The Way I See It

Archive for the ‘opinion’ Category

The Next 365

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Seoul Self-Portrait

Seoul Self-Portrait

I made this self-portrait at the COEX Mall in Seoul earlier this year. Today, I am another year older and (one would like to think) another year wiser. Whatever that determination might be, I am certainly fortunate to have been blessed with love, health, awesome family and wonderful friends. I have spent the past year contemplating the shortness and uncertainty of life. I shall spend the next 365 days attempting to hold those that I hold dear a little closer.

Photog Notes
I shot this image with an aperture of f/6.7, at 1/20 sec. To get a reasonably hand-holdable shutter speed, I had to dial the ISO up to 800. Shooting with a relatively old piece of hardware (Nikon D300), the trick was to make sure the the image was properly exposed; any underexposure would have resulted in a dreadful amount of noise (i.e., graininess), especially in the shadows. Digital sensors reward you when you respect their need for light 😉

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Written by xinapray

October 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Home Again

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Self-Portrait in Acrylic

Self-Portrait in Acrylic

Shanghai – Chengdu – Kunming – Shangri-la – Lijiang – Shanghai in 11 days. Wow, what a trip. I caught a cold in Shanghai, an auspicious start that was followed with a bit of altitude sickness in Shangri-la. But all the while, the company was great. I got to see lots, do lots, accomplish lots. Caught the holidaying crowds in a festive Lijiang on Duanwujie, strolled down a Chengdu boulevard where the entire street smelled like Ma La (Sichuan hot pepper) cooking, had dinner and drinks with a celebrity hairdresser in Kunming, even got to belt a few at a Tibetan-style KTV in Shangri-la.

But by the end, I was glad to be heading back. To the quiet and tranquility and solitude of my special space; to the safety and steadfastness of the rock of my life. Ask me in a couple of weeks and I’ll probably tell you that I’m ready to go again. But for now, nothing beats being home.

Written by xinapray

June 10, 2011 at 3:58 am

FlashBus 2011 Mini Review

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FlashBus 2011

I am primarily an available-light photographer. Landscapes, nature, travel. When the light is low, my trusty tripod and remote comfort me. Shoot with a Speedlight? Only when I’m forced to – and with some scepticism and a bit of apprehension. But when I read that two of the greats of modern strobe photography were putting on a road show (and heavens!, there was going to be a stop in Seattle!), I knew I had to sign up.

If you are a photographer who spends any time at all on the Web, you can’t help but recognize the names David Hobby (the Strobist) and Joe McNally (is there anyone famous that this guy hasn’t shot?). A combined 60 years experience between the two of ‘em. More magazine and website covers than you’d ever guess.

Hobby kicked off the show. His job was to ensure that we understood the fundamentals. This accomplished, he then guided us through his techniques and thought processes. McNally had the afternoon. Lots of “let’s do it right here, right now” show-and-tell. Both masters were entertaining beyond words. But more  importantly, they taught us stuff. Very, very useful stuff.

My takeaways?

1. Lighting with Speedlights is not magic. It’s science – primarily of physics and math. It employs elements of the scientific method – experimentation, measurement, prediction, repeatability. Do it enough times with the same equipment and you, too, can get that perfect exposure. Just like Hobby and McNally.

2. Making compelling images with Speedlights – that is art. It involves vision and experience and people skills. On top of the science, heap on gobs of creativity. Then turn on the charisma and the wit and the persuasion. Anyone with a human subject and a bunch of gear can make a portrait. But to get an already-jittery soprano to calm down and even agree to make an offbeat singing-in-the-shower image – that is what makes people like Hobby and McNally seem like gods among us mere click-happy mortals.

3. Bottom line – Flashbus is about light. How to see it, use it, bend it, shape it. As photographers, the more we know about light, the better we will be at our craft. My 100 bucks were incredibly well-spent.

You can see more here:
http://www.theflashbus.com/
http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/
http://www.joemcnally.com/blog/

Written by xinapray

March 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm

On The Way To Kangding

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I made these images on our way into Kangding, the last Khampa/Tibetan town on our itinerary. Beyond Kangding, we were to journey to Chengdu, from where we would leave the region. “Here we can see some blue sky. Later on, we cannot see.” said Sonam, our guide. Because of what we witnessed as we made our way to the big city, these words have resonated with me since.

 

On the way to Kangding

Written by xinapray

November 8, 2010 at 11:37 pm

What Lens(es) Should I Buy?

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Shanghai Freeway at 60 mph

Shanghai Freeway at 60 mph

Quite regularly, friends who are moving into the DSLR/EVIL world ask this question. Here are some thoughts that I hacked out this morning…

“Regarding lenses, I think the important thing to consider is what your requirements are. If you are looking for a versatile all-in-one lens, the 18-200 might be a better choice. I use the older VR (not VR II) version and for travel and convenience, I like it a lot (it was on my camera most of the time that I was in China). The tradeoff is that it is not as sharp at the larger apertures (i.e., small f-stops) as the more specialized (more $$) lenses. But as I recall, it is just as sharp (if not more) than any of the Nikon 18-something zooms.

Alternatively, instead of an 18-something zoom, you might consider getting the 18-55 VR and 55-200 VR kit lenses. These are also plenty sharp and great value for the money.

If sharpness is the most important (within budgetary considerations), I’d go with the 16-85 + the 70-300 VR. These are the best of the consumer/prosumer lenses. I love my 70-300 and have almost bought the 16-85 a couple of times (I’m still trying to decide whether to go full frame). Plus, the extra 2 mm at the wide angle end is incredibly useful for interiors and landscapes.

As far as fast lenses go, (apart from the 50 mm f1.8), you are looking at a pretty significant investment….so it’s important to first figure out what kind of focal length you will use most often. I think that first playing with that 18-something or 16-something lens will probably help you decide. But overall, I think that you are on the right track.”

Written by xinapray

October 26, 2010 at 10:54 am

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