Monday, February 01, 2016

Okinawa aerial demo reel #2

I just finished editing my #2 aerial video mix of various footage shot with the DJI Inspire 1 drone around Okinawa!

I have a lot of fun filming and editing these kinds of videos and hope to incorporate it more into my fotoShisa business this year. Last year was mainly all about practice flying it and getting better at cinematic shots, editing etc.. Not that I'm a master now by any means. But offers have started rolling in from companies wanting to have their company or use some footage of Okinawa for their promotions. 

My latest video has been doing great on social media so far with over 460 shares and 17,000views in just a couple of days. 

All of the locations for the video where shot around Okinawa and surrounding islands like Tokashiki island out in the Kerama island chain, also the famous Kouri island bridge, Zakimi castle, Sesoko island, Kaichu doro for kite surfing and other local spots around here in Yomitan, Onna area. 

The video also stars Jammie Leong and Jenna Leong although they are not related at all. Jenna is my baby girl at the start of the video running along the beach path and Jammie is the model that can be seen on the Tokashiki island beach and is a good friend from Canada. 

Thanks very much for all the support on this video! Please feel free to share it if you haven't already so that others can see the beauty of Okinawa as well. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Cactus RF60 and V6 radio trigger mini review

For about the last year I've been using all Cactus gear for my speedlighting needs after using Yongnuo speedlites for several years before that. Was there something wrong with the Yongnuo's that made me want to switch? No but I was given a whole bunch of Cactus gear from a Japanese supplier to use and test so why not. I've since taken the Cactus gear along with me on hundreds of shoots both here on Okinawa and overseas and have been mostly very happy with them. 

In the video I go over the basics of how I use the flash and V6 trigger off camera to light my subjects. I really love the dial on the back of the V6 triggers. They make it fast and easy to quickly change the power of the flash so I don't have to physically go out to each flash to make the changes saving lots of time and frustration. The signal between the V6 and the RF60 is also very good. I've had them fire every time even over long shooting distances. The only negative points I can think of are sometimes the battery door on the flash unit opens a little too easy, sometimes even after a slight bump sending batteries out onto the ground. 
Also sometimes it takes a few seconds before the flash units start to react when Im changing the power from the V6 trigger which can be a little frustrating until it kicks in then it works fine. 

As for battery consumption I can shoot pretty much all day on a single set of Eneloop rechargeables. Towards the end of the day though flash recycle times do start to take longer of course. 
Lately I've been enjoying firing dual flashes at once via a tri flash mount when Im out shooting in bright conditions. By doubling the flash power Im able to stop down to f16 and get a nice star burst effect from the sun while illuminating my subjects in the foreground. 

For diffusion I usually use the Cactus CB60 softbox as its light and portable, can fold up really small and the mount system for it is better than the much more expensive Lastolite EZbox. I used to use the Lastolite boxes a lot in the past and they are good but in my experience can fall of the mounts a bit too easy in windy conditions. I've had a few blow into the ocean then the sea water rusts the metal frame inside them and eventually they break. Haven't had that problem once with the Cactus softbox falling off its mount. So all in all Im very happy with the Cactus speedlights and will continue to use them. I still have a few much more expensive Canon speedlites sitting around in my gear draws that hardly get used anymore. Just occasionally if Im shooting an event and I want to run and gun with TTL flash. I just don't see the benefit of spending $500-600 for a Canon or Nikon flash when I can do just fine with a flash that costs anywhere from $70-200. Having said that I do own one $2500 flash system for my location shooting and thats the Profoto B1 with air ttl radio trigger. Expensive combo and it has the extra power when I need it. But to be honest I prefer the Cactus trigger as the Profoto has its own problems as I talk about in the video above. I leave you with a few sample photos with the Cactus RF60 flashes in use. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How to stitch panoramas in Lightroom CC

Got up at 4:30 packed up the camera gear and DJI Inspire 1 drone to set out on a little road trip with a couple of my best friends down to the very south of the island to shoot this pretty waterfall that flows into the ocean with hopes of catching it with some nice morning golden light as the afternoon sunset would have the falls in shadow. 
We were lucky enough to have just about 10 minutes of nice light before the sun went behind the clouds for the rest of the day followed by lots of rain and wind.
The photo I had imagined was to have the falls on the right of the shot but also showing the ocean on the left but I wasn't able to capture both in the one shot even with my wide angle 16-35mm f4L IS lens so I made a panorama of 5 vertical shots so that I could stitch them back together later in post with Lightroom. 

