|Not bad for a nose job, eh?|
Well, a busy week that I don't have time even to upgrade and complete the settings of my new laptop here. Health issues are frequent visitors; headaches, nausea, exhaustion, and the like. Despite the hectic life pace I'm trying to have some fun, as you can see above!
The most hectic day if I should say was last Thursday when the group agreed to go to a traditional feast celebrating the ships coming back from long journeys looking after pearls and other goods; as it was in the old days of Kuwait. This day is called Gofaal, or Gaflah, i.e. the ending.
The weather and the condition in general was a bit better than miserable, yet it was awkward anyway. The humidity made it a struggle to step every step, and my eyes started to get irritated and it was even hard to look through the viewfinder. The lenses got foggy and some time was needed so the lenses get used to the weather and the image would clear again. At the end, I got a blast from my 55-200mm which I've used for most of the shots, when it got corrupted and stopped responding in the middle of the action; here and at this moment I've decided to leave the place since it was hard to change the lens, specially in such humidity and such heavy burden with 2 flashes and a camera dangling from my neck!
|The group's organizer with his nice shorts!|
This image was foggy and almost bleached out completely.
However, there were some nice shots here and there I would say. I didn't stay until the end of the event like the others, but I did the best I can to do something. In such events, you can't help but to drool when you see those big lenses used by my teacher!
|My teacher struggling with his camera and bazooka|
Even though I did take my 100mm Macro lens with me, yet I didn't use it a lot and the fog kept swirling around it and finally for some reason it stopped responding for focusing attempts. The picture of the group's organizer was taken with 100mm Macro.
Then, I got the chance to change the lens from 100mm to 55-200mm, which was foggy in the beginning then it started to be fine and snapped many shots until suddenly, the old corruption stroke again and it stopped responding with a communication error.
|Canon EF 55-200mm @55mm, f/5.6, 2000-1sec, ISO 400|
Most of the shots were done in manual mode and by metering the sea itself. However, to do such shots like the one above, the focusing mode was set to One Shot, or else the focus would move as I move the lens. Without any need to change the focusing zone (which by default is at the center), I've centered on the boy then moved my lens away to frame. Other shots were done in the same manner too.
|Canon EF 55-200mm @200mm, f/5.6, 2000-1sec, ISO 400.|
I believe the shot above would have been better with my 100mm at f/2.8, as it would give a better blur and isolation for the distant object. However, right after this shot, the lens started to be erratic and since I've realized there is no hope in making it work again, I've decided to leave the place before the boats reach the shore.
One last fun shot I did take before the boats arrival actually, which some people commented and said it is a suitable as a commercial - which is something I've been thinking of for a while beside working on architectural photography.
Canon EF 55-200mm @130mm, f/5.6, 2000-1sec, ISO 400
My attraction was mainly the yellow and the blue pieces here, hence the title Contrast, and I've never thought about it in an advertisement form. Only when people talked about it, I've realized the possibilities here! I've been thinking of buying some EZcube (or tent) with some lighting equipment and keep them at hand for training and for future product photography maybe, anyway, such expenses now are formidable with my traveling date coming closer. Lot of plans are delayed for now until I come back home then.
Well, they are no real trials for portraits just like those images taken, but along with the techniques workshop I'm already enrolled in, we came across a training session to do the manual metering. I've been already into that and I've been reading volumes and articles about this subject, however the experience is a bit difference. You got to use only the reflective metering of the camera (no light meter) and in a dark room. Most of the images came out shaky anyway but two of them were particularly interesting.
Canon EF 100mm Macro, f/5, 10-1sec, ISO 200.
Even though shaky a bit, I guess this one was the most stable shot in the stack of dozens of other shots that were taken successively. I've cropped it in a squared ratio since the space and the skin, as I believe, didn't add much criteria to the whole. It is still somehow out of focus in the middle I guess.
The play here is to add Two Black and White adjustment layers. The first one would control the tones of the iris itself alone (with the help of the layer mask), while the second layer on top would convert the whole image into Black and White and control the global tones. The light that was in use here is a monolight brought by my teacher to the class and the light itself was a subject for a snoot, and a bar-door to control the size of the light circle.
Canon EF 100mm, f/5, 10-1sec
The shooting angle here is below pointing to the chin, as I got down on my knee and pointed up to his chin trying to break the boring rhythm of shooting directly on the side of the face.
