On Location Setup

This was taken by Ryan and Zoey's mother when we were taking pictures of her kids.

Same setup we used before for the other sessions. It includes: Alien Bees 800 with a shot through umbrella on camera left. Reflector on the right. Nikon SB800 with the Lastolite Ezybox on the left shooting at the white background.

The different between this session and our previous ones is that we used Pocket Wizards to trigger the flashes. No more worrying about line-of-sight between flashes when using CLS. No more unreliable wireless trigger. Also, both of us had a transceiver on our cameras and we shared the flashes at the same time. We could shoot at the same time without changing any setup. Pretty cool!

Ryan and Zoey Photo Session

We did a photo session with a brother and sister last weekend. You may also notice that we took some pictures with them a few months ago and one of Zoey's pictures is on our front page slideshow. Go check it out if you have not seen it.

We did an indoor studio shoot at their house and we did an outdoor shoot later the day. Here are some of the pictures from the indoor session.

Ezybox and Alien Bees on location

This blog post is for fellow photographers.

If you have been reading our blog, then you would know that we have gotten a 24x24 inch Lastolite Ezybox a couple month ago and we just got an Alien Bees. Now we have put them to use in a real shooting session. Here are the details:

  • Nikon SB800 was mounted to thebn Lasotilie Ezybox.
  • The Ezybox was used to point to the white background. This created a evenly whiten background
  • Alien Bees B800 was mounted on a light with a shot-through umbrella. It was placed on the right.
  • Alien Bees was triggered via wireless trigger
  • Nikon SB800 was set in SU-4 mode (optical trigger) and it was triggered by the Alien Bees
  • Reflector on the left for fill

This setup was simple, easy to set up and produce good results. Here is an example:

Mobile Studio

A lot of our clients want the clean studio look but don't want to travel to our studio, so we bring the studio to them.

We have just acquired a portable background system with a roll of seamless white paper.
We also have a black muslin background if the client wants a different look. We have also acquired an Alien Bees flash unit (I blogged about it before and I will blog about it more later). Plus our flashes (Nikon SB600, SB800, Canon 580EX, Vivitar 273). I guess we have enough to cover a small planet. :-)

These are some of the results from our mobile studio:

What's more difficult than taking pictures for two kids?

Taking pictures for two boys with the same age. Last weekend, we were taking picture for the two Pu brothers. They were very active and they didn't follow "orders."

What we did was to just set up our studio in their living room and let them do they own thing. We slapped the pictures when they walked on the setup. They started moving their toys onto the setup and played there. In the end, we had a big pile of toys in front of them.

It was exhausting but it was fun.

Fun Session with Jennifer

We met Jennifer about 8 months ago and she was a shy little girl. No matter what we did, she hardly smiled.

Today Jennifer is a fun outgoing little girl and she loves to be in front of the camera. It was so easy that we got a lot of great photos for her in her session.

Family Portrait Session Turned into Fashion Shoot

We started out to do family portraits for the Lai family at their home but in the end, we turned their living room into a studio doing fashion shoot for their youngest daughter. I guess we just never know what we gotta get and we just need to be ready. :-)

What's more difficult than taking pictures for one kid?

The answer is taking pictures for two kids at the same time.

Last week, we had a session with a brother and sister. The sister always enjoy herself, has so much fun and always smiles. The problem is to chase after her to take the pictures. One the other hand, the brother does not smile at all. He just stared at the camera and wondered: "Who are you? What am I doing here?"

However, we have an advantage: both of us can take the pictures. One of us would go chase after the sister while the other would try to tickle the brother to make him smile.

In the end, I think we got some good pictures for them.

Another Busy Weekend

More photo sessions last weekend. Here are some of the pictures we took.

My New Toy: Alienbees B800

Just received the new toy from the mail! It's an Alienbees B800 studio flash. We have been using the Vivitar 273 and the Nikon SB800 in our studio and feel that we are under "power." Don't get us wrong. We love using those flashes. The Vivitar has been with me for over 20 years and it has never failed me. The Nikon SB800 is great too as it can be triggered by the on camera flash from the D300 using CLS.

