Friday, December 30, 2011


Not exactly a toy (it's actually a Southeast Asian puppet) but this fisher allowed me to practice lighting and slightly long exposures:

Kudos to my voice-activated flashlight (my dad)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

Just sharing some photos of this beautiful place. Too bad I wasn't able to visit it in the late afternoon-evening; I heard it's spectacular. Nonetheless, the harsh sun created interesting effects and allowed us to view the temple in its golden glory.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

La Luna

One of the reasons why I wanted to get a DSLR was to take pictures of the moon. Using the sunny f16 rule (set aperture to f16, set your shutter speed as identical or close to your ISO value) and a lens with a long end of at least 300mm made that dream possible.

September 13, 2011, Las Pinas City

September 14, 2011, Las Pinas City
Taking these pictures were a breeze but I probably need to get a better tripod as my current one can't support the long lens very well. I also need to make sure my curious cats are sleeping or away from my gear - my feline friends kept trying to look through the viewfinder as well!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Practice, Experiment, Edit

As I have no substantial portfolio yet and no money to hire models or make up artists, I often find myself photographing others on the sly or even worse - dolling myself up and getting in front of the camera (que horror). 

It's good to experiment with limited resources, and using a very basic photo editing program (Windows Photo Viewer is surprisingly capable), you can cook up interesting things.

Practically the only usable shot from that experiment, but hey, I learn from my mistakes.

A bad exposure doesn't necessarily mean it's the end of the world

Sometimes ordinary people can make interesting subjects

Blurring can end up producing more dynamic pictures

You'll never become Ansel Adams, Steve McCurry or Juergen Teller without making mistakes, and a purely technical photographer might miss out on the story.

Live, love and shoot!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Nifty Fifty

One of the most challenging but rewarding things I've come across is the 50mm prime. Mine's the f1.4D but I've heard and seen lots of good things from the f1.8 version as well.

It definitely has a lot of strengths - imagine walking around at night, trying to get shots handheld using only the ambient light. With a kit lens, unless you use a tripod or an external flash, you'd probably have lots of blurred shots or underexposed ones. With this rather fast lens, you can get crisp, clean and properly exposed images.

Taken at the night market, Chiang Mai, Thailand (1/60sec, f2.5, 50mm, ISO 400)

Tuk-tuk and driver, Chiang Mai, Thailand (1/40sec, f3.2, 50mm, ISO 400)

Another aspect of this lens (and other primes) that photographers obsess about would be bokeh. Take a look at the background of this woman's portrait and compare it with the one from the child's:

This was taken using Niko and my 50mm f1.4D. Look at how the colorful background and lights have been rendered into a pleasing blur, increasing dimension and making the subject stand out. This is the bokeh that the nifty fifty lens is capable of.

This picture was taken in daylight conditions using Niko and the kit lens, 18-105mm. Note that though the background is slightly blurred, it does not form the same shapes and level of blurring rendered in the above picture.

Another advantage of the nifty fifty is that on a DX body, this can already serve as a good portrait lens. Notice how people's faces (particularly noses) seem fatter when you use the wide end of the kit lens? This can render the person's face more proportionately, thus creating a more pleasing head shot. 

The 50mm is also rather light, and you can barely feel the weight once mounted onto the camera. If you're not keen on carrying brick-heavy accessories in your photography bag but still want to get good shots, this is a lens to consider.

Despite its strengths, the 50mm lens also has its drawbacks. It is a nightmare (in my case) using this for group shots - my advice is to position the people you don't like at the sides so if anybody doesn't fit in the frame, it won't be your friends (kidding of course). 

This would have been easy-peasy with the wide end of my 18-105mm, but since I was using my 50mm, I had to back away a significant distance (20 feet I believe) to take this shot. Most of the other photos in the album were of the details of the structures.

You need to do a lot of foot zooming to fill the frame with enough context in street shots, or group members. If you're used to just standing in one spot and turning the barrel of the lens to adjust the framed composition, this will definitely be a challenge for you. A lot of photographers also find this too long on the DX body for it to serve as a general purpose lens as well, often selling their copy and getting the 35mm f1.8 for DX instead (which is also a good lens!). 

As they say, one man's trash is another one's treasure, and for those who like this lens, it's a very good companion for their camera body.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Traveling with a DSLR

is both rewarding and exhausting (see the expressions on our faces).

For those who are about to embark on great adventures with their DSLR, here are a few tips I've found particularly useful:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gear Accumulation Syndrome (GAS)

Every photographer has probably been affected by gear accumulation syndrome or GAS at least once, and yes, I am no exception.

Thankfully my budget does not allow me to spend on a whim, particularly on expensive photography equipment. I have been able to save up for quite some time to purchase Niko, and all other accessories have been acquired through the bonuses from work.

I'd like to present my humble collection, which pales in comparison to those of seasoned pros. These are my photography tools with which I hope to learn the art of creating beautiful images:

Testing, testing...

Hi! I'm Ding, and I'm here to share with you my adventures with Niko, my beloved camera. This will be a place for my shutterbug self to let loose and discover the world with my trusted Nikon D90. Expect posts on gear, photography, travel, and visual inspiration.