August 2012 Archives
Yes, that's right, my love affair with this Volume of Interactions has come to an end.
It's time to move to a new home.
A new Volume. A new body of Interactions.
All will be revealed in the next few days, update your bookmarks.
http://www.aizuddindanian.com/voi no more.
From now on, it's just http://www.aizuddindanian.com/
One of the fun things about this year's Hari Raya celebrations is that it gave us the family a chance to do some family portraits. I was super eager, i lugged back to kampung 20kgs of gear in anticipation. The moment we arrived, i claimed a corner of the house with a plain background, dropped all my lights, and opened the home studio for business.
The reception was brisk, fast, and hugely entertaining for everyone. The ladies enjoyed dressing up, and putting on makeup, then playing the glamour model in front of the lens, even if just for a little while. Flashes going off, "oohs" and "aahs" as they previewed the results in a tethered viewer, laughs when shots produced funny results, the sucked in tummies, and thrusted bosoms. All part of the fun.
I'm glad i brought a Raya cheer to the home. It's one of those times of the year when you can never be too happy.
A hobby is about having fun, and i'll admit i've been having a lot of fun with mine lately. There is just so much to explore, learn and put to use, photography seems to have never ending possibilities of creative executions. Just thinking of the things to do or that can be done takes some much deliriously lovely brainpower.
"Perhaps if i did this" or "What if i turned it that way"-type of questions are just the sort of things i love to think about. Keeps the mind in a perpetual state of motion.
All this while, i've been taking photos of others. So why not try taking some photos of myself, by myself, with myself. Picked up a cheapo RC5 remote shutter release from the store and had a ball.
Setup the lights, 2 flashes, in a basic 45 degrees right and left configuration (i'm still learning about light positioning), and snapped away.
Click through the images for the larger versions. Shot with a Canon 5D MarkII 50mm f1.8.
The closest of friends in university, a friendship forged in the battlefield of debating, then house mates as working adults, and through all this time close confidantes and trusted associates. Brothers of different mothers. That describes Sani and me.
It was good to see him again after a few years since we last met. He is looking good, happy and strong, yet restless somehow.
Be well, buddy. Perhaps one day soon i'll take you up on that offer of a visit.
Shot with an Olympus OM-D EM-5 with a 45mm f1.8 lens, flash Canon 580EXII triggered remotely with Phottix.
It's a good thing to take a moment and get to know better the people whom you work with day in, day out. Must never forget that they are just like me, people too, with feelings, wants, needs and aspirations. What better way to accomplish this than by breaking bread with them.
Click through the images for the larger version. All shots taken with a Canon 5D Mark II, with a Carl Zeiss Distagon 28mm f2.0 lens.
I've been looking for a common theme to practice lighting on. Cigars tend to be a bit simple; they are cylindrical, have similar shapes, and very similar colours. There are lots of ways to light it up, but the results tends to be similar because the subject is essentially the same thing. So i needed something that had variety, something with character, and something that would provide a challenge to light up creatively.
Lego is the answer.
I'm going to be spending a lot of time with Lego over the next couple of years. Maybank is the main sponsor of Legoland Malaysia (if you're a Maybank customer, you're in for a huge treat -- massive discounts off the entry ticket prices!) and just this year alone, i've got 3 trips planned already. I suspect i'm going to be sick of the place pretty soon, might as well make the most of the opportunity.
Lego bricks and creations, especially of the recent variety, offer quite a bit of diversity. There is Lego movie and franchise tie-ins, such as with Harry Potter and Star Wars. There is Lego Technics that is super cool. There is Lego Heroes. And of course there is plain old Lego lego.
The added benefit is that once i run out of ideas with Lego, the bricks/pieces can be passed on to the kids to play with. So everyone wins.
To get the ball rolling, i hopped on over to the local Toys'R'Us and picked up a small Star Wars X-Wing set. Building it was like sitting in a time machine -- i was 10 years old all over again. What a trip! I am reminded of why i found this to be so much fun as a boy. Hell, it's damn fun even as an adult. For that 30 minutes of time assembling it, i was completely focused, all the lateral engines in my brain were firing at once in concentration, and the results provided an aesthetic satisfaction.
Lego is a brilliant toy. The perfect toy. I loved it.
Then came the photographs. Gave me a chance to experiment with a two-flash setup, lighting it up from every angle i could find.
Click on each image for the larger version (recommended). Shot with a Canon 5D MarkII, 100mm macro f2.8 lens, 2 flash setup, in a lightbox.
"Use the Force, Luke" - Obi Wan kenobi
Alliance X-Wing Starfighter
Wings in S-Foil position
Lovely detail on the model
An X that defined a generation
A great bunch of people at my favourite Thai restaurant. The combination couldn't be better.
