Photos and videos shot with Nikon Coolpix P900

Here are some photos and videos to show the capability of the Nikon Coolpix P900.

Capturing the details of the Moon surface from 384,400 km away!

As you can see, the camera captures the details of the craters lit by side light from lower right.


This video shows the ranges the Nikon P900 covers from telescope-like 2000mm to extra wide angle of 24mm.


And with up to 2000mm, the camera can compress the scene with its awesome zooming power as shown here. All the pillars seems to be stacked together.

Nikon CoolPix P900

I recently purchased the very popular Nikon CoolPix P900. This is an awesome “compact” camera that offers record-breaking 83x optical zoom lens. The range it covers is equivalent to 24mm to 2000mm on a 35mm camera so basically it covers wide angle to telescope range on a light weight portable camera.
With this camera, you will be able to zoom in on subjects like bird, wild life, tiny creatures like fiddler crabs or distance subject like moon surface that are not possible even with expensive camera and long lens.

The quality of image cannot be compared to professional camera and lens like 200mm/F2.8 or 300mm/F2.8 but the image is good enough for most usages.

Beside still images, you will be able to capture video that is only possible with this camera.

Below are some images and videos captured with this outstanding camera from my first couple weeks of shooting.

Wide angle shot of the sunrise:

Zoom in to the middle span of the bridge which is miles away:

Far end of the bridge:

These birds are very sensitive. They will be scared away with our little movement so the P900 comes in handy when we would like to take this type of pictures.

The tiny little fiddler crab is about half an inch large and they will hide in their hole when we approach them. With P900, we can shoot from distance without attract their attention.

And the video of the cute little fiddler crab busy eating sand.

Nikon CoolPix P900 is without a doubt a winner. It just enables us to take many images that are otherwise impossible even with high end expensive camera system.

Basic Photo Editings

Digital images captured with our digital camera can be enhanced drastically with some simple software editing. Here I would like to share some basic editing techniques that can be done with most of the photo editing software.

  • Adjust the level

This is a tool that can drastically enhance your images with a few clicks. To begin, drag the arrows from both ends until they meet the histogram. This will lighten the white or bright area and darken the shadow. The white arrow on the right is for the highlight while the black arrow on the left is for the shadow. You can also try to bring the arrow further to increase the contrast more if desired and if that bring more punch to the image. Another thing to try out from the level tool is to move the middle arrow left or right to change the mid-tone area.

  • Increase the saturation

Another easy to use tool is the saturation adjustment. Simply pull the saturation arrow to the + side or just enter a positive number in the saturation adjustment window. Typically we are adjusting the saturation for all colors but if would like to enhance the saturation for certain color only, instead of applying to the master, you can choose the color from the drop-down menu specifically. For example, you can only enhance the green lawn in the image below.

  • Sharpening

Some of our photos may not be captured perfectly due to slight out of focus or camera shake. One simple way to rescue it or enhance it is using the sharpening tool in the photo editing software to sharpen it. In photoshop, the first sharpening tool I will try is the unsharp mask. Try to various the amount and radius until you are happy with the result. You can also try the sharpen more tool to further increase the sharpness.

  • Reduce noise

Digital camera are equipped with capability to shoot in low light situation nowadays. This is accomplished by increasing the camera’s ISO setting to increase sensor’s sensitivity to light. The downside is it is inevitable to introduce noise to the final image. Unless it is captured with full frame camera where the noise level are exceptionally good nowadays, most camera will produce noticeable noise for ISO 1600 and above. The good news is the photo editing software now are pretty good at reducing the digital noise while maintaining the sharpness and contrast. The example below is the reduce noise filter in photoshop. You can vary the strength and preserve details setting to see the result. If you have not use this feature before, you will be amazed by the good results.

