Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sony's Flash Workshop

A very typical scene for a flash workshop if there is a model shoot session.

Finally, I got my place for this infamous flash workshop organised by Sony Malaysia. Almost every Alpha user talked about it, and when ever there is a flash workshop out there, the places will be filled up pretty quickly. I had been eyeing to get a place for myself, so to witness with my own eyes how the flash workshop is conducted, and hopefully after the workshop, some of my questions about flash photography could be answered.

The workshop I attended was held in Dorset Regency Hotel in KL on 5th December 2009. About 50 participant filled up the chairs in one of the hotel's ballroom. Refreshment was served and the workshop started with a little 5 minutes delay.

Well, basic flash history and theory were presented, and some sample usage of flash was shown as well. Just not all that been shown is correct, by the way. Not One but two slides that shown on the screen aren't correct.

One particular slide is shown here where the tutor presented the zoom effect of the flash. What was shown on screen is two flashes with different zoom setting so one could see the flash beam. First of course the photo shown on screen is downloaded from strobist.com that for sure, and the photo was meant to show the different between tele zoom of the flash vs snoot flash effect. But what the tutor mentioned in the workshop uses this photo to show the different flash beam between wide zoom and telezoom of our flash.

Well, this is not correct though. There is no way our flash even zoom at 105mm could provide such a narrow flash beam.

Not to mention our the flashes on the photo aren't Sony flashes. Weird though, a Sony flash workshop shows flashes from other brand.

Anyway, this is not a big deal. As long as the message is conveyed and everyone is understand that enough lar.

The flash workshop will not that popular if there isn't a model shoot session. Everyone in the workshop waits for the model shoot practical session. After a very basic and not so educational theory about flash, we went to the model shoot session!

This shot was done with flash zoom at 105mm.
See the different between a snoot flash vs 105 tele zoom?

I took this by accident.
Flash was at 105mm zoom, with the my F58 flash head tilted about 45 degree to the right.
I kinda like the effect of this flash angle.

Same setting like above, different is to balance the outdoor ambient with flash.
Btw, all was done under TTL.

This photo was done by underexposed the ambient to 1 stop and zoom my flash to 105mm for spot light effect.

Same setting as above, just composed a bit.

Two models was employed for the workshop.
Although we were separated into two groups, but basically we moved around freely.

She is a lovely and beautiful young lady. :D

How could a Sony flash workshop be completed without WL flash demonstation?
Stealing light is very easy on the workshop, this is due to the same channel we all using.
In this pic, I stealed the WL flash from camera left with my F58 as commander, ratio on at 1:1:1.

I didn't follow the workshop until the end as I had a dinner function to attend. I was told by my friend that the workshop was ended at around 5.30pm.

So, here are my conclusion on the flash workshop:
1) If you wish to understand the very basic of flash, this is the workshop you will attend.
2) If you wish to understand the usage of flash, don't waste your time there. Internet has more better tutorials for you.
3) Don't expect to learn about on-camera flash photography from this workshop. Because they don't teach you how to bounce.
4) Wireless teaching is minimal, and they straight jump to WL without much further introduction how to play with WL.
5) Of course, if you wish to do portrait model shoot, this is the workshop you must attend.
6) This is the basic flash workshop. No intermediate of advanced flash workshops to be conducted.
7) It's a waste of time.

And if you are not "fierce" enough, you might not get a good position for the model shoot session. I had difficulty to squeeze myself to the front to make a decent shot of the pretty model, and most of my photos here are crop ones. How sad.

Anyway, I had fun playing with my cobra F58. :D

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Octopus Saved My Flash !

.... from falling from my lightstand. :p


The story behind was like this: I was doing one photoshoot of my wife's latest masterpiece of cake. She would wish to share her recipe of her cake in her blog. I had planned my lighting would be a F58 with my DIY ring flash adaptor bending down 90 degrees facing down to the cake so I have a vertical flash direction. I wanted my flash to be radio trigger'd and hence mount my flash onto the modded YungNuo receiver with the SC-6 adaptor, screwed the set-up onto my lightstand, and turn the whole thing 90 degrees downward.

This was the part where my heart was merely fell out from my chest when my flash + ring flash slipped down and fell onto the table below ! I was lucky that my DIY ring flash adaptor acted as a cushion to absorb the falling impact, hence my F58 didn't hit anything hard below.

I was careless to check the connection direction between the SC-6 adaptor and the YongNuo receiver. The SC-6 adaptor doesn't have the screw to lock tight to the receiver; the spring connector between the SC-6 adaptor and the receiver could not hold the weight of my flash that for sure !

Turning to the wrong direction, the flash basically slip out from the receiver !

Upon close examine on the China-made receiver could easily find out that the receiver is not built to take the weight of the flash. Although the receiver has a metal screw mount on its bottom, but the flash hot shoe mount is basically a part of its plastic cover. I believe a small force apply to the receiver could break it into pieces.

Not until the octopus hit the shore of Malaysia !


It's the Octopus FA-CC1AM+CS1AM off camera shoe cord for Sony Alpha. It's a TTL flash cord that has the iISO hot shoe on both ends. This is what I need to cable-sync my YongNuo receiver to the flash.


What I do here is to mount the CC1AM end of the cable cable to the SC-6 adaptor and the receiver, and I mount my flash onto the CS1AM end of the cable.


The cable has a screw mount on the bottom of the CS1AM end, and it could be screwed tightly onto the flash stand. The whole set-up is shown in the first photo of this post.

Since the size of its CS1AM end is small and strong, it is indeed LOT better than the plasticy YungNuo receiver mount in the case of holding the flash on the lightstand.

I could just leave the cable hanging like what is shown in the first pic, or I could velcro the receiver onto the flash head. Since the weight of the receiver + SC-6 adaptor is negligible compared to the flash, hence it doesn't slip out so easily. Thus, I am no worry anymore when I wish to turn my flash into any angle I want.

Of course the set-up doesn't look nice and neat, but it works for me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nothing....

Trying to be artistic again.

Lines, sun light, shadow, moving girl, passer-by, nothing.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How to: Stop Motion for Alpha Camera (A700)

I realised that old Minolta DiMAGE cameras used to have an intervalometer built in. Newer Minolta DSLR and Sony ones have no such great feature. This mean that current A-mount owner wouldn't have the ability to produce stop motion video. Well, we can technically by spending time pressing the shutter button at intervals if we wish to but that is not cool at all. Imagine if I wish to capture a stop motion picture for every second, or to capture stop motion pictures of evaporated salt water that might take 1 day. Staying there pressing the shutter button for every hour just not practical at all.

I knew that Sony A700 has a cool function that call "Remote Camera Control" that enable us to control the camera from a PC. The program could be installed from the CD provided together with the camera.

Although I could not change the shutter speed and the aperture from this remote control, but I could take photo just by clicking on the "shutter button" (shown as a camera icon of the program). And the picture taken will be directly saved into the computer. In order for this Remote Control to work, I need the cable:

This cable comes together with my camera.

Now I have the remote. What I need to do is to create a script that can periodically press the shutter button at the interval time I want.

Where should I look for this script ? I asked my good friend, Uncle Google and www.dyxum.com, and both of them return an answer that I am looking for. What I need is "Automate and Script Windows Tasks - Autoit". It's a free program that could download from here.

Technically speaking, it's not a program. It runs script. The script should be written in Visual C++ language. What is this script do is to ask the computer to perform tasks automatically without our input. The most cool thing for this small program is it could actually "move" the mouse cursor to any place within the screen and perform right click left click.

The problem is: I don't write Visual C++ programming language. I was hoping it was Visual Basic....

I guess the Autoit programmers reckon the problem I faced. Hence, they introduce SciTE ! See here.

Download the SciTE add-on, run the ScriptWritter. A windows pop up as shown in the pic above. What this fella could do is to record all mouse move, mouse clicks and program run whatever task I want to do. And it translates all my movements and tasks into Visual C++ language. This recording can be done just one click on the "Click to Record" icon on the program. How cool is that !!

