Monthly Archives: September 2008

Light Painting With The Kit Lens As A Snoot

You can do light painting with a flash that can be set to manual power. How?

First, turn off all your lights!

Put the camera on a tripod with a 10 second timer so you have time to grab the flash and start painting. I set the flash at its maximum zoom (105mm for my Sony HVL-F58AM) at 1/8th power and pressed the Test button around the subject, pretending to be stage light.

50mm F8 ISO800, 25 seconds.

Whoops that’s overexposed – let’s stop it down a bit more.

50mm F11 ISO400, 25 seconds.

Ah, that’s better! However, I accidentally got the flash head in the shot. Supposing I wanted to simulate smaller stage light, I’d need to snoot the light (in other words, shrink the size of the light.)

50mm F11 ISO400, 25 seconds.

How did I snoot it?

Using a Sony 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 DT kit lens with a rubber hood attached! Alpha mount lenses by default close down the aperture blades when not attached to a camera. Thus, when the lens is at 18mm, it is at its darkest aperture of F22, where its opening is 18mm/22 = 0.818mm wide!

If you’re using a different mount lens, make sure it has an aperture ring so you can set the aperture manually. Canon EF/EF-S lenses have electronically controlled apertures so they cannot be used.

I hold the snooted flash with the rubber hood in my left hand, and my right hand on the flash to press the Test button.

You may want to experiment with different power settings on your flash as well.

Pesta Mandi Jen



Side splash.

Diagonal splash.

Full-body splash.


Shampoo ad splash.

Defence +1!

Sai si Fattien.

Tag you’re it!

Main belakang splash.

Stairway to splash.

More than a bukkit of splash.

Swerve hedgehog swerves splash!

Tall, tall splash!

Wanted splash.

Splash him!

Slow=motion splash.

Liquid metal splash.

Neck splash.

Eri so cuuute!

Rames: “I want Thaipusam splash also!

All shots cropped from the Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye set to F5.6 with a 1.5x teleconverter, around 1/25th of a second shutter speed with ISO1600. 27th September 2008, what a record!

Interwoven View

Youth ’08 Day 1 – interview sessions with JFK one 18th of January 2008.

He was my ex-boss and founder of Xfresh, which once had the tagline, “Malaysia’s Premier Teen Community“. Ah, the good ol’ days!

Razif Hashim (who looks all the more evil after Jarum Halus.)

Indie film director. His name escapes me!


Oh hi *falls under shiny eye charm and forgets your name too*


Juwita Suwito.

All singer-songwriters have unique names, I’ll tell you that.

Nabil of Mentor and JFK, former host of Mentor.

All shots with the Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan (except the first shot, with smashpOp‘s Sony 11-18mm F4.5-5.6 DT.)

Ooo, Melissa Campbell!

Sweet sixteen! (At the time this was taken.) So she’s still a minor at time of writing.

It’s okay Johnathan Putra, I’m sure she has an older sister…Han Sen consoles.

Here she looks a bit like Su Ann!

Cat Farish.

All shots from this interview set were taken with Nic Chan‘s beautiful Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8. The tonality and glow that it gives faces is simply amazing!

I spy…

And here, she looks a bit like Suet Li!

I find this angle to be rather interesting for interviews.


Why did you have to leave us, Naomi?

Oh because they want to send me back to Japan-hor!

And so, we had a farewell at Bumbu Bali a certain 19th of June 2008. Nice place, nice soup!

Mmm. Shot with my Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm F2.4 at F2.4… because the aperture blades are stuck and I cannot stop down.

At the minimum focus distance of 19 cm. Insane!

When you’re Japanese, you gotta deck out your phone yo.

This also doubles as a privacy-ensuring screen.

Yow (also farewelled) and a looming figure in the background.

smashpOp doing his camwhoring thing. Yes did you know he’s my colleague!

Yes, he has a Carl Zeiss Tessar.

So how did I make the first picture out of this picture?

To make this effect in Photoshop, first press Ctrl-1, then Ctrl-2, then Ctrl-3. You’ll see whether the Red, Green or Blue channels are most dramatic. In this case, the blue channel (Ctrl-3) is the most dramatic.

