Sunday, November 1, 2009

Striving for Quality

Gosh! Time flies, it's been more than 2 months since I updated my blog. Ooopss! So anyways, I was going through my flickr pages to do a self review of where I'm headed in terms of photography. Some big changes.... I have done way too many portraits, my post processing skills have improved, my style has changed from shooting a wide angle frames to a tightly cropped frames and most importantly I'm paying way too much attention towards the quality of the images. I no longer want/create dirty photoshopped looking images. I'd rather do minimalistic processing and work the camera, light and the setup of the shoot. I compare some of my portraits with some of the best in the infiniteness of the internet... to my surprise all those images have a real clean look. Major factors that define these images include minimalistic vignetting, eyes sharpened only around iris, skin retouched but not smoothened out, some sharp details around eyebrows, hair strands, finer shadows etc. I had to carry out way too many experimentation to learn what I know. I wish someone had told me these before ;-) . I'm especially proud of the first one (the alignment of the eyes is not the usual angle) but second one is my favorite!

In her eyes

Olivia

Lizzy


Raise an eyebrow.


Katie

Jayla

Sort of scary that I've given up my signature wide angle style and I'm not shooting landscapes :( .
African Safari

Pictured Blue

Hopefully I find some kind of harmony between the old and the new. Also my pencil drawings force me to look things with a 50mm lens. Huh! Talking about new style, Behance has been a great source of inspiration and learning. I've opened an account there to show my portfolio . Also my website is under construction yay! about time :D)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Delware Park... almost

Gosh. I should remember to update my blog often. With the Twitter micro-blogging, all my small ideas drain out(I don't even know if they technically qualify as ideas). So unless I do something that challenges my limit there is no topic to blog. Here is one which makes a pretty good candidate for a blog. I had seen a few pictures of Delaware Park, near Port Sanilac Michigan. I wanted to shoot some similar pictures with rocks in the water and waves splashing against them. Last night I "intuitively" decided to get up early and go shoot there. As it's about 2 hours away and I didn't know exact location of the park, I left at 3.30 AM, morning i.e. first step to push my limits. One of the few 3.30 AMs rises I've seen in my life. You know, intuitions always don't result in your favor. So someone else had decided to disrupt my plans. Weather: Rainy, Foggy and Misty. The park's location couldn't be traced by my GPS. My watch was in rest as it'd run out of battery. Pure Chaos. Somehow I made it to Delaware park and silent chill. Nobody was there and it looked like a scene straight outta horror~ish thriller movies. I gathered myself and looked at my beloved iPhone, no network. Hmmmm... Should I drive back home and tuck in or should I just wait for the sunrise and take a couple of pictures. The weather still wasn't encouraging and because of the rain the water was muddy and the stone were submersed. Just to make it my time's worth I took my camera and walked near the shore.... heavy downpour drenched me. There were water droplets all over my lens, resulting in weird pictures. Whatever.. FCUK it! (French Connection UK, not my fav. clothing brand ;-)). I had stopped caring at this time. I was cold and wet. After a couple of frames I packed up and started driving back. Having gone through all the misery I wanted get something, something. A roadside park well... I stopped and got a few which looked better than the ones I took at the original destination I intended .

Parked

Delware park.

Splash

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Weekend of Shooting, Driving and Redbulls

I did 2 photo shoots last weekend. 2 entirely different shoots. First one with Strobist Ann Arbor group on Saturday. This was set in Detroit in a decayed mansion (I think it was a mansion!). No power outlets, no restrooms, no air conditioner and sometimes no floor ..no kidding :). It was a blast though! Along with cameras, lights and models photographer also had to be aware of situation of the location itself. Mark and I setup our White Lightning on Vegabond batteries and started shooting. BTW I'm seriously impressed by performance of Vegabond II. Anyone looking forward to buy that, "Do it now!" It's totally worth what it costs. We also did some outdoor photos and the wind wasn't helping to say the least.

Some photos from this shoot:
Chelsea

Nightcap

Shira

Strike a pose

The second shoot was in Lexington, Mich. Originally planned as Olympus shoot, just resulted in Cindy and I shooting, because of Father's day. This was one of those times, where nature is too kind towards you and throws in all sorts of drama! First it was sunny but dull. Then out of nowhere a stream of misty fog covered the Marina creating entirely different look. As the mist slowly cleared out the sunshine was back again, sun took his time going down the horizon. Again a magical look. It was ecstatic. I had a chance to field test my Pana-Leica PL25 lens. I had heard all sorts of complaints, it missing the target in AF mode and that it didn't have any magical quality etc.. To me at least all that proved to be a myth. I found the magical quality I was looking for and the AF was spot on. The flower and fishing portrait were taken in AF mode (also first portrait during Saturday's shoot), wide open at f/1.4. To my eyes they are magical. I pixel-peeped to my heart's content and totally satisfied with this lens.

