Nepal and my Fujifilm X70 part 4 aka iPhone the saviour

Alright, you made it this far so you might as well read this while you're in the loo and finish it off (both the business you're up to and reading this conclusive decisive, most tremendous part of this trip! period!) 

Check out the prequels here. 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

The first day of 2017.

The first day of 2017.

So my X70 died because it was too cold and I should have kept it somewhere much warmer. Then came along the trusty iPhone7 plus, I'm not a big fan using my iPhone for photography even though I should as the camera on this thing is just a pure savage beast but it's way too sharp for me, no good! Everything is just razor sharp especially on the iPhone screen. It makes my eyes bleed. 

Hence why I use VSCO to help soften and dirty it up.

Hence why I use VSCO to help soften and dirty it up.

My work flow goes like this, Snapseed for tuning and cropping then I use VSCO to apply a little bit of character to the image. I don't like a heavy tarnish but rather pick a filter and drag it all the way down to just get a slight hint of whatever that filter tries to emulate then upload it to instagram. 

This one was left untouched but I adjusted it to 16:9 crop.

This one was left untouched but I adjusted it to 16:9 crop.

I will put up a few photos taken with the iPhone down below. Now let's get back to our trip! Once we got out of the mountain, we went back to Pokhara to stay for a night before our departure to another cool town called "Bandipur". At this point, my X70 is back and ready to take some more photos. I didn't want to risk losing my photos on my first SD card so I bought an 8 GB card from a vendor in Pokhara who guarantee that it's the fastest card on Earth (it's not). 

A massive dog in Bandipur.

A massive dog in Bandipur.

After another lengthy car ride we got into the beautiful town of Bandipur which lies in a mid-way pointish between Pokhara and Kathmandu. It situated up in a hill and it used to be a major trading post back in the day.

In case you need a spark in your classroom.

In case you need a spark in your classroom.

OGs

OGs

The salon

The salon

One thing that I noticed is that the lighting has been supremely kind to me during my trip. The angle of the winter sun does help a lot and how the architecture creates a good sharp cookie cutting the light, acting as a natural flag. 

After a day in Bandipur, we are on the road again to check out an old city called "Bhaktapur". 

A ride through misty mountains.

A ride through misty mountains.

We drove through Kathmandu to reach Bhaktapur. The traffic through Kathmandu was quite congested as a protest was being held through out the city. Apparently the bus drivers weren't happy with something so they decided to take a day off and hang out with fully geared riot police, quite a sight, they were just sharing smokes and chat. 

These ladies were really sweet.

These ladies were really sweet.

Once we got to Bhaktapur, we went out to check out a few things. 

We spent our last night in Kathmandu before flying back to Bangkok on the next day. Nepal is a beautiful country and a place worthy of visit. My recommendation is minimize your stay in the cities but do enjoy the architectures and soak it in as much as you can before you get out to the trek. This country nature's will take your breath away and never stop to do so as this place is so bloody high up from sea level. If you want more info regarding this awesome country, flick me a message as I can possibly hook you up with my local contacts. 

Up to this point I had my Fuji X70 for about 3-4 months and I've been carrying it with me wherever I go. Before this camera I've never used a camera without a viewfinder before and I thought that without one I would struggle. I'm more of a 50mm man as I used to roam around with a Leica m3. Before that the widest I used for my everyday camera was a Voigtlander 40mm nokton. The 28mm range was a bit of a challenge as you do have to get super close to your subject to really utilise the 2.8 and get a nice bokeh out of this camera but with how quiet this camera is, getting close to your subject and sneaking a shot in won't be a problem. The autofocus on this camera is exceptionally good, pairing with a good responsive touchscreen is a match made in heaven.

It's a camera for the iPhone generations. We are so used to our touch screens and Fuji understood this. It's a great camera for those who wants to get into photography after they got bored of taking photos with their cellphone or have enough money to afford a actual camera. The bottomline is that if you're looking for a small camera to travel with or you're looking for a fun camera to shoot with, this camera is for you. It has wifi app thing so you can get a reasonably compressed JPEGs from it onto your phone or you can use a SD card dongle to get photos from it. I didn't really utilize the SD dongle as much because the wifi is so easy to use. I then use Snapseed and VSCO for post-processing then post my photos on Instagram. 

Oh! the video function is an after-thought so don't expect much from it. My iPhone is a much better video camera than this thing. 

Lighting is a lot more important than your camera. 

Lighting is a lot more important than your camera. 

How about the iPhone? it's good, really good but I started of my photography with a camera and I am quite a dinosaur when it comes down to photography. I like to have my knobs to adjust this and that. Here below is a collection of photos I took with the iPhone when my X70 died in the mountain. These are raw from the phone, no post-process was done to them. 

Thank you so much for sticking around. My next post I will be covering a trip that I recently came back from. It involves climbing a few volcanoes and a Nikon D810!

