Hong Kong Rugby 7s 2015 - Focus on the Fans

The Hong Kong Rugby 7s 2015 is now well underway on day 2, it's Saturday afternoon and the fans are buzzing too and from the stadium in various states of dress and undress... This year for something different we decided to shoot only the fans on their way to the matches, using our profoto B1 TTL lights with a Profoto 3ft RFi Octabox to turn a little corner of the street into a little studio environment.

All the colour portraits in this post are shot by Gary Tyson of F8 Photography.

All black and white 'Behind the Scenes' (BTS) shots are provided with special thanks to Grahame Collins.

Fans at the Hong Kong Rugby 7s 2015.  Image by Gary Tyson, www.f8photography.com.hk or www.facebook.com/garytysonphotographer

On the Saturday afternoon of the Hong Kong Rugby 7s 2015 I decided that I would take a small crew (4 people in total) to setup a small portrait stand in the street on the way to the stadium.  I wanted to have one person dedicated to 'catching' potential subjects as they came past our location and convincing them it was a great idea to get a free portrait.  I think if you are trying to organise a small shoot like this, even when its a non-paying gig, it's important to have a few friends help out, it takes away all the stress of organising and makes everything run smoothly and more fun.


I wanted another person dedicated to getting the models to sign model releases in case we publish anything (to do this we use an ipad app called 'easy release' which allows us too quickly get the subjects details and email address (as we also want to send them a copy of their photos of course), and allows us freedom for publication usage.  We have never really had an issue with using images of people we shoot, but I think its good practice to get a model release signed when you may have intention to use in a magazine feature, etc, and we explained our intentions very clearly to everyone that approached us, and had no problem with volunteers.  Transparency is imporant, trying to undo problems is much more difficult.

Sadie was great as our 'Model Release' agent.

"If you're not having fun, you're in the wrong job!"

Fans at the Hong Kong Rugby 7s 2015.  Image by Gary Tyson, www.f8photography.com.hk or www.facebook.com/garytysonphotographer

We had a good range of people coming by our portrait stand, couples, ladies and gents, it was great to see that everyone was up for having some fun along the way, of course the Hong Kong Rugby 7s always pulls in a massive crowd and everyone lets their hair down (or up as can be seen in some of the images) for the weekend!

Fans at the Hong Kong Rugby 7s 2015.  Image by Gary Tyson, www.f8photography.com.hk or www.facebook.com/garytysonphotographer

We loved these 3 French ladies above and we were stunned at how cool their hair looked and quizzed them as to how they had managed to get their hair to stand up on end, we eventually figured out that they had used only water....(water bottles under their hair...pure genius).

Fans at the Hong Kong Rugby 7s 2015.  Image by Gary Tyson, www.f8photography.com.hk or www.facebook.com/garytysonphotographer

We took twice as many pictures of these two...can't imagine why ;-)

The two guys in red shirts below had flown in from Canada for the weekend.  It never fails to amaze me how many people come to town for Hong Kong's premiere sporting event of the year.

Fans at the Hong Kong Rugby 7s 2015.  Image by Gary Tyson, www.f8photography.com.hk or www.facebook.com/garytysonphotographer

Below are more selections from the portraits we shot.  We spent about 3 hours hanging out in the street, meeting some great people, taking some cool portraits that they all loved and will receive copies of and most of all HAVING FUN!

Fans at the Hong Kong Rugby 7s 2015.  Image by Gary Tyson, www.f8photography.com.hk or www.facebook.com/garytysonphotographer

Fans at the Hong Kong Rugby 7s 2015.  Image by Gary Tyson, www.f8photography.com.hk or www.facebook.com/garytysonphotographer

Fans at the Hong Kong Rugby 7s 2015.  Image by Gary Tyson, www.f8photography.com.hk or www.facebook.com/garytysonphotographer

Our fantastic little team at the end of the shoot only had to walk 50 yards for a well earned 'Ice Kirin' beer at the end of the shoot.  As I mentioned earlier, the main objectives of this shoot for me were to get some fun portraits of the fans and most importantly, HAVE FUN.  If you can't do that, then your in the wrong job ;-)

Our crew having a well earned beer at the end.

F8 Photography is a commercial photography and video company based in Hong Kong, we shoot photo and video for many clients such as Ducati Motorbikes, Coca Cola, Swire, UBS amongst many others.  We also run photography workshops around the world for budding photographers in countries such as Japan, India, Cambodia and Sri Lanka, with upcoming workshops in Istanbul in late Summer.

To check out our website, please see us at www.f8photography.com.hk

If you use Facebook, Gary has a public page where he shares his personal and travel photography, please check it out here.

Ready....steady..... WORKSHOPS!

Here we are again in Cambodia about to start today with 2 back to back photography workshops, one here in the city of Phnom Penh, then a 2nd one next week down in the south around Sihanoukville, Kampot and Kep. Leica MM, VL 35mm 2.5

Myself and Steve have been in country 2 days and have checked out a few different locations to take the clients that should offer them some photo rich opportunities to hone their skills.

