Embrace foggy situation in Hong Kong

On my last post, i was talking about the fog in Hong Kong. I mentioned how about the downside of the encounter with it. How i adjust my mindset to turn it into a more enjoyable and positive experience.

On that same trip, i make a journey to visit the largest seating Buddha in Hong Kong, “Tian Tan Buddha” in Chinese. This is one of the main attraction points in Hong Kong on Lantau Island. `

Unknown to the foggy situation again, i happily took the MTR from Hong Kong Island to Lantau Island. Then i brought the expensive ticket for a glass bottom, rounded trip on the Ngong Ping 360 cable car – only to find that i am surrounded by thick fog. “What a great way to begin my adventure again”, i thought. For your info, on a clear day, the top offers a stunning 360 degree of panoramic view.

Rather than being sian (bored), i only can embrace this kind of weather presented to me. There is always a positive and negative side to everything. My positive end was to see the moment in a different manner, i quickly learn to see the street/travel moment differently in this type of foggy situation. The fog presented me in a unique way for me to see and photograph.

I remembered having a delicious vegetarian food for a small price at Po Lin Monastery. I enjoyed the atmosphere as i loved to blend into the local culture. If i can speak a little Cantonese i would be able to blend in better, it wasn’t a big problem anyway.

After filling up my stomach, i have the strength to move around Big Buddha area. I see the area in a very quiet way, mainly because there was not much of tourist crowd in this foggy condition. I almost have the entire place to myself. My pictures here were seen in a blurry state. I only can focus on a single subject in the scene, i later realize that single subject stand out well in this heavy fog rather than having different layers of scene. The weather was so foggy that I can’t see the Big Buddha even from a mere 100m until i climb up 268 steps up.

2 nuns were standing there having their conversation for quite a while, i stood there to make some pictures, I was hopeful to be a ninja infront of them. :p

On the platform of the Big Buddha looking up, seems like everything happen for a reason in life.

The bronze statue of the six Devas making offering to the Buddha, another three on other side.

A woman putting her palm together and walking around the huge circular platform in a quiet and respectful manner.

Wisdom Path transported me to the old Chinese dynasty.

You know what – i would love to return here again on my next trip to do a bit of trekking. Most likely i will take a bus up instead of the cable car unless the weather is in super blue hue. It is worth the money to take the cable car for the first-timer, but you are strongly advised to pre-book a ticket through the website as it may get really crowded on a good season. Another reason is there will be maintenance day or even bad weather where the cable car station will be closed. You wouldn’t want to have a wasted trip. There are other option to go up by a bus or taxi.

If you are heading to Hong Kong for the first time to make travel pictures. I have many awesome Hong Kong travel photography pictures if you like to see and be inspired.

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Visit an Ancient City – Kirtipur

About 5km away from the city in Kathmandu, Nepal. The taxi arrived at the entrance of a rustic city. I thought i was in a time machine; transported back to the beginning of an old era. It felt kinda of unfamiliar when i stepped on the sandy path of Kirtipur. Oh ya, i had this feeling of a cowboy stepping into the town, yes that’s the feeling. Yes, i am going to spend a day here in Kirtipur!

The beautiful pictures of Kirtipur i have reviewed on travel books and the internet; seems like miles away from what i had imagined. Only the best visual picture is selected by the editor to make it into the travel guide, online pictures that have good keywords and most visited website will reflect immediately on top of the search engine. Trying to give a good impression.

“Is adventure time”, i thought. One of the first sights i witness was the living condition of the local community. Houses there were truly made of bricks from scratch. I wonder how long have these houses stood over time? I was questioning myself can i even live in here? But what matter is to have an open-minded mind and soak in this atmosphere.

 

The neighbourhood (pictures above) was almost dead quiet, even though there were clothes hanging out. I guess people in the household are out for work in the city.

I met a local woman (pic above) along the way, with a sickle in her hand. Her back was carrying a basket of vegetable, i guess she may have just finished her work in the field. I boldly approached her for a picture and she kindly agreed.

