A joyous wedding with Karen, Robert and family!

With less than 2 weeks to the wedding date, I was contacted to handle this wonderful occasion! Of course I have none other than my previous couple Winnie and Tom to thank for the referral. But working in a pinch and little time to prep seems to be the usual theme here as one of my previous gigs happened the same way as well. Of course, I'm always ready for the action! The Wedding Photography Contract wasn't even signed until on the day of the wedding! That's how much trust they had in me not to bail on them and of course for me to document their most memorable moments of their once in a life time union!

What can I say? We got lucky, or I got lucky, why? On this beautiful mid August Summer of 2015 the skies were grey and overcast, rain as soon on the way! The heatwave and smoke from the 200+ forest fires in British Columbia had just crept by this beautiful city of Vancouver. What more is there to ask? Normally, everyone would prey for a nice sunny day, but let me tell you, overcast skies is what I love! Especially for outdoor shoots! Forget the reflectors and soft boxes cause that ain't necessary anymore as you can see the outdoor lighting in the pictures is pleasing on both the bride and groom! My assistant ended up standing around watching my gear instead of having to move around assisting me with lighting. I prefer natural lighting when it comes to outdoor work.

The ceremony was at the 1906 heritage site of the Pioneer Church at the updated South Arm Community Church building next door. The Wedding Party consisted of a large crew of 18! YES, the largest wedding ensemble yet to grace the halls of South Arm Community Church! Two white limos chauffeured the crew to and from our destinations. After the wondrous ceremony we had a nice little shoot at another popular heritage site in Richmond, the Minoru Chapel. I had previously done a wedding for couples Bryan and Eva there as well. Oh it was a busy day! There was already 2 other wedding parties on location, a ceremony, Batman and many bunnies! YES I DID SAY BATMAN! Batman(vintage) was the GROOM and he was getting married! Of course I got shots of their joyous occasion as well! Technically, this is my first time shooting two simultaneous weddings at once. ;) You gotta see the pics! After our afternoon shoot, we proceeded to our reception at the Ukrainian Hall of Ivan Franko for an eventful alcoholic salsa night to finish the day off!

Gear:
Previously I had tested the the new Fuji X-T1 with the Fuji XF 55-200 f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS at Kai and Cathy's wedding and it was more than sufficient to handle all the demands of an action packed low light wedding, although it would push the X-T1's light sensitivity capabilities close to it's limits, I managed to get through without even turning on high performance mode. This time I brought in the venerable Fuji XF 50-140 f2.8 R LM OIS WR to handle Karen and Robert's wedding. What a pleasure and life saver it was when the Fuji X100 batteries failed me as the Fuji Charger BC65N had failed to charge my batteries at all but would give my battery indicator a "full" reading. Of course, I also had my backup Nikon D7000 DSLR with me as well although I only took 6 shots with it. The Fuji X-T1 really took care of the business. One things for sure, the weight savings switching over to mirror-less was well worth it. My arms and fingers were no longer fatigued after a days shoot so I was still quick on my toes ready to capture any spontaneous action the reception threw in my direction! I used a Vivitar 383 Speedlight (for Nikon) on the X-T1 with a light sphere diffuser when they had parts of the night completely under candle light only. Although I shot the majority of the work using natural lighting since the hall didn't have suitable(safe) location to setup a wireless speed light system. The last thing I want is an accident from intoxicated guests tripping over my tripods/speed-lights.

Enough talk here's the link to the Full Gallery! Here you'll see the full published gallery.
Below is a select few photos of the occasion!

Fuji X100 X100S X100T Charger BC65N Charger DIES!

fuji-bc65n

In case you're wondering if your charger died or your batteries/camera is malfunctioning, here's what to look for. The X100 Fuji Chargers are prone to failure and has been reported to have statistically the worst failure rate within the industry.

These are some tell tail signs:

1. Your battery seems to die prematurely. Either it doesn't last the time it's meant to or it doesn't shoot the amount of shots it's rated for. Typically, a standard Fuji NP-95 battery with 1700 mAH lasts around 3+ hours or 250-350 shots depending whether you're shooting JPG or RAW and whether or not you have power saving functions turned on.

2. When you place your battery in to the charger while the charger is unplugged, the green light on the charger lights on. This is one of the immediate signs of a bad charger. A good charger will never show any lights when unplugged.

3. After the battery's been sitting in the charger for 6-7 hours or you've just placed a battery in to the charger and the green light on the charger blinks constantly. This is an indication of a bad battery. However, if this light comes on after a full charge cycle it is likely the charger itself has malfunctioned as well. Try the above mentioned No.2 step.

