Thursday, September 20, 2012

Amphawa Floating Market & Lightroom 4

Amphawa Floating Market, located in the province of Samut Songkharn, west of Bangkok. It is a famous tourist destination during weekend for city dwellers to get out of Bangkok for a day. I went there and took the photographs on the 1st of October, 2011. Until now, I have kept the whole photo sets in archive and here is why.

One of the shot I wanted to take was from a bridge over the river going through floating market itself. The time was late in the afternoon ans I was staring directly at the sun to take the photo. What I did was to take 3 bracketed exposures and merge them in HDR program. I was shooting hand-held at 8 fps, but the results weren't quite good enough. All the shots were't aligned perfectly. So the HDR plan was a no-go. Here's one of the shot of the bracketed exposure with no exposure compensation.

The details in the sky and the market in the shades were lost and it didn't capture the feel of the time and place as I remembered it. The sun was blazing hot and the light would hit the corrugated metal roofs and reflected off them making the already quite harsh weather even more so. And the market along the river, while mostly in shades, was never dark. I could see all the people and all the bustling activities you would expect from a weekend market. The photograph shown here wasn't what I saw back then.

Enter Adobe Lightroom 4...

Since I started shooting RAW, I have only use the Canon Raw editing software. But recently I got to try Lightroom for my assignment (which you can read here and here), and I was AMAZED at the things I can do with my RAW files. Long story short, came across this file so I gave it a try, see what I can come up with. And here is the result.

Now I am one happy photographer!

It is an eye-opener what can be done with post-processing. The photo now looks a lot closer to what I remembered seeing on the bridge, the sun-baked rooftops and the busy shoppers hiding under the shade, away from the sun. Everything just looks more alive now, like a real market supposes to be.

When I take photographs I want to capture the scene as I see it. That means I do very little post-processing (tiny adjustment on exposure or contrast), or in this case a lot more post-processing. The point here is to overcome some technical limitation of my camera where the sensor cannot 'see' all the details or the dynamic range that my own eyes can see. In such a case, post-processing can help me achieve the final photograph that I want...the scene as I can see it with my own eyes.