The Canadian Multicultural Education Foundation

Sunday, March 21, 2010 10:42 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

A few shots from today's Harmony Brunch held by The Canadian Multicultural Education Foundation. I had brought my camera along to get a few shots of my girlfriends father piping in Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Norman Kwong.

Shooting such events is a little different than shooting other occasions, it calls for fast timing and traditional composition techniques, tried and true methods if you will.

White Balance

Thursday, March 18, 2010 10:11 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

I did a little studying today on color correction using curves adjustment layers via To start, the place is definitely worth the price of admission. It was an issue I've always had with my photos and this brought me a resolution to it. Intentionally messing with the colors for cross processing effects is the same tool but the way they're used is quite different. No wonder I could never clue in to the correct way of going about it.

If you can, give it a trial run, it's really not expensive and you'll learn a lot in a short period of time.

Stuff on the side

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 7:55 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments
The next few days are going to be heavy on the reading and studying as well as putting some attention to elements not directly related to shooting.

As much as I tried to put it off it's time to get a new business card design up, start developing a brand and get contracts, invoices, release forms and all that jazz sorted out for the spring and summer. Not having to worry about the small details while you're busy shooting will make life a lot easier.

So with that, less babbling about such things and let's instead enjoy a little inspiration,

Phabric Magazine Launch

Sunday, March 14, 2010 3:59 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 1 comments

Saturday night I was invited to shoot at a magazine launch, Phabrik, being hosted by Western Canada Fashion Week. They were holding it at the newly opened Alberta Art Gallery here in Edmonton which makes for an beautiful venue.

There were a number of us photographers attending so rather than try and cover it all I had decided to cover mainly the interaction of people and leave the other aspects to some of the others since we were all working together anyways. I saw this as a good chance to experiment as well as trying to push my camera to some of its strengths.

I had recently purchased the 70-200mm f2.8 VR II for the D3s, in part to situations as these. The venues lighting conditions were, to put it nicely, very moody, aka very little light. While I'm not against using flash what so ever in this particular case I wanted to experiment just going off ambient and seeing what the camera and lens could do. Even though I'd probably regret it I ended up intentionally leaving my wireless transmitters at home so I wouldn't fall back on the flash.

In regards to using some fill flash the setup of the venture made it a little difficult. The ceilings were very high and the majority of the area was open space, making it difficult to bounce flash off of a wall. Doing it straight on worked but resulted in images that were a little too flat for my tastes. Carrying around the 70-200 would have made it difficult to handhold a flash anyways.

So I went without and worked with the light that was available for better or worse. I have to say I was impressed with the performance of the camera and lens. The AF had little to no problem keeping up with focus in the extremely dark conditions. The VR which was marketed as able to provide around 4 full stops of Vibration Reduction completely impressed me. I hand held some shots at 1/13th of a second @ 200mm and still got sharp results, something I had a lot of trouble doing when I was shooting on the Canon side. Granted I did not have an IS lens at that time but even then I couldn't even dream of getting some of those results. As for the ISO performance on the D3s it definitely kept up. There were shots between ISO 3200 and 12,800 which showed very little noise. What noise there was can easily be cleaned up in post processing.

At one point of the night there was a ballet performance right in the middle of the dimly lit room. In order to freeze the action I had to shoot at a higher speed, I cranked the ISO to 12,800 and got some great results. I found that really impressive given the circumstances of being in a venue with lighting not specifically tailored for that sort of performance. Having that sort of flexibility in the camera reminds me why I invested in it.

After yesterday I'm no longer particularly worried about shooting the ceremony side of a wedding in a church which prohibits the use of flash. Being able to shoot at 200mm, 1/20th of a second at f2.8 and ISO 6400 and still get quality images will make life easier. In the end it gives me more freedom to worry about composition.

Otherwise it was an interesting night. I got a chance to meet the mayor and grab some shots of him. That in itself was kind of a bit of a wake up call, a realization of not having a second chance at some of these shots.

