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Death Valley, California
Posted By: lihang, 01-10-2009, 11:08 PM

Just got back from a trip to Vegas, drove to Death Valley for an afteroon and got a few pictures:

Badwater salt flats, the second hottest place on earth

Another one of badwater, with actual water

zabriskie's point

Mesquite sand dunes. It was tons of fun to climb, but was 90% moonlight by the time we reached the top

Mesquite sand dunes again

Another one

Another one, my favourite

I just updated my Flickr, so if you like what you see, leave me some love on there! Thanks.

As always, criticism is welcomed and encouraged
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01-10-2009, 11:17 PM   #2
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I also went to Hoover's Dam for an afternoon, which was only 40 min away from Vegas. They have beautiful sunsets down there. Here's what I have:

Part of a new bridge they are building. The lit up pylons are I believe to support the cables that suspend the bridge.

Another shot of the bridge

The actual dam

A thing to prevent overflow of the dam I think
01-11-2009, 12:03 AM   #3
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Very good Lihang, I also like the last one of the first series, that shot deserves a wall somewhere.

Thanks for sharing.
01-11-2009, 12:05 AM   #4
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great shots! the colours are really nice!
my favourite is the 3rd photo!
Sorry if this is a dumb question but did you do any post processing to the photos?

01-11-2009, 12:44 AM   #5
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The 2nd, fourth and the 5th shot are very very good pictures.

I really love the texture from the ground. Very unique look to the rendering.
01-11-2009, 12:45 AM   #6
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Nice series, Lihang. Great colours and use of pattern & line. Well composed
01-11-2009, 01:05 AM   #7
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thanks for the comments.
It's not a stupid question. In short, yes I use the following post processing techniques in photoshop:
-color balance (in curves)
-contrast (in curves)
-sharpening (smart sharpen tool)
-barrel distortion correction (in lens correction)
-vignetting removable (in lens correction)
-image tilt (in lens correction)

but while we're disussing post processing, I thought I'd write my thoughts on it.
my theory on post processing is this:
First of all, what is photography? Is it reality? Is it an art? To me, photography is a combination of both. I try to capture reality in a way that is beautiful. I try to find beauty in the world.
It doesn't matter what camera, whether digital or film, you use, it will never be reality. "Reality" are just photons of light. What and how each person sees those photons is even different because we perceive them differently. Different lenses and films or image processing algorithms will also process them differently. Monitor calibrations and ambient lighting when you're viewing film also vary. So I gave up long time ago in trying to take a picture that's "real", because this is impossible.
Art is what is beautiful. To me, a beautiful photograph must be believable. For example, a super-saturated, pop-art sort of picture might be beautiful, but I don't think that's what photography is, and it's not my style.
Thus, I use subtle post processing to enhance what the picture looks like, to what I perceive as "real", and sometimes a bit improved to what I believe is beautiful but still believable. For example, a sunset will sometimes look better, depending on the foreground, when it's a little bit more saturated.
I also use post processing to compensate for the faults of the lens and camera. For example, I use the 18-250 lens for most of my photos because it is relatively cheap, and I typically only need to carry that one lens and go from wide to telephoto without changing lenses. But the lens has heavy vignetting, poor contrast and saturation when shooting it at large apertures at the extreme ends of its focal length. The camera i use, K10D, is also known to soften images.

Photographers using film have been doing this for decades in the darkroom and with filters, requiring much more skills, time, and money:
-color balance: they use color filters
-saturation and contrast: Fuji Velvia slide film, the film chosen by the majority of landscape photographers, is very warm, saturated, and contrasty.
-sharpness: There is no tool I know of that will sharpen a film photo, except care and technique in making the photo
-they also use burn and dodge to selectively darken or lighten selected areas of the image.

So in conclusion, yes I use post processing, but I think it takes skill and creativity to do it right, and composition, lighting, hard work, etc etc. are much more important to the final image than editing. So I don't mind sharing what I use for post processing.
01-11-2009, 04:17 AM   #8
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I really like the geological photos, they are very documentary as well as beautiful!

01-11-2009, 04:30 AM   #9
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hey lihang,
thanks for sharing your views on post processing and more importantly, photography!
I agree with you views and I hope that I did not offend you when I asked about post processing. The fact that you did apply PP techniques does not devalue your photos or ability at all.
I'm currently a graphic design student and am all for PP (as long as it's not over-done)
Needless to say, your photos turned out excellent and I look forward to seeing more of your photos in the future!
01-11-2009, 05:30 AM   #10
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Great shots here. I really like #3 in the sunset series.
01-11-2009, 08:23 AM   #11
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The dessication cracks in the second last of the first group is my favourite. Very cool
01-11-2009, 10:18 AM   #12
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hey juicebox,
I was not offended at all. I just had those thoughts while I was in the shower and I needed to write them down.
If you want to see more of my pictures, check out my flickr site:
Flickr: lihang1's Photostream
I'm going to be updating that from now on, since I find it's a lot easier to upload to flickr than to this forum.

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