To the bottom of the glass.

A few months ago I shared a train-ride with Caroline, my contact at the awesome Edelman PR Agency. Keen-eyed readers might remember Edelman as the agency that gave me the opportunity to travel to Shanghai, but they also gave me other assignments like covering the 140 years of Jeans celebration by eBay. Back then she told me they where looking for a kick-ass food blogger who made killer shots. As you can imagine, most bloggers aren’t camera-savvy, and most photographers are not the ones you’d imagine to write about food. To the most of us food is that thing that gets in between getting a shot, or traveling.

Fast forward to a month later where I got ‘the call’. If I want to take the pictures of a food-related event, so a blogger can do his thing. “Sure can do, just give me the date and address and everything will work out”. A few weeks of trying to sync ever-changing calendars between the blogger, the client, the agency and me, it is decided due a pressing deadline to split up the dates, and I’m sent in first. A few documents and thorough briefings  later I’m walking through the door of Cocktails At Nine to photograph Carl van Droogenbroeck, Belgian’s best bartender. The event? The Global World Class Finals.

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Under complete secrecy I was to photograph him mixing one of his own cocktails, the ‘Last Call’. It became even more interesting as they wanted to have a natural feeling to the pictures. Nothing staged, and nothing lit. With a lot of optimism and a pelicase full of gear I entered the world of cocktails. An introductory cocktail and a some historic information later I was ready to start shooting!

 

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What nobody could foresee however was that after a few weeks of cold summer weather, we suddenly got a massive September heatwave, combined with the date gave the lowest turn-up for the cocktail bar in years. Not exactly the massive crowded bar we where hoping  to capture. A bit of creative framing and happy volunteers I managed to create some compelling images that made the agency and client happy!

In the end I used the D800 with the 85 1.8 for absolute sharpness wide open combined with decent auto-focus, and of course the ‘trinity’, the 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200. I lit a few beauty shots of the glass with a single SB-700, but for the large shots I used the light of my iPhone flashlight to ad some punch to some longer-exposures. I also shot on a lower shutter speed than I normally would, to create bit of added motion blur.

For the editing I used Lightroom 5 and VSCO Film 03 with the Fuji FP-100c ++.

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Shanghai: The Conclusion

All good things must come to an end. Bah, did I just wrote that? Anyhow, watchin/listening to The Muppets on the airplane on the way back home. I really do love in-flight entertainment.

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Shanghai is quite an interesting city. They say it has contrasts, but I see it more as a big gradient thing. You have the rich and high-class setting in Pudong, to the street vendors and beggars in Yuyuan, to the real poor in the back-alleys. And everything in between.

When you think of China, you think of old and dirty, yet Pudong is quite high-class and very clean. At any time and any place, including the river and the highway people are using handmade brooms, nets and sticks to pick things up. Not just garbage, but even things like leaves. Weird!

Yet if you turn a wrong corner you encounter rather dirty and forgotten spots. Very weird.

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If I can give any fellow photographers some tips if you ever are in China, it are following things:

– Shoot first, then ask. (a tip from the VRT China Correspondent) – if you encounter a beggar who just keeps bugging you, grab your camera and portrait them. They will bugger off as soon as humanly possible. – Light and the sky can vary much very soon. There are moments where you can see the tips of the skyscrapers while a few hours later everything can be fogged and smogged up – With a tele you can make some great portraits without them noticing, yet they won’t really mind. – if you are in Shanghai, the sunlight comes out very soon, yet it’s dark, very fast. The streetlights will have everything illuminated quite well. You can make great street shots at night at 1/125, ISO 1600 and f/2.8. However a word of caution, at exactly 11pm the lights and fountains go out. The street lights will be on, but all building illumination will be out. So make your long exposures before that.

The beggar in question:

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All by all, Shanghai is a great start to explore Asia. English is all around, yet you have the best of both worlds. And I’m sure I’m going back there someday. And Japan. And Singapore. And more.

See all my pictures of this trip

More soon!

My 10 minutes with Chase Jarvis

I had the very fortunate and unique chance for a small sit down with one of the big current photographers out there, Mr. Chase Jarvis. As this was more of a talk than an interview this will be more of an impression rather than a transcript.