One other aspect that I'm not too used to quite yet is approaching people I would like to use for models sometime in the future. Oddly enough I don't feel out of place asking those advertising themselves as models, even given the idea they probably on a regular basis work with photographers much more talented than me. Coming across people in every day situations always feels a bit more daunting though. Perhaps it's the notion of not wanting to come off as some creep with a camera or the fact that I really need to make a new business card already, something that looks a lot more professional than my old one.

Luckily though I'm slowly getting rid of that mentality and approaching some of these people. The fact that some of them I probably won't run into again and others are incredibly hard to come by has made me realize I need to take some initiative and make it happen.

What I want to do now is learn how to develop the photos to have a greater tonal range and get more knowledge on evening out the white balance. While I fully understand the concept of doing so using gels on flash getting good results out of the camera in which the conditions and colors are continually changing is another thing on its own. It's still something I can't control anywhere near as well as I'd like. Though perhaps it's just the nature of the beat shooting with some many different colors of light in one scene. You can only go so far.


Friday, March 12, 2010 1:09 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 1 comments

Lately I've found that rather than always going to the full effort of planning a shoot and organizing it all i'll go out and just shoot (crazy, i know!). Quite regularly I won't even do anything with the pictures.

Earlier in the week at a local photographers meet I heard someone say something to the tune of "The value is not in the shots but in the experience". I wasn't a part of that particular conversation and only really overheard the line, not knowing the context it was in but it got me thinking a little.

I've found that for better or worse I tend to shoot a little less now than I did a few years ago. A little voice inside my head was wondering if that was due to apathy to it all but that phrase made me realize that I've come into the habit of making pictures, not just taking them. It helped to realize that the times I do just go out and shoot for fun it's not for the pictures, it's to practice and learn and improve.

Fashion Week

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 7:40 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

Three more weeks and it's almost time for a week straight of fashion, hair and makeup, oh and bulgogi from the local restaurant of course. I'm looking forward to seeing how the new camera and lens performs but I haven't given too much thought as to how I will be shooting this time around.

Towards the end of last season I got a little bored of the location I was shooting from and ended up straying off to the sides a little, in the process getting a lot of shots I was quite happy with.

Provided the general set up stays the same I will either shoot from the location I experimented with last season or push to come up with something new and better. Not that I don't want to but the lighting and setup of the venue leaves a lot to be desired in terms of viable angles and locations to shoot from.

Wasabi Project

Monday, March 8, 2010 9:59 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

A friend and I had set up a small project for ourselves a little while ago. He is involved in design and a bit of photography and had wanted to add some menu work to his portfolio, I on the other hand wanted to play with lighting and get some food photography into my portfolio.

Although i enjoy doing a little cooking, neither of us are artisan cooks by any stretch of the imagination but luckily another friend of ours family owns a local Japanese restaurant so we had proposed to them the idea of doing the photography as well as a redesign of the menu so long as they provide us the dishes for the photo shoot. They of course had no problem with this so we had setup a date to do this and that date finally came last Sunday.

I've practiced a little food photography on my own in the past though nothing extensive, to be honest the food was generally eaten by the time I even got my strobes and camera into place. Regardless this was a bit of a different venture since overall it involved a lot more planning and preparation as well as factoring the smaller shooting space and time limitations.

We had decided on the dishes we would be shooting as well as the general theme we had wanted to use after some research.

Unfortunately we had a little trouble finding a material we had wanted to use to retain a feel and texture we had wanted for this particular shoot. To top it off we would be dealing with dishes with a number of individual sushi and sashimi as opposed to my earlier impression that it would be much smaller sets. In the end I had switched the lighting around and fine tuned it to accommodate the larger set pieces.

One of the first problems we had run into was the fabric we had chosen for the table cloth was a little wrinkly. Even after running an iron over it a few times small bumps and wrinkles still showed up due to the height of the main strobe. To counter that I set up a mirror held in place by a clamp on a stand to reflect some of the main light , essentially adding fill light to the shadow side and getting rid of the wrinkles.

A little farther down the road we had set up yet another mirror and bounced a snooted strobe into to add some specular highlights as well as some shadow fill created by pieces that were in between the main light source and the rest of the dish.

