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  • Arigatou

    Arigatou

    I've been teaching English to speakers of other languages for a while now. But I've had some of the best teaching moments and memories working here in Japan. Here are just some of the inspiring Japanese men, women, boys and girls I've had the pleasure of teaching. To them and all the other people that have supported our little school, ありがとうございました!

    Good luck and hope to see you again some day!

    Marvin

  • My Fuji X100s: The little engine that could.

    My Fuji X100s: The little engine that could.

    All the rave, hype and excitement from superstar photographers Zach Arias, Chase Jarvis and David Hobby are all true! This little mirrorless digital camera from Fujifilm is an amazing piece of kit. It's been a fantastic addition to my line of bodies and lenses from Canon. I can even use it with all my lighting gear! It's a great walk-around, travel, always on you and don't even have to think about it camera. It's the 35mm focal length equivalent that's found its home in my soul. Here are some of my favourite images I've taken so far with my Fuji X100s. 

  • I got the blues.

    I got the blues.

    It's blueberry season already. And here in Japan, these babies are top shelf stuff. The quality of locally grown fruit in this country just really sets the world standard for premium fruit. The growers here just put so much work into each and every piece as would Japanese engineers put into manufacturing camera lenses. Just sheer perfection. The designer quality obviously comes with it the same designer prices.

    All images taken with 5D2 + 100mm f2.8LIS - handheld.

    Oh and speaking of perfection, have I mentioned how much I love my new lens:

    Just another example of homemade precision in this country. Brilliant stuff!

  • Profile Portrait Principles

    Profile Portrait Principles

    This is Yuriko, a good friend of ours who we suggested sign up for a Facebook account. Though she wasn't really happy with any photo she had to use as her profile image. So we decided to help her out by taking a super quick photoshoot outside. She was quite pleased with the results and so were we.

    I've noticed though that a lot of the profile photos I see on the daily news feed these days could've actually been so much better. So I've noted down for you some of my tips on setting up an ideal profile "portrait" for your social networking page. 

    But certainly each to their own, it's a free world and it's your persona to play with. So please disregard all this if you're hell-bent on using your childhood photo, your kid's photo, your pet's photo, a group photo you happen to be in, your family photo, a couple photo you have to be in, your dated wedding photo, your sports/music/artist/performer action photo, your body part photo, your I'm a tourist "Where's Wally" landscape photo, your eating food photo, your obscene gesture photo, your I've got a drink and about to get drunk at a party photo, your I've got tons of friends and getting drunk at a party photo, your silly funny face photo, your Halloween costume photo, your photobooth photo, your planking photo, your I'm so freakin hot in the mirror photo, your I'm a cartoon character photo, your that's not even you photo. Ok we'll leave it there. I think you know who you are. Or do you.. really.

    For those of you still here and keen to shoot a portrait that really captures who you are as a person, here are some things I think could be helpful.

    Here we go:

    • Having good lighting is the priority. If it's natural light you're after, look for that warm soft lighting in the early morning and late afternoon. Using that light as a backlight can have some pretty good results too like in this photo of Silvia.

    • If you're gonna opt for strobed lighting to get that dramatic 3D look, make sure it's off-camera like in this photo of Shaine. The flash on your camera is just gonna make it look like a mugshot. So turn that sucker off, unless you actually want that mugshot look. 

    • Sharp focus is also key and the eyes have to have it. They're the windows to your soul, or the catchlight you can see here in Yuyi's portrait. Use a wide aperture for a shallow depth of field to melt the background distraction into a buttery blur.

    • Keep it simple and don't draw unwanted attention on your clothes, accessories, make-up or hairstyle. Think actor's headshot like this photo of Mark.

    • Smiling is great but you have to make sure it's real and genuine. Appiah's candid laugh here especially has that endearing appeal.

    • And you certainly don't have to be smiling. Some might say "why so serious?".  But Jimmy's relaxed expression here shows a lot of confidence which is sometimes more flattering.

    • Use a long focal length to avoid distortion and frame tightly to draw attention to the eyes. It's actually perfectly ok to crop tops of heads above the hairline like in this framing of Ellen.

