I was fortunate to live and work in Panama City, Panama, for 4 and 1/2 years. It was while living there that I decided to get back into photography.
I bought a Canon T1i DSLR – The Txi line are “pro-sumer” level DSLRs. They have most of the functionality as their bigger brothers like the 5D Mk II, but with lower classed equipment, like the number and quality of auto-focus points, and so on. The current version is the T5i. I still have my T1i, and use it often. This photo was taken using that little camera. This goes to show you that you do not need a $3,000 camera to take nice photos, no matter how much the marketers want you to believe that you do!
This particular style of photography is called “HDR”, short for High Dynamic Range. Basically, you take three or more shots at different exposure values, intending to capture all as much range of light as you can. Then, you merge the shots together, and use a process called Tone mapping to bring out all the detail. The human eye can see a large range of light, all at the same time. A camera sensor only “sees” a little bit of this range. This process allows us to show a scene very close to how we actually saw it in real life.
HDR has a bad rap. It's very easy to go crazy and overdo images, making them look surrealistic and grungy. Some people have turned it into an art form. I'm trying to keep mine photo-realistic, though this particular image is overdone a bit. See? It's easy to go too far!