In Focus, Bangkok Photography Blog May 5th, 2012

Welcome To The World Landon/Thailand Trip Report – Rickster/Anatomy Of A Photography Workshop


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Welcome To The World Landon *menu

Canon EOS 5d Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM @F1.4 1/125th ISO 400

I’d like to welcome my newest grandson Landon not only into this world, but to his first exposure with Bangkok Images. 10-15 years from now he can look through our archives and find this welcome and his announcement. Born on the afternoon of March 27th, 2012. Welcome to the world Landon!

What makes a good baby picture? I’ve done many for clients, but these are the first for my own family. Lining the walls of the hospital were large 24×30 inch framed prints of newborns and their families and they were quite good. My son looked at a series done in modern antique toning and said he really liked them. Not being one to argue at such moments I studied the images he admired, noted ways to improve on them, and returned the day after the birth when it was less busy to make the photographs. This is how I did it.

I didn’t force the shots. Children can’t be forced much less newborns. When I entered the room he was sleeping, but just stirring. I knew he would be awake soon. By the time he was changed he was just starting to rouse himself. With a newborn you must be ready for the few times (very) their eyes will fully open and because their eyes are still cloudy and unfocused there will be little contrast for your AF to work, which means you’ll have more success with critical focus if you use manual focusing techniques. Try to suggest the baby and the blanket you’ll put him on are more pastels than bright colors, and not so soft they sink deep in the folds. The blanket should go by, but not directly next to a window. You want just enough natural light filtering in to achieve a 1/100th shutter speed at ISO 400, easily done even on a cloudy day if using a fast lens.

Canon EOS 5d Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM @F2.2 1/40th ISO 400

I didn’t force the shots. Children can’t be forced much less newborns. When I entered the room he was sleeping, but just stirring. I knew he would be awake soon. By the time he was changed he was just starting to rouse himself. With a newborn you must be ready for the few times (very) their eyes will fully open and because their eyes are still cloudy and unfocused there will be little contrast for your AF to work, which means you’ll have more success with critical focus if you use manual focusing techniques. Try to suggest the baby and the blanket you’ll put him on are more pastels than bright colors, and not so soft they sink deep in the folds. The blanket should go by, but not directly next to a window. You want just enough natural light filtering in to achieve a 1/100th shutter speed at ISO 400, easily done even on a cloudy day if using a fast lens.

Canon’s marvelous 85mm F1.2 is legendary for it’s sharpness from corner to corner even wide open, it’s soft bokeh transitions, and amazing contrast. It was ‘almost’ the perfect lens to use. If there was a more perfect lens I would have used it, but there’s not. What makes it less than perfect is that even on a full frame DSLR, you won’t get as much working distance as you’d prefer when working in a small room and the baby is at hip level. You’ll need to stand on a stool to achieve minimum focusing distance (MFD), or in this case get far enough back so the angle of incidence provides an adequate MFD.

Canon EOS 5d Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM @F1.4 1/100th ISO 400

Canon’s marvelous 85mm F1.2 is legendary for it’s sharpness from corner to corner even wide open, it’s soft bokeh transitions, and amazing contrast. It was ‘almost’ the perfect lens to use. If there was a more perfect lens I would have used it, but there’s not. What makes it less than perfect is that even on a full frame DSLR, you won’t get as much working distance as you’d prefer when working in a small room and the baby is at hip level. You’ll need to stand on a stool to achieve minimum focusing distance (MFD), or in this case get far enough back so the angle of incidence provides an adequate MFD.

Newborns aren’t animated. They didn’t want the more common “baby with mom” “baby with dad” “baby with siblings” “feeding baby” shots. What my son had noticed on the wall outside, was most directly shots showing different facial expressions. Be prepared to exercise some patience to get different expressions from a newborn. Pray for gas.. ;o)

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Canon EOS 5d Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM @F1.4 1/100th ISO 400

And any expressions you do get will be fleeting, so you must be ready to go. Measure your light ahead of time and make your exposure settings, decide on your aperture so the face is well focused and everything else gently fades to full bokeh, and notice the direction of light. You might not easily see the light direction, especially if it’s cloudy and dark outside, but it WILL be coming in through the window so you only need to draw a mental straight line and then expose to show direction.

Scale can be important. A classic shot of the babies small hand wrapped around the fathers adult hand is desirable and even newborns will grab on for dear life if you tell the father to put his finger down near and nudging his hand. Using the hand with the wedding ring is a bonus. Newborns range in size, but the smaller the newborn the more huge the hand will look and the more profound the contrast. Then you have baby with both eyes open, baby with one eye open, baby yawning, and baby crying. Classic expressions and all a newborn makes with the exception of one. And do you really want ‘that’ expression?

With such shoots it’s imperative you please the parents . No one else matters. This is their special moment so leave your biases behind, pay attention to what they like, and give it to them. It’s that simple. This is not the time to exercise your artistic license. Instead, exercise it with attractive lighting, DOF choices, and proper processing. I was happy to give my son and his wife what they wanted, and pleased his friends and workmates raved over the images on the web gallery I set up for them. A baby might be small, but the images are very important to the parents. And a certain grandfather. Ouch, “grandfather” sounds sooo old. I’m glad it’s a misnomer.. ;o)

Canon EOS 5d Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM @F1.4 1/100th ISO 400

With such shoots it’s imperative you please the parents . No one else matters. This is their special moment so leave your biases behind, pay attention to what they like, and give it to them. It’s that simple. This is not the time to exercise your artistic license. Instead, exercise it with attractive lighting, DOF choices, and proper processing. I was happy to give my son and his wife what they wanted, and pleased his friends and workmates raved over the images on the web gallery I set up for them. A baby might be small, but the images are very important to the parents. And a certain grandfather. Ouch, “grandfather” sounds sooo old. I’m glad it’s a misnomer.. ;o)

Thailand Trip Report – Rickster *menu

Anyone who reads this column is familiar with the Rickster. Over the course of the last few years he’s been a frequent contributor in the Readers Submissions and especially the Readers Questions areas. I love his questions as they follow the typical progression of the people I’m writing this column for: People who aren’t professionals and just want to have fun photographing Thailand and are maybe looking for that ‘cut above’ image quality. Rick started with a limited knowledge set and a compact point and shoot, and has progressed over the years to a Sony NEX series mirrorless and a Nikon D5100 DSLR. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t feel a certain level of pride watching his images incrementally improve as he asks questions and follows my advice. And finally he feels ready to submit a feature submission and I’m tickled to run it. A nicer guy you’ve never met. Enjoy!

