Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Side Lighting is the Best Portrait Lighting

I may get into some trouble for saying that but it is a statement I am willing to defend.

When I look at the lighting in my favorite shows, like House, Fringe, etc, I always see side lighting on the faces of the actors. It adds more drama and defines the faces of the actors. The lines on the face are clearly more visible, more edgy, and, as I've said, more dramatic. I actually don't know if I've already seen an actor lit from the front. I see it in fashion shows, but I can't recall seeing it from the more dramatic and/or suspenseful shows. Or, I may have already seen some but they didn't register to me; not compelling enough?

I made this photo of the wife with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 430-EX II speedlite. There is a white wall on camera-right and I bounced the light from the speedlite towards the wall. The light then travelled from the wall towards my subject's face. What was produced was a nicely-lit photo of the wife (@PinayObserver). (Well, of course, I am biased...)

So, after you got that shiny, new DSLR, what's next on your list should be an external flash. Movie makers know it, professional photographers know it, even Renaissance painters knew it: side lighting is best for portrait lighting.

Coincidentally, if you wanna know about those Renaissance paintings, I wrote about Rembrandt Lighting here.

Want the best bag for your DSLR? I reviewed my most favorite camera backpack, the Lowepro Versapack 200 AW, here and here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Another Year, Another Page...

I was supposed to post this on my birthday but I got sick and I didn't feel like doing anything except watch baseball and shows from the Netflix instant queue. Anyway, I was mulling about the great changes that will happen to our lives that I decided to make a post about it.

The wife (@PinayObserver) and I, right before my birthday, went to Chicago to look for a place to live. That effort was the mark that really said that our time here in Princeton was about to end. That made me really sad. I had come to love this place. I really don't know if anyone wouldn't. Having lived my whole life in cities in the Philippines, living in the suburb was one pleasant change that I didn't expect. The quiet and the peace that came with living here in Princeton was something that greatly appealed to me. There is also the added benefit of living just an hour away from the Greatest City in the World, New York.

But, alas, we must move on. Chicago is a beautiful city and living in the city has its advantages and disadvantages.

First off, there would more people on the streets. Second, it would be significantly noisier, though the place we looked at wasn't that bad. And, as I've said, I spent my whole life in the Philippines in different cities so I know that there are some kind of danger associated in living in one. I just hope that the wife and I won't experience any of those in the time that we will spend in Chicago. (Oh, additionally, a Nature article says that living in the city can cause undue stress...)

But, the city, with its diversity, has a greater number of food choices. There is also public transport, taxi cabs and lots of shops. The Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago is really magnificent; it is easily accessed by buses and subways. I still had to try the Chicago Dog but the Chicago pizza has a certain appeal that makes it really interesting. I absolutely love a NY-style pizza but I wouldn't say no to the Chicago-influenced one. If only for the food choices, I am looking forward to living there.

There is always a trade off.

I absolutely love Princeton but I am looking forward to moving into the Second City. And yes, there is always a place where you can find your own heaven. I may have found mine there.

Photo made with a Canon Powershot G12 and post-processed in Adobe Lightroom 3. My review of the G12 can be found here. Want the best bag for your G12? Check out my review of the BlackRapid SNapR here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In Praise of the Lowepro Versapack 200AW

I must warn you first hand, dear readers, that this post is about me. Yes, me. And my most favorite camera bag. I have mentioned several times that the Lowepro Versapack 200AW is my most favorite bag (see my review here) and I'll say it again - the Lowepro Versapack 200AW is my most favorite bag.

The wife and I at Peddler's Village, PA

Atlantic City Boardwalk
Anyway, when the in-laws visited the wife (@PinayObserver) and I, we toured them to some locations near Princeton. We drove to Peddler's Village, PA, Atlantic City, NJ, to Liberty State Park and took the train to New York City (full disclosure: I am deathly afraid of driving within New York; ok, not "deathly" but still...).

The wife and I at Ellis Island.
In all these trips, I brought my Canon 5D Mark II, my Canon 430EX-II speedlite, a spare 5D battery, some AA-batteries, and CF cards. There were also a couple of shirts, undies and a pair of light shorts. I had a camera bag and an overnight bag all rolled into one - this beats carrying two bags while checking out the shops at Peddler's Village, walking the Atlantic City Boardwalk, spelunking the concrete jungle that is Manhattan or enjoying the jostling waves while island hopping from Elizabeth, NJ to Ellis Island to Liberty Island.

