I recently took a trip to Macau, China and wanted to write a little bit about the photos I took there. Macau is a former Portuguese colony, having been founded during the “Age of Exploration” in the 17th century. Because of it’s history there’s the opportunity to take photos of the older buildings in the colonial centre. But right now it’s safe to say Macau has become recognised as the gambling capital of China, or the “Vegas of Asia” if you will. So let’s cover both pieces as separate topics.

In the colonial centre there are a few famous areas including Senado Square, St. Dominic’s church, the Fortress and the ruins of St. Paul’s (now only a facade), all of which can be a part of great images from Macau. Below you can see an HDR photo of St. Dominic’s church that I took; this was taken handheld because I didn’t have my tripod at the time (just not possible to always lug the thing around!)  Since the square has a lot to offer with different architectural combinations I again went with a wide angle lens to get the expansive effect; I like the detail in the tiled courtyard with the famous Portuguese sidewalks.

Up the road from this church is the more famous ruins of St. Paul’s. This is only a stone facade but stands atop a small hill and is incredibly beautiful. I found this to be a bit tricky to get a shot that I liked; the stairs and the church aren’t quite in alignment, which means you can’t take a symmetric picture that maintains balance. Once I figured this out I decided to take some pics from further up the steps to get them out of the frame. So I focused on detail in some pics and with others I wanted to get the overall effect of the front of the building. I was moderately pleased with this effort but after visiting the fort and coming back down I realised the better angle for the pic is from the side; in my opinion it strengthens the fact that this is a facade and leaves one to wonder what happened to the rest of the church (it burned to the ground a total of three times, most recently in 1835).

Like any good tourist we also spent a little time in one of the souvenir shops where we bought a few things; I took this picture of the inside of the store.

Macau was busy much like the rest of China, so on our walk back I took a few pictures of the busy street, similar to my street shots of Hong Kong.

But while walking down the street I noticed something interesting – the sidewalks in Macau, true to their Portuguese heritage, are decorated with images and symbols of maritime life in the 17th century.  So there are pictures of fish, birds, the sun, and plenty of ships galore.  I thought this was pretty unique and interesting so I took a picture of all of the unique ones I could see on our walk back and put together this little mosaic you see here.

By the way I built this in Photoshop (if I ever get time I’d love to do a tutorial on how to do something like this) but when it was done the image was a tiff file of like 3 Gb.  Man did it grind my computer to a halt.  Needless to say I made it smaller before putting on SmugMug.

Amidst the gambling at night we also found some time to go out and take photos.  For this walk I definitely brought my tripod as I wanted to get some good night shots; I chose to take these as HDR so I bracketed the images (some are 3, some are 5), put them together in Photomatix Pro, and then used Photoshop to mask out some of the signs.  Unfortunately this was more difficult than I thought – there are so many lights on the casinos and you need to run through some of the more prevalent ones to make sure the exposure is correct and you mask out the necessary parts.  This is explained fully in Stuck in Customs tutorial.

And of course I have to close with a picture of me and my beautiful wife!

Macau really is a tremendous fusion of European and Asian cultures and the colonial centre is a great example of this.  That being said I found myself enjoying the casinos a bit more than the historical buildings 🙂  If you’d like to get another view of Macau please check out the video my wife and I made of our trip there.  Like our last video this is just a collection of random clippings we took while out and about; I’m no Spielberg but like anything else you’ve gotta start somewhere.

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