Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Military Retirement Ceremony Photo shoot Okinawa (Camp Foster)

I recently had the pleasure of photographing my good friend and fellow photographer David Orr's retirement ceremony from the US Marines. Although this was my first time to shoot this kind of event, David was confident I could do a better job then the people who would normally come to shoot these kinds of Military events and I was happy to hear that apparently I did. 

Compared to shooting weddings it was pretty much a walk in the park but I still had to be sure I wasn't going to miss any of the important parts of the ceremony like the receiving of the flag and other awards. The ceremony was originally planned to be held outside but unfortunately the weather was a bit grim on this day so it was decided that it would be held in the church on Camp Foster base. 

The church created a bit of a tricky situation to photograph in as it was quite dark, high ceiling and the auto white balance of the camera was having a hard time getting correct colour thanks to the mix of nasty colour temperatures from the various lights in the church. Luckily I had with me the new Expodisc v2.0 that my great supporters at Expo Imaging had sent out to me. So after a few quick white balance settings I was pretty much good to go. 

We had a little time before the ceremony began so we set up a couple of quick family photos. To light the portraits I used (again from Expo Imaging) two large Flash Benders on light stands each side of the camera being lit by two Yongnuo YN560-III speedlites. I still had to drop the shutter speed quite low though to allow enough ambient light to fill in the background behind the flags. 

Here's a few more photos from the ceremony. 

Congratulations and thanks David and Naoko Orr for having me along to your retirement ceremony. I wish you all the best for this new stage in your life. 

If your having a retirement ceremony here on Okinawa and would like me to capture your special event for you then drop me an email for details.  

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Rogue Flash Bender XL Kit Review

Using two XL Flash Benders to light the family and 
keep the sky in check. 

I've been a big fan of Expo Imaging and their Rogue gear for several years now. I'm very happy this year to have support from these guys and help spread the good word about the Rogue gear and I truly believe any photographer who uses speedlites should have at least one of these in their kit. There's no more portable, light and quick way to get nice light diffusion for your speedlites. The portability and versatility is what stands out the most for me. Especially since the new Flash Bender XL pro lighting kits have come out. I'd even go as far to say they are a game changer. 

Here's a little video review I did down at the beach. Apologies for the wind! I've since ordered a wind muffler for the mic which is still on its way. 

Using two XL's in a clam shell lighting set up for portraits. 

A few examples of using a single Flashbender on a wedding shoot. 

Want to buy a Rogue Flashbender? Click the link to Amazon to buy from there as it helps me out a little also!

Rogue Photographic Design ROGUEXLPRO FlashBender XL Pro Lighting Kit (Black/White/Silver)

If you'd like to check out the Rogue Flash Benders and other gear from Expo Imaging visit them at this link. www.expoimaging.com

Off Camera Flash Workshop December 2013

Myself and +Chris Willson held another workshop on getting your flash off the camera recently over two days for 11 photo enthusiasts here on the island. This workshop was our most successful workshop yet as we have ironed out our teaching methods more. We also did a location shoot with our model Yuki in a Japanese yukata and had some great kit to give away from our sponsors at Spider Holster and Expo Imaging.

On the first day we went through various techniques for getting the flash off the camera, learning how to operate in full manual mode and how to balance the ambient light with the flash to keep the sky in check and what not.

On our 2nd day we got more into using various diffusers on location. First heading to a local beach to practice in some windy conditions with our model before finally heading over to the popular shooting spot of Gala with our model to try and catch her with a nice sunset background.

Although we didn't get an epic sunset we did get some really nice light and all the students took turns trying out different diffusers like the Rogue flash benders and Lastolite Ezybox. We then also incorporated a second flash to separate our subject from the background with a rim light.

The students seemed to really enjoy and get a lot out of the workshop by the photos they posted over the following days and we received lots of great feedback. Looking forward to setting up more workshops on various photography subjects in 2014 both here in Okinawa and mainland Japan. Im in the planning stage now for a Rogue Flash Bender specific workshop for Tokyo possibly in early 2014.

Here are a few more images from the workshop.

Out on a practice run with our model Yuki on a windy beach in Ishikawa

Winners of the gear give away from Spider Holster and Rogue kits. 

Thanks to all those that attended the workshop and also thanks to +Chris Willson for hosting it with me, Yuki for modeling for us and Summer Johnson for doing a great job as always with the make up!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Naha Air Festa 2013

If there's one thing that can get me excited like a little school kid its watching fighter jets. Since I've been here in Okinawa for the past 3 something years I've had ample chance to watch them even from my balcony at home as they fly over me most days. These were one of the main reasons I invested in the Canon 300mm f2.8L lens (that and shooting surfing). 

