Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chimping isn't a crime!

Chimping, or checking the back of your camera's LCD screen after you make a photo has gotten a bad rap over the years. But I say if its there use it! Of course it should be used in moderation like anything else but there are times when checking that your exposure is in the ball park can save you lots of trouble afterwards like it did here a few days ago while I was shooting a wedding over on Ishigaki island.

I was shooting away doing my thing as the Bride and Groom were entering the chapel when I took a quick glance down at my LCD screen for a quick check that everything was in order, only to notice my last few shots were horribly underexposed!

So I checked my settings to see what was wrong. ISO 400 fine, shutter speed 160/sec no problem there. Aperture f0.0??? whaaa?? It turns out the connectors between the Nikon D3 body and the 24-105mm f2.8 were not talking properly and thus the aperture in the Nikon lens was stuck in its fully stopped down position at f22 ahhhggg! Luckily I quickly noticed in time and gave the lens a quick wiggle to try and get it to connect properly again with the camera just in time to make the shots I needed from that scene.

There are many other instances also when the rear LCD screen can be a lifesaver. The main thing to remember is use it in moderation and most importantly if your shooting a wedding, couples, models etc.. is never let on that you were not as impressed with your results as perhaps you should have been. I've seen photographers "chimp" their shots in front of customers with an unsatisfied expression and say "oh that looks horrible" or "hmm why isn't it coming out right" etc.. No matter what the image looks like, ALWAYS convey confidence in front of your clients! Even if its the worst shot you have ever taken of a bride, just smile and say looks great but lets try something a little different etc.. then move on. If the client sees that your not confident then they will loose confidence also and the photos will look like dog poop!
Happy confident shooting! 8)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Okinawa pre wedding photography

Here's a little sample of my pre wedding photography here on Okinawa with a couple earlier this year

PeteLeongPhotography is taking bookings now for your pre wedding shoot here on beautiful Okinawa and abroad!
Please contact me for pricing and schedules.

See Pete shooting with a fantastic couple from Taiwan

Here's a video of a great couple from Taiwan Kin & Kit who had their overseas wedding here on Okinawa back in March. I had the pleasure to photograph them for their special day as you'll see here in this little clip.

In the video you can see a few highlights from their big day and also myself in a few scenes doing my thing at Watabe Wedding's Aquagrace chapel here in Yomitan.

It was great to meet you both and I hope you had a great time here on Okinawa!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stunning free diving footage with GoPro

I came across this beautifully shot short video made with GoPro cameras. These free divers can seemingly hold their breath forever!
It's amazing what the GoPro has allowed people to capture that was not possible before. Just stunning!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Typhoon Bolaven hits Okinawa

The tail end of Typhoon Bolaven is still blowing pretty hard outside now. The typhoon didn't turn out to be as hard core as first expected. Rumors were going around that it was supposed to be the biggest typhoon to hit Okinawa in 13 years. Although it did kick up some serious winds I think last years biggest one still takes the cake as the most wild weather since I moved to Okinawa almost 3 years ago now.

Never the one to pass up seeing and experiencing some of mother natures angry side, I packed up a light camera kit consisting of a Canon 5D mkII, Canon S95 and good ol trusty iPhone 4s and head out to try and capture some of the typhoons effects on the island.

To kick off with here is a little iPhone video clip I filmed while I was at Zanpa Misaki the first time as the typhoon was still building up strength.

It was almost impossible to see what I was filming or shooting most of the time thanks to the salt water stinging and battering my eyes. Just before I filmed this clip the force of the wind blew me back a few meters onto some precarious sharp rocks just as I peered around this large rock for a glimpse of the rough seas. Not the smartest place to be during a typhoon but hey, I'm a sucker for extreme weather.

Here are some images I made from the few days during Bolaven as all my wedding's were canceled so I had plenty of free time.

Some monsters crashing high above the 50 foot cliffs!

Chris Wilson experiencing slight difficulties walking in the strong winds. 

David Orr and Chris shooting some of the action above. Mr Wilson looking the part, shooting along the cliffs toward the  Zanpa lighthouse 

Exploring Hamahiga island as the typhoon was building. 

Went to have a break and some American lunch on White Beach navy base and found some beautiful seascapes along the beach. 

Sunset as the typhoon comes over a beach near home.

It looked like scene from another planet at Zanpa

Looking down on the ocean far below at Tengan with David Orr. Almost impossible to get a shot facing into the wind as the sea water and rain slams my face like needles. My Fujifilm X100 put up a great fight and keep working even though it got pretty drenched. 
Photo by David Orr

The main lesson I took away from this adventure is always always take goggles and extra towels when shooting typhoons! Till next time..

Also drop by and check out the great work of fellow Okinawa photographers 
Chris Wilson at 

Come to Okinawa for your Pre Wedding photography!