This is a trip report covering the last 30 days spent in Thailand taking pictures and walking the streets of Bangkok.

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There were two reasons for our 11th trip to the land of smiles. The first was so wife could visit family, university friends, go shopping and eat at MK Suki.

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My plan was to take pictures, enjoy the hot weather and get more familiar with Bangkok. We have done much touring in the past so decided to stay in and around BKK.

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We took with us four cameras, two Sony DSC-HX7V point and shoot cameras, 1 Sony NEX-5 with 3 lenses and a Nikon D5100 with an 70-300 zoom lens.

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Upon arrival, I decided to purchase the Fujifilm X-S1 “bridge” camera. Why? Just because. After a lot of haggling at different shops in Fortune Town I was able to buy it for same price, after the 7% VAT deduction, as in USA. This included the International Warrantee, SD chip, battery, charger, carrying case and LCD cover.

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I am sure you know most cameras, computers and electronic devices are at least 10-20% more in Thailand than here in America and there is no sales tax.

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I systematically covered all the city parks that were near Sky Train and MRT stations, took ferry rides that stopped close to various temples in the search for good subjects to photograph.

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All areas offered good photo opportunities with different subject matter to work with. My favorite was the Butterfly Habitat in the area next to Chatuchak complex named Wachirabenchathat Park. It is a very large park with many different subjects to keep a person busy for many hours. Over the month I returned there at least 10 times trying to improve on pictures taken earlier.

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The cameras, while not high end, worked to my satisfaction and provided many hours of enjoyment and some fine pictures. Lots of time was spent in front of the laptop selecting and deleting many pictures. I estimate that at least 5000 pictures were taken reviewed then narrowed down to about 500 to work with.

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I really missed my 24” Samsung LED monitor that is here at home. It provides a real difference in knowing what you really have versus what is viewed on the laptop.

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For post processing of RAW files I used Adobe CS5 and Lightroom 4, jpegs were run thru Corel PaintShop Pro x4.


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Not much to say about the various cameras, lenses, and setting used in this report. I will leave that type of information to BKKSteve who knows far more about those subjects than I.

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A few travel hints:

The City Line that runs from Playa Thai Rd (by MBK) to Suvarnabhumi Airport is great at costs 45 Baht one-way, about 25 min travel time.

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Two places to visit for animal pictures are Safari World and the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province.

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Not sure, I like the way the animals are handled, but that is another subject for another time.

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Rickster

Anatomy of a Photography Workshop *menu

This article is entirely self-serving and I wanted to say that up front. I’ll be in Thailand from June 22nd through July 20th and am making myself available for workshops. If I book enough workshops I’ll extend my stay. The primary reason for my visit on these dates is to photograph what is looking to be an awesome wedding in Hua-Hin complete with elephants and all the trimmings. The bride used to be one of my models and the groom a client. One of my best workshops ever!

This article is entirely self-serving and I wanted to say that up front. I’ll be in Thailand from June 22nd through July 20th and am making myself available for workshops. If I book enough workshops I’ll extend my stay. The primary reason for my visit on these dates is to photograph what is looking to be an awesome wedding in Hua hin complete with elephants and all the trimmings. The bride used to be one of my models and the groom a client. One of my best workshops ever!

However, this article isn’t about just my photography workshops. It applies to what you should look for and expect from any workshop and the benefits you receive for your time and money. Of course I’m biased and if in the course of the article I’m describing how it should be, then that’s the way I conduct my workshops. I’ve done this for a long time now and I’ve fine-tuned what works and what best serves our time together.

However, this article isn’t just about my photography workshops. It applies to what you should look for and expect from any workshop and the benefits you receive for your time and expense. Of course I’m biased and if in the course of the article I’m describing how it should be, then that’s the way I conduct my workshops. I’ve done this for a long time now and I’ve fine-tuned what works and what best serves our time together.

At the core, the primary purpose of a workshop is to condense lots of information that traditionally takes weeks or months to learn, into a very short time. Accelerated topical learning. Obviously we can’t learn everything there is to know about photography in a day, so I’ve learned to segregate different skill levels and different skill sets into one day workshops.

At the core, the primary purpose of a workshop is to condense lots of information that traditionally takes weeks or months to learn, into a very short time. Accelerated topical learning. Obviously we can’t learn everything there is to know about photography in a day, so I’ve learned to section different skill levels and different skill sets into one day workshops.

One day is often all people have while visiting Thailand so I’ve carefully organized blocks of information into a relaxed one day segment. Topics might be: Use of Flash, Portraits, Landscape photography, Time Lapse, Low Light, Street, Macro, Wildlife, or other areas. There is one exception and it’s turned out to be my most popular workshop.

relaxed one day segment. Topics might be: Use of Flash, Portraits, Landscape photography, Time Lapse, Low Light, Street, Macro, Wildlife, or other areas. There is one exception and it’s turned out to be my most popular workshop.

The beginners workshop is for someone who doesn’t yet fully understand how all the controls on their camera work, what lens to use in specific situations, what makes a good lens, how your settings of ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture, and what exposure and autofocus modes work best and when. At the end of what is usually a very long day you’ll be familiar with all of the above, and be able to choose the best settings and exposure and autofocus modes for your desired subject. You’ll also understand depth of field, the elements of a composition, and finally how to put it all together. Finally we’ll sit down on a computer and learn basic post processing skills, how to resize images, and get you comfortable working with RAW images.