So we press Ctrl-A to select all, then Ctrl-C to copy. Press Ctrl-` (to the left of the 1 key) to return to full RGB view, then Ctrl-V to paste a new layer on top.

In the blending mode, choose Luminosity. Press Ctrl-E to flatten the layers. Press Ctrl-U to adjust saturation, and desaturate accordingly. Finally, adjust the Levels manually as you see fit to bring out shadows.

Thanks also to also-my-colleague-Rames. He didn’t know that I took this when I took it!

D Links

Ch-ch-ch-check it out!

Sly & The Family Stone Radio –

I was in a pretty crap mood at work and instinctively loaded up some cleansing/destressing thrash/speed/death metal on Winamp. For some reason I itched to find more Sly & The Family Stone stuff (having been hooked to If You Want Me To Stay for a whole week) and I got here and I haven’t been able to pause the playlist and go back to the metal I queued up.

So cool I found out all the original singers for all these songs I’ve heard before! And I’ve heard alternate (or perhaps original versions) of James Brown – I Got You (I Feel Good) and Wilson Pickett – Sugar Sugar. I don’t know how to tell it to play just ONE artiste though, but I’m happier with the selections than any other online radio that promises to give music in a similar vein, such that I can’t hit Skip.

Oh, and Bill Withers was so widely covered and yet I’d never heard of him before this.

For some reason, a lot of songs remind me of Davinaaa!

Now, for more happy links:

Lolcats ‘n’ Funny Pictures of Cats – I Can Has Cheezburger?

Ooo, Sony actually used one in their Alpha 300/350 ads:

Apparently, it has sister sites, too!

GraphJam: Music and Pop Culture in Charts and Graphs. Let us explain them.


FAIL Blog: Pictures and Videos of Owned, Pwnd and Fail Moments

And now, for more random links!

Stop Motion Rubik’s Cube solve *Original*
Escher 3D Puzzle? Lego? New way to play puzzle!
4x4x4 Trajber’s Octahedron Rubik’s Cube
Pyracosaminx Puzzle
Custom Cylinder Rubik’s Cube (glued on layer)

Buy me a weird Rubik’s Cube-like puzzle if you’re travelling and see one, alright? 😀

Youth oh-eight-one

Rewind to 18th January 2008, Youth ’08 Day 1! Organized by YouthMalaysia, of course.

Featuring MCA speakers…

And of course MCA President Dato’ Seri Ong Ka Ting…

…who is, uh, asked to inspect the freshness of the greens. Obviously he is on top of farming methods!

And then there’s Khai the indie filmmaker.

Oh and that is how you audition for Gua.

Then there was the Nuffnang Traffic Jam!

The Top 100 Most Interesting Blogs each got a terminal to access their site.

Celine Yap‘s one in particular, popped out!

On to less violent endeavours.

And, of course, comic relief!

Trash, that dress.

Moji is fun to dance with!

The next day, 19th January 2008, there was some speech goin’ on with Mia Palencia and Kenny Sia.

Dangit, I hate it when I am trying to take a picture of a signboard with text on it, and people get in my way.

Hand on the floor!

Beware the wolverines!

Cute giveaways.

Game terminals, yay!

Camwhores, hooray!

Skyler-F-Y-S Fills Your Seat.

Like the queue at J.Co.

Kenny, Ringo, Su Ann, Nicole, Joel Neoh (YouthMalaysia founder) and Timothy Tiah (one of Nuffnang’s founders.)

Extreeeme closeup!

Shooting chrome.

And done blowin’ balloons.

Battle Of The Bands outside the hall.

More to come!

Fresh, Look!

Back on a certain 9th of December 2007, there was a Ciba Vision FreshLook InterCampus Search 2007 Grand Finals out in the open space between The Curve and Cineleisure Damansara.

Guess what color my eyes are!

I like cheerleaders.

I’d like Alan if I was female. Oh and there’s JJ and Hunny Madu (back when she was with

I like how I can outresolve many friends in reading faraway signboards.

I like factual T-shirts.

I’d like her shoes if I was female.

I like Hunny’s style.

The crowd loved his style.

I like balloons.

I don’t know if I like campy dance outfits.

And the uncle’s like “Canon EF 28-300mm F3.5-5.6L IS USM, what a n00b!

