Saturday, 29 January 2011

Cosplay Day

DSC00835L (Camera: Sony A55)

The Cosplay Club of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University held its annual Cosplay Day today. This colourful Asia breed of masquerade had a great atmosphere. The participants role-played Japanese anime characters by wearing special dresses, makeup and imitating the gestures.

DSC00773LThe dressed-up young people would ask any photographers coming along if they wished to take pictures, and willingly post for them for as long as can be.

DSC00783L Among the troop of photographers, some enthusiastic expats were spotted while some young Americas – you just knew from the way they spoke – found the sight amusing and probably kind of strange.

DSC00838L In the canteen for a respite, the author asked some participants how they managed to mimic in such fantastic ways. Two of them revealed that they either bought the costumes and special makeup on the Internet, and paid factories to manufacture the clothes based on their designs or made from scratch by themselves. One said that she was from the department of fashion design which the university is well known for.

DSC00762L This is a great opportunity for photographers; and no entrance fee or registration is required for this in-campus event. Just walk in and bring your camera next year around the same date for it.

DSC00793L DSC00747L Some more photos coming when ready.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Hidden Colour Filters in Cameras

R1231038L (Camera: GX200 with WB biased towards greenish blue)

That a good shot doesn't necessarily require a great camera should sound to you as much a common sense as every point-and-shoot camera has some hidden functions in addition to those meet the eye, with or without taking into account the user's photographic skill. The functions are already built-in. The only problem is whether the user knows how to use them. We have discussed one of them in an earlier post this week.

Now if you are using an enthusiast compact, it surely allows you to manually bias the white balance towards a certain colour to shoot images with a colour filter effect. Fact is, you can work around the WB of an entry-level point-and-shoot camera to achieve comparable results. 

R1231040L (Camera: GX200 with WB biased slightly towards green and red)

This is how:
- Go to the menu and look for White Balance (WB)
- In the WB page, activate WB Set or Setting WB where you can fine-tune or define "whiteness"
- Usually, once the WB Set is enabled, the LCD screen will show a rectangular box in the middle
- Point the rectangular box to the "whiteness" of your choice and press the required button to select

About the choice of "whiteness":
- The camera sees a scene in the colour contrasting your chosen colour
- Contrasting colours are colours opposite one another on a colour scheme dial
- Google "Colour Scheme" to see what it is if you are not sure
- For example, choose green if a red filter effect is desirable
- Or choose orange if a blue filter effect is desirable, and so on

The colour filter can result in some dramatic images, especially for landscape shots. Have fun!

Poll Results: Favourite Next Camera


As the chart above reveals, the top three cameras the readers crave for are GRD3, GXR and GH2.

Owing to the bug in the polling gadget, the number of votes always start to decline a few days before the deadline. This has happened for all of the polls using the same gadget.

The highest count of votes of the recently completed poll was 47, to which the number in the chart above doesn't add up. Blame the bug.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Question of What and How

R0010039L (Camera: Ricoh GX200 with DW-6)

Last week the author spoke with a local graphic designer who is famous in Hong Kong and China.  Actually, he is a recognised master and sought-after speaker in the industry. Another lesser known talent he has is drawing cartoon characters.

So the brief conversation also touched on creativity. Some parents, admirably in his eye, gave the freedom for their children to draw on one theme for years. We agreed that such a single-focus approach is a fruitful way to train up one's ability to see things in multiple perspectives. The gist of creativity lies exactly in that ability, said he.

The same can be said of photography. To excel in photography, the aspirant photographers may try to work on various subject matters. Fact is, it pays to nail down to just one or two themes. Instead of devoting a good deal of time to setting different themes now and again, the photographer should focus on what to express on a particular theme and how. Then keep working on it. Over time the person will be adept at and bolder in trying novel attempts in the forms and styles of expressions.

If you come across a scene fit for a photographic theme on a daily basis, why not start with it to sharpen your creativity? As for the author, the working persons in the street make a handy constant theme to work on.

Human Eye ISO


An interesting read. Click the screenshot to read.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Manipulating Temperature

SAM_2580L(Camera: Samsung WB600 with Incandescent Lamp WB)

If you always believe that the white balance settings are primarily for enabling a digital camera to render a scene correctly, you are downright mistaken. And you have missed lots of otherwise keepers too.

Digital cameras these days can perfectly gauge the lighting for the "desirable" white balance setting. While this spares photographers the trouble to manually tweak the white balance, the downside is that the final image may simply fall flat when the environmental lights and therefore colours in the actual scene are but boring.

So, here are the author's usual ways to make better use of the white balance settings

- Use the Incandescent Lamp (usually indicated by a light-bulb icon) setting to add a bluish cast to the image for a sense of calmness or coolness which, if expressed in Kelvin Scale, is in the range of 7,000 to 11,000k.

- This works best for night scenes. 

SAM_2576L(WB600 with Cloudy WB at midday)

- Use the Cloudy WB to give the image an overall warmer feel. The colours will even look richer. This trick works best if you are shooting outdoors around midday when everything on earth looks pale. Left on AWB, your camera will reproduce images in exactly the same paleness.

- People not knowing the trick will think that the images taken on Cloudy WB were done in the early morning or early evening. Try it at a swimming pool and the colour of the final images may surprise you.

- Actually, some photographers leave the WB setting on Cloudy all the time. This is comparable to using a 81A or 81B colour corrective filter to warm the bluish tone.

- If you are not sure about whether this will work the way you want, shoot in RAW so that you can have the leeway to do the post-processing as the WB is not "locked-in" in RAW images.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Off-topic: Troopers Day out In Tokyo

What fun to brighten up the day with this video! Enjoy!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Golden Lens Award


The Golden Lens Award is said to be the most prestigious in China's photography community. The 2010 grand prize went to a YANG Shu-huai who took the photo featured above. Below is some background information of the winning image, titled The Zhong Sisters from Yi Huang and a translation of an interview with YANG.

Background Information 

On 10 September 2010, three persons set fire to themselves in protest of the land resumption which led to compulsory demolition of their houses in Feng Kong Yuan of Yi Huang County in Guangxi. The three seriously burnt victims were immediately sent to the hospital for rescue. But one of them died from seriously burnt injuries. After a series of investigations, several high-ranking officials were sacked, including the Party Secretary of Yi Huang County Party Committee who was the de facto head of the county.

Interview with YANG

Reporter: Under what circumstance was this shot taken? 

Yang: It was taken for the yearly special edition of a publication.  The session was done twice because the initial shots left much to be desired. 

R: The incident happened in Guangxi.  But the shot was taken in Beijing.

Y: The victims were undergoing medical treatment in Beijing.

R: You just mentioned that the session had been done twice.  What was wrong with the initial shots?

Y: After finishing the initial shots, I communicated with the editor and we had the same opinion that the shots were not satisfactory. So I decided to go on a second session. I got in touch with the journalist who reported the incident and invited him to join me. For he knew the lowdown of the matter better and was more familiar with the sisters (,maybe he could help somehow). At first, he turned me down. The weather was cold that day anyway. But finally he agreed to my repeated request. It was two in the morning. We kept waiting for the right timing and expected to do some shots in the early morning to catch the glimmering light at five or six o'clock. However, we both were too tired and finally got some nap around five.

I arranged meeting up with him at 8 o'clock for the second session. But after the nap, I was stirred by sort of an uneasy feeling in the stomach and I went to the hospital alone to do the shots. The final (winning) image does not really strike the eye to me. I think it is at a standard between the shots I do for casual use and those for publishing. If the shot was about just another person, I would have been more meticulous in the process.

R: The injuried lady should understandably be bed-ridden. Why did you choose to arrange her on the wheelchair for the portrait?

Y: Fact is, she normally moves around in that wheelchair. I just tried to make her as possibly comfortable as can be. Her bodily condition really hurt her. When I did the shooting, my concern first and foremost was whether she was properly treated. So sitting on the wheelchair was the usual way she went on the recovery process and moved around.

The pores on her body were damaged which made her feel unbearably itchy all over her. I took a very brief time to finish the shooting.  Like 10 minutes. I just wish to finish it as soon as I could.

R: Was it your idea to arrange the embrace?

Y: The two sisters were together when I arrived. R.G. (the bespectacled one) said, that was how her sister held her when they were kids and that was also the only way she could hold her sister now. I think the gesture spoke of their kindred affection for one another. Besides, the thing I least wish was to expose the disability of the injured person. What I expected to show in the image was the fixed feelings of warmth and sadness. What I mean is that the final image has to cover the elements of the news per se and, as far as possible, and give out a visually warm scene. After all, that the two sisters being together was a warm setting.

R: What do you think the winning elements in the image are? 

Y:  First, there is the advantage of a true story behind the image. Second, the photographic elements are rather adequately reproduced. Visually, the integrity of the image is good. It is also a intensely emotionally charged imaged through (the expressions and gestures of) the two sisters. There isn't much trace of the photographer's manipulation in the image.

R: Has the incident been brought to a conclusion?

Y: It's not yet resolved.