Tag Archives: street photography

Breaking the Rules – Street Photography with the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8

We’d normally use ultra-wide lenses for two reasons: (1)  to capture something very big (i.e. landscapes, buildings, stars in the sky); or (2) to create a sense of space in a place where there is none (i.e. real estate photography). Portraits are generally a big no-no because its inherent visual perspective creates a sense of unease. But then again, a cinematographer like Masanobu Takayanagi can use it masterfully in Silver Linings Playbook to subtly bring out Bradley Cooper’s troubled mental state in front of Jennifer Lawrence.

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Ian Norman over at The Lonely Speck uses this Rokinon to great results for his astrophotography

I bought my Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 on a whim and while it was on sale. At $339 MSRP, it is one of the most affordable lenses in the Sony E Mount line up. But as neither a landscape or an astrophotographer, I had no real need for an ultra-wide. And I suspect for real-estate photographers, who incidentally have the highest average salaries out of all photographer types, they won’t be relying on this bargain basement lens with wild barrel distortions either.

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The Rokinon is also labeled as the Samyang. When mounted to the A7 series, it is absolutely humongous. Not the ideal street photography lens then, but fun to use nonetheless.

One day, over better qualified candidates like the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 and as if to defy the camera gods, I decided to bring this lens during my recent trip to China for Lunar New Years since Asia, in general, is great for street photography. So, I challenged myself to use a 14mm ultra-wide on the streets and this is what I’ve learned.

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Photographing “China B”

Spanning into the mists of time, its history has predicated thousands of years of philosophies, dogmas, and customs. It’s population, a conceptually difficult to imagine 1,357,000,000, is ultra diverse in its cultures, languages, and cuisines. It’s also very large, the same size as the United States, as it borders 14 adjacent developing countries.

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Shanghai, or as Anthony Bourdain put it, as city that makes his New York City look like a third world country.

What many envision China today, perhaps through news programs, tourism, or the Beijing Olympics, may be a rapidly developing economy with shining beacon cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing. However, few casual tourists or tie-wearing business people will have the opportunity to venture into China’s countryside, to rural roads less traveled, and to what one scholar termed as “China B.”

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Power lines stretch across resting winter farmlands.

In my recent travels to China during Lunar New Years, I had the opportunity to travel to an old town on the outskirts of Xi’an, in the Shanxi province, right in the middle of the country. Along the 1.5 hour car ride, I pointed my Sony A7 out the window and capture a side of the country rarely seen. Every image below was shot with a Sony A7 with a Zeiss 35mm f/2.8. The lens focused quickly and confidently, but it was the micro-contrast of the images that really inspired.

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Got GAS? Honest Questions We Need to Ask Ourselves

So here I am, thinking about dropping some hard earned cash on another camera system. I’ve definitely been a sucker for hype and the latest generation of cameras have lured hours of my attention from actual work. Maybe I was going to procrastinate either way, but at the end of this tunnel, I will probably be losing a hefty amount of cash to replace it with several hundred grams of magnesium alloy housing some serious CMOS circuitry.

Photographer or Photo Enthusiast?

As large camera manufacturers start churning out the hype machines, many photo-enthusiasts will start salivating for these new imaging monsters; bigger resolution, better dynamic range, higher sensitivity, faster processing, more connectivity, etc. It’s enough to make you go out and justify maxing out your credit card in order to ignite a spark that hasn’t been lit since the last time you purchased a camera.

But before you do that, you need to ask yourself this question: What do I need this for? It’s pretty simple but for many, this could be like walking through a land mine.

It doesn't matter how good your gear is, if you're not going out there photographing then you've purchased yourself an expensive paper weight. This sunrise shot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was captured at 5am.
It doesn’t matter how good your gear is, if you’re not going out there photographing then you’ve purchased yourself an expensive paper weight. This sunrise shot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was captured at 5am. I’m not an early bird but when you get shots like this, it’s enough to get me out of bed!

As mirrorless  cameras start eating away at DSLR sales worldwide, the old guard of photography; primarily Nikon, Canon and Pentax have been trying to stop the hemorrhaging of their entry level and enthusiast range of cameras.

To this day, nothing excites me more than placing my eye against my Canon 5D Mk III eye piece and seeing a tried and tested system in that reflex but for many, it’s totally unnecessary to carry a bigger, heavier camera all for the sake of that mirror box . You see, many families now want great image quality without carrying the big DSLR, these mirrorless cameras can provide just that but on the other end of the spectrum, enthusiasts might require a sturdier built machine that can withstand nature’s elements.

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4+1 Photography Tips for the Business Traveler

Imagine this scene. You’ve been walking through the forest/city for days, mentally preparing yourself for the moment your subject/scene will appear before you. You know your camera, you’ve studied the weather, the lighting, the time, you can even see with your mind’s eye that one image that you want to capture. Finally, the time and place is right. Your subject is there, the light is right, the camera is purring in your hands. You look through the viewfinder, you feel the rush, the connection between you and that small part of the world you see in front of you. Click. The perfect photo. The trip was worth it.

