Tuesday, April 27, 2010 8:25 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

An aspect of photography I have always admired was the ability to create emotion and inspiration within individuals with just a simple picture. I'm sure we all strive for that on some level even if were not always shooting with that at the forefront of our conscious for every shot. We're always worrying about the lighting, posing, shutter speeds, noise and so on.

In the end it's a cool feeling knowing that what you create with a simple click of a shutter button can bring a lot to the people you shoot for. It can bring back cherished memories or it can help them move forward in life. It can bring them business and enrich their lives. Of course I may be glamorizing it a little but it can be a beautiful thing creating these sorts of things with your own personal view on things.

My desires have always been to improve my craft, as long as it's not at the expense of others. It may not always be the most idealistic of goals but it's always great to see when the end result helps move someone ahead in life.

The picture up there is not mine. I wish I had the photographers name. It was from the photographer who originally had the blog entitled "My Private Tokyo". The site has been down for several years now. It was one of the first images that really got me interested in photography. It created something in me that was never there before.

As you guys can probably tell a lot of my style is quite similar to this shot. It may not be technically impressive or particularly stunning but I have always maintained it created a beautiful sense of atmosphere and it's something I've tried to do through my own work.

So what inspires you?

Playing with Light

Sunday, April 25, 2010 10:37 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 2 comments

With the beautiful weather we've been having recently here in Edmonton I took the opportunity to try out some outdoor portraits with a local aspiring model who was more than willing to offer up her time. I love taking opportunities like this to collaborate with local talent as it gives me a chance to develop aspects of my photography I wish to improve and the people on the other side of the lens get some nice shots for their portfolio. This photo shoot was well, basically, quick and dirty. I had wanted something clean and simple, no stylists or make up artists. It can be a lot of fun creating and bringing together bigger shoots but there can also be a lot of beauty and simplicity from a lone individual.

In this particular case I was more interested in bringing out my strobe as well as a 22" beauty dish I had invested in during the winter. I had some experiences with using a strobe outside from the previous summer but sad to say it was rather limited and not my own personal equipment. In this particular case I had also brought along a Vagabond II since the location did not have a usable power source anywhere near it.

To start off with, I found the Vagabond system to be of huge importance. It worked great through out the shoot and didn't skip a beat. I can't say how long it would last since I managed to still have juice in it after finishing the shoot. Also, at the price it's being offered at, it's a great system and I would definitely recommend it to others looking for a possible solution to their portable power needs. That being said my use with it so far has been limited so I will post more impressions as I get more chances to use it. Otherwise though, my impressions are very positive.

The model ended up being fantastic to work with. Having a model who is comfortable to work with as well as relaxed and easy going makes the photographers life a lot easier and the chances of both parties getting beautiful results from the shoot definitely improve. When it comes to me, I love a model with striking, strong eyes, they are definitely a window to the soul and the energy you get from them brings a lot to a good picture. I eagerly look forward to working with her on bigger projects in the future.

Behind the Scenes

1:05 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 4 comments

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of helping out a little on a personal project of Ryan and Beth Kelly. The shoot was for a video they are putting together for their website and it was all being filmed on DSLRs. Aside from helping out a little here and there with equipment I had brought along my camera to do some behind the scene shots of the day. I was impressed with the whole set up. I don't have very much experience in the video end of things so it was interesting to have someone on set who had a working knowledge of it all as well as the equipment at their disposal to back it up.

Seeing all of that makes me want to start up a little on video.

The day ended up going quite well. As usual you come across small bumps in the road but that's what a plan B is for. The weather ended up cooperating for the most part. Most of the day ended up being overcast, giving a nice soft light . The only downside was the cold. Typical weather here in Edmonton. 26 degrees one day, 5 degrees the next.

Some food for thought

Thursday, April 22, 2010 9:27 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

Everyone's journey towards building up their hobby to something they can develop a business from varies greatly. There simply is no one efficient way to go about it. We all not only learn at different paces, know different people, work in different circles and environments but diversely cover the myriad of facets that encompass delivering a finished product to a client. Everyone comes from a different background and presently it's become a lot easier to get involved in photography with the advent of the DSLR.

There is no one set path.

With that however, I believe there is a pretty broad consensus that as a photographer you should develop a positive images with the community and the people you work around. In an ideal world this of course would be easy. We're all human in the end, we work under time constraints, lack of information, misinformation, emotions and everything else that is generally involved in all aspects of our daily lives. As always there will be good and bad days.

I came across a few individuals recently that have left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I'm of course not here to name names or gossip, but rather to state some of my takes on it all. I won't even really go into the details of any of it.

To begin, building up your image around negative attention may work in the short run but it will only get you so far. As big as a place may seem, the world we live in is really small, word gets around pretty easily and it's not long before being sneaky will get in the way of getting decent projects and jobs. I should hope the majority of photographers aim to bring their level up past the lowest common denominator.

