Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The World of Medium Format

We all know what medium format (MF) can do but for those who don't, let's just say the details and depth of field alone will blow any 35mm full frame pro range DSLR to Pluto and back (and maybe to Pluto again just for the fun of it). One thing for sure though, MF digital backs (layman's term - digital sensors that you slap to the back of a MF camera to turn it into a MF digital camera) are way out of reach of most photographers (due to their crazy prices).

So then how do we venture into this seemingly Holy Grail of a camera range without having to sell everything right down to your slippers? Well luckily (or unluckily, depends on how you look at it), the 2nd hand MF film cameras themselves are priced so crazily affordable (cheaper than some point and shoot) that you might and I say here MIGHT, take the plunge into this unknown realm. You will of course need to consider film cost, developing, scanning etc but all in all it should be around $2 per photo.

Ok let me stop here for awhile, what crap am I babbling about when I haven't even shot a single frame let alone develop to see its result. Well normally I do a lot of research before jumping into anything and MF is one of them. Initially the idea was to go with a Hasselblad H1 with a digital back but a quick check in ebay sent me immediately back to the drawing board. 

Next came the Mamiya 645 AFD with a Leaf/Phase One digital back. Now this was looking more promising but again, 2nd hand 645 AFD are still on the high side, to start trying out MF on film. At the same time, I needed to have a MF body that is capable of attaching a digital back since not all are compatible with the new technology. 

That pretty much left me with the Hasselblad 500 series or the Mamiya RB/RZ 67 series which are boxy in design as compared to the H1 or 645 series which are designed more similar to the DSLR range. Quick check on ebay and Hasselblad 500 series is once again off the list even though there were tons of them available. Now we're down to RB/RZ 67 and as luck would have it, the local camera shop that has everything - Foto Easycam has on its hand, a mint condition RB 67 Professional SD + 90mm lens + 180mm + prism finder + 3 film backs all going for a really attractive price. The previous owner had apparently only shot 5 rolls on it and then put it up on sale. A quick check on the equipment confirms this as some of the items still had the Mamiya tags on them - that is practically unused. Anyway, I've got 5 rolls of Kodak Ektacolor Pro 160 to start off with and hopefully I can rake some shots off after reading the manual on how to operate this monster (it makes my EOS 7D with 24-70 f2.8L look like a point and shoot).

Until then, let the fun begin and photos flow...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Strobist workshop - Part 2 & 3



Today was the continuation of my strobist workshop and we were very fortunate to have 9 models to work with us. Really appreciate the effort guys and gals. The event started at 8am and I spent about 40 mins giving the 70 photographers a quick run down on some basic strobist setup before breaking them up into groups and pairing them off with the models.

The car park location was really hot even though it was indoors, probably due to the low ceiling height. The teams quickly went about setting up their lights and some had difficulties synchronizing their speedlites to trigger. 

I wanted to stay longer to help out further but as usual on Sunday, I had to be a taxi driver to my little big boss to ferry him to his tuition classes..hehehe. Overall I hope everybody had a great time and thanks again to all the 9 models for a great job. My hats off to you guys!

Thanks John Liew for the group photo.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Follow Focus DIY!

Ever since I started focusing on video (pardon the pun), I've always needed a good follow focus system. A quick search in ebay got me running away from all the ads at top speed. The prices were just outright plain ridiculous for such a simple mechanism. I mean, paying $600 or more for what was practically some gears and a couple of rods were just plain crazy. 

Luckily we have the internet with its vast resource and a quick search gave me a blueprint to make my own follow focus system and a not too shabby one at that. As usual ACE hardware and Thye Huat were the typical hardware shops available locally (how I wish we had Home Depo) and a couple of minutes later, I had most of the materials I needed.

Assembly of the rail system and the focusing mechanism were very straight forward but a little bit of work was needed on the L-bracket. I sent it to the local metal work shops to get mine modified and should be ready for pickup tomorrow. Anyway the photo shown is the completed rail system mounted on a Manfrotto 701 video head and the focusing mechanism. All that's left now is to fix the L-bracket and I'll have a fully functional follow focus system. 

Total cost? $80 which is a fraction of what you'll be paying for, if you buy it off the shelf.

Sample video footage showing the use of this follow focus.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Strobist workshop - Part 1

Some came as early as 7.30am to find a good car park just in time as the Subway branch at Beach Street opened its doors. I must really thank my friend Hsung for allowing me to hold my workshop there. By 8.45am, the place was fully packed to the last seat.  

I started the class off with some typical light modifiers commonly used and had them make their own snoots and color gels. This was followed by a quick talk on shoot through umbrellas, octabox, light box and some different types of triggers out there in the market today.

As this was the first part of the strobist class, I left out the technical bit  such as speedlite settings and things like when to use the proper modifier, for part 2 & 3 as they will then have hands on, practical sessions. Overall the class was super quiet without a single question...which I dread, cause it might be 1 of 2 things - either everybody fully understood or everybody was fully confused..hahahaha

Anyway  before we ended the session we had everyone place a gel onto their speedlites and tried to come up with a group photo. Unfortunately my speedlite couldn't trigger some of the others (nearly 50 total speedlites). Till the next workshop then :)


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why teach for free?

I always get this question thrown at me whenever I meet up with fellow trainers or friends and to me the answer is very simple - why charge? If you can get the answers to this question, then you will see that my thoughts are in direct opposite to that line of thinking. It is actually getting quite frustrating to be asked this question over and over again.

Why charge? Well a lot of people will argue why not? You can make money out of it. And that is the million dollar question. Are you out to make money or are you out to share your knowledge out of passion? To me if you're doing it because of money then that will be your main motivator whereas if you're doing it out of passion for the said subject, then its a whole new level altogether. Passion drives you further in terms of seeking for more knowledge and in return, you gain more insight into skills and techniques that would not have been possible through force learning. There will also be a huge difference in terms of how the content is delivered in comparison with a paid class and one that is delivered out of sincerity to spread knowledge. This is undeniable.


Another common misconception is the idea that the participants or the audience will learn to appreciate paid training as compared to free ones. Again not true. When I teach, everyone is equal in the class be it if you've just bought your camera yesterday or you've had yours for 50 years. Everyone is equal and I hold nothing back in my lectures. Some older generations have a tendency to teach 80% of what they know and keeping 20% in fear that the student will surpass the teacher. What a bunch of dimwits! If you do not have someone to challenge you, how can you strive to learn more and improve yourself? Always be open and you'll be surprise at how much you can learn from your students. Bottom line, everyone is equal...we're all humans and everybody dies one day so please wake up from that 50,000 feet high chair that most of these 80/20 people sit on.

At the end of the day, I love photography and my main aim is to help beginners to overcome the mistakes that I've made previously. My dream is to have more and more capable photographers coming out from Penang and who will do the same in teaching and spreading their knowledge to the wider audience. If there is one common direction, the foreseeable future looks bright indeed or in photography terms, flash power ratio 1:1.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Contest entry to the Actual Day Workshop

Here are the contest 3 entries to the Actual Day Workshop that I conducted a few weeks back. Please click on image to see larger view.




AND THE WINNER IS DARREN TAN~! Congrats!









Saturday, April 9, 2011

Project X - Dateline : 11.11.11.


Had a sudden burst of inspiration to do something huge, that is to cover the whole of Penang in video/photo and that was how Project X - Dateline : 11.11.11. was born.Gathering the talents from the Dream Wanderers group in Facebook, we had our first official opening shoot today. As time progresses, there will be more to see but for now, its all about planning, scripting...etc :)

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