Live in the past of time

This image, also taken at the beautiful Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiangmai, Thailand, recently voted among the few very best hotels in the world.  Curtesy of Mrs. Suwanmonkol, the owner of the estate who grace on this image, over looking the expanse of hotel estate, with the lovely and beautifully colonial style residence, available as free-hold purchase with Mandarin Oriental service and management.  Living within the property gives the sense of past, in a calm, charm and comfort atmosphere while all the modern amenity at disposal.

The shot was made in almost sunset time, with Canon 5DII + TS-E 17/4L.

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Portrait of a master

I spent a few days holiday during X’amd and New Year at the beautifully, out-of-this-world Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiangmai, and again have the chance to meet perhaps one of the greatest photographer of our time, Steve McCurry, and took chance to make an interview with him on behalf of an editor in Chinese Photography, one of the most prestigious and best photography monthly magazine in the world, and took this image shortly after the interview to use on the magazine.

The shot was made in a beautiful restaurant inside the hotel, with ambient light.  I met Mr. McCurry last year also in this hotel, thanks to the kind arrangement of the modest owner of Dhara Dhevi, Mr. Suchet Suwanmonkol. Mr. McCurry is a wonderful person to be with, generous, thoughful, and of course, always with a camera on hand.
The interview with Steve McCurry is a coming feature in Chinese Photography, along with a lauch of Steve McCurry’s coming new book, a limited edition bublished by Phaidon, “Steve McCurry, THE ICONIC PHOTOGRAPHS”,  I have the honor to reveiw the press proof of the book with Mr. Mccurry, a beautiful printed book, collector’s choice!
I also spent a few days shooting with Mr. McCurry, wihtout doubt, some of the ebst time I spent in photography!
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Venus

This shot was made as a part of final artwork, for a Home Furnishing company who produce high quality lacquer ware.  The Russian model, Anna, a painter herslef understood the shot I need, as venus stainding on the sea sheell – which, of ocurse, shot separately and photoshop them together.
The image was taken with a Canon 1Ds III mounted with EF 85/1.2L, the high key background was intended for the final photoshop work, for final artwork.
The cloth is reduced to minimum while keeping the image still viewable by as many people as possible, and can be appreciated by both sexes.
People who follow my blog or image work on-line somewhere else might notice woman is one of my favorite subject, not only that I am a man interested at woman (and who won’t?), but also that shooting people, beautiul people, especially when they wear little or no clothings is a challenge.  The challenge is to get images that model, clients and myself all comfortable with.  My approch of taking image of near nude or sometimes nude image is always base on a goal that the final image has to be appreciated by both woman and man, or most importantly, the model in the picture will not feel embarrassed when people saw her in the picture.

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After Sunset

This is a still from a recent time-lapse short film project, shot atop of the beautiful Hilton Millenium, Bangkok, over the beautiful Chaopraya River.
It was a clear day, I set up my Canon 5D2 for about 3 hours with 5sec interval for a final sequence of approximate 90 seconds. Time-lpase project is entertaining, all you need to do is set up the camera right, with right angle, right calculation, and in between start to finihs, all you really have to do is coffees (or beers) and a good book.  Lens in use is Canon EF TS-E 17mm.

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Image on the fly

Not exactly flying!  This image was taken inside a cab in Taipei while I was on my to CKS airport.  I have an early flight, left the hotel at day break, it was raining in the early winter morning and sun is rising.
The cab running on the elevated highway, the city skyline blurred by the raindrops falling and dancing on the window glass and I have my Canon 1Ds II with a compact EF Macro 50/2.5 on hand and snap this image.

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The need of absolute high resolution?

It is a difficult question and possible many people swear by different answers.  This one for example, shot with Canon 1Ds III + EF Macro 100/2.8L IS.  Although Canon 1Ds III is among the smallest camera I use for studio work, at 21 mpx it is among the highest resolution camera available for full frame 135mm DSLR. But this image, was in fact cropped at apporx. 1/4 of the original image – which in reality is only approx. 5 million pixels.
Should I take the exact image using my Phase One P65+, at 60 mpx original capture, even cropped at only 1/4 of original image, I will still get 15 million pixels.  But it is not the only reason to use higher resolution capture with medium format digital backs just to get flexibility of cropping the image – which I seldom do.  But a higher resolution picture does able allow flexible cropping with less fear of image print size becomes too small.
But can the photographer decided the framing of image during the shoot so there is no cropping needed?  Yes and no.  Yes for obvious reason that precise framing is the basic of photographer, I beleive too!  But sometimes I do crop the image; to get the right ratio of image, less often on that I crop the image to be tighter – especially when shooting packshots. But in general, I shot very tight composition.  But commercially, when one photographer shoot for a commercial assignments, he might not have control over the final image that the client or art director may want to apply thier own creative crop that higher resolution image will be beneficial. And for that, higher resultion the better!
Perhaps as a photographer can care less about the absolute resolution, in stead, focus on getting the best image, because the awful truth is higher resolution may in deed just better and more useful, although you may not need it everytime, but when it is there when you need it, you will appreciate it.