Respect the people around you. I haven't been involved with the community here for very long at all. I've only been doing photography for a couple of years and even then, in that short period of time I've seen individuals who I've looked up to who I feel I've surpassed and individuals who were recently very new to photography who have blown past me. Playing politics with the people you meet will only affect you negatively in the long run. The person who you may feel is at a level below yours could be well ahead of you the next day. Treat those people respect, especially if you're trying to get involved, trying to muscle you're way in isn't going to always earn your a lot of respect. Bring something to the table rather than just politics.

People who live in shells and feel as though any project another photographer gets is a job you lost only shoot themselves in the foot. Being involved in the community and passing a long jobs to other photographers you may not feel you could do justice or have no interest in pays off in the long run. Those same people will bring you forward in your own goals.

Having those people around you helps with your learning, your access to gear and the people willing to help you out when you need it. I've lent out gear to other photographers, I've helped them learn some of my work flow when they ask and I've helped them on shoots when they need a second hand. Through this I've learned a great deal on a number of subjects pertinent to my own growth. Having friends who will help you out will help you improve a great deal, otherwise you're just on your own. See how far you can make it with just yourself as opposed to the help of others.

Ironically enough, a while back I had stumbled across a blog from someone from my high school who recently got involved in photography. I had followed the blog for a while and eventually made the decision to at least make a comment, one that had noted the positives of some of the images but also room for improvement. Mind you as dense as I can be sometimes I was still polite and sincere about it. My intentions were not meant to be harmful but unfortunately were viewed as such. Perhaps a bad impression from high school?

Regardless, it has helped me remember that positive criticism can be a huge aid. I for one don't go out of my way to get feedback but it's always welcome.

In the end I think as an individual you don't always have to agree with it, hearing it out and making your own decision will help you improve. As before, if you cut yourself off completely from that sort of thing you're only impeding your own progress.

I'm not one for negativity. I tend to gravitate away from those people.

Disclaimer: For someone who is not all that involved with the business side of photography, I sure do like to do a lot of word-smithing in regards to it. Take what I say with a huge grain of salt.

Also, I'm hoping to get back into the flow of things and post up some new shots and lighting setups/write ups in the next few days.

A quick update on things

I've been wanting to put up some more entries in regards to a few topics I've had on my mind as of late, some outlooks, some points of contention and some questions. This past week has been pretty hectic. Aside from dedicating a good deal of time to personal improvement and learning I've also been running around and attending to networking nights, personal projects and odd jobs here and there. Each night I sit down hoping to add another entry on here but end up running out of time.

Through it all I've made some new contacts and brought forth some new business opportunities in the coming weeks so I am sincerely looking forward to it all. Were only creeping up on spring (or that's what it looks like from all the brown here in Edmonton) and I feel I've made a lot of progress in what I'm pushing to do this summer.

More to come over the past 2 weeks soon.

A Little More Fashion

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 10:42 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

I had wanted to do a bit of a bigger entry tonight but I'm running short on time and have a few projects to attend to. Regardless, a small update is in order.

One of the small but big changes at Fashion Week this season has been the introduction of a new runway. Although at the core of it it's just a small color change bit in the big picture it's given the venue a much different atmosphere and made it look a good deal more professional. It's one of a few steps in the right direction and will make a big impact over the coming seasons.

Now I'd love to see some improved lighting.
A little bit at a time I suppose....

A Smaller Venue

Monday, April 12, 2010 10:14 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

A few weeks ago I was asked to do a photo shoot for a smaller fashion show being held in a venue downtown.I had known one of the designers presenting there and was all for it. People and low light, hey it's good practice for weddings and almost none of the stress so I get a chance to play around and experiment with the freedom.

The night went a little differently than anticipated. I had my flash with me but I try and avoid using it, partially due to wanting to become more comfortable with it (yeah I know, that's kind of counter intuitive) and the other is because I'm still trying to improve on balancing it with ambient to my liking. Regardless I did not want to use on camera flash at that particular venue. I had brought with me a strobe to set up in a corner specifically for the fashion show. Unfortunately I had left the house forgetting to bring along the light modifier. Bare bulb wasn't exactly what I was going for.

In the end I decided to have some fun, push my camera a bit and shoot it all high ISO. Aside from the main stage with the performer for the evening, most of the venue was lit really sporadically with bright tungsten pot light. It was definitely a challenge, more so when the fashion show started. Aside from the sporadic lighting the venue was sold out and really packed. So much so that there was no real good vantage point. More so, the fashion show did not begin till a good hour past it's original intended start time. It was also not announced that it was starting till about a minute before it did. Needless to say I was still running around getting shots of the crowd and not in position (not that there really even was a good one).

