Tag Archives: photography

Wowy’s World

Wowy tells me what he thinks of my photo ideas.

Wowy tells me what he thinks of my photo ideas.

Sometimes the stars align and things just come together perfectly. This usually doesn’t happen with shoots that involve multiple decision makers, security guards about and time constraints.

When we first approached the idea of a portrait shoot of Wowy for Asia Life Magazine HCMC, we were trying to find a new angle to shoot him. We decided on a rooftop shot with a fisheye lens that gave the appearance that the city was his to take. He looked a bit apprehensive at first as the sample images we showed him were of the crazy Russian kids who sneak into tall buildings to take crazy photos. But after speaking to his PR people, he thought it was a great idea.

After a week or so of emails, we nailed down the day and met at Red Bar which we made our base of sorts to store gear. We were going to have two locations but typically, things didn’t get moving on time and we had to settle for one. Walking to Bitexco, we saw a bunch of security that we hoped wouldn’t interfere. Luckily, with security in Vietnam, as long as you aren’t carrying a huge softbox or brolly, they generally leave you alone to your own devices. However, we thought it would be best to make it fast.

Once we picked our spot, I laid down flat on the sidewalk and instructed my VAL’s (Voice Instructed Lightstands) on where to stand. I used a couple of Godox V850’s for the shoot. Held by one of Wowy’s entourage, one V850 was attached with a bendy light mod that I picked up in Kuala Lumpur. Not as smooth as a softbox, it allowed me to get a nice spread of light to fill up Wowy. Since I was using the excellent Canon 8-15 f/4 Fisheye lens, I had to get him to crouch directly behind me. Wowy’s head of PR was holding the second V850 about 10 feet to my left. Zoomed to 105mm’s, she always had the flash pointed on Wowy’s head for a nice rim light. Both flashes were on HSS and a Cells II trigger was attached to my 5D Mark III.  After doing a couple of power adjustments with the FT-16 trigger, we were ready to go.

He is really good at doing his thing.

Wowy doing his thing.

As you can see, Wowy is a great subject.

We managed to fire around 20 frames before someone inside the tower told the security to shut us down. However, I think we managed to get the shots we needed. At least at this location.

Our next location would have been a rooftop at an apartment in District 5 but we were pressed for time. I wanted another location so we headed to the newly opened Nguyen Hue street. While we were walking there, I snapped off a few frames which came out pretty good considering I was constantly looking behind me to make sure I wasn’t running into anyone!

Waving to his adoring fans.

Waving to his adoring fans.

Originally a big four lane road, the municipality closed it for a few months and turned it into a pedestrian only area. I parked myself dead center in the street and again told Wowy to do his thing.

Jumping for joy.

Jumping for joy.

We spent about 10 minutes here and fired about 15 frames. After a review with Kendra, our awesome art director, we decided it was a wrap.

But not before Wowy grabbed my camera for a group shot.

It's a wrap!

It’s a wrap!

A few more photos from the session:

Wowy portrait for Asia Life

Wowy portrait for Asia Life

Wowy portrait for Asia Life

Wowy portrait for Asia Life

Wowy portrait for Asia Life

Wowy portrait for Asia Life

 

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How to trigger a camera using a Godox Cells II

Here’s a quick tutorial for remotely firing a DSLR’s shutter using the Godox Cells II transceiver and a Godox FT-16S Trigger.

First off, you will need these components:

  1. Camera with a remote shutter release port  – I am using a Canon 5D Mark II
  2. Speedlite flash – I am using a Godox V850
  3. 2 Godox Cells II transceivers
  4. 1 Godox FT-16S trigger
  5. 1 Godox FT-16S receiver

Set one of the Godox Cells II on the hotshoe of the camera for “Camera” and “RX”. Then you need to put the Godox FT-16S trigger on the hotshoe located on the Godox Cells II attached to the camera.

You will need to get the other Cells II to “Camera” and “TX”. This will be off camera and will be the trigger that will fire the camera.

As you can see from the picture below, it’s not the most attractive looking setup but it works. And in High Speed Sync!

Also, if you have another Godox FT-16S trigger, you can manually control power levels as well!

A bit inelegant but it works!

A bit inelegant but it works!

 

 

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Dried Fish Factory in Mui Ne

Photos of a dried fish factory while on a work trip to Mui Ne.

 

A worker in the factoryFish waiting to be cleanedFish being cleaned before being cookedCooking the fish in salted waterThe cooked fish are then placed in the sun to dryDrying fishA worker puts the fish out to dryA worker in the fish factoryTaking a shower

 

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The Wedding Factory

Many local photographers use the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 as a backdrop to their wedding photos. This busy Saturday morning had at least 7 photographers shooting around the area.

Wedding photography at the Cathedral

Wedding photography at the Cathedral

A hip couple goes for something a bit different

A hip couple goes for something a bit different

Sometimes prime real estate can get a bit busy.

Pick a spot and hold your ground

Pick a spot and hold your ground

Walking to the next spot

Walking to the next spot

In the thick of it all, it’s sometimes hard to forget it’s about two people in love. Then you take the shot below and you remember.

Awwww

Congratulations

 

 

 

 

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Breaking Bad

One negative aspect of living in Southeast Asia is that you tend to miss out on certain pop-culture elements from your home country. I remember when I came back from living in Cambodia in 2005 after being away from Orange County, California for a couple of years and having my sisters tell me that Orange County was now cool.

