Friday, October 29, 2010

Nagarkot Morning

This image was made with a Phase One P65+ digital back mounted on Hasselblad H2, using HC 50/3.5 lens.  It was a cool morning in March, at a hotel I stayed at Nagarkot, a small toruist hub known for splendid panoramic view of Himalayan mountain range.
I took the image right after day break so the rising sun warming up the distant clounds which incidentally carpeting the scenery beyond - the Himalaya.
Slightly disappointed, I made this image at least to record what I saw in the morning and a fact that although I was not able to capture the mountain view, Nagarkot itself is a little charming village anyway.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Moment

I work with lots of models, most of them professionals, but yet you still find them rather uncomfortable in front of cameras so it is a big part of the job to get them relaxed.  Perhaps they are not uncomfortable with camera, they are uncomfortable with themselves.
True, and particularly for models, no one knows them better than themselves.  One may wonder that models - or for that matter - most women spent hours in front of mirror seeing themselves, what else they did not know, or they know too much?  That nothing is perfect!  Yet the model is in a business to present perfect - of course they are not but they need to portrait that, and the photographer knows they are not but need to train his camera to get the best angle that works for the picture so the result will be closer to perfect, and if not - comes the Photoshop.
Perfection may not be realistic, but it is the ideal, so every knows what is not possible but all look for impossible and making efforts to believe impossible possible. And the victim is the model, and photographer is the victim of the Photoshop.
All said is true, but often there are moments that the camera does able to take a glimpse of them and turn that into an image, sometimes you called that luck!

Still and Motion

The age of HDSLR came at no real surprise, it is not started by how the camera is made, rather, it is started by how the media is stored, so it is a move more software than hardware.  Wether or not the Canon 5D II will become a landmark camera in history is no longer much of a debate, but it is to be understood there are many cameras before it built with capability of taking video footage.  What Canon 5D II did, is to bring the large screen feel of quality - more on the definition of in and out of focus of an image, that excites photographer all over the world.  And suddenly, everyone who owns a 5D II (and many more come after it) can start making movies or short films, for one biggest advantage - capable of shooting in poor light - this can free the photographer from dealing with complicate (very complicate) and expensive (very expensive) of lighting issues.
Wether the quality came from Canon 5DII or the like can be comparable to the true moving making machines such as Panavision or Arriflex, or RED is still heavily debate. Certainly many production companies has used them, but much less of them rely only on them, which tells something.  Although one cannot rightfully say the Canon 5DII is poor man's movie camera, it is not too far from truth.
As still photographer, of course I would move on motion at any given chance, although I still like the still image, but working on motion will also give me a different perspective into producing still images.  So with Canon 5DII, the 7D, and the Tester 13 hacked Panasonic GF-1 - now converted to IR only camera, and lately the Sony NEX-5, and soon the Sony VG-10,  I too work on quite a few productions on short films, and more are planning.  And the charming of it is that with a relatively inexpensive tool, and reasonable collection of lenses I have, it is hard to resist such possibility.
without much double, Canon 5DII with its larger sensor to produce very beautiful selective focus image made it still a hot choice today, but what Panasonic did with their GH-1 (or more likely to be called GH-13 after being hacked), and the GH-2, put itself on a position serious challenging Canon and even RED, and so I am just waiting.  Waiting while using all of them, until and I think in not distant future, a HDSLR capable of producing 4K raw motion footage, perhaps in a platform or camera design we have yet to see.
The "Poisoned", is a short film capture on 5DII, with a little soft and vintage look.

The new project "Entrance and Exits", shoot on NeX-5 with a large array of primes lenses from Canon and Leica, is a little more fun.  The SONY NEX-5 is small but fun piece to work with. Although an adapter that can translate the electronics and powers between a body and non-proprietary lens is not available yet (is it that hard to make one?), I did get around the problem with a spare Canon camera for aperture setting of the lens, and remove the lens while the lens is stop-down with the camera. It may sound inconvenience but really it is not. With most of the motions captured in f/4, I just use them as fixed focal lens with few exceptions.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cropping an image

This is recent campaign shot for a manufacturer using Canon 1Ds III + EF 85/1.2L.  The original image was cropped to what is illustrated here. The original capture, however, does cover more but not everything needs to be displayed, atfter all, this is a shot for the product.
Copping the image does not only stay away from issues of pushing the image to the edge of nudity which may lost some commercial interests, but more importantly, the face was cropped so the picture attarcts the viewer with extra attention, and of course more focus on the product itself.

2 Faces

The use of mirror in photography has its great effect becasue it solves all lot of composition and directional issues.  Use here is a high quality product I designed for a client, with the almost mirror polished lacquer ware hold on the model hand, it rightfully became a mirror capable of producing the reflection in a rather nice way, particular for this image.  The wrinkle gold foil avoid the reflection to show too much detail, just enough of it, with a nude body, it became less straight forward and gave the product a chance to stand out.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Eyes

One of the most difficult thing to achieve in portrait is how the photographer can make his model looks into the camera the way he likes, and it is not that easy.  
As early as Cicera (106-43 B.C.) who quoted "Ut imago est animi voltus sic indices oculi" - the face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter.  The Latin proverbs - "Vultus est index animi" or "Oculus animi index"  are usually translated as "The face is the index of the mind.  And it cannot be said better.
As a photographer to try to get the look I want, I will need to make my model totally relaxed and open so the window can open to allow me to see more, or I just get a window.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Portrait of a mountain

This image was taken during my travel to China this May, to Sichan province of China, using several images stitched made from Canon 5D II + EF 100-400L, setting at 400mm. Mountain in the picture is Xian Nairi, considered a holy mountain, more on here.  Of course one may use a wde angle, in fact, because of such distance between myself and the mountain, may be a normal lens will also do - except the finished image will be a lot smaller, and if to crop it, become even smaller. 
The modern technology has allow many useful and powerful tools to make images, with lots of choices and flexibility.  For picture such as this, my approach is always to shoot a succession of images, with longer focal length of lens, to compress the image as to take portraits, and later to stitch them together, so this way I get better perspective of the subkect, higher clarity of detail, and much larger file.  
This approach may not be preferred by many, because not all the time the larger file size is preferred, and also it is more time consuming.  SONY's handy "Sweep Panorama" is a wonderful choice as well, except it is at the moment only produce smaller file (even automatically stitched, and JPEG only), it is sure enough for many, I use often with my NEX-5.  But when I have a choice, I would go larger file, especially for the perspective of the image.   And what's the difference?  One may argue that put the pixel peeping aside, does a crop image differed from one shot at longer focal length lens?  To me it is.  To me, a wide angle lens stretch the vision,  resulting the object appeared to a little further away while a tele-photo lens compress the image, as it is closer, which I prefer to have the mountain appeared to be closer, as it is a portrait.