Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Doing a product shoot for my friend's shop

Unfortunately, I was stubborn enough to bring my D200 and the Tamron 17-50. Not that this combi wasn't good, but this has missed quite a few shots in the past. I'm not sure if it's the lens or the camera, but even my older D50 does better :(

Anyway, I started off thinking that we could manage without a flash (even though I brought one, or at least one). This was what turned out :(
Too dark, and there was the strong green cast, probably from the trees
Had to be remedied with post processing, but still reasonably usable
With this bad initial experience, I took no chances and use the flash with the remaining shots. Lesson learnt? Always mount and use the flash, then turn it off if it doesn't really add to the picture. Or maybe I should just bring a reflector :)

This location was chosen by my friend. It was not bad, very flattering light and comes with a funky wall :)

My favourite shot, but D200 and Tamron disappoints me ;(

The funny Taiwanese girl. Locals, on the other hand, are really too camera shy

The photogenic Burmese guy. I think he came from a rich family


Mersing trip

Actually I have nothing much to say about this, in photography terms and experience.

Just trying to be funny, I brought the Fuji Instanx since I ordered some film packs just weeks ago. Must say that I am impressed with the consistency and quality of the pictures that this toy can deliver :)

The pictures can be seen here.

Co-assignment of a family portrait

Finally have the mood to write a little again after a long long break, so I guess I will start with clearing my backlogs :)

I remember it was a humid afternoon, and we were kind of expecting a shower or something. The family was late too, and by more than an hour, if I recall correctly. A common trait among our locals, huh? Well, business owners usually don't have much choice and have to live with it.

Anyway, it was lucky that at least we had each other for company, and there was an outlet that I knew we could have some drinks and desserts.

Just idling around and doing nothing. I remember there was another guy shooting with a Pentax K-01. Really looks like a toy!
A portrait I did for my friend for fun. Black and white really brings quite a different mood and dimension :)

Chatting and wasting our time away until about 6 when the father finally called my friend and announced their arrival. So I guess it was time to get our butts off and start working :)

My friend preparing his lights. I only used mine mounted on my camera
The father in his suit. Wouldn't opt for this if I were him. See pictures below to see why.
The family goofing around :)
The little princess running around. Cannot remember what she was looking at.
An informal portrait. Can only afford this if I am not the main guy :)
See the sweat marks? I will only opt for a suit if I was indoors. By the way, is that tree distracting?
My friend teaching the princess on posing her arms. Strange uncle :)
My try shot. Black and white just works like magic for portraits, regardless of the skin tone. Even better is that I don't need to bother about colour casts from the grass or the sky
Wow, such a huge crowd on a Sunday afternoon!
Lesson learnt? Bring an assistant or friend in case of late clients :) Oh, and a long lens sure works almost flaws, provided we are getting a decent shuttle speed.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Backlogs to clear later

This post is mainly to remind myself what to write later this month
- An co-assignment of a family protrait on 22.04.12
- Mersing trip on 28.04.12
- A blogshop shoot on 12.05.12
- A journal on a Make-Up Artist on 13.05.12
- A sports meet shoot on 19.05.12

Monday, 7 May 2012

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Friday, 27 April 2012

Co-assignment #1

Finally got my pictures and can start writing about the assignment.

First of all, kids can be difficult subjects to work with, or at least, they need more time. Sometimes, it is just best to go with the flow and let things happen. Be an observer and take shots as things unfold. I may sound harsh, but that's what we are paid for, right?

Since my friend is the main photographer, I focused on how he worked instead. I must admit I am not good with kids, and still have a lot to learn. Maybe I should just avoid kids.

We started in the house, and make the sofa the main backdrop of the family portrait.
The light setup

Later, we made our way to the playground. Probably a bad idea, since there was a passing rain. The kid wet his shorts and began throwing tantrums. I was tempted to stop the session, but I kept quiet since I was not calling the shots. An assistant should know his place and position.

My on-camera flash was too harsh. The colours were washed out and a hard shadow was casted.

Apparently, the kid was feeling uncomfortable with his wet pants. But portraits shouldn't be just about smiles and laughters :)

Need to keep a watch on my flash in future

Probably the best of the day?

Sunday, 15 April 2012

First Photo Competition

Got called by a friend to join a wine tasting(!) event at a community event, co-organising a photo competition with the theme "Gems" of that neighbourhood.

