Essays / tags / portrait

Camera Down

This happened a little while ago:

I had a weekend long job in SF where I was traveling throughout the city and as well as along Highway 1 to capture photos. During the first night, I dropped my camera (d810), prism first, onto carpeted ground. It actually fell out of my bag.

It shot fine, but what I didn't know was that it killed something internally that I was unable to trigger anything flash related on the camera. That includes PC sync, hot shoe and built in flash. My extended trip plan was quickly cut short when I was called to fly back to LA for another shoot the next right after the end of the weekend job. Between flying red eye, prep, and shoot the next morning, I didn't figure out nor realize the fault with the camera body.

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A formula from 1971

In 1971, Nikon made a resign of their 105mm manual lens. That same lens formula has been used for the next few decades to create several more lenses with progressively better coating and ergonomics. I recently bought the 105mm 2.5 AIS off of Craigslist on a whim. I've always heard about how amazingly sharp this lens is along with how much historical value it holds though I've never tried one myself. Being a skeptic, I tested the lens in the studio.  To my amazement, it exceeded every expectation I had.

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musing - Coolpix A, a love and hate

There seems to be a specific category of point and shoots somewhere along the spectrum of cameras that are considered painfully classic. They all have one or more redeeming qualities that make them a joy to use, yet still the nature of the camera and or it's film habits makes them very impractical to shoot casually today. In that category, there is special pedestal for cameras such as the Fuji Natura Classica, Nikon Ti35 and Ti28, Contax T3, Ricoh GR1v, and even ones with worse image quality like the Lomo LC-A. Each one of these cameras has enough character to them that using them is still really worth the trouble (depending on who you ask).

Nikon Coolpix A is such a camera.

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Lighting with a Tube

Flash is harsh, direct, raw, and is something I will use only when I want these qualities. For soft, emotive, moody lighting I would often go with available light. Even so, often the available lights cannot really create the kind of look one would want without any modifications. In my kit I carry 3 LED lights with me, 2 of them being small panels and one being a tube.

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Ricoh GR II - Unabashingly direct

Click here for an update of what's currently in my bag.

If the Fujifilm X100T was the argyle wearing soft spoken scholar, then the Ricoh GR would be his young mingling party going brother. And rightfully so. With the focusing of the Fujifilm X100T not being built for run and gun and the size of it being too big for the pocket, it is the go to camera for when I want excellent image quality without any of the bulk of a big camera.

I use the Ricoh GR II the exact same way as I use the GR I, the upgrades to the GR II doesn't make the GR I obsolete at all.

The first words comes to mind when I describe the Ricoh GR II to anyone is that the camera is "in-your-face". I often turn on the on camera flash and photograph my subjects from a few feet away. The small size and the ordinary look of the camera also helps to disarm my subjects as I approach them and shoot them at a close distance.

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Thoughts on the Nikon 85mm 1.8G

I love using prime lenses. When given the choice, I will always choose carrying a bag of prime lenses than 1 or 2 super zooms. In an article for In-My-Bag.com from a while ago, I wrote about the kit I take with me usually with few prime lenses. My equipment have shifted around a bit, but I still focus on owning less and having them do more.
For portraits and general head shots, I find using the 85mm to be very pleasurable. It gives me no distortion and offers me a good working distance from the subject, not too close and not too far away. The natural thought for us working photographers is to get the fastest version (most expensive) of the lens. For the 85mm, the price and the weight difference was significant. I can buy 3 1.8G for the price of 1 1.4G, and it is much heavier than the 1.8G counterpart.

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Tilda Swinton for Only Lovers Left Alive

Photographing Tilda Swinton was one of the most exhilarating portrait sessions I’ve had. You may know her from movies such as Grand Budapest Hotel, The Chronicles of Narnia or, Burn After Reading, or have seen her recently as the face of Chanel photographed by Karl Lagerfeld himself. I was quite nervous, so much so that I couldn’t speak loudly enough to give her instructions. From first to last shot, the shoot lasted 180 seconds, during which all kinds of communication were zipping around amongst the many people in the room.

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