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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Zuiko and Outdoor Flash Photography

Playing with wireless flash, the primary on the right and the fill on the left. I set the flash to Super FP mode allowing high shutter speed capabilities, so that I have full control of the aperture range from f/2.0 to f/16.0.

My intention was to get this darkened effect. What did I do?

E-3 with Zuiko Digital ED7-14mm F4.0 & FL-50R + FL-36R
7mm, f/4.0, 1/4000s, ISO100, -1EV

Camera setting:
  • Select aperture priority with remote commander activated
  • Lower the overall exposure by -1.0EV (dial the exposure compensation)
  • Lower the RC flash to -3.0EV; this is to reduce the fill-flash from the RC
  • Set RC panel at Channel 1 & High
  • Set RC panel for Channel 1 A at +3EV with FP TTL; this is the FL-50R on the right (Main)
  • Set RC panel for Channel 1 B at +3EV with FP TTL; this is the FL-36R on the left (Secondary)
Flash setting:
  • Set both flash 5 feet away from the subject with 45-degree azimuth angle
  • Set the flash height at the eye-level of the subject, and tilt down towards the guitar
  • Put a diffuser on the Main light (adjust the FL-50R to +1EV to compensate for the diffuser light loss)
  • Adjust accordingly to get the desired illumination
My test shot showed perfect exposure for the image, but that was not I was looking for. I was looking for a darkened effect. The easiest way was to meter the blu sky directly above.

So, I just looked up and lock the camera Auto Exposure using the Spot Meter (in which I programmed in the AEL/AFL button). With the exposure locked, the overall exposure was pushed -2EV (camera already -1EV, the blue sky forced another -1EV). Hence, the darkened effect.

Some say it was underexposed, and I agreed.

To get more detail, I lifted the shadow areas using the simple Contrast Mask procedure. Whilst the effect is still darkened, you can observe the more details coming out from the shadows without sacrifing the highlights at the background.

The GIMP v2.4 with Contrast Mask at 40%
High Pass Sharpening at 4.0 points

Either image, that was what I wanted - a darkened effect. And I like them both.

Click image for slideshow of the whole photoshoot.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Zuiko and Banana Republic

Banana Republic...

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED7-14mm F4.0

The name reminded me of the attires the rich brats wore while I was at college 12 years ago. This brand also lingered in my head recently when it opened a few stores in various areas of Klang Valley.

Well, there's the same consistency about the price: Exorbitantly Expensive!!!

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED7-14mm F4.0

I was at Suria KLCC after Friday prayers attending a meeting later at Menara Maxis nearby. While walking pass the centercourt at Level 3, I heard a commotion from the Concourse level. Hustling to the center, I was greeted with this view of a fashion show. The first I noticed was the scores of photographers already camped a mere 5 feet away from the catwalk.

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED50mm F2.0

While the models look beautiful for the frontal headshot, the skinniness was too obvious. It was not to my liking. Sometimes, these models took the Barbie image into the next level. To me, they look like walking planks.

Well, even the guys took the Ken image too seriously, too. I was not amazed!!

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED50mm F2.0

Again, always have your camera ready for some photographic opportunities. You never knows what will be in store for you. Just don't leave home without it!!

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED50mm F2.0


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Zuiko and a Dragonfly

Dragonflies are intriguing. They look like helicopters, ever seemingly hovering on small wads of pond. Sometimes in groups, most of the time solitary. They come in various sizes and colors, too. 


E-3 with Zuiko Digital 14-54mm f2.8-3.5
54mm, f/4, 1/200s, ISO400, FL-50R

To capture the elegance of this majestic insect, I need to capture it in full isolation. In many instances, the location is the limiting factor to obtain my vision of such beauty. I always get it muddled with the background, usually grass and dirt.

In this image, I was lucky enough to find it perching lifelessly on the end of the twig in full isolation. Perfect!

While the 14-54mm lens was not the perfect one for high quality macro, I had to make do. This meant that I had to come up very close, in the region of 10cm away. Slow and steady without abrupt movement, I was able to approach it without harm. It was rather dark due to the shade, and I had to resort to higher ISO and fill-in flash from the FL-50R.

That's all it took.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Zuiko and Street Fashion

Photographic opportunities sometimes come at times you do not expect. It is good to always have your camera ready for those instances; be it a simple family candids or a street riot or even a fashion show.

A good compact system, especially the Olympus E-system, will serve you good in those situations. Take for example the petite E-420 with the Zuiko Digital ED 50mm F2.0 Macro lens. With a combined weight of just below 800 grams, and a size just enough to fit in a small purse, this is one combo you cannot leave behind.

Don't let the size fool you, too! With the full professional image parameter controls, this little pocket rocket will really sizzle your eyes.

It was one of those days when a simple photography opportunity came my way in a form of a Street Fashion show. I was walking by Ampang Park shopping mall when I chanced upon this event. A bit low-key event, I would say, but the lighting for the shoot was marvelous. The catwalk was a simple deck adjacent to the five-foot by-way, and the semi-translucent glass roof provided subtle softlighting to the models.

E-420 with Zuiko Digital ED50mm F2.0
50mm, f/2.0, 1/500s, ISO100, +0.7EV

The most beautiful thing about this series are the skintones. I love Olympus skintones. Really true to the real thing, in my opinion. I set the color mode to Portrait with low contrast -1. This subtle setting made the tonal and color renditions to the portraits even more beautiful and captivating. Add the legendary sharpness of the 50mm f2.0 lens, the setup is complete. All I did was to concentrate on the lighting composition and facial expression of the models.

