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Eye of the City



This is an aerial view of Renai Traffic Circle in Taipei City.
This is an aerial view of Renai Traffic Circle in Taipei City.
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Contest Finalist in Above The Earth Photo Contest
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Behind The Lens

Location
This photo was taken in Taipei City at the Renai Dunhua Traffic Circle. It's in the heart of the city and easily accessible.
Time
For my vision of this image to come to light, it had to be captured at night. I wanted to get the lights of the cars moving around the circle and this was only possible after dark.
Lighting
The lighting in the is scene was quite challenging. The first challenge was the street lights. They were much brighter than the car lights and they were very warm. This created a very hot and bright image that drowned out the car lights which I didn't want. This was pretty easy to fix in processing. The second lighting challenge was the car lights themselves. The traffic circle experiences heavy congestion, which causes the traffic to move very slow and not all of the circle is filled with cars at any given time. This is a problem, doing a 30 second or 1-minute exposure with a drone doesn't work that well. I solved this by taking several photos of the same scene and blending them together.
Equipment
This image was shot on a DJI Mavic Pro with the standard controller and my phone.
Inspiration
I have always been a fan of long exposure photography. It creates a feeling of passing time in an otherwise singular moment which has always spoken to me. After getting a drone, I wanted to see how well it could perform at this task. I chose this location because I wanted a scene that had a lot going on. When I first got the drone in the air I was very excited because the scene was amazing. Then all the problems quickly came to light. Problems like bright street lights, slow-moving traffic, and wind all mad this very challenging. Initially, looking through my phone, I thought this shoot failed. Only later I discovered in post-processing that my vision could be achieved.
Editing
This image required a lot of post-processing. First, multiple images had to be blended together to completely fill the circle with traffic. This was necessary because the drone could not remain still enough to capture an exposure longer than a few seconds. However, I only wanted to blend the lights from the cars, not the buildings and other areas. This was accomplished in photoshop using blend modes. Then the original scene was way too warm and the street lights were overpowering the image. This was all corrected in Lightroom using the brush tool to selectively dim the light and cool off the image. The last task was to apply a vignette to help bring attention to the center of the image.
In my camera bag
In my bag, I normally carry my Sony A7II with 24-105 f4 lens, DJI Mavic Pro, a few filters, extra batteries, shutter release cable, and my MePhoto Travelers Tripod.
Feedback
Any time you are flying a drone, please make sure are following the local rules. Capturing drone shots of the city can be challenging because of no-fly zones, rules regarding flight over people, etc. As for the technical side, put the drone in tripod mode. This will help the drone stay more stable and reduce blur in the image. Be prepared to do some editing on images like this. There is an abundance of videos online that show the techniques needed. Lastly, never be afraid to experiment. You never know what you might get.

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