Thursday, April 30, 2009
If taking portrait for one person is difficult, taking two makes it at least twice as difficult. This shot, taken with Phase One P45 on Contax 645, with Apo-Makro-Planar 120/4 for Erin and Anita for a beauty is good example.
Making 2 models pose intimately together and exhibit their beauty thru their inner spirit, yet somehow to convey the sense of believability, was and is a true challenge.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Water is one of he most easiest yet at the same time difficult object to shoot. Water is water, it is simply just everyone's everyday experience, it can't be wrong. True. But at the same time, to capture the water in a way that is recognizable and dynamic and dramatic is difficult, especially in its set up.
I made this shot for CoverMark, it is in tended to use for counter front light box, as wide as 2 meters. Because it is in counter front, the resolution has to be very high to support the close up quality, so preparing the shot is a challenge, and require more calculation in work. In this shot, I was using Hasselblad H3D39 and HC 120/4 Makro lens. Even with the full resolution of the 39 million-pixels capture back, at the widest size it only supports to 7,216 pixels, divide by a moderate resolution of 180 dpi you get the size of picture width around 40 inches, or roughly 1 meter, which is 1/2 of what was needed, so multiple shot is needed, and for this final result, I did probably 30 separate shots on the water along and around 10 pictures with cosmetic case dropping into water, combine them together to arrive the final output, which gone well beyond 1 G in size.
When the requirement is high, easy thing can become very difficult. But well planning and careful production makes difficult things becomes easy.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
One of the most powerful tool for digital capture is the control over color temperature. No longer we as a photographer needs to decide ahead of time which type of film to use for which capture, and this is not for the sake of convenience, it is for control.
This picture, taken with Hasselblad H3D39 with HC 50-110, ISO setting at 100, exposed for 1 second. The use of lighting was interesting.
In this shot, I want to produce a somewhat fantasy atmosphere, so I simply use the fluorescent light inside the band practicing room and leaves the door open to allow the nature outdoor light flood in to burn the edge of the body of this lovely Brazilian model, Layssa. I adjusted the color temperature for the indoor lighting that result the nature light to appear blue, without using any filter of gel, it was all available and using it with right setting of color temperature.
This shot taken with Contax TVS Digital, a compact 4-million pixels digital camera which remains one of my favorite. Not quite a pocket size compare to those most recent ones, but trump them in its elegance and design excellence, and beautiful Zeiss optics.
The shot was made in a late night, on the Grand Hyatt in Pudong, Shanghai, where I stayed for the night. The stylishly illuminated building forms a beautiful contrast with the night sky, exhibits the building's brilliance as well as the quiet of night.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Our perception of time is color sensitive. This image, taken with a Hasselblad X-Pan with 45mm lens, exposed on a Fuji Velvia film at the Chiangsaeng Lake in northern Thailand.
I was a somewhat foggy morning, I walked around a small lake-side resort I stayed over the night, took this image.
The color temperature the film faithfully register gave an exact feel of a cool winter morning, quiet and peaceful.
Should this taken with digital, push the color temperature to make it looks like a hazed late afternoon shot, ma be still believable, but the total feel and intention of photography is lost.
This was an image took awhile ago, at a small town in northern Thailand, a famous tourist hub, Pai. It was a sunny afternoon, I walked into a small coffee shop, while sitting down waiting for my coffee to be served, I saw the shadow on the second floor cast by the setting sun, "what a picture" I told myself, and took it with my Canon G9.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Human has developed over millions of years a complex system between our eyes and brain. Our eyes register detail, color, texture, composition and motions that even the sophistication of our brain could not interpret in instant.
In the case of capturing a still portrait, a human, the experience of information exchange between our eyes and brain told us the human is not a still subject, but we are using a device capable of capture a freezing moment, by way of a camera, a canvas, paper.... so we always know the subject was not still, in stead, it was just a moment we captured.