    • Avoid distortion by using a longer focal length than what's on your smart phone. The lens on your iPhone is about a 35mm equivalent, which isn't too wide, but holding it only at arms length away to snap your selfie might add the dreaded ten pounds cameras are infamous for or make you consider getting a nose job. Just don't frame so tightly on the face if that's all you've got. Go for a half body composition like in this shot of Adeel.

    Let go of that stress. It sticks out so easily on a still photo. Breath, feel at ease and be yourself. Look how calm and gorgeous Sardana is here.

    Relax but watch your posture, and get that chin forward. Be proud and own it.

    Thanks and good luck with your shot!

  • The absence of the light.

    The absence of the light.

    Last week I braved the cold winds and headed out to the local beach to get this nice long exposure seascape shot. Cropped to fit as my new facebook cover. I set up my gear at this old pier along the rocky parts of Kaike beach, here in Tottori prefecture, west Japan. It was a pretty impulsive project, as usual, just so I could test drive my new black glass, Kenko ND400, a neutral density lens filter that darkens your meter by 9 stops, to make for super long exposures even in the brightest of lighting conditions. 

    The sun was setting fast so I couldn't really stay for too long. This was one of the first shots I took without the filter:

    Canon 5D mark II + 24-70mm ƒ2.8L, @ 24mm, ISO100, ƒ16, 3 exposures bracketed at 2 stops of 2.5s, 0.6s and 1/6. Supported with Gitzo GT3531 Mountaineer tripod legs, Markins plates, Q20 ballhead and TH-300 hub. Triggered with Yongnuo RF603s.

    It was nice but attempts to HDR this in colour were just horrible. So it had to be relegated to monochrome. It's ok I guess to convey the drama of the scene. It was just lacking that mystical mood I was looking for.

    So I wacked on the black glass and couldn't see anything out of the viewfinder. Obviously. You have to compose and have your focus set before screwing on the filter. Then you sit back and let the magic happen. Well I wasn't exactly sitting back. I was in a solid karate stance against the waves. The legs on my Gitzo are stronger really. I remembered to bring my gumboots this time. But I still got wet.

    The final shot I was happy with above was shot @ 24mm, ISO100, ƒ11, and 1 very long exposure of 120 seconds! The movement in the water turned into a misty swamp, making it look like some dark and creepy bridge somewhere in Mordor.

    I gotta try this assignment again with better light and a lot more texture and movement in the sky. Thanks for dropping by.

  • Fresh sushi... say that ten times real fast: fresh sushi fresh-sush fre-sush freshush feshush feshis

    Fresh sushi... say that ten times real fast: fresh sushi fresh-sush fre-sush freshush feshush feshis

    Finally it's here. MARVINFOXPHOTOGRAPHY.com our website.

    While I could say that it's about damn time I've got myself an online portfolio - on the other hand, it's all been in good time. It's been a steady but consistant build up of skills and materials, where I've gotten to experiment and grow as a photographer. And now I'm more than ready to introduce and share a little of what I've done and of what I hope I can do, on an offically public online medium. Quite different from the clustered and complex relationships of social networks. But it's thanks to Flickr, Facey and Twitter that I've managed to reach out to way more people than I could possibly attempt to network with from my meagre contacts list.

    Indeed it's been an unselfish collaboration of resources that's allowed me to get this far already... even though I haven't really gone anywhere with it. Thanks first and foremost to my wife Ikuno, and our two little girls Arisa and Keina. All three have assisted, provided the support and cover to let me go off to spend the precious time we have on photography projects. While never objecting to my random plans to always have them as my photo subjects. "Hurry up, Daddy!" is a common line in our household.

    Thanks also to all the models I've had the pleasure of working with. These portraits are here thanks to you and your intrinsic beauty, inside and out. I hope I've represented you and your story well. Let's do it all again some time. Did that just sound like Chandler Bing... coz I totally meant that.

    Thanks to all my family and friends, near, far, and farther, with your encouragement, support and wake up calls throughout. You don't know how much you've really helped out even by just throwing me the odd clue here and there to get me on track. Can you believe that it was only since last week that I've finally started backing up my hard drives? I'm a shocker I know.

    Thanks for dropping by. I'll keep this blog up to date with whatever I'm working on... sushi fresh.

    First post: done.