Future snap-shooting from Samsung
One wonders where the development in technology will take the photographic
world, but it seems as if Samsung is going to be right at the sharp end of
it all with three new cameras. One in particular looks as though it was
designed with Thai ladies in mind. This was the MV800, which has Dual-View.
This is a 3 inch capacitive LCD
touchscreen that flips out to let you shoot at just about any angle, even if
you are in front of the lens instead of behind it. The LCD screen actually
flips all the way back around to face the photographer. All Thai ladies
love taking images of their own selves, and fit the Narcissus label
Samsung has included its Smart Touch
3.0 interface which makes navigating camera settings much easier for anyone
who isn’t fully aware of the numerous settings available. The Live Panorama
function lets you take super wide shots to capture the entire scene and then
previewing that scene on the LCD. Certainly a great feature, and this is
still a point and shoot remember.
The MV800 also comes with Magic Frame
(a collection of background templates), Smart Filter (a set of artistic
affects like “Watercolor finish”), and Funny Faces (a way to stretch and
manipulate faces by tapping and dragging across the LCD). It even comes
with its own Photo Editor that lets you edit and rotate photos straight from
The basics on the MV800 are:
16.1 megapixels (more than Canon’s new
point and shooters)
5x Optical Zoom
26 mm wide-angle lens
Full HD video capture
3-inch capacitive flip-out LCD
The second camera is called the NX200,
and is the next step from a plain point and shoot but going almost towards a
full Digital SLR. Samsung calls it the “compact systems” category. Along
with this, the NX200 boasts 20 megapixels.
The NX200 incorporates a number of
features already described in the MV800 - like Smart Filter, Magic Frame,
and the Live Panorama mode - but also brings some new features as well.
The first is that it supports Samsung’s
i-Function 2.0 lenses, which basically gives the user control over settings
(ISO, white balance, shutter speed, aperture, and exposure value) through
the lens rather than the camera itself. That means you never actually have
to look away from the shot while you adjust. New lenses for the i-Function
system include 18-200 mm zoom, 16 mm very wide angle, 60 mm and 85 mm focal
lengths, as well as the standard 18-55 mm zoom.
Specifications for the NX200 are:
20.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
18-55 mm zoom lens kit
3-inch LCD touch screen
High-speed continuous shooting (up to 7
100 msec Advanced Auto Focus
Wide ISO range (100-12,800)
Full HD video capture (1920×1080/30p)
The third camera released is the
Samsung WB750. This camera has Samsung’s longest zoom offering in a compact
camera at 18x optical (and 24x Smart Zoom). This camera allows you to take
10 megapixel shots while shooting 1080 p video which Samsung calls their
Dual Capture technology. However, I am not so sure that this feature would
be such as to make me want a WB750 for myself.
It also comes with the same Smart
Filter, Magic Frame, and Live Panorama features on the other two cameras,
but takes that a step further. The WB750 has two other Panorama modes -
Action Panorama and 3D Panorama. Action Panorama lets you take a shot of a
moving person on a static background, which captures movement within a still
image. 3D Panorama does just what you’d expect: shoots panoramic images in
Another feature, Smart Auto 2.0 helps
you get the settings right when you aren’t quite sure what to do, but the
WB750 also allows for a good deal of creative control. Manual, Aperture
Priority and Shutter Priority settings are all included.
The specifications of the WB750 are:
12.5-megapixel BSI (back-side
illuminated) CMOS sensor
18x optical zoom, 24x Smart Zoom
3-inch LCD screen
10 fps burst mode
1080p HD video capture (with
Creative Movie Maker - lets you edit
video and arrange clips straight from the LCD.
Obviously not in Thailand - yet, but
just as obviously well worth your investigating.
A photo never lies
There was a time before Photoshop (BP) when photographs were able to be used
as evidence. Now, after Photoshop (AP), photography is one of the least
truthful pastimes you can take up. For the pro photographer much time is
used in working out how to either show the product in a favorable way, or to
disguise some defect or other. There is a veritable army of people out
there who love to go through advertising brochures and look for minute
imperfections and write to the manufacturer saying “Does all of your jewelry
have scratches on them?” And who gets the blame? Not the manufacturer who
sent over the product, but the poor old photographer, that’s who. This can
really be an enormous problem especially when you may be photographing a
pre-production item and this is the only one in captivity.
