Wednesday, November 19, 2008

PhotoStudio version.2 (PS v.2)

Photo Studio version 2 (PS v.2)
PS v.2 also means Photo Studio version.2

A repost for the benefit of those who have asked me how I take my toy pictures and the setup I use.

I have previously constructed a miniature protoype light tent based on this design which I would consider it as just a light tent and not a photo booth. Nevertheless, will refer to it as version 1.
PS v.2 is actually an improved version of the earlier. PS v.2 is a light-tent integrated photo booth. PS v.2 is also a meaner and full-scale actual product.

1. Corrugated paper carton boxes from the office since they were intended to be discarded. I have chosen this mid-range size for the PS v.2 project since the dimensions were just right.
2. Materials like the background paper was acquired from Art Friend. I have chosen Canford A1-sized 80gsm Dreadnought Grey for the standard background.
3. Mahjong paper was acquired from my neighbourhood stationary shop.
4. Plastic disposeable table mat was acquired from neighbourhood sundry store by neXus.
5. 2x table lamps with daylight bulbs.

I had made this similar to the way I have made the version 1. I have cut 3 windows with 2-inch borders, into the left, top and right side of the box. I have also made a narrow window on the top near to where the cardboard bends, forming the back. This is to allow clipping of the background paper with paper clips.

After the construction, a simple materials test was performed to decide between: mahjong paper and table mat. Stikfas G2 Alpha was test subject. All camera conditions were set manual and kept constant throughout the test.

Plastic Mat Diffuser

From Top to Bottom Row, Left to Right with plastic mat as diffuser:
1. Left Lamp + Right Lamp + Ceiling Light
2. Left Lamp with Ceiling Light
3. Ceiling Light Only
4. Ambient light (no particular light source)

Direct Flash

From Left to Right with plastic mat as diffuser:
1. With direct flash
2. With macro mode flash.

Without Diffuser

Left Lamp + Right Lamp + Ceiling Light (without diffuser).

Mahjong Paper Diffuser

From Top to Bottom Row, Left to Right (with mahjong paper as diffuser):
1. Left Lamp + Right Lamp + Ceiling Light
2. Left Lamp + Ceiling Light

3. Ceiling Light Only
4. Ambient light (no particular light source)

Mahjong Paper Diffuser + Exposure Compensation

From Left to Right (with mahjong paper as diffuser) with all lamps:
(left) +0.3 exposure
(right)+0.7 exposure

Looks like mahjong paper is too opaque and less translucent than the table mat.
The construction was done with a double layer table mat. The bottom layer of the mat was fastened to the frame with double-sided tape while the top layer was not joined.

The PS v.2 is complete after the simple construction procedure.
Here are some images of it.

PhotoStudio verson.2

From Left to Right:

From Top to Bottom Row, Left to Right:
1. The rear slit window

2. Pull over top layer
3. Top layer can be pulled over to the front while bottom layer stays affixed.
4. Photographer can go 'under' the booth if diffusing the ambient light is necessary.

From Left to Right:
1. With the ceiling light and two side lamps
2. The narrow slit near the rear of the top, with background paper held by paper clips.

The Photoshoot
Camera: Canon Ixus 40
Settings: Manual, Custom WB (fluorescent), ISO 200, no flash

Subject: 1/100 RX-78 NT-1 Alex (modelled by sty)


From Top to Bottom Row, Left to Right:
1. With three light sources (Ceiling, left and right)

2. With ceiling and right only
3. With ceiling only
4. With left and right only

The Model on Dreadnought Grey Background

RX-78 NT-1 Alex
No better way to perform a test shoot with a kit modelled by sty long time ago.

The Model on White Background

From Top to Bottom Row, Left to Right with white background:
1. Setup with three light sources (Ceiling, left and right)
on white background
2. With three light sources
3. With left and right lamps only
4. With left and right lamps only
5. With left and right lamps only

At the cost of no more than S$8 and a little bit of time, a not too fancy but extremely cheap light-tent is constructed. The PhotoStudio version.2 (PS v.2) works as well as professional light-tents used in product photography. The only flaw of PS v.2 is that it cannot be collapsed for storage. The easily interchangeable backgrounds makes product shooting with the PS v.2 endless creativity and fun!