The day started with congestions along those filter lanes on the road. Makes me wonder how badly our road system is designed, if our public buses are also trapped by these lanes!

This was then followed by a heavier drizzle, and slight hunger, since we had little since the morning. Sat in a 1.5 hour experience sharing by 2 judges, one a nature photographer and the other a wedding photographer. Some nice photos, though I did not get my question posted to them, which was "if writing can improve what you will take". I believe it does, so maybe taking a poetry class helps :)

I must admit that we did not really try hard to get the photo, since his aim was the wine and mine just spending time with some of my oldest gears. We even had a not-so-short lunch before moving out! Nevertheless, I had a venue in mind (due to the weather).

On walking towards the venue, we came across a small shop selling some Polariod stuff. I got myself a pack of PX100 Silver Shade. Hope this is a better stock.

Where's my venue? Right under the nose, I mean the roads: the underground train stations :)

While I had a venue, I had no design. The friend came out with a design to be shot as a passer-by, stepping towards the lens. Fitted the fisheye, off-camera flash, and full manual mode with the remote. Tried a few exposures to get the correct shuttle speed (for the ambience) at 6sec, closed down to f/22 and ISO200, laid the toy on the floor and supported by the lens cover.

Original exposure. Completely forgotten to correct the white balance and correct the flash gel
Post processed. Corrected the white balance and adjust the contrast. Luckily the flash didn't turn out to be too blue.
Of course, we had to submit the original JPEG from the camera. This shot took us about 10-15min :)

The rest of the day was supplemented by a tea break in a Japanese style confectionery, followed by the buffet dinner and a glass of wine (so much for the tasting :). Fun, if you asked, and there are really some nice photos relevant to the theme (though I still cannot understand how some get selected, maybe it's because they were taken by iPhone??).

My takeaway from the experience? Take a writing or poetry lesson (probably it will enhance your creativity), and I finally know there is a Chinese cemetery in that neighbourhood.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Different sides of a face

Can really surprise me how different the sides of a face can look.

Taken with D700 and a 1.5m x 1m white reflector about 1m on the left of camera.
Main light is from the window (glass pane) on the right of camera.
Need to watch the hand under the arm.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Protrait with Artificial Lighting

Tested a setup with 2 lights and reflectors.

Left of camera is full-length reflector (1.5m height) + 1/1 SB700
Right of camera is 80cm circle reflector + 1/16 SB800

About 1m away from subject. Note that focus is not accurate since done manually in quite dark setup.

Discovered I need to watch my histogram more carefully as I seemed to always get the pictures
underexposed by about 2/3 stops than what I like to have.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Some clients love choices. So maybe it's a good idea to generate it for them

- Give them uncropped and cropped/desaturated/etc versions of the same picture
   Basically, the original and its varieties
- Take care of the flash recycling
- When taking protraits, move around the subject to try different angles and views
   (full 3/4, both ears visible or not, etc)
- Watch the hands. They may appear too big
- Watch the posing
   -> Straight backs and comfort
   -> Maybe a slight tint of smile
   -> Chest view (Area of view)
- Take both sides of the face
   -> one side may give you a surprise!

Ok, so I may have to lighten up my "old school" style a bit.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Gonna be my favourite for quite some time :)

Just happened to have D700 with the 80-200.
- Heard the birds
- Opened the window
- Wait and snap
- Load on Capture NX2
- 100% cropped
- Final result

I do wonder, though, if the background is too distracting.
But the bird seems to capture all the attention.

The clashing colours in the background are getting more and more distracting the longer I looked at this....

Oh ya, just gotten a Polaroid SX-70 (1st gen?)

And of course a Impossible film pack. First exposure was a disaster; a huge undeveloped patch near the top.

Expensive exposures, since each pack comes with only 8 emulsions and costs almost $40. Probably have to learn more about handling the film.

Tutorial #1
- Protect the emulsion as it rolled out. We can use the pack cover for that.

Tutorial #2
- Press the front latch softly to prevent the undeveloped patch happening.

Seems like underexposing (turning the wheel to reveal more black) gets better pictures on this emulsion.

