Down the Rabbit Hole

Shooting the Coach: After one hour of shooting I decided to take a break. I can’t seem to find the right light. If there’s a bad hair day, you can call this the bad light day. I kept on trying for another hour until I got what I want. From three lights to one. (Model: Lorie Enriquez, Makeup: Catherine Diala)

I am at a helpless level in photography right now. Gears cannot help me anymore. Majority of the challenge right now is creativity. The pace of Improvement at this stage is very slow. Tons of effort with few positive results. Still don’t know how long and far this level will be and what will be next down the rabbit hole.

When I started shooting fashion inspired photos back in the 2010, I had my eyes fixed on a target. I know what I want and where I’m headed. The destination was clear. I also know that there will be many challenges ahead. I had everything planned and although I made some adjustments along the way, it was manageable.

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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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Best practice using Photoshop

In my many workshops in the creative industry and that includes photography, it is very common to know that some Photoshop users are still using the application like it’s the 90’s. They are using the current version but the approach and practice is way back couple of decades ago.

Somehow, our source of learning is from a colleague who learned it from a senior colleague who also learned it from another one. That’s how an old practice travelled through time and up until now is being practiced. Although, Youtube tutorial has introduced newer approach, some of the tutorial are using it the wrong way.

Edited this image using Adobe Camera Raw for global color adjustments and more intensive editing in Photoshop.

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Tethered Shooting

When shooting tethered, you get to see your work in a bigger display and will help you see more things that you can improve in your set.

When shooting tethered, you get to see your work in a bigger display and will help you see more things that you can improve in your set.

I had a unique scenario few years back with a client who wants to see the shots while we were shooting. It was on outdoor shoot so we had to connect my camera through its USB port to my enclosed laptop and use Lightroom’s tethering feature. It was a solution at that time but we encountered some concerns along the way.

Yes, the client was happy even if the shots were coming in slow. There’s about 5 seconds delay and I have to shoot it with a good interval between shots so the transfer of data, given the fact that we were shooting raw, wouldn’t be that overwhelming. The connection between the computer and camera somehow keeps on disconnecting.

This is something that I have to deal with every time we need to shoot tethered. I know that I must have done something wrong or a setting that needs to be set since those that I see in youtube are working perfectly fine. Continue reading “Tethered Shooting” »

Rejections

Sliding off the norm, I overexposed this shot to get a washed out effect. Yacht Club, Roxas Boulevard. f8, 1/160, 70-200, 5D.

Sliding off the norm, I overexposed this shot to get a washed out effect. Yacht Club, Roxas Boulevard. f8, 1/160, 70-200, 5D.

When you’re a photographer or any type of artist, you’ll go through many challenges and one of them is rejection. The issue is worsen by social media. However, perspective matters and if you reposition your thinking, you’ll see it in a different way.

I was scrolling through my facebook feed and read a post from Mai Pages, it says “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, but there will always be someone who hates peaches.” – Dita Von Teese. After reading the line, I felt the waves went through my past experiences and released a ton of stress. Continue reading “Rejections” »

Photography School

It’s been five years now that I’m teaching photography and I have to admit that I’m sometimes frustrated with myself for failing to inspire some students and to those students as well who failed to see the art. John Free, a documentary photographer shared his thoughts about photography school and how it damaged the potentials.

Travel photography always fascinates me. In one of my trips in Sydney, a good friend showed me around the city. Harbour Bridge, Fujifilm XE-1 18mm.

Travel photography always fascinates me. In one of my trips in Sydney, a good friend showed me around the city. Harbour Bridge, Fujifilm XE-1 18mm.

In a video posted in PetaPixel, John Free vents his thoughts about photography schools who are just there for the money. He said that his personal experience enrolling in a world’s top photography school was horrifying. He was glad he went out early enough to keep his passion going. Continue reading “Photography School” »

Electronic Shutter

During my one-on-one workshop, my student was using a Fujifilm XT-1 and although my discussion is focused the theory of photography, I cannot disregard the different approach in handling this type of camera.

Fujifilm has no aperture or shutter priority in the shooting mode dial. It works like the classic camera where the aperture control is on the lens and where the auto aperture setting also resides. If you’re a DSLR user, it may take you longer than the usual to get familiar with the way settings are controlled in Fujifilm cameras.

Since I’m no expert in Fujifilm, I visited Ryan Go of F8 to give some few experts advice and true to what I’ve expected, there were a handful of info that I didn’t know. One of which that spiked my interest is the rolling shutter limitation when using electronic shutter. This happens if you turn off the mechanical shutter and let the electronic shutter control the exposure time.