Lone Surfer

Lexington Marina

Chased by Paparazzi

The Boat as Bokeh

Magical

Hook It


I drove around 600 miles driving that's not much if just numbers were to be considered, but when combined with 20 hours of shooting and carrying gear.. makes it considerable for me. On my way back from Lexington, I had 2 Redbulls, instead of one, So couldn't sleep all night Sunday so fought hard to stay awake on Monday at work :D. I feel at the end of it all, the photos turned out nice and the temporary discomfort doesn't come into picture at all. Oh yes, this week is dedicated for a step which is totally out of my comfort zone... I call it Painful Processing, widely known as Post-Processing. I can rush most Landscape shots through Lightroom Presets.. for portraits I will have to go to CS4. Hope to get through this fast :D.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Tools

Recently a few people have asked me what gear I use, especially for the lighting part. Today I was organizing all my gear and I thought why not take pictures of them(okay, I was tempted to take pictures of them :D). So this is a gear post :). Click on the images to view large on flickr.

White Lighting Kit - Recently I ordered some stuff from PC Buff. I was happy with my small flash kit. But I wasn't getting enough power at times and I hate to pump up the ISO. So I got the big lights, since I don't have a studio, I ordered a vegabond battery too. May be I need one more battery, so that each flash head gets dedicated battery... although a single battery can support up to 6 heads (WL tech spec :)). I also got Large Octobox and Beauty dish with grid and soft cover. I love the light output by WLs, when mounted on Octobox. Shadow areas are very soft and overall pleasing look. Then I have the 20deg grid which sort of gives a funky look. I am yet to put some color gels on flash heads and yet to use it on location. (May be next weekend).

White Lightning Kit

Small Flash Kit - This is really flexible kit. I hate carrying stuff.... so compact flash kit fulfills most requirements except power. Also it's a big pain keep track of all the AA batteries (Last I counted I had 40 of rechargeable ones, which is not much but I lose these easily) and to know which ones are charged and good to shoot. I will still use these but I intend to minimize their usage. Flash heads include of course Oly's FL50R, Nikon SB-28, Vivitar 285HVs, OM T20 and Yashica. Different brands and different syncs. T20 is a tiny flash which really helps at times, because a person can handhold one of these, covered. That gives some funky looks like this and   this . FL50R has been most reliable and easily gives more than 400 shots per battery set. Also this will work on wireless TTL mode when used with E-3, faster recycle time. SB28 is okay too.

Small Flash Kit

Sync - It's an important step. I am terrified to connect any flash directly to my cameras. I can never be sure what's the safe sync voltage, as I use many different brands. This is the reason I never use direct PC sync. I rarely use Optical syncs... mostly FL50R acts up in optical slave mode. White Lightnings too can be optical slaves. I had Cactus triggers. I didn't have any problems with those. But Pocket Wizards are very versatile. They even can trigger my E-3, using cable release and since I have the Sekonic PW transmitter, I don't need a separate PW to trigger the camera. L-358 can measure light in totally remote mode. So I guess Pocket Wizards purchase is justified.


Sync Kit

Camera and Lenses - As I was already shooting lights, I thought I will take a picture of cameras and lenses. 3 of my lenses are missing from the picture. My favorites are ZD7-14, PL25, Hexanon 57mm (both) and Carl Zeiss 120mm. I shoot with E-3 mostly these days, but E-510 goes everywhere with me. Most of these comfortably fit in Tamaron and Lowepro bags. Film cameras have their own individual bags. (I was tired so I didn't shoot bags :D.) I will soon have to get Think Tank Modular waist pouches. I can't carry all the gear in backpack and my shoulders and back cry for help.

Camera Bodies and Lenses

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Happiness

Some people have complained that I haven't updated my blog in ages. So... :).

I have a photo up on flickr, titled "Happiness". It was supposed to be for an assignment, for a group I shoot with. I'm a big Bokeh fan and my creativity doesn't cross established norms of cliche. So I sprayed water on the table, placed a text chit which reads Happiness. Used 2 strobes and threw water drops out of focus. On the left there is the Orange gelled strobe and Blue gelled strobe is placed on the right. So when the camera's shutter is released, the lights are fired and from the same pattern they are placed, they blend in together.

The setup:
Setup - Happiness

The result:

Happiness

Olympus FL-50R was at 1/16th of power and Nikon SB-28 was at 1/16 - 0.3EV.

Minor adjustments in Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop CS4.