Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Tumblr, Facebook Page, and WordPress

I have a tumblr. I have a facebook page. And now, I have my wordpress. Why do I have three different sites?

My Tumblr

I used to do everything on my tumblr. I used to share my new photos, write my thoughts on photography related stuff, and so on. But I don’t feel tumblr gives me the engine I need to do a “real” blog. Tumblr feels more like a micro-blogging site. And it is. It doesn’t feel like a serious blogging  site.

Sure, many people use tumblr to write blogs. But the true use of tumblr is posting quick thoughts or images and having people share them. I don’t know if I can gain a good readership there. Most people who use tumblr don’t seem to have patience to read a long essay.

So I’ll use my tumblr to post my recent photos.

My Facebook Page

I have a facebook page too. I post my photos there as well. Why do I need two places to post photos? Because I can.

Seriously, I thought about why I need both. But I have established fans on my facebook page. They are not going to create a tumblr account for me. Besides, I get better interaction at facebok. So I post photos to both my tumblr and facebook. No big deal.

My Photography Website

I still haven’t created my website that showcases my portfolio. That will come later once I become better at taking pictures. I don’t think I can choose 10 good photos to show off right now.

My 6 Favorite Photos of 2013

I hate most of my pictures. I guess that’s normal for most photographers to be critical of their photos. But I buckled down and decided to choose 6 favorite pictures I took in 2013. Why 6 and not do a more traditional top 10? I couldn’t find 10 I liked, so I chose 6. Some of them might not be the best photos I’ve taken, but I have an emotional attachment to them. So here they are in random order.

1.

I hated this photoshoot. The lighting sucked, and I thought I was going to shoot adult ballerinas. But all we got were kids. I wasn’t too enthusiastic about shooting kids. I came out of this shoot feeling depressed. I seriously thought I got 0 good shots from this shoot. 

When I go back and look at them, I don’t think they’re bad at all. In fact, I think these are some of my better pictures. I just used on-camera flash on all of these. 

The picture above is one of my favorites. I like the composition and atmosphere of the picture. I was still in my “treat every photo as a design exercise” phase. 

Also, the on camera flash made that scene look like a stage and a spotlight hit her.

2. 

I think Victoria is a great model. She made this shot work. But I must admit, it wasn’t my idea. Some dude asked the guys in the motorcycle to rev their engine so the smoke would come out. And Victoria did her thing. I just hung back and stole some shots. 

I had a supposed professional fashion photographer critique this photo. His main critique was that this photo had no story. He didn’t understand why the guys were in the motorcycles in the back. I had no clue what he was talking about. I mean, to me, the story was the clearest part of this photo. What is there not to get? There are so many interpretations of the story in this photo. 

Maybe he was right. Maybe I’m too arrogant to think otherwise. Whatever. After that, I never took people’s critiques seriously unless I admired their work.

3.

My friend Christine wanted me to take her maternity photos. I resisted for a long time. I thought all maternity photos were cheesy. 

Well, after researching and thinking about it, I decided to do it. All I had to do was take a nice portrait of my friend who happened to be pregnant. That’s it. I didn’t have to do anything cheesy like making heart signs on their bellies or having the dad kiss the stomach.

Sure, the photo isn’t perfect. I could’ve photoshopped her fly away hairs. But I think I accomplished my goal.

4.

This was a fun shoot. I liked this picture because of the genuine emotion between two models. No posing, no emoting, no modeling. Just a good snapshot. 

5.

This was my first popular 500px photo. I strategically made sure this would get popular in 500px. I had it all planned out: flattering lighting, hot model showing skin, clean post processing, glamorous style, and a clean image. 

I accomplished my goal and got a 95.5 score and got to the popular section of 500px. I got my validation from the circlejerk that is 500px. I’m glad I don’t have to subject my eyes to their boring photos again. 

6.

I’m not a landscape photographer. But for some reason, I like this pic. It’s nothing special. But I like it. People liked my Joshua Tree pictures better. But again, I just like this picture better. 

Why do I like it? I don’t know why. There’s a lot of problems with this photo like the huge empty space on the top. But I still like it.

I guess it feels like a poor-man’s version of Ansel Adam’s Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico photograph to me.

Fuji’s Rumored Weather sealed X body

According to fujirumors, Fuji is coming out with a SLR-inspired mirrorless camera based on the Fujica ST design. 

First of all, I have no idea why mirrorless camera makers are making cameras that look like SLRs. The point of the hump is to put the pentaprism in it. Mirrorless cameras don’t need the ugly hump, unless the EVF requires a lot of space. 

Many Fuji users agree Fuji should stick with the rangefinder design. I agree. If Fuji wants to do a Fujica ST design, then they should make it with a mirror. They should do what Nikon DF tried to do, but do it right.

Here are the rumored features of the new body:

  • bigger and better EVF
  • APS-C X-Trans II
  • double SD-card slot
  • weather sealed body
  • launch in January (CES)
  • price range between X-E and X-PRO line

All those are fine and dandy, but I don’t care of about any of those except for the better EVF. The EVF can never be too good. But you know what else they should have? An ISO dial. I hate diving into the menus to get to it.

