Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Night Cityscapes around KL with Tokina 12-24mm f/4

After work, pack my bag and hop on the Putra Line, going to KL. While I'm heading towards KL on the train, I'm still not sure where I'm going. Maybe I'll drop off Pasar Seni, my mind thinking. However, due to the crowd, I miss the station! So, I hop off the next station, Masjid Jamek. Many peoples drop off this station to change to Star Line. Being there the first time, I not sure where I'm going to shoot. Finally I'm wondering in front of Sultan Abdul Samad Building.

The night was very hazy even though after rain. I quickly setup, took some shot and move along. I walk all the way until Pasar Seni Station. So the journey is quite horrifying. It was dark, rarely any traffic and many beggars around. Anyway, I come home in one piece and here is the output.

The building is no longer full with light bulb, instead they installed the spot light which induced lots of flare! The traffic is not much as well. The fountain beside also no longer with lights.

Work really hard to remove the flare and bring out the details from the hazy situation. This is the best I can get. 

Shot once on the opposite side of the road which get my image published on magazine. Here is angle from another side of the road. Wait really long for some traffic to pass by.

Saw the zebra crossing leading towards the building behind. There is one old man with a kid standing there through out the exposure waiting to cross the road. 

Shot here during my last visit, the traffic is close to zero! Only one bus and a car pass by and the flare is killing me again.

Here I am at the petaling street again. This time for long exposure!

After getting down from the train, I'm walking back to office to take my car. Always wanted to shoot long exposure here and I get what I wish for!

After seeing the output on the computer screen, there is lots of FLARE! I'm shooting with the Tokina 12-24 f/4 version 1. I heard the version 2 is much better in term of flare handling. However, I'm happy for the price I pay for a used Tokina vs the performance. Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 26, 2014

How to Shoot Water Droplet

Stuck at home, gotta find something to do. Then I recall there is one episode of digitalrev showing on how to shoot water (droplet). So be it! Took me 15 minutes to gather all the necessary "equipments" and set it up. It look roughly like this.

The Setup.
The orange plastic bag is fill with little bit of water for droplet purpose, then fill up the bottom tupperware container with water. You see I wrap the flash with red plastic bag to give the image "reddish" look by default. Finally, I mount my camera on a tripod.

The flash was set to 1/32 power. Camera exposure was on ISO100, f/16 and 1/160 seconds. I'm not using high speed sync here because I don't have the hardware to support it. Although D600 is able to sync up to 1/200 sec, I shoot at 1/160 sec to prevent the dark frame problem. The exposure value is just for reference only. You may use these exposure values as a staring point. Next is to manually set the focus distance. I'm using the YongNuo 603 radio trigger to trigger the flash remotely and also to served as remote shutter release. Estimate where the water droplet impact on the surface and I put a straw there to assist me in focusing. Once you get it, set the camera to manual focus. Finally, punch a hole on the orange plastic bag with a needle and let the show begin!

Observe the interval of the water droplet falling into the tupperware below. You can use continuous burst to increase the hit rate, but I prefer accurate timing. After some try and error, you may start to get consistent results. Note that when the droplet falls onto the water surface below, it will first create a round splash, then the droplet sink into the water and bounce back up with "water column". I'm able to manipulate it into many different colors from the white balance and tint scale. Just play around with it in Lightroom and you will be suprise how many color combination it is able to produce. Of course, shoot RAW! Here are some samples from my attempt.

I hope you enjoy the shot and please try at home! Good Luck! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Additional functions guide on Fujifilm X100S

Since I met "him" around May this year, I'm constantly learning on how to use it better for my vacations and day to day casual shoot. At first I seems to be overwhelmed by the optical view finder it has, but overtime, I have find the electronic view finder more appropriate for precise focusing and exposure judgement. The auto ISO feature I explained in the earlier review however, is still used 95% of the time. Max ISO 3200, and Min shutter speed of 1/100s. The remaining is "M" mode for me to archive something against the camera will.

A typical environment portrait shot wide open lid by windows light only.
For portrait shooting, I will shoot wide open at f/2 most of time time, while group photos would be at 4 to 5.6 depends on the crowds. Macro works handheld would be start at f/2.8 to 4 depends on lighting and landscape shot always at f/8. I seldom go beyond f/8 unless I want to lengthen the exposure extensively.

It's a feature even Iphone or any smart phone has it. It produce acceptable results most of the time and I will not hesitate to use it.
It stitch up pretty nicely
Stitch up using Microsoft ICE with 4-5 individual shot in Manual mode and manual focus.
Long Exposure:
There is one night when I'm at Cameron Highland, I wanted to shoot traffic trail night landscape. I set the camera to f/5.6, ISO to 200 but when I trying to twist the shutter dial for the "first" time, I find the largest value on it was "T" which stands for 1 second and "B" which stands for bulb. I couldn't figure out how I can manually set the shutter speed for more than 1 second! At last after rounds of googling, I managed to find that actually rotating the round dial at the back of the camera actually sets the shutter speed, while fiddling the top dial adjust the aperture by 1/3 stop increment. Maybe it was just me will face this "problem" but I hope this can help others who have similar question. One neat feature on its long exposure is that the LCD screen shows count down in seconds that the exposure is going to end so you can know when the exposure finish.

