China Trip Photos Q&A


I had a number of questions yesterday about the photos I took during my trip to China, so I thought I’d cover a few of them here today. Here we go:

Q. I frequently refrain from posting pictures of people (unless they are family) on the web. I worry about model releases and stuff like that, I realize that these folks are half way across the world, do you ever worry about that kind of risk?
This question came up a number of times yesterday, and this is probably going to freak you out, because do I not get model releases of people I shoot on the street, yet not only can I post their images on the Web, I can even sell prints of these images.

This whole topic was covered brilliantly by Copyright and Intellectual Property Attorney Ed Greenberg who was our guest on our weekly show Photoshop User TV last year. Ed specializes in copyright for photographers, and we had him on as a guest a number of times, because Ed has such a great way of explaining this stuff and making it understandable. You can catch his first segment in Episode 168 (link), and then it continues on Episode 169 (link), and than it continues again on Episode 170 (link), and we even added a bonus interview with Ed right here (it’s all free!). This is absolutely invaluable information (which is why we had Ed and copyright advocate Jack Reznicki do an in-depth series of online classes on Copyright for Photographers and the use of model releases over at Kelby Training Onlinelink).

Q. What I’m actually curious about is the font used on the last page. I’ve been looking for a nice “Handwriting” style for similar reasons.
Every time I use it, I get lots of people asking that same question. It’s called Satisfaction Pro. It sells for $20 and you can find it right here.

Q. Can you share how you put the panorama shot into 2 pages in [Apple’s] iPhoto. I tried it before but it seems like there is no one button solution in the software.

STEP ONE: You drag the pano on the left page, then you drag the same photo down on the right page (so you have two panos, side-by-side).

STEP TWO: On the left page, you zoom the size in quite a bit (using the Zoom/size slider that appears when you click on a photo in iPhoto).

STEP THREE: Use the Grabber hand (which appears to the right of the size slider) to drag the zoomed-in photo on the left page nearly all the way to the left (the photo drags inside the page template).

STEP FOUR: Then you go to the right hand page, and use the same technique (zoom in to the same amount, then drag that side all the way to the right). Now you have to kind of match up the two halves in the center so it looks like one contiguous photo.

Q. I am a PC user and was wondering if there is a program I can use to make a book like this?
iPhoto is a Mac-only program (and comes with some great drag-and-drop layouts like the one I used), but you can make photo books like this from a number of online labs, including, so I’d start there (here’s the link).

Q. Where’s that HDR photo you talked about yesterday?
That’s it at the top of the page. I did the processing using Photoshop CS5’s HDR Pro. This was taken inside the ferry from Kowloon over to Hong Kong. I had to hand hold it, but I took it earlier in the day, so I had a decent amount of light. Although I took five bracketed shots, I only used three for the HDR tonemapping.

Q. Your wife speaks Mandarin? What don’t you guys do?
She is truly an amazing woman. Right now she’s working on her pilot’s license, and she has her first solo flight coming up probably later this month. I don’t know how she does it. She makes me feel like a slacker.

Q. This is probably a typical camera guy question but the shot of that ferry [yesterday] is fantastic and I wanted to know how you took it! It looks to be a long exposure and also appears that you panned along but those two things generally don’t play well with each other. Care to share?
Mostly, I got lucky. I was on another one of those ferries coming back from Hong Kong to my hotel in Kowloon. Since it was dusk, and the ferry itself was moving, I knew I was shooting in really tough circumstances, and that I would have to pan with the ferry going by, but to increase my luck I did these three things:

(1) I raised my ISO to 400

(2) I shot wide open at f/3.5 to increase my shutter speed

(3) But most importantly I shot in Continuous High Speed mode and cranked out a long stream of shots hoping that one of the images would be in focus (I’ve written about this trick in my digital photography book series), and son of a gun one was! There were plenty that weren’t, but all I needed was that one.

