Sunday, October 9, 2016

25mm Nokton Review late to the party

Some people have tried to knock this lens down, but it still comes up fighting.

The 25mm Nokton was the first lens to give M43 "The Look". Of course by that I mean that the Nokton was the first lens made for the system that gave m43 the much sought after and vaunted full frame look, particularly shallow dof.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Takeout in China.

Delivery food in China is handled by deliver boys on bicycles like this one.

Eating in China can be an interesting experience. People often fall into one of two patterns. You either choose a few foods you are comfortable with and order those repeatedly everywhere you go, or you become a person obsessed with trying everything on offer. Some people like me tend to switch between the two.

Keep reading after the break

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

10.5mm F0.95 Voigtlander Nokton 8 month Review

M43 as a system has advantages over many of it's contemporaries. It has a large lens portfolio, good ergonomics, multiple body manufacturers, and an overall smaller system size than most other interchangeable lens systems. However it does have it's disadvantages. These include low light performance, compared to larger systems that have larger sensors and lenses with larger entry pupils, and shallow dof. Voigtlander has personally taken on the mission of rectifying this issue by releasing a series of super fast f0.95 lenses. The most recent of these releases was the 10.5mm nokton. I have been shooting with the nokton since September of last year and I have finally decided to write a review from the perspective of a long term user.  Continue reading after the break to see what I think of this unique lens along with a collection of the images another photographer and I have created with it. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Shooting a fisheye with a flash

Shot at f8

f3.5. I thought it was set to f8 and had it zone focused.

So while I was walking around the other day in Huaqiangbei I stumbled upon a camera store carrying a variety of c mount lenses. These are very interesting due to their miniscule sizes and low prices. I ended up buying a 50mm f1.4, 35mm f1.7, 25mm f1.8 16mm f1.4 and a 8mm fisheye that was made for cmount but they had a m43 version available as well.

These two shots came out of the fisheye. I decided to leave my Voigtlander noktons at home, and just shoot with the tiny 25mm, 50, and fisheye. With my 10.5mm I often shoot with a cabled flash at close distance. These were two shots were I was playing around and tried out the same technique with the fisheye. I love the way that it is able to draw in the entire background while bringing me close enough to use my flash. It really lets the subject stand out in the image even more than they do when I shoot with the 10.5mm.

As you can see the lens is very sharp, and as the kicker? It only cost 60 usd. :D

Please comment and let me know if you have any questions about this little lens. I will be happy to answer.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Shenzhen's Painting Village

A tray for discarded paint in Dafen Painting Village

Shenzhen may not be the oldest city in China but it does have it's share of attractions. One of these is Dafen oil painting village. A beautiful area where paintings of any kind can be found or commissioned. Dafen serves as a location where companies from around the world can have oil painting produced either in large quantities or as single commissions. It is a very interesting area and a must see for both the art and the low prices.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Olympus Em5 Mark II 6 month review


In October 2015 I switched from using my Panasonic gx7 to using an Olympus Em5 Mark II as my main camera. I have been using the Em5II solely since then and have become very familiar with it. I will be reviewing this camera as it relates to my personal usage.
Keep reading after the break.

Friday, March 25, 2016

2 years as a photographer.

An artist has his brush and a photographer has his camera.
2 years ago I bought my first camera. It was a Panasonic g6 that I intended to use for video before anything else. Learning to shoot stills with the camera was an entirely secondary concern and I only started because I didn't want to waste the capabilities of the camera. It turned out that I shot far more photos than videos and eventually began to spend a large portion of my free time pursuing photography. It has become one of the most enjoyable and rewarding hobbies I have ever had. After the break will be a number of photos I have taken over the last two years that I feel reflect how my style has changed and developed over time during my 2 years as a photographer.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

When you go to meet your girlfriend's Family and her Dad looks like this.

So my girlfriend and I arrived in Shenzhen on the 4th of February 2016. After a forty-five minute taxi ride and eight flights of stairs with our suitcases (containing our overweight lives) we were in her brother's apartment and I was having dumpling with her dad. So here I am an American, with very limited chinese, eating with my girlfriend's father, a traditional man and a spendthrift.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Is m43 useable at iso 12,800?

I have spoken with a lot of people online who seem to think that noise can break an image. They have this idea that m43 is totally unuseable past iso 1600 or 3200. This to me is a bit ridiculous. At is 12800 like the image I have included in this post there is more than enough detail to see whats going on. Its obvious that I took the photo because of the interesting view of two faceless hoods. The image makes sense. Its not the greatest image I've ever taken but the noise has nothing to do with that. Noise does not ruin an image. And m43 at iso 12800 still produces good images. At those iso's it is more important that the other aspects of your photo are technically correct but strong images can still be made.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What's that light?

Dalian China January 2016. While headed to work on the train from my apartment in Jinshitan I saw this girl and her friends talking. I reached my arm holding the flash around her friend and shot through the gap between the 3 of them.  It almost looked like I was putting my arm around her friend I'm sure.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Why I shoot street?

Im gonna get'cha

Street photography is a touchy subject for many photographers. It also tends to raise eyebrows from onlookers as well. My friends and family are supportive but rarely seem to understand my desire to photograph complete strangers and my girlfriend has even expressed concern that I will be assaulted for photographing the wrong person. My adoption of Bruce Gildens style of shooting at extremely close range with a flash has not helped the situation. So with so many people concerned about the legalities and safety of street photography why do I do it? Well lets talk about it after the break.