The other problem with making panoramas from multiple images is that unless your using a proper tripod head designed for making panoramas then theres a possibility that you have one or more shots where the horizon is not perfectly straight and matching the other images. The result is once Lighroom has stitched the image together the horizon is sometimes wonky and not straight. In the video below I show how to stitch the images in Lightroom and then straighten out a wonky horizon line in Photoshop CC then finish off the the panorama with some final editing in Lightroom. 

The addition of panorama and HDR merging in Lightroom CC may be one of my favorite new features because of its ease of use and how well it works. Check out my tutorial video below. 

Friday, January 08, 2016

The bridge to Kouri island video

An aerial panorama shot with the DJI Inspire 1 and about 10 images

A couple of days ago I put together a few drone video clips and photos that myself and one of my best mates Keith Smith shot out over the famous bridge that joins Yagaji island to Kouri island up north Okinawa. I didn't expect the video to gain that much attention but in the 2 days since uploading to my fotoShisa Facebook page it got shared over 150 times and has close to 10,000 views and all totally organic, meaning I didn't pay for any Facebook advertising like I sometimes do to boost a post for advertising my wedding photography etc..  

I'm really no pro at video editing as I'm sure any one with some video skills could tell by watching my videos but I do enjoy the process of putting together my own videos. And like anything it just takes some practice and time to get better. I put the video together in about 30 minutes using Final Cut Pro X. I hope to one day be able to use my videos to help promote tourism in Okinawa. 

Check out my short little video below shot with the DJI Inspire 1 drone with the supplied ND filter attached to the X3 Zenmuse camera mounted to the drone. 

From the Yagaji island side of the bridge we launched the drone and flew it all the way across to Kouri island which according to the distance displayed on our iPhone flight apps was about 1.3km away. The drone was sending back a nice live feed to the iPhones mounted on our controllers without a hitch when we had no obstructions between the drone and controllers. If we flew down behind the smaller island then the video feed would cut out for a second sometimes. 

For some reason when I uploaded to Facebook they immediately sent me a take down notice! Stating that I may be infringing on the video or music owners copyright. The only thing I can think is someone the music triggered an automatic notice, but the song I used is just a generic song included with Final cut pro X for the purpose of being used in videos. So I disputed the claim and they reinstated the video without any further response. Oh well whatever. 

Lastly here are a few photos shot with the drone in RAW and editing in Adobe Lightroom CC. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mixing flash with ambient light

Hey everyone! Finally getting through all my editing and just one more all day bridal shoot on the last day of the year. I took a couple of minutes during a shoot the other day to explain basically how I set the exposure when using flash in bright sunlight. In this case with the sun in the shot behind the subjects as I'd had a few questions asking how to get these kinds of shots.

Basically you just need to set your shutter speed to its "X" sync speed which means the maximum shutter speed your camera will allow while still working with flash (unless using high speed sync, but thats for a different tutorial). Next you want to set your ISO to the lowest native setting for your camera, usually 100 or 200. Then next comes your aperture. If your not using an ND filter then you just have to stop down until you get the correct exposure, in bright light that means generally around f10~f16 or so. The plus side of this is that if your at f16 you can get a nice sun star burst look if its in your shot and not obscured by clouds. The negative side of this is that any sensor dust you have on your sensor will present itself very clearly, especially on a blue sky which is a pain in the butt to remove if you have a lot of it. If you do have ND filters its fun to try and combine a shallow depth of field in the region of say 2.8 or even 1.4 etc.. with off camera flash. Its a really cool and different look!

In my video Im using an expensive Profoto B1 but a lot of the time Im just using speedlites like Youngnuo's or Cactus flash. And in a lot of respects I prefer the cheaper speedlights, especially if Im traveling overseas and trying to stay light as possible. Often times also I find the radio triggers made by Youngnuo and Cactus work better than my very expensive Profoto radio trigger and Pocket Wizards!! Yes its sounds crazy but the cheap ones are better in my opinion after years of use.

Anyway this is just a real simple set up with no flash diffusers or anything to worry about. I don't use TTL flash much at all as its just too unpredictable I find, especially in outdoor bright daylight like this. Manual is simple and repeatable.

Lastly of course I finish off all my images with some tweaking in Lightroom to make them pop. For these kinds of shots with lots of blue sky with clouds and sun in them I light to drop the Blue luminance channel which really can make the sky blues pop. As long as your subject isn't wearing lots of blue otherwise that will be effected also. Anyway theres my little flash tip for the day. Hope you all have a great New Years and an even better year in 2016! Happy Shooting!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Just passed 7000 Youtube subscribers!

Happy to announce my humble little Youtube photography chanel just passed 7000 subscribers in time for Christmas! Not that big compared to some photographer Youtubers but slowly growing all the same. In 2016 I look forward to putting more effort into making more videos for my chanel now that I have more video gear, better audio equipment and a smoother workflow.

If you've not yet visited my photography channel please come check it out by clicking the banner above or by clicking here. 

Have a great Christmas and a happy New Years! See you in 2016

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The awesome folks at Spider Holster have given me a special Black Friday code to offer to my followers good from Thursday,11/26 and valid through Monday, 11/30.

I've used Spider Holster gear on a daily basis now for the past few years and cant say enough good things about it. Do away with your annoying camera straps and shoot like a gun slinger!

Use offer code BF25PETE to get yourself 25% off any order, one time only per customer at

Monday, November 23, 2015

Quick trip and model shoot on Tokashiki island

Just got back from a nice little over night stay out in the beautiful Kerama island chain on the island of Tokashiki. These islands are just an hour or so by ferry out from Naha city and are an amazing getaway from main island Okinawa and the beaches are a whole different level out there. Not to mention the world class scuba diving and visibility. 

The main reason for the trip was to photograph my good mate with the same last name and model from Canada Jammie Leong. I also wanted to take along my DJI Inspire 1 drone to get some aerial still shots and video from above the island for future video projects. 

A panorama from the sky stitched from about 8 images
 shot with the DJI Inspire 1

Being the busiest month of the year I haven't got around to editing all the photos and video yet but heres a few sample shots and a little background on how I lit and shot them.

First day we were just scouting a location to shoot so I didn't have much gear with me. Hand held bare Cactus speedlite at full power and my Canon 5DmkIII with 16-35mm f4L lens stopped down to about f13 to get the sun burst effect. 

For this shot I wanted to use flash but also use a shallow DOF (depth of field)
So I used my Sigma 35mm f1.4 ART series with an ND8 filter so I could keep my shutter at 200th/sec for flash sync and also keep my aperture pretty wide open at f2.8. 
For light I used a Profoto B1 with Cactus CB60 softbox. 

This was the same as previous shot with the Profoto B1 and Cactus softbox on it mounted on my new large Manfrotto lightstand. I didnt have any sand bags/weights or assistant so I was constantly keeping an eye on it in case the wind got the better of it. Lucky only the softbox blew off at one stage. 

The last two shots here were very wide shots as I wanted to show the colour in the sky and this nice big rock in the middle of the beach so I took off the softbox and just used bare flash from the Profoto B1 from about 5 meters back. 

Will post more drone photos and the video shortly here on my blog as well as on my main Youtube channel at

All images are copyright PeteLeongPhotography. They are available for purchase, just contact me here 

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Okinawa Karate 100 Kata event drone video

Looking down on the event. Shot with the DJI Inspire 1

I recently had the pleasure of getting up before sunrise and up to Zakimi castle ruins here in Yomitan, Okinawa to try filming the 100 Kata Karate event with the DJI Inspire 1 drone with the help of my partner in crime Keith Smith.

The idea was that each of the various groups of Karate groups would perform their kata 100 times. So with the ideal traditional looking Okinawan location, a whole bunch of karate guys and girls,  plus a sunrise that added up to make for some interesting photos and video.

Getting the drone set up with Keith and our good mate and famous nature/underwater photographer Shawn Miller (Okinawa nature photographer) dropped by to say good morning. 

Shot with the Fujifilm X-T1 and cheap Rokinon 12mm f2 manual lens. 

And last but not least the video I put together using Final Cut Pro X and shot entirely with the Inspire 1. Still learning this whole video editing thing but having fun with it. Hope you enjoy!


If your interested in having aerial drone footage for your next wedding or event no matter how big or small contact Pete by clicking here

Sunday, October 18, 2015

2016 Calendars now available!

Hey everyone! Happy to announce the arrival of my 2016 Okinawa beach & sea calendar. These calendars will be available for purchase at various spots around Okinawa or will be able to be ordered from a webpage currently being set up. For now if your in Okinawa and want one, they can be bought directly through myself or at Okinawa brewing company in American Village (Mihama) Drop me an email here to order directly through me.  Or click by now to make your purchase right now online.

$25US online or if paying in person yen is also ok (¥3000)


Shipping to the US is also available for $10