Monday, December 15, 2008


What makes a good portrait? This is a question often asked, many answered, more didn't. Is it about the person in the image? The light? The composition? Chemistry between the photographer and the model? A bit of everything? Or not?
I made this image for a young model, Kate, using a new Sinar Hy6 6X6 camera fitted with a 33-million-pixels Sinar eMotion 75 digital back. The lens which helped capture this beautiful image is the well known Carl Zeiss 120/4 Makro Planar.
What makes a good portrait? Human is an emotional creature, the emotion inside the model's brain reflect on her face, story told in her eyes, subtle yet sensible change happening in milliseconds, photographer pressed the shutter at the moment it captures something, and often missed more. I made pictures for many people, often many pictures for each of them, it is very seldom many people like the same picture, in particular, often the model likes the picture different from the one picked by the photographer, but is it strange? No, not at all, at least I am used to it.
The neural system in our brain works so fast and we often did not know it actual works. We often look at a picture and in that instant, we might smell the person in picture, feel her skin texture, share her happiness, or her sorrow, or uncertainty. Or we like the jewel the model wears, imagine how will the same jewel on ourselves, and what is the fabric of her dress? How soft? Is she really look at the lens? Or she was trying to look thru it to find the eye behind the viewfinder? Or something? Too many things happened in the instant of image capture, and as many things happened at the instant that one looked at the picture.
So does it matter what makes a good portrait? May be we should not try to define such answer, or because the answer is already in each one's mind?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

SEAL Table

This is a table I designed in late 2007 and went into production by the end of 2007 and continue to 2008. The name of this table comes from sea and land, which suggests the intend use of this table.
I started the design to try to offer a solution of a all terrain table, especially for use on beachside, garden, swimming pool side and certainly indoors. So the choice of material quite naturally set to use a marine grade stainless steel, SUS316L so it can withstand weathering, and the design itself is to transform the tri-table-leg into table top, to allow the true all-terrain use. Fabricating the table is no easy task, to reach a larger footprint, the table leg is slightly stretched out to allow the connecting angle in a direction that require extra precision cut for the hollow, cone shape table leg, and weld them together to form the table top, which is using 2.5mm thick 316L steel. The SEAL Table is not light, but the entire design to make it an all terrain use was also to enable it to float on water, with the weight it balanced to a level that the table is more useful, on clear water, about 100 mm above the surface of water. The displacement of water keeps the table afloat, and in order to reach a perfect balance, the fabrication of the hollow leg require the degree of control beyond most common fabricators' ability, but it is quite fascination to see how it work on water. And of course, it is also quite pleasing to see it stand along as a design object.
This image is one of the advertising I made for this table, with the lovely model, Magaritta, laying on the floor with her leg across the table legs, holding a wine glass while licking the chocolate dripping from the able top, a lovely yet sexy presentation, at least it is to me. The direction of the image is of course to present the table, but more or less to use the model and set up of the image to soften and warm up the cold stainless steel.
The image was taken using the Phase One P45+ digital back of 29 million pixels resolution attached to my beloved Contax 645 camera mounted with Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 45-90mm lens.