Saturday, 9 February 2013

Flash Your Shot


It is a very good day for a good blog post. Yeah. Last time I mumble about being a tripod hugger and how exciting it is to get one and hug one. This time, my mumbling will be about flash unit. Flash unit is basically an accessories used together with a DSLR to provide that extra lighting required to get extra sharp or extra creative shots.

Flash unit is basically mounted on the top side of the DSLR and there are also some which can be mounted to the front of the lens like a macro flash unit. Some mid-range flashes will be able to tilt and swivel while some low-end one are just going to shoot straight. High-end flashes will be able to provide wireless as well as high-speed synchronization (HSS).

Then name of this thing already provide you with understandable meaning of its function. Flash means it will flash a high amount of light in just a fraction of time. It will not provide long continuous amount of light like a flashlight does. There’s also some cheap flash unit using LED as its source of light and able to provide long continuous lighting but it’s not powerful compared to normal flashes. It’s because normal flashes uses xenon gas rather than LED to distribute its light and the light is more reflected and powerful. LED is just some light used in electrical appliances.

For portraiture or macro photography, lighting using flashes is vital. For example while doing macro photography, photographers uses a very low aperture up to f/22 and such small apertures couldn’t have enough light from normal lighting. That’s where you need a flash. It’s the same concept as some wedding photographers where they need their client to be present while having their background together. Also in some cases, lowlight situation such as shot during convocation events or any indoor shooting, it’s proves to be quite important. People can just use high ISO while shooting indoors but it will affect the quality of the shots. Of course you wouldn’t want your shots from a DSLR to look like shots from a mobile phone, won’t you?

Normal flashes have an ability called TTL or foremerly known as Through The Lens. TTL is actually an automatic feature which let it set out automatic exposure and power of your flash based on the lens. It means, everything is automatic for you. I’m using Yongnuo YN560EX which is a manual flash so I have to set the power level accordingly before shooting. All those Nikon, Canon and other manufacturers have such unique name such as i-TTL, e-TTL and much more. As long as it has TTL, it means automatic, that’s all.

Mid-range to high-end flashes uses normal AA batteries/cells. So, before you start getting it, you might want to consider getting a rechargeable one so it will save you money from getting a lot of normal alkaline batteries. I used Eneloop XXX 2500mAh cells and they worked great. I’ve been to nearly 500 shots on a single charge. You should also prepare normal cells just in case your juices run out dry in the middle of your shooting. I’ve experienced such situations while carrying out my macro shots. It’s just so suddenly that my flash stops flashing and there’s no recharging sound.

Stop worrying about not having wireless capabilities in your flash. It’s not vital for everyday or casual shootout. Shooting wireless flash is usually for pros and masters where they go around doing crazy shit such as strobist where multiple flashes are required. The last time I use wireless flash is like last year during my sister’s wedding. That’s it. As of today, most of the time that I use flash is during my macro shootout.

If you’re really getting one, make sure you know what you’ll going to use it for or you will end up keeping it in your drawer. Mind you that it’s going to add more weight to your gear and it might tire you out. If you ever get one, enjoy using it.


Friday, 8 February 2013

All About Tripod


Today I would answer the frequently asked question about tripod.

“Why do I need a tripod?”

“Do I really need a tripod?”

“It’s heavy and expensive. I wouldn’t want that!”

Yeah right. You shouldn’t get a tripod if you have such words running across your mind. Besides, a good tripod for DSLR is quite a burden on your cash. Apart from that, it’s also heavy. Like 2 – 3 kg on one’s back. Faq all of that bullshit you people have thrown to those poor and sturdy tripods. I am a tripod hugger and having one is like having a stand for your sniper.

Tripod is actually use for certain types of photography that require stability and exposure. For example, landscape photography which requires several shots from different exposure to create that detailed shot. Also macro photography which requires shots to be taken from different depth of focus to get that super-detailed shot. So why don’t you want one?

It has been a great debate of the use of tripod among forumers and photographers alike upon the importance of this three-legged-metal. Some would just state that they could also get great shots without a tripod. For me, I just have it by pure coincidence. Yes. More of like accidentally.

I kid. Actually for me, tripod is one of my must-have gears when I travel. Mine is a Manfrotto 190XDB paired with a 390RC2 ballhead and yes, it’s about 5kg altogether. Why do I get such heavy and expensive tripod? I get it because I know I’m going to need it for my shots. Unlike most photographers, I am not keen into taking portraiture or any picture with human in the frame. I prefer my shots to be filled with nature and scenery rather than human.