The heat is unforgiving so it will be early starts to get the best use of light and late afternoon shoots again for the same reasons, so long days ahead for the crew but the people of Cambodia always welcome us with open arms and I'm positive everyone will leave with a healthy portfolio and probably a healthy suntan also!

Leica M9P, 75mm summarit

One of the locations we will visit in Phnom Penh is a vibrant muslim village that is so full of life you can hardly move in the streets and alleyways.  The only difficult thing here is isolating a subject as there are so many around.  Here are a few images from spending just an hour or so walking around this district armed with the Leica M9P and M Monochrom.

Leica MM, 90mm summarit

Leica M9P, 90mm summarit

Leica MM, 28mm 2.8 ASPH

Leica M9P, 90mm summarit

Leica MM, 28mm 2.8 ASPH

The flight with our clients is delayed hence me writing this blog so soon....all the rest of the preparations are done and I am now heading out to meet them at the airport.  Very much looking forward to 10 days of photography with a keen bunch of likeminded individuals....as well as indulging in some of Kep's finest seafood along the way.....and who knows...maybe even a bit of volleyball with the locals!

Leica MM, Canon 50mm 1.4 LTM

Leica MM, VL 35mm 2.5

Leica MM, VL 35mm 2.5

OMD goes to Manila

(street scene in Manila) NOTE ABOUT PROCESSING:  All images here are shot on the Olympus OMD with various prime lenses.  They were then all processed in Lightroom 4 with 1 click presets from 'VSCO film 02' using only their Fuji Superia 800 for colour or Fuji Neopan 1600 settings for black and white.  These are my favourite film simulators and make any digital camera RAW files sing instantly with 1 click.  More information can be found here at the VSCO website on these presets.

So, after a successful trip to Cambodia using the Olympus OMD  the previous week, I decided another trip was in order, this time the other direction from Hong Kong, heading South East to test the EM-5 on the streets of Manila in the Phillipines.

Now some things must be mentioned about Manila for any budding photographers wishing to travel there.....BE CAREFUL.  As much as I liked the city, for sure there is a lot of things that could easily go wrong here....some of the poorer parts of the city are for sure totally unsafe for westerners to venture into alone, and carrying expensive camera gear around is only going to attract unwanted attention.  Like many other places I have visited you must stay streetwise, don't flash expensive gear, leave your nice watch at home and most of all use common sense.  Walking around at 2am in a poor neighbourhood in Manila is going to end in tears for sure....

(Traffic wardens in Manila....ummm whats the point...)

The first thing I noticed when walking around various parts of Manila was the traffic.....it seemed there was complete chaos on the roads, not dissimilar to Hong Kong at rush hour, only here it seemed to be the same all day long....so i chose the best options of transport, my own two feet :-)

When I did travel between districts I used the famous 'Jeepney' buses that can be found everywhere, they are great fun to drive around in, extremely cheap and provide good photo opportunities from the back door, open windows and even of the people inside.

The first day I was in Manila I was lucky with the weather, the light was great, it was hot, just a nice afternoon for strolling around exploring the city.  Lunchtime is clearly siesta time in Manila with people strewn all over the place getting an afternoon nap, kind of reminded me of my parents place in Spain where the same thing happens every day.

(siesta time in Manila, its sleep, read or relax...)

The few people that weren't asleep were having an easy time playing board games in the street.  This kind of place was helping me relax a lot even after a few hours, as I always compare with Hong Kong, which seems to be really non-stop (part of the reason I love to escape as often as I can), you really don't see this kind of lifestyle in Hong Kong, despite the heat, people are running around at full pace 24/7, at least in the inner city where I work and live, so its really nice to see people taking time out and 'smiling'!!!

(A lovely lady who was more than happy to pose for photographs in the street)

Like most asian cities, the streets were full of children playing and kids always make great subjects for me, they are innocent yet their faces tell a thousand stories, something i noticed recently when shooting a scene in Hong Kong was that everyone in the scene was just going about their business apart from 3 kids in the scence, all of them were looking directly at me....maybe kids would make the best street photographers...as they are very very aware of their surroundings and dont miss a trick :-)

(happy kids (and dogs) playing in the street in Manila)

Of course some people view photographers a little more suspiciously, but despite that, a big smile and a handshake go a long way, and as usual, everyone I met and befriended were absolutely fine being photographed.  Even the gangster looking dudes who try to look 'tough' guy tend to break a big smile when I show them their photo and tell them they look like 'James Bond'....flattery gets you everwhere...

(locals in Binondo district, Manila)

The variety of people and colour around the city really attracted me, it really is a bustling metropolis and a great photography location.  As I mentioned earlier discretion is the better method with camera gear (as is pretty much anywhere in my experience), so using the little Olympus OMD was actually perfect (yet again), as it allowed me to shoot discreetly from the hip using the touchscreen with its super fast autofocus.  This is the 2nd time I have used it travelling in a month, and it didn't skip a beat at all, ultra reliable....I thought I would miss my Leica M9...but if I'm honest, this thing is far more functional, never ever stutters like the Leicas do (thats a simple fact that sometimes the M9 just won't react when you press the button...) and the image quality is amazing, of course not superior to a full frame camera...but most of our work is going on the internet or medium sized prints, I am quite positive to 99% of people, there is no visible difference in image quality, and those that think they can tell a difference on a processed image (especially at web size images)....well their name is Pinnochio I'm afraid....