While we ended up with a lot of usable shots I must confess I had a little difficulty with the compositions of some of the bigger dishes. Part of the difficulty was in regards to the limited space of the set up. My camera had been up against a wall so I did not have much room to move around, nor did we have much room to move the whole set up not to mention the fact we were limited on time for shooting.

Over all it was not without it's hiccups but they're expected by now, nothing ever goes according to plan and you have to move and adapt rather quick.

The mirrors I had used in the shoot were nothing more than about 6"x6" mirror tiles I picked up from Walmart. The reason I had opted for these was the slightly harsher light they would provide over using a white foam core board as well as the relative small size of them. They actually came in quite handy.

A bit of the weekend

11:55 AM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

Lately it has been a little hectic in some regards. Although I'm not constantly out doing shoots I have been spending a lot of time organizing for them, editing and overall networking as well as studying and reading different facets of photography. Whether it be about lighting, posing, equipment, contacts, programs or business aspects there's a lot of ground to cover and at times it kind of feels like I am not moving forward simply because you don't have a tangible product at the end of the day. In the end it becomes important to stay positive and remember that eventually all these little threads come together and influence you as a whole.

Last week I had met up with some other photographers from around the city for a networking night of sorts. There were some interesting discussions all around and it helped put a little perspective on the different kinds of shooting. A lot of the people there were wedding photographers and a few of us got to talking how that whole aspect involves being familiar with many different forms of shooting. As a wedding photographer you have to be flexible, you have to be able to photograph people, events, still life, lifestyle and beauty shots to name a few and all the while dealing with people, covering the business side, the post processing, the prints and many other small things. Mind you a lot of these spill over whether you shoot for a magazine, for fashion or what ever else you may enjoy doing.

I guess trying those shoes on really helps you get an appreciation for the really talented photographers who manage to do this weekend after weekend all the while delivering an amazing product. It sure as heck isn't as easy as they make it look.

With that I have put a lot of pressure on myself to make some good progress over the next few months and bring all these little aspects involved together. I guess the hard thing with progress is at times you can't notice it until you've traversed the road a good distance before looking back. It's little pieces, bit by bit. Big changes do not come over night.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010 10:38 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

I think it's easy having dreams and goals going from point A to point B, finding a good path between those points can at times be a bit of a struggle. While we may know the direction we want to head in having good talented people around us can help not only create inspiration but a lot of avenues and ideas not on our radar.

Get to know the talented people around your area, meet, network, share ideas and shoots. You'll grow because of it.

Spring is around the corner

Monday, March 1, 2010 7:55 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

The past few days here in Edmonton has seen some beautiful weather, at least for this time of the year. With temperatures hovering around 5°C and a little free time I've finally managed to explore the area around where I live. Being quite close the North Saskatchewan River it's a little surprising I have yet to find a way to the river since moving here.

It's not exactly accessible on this side of town, most of it is still under construction so there are no parks or bike paths that run along side it as other parts of town. Regardless, there turns out to be a residential area, of the country variety, that runs not far from it. A testament to the serenity of the area, I spotted a couple of deer grazing near the forest as I arrived. It had only been about 5pm. Unfortunately, they ran off by the time I got out of my car. Not that I was equipped for the shot anyways, having only brought with me the 105mm f2.8 Macro lens.

I had wanted to test this lens out for a series of shots in a similar vein to ones I had taken the past fall. At the time I was experimenting with using dried or dead leaves in a variety of environments. I had wanted to continue this through out the entire year, capturing the leaves in the different seasons and states.

I got a few shots in and definitely want to explore the area a bit more this week. There's a lot of beauty to be found there.

As for the lens, I'm really starting to warm up to it. The pictures I was shooting in Fall of last year were done on the 16-35mm f2.8, mainly on the 35mm end of the scale but even though the lens had a really small minimum focus distance the length of the lens limited the amount of out bokeh I was able to get. With the 105mm lens it is a lot easier to isolate the elements, maybe even too much so.