Light Painting Photography the Essentials

Light painting is a photographic technique in which exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source while taking a long exposure photograph, either to illuminate a subject or to shine a point of light directly at the camera, or by moving the camera itself during exposure – Wikipedia.

Before… 

So far I have photographed flowers and toys (Kindly click on the link to see sample photos). I have learnt a few techniques in terms of how to capture photos of flowers and toys,  as well as develop a tad bit of my own post-photo editing style. However light photography is quite different and a bit of a challenge.  Although I have tried this five years ago, I can say that I was not so satisfied by my shots.  Here are some of my earlier attempts on light painting.

Now… 

My interest was recently rekindled.  Thanks to a fellow photographer (@Edson). This time we tried doing it during the night. It is important that the surroundings are dark.  I took several photos.  It was a great experience. I have learnt some unconventional methods in doing it. And I would have to say that my shots, although there are definitely rooms for improvement,  are relatively better than my earlier attempts.  Here they are.

 

Nitty-gritties of light painting

I took note of the fundamental essentials of light painting photography.  So here are some things I have learnt.

 

Camera set-up..

Note: Any DSLR camera are capable of long exposure that is needed to do light painting photography.

So, your cam must be in…

  • manual mode
  • open aperture to its largest setting
  • set shutter speed to 30 seconds or bulb mode if available
  • use remote control if not set camera timer to avoid camera shake

 

Things needed
Aside from your DSLR camera and tripod, the following are needed.

  • Fine steel wool (Other light source like cellphone,  flashlight can also be used, but they would not give a similar outcome. Look at the comparison above)
  • Sturdy string
  • Old metallic egg whisker (used to hold the steel wool in)
  • Lighter
  • Big umbrella (this is optional)

Important note:
If your light source is fire,  then please do this in an open space where there are little to none vegetation. It could be dangerous especially during summer.

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Restaurants With a View Koh Lanta Thailand

The sunset

Sunset in Koh Lanta, Krabi Thailand is simply impressive.  Aside from the beautiful beaches Koh Lanta is famous for,  tourists would surely enjoy its magnificent sunset. You can truly say what an amazing world we live in as you witness the sunset gradually disappear into the horizon,  and the sky displays beautiful streaks of incredible red,  magenta,  and blue patterns.  The feel you get as you witness the entire place turns in warm,  orangy hue is simply overwhelming.

Koh Lanta Sunset

 

One of the best places to witness this,  aside from a lazy walk along the seashore,  is to have a very late afternoon tea or an early dinner in one of the restaurants along this side of the island. This sunset was taken while my family and I were in Ploy Pailin.

 

The Restaurant

Ploy Pailin Restaurant

Ploy Pailin, overlooking Kantiang Bay,  is at Baan Kantiang, which is located toward the South of Koh Lanta (around 30-40 minute drive from Salandan Village in the North where tourists arrive). This tiny restaurant is located by the roadside, standing right by the cliff, and Kantiang Bay is several feet below it. And so parking is definitely a big problem but somehow tourists who want to eat here are able to find ways to creatively park their vehicles ^_^. The restaurant serves both western and Thai food. We ordered spaghetti (almost $3 ), Khaw phat chicken (fried rice, a little over $2), and some milkshakes (almost $2). I think this is a fair price.  This place is next to the more famous Noon Sunset viewpoint.

Ploy Pailin is towards the Southern, quite, more serene part of Koh Lanta.  To the North are where most hotels and accomodations are located.  During our stay we stayed at Lanta Riviera Villa Resort and Hatzanda Lanta Resort both of which are kid friendly. We came during Songkran festival but surprisingly the place was not crowded.

So aside from Ploy Pailin and Noon Sunset Viewpoint, other restaurants with a nice view of the sunset is Diamond Grill and possibly Bamboo Bay Reception Restaurant.

 

Have you experienced sunset in Koh Lanta?

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Why I said no to the NEW Canon 10-18mm IS STM and chose the OLD DOG Canon 10-22mm USM instead.

For the past two or three years Canon released a barrage of new lenses including an ultra-wide angle lens for APS-C bodies and it sent the Canon gear hogs and fan boys loco over it. They released new updates like the new 50mm f1.8, 18-55, 55-250, 18-105 IS lenses with STM technology. They also released brand new ones like the 24mm EF-S and 40mmEF f2.8 STM pancake lenses and of course the all-new, 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 IS STM.