I basically wandered around without any specific location i wish to go, but try to keep track where is my bearing. Weather in Dec is basically cooling, i was barely breaking a sweat after much walking in the valley. I stumbled upon a temple (pic above); known as Kagyu Institute for Buddhist studies (KIBS). I strolled into the premises to have a curious look. Surprisingly, i was welcome by a local nun. I made my usual prayers in the temple and was invited to their dining hall to have a lunch – i met a group of people in the hall and they were speaking in Singlish and Mandarin, i chatted with them and confirmed my guess they are from Singapore. Damn small world! I would never have imagined seeing people from my country coming to this part of the city for a trip, it seems so surreal at that moment. We exchanged pleasantry before they head back for their religion study. While i had my meal, wash up the culinary, make a donation before i leave. At least i have some good energy for more wandering in this ancient city.

 

Met a local man had this thick bamboo stick shouldering on him. Smiling for my camera while he walked past. To make someone smile, you must always smile first to make the first connection.

 

 

 

A local tiny provision shop that packs all necessity for the local market demand.

 

 

 

 

A pond filled with the alga.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Domestic animals such as rooster, ducks, and dog captured along the walk. (pic above)

A man standing at ease standing so close to the fence viewing his city

This was the beautiful scenery (pic below) the man was viewing

Kirtiour is not the most exciting place to visit, but if you love a good walk of a rustic and charming ancient city, this is the place you must go if you visit Kathmandu, Nepal. Is only less than a 30 mins drive to reach. I wouldn’t mind coming back again if the opportunity arises. Less than a day spent here is sufficient. I ride on a local bus back to Kathmandu as advised by the local, it was a very squeezy, bumpy journey i can never forget; great experience.

Do check out my photo gallery of Kirtipur.

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Why I Love Architecture Photography

Dear Readers,

Many years ago, i was admiring at pictures of the building that was presented vertically straight. I compared my building picture i took and it was not as impressive at all. At least is horribly wrong!

The building pictures i took, look distorted and in a converging manner. I thought, “What the hell am i doing it wrong?”  I saw how a friend who is now an architect took such awesome pictures of the buildings when he travels. He is sharing pictures of building in a straight, vertical perspective manner. I began to ponder how did he do it? I was absolutely drawn by the picture he had taken. I remembered many years ago, i was working with an agency in Vietnam, i sat down with the person in charge to do a review. He told me this particular picture was in distortion, but i just couldn’t see it, then i realize i haven’t yet to understand how perspective works on a deeper level.

Clark Quay Central was one of the first few picture i capture using a wide-angle lens and photoshop technique. Picture made in 2014

I did not ask my friend how did he take those nice architecture pictures. Instead, i went online to search for information, watched numerous videos on Youtube about architecture and interior photography. I learned to understand how perspective work. Without using the expensive tilt-shift lens, i began to experiment with my wide angle lens and doing editing work behind the scene.

Below are a few videos i used to study on how these photographers compose a scene and editing in their workflow.

  1. Jeremy Segal was my first favorite on Youtube. Do check out his Youtube channel if you want to learn more on his workflow from the start of scouting, taking picture and to the editing.

2. Serge Ramelli is a hyper energy photographer in his channel. I like the way he shared about the ‘secret’ information about editing in Lightroom, i particularly enjoy how he speaks with a passion which can be affections to me. Although he is a french, his English is very articulate. Below is one of my favorite video i used to watch repeatedly.

A common trait from these 2 photographers is they are using a full-frame DSLR camera with a wide-angle lens. This is why these 2 channels suit me perfectly that time. Strongly recommended if you want to have a grasp how architecture and interior photography work.

To continue, many months were spent on understanding, practicing on how to photograph a building – going to the particular spot at the right time to make the picture, making numerous trip to photograph to gain that experience, practicing it on Photoshop and Lightroom, study Julius Shulman’s idea. Over time, I realize my curiosity has somehow developed into a new skill set. I had unknowingly achieved an additional skillset in my arsenal, not just with people, industrial, event, and travel. This is something that i am very proud of to say as an achievement. I have truly grown as a photographer.

