Featured Portrait- Self Portrait

Reza

I took a series of self portraits as part of my experimentation in the last few days. This one is quite an interesting one.

See the lighting diagram to know how i did this shot.

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Featured Portrait – Self Portrait

Reza- Self Portrait

 

Well. Not a bad shot though it was a pain to light myself properly. See how I managed to get this shot and the lighting diagram below.

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The movie ‘300’ banned in Malaysia

Sometimes I despair at how decisions are made in this country. The movie 300 was supposed to be shown on ASTRO which has been advertising the movie for the last 4 weeks. Tonight I saw a crawler saying ‘the movie ‘300’ has been withdrawn in compliance of local regulations. we apologise for any inconvenience cause’.

I do have some views on the censorship philosophy of Malaysia but I think what I find amusing is that the movie 300 was shown on the local cinema circuit and was later released on DVD here. One would have thought that if the content of the movie were deemed unsuitable then it should never have been allowed to be shown here. Consistency (or lack of) is the key issue here. We don’t even have to go into the debate of suitability (which is a totally different ball game altogether). The second thing I found amusing is the lack of explanation (so far) on how the movie did not comply with local regulations.

Anyway, I thought the issue of sufficient importance to highlight here in my blog. Is this how things will be like 10 or 20 years from now?

Reza’s new flash diffuser

I have been researching and experimenting with photography concepts the last couple of months. One of the aspects of photography which always leaves me nervous is my usage of flash. I had always thought that bouncing my on-camera flashfrom ceilings and walls would be sufficient for getting great pictures until I realised that off camera flash would allow greater creativity. Looking at sites such as the Strobist site, Joe Mcnally’s site and Matt Adcock’s Flashflavor site really opened my eyes.

I found a brilliant site by Chuck Gardner who spent a considerable amount of time talking about Canon’s Speedlite system. You should read the article of using multiple speedlites on the site as it very clearly explains how to use 2 speedlites (1 mounted on camera as the master and 1 mounted ona tripod as slave). I’ve been getting some brilliant results using the Chuck’s concepts.

Anyway, I’ll share the pictures at a later post. What I really want to write about is my new flash diffuser which I made from instructions on how to make a DIY flash diffuser from Chuck Gardner.

Diffuser

Love it. Love it. Love it. The quality of light is so different and I now actually feel like I have total control over the lighting strategy. Have a look and try it out. I found the most difficult item to source is the material for the diffuser itself. This foamy stuff is difficult to find until I finally found something which could work which was a camping site ‘mattress’. I’ll post a picture of it later.

Update: Go see my self portrait using the flash diffusers

2nd Update: I’ve improved the flash diffusers. Go to my post called flash diffuser to see it.

Pulau Batu Putih Dispute

The International Court Of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague has just delivered judgement on the Pulau Batu Putih (or Pedra Blanca) dispute between Malaysia and Singapore. By a vote of 12 to 4, the ICJ finds that sovereignty over Pulau Batu Putih belongs to Singapore. The ICJ also held that the smaller Middle Rocks belongs to Malaysia (which was expected and does not constitute any form of consolation as far as I am concerned).

Reading the press release posted on the ICJ website, it would appear that everything centered on the then Johore acting State Secretary’s reply to the Colonial Secretary of Singapore stating that Johore does not claim ownership of the land which the tribunal concluded to be of ‘central importance’.

Though its a tiny uninhabited island, I can’t help but feel sad that this has happened. It probably is insignificant in the totality of life here but I just feel that the country got smaller all of a sudden. Its reported that we are now 13 square km smaller due to the decision.

Lets be grateful for what we have and not take things for granted.

Featured Portraits – Lina

Portraits - Lina

After a longgggg break from taking portraits (about 2 months which is a lifetime to me. The images I posted in this period were all re-processed from older shoots) I picked up my camera and decided to go for broke. This image was taken as a result of that. One light (580 EX II) with a reflective umbrella was placed on camera left about 1 meter above subject head pointing directly to models right shoulder.

I was standing on a chair pointing downwards and model was looking up. The flash was trigerred by an ST-E2 and the camera was the 1D Mark III with the glorious EF 85mm f/1.2 L II. Flash was set on manual at 1/8 power and camera settings at 1/300th f/5.6 ISO 200.

