Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Inside a Conch

Shot inside the Guggenheim Museum in New York using a Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 24-105 IS USM f/4L lens. Post-processed in Adobe Lightroom 3.

Want a great backpack for your DSLR? Check out my review of my favorite bag, the Lowepro Versapack 200 AW, here and here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

When It's Really Bright Outside, Use Your Flash!

This can be categorized under the "I thought I was doing it correctly..." category. 

It is said that the best time to make photographs is during the "golden hour." But, what if you have no choice? Like, what if you are in a bus tour and you only have that one hour from 1pm to 2pm to savor the sights? Obviously, you have no choice, and taking photos at a time when the sun is beating down on the scenery is much better than not having any photos at all.

With buildings and mountains, you have no choice. But with people, you can do something to improve your photography that requires only a little effort from you and your subject - walk around.


In this post, I stated that it is better to put the light source behind your subject so that the light won't be glaring on their eyes making them squint. This would also prevent harsh light from falling into your subject's face.

However, this in itself causes trouble some of the time. Look at the picture below of the wife and our friend's son:

The wife and Leo. The thing behind them is actually a building.
But it was too overexposed to make it intelligible.
If you set your exposure for your subject, in the above case for the wife's and the kid's faces, the background can get overexposed.

So, how do you correct for this?

Well, as the title of this post says, use your flash!

First, you should expose for the background. If you are not yet sure on how to do this, put your DSLR on P-mode (for professional mode... just kidding, it's Program Mode) while you aim your camera on the environment.

Then, dial down your flash: I usually start at -1 EV (exposure value) then go from there. If it is too bright, if there are "hot spots" on my subject's face, then I dial it down more. If it is not enough, then I make the adjustment. Also, you can change your aperture setting and your shutter speed to adjust for the exposure. (However, you have to take note of the sync speed of your flash. On my speedlites, the sync speed is 1/250s so I generally don't go faster than that.)

Check out these photos of the sister-in-law and the wife, respectively as I applied what I told you about here.

The sis-in-law. The sun is on camera-right (note the rim light on her head - that caused the sis-in-law to "pop" from the New York skyline background.)

The wife. Perfect example of the sun beating down overhead.
But Lady Liberty won't wait, we had to make photographs already.

I hope this photography how-to would be of great value to you. It has been for me. :)

Shots made with a Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 24-105 IS USM f/4L lens and a Canon 430EX-II speedlite. Want a great backpack for your DSLR? Check out my review of my favorite bag, the Lowepro Versapack 200 AW, here and here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


ISO1600, f/4, 1/60s

Shot at the Metropolitan Museum in New York using a Canon 5D Mark II. The piece is titled "Three Men Walking II" by Alberto Giacometti. Post-processed in Adobe Lightroom 3.

Want the perfect bag for your DSLR? Consider my favorite bag, the Lowepro Versapack 200AW. My review of the bag can be found here and here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Relative Speed in Photography

What is the speed with which you move, when you cross a room, when you go from one part of town to another? How do you measure your rate of motion?

Or is it the ground underneath you that is moving?

ISO200, f/11, 1/25s

ISO200, f/11, 1/25s

Speed is relative. A lot of things are "relative". Only a few things do not change - in this side of our universe.

Photos shot with a Canon 5D Mark II while I was sitting in front of the Metropolitan Museum in New York with the wife and the sis-in-law.

Want the perfect bag for your DSLR? Consider my favorite bag, the Lowepro Versapack 200AW. My review of the bag can be found here and here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Coffee Art at Intelligentsia Coffee

Discovering my new city, well, two months later the wife and I moved in...

Loved their croissant! And the coffee is strong, the way I like it! 

"Intelligent coffee" :) (intelligentsia coffee at the loop.) #foodphotography"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Canon Powershot SX230 HS Review

If you're on the lookout for something slim but has a long zoom, then look no further. The Canon Powershot SX230 HS may be the camera for you. It has a lot of features that you can ever want, like scenes, a macro mode and, as I've already stated, a telephoto zoom.

Scenes include fireworks, underwater, snow and foliage among others. You can also set it to shoot with a fish-eye effect, miniature (tilt-shift), toy camera, etc.

It now shoots 1080p video and, more importantly, you can change the zoom while shooting video. Also, the camera auto-focuses when you change your perspective.

You can shoot up to ISO3200 though noise starts to get problematic when you go above ISO800. (I haven't tried printing pictures taken by this camera above ISO800 but I think prints at 4R (4x6 inches) will still work.)

DSLR users may also be interested in having this as a secondary, everyday, pocketable camera because there is full time Manual (M), Aperture priority (Av), Shutter priority (Tv) and Program Mode (P). However, the Scene Modes and Effects (toy camera, tilt-shift) are not available when you use either Av, Tv, M or P. The converse is also true: when you switch to Scenes or Effects you relinquish all controls to the camera.

The flash is something you need to watch out for because your left pointy finger can hamper its "emergence". But, if in case your finger blocked the flash when it goes out, you can actually just flick it back up to use it. And, if you don't want it anymore, you can just push the flash back in. (But note that the flash that comes built in should only be used in times of dire need. Such small light sources can really wreak havoc on your photos. However, it is very useful for fill flash.)

Another feature of the SX230 is a built-in GPS. You can use this to geotag your photos if you so choose to. This is extremely useful so you can accurately record where your photos were taken. However, it takes a significant amount of time for the camera to get a GPS signal. One time, it took at least 5 minutes before the camera locked into a satellite - and that's on an outdoor area on a clear, sunny day! I haven't been too thrilled with this that I decided to just leave the GPS switched off so far.

I've only used Auto White Balance but the color, in my opinion, has been spot on. However, since you're shooting jpeg's, you're still much better off using a white balance card just in case you want to be more precise regarding the white balance of your shots.

The screen is very bright and is very much useable even during the midday sun. There are different aspect ratios when you take photos like 16:9, 1:1, etc.

Any downsides?

Well, some of the pictures I took were soft and I needed to sharpen them up in post. Perhaps Canon will release a software update that will take care of this: yes, I'm hoping it's a software problem.

Noise starts to show beyond ISO800 that you'd definitely need an image editor like Lightroom to suppress the noise. A 14x zoom, equivalent to 28-392mm, is present but when you zoom in all the way the aperture opening goes down from 3.1 to 5.9. And, as I've just said, the widest is at 28; it is not wide enough. And everyone would be happy if the biggest aperture opening is at least 2.0.

And yes, the GPS takes a lot of time for it to lock up plus the location of the flash takes some getting used to.

But, all-in-all, I'm very pleased with the camera. It's pocketable, has a long zoom and has full manual. If it only shoots RAW...

Highly Recommended.


For the iOS users:

Sample shots from the Canon Powershot SX230 HS

I have some more sample photos from previous posts below:

Clarence Buckingham Palace
Chicago Air & Water Show
Tall Ships in Chicago
Magnificent Marilyn

Shots of the Canon Powershot SX230 HS made with a Canon 5D Mark II. Want the best bag for your DSLR? Consider my favorite bag, the Lowepro Versapack 200AW. My review of the bag can be found here.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Filipino Food in Downtown Chicago - Tapsilog

"Exploring our new city... Reina and I found a Pinoy restaurant, Halo Asian Mix downtown! :)"


This restaurant can be found on 29 E Adams St, Chicago, IL 60603. 

Shot made with my iPhone 4 and post-processed using Instagram.


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