Thursday, July 17, 2014

On assignment for Transasia inflight magazine Renaissance

Heres a shot I snagged of the museum in Naha they ended up using as the cover shot. 
I thought I had at least a dozen better shots that would have made for a good cover but its not up to me. 

I was recently asked to shoot an assignment for Transasia's inflight magazine Renaissance in which they wanted some abstract shots of the art museum in Naha city and the city office in Nago which is known for its unique Okinawan architecture. It was quite a tricky assignment as the weather took a turn for the worst on the day I had planned for the shoot and on top of that architecture photography is not one of my stronger points as Im sure most of you know I usually deal with weddings, families, seascapes and water related photos.
The locations ended up taking pretty much all day to cover as one of the points they wanted was an hour drive north and the other an hour drive south so I set out on my mission to try and make some different looking images of these well known buildings and tried to catch something a bit abstract about them.

Apart from the main buildings they also wanted some general shots of Okinawa that I had already shot in the past and so used a couple of my images from the famous Zanpa misaki lighthouse and an underwater shot of some coral I shot with my little Canon s95 compact camera. This is the 2nd time now I've had a photo published from a point and shoot camera. Who would have thought...

Here are my images used in this months issue below.

One of my stock images of Cape Zanpa during one pretty sunset

An abstract shot of one of the art pieces at Naha's art gallery 

Another abstract shot of the museum and a long exposure of Cape Zanpa

Showing the details of the building and an underwater shot with my little Canon s95 
I shot during one dive outing. 

The famous Ufuya soba restaurant in Nago. This was my first time visiting this place and what a great location it is. Very difficult to find but very pretty traditional Okinawa location. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The new Canon 16-35mm f4L IS video review

Finally it has arrived! I'd had the new Canon 16-35mm f4L IS lens on pre order from B&H photo for a couple of months since Id first heard about it and was eager to upgrade my previous wide zoom the Canon 17-40mm f4L which has served me well for a few years even after taking a nasty fall from a tripod. The lens though was quite soft in the corners and image quality was never quite as great as Id hoped. Im very happy to report that the new 16-35mm f4 lens is a big improvement in all aspects. Beating out both the 17-40 f4 and the very popular 16-35mm f2.8L lens in sharpness across the frame plus the added benefit of having image stabilization makes this new lens a clear winner.

Here are the 100% crops used in the video of some sample shots I shot on a recent trip to outer islands Ishigaki island, Iriomote island and Taketomi island. Click the images to see them bigger.


Want to get yourself this lens? You can pick it up from Amazon at this link for about $1200

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Typhoon Neoguri wave shooting

Super typhoon Neoguri has finally passed over us here in Okinawa now. It was an interesting 24 hours or so with crazy amounts of rain and wind causing quite a bit of flooding and damage to buildings and cars. Some of us though do get excited when the typhoons come as they can bring some great photographic opportunities. 

For these top 3 wave shots I used my Canon 1DmkIV and new 24-70mm f4L IS inside of an Outex protection cover. If your not familiar with the Outex cases they are basically a thin moulded soft latex cover with glass that attaches to the front of the lens and rear for the lcd screen and are great for shooting in rain or dirty conditions, snorkeling and they can even take a beating in the surf. Of course its always a little scary taking $7000 or so worth of gear in the water in a thin rubber protective layer but it has worked great for me so far and much cheaper than buying at full blown housing. The Outex's come in at at around $300~$400 while my bigger housings for diving and surf come in at close to $3000 each but all serve different purposes. 

And below are a couple of shots I grabbed the morning after the typhoon as it was morning more north towards mainland Japan. 

Chocolate dirty waves at Kadena where lots of fresh rain water and mud has 
mixed with the ocean water. 

A fishing boat capsized and crashed into the sea wall from the wind and waves along Kadena norths sea wall. 