I am very happy to announce that I am now able to take bookings for pre wedding photography here on beautiful Okinawa!

From the end of September this year I will be officially leaving my full time wedding photography job with Watabe Wedding to become a freelance photographer once again.

I have enjoyed my time with Watabe immensely but with more and more requests from couples requesting me to photograph them I feel its time to finally get out on my own to push my photography career to the next level.

Having my own time schedule also allows me to be able to shoot pre wedding destination photos in any country of your choice.

If your interested in coming to Okinawa or another location for your wedding and or pre wedding photography, please don't hesitate to contact me for further details here.

Happy Wedding!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Epic sunsets and new car

Lately we have been blessed with epic sunsets like this everyday here on Okinawa. Took the new car 2007 Nissan Serena up to a higher vantage point to catch this one before getting locked in the carpark 8(.. Managed to get the car out by going a little off road.

Its a little tricky getting used to driving such a bigger car but loving all that extra space for carting camera gear and camping stuff around in. The kids really love having the flip down monitor in the back so they don't have to constantly learn to the middle to watch the screen on the dash. One of the other main reasons for the new car purchase is that now we will be able to pick up our couples coming from Taiwan, Hong Kong etc. and drive them around Okinawa while we shoot their pre-wedding location photography. Plenty of space for  the couple, wedding and other dresses and of course myself, camera gear and lighting.

This image was made with the Canon 5DmkII on a tripod for 5 manually bracketed exposures. I tried to keep the tonemapping quite natural looking while still keeping the clouds looking epic as possible like they actually were.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Muscle beach classic Okinawa 2012

300 (Muscle beach classic Okinawa 2012) by Shenanigans in Japan
I was recently contracted by good friend and fellow photographer Jospeh Kumzak to shoot the Muscle beach classic for 2012 on Foster military base.

This was only my 2nd time to see a bodybuilding competition before but the first time to tackle shooting so many competitors. It was required that I shoot each and every athlete plus additional images for those athletes that purchased a cd and images directly from me. In total I had about 25 people that I needed to remember to shoot for the entire time they were on stage plus any chance I got to shoot back stage as the contestants got pumped up, applied final layers of bronzer on their bodies etc..

It was a very long but fun day. The real hard work came back on the computer where I had to edit all the images, make sure I had enough images for each person and then go through the entire series of images 25 times to separate each persons individual photos for burning to cd. Quite a long and involved task.

Here are a small sample of images from the day.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My interview on the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast

I recently had the great pleasure to finally meet up in person with long time photographer friend Martin Bailey. Martin recently visited Okinawa to teach his Pixels to Pigment workshop hosted by another good mate Chris Wilson.

Martin and I met up for a few shoots together and we recorded a 30 minute podcast about my wedding photography work here on Okinawa.

Make sure you drop by Martin's page and see his beautiful wildlife and nature photographs of Japan. You can also sign up for his current world tour Pixels to Pigment workshop!

Come check out my interview on Martin's enhanced podcast by clicking this link.

By the power of Pocket Wizards!

Getting some new gear recently for my move from full time company employed photographer to freelance photographer. I will still be shooting weddings as my main thing but I hope to take on more destination location shoots.

In the past years I had always been using cheap "eBay" radio triggers with my strobes. And although they work pretty well for the most part they do just up and break at the most inconvenient times. So decided it was time to invest in the new Pocket Wizard plus III's. They have some great new features from the Plus II's and somehow they are cheaper also! I'll put out a review of the new Pocket Wizards once I have time to test them out a bit more.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Photo blast from the past

First day back at work today after a nice little week holiday. Right now here in Okinawa is the off season for weddings as we come into the hotter summer months and the airline prices skyrocket. So I was able to catch up on all my wedding editing and just had some time to kill. So I decided to go back and have a look through some of my older shots I posted to Flickr years ago.
Its always fun to go back through old photos from time to time and see improvements and style changes etc.. Anyway I thought it would be a good idea to dust the cobwebs off a few oldies and bring them back in the spotlight for bit. So without any further ado here are a few of my old shots that don't get any love anymore.

Light Speed
My old Subaru WRX STI ver5 gc8 cruising through some tunnels in Fukushima with my Canon 40D and Sigma EX 15-30mm. I had the camera mounted on my old trusty Manfrotto tripod and strapped to the seat with the seat belt and remote cable in my left hand. Shutter speed was 4 seconds. 

Big Air
Serious Air! Shooting Big X at Ebisu circuit with the Sigma EX 15mm fisheye mounted on Canon 40D

Surfers Sunrise
Ok getting really old now. This is one of my first attempts at seascape photography. Back on my Canon EOS Kiss III film camera. This was shot back on the Gold Coast, Australia. This is when my love of seascapes started. 

lightning over Fukushima city
Lightning is one of my favorite subjects to shoot. Unfortunately we don't get that much of it down here in Okinawa. This was shot in Fukushima over looking the city on a Canon EOS 1 film camera.

basking in the moonlight
This was a shoot for Japanese wedding magazine Zexy. This was a very expensive kimono this girl was wearing. And they were not too impressed that I had her sitting down on the dirty temple steps. 