I like girls in the army.

He likes to dance.

He likes what he sees.

You like what you see?

I like Amanda’s (Grace‘s sister) smile.

I like reflections. Ohai Penny!

I like my Vivitar Series 1 28-105mm F2.8-3.8, which was used to shoot all the pictures in this blog entry!

I like, noticed that her right thigh is bigger than her left thigh.

I like alphabet soup too! *spoons*

I like his expression, he looks a little confused.

I like his style! He looks like Rick Astley.

I like her expression. She reminds me of the cuter characters in Happy Tree Friends.

Penny won something, I don’t remember what.

Mr. Freshlook Search 2007 is USD1

Good Year, 2007

And now, for shots from the Goodyear Xtreme Speed Fest on a certain 7th of December 2007!

All shots with the Vivitar Series 1 28-105mm F2.8-3.8 lens. There was a significant amount of veiling flare through most shots with a lot of lights, but a little bit of Unsharp Mask quickly cleaned that up.

(This is a worst case scenario.)

Okay fine so I actually reached there in the evening. Was walking from the office to the Bukit Jalil LRT station, really.



Okay so there were some shots with the Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye – this one’s a crop. Night remote controlled car racing!

As many screens as a big cineplex!

The girls plan their escape but find their path blocked by more cars and photographers.

Chill out, have a drink.

I love… Jeeps.

I love… corsets.

Three’s company.

I love boots.

I love tubes.

She loves posing for me each time I pass her, I forget if I’ve shot her before. But I did, many times!

Up on stage, competition!

Maximum riffage.

I wonder if they’d sabotage each other with wardrobe malfunctions.

Slyde, lucky emcee in the back!

And that ends the tour of the uh, car show.

Fifty Eight Is Great

And now, for my full-on geekout report of the new Sony HVL-F58AM flash with Quick Shift Bounce! This is affectionately known as the Cobra Head.

* I’ve added a Color Temperature Orange warming gel with a custom-made cardboard holder. Doesn’t he look like Decepticon Shockwave, guardian of the Cybertron Space Bridge?

Its new swivelling design allows you to quickly bounce the flash upwards in portrait orientation. With any other flash of any other brand, you’d need to press a button to unlock the flash head to allow it to turn!

With this, there are no buttons to unlock movement. I can nudge the flash head with my chin if I wanted to!

It also comes with a wider, foldable stand to support its weight as it turns extreme angles. Here, it is rolling 45 degrees left.

I shall now refer to the HVL-F58AM by its short form, the F58, and the same for all Sony Alpha flashes.

Its body is a lot fatter; here you see it almost aligns with the head of my Sony Alpha 700. The body is lighter despite it carrying the batteries, and it may feel a bit flimsy if you rotate it when it’s not attached to a camera… but the moment it’s on a camera it feels very solid and doesn’t feel like it could break if you rotate it too quickly.

Having used it for a few jobs already, I can say that this makes portrait-orientation bounce flash, rear-bounce flash, ceiling-bounce top-down macro flash all very easy and quick to get to. The built-in white card really helps, to give a bit of front fill. No more “hold on…” while I attempt to mash down on the flash head unlock button. My F56’s flash head was rather hard to unlock!

This is the F42. (Thanks to KJ.) This has the conventional pitch and yaw turning flash head. Left is how it looks like in bounce mode, with the wide-panel diffuser pulled up to provide some front fill flash. Right is the same but in portrait orientation – notice how the wide-angle diffuser is no longer facing the front? There is no way for it to face the front.

And so, we have the F58 (left) and F42 (right) this time stocked with a Gary Fong Whaletail clone. People here call it the toiletbowl, but I will not show you why here!

Both in portrait mode. See that the F58 keeps the white card (I did not pull out the wide-angle diffuser) while the toiletbowl Whaletail keeps the light pointing forward.

The F58 gets rid of the Whaletail, DEMB Diffuser and any other re-orienting diffuser on the market! Now all you need is a white card for some front fill, and maybe a Stofen Omnibounce if you’re fussy. Of course, I like being able to quickly slip on my orange gel cardboard holder, so I don’t use a Stofen.

I’ve noticed that the F58 is a lot more secure in the hotshoe, and the exposures are very consistent. Or maybe that’s just me.

