Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Shopping for a Sony A7Rii in Camera Street Taipei and Taiwan photos part 1

Just returned from a week of photographing the beautiful nature of Taiwan. It was a fantastic trip driving down from Taipei along the stunning east coast right down to the bottom of the island. First though I stopped by "Camera street" near Taipei station to browse the countless camera shops and see if I could get a good price on a Sony A7Rii and a metabones lens adapter while I was there so I'd be able to use it with my Canon lenses that I took along for the trip. I also brought along my trusty Fujifilm XT1 which I planed to most of my shooting with during the trip. Oh and I also took my drone, the DJI Inspire 1 and Osmo so I could get some aerial video and photos over the mountains and ocean. Below is my little video showing Camera street and my little shopping spree I did there. 

I've not had much time to edit photos from Taiwan since getting back as I've been slammed with weddings and prewedding shoots but heres just a few I edited so far. 

A couple of drone shots taken with the DJI Inspire 1 near Jiufen. One of my favorite areas in Taiwan. Rugged mountains combined with waterfalls and and abandoned gold minding town right on the ocean. 

Looking down on the abandoned gold mining factory. 5 images stitched together with the Inspire 1 drone. 

Driving along the wild east coast of Taiwan near Hualien. On of the most scenic and dangerous roads I've driven on. So many tour busses and trucks coming right at me on the narrow winding roads. Another panorama taken with the DJI Inspire 1

Flying high in Tarako gorge. Was very difficult to get a GPS signal in here but once I flew high enough it was ok. This panorama was stitched from about 8 images from the DJI Inspire 1. 

Higher up on the mountains behind the abandoned gold mining factory. 

A beautiful road size waterfall near jiufen. Stopped off to take some shots with Jo, the new Sony A7Rii, Fujifilm XT1 and our trusty Velbon tripods from my sponsor 8)

Looking back up at just part of the abandoned gold mining factory. This place is huge! Aerial video of it coming soon!

Our trusty rent a car at the base of the mountains. 

Driving along the rugged east coast towards Hualien. Love this place!

We hiked up higher into the mountains from that temple in the photo below to this beautiful spot. 
A panorama made with the Sony A7Rii

My very first pano made with the Sony A7Rii. Huge file!

Tarako gorge. We stayed up here for the night at a hotel. Beautiful place!

8 arch bridge way down south in 

So far loving the image quality and sharpness from the Sony. Surprised to say I think the images are sharper from the Sony with my Canon lenses than my Canon bodies with Canon lenses!! Thats pretty crazy. Not to mention the much better dynamic range and I prefer how the Sony handles white balance better than my Canon's also. Not every thing is better with mirrorless. I wish I could choose M and S RAW with the Sony was I wasn't forced to shoot at 40+ megapixels every image. I don't need that big of a file for all the weddings I shoot but I would never shoot in jpg which does offer L, M and S size. Also I wish I was able to magnify the image faster than how Sony seems to handle it. Unless Im missing something. It seems that when you want to zoom in to check focus on an image it takes you straight to 100% but takes at least 2 seconds of waiting before it shows the image. On all my other cameras including Fujifilm you can just zoom into the image with the scroll wheel slowly increasing magnification and there is no waiting/lag time. Perhaps theres a setting for that I've not yet come across in the messy menu system. Anyway over all Im loving it and its quite a blast to shoot a wedding with a totally silent shutter. Almost not sure Im even taking a photo. 

I'll talk more about the A7Rii in an upcoming video once I've had more experience with it. More Taiwan photos on the way also!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Miyako island pre-wedding photoshoot

The view from our beautiful room at the Allamanda resort (Shigira) on Miyako Island

When I was invited to fly over to Miyako island to do some location photoshoots with newlyweds Samantha & Jason it didn't take me long to accept to offer. Miyako island located pretty much half way between Okinawa and Taiwan is one of my favorite islands in Okinawa with its beautiful beaches and amazing diving. I used to shoot a few weddings down here a few years ago when I was working for Watabe wedding but never got a good chance to explore the island. 

Luckily my good friend Cindy is the general manager of the Allamanda resort and was nice enough to hook us up with a very nice lagoon room with its own private pool. Not only was the accommodation amazing but the staff were super friendly and the food at the restaurants was just amazing! All very high class and top notch stuff. But on to the wedding location shooting. 

For the first night we went down to the beach with Samantha & Jason to get a shot of them with the beautiful night sky. 

The next day we set off around the island to find some nice spots to stop off at such as the famous Sunayama beach below. Heres just a few quick samples. 

 We stopped to have a little color powder fight!

Outside our room at the Allamanda resort lagoon. 
Theres something like 50 sea turtles swimming around the lagoon here. 

We are currently putting together a behind the scenes video for the happy couple so once its done I will post that here also. Since purchasing the DJI Osmo, filming behind the scenes and Youtube videos are a breeze. Many thanks to Cactus for supplying great flash gear, Velbon for supplying tripods and Spider Holster for making it easy to carry my cameras while Im working!

Theres lots of beautiful islands surrounding Okinawa main island. Most of them are easily accessible. If your interested in having a photoshoot on one of them drop me an email and we can help organize your trip for you. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Back visiting Australia

Just returned back to Okinawa after a week in Australia visiting family and friends from north of the Sunshine coast in QLD down as far as Byron bay just into NSW. It was great to catch up with family I hadn't seen in years and also some new additions. For this trip I wanted to travel light, especially with camera gear as I wasn't going for any "work" shooting, just fun stuff so I took along my Fujifilm X-T1 with just two lenses. The Fujifilm 18-55mm f2.8-4 and cheap but impressive Rokinon 12mm lens which stayed on the body most of the time for landscape shooting.

Having just got back and trying to catch up on wedding editing jobs I haven't had much chance to edit all the photos from Australia yet but heres just a few samples of what I came across.

On the way up to Curra to visit my sister and my nieces new baby twins I came across this cool pub and garage called Hell town hotrods. 

Up early to visit my old climbing playground, The Glass House Mountains

Byron Bay from the lighthouse on a beautiful but windy day. 

Caught up with my old best mates I grew up rollerblading with Dave (Kamo) and Ben (Swami)

Visited Nosa heads. Beautiful area!

Will be posting more photos soon once I get a chance to go through and edit them. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Behind the scenes on a multi location Okinawa Pre Wedding Photoshoot

Come along behind the scenes on a multi location pre wedding photoshoot around Okinawa with Jackie & Jane from Hong Kong. We visit places like Toguchi beach, Cape Zanpa, Murasaki Mura, Gala and more. Video shot entirely on the DJI Osmo by Vish and edited by Alisa Simonds. 

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