Sunday, 29 April 2012

Always Be Vigilant

Those are the words from my good buddy and mentor, Neil Castro, or how we like to call him, Red (Check his FB and his photos! HERE!). He may be younger than me, but his knowledge in the field of photography is great, thus, without the cameras in both our hands, I am obviously the older one where he must listen to me, but with cameras at hand, I must listen to him for I will learn so much just like that one photowalk we were in together (I will try and make a post about that sometime).

With those words tossing and turning within my head, every event, I try not only to shoot the actual concept of the event, for instance, a concert where the stars are the musicians, I look elsewhere (after taking enough shots of the musicians, of course) and then you will see the security guards sharing a cigarette to sully their nerves; obviously, an interesting shot outside the actual theme of the event, hence, ALWAYS BEING VIGILANT is essential.

I say this because last April 26, 2012, Angeles University Foundation School of Medicine (AUF-SOM) had a medical mission that gave out free circumcisions to any of the boys at Sapangbato, Angeles, Pampanga. Of course not ALL the boys of that town; just a small area of that town and a number of registered boys. Taking shots of the actual event (procedures, etc.) was the obvious thing to do, but there were so much going on outside the medical mission that I had to "be vigilant" enough to notice them. The last two shots in this post will show a bit of those "vigilant" shots I took.

I thought of also circumcising some boys since I want to be a surgeon later on in my med-life but I became lazy, my hands were starting to shake (something's wrong with me!), and had my migraine bothering me thanks to the summer heat!

So I stayed as the photographer of the event.

Amidst the screams of boys and the calming voices of my fellow med students and the boys' respective mothers, I sought my way to take photos of the event.

Here are some shots... With some photos with censors of course!

AUF-SOM AMSMSS Medical Mission: Circumcision
My classmate, Anne, as she calms her patient down before the procedure as our junior watches on from the far right
AUF-SOM AMSMSS Medical Mission: Circumcision
Again, Anne, this time doing the actual procedure; had to censor this shot as to not breach any policy

AUF-SOM AMSMSS Medical Mission: Circumcision
My classmate, Jason, being assisted by our classmate, Pamela, as our juniors watch on from behind

AUF-SOM AMSMSS Medical Mission: Circumcision
My classmates, Justin and Bianca, calming their patient down before the procedure; again censors as to not breach any policies

The Thorn Among The Roses
Not an actual shot of the procedures, but hey! I am in this photo so this has to be put up in here. From left to right, Arcee, Anne, Elaine, Olie, Riz, ME, and Chi. Booyah, I am the only guy in this photo with pretty ladies LOL
Then as you vigilance increases, out of the blue, you'd find people, not really interested in what's going on, but you can feel a certain emotion just looking at them:

Father and Son
Father and Son: not really interested in the things going on around them, but I felt a strong sense of bond between them; almost just like me and my dad when I was younger and up to now (in fact, he was also into photography when he was younger! SO me and my dad has a strong bond as these two)

And if your look hard enough at the area you are shooting, you can let your creativity run wild:

There was a hole in the brick wall where we had our medical mission: after a few shots, I realized how boring it was, so I let my creativity run wild and just thought of taking a long enough exposure to blur what ever vehicle passes by. I wished the moped on the right wasn't there to make it an even better shot.

Last two photos showed that always being vigilant, always being aware of your surroundings, and not always being limited to the theme of an event, can very well be your best shots of the event.

Always keep shooting, buddies!! Never look back!!


Friday, 20 April 2012

Macro with a Reverse Ring

First off, there is a slight delay in making my Wordpress account. LOL I can get lazy trying to learn new sites. In the mean time, I will update some photos that were recently added in my Flickr Photostream (You can view my whole photostream HERE).

Now it isn't the first time that I am shooting macro (link to previous post on my previous attempt at macro below); since I had no events and no real new creative ideas for new shots, I decided to practice more macro photography by using a reverse ring. But it certainly has been awhile and in doing so, what was once another skill in photography that I am progressing in, judging by my latest macro shots, I think I had a set back...

Being a cheap bastard and still only a student, I opted for a reverse ring instead. What you get is an incredible magnification ratio but with the price to pay that everything is in manual apart from the ISO and shutter speed. It is also a good way to keep your kit lens to good use rather than disposing of it.