But I don't get much of a chance to check out air shows which is strange considering the amount of fighter air traffic there is here in Okinawa from both the US and Japanese air forces. 
Most of you know I was just in Las Vegas where I was staying with friends on Nellis air base and got to get up close with some amazing jets as well as the Thunderbirds team there. Still more photos from that on the way. But here are a few shots I took at the Naha Air Festa run by the Japanese air force. 
Unfortunately I couldn't stick around all day and missed seeing the Blue Impulse team doing their thing as I had to get back up to Yomitan to shoot an event. But none the less I did get to capture some cool images I think and even got to climb up on an F-15. I could have gotten in the cockpit of one also but there was an hour wait time and I just didn't have that kind of time. 

All the photos below were shot with either my Canon 1DmkIV with the 300mm f2.8L or 5DmkIII with 17-40mm lens. I wish we had a bit more of an interesting sky but it is what it is. 

F-15J taking off with afterburners engaged. 

A bunch of fighters doing fly by's in formation. 

1000's of people made it out for the show. I saw hardly any foreigners though. 

Another F-15J starting up getting ready to fly

A close up of the above jet ready for take off. 

This one was huge!

Cant remember what it was now. An F-16? Looks pretty awesome though.

Close up of the exhaust nozzle on an F-15J fighter

Me atop one of the F-15's woohoo!

Two F15's take off together. The detail in the shot at full size is quite amazing. 

Thats a nice bum if I've ever seen one!

Some close up details of the ejection mechanism and other stuff
in the cockpit of a fighter. Pretty crazy hah!

Finishing off with a cute one of these little guided tours of the flight line as they pass
the Blue Impulse team jets. Im sure these guys were thinking they'd wished they were in the real ones. 

Today is Christmas day so to everyone out there thanks for coming by my blog and have a great Christmas! Hope Santa brought you something you like. 

I'll be posting some more videos in the next couple of days with some wedding photography tips. 
Then shortly an end of year summery of my company fotoShisa and some of my favorite images I made in 2013. 

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Photo Q&A episode 1

As many of you may have noticed I've been making more of an effort now to get in front of the camera and make videos for my YouTube channel now that the wedding season has quieted down a bit here in Okinawa.

I've been having fun making video reviews of gear that my sponsors have been sending out for me but I thought it would be good to share some of the questions online through video episodes rather than just answering the same questions several times in individual emails.

I'm still super new to the whole video editing thing and I haven't been in front of the camera for video that much since my younger years when I started out as an actor for various tv shows and stage performances. But I'm having fun and hope to help people with various photography questions they might have. I know for myself I love to watch these kinds of videos on Youtube and constantly listen to different shows like TWIP, FroKnowsPhoto and my good friend Martin Bailey of the Martin Bailey Photography podcast which is one of the longest running photography shows out there. Check them out on iTunes and Youtube for lots of inspiration and photography news and education.

For my first episode I thought I would answer a question on getting set up for off camera flash or "strobist" photography. I show you how to get set up with off camera flash for cheap! I think knowing how to get by in photography for "cheap" is a very important thing to know as it can be quite intimidating getting started out and not knowing where to begin.

So here's the question I was sent.

Hey Pete,Question for you, just checked out your review of the Rogue XL diffuser/softbox/strip box... It looks like a winner!My Background is Action Sports of which I have always shot with available light only, now I'm being asked to do engagements, wedding, family portraits, etc. These requests are coming from satisfied action sport customers, which is awesome, but I now need to invest in some lighting equipment etc. All I currently have is an Canon 430EXII.I've been researching lighting equipment like crazy and keep bouncing back and forth between a 2-3 strobe light setup(Einsteins 650's) or Canon Speedlights 580exii's or 600's. Either way I'm looking at big money, but want reliable equipment. Correct me if I'm wrong but it looks like you go the minimalist route. For just getting started with shooting weddings what's your 2 cents????I had my budget at $1000 US Dollars, but now feel that It might need to be in upwards of $3000??Any help would be greatly appreciated,Todd

Here's the advice I had for Todd explaining how you can get set up with off camera flash even if you don't own a flash for as little as $200.  Feel free to let me know what you think, things I need to improve on in my videos etc.. As Im just trying to learn so I can help others better.

You'll notice I'm almost in tears laughing from the start as Haruna had me cracking up just as I was starting the video.

Feel free to let me know what you think, things I need to improve on in my videos etc.. As Im just trying to learn so I can help others and make better videos. And if you have any photography questions for future episodes please leave them in the comments or email me! Thanks for watching.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Worlds biggest! Canon 5200mm lens!

My good mate and awesome videographer Evan in China with one of only three Canon 5200mm f14 super super tele lenses.

It uses a mirror & lens combination. The front lens is massive.
Rear drop-in filters can be used.
•Focal Length: 5150mm
•Exposure Control: Light quantity is controlled with the use of built-in ND filters, corresponding to f/14, f/16, f/22, f/32
•Minimum Object Distance: 120 meters (Approx 393 feet!)
•Size: 500mm(wide) x 600mm(high) x 1890mm(deep) [20x24x75.6]
•Weight: 100kg (220 lbs) without stand.