I should have taken at f/8 as there were some blown highlights though I like the shadows overall. If I were to do it again I would add a second light to add just a little hint of fill for the eyes (notice the lack of a catchlight on the eyes here).

Post processing was done on ACR 4.1 and there a lot of manipulation done in Photoshop to bring out details and colours.

EOS 1D Mark III
EF 85mm f/1.2 L
Speedlite 580 EX II
SPeedlite ST-E2

1/300 f/5.6 ISO 200 flash fired manual 1/8th power reflective umbrella

Canon Rebel XSi tv commercial

The new tv commercial for the Rebel XSi is way, way, way cool. You can view the commercial here. They’ve also released a behind the scenes look at how the commercial was made. They had 10 photographers who shot 70,000 images which was then arranged in a breathtaking collage. Most (if not all) of the images were taken by the (ahem) Canon EOS 1D Mark III. And the commercial has actually made me think of new ways to take advantage of the 1D Mark III’s blistering 10 fps.

Raising funds for Myanmar Cyclone Nargis Disaster

The Star and Mercy Malaysia have set up a relief fund to buy items urgently needed by those affected by the Cyclone Nargis.

Article from The Star, 7 May 2008

JOIN The Star in extending a helping hand to the people of Myanmar.

We are working together with Mercy Malaysia to collect funds to buy items that are urgently needed by those affected by Cyclone Nargis on Friday.

Among the things required are water purification sachets, medicine, tarpaulins and plastic sheets for temporary shelter.

Cheques must be made payable to Mercy Malaysia. Write Myanmar Relief Fund on the back of the cheques as well as your name and address so that receipts can be issued.

Because of the urgency of the matter, our collection will only be for two weeks.

Cheques can be sent to:

Myanmar Relief Fund
Star Publications (M) Bhd
Menara Star
15, Jalan 16/11
Petaling Jaya 46350
Selangor.

One member, one vote

Not long ago, I was chatting with a close friend of mine and we were discussing (and lamenting) the state of the country’s political landscape. To many people, Barisan Nasional and UMNO (in particular) as well as certain people in positions of power needs to have a serious makeover (I’m downplaying her actual words here). Though I agree with her that things are not great I did have very different views as to the solution to the problem. I feel that targeting certain people or blaming certain people for the state of affairs is a wasted exercise which would ultimately lead to a need to punish which is not productive nor conducive for growth and progress. Instead, if we need to blame anything, we must blame the system that has led us here. She looked at me with incredulity (actually she had more of the ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’). I explained that we must always look for solutions to problems which can be generational, and not seasonal. If we get rid of a certain bunch of people, there will always be other people (who maybe worse) ready to take over. We must recognise that the system which allowed things to happen needs restructuring.

One of the quirks of Malaysian politics is that the leadership of this country is in effect decided by handful of men holding the post of heads of division. To contest for the post of party president, an aspirant need 30% of the divisions to support you (and 20% and 10% respectively for the post of deputy president and vice president). There are 191 UMNO divisions which means that if I wanted to run for the President, I need 58 people to support my nomination before I can even begin.

There may have been a time when such a system was needed but perhaps it is time UMNO considered that things have changed. The favourite reason often quoted by the naysayers is that it could lead to splits within the party resulting in camps. Well, splits are inevitable when people have differing views and opinions but maybe we have to begin giving people the benefit of the doubt that since the majority has spoken (even if contrary to our position) then we shall go with the majority. I know its a leap of faith but we’ll never know unless we do it.

The other thing to note is that this business of ‘no-contest’ for the sake of party unity needs to be obliterated from the vocabulary of Malaysian politics. We must never allow any of our leaders to assume leadership positions without having ‘earned’ the right to lead via contest. At this moment, I would say it doesn’t matter who leads, as long as the person leads with the consent of the majority.

6 months after that conversation, I am glad things are looking up and there may be real tides of change coming especially after that thing we called a ‘political tsunami’. I would venture to say that this is one of those generational solutions which will solve many a problem that seems to plague us at this time. If this is done, it can truly be called progress. I favour Tengku Razaleigh’s one member one vote concept as well as Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s ‘One nomination, a proposer and seconder’ concept. If this happens watch the country transform into something truly great.