Yes, I like my F58 very much! One F58 fired from camera left, about 70mm zoom, F56 bounced off wall on right, on camera right.

Wireless Ratio Control

Finally, a wireless ratio control system on digital bodies! The wireless controller mode of the F56 could only be used on Minolta film SLRs which supported it. On the Konica Minolta 5D and 7D and all subsequent Sony Alphas it simply could not be used… neither was the Ratio control on the F56.

There are two modes;

CTRL1 = CTRL+ = 3 Group Mode

Now when they say 3 group mode… one group is the CTRL group, on the camera. So I wouldn’t call the solitary F58 sitting on the camera a “group”, but heck…

The other 2 groups are called RMT and RMT2. You can set the F58 to be in RMT or RMT2 (and even CTRL, so it won’t be triggered).

The F42 has no such option, so it’s always in the RMT group.

That means, to fully use all 3 groups, you need:
– one F58 flash on the camera
– one or more F42/F58 flashes in the RMT group
– one or more F58 flashes in the RMT2 group

You can then set the ratio. 1:2:4 means that the F58 on the camera outputs 1/7th of the final flash exposure. The flash(es) in RMT group output twice the power or 2/7ths of the final flash exposure, while the flash(es) in the RMT2 group output four times the power (or 4/7ths of the final flash exposure.)

You can also set any group to “-” which means that group does not show in the final flash exposure. This is very useful for the CTRL group, on the camera! So we don’t get the wireless flash signal in the picture, like we used to, when we used the pop-up flash!

Here’s an example – a F42 was placed on the camera left and set to 24mm zoom, while the F58 was on camera and I pointed the flash head towards the camera left. The ratio was set to -:1:1 so that the on-camera F58 didn’t add to the final shot. Thanks to Ronnie of Furniture for being in this final shot, too!

This is another example with the same setup – the bassist in the back was always in the dark, so it was nice to have a flash hit him, what more from this angle. Note the flash from the left, on the guitarist/vocalist Ezam of Stoned Revivals.

Yet another example – the F42 was placed on a car. Thanks to Rames for posing! He has also posted his version here.

As you can see, it can push enough wireless power in such sunny times where the pop-up flash might not send a strong enough wireless signal. F22 ISO200 1/200s means it was a Sunny F16… plus 1!

Now there is one sucky thing – you can’t trigger your good ol’ F36 and F56 flashes with this new technology. If you’ve seen the wireless ratio pre-flash signal, you’ll see that it’s longer and very different from the pop-up flash wireless signal. So the F36 and F56 won’t recognize this.

No wait, there are two sucky things – you can’t use this 3 Group Mode unless you have a Sony Alpha 700 or Sony Alpha 900! When I activate this mode and mount it on an Sony Alpha 200, it switches to RMT mode automatically.

Sony, please come up with a firmware fix that will allow the Sony Alpha 200/300/350 to use this wonderful wireless ratio flash technology. Who knows how many A200/A300/A350 owners have bought a F58 expecting it to work wireless control effortlessly?

And what about the photographers who have amassed a few F36 and F56 flashes for studio work?

Fortunately, there is the second mode;

CTRL2 = CTRL = 2 Group Mode

Again, one group is the CTRL group, on the camera. However, this mode can trigger the F36, F56, F42 and F58!

All good, except that it only works on the Sony Alpha 900! I can turn this mode on, but when I mount it on a Sony Alpha 700 or A200 it changes to RMT mode.

Sony, please come up with a firmware fix that extends this CTRL2 mode to the Alpha 200/300/350/700 as well!

So now I can’t trigger my F56 using my F58 on the Sony Alpha 700. That’s why I swapped my F56 with KJ’s F42 for the time being.

Quick Notes

If you have an A200 and buy an F58, you get Quick Shift Bounce but you cannot mount the F58 to trigger other F42/F58 flashes.

If you have an A700 and buy an F58, you get Quick Shift Bounce and can mount the F58 to trigger F42/F58 flashes in CTRL+ mode. You cannot use CTRL mode to trigger the F36/F56.

Both the A200 and A700 can use the pop-up flash to wirelessly control the F58 if it is set to RMT or RMT2 mode.