Bank of China Tower in Shanghai. Picture made in 2016
 

I started to put up some architecture and some interior work on my website. The first job i undertook was an interior assignment for a European company. I really appreciate the chance given because i did not have any prior experience in interior work. I got the chance to visit many places to do clinic interior photography. After the first job, i decided to invest in my first 17mm tilt-shift lens as more jobs request were coming in from the beloved client. I use the word “invest” is because i only buy what i need and the return of investment must be justified. I am not the kinda of photographer that always spent on gadgets and accessories. Basically, i don’t chase all the latest things released on the market, is a never-ending process, to be honest.

I am more focus on getting great pictures for the client, that matter.

With a much deeper understanding of how to make an architecture picture and perspective. I was able to carry these skill into my other genre of photography. My visual skill is brought to my industrial photography as well.

After more than a decade, I still enjoy making pictures to please myself, i get a lot of satisfaction out of it. Honestly, i don’t give too much time on Instagram or social media, somehow it doesn’t work for me, or i don’t understand how it works. I don’t care if you dislike my work, if you are inspired by it i will be happy to know. I do occasionally enter into photo competition for architecture work. Spider award in 2015 and 2016. Honestly, it doesn’t make me any famous or gaining more business, but that’s not the point.

Jack of all trades but master of none? I have to disagree with this statement. Today’s market is extremely competitive. Relying on one skill is not enough anymore. I need to be diversified in the service to the client. For each job, i put in 100% effort in the passion and dedication i had for your business need.

Continue to learn and grow everyone. Peace!

Exploring Downtown Line 3 in Singapore

15 Oct 2017 was the opening of the new 16 Downtown Line 3 stations. Like many people, i took this wonderful opportunity to check out the stations. I actually spent about 7 hours to explore all the 16 stations, i think Downtown Line 3 stations are running a combined of 21km in total.

What strikes me most, in particular, was the Bencoolen station. Because i had been going to a nearby venue for photography job for many years, i had witnessed the development of its changes. I also learnt that this is the deepest station in Singapore, surpassing Promenade MRT station at 42 metres deep. When i saw the number of escalators needed to go out or enter, i knew this must be really way below. What a fascinating engineering work.

My objectives were to make nice pictures of the station interior to share with your, enjoy what i love to do, and get to know each new place a bit better. What was even better was there were games booths at each station for the public to enjoy. Each station has a checkpoint for you to chop a stamp on a sheet of paper, collecting all 16 chops will be entitled to a free gift as well.

Each station is giving out a unique postcard relating to the station to the visiting public, i thought the postcard was beautiful and i wanted to collect all of it, but i only managed to get 2 postcards out of the 16 (i post 2 pictures here later on the next edit). There were two bomb shelters were open to the public as well, i had a glimpse of what’s inside and learn about what is ‘dry toilet’. There was also various SCDF personnel spread across the various train station to teach the public how to do CPR and attend to open wound. This is a very educational knowledge regardless of age. Thank you SCDF for imparting such valuable knowledge.

There were two public shelters opened to the public as well, this is a very rare opportunity and i had a tour to understand what is a public shelter look like. I learnt about what is a ‘dry toilet’ through the detail explanation from the SCDF personnel. There was also various SCDF personnel spread across the various train station to teach the public how to perform a CPR and attend to open wound when an emergency situation occurs. A valuable educational knowledge regardless of age. Thank you SCDF for your valuable knowledge. Do check out the list of the public shelter.

Each station has its own unique design, history and art display. The individual station is designed in a way that is related to the neighbourhood. From a photographer’s point of view, there are so many things for me to capture. But there were huge numbers of people moving in and out. Hence it is very challenging to get the best picture i had in mind.

 

Check out all the latest pictures of the Downtown Line 3 Stations

Fort Canning Station


Bencoolen Station


Jalan Besar Station


Bendemeer Station


Geylang Bahru Station

 


Mattar Station


MacPherson Station

 


 

Ubi Station


Kaki Bukit Station


Bedok North Station

 


Bedok Reservoir Station 


Tampines West Station


Tampines Station


Tampines East Station


 Upper Changi Station


Expo Station


From a technical point of view. The lighting condition doesn’t allow me to apply a fast shutter speed in the interior of all the stations. Carrying a tripod in a crowded place is kinda of troublesome, and am not even sure if a tripod is allowed until i saw a few using it? I am setting my camera to ISO3200 for 99% of the images. Honestly, the image quality is only average. People are always talking about shooting high ISO, but i dislike it because i want to preserve the colours and details. Unless my intention is turning the pictures into monochrome. Still, i will need to opt for high ISO setting depending on the situation, got to act flexibly.

