Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Shooting with a Canon System and Portrait #8

"The best camera, is the one that's with you..." -- Chase Jarvis

Last Saturday, I made my cousins proud because I used a Canon system (EOS 550D to be exact). In my hurry to leave the house, I left my battery still in the charger and found out about it on location. It was a good thing there was an extra camera; but it was a Canon. I've always belonged to the Dark Side (Nikon) because I find it easier to use and the colors are closer to reality. It’s just my own preference as both brands are almost equal in terms of technologies and performance.

And it was one of my favorite shoots for the year. Not because I used a Canon system but because it was challenging. I was not in my element as I could not use my trusty 35mm and to adapt to the controls of the camera. All those buttons are confusing! I was not used to taking my eyes off the viewfinder when changing Auto-Focus points so recomposing was a bit of a pain. I had to make do with the gear that I had; learning how to maximize gear is a very good skill.

But still, I think that I had a great shoot even with the challenges I faced.

We also had a new model and I was happy because I've always wanted to shoot a Japanese looking girl; and we were blessed to have Anri who is actually half Japanese. She was easy and fun to work with. Her simplicity made her stunning; it made my life a whole lot easier. Also, we had a new location to play around in; not the usual haunts in the city. Though we did not really have a concept in mind, the location itself was good enough that we knew what we wanted to do.

Here is the first set of the shoot...

anri (3 of 4)

anri (2 of 4)

anri (1 of 4)

And lastly, I didn't forget about my 100 portraits project so here it is. This was shot with a Nikon D90 and an 85mm 1.8 Nikkor.

anri (4 of 4)

Shooting with a new system (whether it be canon or any other brand) is never easy but its either you adapt or miss the shoot. I can't tell you that I could have done better with my Nikon rig but at the end of the day you'll just let the pictures speak. And Anri made things easier; and most of the time, it’s the subject not the gear that determines the outcome of the shoot.

ps: Special thanks to Maggie for the 550D and Ken for the D90. And to the photobombers for another amazing shoot! :D

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jeff + Hazel E-Session

"The space between our wicked lives... is where you'll find me hiding... waiting for you." -- Dave Matthews

Often we look at things as very ordinary that we overlook its real meaning. That’s something I realized after reviewing my output for the latest prenup project I had. And yes, I admit that at first it seemed so normal to me that I ignored its meaning; but I am glad my lens captured some images of it.

I am talking about holding hands.

hhww (1 of 1)

Sure, people associate it with couples and relationships but sometimes it seems so ordinary that everybody does it. Yet, we all know that there is a deeper meaning to this. Somewhere, in the vastness of the earth, a hand was made to hold yours. It may not fit perfectly but yet it feels right. I'm sure Jeff and Hazel felt that way because throughout the course of the shoot their hands were locked together. There were no need to tell them to hold hands and from my standpoint it seemed so natural; not something done just for the sake of the e-session.

flickr (3 of 3)

And that day, I was drawn towards shooting their hands; as they were practically inseparable. It wasn't something I did on purpose as I was pressing the shutter button like theres no tomorrow. Perhaps it just shows that in my quest of finding the perfect expression of love in this couple, I found it not in their faces but in their intertwined fingers.

flickr (2 of 3)

Personally, I think holding hands is a sign of trust and hope. You trust that you chose the right hand to hold and hope that it will be the hand that you'll hold forever. I wish all couples would value that hand they hold; and that they'd never let it go. And I wish Jeff and Hazel all the best; may they hold each others hand in wherever life takes them.

flickr (1 of 3)

PS: I originally planned not to have words for this post but I had that "ah-ha" moment again so I added my thoughts to my images.
PPS: Special thanks to Jarrah Lu for being my co-shooter for this session. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Noel + Cathy: A Unique Wedding

"Truth is, all brides are beautiful – exceptionally beautiful on their wedding day. If it doesn’t show, I’m not doing my job properly." -- Dino Lara

I was inspired by a blog post by my cousin about Brides being beautiful on their wedding day. They are really supposed to feel that they are the prettiest in the venue; that all eyes are on them. Its their day and its supposed to be the most memorable walk down the isle.