Color Spaces

What is Adobe RGB and sRGB? How does it affect the way we see and other see our pictures?
Adobe RGB has a greater color gamut than sRGB. Users will definitely be swayed to use a color space that can have more 'space' to manipulate in the Adobe Photoshop. However, for the end result, not all devices and platforms interpret Adobe RGB since the sRGB has been the industry standard. Not all devices and platforms can interpret an embedded ICC profile. Only special printing devices can interpret Adobe RGB and embedded ICC profiles to print 'correctly' to what has been edited in Adobe Photoshop. Most other applications such as the internet browsers are not capable of interpreting and embedded ICC profiles.
Below is an image taken in Adobe RGB, then saved in various color spaces with/without ICC profile embedded. No adjustments were made to the photo.
On Adobe Photoshop, all images appear similar irregardless of the colour space it was opened in.
On Windows Picture Viewer of my calibrated LCD display, all images appear similar, except sRGB without embedded ICC profile which is oversaturated.
How do they look on the web?
Images saved in Adobe RGB (1998) with and without embedded ICC profile appear washed out.

Adobe RGB (1998) with ICC Profile

Adobe RGB (1998) without ICC Profile

sRGB with ICC Profile

sRGB without ICC Profile

Adobe RGB (1998) Save For Web & Devices with ICC

Adobe RGB (1998) Save For Web & Devices without ICC


In order to display the result of WYSIWYG in Photohop, into the internet for photo sharing or online photo galleries, one need to:

(1) convert color space setting to 'sRGB', then work and save as 'sRGB with ICC profile'.
(2) if working in 'Adobe RGB' color space, use 'Save for Web & Devices' setting with 'ICC profile' checked, to export the picture into sRGB space.

Photoshop Working Space = Adobe RGB (1998)
Camera Color Space = Adobe RGB

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Maitreya Buddha 彌勒佛

The Buddha of the Future

Maitreya or Metteyya (मैत्रेय in Sanskrit or 彌勒 in Chinese) is usually referred as a
Buddha (大佛) according to the Tantras, but sometimes as a Bodhisattva (菩薩) according to the Sutras. Bodhisattva literally translates to "Enlightened Being" who is dedicated to attaining Nirvana and have yet but near to becoming a Buddha. The name of Maitreya suggest 'universal loving kindness'. Maitreya is one who is of infinite compassion and knowledge. The image of Maitreya has been portrayed in many forms, especially in the familiar 'pot-bellied' Budai (布袋) Arhat or Laughing Buddha. Maitreya is believed to be presently residing in the Tushita Heaven, a not too distant place which is reachable through meditation, where Bodhisattvas resides until they descend and become enlightened to become Buddha. Maitreya, believed to be the successor of the Śākyamuni Buddha (I have visited the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple), will eventually descend to Earth in a most chaotic time when all Sakyamuni Buddha's teachings have disappeared from this world. Maitreya will then teach the purest Dharma to all beings, uniting all. It is also believed that those who follows the Dharma faithfully, will eventually be reborned together with Maitreya, where they will be blessed to be taught by Maitreya with the purest Dharma.

'Maitreya Buddha' at Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum, Singapore
Shot on with Nikon D200 at 200mm f/2.8

Photography by William Tan
©William Tan 2008

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Cheapest SANYO Eneloop in Singapore

Rechargeable Batteries
When it comes to rechargeable batteries, 'SANYO' is the first to be mentioned from among other brands of battery manufacturers. Since the creation of rechargeable batteries, lesser wastes has been generated from the disposal alkaline batteries. In this technology age, more and more electronic equipments rely on this type of 'clean' energy, in the form of rechargeable batteries to power them up. These rechargeable batteries come in different forms, and a popular form is the 'AA' batteries. Today, every household should have at least an equipment that utilizes the 'AA' batteries. A huge portion of people have also switched to the use of rechargeable batteries since it is more cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly. While the 'memory-effect' or more accurately 'Voltage Depression' of rechargeable batteries may still deter people from relying on these batteries, one should know that this effect only plagued the earlier Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) rechargeable battery. Since the creation of the Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Lithium-ion (Li-ion) rechargeable batteries, the 'memory effect' is history. However, all types of rechargeable batteries, suffer the same fate of dying due to limited charge cycles. Most rechargeable batteries have a limited lifespan of about 1000 charge cycles. Every time a cycle of a full discharge and charge is made, it depletes the life span of these batteries. The rate of its 'death' is even more accelerated by the 'self-discharge'. 'Self-discharge' has been the biggest problem with rechargeable batteries; when the rechargeable batteries are not in use, they will lose their stored energy within a month or so. Hence, a new charge will need to be made to restore the energy in the batteries; doing so eliminates another charge cycle. How about storing unused rechargeable batteries in a discharged state? It is not adviseable to store rechargeable batteries in a discharged state. This paradox of 'cost-efficient' and 'death from self-discharge' may not encourage the switch to using rechargeable batteries.