Shot with external flash, YongNuo trigger system.
Remote Flash:
TTL on camera flash works wonderfully and I hardly change the flash compensation when using it. Partly it is embedded inside the menu which I find it inconvenient to change it. It just give enough "kick" for some fill flash to subject less than 5m from the camera roughly. However the fun part comes when you can use external flash / remote flash for it. So happen that I have a YongNuo flash trigger system for my Nikons. I have tried to setup on it and it doesn't work. After some research I found out that it can support the Canon version of the YongNuo flash trigger due to the pin head variation. I get a used unit from my Canon friend, Jason and it works! So now, I can trigger the flash remotely from X100S using the YongNuo 603C - (canon version) and trigger any YongNuo 603 trigger and even the latest YongNuo 560III speedlight directly. This opened up many creative possibilities to use it with remote flash.

Post processing in Lightroom to add clarity and saturation to the image.

Sample B&W photos converted in Lightroom instead of in-camera jpeg.
At first, I was attracted by its film simulation (filters) it has in camera to process the jpeg. It gets you the photos immediately without having you to import the photos into Lightroom and convert them into jpeg. After that, I have decided to shoot ONLY RAW no matter what situation and I will always convert / slightly touch up the photo before exporting into jpeg using Lightroom. This is just my personal preference. There is nothing wrong with shooting jpeg. For me, I felt more secure for having the uncompressed data for post processing later.

Manual focus on macro subject that is not moving very quick.
I always use single point center autofocus point for 99% of the time. I practise focus and recompose method. Although it takes more time for certain cases when the camera just cant seem to able to focus on anything (low light or back light condition), I still preferred to do it this way. Sometimes you need someone else to take a photos of you. You can't expect them to focus and recompose for you! You will end up getting out-of-focus shot most of the time! So here comes the 1% where I will set it to "Auto" autofocus points (Access from "Q" Menu, AF Mode to auto), so that the camera will select a focus points whenever you half press the shutter. You will get better hit rate with that. Make sure also you set a smaller aperture (if lighting condition is good) to increase the hit rate.

For macro shot which I did quite often with this camera, I normally have to turn on the macro mode, which is always a pain in the ass. It WILL NOT FOCUS ON ANYTHING if you throw a very close up subject for it. In certain extreme condition, I will use manual focus with peaking highlight turn the focus ring to the closest distance on the distance scale(I believe is 0.1m) and moving the camera near to far from the subject. When the subject glowing with white dots like a Christmas tree, you know you have nail the focus and now you just have to press the shutter.

Street shooting:
Street photography is always so fun with this camera because of its small size and quiet shutter. It is important so that your subject is not aware of your existence so that they can be what they are, not looking into the camera with anxious / angry face. I am still very new in photography especially in street photography. I have seen video for it and one of the famous photographer mentioned, take the shot first! then smile at your subject as a sign of appreciation that they allowed you to take a photo. If they smile back, that means you have the permission granted. Otherwise, maybe you need to introduce yourself and telling what you are doing. If they do not wish their photos to be taken, delete it and respect other people privacy.

I was actually not that close to the subject, I crop the photo to make a better impact. I cheat!

Jonker street at Melaka is always a good area for street photography
So far the mileage on my X100S already reached 6,800 shots within few months. I would say I am really enjoy using this little piece of equipment to record my daily life.

You might also want to view my initial review of X100S when I first got it here or during my trip to BangkokPenang or Taiwan.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Experience with Nikon 50mm f/1.8G

Shot a wedding with it before, totally love it because the focal length is close to human eyes field of view (43 degree +-). The relatively fast aperture at f/1.8, 1 stop plus from 2.8 makes it even faster for freezing action with lower ISO. It's performance at f/1.8 wide open is very descend in term of sharpness and vignette just a little in compare with the Nikon 50mm 1.4G lens which is more than double the price. I did find this lens focus more accurately compared to its older brother, the Nikon 50mm 1.8D, and less prone to flare. The bokeh is just fantastic and stay round even up to f/4, and its not very far behind the 1.4G. I will do a more details comparison between this lens and the Nikon 50mm 1.8D in the future. Here is few shots I took with the 50mm 1.8G which now pretty much mounted permanently on my D600. ;-) Enjoy.

ISO  1400 | 1/100 s | f/3.2 
ISO 100 | 1/25s | f/2
I only can show you these much for the wedding I did last week done with 50mm 1.8G.
Below are the shot I took around Jalan Alor wide open.

The focusing is quick enough for me.

The color rendition of this lens is better than its older brother in my opinion.

Subject isolation is possible with this lens.

This shot I mistakenly focus on the barrel but the subject still remain acceptably sharp due to its moderate depth of field.

This lens is very comfortable to be use on full-frame for street photography.

The bokeh is pleasingly good.

This is the scene compression you expect to get from this lens.

It handle flare very well.

I have done similar shooting with the Sigma 30mm 1.4 with D90 earlier at the same place before. The experience I get from this 50mm is very similar with the Sigma which I have sold to exchange with this lens. If you are on the crop, the 50mm gives you a short-tele field of view about 75mm in my opinion is more for portrait shoot. I prefer the Sigma 30mm 1.4 for general use in crop sensor DSLR. 

Update: Additional Images with 50mm.