But its not just the bride but the groom as well. You can't have a bride without a groom now, can you?

In my first solo wedding coverage, I found freedom to do what I want and shoot in the angles that I never tried before. I must say it was one satisfying experience for me. And a huge sigh of relief that I actually finished the wedding without panicking.

And this was an ultra-religious and non-conventional wedding because the bride and groom belong to a particular church group. The traditional entourage wasn't even present because only the bride, groom and their parents walked down the isle; no ring bearers or flower girls. The chairs where the bride and groom sat didn't face the altar but was in one side just to the right of the priest facing the assembly. And there was a huge liturgical table in the middle plus the lectern was also in the middle; a lot of obstacles were present which made it tricky. Even the church layout was a bit of a handful.

It was quite challenging because the whole ceremony itself was not ordinary. There were a lot of non-traditional parts and others were skipped which made it a bit confusing. But it was unique and fun at the same time; it kept me on my toes. But its still a wedding and its my job to cover it; I'm glad I did my job to the best of my abilities (or lack thereof).

A lot of first for me again. There were a few Uh-oh moments and some shots I missed but thats a part of growing up. I'll learn as I go along.

And as for my output, here are the first few frames from the wedding.

wedding (3 of 3)

wedding (1 of 1)

wedding (2 of 3)

wedding (1 of 3)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Noel + Cathy E-Session

"And I'd give up forever to touch you..."

That is my all time favorite line from a song. And I make it a point to always listen to the song before shooting a prenup shoot. Music really helps get those creative juices flowing; and a little research also works.

Two Sundays ago, I did my first solo prenup shoot; And yes, it scared the hell out of me. One thing I am weak at is directing models or subjects. I'm the happy camper type photographer; I wait for my shots to happen naturally. I think it’s because I was a street shooter before going into portraits and prenups. Some habits just die hard. And being a guy, I naturally had a hard time directing "sweet" and "mushy" poses. I knew what I wanted to shoot but I really wanted it as candid as possible. It didn't happen with this couple so I had no choice but to direct. And like what I said, I hate directing.

Good thing I figured out how to coax them to revealing their softer side by constantly reminding them that they'll do this only once in their lives. And viola, I got them to show some lovin' (if you know what I mean). And gladly, by the time we started shooting it was windy but not raining; though the overcast skies ruined my plans for dramatic lighting.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite photos from the shoot.

noel + cathy fb (21 of 21)

noel + cathy fb (1 of 21)

noel + cathy fb (19 of 21)

Experience is the greatest teacher of all, and I learned a lot from this shoot. I hope my confidence would always be high even when shooting solo. And I hope that this learning experience would help me in my next projects.

PS: you can view the Flickr set here:  Noel + Cathy E-session Flickr Set

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Breaking the Habit: 100 Portraits Project #6 & #7

This blog is long overdue. I should have made it last week before everything went crazy. This week I went to the Nikon Photo Safari then did a prenup shoot. And tomorrow I'll be covering my first solo wedding assignment. And to think, I did this shoot a day before Valentines.

Time management is really my weakness.

Anyways, during our group's Valentine's Day dinner, we had a semi studio setup and went on experimenting with lights. My friend called it the Light Wall effect. A reflector was used as a very large diffuser; it created a sort of nice gradient lighting effect. I got interested in the idea but it was hard to setup properly. I got two keepers to add to my 100 portraits project. Both models are part of the Photo Bombers group (which I am also a part of). 

First is Waqui, a friend and fellow photographer who occasionally tries to model; especially when the group doesn't have models ready or during breaks in photo shoots.

Portrait #6: Waqui

Second would be Kaye. She's one of my first models and was part of the first photo shoot I organized way back July 2010. Back then I didn't use strobes or reflectors and basically didn't know much about portraiture. She's been with the group from the start.

Portrait #7: Kaye

It took some time for me to finally have an output for the shoot. It’s not because I'm very busy but because I was looking for something different. I wanted output that I haven't done yet in my previous portraits for this project. So I came up with the not so used angle for Kaye and a low key effect for Waqui. I hope that the creative process for me will continue, because I have been on a roll in recent weeks. And I pray that I'd find more keepers for this project; 93 more to go!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nikon Photo Safari

Second place is not a defeat. It is a stimulation to get better. It makes you even more determined. -- Carlos Lopes

Last Saturday, I attended the first ever Nikon Photo Safari here in Davao City and the highlight of the day (aside from the food and drinks) was a photo contest. Each participant in the event was allowed one entry to the landscape and macro categories. The top three in each category would win prizes. I entered an entry only to the macro category since I admittedly suck at landscapes (and didn't get to shoot any). Luckily, I got to borrow a macro reverse ring, and was forced to borrow a flash since my unit was not functioning. I learned on the fly how to use the reverse ring; and after about an hour, I got the hang of it.

I was amazed at how sharp the images taken by the macro reverse ring were. I coupled it with my 35mm 1.8 and used a flash with an omni-bounce diffuser. Here is a sample of how sharp the images were:

cotton stainer (1 of 1)

And here is the shot that made my day. I placed second in the macro category with this mosquito shot. I saw it land on a flower and took a couple of clicks. I had to stop for a bit because the flash was overheating; took a few more until it flew away. I didn't even realize I had a keeper until I got back to the assembly area. After asking a few opinions (because the image above impressed me so much with the sharpness), I was convinced to submit this shot. Luckily, I won second place and got some accessories as prize. It was really a good day for me.

macro nikon safari (2 of 2)

Second place, felt like first place for me. I didn't expect to even be in the top 10 since I didn't have the proper macro gear and there were some pretty good macro shooters around. I just submitted an entry because I was there and I had some shots. I'm really happy I went to the safari, not only because I won, but because I had fun (and was drinking since 10AM). And the bonus was that I got two more shots for my 100 portraits project.

And I just entered this photo to the continuation of the contest sponsored by the Nikon Concept Shop. If you were part of the Photo Safari, then you can enter the contest here: Fanatic Photographers - Nikon Photo Safari Contest

cricket (1 of 1)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Adventures of Danbo Part I

I was supposed to make a blog yesterday but I got stuck doing reports. So my blogging streak ends at two days. But I am back and I have a couple of sets that await their turn to be blogged. I'll still stick to doing one theme or set per blog; makes things simpler.

I've got a simple question as an introduction to my subject: how can a cardboard cut-out have so many chicks thinking that he (or it, for that matter) is so adorable, cute or amazing?

Well, I present to you: Danbo (short for Danboard, the cardboard box robot)

danbo - studio high res (1 of 6)

Sometime last January, I went to a friend's store that had a small studio setup on the second floor. We were supposed to just hang out. We got bored and a friend had the bright idea of doing a studio shoot with Danbo as our subject. We didn't have models to shoot so he (or it) would have to do. So we played around, using the studio lights that were designed for portraits on a three inch tall cardboard figure. We went about this shoot with the same manner as we do with our portrait photoshoots. Danbo was no longer just a cardboard box robot, he (she or it) was the model.

danbo - studio high res (2 of 6)

And with his (or it's) singular expression, I managed a couple of keepers.

danbo - studio high res (3 of 6)

We even found a doll to be a date for Danbo.

danbo - studio high res (6 of 6)

Out of boredom, I got some images I am happy about. It just shows that keeping an eye out for possible subjects should be part of my habit. I also learned that the simplest things in life can be very interesting; even a cardboard box.

Thank you Danbo!

 View the entire set here!