Happiness Is a Glowing Puppy

SnoopyPanasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7
f/5.6
14.o sec
ISO 100

Here’s everyone’s favourite beagle!  I can’t claim full credit for this one – it was Tiff who did the actual light painting in this case.  If you have never tried light painting, you really should give it a go.  All you need is a tripod, a dark room and a pen torch.  Put your camera into bulb-mode, press the shutter and start drawing in the air with light!  It can take a bit of trial and error, but when you pull it off, the results can be pretty darn cool.  Technically any light source would work, but I find that pen torches allow for the right level of brightness and dexterity to pull off cool art.

Maximising What You Have

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOlympus 40-150mm at 40mm
f/4.0
1/15 sec
ISO 100

So I’ve been meaning to shoot more portrait photos for a very long time now, but haven’t had the means or equipment to do so.  I always thought that good portraits need plenty of equipment, space and a dedicated area.  Oh how wrong I was!

The biggest challenge that I’ve had is lighting.  It just always seemed like good portrait photographers had reflectors, at least one flash, backdrops, studios, etc., so it felt out-of-reach.  In what I suppose was a flash of inspiration recently, I found out that none of that is actually necessary if you’re smart about your surroundings.  I remember reading tips about maximising natural lighting in any given situation, but none of that really made sense until I tried it myself.  I used zero special equipment in the above photo (featuring Tiff, my fiancee).  It was simply a bed, behind which was a large window with the sunlight streaming through.  I initially found the sunlight to be just a bit too harsh, so closing the sheer curtains behind her gave the light just that extra softness I was looking for.

To be fair though, we were in a hotel room on the 21st floor, with a floor-to-ceiling window but still, the same principle would work anywhere, so long as you try and make the most of your environment!  It took a bit of fiddling with the manual settings, but after a while I was able to get it just right, so that Tiff really stood out against a brilliant white background.

PS: I actually think my photo ended up looking a lot like a stock photo.  I’m not quite sure if that’s a good thing or not?

Tip: If Gakkenflex counter isn’t winding

First of all, yes I am still alive!  I just haven’t been able to find time to update my blog much these days.  Anyway, I thought I’d get back into things with this quick, but very useful tip.  As I alluded to in my Gakkenflex review, I had some issues with the film counter not really moving when I turned the winder knob.  If you have this issue, then this post is for you.  Apologies in advance for the grainy photos, my brother took my actual camera for his holiday in America. Continue reading

Gakkenflex English Instruction Manual (Otona no Kagaku Magazine Volume 25)

Gakkenflex Closeup

Okay everyone, as I promised in my Gakkenflex review, here is an english version of the Gakkenflex instruction manual!  I’d just like to preface this by saying that these are not direct Japanese-English translations.  My amazing, awesome girlfriend did rough translations of the part names (thank you!!!) and I filled in the rest with my own instructions, based on my experiences.  I gave some of the parts my own names, because we had no idea how to translate them, but you should still know what I mean

I know that there are some Gakkenflex clones out there, but the one I got was the offical Otona no Kagaku Magazine, volume 25, which I bought when I was in Japan.  The images here are scanned from the magazine that came with it.  I hope this is useful!

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It’s all in the perspective

Recently, I was reading this post on photographyfree4all’s blog, and it really got me thinking.  What is a photographer?  What makes a good photo?

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Harinezumi 2++ Highlighter Mod: Take soft, dreamy-looking photos

Left: Scene with soft-colour mod. Right: Normal photo without mod

While I really, really love the Digital Harinezumi 2++, one of my issues with it is that the photos tend to turn out super-saturated and very contrasty.  Now, this isn’t usually a huge issue, but sometimes I just want to take photos with softer colours, which would give them more of a dreamy feel.  From the photos I’ve seen, the first Harinezumi does seem to take softer colours, but nonetheless I am determined to get that sort of effect with my trusty Zumi 2++

I’ve been experimenting with lots of ways to achieve this and I’ve finally found a cheap and easy way to take dreamy photos with softer colours.  As a proof-of-concept, the image above gives you an idea of what to expect.

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Almost there (Gakkenflex)

I’m posting this as a bit of a “what not to do”. I called this one “almost there”, because that’s how I feel about the photo as a whole. I like the depth of the shot, and the blurred edges, highlighted by overhanging trees. Those edges, however, are the problem. Because of the naturally blurred edges on the Gakkenflex, your eyes are naturally drawn to the clear, focussed centre of the photo, and there’s…. nothing there. I feel like this photo is lacking that focus in the centre.

So, when you take photos with the Gakkenflex, keep in mind that it will look best if there is a subject in the centre.  Have a look at my Hikone Castle photo as an example.