera is level
  • Plan your zoom points, both start and finish
  • Border Check look for mergers and or distractions that may creep into your final image
  • A cable release will make taking the image easier
  • Turn on “Highlight and Shadow” warnings
  • Check your histogram to make sure you are not blowing out highlights or losing detail in shadows.
  • Digital is wonderful, we can see the results of our capture instantly
  • I always capture in RAW to give me many more options when working in the digital darkroom

Post production

Lightroom

  • I use Lightroom 4.X for all my importing, file management and much of my digital darkroom needs
  • Convert to DNG, Keyword and Apply my metadata presets
  • Adjust white balance and other global adjustments
  • Apply lens correction preset to correct for distortion
  • For this image I purposely cropped so the center radial point was at the top right point, using the rule of thirds. This created stronger leading lines.
  • Lightroom as well as Photoshop both now allow you to retain the removed pixels after cropping, great features!

NIK Color Efex Pro 4

  • All I did here was add a little graduated fog from top left on a slight angle
  • I dropped opacity to create a subtle dreamy look

Printing

I printed on an Epson Stylus Pro 4800 printer from Photoshop on Red River 68# Ultra Pro Satin paper

If you have any questions feel free to comment or contact me directly.

Keep snapping! 

 

Keeping Connected on a Budget 

6 Weeks of Data and Phone for $50 in China!

I have an iPhone 4 with an US AT&T contract and data roaming charges are ridiculous!!! AT&T is not at all like T-Mobile who will happily unlock your device even when under contract, because you have a contract!! Without a data plan the cost is at least $15 per megabyte YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING. AT&T has International data plans that go up to $120 for a month for 800MB of data. In the past I have used a smaller plan when I needed to use data in Canada. This is a great deal especially when I need a few days of data. The monthly charge is prorated over the days used not the data consumed. 120 MB is only $30 or $1 a day so if I need for 2 or 3 days the total cost is only $3, a deal!

Here is my OLD Blackberry and my assorted SIM cards.

I recently traveled in China for 6 weeks and actually the last full month was going to be when I needed data. In China there is a pay as you go plan for data that was 1 month for 148 Yuan or $25 including 400 megabytes of data. My iPad as all iPads is unlocked so I choose to use my iPad for data (e-mail in particular) if needed whenever I could not find free Wi-Fi that can be found many places.

The iPhone 4s is the most popular mobile telephone in China and uses a mini SIM card that is  about 33% of the size of a normal SIM card. The same card required in an iPad. These cards are not readily available however the store we visited in Lijiang had a device that took the standard SIM card and punched out the contacts to the correct size to use in my iPad! The photo to the right is of the standard T-Mobile SIM and the AT&T iPad SIM cards. The photo below shows the standard China Mobile SIM card I used in my Blackberry that cost me about $25 for 6 weeks of text and talk throughout China. Incoming calls were free so if my wife needed to call, it was $0.05 a minute to call from Canada. We either used Skype to talk if I had wired Internet or Apple’s FaceTime if I had Wi-Fi connection for free international voice and or video calls!! Can’t beat that. On the right is the China Mobile SIM used in the Blackberry on the left the custom cut SIM for my iPAD.

My iPad worked like a charm for e-mail and Internet when I did not have a Wi-Fi connection. The connection was not 3G only E since I had a pay as you go plan. To add a level of security I added a VPN service to my iPad so I could securely access banking and other sites. I used Strong VPN simple and reasonably priced level of security and then some.

In the past I have used my Blackberry in China and several other countries with local SIM cards. Once my contract is fulfilled with AT&T they will allow me to unlock my iPhone to do the same.

The most important thing you need to do is make sure you have Data Roaming turned OFF in your SETTINGS so you are not surprised by a heart stopping mobile bill when you return home.

Protect your investment 

Before departing on my 6 week photographic odyssey in China I was concerned about taking a large majority of my photographic gear half way around the world without adequate insurance. I had several thousand dollars of gear coming with me. What happens if someone walks off with my bag or my bag is in a vehicle and we are hit, OR???? I called my insurance agent to look into the cost to insure my camera gear. Since I am not “Professional” the cost of my premium is just over 1% of the replacement value of my equipment for year. For professionals the premium is less than 2%. The great benefit from a “specified item” list with my carrier is there is NO deductible; my policy covers drops, theft, etc. For many, your equipment is covered under your household contents policy however there are deductibles and most policies will not cover a drop in water or on the ground. For me a no-brainer.

Things to remember when you arrange your policy. Keep a list with all your serial numbers and current replacement value. Remember to include Sales Tax or HST, this needs to included in the calculation if you need to replace item(s). Try to keep all your receipts for your gear. I have a list stamped by Canada Customs and it will work as proof of having the items. Alternatively keep receipts and an images catalog of all your items. Regularly update and notify your carrier with changes.

My thinkTANK Airport TakeOFF™ fully packed was 17KG or just over 37# well above the 10KG limit imposed by most airlines. No one ever asked to weigh my bag. This bag was with me in the cabin on all my flights and close by on all trains and buses.

