Land – Week 3 of Project 52

As part of the Project 52 that I joined for this year, week 3 calls for drawing your inspiration from anything related to land, be it a landscape or an image inspired by the land in some way. Living in the middle of the Central Business District of the Philippines made it difficult for me as all I can shoot here are cityscapes. Luckily I got a call from a prospective client to do an ocular inspection of their new bed & breakfast hotel in Tagaytay. So I thought after my meeting I would just find a spot to get a shot of the Taal Volcano and the surrounding Taal Lake, but as it turned out I didn’t even need to do that. Click on the Read More link to know why. Read more

SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) – Week 2 of Project 52

Straight out of camera, no editing, no Photoshop!

What?! No editing? No Photoshop? You must be kidding! Quite a daunting task nowadays to post or print a photo without editing first, running it through Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom or even just your favorite mobile app, even just our selfies and group photos almost always gets digital editing in one form or another. The advent of digital photography made it easy for everyone to snap a photo and would automatically think that I can edit that later on my computer if not satisfied with the result. So can you imagine back in the film days the degree of difficulty of producing a well composed, properly exposed and correctly colored photograph?

Where in the world

Starting late last year after attending photography workshops under the famous celebrity photographer Raymund Isaac and back-to-back Camera Club of the Philippines Master Photographer of the Year Jijo De Guzman, both Canon Philippines brand ambassadors, I started to put into practice what they preached of trying your best to get everything right in camera and not think of the fact that I can correct it later in post process. At first it was really difficult since I was so used to editing my photos, since I started out as a graphic artist, then a web designer before I tried photography. The one fact that both great photographers said that really pushed me to strive to get great results out of the camera was what if you have hundreds of photos, are you going to run those all through an editing software? How many hours or days that would take you?


I never really thought of it that way and I always thought that since everything is digital, running your photos through an editing software or app to make corrections is the norm. So now when I do a photo shoot or cover an event, I would try my very best to get everything right in camera and what a difference that made. Imagine the number of hours or even days that I can now use for other tasks.

I encourage anyone to try to challenge yourself to get everything right from the camera.

Rules of Third – Week 1 of Project 52

The Rules of Third is the most basic of all and the first that photographers learn on compositional rules. While others have seen it on their smartphones or digital cameras, they don’t know what it is for and how to best use it. In this article I will give a little backgrounder on how I stumbled upon the rules of third and how I use it.

When I first started taking photos with my first smartphone, a Nokia N8, I would usually place the person or the subject in the center of the shot. I didn’t know about the composition rules back then that would had made the photos more interesting and convey more information to the one looking at it. I just keep taking shots of people, places and scenes that piqued my interest and then post it on social media or in this blog.

Fireworks display 2017

Tree of light. Shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM IS II.


Now I was getting comments that although I was taking good photos but something was lacking. That is when I started digging deeper on how to improve my shots. The first and the most important one in my opinion is composition and there are many ways of composing a shot but the most basic and readily available to everyone now who has a smartphone or digital camera is the Rules Of Third.  So what is it? Basically you divide your scene into thirds by imagining 2 horizontal and 2 vertical lines evenly spaced from each other placed across your shot. After having done that you make it a point to put your subject or what is important for you along those lines if it cannot be placed at the intersection. With the advent of digital photography you can go to the settings menu of your camera or smartphone and if available you will see something like “turn on grid” option.

It is great for landscape photography or travel photography but how about portrait photography? In the portrait images below I was able to apply the rules of third to each image.

Caught between emotions. Shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM IS II.

The nymph. Shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM IS II.

In my style of portrait photography, the eyes is the most important part of the composition in a shot similar to the one above. So I would make it a point to have one of the eyes if not both eyes on the top horizontal line and if possible be on the intersection of two lines.

Something on my shoulder. Shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM IS II.

For this shot since the model is not looking at the camera as per my instruction, I still kept one of the eyes along one of the lines, then the lips and then the chest area which for me is what makes this photo work for me.

Shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM ISII

The lake. Shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM IS II.

Another example where the model is not looking away from the camera, the eyes, lips and chest area are all along the lines.In the shot above, I put the blocks along one of the vertical lines, the cottage though partly hidden by the tree at the intersection. One look at the photo and you are drawn to look at the blocks till the end of it which leads to the cottage. Yes, I used another compositional tool in this shot. Can you guess what is it? Leave your comment.

One important fact to remember that you should not limit your shot to the Rules Of Third but instead use it as a tool to come up with a better shot. Study the rule, master the rule, bend the rule, break the rule.

Next post will be about getting great shots straight out of camera or SOOC. No editing.

Happy New Year!

Welcome to Photography by Istik!

I thought of changing the title of the site from Istik Online to Photography by Istik as it is more appropriate since this will now be the venue of sharing my photography. Yes there are social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter which I also have but they have very strict  rules about any form of nudity apart from those who for just the hell of it would report your post and gets you locked out of your account even if you hadn’t broken any of the rules. For post that are not safe for the workplace, I will add the tag NSFW to serve as a warning.


Which way is up?

So what should you expect from this blog and why you should follow it?

There is the 52-week photography project that I will be doing this year with some of my friends who are also into photography, so you can expect a post each week focusing on a particular photography topic and I hope that by sharing it with the followers of this blog, they would also get to learn something out of it. The first one will be about the Rules of Third, the most basic form of composition and the first one that most photographers will learn. From time to time I would also be posting an article that is not necessarily a part of the project but still related to photography, that I think is great and should be shared with those who follow this blog. As photography is very broad subject expect something from beauty, fashion, glamour, intimate portraiture to fine-art nudes.

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