(diverse characters around town, security, driver, and the oldest paperboy!)

A quick note again on the presets that I have used to process these images, they are from VSCO, and are the simplest and most powerful presets you can get in my opinion for Lightroom, ACR or Aperture.  They really do emulate the film looks well....how do i know this....because I shoot a fair bit of these exact films on my Mamiya 7ii and my Contax G2 and scanned files have very similar tones and characteristics to these digital files once processed.....so if you are looking for a filmic simulator that takes seconds to process your RAW files, these are worth a look for sure.

(Processed with VSCO Fuji Neopan 1600 or Fuji Superior 800 settings)

Whilst I was in Manila, I did some shooting in a very poor area called Ulingan in Tondo, probably the roughest and most dangerous area of Manila, the reason being I want to work with a charity there called Project Pearls, and I will be heading back to Manila now that they have made contact in a few weeks to do some video work with them.  You can see the blog post and video of the images shot there last time at this link, its really quite amazing to see the resilience of these people who live and work there.

For other posts I have written recently with images of the OMD please see the links below:

LINK TO BLOG POST: OMD shooting in Ulingan, Tondo, Manila

LINK TO BLOG POST: OMD goes to Cosplay event in Hong Kong

LINK TO BLOG POST: OMD goes to Cambodia

Thanks for taking the time to visit our blog, if you like our blog and website, please ‘like’ us on our public Facebook page and share this story with your friends with the Facebook and twitter links below.  You can also subscribe to our blog via the RSS link below.

F8 Photography provides commercial photography and training across Asia, with workshops on Street Photography and other photography and video training courses, more details can be found via the ‘courses and workshops’ link and upcoming events via the front page of our website.


Street Photography with Fuji XPro1

NOTE:  All images shot on Fuji XPro1 and Fujinon 35mm 1.4 lens with autofocus only.

We've had our hands on the Fuji XPro1 for about a week now, and starting to get used to it and its nuances. Yesterday myself and a few friends met up in Soho and headed over to Temple Street in Kowloon which is a great little area for street photography with vibrant buzzing markets and even more vibrant characters around the place.

After a short trip on the ferry across the harbour, we walked up Canton Road, which has a lot of the big brand shops and is always full of characters, a great area to warm up before hitting the markets further into Kowloon.  You can always be sure to see hundreds of mainland tourists spending their fortunes around here on designer brands.

This was the first full day of shooting the XPro1 in this environement for me, and using only the 35mm 1.4 Fujinon lens in full autofocus mode (I believe the manual focus with the fuji lenses is totally useless as its fly by wire only), which means there is no tactile connection between you and camera/lens...its way too slow.  If using manual focus with other lenses such as the Leica lenses, its brilliant, I don't know why they insists on developing a fly by wire manual focus system, it really is completely unusable in my opinion unless you use it exclusively for 'zone focussing'.

So, I decided to shoot everything with autofocus.  There has been much debate about the AF capabilities of this camera in light of the X100 problems.  I can say this....yes, its not perfect, however, it is pretty fast (if the camera is kept awake) and it nailed 95 percent of my shots without a problem.

I shoot very fast when in the streets, so normally i use zone focussing, so using AF was almost a step back for me, however, I think this environment was the perfect test for this camera, as I believe many people are looking at the Fuji as a viable street photography/travel photography replacement for their DSLR or even as an alternative to the Leica M system such as M8/M9.

I shot everything in RAW, converted via the Fuji software supplied with the camera, then edited in Lightroom 4 using VSCO film presets set to Kodak Portra 400 for all images other than the black and white conversion using Niksoft Silver Efex Pro 2.

A quick note on the VSCO film presets - If you are looking for a good film emulation preset for lightroom, then look no further, these really are good, I have hundreds of presets and I keep going back to these ones, I believe they are the most realistc set available, and I am eagerly awaiting a specialist set from the for Leica and who knows maybe a Fuji specific set also, as they tweak camera calibration settings in RAW also, not just basic adjustments, they have camera specific versions for Canon and Nikon already, as well as a generic set for other cameras for now, and they have promised to release Leica specific profiles, which I hope to get my hands on as soon as possible.

The markets around Temple street - as you can see from these pictures have a diverse mix of characters.  Although its probably classed as a 'tourist friendly' area, there are still a lot of things going on behind the scenes here, with triad activity and in particular prostitution clearly visible on the streets even in the middle of the day.  Any photographer visiting this area should be aware that most of these girls will react quite adversely if photographed....some are friendly of course and don't seem to mind....however, if unsure, then my advice would be just stay well away from shooting anyone you think may react negatively.

