Trash The Lens

Journeys and photos

Hong Kong Fog

That really wasn't the day for visiting the Big Buddha. At least not for all those people who like taking postcard-like photos and selfies in front of famous landmarks. I, on the other hand, have enjoyed it very much. If it wasn't for the fog, it would have been just another tourist spot with crowds flowing through, doing their tourist stuff. But with a fog like that it became something completely different. I couldn't see the people, I could barely make out the outlines of buildings, I even lost sense of direction once just walking around Ngong Ping Piazza.

Hong Kong Fog

This was supposed to be just a way to kill time before my flight out, but it became one of the highlights of this trip. (2016-04-14 Lantau Island, Hong Kong)

Hong Kong Noir

On my last day in Hong Kong I went to Lantau Island to see the Tian Tan Buddha. I took the MTR to Tung Chung, changed to Ngong Ping 360 cable car and went up the mountain. The higher I got, the denser the fog (smog?) became. Up to the point, where at the top of the mountain the visibility was limited to no more than a few meters. Literally, standing at the base of the Big Buddha statue I couldn't see the top of it! But there is an upside to such weather as well: it makes for eerie and atmospheric photos.

I generally don't do street photography, but sometimes the circumstances are such that it would be a shame not to take a shot.

Hong Kong Noir

Believe it or not, this isn't a night shot. It was taken sometime around noon! (2016-04-14 Lantau Island, Hong Kong)

Across Victoria Harbour

Hong Kong, the "Fragrant Harbour". At least that's what the name translates to. I can't help but wonder if it shouldn't be perhaps renamed to "Smoggy Harbour". This would be closer to reality. Don't get me wrong, I loved the city, it's wonderful in its own unique and quirky way. The elevated walkways cutting through office towers, the hiper-dense residential areas and the waterfronts. A blend of British and Chinese. But the combination of a humid, subtropical climate and the pollution being blown in from mainland China makes it sometimes really hard to bear. The air feels just... sticky.

Definitely one of the highlights of Hong Kong is its skyline when viewed across Victoria Harbour. Contrary to Singapore, where the CBD seems relatively compact if seen from Marina Bay area, the Hong Kong skyline is more of a panoramic. Stretched along the shore, but also much more distant.

While it would be nice to see it on a clear day through crisp air, I don't think it would feel authentic. It's the foggy, smoggy, humid and hot evenings that are in my mind what current day Hong Kong is all about.

Hong Kong Skyline

They have no regard for us, poor photographers, struggling to find a composition that works. They could have at least kept the buildings more or less equal in height! ;-) (2016-04-12 Hong Kong)

Nusfjord

It was one of those ugly days when it's neither winter nor spring, the snow was thawing, rain started to pour and just getting out of the bed seemed like a hard thing to do. But I had to drive from the wonderful village of Ã… to the not-so-wonderful Ballstad, so I decided to drop by Nusfjord on my way there. At first it seemed overrated. I strolled around depressed by the weather, got bored, and even played a harmless prank on a guy who was changing shoes leaning against my rental car. I remotely turned on the noisy parking heater which scared the hell out of him.

I did two circles around the village without even taking my camera out and headed for the car, disappointed. But then I came across this location and suddenly it all clicked into place. I knew I had to get as high as I could to separate the rorbu houses from the cliff in the back, and I also had to make it a long exposure so that the water would look as featureless as the sky to make the rorbus and the cliff stand out as main subjects. So here it is.

Nusjord, Lofoten Islands, Norway

I didn't like the image at first, but it grew on me and now I think it's one of the better ones from this trip. (2016-03-01 Nusfjord, Lofoten Islands, Norway)

Fushimi-Inari

When the night falls and the crowds are all gone, this becomes a truly mystical place... Fushimi-inari, just a short train ride from Kyoto station.