Nepal and my Fujifilm X70 part 2

So I assume you have read part 1 and you came back for more. If not then you're quite a rebel but not to the level of rogue one kinda level which is alright, we can't be Jyn Erso but we all can embrace our inner Jar Jar Binks. Anyhow enough ranting and let's carry on with our little trip/camera review. 

Pokhara lake can be quite a spot for thrill seekers. For an additional thrill, don't wear a life vest when you're on a boat.

Pokhara lake can be quite a spot for thrill seekers. For an additional thrill, don't wear a life vest when you're on a boat.

We took a bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara on a tourist bus which is full of tourists. It was a comfortable ride that consisted of 2-3 stops which is good for our bladders. The passage prior to our first stop was the most mundane part of the bus ride as we had to get out of Kathmandu which can be quite a headache as the road in and out of Kathmandu can be heavily congested. We decided to go with the bus as it was suggested to us that the scenery is amazing and "It'll be worth it". I would suggest that if you have enough cash to fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara you should do it as you won't miss much. After a few hours and many naps, we got to Pokhara. 

no 10 bath coins needed for laundry.

no 10 bath coins needed for laundry.

We took a little cab from the bus depot to our hotel on the main strip by the lake but due to the 18th Pokhara street festival our cab couldn't get into the main strip therefore if you have data on your phone and your luggage isn't that heavy, just walk. I was quite excited about the festival as it promised to be "the festival" to go to so we put our bags away in our room and hit the street right away. This was my third time out with this little camera at night and it does very well in low light, I shot at iso1600+ the whole night and the raw files are super good, even at 6400 it's still usable. A great little traveling camera indeed!

street fooooodddddddd

street fooooodddddddd

The next day will be our first day on the trek which starts in Nayapul, about an hour drive from Pokhara. Once we got there we had to check in at TIMS (Trekkers information management system) and show our passes to the Annapurna national park officers before we head off on our trek. 

Our porter, because we are too weak to carry our own luggage.

Our porter, because we are too weak to carry our own luggage.

School kids have to trek up to their school everyday. 

School kids have to trek up to their school everyday. 

Our first day was the easiest as it consisted of a few small ascents on dirt road up to our first stop in Tikhedhunga. Once we got there, we found a little path which lead us to a waterfall. It was a bit too cold for a dip but we hung around by the river to enjoy the warmth of the sun, the very last bit of warmth before we hike up to the cold. 

Next part will be consisted of how my X70 gave up on me in the mountain. 

Russell

I met Russell at the end of 2015 on a film shoot in which he had to wear a rather heavy coat in 30+ degrees day in day out and he never ever complained once. He's a very talented and passionate actor that everyone wanted to work with, we hit it off and agreed that we should definitely work together on a short film but due to our hectic schedule we never had time to do it. He recently departed Bangkok to return to his homeland back in the UK to pursue his career in acting which I'm sure he will be killing it over there. 

We ended up doing a little photoshoot together, as a small parting gift from me to him, and here it is. 

Bee

I've recently been posting quite a few photos of my friend, Bee, whom I met during a make up video I made for a friend. I then somehow convinced her to be in my latest short film, 4.4, which she was more than happy to come and hang with us (no pun intended). 

She've recently quit her architecture job to pursue modelling so I told her I'd return her a favour by doing a photoshoot for her with a promise that it'd be a high key shoot and she will be able to use these photos for her modelling comp card, clearly she didn't know any better and said yes. 

I ended up shooting a much more low key & high contrast photos for her. She should have been quite crossed with me but she's too nice for that. 

shot with Mamiya RZ67 on Fuji Acros and Kodak portra 160 

Sri Lanka

My mum is quite religious and every year, she would go on a buddhist pilgrimage trip with her friends and for the past seven years she's been to India six times and last year she went to Bhutan. This year I decided to go and it was well worth it. Sri Lanka is an amazing country to visit. 

Once we arrived at the hotel, we had a little time to kill so I decided to go for a little wander around. I came across a construction and I was drawn to it, I met the site manager who invited me in to have a look around. One thing I noticed straight away was how friendly Sri Lankans are, I turned on the camera and started to take a few photos of the workers. Right there and then I decided to give myself a portrait photography assignment for the whole duration of the trip. 

I was using the Sony a7s ii and a single lens which was the super takumar 50mm f1.4 for the whole trip as I was lazy and wanted to get to know this lens a little more. A few things I notice was that after starting to shoot at f4-5.6, life has become much easier, especially with the ridiculous amount of ISO I can push with this low light beast and the stabilizer that helped me a lot with my shaky hands. This lens does flare a lot and I didn't mind it at all, sometime it does become somewhat annoying but overall it's pretty good. I love it most when the light sources add the horizontal streaks into my picture, if the light source is a bit toppy in the corner then you'd get this 45 degree streak right in the corner, a little too much and you won't be able to see anything. With old lenses that have swirly bokeh, they tend to be highly unusable wide open unless the subject is right in the middle but this lens is more forgiving and only exhibit the typical soft wide open characteristic which isn't that bad, just buttery smooth goodness if you're in a mood for it. 

