Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Motion in Still Photography

This is an image made at the now well known Kamalaya Hotel in Koh Samui, Southern Thailand. I shot this image for myself, while staying there enjoying new year holiday.  The image was a cropped version of the beautiful lotus pond at the hotel lobby. 
Lotus is an interesting object, especially for Chinese, or may be for most of the oriental cultures. For Chinese, lotus often used to refer a gentleman, that it is more important what one became, rather than where he came from; just as the beautiful and clean lotus grown up from the mud. For buddhist, it also represents the varies level of mind and spiritual development.
I like this image a lot for a lot of reasons, of course lotus as subject itself, but much more.  First is the camera used to capture the image was a fine crated Swiss made Alpa 12 camera,  it is a camera designed all the way back to the very basic, handing all photography creativity back to photographer himself, rely on nothing but the movement of photographer's hand. The lens in use was the rare Carl Zeiss 38mm Biogon specially made for Alpa, of very limited number and long discontinued. The combination of the camera and lens perhaps represents the very best of still image making tool of highest precision.  The image was captured with a Phase One P45 back of 39mp resolution, and what did it capture?
The beautiful light on the pond, the water,  the shadow, the beautiful lotus in light and also in shadow, but also a jumping goldfish?  The fish, although small, while it jump in the area where the water pouring down to the surface of the pond, signify a lively image that such a small creature to challenge the relatively dynamic nature force, thru the media the fish itself live in.  I don't know if goldfish even jumps!
In still photography, the moment freeze between shutter open and close, but really nothing is still.  All the images presented tell us something, and it depends on how we read the picture.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Photography is an interesting work, the one behind the camera can sometimes turn an otherwise common scene into an interesting one, simply to choose the time to photograph, recompose the posture, expression, available location and perhaps mixes of lights. 
I shot this picture in the small swimming pool of my apartment, I chose to shoot in the night so I can use the artificial light to project the pool to look more depth and visually appeared to be much larger, while I still need the trees in the corner to be lightly lit to avoid lost sense of dimension.  I use a bron-color Pulso G powered by a Verso A2 pack to light up the model to give a contrast look with her face showing off more attitude to match the lighting, and time the exposure a little longer to have the underwater lighting to properly exposed to get the right balance.  I asked the model to pose in contrary to the form of the pool and get this image. Is it luck?  Not really! But is it difficult?  Certainly not!  It is a little plan ahead of time and to be clear with the photographer himself of what is the image he wants to produce, and how to get there. Picture shot using a Canon 1Ds MK3 mounted with EF 35/1.4L.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Painting & Photography

Painting perhaps started as early as man started to learn how to use our hands. In comparison, photography is just happening. But how different?
Photography, by its definition, is painting by the light, saying so, really there is no tool needed, ancient wisdom has discovered the pinhole and use it, long before photographer use it to record image. Through the superior optical quality of our eyes, human is capable of seeing general things in a reasonably clear images, but certainly they are people who see beyond that, beyond the realm of realism, or, are they they seeing the reality in a way we didn't see?
Claude Monet, the founder of French impressionist painting or Vincet van Gogh, considered the post-impressionist, presented from their painting the image so real beyond what our common eye sees. Because what they presented was a pure value of the color, the light, the shadow, rather than focus on detail and lost the essential part of the world they see?
I took this picture from a compact Canon ixus i, a small 4-million pixels digit cam in northern Thailand nearby the Golden Triangle, it was a foggy morning, with condensation built on the window glass of my hotel room, and the early light while look thru the window took my attention and I shot this image, totally un-retouched. And the real world is very much the same, we are looking at exactly the same thing but often there are something between our mind and the subject, or sometimes as the photographer use the filter, either a piece of colored glass or gel, mesh, a piece of tissue, or just a different mindset?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Black & White in Color

Man has always fascinated by the beautiful sceneries the nature has presented to us, awe by its swift color changing, feel the live and death, it is a wonderful world. And yet, and as it has always been, photographers over generations have strive to define what naturally presented to us in bold black and white, not all, but mostly did, me included.
What is so intrigue that we are drawn back to the essential of pure tonal value while everyday our eyes see things in colorful way? Are those colors just illusional? Or it is a gift from higher being or a reward from advanced development of the human being? But does color means anything to us? Or does it mean something to us because we have the choices?
I shot this picture back in November 2006 in the beautiful Rajaprapha Dam in southern Thailand, in closing hours of the day, while on a boat cruise to return to the land, the nature has bathe the sky with a setting sun and unbelievable vibrant color, I had to call the boatman to stop, ask the beautiful Russian model Elina to climb the tree submerge from the water, shot with a Canon 1Ds MK2 and 70-200/2.8L IS using the shoe mounted EX580 flash gun, and this is among the most favorite ones. Why do I like it? The model is the subject of the picture, good skin tone from the whole day shooting in good sunlight, should it be better to allow the picture to show the vivid color of beautiful sunset and the model herself? But then will it be more interesting if I try to portrait the picture in pure black and white? Or can I leave some original color there? And here it is, I want the picture to portrait the nature, rather than just focus on the model, so the expression of the body, the tree branches and the background sky gave me the opportunity to get this picture as it is presented here. I want the shadow of the body be a part of the nature itself, tried to disassociate the model is a human, rather, tried to just portrait her as part of nature. And so the final result of picture.
Color or black and white is a choice, it matters how the photographer want to express by way of the photography, presented as a picture. Will a pure black and white or full color presentation of this very same image will have less visual impact? Or vice versa? Or may be it will be a different story, or may be really it is the same story told from different point of view?