Journal

Garden wedding. On a fine day by lukeleenz

20121117-0001 Ok, when I woke up in that morning, it rained. Quite heavily. The couple and I were quite worried the whole week and making a plan B just in case if it rains as it was forecasted.

The ceremony was scheduled at 3PM in the park. Then the heavy rain started to slow down from like 2:30PM. Amazing!

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The day turned out to be a very, very nice day. It was actually too nice. Making it harder for us to stand in the scorching sun. I mean, who would believe it rained only like half an hour ago!?

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The ceremony was done as it was scheduled and there was no need for plan B. Well, it rained again as we walked into the reception, so I guess they needed a plan B...?

Congrats to Gina and Ross!

Engagement session by lukeleenz

20121102-0001 One of the shots from the Engagement Session of Hae & Bacchus About half a day of engagement session. Just a little walk in the park and... well, another park. Get to know the couple and it's a great time to find out their style.

Congrats on their wedding, which is very near!

my favourite, small weddings. by lukeleenz

20121110-0001 A small wedding in a small church with close friends and family only. I love this kinda weddings. It's so much more private and close, personal. You get to know these people and get to enjoy with them, which is the main reason why I enjoy shooting weddings.

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You laugh with them, make jokes, play with them. Just have fun. Get some ideas. Do some silly photos, too. Of course, I wouldn't share those with everyone! Then you get a bit calm quiet time with the couple only.

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Little bit of everything!

Wedding Photography, it's basically just having fun together! Thanks to Adam and Jill for inviting me to their wedding.... Luke

Recent Activities by lukeleenz

20121004-0001 Well, last couple of months have been really busy.

Few weddings here and there, few voluntary works, too. Not to mention a big trip to Europe for the whole October. Gotta get some time to go through all these photos. Including the weddings, trips and voluntary works, I got about 12,000 photos to go through. So Stay Tuned!

preparation package for wedding photography by lukeleenz

 

My preparation for wedding photo shoot.

D3s D700 + vertical grip Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 OS Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC SB900 x 2 Blackrapid DR-2 dual sling strap Fujifilm X100 Alienbees B800 Sirui Travel Tripod Lightstand+sync cable+Brolly Storm Jacket DSLR raincover

Yep, bloody heavy. But they were worth every bit of their weight. Working with around 2k of photos. So far, so great!

street photography begins by lukeleenz

 

another genre of my photography will soon kick in.

I will need new studies and works done before I can put anything in action. Exciting stuff, trying something new.

Also, I should be ready for my new wedding season. New season about to kick in.

Glorious iCloud GPS tracking by lukeleenz

On 28th July 2012, my wife and I went out sometime around 3:30-4PM and came back home late night around 11PM. As we were walking in, we've noticed couple of odd things that we were sure we did before we left, such as locking the sliding door to the back garden, closing socks drawer, etc. Then I've noticed, both my macbooks were gone. Not only macbooks but iPads, too.

Of course, first thing I do is, make a record of what happened. You don't know what you will be facing later on, and you need an evidence. A hard evidence.

Then, I called the Police.

As I was finishing up my report to the Police, I've realized one thing. the GPS tracking by iCloud from the web. Luckily, my iPad was 3G model. All iPad 3G models have GPS in them. I've already tried it at home with tracking and once it helped me find my iPad when I left it in some other place.

Police on the other side of the phone was patiently waiting for my GPS lock and it did on one of the houses in New Brighton. We've secured the location and I hung up when the unit left and there was nothing for me to do.

But I don't just seat around.

These are my stuff that got stolen, and no matter how caring and considerate the officers are, it is still just one of the burglary case. I went for the house myself.

Police was already there hiding in the dark around the corner and we talked and tried a few tricks we could pull without search warrant.

Problem was, there wasn't a lock tight GPS signal and we couldn't just march in to any house without search warrant. And the warrant would go wasted if the house was the wrong one. We had to give up and call it off.

My wife and I couldn't sleep till 3 in the morning. And we did somehow, I was up at 6:30 in the morning tried to get back to sleep.

I got out of the bed at 8:30 and with a toothbrush in my mouth, I went to the computer to see if my iPad has moved. I figured, even on Sunday, he might go to work.

I was right.

Signal was coming from somewhere in the middle of nowhere in between Belfast and Marshland. I made a phone call to the Police, gave them an update and took my ass to the area.

Possible thief was in Periodic Detention. Way to go clean. After careful thoughts between me and the officers, we decided to play a bit and do the same thing I did the night before.

Police approached the people and I pinged my iPad to make a loud noise.

It worked.

Noise came from one of the PDs' backpack and Police arrested the guy.

Yes, I got my stuff back. Not all of them as more are missing as time goes. But most crucial ones, I got them back.

Here are list of tips I'd like to tell the people who got burgled.