I've seen photos from some amazing photographers who have shot certain weddings all on available light. I don't kid myself into thinking it's as easy as just snapping away. You really have to be aware of what you have to work with and how to twist it to work for you. You end up having to pay a lot more attention to your foreground and background as well as the surrounding light sources and modifiers Easier said than done of course but there are some beautiful examples of it around the internet.

Radek, Jill and Sophia

Sunday, April 11, 2010 2:15 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

I've done a bit of photography for my boss at my daytime job. The majority of it has been architectural shots of homes and kitchens. It's something I've actually quite enjoyed since it ends up being just you, the lights, lines and angles. You don't have to worry about models, or makeup artists not showing up and can kind of work off your own schedule. But I digress....

I remember talking about his wedding photos a while back. I had not shot his wedding, it had taken place when I was still fairly new to photography at the time. Regardless both him and his wife really enjoyed a lot of my work even back then so I anticipated being asked to do some baby photos for them when their new daughter was born.

As I've mentioned in the past I can't claim that my forté is baby pictures but it's something I can still enjoy and work towards improving as I go along. The results I've brought forth so far I'm also quite happy with.

This time around I had a better impression as to what shots I wanted to get. It's still a learning process but in the end I still come out of it with a lot more shots than I promised and a happy couple.

Fashion Week in Edmonton

Monday, April 5, 2010 12:56 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

Western Canada Fashion Week, formerly known as Edmonton Fashion Week, started up last Thursday to a sold out show and greater media attention this season around. I always look forward to some of the works of art created and exhibited by the local, and not so local, designers. Each individual brings something new and different to the runway and the energy and atmosphere is something I enjoy getting caught up in, even if I may not be the most fashionable person around.

Like all things however it has up's and down's. Later this month it's a subject I feel I want to make my mind heard. It has become grating to deal with some of the issues season after season and not mention them. I cannot in good conscience keep it bottled up and pretend it's not happening. For the time being however, I will try and not dwell on the negative and instead keep this particular entry related to the photography, rather than the politics of it all.

This season I've had a lot more success with the D3s than I ever did with the 5d MkII.

Now, I want to preface this to point out I am by no means a fanboy when it comes to Camera gear. I don't hold inherent prejudices and I truly believe all the different companies put forth some amazing cameras with varying strengths and weaknesses between them all. In the end it is the photographer and what feels best in his hands. The camera is just an instrument.

Anyways, one of the main issues I was having was with the Auto Focus system on the Canon 5D MkII. It is, by no means a bad system. It works well but I had wanted to have a system in my hands that is a step above, a pro model. I had found the limited AF point selection to be a bit of a limitation, more so when only the center point was the cross sensor point. I may be mistaken on this but it is to my understanding that the AF system on the 5D MkII is essentially the same one as the 5D (If i'm mistaken on this then I apologize). While once again not an inherently bad system it is starting to show it's age a little.

Ultimately part of the reason for my switch to Nikon was the improved AF system the D3s possessed, among a slew of other reasons. Not to get bogged down in details but after testing it out using continuous focus on the runway, I had walked out truly impressed and happy with it. Having the freedom to choose between 51 points let me keep up with what I wanted to do and the results were dead on 99% of the time. The system kept up and didn't skip a beat the entire night, as well as the past few shows.

I'm genuinely happy and impressed with the results. It's a great feeling knowing you can put it out of your mind and focus (har har!) on framing and composition.

As for other things. The runways is a little lower this year compared to last season. Personally I'm not a fan of it. Because of it theres a greater limitation for the audience. Those further back have a harder time seeing the show. As for me, I had a preconceived idea as to the angle I wanted to shoot but with the change in height it has thrown me a little off my game. To be perfectly honest I haven't yet found one that works quite as well for me.

I'm looking forward to shooting the rest of the nights this week. It is a little sad that it will be over come Thursday though.

The shows put forth thus far have been very entertaining and enjoyable to photograph. I love nothing more than seeing some of the models bring their attitude and put it on display on the runway. There is an energy in them that is near palpable and shows up beautifully in pictures.

For those interested, I have a nicer collection of pictures up here.

A busy week

Friday, April 2, 2010 1:27 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 1 comments

The past week has kept me quite busy with several shoots and projects that I really haven't had a chance to put up much of an update. I spent the past weekend doing 4 different shoots on Saturday and Sunday and then some time sensitive editing during the week.

Fashion week here in Edmonton kicked off finally. I'll be spending the entire week there shooting each night as one of the official photographers.

Other than that I've got a number of projects with different models and designers through out the month of April as well as an Engagement shoot in 2 weeks. Looking forward to all of it.

Anywho, one of the shoots this past weekend was for a personal project I have been wanting to try for a while now. It was essentially a night and day theme for 2 Japanese models I was using. One shot of them was in traditional swordsmanship related attire while the second was in modern day business clothes. I will put them together and photoshop them so the same person in different outfits is standing back to back when I get some free time.

In the meantime here are a few shots off camera from the shoot, light set up included: