Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Mastering Your Speedlight Class at CCE

Left: Caroline by Les Harvey using an SB910 speedlight and honeycomb grid to limit the spread of light. At right: Emma, again by Les Harvey using a far softer, modified speedlight source to present this sensitive portrait.
Water being sloshed into a glass - this was an exceptional result from Tanya Kastoumis. Without an audio trigger this technique is easy to set up but a matter of persistence and repetition to get the 'moment'.
Portrait of Kristina using an Orbis ring flash adaptor, shot by Beate WildnerThe advantage of this process is that the 360 degree illumination around the lens produces a soft, indistinct shadow around the subject.
Obviously Beate like the Orbis ring flash adaptor - here's another striking portrait of Emma, one of the students taking part in this class.
Team effort!
To combine the potential of a single light portrait plus a bit of background interest, we fired a speedlight behind the model towards the camera (Beate at right, Emma at left).
Two assistants sprinkled flour in between model and speedlight at the moment the shot was taken to give additional highlights to the black background.
(see the "how it was done" picture at the bottom of this post).

Another great result from Tanya Kastoumis
Because of the backlighting, it's necessary to punch as much reflected light back into the front of the model to lighten the face...
Two more cracking flash portraits taken in the Uni grounds.
Caroline by Beate Wildner at left and Emma Foster by Les Harvey at right.
A great example of how a simple and inexpensive honeycomb grid can stylise a portrait
This looks like a still from a film. Kristina, shot by Emma Foster.
In this nice multicoloured portrait Emma Foster used red gels over the back speedlight left-hand side, and nothing on the front flash which adds a little more natural light to thew face.

Camper product shot from Emma Foster
Using nothing more than a Caonon speedlight and a honeycomb grid to achieve this impressive-looking studio shot.

Fun product shot from Beate - a couple of remedial balms and their packaging
Shot using a speedlight fired through a translucent scrim to soften the shadows and provide ore of an even illumination.
Amazing what you can create in nothing more than a regular office location, several speedlights and a lot of assistants...

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

New Photo Tour for early 2018: Sri Lanka

I have a new photo trip planned for March 2018 (3-20th) to Sri Lanka - to take in some of that island's amazing and ancient cultures, along with some fabulous wildlife, and superb Sri Lankan cuisine, while staying in some of the island's iconic hotels.
Two male elephants having a rumble, Minniriya national park

The Asian tractor
Water buffalo plus cattle egret, Yala national park
Green doves, Yala
Sloth bear snuffling for food, early morning, Yala national park
Toque macaques in
Yala national park
The Ceylon hoopoe
A ruddy mongoose on the prowl
Sri Lankan green bee eater, Yala National Park

Note that the full itinerary is still being worked on. Currently places on this tour are strictly limited
This is my provisional itinerary:

Saturday 03 – 20th March 2018

Transit via Singapore

Arriving Negombo

03 March Overnight Jetwing Blue Hotel Negombo

04 Day One:
Drive to Anaradhapura via Puttalum (salt pans, wind farms)

Lunch on the road
Welcome dinner included

Overnight Palm Garden Village resort, Anaradhapura

05 Day Two

Full day visiting Anaradhapura’s most famous dagoba complexes (local guide?)

Lunch on the road

Overnight Palm Garden Village resort, Anaradhapura

06 Day Three

Drive to Dambulla

Explore the cave temples of Dambulla (no guide needed)

Check into the Heritance Kandalama Resort (lunch at resort?)

Late afternoon game drive in (either) Minneriya and/or Kaudulla National Park (TBA by agent)

Overnight Heritance Kandalama

07 Day Four

Sigiriya (no guide needed)

(followed by a relaxing afternoon off in the pool)

Overnight Heritance Kandalama

08 Day Five

Drive to Kandy
Spice garden at Matale

Check into accommodation

Short city tour + Kandyan dancing in the evening

Overnight at The Mansion (outside city centre)

09 Day Six

Full day tour in Kandy – temple of the tooth and city

Veggie lunch in the town (?)

Overnight at The Mansion (outside city centre)

10 Day Seven

Free Day

Overnight at The Mansion (outside city centre)

11 Day Eight

Drive to Nuwara Eliya

Visit a high estate tea plantation enroute

Overnight Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya

12 Day Nine

Early morning short city tour

Depart for Yala

Overnight Mahoora Tented camp

13 Day Ten

Full day touring Yala National Park

Overnight Mahoora Tented camp

14 Day 11

Early morning game drive in Yala(?)

Drive to Udawalawe National Park

Overnight Mahoora Tented camp

15 Day 12

Full day in park

Overnight Mahoora Tented camp

16 Day 13

Drive to Galle

Stop at Weherahena Buddhist temple, Matara temple

Overnight in Galle Fort

17 Day 14

Full day in Galle (unescorted walking tour of fort)

Overnight in Galle Fort

18 Day 15

Drive to Colombo

Stopping to photograph boat builders enroute

and Geoffrey Bawa’s home at Lunuganga

Overnight Mt Lavinia Hotel

19 Day 16

Full day touring in city

Overnight Mt Lavinia Hotel

20 Day 17

Day at leisure in hotel

Farewell dinner at hotel beach restaurant

Late checkout

Transfer to airport for late evening departure

Spectacular cave paintings seen on the walk/climb up Sigiriya rock fortress

Reclining buddha, Anaradhapura
Boat building, East coast, Galle
Art deco restaurant, Galle

And that's just breakfast!
Although the Sri Lankans do make a really good European breakfast, the local breakfasts are equally good (if not a little hot on the palette!)

One of the island's typical British colonial style hotels, perfect for a spot of tiffen or just drinks in the bar...

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Two New Online Classes posted on UDEMY

I have just finished writing and posting these two new online classes on UDEMY: Mastering Adobe Photoshop Elements and CC Projects

Mastering Elements has 73 lectures, running over 8.5 hours, and basically takes you through all aspects of this comprehensive application.
It starts
with the basics and finishes with complex, multi-image montages, selections, masking and automation.
The way UDEMY is set up means that you can do this class at any time and more importantly, in your own time, bit by bit, lesson by lesson. 

UDEMY also offers good discounts (quite frequently) so if you are interested, keep an eye on the pricing at UDEMY.
CC Projects is a little different - in that it is designed for photographers with some knowledge of Photoshop or Photoshop Elements...
It includes a number of project-based real world 'exercises' designed to introduce you to both new features in CC, while remaining entirely practical in its structure.
Creating home made chutney labels, working with (free) downloadable Photoshop brushes to add impressive effects (i.e. lightning and clouds), custom text and fonts, montaging images together, selections, masks and much more (see below).
Create your own custom labels using stock shots, clip art and selection
Adding lightning bolts using a custom Photoshop brush
Blending a publicity shot of Gary Oldman with an old master, Rembrandt!
Adding custom fonts and montaging stock shots together to create a realistic TV poster for Wolf Hall

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Pop Dot Cartoon Effects on Indian Temple Statues

I have photographed these Indian temple statues many, many times over the years I have been visiting Singapore - on film and with a range of different resolution digital cameras.

Here's a slightly different 'look', created using a great little App called Pop Dot Comics by Jixi Pix. It's only US$10 and you can get it from here:

All images shot in Indian temples in Serangoon road, Singapore.

Pop Dot Cartoon has hundreds of presets to choose from, producing a massive range of cartoon style effects.
Each preset can be adjusted and the result saved as a custom preset to use on other image files.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Best place to learn how to cook Asian food: in the Food Sorceress's own kitchen...

I think that one of the best things to do in Singapore is of course to try the many flavours of Asia: Indian, Malay, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Lao and Indonesian.  And if you like to cook, a really neat thing to do is to take a cooking class in Singapore. 

After some intensive Googling we found a small business called Cookery Magic run by Indian lady, Ruqxana, in her home kitchen. Though there are several far larger and slicker-looking learn to cook enterprises in Singapore, most looked to be more about corporate 'team building' than actually learning to cook, so we opted to head out to the burbs on the MRT and try our hands with an Asian curry day at Cookery Magic.

Natalie getting into the mood at Ruqxana's cooking class
Ayam Kurma
(Chicken korma)
Gen Gari Fak Tong(Thai pumpkin curry) ingredients
Jingha Kehri curry
(Mango and prawn curry) ingredients
Cookery Magic is also home to nine felines.
This is sugar  (local name for sugar is gula melaka) relaxing on the top of the washing machine.
All her cats are named after local spices: cardamom, black pepper, clove etc...
Cooking off the shallots and onion for the kurma prior to dropping in the chicken

blending boiling coconut creme with the pulverised spices for the Thai curry

Robin working the wok
The highly aromatic and anticipated finished products, yum!