A view of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. A little known fact is that, according to my dodgy guide (who even introduced me to the last nephew of the last emperor, not a scam, promise) entry to the City was not forbidden, it was just that males entering the city had to be castrated to do so - which justifies the name. An even lesser-known fact is that I hiked up the hill in Jingshan Park behind the Forbidden city to take this photo wile every hung-over from a late dinner with collaborators in a business suit.
A view of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. A little known fact is that, according to my dodgy guide (who even introduced me to the last nephew of the last emperor, not a scam, promise) entry to the City was not forbidden, it was just that males entering the city had to be castrated to do so – which justifies the name. An even lesser-known fact is that I hiked up the hill in Jingshan Park behind the Forbidden city to take this photo while very hung-over from a late dinner with collaborators – in a business suit.

The above scenario is what dedicated photography trips are all about. You choose the place, the time and think about the images you want to come away with. Most importantly, you have set aside a good amount of time to allow you to concentrate on getting that perfect image. That means time to explore the scene, time to try different viewpoints and techniques, time to make sure that as many of the key elements of your image come together before that crucial final capture. This is the stuff photographers’ dreams are made of and the reason why people pay considerable sums of money to embark on these highly organised and professional led trips.

A view along the river Rhine in Strasbourg, France. Camera on a portable mini tripod, photo taken while eating a decidedly mediocre lunch with a work colleague.
A view along the river Rhine in Strasbourg, France. Camera on a portable mini tripod, photo taken while eating a decidedly mediocre lunch with a work colleague.

What if you don’t have the time and/or money to do that though? What if you do have the opportunity to travel, say since work sends you to different places around the country/world, but not the dedicated time to allow you to take photos? Is it time to give up, take some quick snapshots through the taxi, buy a souvenir at the airport on your way out and call it quits? Not to fear fellow business traveller, photography beyond casual snapshots and selfies is still possible, provided you’ve done a bit of homework and are dedicated enough to make it happen. Let’s see how you can have your cake and eat it.

A view from the top of St Peter's Cathedral in Munich, Germany. One of the good things about work travel is that lunch time can usually be your time and is also a time where popular spots are free of tourists. In this case I didn't have to cue up to climb to the top of the bell tower, which meant that I was up, photographing and down within 40 minutes.
A view from the top of St Peter’s Cathedral in Munich, Germany. One of the good things about work travel is that lunch time can usually be your time and is also a time where popular spots are free of tourists. In this case I didn’t have to cue up to climb to the top of the bell tower, which meant that I was up, photographing and down within 40 minutes.

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We Are Recruiting Photographers and Writers. Apply Today!

Thanks to your cherished support, iLHP has had some incredible growth ever since we launched late last year. Since we are almost at our one year anniversary, it’s time for another round of expansion. We are looking for talented photographers to bring everyone even more high quality original content.

We are looking for exceptional photographers with a passion for writing. We are specifically looking for photographers specializing in the following areas: gear reviews, street photography, landscape & wildlife photography, commercial fashion photography, wedding photography, photo journalismsports & action photography, paparazzi photography, and travel photography.

Opportunities

  • Freelancers – You have a passion for photography. Maybe you are on the forums. Maybe you already have a photography blog. We offer you the opportunity to reach over 250,000+ readers by publishing your articles on iLHP. Please write to us with the subject line “iLHP Freelancer” and include: (1) article idea (no Q&A’s please); (2) a few of your images to be published along with the article; (3) link to your portfolio or brief bio. Both amateurs and professionals are welcomed to apply.
  • Columnists – If you are a professional photographer that would like expand your brand and reach online, you are encouraged to apply to be one of our regular Columnists. You will publish 1 article every month or so and you will always have a place to promote your images, workshops, and other photography related products. Please write to us with the subject line “iLHP Columnist” and include: (1) your online portfolio; (2) a brief bio including where you are from; and (3) your field of photography. Photographers from around the world are welcomed to apply.
  • Creative Director – If you are an excellent writer with a talent for photography, we offer you the best chance to create something very special together. As a Creative Director for a growing iLHP, we will determine the direction of iLHP together. You will have independent creative freedom to publish your article each week, and you will have your impact on the industry. We have a business plan and very high goals. But we believe that with the right people, the sky’s the limit! Please write to us with the subject line “iLHP Creative Director” and include: (1) your resume or LinkedIn; (2) your online portfolio; and (3) a short statement stating what you will bring to our team. All applications will be confidential. Experience in online publishing or WordPress is preferred but not necessary. Key determination will be based on your photography and writing skills.

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