My 52mm Reverse Ring for Nikon from JJC; a cheapo brand, but it gets the job done! (Shot with my Iphone)

Was planning to sell this to a desperate beginner or someone but decided to have this as a keeper for the purpose of macro! (Shot with my Iphone)
I was asked how to calculate for the magnification of a lens in reverse, there is this great post by Peter Forsell entitled  "Math for macro photographers" where you can find HERE; it has tons of neat information about the calculation of magnification of certain macro techniques from reversed lenses to macro extensions tubes. Great place for more info as I am just going to speak about reversing lenses.

Borrowing words from Peter Forsell, "We cannot directly calculate the zero extension magnification (Zm) of the lens we wish to mount in a reverse position. Instead we have to take a test photograph of a ruler to determine this value or find the information in the lens manual." By visiting his site, you can see an example of the calculation, but I will also post my test and calculation here since he used a Nikkor AF 50 f/1.8D and I will be using the regular 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens.

So here goes! Take a photo of a ruler with your reversed lens and get the width in mm. This is considered Subject Width. Then get your sensor size for your camera, in my case, I shoot with a Nikon D5000 and it has a sensor size of 23.6 mm in width. This is now considered your Image Width.

Next whip out your calculator!


Zm = image width/subject width = X

First Test Shot: 55mm, max aperture, focus ring fully rotated clockwise (in reverse configuration)

Roughly 31-31.5mm; I will go for 31.5mm

Zm = 23.6mm/31.5mm = 0.75X

Second Test Shot: 55mm, max aperture, focus ring fully rotated counterclockwise (in reverse configuration)

23mm Subject Width

Zm = 23.6mm/23mm = 1.03X

Third Test Shot: 18mm, max aperture, focus ring fully rotated clockwise (in the reverse configuration)

Roughly 8mm

Zm = 23.6mm/8mm = 2.95X

Fourth Test Shot = 18mm, max aperture, focus ring fully rotated counterclockwise (in reverse configuration)

Roughly 7mm

Zm = 23.6mm/7mm = 3.37X

So the 18-55mm kit lens in reverse has a magnification ranging from 0.75X to 3.37X. Be wary, the higher magnification may be tempting, but it becomes difficult to minimize camera shake, so a monopod or tripod is essential. Also take note that I had the max aperture while taking these shots causing a paper thin depth of field. And also of note! I am not 100% sure if I have done the tests right, with the knowledge of how to calculate for the magnification of an 18-55mm kit lens in reverse, please correct me if my calculations are wrong! Thanks in advance!

As mentioned above, everything is in full manual (Yes, use Manual Mode otherwise the camera won't function since it cannot detect a lens) and it can get really challenging and annoying to say the least; here you trust your good ol' eyes if it is in focus, but even with a sharp eye, that can be hard because essentially, once you remove your lens, in this case, the kit lens, out of the camera body, the aperture will automatically be at its minimum (if I am not mistaken, the kit lens' minimum aperture is f/38), add to it being reversed therefore using the smaller back lens, little to NO light can enter and you will just see pitch black in the electronic viewfinder.

This can be remedied by simply putting a card in between the aperture arm (or whatever it is called) to force it wide open. This will effectively lower the depth of field and focusing (manually) becomes extra challenging.Like so...

Once out of the body, the aperture resets to its minimum; this has little to no light entering the lens but has a larger depth of field keeping most of the subject well in focus. (Shot with my Iphone)

Maximum aperture after the addition of a makeshift card to force it open; this increases the light going in but reduces the depth of field immensely. (Shot with my Iphone)

Encircled Aperture Arm (Shot with my Iphone)

With a makeshift card inserted to displace the aperture arm in order to have the maximum aperture (shot with my Iphone)
The Makeshift Card! (Ignore the fine looking lady on my desktop; yes, you can't see her face, you just have to believe that she is beyond the word gorgeous... and yeah, shot with my Iphone)

With the reverse ring attached (Shot with my Iphone)
Attached to the D5000 (Shot with my Iphone)
Sorry for it being blurry; shot with my Iphone after all. When the exposure program is set to somewhere other than Manual Mode, in this case, Aperture Priority, the camera will not be able to detect the lens.