Have you ever tried photographing
champagne at the wedding? There’s never enough bubbles to make it look
sparkling. To get over this, drop some sugar into the glass. Only a few
grains are enough to give the almost still glass of champers that “just
opened” fizz look to it. For a catalogue shot you also have to bring the
light in from the back of the glass, as well as from the front. This takes
two flash heads, or at least one head and a reflector.
While still on wines, if you try and
shoot a bottle of red wine, it comes out thick dark maroon or even black.
Restaurateurs who have tried photographing their wines will agree. So what
does the pro shooter do? Well he has a couple of courses of action. First
is to dilute the red wine by about 50 percent and secondly place a silver
foil reflector on the back of the bottle. So what happens to the half
bottle of red that was removed to dilute the wine? The photographer has it
I once was given the job to photograph
10 ice cream cones for a restaurant chain. They wanted all 10 of them
standing up, all the different flavors and looking attractive. This was not
a simple assignment, let me assure you.
First off, how do you get 10 ice cream
cones to stand upright with no obvious support. The answer was wooden
skewers through the back of the cone going into a block of polystyrene
covered with black velvet material.
Next you have to check the lighting
flash heads and focus, using polystyrene balls on top of the cones, as ice
cream melts too quickly. After you get all that set up properly you have to
be ready to scoop up the ice creams and place them on the cones without any
drips. You need three people to do this as ice cream under studio lighting
melts in under 30 seconds.
Having taken one shot, if you are lucky
everything will be fine. The reality is that you will need to take the shot
several times to get everything correct, all the cones exactly parallel to
each other, and no drips on the black velvet. That one shot will take you
one day, which is why food photography is so expensive.
This is one area where there are more
fraudulent practices than any other. Cold food can be made to look hot by
sprinkling chips of dry ice to give “steam” coming off the dish. Not
palatable, but it looks OK. Cooking oil gets brushed on slices of the cold
meat so that they look moist and succulent.
That is just for starters. In the
commercial photography studio, the dedicated food photographer would erect a
“light tent” of white polystyrene and bounce electronic flash inside.
Brightness is necessary to stop the food looking grey and dull. Lighting is
just so important. If you do not have bright sparkly light then potatoes
will look grey, and even the china plates look drab and dirty.
In the USA, there are very firm rules
about photographing food. You are not allowed to use substitute materials
which “look” like food, but are actually not. This covers using shaving
cream as the “cream” on top of cappuccino coffee for example. But don’t
Photographing a new resort
Ever wondered what it would be like to photograph a holiday resort? A
complete illustration of the beach resort building, the restaurants,
balconies, swimming pools, cocktail bars, rooms, lobby, concierge, etc.
Could take a little more than a couple of weeks, you think. And guess how
long was the time allotted for this ‘dream’ assignment? Five days.
OK, so you are still interested, let me
tell you a little more about the assignment … the photographs were to go
into a very special book about the resort, of which only six were going to
be printed. Heavy gloss paper stock, hard cover bound, each book was going
to cost over $1,000 just in printing costs.
Still interested? Still sure you could
complete this photo shoot in five days? Now let me fill you in even more.
The resort was not yet built. The only physical items about the resort were
the architect’s model, and the building illustrations showing the rooms,
pools and everything else. The book was going to be used to raise the
financial backing by appealing to foreign entrepreneurs. Some assignment,
but I was the new boy on the block, and realized that if I could pull this
off, I would get more assignments from this particular art director. I
should also point out that this was before digital imaging, Photoshop and
the like. It was all shot on slide film (transparency).
I tackled the most difficult shot
first. That was inserting a photograph of the architect’s model on to the
vacant lot in the built up seaside area. This required exacting planning.
I needed to know the exact height of the proposed resort tower, plus the
heights of the already existing buildings which would be around the proposed
Next was to hire a helicopter to be
able to get the aerial shot. Up we went and after composing this shot, I
needed to know the height we were at, the lens I was using and the position
of the sun. This data was all written down. The helicopter shot ended up
taking one day.
The next shot was that of the
architect’s model. The scaling had to be done so that the resort would
appear at the correct height versus the other buildings around it. The
studio lighting had to be placed to be the equivalent of the sun’s position
during the aerial filming and the camera position had to be of the same
relativity as the helicopter’s height when I took the photo, and using the
same focal length lens. It took one day in the studio, with me up a ladder
and the assistant moving flash heads.