  • Remove sensor dust using spot removal

Digital camera especially DSLR where you can switch lens for different purposes or different situation. Over time, the sensor will gather dusts and if you are using small aperture (like F11, F16 or smaller) for better depth of field, likely you will notice some small dots on the captured images. Those small dots and spot are pretty annoying and distracting, however, removing them in photo editing software is very simple. In Lightroom as well as photoshop, there is a spot removal tool, all you need to do is click on the spot and the tool will find neighboring area to sort of clone it for you to remove the spot. When you find that there are too many of these spots in you photos, it is time to do a little bit of cleaning by using the blower to blow away those dusts. If the problem persist, send your camera to professional lab for cleaning.

  • Crop your image

Cropping is one of the easier way to improve your photos. Whether you were limited by the lens’ reach or you forget about rules of third while taking the photo in a rush, you can crop it in post-production to improve the composition. In the example below, the captured image is quite dramatic in terms of color and subject but the right side seems to be too empty. By cropping slightly to keep the left 80% and remove the plain sky above, the photo become much more interesting.

Night Photography

When the light is dim at night, there are few things you can change to try to get correct exposure:

  • Adjust to use higher ISO
    • Increase ISO means increasing the sensor’s light sensitivity so the photo can be taken under dimmer light. However, remember that higher ISO will introduce more noise to the photo and too much noise (ISO 3200 & above) will reduce the contrast and sharpness too.
  • Use larger aperture
    • With larger aperture, more light will come in so the photo can be taken with faster shutter speed. However, this will be limited by your lens’ max aperture and lens with large aperture like 2.8 and below are usually more expensive.
    • You also have to pay attention to the shadow depth of field effect of larger aperture. The effect may not be desired for landscape or night street shot for example.
  • Use slow shutter and tripod
    • With slower shutter speed, the curtain is open for longer period of time allowing more light to come in. Slow shutter speed is perfectly fine for static subjects but moving objects may create light traits or ghosting effect
    • With slow shutter speed beyond hand holding limit like 1/20, 1/10 s or below, it is necessary to mount the camera on tripod or place the camera on solid steady surface to avoid shaking.
  • Use flash
    • Flash help to illuminate you subject but flash only has limited range to illuminate the subjects/foreground but not the far background
    • Use flash to freeze the subject
    • Direct flash tends to be too harsh on the subject and creating harsh dark shallow. For DSLR with external flash, bounce it off ceiling or wall if possible to create softer light.

Depends on how dim the light and what effects you want to create, you may have to use combinations of these options.


Lets look at some examples of night photography:

In the photo below, the environment is very dim with only street light, we have to tune up the ISO sensitivity and use a relatively large aperture of F3.5

ISO : 1600     Aperture : F3.5     Shutter speed : 1/25 s

For the photo below, it is using slow shutter speed with camera mounted on tripod to capture enough light.

ISO : 200     Aperture : F6.3     Shutter speed : 1.6 s

Note that the low ISO is used for two reason. First, lower ISO equal to better image quality with less noise and better contrast. Second, with low ISO, we can force the shutter speed to be slow to capture the light trail which is a nice effect for night photography.

Another point to consider is that in order to capture the blue tone of the sky and cloud instead of complete darkness, the best time to shoot is right after sunset when there is still light from the sky.

The above examples are shot using camera’s manual mode, which mean we set both aperture and shutter speed. With digital camera, it is easy to try and error to see which setting give us correct exposure for the main subject and are best capturing the atmosphere and mode.

Most camera nowadays do have more automated mode for night photography, for example the night mode. This mode is for low light situation and night time. The idea is similar as we discussed above, the camera try to use 1) higher ISO to increase the light sensitivity, and 2) use longer shutter speed to allow enough light in to capture the background. Typically the camera also fire off a flash to illuminate your subject and foreground. The flash will freeze the subject if it is moving. Bear in mind that the background maybe blur if hand holding the camera. For best result, use the tripod.

Light in Photography

Light (& Shallow)

How important is light in photography? Well, without light, there is no photograph! Light is the number one important factor in photography. You can get good photography with normal subject with great light. To understand the difference, we can just compare the images/video of most TV series with movies. Movie scenes look much more beautiful and the most important difference is the lighting (movies spent lot of budget on creating great light, great atmosphere).