This image, taken in my studio for Dasha, a Slovenian model, using Canon 1Ds III with EF 50/1.2L, is a good example. The combination of the light, the shutter speed and aperture allows me to capture this image that exhibits something we all familiar with - life is not still. But what if I simple shot Dasha in a more still moment, she is still the same person, except we will feel less dynamic, and perhaps we will see Dasha a different person.
A portrait is hardly just simply capturing an image, no, much more than that. The portrait show the person as a human, a character.
I often think the best blessing to be a photographer is that we train ourselves to have the ability and capacity to turn whatever before us into a picture, so our eye is wide angle lens, even fisheye, normal lens and sometimes tele lens, and sometimes macro lens; and can switch between focal ranges instantly.
This image is a reflection of an otherwise normal resort building in Sukhothai, Thailand, where I stay for holiday, the reflection became more interesting because it was on the surface of an dated pottery urn, most of the surface glaze cracked, I saw this image during a morning walk in the hotel garden, with a Canon G10 on my hand, I took this image.
Obviously enough the clarify of a portrait is often the most sought after element to define a good quality capture, it is; while argument also goes to the artist choice of varies manipulation to each individual photographer's taste. Grain, among all the heavily debated subjects, perhaps is the most popular ones after color or black and white.
In the days of film the dominated capturing media, with and with what amount of grains is by choice, the photographer come with preoccupied idea and select the film, the way to expose it, how it is to be developed, and print on what paper. In days of digital capture, it is the result, photographer work on, most likely, maximum clarity of original capture, develop and post production, may apply varies manipulating techniques to apply grains to the final artwork.
So am I offering an answer here? No! Certainly not! Grain is a subjective preference, a matter of photographer's taste and style, it does not matter grain or not. At least it does not matter to me.
Original capture with Phase One P45+ on Contax 645 mounted with Carl Zeiss 80/2.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Still picture is not my most favorite subject, but if I have to do and able to choose, cosmetic is probably among the top picks.
First of all, cosmetic shots typically require higher quality, which means the competition is less if you are among the better ones, or at least you need to think you are. Second is that cosmetic shots typically involve more elements, such as pearlized material that is more difficult to reproduce the tone and texture, chrome material surface that is reflective that is hard to control the lighting, and often the type face on the cosmetic package use metal foil that reflects and can be hard to provide right refection for it to read easily, and of course the right sharpness and the right depth of field, and also often, the need to shape the cream at just the right shape and need to capture the image quick and efficient enough to make everything work.
These shots are some from the series of images produce for CoverMark, capture with Hasselblad H3D39 and HC 120/4 Makro.
Lina Mass is a half German and half Russian model, this picture made for her using Canon 1Ds III digital camera and a EF 100/2.8 macro lens.
I love using macro lens for portrait, one obvious reason is that from most of the camera or independent lens makers, the offering of macro lens is usually of above averaged, often the best ones, within each ones own lens range, offer sharper and higher contrast, but the most important factor is that using macro lens frees the photographer from the limitation of distance between the camera and the model. And this is very important. In approaching the subject - the model, the distance between the photographer and the model should not be a limiting factor, with normal lens, this is an issue, not with macro lens.
The point is, when capturing the portrait, there are only the photographer and the subject model, everything else in use was to make the relationship between the photographer and model pure, free from obstruction.
Friday, April 24, 2009
This is a shot from a series of images I made for a beauty clinic, using Hasselblad H3D39, this shot, made with HC 100/2.2 lens.
What's the challenge? A beautiful face? Certainly, but much more. To find a face that can successfully represent a beauty institute requires a lot more. It is fair to say not all women were born equal, but every woman has in one way or another her best look, often beautiful; lucky ones, they look good whatsoever, and for beauty clinic, you need the lucky ones to begin with, just to begin. For the purpose of producing beauty images, I need to audition a model, a presenter, with all the angles, profiles, glimpse of eyes, smiles, in a consistent and harmonize way, and that is not easy. Because just one face is not enough, often the job such as this require tens of different faces from the same person to have the same level beauty and wellness that is indeed a challenge.
