Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Daniela Hantuchova

Here’s a profiler of Daniela Hantuchova, my favorite woman tennis player. Born on April 23, 1983 at Poprad, Slovakia, she presently resides in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Standing at a modelesque height of 5’11 ¼” (1.81m) and weighs in at 123 lbs (56 kgs.), she’s a right-handed player and returns the ball with a two handed back hand. She turned professional on 1999 and won her first career singles championship at the Indian Wells in 2002. She achieved her highest WTA career singles ranking at No.5 on January 27, 2003 which was considered as her best year so far in pro tennis.

She plays on court using Yonex racquets and wears Nike clothes and Nike Vapor S2 tennis shoes. Presently ranked at No. 15 in the WTA Rankings, her favorite surface is grass and considers the Wimbledon as her favorite tournament.

An energetic and gutsy player, she displays sobriety under pressure and she never questions any bad calls, a wholesome attitude in her that I would admire the most. She doesn’t grunt like Maria Sharapova which I find too unfeminine. I might say, she’s more of a finesse player comparable to the likes of Chris Evert during her younger days. I love the way Daniela smiles and how she makes it look so easy to play graceful tennis. I’ve read about how loyal she was to Ai Sugiyama who’s been her doubles partner for quite sometime. Rumours had it that she declined playing with Martina Hingis in doubles play because she wants to stick it out with Ai Sugiyama. A depiction and epitome of how loyalty and friendship should be!

The most memorable match I’ve seen of her was when she lost to Maria Sharapova in Round of 16 at the 2006 Australian Open. The dream match I would love to see most is how a match between two of my favorite woman players, Daniela Hantuchova and Ana Ivanovic, would turn out to be if they play against each other. I wouldn’t cheer for anyone of them but would be glad to see who’s going to be the more finesse player.

photo credits belong to Robyn Wilson and you can read more about pro tennis tour at her Planet Tennis Fan blog while you can view more of her photos thru Flickr.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Faux Vignetting Technique

Vignetting in a photograph was previously considered a lens attribute or a lens defect inasmuch as the lens cannot transmit light equally to all parts of the frame most especially on the edge corners. Wide angle lenses are more prone to vignetting inherently due to lens design where light fall off on the corners of the frame is a natural occurrence. With the advent of photo editing softwares like PhotoShop, creating vignettes in a photo is now a breeze. Vignetting is now used mainly for creative effects of drawing attention to the center of the frame.

The photo above, taken at the Harbour Square near Manila Yacht Club along Roxas Boulevard in Manila, is an illustrative example of how a vignetting looks like. It was post processed in PhotoShop CS2 version.

Shown below is another post processed example of vignetting. On PhotoShop, go to Filters --> Distort --> Lens Correction and play with the Vignette slider.
The photo on the right is the Manila Cathedral, also known as the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. It is the ecclesisastical seat of the Archdiocese of Manila. This present structure was constructed in 1954 to 1958 under the leadership of Archbishop Rufino Santos of Manila (who later became the first Filipino Cardinal) and under the supervision of National Artist for Architecture Awardee, Architect Fernando Ocampo. It was elevated into the rank of Basilica Minore in 1981 by Pope John Paul II.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

miniaturized effect

I've been seeing a lot of photos simulating the effects of tilt-shift lenses lately. I tried doing my own version of fake model photography with few variations from the usual techniques employed by some photoshop geeks. Using the radial gradient tool in the quick mask mode, i was able to select the portion where i would apply the blur. Since we are simulating the tilt-shift lens, it is only proper to blur the unwarranted portion using the lens blur filter. To get a good artificial contrast, the curve adjustment layer is used to blow out the colors in the image. To achieve a level of distortion to impart a feeling of artificiality and to simulate false lighting on the model, i applied some vignetting effect putting some gaussian blur on the extreme four corners of the image. Another desirable effect would be to render some simulated lighting like omni-directional lighting or spotlight effects using the render filter -> lighting effects. The photo above was the result of the simulation of a tilt-shift lens effect of the photo shown below.

Monday, March 06, 2006

the f/1.4 advantage

Aside from being the only choice lens in available light photography, another advantage of a wide aperture lens or the so called "fast lens" is that it is capable of producing a nice blur or "bokeh". There are only few fixed lenses that can go as wide as f/1.4, namely, the 50mm normal lens, the wide 35mm and the 85mm portrait lens. Gone are the days when the kit lens of an SLR you would purchase was bundled with a 50mm normal lens. Interchangeably called as the "standard" lens, the 50mm fixed lens was virtually replaced by the more convenient stock zoom lenses of today like the 18-55mm zoom or 18-70mm zoom. Lesser informed consumers never realized that a fast prime lens like the 50mm is a lot more superior in many aspects than the present day consumer zooms. An f/1.8 50mm is considered a fast lens by any standards. It offers greater speed, that is, it can allow more light to seep in thru the lens. Compared to a consumer zoom with f/3.5-5.6 minimum to maximum apertures, the former has the advantage of having at least 3 stops which makes a very significant difference especially in available light photography. This extra stops can let you shoot indoors and with today's DSLRs where you can push the ISO to at least the standard 1600, it would afford you few luxuries in composition in low light conditions. Since the trend of consumerism by the camera manufacturers is to float the inferior stock zooms, the need to buy an off-camera flash becomes a necessity. Thus, these manufacturers will end up raking more money into their coffers. I still believe that full understanding of photography, most especially the lighting techniques, should first begin with the mastery of the "classic" 50mm lens - being the sharpest lens there is.

Friday, March 03, 2006


the Philippines is such a humid country most especially during the summer months of March to May. to protect my spare lens from fungus growth, i put it in an improvised "dry box", which is actually an air tight transparent food keeper, with several sachets of silica gels and a hygrometer to monitor the moisture content. if the moisture inside the box reaches a relative humidity of more than 60%, then it's time to recharge the silica gels by putting them under the sun until the red "beads" turn into blue.