Looking down on Fukushima city
My old home town Fukushima city. Looking down from Shinobu mountain during twilight.

Fukushima city miniture
While still on the Fukushima city theme here is one of my early Photoshop attempts. Here I wanted to make a tilt/shift effect to make it seem as though the city was miniature.

Lost in Tokyo
Lost in Translation. 
During my first visit to Yokohama city I decided to try and set up my tripod and camera in the train station and try to capture the hustle and bustle of rush hour in these big Japanese cities. I tried to stand as still as possible during the long exposure as people passed by me with confused expressions on their faces. 

Cute monkey in Thailand
Thai monkey and the Magic Drainpipe. 
Before leaving for a trip to Thailand I was lucky enough to chance apon the old and rare Canon 80-200 f2.8L AKA The Magic Drainpipe. I picked up this lens in mint condition for only 25000yen which is around $300US. That's a bargain! I've since been hunting for these on Japanese auctions, buying them and reselling on Ebay. But they are getting harder and harder to find in good condition.

Azuma kofuji and Japanese garden
Ah the early days of HDR imaging. Here is one of my first attempts back in 2007 at some park in Fukushima. The famous Azuma ko fuji can be seen in the background. 

Clone Class
My clones. While working for a wedding company in Fukushima I thought I would try something a little crazy in our traditional Japanese wedding chapel called a "Shinden". It took about 15minutes to shoot the 30 images of myself. Obviously a lot longer in Photoshop to put it together. 

Big fish in a small pond
An old shot I particularly like, shot through some thick acrylic glass at the Aquamarine in Iwaki.
The reflection from the top of the water frame the fish nicely I think and give it a more abstract feel. 

Sundown on my car in HDR
And last but not least another shot of my old daily ride from back up when I lived in Fukushima. The WRX STi GC8 at sunset. Again another HDR with 5 handheld images from the Canon 1DmkIII.

Monday, August 06, 2012

New Ikelite underwater housing for Canon 5DmkII

Since moving down here to beautiful Okinawa and having so many beautiful beaches and clear blue waters to explore I have been wanting to try my hand at shooting underwater photography. In the past I have used a few of my Canon point and shoot cameras with various underwater housings like the Dicapac and Canon's housing for the S95. Although these were fun and I even had one image published as a double page spred in Outdoor Japan magazine, but they are quit limited in terms of overall speed, focusing and image quality. So decided to take the plunge and invest in an Ikelite housing for my Canon 5DmkII and Canon 8-15mm f4L fisheye lens. The housing itself was not cheap to begin with at around $2000US then combine that with the 8 inch dome port necessary for shooting with the fisheye lens adds an extra $500~$600 on top of that and it still doesn't stop there. 
There attachments needed then a case to keep it all in. Underwater flashes etc.. it all adds up. 
To start with however I opted to not buy any flashes as I plan to mostly be shooting with the housing at very shallow depths. Im mostly interested in shooting Sea turtles, "split shots" i.e half underwater and half above and underwater portraits/couples. 

When the housing arrived it was seperated into a few parts that needed to be put together. Having absolutly no idea what I was doing I got help from good friend and great underwater photographer Shawn Miller. Shawn went through the set up procedure and things to be carefull of before putting my expensive camera equipment in places it wasn't designed to go. 

Here is the rig all assembled with the end of the Canon 8-15mm f4L visible 
in the massive 8 inch port dome. HEAVY!

So we took the housing out for a test run in the shallow reef at Maeda for a test run. 
Heres one of my first attempts at making a "split" with this big brain coral.

Although the housing is crazy heavy when its loaded up with the camera, its actually almost perfectly neutrally buoyant. So its very easy to hold once your in the water. 
For this shot I wanted to try and catch the sun shining down through the water. These little black & white fish were not scared and happy to keep swimming around in front of the camera for me. 

There are still lots of things to get used to with the housing, like becoming more familier with all the buttons and dials etc.. Also being a fisheye I found that I really needed to get really close to the fish otherwise they would appear too small in the image. But at the same time being very careful not to smash that huge front element into some sharp rock or coral. 

One small annoying problem I found was when I try the split shots or shooting above the water line there are lots of droplets of water still on the front element leaving blurry patches in the image. There must be something I can apply to the front of the port dome to prevent this I would imagine. Perhaps something similar to whats used on car windshields so any water runs straight off for sharper images. 

Overall I am loving it so far and think it was a good investment. Looking forward to trying it out with some models and couples soon. But first I need to get some flood insurance!