Love the refreshing chili spiciness that all good Thai food possess. It's not raw chili power that you'll often find in Malay cuisine (such as gulai pedas), but a much more subtle and refined experience that is masked by strong sour overtones. The tartness hits you first, and the chili spice, sneaks up behind. The tickle is dominantly felt on the lips, less on the tongue and palate. Just delightful.
Click on the images for the larger version. All shots taken with an Olympus OM-D EM-5, 45mm f1.8
It was interesting to see two of the most creative people i know work together on a common project. There are definitely different styles and tastes at play here. The wry smile and the intense concentration says more than i ever could (or should). Stay tuned! Something very interesting is just over the horizon.
Ming Thein on the computer, Amir Faiz looking on.
Not satisfied with one lightbox, i set out to make another today (on leave, so i had time on my hands). Learning from the lessons of the box i made the day before, i decided to make this one bigger and to use different materials. Scrounging a Scotts tissue paper box from the local hypermarket, i also picked up some cheap tracing paper for the walls and a white manila sheet to act as the background. All very easily replaceable/interchangeable should the need arise.
It only took 20 minutes to hammer everything together with gaffer tape (this stuff is really amazing). Much happier with this box -- it was larger, sturdier and less messy with tape. Time for a test run.
I grabbed whatever small trinkets i had lying around me at the time and put it into the box to start shooting. Flash setup was a simple 45 degrees vertical config, shooting down into the box through the paper roof. The light diffused gorgeously and did all sorts of fun bouncing movements inside the box, making shadows a non-issue mostly.
Easy, fun and useful.
Click through each image for the full size on Flickr.
I must admit, i suck at DIY projects. Barely survived my secondary school workshop classes! It's not that i don't like banging together a few planks with nails, or putting a coat of pant on a wall. It's just that it never comes out exactly the way i envision it in my head. And so it was when i decided to create my own lightbox (what a real lightbox is supposed to look like)
But i was determined, and i wouldn't let me lack of a dexterity stop me. So i cobbled together a lightbox using an old cardboard box, a few strips of cotton to make the sides, and prodigious use of gaffer tape.
The theory behind the light box is that it does a few things at the same time. By placing the flash outside the box shooting into box through the porous cloth (or you can use tracing paper), it diffuses the light so that i goes everywhere within the box. And by having the walls made out of white cloth (or paper), any light inside the box will bounce around the box, again adding to an even distribution of light inside the box.
This works great for product shots, and in my case, macro photography for my cigars. The main problem i've had with macro shooting of cigars has been light hotspots on the cigar when exposed to a flash. That and a ton of shadows all over the place, just makes for a less than idea photograph. This limitation forces me to take creative liberties with the shot itself such as the one below (shot a few weeks ago).
It's not a bad photograph, but it doesn't do much about saying anything really moving about the cigar. There isn't much cigar to begin with in the frame! Ditto with this next photo.
At the time when i took the shots, i didn't think they were half bad. In a way, ignorance is bliss. Haha.
After putting the lightbox together, it was time to test it. So i popped the cigars right in, and then manually metered the amount of light required, and took a few test snaps. The initial shots weren't very good, either too much light, or too little, or burnt out selected hotspots. Using a combination of techniques, stopping down further and/or slowing the shutter speed by a pinch and/or going down or up a third of a stop of light on the flash, then allowed me to start getting some pretty lovely results.
In the months to come, i'll probably think these are crap too, but for now, i'm happy. There is a definite mood and presence about the cigar now, appropriate considering the mystique that surrounds Cuban cigars. Stopped down, the shadows, instead of being restrictive in the earlier photos seen above, have become complimentary to the frame.
What do you think?
It almost seems counter-intuitive -- being a serious enthusiast photographer for nearly a year now, and only just beginning to appreciate how important it is to be in complete control of light. Light is to photography as water is to the human body. Both make up an integral part of what you get. Shaping it gives you much more control over the outcome.
In fact, photographers might as well be called lightcrafters.
So, i'ver embarked on a new area, previously uncharted for me. I've set up a simple home studio, single strobe, single umbrella. As budget permits, i hope to grow that a bit. I've collected all the materials i need to create a DIY lightbox, it's a matter of nailing it all together now.
This is going to be fun.
I'm not a big fan of the food bazaars: expensive, crowded, too sweet/salty/bland food, unhygienic. But i do appreciate their sociocultural significance to the Malaysian people. It's a gathering place, a melting pot over the basest of human needs -- food. Every type of person is to be found, every creed, every take, every ambition. It's something to look forward to, something to anticipate, an eager feast of not just the body, but of lust and the soul.
Click on each image for the larger version. All photos taken with an iPhone 4S. Hipstamatic, John S Lens, BlacKeys SuperGrain Film.
View the full set (15 photos) here.