Leo Laksi’s Bangkok And Back

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Posts Tagged ‘Sigma

Part 2.Photographic gear to take on upcoming trip to Cambodia and Laos

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Cambodian farmer

Cambodian farmer

As noted last weekend, I have a trip planned for next week to visit some areas of Cambodia and Laos that receive very few visitors.  Rather than visiting Angkor Wat and Luang Prabang with its high volume tourists, I have developed an alternate trip.   I will travel overland up the Mekong River from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Don Khong, Laos.  Between the two points are some of the most spectacular scenery in Southeast Asia.  From the flooded forests of Steng Trung to the waterfalls south of Don Khong, one will be at a loss for words when faced with nature’s beauty.

I have spent the last two weeks, using, testing and evaluating my equipment for this journey.  Space is not an issue, however I wanted to downsize my kit for this trip.  So far, I have decided to bring:

Nikon D700

Nikon D300s

Nikkor AF-D fisheye 16mm lens

Nikkor AF-S 14-24 f/2.8 zoom lens

Nikkor AF-S 24-70 f/2.8 zoom lens

Nikkor AF-S 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens

Nikkor AF-D 85mm f/1.4 lens or Sigma 50 EX DG HSM  f/1.4 lens

Hammock time.

Hammock time.

Obviously the three zoom lenses were selected so that the focal range from 14mm -450mm (DX 1.5 crop) is covered. I was not so concerned with the 70-300 lens’ lack of wider aperture as much as the weight of my 80-200mm f/2.8 or the 70-200 f/2.8.  I expect the lighting to be sufficient so as not to cause the 70-300 any issues.  The 85mm or the 50mm will come along for their lower light capabilities as a hedge against darker conditions along the water.  And the fisheye solely because I enjoy the results of that lens.

Beyond the cameras and lenses are a whole host of other gear which I will discuss in my next posting.

Photographs were taken with a Nikon D700 and Nikkor AF-D 80-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens and Leica M8 and Summicron 35mm f/2 lens.

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Written by leolaksi

January 24, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Chiang Mai’s “walking streets” for street shots

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Costume, girl and a "wai".

Costume, girl and a "wai".

If you ever make a trip to Chiang Mai, don’t miss the two “walking streets” that occur on the weekend.  Even though some of the vendors are the same, they are both worthwhile.  The Sunday night “stroll” does have more music and food so for me is more interesting.  And the Sunday night venue is more energetic with numerous street musicians and activity.

Photos taken with a Nikon D700 and a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 or Sigma 150mm f/2.8 lenses.

Master and duplicate.

Master and duplicate.

Well-lit scene.

Well-lit scene.

Cooking up with a giraffe.

Cooking up with a giraffe.

Another girl, another costume.

Another girl, another costume.

Written by leolaksi

November 17, 2009 at 7:45 pm

People-watching at the Esplanade on the Singapore River

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Sitting at the outdoor theatre on the Esplanade

Sitting at the outdoor theatre on the Esplanade

The Esplanade at the mouth of the Singapore River is popular with both Singaporeans and visitors.  From those looking to just chill out and take in the views to lovers holding hands and walking along the wide sidewalks, a photographer can find many subjects to shoot.  It doesn’t matter if it’s night or day, there are plenty of visitors.  From this vantage point, you also have a great view of the Singapore skyline.  On this trip, we walked along the Singapore River from the Esplanade to Clarke Quay, a distance of about 5 kilometers.  Besides terrific opportunities to shoot people, there are seven bridges, numerous vintage buildings and skyscrapers.  And don’t forget the reflection of these sights on the waters of the river.

Photos were taken with a Nikon D700 and Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro lens.

Studying with the iPod.

Studying with the iPod.

Lost in the PSP world.

Lost in the PSP world.

Two in contact, one not.

Two in contact, one not.

And from the other side.

And from the other side.

Green, blue and orange.

Green, blue and orange. And red.

Written by leolaksi

October 8, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Too shy to photograph people on the street? – Step 2

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Look for people working.

Look for people working.

People are sometimes apprehensive to photograph people on the street.  To become more comfortable, aspiring photographers should consider different ways to overcome their shyness.  Several weeks ago, I recommended shooting food stalls in close proximity to people.  In doing so you can build up your confidence while shooting in public.

Another exercise calls for you to photograph people going about their work.  That’s what I’ve done in this series of photos.  Not only does this make for interesting shots, working people tend to be occupied going about their work and therefore they generally do not pay attention to you.   One word of caution.  Be careful when photographing police or military in some countries as levels of paranoia post 9/11 has created a bit of suspicion.

