Monday, December 29, 2008

Mac vs. PC meets Transformers

Apple's "Get A Mac" ad campaign featuring John Hodges and Justin Long has been getting a bit stale lately. Here's a fan-animated ad that totally blows them out of the water. You just need a little patience to get through the two lame human "actors" in the beginning. It's worth the wait though.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Some of the best images come when you least expect it.

Window, originally uploaded by Mizomi Photography.

For this particular look for Lindsey we experimented with several different things, trying to get it to work. We changed her jacket, her belt, posing, etc.

Lindsey happened to glance outside the window while the hairstylist was adjusting her hair and I snapped this frame. She wasn't posing, it wasn't really framed perfectly, and I don't remember if I took the time to really finetune the focus. It turned out to be one of our favorite images from this setup.

Lighting info:

This was shot in the atrium of the building where I work. The model is standing next to a 2-story wall made entirely of glass. Great light to work with, like a giant softbox.

Outside it was overcast, so the light filling the atrium was a little too flat. I had my assistant Julie take an SB26 on a lightstand and position it outside the building on the other side of the glass right next to Lindsey.

With the SB26 set on 1/4 power shooting through a shoot-thru umbrella, we were able to add some directionality to the light.

Images from Sunday's fashion shoot

1st shot of the shoot, originally uploaded by Mizomi Photography.

This past Sunday I had the chance to work with Lindsey, a new model here on Maui.

Jessica, our makeup artist, organized the shoot and she also had a hairstylist, a wardrobe stylist, an assistant, and even a video crew at one point. It was the biggest crew I've ever worked with. Everyone worked really hard and by the end of the day we were exhausted, but we got some great shots out of the shoot.

You can see more images from the shoot in the Flickr set here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Came across this website a while back but forgot to mention it in the blog. DesignReviver has lots of cool Photoshop tutorials for retouching. If your primary photographic subjects are people and you can't afford a lot of plugins for Photoshop (like me), you should definitely take the time to check out this site.

Reviewing past shoots

Garden , originally uploaded by Mizomi Photography.

Checking to see how Flickr interacts with my Blogger blog. At the same time, I've been going over images from some of my earlier shoots.

It's amazing what software such as Photoshop and Lightroom allow you to do these days. Many of my first model photoshoots were shot on JPG, which is not as easy to adjust as RAW. With the latest version of Lightroom, I've been able to go back and salvage images that I had passed over several years ago because of poor exposure or focus.

This image of Michelle is from a workshop I attended several years ago. One of the first times I worked with a professional model.

Shot in Hana with mostly natural light. Used a Gary Fong Lightphere on my 580ex flash to add a little bit of fill and catchlights in the eyes. Original JPG exposure was adjusted in Lightroom 2 about a stop or so.

Hmmmm.... I like how the images look when I post them from Flickr. Much easier to do blog posts this way as well. Gonna have to start doing that from now on.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More shots from Dominika's shoot

Some more images from my shot with Dominika on Sunday. Ding Kings is such a cool place for a photo shoot!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Images from Sunday photoshoot

Yesterday's photoshoot was with Dominika, an actress/writer from L.A. who has been in many TV shows and films, including the forthcoming "The Vanquisher".

We first started out on a beach in Paia, where I got to experiment with my RadioPoppers for the first time since I received them. In the past I had been having hit or miss problems with Canon's infrared wireless flash system especially in outdoor settings. With the Radio Poppers installed on my ST-E2 transmitter and 580ex flash, I could just concentrate on photographing Dominika.

We next went to Ding Kings - one of the most amazing locations I have seen on Maui. It is a surfboard repair shop housed in an old warehouse in Kahului. Check out this blog for a tour of the place.

They were gracious enough to allow us to shoot at this location and we were able to get some really great shots. It was such an interesting place to shoot. Everytime we turned around, we found another cool thing to shoot.

This was one of the most interesting things to shoot there. The people at Ding Kings built this set of chairs and table that is HUGE. Really neat stuff to shoot!

At this location I chose to use 2 lights. The main was an Alien Bees AB800 with a beauty dish triggered with a Pocket Wizard. To give Dominika some light to pop her out of the background, I used a Nikon SB26 on a lightstand behind her. I also occasionally used a silver Lastolite Trigrip reflector to add a touch of fill.

Thank you Dominika for being such a great subject to photograph, and special thanks to Ding Kings for allowing us to shoot on their property today.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The second time around

Last year I had the chance to work with Natalie, a model/actress I met through Model Mayhem.

