Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sand Flee Bites


"You know what the best feeling... well maybe second best feeling in the world is? Digging your feet deep into the warm, soft sand on a balmy evening at the beach."

-Greg Samborski speaking to his friends at the beach.

1 Day later:
"Clair, did you get any red spots on your feet? No? Well, I looked at some pictures on google and they're definitely sand flee bites. Ya. they're little, red round bumps, didn't show up for a day or so and are super itchy. I was reading that these flees can carry some pretty nasty diseases. You might not even know your infected for some time. Uh-huh, yep. I know exactly how it happened..."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

ExpoDisc Review - Not Just for Pros

Title: Expodisc
Photo by: mattiasj

I'd like to think my photography is beyond amateur by now, but I am by no means a pro. I spend a great deal of time on my hobby and have recently had some paid work shooting UFC style events, billboards and website shots in Seoul, Korea.

Gray balance has always intimidated me. I finally decided to overcome my fear and applied myself to studying the art of gray balance. In my quest for knowledge, I came across the word "ExpoDisc" hundreds of times. It wasn't until the hundred-and-first time that I actually decided to figure out what an ExpoDisc was.

The more I read, the clearer it became that this was the ultimate gray card solution. I ordered the 77mm ExpoDisc even though I don't even own a 77mm lens. My rational for doing so is that most professional lenses are 77mm. Thus, I can grow into this filter and in the mean time it will fit all my smaller lenses. It wont lock on, because it's too big, but it's just a matter of holding the filter up against the barrel, no big deal. At $99 bucks a pop, you don't want to be buying one of these for each lens.

An example of the ExpoDisc in action:

Title: Expodisc indoor comparison shot
Photo by: Bob Reck

ExpoDisc Pros:
-Nice packaging (Packaging is your first impression, it says a lot about the company quality of the product contained within)
-Simple to use
-Great instructions that not only tell you HOW to use it, but also, WHY to use it which I appreciate.
-Well built, feels very solid
-Case and lanyard included
-Instant gratification when your photos come out looking heaps better

ExpoDisc Cons
-Case could be more streamlined, a little clunky
-Yes, it's pricy

Every photographer can benefit from an ExpoDisc. To steal a quote from the packaging, "Why didn't someone think of this sooner?"


Ps. I think this is the first time I've ever given a product a 5 star rating.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cool Stacked Mac

Cool Stacked Mac

I've worked with the BTC 19" monitor on my right side ever since I bought it three years ago. Recently I've felt pain in my right shoulder and up through the right side of my neck. It's stiffness combined with mild burning. I suspect it has something to do with me A: Spending too much time in font of my computer, and B: Having my master monitor positioned to the right.

So I decided to stack em for a change. Not only that, I jerry rigged my fan to the window using some string and man does it feel freak'n phenomenal! I've got cool air blowing in from the hallway and what I hope will turn out to be more ergonomic monitor set up. Only time will tell...

In the mean time, I'm only thirteen monitors away from this:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

'Fixing' People


Original Photo / Edited Photo / Side by Side Comparison
The idea of 'fixing' people still wrestles with my conscience, but it's so damn fun. And this is where problem lies, makeup artists want to show off their skills, photographers theirs, and finally the photoshopers theirs! So you have now had a minimum of three artists work on a 'piece' rather than a human, no wonder the people we see in magazines look anything but real.

This is the second glamor touch up I tried after the initial youtube tutorial I followed using a photo of myself.


I pretty much overdid EVERYTHING here but it's always difficult to use a new skill in moderation, just have a browse through the 'My First HDR' group to see examples from others who suffer from my affliction.


Overdone... ya... but the process taught me soooo much and has thus given me fresh ideas on how to take my post production to a whole new level. I just hope I can learn less is more quicker than I did with HDR.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Boryeong Mud Festival - July 2008


It's here again, Korea's best festival which so aptly combines mud, foreigners and drunken debauchery into a single week long event. My girl friend, Hyun Mi spent most of her work day looking into lodging. Most places were booked months in advance, but one lodge could not evade her super sleuth-y-ness. Not only did she find a clean place which sleeps 9-12 (Korean sized people I'm presuming), she found one that was close to the beach with outdoor grills, tables, a super nice owner and a very cheap price.

I will attempt to include all relevant information in this blog entry. If you have comments or still have unanswered questions please leave a comment below.

The Plan
1. Arrive in Boryeong sometime on Saturday July 19th
2. Drop stuff off at Opera Pension (our lodge)
3. Get drunk and muddy
4. All meet for dinner at Opera around 7pm

Hyun Mi and I will go about buying tons of gogi (meat), lettuce, sauces, onions, garlic etc. It'll basically be a giant Sam Gyup Sal / Galbi party.