My first reaction was, how come I didn’t know about this. Maybe because I had so much fun with my Canon G11 having flash sync up to 1/1000 sec. I was also experimenting a lot with Fujifilm X100s having high flash sync as well. Which part did I missed out that a rolling shutter limitation exist?

When using electronic shutter and turning of mechanical shutter, the delay in the CMOS sensor readout causes the stretched effect. This only happens when shooting at high speed setting and fast moving objects.

When using electronic shutter and turning of mechanical shutter, the delay in the CMOS sensor readout causes the stretched effect. This only happens when shooting at high speed setting and fast moving objects.

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Focal-Plane Shutter

Shooting with strobes. One artificial light and ambient light in the background. Shutter is set at 1/160. Most cameras x-sync is below 1/200. Anything more than that, you'll capture your shutter in your frame. Normally a black strip will cover a portion of your image. Model Credit: Stacey Nicole Swardt

Shooting with strobes. One artificial light and ambient light in the background. Shutter is set at 1/160. Most cameras x-sync is below 1/200. Anything more than that, you’ll capture your shutter in your frame. Normally a black strip will cover a portion of your image. Model Credit: Stacey Nicole Swardt

One of the most precise mechanism in every camera whether mirrorless or conventional DSLR is the focal-plane shutter. This is the mechanical part of a camera that controls the amount of time the light is allowed to pass through and expose the sensor.

The sound that you hear when your camera takes a shot is not the audible sound you hear in your cellphone but its actually the movement of mechanical pieces opening and closing the window just before the sensor. Focal-plane shutter is one of the three exposure controls you can adjust when controlling the amount of light passing through your camera.

Shutter speed is not dependent on your lens but your camera body. This means that even if you change from one lens to the next, you’ll still have the same shutter speed options. Those camera with no focal-plane shutter like point-and-shoot or those camera mounted on your cellphone controls the amount of exposure time by turning the sensor on and off electronically. Continue reading “Focal-Plane Shutter” »

Camera Phone

Recently, I was invited by Phoneography Cebu to talk about fashion photography but the challenge is to shoot it using just your camera phone. I was stressed thinking that I can’t use strobe. Fortunately, we were treated with models, makeup artist and beautiful gowns. I know it can work especially that camera phone nowadays are surprisingly good with a functional software controls.

One of the shots during the Phoneography Cebu fashion workshop. In this shot, we filled in a warm light and adjusted the color temperature or white balance of the phone to shoot incandescent light. This makes the subject's light neutral and the background to be bluer. Photo by Cesar Ledesma Jr. using Samsung S5, Snapseed.

One of the shots during the Phoneography Cebu fashion workshop. In this shot, we filled in a warm light and adjusted the color temperature or white balance of the phone to shoot incandescent light. This makes the subject’s light neutral and the background to be bluer.
Photo by Cesar Ledesma Jr. using Samsung S5, Snapseed.

The event was a success but what made me think about it is during the sharing after the workshop. One attendee asked me about how to improve in photography. I said that you just have to do it more often and keep on challenging yourself to do better than the last.

His next question was, how do I know if i’m getting it right. I thought about it for a few seconds and I asked him if he likes my photos. He said yes so I asked him why do you like it. He said because it looks a lot better than mine. So I told him that we always know a good photograph from a bad one. Deep inside we know if it looks good or not. We just sometimes fool ourselves that our work is good enough. It’s never enough. Continue reading “Camera Phone” »

Glorious Sunset

I was in Boracay lately and more than the powdery white sand and crystal clear water is the glorious sunset. Everyday, no miss. It’s there with or without audience. What makes it a really spectacle scene is that it only last for a couple of minutes. You stare at the moment and hold your breathe as the ray of warm orange and some chrome yellow skies slowly swallow the golden sun. Then a magnificent afterglow follows.

I was shooting a model at that time. We started shooting late afternoon to get a soft and less contrasty light. When shooting, i’m totally framed into my shots and can’t be interrupted by anything. So I didn’t realize that the spectacle has begun. As soon as I glanced upon it, like hypnosis, I stared at it and paused. I wanted to take a photo of it but decided to just sit in the sand and enjoy the view.

ISO 3200, Focal 195mm, 1/200, f16. Taken during sunset on the highest peak of Boracay.

ISO 3200, Focal 195mm, 1/200, f16. Taken during sunset on the highest peak of Boracay.

I’ve seen a lot of Boracay sunset photos but it’s incomparable to actually experiencing it yourself. The colors are out of range from any top of the line camera. The dynamic range it offers is just to wide to be captured. The feel of the soft wind and the damp fine sand in your feet completes the entire experience. Continue reading “Glorious Sunset” »