I noticed many muslim girls around the markets when we were shooting, so approached them to ask permission to take their picture as they were wearing some great colours.  All of them were more than happy to be photographed.

The Autofocus on the Fuji had no problem at any stage with shooting a diverse mix of subjects, and as the image below shows, shooting into the sun, (sometimes difficult for autofocus), there was again no problems with the performance.

Two of the young ladies accompanying us on this 'photo walk' were Becky and Cheryl, both previous attendees of the street photography workshop, Becky was keen on shooting her 5DII using zone focussing to get her shots, whilst Cheryl preferred to use her new Canon S100 (I think that's what it was), for speedy and discreet street shooting.

This gentleman below was a great subject I thought, he was just squatted on the road, laughing continuously, and was more than happy to be photographed.  I noticed on closer look that he had a cigarrete in one hand and 3 spares in the other!!! Thats what I call chain smoking!.

The only lens that I used during this trip was the Fujinon 35mm 1.4, which so far I must say is a great lens (as long as not using manual focus - way too slow), normally I shoot much wider for street photography and closer to my subjects, but this seemed to work well on this day for me.   I keep emphasising about the autofocus - and again you can see from the image above, quicky focussing on the cigarretes on the bottom left corner of the frame, it had no problem locking on and giving me the desired focus point.

The total time we were in the markets was only about 2 hours, and I found the camera consistently delivered the results I needed.  I have tried this camera with a Leica M mount adaptor and the 35mm F2 ASPH lens also, and the results were quite spectacular, very clean and sharp images, very easy to focus using the EVF its really great with an M mount lens for this, my wish would be that it had 'focus peaking' similar to the NEX-7, then there would be no need for me to zoom in to fine tune focus using the rear dial, especially with wide lenses as its a bit harder to fine tune the focus than with a longer focal length lens.

This fantastic gentleman was more than happy to let me take his portrait and yet again the fast performance of the Fuji XPro1 had no issues nailing the shot for me.  Something else I have noticed is that the metering system of the camera seems to overexpose about half a stop most of the time...I consistently left the camera set to -1 or -2/3 to get more accurate exposures, but this is not a problem for me, I just think it takes a little bit of practice, figure out where all the buttons are (there are a lot on this camera that are easy to press by accident...) then it will be fine.  It's just like any other camera tool, we need a bit of time learning our way round it, and then there won't be any issues.

Overall I am very pleased with this camera when using it for street photography.  Being a similar size to my Leica M9, the feel was quite similar and I believe its a perfect size for this style of photography.  People aren't really intimidated by a camera this size compared to a DSLR with a big zoom lens, its ultra light (maybe feels even a little too light for me - again i'm comparing the the tank like construction of the Leica which many won't like).

So my final thoughts are as follows:

Recommended for street photography - A BIG YES.

Recommended to switch if you already have a Leica M9 - personally NO, but I think many will....

Recommended for manual focus with Fuji lenses - NO WAY!

Recommended for manual focus with M lenses - YES, REALLY WORKS GREAT.

Recommended for anyone wishing to switch from DSLR or looking for travel photography camera - YES YES YES.

So, I won't be swapping it for my Leica just yet....but I can still highly recommend the camera, its ergonomically great, looks the part, and I personally haven't had any serious issues with autofocus.

I have another blog post using this camera at night with a 50mm 0.85 lens from SLR Magic, if interested to see the image from that, please click here.

Thanks for taking the time to visit our blog, if you like our blog and website, please ‘like’ us on our public Facebook page and share this story with your friends with the Facebook and twitter links below.  You can also subscribe to our blog via the RSS link below.

F8 Photography provides commercial photography and training across Asia, with workshops on Street Photography and other photography and video training courses, more details can be found via the ‘courses and workshops’ link and upcoming events via the front page of our website.

Using a Steadicam (VIDEO)

Many of us have been shooting more and more video with our DSLR cameras over recent months and years, which is great, as we get to use the shallow depth lenses for really nice cinematic effects. However, one of the problems we encounter, due to the size and shape of the cameras is excessive movement.  This can be countered by using a monopod or tripod, but sometimes you want moving shots, people walking, running, etc, and this is where the steadicam comes into play.

We have a couple of different steadicam rigs, some of them can get quite expensive, however one we have found particularly useful is the Wondlan Steadicam rig that can be purchased in Hong Kong at a relatively low price compared to other steadicam rigs - but with very similar and sometimes even better results!

We have put together a short video that shows some footage shot with the Wondland Steadicam rig, and compare footage to handheld, as well as showing how we set up the rig very quickly to be able to achieve these results, the video below is 6 minutes long, and Gary did almost fall off a cliff making this film as you will see at 1 minutes 42 seconds!


We hope this video is useful for anyone considering getting or using a steadicam, it really does add a lot of production value to any video footage in our opinion, and gives you options that are simply impossible without a steadicam.

When using a steadicam, the way we think about it is we compare it to trying to walk (or run) with a cup full to the brim of hot coffee...its kind of a similar technique to how you would walk, certainly you cannot walk or run naturally, so you will attract a bit of attention whilst using one, maybe even a few laughs, but the footage stability speaks for itself.