The situation for shooting this kind of event was how to control the distracting background. One way was to use large aperture like the f2.0 to blur the background, and another way was to use selective cropping during the shoot, with regards to get the best angle, lighting and timing.

With a clear distance separating the model with the background, f2.0 aperture seemed to be the best selection. The depth-of-field was just enough to get the whole part of the models in focus, whilst having the background blurred. Just perfect!

50mm, f2.0, 1/200s, ISO100, +0.3EV
Througout the series, you can see the intricate details of the models' kebaya dress. The flower motifs with the bright colors added dimension to the image. The Zuiko delivered the details, even if shot wide open. Now, that's professional quality glass. Really awesome!!

The models approaching. I just ensured focusing was on track, and all was just right.

What I liked about this image was the lighting. The transition from the lighter part facing the street and the darker part to the mall added natural tones to the already beautiful models.

The experience was just exhilirating. How can I say this? If all the things were set for you, all you needed to do was just watch the light and shoot.

How simple can this be?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Zuiko and a Morning Walk at the Park

There is this a little part of the Shah Alam Lake Gardens that I had never ventured before. The landscaping of this particular area is so compact, that only now, after numerous visits, did I notice its existence.

It is situated just behind the Laman Refleksologi, and adjacent to a restaurant. I was just flabbergasted at its beauty, its richness of color and texture, and just simply a heaven for photography! 

I just came from my weekly chore at the Pasar Tani equipped with only the E-30 camera and 7-14mm ultra-wide angle lens. The aim was to shoot some landscape, well I hit the jackpot!

At 8am in the morning, while the sun was shining brightly at a very low angle, the challenge was to control the high contrast. Opting to get as much detail as possible, I chose low ISO with the Auto Gradation contrast correction. This setting allowed the camera JPEG engine to lift the shadow details while preserving the highlights.

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED7-14mm F4.0
7mm, f/7.1, 1/320s, ISO200, -0.7EV

If not for the Grand Bluewave Hotel giving away its location, it is difficult to believe that this part of the gardens actually is nestled just at the edge of the lake gardens by the main road!!

A pathway.
This brick tunnel forming the structure of the overlying bridge had a nice sunlight streaking into it, forming a triangle highlight effect into its shadowy cavern. I lifted more shadow detail in post-process to brighten the overall image.

The converging lines of the bricks along with the elongation of the ultra-wide lens enhanced the impression of walking into the tunnel following the path to the left.

7mm, f/7.1, 1/180s, ISO200, -0.3EV.

Behind the waterfall.
There was a small ampitheatre like architecture towards the inner part of the garden, and this caught me by surprise. The circular and sloping contour converge at this small waferfall structure. I took the advantage of going behind the waterfall, with the sunlight providing the desired highlight to the water lines.
With a very low shutter speed, I was able to streak the flowing water, and recording it in its greatest splendor.

7mm, f/20, 1/4s, ISO100, -0.7EV.

The richness of texture in this image amazed me! The wet and slimy moss added depth to the opposing dry wall.

Morning shadows.
I just cannot pass this scene. The shadow lines were just overpowering to be ignored.

The challenge was getting the necessary shadow details. Again, I was amazed by the camera Auto Gradation.

7mm, f/11, 1/320s, ISO200, -2EV.

Restaurant by the pond.
This classic postcard-like composition capped the outing. It was just marvellous! And, it only took me less than 30 minutes to capture them all. 

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED7-14mm F4.0
9mm, f/6.3, 1/400s, ISO200

I was just amazed at the richness of texture and color in this small enclave. I just wished I knew about it much earlier.

Keep on shooting....

Monday, April 6, 2009

Zuiko and Three Leaves

A study in monochrome.

E-3 with Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm F2.0 SWD
35mm, f/2.0, 1/1000s, ISO100, -0.3EV

High contrast.
Texture and detail.
Shadow and highlight.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Zuiko and Students of Photography

Wow... I just conducted a basic course in D-SLR photography. And I had 10 students attending it. It was a hands-on, in-the-field session, too!

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm F2.0
14mm, f/2.8, 1/640s, ISO320

I was requested by my friends to conduct a basic photography course. I said, OK!

With the first batch of 10 students, I chose to have it at Shah Alam lake gardens. I like the place because of the variety of subjects to shoot. And, the area is shaded with trees to be cool enough for us to withstand the class from 8am to 11am. The session spanned 2 days, for a total of 6 hours of tutorials.

I did cover the basics of exposure, metering and focusing in Day 1. On Day 2, I did on the topics of lenses, perspective control and visualization techniques. For visualization techniques, I used the Zone System for the students to understand the concept of observation and cropping the frame.

It was a great session, the students had a great time understanding the basics of photography.

All was well!

I hope to run another session, soon. If interested, you can contact me directly.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Zuiko and A Glowing Ball

E-3 with Zuiko Digital 14-54mm f2.8-3.5
32mm, F/4, 1/40s, ISO400

A little creativity goes a long way...

This was actually a simple shot. My left hand held the ball with the tungsten lamp irradiating it, and my right hand took the shot. Without the backlighting from the lamp, the ball will be just too simple and lacking impact.

The E-3's ESP metering was spot on, too. I took little trouble in deciding the exposure and composition. The real trick was to do the shot with both hands doing literally different things!!!

The result? It was as if I was a clairvoyant looking into the glowing orb manifesting the future... hish!!

It is always my goal to shoot simple daily objects to look interesting and impacting. In this case, it was quite a neat job.