With all of the reviews of the 10-18mm IS STM coming out positive one has got to drool especially since it is half the price of the older 10-22 lens. In terms of sharpness it comes at par if not better than the 10-22. It’s smaller and lighter than the old lens and the Canon 10-18 has Image Stabilization too. Yes, for an ultra-wide angle who most think don’t need IS, this lens has it.

I have been saving up money to get an ultra-wide APS-C Lens for the past 2 or 3 years… yup it took that long for me to save up boo hoo… Over those years I have been eyeing quite a few lenses including 3rd party lenses. One lens really caught my attention though. The old Canon 10-22 USM released in 2004.

This being an old lens has proven itself as a battle worthy lens. It’s not an L lens or luxury lens but it delivers the goods right to your door step. It’s sharp, quick focus and durable. The last part has got me convinced about this lens.

So why did I choose the old Canon 10-22mm USM and said no to the new 10-18mm IS STM?

I said no to the new lens for two good reasons. It may not be true for everyone but for the kind of photographer that I am these two are deal breakers.

1. The STM motor. The STM system is good, quick to focus, silent but it just kind of annoys me how you need to press the shutter button halfway to get the manual focus to work. I just could not get myself over it. There is that split second delay from pressing to responding. It is very minute but it could be felt and it’s a bit annoying for me.

2. Durability is kind of a big issue for me. I am the kind of person who does not really take good care of things. I kind of bang my camera and lenses around when they are hanging on my shoulders and that killed my 18-55 mk2 kit lens… Seeing that the new 10-18mm IS STM kinda resembles the kit lens it just drove me away from it.

My heart was captured by the Canon 10-22 lens. I had the chance to fully experience the lens for myself when a friend of mine lent me his copy of the lens. I played with it for a week. When I went to Bangkok and then went around Songkhla shooting temples, sunsets and interesting landscapes when I got back.  Also my friend told me that he has knocked the lens over more than a few times and in fact has dropped it while changing lenses and it was still AOK.

Would you go for the NEW Canon 10-18mm IS STM or the OLD DOG Canon 10-22mm USM?

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Haad Kaew Resort

One of the beautiful hotels in Songkhla is Haad Kaew Resort.  For a photographer like me, this seaside resort with a 10 kilometer stretch of powdery white sand and overlooking the gulf of Thailand is surely picturesque.  Due to its location, Haad Kaew Resort is a great place to shoot sunrise.  Unfortunately though, the sun was a bit shy and hid from me in those days I was there (I hope to go back soon.). So, I took some shots of the hotel grounds instead. For review and information about Haad Kaew Resort, check this out.

The Bungalows:

(Taken with a Canon 7D + Canon 24-105 IS USM  L Lens)

 

The Pool and the Hotel Building

(Taken with a Canon 550D + Canon 24mm F2.8 STM)

The Hotel

A view from the Beach

Photos were taken with:

  • Canon 550D+ 24mm f2.8 STM
  • Canon 7D + 24-105mm f4 IS USM L

 

For more information about Haad Kaew, CLICK HERE.

 

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Sripakpra Resort, Thailand
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Is Lugging Around a DSLR Worth the Hassle?

Is lugging around a huge DSLR camera with a tri-pod worth the hassle?
I have been asked by a lot of people directly and indirectly about the worth of lugging around my huge DSLR with a fairly heavy tripod. And my answer has always been a huge YES!
Note: My camera set up is NOT even remotely close to what professionals use. Imagine carrying a semi pro or a pro DSLR camera on your walk-around with your family.
I use a Canon 550D with a battery grip and a 24-105 mm L Lens and a Nissin external flash onboard which makes my camera weigh more or less 1 kilogram. My tri-pod is almost half a kilogram, give-or-take. So I am lugging around a camera set-up of almost a kilo and a half which may not seem a lot. But after an hour or so… you get to feel the weight.
A lot of people with I-phones and androids or powerful digital cameras would say modern gadgets take very good pictures now-a-days. And I would agree. But man you just don’t know what kind of picture quality a fairly decent DSLR(in the right hands) can produce compared to the best compact camera. ^_^ Far out!
Looking like a dweeb walking around with a DSLR mounted on a fully extended tripod on my shoulder looking for a sweet spot to take pictures with my family is worth the hassle and the embarrassment.(you’d get used to it though LOL!)  but hey… Let me show you what I mean.
So this is how I look:

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Don’t Delete Old Boring Photo

Don’t Delete Old Boring Photos

 

  • As an amateur photographer shooting for 3 years or so now, I have accumulated hundreds of folders of RAW files in my laptop. I was wondering what to do with them. I have already deleted the unusable files but still there a lot of ‘em nicely taken photos but not good enough for photo competitions. Then I came upon this CS6 Photoshop tutorial by Serge Ramelli on YouTube that gave me a golden idea on what to do with my stored photos.

So I started experimenting. I am no Photoshop expert so please bear with me.

I started mixing and matching photos that may have been taken very well but the scene is boring with photos that are exciting enough to catch attention but the framing was not well taken… ^_^ so mixing both photos might get it somewhere in between the positive notes. ^_^

Sometimes you might catch a great moment but that great moment is not picturesque enough.

Last week I took a photo of this beached cargo ship on the shores of Songkhla beach. The actual feeling of looking at this behemoth vessel is not given due justice by the original photo i took. And here is the actual photo.

1a

So I sort of played around with it. I found an old photo of clouds I took 2 years ago and combined it and voila.

1t      +      3t

 

3aa

As I got more excited I looked for other old photos that may be compatible with it and did another rendition of it.

1t    +    5t

4a

And here is another one.

t    +    5t

5aa

I uploaded these 3 photos on Pixoto.com and got their respective awards. Though they did not get first place I am happy to be in the top 10 out of hundreds of photos submitted every day. ^_^

6aa

 

7aa

 

8aa

Some boring photos might be worth storing in your hard drive so think twice before you start deleting files. ^_^ Cheers!

 

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Beached

About a month ago there was a buzz about something so interesting not only among my students but among the faculty members as well. I could make out some of the sentences they were saying but I could not totally understand the entirety of the conversation.  Yeah, believe it or not 8 years in Thailand and still I have not fully grasped their national language let alone the local dialect here in the south. It’s not so much of the structure and or grammar of their language but it’s more of the tone and how they say the words. One word may have five different meanings depending on the five tones their language has. But that is another topic to talk about. ^_^

So I have heard my students talking about ghost ships, ship wrecks, abandoned ships, illegal carriers so on and so forth. I then presumed they may have watched the movie “Ghost Ship” in one of their English classes and are totally fascinated by it. But in my mind, I have seen that movie and it was a horrible movie to watch so it may not be what they were so excited about. I wanted to ask my students and my colleagues about that topic but being new to the faculty I was quite hesitant to engage in a conversation not really relevant to my job description.

Yesterday, I chanced upon one of the Filipino Foreign Exchange students’ post on Facebook and saw her together with other students with a beached ship in the background. Then it dawned on me that must have been what my students were buzzing about. So I asked Cindy where that was and LO and BEHOLD!

11

Beached

22

First sight

44

The pauper

 

Photography wise there is a need for photographers to have a saltwater proof tripod as mine is not so it was rendered useless during the shoot lest rust would have it ruined.

During this shoot I used my 24-105mm f4 lens mounted on a 550D body. The 24mm x 1.6 crop factor was ok to use since there was tons of shooting room in the beach.

 

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Penang Malaysia

I went to Penang, Malaysia last year sometime in November. I had to get a new visa for my new workplace. I have been to Penang numerous times but I have never been to their tourist destinations. Luckily this time I have a former student from Davao City who now works in Penang. A lot of my former students keep in touch in Facebook. So when Angelie (my former student) got wind of me going to Penang she immediately offered to give me a tour around the Island.

I brought all of my photography gear as if I was going to war. (Well at least all gears needed for a walk around shoot.) The biggest mistake I made was leaving my tripod behind. It was sort of a hassle lugging around my heavy tripod. I was thinking of the inconvenience it would cause in a mini van with a capacity of 12 stuffed with 15 people. Sitting shoulder to shoulder for 6 hours from Hatyai Thailand to Penang Malaysia with a big photography bag is torture enough and having a heavy tripod would be a killer. But now looking back, I would say that it would have been worth the hassle having it. But i did my best making use of whatever was there i could put my camera on… plus i was lucky enough that my guide/friend/savior Angelie knows how to shoot a camera. ^_^

Kek Lok Si temple/monastery: Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.

 

 

 

Kek Lok Si temple/monastery: Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.

 

Kek Lok Si temple/monastery: Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.

 

Kek Lok Si temple/monastery: Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.

 

Kek Lok Si temple/monastery: Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.

 

Kek Lok Si temple/monastery: Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.

 

Restored buildings

 

Restored buildings

 

My Tour guide, friend and savior Angelie.

 

All these places were visited in a day. And one day is not enough. The budget constraint was really limiting. ^_^ . Equipment wise I also realized that an 18mm wide on a crop-frame body is not enough for these kinds of shoot. The structures were so big and the shooting room was so small. A 10mm lens would have been best. For a full frame body a 17mm or 16mm would be perfect.