Sunday, July 31, 2011

The plume, the scarf of Manjusri

One of the most iconic images of Mr. Everest is its plume on its summit. Everest – in fact a rather colonial name as the result of imperialism, the mountain itself, in fact long carried a beautiful name as Jomolungma – Holy Mother! – by Tibetan.
In January 2004, the astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) observed a 15-20km long snow plume emanating from the summit of Mt. Everest.  Remarkably little is known about these plumes and the role that they play in redistribution of snow in the high Himalaya.
Here in East Tibet, on the summit of Jambeyang Peak, the plume is also clearly visible, like a scarf on Manjusri, blown by the high altitude jet stream.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Buddha of Compassion

Avalokiteshvara, or Chenrezig in Tibetan, is an enlightened being who is manifestation of all Buddha’s compassion.  In mainstream Mahayana Buddhism, Avalokiteshvara is better know as Guānshìyīn Púsà (觀世音菩薩), the Bodhisattva of Mercy.  Here in Yading, it is the highest of the trio, the Chanadorje Peak, which pictured here, shot in the sunset time.

Patron saint of the Tibetan

Yading area made its fame to the would be traced back to 1928, by an Austrian American Joseph Rock, who spent much of his time in China and whose images appeared regularly on National Geography during his time.
Yading is renowned for the three holy peaks, which was blessed in the 8th century by Buddha Padmasambhava (Sanskrit Padmakara पद्मसम्भव ) of projecting his divine light onto the range of the three elevations after 3 bodhisattvas : Jambeyang (or Yangmaiyong) the south peak as the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, the  east peak Chanadorje (or Xianuoduoji) as the Bodhisattva of Wrath and the north peak Chenresig (or Xiannairi) as the highest of the trio, symbolizes Avalokiteshvara or better known by Chinese as the Guānshìyīn Púsà (觀世音菩薩), the Bodhisattva of Mercy.
It is said that if a Tibetan pilgrimage to the shrine 3 times in life, he can be blessed with all he desires.
Picture here is the Chanadorje 5,958m, shot with Canon EOS 5DII + EF 70-300 F/4-5.6L IS USM (setting at 200mm), original image is 17,108 X 6,165 pixels, stitched from 11 captures.

The avatar of Manjusri

Regarded as the bodhisattva of transcendent wisdom (Skt. prajñā), Manjusri, in Sanskrit is also referred as “Gentle Glory”. 
The mountain in this picture – Jambeyang (or Yangmaiyong), towering 5,958 meters above sea level, is the holy peak worshipped by Tibetan, the avatar of Manjusri.  I shot this image in Yading, East Tibet on May 25, 2011 - just a few weeks ago, during my expedition over the great Shangri-La.
Jambeyang (or Yangmaiyong) as the south peak 5,958m, - the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, together with east peak Chanadorje (or Xianuoduoji) 5,958m – represents Vajrapani, the Bodhisattva of Wrath and north peak Chenresig (or Xiannairi) 6,032m, the highest of the trio, symbolizes Avalokiteshvara or better known by Chinese as the Guānshìyīn Púsà (觀世音菩薩), the Bodhisattva of Mercy, these three holy peaks dominant the skyline of Yading Nature Reserve and are regarded as the patron saint of the Tibet.
The shot was made with Canon 5DII mounted with EF 70-300 f/4.5-5.6L IS (setting at 100mm), the image is 13,427 X 5,808 pixels, stitched from 8 shots.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Kitty Melt Me

Another image made for the Hello Kitty intimate wear line, Kitty Melt-Me, shot with Hasselblad H2 mounted with Phase One P65+ digital back, with HC 150/3.2 lens, and a little longer lens is used in order to get a little extra glamorous atmosphere.  The extra distance between the beautiful model, Olga and the lens gives a better sense of intimacy and privacy, works better with this image.

Color of the night

A recent shot made while visiting an associated studio in Surat Thani, southern Thailand, the lovely and vibrant Spectrum Café Studio.   
The shot was made as a small demonstration for the fan club of the Spectrum Café Studio which is among the largest and most comprehensive camera and studio equipment distributor and an installation of a nice photographic studio, combine with photo-lab, coffee shop and light meals.
The shot was set up right in front of Spectrum, using simple equipment and lighting – available street light and shoe-mounted flash gun.  I made this shot using my Canon 5DII and EF 35/1.4L, with 580EX-II.  
To make the otherwise rather common street looked more dramatic, a few set up and preparation was made, such as the position of the bike to allow the model pose to her advantage, a car parked roughly 10 meters behind the bike to turn on the head-lamp adding some lighting to the scene, splash water nearby the bike so it reflects the light coming from behind, using slow shutter speed to allow some light painting from the passing cars, as well as create a nice light balance of the dark night, street and surrounding.  The main subject – the model and the bike, was lit by the she-mount flash.  My Canon 5DII was set to manual, ISO 200, EF 35/1.4L close down to f/4.0 for the proper image sharpness and a little background blur, shutter speed 0.3s, using E-TTL while reduce the output of the flash by 2/3 stop.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Candidate

Just a few weeks after one of the most anticipated in Thailand, leaves mixed bag of peoples when back to their normal life.
I was at the Panakorn area of Bangkok over the weekend, walking on a small street, saw this mark on a public school door and realize the climate of political is not the cause of unmoved society and the people, it is the society and people create such political circus. 
School should be the hub to cultivate the future of a country left with its door rusted and untamed; a candidate who ran for serving public set bad marks and example on the entrance of education hub.  It is Thailand. 

Telephone booth and Facebook

With the advancing technology today one would wonder if the telephone booth the way we know it would still be exist into the next decade?  Already an icon in many modern movies that a telephone booth signifies something like today virtue social network – Facebook – where one connects his or her relatives, friends and meet new friends. Just like those waiting outside the phone booth waiting for their turn.
This image took in Panakorn, Bangkok, a simple and no-longer for much service phone booth became a small stand on the tiny street, perhaps a good rain shelter, and a standing advertising sign boards.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wildflower and love

On top of the Haizi Mountain, 5,020 meters above sea level, strong wind, dramatic shift in temperature from day to night, one would not find much lives here but just like Emerson (one of my favorite poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson) once said: Love is like wildflowers; It’s often found in the most unlikely places.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A quiet corner

A small, quiet corner in Haizi Mountain during snowstorm.  Shot during my recent Great Shangri-La trip.
There are unlimited materials in nature waiting to be discovered.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Portrait lens

Portrait lens is perhaps one of the most debated topics in photography community because it is a topic of really no definitive answer.  There will be many, more than many swear that how should portrait be made and therefore by which lens, some may go further to theorize portraiture photography base on masterpieces.  And that is where the problem came from.
Not that masterpieces are non-exist, on the contrary, there are lots of masterpieces, of many kinds, by many people, of many styles. Similarly, the development of photography is hugely tool related, from the early day large sheet film technical camera to smaller roll film camera to modern day digital, people’s way of taking picture and the approach is constantly developed, mostly for good. 
Is there any lens can rightfully called a portrait lens, I do not believe.  Slightly change in distance between subject and the photographer has profound impact on the perspective of the image and human brain is so delicate that our conscious sense the smallest detail and feel, and exactly that is why so many photographer s eventually use different tool and approach to produce each own craft.  Yes, there are textbook stuffs while ironically, textbook is for students.
The image for example here, on the beautiful Taiwanese model Sandra, shot with Sinar Hy6 + Schneider 80/2.8 AF-D, Sinar emotion 75LV.  Lighting with Bron-Color Verso A4 with Para 220FB.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The horizon

This is a swimsuit shot made at the beautiful Changburi Resort & Spa, Ko Chang Island, Thailand.
The cliff side swimming pool is designed as it is extending to the sea, to the horizon.
Horizon, as Nora Neale Hurston said it: “No matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you.”  The horizon gives a sense of infinity, representing hope.  Positioning a model between the horizon and the camera lens, regardless how far the model is from the camera, always feel friendly, and reachable.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Stillness in the chaos

This is a stitched image taken at the Haizi Mountain (海子山), situated between Litang and Daocheng, it is the largest geographical remain of ancient glaciers in Tibetan Plateau (Daocheng Ancient Ice Cap).  There are total 1,145 varies sizes lakes on the ancient glacial rock basin, averaging altitude of 4,500 meters, with the highest peak towers over 5,020 meter.
Being at such altitude, strong wind, severe climate shifts between day and night, seasons change, making its view changes from minute to minute.  Almost 2 hours after departed from our lunch spot, Litang, we arrived at this beautiful place, near the top of Haizi Mountain, midst rocks and lakes, strong wind and snow, for a moment everything became still, and I took this image.   The picture was stitched from 4 captures of Canon 5DII with EF 70-300/4.5-5.6L IS.

Canvas and painter

All the painting started on a media that is empty except it is really not empty.  It is a piece of canvas, it is a piece of paper, or could be anything, but it is not nothing.  The texture of the media will give the painting some refinement, some touch, or the color of the media will provide the level of contrast to the painting.
Traveling in the Tibetan region is like having the best canvas, simple strokes can result nice painting.

Rule of thirds?

One of the most known photography rule, or so-called rule, is perhaps the Rule Of Thirds.  And there is also saying that the only rule is that there is no rule.
The issue is that there are lots of elements in an image that could effect how our mind reads, and foremost, the luminance value.  There are perhaps unlimited ways of balancing an image, for example this image, which defies the rule of thirds.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Of jewelry and flesh

The most precious jewels are not made of stone, but of flesh.  ….. Robert Ludium
Obviously enough, he is not a woman.

