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End of the volleyball season

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台電女排vs. 中國人纖 (4/3/2018)

What an amazing time I’ve had with the Top Volleyball League, the national Taiwanese championship. Not only did I have the opportunity to see again most of the players from the Universiade, but I’ve also met many more.

It also ended with a bang, as in the men’s cup Guominh (the boys above) managed to defeat Taidien, a team that had been undefeated for the whole season! No one was expecting that at all.

台電女排vs. 中國人纖 (4/3/2018)

When it comes to photography I’ve definitely learned a lot. Shooting indoor sports under bad light conditions that change depending on the area of the field is no joke. It was a fun challenge, though. Now that I’ve shot God-only-knows-how-many photos of volleyball I can tell which photographers look for composition and light sources, and which simply go for a quick snapshot of players x, y and z just to get the job done.

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My average weeks of absolutely no free time have definitely impacted my ability to follow my blog. Recently I publish everything on Facebook because it’s easier for teams, players and fans to share the images.

My photography page on FB is “Thomas Passarini Photography – 台灣製造”  , if you like volleyball feel free to drop by! I also share other images from my trips and photography tours there.

This summer there are some international tournaments to which I’ve been invited. I’m not sure how many I’ll manage to join due to cost, but I’ll start looking for funds and sponsors soon and hopefully I’ll manage to attend the Asian Volleyball Cup in Thailand.

There are also the Asian games in Indonesia, but I don’t have media access for those yet, and it looks like it may be quite hard to get.

 

 

 

 

 

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I need to learn to let go of things

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Broken

I have a problem with things: I like them. And when I say “things” I literally mean objects and stuff.

When I buy something I consider that thing to have entered my life, and as such it becomes a part of me. It could be a bicycle that I use for years for all my daily riding, or a heavy jacket that I only happen to wear twice a year when I have hiking trips to cold mountains, or a pair of shoes that I wear when going shopping etc etc. It doesn’t matter what’s the object or how much it costs or how often I use it; it becomes something that I care about.

ATTACKLINE at the beach

In recent times, the things that created more memories and with which I’ve spent more time are my cameras and lenses. From the Taipei Universiade 2017 in August until recently I’ve been taking pictures non stop, with the National Top Volleyball League being what keeps me busy during most of my weekends.

匯竑女排 VS ATTACKLINE

Before the Universiade I used to shoot mostly real estate, products and portraits, so my gear wasn’t ideal for indoor sports. With a limited budget I couldn’t afford the Godly Canon 70-200 f2.8 mkII, so I purchased an old prime lens, the 200mm f2.8 L, for around 1/6th the price of the zoom.

The lens in foreground in the above pic is the 200mm, with a Taiwanese flag attached to the hood for the Universiade. This lens was a game changer for me. There were thousands of shots that I would have never been able to take with my previous gear.

Taipei 2017 Universiade - 世大運 - Japan vs Finland

TVL: 台電女排 VS 中纖女排, 28/10.

Top Volleyball League: 珀兆ATTACKLINe vs 台電TAIPOWER

Taipei Universiade 2017 - 台灣排球 - Volleyball - Taiwan vs Tzech Republic

It’s no overstatement to say that the main reason why I had great success with my images from the Universiade was that lens, with maybe 20% of the merit going to the 80D that I was using as my second body, and that it was what lead me to the volleyball league.

Which brings me to the problem: the lens started to show me its limits. Shooting indoors with fairly limited space means that very often 200mm is too long. After thousands of photos taken at the Top Volleyball League I came to the conclusion that while my setup was clearly adequate (6D + 200mm f2.8l, 80D + 85mm f1.8, swapping the lenses depending on position and framing), it was far from being ideal and it started to limit my possibilities.

TVL: 台電女排 VS 中纖女排, 28/10.

Rest assured, I’m not a pixel peeper. I don’t look at my images at 400% zoom maniacally looking for flaws. When I mention limits I’m talking mostly about framing. Also, swapping lenses around between two bodies is always a waste of time and obviously leads to missed shots.