Just be careful you look where you are going when using one, its easy to trip or fall over as we demonstrated :-)

Thanks for taking the time to visit our blog, if you like our blog and website, please ‘like’ us on our public Facebook page and share this story with your friends with the Facebook and twitter links below.  You can also subscribe to our blog via the RSS link below.

F8 Photography provides commercial photography and training across Asia, with workshops on Street Photography and other photography and video training courses, more details can be found via the ‘courses and workshops’ link and upcoming events via the front page of our website.


No Photos allowed.....or are they? (VIDEO)

Cat Street market stall advertising 'NO PHOTOS'
Cat Street market stall advertising 'NO PHOTOS'

In recent news here in Hong Kong there has been much controversy about photographers rights to shoot in public places (in particular in front of large branded designer stores, etc).  Security guards have been misinformed by their employers about what is 'public space' in front of a shop and therefore this has led to confusion, aggressive and sometimes even violent confrontations between photographers and staff.

These big stores are not the only places that try to 'enforce' a ban on photographers, even small market stalls have signs up saying 'no photos', 'no cameras', or 'photo - $200', etc.

To those of us in the know, this is basically outrageous behaviour on behalf of the shopkeeper, trying to create some kind of martial law around their own property, thinking they can control what you do with your camera in a public space.

Now, I don't want to confuse the issue of photographing people, I am well aware as should everyone be that some individuals do not like having their photograph taken, especially without permission, and I  completely understand the issues surrounding that.  This is not what this blog post is about, it is purely about having the right to shoot an interesting market stall, a shop facade or interesting building without having to worry about consequences or thinking that you are doing something wrong - you are not, its well within your rights to take photographs.

This short video we shot in an hour or so the other day shows a quick walkaround Central and Sheung Wan in Hong Kong shooting a few market areas where they have these signs.  I have heard many people say they get confronted in these places so thought I would try to see for myself if we had similar problems and I highlight in the video the ways in which we shoot to try to avoid confrontation.

This is the first DSLR video that Gurung RJ has shot with very little instruction in advance, so I must thank him for his efforts in helping me put this together.

Also a special thanks to Will Gell who has very kindly allowed me to use his music for various projects, amazing musician, check out his albums here:

Please remember when out shooting that you WILL upset some people sometimes, that's unfortunately the nature of the beast with street photography, some people will always react negatively no matter how polite you are, maybe they just had a bad day, or maybe they just grumpy...thats life, its a choice you make if you wish to become a street photographer, never take it personally, and try not to respond in the same manner, keep smiling, say thank you and continue on your way.

Previous recent blog posts that relate to the same issues are linked below, the first one has an extensive video shooting street photography in Kowloon with a GOPRO camera attached to the top of the Leica M9, linked together with the images that we captured during the walkabout:



Thanks for taking the time to visit our blog, if you like our blog and website, please ‘like’ us on our public Facebook page and share this story with your friends with the Facebook and twitter links below.  You can also subscribe to our blog via the RSS link below.

F8 Photography provides commercial photography and training across Asia, with workshops on Street Photography and other photography and video training courses, more details can be found via the ‘courses and workshops’ link and upcoming events via the front page of our website.

Don't forget to print your images!

In this digital age, one of the things that us photographers tend to forget to do a lot of the time is to actually print our work. Its far too easy to edit the photos, stick them on a website or on facebook and never pay much attention to them again, this is fine, and is a sign of the times but its a really nice feeling to see our work in print, hanging on the wall

Last year we had an exhibition in Soho from our images we shot in Cambodia and it was the first time in a long time that I had made big prints.  This made me realise how much I appreciated seeing my prints hanging on a wall, they looked so different to on the screen, and since then, I have been more disciplined about printing some of my work and now have my home and office partly plastered with prints.

They don't need to be large like these exhibition prints were and here in Hong Kong you can have frames built at very reasonable prices, typically a 24"x16" print can be framed with non-reflective glass for around HK$400 (USD50) or less if you know where to go.

Quite a few of my friends and clients ask me where I have my prints done, so here is that information:

For our printing we tend to use one main printer in Wanchai, called Sigmax (www.sigmax.com.hk), (their website has map and contact details), they are an excellent printer, with friendly staff - ask for Alice, she is a charming and very helpful young lady who works there.

We usually get our work framed at the frame shop on Johnston Road, directly opposite the Pawn Pub (just aroung the corner from Sigmax), they also have a very good service and price range for any type of frame build.

RJ with Rocco's printsome of our images getting framedframe shop, Johnston Road

Here are some other images so you can see the size of prints that they print with ease at Sigmax, I have seen billboard posters being printed there, so size is no issue for them.

Me with 1 of my Cambodia images

Image courtesy of John Meldrum

So don't just stash all your images away on hard drives never to be seen again...print a few, hang them up and show off your work, be proud!  Something to note is the new version of Adobe Lightroom 4 is coming out shortly, they already have a FREE BETA version you can download here (just remember its not final version yet and only for testing).  One of the great new features within Lightroom is a 'book' module which is linked to Blurb where you can easily create photo books from your images, so I think we will all be seeing more printing of our images in the coming months!