I know many people had missed out the open house, the good news is there will be free rides between these new 16 stations on the 21 and 22 Oct 2017. Make sure you take this opportunity to travel with your family and friends.

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Corporate Storytelling Pictures

I almost forgot to share an industrial corporate environment i did a few months ago.

I was tasked by an overseas company to create images for a company based in Singapore. From my understanding, the local company was bought over by an overseas company, so the designated agency requires me to create some new pictures. Spare you the boring business details. Am going ahead sharing the images and explain each in detail.


Is quite rare to see an orange colour wall in the background. I like how the poster was neatly placed. I decided to place a staff right there to show her using the phone while looking into my camera. Also taking note the overall colour scheme is quite pleasing to the eye when you look at this picture, the focus point is straight on the staff. I deliberately include the corner of the laptop as a foreground to add in more depth.

 


Using a 16-35mm lens, the focus was the people in a positive discussion about the products. Items such as catalogue,, writing materials, pen, notebook were placed on the table to reflect how an actual meeting looks like, but i try not to make it clutter as well on the table. The background has a nice shelf that is placed with some company products, i had swapped some items to make it look better.

 


During a photo session. I will always give clear and specific instruction to the staff what to do. Normally, the selected staff got zero experience of being a ‘model’. With the proper guidance and instruction for my inexperience subjects. It is my job to make all of them looks naturally good on camera.

 


Another angle to use, i am capturing this scene from outside the office lobby through the window. Is like a passerby caught the scene of people inside a meeting room in the meeting. I deliberately include the sticker in the foreground as well so the focus point will be the people inside.

 

 
Arranged two staffs to stand at the office entrance to act a scene between customer and salesman talking about the product. i deliberately compose this way as i find it a very good balance. First, on the left are two persons presenting a product introduction, the background also has a nice shelf to house all the products. Next, on the right is the company logo with their tagline and corporate colour scheme in orange.

 


I did another close up of the 2 persons in conversation, with the shelf directly in the background. I just realised even the helmet right on the top of the shelf is so neatly placed.

 


Gather 3 staffs to do a group discussion looking at the computer. In the final picture, i personally like to see the three staffs smiling looking into the camera. The office staffs had previously kept the office neat for the photo shoot on the next day. This will actually accelerate the process instead of doing the arrangement on the shoot day. Because much time will be wasted too.

 


I like the row of the red cabinet that was placed at the corner of the office. There was a board on the wall that was pin-up with images of the company event.  This picture may look like a candid shot, but after taking a few pictures of both men standing there looking at the magazine, u decided to make some position adjustment to see their faces.

 

The client’s brief wanted the overall feel to look as natural as possible. So my method was to hook up the flashlight on the camera, adjust the head of the flashlight in various position to bounce the light onto the ceiling or other direction, depends on the type of effect i want, Another way is to make use of the ambient light with a slightly higher ISO.

The whole shoot i did it without any assistant because i think is manageable after having a very detail discussion with the director of the company. The entire photo session was a very positive experience for the client and myself. The agency that engaged me was satisfied with the pictures too.

Hope you like what i wrote today. Feel free to check out more of my Corporate Storytelling images.


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Pondering My Photography Style?

I was doing my routine run a few nights ago. A question that i was always pondering of: “What is my photography style?” The answer suddenly came to my mind.

I have discovered the answer to my personal photography artwork style. That night as i  was in a forested environment, the weather was almost an autumn temperature, the air was in an absolute freshness after a heavy downpour, the park was almost quiet. The answer i long searching for suddenly came to my mind.

I am squeezing time from the past and present into a single frame. 

Squeezing time from the past and present into a single frame! Honestly, that sounds like an amazing super power isn’t it? To tell my art – First, i am always capturing multiple frames and merge it into a single picture. Second, carefully selecting a scene to produce a long exposure method. Third, taking a picture with a vision of history and the present moment.