The big Apple in the Big Apple.
The bag's straps held up and I didn't feel any discomfort with them while walking for a whole day. However, on the two days that the temperatures reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the absence of any groves for airflow on the back of the bag made my back really hot - that's the part that wasn't particularly enjoyable. Also, the triple digit temperature made me curse the fact that there is no built-in water bottle holder.

But all-in-all, I still love this bag despite these short-comings. It is my most favorite bag.

The In-Laws and the wife.
The first and last photo taken by me using a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 430EX-II speedlite. Second and fourth photos were taken by the wife, while the third photo was taken by my sis-in-law Roana using the Canon Powershot G12.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Lowepro CompuDay Photo 250 Review

It's always a giddy feeling when you receive a package. And this is especially true when it is either Apple- or photography-related. This time around, I got something from the latter camp.

The Lowepro CompuDay Photo 250 is a really good bag. First, it can house a 15-inch MacBook Pro. Then, there is an easy-access door on the side so you can easily get your DSLR which, in my case, is a Canon 5D Mark II fitted with a Canon EF 24-105 f/4L lens. And when you don't have your DSLR with you, you can actually compress the camera compartment to the side and make the bag an "ordinary" laptop backpack.

A list of what the bag is capable of.
There are plenty of pockets and the bag can actually contain a lot of non-camera gear, especially when you compress the camera compartment. The bag is made up of good materials and, as to be expected from Lowepro bags, the construction is also top-notch. The paddings are thick and I wouldn't hesitate putting my gear inside. By the way, as you can see from the photos, the paddings are colored orange.

An added bonus: if you look at the photo above, this backpack has a luggage sleeve so you can attach it to the handle of your rolling luggage whenever you go from one terminal to another; or when you simply feel like doing it. :) There is also an outer mesh pocket for a water bottle.

The camera is easily accessed from the side-entry pocket.

My old but trusty MacBook Pro. The removable pocket is provided.
You can see here the camera compartment on the right.
Some caveats though. There is no space left for a flash in the camera compartment. I try to minimize the gear that I bring but there should be a subdivision in the camera compartment for a flash at the very least. What I plan to do is, while I am moving about, like when I am in a train, plane, driving, walking, I'll put my Canon 430EX-II speedlite inside the bag in the case that the flash came with. But, when I am already in the shoot, I'll transfer my speedlite in the front outer pocket (see the photo below).

Also, there aren't any compartments for your CF cards, something I cannot understand for a camera bag, though a wallet for your cables and other small stuff is provided. Since this bag would be heavier because of the laptop, I was hoping that Lowepro put a sternum strap and a waist belt. And again, I wished Lowepro put a thicker wider strap to the bag. As bags go, and as I always said before, you cannot go wrong with a thicker, wider strap.

With the camera compartment compressed, the bag can serve as an
everyday backpack.

The front pocket can house a lot of stuff also. Check out the speedlite...
and my orange iPhone bumper!
There is no all-weather cover though I don't know if, given the chance, I'd bring a laptop to a rainforest, so to speak. I got caught under some rain several times already and, with my current Lowepro bags, I didn't feel it was necessary to use the all-weather cover - the bags' materials were enough. I'd think twice about running under a heavy downpour without an all-weather cover though...

There is no space for a tripod though it isn't much of an issue for me for I don't bring one most of the time.

All in all, I am very happy with this bag. It can house a 15-inch MacBook Pro, a DSLR and a set of overnight clothes. The Lowepro Versapack 200AW (my review of that bag here) is still my most favorite bag but the CompuDay Photo 250 is a very close second.

The frontmost pocket can house maps and other things like lens caps
and filters.

Oh, finally, the wife said that the bag looks like a school bag, quite affectionately, but that is something I can live with. I am fine with it. :)

The books that can be found inside the bag are Martin Evening's Lightroom 3 Book and Scott Kelby's Photoshop CS4 Down and Dirty Tricks. In the front pocket, together with the speedlite, are my Kindle 3 and Lumiquest Promax System.

All shots made with a Canon Powershot G12 (my review here). Want the best bag for your G12? Check out my review of the BlackRapid SnapR here.


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