Part one of this photographic journey experience started with us traveling from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Dalat, Vietnam. From Dalat, our grouped continued our journey by motorbike to the coastal city of Nha Trang. Some highlights include beautiful beaches and exciting views on the coastal roads!
After three-hour motorbike ride (135km) from Dalat, we arrived in the famous beach town of Nha Trang. Known for its beaches, diving sites and offshore islands – Nha Trang is one of Vietnam’s busiest tourist destinations. We first head to the beach to enjoy the nice weather and take a few portraits with our motorbikes. The backdrop of the beach made for a nice and clean background. It was late afternoon by the time we arrived at the beach, so the golden hour created an awesome opportunity for us to take portraits. The lighting was soft and perfectly diffused for portraits. In the background of the photo above, you can see a ferris wheel on the island in the back. This is where Vinpearl is located, a large amusement park and tourist destination. With a zoom lens, you can capture photos of the island from the shoreline.
This photo was taken with a Canon 6D full-frame camera with a Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens attached. I took quite a few shots with this composition. The goal was to compare the shots taken with different settings and see what turned out the best. I took shots with apertures ranging from f/1.8 to f/4 and changed the focus from the boats in the foreground to the Vinpearl words in the background. In the end, I thought this photo turned out the best. Can you tell where the focus was and what the f-stop was set at? I actually focused on the boats and set the f-stop to f/4 in this photo. The island itself is not very far from the shoreline. To the far right of the photo, you can see the cable cars that take passengers from the mainland to the island. These are all operated by the Vinpearl company. We did not get a chance to visit Vinpearl but heard that it is quite large and has many attractions.
Riding on the highways outside of and away from the city made us feel like part of a motorbike club. The Vietnamese even have a term for taking road trips on motorbikes, “di phuot”. As we passed other riders, many of them would give us a thumbs up. On one stretch, I was able to have someone drive me while I pulled out my camera and take some shots of the motorbikes that we passed. Because I was mainly taking photos of bikes on the oncoming side, the camera couldn’t focus in time. So I used a technique called pre-focusing. I would focus on a spot on the ground and then snap the photo when a motorbike came into view. It took some practice and a few shots, but eventually, I got the hang of it. The hardest part is remembering how far away you pre-focused the camera. I used landmarks on the ground to help me get an idea of what was in focus and what wasn’t. In the end, even though you’ll only have a few photos where the focus is correct, it is still worth it. Action photography always has a low keeper count due to the technical difficulties of capturing a moving object. These photos were extra hard because not only was the subject moving, but I was also moving – on the back of a motorbike!
The coastal road was one of my favorite parts of the road trip. Not only was it cool and refreshing, but we were able to stop and enjoy many breathtaking views, like the one above. As you can see, there are very few to no tourists in areas like this. It’s the landscape photographers’ dream to find untouched landscapes without tourists. We were even able to go climb down towards the beach and explore the area. Taking photos undisturbed in nature was very relaxing and therapeutic. I highly recommend it to everyone, in order to reduce stress levels.