1. If you are certain that you got burgled, don't touch anything. Make a record of how it looks and report to the Police. The faster you do, the better chance you get to catch the bastard.

2. It will be extremely hard to get thief's fingerprints from drawers or door knobs. We touch them all the time, there are just too many fingerprints to work on. Rather, focus on things you don't touch normally. Like window frames, wall on the side of the doors, etc.

3. From 1st October, NZ Police gets a power to get in and search the property if there is enough suspicion. GPS tracking is a good example. Up until now, we needed a search warrant even when GPS track showed so clearly. NZ law is getting upgraded. This will help in great amount in such cases like mine.

4. If you have a lead, there's nothing wrong making a first move to the site before Police does. Just don't do anything but observe. It's Police who needs to do the job for you. Do the best to help the Police when they come.

5. Latest gadgets like smartphones and tablets, laptops come with a tracking technology. Even if they don't, there are some services online that offers them. Some are not as accurate as others but it will be a great additional security to have. If you move fast, you can nail the bastard. Also, when you buy something, have receipt in a safe place and box in a separate place. And make a note of serial numbers in a separate file. But don't save them in a computer but online. Cloud services are great for these. Like iCloud, Dropbox, Skydrive, Google Drive, etc.

cuppa with a photographer by lukeleenz

Had a little catch up with a fellow photographer / good friend. Talked over some normal life issues and useless mumbo jumbos.

Then to work. Some new idea popping up for personal projects. We will need to arrange some models and do a real plan out on light settings and details of poses and stuff.

After a long time of dry spell in creative inspiration, I am finally getting some brainstorms. Now, problem is how to put it to action..!

spirit of travel photographer by lukeleenz

I am married. I have a wife who loves me. I have a day job that pays for my basic needs, although my heart and soul lives with photography. I have a house with mortgage. I am paying my taxes and living my life as my parents or friends, relatives would be expecting to normal people. We are doing quite well. We don't make good money or have a fancy house, great car or anything. But we are doing quite well.

But I have a wonder. Am I doing right really? Am I supposed to live life like this? Ever since I was just a kid, I always dreamt myself wondering in unfamiliar places meeting strangers. I love just looking around the strange people, atmosphere. I was never a stranger to the places I go.

I love travel. I am just biting my lips until my next paid leave I've applied for, so I can finally enjoy the excitement of preparing and packing again. Even now, as I am waiting for my first trip in August, I am already planning for another trip. This is crazy.

I need to be out there. I need to be free.

stage shooting by lukeleenz

Every year, I get a chance to shoot photos of high school kids doing their events at church, called "Night of Ebenezer". It's not much but a great opportunity for me to practice low light, stage shooting. This year was no different than others. I actually had other job in line on the same day but got cancelled.

I thought I'd try something different and give a little bit of spice in images. Above was one of them. Yes, it did involve heavy post-processing, but I assure you it was all planned out even before shooting!

And here's another one.

Lighting is always not the best and mixture of different colour temperature is always a challenge to work out white balance. So, every time, I end up manually setting white balance in post-processing.

Rapidly changing lights are another challenge. When the spotlights are full on, they are way too bright, then here comes red filter and it stops down quite a bit and then without noticing the change of lighting, spotlights go away to light someone else.

But it's all about fun and I am only volunteering. Great practice for me. Oh, and did I mention, fun?

YOLO by lukeleenz

 It's winter. It's killing me. Not to mention the cold weather and early dusk, It just makes people shrink and lazy. I can't blame anyone for me being lazy but it's quite shameful as a photographer, I haven't picked my camera for 6 days at the beginning of this month.

This sucks really. My real life is dragging me behind and I'm lacking inspiration. I really need to get out more rather than shrinking in the cozy home trying to warm up my body with electric blanket and heat pump.

I picked up a great saying from radio station. YOLO. It's how kids say these days, apparently. It means "You Only Live Once".

Hey, it's YOLO. Shouldn't I do it right then?