But the most difficult of all, is the spiritual beauty. You need the inner beauty to convince the consumer. No amount of photographic technique, number of pixels, hours of photoshop will help. The audition makes photographer's job a lot easier.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Another shot just made few days ago while on a trip in Hong Kong. As everyone or anyone obsessed in photography, after all, all the picture is simply the result of exposure, with lens or not, it is just the light.
As a traveler walking on the stairs, I saw this, I simply record it. Shot with a Canon G10.
An image took during my last visit to Lhasa, Tibet. The trip started from Chengdu, Sichuan, slowly climbing the way through cascades of mountains in a Mitsubishi Pajero Jeep to arrive Lhasa, it was a June summer day, nice sun shine, somewhat dusty, but what a people what a city. One must visit here by himself to comprehend how many people lively solely for a religious purpose, and live by practicing it. As a visitor, it is touching, and it is truly a magic.
The white wall is just under the holistic Potala Palace, where pilgrims from all over Tibet come to circle the palace before their entrance.
Life is simple here, people do things for what they believe, back in more civilized world, in the city, many people do things they don't believe but just make living and you wondered.
I made this shot with a Leica M8 mounted with the Summicron-M 28/2 Asph. It is a shot to remember.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
What else can one make on a scene that perhaps been shot millions, or hundreds of million times?
I took this picture at the Peak, one of the most recognized scenic spot in Hong Kong, along with hundreds of other tourists continue to come and go, with camera phones, compact cameras, digital single lens reflex, or the one right next to me with a Leaf AFi-II, the latest 56 million pixels digital back on a technical camera, and of course those who still use films, people who came with a canvas, paper and pencils. Some took a few pictures, some took a lot, digitally a lot! Me, with a compact Sigma DP-1 and took a small series of picture, this is one of it. May be there is nothing wrong to make a postcard for myself.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
This is another shot on the SEAL Table I designed back in 2007, and still one of my favorite. I made this picture back in 2008, with a striking Zambia model, Joyce, her beautiful dark skin made a sharp and attractive contrast against the high polished 316 stainless steel table, here in this case she was sitting on the table.
It was a challenge to take this picture with a lighting control over the highly reflective conical shape table legs. I use a few lights to flood my studio floor and walls that shines the table itself, as well as on Joyce. Taken with Phase One P45+ on Contax 645, mounted with Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 45-90/4.5 for this image, one of my favorite images.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Is horizon mattered? Or should one cares it at all? Saying says that the only rule in photography is that there is no rules.
This picture, taken with Canon 1Ds II and EF 35/1.4L, at a close distance for the young Russian model, Olga, demonstrates this subjective argument. Without question, the subject is clearly the model herself, when I get closer, I turned the camera so the frame of her body will stretch across the the picture area, without considering should I keep the camera horizontal. When I developed the raw file, I tried to see if leveling the horizon line will improve the impact of the image? Not at all.
Often times when photographers saw the picture came out from the film or nowadays the digital capture, attempt to correct the horizontal line. not all of the photographers, but lots of them. Some camera even has the electronic leveling aide, or sometimes with spirit level device. But should we care that much. Of course it depends, but it really matters when one thinks it mattered. As photographer, I always believe the first snap instance often resulted the best shot.
This is also a recent shot made for Mazda, the beloved roadster which perhaps help jumped start the popular trend in recent years, the 2009 new model, a MX-5 Convertible.
Trying not to settle with the usual car editorial shoot with models, I went on using the studio flash to fill the model, with the head lamp of the car to pain the legs of the lovely model, Martina.
The picture was taken using a Phase One P45+ mounted on Contax, with Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 45-90/4.5 setting on 90mm for this capture. One of the challenge for this production was to find a model with the personality to match the car, and of course the right frame of body that can portrait the car in just right proportion, so the car shows its compactness while not looking too small to host the buyers of all body sizes. Martina did a good job in this one, I have her pose in the way she looks sporty, and of course needs to be sexy at the same time, not too fragile, but gives a bit feels of lightness where she is supporting her body using just fingers. I timed the exposure to just enough to pain a lovely highlight on her leg, as well as allow the beautiful Zeiss optics to record the brilliance of the head lamp.