From a Canon Flyer:
"This is the only ultra-telephoto lens in the world capable of taking photographs of objects 18 to 32 miles away (30km to 52kms away). Having a focal length of 5200mm, Canon Mirror Lens 5200mm can obtain one hundred times as large an object image as that of a 50mm lens."
"For focusing this mounted or fixed lens on an extremely distant object, two aiming telescopes are set on the side of the lens barrel, and the entire lens is placed on a rigid stand which rotates smoothly. Minimizing the overall length had been a big problem in designing this lens. However, the Catadioptric system that is applied to the other two Canon mirror lenses (Canon 800mm f3.8 & 2000mm f11) has succeeded in reducing it down to one third of the nominal focal length. In general focal length and optical aberration increase with each other, however, our long and persistent research and development have succeeded in solving this problem. Canon mirror lens 5200mm composed of spherical main and secondary mirrors and a correction lens would assure you of clear images."

Talk about one crazy bit of glass! Perhaps a nice present for that special photographer in your life for this Christmas? Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 16, 2013

50th Flickr Explored photo

My most recent and 50th photo to make it into Flickr Explore. For those that don't know certain popular photos on Flickr can become Explored which means they are chosen amongst thousands of other photos to be featured on the Explored page which gains the image lots of attention and usually racks up 100+ "faves/likes" as well as lots of comments. From time to time my images will make it into Explore but not always the images I think will make it. Sometimes Im surprised to see that any old snapshot of a lens or camera gear get Explored where as images I've put lots of effort into and that I really like don't get in.

This recent shot of our model Yuki from the last Off Camera Flash workshop I taught with good friend Chris Willson was taken while I was demonstrating how to use flash with a Lastolite Ezybox held just out of frame by my assistant. The flash also had a 1/4 cut CTO gel on it to slightly warm up the light falling on Yuki.

You can see my other Flickr Explored shots at this link

Here's a thumbnail gallery of my images on Flickr that have made it to Explore. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Outex DSLR underwater and adventure protection housing review

When I'm not photographing weddings, couples engagement shoots, families and all that good stuff I love to get out and shoot the ocean or better yet get in it and shoot whats going on down below. Until now I've mostly only used my Ikelite dive housing which is great but weighs a ton, is very difficult to travel with, only suites one camera and one lens which is my Canon 8-15mm f4 fisheye lens on a Canon 5DmkII body and not to mention costs just as much as the camera, great for diving but what about everything else?

For all other times when I just wanted to go for a snorkel, hike through a river to a waterfall, shoot in the rain, snow, mud or even a typhoon I really had no options that would really protect my expensive camera equipment until now. Sure there has been the cheap vinyl camera bag option but that was still awkward to operate controls and wasn't that strong. Now there is a great go between and it's called the Outex. 
The standard Outex with wrist strap attached enclosing my Canon 1DmkIV with 17-40mm f4L

The Outex is made from a super strong molded rubber latex type material with optical glass for the front of the lens and rear lcd screen. The material used allows for a good tactile feel to the buttons allowing you to access the cameras controls, yes even the mode dials although you do of course need to know your camera well enough to use the most of the buttons without actually looking at them as all you can see is through the viewfinder, rear lcd screen and a few of the rear buttons. But if your a half serious photographer you should know where all the main control buttons and dials on your camera are anyway. 
Outex make a few different kind of housings each matching various makes and models of camera. Whats nice is the 3 I own can all fit either my 5DmkIII with a battery grip or my 1DmkIV with pretty lens with a 77mm lens thread. 
Outex also make various housings catering to things like using your clip on speedlite or even one that will allow you to mount it to a tripod and still be completely waterproof. 

Playing with the Outex out front of my house late afternoon in some little shorebreak. 

Here's a little video review I made of the Outex while out shooting some Rock Rugby. Unfortunately the visibility was not great this day and the players were playing in quite shallow water which stirred up a lot of sand. But I hope you "get the picture".  Pun intended 8)

The hotshoe flash type housing still keeps everything 100% waterproof

Haruna getting ready to take the 5DmkIII for a dip

Me during the shooting of the review video shooting some Rock Rugby

In conclusion there are a lot of things to like about the Outex, its very lightweight and portable making it great for travel, it only takes about 5 minutes to set it up, its modular meaning you can mix and match accessories and camera/lenses and you don't have to fork out $1000+ dollars like you do with regular dive or surf housings then you should give the Outex a try. I have 3 different Outex kits now but to start out with you can get set up from about $400. Not bad considering all the options and adventures it will allow you to shoot that you just wouldn't be conceivable before. 

For more info check out www.Outex.com