An update on my hiatus

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During the last few months, especially after the Universiade, I haven’t updated my blog or uploaded pictures very often. The reason for that is the lack of time. Almost as soon as the Universiade was over I received media access for the Taiwanese Top Volleyball League. This is amazing for me because it’s a good way to attract more views for my business, and also because taking pics of volleyball is really fun. The problem is the schedule, though.

Almost every weekend there are matches on Saturday and Sunday. I don’t have an editor, so I edit all the images by myself, which means that if I want my images to be ready soon after the end of the matches (which is important) I need to stay up until very late. Also, matches of the volleyball league are played in different locations, some of which require 7+ hours of travel to get to… So on average I work 5 days a week, followed by 2 days of volleyball league, followed by an 8th day of editing that I create out of missing sleep hours.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while you may have noticed that this is the first time my images have a watermark. This is because there are some very popular players in the Top Volleyball League, and after the very first weekend of matches, during which my images had no watermark, I happened to see my photos used by countless media outlets (especially in Vietnam and the Philippines) without crediting me for my images.

The league now has a week of rest, which is great for me as I’ve had a lower back injury. I’ll have a couple of weeks off to rest, tidy my images and update my blog, my Flickr page and my own website.

IMG_1460Dxo

My Flickr page is nearly up to date, there are plenty of pics missing but many images from recent matches are there: https://www.flickr.com/photos/107755637@N06/

Technical note:

I started working in photography doing 90% real estate photography, and some portraits/product shots. Moving to indoor sports was really painful on my wallet, as I had to start a revolution in my lens cabinet and sell some old/less used lenses in order to fund the purchase of some glass that can help me keep a fast shutter speed in low light. When I completed the purchase of the Canon 70-200 f2.8 mkII and I had another look at the amount of $$$ in the purchase bill my expression was the same as the guy in the above picture.

 

 

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Review: Benro Slim Carbon-Fiber Tripod – TSL08CN00

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阿里山 - Ali Mountain

Let me start by saying that I didn’t really need a new tripod. Prior to my trip to Ali Mountain – 阿里山 here in Taiwan I went to the website of my favorite camera store in Taipei for a weekly check of their offers and noticed a new product in stock, the Benro Slim Carbon-Fiber Tripod. While not a kind of product I was exactly interested in, it immediately caught my eyes: a carbon fiber tripod under 1kg, with 4kg max load (enough for any of my camera bodies+lens) and at an extremely affordable price. There had to be a catch.

阿里山 - Ali Mountain - 紅檜/红桧 - Formosan Red Cypress

I spent some time checking online reviews. The vast majority of them were positive, but as this tripod is a relatively new product I couldn’t find as many information as for other well established products. I decided to pull the trigger and get one; the worst case scenario I was expecting was to have a lightweight tripod that struggled a bit with my 6D and full frame lenses, so it could have become my go-to tripod to use with my 80D, as the EF-S lenses for that camera are much lighter.

The tripod has a very sleek look and it came in a hair under 1kg. It comes in a nice bag and the traditional Benro blue color is in every detail of the product.

The locking mechanism in the head is different from my other tripods, as the ball friction control unlocks both the ball head and the horizontal orientation axis. It took me a bit of time to get used to this system. It’s actually quite convenient to be able to setup everything in one go, but coming from tripods that work in a 2-step way I had a few scary moments thinking:”Ok, now I’ll let go this lock here and….wwoooooaaaaaahhhh hold on”, with the camera suddenly starting to tilt sideways because the whole mechanism was unlocked.

阿里山 - Ali Mountain - 紅檜/红桧 - Formosan Red Cypress

Let’s get to the meat of the review; how did this tripod perform during my 3 day trip on the central mountains in taiwan?

Flawlessly.

My heaviest setup (Canon 6D + 70-300 L ) weights just below 2kg and the Benro Slim handled that without batting an eye. For standard use, the Benro Slim performed just as well as my regular alloy tripod that weights more than twice as much. Most of my shots were composites of 7 bracketted photos and no alignment was ever needed.

