choco chip muffins

choco chip muffins

We had a bunch of chocolate chip muffins from Wegman’s in our office and i thought it would be a great way to practice foodography. I actually had to do this during my break, well for the fact that I am at work. I always carry my gears all the time, about 30 lb back pack: Sony Alpha 99V; Sony 28-75 mm f/2.8; Sony 100 mm f/2.8; Sony 70-200 mm f/2.8; Sony HVL-F42AM; Sony HVL-F58AM; Sekonic L358; Phottix Odin for Sony wireless system; Rouge light shaper; laptop and other accessories.

I used a Manfrotto clamp for my flash with the Rouge strip light shaper triggered by the Phottix Odin. I used one light and setup the shot in front of my office window. Did minor Lightroom 4 adjustment and this is what I came up with. I know I could have done more but I am happy with the outcome. Click on the picture to see other food shots.

Oh and by the way, I was changing the flash power wirelessly. Loved the Phottix Odin trigger, they did what Pocket Wizard and others could not, support Sony system.

hard rock cafe shoot

hard rock cafe

Last month, I did two private event shoot at Hard Rock Cafe. During the first shoot, I was surprised at how the restaurant has changed. They have added a new room facing the interior of the gallery and they can open or close up the glass windows, it was pretty amazing. I have taken five exposures of the picture displayed here, and since I did not bring my tripod with me I had to do the shots hand holding the camera.



I have missed posting for a long time and it’s my procrastination to blame. I have been shooting and I am finding myself not posting everything I shot but just a select few. Also, not to mention the fact that I have been watching a lot of anime. I recently caught up on Naruto Shippuden and now trying to catch up on Bleach. Well those shows are entertaining and very addictive compared to what my wife and daughter’s Korean soaps.

I believe I shot this orchid a few months ago. My wife bought an orchid and thought I setup some lights and practice. I was also looking for photos to frame and display in our upcoming show at Barnes and Noble at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ. However, i already have 2 or 3 pictures to put up and each photographer is limited to up to three, probably in the next one.

About my lighting setup for those who are interested, i used a LumoPro 160 at 1/4 power inside a Paul C Buff’s 60″ parabolic umbrella with diffusion on and i exposed for the flower. I used Sony Alpha 850 with Sony 100 mm F/2.8 macro lens (F/4 at 1/250 sec). I highly suggest to use a tripod if you are using a macro lens up close because any sudden movement will throw out the focus.

hard drive

ISO 200 1/250 second F/4 and F/5.6 at 1/16th power of LP160

Do you like to see what the hard drive looks like from the inside? I was fixing this computer from work and I came across this computer with an unreadable hard drive, before I threw it out I tried to open it up and thought of just making a coaster out of it. I also took a few snaps of it and post the picture of it to share with you. The hard drive is basically a metal disc where a bunch of 1’s and 0’s are read and written into by a precision mechanical arm that goes across the disc while it spins. Well my exposure on the background is F/5.6 and the picture inside the frame is F/4 both at 1/250 second at ISO 200. I used a single LumoPro LP160 at 1/16th of the power, I think.


James and Leigh

F/4 1/40 Second ISO 200

An officemate asked me to shoot her daughter’s wedding in the first week of January this year. It was a small wedding at the court house followed by some portraits near Barnes and Noble at Cherry Hill, NJ, then the reception at Caffe Aldo Lamberti.

I was accompanied by my friend during the shoot. He used his Nikon D90 and a couple of lenses whereas for me I had my trusted Sony DSLR Alpha 850 with 3 lenses (50 mm F/1.4, 100 mm F/2.8 Macro and 70-200 mm F/2.8 G Lens). For my light I used Sony HVL 58 AM and LumoPro LP160 with Gary Fong’s lighsphere. I pretty much used the Sony HVL 58 AM with Gary Fong’s lighsphere for most of my shot except for the posed shots at home, near Barnes and Noble as well as the reception, where I used off camera flashed using LumoPro LP160 triggered by Pocket Wizard II with light modifiers (a small 36″ shoot through umbrella and the 60″ parabolic umbrella from Paul C Buff).

Overall the shoot was an added experience and the only complain I had was the shoot outdoors with temperature on a single digit. The couple was great and the bride was loved by the camera. Shown is my favorite picture converted to black and white, I don’t know why but I just loved this.



trip to maine (running away from irene) part 1

slow shutter

view from our 8th floor hotel window

Last 25th of August 2011 we drove to Boston, Massachusetts on our way to Maine. The drive to Boston was a bit boring because it was traffic in New York and it was just a nightmare, who ever wanted to drive through New York everyday? Was it because of the road design or was it because of the drivers? No matter, more than an hour to go through a bridge was not fun and definitely not an everyday task.