I climbed up there during the day to find out what to expect. It was interesting, but to be honest, it didn't exactly blow me away. It was just too crowded for me to fully appreciate it. But when the night fell I gave it another shot, and this time it was amazing. Hardly a soul passed by, the torii were scarcely lit, the place felt like something out of a dream. Or a Miyazaki's movie.

Fushimi-inari

The photo wasn't particularly difficult to take, but was an immense pain to process. Whenever I had the white balance correct for the highlights, the shadow areas went all wacky, and vice versa. (2014-11-16 Fushimi-Inari, Kyoto, Japan)

On the edge

For my image processing workflow there are two major features missing in current versions of GIMP: support for images with more than 8 bits per channel and adjustment layers. Today I decided to check out GIMP's non-stable, development version 2.9.1 (commit a545a4b) and I was positively surprised. Not only does it support 16-bpp (and more) but it is also multi-threaded. While still slower compared to the stable version running 8-bpp single-threaded, it is quite usable running on E6550@2.33GHz. Also, it finally has a real "overlay" layer mode, as opposed to "soft light pretending to be overlay" in the stable version. Here's an image I took in Shimbashi, Tokyo on my last year's trip to Japan, and processed today with GIMP. 16-bpp end to end.

Shimbashi

Still, no adjustment layers... (2014-11-21 Simbashi, Tokyo, Japan)

3...2...1... Blastoff!

Here is another example of the wonderfully quirky architecture of Tokyo. This one is the Tokyo Big Sight, an exhibition center located in Ariake, a region adjacent to Odaiba. I took the Yurikamome ride to Tokyo Bay area one evening specifically to see and photograph this building and I wasn't disappointed. This whole area is relatively empty in the evenings and with the wide streets and sparse build-up it feels completely different from the other parts of Tokyo.

Tokyo Big Sight

Why would anyone build an exhibition center in the shape of a rocket engine is beyond me, but it just looks so cool! (2014-11-19 Ariake, Tokyo, Japan)

Monochromatic Rainbow

Despite its name, Rainbow Bridge is illuminated plain white most of the time with the colorful illumination reserved for special events like Christmas and New Year. That was my second attempt at photographing it and this time I got lucky with the boats staying relatively still and adding some interest to the water. I'm still not 100% happy with the framing but it is actually quite hard to fill a 3 by 2 from Odaiba. A more panoramic format would be much easier, but I'm really used to the classic ratio. Maybe excessively used to...

Rainbow Bridge

Oh yeah, they should have erected the Tokyo Tower someplace else to balance the view, shouldn't they? ;-) (2014-11-19 Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan)

Escher's Opera

When you go on a journey to Iceland, you go for the landscapes, right? That's what I thought, and it is generally true, but there's more to this wonderful country than just the scenery. On the last day of my trip I had several hours to kill in Reykjavik between returning a rental car and my flight out. The weather was bad and I was tired, so I had to find something indoors. That's when I remembered I've never been inside Harpa, the Reykjavik's concert hall and conference center.

It may not be as stunning as Tokyo International Forum Building, but still is a very interesting structure. The entry is free and I've seen a tour group or two zipping through, without taking the time to actually explore this brilliant piece of architecture. Shame on them.

Reykjavik Opera House

Ok, it's not an Escher's Triangle, but close enough. (2015-06-07 Reykjavik, Iceland)

Falls less travelled

Whenever I plan a trip to a scenic country I use several resources: guide books, geo-tagged photos found on the web and, what I've recently added to my toolbox, waterfall databases. The latter allow me to add additional points of interest to my itinerary, which sometimes happen to be little gems unknown to the wider public. And here is one example of such. Somewhat off the beaten track, apparently this waterfall doesn't even have an official name. There's not even a path leading to it from a nearby rest-stop. In order to find it, you must know beforehand it exists. But if you do, it's just a matter of following down a stream.

Sometimes this waterfall is referred to as Selvallafos because a nearby lake is called Selvallavatn. (2015-06-03 Snæfellsness Peninsula, Iceland)