Be sure to BYOB!!!

(Based on two festivals experience, seafood is your only food of choice on Daecheon Beach, or any beach in Korea for that matter. The Daecheon beach seafood is both expensive, substandard and can't come close to our patio-grill vibe.)

5. Party on at the guest house or hit the festival again.
6. Leave sometime the next day.

So there are 11 spots for sure, and possibly more depending on how things look once we get there. Spots will be given on a first come first serve bases. Hyun Mi and I have already paid for the place, so to avoid collection hassles and fence sitters we ask that you wire 26,000w to me. Contact me and I'll give you my bank info.

Price Breakdown: Thanks to Hyun Mi's bargaining skills the room is only 160,000w
Room 16,000 -Based on 10 people
Dinner 10,000 -Per person, likely all you can eat gogi

If we get more or less occupants, the room price will be adjusted accordingly on location.

Tired of reading? Here are some pictures.


*Accommodation may not be exactly as show. If you imagine it without the bird, lawn and mountains and substitute road side for beach front you'll have a pretty accurate image of where we'll be staying. Or, you can just check out the image below.


This is the side profile where you can see how the name is spelt. O-PE-RA


I'm pretty sure the beach wasn't photoshopped in this picture which means it is walking distance


The inside looks really nice


And this is where we will grill


Look! What fun!


Oh, and James Bond's arch nemeses Jaws keeps a summer home here too.



About the Mud Festival:
Info on Wikipedia
Info on Work N Play

Previous Photos:
Boryeong Mud Festival 2007
Boryeong Mud Festival 2006

About Opera Pension, our accommodation:
Opera Pension Site

Website Navigation - Click to Enlarge

You will find the name, address and phone number at the bottom of the official website page. Here's a little map which can also be found there:


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Operation Floor Scrub

Administration decided (Friday at 4pm right before we were all about to go home) to repaint the walls at our Language Center / Hogwan. I figured I'd take the opportunity to clean the 10+ years of filth off the floor while everything was in disarray. Covering only four tiles in 10 minutes, I realized I had been overly ambitious and thought hard about how I could make job easier on myself. The only solution was child labor. 20x25 tiles, divided by roughly 30 students... I have no idea how that works out but I guessed the job could be done in about two hours.

The next day I planned a lesson around cleaning, taught them some key vocabulary, i.e. "That's a half-assed job" and gave each kid a green brill pad. Korean kids generally hate getting dirty and anything that is dirty, I've heard of teachers who straightened out trouble makers by simply holding their possessions in the general vicinity of the garbage can.

To overcome this dirt-a-phobia and demonstrated how to scrub the floor using your foot and emphasized how important it was to only move one square at a time. Each clild was assigned a quadrant and the scrubbing began.

For the most part, the job was a huge success. The youngest class really enjoyed the task, worked hard (with the exception of Anthony) and followed my instructions (with the exception of Anthony) as well as any 10 year olds would (with the exception of Anthony). The older students grew tired of the task more quickly and if you watch the upper right corner you'll see Jong Min idling in my chair, spraying the floor now and then just making a bigger mess. I showed him this damming evidence the following day and now he knows to at least act like he's working hard when my camera is out.

The remainder of the video is me decorating my 35 degree and horribly humid room. I consulted with Clair by telephone, text and video to get some interior design ideas - they were great! Unfortunately, everything I put up was on the floor the following morning. I'm not sure if it's the heat/humidity that caused it or the fact the paint is so fresh.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cranillium Attacks


The writing below refers to the darker version here --> Darker Version Can't decide which is better...


My new GorillaPod arrived in the mail today! Before I continue, I must commend Joby on their excellent customer service. One of the joints on my GorillaPod became so loose it rendered my pod to nothing more than a photo prop. I contacted Joby from my home here in Korea and they offered to replace the pod free of charge. In fact, they even let me upgrade to a larger GorillaPod, the Zoom, and credited my Visa for the cost of the original. That's customer service.

So there I was at work, fooling around with my new toy and the idea came to me. I picked up the musical-shaker-skull in Canada to use as Pavlovian device in my children's classroom. The idea was to create a strong link between "shaka shaka shaka" and "Listen!". It never really worked but the kids adored Skully. One day I had to run down to the office and I told my kids Skully would be keeping an eye on them, propped him on my GorillaPod and everyone had a good laugh at the sight.

But this was to be no laughing matter. I envisioned carnage, wreckage, chaos, fear and weirdness. On the bike ride home I picked up a set of toy cars for $4.00 and got to work setting up the shot.