I got started in street photography pretty soon after I bought my first stills camera (a Panasonic g6). I was living in the small town Texarkana, Texas and I was really excited about having a new camera. I had bought it for video but decided I might as well learn to shoot stills too. I went out and practiced shooting ducks at the park, my sister's kids, our dogs and more but never really found anything that stuck with me. It wasn't until a few months later that I went to Dallas Fort Worth for an acting job that I found something I really liked to photograph. The buildings in a large city like Dallas, and the people there both made for great subjects and I found myself enjoying shooting both. I bought my first fast manual focus lens (a 50mm f1.4 Canon FL) and used it on my g6 with an adapter. I started doing street portraits and started to shoot people candidly. 

I found myself really enjoying my images of people and gravitating towards it more and more. I started to explore the possibility of shooting portraiture but I found my ability to direct people sorely lacking due to my lack of understanding of modeling, and posing. Still I decided to pursue lighting and for a time spent a lot of effort studying the tutorials posted by David Hobby, a famous strobist photographer. While I have learned a lot about lighting, and because of my background in martial arts and gymnastics have a good understanding of the human body, I have still not put any real effort into learning posing. Because it is boring. If I ever continue to pursue posed portraiture I will begin initially with dramatic portraits of predominately male models. Masculine, gritty, raw...but I digress.

I began to shoot on the streets more and more and by the time I moved to China in 2015 had a decent idea of what I was doing. Once I was in China I was blown away by the hustle and bustle of a chinese city. Even though Dalian is one of China's smaller cities very few places in the U.S.A. can even compare with the sheer number of people. I had street performers, square dancers, bikers, and more as subjects. I was surrounded by people every day and every day have been able to practice my craft. After awhile though I began to feel my shots where missing something. I looked at many of my shots from when I first entered China and I loved them! But, looking at my more recent work I was a bit disappointed in myself.  I thought about the enjoyment I had taken from strobist photography and decided that I should try to integrate the two styles. This led to my discovery of Bruce Gilden. 

Bruce Gilden is probably the most famous street photographer alive today. If there are two street photographers everyone knows they are Henry Cartier Bresson and Bruce Gilden.  While Bruce did not invent his signature style of shooting at close range with a flash (something done in reportage for decades) he was probably the first person to be willing to get his own face right into the midst of the action at a close distance with COMPLETE strangers. Bruce's subject have varied from the down and out of society, to the famous, to the infamous. He has a particular fondness for photographing gangsters and his shots of the japanese yakuza are very good examples of this. 

Needless to say I loved Bruce's work. Most of it anyways. So I started to experiment with his style myself. I started far away but I kept getting closer, and closer, and closer. If you pictures aren't good enough you aren't close enough, right? In an effort to feel more connection with my subjects I decided to go to a ridiculous distance and began using a 10.5mm lens (21mm in ff equivalent) on my em5 mark II and shoot at an average distance of less than 1 meter. The results have been fantastic for me.  I love the shooting process, I love the results, and I love the action.  That's why I shoot street.

This may have been a long post and maybe I was roundabout with my answer, but I shoot street because I like it. I feel like I am capturing images that otherwise would be totally missed because of the social niceties people tend to cling to. I'm capturing a tiny bit of history in the making. Maybe most of it isn't that relevant. But it could be. Thousands of my shots may just be nice photos. But maybe I'll catch that one that carries a significance that will last for decades. Maybe I'll catch the moment. A lot of street photographers talk about the decisive moment. The right moment when everything falls together for a photo. My style doesn't idealize that moment and wait for it. My style is to chase that moment down and if need be make it myself.  The decisive moment doesn't happen for every good image. It isn't something you can refine down to an art form or capture repeatedly without talent and luck and a bit of God's blessing. But looking for just that right shot in a mess of human chaos is fun.

And that's what it's all about right?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

One great benefit of a wide angle lens with a close focus distance is shown when shooting inside cramped spaces. Here in China trains can be claustrophobic at best but with my 10.5mm noktons and tiny olympus flash off camera I can still keep shooting. Gotta love it.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Moving to Shenzhen

Since March of 2015 I have been living and working in Dalian China. While I have enjoyed my time here from acting, to the streets, I have decided along with my girlfriend to move to Shenzhen, China.

For me this move is another step towards the future. I gained another year of acting and stuntman experience in Dalian and have grown for it. My street photography developed and has started to take on its own form and I got to experience several interesting local environments in unique ways. There are many things here In Dalian I have yet to do that I have imagined. Photos that I want to create, places I wanted to visit. Dalian is a large city and I feel that I havent even begun to explore it to its fullest. Still, I am happy for the time I have had in the city and the  experience I have had here as well.

Moving to Shenzhen will give me the opportunity to develop my acting and modeling career in new ways, explore new areas, and meet new people. I am excited for the possibility of travel to and from hong Kong on a regular basis and I am also ecstatic to be moving into a even larger urban environment. To add on to my joy there are even parkour and freerunning groups based in Shenzhen which I intend to connect with and work out with.

Shenzhen is the city where I plan to take my photography to the next level and further develop my style while pursuing new aeas of interest including video production for youtube and chinese media sites like youku. My girlfriend and I plan to bring camera, lens, and equipment reviews to youtube, and english training videos to both youtube and chinese media.

To anyone who knows me in Dalian i have enjoyed my time here but its time to move on.

Best regards, Joshua Son

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Why M43 is The Best for Street Photography

Why I Think M43 Is The Best For Street Photography

When it comes to street photography there is alot of debate as to what the best camera choice is. Some guys prefer their dslr's, others their camera phones, and some frown on anyone that doesnt shoot a leica. When it comes down to my money though I know that m43 is the best system for me and my uses. Read more after the break to find out why I think m43 is the best for street photography.