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Learn to flash like pros do. Use the flash to its full potential.

There are a few slots left for November 8 and 9, my second flash seminar at Camera Cart Studios in Teachers Village. Just click on the Camera Cart link to get in touch with my main man Melvine or call/SMS 0928-7101211 or 0918-9171063. Or email


The 2 day flash class will cater to those who want to understand the confusing inner workings of a DSLR flash gun. From a short history all the way to learning to control light with flash. After all, if there is no light no images can be made.

Below are just a few of the topics we will go over:
1. Demystifying flash terms and buttons on the flash gun.
3. Understanding light fall off.
2. Learn to bounce flash without a wall.
4. Learn to use your flash gun on and off the hot shoe-both with cable and wireless.
5. How to use flash in a variety to shooting scenarios.
6. Learn to use a flash stand and shoot through umbrella.
Etc. etc…


Image courtesy Camera Cart

Charge the batteries and bring a camera with a hot shoe and a compatible flash gun as we go for a hands on approach in learning. Don’t have a flash gun? Don’t sweat it. Reserve your slot along with Camera Carts flash guns for rent both in Nikon and Canon systems. Pretty sure a discount is there. One last thing, get a slot Camera Cart members get a discount as well.

Finally, a new post.

How many of you still have the Canon EOS 50D and still love to shoot with it? This is the very last model in the xxD line without video and still made out of a metal frame but a camera this old will start to show its quirky nature. First it was the shutter button assembly failure. Brought it to canon and it was replaced within a day.


My old reliable.

Now, when 2 fresh batteries (BP-511A) are loaded into the battery grip they would not last a day. The top LCD would start doing the blinking low battery dance. Or in some instance a recharged BP-511A are loaded and the camera does not turn on. Sound familiar?
Do not panic. There is probably nothing wrong with the BP-511As. Nor the 50D itself. But the internal clock battery has dried up and needs replacing. The CR-2016 can be purchased in most stores that supply wrist watch batteries.


The original CR-2012 from the Canon EOS 50D

First, make sure the 50D is turned off. If a battery grip is attached, take out the BP-511As and detach the grip. Look into the 50D battery compartment and there is a little tiny plastic plate with a CR-2016 engraved on it.


The internal clock battery slot.

Make sure the brand spanking new CR-2016 is right where you need it. Once this is removed date and clock will revert to 0. Don’t worry continuous file numbering will not reset.
Then, by pressing on the grooves with a finger slowly slide out the battery panel. The little plastic battery tray should slide out with just a little bit of friction since the slot has not been moved for years. Then remove the dead CR-2016 and put in the fresh one. + goes on the side facing the BP-511A chamber. Battery brand will not be crucial to breathing new life into the camera. Just make sure the CR-2016 are new stock.


Put a finger on the grooves and slide out the battery holder.


Once the old is replaced with the new CR-2016 slide the battery back into the slot and push it down gently into the slot.

Then slide the little tray all the way back inside the slot. Insert the BP-511A into the battery compartment and, close and lock the compartment door. Turn on the camera and the adjust date and time screen will magically appear. Set to the appropriate time zone and the old EOS 50D will have another few years to go.

That is it. Simple, easy and without problems.


The 50D is now ready to go back into action.


On a side note, found Energizers near me and it only cost PHP50 (about US$1.00) for a pair.

An Essential Part of Gear

The Circular Polarizing filter is essential gear for any landscape photographer but never more essential than a good tripod.

The original straight from the camera with no post work just the rudimentary conversion of camera RAW to Jpeg. Shot in noon time sun-check the shadows.

CPL filters are mainly to cut down the suns brightness to give sky a darker shade of blue and saturated colors throughout an image. It is also to cut down reflection in watery locales thereby showing elements under the water’s surface be it rocks, pebble, little fishes or hairy toes. The rotating front element of the CPL gives this filter a shaded gradient so for best results use with lenses that do not have a rotating front element.

CPL filters do not affect the overall color balance of a photo. A good quality filter can remain on the lens throughout a photo walk during daytime. And good quality means steep price. Common traits in a good CPL filter: light weight, cost a few thousand Philippine pesos at the least and be multi-coated (have greenish/violet sheen on the surface of the glass when inspected at a perpendicular angle to the eye). The price of filters also accounts for the manufacture of good threads for screwing on and off the lens easily. El cheapo filters will sometimes get stuck too tightly on the front element of the lens (definitely not good) and having to take it off sometimes mean a trip to the service center. CPL filters come in standard diameters of 52 mm, 55 mm, 58 mm, 62 mm, 67 mm, 72 mm, 77 mm, 82 mm and 87mm.

Lenses with any focal lengths can use CPLs but there are arguments against using them on ultra wide-angle lenses (Canon EF-S 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 IS USM, Tokina AT-X 116 11-16mm f/2.8 PRO DX, Sigma’s 10-20 f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM and 8-16 f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM, etc.) due to the varying polarization of the sky from one end to the other-meaning, if CPL filters are on UWA’s one part of the sky will be much darker than another part. But with enough practice this phenomena will lessen.