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First of all I showed my portfolio on my iPad. And on several moments he was kind enough to compliment my pictures with words like “wow”, and “amazing”. And I must say, if you hear things like that from such a celebrated photographer, you get goosebumps and just feel humbled.

Basically, what he did say to me, was to get external input. Get rid of any personal attachments. While some shots are absolute top, and some are just okay. So basically, I should go to a professional editor and let him make a good selection. Better 3 great pictures than 3 great and 5 mediocre. He did tell me that I had a great eye for what is good and not.

Also, camera wise, he did recommend a D800 for me. (and a D600 if it would be released). So that solves that problem.

He was also in the same position as I am. Will I become a fulltime photographer. And while it is scary, if you make the step, the survival instinct will kick in, and you just keep working hard and go for it.

“Keep shooting, keep doing what you are doing, and keep getting paid.”

Thanks Chase, from the bottom of my heart. If you ever are in Belgium, I will show you some great places, and beer is on me.

More soon!

Shanghai, oud en nieuw

Dag 1 in Shanghai was zeker een ervaring op zich. Ons Hotel is een enorm chique iets, prachtig verzorgd, maar toch kwamen we aan in een gamel beige busje met bamboematten op de stoelen, kralen overal op het dashboard en geen verkoeling.

Chinesen leven om te dienen heb ik de indruk. Mensen die je iets vraagt gaan mee tot je de info hebt die je wil. Ook spreken ze enorm stil, en hun Engels is meestal niet van dat. Een besteld pakje werd aan mijn kamer geleverd 5 minuten nadat ik was ingecheckt, stond een bediende voor de deur met het pakje, en het originele leverformulier, nog onafgetekend. Zo is heel Shangai, alles is hier goed aangeduid, zonder absurde situaties zoals de Health And Safety Regulations in de UK. De metro nemen is hier poepsimpel, ook al kent je geen letter Chinees. Alles heeft hier zijn tempo. Dat is best hoog, maar toch kan iedereen volgen.

De oude stad is wat je van China zou verwachten, inclusief bedelaars en verkopers die het begrip van ‘persoonlijke ruimte’ niet kennen. Of ‘opgeven’ for that matter. De Yuhung Garden was wel de moeite. Het is typisch Chinees, inplaats van onze grote Japanse Tuin met grote wandelpaden is hier alles in een binnenblok gebouwd. Maar wel enorm mooi, en heb zeer leuke beelden, met toch een paar wow-momenten.

Het leven op straat beleeft hier ‘s avonds zijn hoogtepunt, maar om 11u stipt valt alles stil. Roltrappen, lichtreclames, fonteinen. En ook de jacuzzi. Ondertussen begint

Terwijl ik dit schrijf heb ik 3 uurtjes slaap achter de rug, gecombineerd met de 3 van deze namiddag maakt dat ik om half 5 klaar wakker lig.

Bijgevoed trouwens nog paar sfeerfoto’s van vandaag. Snelle iPad bewerking.

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So, Shanhai.

I’ve always loved traveling, having spent many summers, springs, autumns and winters outside of Belgium. Sometimes close, sometimes thousands of miles away. Mostly with family, but on my 18th I got the pleasure of flying to Star Wars Celebration III in Indianapolis, USA on my own. Or with friends to London, Scotland and Ireland.

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But the call I’ve got 2 weeks ago tops everything. A representative of Edelman called me. It’s a public relations firm representing Hewlett-Packard.

Their question was simple. Would I be interested in covering an HP press-event 9 and 10 May. In the Shanghai Expo Centre. Shanghai, China.

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Yes, I am interested.

So, if the journalist visa gets approved, I will join the 250 European journalists in the Shanghai for their big presentation. Items on the agenda: Showcase innovations, partnerships, customers. Launch new commercial and consumer products, services and solutions. And their angle on Windows 8.

So, with a bit of luck, in 2 weeks you’ll get a lot of pictures from the other other side of the world.

For more info, stay tuned on my Facebook page.