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Candle Light

This is an image shot awhile ago in St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, Austria.  I took this image with a now discontinued Contax N Digital, which is the earliest full frame DSLR – great camera and great line of lenses, one of the good example is the beautifully made Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.4 which I use for this image.  The camera and lens system came to an end not by its performance, and the image quality it is capable of producing but because the manufacturer – Kyocera – decided to stop it from marketing.
I cannot say it is a bad decision from Kyocera but they are in business to generate profit and it is a pulic company and they have public responsibility to their investors.  But I will not say it is a good decision either because if Kyocera persisted in supporting the N Digital and gave it a decent software support it might as well become fruitful. Or even they would be successful for a few years, will it survive this wave of convergence of still and motion is also a question.  May be or may be not.  What is certain is that such decision left many Contax owner and users hugely disappointed, me among them, and till many years later still have some negative thought about Kyocera.
In whatever scale, Contax is not a major brand by popular point of view, but it has a status like candle in the dark, tiny but shiny.  The courage to be the first full frame digital and beautiful line of optics is something to praise for,  should Kyocera continue it, it might as well developing into something that will change the landscape of digital camera we see today, Sadly enough, not many manufacturers want to be candle and often people neglects candle light.

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Tilt-Shift in photojournalism

Is it necessary?  Probably not!  This shot, however, was taken with a Canon 1D II + TS-E 24/3.5L. Why do I need to use a tile-shift lens for this?  The honest answer is at the time of shoot, I happened to have the TS-E 24 on my camera because I was photography an ancient temple in Bali, Indonesia and I was using the shift lens.  But since I happened to have the tilt-shit lens on camera, it does allow me to capture this image with better perspective control. So it was luck.
But is perspective control important to photojournalism image?  No, I don’t think so. What I believe in photojournalism work is spontaneous and honesty, else is less important, and for this shot, if I have other lens on the camera I will just use it, won’t even care to try to take the TS-E lens out from my camera bag. But does photojournalism image not require higher quality?  Certainly not!  Just that if one put too much thought of using this and that, getting this and that, you may not get the best image possible, and best image is not just about the right gear, it is right time and right mind.

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Digital versus film

This is an image taken with Hasselblad X-Pan and the 45mm lens, scan by Nikon Coolscan 8000ED, this was an old stock.  X-Pan was once the most popular panoramic camera, using stock 135mm film.  The first camera I can remembe and use was the Mamiya 6/7 with its 135mm film adapter with basically the same result, however with a much larger camera body, although it is also fair to say Mamiya 6/7 is relatively compact for what it is and light for what it is.
All the discussions on film versus digital are mostly focus on the image result and even today it is still a hot topic among few photographer, for me, the film days were clear gone for me and I have no desire to engage in discussion of which is better, because my mind has made.  But film does remind me some of the images I took, particular this one.  Not that I could have not take this image with a digital camera, but for that film stored in the small canister can be actually quite flexible, simply stretch it inside the cametra, then you can get a panoramic image with the exact media.  With digital, the image sensor is static. Certainly there are also solutions for digital panoramic that I covered a few times in this blog, but they may not deal with this image well for its releatively close foreground, and the fact to use a slower shutter speed to allow the flower blur by the breeze.  Swiss camewra maker, Seitz, in fact did a panoramic camera Seitz 617 – with a mechanism to move the image sensor inside the camera chamber as a field scanner, and it works, with the result of 160mpx resolution.  It has its limitation, but that applies to all camera equipment.
I often wondered, how long will it take a modern day Hasselblad X-Pan? With a panoramic format of capturing sensor? The flexibility to capture full 16:9 to even sub-full frame 35mm image in one small body such as X-Pan?

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Venus air walk

A part of an artwork, this shot is made to capture the model in mid air, using Canon 1Ds III and EF 85/1.2L, lighting in use was a couple of Profoto Acute 2 and lights.
It was a rather straight forward shot, as well as lighting, intended to give the model almost 1 stop over exposure so she will appear lighter, as she would need to be in mid air.

Not that I think all the angles are fair skin, I personally have no preference of skin tone, in fact, I would rather to work with a nicely tanned or even over tanned skin as there are more ways to light than models with really fair skin, looks nice in person but more challenge in actual work. However, for the purpose of the final image, the lighter color will suggest the model is lighter and more conveniencing that she can stay afloat in air.

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