阿里山 - Ali Mountain - 紅檜/红桧 - Formosan Red Cypress

Due to the lack of cooperation from the weather I wasn’t able to take any long exposures. I carried a nice set of ND filters with me, but when time and location were right the fog decided to completely embrace me. That’s the only stress-test I wasn’t able to conduct, and it’s on my to-do list next time some helpful weather shows up and allows me to go to the seaside.

阿里山 - Ali Mountain

I have only a minor gripe with the Benro Slim tripod: the thumb screw. There’s very little space to insert a finger under the D-ring, and my lack of nails made it nearly impossible for me. I basically had to keep a coin around all the time, but after a while I just kept the arca plate mounted on the 6D and either kept it in the backpack or held it in my hand. This was a bit annoying as I usually carry my camera(s) using Blackrapid straps which lock to the camera using a tripod plate. A minor inconvenience, but worth mentioning.

阿里山 - Ali Mountain

All images in this review were shot with my 6D and 80D mounted on the Benro Slim Carbon tripod. For other images from the trip to Ali Mountain, feel free to check out my Flickr page for more samples: https://www.flickr.com/photos/107755637@N06/with/36783285714/

I’ve enjoyed using the Benro Slim tripod a lot. Not only is it a great performer, but the massive reduction in weight compared to other tripods is a Godsend when hiking or cycling. The fact that this is priced below many popular entry level alloy tripods is amazing, kudos to Benro for the aggressive pricing.

The Benro Slim Carbon-Fiber tripod is highly recommended from me. Whether you already have a good tripod and need something lighter for hiking and travelling, or if you want to invest some money in your first tripod and you’re worried about the low price being a sign of possible low quality, fear not. I don’t think anyone who purchases this tripod could ever regret it.

Benro also has an alloy version, which is a tiny bit cheaper and heavier. Considering the rather limited price difference, I’d definitely suggest to get the carbon fiber one.

Well done, Benro!

 

 

 

 

 

 

阿里山 – Ali Mountain – 紅檜/红桧 – Formosan Red Cypress

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阿里山 - Ali Mountain - 紅檜/红桧 - Formosan Red Cypress

阿里山 - Ali Mountain - 紅檜/红桧 - Formosan Red Cypress

阿里山 - Ali Mountain - 紅檜/红桧 - Formosan Red Cypress

阿里山 - Ali Mountain - 紅檜/红桧 - Formosan Red Cypress

阿里山 - Ali Mountain - 紅檜/红桧 - Formosan Red Cypress

I’ve had the chance to take a  quick trip to Ali mountain in the central mountain area of Taiwan. Even though the weather didn’t cooperate too much and gifted me with mostly foggy views, I still managed to capture some nice shots.

Here are a few pics of red cypresses, some of the biggest and oldest trees in Taiwan. Some of them are over 2500 years old. Unfortunately they were cut by the Japanese during the period when they ruled Taiwan. Now the whole area is a national park and those trees are free to grow as much as they want.

The rest of the images are on my Flickr album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm6ny17h

On a side note: I finally had the time to process some more images from Okinaqa, in particular those form the aquarium. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image

Pain is temporary

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Broken

The Taipei Universiade 2017 is over, and with it the most amazing photography experience I’ve ever had.

In the coming weeks I’ll have plenty of images to share, but today there’s just one that I wanted to show.

This photo was from the quarterfinal match between Taiwan and Japan. Taiwan was the underdog and won the first set, but Japan took control of the match and the remaining three sets were a rout.

Meng Hua Yang, the Libero for Taiwan, was sitting on the bench when Japan scored the last point of the match, and in this photo she just stood up to approach the net and congratulate the Japanese players for the victory.

I spent most of my time taking pics of the Taiwanese female volleyball team, so this shot broke my heart. After the match I didn’t go to sleep until 2am to process some images and upload them on FB and Flickr, but I didn’t touch this picture until the end of the Universiade. I really wish the ending of the match would have shown her running to her teammates in a burst of joy, with a Japanese flag laying low on the ground, but it wasn’t meant to be.

She played the whole tournament with an injury in the left arm.

“Pain is temporary. It may last for a minute, or an hour or a day, or even a year. But eventually, it will subside. And something else take its place. If I quit, however, it will last forever.”