Gotten feedback that I'm slow,,,

I wonder why clients nowadays expect digital cameras to shoot continuously. Are they so into sports photography, or felt short-charged because I am saving on my shutter counts? :)

I think I belonged to the old school, mainly that every shutter must worth its own. Nothing should be wasted (ideally). BUT the main reason that I worked slow today is getting used to selecting the focus point on the battery grip :)

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Getting cosy with PEN #1

Finally devoting some time and effort to getting cosy with the PEN.
Moving around light, means no tripod.
Hand-held means high ISO :)

Monday, 19 March 2012

Finally bought a MB-D200

But there seems to be some startup issues.
Wondering if I should send it for a check...

An co-assignment with a friend

Passed the whole card to him, so no pictures yet.

Tried out the D700 and 24-70 combi. Really taxing on the arm, but very happy with the output. The D200 and 17-50 combi is really beaten hands down.

Friday, 10 February 2012

FX Finally

Finally committed to a (used) D700+MB-D10.

Shuttle count of 97xx, but MB-D10 looks extremely used.
Still feel the price is pretty worth it, at $2600

Friday, 3 February 2012

An assignment on Interiors

Due to the nature of an assignment (29 Jan 2012), I borrowed this book for some research.

The assignment was to capture the interiors of a building.

The insights that this book brought was the use of a graduated filter to reduce the contrast lights on the ceiling have on the whole room. Never have this idea; but the concept is similar to balancing the bright sky with the duller earth in landscape photography.

Also brings to mind the long forgotten tilt-shifts, but not useful since it would have been cropped fiercely on my DX cameras. Even with my widest 12-24, I have to work in very tight corners. The polariser was also used to reduce as much reflection on the glass as possible.

one example where the graduated filter will work to its best. The original was to expose correctly for the ceiling lights but the shadows were severely underexposed. This was later brightened up with Nikon Capture NX2.
The same site in the day. While the shadows were still dark, I lit them by bouncing the SB600 from the right since I have a large glass pane at the right!
The decision to bring an assistant who is trained in design proved insightful in composing the pictures. She even noted the dark corners and we tried lighting them with CLS!

The far corner was too dark and was lit by a SB600 via CLS. Balanced with orange gel. There was also some re-arrangement of furniture and the blinds were pulled down to remove the reflections of ourselves in the glass panes.
While every picture worked fine (since we previewed every capture on the MacBook via Nikon Camera Control), one picture stood out particularly un-noticed.

Notice the red reflections on the chairs nearest to the camera. They were from the neon lights just opposite the building. We should have drawn the curtains for this shot...
I can finally appreciate what a tilt-shift might bring in this category, but first I will have to shoot in FX... and that means a new camera.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Shoes Shot

Trying to model a print commercial seen in the papers few months ago.

Taken after at 8pm in the void at my home, 23 Jan 2012.
- D200 with AF-S MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8G ED
- SB600 + SB800, on CLS
- Nikon Capture NX 2

Not really a successful take with the boots, but surprisingly good with the more colourful shoes.
Applied about 10% sharpening at 10pt radius.

First few takes

Tried different feathering of the lights

Still not satisfied. Cannot get the contrast. This method don't work well with dark-coloured shoes.

My beige is surprisingly good

Same goes for this sport shoes.
Setup for the shot. Shot at ISO400 and 1/60s to black out the white walls. Self-made gobo attached to the flash heads to prevent spills onto the white wall too.

Shots after a shower

Taken after a shower starting around the evening, 22 Jan 2012.
- D200 with AF-S MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8G ED
- SB600 off-camera with SC-29
- My LED torch bought in Germany
- Nikon Capture NX 2

Pictures are un-cropped, except for the grasshopper deemed to be too centred for the subject. No other corrections are applied
Droplets on the underside of a leave. Need to wrap the flash head to control light spill

Taken with the torch overhead. Had to point inwards to prevent light spill to the background.

An accidental found!
There were quite a number of tries for the grasshopper. One difficulty was that the subject was too high; I had to extend my tripod collar to its highest, slightly over 1.8m. Also, I didn't want to disturb the subject too much, so had to make do with what was available.

The final shot chosen was with the SB600 slightly overhead to the right of the subject. The below shows the other attempts. Regretfully, not much of the eyes are captured.

Part of the leg is not visible

Too much spectacular highlights. This was lit slightly below and right of the subject. Note the black background on the right of the frame