The original Fujica ST has a dial on each side of the camera. The left one should be ISO. The right one should be shutter speed. And where the film advance lever was, put the exposure compensation dial. There you go, nice and minimal and closely matches the design of the Fujica ST. Also, the shutter speed and ISO dial should go 1/3 stops instead of full stops.

Also, they need to have tethering support. Then it can be seen as a real-deal pro camera for fashion and commercial photographers. Sure, the newer X-cameras have WiFi, but it only works with Fuji’s apps. It should be able to tether to Lightroom, Capture One, and other software. 

Honestly, when I saw the glimpses of the Nikon DF, I was ready to dump all my Fuji gear and move to Nikon. I would’ve bought the Nikon DF with the Nikon 58 f/1.4 and be done with it.

Luckily for Fuji, Nikon screwed up. Like I said earlier, Fuji should do what the Nikon DF tried to do. Fuji should just slap a mirror in their new camera and create a big, bright, optical, viewfinder (along with an awesome EVF). But they should make it the same size as the original Fujica ST. Is that possible? 

So would I get this new body? I don’t know, maybe if they did everything I wrote here. Even then, I’m not sure. 

Currently, I’m 95% happy with my X-E1. It’s sluggish though. It feels “old.” But the image quality is nice. The X-Trans II isn’t going to improve my images much. So what’s the point ? I learned to keep my GAS in check after I got buyer’s remorse when I upgraded my X100 to X100s.  

Meetups vs Solo Modeling Shoots

I’ve been to several Meetup.com meetups to practice shooting models. There’s a difference when shooting models through meetup vs shooting them one-on-one. Both have pros and cons, and here’s what I’ve discovered so  far.

Meetups Pros

  • Great way to meet and network with a lot of people trying to get into the industry like photographers, MUAs, hair stylists, models, etc.
  • You get to shoot a lot of models
  • You can bounce ideas off other photographers, ask them for help, etc. Sometimes they have a guru photographer to guide everyone who isn’t as experienced. 
  • You don’t need to worry about having hair, makeup, wardrobe, creative direction, etc. All these should be taken care for you.
  • If the other photographers suck, your stuff looks better compared to them, even though you suck too. You just happen to suck less. 
  • Awesome for beginners who need to start shooting fashion, beauty, models, etc. 

Meetup Cons

  • There are too many photographers. You won’t be able to get good 1-on-1 time with models. The ratio of photographers to models range from 2:1 to 10:1. Once you get over that 3:1 ratio, you end up doing paparazzi style, which sucks. 
  • Some of these meetups are expensive. They can cost from $20-$200 to shoot. That’s a lot of money to do paparazzi style shoots. You can use that money to hire a model for an hour or 2 and get all the shots you need. 
  • Having everything done for you is also a bad thing. On some of the meetups where everything is laid out for you, I feel all I’m doing is pressing the shutter button. I feel these aren’t my pictures because I had no input in them. I feel more and more guilty when I post them up.
  • Sometimes, at these meetups, you get no feedback. You don’t know if the models hated your pictures or liked them. It’s understandable. They probably get contacted by creeper photographers every day. So it doesn’t bother me too much if they don’t say anything about my photos or reply to my emails. Usually, if I don’t hear anything from the models, I just assume they hated my pics and move on. 

One on One Pros

  • You get to have the models all to yourself.
  • No other photographers to “steal” your shot or get in your way. Also, dealing with other ego-manic photographers is a pain. Besides, I can’t stand people with egos big as mine. 
  • You get complete creative control.
  • They’re very educational. If you’re starting out, you’ll make a lot of mistakes. There’s no one to blame but yourself. You’re the one who set the lights wrong. You’re the one that composed the image wrong. There were no other photographers rushing you or getting in your way. You have no excuse. This helps you to learn fast and hard. 
  • You can actually create rapport with the models, depending on their personality (and yours). This makes the shoot fun. 

One on One Cons

  • Models can flake
  • You need to provide Hair, Makeup, and wardrobe. You can get models to do their own hair and makeup. You can get the models to bring their own clothes too. But sometimes, the models can’t do hair and makeup themselves. 
  • Models are expensive. They range from about $50-$200++ hour. And you would need about 2-4 hours of shooting time. You can do TFP of course, if they like you enough.
  • You’re all alone. Sometimes you get stuck and have no idea what you’re doing. You can’t “steal” from other photographer’s idea or poses. It’s all you. I feel nervous every time I get a model alone because I have no idea what to do. 
  • There’s more administrative and prep you need to do. You should get a model release written up. You should scout the location. You should make story boards and notes on what you want to cover. 

Overall, I like one on ones. They are nerve-wracking and most of the time, I don’t deliver the quality the model wants. But I like the bootcamp feel and the creative control I have.

Also, I like to make fun of the models one-on-one. I can’t do that when there’s 10 other photographers trying to get the model’s attention. 

I Need a New Camera

I’ve outgrown my Fuji X100s. It was my first “real” camera, and I had it for about 9 months. So after 9 months of “serious” shooting I’ve outgrown it. 

