Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Sep 25 2007

Taking pictures in Danshui

Danshui boatsWent out to Danshui on Sunday, as the weather was too nice to stay indoors. Also, after hearing about the plan to turn Bitan into “another Danshui”, I thought I should go take a look at what it’s like these days; I hadn’t been out there in a while.

Of course, the train was packed. Upon disembarking, I found not only one, but two donut shops awaiting me right outside the station, one Mister Donut and a new Dunkin’ Donut facing off across the square. I picked up a bag of donut holes or munchkins or whatever they’re called and strolled down to the waterfront, where I found that the trees they planted during the renovation of the area have grown quite nicely, providing a good amount of shade from the harsh sun. Vendors hawked fresh, steaming piles of red shrimp from the riverbank while the ferry ticket vendors languished in their hot little compartments.

There was a surprising number of boats plying the river between Danshui and Bali. I counted 20 at one point. It used to be there was only the one ferry going back and forth; now there are pleasure craft and Gilliganesque “three-hour tour” boats as well as the paddleboat up from Guandu. Marine tourism is taking off; it’s been a long time coming. The river was choppy due to the high wind. A fisherman struggled to get his boat tied up at the dock, stepping over the muddy waves to the stone steps.

I walked down past the navy base and along the decking by the road to Shalun, and turned back, winning a nice spot at the small fishing harbor to sit down and take some sunset shots where tourists were making the Victory sign to family members’ flashing cameras. I sat there for some time, taking entirely too many pictures for someone who supposedly eschews sunset photography, before the sun was gone and it started to rain. I threaded my way through the line for the ferry and walked back towards the MRT station past the loudspeakers.

I’m pretty sure I don’t want Bitan to become another Danshui. I would appreciate a little renovation along the riverfront, especially some of the more worn and torn-looking places, but if that means more people shouting into loudspeakers, I’ll do without, thanks.

On the way home I stopped off at Zhishan Station to have a steak at Post Home. When I walked over, however, I was surprised to see the space has been taken over by another installment of Alleycat’s Pizza. I’d been mentally preparing for steak; all my saliva was geared in that direction, so pizza wasn’t an option at that point. Fortunately the original Post Home menu is still available, albeit in the smoke-filled bar behind the restaurant area. Of the four steaks on the menu, they had one left, but it turned out to be quite delicious, and there was motorcycle racing on the wide-screen TV.

colorstreetAfterwards I gave in to the lure of the wet night streets and walked around taking even more pictures, the price of which I’m paying now as I sift through all of the dreck trying to find a few salvagable shots to post on Flickr. I need to improve my work flow for photos so that it doesn’t take me so long to process each one. Right now I shoot in RAW, use Raw Shooter Essentials 2005 to convert to jpeg and adjust, then I open Photoshop CS2 for more adjustment, then uploading to Flickr and Zooomr, which means choosing groups and sets and waiting for the uploads, etc. It takes forever, and though I’m happy with the results, it just takes too damn long. In a way this is good, as the whole “oh well, it’s digital, shoot away” mindset is being replaced with a little more caution and discretion, e.g. “Do I really think this is a good photograph?”

The process is quicker with my little camera, as it doesn’t shoot in RAW (and even if it did, you need a large sensor and good glass to really take advantage of RAW photos, so it’s just as well it doesn’t), so I just use Photoshop. I’ve heard of Lightroom, but I’m not sure if using that would improve my workflow or just make it more involved.

Another thing that I find annoying is always having to change lenses. My Canon 24-105 isn’t really a good walkaround lens, as it’s not wide enough on my cropped 20D. Upgrading to a 40D wouldn’t fix this, and in any case I don’t see the 40D as enough of an improvement over the 20D to be worth upgrading. I’ll either wait for a 50D or the 5D’s replacement, or get a used 5D after said replacement comes out and people want to dump theirs. I do crave the greater low-light abilities of the 5D, as well as being able to use the 24-105 as a walkaround lens. The only other option would be to get a 17-55 for the 20D, and that’s too much money just to have to avoid changing lenses. So my setup probably isn’t going to change any time soon.

posted by Poagao at 3:11 am  


  1. Hi TC,

    Wow, Your photos are amazing!!! They look… beyond the words.

    Best Regards,


    Comment by Azuma — September 25, 2007 @ 11:00 am

  2. Thanks, Azuma.

    Comment by Poagao — September 25, 2007 @ 12:52 pm

  3. Lightroom is wonderful. It really sped up my workflow, so much so that I rarely need to go into Photoshop these days. It has one neat option which allows you to automatically open the image into Photoshop, do any editing there and after you saved it, it jumps back to Lightroom displaying the edits, as well as the original non-PS’d version. It’s also possible to send photos straight from Lightroom to Flickr (not sure about Zoomr, but I can’t see why not).

    As for the 40D, I just bought one about 10 days ago and so far it’s pretty similar to the 20D. I wanted a 2nd body so I could have 2 different lenses mounted at the same time, so for me it wasn’t really an upgrade, more an extra. Low-light capabilities are supposed to be equal to or better than the 5D, according to some reviews I’ve read. I haven’t tested it at high-ISOs yet, nor do I have a 5D to compare it to.

    I’m going to try to get up to the MBR gig this Sunday, so you’re welcome to have a play with my 40D if you want.

    Comment by cfimages — September 26, 2007 @ 8:05 pm

  4. I’ve seen people say the 5D is better, and some say the 40D is better. Objectively, the larger pixels on the full frame camera should yield better low-light performance, so if the 40D is better, it’s most likely due to improved in-camera processing. In any case, I’m not going to spend that much money for a relatively minor upgrade from the 20D, which is working well enough for me. As I said, if I come across a cheap used 5D in good condition after its replacement comes out, I might sell the 20D and the EFS 10-22 to get it.

    I’d like to try out lightroom, any ideas on where I can get it?

    Comment by Poagao — September 26, 2007 @ 9:01 pm

  5. You can download it from adobe.com and use it for 30 days as a trial version before it needs a serial number. I’m not sure how to go about getting a serial number in Taiwan – I called Adobe Taiwan and they didn’t know what I was talking about. I ended up having to get someone in Australia buy it for me and send me the serial number.

    Comment by cfimages — September 27, 2007 @ 12:23 am

  6. Thanks, I’ll give it a shot and then see if I can’t wrangle a serial number somehow. CS2 is as slow as molasses and virtually unusable these days.

    Comment by Poagao — September 28, 2007 @ 4:54 am

  7. Fantastic picture. How much post-processing was involved?


    Comment by Mu — September 29, 2007 @ 7:40 am

  8. Depends on which picture you’re talking about, but usually I adjust light levels in Raw shooter essentials, and tweak the colors and contrast a bit in Photoshop.

    Comment by Poagao — September 29, 2007 @ 9:25 am

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