All photos taken in Hong Kong with a Nikon D700 and either a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom or Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro lens.

Unloading beer

Unloading beer

Preoccupied to notice

Too preoccupied to notice

Three phones on the dash

Three phones on the dash

Ignored except by me

Ignored except by me

Written by leolaksi

October 5, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Graffiti on Sukhumvit in Bangkok

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REA

REA

Graffiti can always be interesting to photograph.  Because of its urban grittiness and creative designs, graffitti can be a living, breathing embodiment of inner city expression.  Even in Bangkok.  The letters “BNE”, in sticker and graffitti forms, are all over Bangkok and after awhile the triteness of this limited message is compounded by a sense of dreariness.  Not so in the free form expression found in graffiti.  Take a look around your city and try your hand at graffiti.

Photos taken with a Nikon D700 and Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro lens.

60's pop look

60's pop look

Big and bold

Big and bold

Limited space

Limited space

Written by leolaksi

October 2, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Reflections on a theme – looking for reflecting surfaces

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Reflection of tree on water

Reflection of trees on water

Of course there are reflecting surfaces everywhere.  From reflections on water to glass to plain ordinary surfaces, one can find reflections to enhance your photographs.  In the above photo, the water has a brownish somewhat muddy appearance that takes away from the wonderfully close photo of the hippo.  Luckily the trees overhead are vividly mirrored in the rippled water, framing the hippo perfectly.

Instead of looking at reflections as a potential problem, look for opportunities to use reflections to accent  the appearance of your photos.  An ordinary photo can become a more interesting photo.

Photos taken with a Nikon D700 and  a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 or a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 lens.

Focuses attention on the photographer

Focuses attention on the photographer

Reflected surfaces are everywhere

Reflected surfaces are everywhere

Even on tiled sidewalks

Even tiled sidewalks

Even road corner paint

Road paint

Double reflection

Double reflection

Written by leolaksi

September 26, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Too shy to photograph people on the street? Step 1

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Sweets

Sweets

Sometimes, people the world over are reluctant to take photos of strangers on the street.  There are all kinds of explanations for that reluctance.   Sure a photographer can sneak a shot but sometimes this only aggravates their feeling that they are doing something wrong.  Most of the time, my experience has been that the problem lies with the photographer’s feelings of fear of the unknown and not necessarily the subject’s reaction to having his photograph taken.  There are times when subjects may not react pleasantly and, if so, try smiling and move on.

There are a few ways for the photographer to become comfortable with street or documentary photography and that’s what I am going to discuss today.

Price of rice

Price of rice

  • Locate an area where there are plenty of people engaged in some activity.  A street fair and weekend market come to mind but think of some location with plenty of people.
  • If you are apprehensive about shooting people, shoot an activity or object as I have done in these photographs.  This is the first step.  Subjects can be less suspicious if they see you photographing activities and not them.
  • Smile and make eye contact.  Talking  to them is a good thing.  They will feel less threathened and you can end up becoming part of the scene and not an intruder.
  • If you feel the time is right, you should consider taking the shot.  If you’re uncomfortable, smile and ask them if it’s ok to take their photo.  You have nothing to lose.  If they say “no”, thank them anyway, smile, and move on.
  • If the activity is an ongoing event, attend frequently.   After a while you end up being familiar to everyone and people will be more at ease with you.  They end up recognizing you as the “camera” guy (or gal).
  • Practically every photo of people that I’ve posted on this blog is the result of this approach.  Sure, sometimes people will pose by smiling for the camera.  Others won’t.  Either way, you will become more comfortable with taking people photos.
Yes, even eggs

Yes, even eggs

These photographs were taken today at a street market that I visit about every Sunday.  The vendors have seen me so many times that they sometimes smile at me as I approach.    Most of the time, they don’t pay attention to me.  When I first visited this location, I shot photos just like the ones here.  Food, food and more food.  I talked about the food, I smiled at the food and I bought food.

Deep-fried fish

Deep-fried fish

Give this approach a try and see if it works for you.  Granted not all people and cultures are the same but you may find that this approach is universal and can be successful regardless of where you live.

Once you become more comfortable shooting people in the above manner, then you can branch out to other types of street shots.

More fish

More fish

Photographs taken with a Nikon D700 and either a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 or a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro zoom lens.

Lots of chilies

Lots of chilies

Written by leolaksi

September 13, 2009 at 6:00 pm