A break?

Every once awhile I will shoot a subject that often not my priority, nor my particular liking, such as a male model.   

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The choice of lighting

This is an image shot in a small bathroom, and by that, artificial lighting set up is rather difficult. Modern digital technology offer extremely good quality image using available light but I always use it as a last resort, and of course, its quality although acceptable, it is still not comparable to lower to medium ISO setting,
This image of beautiful Thais for example, I could have used ISO 1600 with the available room light but then I would lost critical crispness of the image and nice rendition between the highlight and shadow area so I use a shoe-mounted flashgun to balance the room light, and was able to ISO 200 at f/5.0, at 1/50s. To avoid harsh flash light on the subject, I turned the flashgun away from the subject and find a wall to reflect/bounce the light to get this final image. * Shot with Canon 1DsIII, EF 50/1.2L, and 580EX.

Good never enough!

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition for “good” is as this.  Than there are the “better” and the “best”, therefore, good is never enough.
As of July, 2011, the highest quality of single digital capture would the just available in the market – Phase One IQ 180, a new digital back packed of the state of the art technology available for medium format digital back.  Most of the medium format digital camera/back today are much less than what was years ago and sadly the trend is likely to continue regardless the recent stir in the industries: Hasselblad being sold again to a private equity Ventizz and Pentax again being sold (only the camera and lens division) to Ricoh – the one who pioneered the modular compact camera system, GXR.  Pentax has been among the earliest one to announce medium format digital camera and the last to make it available in the market, and during such time, changed hand twice.  What Ricoh said in their press material indicate their desire to acquire Pentax for mirrorless interchangeable lens camera system – which Pentax just introduced the Pentax Q.  How success this venture would be only time will tell, but clearly their focus is not the medium format Pentax 645D.  But will such inspiration for the Ricoh-Pentax to develop a 135mm full frame modular camera is without doubt interesting.
The most interesting news to me has to be the Vintizz now the boss of Hasselblad.  I am a Hasselblad user, owning H1, H2, H3D cameras and all the lenses, and still have some older legacy V series FE lenses still in my storage, for example the mighty Carl Zeiss TPP 300/2.8 for Hasselblad 2000 series cameras, one of my favorite lenses.  But to me, clearly, the Hasselblad perhaps has seen its best. I am also a Phase One digital back user, using the still mighty, still good P65+, but good never enough, so I will move up to IQ 180, and possibly switch to Phase One camera platform, and hope Phase One will last a little longer.  Am I pessimistic?  I don’t think so.  Phase One’s IQ 180 is at the moment the pinnacle of medium format digital but within months its features will be good but not in the same league as the smaller cameras, larger camera companies from Japan or may be Korea or China in the future but of course, the digital back’s pure quality in controlled light would still be untouchable.  And Hasselblad at the moment, is at least 18 months away from IQ 180, and I would not be surprise they will not be able to carry out any surprise in another 12 month!  But does that make Hasselblad current camera obsolete? Not yet. They are good, but not better, certainly not the best.
But just how good or how much better the IQ 180 will be?  Luminous Landscape has a piece of review for reference and I would have to wait until mine to make comparison myself. And how about P65+?  This image is taken with P65+ and I cropped a small section for reference.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Panorama image and landscape

Panorama is originated from Greek, means all-sight, and it is what it is. Before the digital capture becomes available, panoramic images although popular, they are limited to certain sizes – due to restriction of angle of view of a given lens and size of camera, of course.  Back then, I owned quite a few cameras made specifically or converted to take panoramic images, they are the mighty and beautifully made Linhof Technorama 617s the widest  film camera I have ever had, and I also owned one Linhof Technorama 612 PC II,  I also owned a Mamiya 7 that can take its proprietary accessory to use 36 exposure 135mm roll film for 16 exposures of 24X56 format image, exactly same size as the Hasselblad X-Pan which I also have – and all the lenses available for these cameras - that said – I have quite some panoramic image gear back in those day, but never pick up enough  momentum on panoramic photography, until the arrive of digital technology.
Of course one of the biggest advantage for digital capture is raw file that the photographer finally can have better control on his won image, how is vision interpret what he saw at the moment of capture.  And I would put the digital stitch the 2nd greatest strength of digital imaging, and since then, I started to take a lot more panoramic images, with exactly the same camera I use for regular photography.
For example this image, taken shortly after I left Litang. Before reaching the next destination, I stopped by a smooth hilltop, to take this image using 14 captures from Canon 5DII using EF 70-300L IS, the original stitched image is 28,060 X 3,269 pixels, and I cropped one of the section as the feature image on this post.

Well, may be someone has said it best, if you can’t make a good print, make a BIG one!