Importance of Reading a Manual by lukeleenz

I, personally, have never read a manual when I bought something new. Especially when it comes to photographic gears. I figured, I've had enough play time with photo gears including cameras of different brands. I know most of the names they use for same technologies (but different patents).
I thought I was good enough to know what's wrong when something unexpected happens.
But this, Pocket Wizard, made me look stupid.
I currently have two of Pocket Wizard's FlexTT5 for Nikon. I used to have a miniTT1 also, but I didn't like the idea of having a coin battery handy when I could just carry bulk lot of AA rechargeable batteries. Also, coin batteries are not rechargeable.
So, I was at home testing out my gears like usual, trying to make a boring normal day exciting a little more. But I just couldn't get my flash to sync with the camera! I checked both FlexTT5's firmware, reset their settings, change the batteries, swap around and everything I could think of.
I've checked million different websites but all they were saying was that, it's faultless. That it's so bloody easy to use, all I have to do is just put them on, turn them on and shoot away. Well it wasn't working for me!!
So I've checked more and more. Finally got myself to Pock Wizard's website. It maybe the first website I should have checked... but anyway..!
All the manuals and troubles.... I got myself to trouble shootings section. And there, I found a valuable information which I should have known long time ago.
Order of turning on the devices....!
Assuming you've already connected all pocket wizards to the flash(s) and camera(s).
1. Turn on the flash
wait 3-4 secs
2. Turn on the pocket wizards
wait 3-4 secs
3. Turn on the camera
wait 3-4 secs
The point was to wait 3-4 secs between each steps to have them warmed up for connection...! Nothing more.
And yea I've tried like they said... on, wait, on, wait, on wait....
And after few moments past... I've shot away and BAM! It works.
Stupid.... yet, some of the impatient photographers out there might have had the same thing and thought "ah, my pocket wizards are broken!" so here you go.
And had a test shot to make sure all my gears were working great, I shot my wife before she took all laundry back inside.
Named; The Laundry Woman - a.k.a. mad wife (for not helping)

Back from the dead by lukeleenz

I've been struggling with depression for last 2 weeks.

Still in not the best condition, but it's good to be out and about, just to walk around. I am still struggling so much to have the least motivation to get my ass out  to take photos. It will slowly come back to me, hopefully.

Oh how wonderful the life is, it's variety of excitement from the body to the mind.

End of my wedding season by lukeleenz

 
As of today, I've finished my wedding photo season.
Considering how I haven't spent much of my time and effort on advertising, I think I did quite well this time. Next time, I'll try going a little more aggressive on advertising. Maybe make some more service products too.
 
Like the old saying;
 
You have to go to the ocean to catch a whale.
 
 
If I can just survive tonight, things will be back to normal... for a while.
 
To do list tonight;
 
Download today's photos.
Screen recording request from church for meeting tomorrow
Make a copy of DVD for last wedding
 
 
Oh not much,
Only, I have to finish these as soon as possible and sleep to wake up by 6:30AM to give away this screen recording and get ready and go to my day job. Oh man... I'm gonna need a lot of caffeine!

it's good to have a protection by lukeleenz

It's always good to have a protection.
This saying goes to pretty much everything... everything you can think of. whatever that is.
In my case, protection, I was saved by "this" protection, saved two of my cameras from different occasions.

My x100 LCD was being protected by Giottos LCD protection glass. I don't know exactly what happened but something happened. In my bag...! Silly me had to put the camera inside my bag without any cover or partition... Broke the glass of the LCD protector. Saved my camera though. As heartbroke as I was - to replace the protector, going all the trouble again - I was so gracious that I didn't scratch the actual screen.
That gaffer tape on the side is only to block blinking light when file is being saved to the memory card. It's so distracting!

Recent damage.
My D700 was being protected by GGS glass protector. I was putting stuff in the back of the car. As I opened the door, camera slipped off of my hand and fell freely. Thanks to my quick reflection, I pulled my knee out to stop it from falling. But the camera was stuck between my knee and the car door frame. Sad thing is, it was stuck where the locking mechanism is on the door frame. The metal bit on the lock pushed its sharp edge towards my camera's lower LCD resulting a major pressure to the protector. It gave a chunk of protector shattered and broke the glass all the way to two other edges.
From both incidents, I would like to believe that, the protectors did their jobs. And did it well to save my precious gears.
But, to be honest, I thought they'd be stronger than that......

My wife's work by lukeleenz

My wife's work that's now sitting right beside my monitor.
As an ex-UI developer, she is not really a creative person nor does she knows a lot in design. But she has an extreme attention to details (down to pixels) and crazy focus into work when she gets on it.
And I love my wife.