So, I wanted that my computer would perform task of the mouse selects the Remote Camera Control program, and click on the shutter button. What I need to do is click to record on SciTE, select the Remote Camera Control, right click the shutter button, and return to SciTE, save it. This is what I got:

The script is basically telling what should the mouse do. Quite easy to understand from the script. But this is not done yet. What I want is repeatedly doing this task for, say 1,000 clicks at interval of, say 30 seconds.

I studied C++ programming language when I was in University. But I am more pronounce in BASIC programming. Hence, some reference back to the text book solved my problem: A for-next command, and a sleep() command are what I need to make my very own Intervometer. The codes should be added as highlitgted:

What I have done here is to include a command line that tells the mouse repeat the "clicking exercise" for 2000 times (for $a = 1 to 2000 ... next), but before every click, delay for 30 s (Sleep(30000)). Test run, and my camera clicks for every 30s ! Woohoo ! I have my own intervometer ! :D

Save it and I am ready for my Stop motion pic !

Of course a Laptop would be a better one than the desktop because it offer mobility. Be sure that the laptop has sufficient disk space to store huge amount of pictures from the stop motion action. If I ask for 2,000 pics, and each pic is 2MB, I'll need 2GB of space just for the pictures !

Another very important thing to have is tripod but optional, if you need one. A sturdy and strong tripod is recommended for this stop motion task. Because for stop motion, the camera is left alone there for a long period of time, and I don't want my camera falls down hit by wind etc.

So, here I am, my check list for my stop motion movie:
1) Laptop with Autoit installed - checked.
2) Laptop to be powered by wall plug - checked.
3) Camera click script installed - checked.
4) Cable linking camera to laptop - checked.
5) Camera with full battery power - checked.
6) Sturdy tripod - checked.
7) Moving cloud or dynamic sky - checked !

I left my set-up in my room, run the script, and I'm off for my normal life routine. After about 3 hours, I came back to find out my camera was run out of power ! LOL. However, I managed to get about 300 pics of moving cloud at 30 second interval.

video

Pardon me for not avoiding the black bar on the upper right corner there. I didn't see this through view finder, but it appeared on my pics. That's the problem of having a non 100% view camera. LOL.

You may notice that there is a skip at around 34 sec. It's due to low camera battery and the a reminder pop up on the computer screen. That stop the script.

There are some pre-cautions need to look into:
1) Camera battery to be fully charged. I started mine with 90% battery confidently thinks that it should able to finish the 2,000 clicks, but I was wrong.
2) Well ventilated place to place my laptop. The above about 40 sec of stop motion took about 2 and half hours to perform.
3) Set camera mode to A-mode. M - mode is not recommended as I might get funny exposure pictures. Let the camera do the exposure job, since it was made to do that, right ?
4) 30 second interval is a bit long. Prefer to set at 5 sec interval.
5) Resize pictures to 640px on wide side. I tried 800px on wide side, and I ended up letting the computer running whole day joining my 300 photos and got a hang mode. LOL
6) Well, a powerful computer is recommended because of No. 5.

I admit my stop motion is boring, but I am exited about it. I call it a success.

I shall plan for a better one. :D

Sunday, October 25, 2009

From Russia with Thirst....

I didn't notice the cup I use to quench my thirst came all the way from the north, and it's a place where I couldn't link this cup to. I didn't notice the words "Made in Russia" until I bottom up my water in front of my computer monitor just a couple days ago !

Apart from 2 cups where I bought from Ikea that are made from Russia, I don't think I could find any other thing that come from this northern country. The watch I bought for my brother from Harbin, China about 10 years ago was made in USSR (WOW ! That's cool !) but I doubt it's a genuine one. Well, I was in China, and I have thousand of reason to doubt it although I was just km away from the border of Russia.

Anyway, it's really a rare occasion where I could get a product from Russia so easily. How on earth I could relate glass making with Russia ??? Why not from China ?? LOL. Well, could it because of Ikea, Russia is just like China to us ?

