Problem Solving

I’ve been shooting fashion inspired photos for about 7 years already and not all of them came out well. One common thing though is I’m learning in each and every shoot I had, especially those ones that are frustratingly challenging. When it happens, nothing will be in place and no matter how you try to solve it, it will just get worse.

I recently had a chance to shoot Ms.Mara Smith, a Bisaya Black-American-Filipina standing 5 feet 10 inches tall. She was a natural in front of the camera. After preparing 6 lights, one was enough after all.

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Understanding Posing

Professional model Eva Mania poses in this set based on the concept we discussed. I made some few tweaks on the fly but we were more focused on bringing out the character that we wanted.

I still remember vividly when I had my first shoot, my major concern is posing. Even in the next coming shoots, it was always my weakness. Back then, I’d do a ton of research for the right posing and the different dos and don’ts. I try to do my best to imprint the image into my head so during shoot I can pull them out as needed.

Since I’m really not good in memorizing, I always end up dry and when the time comes that the model would ask for the dreaded question, “what should be my posing?”, it was like squeezing a drop of water out of a dry towel. The save reference poses to cellphone trick made a difference but I was slowly turning mechanical. Continue reading “Understanding Posing” »

Dynamic Range

A famous term in photography is backlight. Even a non photographer would know that shooting with the light coming from the back is undesirable. Whether shooting with the most expensive camera, backlight issues are known to mess up your shot. Unless if it’s intentional like silhouette, then you can get away with it.

Aerial photography is trending lately. The technology of drones has opened an opportunity to photographers in offering a different perspective. Respected photographer Dr. Erwin Lim has covered photography from underwater to land and air. (Photo by Dr. Erwin Lim)

We experience the same situation when the sun is low and beaming straight towards us, most likely we cannot see what is in front of us. Just the same as when an approaching car’s headlight is set to high. Our eyes cannot see the extent of brightness and low light at the same time.

This is the same dilemma when using a camera. What’s worse is the camera has a narrower range between bright and low light compared to human eyes. Often times, we can still see it when we look at the scene with bare eyes but the result comes out with flat shadows and shows no details. Continue reading “Dynamic Range” »

Photography Reborn

The rising and setting of the sun is always a fascinating experience. It’s always a special moment for photographers. (photo taken by: Nelo Marasigan-Manzo)

I have the tendency to influence a photography student to take fashion photography. It’s really not intentional. Maybe I’m just too deep in this passion of mine that all I see is coated with it and students are inspired with the overflowing appreciation of my kind of photographic genre.

When I’m asked when I started photography, my answer is always high school. Truth is, it was the time that it was introduced to me and that’s it. No love for the art just pure curiosity during those times. The experience of doing something with chemicals and images that appear out of the white photographic paper is just an awesome thing to witness.

I never planned to be a photographer. I never imagined that I’d be investing a lot of my time pursuing this passion. I never expected that an artist in me will be brought out of the open. My long term goal then was to climb the corporate ladder and become a successful executive. We can never be certain of what’s ahead. Continue reading “Photography Reborn” »

Ecosystem

Shooting outdoors at shutter speed 1/800, possible using Phottix Indra500 high speed sync. It can go as high as 1/8000, no need to attach the ND filter to reduce the light. (Samiria Santana)

After 5 AC strobes, 3 battery pack strobes and 4 speedlights, 10 wireless triggers, only now that I realize how convenient it could have been if I invested on an ecosystem. All my devices would have worked together smoothly. If only I’ve know this when I was starting up, I could have saved myself from all the troubles.

Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know these things unless you experience it yourself. There’s a lot of things to goes through your mind when you’re starting up and most of them are associated with cost of equipments. You will always find branded equipments to be very expensive and the cheaper brands were very much capable. Continue reading “Ecosystem” »

Gear Matters

In this photo, we had to use a battery pack strobe since the location has no power outlet. Hi speed sync strobes will allow you to shoot at higher shutter speed which is helpful when shooting wide open apertures. (Nathalia Diorio)

Before you start the argument that skill is more important than gear, give me a chance to explain. I’ve been preaching it ever since that before you upgrade your equipments, you should upgrade yourself first. Find out if buying a new equipment will match your skills. Do you deserve it or you probably used the excuse that I’d be more inspired if I’m using a better gear.

My first digital camera lasted for three years before I added a new one. I even only had one lens, 50mm 1.4 back then. Oh I also had a dole out 28-105 lens. Basically, these are what I had for three years. Our brains are so creative that they can really find the most convincing reason to upgrade and often times, we all fall victim to it. Continue reading “Gear Matters” »

Hassles in fashion photography

In the recent workshop that I conducted for PCCI in Makati, the students asked me why I chose fashion photography over the others. I told them that I like the pressure. The idea that I will almost always call it quits everytime fuels my passion to even play harder. Above all, it’s the satisfaction that I get producing artworks with style.

My challenge to my students during the fashion photography workshop was to shoot the subject in style and capturing the motion. It’s about finding ways to shoot it differently.

Behind every fashion photo you see is a mix of beauty and style. The problem that arises in and out of the set is as simple as missing memory card to one of the creatives decided not to show. There’s weather if you’re shooting outdoors and equipment failures here and there. But in the middle of chaos, a work of art is brewing. Continue reading “Hassles in fashion photography” »

Thought Process

I’m occasionally asked about my thought process when shooting. I would hear the same question when watching photography video tutorial. When I was just starting up, that’s what I always ask every time I meet somebody I look up to. When learning photography the photos are output of the photographer’s creative process. Continue reading “Thought Process” »

Phottix Indra Hi Speed Sync

One of the limitation of a focal plane shutter, both used by mirrorless and DSLR, is that it can only allow shooting with strobe at 1/200 shutter speed and below. The maximum shutter speed that the camera can allow with strobe is called flash sync. Should you decide to shoot faster than the flash sync, you’ll see a block of line in your shot..

Well it’s quite easy to digest that as long as you’re below the flash sync, you’re safe. However, what if you want to shoot at faster shutter speed? What if you want to open up your aperture to create a shallow depth of field and increase the shutter to control the exposure while using strobe to fill in the light?

Perfect for shooting portraits. Beauty dish mounted on a Phottix Indra500 set on hi speed sync. 1/1600sec, f/1.8

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What lens to buy?

I always have a difficult time answering to photographers who asks me what lens to buy. Not that I don’t want to help, it’s just that the answer need a more serious sit down and discussion to ge explain it right. Lenses are specialized based on your specific needs. That is the major advantage of having a replaceable lens camera.

17-40mm is the go to lens when it comes to landscape but in this shot, I used a 14mm lens. It offers a different perspective with just enough distortion. It’s a very interesting lens for landscape.

The rule when buying lens is that quality and durability will always speak its price. There are variables that needs to be considered, focal length and aperture. There’s also the zoom and prime lenses. Here’s a list of lenses and their usage based on a 35mm sensor. Continue reading “What lens to buy?” »