Other precautions I took on my trip to safeguard my images.

I will follow a similar workflow whenever I am away from home working on a photo project.

  • The Wolverine Drive and the Western Digital were never kept in the same place outside of my hotel rooms.
  • I carried the Western Digital drive in a case in my backpack wherever I was.
  • If there was a small safe in my room I placed the laptop and Wolverine drive there or stowed them in my suitcase when I was out of my room.
  • I left the Wolverine drive with my laptop as it had my out of camera raw and JPG images.
  • The time required to upload and the upload speed from Asia and most places is too slow to look into cloud storage.
  • When I had time I worked on a few select images to use for posting to Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+
  • Needless to say I made sure I always had all batteries fully charged before I left my hotel room each and every day.
  • Once back at home I copied all raw images from the Wolverine and the extra files that did not fit onto an external drive that is attached to a spare desktop and then store the drive in our safety deposit box at our bank.
  • I created and exported a catalog in Lightroom of all images on my laptop in Lightroom from my trip and saved to my external drive. This took a few hours to crunch the 7,000 plus images form 40 days of shooting. I them imported from catalog and moved to my desktop computer where I regularly work on and print my images.

This did provide peace of mind on my trip and simplified the file migration once back at home!

Stay tuned for more images and updated.

Next communications in China.

Shanghai in a new light! 

Pudong View 180 Panorama

In the past my visits to Shanghai have been short and uninspiring. I thought of Shanghai as another BIG city. Now with a population of 14.5 million it is a city full of contradictions. You can look at the river front of the Huangpu River on the Bund side with its Buildings dating back to the beginning of modern China in the 1920’s compared to the Pudong side of the river with its modern sky scrapers and towers. I have been blessed with clear blue skies with some white clouds and at the same time cursed with mid to high 30’s for daytime highs. “Sweltering”!!

The Bund Side 180 Panorama

The riverfront on the Bund side is a hive of activity most hours of the day. On the first day of of my arrival I went to the river walk for sunset and check out the photo opportunities. Every night cruise boats mingle with freight barges and cargo ships. The cruise ships are ablaze in bright neon colours with flashing lights and party goers aboard for a cruise of the river.

Pearl of the Orient with river Party boat

On Monday Morning July 30 I was up before dawn for a some night shots and sunrise. Another blue sky clear beginning to a hot day. So many people sleeping or just sitting around after an all-nighter. I was treated to a glorious sunrise over the edge of the Yangpu bridge in the distance looking east farther up the river. At 5:00 a member of the local Constabulary walked along the raised riverwalk and blew a whistle waking and rousting the sleepers.

The Pearl of the Orient with the sun directly behind the tower.

The Subway here is the most expensive I have found in China at 5 Yuan or $0.80 for a ride. Buses are still only 2 Yuan. The Maglev is another story 80 Yuan for a round trip. Yesterday, Monday I took the subway toward Pudong Airport to try to capture the Maglev Train and on its way to and from the airport. This is the only train of this design on the world.

I have never been on a subway line that when you are on the same line you have to get off the train and cross the platform to continue the same direction. I did not realize this until I was approaching the last station I left along with 2 young Japanese men heading for the airport. About 1.5km south of the station the train line crossed the road and the trains passed 18 minutes passed the hour going east and 20 minutes going west. The trains ran every 15 minutes for the 7 minute 30km ride. I did some scouting and found a good spot to try to capture the 430kph train.

Later I spent 150 Yuan to go up to the 100th floor of the Shanghai World Financial Centre tower that houses businesses and hotel in the higher floors. Since it is glass enclosed it is not great for image capture,. However I was able to harvest the light.

The sky in Shanghai has provided great sunrises and sunsets.

Hangzhou Hot and Crowded 

I left Ningbo on a D Train very much like one of the European Bullet Trains. The waiting area for departure was not as confusing as I remembered from a prior trip. Fast clean and like Germany on time:) We cruised at 143km 35 degrees outside and 25 inside. When we arrived in Hangzhou it was 37 degrees or body temperature 98.6! I took a cab to the hotel.

Hangzhou is a Unesco World Heritage site like many Chinese sites. The Terracotta Army and the Great Wall are both UNESCO designated sites.

After unpacking I set off in the sweltering heat to try to get my bearings and remember where I have been. I walked north away and then headed south towards Leifeng Tower an interesting tower we visited in 2006.

There are many boats on West Lake and some will take you for a 1 to 1-1/2 hour paddle to various points on the lake. Here is a group of the boats tied up on the edge of the lake.

West Lake Tour boats Day 11

There were 2 photographers from Hangzhou taking pictures. I had my 70-200 white lens on my camera and it attracted their attention. On of the men had a 5DMKIII like me with the newer 70-200 the other shot Nikon D3X?