Therefore, macro and landscape photography suits me better and I have been photographing them since 2008. Yes. My first tripod that I received sucks because it couldn’t support the weight of my gears. Therefore I made my own research and come across Manfrotto and some other manufacturers that made high quality tripod. 2009 and 2010 are years where I’ve been doing quite a lot of videography and having a tripod helps a lot. Now, although I’m a teacher, I did travel a lot especially across the Borneo. Tripod does help me a lot during my photo shoot.

If you’re thinking of getting a hold of a tripod for photography, let me advise you. Get a worthy one. When you get something, you are going to use it until it breaks and surely you don’t want your gears to break. So you better get a worthy one. I’ve been using my tripod on numerous challenging situations such as in the river, near the beaches and on top of one of the highest peak in the world! The best thing is, my tripod never breaks! It does its job completely fine and since I’ve purchased it in 2009, the only broken parts is the ballhead because I travelled to a place so cold (-24°C), all my gadgets were not working well! Even my camera! So, it wouldn’t surprise me if the metal ballhead have a crack due to the change in temperature.

There is also something called monopods which only have 1 leg. Some latest tripods have this ability where you can take off two legs of the tripod and you’ll get a monopod. Monopod is quite essential but it might not give you the stability compared to a tripod. Most sports photographers use monopod because it gave them the speed to move the frame as quickly as possible. I’m not really into sports photography so I avoided monopod for good.

Besides, having a tripod will give you some exercise because you will end up carrying it around and build up your biceps and triceps. Some of us are not getting enough exercise so by getting a tripod, you get exercise as well as a great shot. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.

If you’re getting a tripod just for the sake of getting it, you will end up keeping it rather than using it. Stuff that has been kept without use for a long time will surely be torn apart by time. If you have one, use it well. People have been talking bad and laughing when they saw me carrying a big ass tripod around. Well, I don’t care. Laugh at me while your tripod in the closet rots to dust.

I use my gears at least once every fortnight except my camera where I use it most of the time.
That’s it from me rumbling about a tripod. I’m no great photographer. I’m just a teacher who loves to go the extra mile. I hope those who have tripod in their arsenal would put it into good use rather than keeping it.


Saturday, 2 February 2013

Tips For New Photographers


Shot after 2 hours of trekking deep into the Borneo rainforest

I have been observing a lot of people who have been indulging themselves in the world of photography, be it new, noob, pros or masters. But I'm not going to comment on any of that. My post here is for those who have just dived into the crazy world of photography.

When you enter such world, it doesn't matter what your gears are. DSLR, compacts, bridge or even smartphone, this is a world of endless possibilities and creativity. Let's start the lesson will ya?

Lesson 1 - Get Your Gears
You should always have your gears around you. Within your reach. So the possibilities of losing your shot can be reduced. Yes. You’ll never tell what’s going to happen. It would be better if you have it in your hand rather than in your pocket or around your neck. If you happen to see something interesting, get that shot. You can never tell if your shots are going to hit the jackpot.

Lesson 2 - Shy or Lazy is not an Option
You can never be shy or lazy. Damn it. If you have any of it in you, quit being a photographer. Just what kind dimwit are you? Being shy means lazy and vice versa. You just can't be one or both. You have a mathafaking-big-ass camera in your arsenal yet you mention something about being shy? You better throw your shitty gears to me baby.

Lesson 3 - Never Compare
“My pals got this mortar-like lens whereby I only got this tiny-cheapo bastard.” The faq do I care? Million-dollar lenses aren’t going anywhere if your creativity is down to earth. In fact, kit lenses are what you are going to shoot most of the time as amateurs. Those bazooka lenses are only for those who know what they are doing. You noobies should stick to your kit lens! FYI, even masters and pros uses kit lens most of the time. Yeah! Better believe me. Kit lens cover most of our shots focal length and in certain situation, it outperforms expensive lenses by tenfold! Way to go kit lens!

Lesson 4 - Shoot & Learn
Shoot random stuff and keep saying," Aww, my shots were bad!" Well then, just die. You shoot and never learn to improve. You expect to master photography without any learning. You think you're some kind of genius or something? Go and google amazing images on the net. Also check out the tutorials. Some would provide in-depth details of tutorial for everyone reading it. That will punch some ideas to that boring little brain of yours.

Lesson 5 – A Little Editing Won’t Hurt
Just because you’ll get amazing shot from you $10k cameras, you’re wrong. Sometime you just need to get that extra saturation, a little of white balance and also pieces of this and that. Editing doesn’t mean that you’ll lose that so-called naturality of the shots. Think of it as a way to enhance your shots. Just like injecting steroids up your shot.

Final words from me, just use your camera. Use it. Capture the moment. Some shots are worth millions of words. You got that 8GB cards and keep telling others you’re lazy. If you keep saying that, just pack all of your gears, put it back into the box and mail them to me. I’ll put them into good use rather them letting them rot in your coffin.