Kenko PRO1 Digital S CPL attached to Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM and the case it comes with. According to Kenko the case is UV protected to further lengthen the life of filters stored in it.

The CPL filter in question here is the Kenko PRO1 Digital S CPL Low Profile Frame(LPF)/Digital Multi Coated(DMC) at 67mm mounted on a Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens. It is a joy to use and very easy to handle. This particular filter has been on many trips and has saved a few photos from being over exposed.

There is an arrow or dot on the front of the CPL filter. It is a guide to indicate the darkest part of the glass. A rule of thumb is to turn the arrow 90˚ to the sun. But turning the rotating part to achieve a result you want is the best way to go and meter the scene as you do so (half press on shutter button to check exposure). The CPL filter will cause the DSLR meter to under expose by a stop to stop and a half (-1 to -1 1/2). To correct this just adjust aperture and open up 1 stop (ex: at f/8 just correct to f/7.1 or adjust exposure compensation) or do a longer exposure during day time. If shooting RAW format correct during post processing. This is just a basic guide. Always experiment with the rotating front element of the CPL filter to achieve your best results.

Affordability and the quality that go with a certain price is the usual argument and there are many schools of thought on CPL filters. Yes, there are also many branded CPL filters in the market. The Kenko is moderately priced and of good Japanese quality. The German-made B+W CPL filter is the best and at 77mm cost PHP8700.00 (approx. US$200) while a Kenko CPL of the same size is a third of that amount. Kenko, Hoya, and Tokina brands are all under one roof at THK Photo Products Inc.. THK is one of the biggest manufacturer and suppliers of glass to a number of camera companies. It would not be surprising if they supply to Canon, Nikon, etc. It is definitely better to buy a filter that comes from a company with a long history rather than getting one from an unknown brand.

Sometimes we just can not choose what time of the day to shoot in. Going with any given situation is usually the norm and it is better to have a Circular Polarizing filter in the gear bag.


The darker blue on the upper left is evidentdue to the varying polarization of the sky. Captured with Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM with Kenko CPL filter.


If this shot did not have CPL filter attached to the lens the background would have been over-exposed in the mid day sun.


CPL used cutting down reflection in water and darken sky.

A Few Cityscapes

The story started with a Canon EOS 7D and a Sigma 10-20 f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM. Then came along a Nikon D90 and a AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. With the Nikon D300 and Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 ATX 116 finally making its appearance. This round has Canon outnumbered.

The photo outing started off quick as the sun was setting fast with all the purty colors in the sky. But as the sun finally settled and night came there was just too much clouds for star trails. Maybe next time when the typhoon season settles down for some clear night skies again. Until then…

Cityscapes captured in RAW, converted to TIF file and finally to Jpeg in Photoshop CS5.







Lens Sharpness: Real World Test

This lens sharpness test was never in the plans. But curiosity got the better of me and here it is. This test is by no means a technical one but based on real world shooting scenario.



The top and bottom sections of Taipei 101 were captured only minutes of each other. The Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM was mounted on an EOS 7D and racked out from 160mm (top part) to 200mm (bottom part). The EOS 7D was then attached to a ball head tripod with the lens IS turned off. No remote shutter was used as it was left in the bag for absent minded reasons and the DSLR’s timer was utilized at 10 seconds for optimum stillness. Pushing the shutter by hand at this point would have spelled disaster in the form of blurred images. The images were, as usual, captured RAW, converted in DXO Labs software to tif file and further processed in Photoshop CS5 to upload quality.


Tight crop of the top photo. Click to view large.


Click to view large size


Click to view large size

Both close up images were cropped from the 2 original images in CS5 to show the sharpness in detail. The original images were at full 18 megapix@300 dpi. As you can see, the cropped images were a small part of the big picture (pun intended). Sharpness is no doubt a strong suit in the Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM. Of course, the EOS 7D’s advanced focusing system made this happen in part.

Colors were saturated in Photoshop CS5 using the curves tool and to even out the contrast.

The biggest con of the Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM is it’s weight and price tag. Lugging this thing around is no joke and having the tripod ring on this lens is definitely a must for tripod use. Purchase? Definitely but at the cost of US$2,500 it is perhaps better to take a look at the Canon EF 70-200 f/4L IS USM or the Sigma equivalent. Unless of course you are a pro photographer that can make the return in 3 projects.

Lomography Embassy

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The Lomography Embassy is located near one of Taipei’s premier shopping and business district. An interesting sight to behold-even if you are not a fan of the Lomo world. If you are a fan then make sure a lot of cash is on hand. Every conceivable merchandise related to is inside.

Unlike our Manila stores, cameras are available for your dirty paws to hold and caress, scan the books and take in the Lomography wall that spans 2 floors. Even take a seat at the bar to ask questions about the merchandise which the excellent reps will gladly answer.