Here is the link to our exhbition video from Soho earlier in 2011 should you wish to take a look at some of the other prints from that trip and see them hanging at the exhibition.

Thanks for taking the time to visit our blog, if you like our blog and website, please ‘like’ us on our public Facebook page and share this story with your friends with the Facebook and twitter links below.  You can also subscribe to our blog via the RSS link below.

F8 Photography provides commercial photography and training across Asia, with workshops on Street Photography and other photography and video training courses, more details can be found via the ‘courses and workshops’ link and upcoming events via the front page of our website.



So Uk - The oldest government housing in Hong Kong

So Uk Estate entranceSunday morning, and myself and good friend and fellow Leica photographer 'Rocco' met up for a traditional English breakfast in Soho before deciding where to head out for some street photography on this pleasantly sunny but chilly Sunday morning. We decided to visit 'So Uk' in Cheung Sha Wan, reported as the oldest government housing estate in Hong Kong.  We thought it might make an interesting subject so we jumped on the MTR and headed off into Kowloon.

We did a little googling on the way to find out more information: the 16 block estate was constructed in 1960. Unlike many public housing estates built afterward, the architectural design of the estates is unique in Hong Kong. There are 5,316 flats in the estate, with capacity of 15,200.

So Uk Estate and mapbalconiesview up to So Uk

Upon arrival I was slightly surprised, I thought it would look more 'run-down' being the oldest estate, but it was very well maintained and clean, a far stretch from any of the older government housing I could find in London or anywhere else in Europe for that matter!

The kind of images I had in my mind before going to So Uk were 'texture', 'symmetry', 'shape'....  So At first I tried mainly to look for these kinds of images, which were everywhere to be found, as you will see later in the blog post though....I always seem to gravitate towards 'people' photography, no matter where I go, just can't help it!

'Gursky like' view of So UkSo Uk texturessymmetry

Another shock for me was that almost every single person i met spoke perfect English and were super-friendly towards us, maybe they don't see too many 'Gweilo's' (westerners) visiting the estate, I am not sure, but either way, it was very pleasant to be able to chat to many different people around the estate and find out a little about their life there.  The image below shows Pat, Harvey and their small Peking dog called 'Bun Bun'.

Harvey, Pat and Bun Bun

Another lady we met at the entrance to the estate was equally happy to chat to us, maybe she wanted to practice her English, I am not sure, but one thing for certain was everybody we met was more than hospitable towards us, at first I thought she was pushing her children or grandchildren in the a pram...then I realised it was two poodle dogs dressed up - amusing for us, and a common site around Hong Kong.

poodles out for a walk/ride...2 poodles in a pram!

The children we encountered were equally keen to chat to us and asked to be photographed when they saw our cameras....Something else I noticed as there is not much 'green' space for gardening in these kind of places was the abundance of Bonsai trees decorating the entire area which also added to the serine peaceful feeling about the place.

So Uk Bonsai TreesLocal kids in So Uk Estate

As we walked around, something else caught my eye - a pre-wedding photography shoot was happening on the roof of the car park!  I guess it makes sense as the place certainly has some contrasting views to the bright red costumes the bride and groom were wearing, so I approached them, had a little chat and asked if I could photograph them all together, as I find the costumes very interesting and again must emphasise the total friendliness of the people around this place.

pre-wedding shootpre-wedding shoot and the photographers

A few other individuals we met also chatted away to us at length and we met a group of young local photographers who were doing the same thing as us, just exploring the area, so we grabbed them for a quick photograph as well.

local man, So Uk EstateHong Kong youth exploring So Uk

So after a few hours in this wonderful part of Hong Kong, we stopped at the local 'cafe' for a hot coffee....perhaps this is the reason I don't live in this part of town.....it is way too far from the nearest Starbucks for me! :-)

coffee break

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F8 Photography provides commercial photography and training across Asia, with upcoming workshops on Street Photography and other photography and video training courses, more details can be found via the 'courses and workshops' link via the front page of our website.

Street Photography Workshop with Eric Kim - 24th-26th Feb 2012

So its finally happening!  Eric Kim is flying in from LA to host with F8 Photography a 2 day Street Photography Workshop.

There are limited places, so sign up fast if you are interested, we expect this workshop to sell out quickly, as have all Eric's workshops in Asia and over the world.

The workshop will take place from the evening of Friday 24th until the evening of Sunday 26th February 2012.

All the even details and signup information for the event are here or at the following link and from the events shortcut on the front page of our site:


F8 studio lighting workshop - review and feedback

A few weekends ago we held a studio lighting workshop for 2 of our previous clients; Craig and Bernhard, who last year completed the foundation course with F8. They have both been practicing hard and continuing to develop their passion for photography, adding a vast array of images to their portfolios of the last year or so, ranging from travel photography to family lifestyle portraits.

