Monday, June 29, 2009

In the middle ....

"Err.... Huston, are you sure I landed on Mars ?
I am in the middle of these unknown alien eggs....
I hope you are correct. Over."


Again, another very difficult photo competition title for the month of June from a photography forum I always hang out: In the middle. And the criteria stated that the submitted photo need to be funny to grab the attention of the judge.

I absolutely has no idea of what so ever type of photo that can tell "in the middle" and it's a funny one. After some nights of thinking and thinking, here are some of my ideas :
1) A car broken down on a remote land, where a sign saying the nearest petrol station is 100 miles away.
2) A man walking in a desert found a telephone booth making call. Could be to his boss or wife saying "I'm in the middle of no where, are you sure you give me a correct address ?"
3) A man sitting in the middle of a busy passer by minding his own business.
4) One fella sitting in a library/coffee house/by the busy street in deep thought, slow shutter speed to blur out the passer-by : in the middle of deep thought.
5) One fella sitting on the floor reading something, 4 flashes flash on him: In the middle of attention.

Later I found out idea 1 is too difficult to execute, idea 2 is actually a real case happen in Pahang (or Kelantan) flooding incident, idea 3 and 4 are my choices but who wants to be my model ? And the last idea although I myself can become a model, I can do it. But being a "supermodel", I'm quite expensive to be hired for this. (!!!) pengsan, muntah.

I was about to abort this challenge until I remember I had bought some glass balls some months ago, and I used to play Lego. I have Lego spacemen!

Carefully examine the glass balls, and the Lego spaceman, and re-think idea 1 & 2, why not I alter my original plan and use the Lego man as my model instead ?

The glass balls look like the alien eggs to me. Hey, why not creating a scene like a spaceman landed on a planet and he is surrounded by these unknown alien eggs ? Ok what, right ?

So, first, let me introduce, my model, the Spaceman Whiteson !

Hmm.... picture blur? Nevermind, just introduction, no need clear clear pic one ! LOL

Some test shots before my final result :
First, I put the glass balls onto a plate, and position Whiteson like standing in the pool of alien eggs. A test shot was taken, doesn't need to be sharp, and go to hell the WB wrong, just want to get the composition and see if Whiteson get well along with the alien eggs.

Hmm... "eggs" on plate do not look nice. Hence, test shot no. 2 !

This time, I create one white backdrop by sticking a huge A2 size white paper on the wall and let it fall onto a stool to create a line-less backdrop. I scattered the glass balls to create a carpet of "eggs" on the "floor", and pull away Whiteson's leg and let him sunken into the eggs pool.

Again, don't care the focus is out, go to hell the WB wrong, I just want to get the frame correct or not. Look lot better than my 1st test shot.

Then the fine tuning process began. Repositioning Whiteson in the egg pool, adding a flash with strip soft box to camera right, this time carefully focus on Whiteson, recompose and snap and the picture on top of this post will be my submission picture.

Here is the set up shot:

An F42 into a DIY strip soft box. Why strip soft box ? Because it's the nearest soft box I could find in my messy room. LOL. It wasn't been plan to use strip softbox, but the spectacular reflection of the glass balls take my attention, I know I use the correct softbox; the reflected strip on the balls look like the alien lavae, correct ? LOL

BUT, unfortunately, being a Moderator of that forum, I'm disallowed to participate into this competition. *Sigh*

Anyway, it's just the fun of creating the photo for the competition. I don't know if I submitted this photo into the competition, what are my chances of winning ? Can I make it into the finalist ? :P

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Crispy Fried Chicken

After I had read strobist's post on "Food Photography Made Easy", I myself wish to try out David's cheapsake's "lunch box". I had been looking for any chance for me to try out this food photography, but being heavily guarded by my wife, I am literally being disallowed to enter the kitchen.

Not until when I was asked to make a photograph about the latest KFC hot and spicy flavour by HRH the queen of house herself !

Too short notice for the set up as the chicken was our dinner; everything must be done in just 15 minutes before my wife starts to warn me. LOL

So, no "lunch box", no reflective archilic board as background. Then I figured out the grill pan filled with water and the grill from the oven could produce the same result as the reflective archilic board. Hence, carefully place the crispy chicken on top of the grill, fill up the pan with water, set up the flash and fired away.

What happened if there is no diffuser in between the chicken and the flash ? As shown in the pic on the left, the flash is kinda harsh and because lack of diffusion, there is no reflection on the pan-water base.

The diffusion can be done in 3 ways: hand held a tracing paper just above the chicken, umbrella-ed the flash or soft-box-ed the flash, anyway that could spread the flash widely and softly.

I'd done the hardest way by holding a tracing paper just above the chicken; I should had umbrella'd the flash instead.....

Anyway, to bring up the shadow area of the chicken, two white surface paper were placed exactly like what strobist did. The pic on the left was shot without the reflectors and the pic on the top of this post was shot with the reflectors. The different is obvious, right ?