They were laughing at the amount I was sweating and took many head shots of me! I passed out Canada flag pins and we got along well. They motioned to follow and we walked along the causeway. One of then pointed out that the sun would set and and it might be nice since there were clouds in sky. I mimed I needed to go back and get a tripod (never go anywhere without a tripod!) Less than 30 minutes later I returned with my tripod and the Nikon shooter held a prime spot for me and told me to set my tripod where he was standing. Neither of them used tripods. There had to be over 30 other tripods set up waiting for sunset. The sunset was not spectacular and I still did take a few good images. As I had dinner I consulted The Photographers Ephemeris and learned the moon would set directly behind Leifeng Ta in an hour and a half! When I returned I had the place to myself. Night photography has not caught on, other than the occasional tourist on a bike stopping to snap a shot with a DSLR or phone. Here is a shot that will need some work when I return home. Short star trail and blown out moon with a 30 second exposure. They light the Pagoda and at 9:30 the lights go off.

The next morning I was a little late leaving the hotel and turned north. Very close by is an impressive Art Gallery that did not look open and it is part of the Hangzhou Art Academy. As I learned it is the oldest or 1 of the oldest institutions in China dating back to the early 1900’s. A Masters student Hiro talked to me outside and invited me to join him as he filmed Shi Hui a professor of Fiber Art at the Academy. While Hiro filmed on a 5DMKII I took stills of the art being created. The artist gathers paper pulp on a screen attached to bamboo poles then taps the screen to deposit the pulp on the frame of twine and rolls of paper cut and fitted into the frame.

Here is a piece that will be placed to have more pulp applied. This process is repeated many times until the artist is satisfied with the piece. There will be many of the frames used to create a wall of these frames in the installation.

I was invited to visit the other campus that is about a 40 minute ride from West Lake. Hiro offered to be my guide and someone from the Academy drove us there in a BMW SUV.

This is a new campus designed by a single architect. It was rather quiet with summer vacation. The buildings were interesting and there was an old steam engine with tender and dinning car that now serves as a coffee shop.

We had a lunch in a small restaurant close to the campus 2 vegetable dishes and sizzling beef for 41 kuai or just about $7.00! After we returned to the West Lake area.

Pardon the depth of field.

Hangzhou must have a lot of wealthy people living here. Just north of the academy there is a row of auto showrooms. Ferrari, Maserati, And Porsche (there is GM showroom hidden between Porsche and Maserati) South a few block is an Aston Martin showroom with a new Audi preparing to open a couple doors away. North several blocks is the Mercedes Benz showroom, Lamborghini and Rolls Royce showrooms. Maybe LA has more of there in close proximity?

An a fitting close to the first 2 days is a figure with a trident in a pool on the edge of West Lake.


          
                
    
City of Ningbo 

In the past I have visited Ningbo many times for business. I stayed at nice business hotels. This time I am staying at a 2 star hotel that is very close to the Moon Lake Scenic District. There are several park areas along a river with lakes right in the city. Several years ago while in Ningbo I happened to find my way to this park and it had a very different bridge. It must have been much cooler then, I don’t remember the swimmers.

Moon Lake bridge in Ningbo

This trip every time I go the bridge there is a what seams to be a continuous stream of people walking or on electric bikes crossing the bridge. Many people arrive at or near sunrise and continuously there after. They are there to swim in the lake, or exercise on many of the interesting devices in the park. They dance or practice Taichi to music, walk dogs and more.

On Monday I happened upon a building in the park I wanted to show against the blue sky. Here is the colour and an infra red image of the building.

I arrived each morning at or before the rising of the sun. So far all days have been blue sky days. We had a cloudburst Monday around supper time and it was clear soon after. On Tuesday I headed to the south end of the park and found a bridge with a concrete gazebo lit with ambient light. Here is a 30 Second image. A little Spicify from Topaz to spice up the image.

Jiankou and Xizhizi The lesser visited “Great Wall” 
 

UPDATE 6/1/2016

I recently found a card to the the the Zhou’s, the place uis stayed. You can find more information here www.jkwall.com

With the aid of Alli my new friend in Lijiang, I made my way to Huairou from Beijing. I took only cameras and minimal change of clothing. I took the bus and subway to Dongzhimen subway station and made my way to the Bus Station. Found the 916 Express or fast bus to Huairou. The fare for the 1 hour bus ride was less than $2.00 and the Subway so far has only been $0.66 to transfer as many times as I have needed to, quite the deal for a Westerner. The buses are $0.16 if you pay cash and if you use a transit card only $0.06!!
Alli had arranged with the Zhou’s Guesthouse in Xizhizi to pick me up at a bus stop in Huairou and with texts and 1 call was picked up. There was LITTLE to no English that matched my LITTLE to no Mandarin:) All the stops in Huairou are packed with guides looking clients for Jiankou or other sections of the Great Wall.

I arrived at the guesthouse around noon and had a light lunch ordered from their picture menu and we were set to visit the Wall at 3:30. The father a 55-year-old smoker put me through my paces as we climbed on trails until we reached the stone foundation of this section of the wall. The first step up was 1 meter high and a drag yourself up and on.

