Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Exploring Sunny Okinawa

Making the most of my free time at the moment before the wedding season here in Okinawa kicks into gear again. Yesterday I grabbed my gear and headed up the coast line to just look around and shoot random things for the afternoon. Here's a little of what I found.

Fone Farm
Wandering along the vast farms and fields nearby my place here in Yomitan I came across this old mobile phone sticking out of the mud. Weird!

I pulled up the car further north along the coast to catch this rather minimalistic scene. 

This part of Route 58 always provides a stunning view of the beautiful Okinawan waters. This was a quick handheld pano made up of about 8 photos. I really should have used a tripod as my horizon ended up a bit wonky. 

Insane Terrain 
Theres lots of this kind of crazy sharp rock in Okinawa and its very unforgiving to walk across, especially when your carrying a few thousand dollars worth of camera gear as well. Where I am standing for this shot was right next to the cliffs and about 100m of this rock back to the main path. 

Some nice golden afternoon light striking on the rocks. 

Giving it the long exposure treatment. About 2 minutes with the 9 stop ND filter + PL filter

From the same place but looking to the west. Black and White conversion made with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. 

Lazy afternoon soft light

Speeding up the shutter just slightly to show a little more detail. 

So many beautiful rocky shores to photograph around here!

One last long exposure to finish the day off with as twilight.

All images were shot with the Canon 1DmkIV and 17-40mm f4L. 
Filters used were the LCW 9 stop ND filter and Kenko Pro PL filter. 

Thanks for dropping by!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tests with new Canon 300mm f2.8L & 1DmkIV

As most of you probably already know that follow me on Facebook I recently bought the Canon 1DmkIV while on holidays up in Fukushima & Sendai. I also finally bought one of my long awaited dream lenses, the Canon 300mm f2.8L lens. I asked my local camera store Kitamura Camera if they would send down a couple of their best used Canon 300mm f2.8's for me to have a look at to possibly buy. Just after I finished shooting the Okinawa marathon the other day Kitamura called me to let me know both supertele's had arrived at the store.

After a good 30 minutes or so going over every millimetre of the lenses I finally decided on the slightly more expensive one as it had flawless glass. Looking through the barral of the lens I didn't see any fogging, dust specks, scratches or mould. Where as the other lens although still pretty great did have some small amounts of dust on the inner elements. This wouldn't show up in the images of course but it wouldn't be a good thing to have if I ever wanted to resell the lens in the future.

I took the new lens out today for a little bit of a play and test run. It performed beautifully as it should. And I was surprised to see the quality was still very impressive when combined with the Canon 2x mkII teleconverter. I was not overly impressed with the image quality of the 2x extender when combined with my Canon 70-200mm f2.8L but with the 300mm it was just superb! Autofocus of course does slow quite a bit when using the 2x but its still quite useful.

Here are some sample shots I took with and without the 2x tc on the 300mm. Please click the thumbnail to view the full size image.

First is a shot of my beer sitting on the balcony hand held at 2000th/sec f2.8 iso 100
roughly a 100% crop

 Here it is again shot from a little further back with the Canon 2x teleconverter attached 
to the 300mm 1000th/sec at f8 iso 800
And again roughly a 100% crop. As you can see the image quality is still pretty damn good considering this was handheld with a 780mm focal equivalent with the 2X teleconverter attached. 

Another handheld shot at 780mm of some messy power lines. Click to view at full size to check the IQ with the 2x on the 300mm

Here's a shot today from Kadena air force base with just the 300 on my 1DmkIV at 
60th/sec on a monopod. 

The Moon and Jupiter tonight. This time on the Canon 7D to take advantage of the 1.6 crop factor sensor of that camera. This was a 960mm focal length equivalent. Shot on tripod with a cable release and mirror lock up used. At 100% you can see some detail on Jupiter. 

Looking forward in the next few days to take this lens out to try shooting some surfing!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Time for a new dehumidifying camera cabinet

This is my old dry cabinet with my ever growing 
camera equipment getting a little crammed. 
In a tropical climate like here in on our little island of Okinawa its very important to keep your camera bodies and lenses stored in a dehumidified environment when not being used as the humidity can quickly do some nasty stuff to your expensive investments. 

Just ordered in a new much bigger one here at the fotoShisa head quarters to make room for some new gear. This is the Toyo Living Auto Clean Dry ED 165CDB dehumidifying cabinet or in Japanese (whoa what a mouth full) ordered from Amazon Japan. I checked at Kitamura Camera but it was much more expensive there. Even from Amazon you wont see much change back from 50,000yen or $500 but worth every penny I think. 

Here's the beast as it arrived from mainland Japan and with 
free shipping from Amazon!

The new lens cabinet next to my old smaller one. Plenty more gear real estate now. 

And finally in the office with gear loaded up being dehumidified. 

If all goes well I will shortly have the Canon 300 f2.8L. Once that arrives its going to be taking up a fair chunk of the dry cabinet. Even if your not living in a high humidity area I would still highly recommend getting one of these to keep your precious gear stored safe and clean. They also can be locked for security which is a nice bonus especially when you have little kids around the house always trying to get into things. 

If you would like to search for this cabinet in Japan copy and paste the Japanese name below. 

東洋リビング オートクリーンドライ 防湿庫 164L ED-165CDB

Dusting off the blades for a skate at Zanpa

Beautiful warm weather here in Okinawa yesterday so decided to dust of my old Rollerblades and go for a skate at Zanpa with good friend Adam Lewis and his skateboard.

I also wanted to practice and become more familiar with my new Canon 1DmkIV. With the Canon 8-15mm fisheye attached I was able to skate along side Adam and get some pretty cool shots as low as 10th of a second with the flash. The end of the day bought an amazingly beautiful sunset which made for a perfect backdrop.

It was great to get the skates on again and go for a cruise along the beautiful cliffs of Cape Zanpa. For those who don't know In-line skating was my life up until I was about 20.

Here's a few shots from the afternoon.

Adam carving around the corner as I get warmed up for panning. 
Yes it always takes a few shots to get warmed up and find a sweet spot for the shutter. 

Havent skated in ages but I can do a mean 180 mute grab. 
Photo by Adam. 

Getting some backwards speed on as Adam tries to workout my new 1DmkIV. 
He's a Nikon man hehe

Wicked sunset brewing

Skating along side Adam getting the shutter down to 10th/sec with some 
fill flash with 8-15mm fisheye. 

Getting some awesome colour in the sky above the Zanpa lighthouse. 
Here I tested out the speed of the mkIV with 5 bracketed shots handheld then combined later in Photoshop to give me a bigger dynamic range. 
Shooting with the 1DmkIV held down low by the ground as I skated backwards for a different angle. What a sky!!

On the way home the beautiful afterglow could not go wasted so I stopped as I was passing one of the chapels I shoot at. The Lazor wedding chapel. Shot with the 1DmkIV and 70-200mm f2.8 IS. 

Here is an iPhone pic of the newly acquired Canon 1DmkIV with his family the 5DmkIII, 5DmkII, 7D, a little Rebel and my mini model 1DmkII with 600mm f4L lens. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Back in Okinawa!

One of my photos I made back up in Fukushima on a cold winter night. 

Just returned to sunny and warm Okinawa after a couple of trips off the island. Last month I did my first overseas wedding of the year in Taipei, Taiwan which was a fantastic experience.  It was a traditional Taiwanese wedding which means no chapel or paster or anything like that but lots of strange and interesting rituals which was a lot of fun to capture.
Big thanks to Freya Liao of Butterfly Story for assisting and translating for me while I was there!

I will be posting some photos from this wedding hopefully in an upcoming blog post.

Also just spent 10 days back up in my other home town of Fukushima, Japan where I lived for about 10 years. Its been about 3 years since I had been back up to Fukushima and of course a lot has gone on up there in that time.

One of my oldest friends journalist David Stuart ran a Q & A about my return to Fukushima and the devastation I saw that is still there long after the earth quakes and tsunami. Please follow the link to check out the story and some sample photos I did there. I'll be posting more photos in a following blog post.