Maybe.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My First Time.....

Do you still remember your first porn movie ?
Do you still remember how you react to your first porn movie ???

I couldn't remember mine. LOL.
It could be a Taiwanese, or maybe a Jap porn.
And I probably acted like this during my first porn movie :


LOL.

Yes, I camwhore again ! LOL

That would be my submission to the alphanatics.com's October photo competition. Too bad because of my "special member status", I couldn't submit mine.

Three flashes were used in this shot: one just beside the laptop pointing on my face, try to mimic the laptop's monitor lighting hitting me. Another one from camera right, high up aiming at the wall just to give some touch on the wall, giving a sense of dimly lit room. Another one was actually redundant: it was a F42 with red gel shooting into the space behind me, just to add some colour, which in fact is redundant in my final shot.

Anyway, here are my test shots in stop-motion format.

video

Nothing fancy though, only made up of 30+ pics for this stop motion movie. :D

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Family Portrait

One kid, a father, a mother, a camera with self timer, one flash with shoot through umbrella = self made family portrait. As easy as that.

Oh, one very important element of doing this kind of shiok sendiri photographs is have fun ! Having a photo with my love ones should be fun to do so.


I enjoyed the shooting very much. I bet my little rascal enjoyed it too, so did my wife. :D

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I am officially turn 33

I turned 33 some days ago. So, by the time of this post being published, I'm officially turn 33 and how many days already.

What I did during my birthday ? I camwhore ! LOL

I had a bad hair day, again. Could be my gene problem, although I had gone to a nice saloon and pay extra expensive for my hair cut, I still look dumb. *duh* Well, in order making myself suffering not to accept the fact that I have bad hair, why not just accept it with open heart. Who cares I have bad hair ? No one really care anyway.

Time does fly like jet plane. I still think I'm just late 20s. LOL. Not until I took out the calculator and do some calculations. I rubbed my eyes for 2 or 3 times couldn't believe myself I've touch 30s ! LOL

Many thanks to all of you who left the wishing message on my FB wall. I'm really touched. :D

My birthday wish ? Hope all of you happy and well. :D
My birthday present ? Economy bad lar, makan oso got problem oledi liao, no more toys for 33 uncle liao ! LOL

Anyway, wish myself a belated Happy Birthday.

And thanks to my parent who had brought me to life to this world, and had taken care of me for the past 30+ years.

Oh, in case you wish to know how to light myself up like the above one, I did it with one flash bounce from reflective umbrella place behind the camera to act like a diffused on-axis light. ;)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

In search of Gods...

I realised that I didn't finished my Bali posts ! My bad, I should finished it pretty quickly, but I think I was lazy. :p Lesson learned, never leave the job un-done. LOL

Where was I... Oh, the 2nd day of the assignment :"In Search of Gods"


The 2nd day of the assignment was what I call "In search of Gods". Bali is a land of Gods, where the Balinese worship the Hindu gods, but with a strong element of local culture and tradition. I kept reminding myself that I was in a land of Hindu Gods, but I couldn't find a typical Hindu temple in Bali. You know, the Kuil as I usually see here in Malaysia. What I see was the temples of its kind. Balinese could worship the Gods in any form: water, stone, trees etc etc...


We started our search in the Titra Empul temple, which is a very historical temple that build by an ancient Balinese king. I was told that this temple has been there for 800 years. It houses a secret pool where the devotees would come to purify themselves by bathing through the never stop flow of holy spring water. It would bring luck and good will once bath in these spring water.

To complete the whole "praying process", one should start bathing from the first spring all the way to the last one....

I see happiness when a family really enjoying themselves bathing through the chilling spring water....

It's a holy place. The locals would come early in the morning to do their prayers since not much people is around, the devotees would spend time "meditating" under the water.

Very serene, very nice, right ? Nice weather, nice environment, chilling natural spring water, beautiful people etc etc. Did I mention that it was a fashion trend for young Balinese girl wearing a see through Kebaya? Imagine that, a young girl with wet look see through Kebaya praying in the pool........