(A day without vehicles)

(Remembrance)

(Trainscape)

 (Wonder Full)

Now i think about it, throughout the years, nobody shares with me about what they like about my personal work. As for commercial work, i always ask feedback from the client. It was the usual reply, “Yes this looks great/fantastic/wonderful… bla bla bla.” That is fine because i am providing a service to your business who need to use my expertise knowledge or experience in photography to make high-quality images for their business. If the client is happy, i am happy. Always try to put me in their shoes to meet the expectation required.

Love photography
I do it because i love it, i have the passion in it. I created a picture from scratch is not because of the market demand or popularity. I created a picture through my own ideas and imagination. I want to be inspired by other great photographer’s work, check out their work too.

Find your own style
My answer to you is to keep making more pictures, create more personal projects, read up more books from those great master photographers without restricting any genre. Continuously reflect on your personal work, belief in your art, don’t be bothered whether people like it or not. Most importantly, you must enjoy the process and the final outcome. I believe your answer to your own style will eventually come.

Check out the master’s work
If you are into architecture and interior, check out Julius Shulman impressive visual. If you love street photography, Henri Cartier-Bresson is a must to understand his insight world. If you are into landscape photography, study Ansel Adam in-depth knowledge of making a landscape picture timeless.

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My unnoticeable photography projects

Because i love photography
I work on an idea that came to my mind
I use pictures to share my thoughts and imagination
This is my own unique visual art

I am grateful to receive my first publicity through Archdaily and other sources. Hidden Door was a 2 years photo project exploring the back lane in Singapore. Someone from France wanted to buy the above print after the news spread. But he said my price was too steep, giving me an art print lecture over the email. I still dream of having my Hidden Door exhibition in the local museum. An art work that local people able to relate. I never enjoy art that is too abstract or too deep of a meaning that is too profound to understand.



Illumination was my first series photo project. I remembered a friend was pointing his camera on a lighting display or ceiling light whatever you call it. The idea set me off to a series of exploration of interesting lighting design around Singapore. I still remember i was using a Canon 20D and later a 5D to document all these pictures. I suffered a neck sore for looking up for a prolonged period.


Singapore Public Art Sculpture was about seeing how the sculptures co exist with the environment. Moving around the city area to find interesting sculptures.


These Chinese Guardian Lions or stone lions were believed to have powerful mythic protective benefits. It is usually station at the entrance of a place or entrance to a building. Give you any chill?


I had this imagination of living in a day without vehicles. We breathe in clean and fresh air wherever we go. In 2016, one of the government board allows me to display my work in their public event. I was excited to make my own prints to bring it for my first exhibition. I never said it before, my first time was a horrible experience as the prints fell flat on the wet ground, my heart was immediately broken. Then the Minister (VIP) came by to visit with his entourage, his first comment was:”Wa this looks like a ghost town”.

*roll eyes*


1% inspired by Stephen Wilkes “Day to night”. An idea struck me how does it look like with train running on each track. I name it Trainscape.


Wonder Full is a project from 2015 to June 2017. Capturing the laser show of the famous Marina Bay Sands. I got to stop the project because the Wonder Full light show has come to a halt.

I reflect on my photography style after 11 years
I love taking on long-term photography project
I can be live patiently with photography
These pictures are my children

A short holiday in Ho Chi Minh City

My partner was very generous to give me a free air ticket to Ho Chi Minh City as my birthday present. Thank you dear!

I haven’t visited Vietnam since 2015 i think. This is the first time we are traveling to this Ho Chi Minh City. Much has changed in the city, the familiar walkway i used to travel is going to be removed soon, the Japanese restaurant i often patronize was gone, many shops were starting to close down, all these are due to the development of underground train.  Is kinda of sad, but the country needs to continue to develop to improve the life of the local.

I bought a DSLR camera and a tilt shift lens with me on the trip, nothing more. I was more interested in the local architecture since i took more interest in architecture after my last VN trip. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t the best throughout the trip, i didn’t bring my camera out most of the time. I only managed to make less than 15 pictures on this entire trip, and only a few pictures barely can make it.

My mindset from the start was the outcome of the picture was least important, i already knew the weather was going to be less friendly. But i want to see the local popular architecture through my camera using a tilt shift lens, i want to have a feel of it in overseas. Other than that, it was mainly bonding time, my partner and i were tasting lots of very delicious local dishes, gosh this is another food heaven country.

