In Focus, Bangkok Photography Blog August 11th, 2012

Visualization to Completion/Applying The Fundamentals of a Workshop/Summer


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Visualizing to Completion *menu

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Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm @F8 1/200th 24mm ISO 100

I’m just back from a solid month in Thailand where I had a workshop most every day I was there, or at least the days I wasn’t shooting the wedding and the two days I was sick. The response for workshops was humbling, way better than I had any right to expect. There were many interesting people to meet and many different levels of skill and style types to adapt to. But nothing could have been more rewarding. If you want to make BkkSteve happy, then give him a never ending supply of photography students eager to get the most out of their cameras.

So many students in such a small amount of time allowed me to notice trends a lot earlier than I might have. Two such trends we’ll address here. The trend to achieve ‘flat’ light across an image. This inclination is understandable, after all we’re striving for the best exposure and what better exposure is there than to have nice even light across the entire frame. Right? Well.. not exactly.

Part of this trend was the desire to every control and adjustment in Lightroom. If the control is there it must be used. Right? Errr… no.

The “ideal” exposure is to capture exactly what you’re visualizing in your mind’s eye. It could be flat light, or it could be hard directional light, twilight, morning light, winter light, moonlight, and by now I’m sure you’re starting to get the picture. There really is no right or wrong when it comes to the art of photography. There is your vision and the realization of this vision. Or not. It depends how successful you are.

Ideally, if you capture what you’re visualizing in your mind’s eye, then you will have zero need to edit the files exposure, levels, shadows, blacks, etc.. Sure, you might want to crop it, sharpen it up a bit, but if your exposure was so ‘spot on’ and in line with your visualization then there will be no need to make adjustments.

So.. ideally, a perfect exposure is one that captures the vision in your mind’s eye and doesn’t need adjustment in post processing. You end up with this perfect file totally in tune with your artistic vision. Life couldn’t be better. Except perfection is a lot more elusive and most of us mere mortals will need to make adjustments in post-processing to help achieve the vision we had in our minds eye.

There are two additional problems with this. Until you become an experienced and thoughtful photographer you’re just going to take pictures of what your eyes are seeing without ever thinking about and building a vision in your mind’s eye. This is my overall primary challenge teaching photography: Helping students slow down and think about their scene, their subjects, their vision..

My second challenge is helping them remember their vision hours or even days later during post processing. Taking careful and complete notes is the hallmark of a successful photographer. Did you know most new cameras let you record audio notes and will then attach them to your image files? Yep, they really do. For about ten years now.

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Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm @F8 1/200th 24mm ISO 100

As we look at this second version of our image we can’t help but think the photographer’s vision included a dull flat light across the entire frame. Whether or not this is a better image I’ll leave to the viewer.

The image I far prefer is the first one, the image with a hard directional light focused across the prow of the boat lighting up the superstructure and various masts and hangers. In contrast the hull towards us is two stops overexposed which in my opinion doesn’t direct the eye, instead it makes the eye wander the frame with no real direction.

Exposure is all about light. Leading the light to expose your visualized composition. Post-processing merely allows you to complete the composition you failed to capture for one reason or the other.

Applying The Fundamentals of a Workshop *menu

BigJoe is a name you’re going to hear more of. BigJoe is career Army currently serving his twilight tour in Korea and we’ve been corresponding regularly for some time concerning photography. He displays a strong natural eye for composition and lately he’s been turning out some really nice work and it just keeps getting better. I enjoy his narratives as well and I think you will too. You can send Feedback to BigJoe here. [email protected]

Thick clouds to the east hid the rising moon stealing it from my evening agenda. To the west opportunity remained promising with the setting sun shining through. Seeing me focus on the northwestern bank the driver slowed the long tail boat to a crawl but the wake of passing craft made it difficult to maintain a level horizon in the viewfinder. Steadying myself at the bow I pressed the shutter release almost continuously and managed my best. Knowing I would have to adjust the alignment in post processing I braced and captured images of the suns reflection off the golden spires lining the bank of the river.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS @ 70mm f/2.8 1/500th ISO 1250 (handheld)

Thick clouds to the east hid the rising moon stealing it from my evening agenda. To the west opportunity remained promising with the setting sun shining through. Seeing me focus on the northwestern bank the driver slowed the long tail boat to a crawl but the wake of passing craft made it difficult to maintain a level horizon in the viewfinder. Steadying myself at the bow I pressed the shutter release almost continuously and managed my best. Knowing I would have to adjust the alignment in post processing I braced and captured images of the suns reflection off the golden spires lining the bank of the river.

The riverboats on the Choa Phraya are one of my favorite venues for shooting images of Bangkok. The variety of routes up or down the river and into the canals provide for many photographic opportunities. With a little pre planning you can calculate the times and angles of the sun or moon and use it to your advantage for optimal natural lighting.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS @ 70mm f/2.8 1/400th ISO 2000 (handheld)

The riverboats on the Chao Phraya are one of my favorite venues for shooting images of Bangkok. The variety of routes up or down the river and into the canals provide for many photographic opportunities. With a little pre planning you can calculate the times and angles of the sun or moon and use it to your advantage for optimal natural lighting.

A day earlier In the workshop at the Samut Songkhram boat yard we had shot the majority of our images in Aperture Priority (Av) mode. In this setting the aperture is locked in enabling the photographer to control the depth of field while the camera automatically adjusted shutter speeds and IOS settings.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L @ 16mm f/8 1/400th ISO 100 (handheld)

A day earlier In the workshop at the Samut Songkhram boat yard we had shot the majority of our images in Aperture Priority (Av) mode. In this setting the aperture is locked in enabling the photographer to control the depth of field while the camera automatically adjusted shutter speeds and IOS settings.

The rough ride on the river required a different approach so I set the camera to Shutter Priority (Tv) in order to dictate the camera maintain a minimum shutter speed in order to eliminate motion blur. Using a rule of thumb I have read in various articles I maintained a shutter speed of at least twice the focal length I was shooting. This proved to be enough to eliminate motion blur in all of my shots. Applying this minor adjustment to what I had learned in the previous days workshop enabled me to capture some of the best shots of my trip.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.5 L IS @ 120mm f/9 1/500th ISO 1250 (handheld)

The rough ride on the river required a different approach so I set the camera to Shutter Priority (TV) in order to dictate the camera maintain a minimum shutter speed in order to eliminate motion blur. Using a rule of thumb I have read in various articles I maintained a shutter speed of at least twice the focal length I was shooting. This proved to be enough to eliminate motion blur in all of my shots. Applying this minor adjustment to what I had learned in the previous days workshop enabled me to capture some of the best shots of my trip.

The day of the workshop started with meeting Steve and his assistant in Bangkok and then proceeding in their vehicle to the Samut Songkhram boatyard and a few locations along the way for a day of photography. As agreed we returned that evening and conducted the post-processing tutorial the following day. On the way we discussed photography while he obtained a feel for my experience level. He then outlined a brief overview summing up years of experience on a note pad. Once at the site while setting up in a shady area we watched a colorful Thai fishing boat maneuver into the yards boat slip.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX @ 15mm f/8 1/320th ISO 100 (handheld)

The day of the workshop started with meeting Steve and his assistant in Bangkok and then proceeding in their vehicle to the Samut Songkhram boatyard and a few locations along the way for a day of photography. As agreed we returned that evening and conducted the post-processing tutorial the following day. On the way we discussed photography while he obtained a feel for my experience level. He then outlined a brief overview summing up years of experience on a note pad. Once at the site while setting up in a shady area we watched a colorful Thai fishing boat maneuver into the yards boat slip.

Intrigued by the activities unfolding at the waters edge we watched the workers prepare while I was introduced to the Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 lens. Our objective for the day was to get the most out of ultra wide-angle lenses, so I attached the lens to my 5DIII and maneuvered around the activity in the yard. The material we had covered during our trip to the yard was all but forgotten by this time, but not to worry as Steve was nearby with suggestions and advice the entire time. This along with the observation of where he went and what he did provided more than adequate demonstration to put theory into practice. IMAGE7

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX @ 12mm f/8 1/200th ISO 100 (handheld)

Intrigued by the activities unfolding at the waters edge we watched the workers prepare while I was introduced to the Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 lens. Our objective for the day was to get the most out of ultra wide-angle lenses, so I attached the lens to my 5DIII and maneuvered around the activity in the yard. The material we had covered during our trip to the yard was all but forgotten by this time, but not to worry as Steve was nearby with suggestions and advice the entire time. This along with the observation of where he went and what he did provided more than adequate demonstration to put theory into practice.

After the boat was pulled from the water, being careful not to get in the way of the workers, I got close in among the cables pulling the boat laden trolley in order to make good use of the wide angle lens. Steve suggestions urged even closer and with the shipyard workers looking on nervously I got within inches of the tip of the ship in order to get off a few shots.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX @ 12mm f/8 1/320th ISO 100 (handheld)

After the boat was pulled from the water, being careful not to get in the way of the workers, I got close in among the cables pulling the boat laden trolley in order to make good use of the wide angle lens. Steve suggestions urged even closer and with the shipyard workers looking on nervously I got within inches of the tip of the ship in order to get off a few shots.

Making the best of our time we circled our beached subject taking images of its fouled hull, keel and propeller before moving on to our next location. As always with highly varying levels of contrasting light it was difficult to obtain a good exposure without blowing out the highlights or under exposing the dark areas. Sacrificing one for the other is what I understand to be the recipe for success and during post processing Steve helped me find the balance of light and dark explaining what the cost of each would be in the final image.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX @ 12mm f/5 1/500th ISO 100 (handheld)

Making the best of our time we circled our beached subject taking images of its fouled hull, keel and propeller before moving on to our next location. As always with highly varying levels of contrasting light it was difficult to obtain a good exposure without blowing out the highlights or under exposing the dark areas. Sacrificing one for the other is what I understand to be the recipe for success and during post processing Steve helped me find the balance of light and dark explaining what the cost of each would be in the final image.

In search of more traditional Landscape subjects we departed the boatyard and traveled along the waterways towards the coast. During a somewhat silent drive I awaited further guidance while watching photographic opportunities pass by. It then became apparent that I was the one who was to be directing us to stop and shoot. Lesson learned, when you see it stop and shoot because lighting can change quickly making second chances a fleeting opportunity.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX @ 16mm f/8 1/200th ISO 100 (handheld)

In search of more traditional Landscape subjects we departed the boatyard and traveled along the waterways towards the coast. During a somewhat silent drive I awaited further guidance while watching photographic opportunities pass by. It then became apparent that I was the one who was to be directing us to stop and shoot. Lesson learned, when you see it stop and shoot because lighting can change quickly making second chances a fleeting opportunity.

I did, however, get my second chances when we ran out of road, stopped and discussed the missed opportunities and then hit them on the return trip.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX @ 12mm f/7.1 1/400th ISO 100 (handheld)

I did, however, get my second chances when we ran out of road, stopped and discussed the missed opportunities and then hit them on the return trip.

With lighting as topic we continued to drive stopping at various locations to shoot a few images before moving on. When we made our final stop at the salt flats between Samut Songkhram and Samut Sakhon Steve explained how looking away from where the masses are pointing their cameras could reveal more interesting compositions. This coupled with an earlier statement about how he looks for compositions that tell a story led me to this interpretation. Look for what others don’t see in a scene by not necessarily looking the other way but by stepping back and observing everything, finding the story and compose around the story.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX @ 12mm f/8 1/100th ISO 100 (handheld)

With lighting as topic we continued to drive stopping at various locations to shoot a few images before moving on. When we made our final stop at the salt flats between Samut Songkhram and Samut Sakhon Steve explained how looking away from where the masses are pointing their cameras could reveal more interesting compositions. This coupled with an earlier statement about how he looks for compositions that tell a story led me to this interpretation. Look for what others don’t see in a scene by not necessarily looking the other way but by stepping back and observing everything, finding the story and compose around the story.

Now, that all sounds good but putting it into application can be difficult as one may not perceive the scene to have much of a story. So, while at the salt flats I wandered around looking at the flat landscape trying to find a composition with a story. After all of the eye drawing activity at the boat yards I was finding the barren fields of water to hold little in comparison. I then noticed Steve had walked a short way down the road and was sitting on the ground by what we had labeled the Flintstone mobile. I composed around my perception of the story, which is simple but sums the point up nicely. I’ll call it “A photographers’ simple landscape”. I’m curious to see the images he captured while seated next to The Flintstone mobile.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX @ 13mm f/8 1/100th ISO 100 (handheld)

Now, that all sounds good but putting it into application can be difficult as one may not perceive the scene to have much of a story. So, while at the salt flats I wandered around looking at the flat landscape trying to find a composition with a story. After all of the eye drawing activity at the boat yards I was finding the barren fields of water to hold little in comparison. I then noticed Steve had walked a short way down the road and was sitting on the ground by what we had labeled the Flintstone mobile. I composed around my perception of the story, which is simple but sums the point up nicely. I’ll call it “A photographers’ simple landscape”. I’m curious to see the images he captured while seated next to The Flintstone mobile.

At the end of the day I returned to my hotel and enjoyed an evening on the town followed by an early morning outing to Banjakiti Park. Here I practiced techniques from the workshop and captured this image of a Buddhist statue just after a light rain. Later that day during the post-processing portion of the workshop it became a tutorial tool for using brushes in Adobe Lightroom to highlight portions of an image.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/3.2L @ 27mm f/8 0.3sec ISO 100 (On Tripod with remote)

At the end of the day I returned to my hotel and enjoyed an evening on the town followed by an early morning outing to Banjakiti Park. Here I practiced techniques from the workshop and captured this image of a Buddhist statue just after a light rain. Later that day during the post-processing portion of the workshop it became a tutorial tool for using brushes in Adobe Lightroom to highlight portions of an image.

Armed with the knowledge from the workshop and wanting to try out some techniques I had been reading up on I traveled south to finish up my vaca

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L @ 16mm f/11 1/15th ISO 100 (On Tripod/with remote/no filter)

Armed with the knowledge from the workshop and wanting to try out some techniques I had been reading up on I traveled south to finish up my vacation in Krabi.

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Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L @ 16mm f/11 10sec ISO 50 (On Tripod/with remote/Polarizing filter)

To my dismay from the time the plane touched down until the day I boarded it to leave the rains were almost constant. It seemed my luck here during the monsoon season had run out with overcast skies dominating the landscape. I made the best of what was available and salvaged the rainy days by working with filters and long exposures on a tripod.

On the first evening I found an overhanging cliff, forming caves on the beach, at the western end of Ao Nang. Here I tried out my new ten-stop filter that reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor in order to reduce shutter speeds during daylight conditions. With this you can create the misty effect of the oceans waves as in the above image. These types of shots require a tripod and that the camera to be in bulb mode in order to control the exposure past 30 seconds if needed.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L @ 19mm f/5.6 20.1sec ISO 100 (On Tripod/with remote/10 stop filter)

On the first evening I found an overhanging cliff, forming caves on the beach, at the western end of Ao Nang. Here I tried out my new ten-stop filter that reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor in order to reduce shutter speeds during daylight conditions. With this you can create the misty effect of the oceans waves as in the above image. These types of shots require a tripod and that the camera to be in bulb mode in order to control the exposure past 30 seconds if needed.

I also rented a car and drove the coast to the north of Krabi, exploring where many of the small roads lead while looking for storytelling or just plain interesting compositions. The landscape here is diverse and provided me many opportunities to practice my newfound skills. Ultimately, I feel the measure of success lies in the eye of the beholder. To me this is especially true with photography. I have received many complements and even won a small online photo competition with this final image. Having said this, I can credit much of my development over the past two years to one constant source of instruction. Be it from his online tutorials or one on one instruction Steve has not steered me wrong.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L @ 16mm f/9 1/25th ISO 100 (handheld)

I also rented a car and drove the coast to the north of Krabi, exploring where many of the small roads lead while looking for storytelling or just plain interesting compositions. The landscape here is diverse and provided me many opportunities to practice my newfound skills. Ultimately, I feel the measure of success lies in the eye of the beholder. To me this is especially true with photography. I have received many complements and even won a small online photo competition with this final image. Having said this, I can credit much of my development over the past two years to one constant source of instruction. Be it from his online tutorials or one on one instruction Steve has not steered me wrong.

Thank you, Steve, for helping me bring the pictures into focus.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L @ 16mm f/11 1/320th ISO 100 (handheld)

Thank you, Steve, for helping me bring the pictures into focus.

Big Joe

<my pleasure. Rarely do I enjoy a workshop so much>

Summer 2012 Workshops and Wedding Wrap-up *menu

I’d been in Thailand since 1999 other than for a 3 year stretch back in the states, when I returned to the states in May of 2011. 13 months later I returned to Thailand with a full schedule of workshops and a major wedding.

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Fuji x100 F5.6 1/80th ISO 200

Originally I’d planned on two weeks of work and two weeks to myself to do what I love best, travel around Thailand in my own vehicle and visit places previously unknown. Loading up my truck with camera gear and heading out of Bangkok for a 1-3 week adventure was always the highlight of my time in Thailand.

Within days of putting the word out that I’d be back for a month for workshops I had most every day scheduled. This was both surprising and humbling. To those of you I worked with, thank you. Nothing makes me happier than teaching workshops or being tasked with difficult photographic assignments.

A good friend secured a nice two bedroom apartment near Victory Monument for baht 15,000 for the month, and a farang/Thai owned rental agency gave me a great deal on a month’s rental for a nearly new Mitsubishi Extended Cab Pickup which took both NGA and Petrol. From the moment I stepped off the plane I had a place to stay and transportation, both nicer than your typical hotel and rental car. I couldn’t have been more pleased.

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Fuji x100 F2.8 1/30th ISPO 3200

I’d like to discuss some of my workshop clients without sacrificing their privacy so I’ll refer to them by a single letter I’m sure they’ll recognize.

One of my first clients was R. He had the newest Canon gear and wanted to concentrate on the basics which we learned at Safari World and people who we photographed on the Chulalongkorn campus. A very interesting man with a goodly amount of talent . We had a great time and worked well into the 8-9pm time frame.

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Fuji x100 F5.6 1/90th ISO 200

Another regular client P is one of my favorites. It seems like the majority of my clients since the world’s economies have taken a beating are Australian and I can tell you that after so much exposure to these sensible and fun loving people I’ve added Australia to my list of possible retirement countries. P and I did some low light work on Soi Nana and Stick made himself available to stop by and offer some personal pointers. My clients love it when Stick shows up. They get to meet the legend and they get to learn what style makes Stick’s images so captivating.

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Fuji x100 F2.8 1/15th ISO 3200

The next day R and I were off to Safari World for a basic workshop. I say “basic” in this case in the strictest sense. R purchased the Fuji F30 point and shoot over five years ago based on my review and he’s been using it since. I wasn’t surprised, by now I have heard from or met over 250+ individuals who purchased that camera based on my review and they all loved it. 5-6 years later R is ready to upgrade his camera to a newer model and I had the chance to introduce him to a DSLR and my Fuji x100 which he was quite taken with.

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Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F8 1/80th 200mm ISO 100

A days break and I was meeting with J. J has been a regular contributor to the site and has also made the investment in the newest Canon gear . We’d been chatting via email and it was great to finally meet him in person. J and I have much in common from my previous career and it was a great experience.

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Canon 5d Mark II, 16-35mm F2.8 @F8 1/250th 22mm ISO 100

Another fun day was taking my wedding client by the Canon Service Center to get his cameras serviced. We learned Canon had relocated and I’ll post that information in my next column complete with a map. It was fun catching up with R.

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Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/2000th 200mm ISO 100

R had arranged for his wedding party to take one of my group workshops in Ayutthaya. I met them there and got to meet many of his wedding guests and answer questions they might have had concerning photographing older ruins as they were heading to Angkor Vat after the wedding.

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Canon 5d Mark II, 12-24mm F4 @F8 1/80th 15mm ISO 100

Heading down to Hua Hin we stayed at the fabulous Centara Grand where I immediately met with the wedding coordinator and started learning the grounds, different locations, and time tables for events. It didn’t take long to see this would be a major undertaking and I found myself being very happy I brought along so much lighting gear. On our way into town that day the skies opened up and it rained so hard the streets of Hua Hin were waist deep. Our car barely made it into the parking area sputtering and wheezing and it took two days to dry out.

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Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8 USM @F8 1/60th 45mm ISO 100

The next few days we spent shooting the wedding, all the guests, and of course the bride and groom. This was a grand no-expense spared wedding of the highest quality. The groom and best man rode in on the back of an elephant and as much was done outdoors as possible. Beautiful gardens, a very attractive couple, and this photographer could not ask for better material to work with.

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Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8 USM @F4 1/60th 24mm ISO 400

I’ve said before, several times, a Thai wedding is one of the most difficult photographic challenges I’ve ever faced and this was no exception. You’ll find most Thai photographers don’t photograph a wedding in real time. They’ll do the studio portraits weeks or months in advance and leave the rest to the videographer. The reason for this is because Thai wedding encompass from sunup to sundown and require a large amount of lenses and lighting equipment to cover from pitch darkness to the brightest noon sun to the hard light of a setting sun where you’ll soon be back in the darkness. Balancing the light during these different times takes an immense amount of skill, planning, and equipment. Not to mention a Thai wedding is physically challenging and much of the planning involves reducing physical activity during the hottest hours, plenty of regular rest breaks, and constant hydration for both you and your assistant, though in this case it was my assistant taking care of me. She’s a gem.

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Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8 USM @F5.6 1/160th 30mm ISO 200

Considering our garden portrait session was rained out by monsoon class rains the next day, and we were stuck using a less than attractive conference room I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Along with my assistant we captured many images and I was able to present my client with a set of images 4-5x that of a regular wedding. Post processing took a lot of time though, probably in the neighborhood of 150+ hours because with all the light variations there was a lot of balancing to do.

The middle of July found me back in Bangkok with a fellow squid S. He also had the newest equipment and we spent two days together. The first day was more productive as we went over most of the basics, but the second day was less productive because we decided to do some street shooting at night. We did, but we ended up doing very little with a lot of driving through the payday Friday traffic (the heaviest Bangkok has) and a few breaks later to quench our thirst and reduce the stress of traffic we ended up doing more talking than shooting. Sometimes that happens.

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Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F11 1/200th 200mm ISO 100

Another client I wanted to mention was a young Thai lady who also had the latest equipment. She needed the basics and we started with them, but I quickly found she required a different technique to learn. She had a great eye and was a lot of fun. Her husband went along for fun and what an interesting character he was!

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Canon 5d Mark II, 12-24mm F4 @F8 1/200th 24mm ISO 100

My last workshop in Thailand was scheduled once again with P and I’d set up a shoot at a traditional Thai house with a very pretty model where we were going to photograph several of his Harley Davidson motorcycles. We were both pumped for this shoot and I had the lights all packed and ready to go when I heard from P who had some bad street food and had to cancel. We’ll do it next time.

I’m sorry if I didn’t mention your workshop but for the sake of readability I didn’t want to mention all of them. Mostly I wanted to give the reader a brief look at what Bangkok Images did because we’ll be back next January to do it all over again! Several have already booked dates.

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Canon 5d Mark II, 16-35mm F2.8 USM @F8 1/160th 35mm ISO 100

I’ll say this though, after taking three days to fly from Chicago to Los Angeles where I spent a day, then on to Bangkok, jumping in with both feet, working all month, a repeat three days back, a few more days to adjust to the jet lag and time differences, and I was beat. Beat right into the ground. Both physical and mentally. I still haven’t done half the needed post processing!

On a personal note the highlight of my visit was meeting up with Stick (several times) and other good friends. It felt like I never left. And it re-enforced what I already knew about the value of friends I made while in Thailand. I know many are wary of the quality of farangs in the Kingdom and no one knows that better than myself, but there are some really good people too and it was great to sit down to a meal and catch up an entire year in no time at all. On a sad note I was really looking forward to meeting up with a friend, his wife, and his two young children.. and now it was my turn to eat some bad street food. This was on my last few nights there and I wasn’t able to reschedule. I’ll make it up this January.

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Canon 5d Mark II, 16-35mm F2.8L USM @11 1/80th 26mm ISO 100

Was it worth it? Heck yeah! Nothing is more satisfying than teaching workshops or using my skills to pull off a complicated shoot except maybe catching up with good friends. I’ll be back this January.

Photography News of Interest *menu

Angler Photographs Humpback Whale That Almost Jumps Into Boat. This is a really nice shot, both technical and composition. I could probably sit on whale watching boats for ten years and not get a shot nearly as good as this. Being in the right place at the right time and having a camera with you and the presence of mind to use it.. is everything.

Angler Photographs Humpback Whale That Almost Jumps Into Boat. This is a really nice shot, both technical and composition. I could probably sit on whale watching boats for ten years and not get a shot nearly as good as this. Being in the right place at the right time and having a camera with you and the presence of mind to use it.. is everything.

Photo of ‘Napalm Girl’ From Vietnam War Turns 40. Talk about an iconic photo. This is what makes the follow up so interesting.

Photo of ‘Napalm Girl’ From Vietnam War Turns 40. Talk about an iconic photo. This is what makes the follow up so interesting.

Military Mom’s Breast Feeding Stirs Controversy. There are sorts of reasons this photographer betrayed the trust of her young obviously naïve subjects, all at the larger betrayal of the breast feeding rights groups themselves. Garbage.

Military Mom’s Breast Feeding Stirs Controversy. There are sorts of reasons this photographer betrayed the trust of her young obviously naïve subjects, all at the larger betrayal of the breast feeding rights groups themselves. Garbage.

Is Bilderberg a Conference On World Affairs or a Powerful Global Cabel? Depends on Who You Ask. Of interest to photographers is a photographer covering this scene was prevented from taking pictures from a public place. This is a must read.

Is Bilderberg a Conference On World Affairs or a Powerful Global Cabel? Depends on Who You Ask. Of interest to photographers is a photographer covering this scene was prevented from taking pictures from a public place. This is a must read.

No, they’re not photographs: Astonishing acrylic paintings which are so detailed they look like they were taken on a camera. Absolutely stunning!

No, they’re not photographs: Astonishing acrylic paintings which are so detailed they look like they were taken on a camera. Absolutely stunning! No, they’re not photographs: Astonishing acrylic paintings which are so detailed they look like they were taken on a camera. Absolutely stunning! No, they’re not photographs: Astonishing acrylic paintings which are so detailed they look like they were taken on a camera. Absolutely stunning! No, they’re not photographs: Astonishing acrylic paintings which are so detailed they look like they were taken on a camera. Absolutely stunning! No, they’re not photographs: Astonishing acrylic paintings which are so detailed they look like they were taken on a camera. Absolutely stunning!

Instagram is Debasing Real Photography? I can’t say I disagree with this writer.

DC police chief announces shockingly reasonable cell camera policy. Every photographer should read this and pressure their own locality to copy this policy. It’s hard to believe this “policy” isn’t just intuitive common sense.

DC police chief announces shockingly reasonable cell camera policy. Every photographer should read this and pressure their own locality to copy this policy. It’s hard to believe this “policy” isn’t just intuitive common sense.

The Five Year Photo’ Project Is this something you and a few buddies are willing to take on?

The Five Year Photo’ Poject Is this something you and a few buddies are willing to take on? The Five Year Photo’ Poject Is this something you and a few buddies are willing to take on?

Moon between Olympic rings makes for breathtaking London photographs With Photoshop altered images being discovered at the highest levels of journalism you just can’t help but wonder. My vote is this is real. You?

Moon between Olympic rings makes for breathtaking London photographs With Photoshop altered images being discovered at the highest levels of journalism you just can’t help but wonder. My vote is this is real. You?

Mars Rover Sends First Panorama A gallery of images from the newly deployed Mars Rover Curiosity.

Mars Rover Sends First Panorama A gallery of images from the newly deployed Mars Rover Curiosity. Mars Rover Sends First Panorama A gallery of images from the newly deployed Mars Rover Curiosity.

Top 10 Places to Take Photos Stick sent this one in. Interesting read.

Top 10 Places to Take Photos Stick sent this one in. Interesting read.

Readers Submissions *menu

Steve

I really like this one. It will be attached as file. Wing detail is very sharp.

All the pictures were taken with the Nikon D5100 with Nikkor 28-300 mm lens.

Using Aperture Priority setting of F 7.1, Metering Mode- Spot, ISO 120, RAW/fine, and letting the camera due the rest.

Post processing using Lightroom 4.

We have come a long way with your help.

Rick

Hi Rick –

Very nice image! I love watching your incremental improvements as we progress through the finer points of image capture. Can you dream? Dream what your images will look like a year from now, and then let’s make it happen!

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

Unbelievably after a solid month of workshops and maybe thousands of questions I noticed no one sent in a question, or a question I remembered to save, for the column. I could have went through past email and picked one out but instead I’d like ot use this happenstance to thank you guys one more time for all your Readers Questions and Readers Submissions. These two areas are two of our readers favorite areas and I get a lot of positive feedback on both. Please send in any submissions and/or qestions so we’ll have some for next month. Much appreciated!

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

I’ve been back in the states only three weeks as you read this and it feels like I’ve barely had a chance to rest, but already I’m working up several new computer builds for Thailand based clients, booking workshop requests for next January, and planning a complex video shoot for a local band.

You’ve probably heard it said that in these moderns times it’s difficult for a photographer to make a decent living. With the advent of affordable digital cameras, every family has severa,l and there are a slew of “bargain rate” wedding and portrait photographers who are anything but. Still, they fill a rather large niche and if you’re willing to hustle, work outside of your comfort zone, and be competitive you’ll still find plenty of work out there.

This has been the hottest month on record since 1930 in the Midwest (dust bowl era) and it’s been downright unpleasant to spend time outdoors. It’s hard to believe we’re a month away from turning that corner into fall which of course in the Midwest will have winter hot on its heels. We might not have mountains, rivers, valleys, oceans, and other such geographical features in the Midwest, but we certainly have the four seasons to count on!

Infocus Blog, Thailand Photo Stories by Dana *menu

Well, normally I am too busy to get involved in juvenilia but just to shut these guys up I have invented the ultimate digital camera. I call it the Dana Digital Wonder Camera (DDWC). First of all it has a faster, sharper optical system. Way bitchin' better dude. The Dana Digital Wonder Camera employs a fast f/8 ACF system with high-contrast baffling that guarantees crisp, pinpoint imaging to the very edge of the field. It has an internal Crayford-style zero image-shift focusing system. Don't know what this means? You need to buy this camera.

Hello photography enthusiasts: I can't be the only one. I'm getting sick to death of hearing the 'it-fits-in-your-pocket' brigade brag about their digital cameras. Did they invent these cameras? No. Did they manufacture these cameras? No. Do they hold any patents on these cameras? No. Did they do the original drawings for these cameras? No. But you can't shut them up. These cameras on their person are now talismans of specialness augmenting them.

Well, normally I am too busy to get involved in juvenilia but just to shut these guys up I have invented the ultimate digital camera. I call it the Dana Digital Wonder Camera (DDWC). First of all it has a faster, sharper optical system. Way bitchin' better dude. The Dana Digital Wonder Camera employs a fast f/8 ACF system with high-contrast baffling that guarantees crisp, pinpoint imaging to the very edge of the field. It has an internal Crayford-style zero image-shift focusing system. Don't know what this means? You need to buy this camera.

Constructed of stainless steel and aircraft grade aluminum the mount presents a rock solid platform with precision roller bearings on both axes, brass worms, 225-tooth aluminum gears, a fully computerized GoTo mount with GPS, super stable tripod (the camera weighs 812 pounds), and a fully washable snap-on attachment to hold beef jerky strips.

How skilled do you have to be to use this Dana digital wonder camera? You don't have to know nothin'. This camera automatically takes pictures that would make God weep. Note: this camera take pictures, not pics. Just a personal thing. I hate the word pics. Anyway, you know that guy Ansel Adams who was always yelling at his mules to get out of the rim-of-the-canyon sun shot? Mr. Nature? Mr. Artist? Mr. Sensitive? He'd have beaten a fellow picture taker senseless with a latrine shovel to get one of these cameras. Yes, that's right; this camera may foster violence and be responsible for the deaths of others but I don't care. The ultimate digital camera had to happen. You can't stop progress. Bye-the-way, you might be wondering how you would transport this 812 pound digital wonder to the top of Mount Shasta to take a picture of a crystal. Simple. Just tie two mules together side-by-side like a catamaran. As usual, I have to do all the thinking.

Anyway, target acquisition on your imaging sensor is automatic. I told you. You don't have to know diddly squat. A nineteen inch monitor screen is attached for instant computer viewing, you carry the cube in a backpack, and a communications radar dish on a telescoping pole attaches to a headband on your head. Yes, all of these were my ideas. I invented this digital camera. Be careful with the head mounted radar dish in a high wind. You could get your head ripped off. Just sayin'.

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking:

"Hey, Mr. Hotstuff Inventor, what about telephoto lenses?"

Way ahead of you Mr. 'It-Fits-In-Your-Pocket'. Telephoto lenses for this ultimate digital camera will be manufactured to look like standard issue RPG's so no one in a crowd will object to you pointing a camera at them. Question: when is the last time you heard someone say that pointing an RPG at them would steal their soul? Exactly. They won't even know you are taking a picture of them. They'll just assume someone is pointing highly illegal tank busting uranium tipped military ordinance at them. Neat, huh; and I believe this functions as a good example of the kind of advanced thinking that has gone into the design of this camera from dream to reality.

Additional details and miscellania gleaned from patent paperwork and patent application schematics, manufacturers notes, prototype field use feedback, and personal experiences: not necessarily to appear in marketing or advertising materials but of interest anyway especially if you are a visionary photography gearhead like myself. To wit:

Full frame image buffer, even illustration photometric shutter, 10 Mp/sec download, RPG style telephoto lenses available in four colors, 32-bit and 64-bit Windows Software, infared capabilities, anti-theft pulsating siren, STF-8300 8.3 Megapixel Monochrome side mounted camera for preliminary shot field capture (my original idea from old astronomy days), integrated FW5-8300 filter wheel, dry ice container for box of canolies, thermos for Vietnamese noodle soup, 36mm LRGB and H-alpha filters, eyepiece image fidelity maximized by glass matched multi-coatings and anti-reflection surfaces, laminated document pages (Guarantees, Warranties, and Instruction manuals), carbon fiber apochromatic refractor, motorized filter wheel (an option), backpack strobe light (an option), 10" pneumatic tripod wheels, application forms for Dana Digital Wonder Camera Fan Club (DDWCFC), T-shirts that say DDWC front and back, no off-axis astigmatism across a large field due to flomberie doodymacs (some kind of French thing), button activated electric motor that triggers turning mechanism for your head mounted radar dish (or you can just move your feet), chest apparatus (patent pending) to support tired arms, two three foot long ten pound steel stabilizer bars attached to camera, tripod mounted portable bar (optional), GPS system for on-site logbook entries, tape recorder for on-site notes, and belly pack for iPhone and iPad.

Special personal note: the bottom of the tripod buggy system has a triangular piece of half inch epoxy coated Brunzeel plywood. This is where the three 60 pound batteries sit. However, in my case this is where my dog Rufus sits (mostly lies). He likes to come with me on photo excursions but his legs and feet and knees aren't what they used to be.

Rufus: I don't always feel tip top. Bark. Woof.

So what to do with the batteries? Simple. I wear a mountain climbing harness with a snap hook on the back and pull a little red wagon behind me that has the three 60 pound batteries in it. Something to think about and an excellent example of engineers solving problems. Any downside to this? Well, if you are about to take a picture of the rising sun through the feathers of a hummingbird's wing and Rufus starts scratching because of fleas you can get a migraine headache. Trust me on this. Carry flea powder.

Anyway, that is a partial list of additional features and benefits and details and miscellania regarding the new Dana Digital Wonder Camera that should make the current digital it 'Fits-In-Your-Pocket' brigade shutup. Contact this website's webmaster for shipping, monogramming, packaging, and insurance issues, plus T-shirt size and color offerings. No, I am not available for instruction manual signings or personal time of any kind. What were you thinking?

And what of the price? Well, here at Dana Central we don't really know yet. So just send us all the money you have and any money we do not need we will return to you. If you want to sign a waiver on this we will use any excess funds for partying. It's an option. Up to you. So that's it: the new Dana Digital Wonder Camera(DDWC).

Who loves you baby?

Dana does.

Full frame image buffer, even illustration photometric shutter, 10 Mp/sec download, RPG style telephoto lenses available in four colors, 32-bit and 64-bit Windows Software, infared capabilities, anti-theft pulsating siren, STF-8300 8.3 Megapixel Monochrome side mounted camera for preliminary shot field capture (my original idea from old astronomy days), integrated FW5-8300 filter wheel, dry ice container for box of canolies, thermos for Vietnamese noodle soup, 36mm LRGB and H-alpha filters, eyepiece image fidelity maximized by glass matched multi-coatings and anti-reflection surfaces, laminated document pages (Guarantees, Warranties, and Instruction manuals), carbon fiber apochromatic refractor, motorized filter wheel (an option), backpack strobe light (an option), 10' pneumatic tripod wheels, application forms for Dana Digital Wonder Camera Fan Club (DDWCFC), T-shirts that say DDWC front and back, no off-axis astigmatism across a large field due to flomberie doodymacs (some kind of French thing), button activated electric motor that triggers turning mechanism for your head mounted radar dish (or you can just move your feet), chest apparatus (patent pending) to support tired arms, two three foot long ten pound steel stabilizer bars attached to camera, tripod mounted portable bar (optional), GPS system for on-site logbook entries, tape recorder for on-site notes, and belly pack for iPhone and iPad.