Q. Is the Birds Nest in as bad a shape as has been reported? I read that after the Olympics the govt stopped maintaining it.
From what I saw outside—it looked great. It’s kind of a tourist attraction now, and there were literally hundreds of people there just making the scene (kind of like people gather at Trafalgar Square in London). The bird’s nest was beautifully lit at night, and from all outward appearances it looked to be in good shape (our guide told me they hold football [soccer] matches there now).

Q. Did you go to the World Expo in Shanghai?
Sadly, we left port just a few hours before the massive fireworks display to kick off the opening of the Expo. We saw some of the Expo grounds, and it was just amazing. Shanghai in general was just amazing—I could totally live there. The people were incredibly friendly and open, and I’m still stunned at how capitalism has caught on there. I remember sitting at Starbucks, next to the Lawry’s Prime Rib restaurant, right across from the Staples and UPS Store, right around the corner from the Häagen Dazs ice cream store, thinking, “This is a communist country?”

Q. May I ask how did u carry your equipment for all day? (ten hours)?
Once I switched to the D3 and the two lenses, I had to go and buy a small camera bag from a street vendor (paid about 240 RNB (about $35), which was way too much, but my wife was shopping elsewhere so I had nobody to negotiate the deal for me. As it turned out though, the bag the perfect size to hold my 70-200mm when I swapped out for my 14-24mm. However, at one point, the strap holding the top came loose, and my 14-24mm rolled right out of the bag. It’s a tough lens—not even a scratch.

Q. As a photographer, how often did you see a blue sky versus a gray one. Most of the recent travelers to China that I’ve talked to were amazed at the perennial gray skies due to pollution. They thought it impacted their photos not to mention their breathing.
We really only had two and a half days that were actually sunny—the rest were kind of gray and hazy (smoggy) which is why I usually avoided including the sky in my shots if at all possible. If you look at my Forbidden City shots, you’re seeing the gray, smoggy skies we saw most of the time. In fact, look at the first shot, and you’ll see more of that haze, with a slight hint of blue. But then on the day before we left Beijing, it rained overnight and the next two days were gorgeous so I tried to make the most of it.

Hope that answers some of your questions. :)

  1. That was a nice question and answer :)

    1 Request – Can you get all the photographs posted yesterday in one rar or a collection which can be downloaded. I know it’s a lot of to ask for, but really those are some true inspirations. Can it be done.

  2. Scott, Great job on the answers! Some of those questions kind of went right by me but after reading this post they came to light. Sounds like you got a lot of good family life going on there, it’s what you make out of it, no excuses, just DO IT! (just need a half dozen grandkids running around :) ).

  3. Welcome back Scott, I’ve experienced Shanghai 2 years ago, while visiting my son (I trekked with him through Tibet, Nepal and the Himalaya range for about 2 months … WOW, that’s all I have to say) . Shanghai is an amazingly beautiful and controversial City. I share the same feelings as you … love to go back sometime in the near future. Great photography!

  4. Episode 169 is there, but both 168 and 170 show ‘not found’. I only started watching your videos a couple months ago. How can I go back and hear that info on model releases?

    Great episode 169, BTW ! :)

      1. There doesn’t appear to be any search field to indicate the number I want, and they appear in random order over dozens of pages.

        Am I missing something? I find it hard to believe such an obvious thing as ‘search’ is missing…?

  5. That boat shot is killer! Good balance with HDR technique and the whole composition has “interesting story” written all over it. Quite frankly, I think it’s one of your best…that and light bulb in rain :)

  6. Scott,

    An interesting question to pose to Ed is how international laws impact use of images. Even though the images were taken in China, what dictates how you can use images of people and places as a US based photographer? In many countries, privacy laws are much stronger than the US and individuals have more rights to their own image.

    1. Steve,

      Generally what dictates how you can use images of people and places are the laws of the place in which the image is sold, published, or distributed. So if the image is being used in a state of the U.S., these are the laws that apply.

      As most material ends up being published in New York, following the New York laws concerning model and property releases will generally cover you for most photographs. See the response to William Palank below for further information and references to some of our materials for even more on the topic.