Today I had the chance to work with her again, which was a lot of fun. Natalie is such a great model to work with - very easygoing, great attitude, and very patient with me (which is a big help since I'm still experimenting with lighting techniques.).

She has a new hairstyle, which is much shorter than it was when we first shot together. I thought it looked pretty cool and it added some nice variety to my portfolio. This was one of our favorites from today's shoot.

For this session, we shot in the atrium of the building where I work at. It has these giant steel columns as part of the architecture which I thought would be cool to try with her red dress.

This was done with two SB-28 strobes: the main strobe (1/2 power) was gelled with a CTO + 1/8CTO gel, while the rear (1/4 power ) had a 3/4 CTO. Both shooting thru white umbrellas to make a larger lightsource. I had originally planned to try to make it look like a night shoot by setting the white balance to tungsten and let the daylight filtering through the glass wall turn everything else blue. The problem with using umbrellas as a light modifier is that they throw light all over the place. I was getting some CTO colored light on the back wall, so I couldn't get it to go blue enough for what I had in mind. It was also late afternoon, so a lot of the daylight was fading away.

I think the next time I try something like this, I'll switch to softboxes instead of the umbrellas and remember to bring a couple of gobos to keep the unwanted light off the background.

Friday, October 3, 2008

In Plain English

Stumbled across this site that produces short videos to explain complex topics. For someone like myself who struggles to keep up with rapidly changing technology, this is a godsend.

They have videos that cover a wide range of topics - from online photo sharing to explaining how we elect a president. Check out The Common Craft Show.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Site online

New website online!

designed by Valeria Figallo

New photography website under construction

I have a web designer working on a new Flash version of my photography portfolio website. She's a model/photographer/web designer I met through Model Mayhem.

The cool thing is, we've never met face to face. She's located in Lima, Peru.

What even cooler is, she's only 17.

I've already had the chance to see the preliminary work she's done for my site and it's way beyond anything I'd be able to create on my own.

Check out her work at

Friday, September 5, 2008

Images from last month's shoot on Oahu

Had the chance to work with two models on Oahu last month - Alia and Kristen. I met both of them through their portfolios on I also got to work with two excellent makeup artists - Toni and Kecia. They were all excellent to work with and very patient with me as I am still getting used to working in a studio.

For these two shoots, I was able to rent some studio time at Ohana West Studio in Honolulu.
Very convenient location - right across the street from Honolulu Community College.

These two images are of Alia. We wanted to add some color to her portfolio, so we used a kimono-style silk robe and a red samurai sword (found both of these in Akihabara). We had a WL 1600 in a medium softbox as her main light, and an AB800 in a strip box behind her to separate her from the background.

We used a fan to add movement to some of the shots. Ohana West Studios has this big industrial fan that only has 2 speeds - hurricane mode and holycrapthisisfast. The fan was so strong it kept moving the softbox. But it made for some great shots.

This is Kristen. She wanted to try out a cupcake theme, and this was one of my favorite images of the day.

Even though she did not have as much experience as some other models I've worked with in the past, she was amazing to work with. This was one of the last images of the day that we shot, and she really made it work.

For this image, We used pretty much the same lighting as Alia's kimono shoot with only two changes. First we changed the background to a white seamless. We then put a grid on the medium softbox to keep most of the main light from spilling onto the white seamless paper, and cause the main light on her to gradually falloff. This let us change the background color to medium gray, and also draw more attention to the model's face.

Thanks to two wonderful (and patient) models, and two excellent makeup artists, I gained some more experience with working in a studio environment and was able to add some variety to my portfolio.

Friday, August 29, 2008

What being a photographer means to me

To me, photography is not always about making a profit, it's about being able to give something of yourself to someone - to make a difference in people's lives. Sometimes when I least expect it, I'll be reminded of why I got into photography in the first place.

I had a short break between two model shoots that I was doing at Ohana West Studios on Oahu this past weekend, so I walked next door to Spot's Inn to get a quick bite to eat.
While I was eating, I was very surprised to learn from their staff that it was their last day of business after 13 years.

They were serving the last of the food to their customers and taking lots of pictures with their cameras.

Before I realized it I ran back to the studio, grabbed my 5D, a strobe and a lightsphere, ran back to the restaurant and offered to take some photos for them at no charge.

I emailed the photos to them and also sent them a CD. The following email from their staff reminded me why I really enjoy photography and why I would do it again in a heartbeat if the situation ever presented itself again.