They had both arrived at a point in their photography where they felt it was the right time to broaden their horizons with artificial lighting, so we headed into the studio with 3 beautiful models early one Sunday morning and started playing with light meters, octaboxes and all the other great toys in the studio to see what we could achieve in a few hours of intensive training.

Bearing in mind that neither of the guys had ever set foot in a photography studio as the photographer before, we started with the basics; how to use light meters correctly, 1 light setup, using reflectors, flags and other light modifiers, then moving on to slightly more elaborate lighting setups, using gels, grids, snoots, barndoors, ringflashes and even wind machines amongst other tools.

After 5 hours of loud music, high energy photography and lots of laughter the whole crew was exhausted, even our models mentioned they didn't realise it can be quite tiring and hard work posing for a demanding photographer...haha.

Everyone involved said they had a positive experience and achieved a valuable piece of training to carry them forward with their photography, so I was happy, I had achieved my aim to teach them some new tricks and see everyone leaving the studio with big happy grins on their faces :-)

Using 3 cameras throughout the day, they had taken hundreds of images, I asked them afterwards to send me just a very small selection each, to show that they could also selectively choose and edit images as we would do so in a professional environment, being able to filter work down and produce only the top quality images, a task that is not as easy as it may sound.

I asked them both for a bit of feedback a week or so later and they said the following:

Craig Menzies:  "The studio shoot was a great experience and really focused on the full studio experience, from setting up the backdrops, all the various types of light modifiers, umbrellas and soft boxes, and where each light is placed to create dynamic lighting for the models we were photographing. It was fast paced and we learned a great deal from Gary’s instruction, while shooting amazing photos.  It was also a new experience to deal with models and directing them to create the shots we wanted.  Highly recommended and I will do more studio shoots in the future".

Bernhard Wamelink:  "The one day lighting workshop with Gary Tyson from F8 Photography was a great experience.  In a studio environment all the different aspects of studio lighting were discussed, set up and used in a shoot with models. Gary showed his professionalism in a relaxed way and he was very supportive and a good coach".

We provide a variety of training ranging from foundation training, street photography, DSLR video training and studio lighting.  Details can be found via the links on our home page here. or you can contact us directly from the contact page here.

Here are a selection of images from both Bernhard and Craig's first ever studio shoot:

Here are some additional links to their existing portfolios if you wish to see more of their photography:

Link to Bernhards 500px portfolio

Link to Craig's 500px portfolio

Matt & Katie - Down under at Shek O

Friday the 23rd of September, a nice sunny Friday afternoon in Hong Kong...but for Matt & Katie it was perhaps the most important day of their lives so far.   A big wedding was the order of the day, with friends and family coming from Australia and the rest of the world to celebrate this amazing occasion. And amazing it certainly was, a really great, beautiful bunch of people who helped us get some really nice images throughout the day and very late into the night!

The wedding planner Sonya and her team from Bliss Creations did an outstanding job setting up and organising the various venues, and the setup at Shek O Golf Club was easily one of the best wedding setups I have ever seen anywhere.

It all started at the Four Seasons Hotel in Central to capture some images of Katie's preparations in her suite.  We were graced with good weather most of the day, so that gave us the opportunity to shoot natural light and the family were so relaxed it made it easy to shoot our reportage style of wedding photography.

After spending a few minutes with the bridal party it was time to dash across town to the oldest church in Hong Kong - St John's Cathedral in time to introduce ourselves to the reverend as a matter of courtesy as we would photographing inside the church and then to get some images of the bride arriving and get into position for the ceremony.  Trying to get across town on a Friday afternoon at short notice can be quite stressful in itself....but luck was on our side and we made it in good time well ahead of the bride.

This church is a great venue in Hong Kong, we've photographed several weddings here and has to be the best church from a photography perspective with lots of natural light flowing in through the large windows and open doors, all helping us to get natural looking images with great light....and of course flash photography is not allowed inside the church anyway, nor would we ever choose to use flash for daytime photography for weddings, we prefer to use natural light and fast prime lenses (we also use these fast lenses for most of the evening photography also, using natural light wherever possible).

After the ceremony it was time for another move, this time to Shek O Golf Club right round the other side of the island....again, we had luck on our side and managed to find a taxi quickly so we could arrive ahead of the rest of the party to prepare everything in advance.  We had to setup a wireless transmission rig with projectors, laptops and a network so that we could transmit our images from earlier in the day direct to the walls in the venue and then spend the rest of the day and evening shooting 'live' direct to the wireless slide show which appeared full wall size within the venue.  We do this at most of our events now and it always has a lot of positive impact and is a great way for us to showcase our work at an event (Of course it puts more pressure on us to get strong images also to show live, but that's the way we like to work).

Then it was time to grab a few group shots and images of the bride and groom outside on the lawn of the golf club, with magnificent views behind of mountains, the South China Sea and waves crashing against cliffs, really a great setting and we couldn't have asked for better weather, it was now slightly overcast, with great soft natural light through the clouds.