I guess one of the reasons that keeps me away from doing portraiture is the fact that you need a lot of equipments; that is, lot of lighting. Things are delicate. I wish though I do have an arsenal of speedlites like Syl Arena, but thinking about it further, not all lighting conditions and solutions are available in speedlites. At some point, you would still need to have a monolight and the other junkies!
My favorite part is coming along in the current workshop. Night time photography, and all the accompanying hassle of long exposures. The training might have been a burden for some photographers in the group, but all what mattered for me back then is choosing the suitable spot, and whether or not filters are available at hand.
In the beginning, we had a slight training at the Scientific Center; one of my favorite spots already. After some clicks here and there as the sun was setting down and the sky turning blue, I've been fluctuating between my 18-55mm and my 8mm fisheye. Probably the fisheye in that location is more adequate for capturing the architecture of the place. There was also a tiny training for illuminating the shadows with flash strobes; something like light painting but not exactly the same concept - but merely adding light to the shadowed or dark areas to make a balanced shot. Also, our teacher taught us a funny way to partially block the highlight region by moving our hands in that portion so fast and avoid blowing out the exposure in that region (since our metering is done for midtone).
|Rokinon 8mm fisheye, f/8, 5sec, ISO 100|
|After correction with DxO Optics|
One of the shots that got my teacher's interest is the one above. I didn't name it since most of these training shots were done merely for training purposes and not to be uploaded to stock sites. Anyway, my teacher seems like me, one fond of fisheye lenses. He likes it but wanted me to elevate the camera up a bit (probably to move the small columns level downward). My tripod didn't help in such level, and in fact this shot was taken balancing the front of the lens on a bottle of water laid flat on the ground! The body was on the ground completely. So far, I think the original version better than the corrected one: it's compact and the gate appears larger and occupies a better proportion of the image. However, it was worthy trying it out and compare.
Beside those shots done in the Scientific Center, which were done in a windy weather, we headed the next day to Shuwaikh Beach area to do some long exposures with ND filters. It was training as well but it was helpless for me as the decent angles to shoot the water splashing against the rocks needed some effort to go on down the rocks and concrete barriers; a shaky situation that I didn't like to try with my tight jeans!
However, the evening didn't pass without shots here and there. We tried doing silhouettes and I took the chance myself to goof around with some abstract and some handheld panorama done with Rokinon's 8mm fisheye lens. Amazingly though, the handheld panorama, after stitching, looked more like a single portrait shot!
Rokinon 8mm fisheye, f/3.5, 200-1, ISO 100
As I was listening to my teacher explaining some aspect of the long exposure calculations and considerations, suddenly these bricks caught my eyes (ADHD?) and I've decided to roam around them taking pictures from different angles, and this angle in Brick Art is the one that I've liked the most, and I've done some cropping on the left side to keep the bricks in one third of the image as much as possible. One of the blessings and curses of using a fisheye lens is the fact that you can get a suitable depth of field with a minimum f-number (f/8 or f/11 would be enough sometimes), but it's hard to get a decent blurred background or a decent isolation for the foreground when you use a low f-number. This is apparent in Brick Art as I've used f/3.5 with a minimum focusing distance of 30cm (~1 ft), and yet the background is blurred, but not in a rough manner. Would I be using my Canon's 15mm fisheye lens in f/2.8, I think the situation would be the same. I've tried the 15mm before as I was trying to do a certain panorama with an idea of isolating the foreground, but it didn't quite work out well.
Now, as I'm typing these words on Wednesday to be posted on Thursday, I'm supposed to go and do some long exposure on my own by at sunset time, and my teacher agreed that I would do it in my favorite location, the beach area in Salmiyah. I don't know what results to expect, as the water will be regressing then, anyway maybe I will have some results to add by next week's post. I'm planning already to use my Tamron 70-300mm, to be at a safe distance from the water and have a higher f-number as much as possible. Yet, I'm not sure what composition I'm running after. I have to be on location.
Well, this is all for now, and I'm waiting for the workshop to be over with soon, in order to have a decent time with myself to prepare and get ready for the travel in October. I've signed for the leave already and boy I do need some cash on me already.
My stuff are scattered around and it's hard to chase after them piece by piece, just like it is with my own life. I think getting busy with such stuff is far better than spending valuable time daydreaming, but I'm exhausted. So damn exhausted...