*ahem*

The serene atmosphere didn't last long, when tourist and school children started to swamp the pool. The school children basically changed the pool from a holy place to a playing ground !!!

We better called it a day before the condition was out of control. LOL

This is the offering. It basically representing the Gods. They have a special way of praying the Gods where they swing the hand in the way of sending the offering to the heaven. Imagine a curvy young Balinese girl doing the hand swinging... sexy, right ? *ahem* :P

How can people hate such a nice place ??




To be continue....

My other Bali posts.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

He just left us like that.....

It was a nice Wednesday morning. It was the first working day after my long Raya holidays. On that day, I received a call from a friend of mine informing me about a shocking news: a friend of ours had just passed away without any sign of illness.

It was a shocking news! He was such a young guy! Worse, he was expecting his first born in 2 months time !!

He had gone without leaving any words to us. Although I don't really get to know him in person, but we do chat quite closely on a forum we hang out. He always called me sifu, where I always share my opinion about his photographic work. He was a few net friend I met that really could take harsh criticism without hard feelings.

I knew him through his nickname in the forum. He nicked himself as Ryzan76. I regretted never meet him in person when he was in KL couple of times. He was a Sabahan.

Rest in peace, my friend. May you find peace by His side. We will sure remember you. Condolences to his family.

His works : http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryzan76

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

During Hari Raya.....

I basically do nothing. LOL

Of course I spend most of my time with my wife and my son, enjoying the cool nice rainy weather. Some how I manage to squeeze a small little time for me to do some car shots. Not hot car for sure, but my trusty Sentra which has been serving me well for about 4 years.

I always wanted to do a proper car shot of my trusty Sentra. Although I've done once, which was about 4 years ago, when it just came out from the show room, and we went all the way to Putrajaya to take some car portrait. I wanted to do another round of it since it's big possibility this car wouldn't be under my care in the near future. Well, something big is going to happen to my life starting next year. Something that change my life in total complete......

Rainy days during the Raya holidays is a curse for a car shooting. I would like to do a outdoor shots ! Or even a night shots with some light painting design. Rain had stopped me from getting out of my apartment. I have no choice, but to do it in the car park of the apartment I am staying lor.

It's a 4 days Raya holidays. And most of the Muslims take a 1-week long holiday. Hence, the car park was almost empty. Empty car-park is what I wanted, so no in-coming car would kacau me from doing my shots. Just to secure that no one would knock down my flash stand, I had my wife and my son doing the guarding thing. LOL. What they need to do is just wondering around the car park and hint me if there is any in-coming car. Oh, btw, the car park is kinda windy though. Very nice for a small walk.

After setting up my lightings, I faced one problem: the radio trigger isn't that good as I expected. If there is a huge obstruction in between, the flash wouldn't trigger as well. Worst to the optical trigger one !! The flash just won't fire ! This has limit me to only using one flash to work with then.

My idea is about to appreciate the car as an transportation mean for a normal man like me: family man, with a job living in a city with bad public transportation. Car park is my choice of venue because it's the place where the car would "rest" after a "whole day ride". :p

Hence, I frame my car like this lar :


Simple. My caption was:"It may not be the hottest car in town, but it's the car that moves me around. It had moved me from north to south, from east to west, and making sure that I'd come back home safe and sound, in one piece."

Okok, I admit, I submitted the pic for the Strobist Boot Camp Assignment. :P

Anyway, chances of my pic getting strobist attention is super low, after browsing through the submissions from all over the world ! LOL.

Well, if I never submit, I am definitely NOT been notice, right ? At least, I guest, strobist would glance through my pic for at least one time, right ? LOL

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I camwhore again !!

This time, my teeth-ache gives me the inspiration. LOL

"You doctor ! You know how painful is this ?!?!"