The two shots - the seaside area and
the architect’s model were then given to the lab to be combined. If I had
made any errors it would become obvious in the final combination.
The next shots also took much
planning. Monogrammed napkins, pillows, shower robes and the like were
made, models were hired and we took off to a resort area on the coast. With
the architect’s illustrations we visited all the resorts and compared their
balconies, swimming pools, restaurants, bars and concierge with the
illustrations until we had ones that looked as if they would work. That
night we pored over the Polaroids and gave ourselves the schedule for the
next day’s shooting, which began like, “Resort A balcony plus two models in
robes. Resort B swimming pool plus models in swimwear. Resort C cocktail
bar and photo of seafood salad. Resort D, concierge from rear, meeting a
taxi. Resort E …” and so it went on. We began shooting at 6.30 in the
morning, and finished at 9.30 at night. A totally exhausting day.
The next day was fully taken up with
developing the rolls of film and printing proof sheets and selecting the
best shots. Fortunately we always took more than one roll with each shot,
as when we totaled them all up, we were one roll short. We never did find
it, but we did have another roll on that particular subject.
It had taken five full days. The art
director was pleased and I got more work from him. A successful assignment.
Wat to photograph this weekend
In Thailand we are surrounded by temples (wats). At last count there were
70,000 of them, and undoubtedly there’s more. However, when something
becomes commonplace, we begin not to see them.
Our wats are classic examples. We have
seen so many, we don’t see them any more, yet the first time tourists to
Thailand go mad when they see the temples, even though for many it is only
the larger temples in Bangkok. There are many more, and more accessible for
photography as well.
Thailand is actually a photographer’s
paradise. The ambient light levels are strong, shadows are strong and
images are also strong if you use light and shadow to your advantage. The
ideal venue to use all these aspects is in your local wat.
Here is how to take that great wat shot
- only it isn’t one shot. It is impossible to show a wat with one snap. It
requires a series. One of the reasons for this is the fact that a wat is a
microcosm of Thai society. People eat there, live there, learn there and
end up there for their funerals. So in actual fact you are trying to show
not only the grandeur of the architecture, but the fact that the wat has its
own life going on within its boundaries. It is the center of all village
Here is how I would approach the
subject, and remember we are looking for production quality shots here. The
preparation is to go there the day before your shooting day to see how the
sun shines on the buildings. To get the textures and colors you need the
sun striking the walls at an angle. Full shade or full sun is not the way.
It’s back to using light and shadow to show form. You will have to note
what are the best times of day to record the various architectural details.
Also be prepared to use a close up shot or two to highlight some of the
small details. By the way, always remember that a wat is a place of
religious worship and significance, so do take your shoes off and be
Wats are inhabited by much more than
the saffron robed monks. There are teachers, nuns, novitiates, school
children, street vendors and even tourists. A very mixed bag. Try to take
shots to show just why these people are there in the wat and its compound.
This is where a “long lens” (135 mm upwards) can be a help. You can get the
image you want without having to intrude into the person’s personal space.
However, remember that if there is any doubt as to whether your subject
would really want that photo taken - then ask permission first. It is my
experience that the vast majority of people will happily respond positively
to your request. Even when there is no common language, a smile and a wave
of the camera in their direction and an “OK?” is generally all that is
Taking pictures inside the wat is not
as easy as the exterior shots. The light levels are very low and there is
often the feeling that you are intruding in someone else’s religious
practices. Taking a flash photograph really is an intrusion in my view.
This is where the tripod is great. Set the camera up on the tripod, compose
the shot, set it on Time Exposure and quietly get that shot of a lifetime.
You will probably need around 5-10 seconds at f5.6, but that is just a guide
and you should experiment. If you set the camera on Auto mode and turn off
the flash you will get better results.
By now you should have taken almost one
complete day on your local wat. Verticals, horizontals, close-ups and wide
angle shots. Do not be afraid to shoot plenty of images. It is the only
way to improve and the only way to get great shots. With digital technology
you can take as many variations of one shot as you want, always remember
that. Just avoid taking the ‘same’ shot four times - one vertical and one
horizontal for each subject, but that is all.