After we passed New York the drive was a bit better, back to normal speed. It was raining that day because of the impending hurricane Irene on the way to assault the east coast. Frankly, we took the trip not even minding the hurricane on how was it going to affect the area. My wife planned the visit to her friend and that was all there was to it. Packed the small Ford Focus SE 2011 for the trip and it was enough for the luggage and great with mileage, I believe it was about 35 miles to the gallon of the combined traffic and highway drive.

Upon our arrival to Boston, I noticed that structures were built on top of the highway literally. The traffic pass through under the hotel which was a bit odd. Checked in at Crowne Plaza Hotel that was going renovation. We rested a bit while my wife was going through some tourist attractions in the area. We set out and went to the Prudential Center and went up the skywalk. I need to tell you that I do not go well with heights and I do not know why. Up in the skywalk my knees were a bit shaky and feels like the floor was shaking underneath my feet. Not to mention that an earthquake shook the east coast just a few days ago.

I did not even go near the glass window to look down because I knew that it was just not possible for me. I was taking pictures about eight feet away the window ledge. As evident from the pictures I took seen on the gallery. The lens I took for my Sony Alpha 850 was a Sony 50 mm F/1.4 lens and probably regret because I did not get a closer picture of Fenway Park. I was with my daughter all the time where as my wife and son were doing the audio tour.

We spent most of our night at the skywalk and then just drove around the city and went to Fenway Park. The park was not that big and it was not attractive as compared to other baseball stadiums. Was it because it was just night time and there was no home game? That night the restaurants and bars were not packed, however, I noticed that they are open literally (no windows because you can just walk through it to get to your table or the bar. After, we grabbed dinner at Bertucci’s near our hotel. The pizza in the picture was pizza verde and it was incredible. Back at the hotel, I just realized that the drive in Boston was not as bad compared to New York. Traffic flow in the city was a breeze and I did not see any homeless people roaming the city streets. The smell was fresher as compared to New York. Not that I was biased or something but I was not never a fan of New York and I cannot explain why.

I used on camera flash when I took the shots in the skywalk and I used off camera flash (naked) in the hotel room shots. I could have used an umbrella or softbox for the hotel room shots, however, when the subjects were always in a hurry that will be impossible to do. I did not even use a light stand, well I used voice activated light stand. The blog photo was tough because I was shooting through a big window that cannot be opened, hence, it was imperative that all room lights are off to minimize light reflections. Also, during this shoot there was a thunder storm across the horizon and I was able to accidentally capture one as can be seen in the gallery.

sunset at red bank battlefield park

sunset at red bank battelfield park

ISO 200 F/18 1/250 second (click picture for gallery)

This past week has been troublesome for most of us if not for all. Last week we had an earthquake, magnitude 5.9 on the richter scale, that has an epicenter somewhere in Virginia. The east coast shook for a good half minute and caught the easterners off guard because this has never happened or it did but not experienced by this generation. No major damage has occurred which we thank God for that.

Then, hurricane Irene came and left the east coast battered with casualties. It was very irresponsible for some to belittle the hurricane because for others it left with so much more like loss of life and properties. We should be thankful that it was not as strong or devastating as forecasted.

Before all these events happened, I picked up my son at Philadelphia International Airport from his two week trip for the World Youth Day in Madrid. I was glad that he and his companion arrived safely with a lot of stories to tell, pictures and videos from his trip will be posted on a later date (after I do some minor edits). The first thing my son asked was a burger from Bobby’s Burger Palace in University City. On our drive home I received a call from Eugene and invited us to go to Red Bank Battlefield Park and to shoot some sunsets. I only used one strobe with shoot through umbrella on a light stand. I was just beginning to warm up when we were told by the park ranger that the park is closing, bummer.

one light and bounce


ISO 200 F/8 1/200 second (click picture for gallery)

This 3rd Wednesday of the month photo enthusiasts meet at Gloucester County College for one light and bounce shoot. I arrived a few minutes late and they have already setup the room with one generic strobe fitted with a 24 inch soft box and a couple of reflectors (gold and white). Our model, Beth, was already warming up with a couple of shooters doing exposure test. Other shooters are getting ready for the shoot while sharing information their shoot experiences or just catching up on things.

After the exposure has been set, it was shared to other shooter to get a baseline for their camera setup. It was not only sharing what ISO, aperture and shutter speed for the camera but why and how these parameter combinations affect the exposure. ISO determines the sensitivity of the sensor, the higher the value the more sensitive it becomes. Aperture is the opening in the lens that controls how much light gets in to the camera’s sensor (the lower the value the bigger the opening). Shutter speed controls how long the sensor is exposed to the light.

Digital cameras have different native ISO values, as an example Sony DSLR Alpha 850 has 200 and has extended values with the minimum of 100 and the highest value of 6400. The higher the value the more sensitive the sensor becomes but the draw back is noise, however, some cameras can handle better high ISO compared to others. Let us say you have a night shot and at ISO 200 you will need a shutter speed of 1/15 second and aperture of let’s say F/4, if you are hand holding this shot you may have a blurry shot due to hand movement but if you dial your ISO to say 800 you can then use a shutter speed of 1/60 second and still the same aperture at F/4. Your shot has a better chance of not getting blurry but it may introduce a little bit of noise which you can take out later by using noise reduction software. The change from ISO 200 to 800 is an equivalent of 2 stops increase and the increase of shutter speed from 1/15 to 1/60 is an equivalent of 2 stops decrease. The change of ISO and shutter speed offset each other, hence, you are still getting the same exposure as the original.

Using the above scenario, if you don’t want to increase your ISO and you have a faster lens than F/4 to say F/1.4 then you can change the aperture to F/1.4 and the shutter speed to 1/60 second. Here, the ISO remains the same and the only thing you changes are the aperture from F/4 to F/1.4 as well as the shutter from 1/15 to 1/60 second. This will also give you the same exposure as that of ISO 200, F/4 and 1/15 shutter speed. The change of aperture from F/4 to F/1.4 gives you an increase of 2 stops while shutter speed gives you a decrease of 2 stops from 1/15 to 1/60 second. However, the exposure may be the same the composition or the outcome of the shot may be totally different because changing the aperture changes the depth of field. The depth of field is the range of focus in your picture (it shows you a range where it clear/sharp), the larger the aperture the greater the depth of field. Say F/2.8 may have a depth of field of 1 foot in front of the focus point and up to 3 feet behind the fcous point, whereas, F/8 may give you 10 feet in front of the focus point and up to 30 feet behind the focus point. This means that anything in the range are in focus or sharp and all the rest are blurred. Aperture is just one factor affecting the depth of field there are also the lens and its focal length.

Shutter speed on the other hand is motion. If you want to show motion, you need to dial a lower shutter speed like 1/2 second if you want movement captured in your shot. This shot will introduce blur on a moving subject. A higher shutter speed of say 1/500 can freeze a moving subject.

These are the three basic parameters that affect your exposure as well as composition of you shot. The values written here are just for comparison purposes only and does not reflect actual values.



salt and pepper

ISO 200 F/9 1/250 second

Did you ever see one without the other? If you see salt, you will definitely see pepper or the other way around. It is really a kitchen marvel! Wherever kitchen or restaurant you go to, you will always see salt and pepper.

Why can’t couples be like them, inseparable. We have seen our share of marriages falling apart because of several reasons: financial; unfaithfulness; children; grown tired; incompatibility to mention a few. But why do they fall apart? Didn’t they start being apart and becoming inseparable at some point in time, why chose to be together then just decided to be apart. A lot like salt and pepper, they were apart but once they were put together they became inseparable. I could be wrong in this analogy, but hey, this is my blog. You can either go to other sites or just give it a few and write some comment to stir up the pot.

Our marriage is not that smooth sailing from the get go neither our journey to our 19th years of being together. We have our shares of bickering, share of ugly fights and lovely times together. Most of our trouble stems from financial issues and plainly misunderstanding. Our fights are countless and neither one of us bothered to keep tabs. But why are we still together, compared it to most marriages out there, theirs will be over in just two or three?

I always think of it as salt and pepper, they are different and yet they complement each other. My wife has her own opinion and I have my own. Our opinions might not be always in line but that is the beauty of it, they don’t need to be the same. Just like salt and pepper, you don’t dump the whole thing in your food but rather just a dash at a time. Balance. There is no point in putting both at the same time, and have you seen anybody using salt and pepper ¬†at the same time? Opinions need to be used in the same manner one at a time and then check, you know what I mean.

Acceptance, it has been accepted that salt and pepper are the basic seasoning there is and it is a lot like marriage. If either one cannot accept then why join in the first place. We marry for different reasons and most if not all ended before it even started. If all marriages begin like salt and pepper, I guess separation and divorce will not even be in the vocabulary because of the basic thing, acceptance and the basic seasoning there is LOVE. True love endures. When you get in to fights and when you feel down and out with your spouse, just think what is the reason you marry in the first place and try to think of the happiest moment together.

I guess it is now time for me to talk about this picture. I shot this at work during my lunch break. There is this set of salt and pepper on the glass coffee table lit by two windows on a sunny day. I went to my car and grabbed my light stand and mounted LumoPro 160 at 1/32 power. I also used a Blackwrap to make a snoot to contain the light. I killed the ambient by using the maximum sync speed of my camera which is 1/250 second. Since I cannot make my shutter faster, I have to dial down my aperture to F/9 using ISO 200. I like to somewhat use another light to make a cross lighting effect to separate the salt and pepper from the background but when I saw how it looked from my camera’s LCD I was satisfied and much more break is over.