Luckily, the world is a smaller place thanks to the internet. Which brings me to my obsession with AMC’s Breaking Bad.  Crazy wide camera angles, ultra saturated colors, time-lapse makes it one of the most visually stunning TV shows out right now. I have linked a couple of greats interview with Michael Slovis, who is the Director of Photography, here and here.

One aspect of my obsession is constantly checking out websites on new information on the exploits of Walter and Jesse. Through these constant page clicks, I discovered the amazing photography of Frank Ockenfels, who has been the official promotional photographer for Season 5. His body of work is stunning and he is responsible for some of the most stunning publicity shots I have seen.

It’s not only his knowledge of photography that makes him an amazing photographer but how he manages to capture the moment that makes his images so great. So I end with another Breaking Bad image that makes inspires me in it’s simplicity and power.

All photos taken by Frank Ockenfels.

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Fun with Polar Coordinates

As a photographer, Photoshop is an integral part of my workflow. Most of my work on it is very simple.

Curves adjustments, sharpening and some dodging and burning.

Sometimes, it takes a bit more than that and I start using it like a power user. For example, I wanted to try and punch up an portrait I took in Sri Lanka over 4 years ago by emulating the work of Dragan.

Processed before and after

Processed before and after

This took about 10 minutes to get the right result I wanted and I am very impressed with it.

Photoshop has a ton of filters that you can use to create that certain look. Since it is also for designers, there are a bunch of filters that I just don’t use as a photographer. One of those is Polar Coordinates. What it does is alter the coordinates of the image from rectangular to polar. You can read the full description here. Here’s what the filter does to this photo:

On a gokart

On a gokart

This one has the filter set to Rectangular to Polar. Notice how it wraps the photo around a central point. More on that later.

Rectangular to Polar

Rectangular to Polar

The last example is set to Polar to Rectangular.

Polar to Rectangular

Polar to Rectangular

The second altered photo is completely unusable but the first, if the right side connected to the left side, it would make for a pretty funky looking photo. Then I got to thinking about panoramic photography.
So I tried it out and this is what I got after about 10 minutes of fiddling.

Panorama of Plaza Vieja in Havana using Polar Coordinates

Panorama of Plaza Vieja in Havana using Polar Coordinates

Looks pretty cool but it’s a bit uneven for me so I went and looked around for a more uniform panorama and found one from a recent trip to Phu Quoc, Vietnam.

Desert beach in Phu Quoc orb using Polar Coordinates

Desert beach in Phu Quoc orb using Polar Coordinates

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

A few tips if you want to try this. The image size has to be square. It will look wierd when you constrain the image but it will turn out in the end as the image will be restretched when the filter is applied. Also, make sure you flip the image vertically or what you get will be an image that turns in instead of out. Which is another photo in itself.

Hope you enjoyed reading this!

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Is it real or is it photoshopped?

I was just on the lightstalkers website and came across this interesting blog entry.
In short, World Press Photo revoked a third place prize in Sport Features Stories category from Stepan Rudik for excessive digital manipulation. You can see the original and manipulated photo below (courtesy of wadelaube.com).

Comparison photos of Stepan Rudick

Comparison photos of Stepan Rudick


While I agree with WPP revoking the award, I don’t however agree with last years exclusion of Klavs Bo Christensen’s Haiti photos in a Danish Picture of the Year due to excessive color manipulation (photo courtesy of nppa.org).

Klavs retouched and untouched photos

Klavs retouched and untouched photos

Because of the retouching, the the Danish POY committee announced this:
“Photos submitted to Picture of The Year must be a truthful representation of whatever happened in front of the camera during exposure. You may post-process the images electronically in accordance with good practice. That is cropping, burning, dodging, converting to black and white as well as normal exposure and color correction, which preserves the image’s original expression. The Judges and exhibition committee reserve the right to see the original raw image files, raw tape, negatives and/or slides. In cases of doubt, the photographer can be pulled out of competition.”

Granted, when I first looked at the photo, I thought it was an HDR image gone awry but I still don’t feel that it was manipulated enough to disqualify.

Mainly because he used techniques on his computer that could still be used in a darkroom. For example, get a copy of War Photographer by Christian Frei. About three quarters into the doco, you watch James Natchwey work with a darkroom technician burn and dodge portions of a photo for an upcoming exhibition. That is considered acceptable behavior mainly to enhance the impact of the photo. Why not the same for digital files?

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Shameless plug

A multimedia piece that I adapted for the Global Post is online.

Check it out HERE.

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Tilt/shift lens hack

This is something I have done in the past but wanted to refine the design a bit.
Essentially, I took an old Medium Format lens and turned it onto a tilt/shift lens.
One of the great uses for this lens is to make everything look like a model. There are photoshop techniques out there that recreate this but its always better to do it outside of the computer anyways.
Lets leave that photoshop stuff to graphic designers….
And remember kids, always be wary of a photographer that say “I’ll fix it in photoshop” more than once a day.
No photoshop other than curves adjustment was made to these photos.

Construction at Gold Tower 42

Construction at Gold Tower 42

Independence Monument

Independence Monument

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Touristy stuff

One thing that I haven’t really done so far is blazed the tourist trail. We had a bit of time before lunch so got to check out the Tate Modern and walked around Parliament Square.

Millenium bridge at the Tate Modern

Millenium bridge at the Tate Modern

parliament square

parliament square

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