Category archives: Studio

Studio & Leica M10: Low Key Lighting

Tabi basa and greetings friends and family,

Today marks the 11th day of Movement Control Order, where Malaysians are required to stay at home and do not wander off without any purposes. We also have heard about hilarious episodes where the head of the house, mostly men, were asked to do grocery shopping. For some, this is something new, and it is like treasure hunt for some of them. But the good thing is, despite its terror and fear surrounding it, MCO gave most of us a lot of time to do the things we never get to do. For example, Tik Tok, cooking, singing at Smule, and for me, it’s studio lighting.

I have not been doing studio lighting project for quite sometime, so I guess it’s time for me to do it for learnings.

History of Leica M

Talking about Leica M means talking about Leica M, we have to go back to its original history. “M” means Messsucher, or rangefinder in Germany. In 1914, the founding father of Leica M that we know today, Oskar Barnack, an engineer at Leitz Company, who was suffering from asthma, decided to make a smaller camera, which begins with Ur Leica. In 1924, the camera was called Leica, an anagram of Leitz Camera. In his design, he used a horizontal film transport, allowing an extended frame of 24x36mm with 2:3 aspect ratio, a revolutionary design against the camera at that time, where the aspect ratio is 18x24mm, vertical. To complement this smaller film design, a high-quality lens capable of producing the image is required.  If he were to use the lens at that time, the larger size of the frame is partially required. The first lens created was 50mm, f/3.5, which was eventually known as Elmar series of Leica lenses, employing M39 screw bayonet. 

Leica M-mount that we know today was introduced in Photokina 1954, with Leica M3 as its first camera. That camera was a huge success and over 220,000 units was sold by the end of its production in 1966. Few notable users including war photographer Robert Capa, David Douglas Duncan and most famous of them all, Henri-Cartier Bresson. Henri was a 50mm user, where he can be seen most of the time with collapsible Summicron (first version), while Robert uses wide angle lenses, including 24mm during his early days with Leica.

In 1979, on the occasion of the centenary of its birth, the Leica Oskar Barnack Prize was awarded, endowed with 5000 euros and awarded in July at the Meetings of Arles.

Nowadays, there is a lot more Leica photographers, using M. The ones that I have met personally including Mathias Heng, Fulvio Bugani, Craig Semetko and Thorsten Overgaard. I also have met Leica Q2 Ambasassador, Anthony Barlan, based in KL.  

One thing that I appreciate if that all of us shares the same passion for Leica, and I could spend hours listening to them talking about Leica – its history, progress, creating images, composition and finding that “decisive moment” as popularised by Henri.

However, with limited movements due to COVID-19, one has to be creative to keep the photography flame alive. Whilst not much can be done on the streets now because of MCO, one has to be creative and take photography indoors. Whilst Leica M is popularly known as street photographer’s dream camera, it also can be used indoor as a studio camera, albeit with limitation. But this makes it more fun as it is more challenging.

For this episode, I want to try Low-Key lighting. 

Low Key (Not Loki, God of Mischief)

Low key lighting is an image where more than 50% of the image is dark. This type of lighitng is suitable for moody, or dramatic look. In film noir photography, they take it further by adding elements such as detective, smokes (because detectives like to smoke), long trench coat, and fedora hats. With that being the background, one has to properly illuminate the face of subject and a little of light to light tbe hair, to emphasist space, although you can always use one light only, to emphasis the mood.

So, now that we know what low key is, let’s get started

What Do You Need?

Obviously, you would need a subject. However, in this case, since there is no models around, I have to do it myself. This is also a good chance for me to update my Facebook profile picture, or whatever that needs picture. Then, you would need two lighting sources. You can use whatever lighting source, be it speedlight or strobes, but in this case I am using my Profoto B10, though you can make it using any light sources. That aspect is personal choice,  so I won’t talk much about it. Most importantly, you have to use whatever you have. Light is universal. Hey, you can also use continous light just fine, but that demands a topic of its own. Then, to make this setup works, you would need a black background to absorb any light that falls unto it. White also can be used, but that makes it more challenging as you would need a stronger lighting and uses a smaller aperture. 

In this case, since I am doing it all on my own, I have to use a tripod for my camera. Lens used was APO-Summicron 50, the best lens for studio photography if you have to use a Leica M. To control my camera, I am using my smartphone, using Leica FOTOS apps. It is a neat apps, and allows me to connect to my Leica using wifi, and I can trigger it from a distance.

Shooting Process

I will setup my equipment as per diagram below. For this case, I only approximate where my lighting it. My bad is I don’t have any lightmeter to measure the lighting precisely, so I have to make a guess. The goods news is, after playing around with the setting, I managed to approximate the strength of light required to create a desired image. As for its focus, Leica M being a Leica M, I will set it up first before I start shooting. This one is fairly easy to do, and I maintain an aperture opening of f/3.4 for the shot because I want to have an adequate depth of field for my face, so that I can see enough details. I can opt for f/2, but that means some part of my face is blurred out, which is not desireable.   