We worked our way onto the wall where the flat top section had trees and other vegetation growing from the all over and the protective walls and towers had crumbled over the past 600 plus years. There were parts of the wall that were maybe 1-2 meters wide on top. This section of the wall was built-in 1386 I believe and has never been restored. Signs posted state that this section is closed to the public, I guess I am now not public! Traveling this route saves the 20 Yuan entrance fee at Jiankou. The section of wall is 26 KM and many trekkers navigate much of the wall and will camp on the wall.

2 trekkers and my guide in the middle

There is cell service from??? I would never have attempted this without the aid of my very able guide who knew where to detour for the RIGHT vistas:) He also was a mental push for my 4 hour aerobic workout.
When we returned back to my SIMPLE yet comfortable room to wash face change into a clean dry t-shirt. Only 1 water line for sink and shower, no hot water. Had a sumptuous dinner of veggies and pork with an interesting specially, fried dough with rice, green onions and ??? Quite greasy and very tasty.

The next morning we woke at 3:30 for a different destination. We hiked off in a different direction on 1 of the many concrete paths that snake across the valley. Many of the paths are used to access the multitude of fields of corn and other vegetables and grains. Then a step off the path into the forest and over my head underbrush. All aided by head lights since it was well before the 5:00 AM sunrise. There was no moon and a dense low cloud.  I could see my breath from the high humidity. We reached the wall just after sunrise and the visibility was maybe 100 meters. We plodded off and climbed our way up to Beijing Jie a common destination.

Below Beijing Jie the destination of our Thursday morning climb.

The morning climb for sunrise that did not. Another memory for my lifelong experiences!

We hiked back to the guesthouse the same way and had a light lunch and a they returned me to a bus stop in Huairou for my return to Beijing. All in all a great day at The Great Wall, It would have been better if I could have seen a blue sky like my first time at the Wall where I walked on my birthday in 2006.

When I returned to Beijing after 2 climbs to the wall and 7 hours of hiking in around 16 hours I was 1 KG heavier I would think due to muscle gain, I hope. So far close to 4 kg dropped on my adventure.

Beijing, National Center for the Perfoming Arts 

I Arrived in Beijing in the early morning hours of Sunday July 15th. I had opted to stay close to the Airport due to late but as late as my actual arrival was. Thanks Hilton Honors! This stop on my trip was going to be at better hotels for the English help and a change in comfort level, duly appreciated:)

The next morning I headed by Subway and bus to my hotel 38km from the airport on the  opposite edge of the city. I checked into the Hilton Doubletree in the South West corner on Beijing on Ring-road 2 a 10 minute bus to the subway system.

At 4:15 in the next morning I headed by cab to the National Center for Performing Arts (NCPA) also called the Beijing Egg. I was delighted to find a clear sky and Venus close to a waning moon. Below is a capture out of camera with little LR4 adjustments. I used the 500 rule explained by Alister Benn in Seeing the Unseen. Take 500 divide it by your focal length and that is the number of seconds you can expose before stars appear to blur. This is less for larger bodies. Here is a 24mm  6 second exposure of Venus and the moon. The moon is so thin it looks fine however Venus has a very slight oval shape at several times magnifaication.

As I was leaving I met and talked to a family visiting Beijing from Shenzhen. Below is a capture of their daughter after she received a Canadian flag pin (in her left hand). For some reason I see more people posing with the peace symbol vertical or horizontal. The quintessential Chinese pose??

 

50,000,000 people live in and around Beijing and I experienced many of them on Monday when I returned from my morning shoot at the NCPA during rush hour by 2 subway lines and a bus. Talk about sardines. I will try to capture this on a sensor 1 morning before I leave.

On the way to the subway I found this tree in front of what I think is a government building. Oh the things that have happened in the life of this tree. I can hardly wait to play with layers in PS to make the subject pop.

I returned to the NCPA that evening to see if they light the building. In the morning I saw MANY lights surrounding the building I believe are used to light the structure. I had read there was a concert at 7:30 so a good chance to capture people through the north facing window wall. Here is a side view with the Great Hall of the People back left. The 10 second exposure gives the water a silky look.

Looking inside. The green looking lighted area is the glass ceiling of the main entry that goes under the water from the subway or street.

 

 

Up To Taibai Mountain 

I have a new Chinese Canadian friend, Min, who is now from Montreal via Toronto and her hometown of Xi’An. She was traveling with her mother to a town at the junction of the road that leads to Taibai Mountain. On my first day I tried to find a way to the mountain and was quoted ridiculous prices for a ride to the top. Min gave me her mom’s cell number in case I needed help and she came to the rescue. We took the bus from the lot at the junction. The fare was 30¥ each one way. Far better than he 300¥ I was quoted the day before.

Above: An Infra Red capture of a ridge line with clouds on Taibai Shan

A short distance up the road is the entrance to the Park. We all had to get off and buy our 100¥ tickets and I being a visible foreigner had to go to another building to register by filling in a form and providing my Passport number. Our bus of 22 began our journey up the mountain. We stopped at a few scenic views for for 10-15 minutes each on our assent. Our bus climbed over 5,000 feet in elevation on the 45km trip. The trip with stops took close to 2-1/2 hours. I must say the road was better than the highways in Yunnan mountains, however there are no heavy trucks or big buses using he road to degrade it.