Thereafter it was time for the dinner, the speeches and then the party started to get crazy (the groom had warned me earlier that these people like to party hard...)  I was looking forward to the evenings photography as I knew this was going to give us a different and dynamic contrast of images to the earlier part of the day, when people party hard and let their hair down, it always works well for the photographer (as long as no alcohol lands on the laptop or camera gear :-), which thankfully somehow it didn't...lol).  We had already captured some nice traditional reportage style images, a lot of black and white work, and now we were going to be able to use some off camera flash and slow shutter speeds to get some dynamic colourful dancing shots.....

The party went on late, with lots of dancing (there was even a break-dancing act going on with back flips and head spins at one point!) and a great night was had by all.  At midnight buses arrived and took everybody off to Central for the after-party...I'm sure there were some sore heads the next day....For us it was time to leave, and spend the next few days buried in Lightroom 3 with masses of images to sort out, select and develop.

All that remains to be said from us is Thanks to Sonya the wedding planner and congratulations to Matt & Katie on their special day, it was a pleasure to be your photographer and we hope the images can help memorise this amazing occasion for you, your family and friends.





Streetwise: - learning to shoot street.

Angela has been doing some photography training with me and today was all about street photography, getting out and shooting people in their natural environment.

I could see by her face when we met that she was nervous about having to approach strangers...and rightly so, some of the locals in Hong Kong can be quite aggressive when a camera is pointed at them. Several times today we encountered this 'resistance'....but my advice is always 'take it in your stride, NEVER take it personally, and just smile and move on to the next subject....its their loss if they are too grumpy to have a great picture taken....leave them be, there's no pleasing some people...lol.

Anyway, back to the nerves...thats a good thing, its healthy to have some nervousness when you are going to approach total strangers, I think this adds to the excitement of street photography, and gives a great feeling when u do meet the nice people and take some good pictures.

So we set off in Sheung Wan around the western market area, slowly wandering around the back streets looking for subjects. One thing Angela noticed was that we were going very slowly.....I always do this, you will not see things if you walk too fast, you have to allow yourself to soak up your surroundings, if you find somewhere with good light or a good backdrop, stop there, have a break - wait til a good subject comes to you. It doesn't always work out that way, but it definately won't happen if your rushing down the road not paying attention.

We found a good little back street with some manual workers crushing cardboard in a small recycling shop, so we hung out there for 10 minutes and they didn't seem to mind us at all, there were some old ladies bringing cardboard on trolleys to be crushed (thats how these women earn a living here) so we continued shooting and got a few nice portraits. We showed them on the back of the camera which they LOVED. If u get a good picture of someone, show them...and if possible, bring them a print next time, they will be your friend for life.

After a successful 15 minutes at this location, Angela was feeling more motivated after having success early on in our tour, which was great!

Nothing is better than capturing some nice shots at the beginning of a shoot, gives you confidence and sets you up for the rest of the day.

Thereafter we got a mix of portraits and environmental shots around these back streets, some people we asked, some we didn't, its really like playing poker to me - you gotta get a read on your subjects as you approach...are they going to get defensive, be engaging, do you shoot candid or do you ask...each one is different.

That is why its FUN, which is the most important factor - why are we doing this in the first place - because its FUN and we LOVE taking pictures.

We finishing up with a nice drink in an air conditioned coffee shop (its still so damn humid here). Angela told me she had thoroughly enjoyed the experience of shooting people on the streets, considering she normally prefers landscape photography, so this was a welcome change, and a new string to her bow of techniques to blend into her photography.

All I can say is there is no substitute for getting out and USING your CAMERA.

SHOOT EVERY DAY if that's possible for you.

Familiarise yourself intimately with your equipment and then you can concentrate on the important things, engaging your subject and getting the shot you want.

Today we used Leica cameras and Canon DSLR cameras (links to the right if you interested to buy any of this equipment) - whichever kit you use, just make sure you know how to handle it, then you won't miss that shot next time it appears in front of you.

See you out on the streets sometime, Enjoy!

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No time to pose downtown?.....quick shot in the studio...then photoshop....

We often get clients who want dramatic photographs with spectacular backdrops, but more often than not there can be several variables that make this style of shoot a mission impossible: The weather, the lighting, the fact that most people just don't have the time in their busy schedules to go to the locations, and we also don't always have time to scout the locations thoroughly in advance.

Therefore, we have taken a leaf out of Joel Grimes book, as we really like his style, it kind of fits with some of our other work, sometimes dark and contrasty images with funky lighting, so we thought "hey why not, lets apply these techniques to corporate and commercial portraiture".

So far it has generated a fair bit of interest from several of our big clients, so we will keep on building up our library of backdrops around asia and we can shoot the clients anywhere they want, in their office, in the studio, anywhere that's convenient to them, using a three point edgy lighting technique and a low compression HDR background, giving a realistic but edgy look to the portrait.

Here's a few of our test images, some look better than others, its a work in progress....but great fun and everyone who appears in these images absolutely loves them!

Special thanks to Geoff & Justine for being our 'guinea pigs' for several of the test shoots.