If you'd like to check out a video I made reviewing the Outex click here to be taken to my Youtube channel.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Beginners photo tip for shooting silky smooth waterfalls

I just returned from a fantastic trip to Ishigaki, Iriomote and Taketomi islands where I did some jungle trekking, diving with giant Manta rays and swam under some beautiful waterfalls. While at one of the waterfalls I thought I would make a quick little video on how to get that silky smooth water effect you've seen in waterfall shots.

It's really quite easy and you just need a few items apart from your camera. Most importantly you need a stable surface or a tripod. If the light is just right and dark enough you might be able to do it just with the tripod but more than likely you'll also need an ND (neutral density) filter which is basically just like sunglasses for your lens. A polarizer filter is also a good idea to cut down on the reflections from the water, rocks and leaves. One other item which is always good to have but not essential for this is a cable release which allows you to trigger the camera without actually touching it.

With an ND filter on the lens you'll be able to set a slower shutter speed which is what gives you that silky look. Basically anything slower than around 10th/second should give you a nice effect but experiment with slower shutters down to 1 second or so for a very nice smooth effect.

Try the Amazon links below to the items needed for long exposure photography. By doing so it also helps me out. 
The the Induro tripod I use

And last but not least a cable release, again heres the one I use 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Okinawa beach wedding for Rebecca and Ethan

Summer is now here in Okinawa and the busiest part of the first wedding season of the year is coming to an end. With the rain season in full effect it has been quite difficult for outdoor location weddings and preweddings to get the timing right with great weather. For Ethan and Rebecca their private beach wedding was a gamble that paid off. It was raining on and off right up to the start of the wedding but the sky came great with beautiful clouds just in time for their ceremony with a few friends and the beautiful ocean as the background. 

In all honesty this was actually quite a tricky wedding to photograph as nothing was quite in the normal order of things and all the friends were gathered in very close making it tricky to get good angles of the bride and groom during the ceremony. To make things even trickier the sun would occasionally poke through giving a very harsh light on Rebeccas face which is never a good thing in wedding photography. In the end though it all worked out great and we had a fun time exploring the island for locations to shoot at after their wedding. 

Check out a few of the photos from their day below. 

Interested in having a wedding in Okinawa? Drop me an email and I'll be happy to photograph and help you organize your big day!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mentawai all Japan pro surf trip

Im delighted to have been asked to come along as the official photographer to the Mentawai islands in Indonesia for 10 days on a live aboard boat to photograph some of Japans best bodyboard and surfers on some of the best waves in the world to help promote these trips to the surfers of Japan.

From the end of July I'll make the trip down to Kuala Lumpur then onto Padang before getting on the boat which will be our home base for the 10 days with riders Ryu Nakamura, Kaori Mayaguchi, Akiko Sato and good friend Hayato Maki. Also joining me on the trip will be the organizer of the event and the man in charge of bookings if your interested in coming along on dream surf trips like these, Mr Dane Gillett of Surfing in Japan.

Hayato Maki on one nice ride in Indo
(photo not by me)

Dane also will be organizing trips with the pro's where budding Japanese surfers can go along on the trip with a pro surfer and will get to hang out with and learn from the best. 

If your in Japan and interested in getting some killer waves in the Mentawai then hit up Dane by clicking here to get all the info. 

No doubt it will be the trip of a lifetime for any surfer looking for the perfect waves. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Off Camera Flash Workshop is back!

Myself and Chris Willson of Travel 67 will be having another off camera flash "strobist" workshop next month in Ishikawa, Okinawa for two days of fun and learning to take your flash skills to a new level. The great folks at Spider holster and Expo imaging will be sponsoring the event with prizes and you'll also get to practice your lighting skills with  a Japanese model on location to to add to your portfolio.

