Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Black card and Nose-tip

Nose-tip corner (Bitou Cape, 鼻頭角) is part of the Northeast Coast National Scenic Area.  The area covers the Pacific sea coast of northeast part of Taiwan.  It used to be very difficult to get to.  Now the Snow Mountain Tunnel linking Taipei to Ilan and Express Way 62 linking Highway 3 to Rueifang are open to traffic, the area is much more accessible.  We went on Saturday (2008/8/2) after the 福州乾麵 and 燒餅油條 breakfast.  I mainly wanted to try some landscape photographies which involved a lot of sky. The sky and sea was as pretty as Mediterranean Coast of South of France, where we used to live.  It was again a very hot day, both of us were fully equipped for the photography, but not swimming.  The South Dragon Hole Recreation Park, where some of the pictures were taken had three sea water swiming pools, but the facility looked like a ruin, all shops were closed.  We had sea food lunch at one of the many small harbors alone the coast.  It was not bad, but we can easily had the same thing in Taipei for the same price.  After all, it was only an hour away from the center of the city.

Something which is very old fashioned and very Taiwanese, I am not talking about 福州乾麵 and 燒餅油條, I am talking about the Black Card Trick that Taiwanese Photographers use for reducing the light from the sky in order to balance the exposure between sky and landscape.  It is a skill left over from the film era.  The reading of the Black Card Trick was what triggered this trip.  The Exposure Blending technique used in the dark room is for the same purpose, which involves taking at least two pictures of the same theme with two different exposures.  For the digital age, we will do exposure bracketing using a tripod as the old day or using high speed exposure bracketing (6 frames per second or faster) hand-held then process the images on computer using Exposure Blending technique or creating High Dynamic Range Image (HDRI) with tone mapping to achieve the desired results.  However, the new Nikon with active D-lighting switched on actually is able to capture all the detail in the high light and shadow area that we encountered in a single photograph.  With a little help of Capture NX to selectively lighten up the foreground and darken the sky, we are quite alright.  I shall try all these exotic techniques next time.  

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