"Aloha Todd,

All of us at Spot’s Inn were sincerely touched by your thoughtfulness and kindness. It is a rare occurrence, indeed, for someone to so generously give of their time and talent. You can never know how much it meant to us to have someone capture such an important and memorable day in all of our lives. We deeply appreciate you more than we can ever say and will always treasure not only the pictures, but the generosity you showed to us that day. We thank you again Todd from the bottom of our hearts and we will cherish YOU and your photos forever!"

Friday, July 18, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different....

Up until this last trip to Japan, the only models I have worked with have been female.  This was a new experience for me.

Meet Hiro-san:

Shortly before I left for Japan at the beginning of this month, Hiro contacted me via Model Mayhem and wanted to setup a shoot together in Tokyo.  Since I had never worked with a male model before, I thought this would be a great learning experience. I wasn't disappointed.

As you can see from above, Hiro isn't your typical Japanese salaryman.  He is a very dynamic and expressive individual.

We also had the help of a very talented makeup artist who specializes in male models & creating special effects like sweat, cuts and bruises.  This was perfect as one of the themes Hiro and I wanted to try was an action movie style shoot.

 There was a summit meeting being held in Hokkaido while I was in Japan, so there were many policemen to be seen on almost every street corner.  We had to use caution because we were using airsoft guns as props so we tried to find areas out of the public eye.  Law enforcement people tend to react negatively to male models running down the street waving a Sig Sauer 226 handgun.

We found this "empty" side alley while walking to Yoyogi Park in Harajuku and decided to make use of it.  I set up 2 Nikon SB-26 flashes on either side of him (being careful to watch out for the security camera nearby) and started experimenting.  I used a Canon 5D with a 17-35mm L lens and triggered the SB 26s with Pocket Wizards.  This particular shot I had both flashes on about 1/2 to 1/4 power.  The SB-26 to camera right was fitted with a gridspot made from a Frosted Flakes cereal box and some black drinking straws to direct the light more onto him and not so much on the back wall.

Of course, the moment we started shooting in this empty, unused alleyway, it turned into Grand Central Station. We had to pause every few minutes to let people, deliverymen, bicycles, baby buggies, etc. go through.  We were able to get a few good shots in before one of my SB-26s got knocked over and went bye-bye.

An unexpected bonus of working with Hiro was that I also got to work with Lille, a friend of Hiro who joined us halfway through the shoot.

I used the same lighting setup for this shot, but added a CTO gel to the back SB-26 to warm up the backlighting on her hair.
She kinda reminded me of a younger version of Sex in the City's Kim Catrall.  
Lille was great fun to work with as well, and we ended up getting some pretty fun shots by the time we ended our session together.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

After a slight mishap, I finally received my Strobist DVD set


David Hobby, who teaches lighting to photographers via his website, recently released an  8-DVD set of his lighting seminars. Whether you're an amateur or a professional photographer, you HAVE to get this DVD set if you want to understand how to use small flashes to really improve your images.  There's nearly 10 HOURS of material here!

I had ordered this DVD set as soon as I heard about it.  Unfortunately, our local post office had a break in and my package was among those that were stolen.  Since it was shipped via Priority Mail, there is no chance of recovery.

I mentioned this in a Flicker discussion group and David Hobby caught wind of it.  The next thing I know, he sends me a replacement copy out his own pocket!  This guy really wants people to learn how to light! 

I received it a few days ago and have been watching it nonstop ever since.  There is so much good information in it and I;m learning so much that my brain is starting to melt.

Monday, June 23, 2008

1 Light Photography

Using strobes outdoors has been a challenge for me.  I shoot mostly outdoors, so I tend to rely on using natural light and wide open apertures for my lighting.  I've used strobes mostly during wedding shoots to fill in shadows or when shooting indoors in dark churches.

Since I began venturing into model photography, I've studied every book/training DVD/website I could get my hands on in order to better understand lighting.  I wanted to learn how to use strobes not merely as a fill light, but to add that little extra kick to an image.  

One of the first things I learned was not to start by buying a whole bunch of studio lights.  It's far easier and more efficient to start simple - 1 light.  Once you understand what you can do with that one light, then you can go on and add more lights to your gear.  The idea is to go slowly, adding one light at a time while learning what that light can and cannot do.

This past Sunday, I was fortunate enough to work with Sara, a model from South Carolina who contacted me through the Model Mayhem website.  We shot in the garden and the beach at the Sands of Kahana.  This gave me a great opportunity to practice what I had learned - using a single strobe on a lightstand to supplement/enhance the natural light.

Most of the images we shot were done with a Nikon SB-28 in manual mode, triggered by a Pocket Wizard on my Canon 1DMkII.  This image was done with natural light, and the SB-28 behind her acting as a hair light.

Here we reversed the setup.  The SB-28 is now the main light, overpowering the sun.  The sun is used as a rim light to pop the model off the background.

I also had an Alien Bees AB800 and a beauty dish with me but unfortunately the battery pack for that strobe died on me that day, so I ended up having to rely on the Nikon strobe for the majority of our shots. I was really hoping to try out the beauty dish on more shots with Sara as she was a really great model to work with.  I was able to get the following shot done before the AB800 battery went down.

I was very lucky to have such a patient model to work with.  Sara was a real trooper, running back to her room countless times to change outfits and braving the passing rain showers to keep on working with me up until sunset. 

This was one of the last shots we did.  I softened the SB-28 with a Gary Fong Lightsphere II in direct mode.  One of the cool things about the Lightsphere is that it warms up the color of the flash, which looks pretty cool when shooting with the sunset in the background.

This was a fun shoot.  I got to practice new techniques I had learned and was able to create some cool shots with a model who was just awesome to work with.  Thank you Sara for all your hard work!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wedding Highlight Video for Joanne and Kevin

Sometimes the coolest things happen when you least expect it.

I had the honor and privilege of being asked by my friend Joanne to videotape her wedding this past April.  I currently have an editor in California that is working on editing the video.  She does awesome work and I can't wait to see the results.

However, Joanne and her fiance Kevin have become very good friends of mine over these past few years and I wanted to do something extra special for them.

Since I am currently learning to use Adobe After Effects, I started playing around with creating a title sequence to use in their video.  One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was halfway through creating a highlight video of the wedding day.

Joanne & Kevin Wedding Highlights from Todd Mizomi on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Maui Matsuri 2008

For the past few years, the Maui Matsuri has featured live action performances by Kikaida and Kikaida 01.  These are Japanese tokusatsu superhero shows from the 70's that were recently brought back to popularity thanks to the great people at JN Productions in Honolulu.  I have had the honor of being asked to videotape the performances almost every year, and it is just so much fun to see the great costumes they make and the enthusiasm that goes into each performance.

The show also features the actual Japanese actors from the TV series - Ban Daisuke and Ikeda Shunsuke. It's great to see them interacting with all their fans.  Many of the kids (like myself) who grew up watching these shows now have children of their own, so now there is a whole new generation of Kikaida fans.  JN Productions has even created a website dedicated to Kikaida and all the other Japanese superhero shows we remember when we were kids - Generation Kikaida.

This year they also introduced Inazuman, another Japanese superhero from the 70's.  I vaguely remember having one of the Inazuman action figures when I was a kid. If I had kept all the Japanese superhero toys I had from my childhood, I'd probably have a small fortune by now.
JN Productions is bringing Inazuman to DVD later this year.  Definitely will have to pick that up.

From left to right: Inazuman, Kikaida, Ban Daisuke,Kikaida 01, Ikeda Shunsuke.

The only show that I've missed so far is the Kamen Rider V3 show.  That was one of my favorites, but the year they brought him over to Maui, I was away at a photo workshop and couldn't videotape the show. :-(

You can see more photos from the show and from past shows at

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Funny commercials

Stumbled across this today - a commercial about a bunch of crooks breaking into a bank.  It's in Thai, but subtitled.  Great payoff at the end.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Congratulations Joanne & Kevin

I had the honor and pleasure of videotaping the wedding of my friends Joanne and Kevin yesterday in Kaanapali, Maui.  Although it had rained the night before, the weather cleared up in the morning and they had a very nice ceremony at the old airport beach.  Congratulations you two!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

First test with Beauty Dish

I was first introduced to using a beauty dish at a photography workshop I attended several years ago. It's basically a big reflector that fits over a monolight and gives a really nice look to an image.  Beauty dishes are commonly used in fashion and glamour photography because of the way it nicely diffuses the light.

I bought a used one on eBay several months ago, but didn't really have a chance to use it on a location shoot until this past weekend.  On Sunday, I met with Angel Eyes - another model I met through Model Mayhem.

The beauty dish was mounted on an AB800 set to full power and powered by a Vagabond 2 battery pack.  We used a set of Pocket Wizards to trigger the strobe.  Because the strobe is much more powerful than an on camera flash, we were able to get more color out of the sunset backdrop by using a higher shutter speed (around 1/250).  An added bonus of using a high shutter speed is that it freezes the splash of the water at her feet.

