Sunday, November 03, 2013

Turn On the Lights

Red and blue outfit plus colored lights on skin and white background. All rights reserved by © Alex T. Atienza (alexdpx) 2013. Fujifilm X-E1.

Model Credits: Mhishei Cuerdo

There is lighting you create as a reaction to ambient to make it look like ambient.  And then there is lighting you create simply because it's cool.  Not the exact words but more or less what the great portrait photographer Gregory Heisler says.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Don't Put Cheap Glass On Your Expensive Lens


I have never liked the idea of putting UV / Skylight filters on my lenses.  I did, a long time ago, but with experience, I found that they can often times "hold back" your lens' full potential.  Although, there is that argument that these filters help minimize haze and, at the same time, help protect the front element of your lens.  I'm sure you have all experienced when you buy a new lens, the salesman will typically advice and convince you to buy these filters for the reasons mentioned above.  That's okay, it's their job to sell stuff.  No offense meant to salesmen out there.  Usually they'd say it "costs almost nothing" and the uninitiated will usually be convinced . . . and believe this religiously that they can never ever again buy a lens without "protection".  This is debatable, of course, but my personal opinion is . . . don't bother with them.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Taking It Slow

Whenever possible I almost always photograph running water using slow shutter exposure.  But to do it under bright ambient light, it means using a tripod and several stops of ND filter.  The tripod, you need to handle the camera shake during long exposure.  The ND filter, you need to significantly cut down the bright ambient light going in to your camera's sensor.  Tripods are not allowed inside the Museum of Islamic Arts in Qatar (where this picture was taken) but you could probably get away with a mini-tripod or one of those Gorilla pods if you use them very, very discreetly.  

I took this photo with a Fujifilm X100S at 1/2 second, f/16 and ISO 100 - handheld.  That camera has a built-in 3-stops ND filter which allowed me to drop that shutter speed that slow.  I could shoot it slower with smaller aperture but that is as slow as I can hold the camera steady.  Yup, handheld at 1/2 second.  No image stabilizer here, just my "steady" hands.  I can do that because the X100 has a near vibration free leaf shutter and without a pelical mirror to cause vibration.

Next time, I'm gonna use a mini-tripod to shoot even slower.


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Why I Chose Fuji?

With the recent addition of a Fujifilm X-E1 in my gear bag, I am surely well on my way to converting from DSLR junkie to mirrorless nut.  I'd most likely still keep my DSLRs, but who knows for how much longer.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fujifilm X100S for Portrait Works

Fujfilm X100S, 23mm, f/2.5, 1/320, ISO200,1-hotshoe flash with Rogue Grid snoot and 1/2 CTO gel at camera left.

The Fujifilm X100S is not exactly the kind of camera you would use for portrait sessions.  I've always thought (and I still do) that its single-focal length 23mm f/2 imposes some creative limitations especially for portrait works.  If you do use it, the pictures will result in some weird distortions on your subjects faces that, more often than not, they will be unflattering.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Why You Still Need A Pocket Camera

The SMARTPHONE - be it an iPhone, Android or otherwise - has replaced a variety of personal items and stand-alone gadgets.  Planners, note pads, maps, alarm clocks and most particularly - your affordable pocket point & shoot digital camera.

The picture quality of smartphones now rivals those of dedicated point & shoots and sharing them has never been easier and quicker.  Such things cannot be done with your point & shoot.  But hold on. That being said, however, there are still some very good reasons to have pocket point & shoot.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What's In The Bag?

In a typical photoshoot, these are the basic gear I carry with me.  Sometimes there's more but never less.  Not shown in this photo but definitely inside the backpack pockets are the following:

- Multi-card reader
- ND grad filters
- power plug adaptors,
- colored gels
- USB cable
- small 5-in-1 reflector

I also have a larger bag of lighting kit (not shown in the photo) that contains:

- 2 big light stands
- 2 small light stands
- 2 Westcott soft boxes
- umbrella brackets
- tripod
- monopod

Not all of them are used everytime in a photoshoot but in an indoor environment shoot, many of them will be pulled out of the bag.

So that's me.  That's all of the stuff I carry around in a photoshoot.  I used to bring my laptop as well but thankfully I got that Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 now where I can copy Jpegs right after the shoot for instant viewing.

I'm working on reducing the amount of gear I bring to a shoot and hoping to one day shoot with only the X100S.  Until then, I'll be carrying this big backpack and everything inside it.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cool Lights . . . I Mean, "Hot!"

"There is light you create that is a photographic reaction to light as it exists in the world, and there is light you create just because it's cool." - Gregory Heisler

The concept for this photoshoot was directly inspired by Gregory Heisler's photo of Alonzo Mourning.  I wanted to do lighting just for the sake of "cool lighting".  But my model here is a hottie so I'm calling this photo set "Hot Lights".  The resulting photos were, of course, nowhere near what Mr. Heisler has achieved but the key word here is "inspiration" - not "duplicate".  It was a very good case study so I set out to try what can be done with my modest lighting equipment.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Impressions: A Week with Fujifilm X-Pro1

Fujifilm X-Pro1 in tandem with the new X100S.  Photo courtesy of Isagani Penaranda.

The X-Pro 1 is Fujifilm's flagship X-Series camera.  Through Gulf Photo Plus and Fujifilm ME's loan program, photographers residing in UAE and a few, like myself, in nearby countries had the chance to try out Fuji's X-Series cameras.  I borrowed the X-Pro 1 together with 3 prime lenses - 18/2, 35/1.4 and 60/2.4 to find out if an all-Fuji system would suit me and eventually . . . huh . . . if it's possible to migrate from DSLR to Fuji mirrorless.  Why not Sony?  Or Olympus or Panasonic?  I don't know but they just don't appeal to me.  I was looking at Sony's NEX-6 and 7 but couldn't make myself to like their user interface.  The Fuji's look more like a viable "pro-camera" in a small package.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Color Management 2: A Recipe of Speedlites, Gels and White Balance

Photo by Jun Dumipnas

In part 1 of Color Management, we talked about how to preserve ambient light and match it's white balance with our flash.  But what if you want to change it entirely?  Did I hear someone say, "fix it in Photoshop"???  STOP . . . get out of this classroom, you're dismissed!! 

Here, we do things IN CAMERA.  Photoshop is a last resort.  You'd probably ask, "Why would you even want to change ambient light?"  Well, you know, sometimes, the location you are given is just not perfect - or it is perfect but the light is just not inspiring.