Eye of the City

Have been rather lazy for the past few weeks (I think its at least a month since I wrote a post)…

Haven’t been shooting a lot recently, as always a lot of excuses, being busy, tired, distracted, procrastinating etc… I’ve got to be more disciplined.

Well, not that I have been totally stopped thinking about photography.  I have been trying more new things, shoot in a way I never shot before.  Using new “techniques”, angle of approach to places where I have been to thousands of times.  Trying to make the subject looking like something else.

The above was shot in the middle a local wet market.  It is a busy street, and people around me kept looking above their heads, being curious about what I am actually shooting.  Well, the buildings are actually rather close to each other, and looking up with my fish-eye actually made the street looked like an eye…


Super Wide Landscape

The sun was setting and the rays made a golden line on the sea.  The fisherman’s boat met the golden line, highlighting the boat.  On the other hand the bridge in the foreground becomes another straight line, linking the two lines is the horizon in the background, making it an inverted triangle composition.

Be aware of the “lines” in your frame, and you may be surprised by the simple shapes it makes; these shapes will help your composition significantly.

Enjoy shooting!



At the Beach… and afterwards

I took a lot of photos along the beach in To Wo Sha last month.  It was quite a fruitful photo trip with a friend.  It was the first time I properly go out and shoot with my fish eye zoom (Canon EF8-15 f4L).

With the ultra wide angle and the intended distortions, composition becomes different from the norm when using a wide or a standard lens.  More things will be captured and you need to be very careful to avoid or include things you want.  Peripheral vision becomes necessary.  It will come with a lot of practice, so shoot more.

For this blog I want to share some tips of taking care of your gear, rather than photo skills.  Especially after a long day hot day at the beach, your lens and camera will be covered in salty moist air, and maybe some small sand blowing onto your precious class.  If you did some lens changes there may also be some which went into the camera body.  So you must remember to use your dust blower to clean your lens, the body with a dry cloth, and the sensor/mirror to make sure everything is kept properly, otherwise the salt and moisture will corrode your gear which can be rather costly.  The gear should also be placed into a moisture controlled container.  There are a lot of choices in the market, for simple seal plastic box with some dehydration packs, to electric ones which cost around HKD1000 (depending on volume).  These will keep your camera dry and in top form, and is a must for anyone serious about photography.  Go get one!


Shoot your friends!

Of course I don’t mean using a gun…

I am sure after you have picked up photography as a hobby, you will start to realise that some of your friends also share the same interest, or you meet new people whom is also a budding photographer.  Logically you will start organising photo trips and tours to shoot with them (which I high recommend for good learning, giving constructive feedback to each other and improve).

You may start out shooting a lot of landscape shots and after a while you feel a little exhausted.  Whilst running out of inspiration, why not shooting your friends in action?  They can be perfect models for you (its also free!).  Try to compose your shots with your friends inside the frame, maybe to give some context on what they are doing.

The above photos was taken during my last photo outing with my friend.  I shot both the photos with my fish-eye zoom at the telephoto end (15mm).  Its slightly challenging to do portraits with such a wide angle, but it allows me to capture the surroundings giving the photos the contexts that I was trying to achieve.  The first photo looks like a camera bag commercial photo, and the second one I tried using the extreme back light of the sun to draw attention to the photographer.

Thanks Day!


Street Snap – Kuala Lumpur

I always tell myself to shoot more street photography.  It is a very interesting branch of photography, especially when it involves people moving around very quickly.  You have to be pretty observant and be prepared to take photos all the time.

The girl in the above photo looks happy and excited with her purchase, and running along the street.  On the contrary, the man on the right looks solemn and serious.  The contrast in emotions is divided by a white pillar, a dark shadow on the ground and the difference in lighting of their faces.

I took this photo with my fish-eye zoom lens on the 15mm end, which makes capturing this picture a little easier.

Be brave and try to shoot more on the streets, there are a lot of interesting people being your potential subjects!


Local Events 2

This year I participated into one of the most exciting annual sports event in Hong Kong, the Rugby Sevens.  The atmosphere is amazing, everyone was having fun and enjoyed their time.  My second reason to entry is of course to take more shots!

I brought my fish-eye zoom with me, which allowed me to capture the above image at the 14mm end at f7.1.  Most of the photographers may focus the action on the pitch, yet for this special event, it is also a carnival where the fans will dress up and become photo subjects as well.  Enjoy!


Fish Eye Lens

This is the first gear review on this blog; I have been contemplating if I should do gear reviews as I am a believer of creativity over gear, yet after searching on the net, most reviews focus on the technical aspects of the gear, the size, the weight, the performance, the resolution etc, but rarely elaborate on the user experience and feel (there maybe user review on the sharpness, focusing speed etc.).  I will try to approach this “gear review” from a different perspective.  Please leave comments and let me know if this is useful for you or not…

After thinking for a while, I have finally invested into a new lens, the Canon 8-15mm f4L Fisheye zoom lens.  It is certainly not a cheap lens, as it costs over HKD10,000 (USD1,300), yet the biggest obstacle was that I was unsure if its useful or not.  After using it a most of the time during my Malaysia trip, I was totally convinced that it an excellent addition to my gear.

For the rational bunch (like me), you will be thinking that the fish eye is really a fun lens, and its not as “practical” as a 50mm f1.2L, 24-70mm f2.8L II, 70-200mm f4L IS which is in the same price bracket.  If you are currently not a proud owner of the lenses I just mentioned, then you should really consider getting those before getting the fish eye.

OK, back to the fish eye experience.  Out of the box, it feels solid as all L series lens do, and opening the lens hood will reveal the massive concave glass.  On the 5D mark 2 it feels balanced and mobile.

In action, the lens opens up a whole new world of creativity, especially at the 8mm end.  I have been to KL a few times, yet with the fish eye I manage to see the city in a whole new way.  Composition is totally different from the conventional ways, peripheral vision is extremely important to make sure everything in the frame is intended.  The sharpness, colour, saturation, chromatic aberration is well controlled, image quality is top notch.  I also tried to use it to take group shots for 8 people sitting round a circular table, and again it allowed me to capture the scene in an interesting way.

In short, I think this is an excellent lens to add to a complete working focal range, if you have lenses which covering 16mm to 200m already and is looking for some zest for your portfolio, I highly recommend this lens which opens up your creative possibilities.  Landscape photographers should certainly use it, and in the right hands wedding and portrait photographers will also find its uses.