With light itself, it is not enough. Photograph is two-dimensional and to make it looks 3-dimensional, it requires another element which is shallow.

Light illuminates, shadow defines.  


Next, lets look at types of light.

Front light

  • Light illuminates the subject from the front.
  • Light source is behind photographer.


  • Most of scene are well lit so you can see everything in the picture
  • Easier to get correct exposure especially for landscape
  • Front light can be good when the light is soft in the morning or late evening


  • Less shadow -> appear flat or less three dimensional
  • Boring as most people will like to take this type of picture
  • For portrait, bright front light may cause your subject to squint and may create harsh shadow under eyes and chins

Here is one example of a photo lit by front light. Nice place, interesting subject but the photo lack dimension and depth.

Side light

  • Light illuminates the subjects from the side
  • Light source is at the side of the photographer


  • Create highlight and shadow -> 3D
  • Emphasize textures, dimension, shape, pattern and roughness


  • More challenging to get correct exposure because of the combination of highlight and shadow
  • Side light from small light source (bright sun) can create harsh shadow,
  • Not flattering for portraits
  • Could be too severe for camera to record both highlight and shadow at the same time

Below are some examples of side light effect. As you can see the side light creating side shadow, the long shadow make the photos look much more 3 dimensional.

Back light

  • Light illuminates from behind the subjects
  • Light source is in front of the photographer


  • Result could be most dramatic
  • Simplify the scene and emphasize the shape of the subject such as a silhouette
  • Add beautiful rim light to portraits to separate subject from background


  • Challenging to get the correct exposure for your subjects
    • Correct exposure of the subject but blown out background
  • Causes lens flare resulting in low contrast picture
    • Quite trendy now

Some examples of photos taken with back light. It will make the ordinary subjects more dramatic.

More tips on lighting.

To get natural lighting for portraits, you can try the followings:

  • Indoor – Window light provide large and soft light
  • Outdoor
    • Even lighting
      • Open shade
      • Bright overcast day
    • Back lighting
      • With dark background, the back lit subject has a rim of interesting bright highlight

For open shade, looks for the followings:

  • Large building wall provide even soft light & catch light
  • Subject backlit with beautiful rim light


Simple lighting for still-life

Using natural soft window light as back-lit light source and DIY card reflector

Fundamental watercolor techniques

  1. Flat wash

Whether it is for the background or any large area painting, flat wash is the fundamental technique of watercolor as normally it is the first step of the painting. Once we master the technique to paint a smooth, nice and neat flat wash, we can change this technique a little bit for gradient wash.

Tilt the painting board slightly and with a large flat brush or round brush, pick up plenty of well mixed pigment, paint horizontally (normally from left to right if you are right hander). While it is still wet, paint the second stroke below and overlap slightly with the first stroke. Continue the next stroke and repeat the process until the end. Use tissue or dry brush to absorb excessive water at the bottom. Because each stroke is wet and overlap with previous stroke, the paint will mix together naturally and form a nice and even wash.

  1. Graded wash

Now that you’ve learned how to do a simple flat wash, the next step is to add a gradient wash. It can be a graduation of tone or of different colors blending into one another

Tilt the painting board about 10 degree. Wet the whole paper, pick up the well mixed pigment and paint from the top horizontally. Add more water to dilute the paint and same as flat wash, continue with second stroke below and overlap slightly with first stroke. Continue the process and gradually mix more water with each stroke.

With this technique, you can also paint from bottom to top, left to right or right to left to create the desired gradient.

  1. Overlay washes (Glazing)

This technique utilises the transparent characteristic of watercolor to create different tones by overlapping washes.

In this technique you let the paint to dry completely before adding successive layers of the same color. Each additional layer darkens the color and can be used to create shape and shadow. The effect of this technique is hard edge between layers.