    1. Hi Scott:
      I did take my iPad, and it rocked!!!! I’ve gotten to the point that if I don’t have to use Lightroom or Photoshop, I use it instead of my Laptop. It’s just so great for browsing the Web, checking emails, and reading books. But it’s really the Apps that are actually designed for the iPad itself that take it over the top.

      My buddy on the trip with me had his iPad as well, and he wasn’t seen without it. It’s become his new best friend. :)

      I also would transfer my finished photos over to it, so I could show the rest of my gang the previous days shots—-I could just hand the iPad to them, and they could scroll through the shots. I don’t think photographers have realized how much they are going to love the iPad. It was almost made for photographers (almost).

      Hope that helps. :)


  7. Hey Scott,

    I was supposed to be in China teaching some Chinese Leicaphiles how to shoot with a rangefinder camera but the job just fell through. May happen in late summer. I was in China about 3 years ago however and had the same great experiences you did.

    Anyway, I am a Kelby Online Subscriber and I remember Mr. Greenberg stating that the model releases are on a country to country basis. I don’t remember him mentioning what countries or a simple reference to a website. Can you tell me what episode (ish) he gets into the specific detail or at least a title?
    william Palank

    1. What Jack Reznicki and I teach and write about is the simple fact that requirements for and the contents of, model releases vary from STATE TO STATE in the United States.

      Generally speaking, and as we talk about in our Kelby Training DVD on Model Releases, if you satisfy the requirements of the New York Law you are good to go almost anywhere else in the US of A and in many foreign countries. (see the DVD and/or our book “Photographer’s Survival Manual” and/or several of our articles for PhotoShop User Magazine) on this very topic.

      I can’t speak here to the existence (if any) of such laws in each of the some 200+ countries in the world. Suffice to say that some countries have laws of varying types and some – none. If you are to have images published for trade or commercial purposes including the sale or promotion of a product, service or organization (even a non-profit organization/charity ) assume the need for a written, signed model release.

      If the image is to run in a country other than the US, have clearances secured by you or your client, ad agency or publisher who will be in charge of running the image in that country and make sure you get copies of such releases and keep them FOREVER.

      General rule: use of imagery for newsworthy or editorial purposes does not require a model release. Again read our materials for details.

      Hope this helps.

  8. Scott… I’m a PC rather than Mac guy and have used mPix for eight photo book in the past two years. They do a really great job… I have never been disappointed.

  9. Scott,

    First, that was an amazing image you used for the lead to this post. Great depth, detail and lighting. Well done sir! And more importantly, thank you for the valuable information on copyright. This has always been a grey area for me as I photograph a lot outdoors and in public spaces. I very much appreciate the insights and it is one of the main reasons why I find your blog and Kelby Training to be such a valuable and authoritative resource. When a friend asks about photography, I simply send them your link and haven’t steered them wrong yet.


  10. Scott, I’ve been trying to phone MPix and can’t find a number anywhere on their site – – or even a way to email them. Can you help me?


  11. Scott, I love your iPhoto album from 3 of your trips and you have inspired me to do the same. It’s great. A question I had was how did you do the pano – it was answered, I tried it and it is great!! I only wish I could share it with you.

    Thank you so much, you have helped me to be a better photographer. For me typefaces are all imortant because I used to design them. So, I can’t figure out the Egypt trip typface. If you remember it, please share it. I searched “my fonts” but couldn’t find it.

    You also have recommended Topaz – I got it and love it. Thanks.

  12. Scott, how’d you manage to get the HDR to not have those annoying Halos that, for me, always seem to appear when using HDR Pro in Photoshop CS5?

  13. Good morning sir, i am Yersi form indonesia, I have read and buy your book, but i am still didn’t know and curious about photo like in the print ads. i want to make editing look like in the print ads contest and some like it, but didn’t know how?? so please would you mind to show me or tell me the link Sir. i think its like using HDR technique but didn’t know my HDR images still to over and not realistic and soft like Yours??….My Sincerly

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