When we arrived at the welcome center there was there was 300 stairs, so we were told, to climb. I had to register there again as a foreigner. There were cabins campers could rent along with blankets and supplies. At the top of the climb there is a gondola that goes over a crest to where? Not sure! We wandered the area where there were souvenir hawkers and plenty of vistas. A path lead us through a structure to a different vista.

Another Infra Red capture: Camper Cabins, pretty rustic!

We returned to the parking area looking for a downward bound bus. There were 3 filling, however we were told they were filled with a group. There had to be 50 other buses that had delivered people to the top and return when full or the groups time had passed. We waited on the next bus, so we were told, to go down. 2 more passengers arrived and a cab offered to return us for the same fare as the bus, so we packed 4 into a compact Chinese cab and began our downward journey. The trip took 1-1/2 hours with stops only at the required brake cooling stations where people drench cold mountain water from hoses over hot wheels and brake rotors and drums.

Min and I parted company and I returned to my room to copy images from my cameras. I visited the Shaanxi Noodle house where Min and I met at in the morning to try the special noodles I had heard about. The proprietor we met in the morning soon greeted me and offered a table outside. I ordered my noodles with la (chili). A young man from the next table asked where I was from? I replied, Canada and we began a discussion about where I have been and why am I without a translator. I was invited to their table and we continued our talk, he was with his parents and grandparents here to visit the mountain. They are all from Xi’An. We talked about Xi’An and what I where I visited. They are staying at a hotel up on the mountain road. Originally they wanted to stay on the mountain and learned here was no water on the top in the accommodations so they are staying in the valley. The proprietor said through my diner conversationalist “the meal was on the house”, not! My meal was the family’s treat, a big turn from the night before:) 

Town of Baoji with STAIRS climbed! 
 

I arrived Tuesday July 10th and had a short wander around in the very hot conditions.  I was led to believe it would be cooler around the mountains.

In the morning after my time trying to secure a Air China flight to Beijing I ventured out in search of how to visit Taibai Shan or Taibai Mountain. I have a great little hotel in the town for around $27 CDN a night with the Wi-Fi router outside my door.The down-side of my accommodation and I think this town is very few foreign visitors come here and there is nobody who can help with English and my Mandarin is pretty much no-existent! I asked at the front desk about how to visit the mountain and was pointed to the bus stop very close to the hotel. When I walk in town many people call out “sir” and then continue in Chinese, I then provide a befuddled look. My Lonely Planet phrase book is not much help either. When I walked to the bus stop there was no one with any English and they nobody wanted to help me when I asked about Taibai Shan the Chinese name. I had read in a China travel site about the bus cost and the other info so I had a point of reference. Another local privateer told me through a child they would take me up for 300 Yuan 5 times the bus rate I knew of. No way! So off I went looking to do something and I began climbing stone steps.

My climb of the steps provided a great cardio workout and and opportunity to meet with other interesting people along the way. After a few hundred steps climbed I came through a gate where I disturbed the gatekeeper from her sleeping mat. There was and 8 Yuan charge for access. The higher I climbed the closer I came to a cable car that crossed the valley. Along the way I met a mother, father and son from Xi’An as I found out with the help of hand signs and little bits of shared English and Mandarin. The cute little guy is on the right and family below. I gave the boy a Canadian Flag pin and his father put it on for him.

I continued on and walked past the cable car cutoff heading for a Temple or walled area I could see from below. As I reached the Temple a woman motioned to sit and have tea. I was also offered a woven fan to help cool myself. As we sat in the shade of the front of the Temple one of the 2 men there went into the temple and changed the music to chants and began his rituals that included ringing a bell by the Buddhas and a prescribed path around the Temple. The Temple are was in need of repair and there was piles of sand and brick all around. The wall and front entrance were also in a major state of disrepair. I wondered how they actually brought the several hundred bricks to the sight? I have 2 pictures from the Temple below, the Temple area and the man reading his verses with a bell hung above not the one he rang.

After I departed I found a slide that was not operation on the steep slope adjacent the Temple. It is the type of summer attraction you sit in and ride like a sled in a half pipe. Maybe these attractions are only open on weekends? At the cable car I found out it was 30 Yuan to cross, so the 8 was only to experience the climb!! They only run the cars when they have passengers. There are 8 gondolas on the cable 2 at each side and 4 more at the mid-point. Here is a view from the Gondola.

On the other side there were other buildings and a small Pagoda that overlooked the other side of the valley. On this side I did not encounter any people. After my wander on top I figured it was all down hill until I when straight and down instead of making a sharp right down. This path lead me to a bolted (I could see through the crack in the doors) back door of a Monastery or something of the sort as I saw a few men in robes walking around over a wall. Now another hundred and a few steps to climb.

At the now left turn it was all down VERY steep steps with no railins or hand holds other than occasional trees or stumps.

Still all in all a interesting way to explore the area around town. As I was walking back down the road a motor scooter flew by and there were ways and “Xi Jien” or goodbye from the family with the little boy:)

Now to find the reasonable way to the top.