Glazing is basically overlaying washes of different colors. With glazing, you can create different tone and color with each overlaying layer. It is important to let the paint completely dry before applying the next layer to avoid the colors to blend and running together. If you are overlaying different color, it is important to know how these colors will interact with each other.

  1. Wet-in-wet

Pre-wet the paper with water or some light & watery paint, mixed the pigment and apply it on the wet paper. The pigment will blend with the water and your stroke will diffuse and spread and the edge will become softer and softer. With wet-in-wet, you will never 100% sure what is going to happen as the result depends on the wetness of the paper, the thickness of the paint, etc. but this is actually the fun and attractiveness of watercolor.

We can use thick paint as well as thin in to create different effects.

It is also possible to rewet certain area and use the wet-in-wet technique to create defused object against the sharp edged base.

  1. Splatter

This is a fun technique to explore and when use correctly it will create naturally looking painting for area require random shape & color. Load your brush with adequate amount of paint and tap or knock the brush against your finger or another brush handle, let the paint splat onto the wet or dry paper to create different look. Do this for light color first and using larger brush first before moving to darker color and smaller brushes. This technique requires some experiments to see the effect and to see how the paint will splat.

Travel Photography – Istanbul

Turkey, Ottoman Empire

This is the only transcontinental city in the world.The Bosphorus Straits splits the city into two, the west side is in Europe while the east wide is in Asia. This is a city with 2600 years of history and was once the capital city of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire. East and West civilization meet here, Christianity and Islam coexist here, tradition and modernity collide here.It has been known for its excellent geographical location, rich historical sites and fascinating fusion cultures since ancient times. Its mosque, museums, churches, palaces, fascinating buildings, small streets and lanes, have so many people falling in love with it and keep coming back; this is Istanbul, a beautiful city created by the fusion and conflict.


This is a photographer’s Paradise. With its rich culture, magnificent ancient buildings and the people. There is definitely no lack of interesting subjects to photograph.Here I will share some photos taken in this wonderful city.


Blue Mosque is without doubt Istanbul’s landmark building. The magnificent, unique and luxurious Mosque was built during the Ottoman Empire. The blue mosque got its name because of blue-glazed tile of the internal walls of the mosque. In fact, its real name should be the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii). It is also the center of old Istanbul. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque was built during the reign of Sultan Ahmed I, 1609-1616.

Aya Sofya is located opposite the Blue Mosque. Before 1453, it has been the Byzantine Empire’s main church, it was later occupied by the Turks and converted into a mosque. This is a famous historical building in Turkey,it was being built from the year 325 AD. The Aya Sofya building we see today has been through a series of the wars, reconstruction and expansion. It represents part of Byzantine culture and the mosaic of the cathedral mural will tell you the history and let you appreciate the beauty of Byzantine art.

Galata Bridge across the Golden Horn Bay, is the main gateway of Istanbul. Galata Bridge has gone through several reconstructions, the existing Galata Bridge is the fifth in history and was completed in 1994. The length of the Bridge is about 490 meters. The middle section of the bridge can be opened to allow ships to pass through. Since the 19th century, the bridge is often mentioned in Turkish literature and art.

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest Bazaar in the world. It is so large that it has 26 entrances, with at least 58 indoor streets and over 4,000 shops. Built by Sultan Mohammed II from 1455 to 1461, the Grand Bazaar consists of 12 main buildings, with 22 doors, mainly selling jewellery, ceramics, spices, carpets and other items. Many of the stalls are centrally managed, such as leather and gold jewellery. You can find almost everything in Grand Bazaar including scarf, clothes, gold, carpets, blue glasses, apple tea, desserts, coffee and other kinds of Turkish local products. When shopping, be sure to keep your eyes open to watch out for all kinds of temptations and traps. This is a good place to exercise your bargaining skills.