Strobist Info:

The scene took a while lay out. I started with a giant tin of tomatoes and put a cutting board covered with my Nike athletics shirt on it. I had to find stuff to prop up the cars and it had to be small enough to remain out of site. In the end I used a wire splicer and socket. The lighting setup was pretty simple, just a flash located up to the rear left side and a white hand held Styrofoam reflector on the front right side.

I took a number of shots and chose this one because it was the "darkest" of the bunch. I like how Skully slips out of the heavy shadows on the right side. I'd have preferred slightly more DOF to bring the cars into focus and a lower perspective to give the sense of an overbearing monster. Also, the highlights are a little strong on the vehicles but I found when the vehicles looked well exposed it took away from the chaotic feel. The bright light from the left side illuminating the 'ground' and vehicles could be head lights, search lights, UFO lights, etc. The name of the photo is derived from Cranium and Gorilla - Cranillium

Technical Info:
Camera ------- D350 / Rebel / Kiss
Lens ----------- Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 @ 63mm
Shutter -------- 1/200
Aperture ------ f/6.3
ISO ------------ 100
Flash 1 Blitz - 1/16 Power
Flash 2 Zap -- No
Tripod --------- Yes


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Ice Cream is Reason Enough


See the Setup
See the Shot
Read the Blog

Reason enough to blog about. Reason enough to play with my new camera toys. Reason enough to stay in Korea. What other country sells a 500ml BUCKET of premium ice cream for $2.50. Ok, I'm sure there are many out there but Canada isn't one of them.

And why the hell did we Canadians ever accept the idea ice-cream could be sold in cardboard boxes? You don't need to be a packaging genius to figure out ice cream shouldn't be sold in any container with more then one opening, I learned that when I was five and started with the bottom of my ice-cream cone.

Strobist Info:

I gotta say, Nick Wheeleroz was a huge inspiration to me in doing this. After studying his work, the work of his contacts and the contributions of all the people over at it gave me the push I needed to venture into the world of flash photography.

So this is my first strobist post. My new gear arrived about a week ago and I played around much less then I'd have liked to since then.

Originally I just wanted to blog about how much I enjoy cheap ice-cream. Then the idea came to me to fuse my adventures in strob-ism with my ramblings and thus this photo was born.

I knew wanted diffuse light and a nice close up shot. I've seen Nick Wheeloeroz use Ikea chopping boards in many a setup so I borrowed his idea. My board isn't from Ikea, it's a thick Korean-made board picked up here at a local dollar store and is well used.

First I attempted to lazily balance the board on top of my brand new Vivitar 285HV flash which was an accident waiting to happen, so I propped the board up on some cans. I placed a white piece of poster board / Styrofoam behind the scene, set my flash to M, Canon D350 to 1/200 at f/6.3 and took my first test shot. It came out almost pure white so I dialed down to 1/16th on the flash.

My shots were still coming out to bright even at f/9. I didn't want to sacrifice sharpness by shrinking my aperture so I decided to defuse even more. The diffuser of choice... a free cream-colored lens cleaning cloth that came with the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 I was using. I folded the cloth in half and placed it directly on my flash and it reduced the light but this time too much. Thus, I unfolded it, played around with the aperture a bit, and got the shot above.

The shot pleased me but I had to know what a secondary light source could do for the photo. So I unpacked my brand new umbrella, propped it up on my cloths drying rack and shot through it with my second Vivitar, Zap, (yes... I named it). I set Zap to 1/4 and got decent lighting, as in it was a good looking histogram. Unfortunately, it didn't look so hot on screen (Here's that picture). I think the reason is that the large soft light actually flattened the image because is was spilling onto my background.

There's a lot left to be desired as far as subject, focus, composition and creativity go but I am happy with this on a technical level as I feel more confident shooting with flash than I did a day ago.

Technical Info:
Camera ------- D350 / Rebel / Kiss
Lens ----------- Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 @ 50mm
Aperture ------ f/9
ISO ------------ 100
Flash 1 Blitz - 1/16 Power
Flash 2 Zap -- No
Tripod --------- Yes

WB ------------ Slight Temp Decrease


White Poster Board
$2.50 Oreo Ice-cream
White Cutting Board
Vivitar 285HV + Cactus V2s
ExpoDisk Neutral
Lens Hood
Lens Cleaning Cloth
Tomato Paste
Red Kidney Beans
Baked Beans
Manfrotto Tripod + Ball Head
Canon D350
Tamron 28-75 f/2.8
48" Dual Umbrella
Flash Bracket
Cactus V2s