I wouldn't mind getting a few more SB800s but the used one cost over $350 each as Nikon stops making them. It costs more to buy them now than when it was new. I guess people just love the SB800.

Here comes the Alienbees. It's cheaper than the SB800 and it runs off the wall power (save money on batteries too). Therefore, I decided to get one and try it out. So far, I am happy with my decision.

Here are the pros of the Alienbees:

  • Run off the wall power, no need for batteries.
  • Fast recycle time. The flash will get slower and slower as the batteries run low but Alienbees has constant recycle time.
  • Very easy to use. No more holding the "SEL" button for 2 seconds and get to the advance menu. Every control is right there.
  • Built-in optical slave. Beside using the sync cable, it can be triggered by other flash.
  • Build-in modeling light.

The cons of the Alienbees:

  • It is bulkier than the SB800. I cannot put it in my camera bag. :-)
  • Run off the wall power unless I spend another $200 for the battery pack.
  • No more iTTL.
  • No more CLS. Everything will be manual.

I have shot some smoke before using the SB800 and I got some good results but that took a lot of trials. Using the Alienbees to shoot the smoke was much easier. The modeling light made focusing a lot easier. I used the sync cable to trigger the Alienbees, so there was no mis-firing at all. And adjusting the power on the Alienbees is very simple and easy. I could try different settings very quickly. Here is a picture I took with the Alienbees.

The strobist info on the picture with the Alienbees: Alienbees was connected to the camera via a sync cable. It's at 1/32 power. SB800 (at 1/16 power) on top pointing at the Alienbees logo and was triggered via SU-4 mode (optical trigger by the Alienbees). Simple and Straightforward. It is so cool!!

Nikon D300 High ISO Performance

I was at the International Grand Ball (IGB) dance competition. It was a very challenging environment to take picture in. The hall was dark but there are lot of spotlights. A lot of fast actions from the dancers. However, This was the prefect environment to confirm that the Nikon D300 is a great camera. It has great high ISO performance. It focuses fast in low light situation. It has all the right buttons on the right locations, so I can check settings in split seconds. Here are some of the pictures I took at the event. This picture was taken at ISO3200, f1.8, 1/100sec:

The second one was at ISO3200, f5.6, 1/40sec.

The third one was at ISO400, f1.8, 1/60sec.

The last one on the right was at ISO400, f1.8, 1/30sec.

Bottom line: it's a great camera.

More pictures can be found at this

New front page on the website

We have update the flash slide show on our front page. Half of the pictures there are from Anny and the other half are from me. Can you tell which ones are from her?

Photo Sessions

We have been getting some questions from our potential clients. These clients usually have not worked with a photographer before and they wonder why they want to spend their money to hire someone to take their pictures. With digital technology, anyone can do it easily. Why pay someone else?

There are many benefits in working with a photographer. Here are some of them:

  • Our equipments are much better than most of the consumers level equipments. These equipments produce much better results. You will notice the quality once you see it.
  • Some people may have the same equipments we have but they may not know how to fully utilize them. We spend our time to learn how to use them. And the most important, we have a lot of practice. Even when we are not taking pictures for a client, we spend our time to practice with our equipments and try out new techniques.
  • For most people, the work is done after the pictures are taken and uploaded.
    For us, the real work just begins. We typically get a few undred photos taken in a 2-hour session. We go through all of them and pick out the good ones. Then we do some basic post-processing on these photos. We fix up the colors, clean up the noise, crop the photos, etc. We spend from a couple minutes to half an hour on each photo. Only after that, we upload the photos to our website for our clients to see. A 2-hour photo session may require us an addition of 2-3 hours on the post processing.

We love taking pictures but the best part is to see our clients' excitement when they see the final results.

We want to give anyone a chance to experience the excitement, so, in the month of August, we will give 25% off to people who mention the ad below.