Turkish kebab is very famous. It is a must try when visiting Turkey. Delicious food does not mean you have to go to the restaurant, those kebab and street food are also very yummy.Want to try some light food, you can also easily find grill corn, chestnuts, crispy sesame bagels on the streets.The Turkish ice-cream is also a must try. Not only it is delicious, the ice-cream seller will perform various action to amuse you to delight your day.



Watercolor brushes

Watercolor brushes come in different shapes, sizes and built with different materials. Which brushes meet your needs and budget? Let’s go through this in this article.

Brush material

The hair used to build the brush is the most important. There are many types as listed below:

Natural animal hair

Many watercolor brushes are made from animal hairs including sable, squirrel, pony and ox hairs.

Sable and squirrel brushes are most commonly used among professional artists for their ability to absorb a lot of water, hold and maintain very fine point at the tip and the spring of the hairs. Among these, the kolinsky sable is the finest and most expensive. Kolinsky sable got its name because the hair is obtained from the tail of the kolinsky, a species of weasel (not really sable). The finest is made from male’s hair only but most on the market are mixed of male and female hairs. Squirrel brushes are slightly lower in price but are still quite expensive. Most of the modern high quality large mop type brushes are made from squirrel hairs. Famous watercolor artists like Joseph Zbukvic and Alvaro Castagnet like to use these types of brushes for both large wash and detail work. Brands like Da Vinci, Escoda, Rosemary all make very good watercolor brushes.

Synthetic hair

If you would like to avoid animal hairs, there are also many brushes made with synthetic hairs and which very good quality nowadays. They have different characteristic then the natural hairs but are also widely used. Some synthetic hairs have been made to mimic the characteristic of sable hairs; they do hold a lot of water as well. Da Vinci Cosmostop Spin series, Rosemary, Escoda Synthetic, Loew Cornell synthetic are some good synthetic brushes to be considered.

Brush Shapes

Round brush

Round brushes are the most widely used among watercolor artists for its versatility. They have a round body that holds adequate paint for painting large areas and have a rounded point (especially good quality round brushes) for painting fine lines for detailed work.

For beginners who will be working on medium size painting, round brush size 8 for large stroke and size 4 for more detailed stroke is sufficient.


Mop is mainly for painting large areas like wetting paper or painting skies. They contain large quantity of soft hairs (usually squirrel or goat hairs) to absorb a lot of water and pigments.

Flat brush

Flat brushes have flat shape and straight edge and is usually rectangular in shape. They are mainly used for painting rectangular objects like walls, bricks, etc but it is also possible to use the edge of the flat brushes to paint small details. Besides, large flat brushes can also be used for large area washes as they hold a lot of water and pigments.

Use 1 inch or larger flat brush for large area wash, 1/2 inch for painting.


Riggers have long and pointed hairs that can hold a lot of pigments. They were originally designed to paint the rigging on boats and that is where the name came from. Nowadays, many artists like to use it for fine details and expressive line work including tree branches, leaves, reflection on the water, etc.

Travel Photography — Greece

Athens (Greek: Αθήνα) is the largest city and the capital of the Greek republic.  It has a typical subtropical Mediterranean climate. As of 2011, Athens had a population of 745,514 people and has a total land area of 412 square kilometres. It is the eighth largest city in Europe and one of the EU business center.

Athens has a recorded history of up to 3,000 years; it is known as “the cradle of Western civilization.” Athens still retains a lot of historical sites and a large number of works of art, the most famous of which is the Acropolis of Parthenon which is regarded as a symbol of Western culture.

Athens’ Acropolis, Greece’s most famous and outstanding ancient buildings, was the center of religious and politics in the ancient days. Acropolis’ size is about 4 square kilometers, located in the center of Athens Acropolis hill; it was built in 580 BC. The earliest buildings in the Acropolis were the Athenaeum and other religious buildings. Acropolis in Greek means the city of high land.


Santorini Island

Santorini is one of the most beautiful and romantic island in the world. A must visit island if you are in Greece. It is located in the southern Aegean sea, about 120 miles from the mainland.