A quick shot of my set up before my wife sounded her warning to me. :P

One flash F42, snooted behind the chicken. The chicken-grill-pan-water combination placed on top of a stool. Not as fancy shot as strobist, but it gives pretty much an overall idea how the set up is.

Of course there are huge room of improvement for my shots. The grill needed to be polished, the pan needed to be thoroughly cleaned.

I think I will made a "lunch box" like strobist did for my general food shots. Good for my wife who can make herself some food shots, and I think this "lunch box" also good for macro still life shot as well. :D

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

He Crawls

It's his 7th months old, and he knows how to crawl like a professional baby already.

He is crawling on the floor where once upon a time I was playing my toy cars some 20 years ago. That's the spot where exactly I lined up my toy cars collection when I was a child back then.

He is a champion in crawling now. And he likes to play hide and seek with us already. Sometime, we just couldn't find where is he hiding. Sooner or later, he will just crawl out from his hiding place, crying for help. I guess he must had found something creepy somewhere in the corner there and cry for help.....

Nightmare had just begun.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Own Review on Sony Latest Lens : The 50mm F1.8 DT


After much reading, I found out the purple thingy in the picture is not purple fringing, but it's call LCA (Lateral Chromatic Aberration). Well, some most people think it's ok and almost all lens has this LCA when at wide open.

Anyway, this is just my personal first impression of this lens. I wish to wait for a while and browse through the true work life sample picture taken from this lens, then only will decide if I wish to own it.

Edit 2:

Read my 2nd review here.

After much a long waiting, finally Sony release its latest lens into the A-mount family: the 50mm F1.8 DT lens. This is a good news to the A-mounters out there as we have another choice of cheaper prime lenses. Selling at RM 599 RRP, and the expected street price would be on RM 480 plus minus, could this lens worth the money we pay off ?

Albert had done a very detail review on this lens, and I wouldn't talk much of the technical stuff. The very first impression when the sale person of the Sony Centre shop handed me the lens is : cool and nicely design. When I first hold the lens on my hand, I shouted: Wow, so light !! Its weight is so low like I am holding a piece of paper.

The mount is plastic, the body is plastic build, and it has a SAM motor build in, and a AF-MF switch button. And I think the glass elements are made of plastic as well.

Mounting this lens onto an A700 does look handsome.

I've taken some shot with it, but not many. The focusing is fast with SAM, but noisy. The sound is just like the gear without lubricant cranking each other and I worry after some serious focusing turning, this lens will crack into pieces.

Actually, I do not know how to examine if the bokeh produce by this kind of big hole lens is good or not. The quality of the bokeh is beyond my understanding, and I was told that this lens produce "softer" bokeh if compare to the 50mm F1.4.

Well, for my personal taste, I think the bokeh is acceptable.

The shortest focusing distance is 0.34cm from the plane of camera censor. Hence, the shortest focusing distance from the surface of the lens is shorter than that, i.e. about 0.30 cm. Impressively short distance, and this is good for shooting kids. :D

So, overall, this lens is quite nice to own, but not until I see this pic, taken with this new 50mm lens:

Yup, that's the new Sony DSLR A330 on my hand. Carefully chimping into the photo at the "10.2 Mega Pixels" wording, shocked me. Blowing up this part for 100% viewing :

The "10.2 mega pixels" wording is basically in purple colour ! That's the LCA of that lens !!! The last time I had such purple edge picture is a photo I took using my old Sony DSC H1 camera. I wouldn't expect to see this purple edging LCA on a lens that cost RM 599 !!

Very disappointed. I was about to buy this lens on the spot but the plastic build, noisy SAM motor and super light weight had put me on hold for a second thought. With further investigation on the test shots done by this lens, I would hold my horses.

So, is this lens better than the Minolta 50mm F1.7 ? Well, if I have a 50mm F1.7, I wouldn't "downgrade" myself to have this plastic lens. At least the 50mm F1.7 is a full frame lens, and it is made of glass with metal casing.

Finally, is this lens value for money ? No, I won't buy it. The lens does not worth that much. It should be cheaper. Or maybe the lens should not couple with the SAM motor and be sold in a lower price? Then I might consider to get one.

Look like my search for a prime 50mm lens has not come to an end yet.....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Child Portrait

Like many new parent in this world, taking a child photograph is not that easy as I thought. I couldn't imagine how difficult it will be to capture just one "good" picture of a child where everything is clear and sharp and not blur out by his non-stop action; asking a child to be still for just 1 sec is a mission impossible. Not until I have my own kids and have my hands-on taking my son's photos.

Fast lens would help, but not always. Big aperture would allow me to take photo in high shutter speed, hence freeze any movement of a child, but big aperture would cause shallow DOF, hence I might got sharp nose pic with blur OOF eyes; no difference from a blurred picture.

Hence, high ISO help a lot. I really don't care much on the noisy high ISO from my current camera. The more important thing is that moment I wish to capture on film. Developing high ISO picture tell me that those noisy things are not visible in a 4R size photo. So, I wouldn't care much about high ISO noise, and sometime I take my son's photograph in ISO 1600.

Natural light would be the best lighting when taking baby photographs. Although there is not an evidence saying that flash strobes would harm a baby's eyes, but better be careful than sorry.

Window light is always the best lighting when shooting portrait. It's diffused and directional.

Then come to the question of how to meter and where to meter. Spot metering is my setting, and I spot meter on his face. Most of the time I shoot in aperture priority mode, and depend on the scene, if the scene is bright, I would set my EV to +1 for high key-ish photos or else the EV will be staying at 0.

Take some shots and edit through the shoots. Choose the best picture of the initial set and lock the exposure by shifting the setting to manual setting. The lighting would not change during the whole shooting period provided the whether is pretty stable; so the whether would not change from bright sunny day to stormy gloomy day in just a second.

The background should be as simple as possible so not to drag the attention away from the baby. Bed sheet and tower can be a great back ground.

Focus point should be on the eyes. I personally like to see a sharp focus eyes of a baby photo. Some catch light on their eyes would add a touch of livelihood to the baby in the photo.

And one more thing, never leave your eyes away from the view finder. Baby would not stop moving around for us to take their photograph. Do the chimping only after the photoshoot finished. Moving our eye away from viewfinder would caused us missing lot of nice moment of the baby.

Lastly, but not limited, is to get to play with the baby. Giving them a smiley face and make funny voices would grab their attention to you.

Shooting baby photographs should be a fun thing to do. Looking at their innocent cute face, seeing them smiling at you is priceless. :D

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Oriental Beauty

It was a fine Sunday when I got invited by a fellow photographer friend of mine to join him for a photo shoot for a friend of his. She got a cheong sam for herself, and wish to take some portrait shoots of her wearing her new dress.

I am not a portrait shooter. The number of times of me doing this kind of beauty shoot is less so low. Probably in the region of 10 times, I think. And I couldn't remember when was my last time doing this kind of beuaty portrait shoots already. LOL.

I guess my skill is getting rusty, and I need to do some polishing. Hey, my lens need to be exposed to UV light to kill all the fungus, true? LOL. Hence, getting my "visa on arrival" from HRH the Queen of House, I headed to the place where the shooting took place. Where is it ? Well, somewhere in KL lah.

The hazy day worried us. Hazy day mean bad lighting, bad lighting mean need high ISO. Well, the high ISO for the camera with a brand name start with "S" is known to be noisy and bad one. But I was wrong; the hazy day actually help a lot in diffusing the harsh sun light.

Her name is Ya Li, a mother of one. Her son is 1 year old now, can't believe my eyes, she is a HOT mama. LOL. She claimed herself to be a first timer, but I don't think so. She doesn't look like a first timer to me, and she could do what ever pose I suggested to her.

I like the cheong sam she wore, and the place we went really fit well with the oriental theme we set.

No flash was use for these shots. Despite the day was kinda cloudy, but the clouds had done its work by diffusing the harsh sun light.

Sunlight was coming from camera left, and it diffused nicely by the cloudy hazy day. I would prefer another light on her hair as a separator. This can be done by putting a flash on her hair.

See how the diffused sun light cast a very even lighting on her face. So, not ALL hazy days are bad for photoshooting, right ?

We were happily doing our photoshooting, not until one fella came out from no where claiming himself as a member of the "management" of that place and demand us to pay a fee of RM 200 for photographing people in that place.

We explained to him that we are friends and we like the place and our friend here got a new cloth want to make some nice photo of it and we like the environment of this place etc etc but he insisted us as commercial photographer.

Very well then, we just leave. Delete our photos in front of him ? Well, he doesn't have power to do that; only police can do that in fact.

Where is this place ? A place I would never wish to step my foot on it for sure anymore. Pity to my son that this heritage building will one day been transformed into a commercially driven building.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Update - Not a pleasant deal.

This is the update post from my last "Not so pleasant deal" post.

Thought everything had settled down, and my days go as normal as usual, not until I received a private message from the seller of the lens. Click the pic above for a larger view.

He wrote:
"Even you pay double, I would not sell this lens to you."
I was laughing up and down, left and right, front and back and merely drop from my chair !

He may have low EQ in doing a deal with me, but I don't expect he is that stupid enough to expect me hunger for his lens !

And he claims he speak proper English, and he thinks my money stinks. Well, he may speak good English, but his knowledge in using words are not as good as me. I am so good enough not to let him take my money because my money sting. You know, got torn one, can sting people one.

Like what a Chinese say: he who eat chilli got the spicy taste. Because once before he said his money stink to other. So, as conclusion, he think all money is stink one ! LOL

Enough of laughing. This could be the biggest joke in year 2009.

Again, no luck wish for me to this seller. One day for sure he will pay for what he had "spend".