As you can UNCLEARLY see (I hate my Iphone), anything other than Manual Mode will give a warning  "Lens Not Attached." or similar.
Properly set at Manual mode (Shot with my Iphone)
Now you can shoot with the reversed lens! (Shot with my Iphone)
Remember, using the max aperture in an un-reversed lens already lowers the depth of field and even more so if reversed. It is simply give and take: max aperture, more light, reduced depth of field; minimum aperture, little light, greater depth of field.

You can however, remove the card once you have focused (enough) of your subject, and adjusting the ISO, Shutter, and Flash Output, to illuminate the subject enough to be seen after taking the shot (with the greater depth of field thanks to the minimum aperture, the subject should more or less be in focus). You can even use a continuous strobe to illuminate the subject while having the minimum aperture to focus. There are certainly a number of ways to remedy that problem, it is just your own creativity that is your limit.

Also note that the reverse ring is only body/manufacturer specific on the side that is going to be attached to the camera body; that is, if you have a Nikon DSLR, get a reverse ring for Nikon, same goes for Canon. However, the side of the reverse ring where the front of the lens is to be placed is filter thread size specific; So if you purchase a reverse ring for a Nikon body that caters to a 52mm filter thread, you can use a lens for Nikon, Canon, or a Sony, so long as they have a 52mm filter thread size.

Phew! Now forget about all that technical stuff! Heck, I can even be wrong with what I just said!

Anyways, on to the actual macro photos. Yes, I decided to practice some more macro with the reverse ring, but sadly, like the ones before the recent macro shots, they are quite soft and not as sharp as I hoped they would be. To fix this problem, I will mostly likely purchase me a monopod because it difficult adjusting a tripod by slowly lifting it closer or away from the subject; definitely easier to go closer/away if you just lean instead of lifting LOL. And maybe a light stand... so I can replace my biological light stand (he makes me laugh so it is especially more difficult to focus!)

Just to show my supposed progress in macro photography using a reverse ring, I will repost photos that I have taken before (you can read my past post on macro: HERE)

The series of photos below are my first ever attempt and my most creative macro to date (what can I say? I was inspired I guess). Being it my first attempt, I was satisfied even if the flower in the dew isn't all that sharp; I have gotten too used to autofocus that I can't trust my eyes anymore... and the fact I had the aperture at max lowering the depth of field and an off shoe flash at the right causing little light for me to see through the viewfinder.

Dew Upon the Flower (Macro)

Dew Upon the Flower (Macro)

Dew Upon the Flower (Macro)

Next series of shots is of a mosquito that is left to die on my bed... I didn't kill it, okay!? It was just there half dead and I decided to take a shot. Somehow improving my manual focusing here, but still not the best. I used what I mentioned above about the continuous strobe and I had the aperture at midpoint.

The Blood Sucker At Large

The Blood Sucker At Large

The Blood Sucker At Large

The following shots are of a house fly that was on my mom's red blouse (no she wasn't wearing the blouse... otherwise she won't let me take a shot of the fly at all. LOL. Plus she was my biological light stand for these shots!). Some soft, some sharp. I thought I was getting better for sure. LOL but I may just be wrong...

Red Eyes (Housefly Macro)

Red Eyes (Housefly Macro)

Red Eyes (Housefly Macro)

Red Eyes (Housefly Macro)

And now, the following are my recent shots, having no insects or better subjects, I opted to shoot my dad's Bougainvilleas in his garden. I added the dew to an otherwise boring subject. I like the lighting on the shots and I might even make a separate post on the lighting set up. But like I mentioned above, I thought I was getting better with reverse ring macro photography, sadly, with these recent photos, apart from the lack of true creativity, I feel that they are very soft. You be the judge:

Shiroi Hana

Shiroi Hana

Shiroi Hana

Thankfully, I will be going to a province this coming April 30th to I have no idea when I will be back in the city LOL and there should be interesting macro subjects to increase my skills in it. In fact, many great subjects not limited to macro!

Photography, much like the study of medicine, is a life long education. I may feel saddened that my macro skills may have had a step backwards or so, but that doesn't mean I will never ever be able to step forward again! In time, and some perseverance, we can become better, if not, greater than we ever were when we first started.

As always! One must give credit where credit is due! First, I will give my very big thanks to fellow #Cazillion (join our forums, by the way, at, Roy Panaguiton, who inspired me to buy a reverse ring and try out macro in the first place; thanks to Greg Cazillo, for making great video tutorials in all aspects of photography (you can find him at YouTube and his own site; to Mr. Chua of where I have most of my online purchases locally; and to Peter Forsell for his informative post in his site ( on calculating the magnification of lenses in macro.

And this caps off my longest post thus far in this site!

So keep shooting, my friends! And never look back!


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Further Updates in Bright Ideas

I will start a Wordpress account later on. That is not to say I will not update this site; far from it, I love this simple blog site of mine LOL but we do want to expand further.

I have also been very active in my Flickr account; this is where I post most of my recent photos so do visit my photostream HERE.

As for my Facebook account, thanks to a stalker, I had to shut down all my albums for a moment. I will be raising some privacy levels for certain albums, if not all. You can add me HERE.

Finally, an idol of mine in the photography world has had his forums up since December. It is a friendly place to learn, but recently, just recently, traffic has been low for his site, join the forum at Trust me, you'll enjoy it there.

Hope you all can add me up at Flickr, Facebook, follow me at Twitter (@ChanUdarbe) and Wordpress (Link later on...), and join us as a #cazillion. Thanks!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Portraits and White Balance

Still learning to improve my post process skills in order to have consistently good edits, and I will admit, my last order of photos in a recent event wasn't at all good edits. A bit oversaturated, a bit too hot (overexposed), etc., and honestly, I don't always have that many bad edits in one batch of photos, albeit, I do make errors every now and then, but not that many in one batch.

I was once taught, "leave your WB in auto in cam, and then change it in LR", true enough, it would seem a great choice, he further added "then do not choose the auto or as shot WB, if you had a flash on, choose WB flash, etc., but do mix it up every now and then to see a better balance of colors.". And such, I stayed with that lecture for over a year now.

Sadly the last edits, I followed that lecture, everything was off in certain photos, and I was perplexed. In doing so, I decided to break the rules of his lecture in my next batch of edits; since these were simply photos of me and my two great buddies, AJ and Brian, I had a lot more room to experiment with the tones and whatnot, and more importantly, try to use as shot and/or auto WB presets.

The first photo below is of AJ and the WB simply set to Tungsten as there were a lot of round light bulbs in the coffee house; having experimented with other WB presets, my lecture on choose the WB based on what type of light was on was correct.

Introspective AJ

Next photo, again of AJ, I had my flash on, so simply, I chose the flash WB setting, Again, the lecture was right.


Now this photo of Brian, I tried using tungsten, fluorescent, flash WB settings but it turned quite awful honestly, so I broke my lecturer's rule and chose AUTO WB preset, and it turned out great.

Honest Abe and Brian

Much like everything else in photography, some rules should be broken; rule of thirds, etc. are more of guidelines than actual rules (yes, I borrowed that line from the Pirates of the Caribbean).

Another lesson learned from this amateur and I am very well on the process of improving my skills.

Don't be afraid to bend the rules in photography, you may just find that you have taken the greatest shot there is if you do.


Friday, 13 April 2012

Updated Bright Ideas Logo

The re-redesigned logo; this is the 3rd incarnation of the logo

Yep, just like I said in the edited section of my previous post, I decided to re-redesign the logo; this is the 3rd incarnation and the simplest. But with the simplicity, it is much more clean than the previous versions and there is a real sense of beauty in simplicity anyway. Little can do so much... just like me, I'm short, therefore I'm a little dude, but that doesn't mean I can do much more LOL Proverbs by Christian... Maybe I should add another section to Bright Ideas for proverbs... time will tell.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Bright Ideas Suddenly Expanding!

Simply called Bright Ideas when I started dedicated to photography, it now expanded to other forms of media including music, basic art designs, and videography.

Bright Ideas is just the name of my so called photography venture; it was just to add watermarks to my photos in order to be claimed as my own and would need permission before use in any other form. Even going as far as making a logo for myself. 

As time went on, this "Bright Ideas" would become more than just photography; as I am tweaking my Photoshop skills, I have added simple webpage designs or any designs for that matter; as I am a musician, I have had experience in editing my band's jam sessions, thus adding a music editing portion under the Bright Ideas name. Now Bright Ideas has grown beyond its original intent of being purely photography, but sadly, everything was done by me. I had no colleagues in this "company" of mine. I was a one man company with a lot of... Bright Ideas.

Interesting to note that I am of fond of naming my electronics, toys, etc. after girls that I like or liked, even girls that I never met in real life, or simply girls' names that never truly existed in the first place. As such, I also decided to name the different sections of Bright Ideas after girls. As opposed to the simple yet unoriginal Bright Ideas Photography, I chose "Bright Ideas with Rina x Chan", where Rina is a real girl I've met that I have a big crush on (she is pure Japanese) and Chan is my nickname given to me by my seniors in Medicine. For my basic designing section I branded it as "Bright Ideas with Haru x Chan", where Haru is short for Haruna, though I have yet met a girl named Haruna, it's tribute to Haruna Saotome from Negima as she is quite the artist in the manga; and for my music editing section, it's a tribute to my former bandmate nicknamed Niika (happen to be the name of my Les Paul as well), and in doing so is branded as "Bright Ideas with Niika x Chan".

Being able to have three sections under the parent name isn't quite an expansion especially if you are your own boss and employees... As I was seriously thinking of trying my luck on videography, my best friend, Mike, sent me a simple video that he just did for the laughs. It was a short film, but the quality was great, so was the storyline. Out of nowhere I asked if he wanted to join Bright Ideas where he will take over the video editing portion. He loved the idea. With that, I have now a video editing section. And my first ever colleague under the name of Bright Ideas.

Of course, he'd have his own production name, but it will now be a subsidiary of Bright Ideas. All films I would make, write, or edit will have my newly branded video section, whereas if Mike makes, writes, or edits a video, he would have his production as a subsidairy of my Bright Ideas video section.

Truth be told, this "media corp" would not break through commercially, we'd be a private group hired and paid by those who are close to us such as friends, mentors, families, etc., we won't be like the next film or photography studio that will "change the future of media". Nor would we want to. This is a hobby for us future doctors.

Hope this merger will work for Bright Ideas continued growth as a private media group and hopefully I can increase the number of colleagues. But if anything, not more than ten at once... and hopefully, like Mike, they are my best friends.

That's all for now!



As it turns out, I am now trying to make a better logo for the group; I won't be posting any new photos here, on my FB, or Flickr until then.

I will post a new entry with our brand new logo! Still like the ink blot/splatter design just like my first ever logo for Bright Ideas... so I am sticking with that!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Water Drops/Splash

I apologize for my recent absence in maintaining my blog site; games, friends, music, events, and every other outside interests have... well... kept me interested. LOL

Typical of any amateur photographer as myself, I get excited with small photo projects to improve and expand my knowledge in the field. And typical of any amateur photographer as myself, found a fun project to do, that is, capturing water drops/splashes. Once again, typical of any amateur photographer, hurriedly tried it out for him or herself.

I will admit, it is summer here, and even the night doesn't change the fact that it is hot. Imagine any hot Victoria's Secret model... without... the model... Okay, I lost myself there. Anyways, the heat wasn't at all helpful in setting this shot up; as the case may be, I am a one man studio, so I had only myself to set everything up for the shot. To top it all off, my room isn't a dedicated photography studio; I have guitars, computers, books, action figures, etc., and in doing so, made it even more difficult to set up in my room and had to be quite creative with the lack of actual props. Yes, I am a modern day MacGyver when I set up my shots. LOL I do want his mullet anyways...

Here are my shots and for more shooting info, just click the photo to get redirected to my Flickr account.

If Time Stood Still

If Time Stood Still

If Time Stood Still

If Time Stood Still

If Time Stood Still

It is important to note however, that these are my first attempt at this type of photography and was unable to stop down the aperture a tad more to make the peak of the splash more sharp. As always, there is always next time to remedy that!

So that's it for now!