The beginners workshop is for someone who doesn’t yet fully understand how all the controls on their camera work, what lens to use in specific situations, what makes a good lens, how your settings of ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture, and what exposure and autofocus modes work best and when. At the end of what is usually a very long day you’ll be familiar with all of the above, and be able to choose the best settings and exposure and autofocus modes for your desired subject. You’ll also understand depth of field, the elements of a composition, and finally how to put it all together. Finally we’ll sit down on a computer and learn basic post processing skills, how to resize images, and get you comfortable working with RAW images.

It’s a lot. And we work hard in the field for a good 4-5 hours and back on the computer for another 4-5 after a dinner break. Most people are exhausted at the end of the day. We can break these areas up into two days if someone prefers, but since I charge by the day most choose to cover the material in one day and they do fine.

It’s a lot. And we work hard in the field for a good 4-5 hours and back on the computer for another 4-5 after a dinner break. Most people are exhausted at the end of the day. We can break these areas up into two days if someone prefers, but since I charge by the day most choose to cover the material in one day and they do fine.

We usually start with emails. You email me at [email protected] and ask about my fees and availability, and I’ll ask you about your goals, learning objectives, if I can see any of your previous work, and I’ll get a feel for what venue will best serve your personal workshop.

We usually start with emails. You email me at info@bangkokimages.com and ask about my fees and availability, and I’ll ask you what your goals are, learning objectives, if I can see any of your previous work, and I’ll get a feel for what venue will best serve your personal workshop.

This is where I should make clear that I’m not a tour service. There are hundreds if not thousands of better qualified Thai tourist guides who will take you around the town to interesting sites for a lot less money. Our goal is learning photography. I do ask what attractions you’d like to visit and I’ll do my best to get you there if it serves our learning goals. If it doesn’t I’ll tell you and offer alternatives. I’ll do my best to take you to a desirable attraction, but the priority must be a venue which serves our learning objectives.

This is where I should make clear that I’m not a tour service. There are hundreds if not thousands of better qualified Thai tourist guides who will take you around the town to interesting sites for a lot less money. Our goal is learning photography. I do ask what attractions you’d like to visit and I’ll do my best to get you there if it serves our learning goals well. If it doesn’t I’ll tell you and offer alternatives. I’ll do my best to take you to a desirable attraction, but the priority must be a venue which serves our learning objectives.

After we’ve set our learning objectives and settled on a venue, we’ll travel there in a vehicle I’ll arrange for. When I lived full time in Thailand I had my own large SUV or 4 door Pickup and drove myself, but this time I’ll either rent a car or hire a van and driver for the day.

After we’ve set our learning objectives and settled on a venue, we’ll travel there in a vehicle I’ll arrange for. When I lived full time in Thailand I had my own large SUV or 4 door Pickup and drove myself, but this time I’ll either rent a car or hire a van and driver for the day.

Usually the drive to the venue is our getting acquainted period. I’ll ask questions about your life and your likes and dislikes because it helps me learn which analogies you might respond to better than others, and it helps me better fine tune your expectations. We’ll talk about your photography, answer questions about your gear, and maybe talk about new gear you’re interested in.

Usually the drive to the venue is our getting acquainted period. I’ll ask questions about your life and your likes and dislikes because it helps me learn which analogies you might respond to better than others, and it helps me better fine tune your expectations. We’ll talk about your photography, answer questions about your gear, and maybe talk about new gear you’re interested in.

Once there we’ll park outside the venue and then use the cool air conditioning and quietness of the car to go over what we’ll be covering once we’re in the venue, what to expect, and I’ll answer any remaining questions you may have.

Once there we’ll park outside the venue and then use the cool air conditioning and quietness of the car to go over what we’ll be covering once we’re in the venue, what to expect, and I’ll answer any remaining questions you may have.

Because we’re learning and discussing what are often complex concepts, mathematical formulas (disguised as fun ways to learn), and artistic intent, a venue where we can hear each other and not be distracted is mandatory. This is one of the features I look for when we talk about venues. I’ve done workshops at Chatuchak Market, MBK, and other busy areas and it’s doable and even desirable for certain learning objectives, but for this basic first day we want more quiet and less distractions so you can learn the information and apply it in a relaxed way.

Because we’re learning and discussing what are often complex concepts, mathematical formulas (disguised as fun ways to learn), and artistic intent, a venue where we can hear each other and not be too distracted is mandatory. This is one of the features I look for when we talk about venues. I’ve done workshops at Chatuchuk Market, MBK, and other busy areas and it’s doable and even desirable for certain learning objectives, but for this basic first day we want more quiet and less distractions so you can learn the information and apply it in a relaxed way.

One of my favorite such venues is Wildlife Safari. It’s not too far of a drive, it keeps us in a cool air conditioned car where we control the noise level and distractions, and we can shoot everything from landscapes to wildlife to portraits. It’s almost a perfect first class venue and I’m sure there are many of you who have taken my workshops before who remember it well.

One of my favorite such venues is Wildlife Safari. It’s not too far of a drive, it keeps us in a cool air conditioned car where we control the noise level and distractions, and we can shoot everything from landscapes to wildlife to portraits. It’s almost a perfect first class venue and I’m sure there are many of you who have taken my workshops before who remember it well.

Face it, Thailand is hot and humid and often uncomfortable, and this impedes learning. The more comfortable I can keep you the better you’ll learn and the more you’ll remember. The more comfortable I keep myself, the more kind and gentle I am.. ;o) We even bring an ice chest and stock it with your favorite drinks, soft hand towels to wipe the sweat from your face and gear, and if we’re shooting the same brand gear I’ll make sure to have extra batteries and the like just in case you forgot.

Face it, Thailand is hot and humid and often uncomfortable, and this impedes learning. The more comfortable I can keep you the better you’ll learn and the more you’ll remember. The more comfortable I keep myself, the more kind and gentle I am.. ;o) We even bring an ice chest and stock it with your favorite drinks, soft hand towels to wipe the sweat from your face and gear, and if we’re shooting the same brand gear I’ll make sure to have extra batteries and the like just in case you forgot.

You won’t be rushed. We go slow, we carefully cover the basics, and past clients can tell you I reinforce them over and over again until they can recite the formula for DOF in their sleep. Years later when you’re coming to after a surgery the first thing you’ll tell the doctor is “focal length, aperture, focal distance, sensor size…”

You won’t be rushed. We go slow, we carefully cover the basics, and past clients can tell you I reinforce them over and over again until they can recite the formula for DOF in their sleep. Years later when you’re coming to after a surgery the first thing you’ll tell the doctor is “focal length, aperture, focal distance, sensor size…”

Above all a workshop must be fun. You’re on vacation to have a good time, not subject yourself to a rigid training environment. I personally believe most amateurs will most enjoy photography if they find it fun and rewarding. So I do my best to use analogies tailored to your own frame of reference, and I’ll share stories, some I’ll bet you remember forever. If any past clients are reading this I’m sure they can recount the story of the killer peacock and Bob Dylan word for word.

Above all a workshop must be fun. You’re on vacation to have a good time, not subject yourself to a rigid training environment. I personally believe most amateurs will most enjoy photography if they find it fun and rewarding. So I do my best to use analogies tailored to your own frame of reference, and I’ll share stories, some I’ll bet you remember forever. If any past clients are reading this I’m sure they can recount the story of the killer peacock and Bob Dylan word for word.

Another benefit of a well ran workshop is if the instructor will make gear available to you. I personally don’t require you to bring your own gear. I encourage it, because if you have your own gear you’ll want to know how to use it. But what if you haven’t yet invested in a camera and you want more experience before doing so, and the benefit of a professionals opinion on which gear will suit your personal needs the best?

Another benefit of a well ran workshop is the instructor will make gear available to you. I personally don’t even require you to bring your own gear. I encourage it, because if you have your own gear you’ll want to know how to use it. But what if you haven’t yet invested in a camera and you want more experience before doing so, and the benefit of a professionals opinion on which gear will suit your personal needs the best?

This is where I’ll bring several levels of cameras from the latest compact point and shoot, a mirror-less large sensor from our newest genre, a beginners DSLR, an enthusiasts DSLR, and if you ask ahead of time I can bring professional level gear. If you’re interested in portraiture and shoot Canon I’ll bring an assortment of lenses best suited to portraiture, or maybe wide angle landscapes are your thing, or telephoto..

This is where I’ll bring several levels of cameras from the latest compact point and shoot, a mirror-less large sensor from our newest genre, a beginners DSLR, an enthusiasts DSLR, and if you ask ahead of time I can bring professional level gear. If you’re interested in portraiture and shoot Canon I’ll bring an assortment of lenses best suited to portraiture, or maybe wide angle landscapes are your thing, or telephoto..

The point is, an instructor should make gear available whenever possible to help you decide what best serves your needs. I can't even tell you how much better this is than just reading a review and mail ordering what you think you need. I’ve had countless clients either decide they want a lens or body after using mine, or tell me they’re glad they tried it, that it didn’t fit their expectations at all. And if I did my job, I introduced them to a lens that did. Gear selection is an important part of photography so it should be well covered. Demand it.

The point is, an instructor should make gear available whenever possible to help you decide what best serves your needs. This is so far better than just reading a review and mail ordering what you think you need, I can’t even tell you. I’ve had countless clients either decide they want a lens or body after using mine, or tell me they’re glad they tried it, that it didn’t fit their expectations at all. And if I did my job, I introduced them to a lens that did. Gear selection is an important part of photography so it should be well covered. Demand it.

Once our field work is done we’ll head back. In the past we headed back to my condo in the sky where I’d make a guest room and bath available, feed you dinner, and once fed and comfortable we’d spend a few hours on the imaging workstation I’d provide until you felt comfortable with post processing. But now it’s different because I no longer own a condo in Bangkok. I’m hoping to rent a place and make it available, or we can return to your hotel and I’ll bring a portable workstation we can use in the lobby or other common areas.

Once our field work is done we’ll head back. In the past we headed back to my condo in the sky where I’d make a guest room and bath available, feed you dinner, and once fed and comfortable we’d spend a few hours on the imaging workstation I’d provide until you felt comfortable with post processing. But now it’s different because I no longer own a condo in Bangkok. I’m hoping to rent a place and make it available, or we can return to your hotel and I’ll bring a portable workstation we can use in the lobby or other common areas.

The goal is to cover monitor profiling, post processing, and any image processing questions you may have. You won’t need your own computer because I’ll provide one, but I do encourage you to bring your own and if the monitor isn’t profiled I’ll bring what we need to show you how to profile your own monitor and you can see the differenc e.

The goal is to cover monitor profiling, post processing, and any image processing questions you may have. You won’t need your own computer because I’ll provide one, but I do encourage you to bring your own and if the monitor isn’t profiled I’ll bring what we need to show you how to profile your own monitor and you can see the difference.

That’s the first day, the hard day if you’re just starting out or renewing your interest in photography. We can do it in two days, but this information works well together so I recommend one.

That’s the first day, the hard day if you’re just starting out or renewing your interest in photography. We can do it in two days, but this information works well together so I recommend one.

Follow on workshops? Sure, I often do 3-4-5 days with one person. However, if time permits I recommend you take a few days after each workshop to go out and practice what we covered on your own. Invariably you’ll have questions, or forget something, and we’ll go over all that as the first part of the next workshop.

Follow on workshops? Sure, I often do 3-4-5 days with one person. However, if time permits I recommend you take a few days after each workshop to go out and practice what we covered on your own. Invariably you’ll have questions, or forgot something, and we’ll go over all that as the first part of the next workshop.

Follow on workshops are more specialized. Learning how to use portable strobe lights to photograph a model is very popular and a much shorter day. I can’t tell you how much fun this is. Cameras, a beautiful woman, the photography chemistry, it’s not unheard of for a client to fall in love with the model and marry her.. ;o) If you’re a man or woman, it will be your choice of model. Photographing a man is different than photographing a woman, we’ll cover both if desired.

Follow on workshops are more specialized. Learning how to use portable strobe lights to photograph a model is very popular and a much shorter day. I can’t tell you how fun this is. Cameras, a beautiful woman, the photographer chemistry, it’s no unheard of for a client to fall in love with the model and marry her.. ;o) If you’re a man or woman, it will be your choice of model. Photographing a man is different than photographing a woman, we’ll cover both if desired.

A landscape workshop is fun as well. Many want to prepare for their trip to Angkor Vat so we’ll head to the closest ruins in Ayutthaya and spend the day going over the various aspects of landscape photography, from wide angle lens basics to using long telephotos for landscapes. Depth of field, anchoring the foreground, rule of thirds, we talk about and practice the various techniques and learn when each will be the most appropriate.

A landscape workshop is fun as well. Many want to prepare for their trip to Angkor Vat so we’ll head to the closest ruins in Ayutthaya and spend the day going over the various aspects of landscape photography, from wide angle lens basics to using long telephotos for landscapes. Depth of field, anchoring the foreground, rule of thirds, we talk about and practice the various techniques and learn when each will be the most appropriate.

Built in flash and factory speed lights have long been confusing if you don’t use them all the time. Once you understand their use they couldn’t be more simple. In a relatively short day of 7-9 hours we’ll show you how to use fill flash in the daylight, full flash when ambient light is dark, and even how to fake a pretty good studio quality portrait using your flash and improvised light diffusers you can find anywhere.

Built in flash and factory speedlights have long been confusing if you don’t use them all the time. Once you understand their use they couldn’t be more simple. In a relatively short day of 7-9 hours we’ll show you how to use fill flash in the daylight, full flash when ambient light is dark, and even how to fake a pretty good studio quality portrait using your flash and improvised light diffusers you can find anywhere.

Do you have a hankering for photographing artistic nudes? I’ll direct you to where you can arrange for a model, and after verifying her age and helping her understand a standard model release (written in both Thai and English), we’ll combine your knowledge of lighting, DOF, and other related skills and make some great images you’ll never forget.

Do you have a hankering for photographing artistic nudes? I’ll direct you to where you can arrange for a model, and after verifying her age and helping her understand a standard model release (written in both Thai and English), we’ll combine your knowledge of lighting, DOF, and other related skills and make some great images you’ll never forget.

Street photography is difficult. You’ve all seen Stick do it for years, but you might not appreciate the level of difficulty it presents. You need to be a good multi-tasker, completely understand how to best use your gear in street conditions, know the local culture well enough to not insult and bring unwanted attention your way, and you should have already completed a workshop in low-light photography. We’ll take all this knowledge and show you how to stay aware, not get your gear ripped from your hands, and how to remain low-key while making great street compositions.

Street photography is difficult. You’ve all seen Stick do it for years, but you might not appreciate the level of difficulty it presents. You need to be a good multi-tasker, completely understand how to best use your gear in street conditions, know the local culture well enough to not insult and bring unwanted attention your way, and you should have already completed a workshop in low-light photography. We’ll take all this knowledge and show you how to stay aware, not get your gear ripped from your hands, and how to remain low-key wile making great street compositions.

I could talk forever about all the different areas we cover in a workshop, but why don’t you email me and let’s talk about the areas of most interest to you. I’ll be in Bangkok from June 22nd through July 20th, and I’ll make another trip over the Christmas holidays. But if you can’t make it to Bangkok for a workshop, then please consider a workshop in your home area.

I could talk forever about all the different areas we could cover in a workshop, but why don’t you email me and let’s talk about the areas of most interest to you. I’ll be in Bangkok from June 22nd through July 20th, and I’ll make another trip over the Christmas holidays. But if you can’t make it to Bangkok for a workshop, then please consider a workshop in your home area.

What about the cost? Workshops in the west start at $400 a day for a group environment and can go up to over $5000 a day for professional level training. My rates are baht 10,000 per day and I haven’t raised this price in over six years. The exchange rate and economy has taken a good beating so I try to keep it as reasonable as possible. When you consider that you’re learning what sometimes amounts to years of knowledge and experience in the space of a single day, or maybe 4-5 days for an extended series of workshops. You learn enough to make the right gear purchases, learn the software, profile your monitor. I try to make it the best value you’ll find.

What about the cost? Workshops in the west start at $400 a day for a group environment and can go up to over $5000 a day for professional level training. My rates are baht 10,000 per day and I haven’t raised this price in over six years. The exchange rate and economy has taken a good beating so I try to keep it as reasonable as possible. When you consider that you’re learning what sometimes amounts to years of knowledge and experience in the space of a single day, or maybe 4-5 days for an extended series of workshops. You learn enough to make the right gear purchases, learn the software, profile your monitor. I try to make it the best value you’ll find.

If you want to know more please email me at [email protected] and I’ll be happy to discuss your personal workshop. See you this summer!

If you want to know more please email me at info@bangkokimages.com and I’ll be happy to discuss your personal workshop. See you this summer!

Photography News of Interest *menu

The Read X-Ray Specs: New ‘terahertz’ scanner lets mobile phones see through walls. And clothes. The technology is here! It’s cheap and we’ll probably see it appearing if not in mobile phones, emergency equipment, tools for home improvement, and other useful applications.

The Read X-Ray Specs: New ‘terahertz’ scanner lets mobile phones see through walls. And clothes. The technology is here! It’s cheap and we’ll probably see it appearing if not in mobile phones, emergency equipment, tools for home improvement, and other useful applications. The Read X-Ray Specs: New ‘terahertz’ scanner lets mobile phones see through walls. And clothes. The technology is here! It’s cheap and we’ll probably see it appearing if not in mobile phones, emergency equipment, tools for home improvement, and other useful applications.

Class Photo Called ‘Offensive’ and ‘Degrading’ What do you think? A photographer was asked to put a smiley face over a student in a group picture who hadn’t given permission, so instead of a yellow smiley face he used a black smiley face figuring it was more appropriate because the kid was black. Now he’s accused of being racist. Did he use poor judgment, or is this something you might have done?

Class Photo Called ‘Offensve’ and ‘Degrading’ What do you think? A photographer was asked to put a smiley face over a student in a group picture who hadn’t given permission, so instead of a yellow smiley face he used a black smiley face figuring it was more appropriate because the kid was black. Now he’s accused of being racist. Did he use poor judgment, or is this something you might have done?

Jennifer Love Hewitt gets a (digital) breast reduction in her new advertisements . I dunno, I like the originals better. I’m not a fan of less than natural ‘parts’ on women. Your opinion?

Jennifer Love Hewitt gets a (digital) breast reduction in her new advertisements. I dunno, I like the originals better. I’m not a fan of less than natural ‘parts’ on women. Your opinion?

Santos Laguna Player poses with a small child And (accidently) the Playboy magazine he just purchased. I don’t care who you are, this one is funny.

Santos Laguna Player poses with a small child And (accidently) the Playboy magazine he just purchased. I don’t care who you are, this one is funny.

Suspected Anonymous Hacker Busted by the FBI – Thanks to another Bust. Lots of breasts in the news this month. This is as natural as the breast are fake, so why is it newsworthy other than for a chuckle? Posted to show how your images can come back and bite you. Careful hackers..

Suspected Anonymous Hacker Busted by the FBI – Thanks to another Bust. Lots of breasts in the news this month. This is as natural as the breast are fake, so why is it newsworthy other than for a chuckle? Posted to show how your images can come back and bite you. Careful hackers..

Terry O’Neil “I only take pictures of people I fancy” I understand 100%. Someone recently asked me why I couldn’t come up with a single picture of a fat woman or a woman with a big butt. My response, unless I had a ‘thing’ for fat butts or fat women, even a secret fancy, why would I take pictures of such things? As hard as it is to believe, there are guys out there snapping pictures of fat women and/or fat big butt women and pretending they don’t like it as they show the world their photos. Really.. Regardless, this article is worth a read because he talks about there not being any ‘real’ movie stars or actresses worth photographing anymore. It gives you pause.

Terry O’Neil “I only take pictures of people I fancy” I understand 100%. Someone recently asked me why I couldn’t come up with a single picture of a fat woman or a woman with a big butt. My response, unless I had a ‘thing’ for fat butts or fat women, even a secret fancy, why would I take pictures of such things? As hard as it is to believe, there are guys out there snapping pictures of fat women and/or fat big butt women and pretending they don’t like it as they show the world their photos. Really.. Regardless, this article is worth a read because he talks about there not being any ‘real’ movie stars or actresses worth photographing anymore. It gives you pause.

Our Big Day Ruined by Awful Wedding Pics. Stick sent me this link just to screw with my head I’m sure knowing I’ll soon bet there to photograph a big wedding. Two of these could be easily fixed with 2 minutes of Photoshop, the others are inexcusable.

Our Big Day Ruined by Awful Wedding Pics. Stick sent me this link just to screw with my head I’m sure knowing I’ll soon bet there to photograph a big wedding. Two of these could be easily fixed with 2 minutes of photoshop, the others are inexcusable.

London Competition Seeking Perfect Natural Beauty draws Thousands. And this is the winner! I can tell you from years of photographing beautiful women that she really is more beautiful even without makeup, than most “stars” are all made up. I’m sure the MUA (make up artists) could stun the world with little effort. Congratulations United Kingdom. Finally a pretty citizen.

London Competition Seeking Perfect Natural Beauty draws Thousands. And this is the winner! I can tell you from years of photographing beautiful women that she really is more beautiful even without makeup, than most “stars” are all made up. I’m sure the MUA (make up artists) could stun the world with little effort. Congratulations United Kingdom. Finally a pretty citizen. London Competition Seeking Perfect Natural Beauty draws Thousands. And this is the winner! I can tell you from years of photographing beautiful women that she really is more beautiful even without makeup, than most “stars” are all made up. I’m sure the MUA (make up artists) could stun the world with little effort. Congratulations United Kingdom. Finally a pretty citizen.

Reading Royals Fan displays just one way to cope with the boredom of baseball as a spectator sport. Can you blame him, it’s baseball..

Reading Royals Fan displays just one way to cope with the boredom of baseball as a spectator sport. Can you blame him, it’s baseball..

Tony Peitrantonio takes a punch he’ll remember for a long time. Really, look at this picture! Wow.. no wonder these guys get brain damage. Why won’t they learn?

Tony Peitrantonio takes a punch he’ll remember for a long time. Really, look at this picture! Wow.. no wonder these guys get brain damage. Why won’t they learn?

Readers Submissions *menu

Steve – Please use these images as readers submissions. BigJoe

Joe –

Thank you. Love the pics and your control of the camera in low light.
Steve

I’d like to mention that everyone, myself included, is really enjoying the current trend of readers submissions. Everyone loves them, but remember we can really use more. I have only another week’s worth in my queue, so please take the time to put together a few images and words if you can and send them in. Thank you. [email protected]

Readers Questions *menu

Steve

Sitting here in BKK enjoying a big thunder storm with lots of wind, some rain and I am very relaxed.

This has given me some time to put together a few questions about the use of LR4 and CS5 that perhaps you can help me with.

Following you tutorial when using CS5 for Selective Saturation on a picture I use the following steps:

1. Load picture

2. Go to IMAGE; adjust to liking using tone, contrast & color.

3. Then to adjustments, black and white, click OK.

4. Open history brush and replace a color or colors as desired.

The problem is that the replaced color does not have the same depth, brightness or brilliance as the original such as shown on your son’s helmet.

Why, what am I missing?

Here is an extreme example of what I am getting.

In reference to the band pictures in your posting of April 1 I have a question. Your use of high ISO settings with no apparent noise is amazing. Is it a factor of lens/camera quality, post processing or just knowing how to do it the right way. The latter I would assume.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Rickster

Following you tutorial when using CS5 for Selective Saturation on a picture I use the following steps:

The problem is that the replaced color does not have the same depth, brightness or brilliance as the original such as shown on your son’s helmet.

Here is an extreme example of what I am getting.

Here is an extreme example of what I am getting.

Rick –

Looking at these images and what you wrote I can’t think of anything you’d be doing wrong except maybe your flow and opacity settings on your history brush are not at 100%?

I processed one of your images using the steps you provided and it turned out well.

Steve

Looking at these images and what you wrote I can’t think of anything you’d be doing wrong except maybe your flow and opacity settings on your history brush are not at 100%?

Steve –

You nailed it as usual. My setting were wrong. How they changed only the picture God knows.

Now set at Mode normal, Opacity 100%, Flow 100%.

If the offer you made is still good I may send you the Fuji X S1 for your evaluation in a few weeks.

Screen shot below.

rq6

Thanks so much

Rick

Steve,

I just got my kindle fire and came ion your sure when searching for away to import phone numbers from my verizon serviced motorola droid into the kindle and also how to text nescafe on the kindle. If this is possible, could you send me step by step instructions? I am not a techy. I appreciate your time.

Sandy

Sandy –

I’d love to help you but I’m not sure I can without your phone right in front of me. There is no “standard” for doing this so it’s a matter of trying different things.

What I can do is lead you in the right direction. This is the big picture of what you want to do.

1. Export your current phone numbers to a file outside your phone.

2. Import that file into your Kindle.

The smaller picture will have some roadblocks such as:

a. The file you export from your current Droid needs to be compatible with what the Kindle can handle. I can tell you the Kindle uses Vcards. Look for an Android application, contact manager, contact assistant, or something that allows you to output your current contact list to the Kindle. There will be at least several such utilities, some free, some shareware, so I’d start with your Verizon tech support and ask this question “how can I export my contacts in Vcard format for another Android device to import.” Verizon makes several such utilities and has several “how to” tutorials on their site. Ask them to point you to the right one.

There are also basic Android aps that do this. You can google “Android contact manager” “Android Contact Assistant” and so forth and you’ll find what you want.

Also, think about a master contact list and where you’d manage it. You can do this using Windows 7 contact manager, Microsoft Outlook, or just your phone if you must. From this master contact list you can export your contact information in a format you’re end device (a new phone, a Kindle, new computer, etc) will recognize. For example, I keep my personal and business contact lists in Microsoft Outlook. I use Systools (http://www.vcardexport.com/) Vcard export to transfer and sync my contacts from Outlook to all my devices.

So.. this is why all these software companies are out there selling these small utilities. They earn a decent living doing this.

I’m not sure what Nescafe is.. so I can’t help you there either.

I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.

Steve

Steve:

Of course, as always, I have a number of questions that perhaps you can help with.

Reds. Both wife and I have noticed that the photos of red are never clear and show a lot of what seems blurred, for the want of a better word. Little detail, just mashed together and not clear. This is also seen in the bright yellow and oranges but not near the same degree as with reds.

I am sending a few pictures that represent the red issue we see.

As ask before the BAND pictures you took a few weeks ago are great. How were you able to control noise when using such high ISO settings?

Use of zoom lenses. Should a photo taken at 300 mm be as clear and sharp as the same one taken at 50 mm? Take a shot of a horse at 300 mm that fills the frame then walk up to the horse and shoot again at 50 mm.

Assuming all the correct camera settings, tripod etc what should be the results? Same results?

Rickster

Rick –

About Reds: Red has several issues. Red is the most difficult color for digital sensors to render accurately. More, it’s difficult to expose properly. Some of your samples were slightly overexposed, some not well focused. You are familiar with your histogram? Put these samples in LR and observe the red channel in the histogram and see if it’s pushing too far to the right. With reds, proper exposure is key.

About low noise band pictures: Most people are convinced they need the latest new camera to get better noise performance, but as you noticed I was using an 8 year old basically obsolete DSLR. Any time you have to correct an exposure you induce noise. Nailing the perfect exposure during capture is vital when using higher ISO’s. I can get better noise characteristics from an 8 year old obsolete DSLR which is properly exposed, than the newest DSLR a stop off. So exposure is critical.

Also, white balance. The conventional wisdom is if you shoot raw, you can make changes to white balance and suffer no image degradation from doing so. This is true, but only about 90% of the time. It’s the other 10% of the time you need to worry about and it’s often not mentioned because it takes some skill to deal with. If your white balance is really off towards one end, say 9000k, and you’re shooting at the other end of the spectrum, say 2200k, there could be, depending on the camera and the colors in the scene, a possibility you’ll blow a color channel when making the WB correction. Red is the color channel most often blown. Also, if you’re shooting at a more moderate 5500k (daylight) and you need to correct to say 4000k, the exposure of one or more color channels could change just enough to induce a heck of a lot of noise if you’re at the limits of your cameras ISO capabilities.

So.. in this order for the lowest noise in high ISO scenes:

1. Set a custom white balance

2. Nail your exposure

3. Edit your image as little as possible, sharpening and exposure especially adds a great deal of noise.

4. Use a quality noise removal software sparingly

Also, keep in mind that if you take a 4000×3000 pixel image with x-noise present, and reduce the size to say 800×600, then the noise present will be much smaller and ‘appear’ as less noise. In other words, my web images might look noise free, and they might print noise free up to 8×10 inches. But by 11×14 and larger they’ll certainly exhibit noise.

About lens sharpness at 300mm:

This depends on three variables:

1. Quality of the optics

2. If the lens is braced adequately (the longer the focal length, the more critical the bracing)

3. What the air conditions are.. for instance, a picture of wildlife 200 meters away could have smoke, haze, and other kinds of environmental factors present.

If all 1-3 above are true, the lens is of the same optical quality, it’s perfectly braced, and the air conditions are clean.. then yes. But the practical answer is the longer the focal length the more difficult it is to get a sharp well focused image because it’s much more difficult to hold the camera still at 300 than 50mm..

About Tripod use:

Yes, with a caveat. Longer focal lengths mean more bokeh. More bokeh makes the focused area of the image ‘appear’ sharper. So with longer focal lengths done right, they’ll appear sharper. And.. longer focal lengths are often available with very high quality optics.. so say a 300mm F4 lens (you can get a nice used one for your Nikon for about $900) will make sharper images (used correctly) than a standard mid-length zoom or 50mm lens. A 300mm F2.8 (now you’re talking $4000-$5000 used for a recent model) being a more expensive lens, will be made to higher standards.

Good shooting!

Steve

Please submit your questions to [email protected] All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.

A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Month in Review *menu

Remember that website I promised to show you guys? I finished it! And it was great. Really it was. I had planned on a long article for today’s column showing the path to a great website but you’ve probably noticed it’s not there. And what is there is light. That’s because at the last minute the band broke up and the website was taken down. That’s rock n’ roll I guess.

It wasn’t a total loss. I got paid, I learned a lot, and I had another happy customer. More, I was able to transfer a lot of what I learned over to my own site in the way of visual and functional improvements. Check out www.bangkokimages.com and I’m sure you’ll notice the cleaner look and other improvement.

As you read above, I’ll be in Thailand from June 21st through July 21st and available for workshops and other assignments. If you’d like to discuss a workshop or reserve a date shoot me an email at [email protected]

This has been a busy month. My grandson Landon was born on March 27th, spring is here in the Midwest and the grass grows about two feet a week. The neighbor 3 houses down grows weeds instead. When her weeds germinate, with the help of a good breeze they germinate all over everyone else’s yards.. so weed control becomes necessary.

My youngest son and I will be entering our car in a car show tomorrow and I’ll take some pics and let you know how that goes next month. There is also a sanctioned Autocross event later in the day and yours truly is signed up to make a proper fool of myself. Of course my son will be holding the camera and capturing every embarrassing moment.

This month I installed the coolest new gadget in my home, the Nest Learning Thermostat. It was designed by ex-Apple engineer Tony Fadell and its not only a great artistic and uber-functional design, but it saves energy, allows even a child to operate it (if you can work an ipod this will be second nature to you), and it gives you total control of your home heat/AC through your computer or Iphone or Android device. Brilliant! You can read the review here.

Infocus Blog, Thailand Photo Stories by Dana, *menu

Sometimes A Picture Is Not Enough

You would think it would be. You would think that the incontrovertible reality that a photograph records would represent non-negotiable reality. All parties viewing the picture would be in complete agreement. You would be mistaken.

I had to have the north side of my garage re-shingled with cedar shingles. Phone calls were made, bids were taken, a contractor was chosen. Early inspection showed that the contractor knew what he was doing so I left him alone. On the evening of the second day I was looking at the jobsite after the guys had gone home and I noticed what looked like water leaking out of the bottom of a big shop-vac. You can vacuum water with a shop-vac but there was no water around or as a part of the job. In fact, the vacuum cleaner was not even plugged in. I pushed against the top of it with my foot and heard a tinkling sound. It was a hot humid August night and I had a chilled glass with lemonade and ice cubes in my hand. The ice cubes made a tinkling sound in the glass. I popped the top of the big commercial sized vacuum on the hot August night and was presented with contractor working class genius. The entire canister had been gutted and was full of ice cubes and beers. I returned to the house and got a camera. One of those big clunky cameras that gives you the picture right away. I took a picture.

When the shingling job was finished and the truck was loaded with all of the tools I asked the foreman to come into the house for his check. After writing the check and handing it to him I opened my desk drawer and pulled out the picture of the ice cubes and the beers in the vacuum cleaner. I thought it would be a fun thing. Something to share a laugh over. They had done a good job shingling my garage and I liked them. He flatly denied the picture. Not his shop vac, not his ice cubes, not his beers. The physical two dimensional reality of the photo as a recording device meant nothing. I put the picture back in my desk drawer and sighed. You would think that the incontrovertible reality that a photo records would represent non-negotiable reality. You would be mistaken.

How absurd can this be? Has your wife or your girlfriend (or both of them) got a great big fat rear end? Take a picture and show it to her. You may be surprised to learn and informed in no uncertain terms that the woman in the picture is not her. Debating the point may not be the best use of your time. If you are a photography gear head reading the photography magazines and perusing up-and-coming auction lot listings you are buried by a world of two dimensional reality beyond debate. But what of more contemplative photo matters? I'd like to see someone write an essay on when a photo is not a photo.

Example: there are conspiracy theorists who deny we landed on the moon. The photos that were taken are denied. The alternative reality theories are detailed and passionate. Clearly to these people a picture may be a picture, but at other times a picture may not be a picture. Holding a physical object, a photo, in your hand does not necessarily make the visual content real. Not in their minds. To these people, a picture may be a picture, or a picture may not be a picture. It certainly shows the open mind of the deranged. I think it would be fun to have a discussion about when a photo is not a picture. To treat the subject seriously. What do you think?

Not on board yet? Need some conversation starters? Ok, how about pictures of ghosts, or X-rays that doctors reach wildly different conclusions about, or subatomic particle trace evidence on an impact plate (is it a neutrino or not–not everybody accepts the photo as evidence of the content), cranial or full body auras (if you do not believe in auras are you going to accept the photo), etc. What's the challenge? What triggers the discussion? Well, if you don't accept the theory, if you deny categorically the idea (ghosts); then you can not believe the photo. So the photo is not a picture. You boxed yourself in with a reality denying posture. Consider writing an essay on this subject and sending it in to this wonderful photography website. I love gear heads and technology talk but thinking outside of the envelope can be fun also.

Sincerely yours,

Dana