#Take52 Week 20: Selfie

Ah the dreaded theme!

I’ve never looked great in photos. Correction. I’ve looked absolutely completely, totally hideous in all pictures. I suppose its got something to do with the awkward body dimensions coupled with an equally disproportionate visage structure and god awful facial hair situation. Whatever the reason, I just don’t make for a good photo subject. So when this week’s theme was announced, I fell into a man-hole and decided not resurface.

But since the whole idea behind the weekly photograph challenge IS to challenge my own skills and push myself out of my comfort zone to work smarter and better, I decided to man up and face the music.

I was certain that I would not go for a straightforward selfie with me posing in all my (un)glorious self. There would need to be a certain creative streak to the image that would possibly help defect the attention from myself and instead to the composition of myself.

I had a few ideas which involved heavy use of Photoshop. But decided against using them on account of time, or the rather the lack of it. I’ll stay away from the details for now since I do plan to put those ideas into practise sometime in the near future and there’s no fun in ruining the surprise of you guys!

Then it struck me! Why not frame a shot with the device that caused the term “Selfie” to go mainstream; the hand phone. After all the term “Selfie” gained mainstream acceptance and usage thanks to the ubiquitous camera phones in the late 2000s.

I have taken shots with a DSLR or point and shoot in the past that capture the image as seen through the eyes of a handphone. So the setup was not something I wasn’t familiar with already. The trick was to ensure that both cameras focussed on me well enough for the main camera’s shot to be clear. Cue the handy tripod and the self timer on the Fujifilm to the rescue.

After setting the focus for the handphone screen, I clicked the shutter release button on a timer of 10 seconds to allow myself to position myself in front of the handphone. Fortunately it took very few attempts to get the shot. Although the background is kinda lacklustre I felt the overall composition was pretty close to what I had in mind so I went ahead.

Post processing involved cropping the image enough to allow the focus to remain on the handphone screen and the image therein, i.e. my ugly mug! Rendering it in black & white was a conscious one since there was a lot of light and very muted colours in the frame.

The Selfie
Fujifilm X-E2 | XF18-55mm 2.8 4 R LM OIS | 1/80 | f/2.8 | ISO 1600 | 18mm

And voila, there you have it, my Selfie!

Till next week, Adios!

#Take52 Week 13: Silly

This one didn’t really take a whole lot of time to shoot. Although I did spend some time trying to come up with possible compositions to capture this week’s theme. Was pacing around the living room when I noticed this little fella sitting on the display shelf. I’m not sure when or how did I come in possession of this unique toy. Continue reading

#Take52 Week 5: Against

Last week I finally succumbed to my inner voice and subscribed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud service. The service gives you access (for a monthly fee either paid upfront for the year or deducted on a monthly basis) to Adobe’s Lightroom, Lightroom Mobile and Photoshop applications. Although I had already purchased the single license for Lightroom, the subscription service became paramount after I received my birthday gift last week, a brand new MacBook Air! Now I can use Adobe’s applications between my desktop (Mac Mini) as well as my mobile devices (iPad and MacBook).

The reason I mentioned this is because my image for this week’s assignment is my virgin attempt at using Photoshop. Yes! Finally I am on board the much despised Photoshop bandwagon and I have to say, I am simply blown away! The types and levels of image manipulation possible within Photoshop are simply mind boggling! I’m sure i’ll need another lifetime to learn every one of them, but I certainly will be learning as much as I can to make the most of my photos moving forward.

Coming back to the image I shot (and edited!).My first thought was to take a shot of a rising fist which seems to be the universal symbol of striking “against” the establishment. You can do a quick image search on Google for the word Against and you’ll see numerous variations of “The Fist”. However I wasn’t too sure whether I would be able to get the lighting right and so I abandoned that perspective.

My next thought was to use props and convey the theme through action figures. I chose the scale model Batman action figure (another birthday present!) to depict Heroes against crime and shot this image with an overexposed background.

DSCF2552

Of course the image felt a tad dull with just the action figure in focus. So I decided to spice it up a bit using my newly acquired Photoshop software. Thanks to this great video by Terry White I got a basic primer on the commonly used tools within Photoshop. I decided to use layers to add a background to my original image. Instead of scouring through my image database (I am still in the process of tagging and organising the 20k plus images) I chose an appropriate stock image from the site freeimages.

I won’t go into the specifics of what I did within Photoshop because quite frankly I was simply following instructions from Terry’s video. In a nutshell though, using layers and blending I ended up with the image that would become my submission for this week’s assignment – “Hero Against Crime”
Week 5: Against

Technical Specifications (My Image):

  • Camera: Fujifilm X-E2
  • Lens: XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
  • Aperture: f/6.4
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter Speed: 1/180
  • Focal Length: 27.7mm

It’s not the best example of Photoshop usage since it’s my maiden attempt. But I’m certain I will leverage Photoshop to achieve some pretty unique compositions that were nearly impossible for me to attempt before.

Until next week.

#Take52 Week 4: Glass

The theme this week was a lot more difficult that I had initially anticipated. Primarily because focussing on transparent glass is a challenge in itself. Let alone compose a shot that is artistic and well balanced.

A number of the participants though were able to deliver some stellar shots. I did get some great tips on future shots and I intend to use them and hopefully get a chance to explain my process in more detail as well.