Another key things to be taken into account is the colour temperature. For me, before I start shooting, I will set-up my white balance using grey card because strobe lights tend to be cooler that what it actually is. For this photoshoot, since I want my final result in monochrome as I want to have that film noir-ish final image, I switch my camera to Monochrome. This neat trick was taught by Thorsten when I attended his course back in 2018. He’s a genuinely nice guy, and we talked a lot about Leica during that course over countless coffee sessions. 

Creating Monochrome From Colour Leica M10

First, you have to go to JPG setting.

Once you have selected JPG, then turn on Monochrome. This will enable you to create black and white JPG on the fly, but its raw file, DNG (digital negative) image will remain in colour.

I always shoot DNG because it is the best file format that you can have. I know it’s huge, but in the long run, you will appreciate it.

As mentioned, don’t forget to check your white balance. It will save you a lot of time in post-processing and eliminate all of the guess-works.

Result

The result that you can see are as follows. The initial image is good, but I want to add in film noir element, so I add more contrast and clarity so that the details will pop even more. For image editing, I use Adobe Lightroom. You can also amplify the effect using Silver Efex. In this example, I did not show it.

I have a strong affinity for these moody images, because when I was shooting this picture, solitary was in my mind. Also, it emphasises the low key because if I want to make a happy-looking images, I would use high-key photography technique, employing three or more lights.

End Note:

Throughout these processes, I had some fun despite the limitation that I had; have to do it myself, no models and have limited space. This experiment also gave me more insight on how to conduct a proper studio photography, and perhaps next time I will play with more light. It was one of the best decision to join Edwin Lay’s course back in 2019 about studio lightings, because it gave me new insight about studio photography.

If you are passionate about something, do it. Don’t just do something for the sake of money. I know some people that have been doing wedding photography for some time already, but because of the image they created, they cannot run away and has to keep the momentum although deep in their heart, they want to do something else, perhaps street photography?

Don’t become a victim of you own mistake. Own your decision and do what you love most. For me, my preferences are portrait photography, be it in the street or studio. That is where I will focus on. However, if there is any personnel that requries my services in other branch of photography, I will be able to support as well.

With that, I end my blog for today. Thank you for reading. Stay safe and take care! 

Your Tukang Rantek,
Del

This is High Key Lighting.

My Photography Facebook Page: Claudius Weson Photography 

My Music Facebook Page: Del

My Youtube Channel: Claudius Weson

Instagram: claudiuswesonphotography (for B&W works & short story)

Note: Claudius Weson is a “tukang rantek” (photographer in Bidayuh Pichin) based in Miri, mainly doing portraiture (indoor / studio / outdoor photoshoot), weddings and event photography.

© Claudius Weson Photography (2020). All rights reserved.

Copyright Notice

All of the images on this site are protected by copyright laws and are the exclusive property of Claudius Weson Photography. Images may not be copied, reproduced, manipulated, used or altered in any way without written permission. The use of any photography as the basis of another photographic concept or illustration is a violation of copyright.

Playing With Colours

Tabi basa and greetings family and friends,

Today is Saturday, and as usual, it is a time for us to spend our free time with family and friends. Do spend the most time with the elder ones, for their time is running out and the younger ones, for they would really need the guidance from us to kickstart their life in a good shape and in the best knowledge.

Dayung Laut

The First “Dayung Laut” – Emilia Shander

I would like to take this opportunity to inform you about Dayung Laut competition, which was inspired by Emilia Shander’s viral post. The current leader of the pack is Sandra, overtaking Sabahan beauty thanks to the strong support from her family and friends. However, it is too soon for me to say who is the winner to you because there are still one more week to go. Anything can change since the competition is public, and if someone acquires the hordes to vote for them, then it would be good.

The faces of the candidates are as follows:

The Next “Dayung Laut” 2019 Contestants

I will make a separate announcement for the winner next week. Stay tuned!

Playing with Colours

Today’s session is special because it is my first time doing my own studio photoshoot at my own accord, at my own playing ground. The last session was when I attended the Studio Flash Photography Masterclass by Sifu Edwin Lay at Great Wall Camera. Edwin is a good sifu and he patiently teaches us the basics of playing with studio strobes. That is the time I met my fellow photographers based in Kuching area, such as Anathasia Lipina, Alvine, Fidelis George, Ben Foo and Pauline, all with one passion for photography. I wrote about this back in March this year. You can read it here.

Me and fellow participants of Sifu Edwin Lay’s Flash Photography Masterclass, Mar 2019.
Back: Alvine, Michael Ting, Fidelis George, Sifu Edwin Lay, Ben Foo
Front: Anathasia Lipina, Adeline (Kuching-based Model), Pauline
Location: Great Wall Camera, Jalan Padungan, Kuching

This time, I am alone, and I have to direct the lighting myself. It is challenging, because when I am out there, I only have to control the light from my strobe. When I am with Thorsten, it is even different ball-game. Thorsten taught me to find the “magic of light”. When you found it, you will know that your photograph will be awesome.

As for today’s session, I do play around with red and blue gel, as it is the most common, and it is my personal favourite for this kind of photoshoot. It reminds me to the clip video of In Venere Veritas by HIM, which for me is a cool love metal song. There was a lot of experimentations going around the room, where I being an experimenter has to tweak and tinker before I hit the sweet spot. Once I am in the “zen”, it is also easy to find the right balance.

Gears:

As for the gears I am using today, I am using my trusty M10-P and APO-Summicron 50mm for this job. I love to use Leica gears since it gave me the flexibility to work with the “Leica” look as well as it is light and easy to move around with. I always move around back and forth to adjust the strobes that I am using. 50mm has always been my favourite focal length for all occasions.

Talents:

I am joined by Divabiz Ambassadorz founder, Priscilla Nissie and some of her talents, including Dranadillos and Sylvia, as well as Averia Vella, whom we call “Amoi”.

First session was a simple white t-shirt at a black background.

The next session is using the dress of their choice and this time, I included blue and red gel. Why? I like it. No rocket science behind it.

After enough time having fun using black background, I changed the black background to white background.

Dresses and Accessories

Pua Kumbu Blouse & Black Glitter Evening Dress is designed by Samdoh Beads Boutique. Cocktail Dress is designed by Priscilla Nissie. The

The lady behind Divabiz, Priscilla.
One for the road.

Working Experiences?

For us today, and just like the previous sessions before, we talk about work only. Priscilla and her talents are professional and main topic of conversation is on how to make full use of the session this afternoon. This is well-understood because we only have 24hours per day, and if we start to talk about something other than self-improvement, then it is a waste of our time. That is another reason why I advise my mentees (I do mentoring also) to be very careful in calling someone else your best friend. As we grow older, we realised that we only have so little true friends. The rest are just colleagues or acquaintances, which is fully understood since we only spend the time with those that really matters. The least of all, if you know someone is toxic, just keep it professional and don’t add more salt to the wound.

Theme for Young Lovers

There were one phase in my life where I cared so much about what others think about me, who I mingle with, what I wear, what camera did I use, etc. It is part of a normal teenage to adult transition. It includes all of those negative self-talks. As it names says, it did not make me happy though. It is toxic. As I move along with life, I always strive to make my life simpler. I wear black. I shot manually using Leica all the way. I created my own moniker, Tukang Rantek in honour of my own mother tongue. I charge people for my services as much as I value my time. I still have my own positive circle, I call it tonic friends – those who are crazy and passionate about their side hustle.

The real FREEDOM is to give no care about what others talk about you (unless it is life-threatening or it relates to life of others). If you still care about what others talk about you, you are a slave to their thoughts. Think about that for a moment. In Morpheus’ (The Matrix Trilogy) famous word, free your mind. You have to remember, you need to invest your time in the things that truly matters.

Certain bunch may not like your guts, tenacity, dedication and grit, but who cares? Did they pay your bills month in, month out?

Ada ku kesah?

I had this conversation with one of my colleague whom I admire his analytical skills and planning skill. But for himself, like many others, other than work, nothing else come to his mind. He admit it openly, and he also told me that he admires those who are passionate with their own craft; such as Marvin Gau with his MarvinInspire and journey to be Fitness Personal Coach, who is also Certified Personal Trainer under American Council on Exercise, which the journey to attain is equally challenging; and David Liaw, a Powerlifter and Nutritionist.

I am honoured to be able to capture this moment during Marvin and Patrissa’s wedding.
David Liaw – Beast Mode!
Leica Monochrom & Summilux35 FLE

That colleague of mine reminds me of Shikamaru Nara from Naruto series. He is smart, but has no plan for his life apart from working in our company. I know a lot of people outside there whom academic is not their forte, but they are resilient and willing to learn something new and step out of their comfort zone.

They are not like everyone else. They set goals for themselves. They learn new things day in, day out. They may not living the life they want, but they strive to get where they want. I want to be more like those peoples.

Hope For Tomorrow?

I will keep on updating my latest stuff in my website because it is the only media that I really have full control in. My Instagram and Facebook will still be kept alive because most of my friends and family are still using it. Also, it is one of the easiest way for people to reach out to me, apart from contacting my Whatsapp Business.

Lastly, I do hope you enjoy the final images from our session today. Stay safe and have a great Sunday ahead!

Your Tukang Rantek,
Claudius Weson

© Claudius Weson Photography (2019). All rights reserved.

Copyright Notice
All of the images on this site are protected by copyright laws and are the exclusive property of Claudius Weson Photography. Images may not be copied, reproduced, manipulated, used or altered in any way without written permission. The use of any photography as the basis of another photographic concept or illustration is a violation of copyright.