Winter Photography, Playing it Safe

Landscape Photography can be challenging during the winter freeze. By using the right equipment you can overcome those difficulties which is greatly rewarded by beautiful winter landscapes.

Usually even a digital camera can endure very harsh cold, even though often the instruction manual states something like 0 degrees. This is an extra measure by camera manufacturers so that they are not responsible for the camera being in extreme conditions. Common sense is needed and it will be just fine. The minor downside is that the LCD screen can slow down a bit.

A bigger downside however is that the battery lifetime is reduced significantly, therefore it is advised to keep the battery separate in a warm place, like your inside pocket for example when not in use. Prepare a lot of battery power for longer shoots outdoors.

When you take the objective outside form the warm, the rapid change in temperature collects moisture inside the lens. Once the camera has properly cooled down the moisture disappears. This can take anywhere between 10minutes to an hour. You can take the camera outdoors beforehand to make sure it has properly adjusted to the cold. This also helps the camera to adjust in snowing conditions so that the snow flakes don’t immediately melt once they hit the camera.

Never breath towards the camera since this will create fog. Or if you want to clear your camera from the snow for example blowing it would melt the snow, making it wet. Moisture is the worst enemy of a camera and therefore the most dangerous time is when you bring it back to the warm. The trick for this is to remove the memory card and place the camera inside the camera bag but leave it outside for a gradual change in temperature.

Hope this helps to keep winter photography fun & safe! -Joann

The other incredible acrobatic show I captured

On my travels in Beijing I also saw this incredible show piece and was busy snapping photos which I will share with you. Acrobatics are usually just about showing skills, but this one was more in the blood and sweat category. They do two shows every single day (excluding the Chinese new year I presume) and flawlessly. Who can put up with that kind of a work, it’s mind boggling to see that.

I especially loved the lion act, where four guys dressed in two lion suits run around the stage on top of a ball and do jumps on top of a balancing board. I mean that just has to be seen to be understood.. the show is not too fancy with props and all, just pure skill. Which is simply wicked. “They” say it’s the best show in Beijing and I think it must be in level with the rest of the best for sure.

Chaoyang Theatre: http://www.chaoyangacrobaticshow.com is in 36 E. 3rd Ring Road North, Chaoyang District, Beijing. Easy to find just go to Hujialou metro station and it’s there.

My favorite bits from the show:

Imagine short guys shooting arrows out of their ass while flying in midair. Difficult to image? Well you got close anyway:)

This is the lion act. No idea how they can stay on top of that ball.

You can see how out of breath they are after the stunt!

There are so many girls on that bicycle that it’s impossible to count how many.

Other than having to be extremely muscular to do that, you gotta be handsome and have incredible balancing skills obviously. :)

Yours,
Joann

Beijing, Dance, Kungfu Show Cast and Their Portraits

To continue with my obsession to portrait photography. This time I am presenting to you portfolio shots of the cast from the Beijing Kungfu Show I visited last March.

I just took an extempore flight to Beijing since I got last minute tickets from Lufthansa through Frankfurt for a ridiculous price. Stayed there for about 9days with my lovely host May to whom I hooked up with through couch surfing. In the usual manner I grabbed a good dose of theatre performances and local delicacies. As well as beer which contributed a great deal of my spent time in sitting on street corners and trying to chat up locals with whom I did not share a common language. But I must say the Chinese are in no ways short in using hand gestures, making even the most awkward conversations, a blast:) Yes, I know I enjoy a few non-common thingies in life..

Anyhoo, about the show. I mean, some parts of it were kitschy as hell. But as far as theatrical performance goes in Beijing, I have heard and am somewhat convinced now that this is as far as it has evolved. Which is really far!! I think the characters were great, which inspired me to create this portfolio. They were not kidding around with the costumes. They are real Shaolin munks with more than enough cloth and straps to tie around the whole audience. *chuckle*

Dance, dance, dance.. I didn’t care for the stunts but this was a “gayish” performance which really turned me on. Not the gay way, but the happy, feminine way:P Oddly enough, this huge western presence in mood, was not a turn off in any sense. I’d just made it all thrilling and spiced up. No wonder they are doing well in both Beijing and overseas. Check it out…

B. Wishes,
Joann

Btw, I got my tickets from this tour company in Beijing called May Tours. If you want cheap tickets to the show I recommend using them. Tried to call up some other ‘ticket offices’ before but it was a fiasco! 😉

Few Tips for Photographing Children

Just wanted to share some tips about my experience of photographing children. It’s something that easily finds you out of breath and sweaty even if you don’t feel like having done much. So what is it that is so exhausting?

I think it’s the fast pace of things. A common drill is quickly changing clothes, moving the child quickly to the spot, taking photos and soon you’ll end up running after the children that escaped the shot. So when I’m alone, I only photograph one child at a time. It’s much easier.

Assistance however can be really helpful to put the children in position, quickly take the hands off and then ready with the camera, click click!

Props are always useful. Something small to catch the childs attentiona and if necessary you can give to their hands when shooting. In fact a prop on their hands can get you a great picture without any weird face twists :)

Also what I have found essential is to talk a lot with children. With two children it can be a bit tricky, but in the case of a single child, they will calm down so much. You can ask questions like, what day it is or say that they have three ears.

Between thinking and laughing, most likely you can get at least one good picture!

With some children you can ask them to show their special skills, like running. When a child is a little exhusted after exercise they will be more calm:) You can have a look at some of the photos I have shot for a Finnish ecologic clothing brand for children. Also I will add a few examples to my portfolio.

B. Wishes,
Joann

Good Tips for Portrait Photography

Some tips for portraiture that I have personally learned the hard way. Furthermore I have gathered some tips that I bumped into in various discussion forums.

  • If the person who is being photographed is afraid of cameras (most people are), then take out your camera well beforehand. For example put it on a table between you and him. Face the camera slightly towards the person and talk calmly for a while.
  • Another good tip is during the interview, take a few casual pictures, just so that the photographed would be more relaxed and used to the camera when the actual session begins.
  • Make him do things on the set.
  •  Follow the person being photographed before you take pictures to look for what is natural to him. Try to capture that into the picture.
  • Take pictures from the height of the persons eyes. Then there wont be any problems with incorrect dimensions.
  • Ask for opinions of your photographs from everyone, especially those who do not like you and professionals.
  • Gather from all over, also from outside the set, ideas and practice implementing them. Use these learned techniques only when the right moment comes.
  • It is not possible to make good picture, if you have nothing to say. Your inner world itself is not enough.
  • Gather general knowledge. Read and discuss with others. Enlarge your circle of friends and visit art galleries. Engage your self into photography.
  • Do not become a “camera chauffeur”. Stick to being a photographer, meaning that do not think of yourself as a user of a mechanical device, but someone that requires creativity, imagination and technical skills.
  • Listen to the person being photograpphed.
  • Never be arrogant towards anyone just because they don’t understand your brilliance. It is possible that he understands something about your true nature as a photographer.  Best performances arise from being humble and upstanding in front of people.
  • Practise everything you can.

B. Wishes,
Joann