A New Breed of Rechargeable Batteries
has developed a new breed of NiMH rechargeable batteries made with a super lattice alloy, the 'eneloop'. The benefit of the eneloop is the extremely low 'self-discharge' which completely eliminates unnecessary recharging and thus a longer life span (though still limited). Eneloop are tested to be able to retain 85% of the charge when unused for a year. This capability of the eneloop allows these batteries to be sold pre-charged, which means that you can buy the eneloop off the shelf and start using them before the need to do a initial charge. However, despite sharing the same advantage as conventional NiMH rechargeable batteries in having more power over alkaline batteries, these super lattice alloy rechargeable batteries cannot have a capacity as high as the conventional type (max. 2700mAh). The eneloop is rated to have a maximum capacity of 2000mAh. Currently there are a few manufacturers that make these super lattice alloy batteries, one popular one being 'Maha Energy' which made the 'Powerex' and super lattice alloy 'IMEDION'. 'Powerex' (2700mAh) has been the most popular conventional type NiMH rechargeable battery till date, while their 'IMEDION' (2100mAh) puts the 'eneloop' to a good challenge. Tests had shown that the 'IMEDION' is unofficially the world's most best super lattice alloy rechargeable batteries.

SANYO Eneloop
locks in energy longer
As an avid photography hobbyist, the need for more power and spare rechargeable batteries is necessary to operate my 'power-hungry' Nikon D200 (via the MS-D200 for MB-D200/BP-D200) but most importantly for my Nikon SB-600 Speedlight. I am presently using only one set of four 'IMEDION' super lattice rechargeable batteries. These batteries are only able to give so much fires on the strobe, which is about sufficient only for a half-day assignment. The need for more 'juice' is necessary to extend my flash usage for a whole day. It is also good to have more than 1 or even 2 sets of batteries, so that the usage can be rotated, which will greatly prolong the lifespan. While the 'IMEDION' gives more power (rated 2100mAh), the 'eneloop' (rated 2000mAh) is only inferior by around 10 to 15 fires. Moreover, I have found the cheapest 'eneloop' rechargeable batteries in Singapore! I scored mine at S$35.90 for 8pcs (S$4.49 each), while the 'IMEDION' cost S$20 for 4pcs (S$5 each). The only drawback of not getting the 'IMEDION' is the slightly lesser power and lack of the useful storage hard case.

My pearlie-white power cells!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Afternoon Tea @ The Atrium

My wife gave me a pleasant surprise last Sunday. She had asked me to make myself available from 3 to 5pm on that day as she wanted to bring me somewhere. She had refused to leak any details to me this time since more than often I could read her mind. After leading me along an abnormal trial to the destination, I realised that she had brought me to Pan Pacific Hotel. I immediately knew I had hit the jackpot with one of my guesses, an afternoon tea!

She had brought me to the Classic Enlish Afternoon Tea at The Atrium, Pan Pacific Hotel. It was indeed a surprise since she knew that I was never a fan of afternoon or high-tea sessions. Furthermore, I do not have a sweet-tooth for the sweets. Nevertheless, it was my first time having afternoon tea instead of sipping coffee at a cafe. Since my wife managed to get a coupon for a '1-for-1' from a magazine that frequently gives out such deals, this afternoon tea was actually not expensive. The usual price is around S$27++ pax, but we paid the same price for two.

A portion that serves two, comes along with a selection of English, herbal and infusion teas as well as coffee to choose from.

The top tier are the sweets: Chocolate Opera Cake, Cheesecake, Petit Apple Crumble and Petit Strawberry Tart.
The bottom tier are the savoury: Plain Scone, Raisin Scone, Smoked Salmon on Rye Bread, Roasted Beef with Mustard and Cress, Creamed Egg with Mayonnaise, Honey Baked Ham & Cheese.

A platter of marmalade, strawberry jam, cream cheese and whipped cream to go with the scones.

Bon Appétit

The serving of food is only one round but the beverages are free-flow. Though the selection may shy compared to high-tea buffets at other hotel cafeterias, the deceivingly small portion can be rather filling. The quality and taste of the sweets and savoury were not bad as well and could have been better if they were fresher! The '1-for-1' coupon made this afternoon tea made the sweet treats sweeter. But enjoying a 'surprise' afternoon tea with my wife is the sweetest!
Thanks Fio!

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