Only 4 pictures of architecture from Ho Chi Minh City to share and one night scene from my hotel swimming pool

A very interesting building that is filled with cafe and living space, can be seen along the street of Nguyen Hue

Palace Saigon hotel along the street of Nguyen Hue

The very famous local landmark must visit is Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon

The Myst Dong Khoi is an upscale hotel with a rooftop bar and swimming pool. I love how the building is embracing greenery all over it.

From my hotel, Liberty Central Saigon Centre Hotel. I placed my camera on the ledge to capture this night scene, probably the most difficult thing i ever did because there is no auto focus on my lens, no cable release, no tripod. Extremely hard to compose as the live view from my 5D MK II old camera is spoilt.

There are lots of hotels and budget hotels in Saigon, depending which area you wish to stay. If you are not really on a low budget, want to stay in a mid price but a good hotel. I would like to recommend you to stay at Liberty Central Saigon Centre Hotel. Is only less than a min walk to Ben Thanh Market. Lots of delicious food around the streets, In my opinion, this hotel is very centralized for me as i can head to many places easily. In the past, i was staying in backpacker street and i have to walk a pretty far distance to Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica and so on. This was also my first time swimming in a hotel pool on the roof, the view is really scenic in the night.

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Check out my Ho Chi Minh City travel pictures too.

    

 

 

Photo Walk at Pandan Reservoir

Took the chance with my partner on the weekend to go for a hike at Pandan Reservoir. This reservoir is located in the western region of Singapore. I think this is the only vast place on this island that i can feel more relaxed and to generate ideas.

Pandan Reservoir has a length of 6km. You can either walk, jog or cycle around the reservoir. Recommend you to bring a bottle of water to quench your thirst, as there is only one water station.

I brought along my 5D Mark III camera, mounted with a 70-200mm lens for the walk. I know i will be zooming in a lot rather than doing a wide-angle picture. The weather was great but hot as usual. I was ok with it, but my partner finds it a bit torturing. Thumbs up for her to complete it under the hot weather.

If you like taking pictures using your DSLR camera, and is your first trip to Pandan Reservoir. I will suggest you to bring a wide-angle and telephoto lens. There are many different viewing points as you trek along the mild sandy path.

14 pictures will be shown below


View of an industrial architecture picture, behind it is Clementi neighborhood


There is few dedicated area for the public to enjoy fishing


Another view of Fusionpolis building (center) i always wanted to capture from afar


Singapore produces the world’s largest builder of oil rig for global demand


An architecture view of the industrial logistic building


Zoom in to enjoy the colors


I always wanted to capture CWT logistic building in it best light form. The lighting was fantastic on that day. Blessed!



Industrial architecture that caught my eye


In the background is Singapore first offshore power station

If you are a traveler visiting Singapore, and your purpose is to visit some of the parks or a good hike. I would recommend you to go Pandan Reservoir. Make sure you have your sunblock applied because it is an opened area, there is small pocket of shelters for you to rest. It takes about an hour plus to complete the entire reservoir.

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View from the window plane

I was given a seat at the aisle inside the plane. It didn’t bother me much because it was only an hour and 40 minutes to reach Ho Chi Minh City. What bothers me was seated in the last row, behind me are 2 toilets. Where unnecessary smell is not required in this journey. Luckily the row in front of me was empty, i quickly hopped over to the front with my partner.

The sky was gloomy through the flight, i look at the window, nothing interests me to visually from an aerial perspective. I read just a few paragraphs of Jack Ma book before dozing off.

The pilot informed us that we are 30 mins away from Ho Chi Minh City.

I went to the middle seat and try to look out the window. I can see the river in Vietnam. I have seen this sight many times, never fail to awe me. The sky continues to be in bad mood, a few minutes later i saw a ray of light shining through the dark and heavy cloud.

I quickly exchange seat with my partner. Whipped out my Huawei Mate 9 mobile phone. I set it in monochrome mode, increase contrast to +1. Excitedly started to snap picture after picture. Decreasing the exposure value as i quickly warmed up my creative juice.

My best picture ever made from a plane using a phone.