After seeing the quality of light that the beauty dish produces, I'm thinking I want to try experimenting with it more often.  One thing I'm thinking about now that I've had a chance to review the images is that I should have moved the light in closer to get a softer look to the light.  In the setup shot above, we had the light up on the rocks about 10-12 feet away from her, in order to keep the strobe from getting wet.  Salt water and battery powered strobes don't play very well with each other.

It is a bit cumbersome to lug around as I don't have a carrying case big enough to fit it in.  I'm very lucky I had an assistant (Julie) on this shoot, as I probably would have ended up dropping it and chasing it around the parking lot. Thanks Julie! 

Monday, April 7, 2008

Japanese Commercials and 24 Season 7 trailer

Japanese companies often use American actors/actresses in commercials to promote their products.  There have been ads with Bruce Willis selling gasoline, Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz promoting cellphones, and Tommy Lee Jones sipping Boss coffee. 

I just found these with a "24" theme featuring Kiefer Sutherland in his Jack Bauer role selling the energy bar - CalorieMate.

(trailer for Season 7 of "24" at the bottom):

Using your Nintendo DS as a Kanji Dictionary

We travel to Japan frequently, so I've been looking for a good electronic Japanese dictionary to carry around with me.  I found this one that was made for the Nintendo DS called Kanji Sono Mama DS Rakubiki Jiten.  What's neat about this is that it lets you look up a kanji by writing it on the screen.  Here's a short demo on how to use it:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Off-Camera Lighting

Ever since I started visiting Strobist to learn more about lighting, I've been trying to make it a habit of experimenting with what I've learned every chance I get.  This past Friday I had the chance to do a shot I've always wanted to try - backlighting the couple at the altar.

Usually with Canon strobes, you need to have line of sight to your slave flash in order for it to fire.  In the past I had used the ST-E2 transmitter on top of the camera to trigger the slave flash.  This was pretty much hit or miss whenever the slave flash was behind something - a door, a model, Darth Vader, etc.  

Someone suggested I use 2 strobes - a slave off camera, and one on the camera as a master trigger.  The flash on-camera can be set to just triggering the slave, but not firing itself.  Apparently this allows for better range/reliability than just using the ST-E2 transmitter.

For this shot I had my assistant put the flash on the altar positioning it so that the head of the flash came right between the couple's faces.  I then fired off several shots until we got this one.  One of the things to watch out for is to make sure you don't see the flash head in the viewfinder when you take  the shot.  Since the flash is firing back toward you, if your camera sensor sees the direct flash, it will seriously underexpose the shot and you won't get the cool backlighting effect.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

More from 1st Japan shoot

Whew! It took over a month, but I was finally able to go through the images we took in Japan this past December and do the post production work on them. I really need to streamline my RAW workflow in Adobe Lightroom so that I can get these done faster next time.

This was the studio that we rented in Japan. A bit small, but very close to the train station so it was pretty easy to find.

Since this was my first time to this studio, I was not sure what to expect as far as lighting equipment that was available. Due to luggage weight restrictions on the airlines, I was not able to bring along my studio lighting equipment from Hawaii. When I looked at the studio's website, I saw these two softbox lights which I assumed were strobes. I figured I could get by with two strobes in softboxes.

When I arrived at the studio I found out that these were "hot lights" - continuous light sources, not strobes as I had initially thought (I REALLY need to learn to read more kanji). This was a bit of a challenge for me, as I was used to using "hot lights" for video work, not photography.

Luckily I had brought along my Strobist kit - 2 small lightstands, 2 umbrellas and a pair of Nikon SB24 flashes. I ended up using the hot lights to light the model and matched it with the SB24s with umbrellas to light and hide the wrinkles in the white backdrop.

While the makeup artist and hair stylist were working on Stephanie's second look for the shoot, I tried to think of something I could do with just my Strobist kit. I knew that I wanted to color the background to help the model's outfit stand out more. I put an SB-24 with an umbrella on a stand to my right to illuminate the model. I then stuck a Gary Fong Whaletail with a blue gel onto my other SB-24 and stuck it behind the cushions in the corner behind the model to get this:

Overall, it was a great learning experience, and we got some really cool images out of this shoot. To see more images from this shoot, visit

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Macworld 2008 Keynote in 60 seconds

Thanks to Mahalo Daily with Veronica Belmont, today's Macworld 2008 keynote speech by Steve Jobs has been condensed from 90 minutes down to 60 seconds. They should do this every year! ;-)