Oia town is the second largest town in Santorini but it is the most beautiful town. It is built on the cliffs of the sea and is considered to be the world’s most beautiful place to watch the sunset. Every day thousands of tourists from all over the world gather here to enjoy the beautiful sunset. The blue-top churches built on the cliffs, the numerous nice looking white houses, as well as traditional Greek windmills make the view especially the sunset absolutely gorgeous, stunning and unforgettable. It is every photographer’s paradise.  Stay here at least few days.


Mykonos Town is the best representation of the Cycladic Architecture. It is one of the most attractive places of the Cyclades islands. The narrow streets with the bright white buildings on either side seem to have no end. May take you to a quiet church, may also bring you surprises with a unique store. Greek mythology says that the island of Mykonos is made of the broken body of a giant killed by Hercules. Its famous landmark is the iconic 16th-century windmills, which sit on a hill above the town.

There are more than 300 small churches on the Mykonos Island. Walking through the narrow residential street, you will come across a small church every few houses or shops.

One famous resident of Mykonos is actually the cure Pelican. It strolls in the streets every day, and when you eat in the open-air restaurant, its big mouth will try to share your dinner. In 1954, after a storm, a pelican decided to take this island as home, islanders named it Pedro, it has since become the mascot of the island.

The original Pedro has long passed away; the islanders miss it, and so they get a new one to let the legendary continue.


Creative Exposure Part II

Many combinations of aperture, shutter speed and ISO will give us correct exposure. For example, ISO 100, F4, 1/250, F5.6, 1/125, F8, 1/60 and ISO 200, F8, 1/125 will give us same correct exposure in terms of brightness of the photo.

Which correct exposure setting to use?

Well, choose the combination that gives us the desired effect. In order to know what the desired effect is, we need to know the effect of aperture and shutter speed setting. For ISO, use the lowest possible as lower ISO gives us better quality with less noise. However, as mentioned before, crank up the ISO when necessary to avoid blur image. Image with noise is still better than unintentional blur image. Image with noise can be improved significantly in the retouching software nowadays.

Aperture and depth of field

Depth of field is the distance that appears to be in focus in front of and behind the focus point. It is affected by aperture, lens focal length, and the distance to the subject. The table below summarizes the effect of aperture, focal length and distance to subject on the depth of field. To achieve the shallowest DOF, use the largest possible aperture, long focal length and move in closer to your subject.

Shadow Depth of field Deep depth of field
Aperture Wide (low f-number) Small (high f-number)
Focal length Long (telephoto lens) Short (wide angle lens)
Distance to subject Short Long


Here is the illustration of the effect of different apertures:

Shutter speed and motion

Fast shutter speed has the ability to freeze the motion and action to capture moment that our human eyes can’t see.

Slow shutter speed will introduce blur to the image and when use correctly can emphasize the motion and direction. However, bear in mind that you may need to mount your camera on tripod if shutter speed is too slow.

Below are example of images captured with slow shutter speed. Instead of getting a perfectly still image, now we can some some movement from the otherwise still image.


How to avoid blur image for static subjects?

  • Pay attention to shutter speed
  • Rule of thumb (without tripod)
    • Minimum shutter speed = 1/(focal length)
    • 200mm lens à min shutter speed is 1/200 s
    • 50mm lens à min shutter speed is 1/50 s
  • With VR/IS
    • Vibration reduction / image stabilization
    • Min shutter speed could be 3-4 stops slower
      • 1/200 s becomes 1/15 s


How to avoid blur image for moving subjects?

Again, pay attention to shutter speed.

For slow movement, 1/100s or 1/125s is probably sufficient

For fast movement, you need faster shutter speed of 1/250s or 1/500s

For extremely fast movement, increase the shutter speed to over 1/1000s



Panning is an interesting technique that you pan your camera along with the moving subject to get a image with relatively sharp subject with blur background

This technique takes some practice to master it. The speed you pan is especially important as you need to anticipate the speed of your moving subject.

Below are some examples of panning effect: