Wednesday, March 30, 2011

After Two Sessions with My Therapist…

… I still have a hard time lifting my Canon 5D Mark II with the Canon EF 24-105 f/4L lens above my shoulders. I can shoot with my right hand but I have a hard time supporting the camera with my left hand. This makes the camera really unstable and makes changing the zoom of the lens difficult.


But, I can "shoot from the waist". The teacher from the just-finished photography class I was in wanted us to make self-portraits. I don't want to be in front of the camera so I made a not-so-common self-portrait for the class.


And then, with the sun getting more and more prominent with the changing season, I noticed that our bathroom window is a perfect location for self-portraits: it opens to an almost northerly direction making it a nice light source for portraits. And since I can shoot from the waist, or chest height here, I was able to produce this self-portrait, albeit off a mirror (which explains the reversed Canon logo). I made this Rembrandt-lighted photo using a Canon 7D with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens.



From People and Portraits


The light from the window brings a nice diffused light and it even serves a double purpose of illuminating the back wall also. The window is on camera left.


I use this photo now for my @garybc twitter avatar.


I got so inspired by it that I made another portrait using my Canon Powershot G12. The resulting photo is shown below. I should've used a reflector on camera-right to bring some illumination to the G12 but my level of dexterity is not that good yet. I'll try that again once I'm much better.

From People and Portraits

Monday, March 28, 2011

The First Time I Used a Strobe…

… was in the class I enrolled in at the Arts Council of Princeton. It was a very fun and informative experience. The modeling light made it very easy to see the effects of the light even before a shot was taken. This made shooting very easy as opposed to using speedlites. Also, the recycling time in-between shots was almost negligible. The strobe was set to maximum power and it was so strong that I had to set my aperture to f/11, shutter speed to 1/200s and the ISO at 100 for most of my shots. It was also nice to know that the PC sync cables of my Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 7D both work. I wasn't able to test this feature for either camera prior to the class.

From People and Portraits
From People and Portraits
From People and Portraits
From People and Portraits
From People and Portraits
From People and Portraits


It was a very nice class and I had a great time and learned a lot from it. Much kudos to my teacher Peter C. Cook. It was also nice to get to know my classmates two of whom, Adrianna and Larry, modeled for the rest of us during the studio session of our class.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Doing a Casio G-Shock Product Review Using Photobasic Reflector by Westcott

A funny thing happened during the time change when we switched to Daylight Saving Time. I was still recovering at that point so I asked the wife (@pinayobserver) to adjust the time on our wall clocks - there were three. Then, I adjusted the time in my wrist watch and forgot about it. When I went to my photography class, I realized that the date on my watch was wrong so I readjusted it. I thought that I adjusted the date incorrectly when I set the EDT. It turned out that my watch broke and I don't know how.


Anyway, the funny thing was, when I asked the wife to have my watch replaced, and I asked her if I can get a Casio G-Shock, she readily said yes! Sometimes it pays to have surgery done on you. Yeah I know my shoulder problem will be solved but having that watch, a watch I've always wanted to have, was a great bonus. (Plus the Kindle of course.)


So, I set out to do a product shot of my latest gadget. At first, I just used the overhead light. However, I was getting shadows where I didn't want to. So, I switched to a bedside lamp. Still, the light wasn't what I wanted it to be. And photography is all about light!




So, I've thought of a solution: I learned early on that one should not take photos during the midday sun because the harsh light on your model will cause harsh shadows and will make your model squint. Instead put your subject in the shadows so that the light will wrap around his/her face.


So, I did the equivalent of putting my subject, the watch, in the shadows: I used a Photobasic 5-in-1 reflector by Westcott. I used the diffuser to diffuse the light from the overhead lamp and I finally got the shot that I wanted.




Lessons learned? You don't need any special gadget to do a product shot and the reflector that you use for your people photos can also be used for small items.


And if you are sick, there's a great chance your wish will come true. ;)


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All shots made with a Canon Powershot G12 mounted on a Slik Sprint Pro tripod. My review of the G12 can be found here and the best bag for your G12 can be found here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Amazon Kindle 3 Review - The Best e-Reader

Almost two weeks ago, as I've shared in this blog, I've had arthroscopic surgery on my left shoulder. And surgery, of any kind, will render you helpless for at least a couple of days. In the couple of days after my surgery, the wife (@pinayobserver) surprised me. The UPS guy delivered a package in front of our door and, even though I was still very weak and my shoulder is still sore, she made me open the package. Inside was the Amazon Kindle and a leather cover.




I was greatly surprised because I didn't read any email about its purchase and shipping. Granted I was either asleep or nauseous most of the time.




The reader is great! If there is really a post-pc device this would be it. Once you switch it on you can go ahead and read from it. Amazon was gracious enough to activate it so the Kindle is already tied to our Amazon account when it arrived. I can't quite remember if the books we already purchased were already loaded or they're collected in the Archived Items but the point is, they are there. (I'm sure you can forgive me for not remembering.) I don't need a computer to use the Kindle.




Don't get me wrong with I am about to say for I love my MacBook Pro, iPod Touch, iPod Classic and iPod Shuffle, but I think Apple's conception of "post-PC-devise" is wrong. Why? Because the first thing required of you when you turn on your iPod Touch, and I believe for the iPad too, is to connect it to your iTunes on your Mac or PC. I can understand it for the Shuffle, Classic or iPod Nano, for you need to put music into those device first before they can be useable, but I should be able to surf the web, watch YouTube or input my email details without being required to use a computer first. I should be able to buy stuff from the iTunes and app store right away for all they require is an iTunes account, right?


Being able to use the Kindle right out of the box is something Amazon got right.


The device itself is light and you can use it for extended time without straining your arms. I can even read with it using my left arm! The leather case adds weight to the device but I'm willing to have that added weight just so I can have protection for my Kindle. I just remove it when I'm gonna do extended reading, but only when I need to.




Reading is a great delight! I've read some stuff from the Kindle app in my iPod Touch but the glare-free screen of the Kindle cannot be compared to the Touch's. Now that spring is here and we're having high sixties temperature this side of the NorthEast, I can read stuff even when I am outdoors! The e-ink display is very, very comfortable to look at even for hours of reading and even underneath a glaring sun.


The set back that comes with this kind of a display is that it isn't backlit. Amazon solved this problem by building a lamp right into the sleeve. This is nice because it means that you won't have to carry a separate device. Two things to consider though: the built-in lamp gets its power from the Kindle's battery itself so that means your reading time will be greatly reduced. Secondly, the arm of the lamp is so stiff that you really can't bend it. This means that the screen gets uneven lighting and there's nothing you can do about it.




Another thing I don't like about the leather case is the strap that prevents the cover from accidentally opening. I think, with constant use, this strap will be loose in no time. Why didn't Amazon just use a magnetic clasp or, if that will gravely affect the electronics, a belt-like strap? I don't like the elastic band at all.


The wife bought the wifi-and-3G version so I've a choice of connecting with either. 3G is nice to have because I was able to get samples of books right away without having to set it up with the wifi at home. But when I got better, I set up it up because wifi is still faster than 3G. A caveat: when I stepped out of the house, the Kindle got a wifi signal that is so weak that it couldn't connect to the Kindle store; I was wondering why it wouldn't switch to the 3G already instead of telling me that it can't connect using the wifi. There is also no way to turn off the wifi antenna nor the 3G separately. You can only switch all the wireless antennas off or forget the wifi network. Forget the wifi network? I don't like that. Amazon should put settings where we can turn off either antennas individually, or both, at the same time.




With the Kindle, I noticed that I am reading the news more. I subscribed to the free trials off New York Times, Chicago Tribune and the ArsTechnica blog and it is nice to have them ready to be read when I wake up. I read the news on my Mac but the Kindle enables me not to be tethered to my computer anymore if I want to be updated with what's happening around me and around the world.


And books of course. With my current issues, the wife and I decided that we would buy heavy books, like Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, from the Kindle Store. And with the bigger capacity that goes to every Kindle 3, you would be able to put a lot more books. And there are a lot more books in the Kindle store than anywhere else.


There are still no page numbers for most books that I've read. If I understood the situation correctly, it's up to the publishers to put page numbers on their ebooks. Don't hold your breath for that... The OS that came with this Kindle makes it a social gadget: you can highlight passages from books and newspapers and share your highlights via Twitter or Facebook. Annotation for blog posts are not available.




I wish that Amazon would provide a way to email my clippings. For example, I can clip an article and the clipping, together with all the bookmarks and highlights, would be in one continuous file called "My Clippings" in the Kindle. However, I would have to attach the Kindle to my computer in order for me to access the text file that contains the clippings. I wish that I can export the clippings straight from the Kindle, or at least save it to a different file instead of just one very long file.


One thing I'm greatly enjoying? I connected my Instapaper account so that when I add five online articles to Instapaper, it will email those five articles to my Kindle. And since I set it up so that I will only get the articles when I am in a wifi hotspot, I won't be charged by Amazon for enjoying this privilege. You will only be charged if you use whisper sync for your downloads.




I am greatly enjoying the Kindle and I'd like to thank the wife for giving me this tool while I recover. I am still on the fence regarding the iPad 2 but I am completely sold on the Kindle 3.


Highly Recommended!


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All photos made with the Canon Powershot G12. My review of the G12 can be found here. My review of the best bag for the G12 can be found here. Post-processing made with Adobe Lightroom 3.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Week After Surgery

I'm back!


Exactly last week, I had arthroscopic surgery on my left shoulder. It took two hours - two hours that I couldn't recall. Well, I think I need to be thankful that I've no recollection whatsoever of my surgery...


Anyway, I was in a sling for three days and in strong pain meds for the same duration. I decided to stop the pain meds because I was feeling nauseous when I took it. I now take over-the-counter pain meds only when I need it. And I only use the sling when I walk outside. The moment I am where I wanna be, I immediately remove my sling. My shoulder's still sore but I can manage.


The wife (@reina_reyes)had been a great help in my recovery and in doing some of the house-related stuff that's assigned to me.


So, this is me after the surgery. I hope to be out of the sling permanently and I hope to get back to the things I do.



From People and Portraits


Shot taken by the wife using the Canon Powershot G12. You can also see the BlackRapid SNapR, the best camera bag for the G12.




From People and Portraits

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Temporary Leave of Absence

Last October 13, 2010, I wrote about the many pains that are bothering me. I re-read that post for I am finally going to heed what my doctor told me.


I'll finally get "under the knife". My doctor said that surgery is the only option for my bum shoulder so I'm gonna do that. Every surgery requires some time to recuperate and some therapy so I don't know when I'll be able to post here. But I'll definitely be on twitter.


So, I'm gonna leave you with this self-portrait. I hope I won't have this expression on my face after my surgery. :) I took this using a Canon Powershot G12 with settings of f/8, 0.3s, ISO 400. Post processing was done using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3. Note that in the photo below and the photo in my previous post I didn't use Photoshop to make the image. Everything was done in-camera except for the change in tonality. And the square crop of course. 


The technique I used in making this photo was the same technique I used for the photo on the post I mentioned above.


From People and Portraits



And if you wanna support this Shy Photographer, then I hope that you buy something from amazon.com through my blog. Thanks and see you on the other side.


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Portrait made with a Canon Powershot G12. My review of the G12 can be found here. My review of the perfect bag for the G12 can be found here.

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