Luckily we have lot's of inexpensive solutions. A replacement OEM Fuji charger comes at around $40 and is recommended for the OEM Fuji batteries due to the fact that these OEM batteries have a 3 pin design. A Positive, Negative and a temperature reading pin. The 3rd pin is used by the charger to determine the batteries temperature/charge/life and to ensure it does not over charge. The OEM Fuji batteries are also quite expensive compared to aftermarket batteries that go for $10 a piece. An aftermarket charger also goes for $10-$20 and works just fine. You can find those from Amazon.com and Ebay.com sellers. However, keep in mind those cheaper batteries and chargers my seem identical by appearance it may not be the case. For example, the 3rd pin on the battery maybe purely aesthetic and the chargers may not have a 3rd pin for reading the batteries temperature. In other words, I wouldn't recommend charging OEM quality batteries with cheap chargers. However, with the economical price of those aftermarket batteries and chargers you can get more than a few of them to suit your needs for the price of 1 Fuji Charger / Battery. I've personally used batteries from MaxiPower and their batteries rated at 1800 mAH does last just as long as the Fuji NP-95 batteries.

Championship Amateur Boxing: Fight Night at Italian Cultural Centre (Vancouver, BC) | Confratellanza Italo-Canadese & NBBC

Fight Night at the lovely Italian Cultural Center for this years Amateur Championship Boxing for Vancouver clubs such as Burnaby Boxing Club and Pack of Wild Dogs from Richmond. I was invited to be the official photographer for "Pack of Wild Dogs" (PoWD) Club featuring our Champion of the night Ali El Kurdi.

The Fight

And the moment everybody's waiting for. Off with the head gear and the shirts! The crowd cheers as the announcer introduces both fighters from Richmond and Burnaby for the Championship fight! Ali El Kurdi VS Jamieson Louis! Ali explodes in to the first round furious with rage. That's his style! His opponent struggles to parry off Ali's raging bull offense and slips on to one knee in the second round and the third. Second round, the fight was quick paced and even, blows exchanged as both fighters circles the ring for offensive stance! Ali fired many hay makers and landed a few while receiving his share as well! By the third round Ali changed his pace and they were exchanging blows left and right. No knock outs. But Ali emerges as the Champion of the night by unanimous decision from the judges. Both fighters put up a great fight!

Gear and Comments:

Nikon D7000 | 70-300mm VR F4.5-5.6  FX | Nikkor 50mm F1.8 D

Nikon 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 VR FX
I wanted to see how the 70-300 performed with action photography under low light conditions. The stage of was just lit enough for the 70-300 to work at from f4.5-f5.6 while pushing my auto iso limits from 1000-1600. I don't like noisy pictures so I try to limit the iso although the D7000 can produce useable pictures past iso 3200. The shutter speed was a reserved 200-300 because I wanted some motion blur, although next time I'd bump up the shutter speed just a tad to get some nice clean freeze action shots. The stage was raised of course so I stood at the back wall behind all the audiences on a chair to get some height. From such a hyper focal distance I used a single servo mode. Overall I was impressed with the performance of the 70-300mm. It is a very capable lens for this type of photography given there is enough light. The focus is fast and in day light the performance of this lens only gets better.

Nikkor 50mm F1.8 D
I also shot with a 1/200 sec shutter. Honestly, I could have bumped up the shutter speed here since I was shooting at f2.8 and the auto-iso fell between 200-360. I was so caught up trying to catch the action I forgot to adjust the shutter. Amateur fights happen REAL fast and get heated real quickly!!! This time I was up against the ropes right below the ring. The fighters moved around quite a bit so it's hard to get nice clean shots showing both of them since a lot of the times you're going to see someones back which means nothing really going on in the shots. None the less, the Nikkor 50mm is a fast inexpensive prime lens and it performs just fine for such action photography. Again I relied on Single Servo mode as I'm confident in the D7000's AF abilities to catch the shots I want. Here's the part where having some boxing experience helps as a photographer for such action photographer, you'd want to anticipate when the shots are going to come.

After thoughts

If I were to do this event again, I'd use a 24-70 f2.8 or a 70-200 f2.8. The 24-70mm would be fantastic up at the ropes. It is a mid range fast zoom perfect for such conditions. The 70-200 would be great with a tele converter or somewhere up higher than the stage to avoid the ropes getting in to the frame. I didn't have either of these expensive lenses at the time (24-70 broke) so I made out with what I had. Also, I would opt to use Continuous Focus mode with a Hi Speed Multi Shots and 3D AF.

