Advertising, Commercial Photography and Editing at its Best: Technical Insights

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), albeit it was actually for a work trip. I had about 1 day of free time to roam around but being unfamiliar in the country, google maps and became the most reliable and trusty companion every traveler would use. The tight timing, dark skies and the unfamiliarity of the roads, made planning more crucial to make the most out of my only free day for a good sightseeing.

There are many wonderful places to visit in HCMC and many beautiful pictures easily found online. In this time and age where compact cameras and even mobile phone cameras can take really good shots with crisp colour and sharpness, and inbuilt mobile apps doing a good job in editing the photos, its tough to prove that DSLR still has the edge over the most commonly used mobile phone cameras.

Looking at my Sony a6300, I wondered if I was just going to do a point-and-shoot style but that would be “insulting” to the camera. Therefore, I decided to go for an all-out experimental shoot with the idea of editing the images in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.

(Sony a6300, Sony E 35mm f1.8 OSS, Sony E 55-210mm f4.5-6.3 OSS, Samyang 12mm NCS 12mm, Colour Raw, Photo Raw, Adobe RGB (1998), 4K Video UHD, 25fps, S-Log3)


My first stop was Chùa Bà Thiên Hậu (Thiên Hậu Temple), located @ Cho Lon, District 5, Hi Chi Minh City.

The highly decorated roof with detailed porcelain dioramas was certainly a wonderful sight. Dedicated to the Goddess, 媽祖, Lady of the Sea, the temple looked really magnificent.Vietnam_20160819-21

Edited in Adobe Lightroom: Samyang F2.0/12mm

Built in the 19th century and after many years of weathering, the colours of the dioramas were quite weathered. The metal gate and entrance were probably the only objects that were repainted. Editing required a fair bit of work and a bluish tint was added on the roof and skies to produce a more surreal feel of the temple being “under the sea”.  Some gradient was added to make the skies feel as if one was looking through a polarized sunglass.

Entering the temple was a family preparing to pray. Due to the limited time to prepare, I fitted Samyang E-Mount F2.0/12mm lens on Sony a6300.

Temple Praying_Raw

Colour Raw 

Temple Praying_Split

Before   |   Graded

Temple Praying_Graded

Edited in Adobe Lightroom: Samyang F2.0/12mm


Coming out from the temple, I saw an old grandma who sold incense and performed divination. I decided to shoot a picture of her which was easy but the real challenge was to edit it into an interesting visual art piece.

Old Lady Scene Temple_Raw

Colour Raw

Old Lady Scene Temple_Split

Before   |   Graded

Old Lady Scene Temple_Graded

Edited in Adobe Lightroom: Sony E 55mm(55-210mm Lens)  / ISO800 S-Log3

Keeping just the reds and oranges, a more interesting edited image was created differently from the other normal colourful images that can be easily searched online. The focus was now directed on the grandma who could be seen looking around for potential customers.


Next, what captured my eyes were the gates of the temple and the grandma sitting just outside the gates. Immediately, I knew what I wanted to do during photo editing. So, the focus was to have a nice framing of the shot to direct the viewer’s eyes to the grandma.

Old Lady Scene Colour_Raw

Colour Raw

Old Lady Scene Colour_Split

Before   |   Graded

Old Lady Scene Colour_Graded

Edited in Adobe Lightroom: Sony E 55mm(55-210mm Lens)  / ISO800 S-Log3

Colour Theory: Red and Green are complementary colours.

Having these 2 colours in the same image gave a strong visual impact and de-saturating the other colours created a stronger colour contrast.


While walking to Saigon Central Post Office, this scene caught my eye from afar and I quickly attached my Sony E 55-210mm lens.

Vietnam Colours_Raw

Colour Raw

Vietnam Colours_Split

Before   |   Graded

Vietnam Colours_Graded

Edited in Adobe Lightroom: Sony E 175mm(55-210mm Lens)  / ISO800 S-Log3

Colour Theory: Triadic Colour (Red, Blue and Yellow)

Having these 3 colours in the same image constituted to a stronger visual and grading it with more contrast and grain made it seemed like a shot from a film.


Night fall came early for us. After having dinner, it was time to get back to the hotel to rest and prepare for the following day’s shoot. The lights along Nguyen Hue walking street was colourful and although we were in the Taxi, wonderful colours could be seen from the shops signs and lightings. Immediately, the camera was called into action and I attached my Sony E F1.8/35mm. Due to Sony a3600 being an APS-C sized censor, 35mm is a 50mm equivalent. Manual focusing was a bit of a challenge as the vehicle was bobbing around due to the unevenness of the road.

I took a few seconds of 4k video before switching to photo mode.

Vietnam Taxi Scene_Raw

Colour Raw

Vietnam Taxi Scene_Split

Before   |   Graded

Vietnam Taxi Scene_Graded

Edited in Adobe Lightroom: Sony E 35mm F1.8/ISO1000 S-Log3


Adjustment was done in Adobe Lightroom: Basic, Tone, Lens Correction and HSL. Many hidden colours were brought back to “life” when shooting in Raw and Colour Raw S-Log3. Colours were rich and the colour space was wide and feels like spatial phenomena after editing in Lightroom.


Saigon Central Post Office


Nguyen Hue walking street


Edited in Adobe Lightroom: Sony E 35mm F1.8/ISO1200 S-Log3


Bến Thành Market



Shot using Sony E F1.8/35mm lens with a low shutter speed of 0.6secs and ISO800.


Bến Thành Market

The photo was clearly overexposed and a little blurry due to the camera being handheld. I wished I had brought along the ND Filter. Anyway, I decided to play with the existing colours during edit to suggest that the people are on a cold street with warm lights trying to reach out to them from the road. Shot in colour raw, Whites and Highlights were easily brought down in Lightroom and blacks increased for contrast.



Edited in Lightroom: Samyang F2.0/12mm

Finally, it was time to say goodbye and some photos were taken from the airplane window. This scenery instantly caught my eye about 6pm Vietnam time. Lights were converging on a spot and the sun was setting from the opposite direction.

For photography, videography enthusiasts and travelers who are looking for a cultural and colourful experience, Ho Chi Minh City is a good place to visit. The hustle and bustling of the roads to the old architectural buildings is certainly a marvelous sight to view before the city becomes more modernized.


PS: Stay tuned for the video in the following weeks


About Revelation Productions Pte Ltd

Revelation Productions is an All-In-One Media Production House headquartered in Singapore with active client accounts in more than 20 countries.

Revelation Productions offers:

Aerial: Flown by our certified drone pilots we offers aerial photography and aerial videography for commercial, architecture, construction, marine industries. Apart from media related services, we also provide for aerial mapping, aerial thermal scanning and other aerial inspection services.

Photo: Corporate photography, Industrial photography, Corporate events photography, MICE, products and corporate profile shots.

Video: Corporate video, corporate event video, MICE, short film, featured film making, TV Commercial (TVC), broadcasting, animation and CG.

Web: Website designs, social media, content.Business and media consultancy: Revelation Productions offers consultancy for your multi-media campaigns, social media management as well as business and Secretariat Services

Please feel free to drop us an email at or call us at +65 6547 5413 for more details!

Posted on August 22, 2016 in Articles

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