I had a terrible teeth-ache for the pass few nights. I couldn't have a good sleep. Though 2 tablets of panadol would temporary ease my pain, but in long run that's not the solution. I need to get it done once for all. I have to reject the photoshooting invitation from Darren the Car "Diterre", but the reject worth lar because the dentist is kinda hot. :p

So, is it done ? Well, so far, so good. It's a 2 months treatment thingy, and what she had done to my teeth are in temporary measures. I need to return to her clinic for planting a new teeth.

Ok, a little bit about the lighting of I used for my camwhore: a F58 on board as commander with DIY ring flash as fill, main light is a F42 from camera left snooted with a regular coke cup size from MacDonald's. Ratio setting on F58: 16:1, and a 10s self timer, some runnings, a tap on floor to mark where should I stand, pose, and snap. Piece of cake. ;)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hey you ! No photo!

Inspired by the un-happy incident few months back, I did this one just to fill in some small extra time I got after me and my wife "successfully" put our little rascal to sleep. LOL.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

So, it has started.....

Time is running.
The count down has begun.

Till the end....

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Car Shooting !

Before lighting...

My original plan on last Saturday was cancelled pretty much on last minute one. Not long after I received the plan cancel message, I received a call from the a professional car washer cum photo shoot mate of mine. He asked:"Wanna join me for a car shooting ?" I said, why not ? He said, must wake up early early one wor ! I said, what the heck, I got baby sleeping with me, can I sleep through the whole night ? Then he said, ok, on ! And WTF he asked me to be there at the point of meet at 5.30am on a cooling Saturday morning ! LOL

Oh, by the way, my friend who is a professional car washer cum photo shoot mate of mine has a blog one. Here. Btw, he ain't those fella who wash and vacuum your car for RM 10, ok ? LOL

So, early in the morning, we went into the winding road of Batu Dam, and we came to a special spot that should remain secret which has a nice vie of the dam. It was still pitch dark and we quickly set up our lightings before the sun comes out from the east. Our original plan was to capture the sun rising up from the horizon with our hot car in the foreground, lit by Darren's newest toy, the 180cm diameter Enlinchrom soft box. Want to see how big is this softbox ?

The huge Enlinchrom softbox vs the smaller LumiQuest Softbox.
See the HUGE contrast ?!

That big ! And inside the softbox is an 1,100 Watt Swiss strobe that could easily overpower the sun for sure ! And the sweetest part is this strobe is powered by a portable battery pack ! And the whole package cost our friend a 5 figure amount of money. *fainted*

It was indeed an eye opener to me !

Anyway, I was there to be like an assistant to him. You know, those assistant that helps to carry bags, lights, setting up, cleaning the scene etc. Yeah, the venue was dirty. And sometime couple as a VAL to the main photographer lar.


The sky was cloudy that day. The ambient light raise so fast that we had no much time to design the lightings. A quick couple of test shots, and some twisting on the light location, we are good to go. The huge main softbox will be the main light lighting up the car, but not to nuke it of course, and some small portable flashes as key lights to shape out the car outline.


Yes, the portable flashes, cheap and small like this one, the Sunpak 383. Small, powerful and cheap. It has a PC-syn port that could connect to the Skyport receiver. Why lar our good Sony flashes doesn't has this pc port one ???

When we are out of flash stand, we use what ever prop we had. The bag in the picture contain one "camera" that yet to be launched in the market. Cool one, and I kinda like it. :D

Have a look at the behind-scene shot I did for Darren:


Ambient drop at about 1 stop. The car is entirely lit by the flashes and strobe as shown in the pic.


The good A900 camera. Thanks to our special flash hot-shoe mount, we need an adaptor to mount the radio trigger. And it doesn't look cool at all....

We wrapped up our shooting by helping Wei Chek shoot his beloved Silvia. See how the master demonstrate to us how a VAL work and how to become a light tripod. LOL

I always wanted to be someone's assistant so I could witness how they work and produce a picture like that. Being an assistant also got me have my hand dirty so I got the hands on working on producing a photo. This early morning shooting was indeed a very good eye opener to me. Now I know lot of tricks how to shoot a hot car already ! :D

Thanks mate !