Air China woes 
 

I figured since I am flying Air China and I am a Star Alliance Gold member why not book directly with Air China instead of www.ctrip.com. Wrong idea!!! After spending close to 3 hours trying to meet the use of a non-Chinese credit card I gave up with the bureaucracy of Air China. I must say they had an English help line and all that did was add time. They asked for a fax of the front and back of my credit card and a form with info from the card along with other info and my signature. Who uses faxes any more? I figured I could take a picture with my iPhone and e-mail to myself and fill in the form, then attach to an e-mail. The card pictures were okay and they could not open the file I filled in and returned. They did not call to say they had an issue I had to call them and they told me the file would not open. It was suggested I take a picture of the screen of my computer to send a picture. I don’t know if you have ever tried to write your signature with a mouse? It does not look normal and my signature is a scribble and rarely looks the same twice, I wrote rotten.

I figured I would try using Pages on my iPad as Mac software sometimes is easier and the iPad should be easier to write on for my signature and it is more flexible than the slightly larger than a Netbook I carry. So bought Pages from the App store and it started loading. With a pause in the middle the app was loaded in over 3 hours. Long after Air China would hold my reservation. I have to say I do have a relatively fast Internet connection at the hotel I am staying at. Maybe China traffic or server issues?

So after close to 3 hours I canceled the reservation I had with Air China and they ended up paying a commission to Ctrip for my flight.

So much for Star Alliance!!! At least in China. They were very helpful rerouting me after losing a connection on the way here.

Views from Xi’An Wall 

Monday July 11 was my last day before heading west to the Taibai Mountains. The morning started out with heavy rain and it rained on and off throughout the day. Starbucks did not have their Wi-Fi up when I stopped in after finding out only tours to Taibai are offered on weekends all others are go and venture on your own or meet up.

When the rain let up for a bit I returned to my hotel and geared up for a wander on the wall. I headed south to an entrance and then paid my 40 Yuan. I walked west first to the main southern gate that provided a view of the Bell Tower from the south. With the rain and humidity it was not a great view. In the circle the Colours of Yunnan Hotel or Restaurant was quite stunning.

From the wall you can look into the old city with ease. Here are 2 shots of a street vendors selling various goods and passers by.

What to buy?

There are many people walking, cycling and for those who want to see the 16km with out breaking a sweat there are the electric carts. Here are some fun shots of some of the people I captures from various as I headed east then to the main gate on the east wall.

Son takes pics while mom works and stays dry.

His wife does not understand the concept of tandem, and there is a steep up-slope ahead!

Only pedestrians or bikes to hit up here! Don’t try on streets with killer cars.

Smiles:)

For those who would rather be driven.

I cannot read the Tagline for the ad. Mine would be think outside the box.

The Terracotta Army 

It has been over 6 years since I last visited the Emperor Qin’s Terracotta Army. As with all of China nothing stands still except for broken clocks or statues. When we visited this place in April 2006 we took a planned tour from the hotel we were staying at. Hotel to van to sight.

This trip is a horse of a different colour and we walked the 30 plus minutes to the main Xi’An train station just out side the wall at the Northeast corner of the old city. The tourist map said the #5 (306) bus will go to the warriors and has 22 stops for a one way price of 7 Kuai or Yuan and about a 75 minute trip. The bus ride was full and it was comfortably air-conditioned. At the sight we were dropped off at the main road and ventured in through the still closed souvenir shops and restaurants. I did not remember this from the past as it may not have been there or we went in a different way.

Purchasing tickets was also another new experience. When we arrived, the ticket booths were closed with polished stainless steel filigreed shutters. It was a lottery to pick which line to enter and guess which window would be manned. After purchasing our tickets we walked by even more closed shops that would be open for our departure. The first ticket check entry was into the courtyard around the main sight. A few minutes later we encountered another ticket check and punching point followed by a walk through metal detectors. With camera and lenses in backpack I walked through with no alarms??

Upon entering the main sight we proceeded to Pit 1 other than the crowds I did not see much different. Below is an image from Pit 1.

On the left side of the pit I found 1 of the warriors looking right at what could be the side of the column or the ledge.

In Pit 3 the there was a moment from a nursery rhym that came to mind “All the King’s horses and all the Kings men….” This is how all of the warriors have been found with the exception of 1. They need to gather the pieces from the area and fit then together.

We proceeded to the Museum with its grand entrance and staircase down to the exhibits. Walking into the building was an assault on my sense of hearing! The din of voices and guides trying to speak or yell over other guides. The noise came from every corner. When Barb and I last visited we had much of the the Museum to ourselves with our tour partners and guide. It was virtually impossible to view the displays in the area where the funeral coach was. I figured the only way to capture the scene was a video. Here is a link to a 49 second clip of the noise in the dark of the Museum. This is the my first attempt to shoot video with an SLR, so pardon focus etc.

Xi’An Warriors Musem Din

Xi’An, Martial Arts and Lotus Blossoms 

On Saturday July 7th we headed to Tang Paradise a park devoted to the history and spirit of the the Tang Dynasty. This park is south of Xi’An and about a 40 minute ride from Zhong Lou circle on the K609 bus that was comfortably air conditioned. As we entered the park there was a Kung Fu demonstration. Below man is suspended on three spears. Do not try this at home!