There were a few times that I wish I have brought a wider lens with me, I did miss my 35mm and I did miss some shots because I had to back up a little bit more. 

If you have time and don't know where to go for your next trip, go to Sri Lanka.

Here are few sample photos from the trip.

Sahita & Tom

Earlier this year, I had an honour to attend one of my good mates wedding in New Zealand as the wedding photographer. 

I've met Tom when I was studying at Shirley Boy's high school, Christchurch, New Zealand.  I believe I was in year 10 and we possibly met in front of the science block. We didn't really become close until a year later when we did attend quite a few sausage parties together. At that time Tom was this manly macho man, so steaks and rugby were his main dish. We started to hang out a bit more when we were in the same rugby team, the 2nd XV during our year 12. We also started doing Dragon boating together, I'd hitched a ride with him after school to get to Lyttelton for training. 

After the race one time, we somehow ended up chasing a car full of Christchurch Girls high school....girls through the desolate QE2 road, it was under the speed limit and the feelings were mutual as in we didn't chase them like how Jason chases a screaming girl while wearing a hockey mask. Tom was pretty good at driving, another manly point. We ended up being left hanging in a hot tub withstanding a hail storm sausage fest style while the girls didn't show up to our "gathering" later on that night. We were never that good with girls I guess, well at least I was.

We were quite close at one point, as in front row close, hugging each other all the time during the pack down before the scrum. Tom became our head boy and I became a prefect, We got into the 1st XV together, he ended up being quite a force for the team while I torn a ligament in my elbow before our first game and became a bum.

We grew apart after high school as I decided to join the monastery of CPIT jazz school and Tom went onto Canterbury University. We would occasionally bumped into each other but it wasn't that often. 

Since my move back to Thailand, I saw Tom twice, the first time he told me that he's seeing a girl. I didn't really read into it too much other than a handshake and simple "well done mate". The next visit his girl came with him, that was when I first met Sahita properly. I heard quite a fair bit about her and how they travelled around together, how they got engaged. We had a little meet up and they asked if I would be able to take a few photos for them at their wedding, nothing was set in stone then, not until a few months before the wedding that they took a leap of faith to chose me to become their photographer for their important day. 

Tom had an all-vegan wedding. If you would have told me this back in the day I'd possibly laugh my ass off but he did have an all-vegan wedding. Tom has grew into this perfect balance of macho manly man and warm soft sensible optimistic gentleman. What I saw was the pure joy and happiness between these two lovebirds, the genuine true love people talks about, I got quite jealous.

I'm glad I could witnessed it and captured it (sorta).  

Love you both. 

Shooting film

I recently did a graduation photoshoot gig,  The client demanded that I use slides with a few rolls of negatives and b&w so I took my Nikon F6 out with old ai-s lenses. The 85 f2 produced nice and creamy bokeh that I like. 

Shooting slides required one to be spot on with exposure unlike shooting negatives. So I asked my mate, Pat to assist me on the job, metering all the shots. 

I majority used 81A filter to warm up the colour a bit on slides (add 1/3 of a stop on top of metered exposure for the photo to be correctly exposed) and due the lack of discipline I did manage to leave it on while shooting negatives. I also shot 3 photos bracket for every one of them (+1 stop, normal and -1 stop) 

Below are taken with Kodak Portra 160. In sequence 1 under, 1 over and normally exposed.  My favourite stock ever. 

I found that shooting against the light can be quite challenging on film, sometime it worked out fine and some other times, it punishes you without mercy.  As an example below, the first photo is actually 1 stop under, the second one is 1 stop over and the last one is normal. Notice that the one under produced a reddish skin tone while normal exposed shot rendered the skin nicely. These photos were shot with Velvia 100F. 

here are some more from the day. 

A good read: Cartier-Bresson's "The mind's eye"

I do highly recommend this book to anyone who is keen on photography. It gives an insight to one of the greatest photographer of all time, Henri Cartier Bresson.

He discusses many things photography related from his philosophy on street photography, what he sees when he shoots and many other awesome things. 

I'm savouring all the goodness from this book and taking my time going through it therefore I don't see myself finishing off this book anytime soon but when I do, I shall do a little review on it. 

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Portrait Project: Picture #4

A friend of mine has been kind enough to lend me a Canon speedlite 580ex ii, I've never used flash before so I decided to give a go by shooting my friends. 

Here is one from the fun learning set.  I guess if I had a rim light from the back would be better to define his shape a bit more but I am pretty happy to get this from one light source.

PS: I should have closed the curtain at the back as well :D 

Thank you Nicolas Procureur for being my subject. 

 

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