I ended up with a shot which is a homage to the Christopher Nolan movie, Inception. Well, just barely! In one of the scenes the water in a glass seems to be defying gravity since the dreamer is experiencing movement in the real world. This is the screen grab from the movie Inception –

glass

And here is my crude attempt at recreating the shot.
Week 4: Water Defying Gravity

To achieve the water tilt look I stuck the glass to the coffee table with Blu Tack and then placed the table on an incline. The shots were then rotated in Lightroom and cropped in a manner to achieve the illusion that the water in the glass alone is at an angle defying gravity whereas the glass itself is lying flat on the surface. A few tweaks on the exposure and shadows helped bring focus on the glass and balance out the colours.

Technical Details

  • Camera: Fujifilm X-E2
  • Lens: XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
  • Aperture: f/3.6
  • ISO: 250
  • Shutter Speed: 1/180
  • Focal Length: 31.5mm

Not the best emulation of the shot, but it helped me flex my muscles (both physical and mental) and isn’t that what the challenge is about as well?

There were a few other shots that I considered uploading for this theme but decided to relegate them as runners-up. You can check them out on my flickr site –

Runner Up Image 1

Runner Up Image 2

#Take52 Week 3: Entrance

This theme had so many many ways that I wanted to interpret. I was bursting with ideas. I took so many pictures that I just couldn’t decide which one particular interpretation to post. So I decided to go with all the decent renditions of each interpretation. So here goes! The first one was entrance to a world of smart apps. The humble smartphone has become our gateway to a world beyond our local confines and has fast become our go to device (or object for that matter) when it comes to communicating, learning, taking pictures and of course talking to others. Entrance To World Of Apps
Technical Details of the image:
Camera: Fujifilm X-E2
Lens: XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
Aperture: f/4.5 ISO: 640
Shutter Speed: 1/80
Focal Length: 32.9mm

The next two interpretations were about how books are an “entrance” to multiple worlds and a never ending oasis of knowledge. This one ended up being a look at both the old school mode of that entrance, i.e. traditional paperbacks and hard covers as well as the new age versions, a.k.a the kindle (and similar devices)

Entrance To Knowledge & Worlds

Technical Details of the image:
Camera: Fujifilm X-E2
Lens: XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
Aperture: f/4.5 ISO: 640
Shutter Speed: 1/125
Focal Length: 55mm

Entrance To Knowledge & Worlds (Old School)

Technical Details of the image:
Camera: Fujifilm X-E2
Lens: XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
Aperture: f/3.6 ISO: 640
Shutter Speed: 1/125
Focal Length: 18mm

The final interpretation is a more traditional one with a close up of a pad lock which is a sentry of sorts for entrances the world over.

Entrance (Restricted)

Technical Details of the image:
Camera: Fujifilm X-E2
Lens: XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
Aperture: f/4.0 ISO: 2000
Shutter Speed: 1/80
Focal Length: 48.4mm

#Take52 Week 2: Local

So this week’s theme (well actually last week’s theme, i’m still playing catch up!) was something that was pretty interesting (then again each theme is!). Many fellow photogs posted pictures ranging from local food, local landmarks, seasons, etc. All stellar pics by the way. I had a few interpretations of the theme that I wanted to try out. And since I had two different ideas, i decided to go with both interpretations and post both pictures. Local Architecture Picture 1 is a more literal interpretation with a composition of a Peranakan house rooftop. Singapore is a cultural hotpot with many nationalities calling the tiny island country home. However the true indigenous  populous can trace its ancestry to the Malays and Chinese. As a result many of the older houses are built on the Peranakan architecture style. These houses are distinct in terms of their roof styling and elaborate curves and wood sculpturing. Truly photography worthy! This particular rooftop was shot at Emerald Hill, which is probably one of the more well to do residential spaces in the city. Well to do because most of the drive ways had either a Lamborghini, Ferrari or a 7 series BMW!

Technical details of the Image:

Camera: Fujifilm X-E2
Lens: XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
Aperture: f/2.8
ISO: 250
Shutter Speed: 1/180
Focal Length: 19.6mm

Local Trinkets Picture 2 is a slightly abstract interpretation of the theme. The image is composed of various local trinkets that the wife and I have collected over our travels across South East Asia. The focus of course is on the iconic symbol that screams Singapore, the Merlion. The other trinkets in the image (albeit slightly de-focussed) are  –

  • Miniature rice hats from Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Surf board momento from Bali, Indonesia
  • Replica of the Petronas Twin Towers from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Replica of a Chinese Pagoda from Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Decorative plate from Krabi, Thailand
  • Buddha statue from Borobudur, Indonesia

Technical details of the Image:
Camera: Fujifilm X-E2
Lens: XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
Aperture: f/4.0
ISO: 640
Shutter Speed: 1/100
Focal Length: 48.4mm

#Take52 Week 1: Beginning

Week 1: BeginningSo here it is, the very first post of this brand new blog. The theme can be interpreted in so many ways. I had a few ideas that I wanted to try out. However most of them required a lot of planning and some new props. Since I was already behind schedule, I decided to keep it simple and use handy items to compose a shot that conveyed the theme.

I got the wife to pen the line (since she’s the one with the good handwriting between the two!) The idea was convey that the shot is the beginning of a new story, much like this post (and this blog!) are the beginning of something new as well.

Technical details of the shot are as following –
Camera: Fujifilm X-E2
Lens: XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
Aperture: f/4.0
ISO: 320
Shutter Speed: 1/80
Focal Length: 55mm