My analogue journey was captured on a digital point & shoot-my trusty old Canon G7. All images shot on jpeg, refined the jpg files and processed in Canon’s DPP for upload quality.

The Lomography Embassy is located at No.35, Ln. 187, Sec.1, Dunhua S. Rd., Da`an Dist. Taipei City 106, Taiwan, tel: +886 2 2773 6111. Opening hours: Monday – Friday 2:00pm – 10:00pm / Saturday – Sunday 12:00pm – 10:00pm

22 Years Old and Still Counting

Mac_Dy_2470mmNew lens? Old lens? Yes, quite an old lens or vintage-it’s more cool sounding. Got the Canon EF 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 II as a kit lens with my Canon EOS 630 in 1989 around the time the Soviets pulled out of the Soviet-Afghanistan war. Yeah, the Soviets gives up and the Afghans been invaded by others ever since.

Anyway, back to the lens. My old work horse is constructed of 9 groups in 10 elements including an aspherical optical lens making the EF 28-70 II macro capable with a shooting distance of only 15 inches. It’s a great walk about lens that is light (.285 kg or 285 grams), small (at only 3″) and a with metal mount like those of the EF 50mm f/1.8. It also has a focusing distance window making manual focusing easier.

As with old lenses it lacks USM (Ultrasonic Motor) so the lens focuses with a loud whirring sound. The body of the lens does not move in or out during zooming but the front element of the lens does turn, move in and out during focusing (very common with lenses during those days). Thereby attaching any filters useless other than UV’s for protection.

My 28-70 has shot rolls and rolls of negatives-year book photos, family gatherings, small weddings and more than I can count snaps of everyday life of yesteryear.

Since then the USSR has been dissolved to what we know of today as Russia and Afghanistan is still at war. Seems like things don’t change so much. But tomorrow if the weather permits, will be taking this old friend for a walk around the city mounted on the EOS 7D(20th Century Lens & 21st Century DSLR Invades Chinatown).

Sample photos taken just moments ago.


Part of my desk-EOS 7D, EF 28-70mm@70mm, f/4, 1/40, ISO 400


2:30pm outside-EOS 7D, EF 28-70mm@28mm, f/6.3, 1/1600, ISO 125



I first heard about the GigaPan EPIC around 2007/08 during my very social flickr days. Back then, I was already using my Canon Powershot G7 point and shoot. An online buddy pointed out that there was a new machine capable of shooting panorama’s in huge mega pixels without the photographer doing much work. I paid due attention to this awesome little fellow but never got around to buying one. Fast forward to 2011 and many photographers have taken the GigaPan and done wonders with it.

The GigaPan EPIC is a unique robotic camera mount that empowers most small digital cameras with the ability to capture gigapixel images. It is easy to use and remarkably efficient. Simply set the corners of the panorama you want to capture using the LCD interface. The built in software works out how many photos your camera will need to take, hundreds or even thousands. Then the EPIC begins snapping the photos, automatically organizing them in overlapping rows and columns.

Compact enough to fit into a small camera bag and weighing only 3.5 lbs the EPIC is versatile and travels well. You may attach a tripod for stability using the 1/4″ tripod mount and level with the onboard bubble level.

15374-484x200 President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address by David Bergman

President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address by David Bergman (2009)

The most popular GigaPan pano would be the Obama inauguration shot in 2009. Click on the photo to see it in large and check out the details.

Shanghai Skyline - Stitched From 12,000 Pictures - 上海风景线 - 由12000张图片拼成 By:Alfred Zhao (May 25, 2010)

On May 25, 2010, Alfred Zhao, used a Canon EOS 7D and a Canon EF 400mm F5.6 with 2X tele-converter and cannoned Shanghai. The pano above was stitched from 12,000 images at 18 mega-pixels per image. The 12,000 images topped off to 1.24 TB which is more than the capacity of many of my external hard drives. Ouch, imagine the time it took to process the images. Click on the image for a larger detailed view.

On the roof of 12492-400x200 The Cathedral Duomo di Milano By: (gigapanbot) on November 16, 2008

On the roof of The Cathedral Duomo di Milano By (gigapanbot) November 16, 2008

Now head on over to the GigaPan site to check out the other awesome panoramas.

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Featured Posts From the Past:

Total Lunar Eclipse: June 16, 2011

Total Lunar Eclipse: June 16, 2011

Click to view largo

20th Century Lens & 21st Century DSLR Invades Chinatown

20th Century Lens & 21st Century DSLR Invades Chinatown

Kenko PRO1 Digital S Circular PL Filter

Kenko PRO1 Digital S Circular PL Filter

A Maze of People, Buildings and Public Transportation

A Maze of People, Buildings and Public Transportation





Shutter switch assembly: top and bottom view


Mac_3482x Mt Pinatubo Crater Lake


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