So I did the most reasonable thing to do: I sold the 200mm f2.8 L and ordered the 70-200 f2.8 L mkII. The business has been good recently, so it was easier for my wallet to take the hit, but owning both the prime AND the zoom makes very little sense, so selling it was the considerate option.

TVL: 台電女排 VS 中纖女排, 28/10.

When I handed it over, I felt increbidly bad. I met the new owner in Taipei so we could do the exchange in person. He tested the lens for a bit, gave me some moneyz and left with my lens. At that moment it felt like a friend walked out of my life. I suddenly thought about all the images from the Universiade, about how important they turned out to be for my career, about how often I carried it with me etc etc…

I now own a lens, the 70-200mm, that is on a completely different level. I’m slowly getting used to it and I’m sure that it will grow to become an important part of my life, but I still think of the good old 200mm with a bit of regret. It would be a huge waste to own such a lens and keep it in my dry cabinet staring at a wall, but no matter how hard I rationalize it still feelsbadman.

Is it something I can improve? Is it an actual problem or just a part of my personality? I don’t really know, but I guess I’ll better find out how to handle it better because next year I’ll probably upgrade my main camera body from 6D to 5DmkIV. I’ve been using that camera for 5 years and took tens of thousands of photos, so selling it is…yeah, nah….

Images in this post are just a few of the photos I took with the Canon 200mm f2.8L on my 6D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New software (and a rant)

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After years I’ve finally renewed my editing software. I’m not a fan of Adobe’s subscription method, so I’ve been using editing programs from other companies. My go-to for converting RAW files to usable TIF/Jpg images is DxO Optics Pro, now called DxO PhotoLab.

DxO’s software has been a loyal companion for ages, but I started to have issues after I purchased my Canon 80D prior to the Universiade. My old version of DxO optics didn’t support the 80D raw files. I always shoot RAW so this was a fairly annoying issue for me, but since the 80D’s buffer improves a lot when shooting Jpg I decided to avoid RAW files for a while. It wasn’t a huge issue because when shooting sports having a deep buffer and high frame rates is a Godsend, so I sucked it up (especially because at that time my budget was really tight).

Now that the budget allowed me to spend some money on non-gear related material, I decided to upgrade the software to its latest version, which not only adds RAW support for my 80D but also a plethora of new and improves features. Now I can use my low-fps 6D for images when I value image quality above all, and switch to the 80D when I need to capture a quick sequence of shots, all of it in RAW format. Yay!

Here comes the rant, though. Corel Paintshop Pro.

I don’t “create” images, and by that I mean that 80%+ of the editing is done on the RAW files, then I use an image editor for a few extra retouches. I’ve used 3 different versions of Corel’s Paintshop software over the years, and while not as complete as Photoshop it served me extremely well. Then Corel decided to change their payment method, switching from direct purchase to a payment service called Cleverbridge.

Well, fuck me, I’ve not been able to pruchase their software in years.

“The transaction has been denied – please contact your bank – there was an error and the purchase couldn’t be completed – please contact the card issuing bank” etc etc…

I’ve never seen a payment system so keen on making me save money. I tried for a very long time to purchase the latest version of Paintshop because it has a few extra features that can be extremely useful for photo editing, such as the introduction of gradients. Unfortunately, Cleverbridge decided that I’m not worthy.

As a result of that, I switched to Serif Affinity.

I’ve only processed a batch of images so far, and the impression is extremely positive. There’s a learning curve to it, but by the end of the 20-ish images I processed today my speed was not far off from my more familiar software. There will be macros to set, blending modes to explore and all sort of new stuff to check out, but so far I’m 100% satisfied about the purchase. The fact that they ALLOWED me to purchase their software is also a huge bonus, of course.

All the images from the latest batch are here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm9zR9mv

I always suggest to view photos on Flickr for better viewing quality.

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.

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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.