 

Commercial Photo Shoot: Shoephix Boutique & Models

Commissioned shoot with Shoephix.  Shoephix is a boutique store located in Yale town, Vancouver. 
It was a pleasure working with Lahna the owner and Sophia the marketing manager of the store. Sophia had couple models pre booked for the shoot.  To my surprise, i got to work with Christina Lagne again. Always a pleasure with her as she performs well behind the camera. Tidarat is the other model booked.  She's a beautiful model and mom of two originally from Thailand and had done some previous modelling there. Her kids are in high school if you believe it! Originally, we had a few locations scouted or the shoot. One of which was an old elevator in a storage facility. You know those retro elevators where you have to pull the gates down. Unfortunately, those pictures didn't turn out as the budget for this shoot limited my use of heavier lighting equipment. None the less the weather was great, Sophia helped me with the lighting outside so we were able to get away with some decent pictures and called it a day! Lahna was nice enough to take us out to lunch for some sandwiches!  Overall these pictures received a positive reception so I was satisfied with this project.

You can visit their site at www.shoephix.com

And their Facebook Page here.

Photoshoot with a lovely Vacouverite from Austria feat. Maja

Maja is a creative and artsy young lady of Austrian descent who was referred to me by a friend. She had some experience in modelling when she was younger. She very much still dabbles in the art of photography herself as she showed me her Instagram during our interview. Essentially this was a test shoot to see how we do in collaboration. She's both very pleasant, open minded, down to earth and rides a Ninja! That's just awesome cause I ride Ninjas! While we were photographing we really got to know each others background. It's great to work with exceptionally friendly people now and then.  We shot around Kits beach but boy was it busy and hot that weekend.  We had trouble with parking so we ended up parking close to her home which also happens to be 20 minute walk from Kits Beach.  The sun was high and was giving me harsh shadows especially since I didn't have a reflector to work with. My assistant wasn't around since we just finished another shoot earlier the same day. Fortunately, we're able to find a few good spots with some soft light to work with and we made some beautiful results! 

Photoshoot with Hairlicious Studio feat. Model: Tessa Blaiklock

This is a continuation of the post regarding the Collaborations with Hairlicious.  The third model of which Fahmed had driven all the way to Langley to pick up is Tessa. Normally Tessa isn't out that far but on the day of the shoot she happened to be in Langley. She's a model from London, England and originally represented by an agency named Sapphires Model Management. Of course after hearing that from Tessa I was more than excited and very relieved at the same time because it was getting late and sunsets at 7:20PM. Fahmed had arrived with Tessa at about 5:30PM and both Taiseer and her partner began work on Tessa right away. None of us had any lunch yet. Luckily Tessa brought a couple granola bars and shared it with the ladies. While they were working on Tessa I took the time to pace around the area seeking ideal shoot locations.

We did two hair looks with Tessa, straight hair and curled. We also had her in three out fits that she brought herself. Tessa was comfortable  with her body and was able bang out pose after pose, her composure really showed her experience. I directed her only enough to get the composition down while making lighting adjustments with the quickly dwindling sunset, my only source of light. She was fluid as expected and shooting with her was a breeze even though I had very limited time. We managed to many poses and a few locations. Overall, we were all satisfied with the results and I gave many thanks to Tessa for her splendid performance. It was a wonderful collaboration with Taiseer and Company!

You can check out Hairlicious' Facebok page HERE.


Now here are some pictures!

Photoshoot with Hairlicious Studio & Models feat. New Talent: Keely & Sumaysa

Taiseer and her business partner are both lovely makeup artists and hair dressers who contacted me for this opportunity to collaborate with them. They run their online & local business Hairlicious (Spa, Beauty), a studio which specialises in hair extensions including exotic Virgin Russian Hair Extensions.
I was excited as they already had models lined up and ready to go. Of course no shoot ever goes perfectly with out some challenges, the first time we set a date both the model and I arrived at SFU, Surrey as per directions but we were suppose to be in SFU, Burnaby, so there as a mixup in communications and that cancelled that shoot for that day. I was very disappointed as I took the transit that day. On the way home, there was an accident on the bridge, a 2 hour 1 way trip became 5 and the bus driver didn't want to complete his route because he was delayed past his shift. Instead he dumped the remaining passengers at Richmond Centre and had us wait for another bus.