I’m not suffering from Gear Acquisition Syndrome. If you don’t know, the Fuji X100 is a fixed lens, APSC, compact camera. The lens is stuck at 23mm with a crop sensor. So I can’t change lenses. I’m stuck.

I’ve managed to squeeze a lot out of my little Fuji X100. I love this camera. But I need a longer lens. I wish Fuji came out with a 85mm equivalent of the X100. Then I can just use that camera along with the Fuji X100 and be good for another year or so.

Why do I need a longer lens? Well, since I mostly shoot people, it’s great for that. I don’t have to worry about distortion so much. Even when posing models, I have to watch out for limbs that’s nearer to the lens because it could look bigger.

So what system should I upgrade to? I’m not sure yet. But here are my thoughts:

A Full Frame Can-Nikon/Sony System

Canon has there 5d Mark III that looks freaking sweet. They have those gorgeous 85mm 1.2 or 70-200mm 2.8 lenses. Of course, Nikon and Sony have similar quality lenses and bodies as well. 

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can move up to a DSLR. Why? They’re just too dang big and heavy. I’m so used to my compact and light Fuji x100. Every time I use those behemoths, I get tired. Also, the 5D Mark III is about $3000. They’re too expensive. Not to mention I have to get a $2000 lens. To me, it doesn’t justify the cost for the same image quality, bigger and heavier system, and to learn a new system.

Micro 4/3 Mirror less Cameras

I seriously thought about the Olympus OMD before I got the Fuji X100. But now, there’s no way I can “step down” to micro 4/3 sensor after using the APSC sensor. Using a M 4/3 camera would feel like a downgrade for me. 

Fuji X-Pro/ Fuji XE1

Well, this would look like a logical choice. I mean I love Fuji. The X-Pro or the XE1 would work almost identically as my X100s. And they would keep the same Fuji Colors in my images. I love those colors.

But, their 56/1.2 won’t come out until next year! That means I would have to wait a while. And their 55-200mm lens is too slow. And since I have the X100s, getting the X-Pro or XE1 would be a downgrade in speed and technology. 

Pentax 645d

Now this is where it gets interesting. When I heard about this camera, it intrigued me. A medium format (kinda) camera for less than $10,000! This thing costs as much as a Canon 1DX, and it’s (almost) medium format! 

This is probably is the most tempting right now. Sure it’s big and heavy, and I did say I don’t like big and heavy. And I did say I don’t like expensive. However, it’s medium format! I’ll sacrifice the bulk and weight to get some gorgeous pictures. The upgrade in quality would be worth it unlike the Full Frame cameras. 

Also, if want to get serious into Fashion/Commercial/Editorial photography, the industry standard is a Medium Format Camera. 

Of course, there are some cons to this system. Their lenses are not leaf lenses like the other Medium Format cameras. Their sync speed is a pathetic 1/125 sec. 

Also, it’s a medium format camera. So it’s going to be slow, unusable in low light, and clunky. It would force me to slow down, and I’m not a patient person. Then again, maybe that’ll be a good thing for me. 

Sony Nex

I’m not a fan of Sony Nex’s. Maybe if they come out with the rumored mirrorless Full Frame camera, I would be more interested. But by that time, I would probably get the Pentax or the Fuji X-Pro 2 anyway.

Leica M

Leica was pretty tempting to me. They have gorgeous lenses. They have great image quality.  But their low-light capability is bad. Also they’re all manual focus. Also, they cost as much as the Pentax. So if I had to choose, I would go up to medium format anyway.

Phase IQ180

Ah, my dream camera. Too bad it costs $45000 or so. For that money, I rather buy a Tesla.

The Winner is…

So what would I do? What will my next camera be? I’m not sure. I’ll probably end up just using my Fuji X100s until the X-Pro 2 comes out or I save up enough money for the Pentax. 

Why I Love to Shoot Models

Let’s get this out of the way: besides hanging around hot chicks, why do I love shooting models? Well, i read this on /r/photography the other day. And lilgreenrosetta (check out his tumblr. He’s a talented fashion photographer) wrote this:

I would say that fashion photography is the most creative genre of photography, save for some forms autonomous art photography. Because apart from the location that’s used as a backdrop, fashion photography doesn’t start with any existing reality. Just like making a movie, everything in fashion photography has to becreated. The ideas and concepts, the fashion designs, the art direction, the model’s performance, the hair & make-up, the choice of light and photographic technique; everything is a creative decision. And as the photographer you are at the head of all of these decisions, which is creatively very rewarding and also the reason that good fashion photographers get paid so much.

I agree with him. He is specifying fashion photography though. And that’s the type of photography I’m leaning towards. 

When I was starting out, the scariest thing I did was studio shoots. Everything was a blank canvas. You have to set the light the way you want it. You have to find the right backdrop. You have to get the “look” for the models.  You need to get the right pose. You need your technical stuff figured out. And so on. Like what the quote above said, everything was a creative decision. 

Even when you’re not in a studio, you still have to scout the location and figure out a “storyline” for your shoots. 

I used to draw a lot when I was young. I think this style of photography helps me to draw out my creative energy again.