D800 vs 5D mark III on my perspective by lukeleenz

I do weddings. I do events. I am a photographer. Although I am not a full time professional, I am proud to be a part time and professional. I do have my own perspective and probably not many will appreciate my perspective but who knows, maybe some will. So here I go.
I started my SLR life with Canon in the beginning. And when I turned to Nikon, it was to go to Nikon's DSLR system which was D100 back then. Compared to all the issues Canon had with 10D model, it was reasonable for me to turn to Nikon. Back then.
Then I turned again to Canon to 1D Mark II N from Nikon's D2h & D2x. To me, it was rather camera body performance that mattered more, then lens selections. I was never a rich (or popular) photographer so I had to get whatever I could get. The lenses I could get was either third party or mid-class lenses. Most people talk about how good 50mm f1.2 is on Canon, 85mm f1.2 is on Canon. I only had 50mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.8. They are both very good lenses but Nikon has them too and they were just as good. To me, lens selection was not a big problem. I have the lenses I use on pretty much all brands.
Flash was just a pain in the ass! Canon flash was ridiculous. Even when I was not really working a lot with strobes, I felt there was something not right or easy about Canon's flash system. I just could get what I used to get with Nikon.
When D3 came out, I didn't hesitate one bit to turn back to Nikon. Of course, it blew me out of my mind with its body construction and hi-iso noise control, etc.
Now full-frame DSLR isn't really something that is so expensive. You save enough money for a nice crop-sensored DSLR + bundled lens, you can buy a decent full frame DSLR with that amount of money. It's not much, especially if you think about how much Canon's 1Ds used to cost.
And now to what I think on those 2 new cameras which just made my blood pump.
Nikon D800
I think back. Not long before. When Canon's 5D mark II used to be top of the market in wedding industry. High enough MP, great HI-ISO noise control upto ISO 6400, reasonable fps, high quality video capability. These specs were at the top of the list for Canon's 5D Mark II.
I know things change but D800 actually meets or supersedes all those spec lists that made Canon's 5D Mark II one of the top cameras for wedding.
Light, smaller body compared to pro-grade DSLR (D3s for instance)
36MP (could be overkill but 5D Mark II used to be called overkill with 21mp. We will see in a few years time)
Still great high iso noise control upto 6400. Adding with higher MP, we may get better image and details at higher iso when reduced to lower size. Maybe down to 24mp or something.
Better video performance. Mic monitoring and all.
reasonable fps at 4 fps. same as 5D mark II.
Then I figured. Why Nikon said it will be a great wedding photographers camera. Because 5D Mark II used to be.
It sucks they didn't make everything else go above what 5D Mark II used to be.
My perspective, if Nikon D800 came with 36MP, iso 12800 and Hi-1 Hi-2, 5 fps even with no boost with grip, would have been a killer for both 5D mark II and 5D mark III.
But the world is not perfect.
Canon 5D Mark III
I've been back and forth Nikon and Canon in the past. And this camera is actually another one that makes me think if I want to do this gear swapping again. It sounds almost perfect to wedding photographers. 22mp is not too small, not too big these days to handle enough details and have a bit of margin for crops and stuff (I had to crop out when my hood was attached not all the way and made a huge vignette around the frame. Made 12mp files into 8mp. Things happen. It's good to have an option). 6 fps is not the fastest but it's close enough to not to miss out in a fast changing situations. At least it's better than 4 fps in that regard. ISO upto 25600. I don't care how they do it, but if native iso is that high, I believe I can use upto 12800 at least. Heck, I even used 102400 on my D3s sometimes when the occasion called for it. And 61 AF Points!
Then I think back again. Nikon and Canon have been battling for a long time now and they do this step forward, backward battle all the time. Things will be different again in about 4 years time, when the new upgrade cycle comes. I can't be changing my systems all the time.
Canon's 5D Mark III will keep their customers happy and stop them moving to other brands. Great Camera. But here's what I figured.
22MP. Everybody now says it's just enough MP. About 4 years back, 12MP was more than enough. Even before that, I was more than happy with 8MP. When Sony announced A900 with 24MP, People said it's got too big RAW file. Things change. It will change even more in 4 years time. I don't know but there will be more "very high MP" cameras soon. I know that Sony will come up with their own 36MP DSLR. Or DSLT I don't know. But it will happen. 22MP for now is good. But in a few years time, it could be at the bottom of it's competitor's MP.
ISO upto 25600 is mind blowing. At the moment. Again, things change. Since Nikon cut the first tape with high iso with D3, everybody started to pour out ultra hi iso cameras. ISO 25600 may become standard soon. Then D800 will be outdated in that part, but then, Nikon may have something else planned. I don't think they will say that D800 is NOT an upgrade model of D700 if they didn't have a plan. I don't think they had anything planned for D700 upgrade model, but they will probably think of something else to challenge 5D Mark III. It's just how they play.
61 AF Points! It's great! But they should have done it before with 5D Mark II. Not 61 AF Point, but maybe even 21 points or 17 points I don't know. What made me turn back to Canon was because of the focusing issue I had all the time with whatever lens I buy. I had to calibrate everytime. I don't wanna be doing that again. They say Canon got better. But my past experience keeps me away from believing that.
So here's my perspective. To cut in short, I am looking at it in Nikon's favour. To stop myself from changing the whole system again! But oh boy do I want to change to Canon again...!

Fish tank photo shooting test out by lukeleenz

Putting our engagement ring to a test bed.

Apparently, it's not easy to take a photo through a fish tank.

Still finding out the best lighting+the best aperture/shutter speed settings. When the timing is just right, 1/250s is just fine and I can shoot with Alienbees AB800 with no problem. But with 70-200mm lens, it's bloody hard to keep everything in focus and shoot at the exact timing.

Maybe I should have bought Einstein? Faster sync speed with enough power? Eh?