Later in our visit We encountered another martial arts show. These young men were both agile and acrobatic. I caught several images of the men in the air here are a couple!

There is so much water and statuary dedicated to the poets of the the time and both the leaders and women. There were so many Lotus Flowers as well as Water Lilies in many of the streams and ponds throughout the park. The flat light did not provide a nice sky however it was great for soft light on the plant life and statuary. All images have only received minimum processing in Lightroom 4.1.

 

 

 

First Full Day in Xi’An 
 

The weather here is much hotter and humid than it was in Lijiang. I arrived mid afternoon on the 4th of July. There were no fireworks or flag waving. I wonder why??    

Not:)

I visited the Bell Tower and Drum Tower each offers a musical presentation with period instruments. Below is an image of the Bell Tower taken at night with a 13 second exposure. There are hundreds of Swifts buzzing both towers. No way to capture at night. I met a man with his children from Hong Kong who informed me that the nests from these birds are the edible ones.

There is a market street on the north side of the Drum Tower that is active in the day and at night the crowds are multiplied. I found the street that leads to the Mosque and I am not thin enough to snake my way through the throngs. Found a stand where I purchased a Corned Beef type meat on a small pita for about $1.00 from a group of Muslim women. Also great Plum juice for refreshment.

I was taking long exposure images of the street and I became an attraction. Many Chinese lined up behind me to see what I was capturing. I met a couple from Slovenia who are traveling and discussed sights and . experiences. Several adults with little English either made thumbs up signs or  smiled. A group of university students wanted me in the picture with the group and then asked me to take a picture for them as a group. Funny no common “peace symbols” from this group! A young teenager with her father shadowed me for quite a time. He was very interested in my photography and the daughter was his translator.

Here is a 15 second exposure the street with a man watching the crowd go by.

Jin Sha River First Bend 

On Friday June 29th we went north from Zhongdian (Shangri La) heading for Deqin and Feilai Si. Just after the city of Ben Zi Lan the Jin Sha River takes an impressive bend around a mound in the landscape. After heading north we crossed a 4,200 meter pass before descending into Deqin. I think this might be the highest I have been without being airborne!

The image below is a 7 image panorama and was stitched in Photoshop. Contrast was the first concern before working on colours. Colour and structure was aided with the use of Channel Masks and and a new use of LAB colour profiles. The workflow steps were learned from Alister Benn of Available Light Images.

Far Corner of Yunnan China 

We traveled to the pretty much as far as one can travel without the required documents to actually enter Tibet. Deqin is a small city in North West Yunnan Province. 10 km south west lays the town of Feilai Si where the Feilai Si Temple is. Close by is the Meili Xueshan mountain range. We were blessed with a reasonably clear view of the 6,740 meter peak. This time of year it is not normal to see the peaks without cloud cover. We were blessed to find much of the mountain clear when we arrived in the afternoon of June 29th. This was the second time the peak was visible in weeks and I was able to put to practice some of the wisdom and techniques imparted on my by Alister Benn of Available Light Images. This image has received very little manipulation and only in Lightroom 4.

The image was captured through the open window of my “Interesting” hotel room. A 16 minute exposure with light provided by the moon at 11:15 at night.

“JD” finally shows more! 

After 4 days the elusive Jade Dragon Snow Mountain revealed some of its peak Tuesday evening. I have some images that require work so I will show a Pano taken on my iPhone with the Der Man Dar App. The city of Lijiang rests in the shadow of Jade Dragon  Snow Mountain an amazing peak, so I am lead to believe. Jade Dragon is pretty much to the right of the center of the image, hiding behind the big bank of clouds.

To add drama to the moving clouds we worked with a Circular Polarizer to add 1-1/2 stops and either a 3 stop or 10 stop neutral density filter to add to exposure length. I expect to post an image from Tuesday night or another success in a future post.

There is a great amount of patience required to tease the best out of long exposures. Mirror lock-up (Canon buries the option in Menus where Nikon provides a simple switch!) I have since added to My Menus to avoid the drilling into Menus. Canon wins with the new “Q” button on the 7D and 5D MKIII. Some sort of remote control helps remove the chance of camera shake and most important a SOLID Tripod.

An educated guess will provide a good starting point for a test image. You can see how much data you are capturing and then adjust accordingly. It will usually take 1 to 2 stops of over exposure to bring the best out of clouds. When working with heavily stopped down exposures focus on your subject without your filters and then turn off Auto Focus, then reattach your filters. With a 10 stop ND filter you cannot see anything through the viewfinder.

Even though JD did not show its stuff this still was a great learning exercise.

Day 3 Lijiang 

For the 3rd day clouds have obscured Jade Snow Mountain. Alister and I rode into Lijiang on the electric bike for some night or predawn images.

Here is an image from our Monday morning shoot. Lijiang Old Town before sunriseWe were talking about the idea of many who believe you have to get it right in camera. Another thought is to get all the data you can save in the images or captures for post process.

There are so many things you need to remember when doing night photography. A few points are take a evaluative exposure to check focus. Focus then select manual focus so you don’t have your camera hunting for focus when exposing. Remote release a must or at least 2 second delay and make sure your shadows are our of the frame. I found the red light from the Canon 5D MKIII is so bright and may reflect a red colour cast, I used some gaffer tape to cover the light.

If you are interested in more information about night photography here is a link to Alister’s  web site and his e-books http://availablelightimages.com/seeing-the-unseen/ 

Visualization Tool 

Several years ago I took part in a Great American Photo Workshops workshop.One of the participants provided participants with a great tool or aid.

Using an old 35mm slide mount on a string enables the photographer to view in the standard aspect ratio of most digital SLR cameras.

When I lead a photo outing I will ask participants to leave their cameras othe car and only bring the viewer and their tripods. All too often we as photographers walk into a scene and plant the tripod with the lens that is already on the camera or the favorite lens and begin captures.

To purposely make images it is best to walk the area with your viewing tool

Film Full Frame 35MM Aspect Ratio

and look for the best compositions. Once you are satisfied you plant your tripod and retrieve your camera with the appropriate lens. There are 2 scales on each mount. Pictured here is the Film side and the Digital of original unit I have carried for more that 6 years. The digital side uses the Nikon 1.5 crop factor for ease of math. The Canon 1.6 or 1.3 are close and a good start.

When using these tools you can look through the Void in the mounts and once you have the composition you want you then hold the string to your eye and then calculate the distance from the mount to your eye.This measure provides you with the approximate lens you will need to make your image.

FIlm or FullFrame 35MM

I have used a permanent marker to put a coloured scale on the crop or view tool. The measurements are all 1″, 2″, 4″ and 8″ for Full Frame and 1-1/2″, 3″, 6″ and 12″ for Digital.

Try using this device to previsualize your image making rather than planting your tripods and then hoping you have the right spot.

Please excuse the image quality. I took these images in the lounge at Heathrow with my iPad and then sent to laptop top post.

Lijiang My first stop in China 

Several years ago I saw a CCTV program on Lijiang while in China. I have now learned it is a UNESCO city in the mountains of South West China. A few months back I saw a post from Alister Benn of Available Light Images on Google + and a light went on. Here is a link to Alister’s page http://availablelightimages.com/lijiang/

Here is the view from Alister’s and Junali’s home.

I will be studying and traveling around the area of Lijiang for my first week. Alister is active on Google + https://plus.google.com/117538315488626912884/posts  and Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Available-Light-Images/155834447765181

I hope to be posting regularly from China. I have now subscribed to a VPN service to enable posting and communicating from China.

Gear in the Bag 
What is in the ThinkTank

In the Bag.

For the trip A roll-a-board thinkTANK Airport TakeOff bag that converts to backpack. It is quite heavy when loaded.

  1. Canon 5D MKIII with Kirk L-Bracket. Kirk was kind enough to supply a raw aluminum bracket so I would have in time for this trip! Thank you so much. They will swap when I return. Maybe I should keep the aluminum as a 1 of a kind??
  2. Canon 7D with Battery Pack and Really Right Stuff L-Bracket (Back-up)
  3. Canon SD800 Converted to Infra Red by Life Pixels
  4. Canon SD960 Converted to Super Color IR by Life Pixels
  5. Canon 50MM 1.8 EF II Below 25mm Extension Tube
  6. Canon 10-22MM EF-S
  7. Canon 24-70MM 2.8 L
  8. Canon 70-200MM 2.8 IS L below Pocket Wizard TT1 and TT5 triggers
  9. Canon 1.4X II Converter
  10. Canon 430 EXii Flash
  11. Canon 580 EXii Flash
  12. Assorted Remotes, filter wrenches, CF and SD cards. 5 in 1 Reflector
  13. Really Rights Stuff BH-40 Ball Mount
  14. Induro AX-214 alloy tripod

This is probably too much however when I am venturing half way around the world I don’t want to think I wish I had…. and I know right where it is.

I will be carrying a small notebook with Lightroom 4.1 and Photoshop CS5 for viewing and editing some of the work in China.

Catalyst for journey 

I am about to embark on a 6 week photographic journey to China. I will be posting here when I am able showing some of my work as it is gathered.

My reason for travel to China in June and July 2012

Next destination?

This is the catalyst image for my trip. In 2005 I traveled to China on 1 of the 10 times I was there for business. I captured this image with a Canon Elph 4 Mega Pixel point and shoot camera from across the parking lot at a service center in South China. This trip I will have cameras for high quality image capture.

This man is peddling a tricycle that is weighed down with close to 800# or 350 KG of fuel! There are so many answers to learn from so many questions:

  • How far will he travel to deliver?
  • How long has he been doing this?
  • How much does he earn?
  • Where does he live?
  • How many people does he provide for?
  • Many other questions….

China is full of modern and old ways. My goal is to capture some of the many aspects of old and new before some of the old disappears.

 
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