The A900 can use the F58 to control the F36/F56 in CTRL mode.

So which has more mileage?
1) A900 + F58 + F56
2) A700 + F58 + F56

1) lets the F58 mount while triggering the F56 off camera. But you cannot remove the F58 as you won’t be able to trigger the F56 (or the off-camera F58!)

2) To use both in a similiar fashion to 1), you are forced to put the F58 on a flash bracket (which is not so cool because you’ll shoot portraits with the body shutter downwards, since the F58 will be on the left) and trigger it wirelessly.

However, you can use the A700’s pop-up flash to trigger both F56 and F58 in off-camera positions. Which means more moveable wireless lights than option 1).

If you have a bunch of F36, F42 and F56 flashes lying around, there are 2 ways to get them all to trigger off-camera:
1) A900 + F58 in CTRL mode and possibly flashes in manual power for ratio control
2) A700 with pop-up wireless flash and possibly flashes in manual power for ratio control

More Bad News

The F58 is not dust, weather or splash resistant and it says so specifically in the manual.

The F58 foot is fully plastic. That is cause for concern for some people though not me.

There’s nothing about radio or WiFi or Bluetooth or that other Sony proximity network technology being implemented, not at least in the manual.

My Minolta Dynax 7 cannot even trigger the F58 wirelessly as a plain remote slave. It doesn’t let me use the 3 Group Mode or 2 Group Mode, either! So it’s not one of the “supported cameras” suggested in the F58 manual (obviously printed when the Sony Alpha 900 name was still a supposed secret.)

The F58 does not automatically pick a wider angle when in portrait mode and the flash is pointing forwards but rotated 90 degrees. Hence you get a dark stripe, and the manual warns you to pull out the wide panel.

And now, for some F58 manual captures!

The “cameras without built-in flash” and “Supported camera” obviously refers to the Sony Alpha 900, not to be named at the time the manual was printed.

Best Combinations

The best combination to get for maximum wireless control, would be a Sony Alpha 700 with 2 F58 flashes and 1 F42 flash.

You could have 1 F58 on the camera, controlling the F42 and F58 in 3 Group Mode. So, 2 independent lights you can place anywhere, plus you can control the ratio from the F58 on camera.

You could use the pop-up flash to trigger all 3 flashes wirelessly. So, 3 independent lights you can place anywhere… though you’ll need to set power manually on 2 of the 3 flashes if the light ratios are intended to be different.

The Sony Alpha 900 is limited to the first scenario since it doesn’t have a pop-up flash.

Good News

The full power recharge is INSANE. I shoot mostly mixed bounce ambient stuff so I very rarely hit the 1/1 power limit… so I wouldn’t appreciate this. However, if you do, 4-5 seconds to recharge a full blast is amazing. And that’s not even including the Sony FA-EB1AM external battery pack, which makes the recharge speed even faster (well I don’t know how fast, I don’t have or need one.)

The complex interface gets slowly less complex in the span of a day’s use I guess.

You can also use the new rotation methods to add effects, like so:

Flash zoomed to 105mm and rolled 45 degrees clockwise. I think it was also yawed up a bit. This gave that thin blue stripe you see in the picture! I couldn’t flash the drums at a full 90 degree clockwise turn; the drums nearer to me would get overexposed. At the same time, the drummer had a very strong light on him so I tried to avoid the flash beam from hitting him.

More reading here:
Sony HVL-F58AM pre-production hands-on!
Newsflash: New Flash!

Oh, and there’s a new firmware update for the Sony Alpha 700, version 4, which allows High ISO Noise Reduction to be turned off, enhances image quality, and enables 3-frame bracketing at 2 EV stops. Nothing about supporting 2 Group Mode, sadly.

Fishing For Comments

Shots from a fishy lens – the Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye in M42 mount!

This is the least fishy.

You can connect corridors!

Converge intersections!

Make grand piano sales appear tiny!

Swoop a bridge!

Line ’em up!

Have fun in the playground!

Fun on the foosball field!

Either way anything goes.

Noone escapes the all-seeing fisheye. This is a crop.

No star escapes.

Pick a ride…

…or take public transport.

This makes bus rides fun. It’s a very unsuspecting lens.

Long exposure with flash at 2500 Kelvin.