Moving on, we finally got things going on the second appointment, but one of the models cancelled and another was way too far out of town to make it on time. Langley to be exact. So Taiseer's boyfriend Fahmed had to drive all the way out to pick her up while we were working on the models we had(Keely and Sumaysa). Another problem that came up was that the hair extensions we needed that day was not immediately in Taiseer's possession but all the way in Surrey, so we had to go there and pick that up before we head back to Burnaby where we did our shoot.  Our effective 12PM shoot started at 130PM. I was getting anxious because it was cutting in to our shoot time and we all know what that means!  If a photographer doesn't have enough time and is forced to work in a rush, it is more challenging to produce good work, not that I haven't worked under such scenarios before where I literally only had minutes to complete a shoot. But, I do prefer to work at a comfortable pace in order to produce the best work possible.

Keely with the long black hair was one of the intended models.  She arrived at 12PM on location with her friend Sumaysa. Fortunately, Taiseer's business partner also got there on time to keep them company. Keely had to leave by 3PM to work downtown and by the time they finished their hair and makeup on her it was 2:50PM!  So, here we go again.  I literally had only minutes to shoot Keely in her two out fits and she had to have her hair curled in between! Keely was also relatively new to modelling and had a couple shoots prior so I had to do some posing warmups with her and some directing. She was receptive and cooperated nicely, she picked things up real fast. By the end of the session we're happy to have some pictures to go home with! I was impressed and happy with Keely's performance overall.

Sumaysa, originally from Bangladesh has never modeled before and was purely there to keep Keely company.  Since Sumaysa could stick around, I had her model a few shots while we wait for our model Tessa coming from Langley. Sumaysa had glasses, no makeup and had an innocent look, but when they were done with her it was a transformation! WOW! Her pictures got quite the attention from her Facebook friends and so did Keely, so I'm satisfied with the results.

It was great experience at the end of the day as we moved passed our trivial challenges and was a pleasure to have worked with Taiseer and Company!

You can check out their site HERE and show them some support of you like their work. 

Models: Keely Sullivan & Sumaysa Tahsin

I'll talk about Tessa and her pics in the next update.

Joby Ultra Fit Sling Strap Review & Impressions

There's a few strap systems out there for cameras but I'm going to highlight and review the Joby Ultra Fit Sling Strap and why I'm personally using it now. The stock straps that come with our cameras are fixed length and designed for hanging on our necks. If you have a heavy camera and lens it can cause fatigue. Even if you hang it on one shoulder the camera is not ergonomically accessible.  

This sling strap solves a few key problems while bringing features other straps don't have.

1. Reduced neck fatigue! Shoulder Mount style Soft-edged High-Performance Webbing for a Perfect Fit that contours your body. This fitment is snug and comfortable on your shoulder, it's not so wide that it becomes cumbersome yet it's slim and sleek enough to handle the weight of a Nikon DSLR with a battery grip (6AA's), a flash with diffuser and a long heavy lens mounted. This system is designed ergonomically for quick access.


2. A Pivot Ring for quick adjustment fit is the deal breaker for me as it gives the ability to adjust the length of the strap quickly with a single action. This allows me to carry and switch between cameras quickly and allowing you to temporarily store your camera by your side worry free. This is a good feature for traveling, hiking, street photography where you move around a lot taking pictures periodically.


3. A locking mechanism which keeps the camera tight to the body preventing it from swinging around. You can adjust the the strap to have the camera behind you or in front of you depending on the size of your camera and your preference. This keeps the camera safe and close by your side. Other straps have it dangling around, it may bang on your knees or on your hip.

4. The mounting hardware and seal is also crucial in my decision to go with this strap.
The mounting point has rubber cushioning for a snug seal to ensure it never gets loose. It has never come loose in my experience and has served my well during busy events where I'm constantly switching between the cameras I'm wearing.

Conclusion:
The packaging is sufficient and the branding is pleasant, it comes with a small instruction booklet. It takes seconds to mount it to the camera. Don't bother with the no name brand straps off of eBay, the construction and quality simply isn't there. The material may rip or fall apart. You wouldn't want to risk an expensive camera with a cheap strap. This however is not a cheaply made strap. Out of all the brand name sling straps, it has one of the lower retail price tags while the strap is made of quality material. They got the price point right! You won't be disappointed whether you're using this strap for a DSLR or compact camera system.

PROS:

-Comfortable.

-Carries good weight (professional DSLR cameras no problem).

-Good Value. (As low as $25)

-Locking Mechanism and quick adjust-ability.

-Solid Hardware and quality material.

CONS:


-Tripod mount becomes occupied, must remove strap before mounting on tripod. Although this isn't really a CON, some people may want to have the pod slot open for mounting or keeping a bracket on. It takes just seconds to remove the strap from the camera body though.