Only 4 spaces left, $150 per person. Send an email to book your spot today!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bic Camera store comes to Okinawa

The big Japanese camera store chain Bic Camera is just about to open on the 14th of June to Okinawa photographer customers in Naha. This is pretty big news for local photographers in Okinawa as we have never had any decent camera shops down on our little island so all shopping had to be done on the internet pretty much which is fine but its always nice to be able to go into a brick and mortar store and pick up and feel the product before dumping lots of Yen or dollars into it. The only half decent camera store Okinawa has had in the past has been Kitamura camera but they are pretty limited in what they stock and mostly cater to the beginner and amature market. From my quick tour of the new Bic Camera shop that is combined with Kojima denki it looks to be quite a well stocked shop with lots of filters, bags, lenses and higher end camera bodies as well as entry level ones. Another nice feature is they will be stocking Apple gear which is a little hard to find on the island unless you have base access.

Heres a few iphone picks of the pre opening set up to give you an idea.

A decent variety of lenses on display

Quite a few tripods, camera bags and other goodies

Nice to see theres going to be a large selection of filters

So theres just a quick sneak peek into the new Kojima + Bic store. Granted its still nothing like the camera shops up in Tokyo or Osaka and the like (those are insane!) but its a welcome sight for Okinawa anyway for when you need some kit in a pinch or just want to try out some new gear. 

Kojima + Bic camera can be found on route 58 as your heading south just as you enter Naha. Its on the left as you go over one of the overpasses in the big building with the red sign like the top image. Parking is underneath. You can't miss it. Open from June 14th. 

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Another behind the scenes on location engagement shoot video

Well what a crazy month May was. I didn't get to have a day off all month with weddings and location shoots galore. The hardest part is trying to keep up with editing so I don't fall too far behind but often you come home from an all day shoot at 11pm or sometimes 1am the next morning and only have the energy left to copy and back up the days images before crashing and doing it again the following morning.

In the little spare time I did have I was studying for my Rescue scuba diver licence for which I had to also learn Oxygen providing and CPR over again as well as several rigorous ocean rescue practice scenarios. I've just finished my testing now and happy to say I got a 47 out of 50 for the written part so Im pretty happy with that.

This month I wont be taking as many bookings so I can hopefully catch up on my editing and enjoy a little free time and concentrate on more dive photography. I also just received an assignment from another in flight magazine that want certain traditional buildings of Okinawa photographed so that should be interesting.

Anyway I thought Id share a behind the scenes video I put together from one all day location shoot I did with couple from Hong Kong Jem & Freeman. Come along and see how we get the job done.

Also a special thanks to +spiderholster for providing me with the awesome camera support gear that you see me using in all my videos. After you try these you'll never go back to using camera straps!

Check them out at and use my offer code leong20 to get 20% off your order! I don't get anything out of this deal but Im just happy to help share a discount for a quality product. 

If your interested in having  me photograph your prewedding / engagement / wedding in Okinawa or some other destination overseas then feel free to contact me at by clicking here! 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A recap and tour of my humble little photo office

Hey folks! Wow what a crazy busy season its become. With pretty much no free days all month my editing has been piling up like crazy. Apart from the usual weddings, preweddings and family shoots I've also been doing quite a few diving shoots out in the Kerama islands and will stay on Aka island for 3 days on a photo assignment next week. Also coming up next week is my first Paintball photo shoot, that should be interesting! Last week I had the rare opportunity to take a tour of the fighter jets on Kadena US air base and got to sit in the cockpit of an F-15! That was unreal and I felt like a little kid all over again. They wouldn't let me take my cameras or even phone for that matter along on that excursion but my guide was nice enough to take a few snaps of me playing around with all the controls inside and around the jet.

My Youtube channel has been growing steadily with just shy of 800 subscribers now and continuing to grow faster the more videos I upload. Not that I've had much time recently to spend on video editing or making new photography tutorial videos but I try to regularly get up just a basic video even if its just filmed with the Gopro as often as I can.

I was asked by a couple of commenters if I would make a tour video of my office here where I run fotoShisa Photography so I quickly whipped around with the Gopro in hand and went over the tools and toys I use and a few other bits here in my messy little office. You can check it out below if you like to geek out on gear or just see the kind of workspace I spend a lot of time in.

One more very cool project I'll be shooting in a couple of months is going to involve a military bomb suit and C4 explosives!! So stay tuned for that. 

Thanks for dropping by!