On Assignment: Kyoto

Travelers line up at Kyoto station. Photograph by cory Lum.

Travelers line up at Kyoto station. Photograph by cory Lum.

Aloha all! Apologies for not posting sooner. Work has been steady with interesting gigs !
Sharing some behind the scenes images from a project shot in Kyoto, Japan. Strict contract requirements prevent me from sharing the ‘take’ but more announcements will come in 2015.  I’ve also started a Instagram account, please check it out @corypix @corypix @corypix for recent photographic meanderings.

Model being dressed by expert staff. Kyoto, Japan. Photograph by cory Lum. Instagram via @corypix

Model being dressed by expert staff. Kyoto, Japan. Photograph by cory Lum. Instagram via @corypix

Whirlwind of a trip shuttling photography gear much like a snail carrying the house on the back. Complete with 3 Nikon bodies, lenses and a full location lighting kit that was really worked as the most important tenet is ‘quality light’


Below we have some of the amazing hand made textiles. Each garment is a unique work of art.




Kyoto is an amazing city. Lots of history and amazing views. Below a torii or gate at one of the many gate entrances to the Royal Palace in Kyoto. Much of Kyoto has been photographed. The extreme challenge is making unique images of a well photographed city, story telling visually and giving the viewer a ‘cory Lum’ view of Kyoto.

Tilt shift torii

Tilt shift torii

More to come.


more light

sorry for the delay in posting. made our move back to the islands.

first off, glad to assist with any portraits, wedding and commercial/advertising photography projects.

some images from last weekends wedding. commissioned to assist w/ portraits after ceremony. this was a stunningly beautiful day and equally beautiful bride and groom. brought the new D800 bodies out. these bodies scream for needing light. wasn’t too amazed w/ the way they bodies handled available light. since the clients didn’t need the 103MB file output i decided to shoot on ‘M’ or medium files. these whopping ‘M-sized’ files were 56MB total with tons of latitude.

above image shot w/ my special light modifier prototype (more on this later). please note too, all images are right out of the camera, no Photoshop at all.

running and gunning for less than an hour as light fades is always a challenge. thankfully i’m switched over back to regular pocketwizards which paired with my Armatar 300ws heads are a godsend. insert full mass here ! the pocketwizard non TTL lights worked perfectly.

decided to work simply with one light and the beautiful setting sun. the light quality from my light modifier ( i’ll call it a “LUM-ISPHERE’ patent pending) is stunning. specular highlights and the ability to offer speedy setup and nearly wind resistant too. i’m working on larger options and a windproof one too ! will be building prototypes for these sometime soon. the internal baffling and internal diffusion/reflection system inside is what really sets this light modifier apart from any current product out.

quality of light

learning about facebook and twitter… the million dollar questions, how do i connect a potential client to the vendor, in my case, how do i connect with new clients or companies needing images for their corporation or brand ? if u know please let me know. i’m learning about how social media can spawn new clientele. many humble thanks to our readership.

not just any kind of photographic images that any tom, dick or harry can make w/ a $2000 multi megapixel camera, but instead images that move beyond a snapshot by a ‘picture taker’ as opposed to an ‘image maker’.

one important key is LIGHTING. what is LIGHT ? simple photons you might say ?

there is one key component of light in the photographic world called ‘quality of light’. the sun is a light we commonly know and see every day, morning to evening. the most beautiful ‘quality of light’ of the sun happens at the moments before the sun actually rises and another time before the sun plops below the horizon and a magical time after the sunsets. i see many ‘picture takers’ leave after the sunset, they don’t realize or ‘see’ the magical ‘quality of light’. these ‘picture takers’ have the gear but lack the sensibility of how to see light.

i often wondered why i was sitting in art history class up at manoa listening to countless lectures and millions of slides being projected on huge auditorium screens. engrained in my subconscious was the renaissance works of rembrandt and his iconographic sense of light. what made him a painting meister was his sense of creating a mood with highlights and shadows.

PHOTOGRAPHY is ‘drawing with ight’ or in my case ‘painting with light’. when i set out, i brainstorm a few ideas, sketch them. most importantly, i think about the background (BACKGROUND, BACKGROUND, BACKGROUND) and of course foreground light and how and what tools i might schlepp along. less is more… sometimes.

if you have any questions, please chime in, this is a two way dialogue. sharing, growing and learning together.

portrait lighting

greetings all. sorry i missed posting last monday. was in the middle of several deadlines.

today’s topic is a tiny slice about lighting people or portrait lighting. easier said then done ?


historically, there are many masters in art history that began with the 17th century Dutch masters such as rembrandt and vermeer that painted portraits using available light and realism with a new paradigm during The Golden Age of painting.

Chiaroscuro, an italian term describing ‘light and dark’ and an art/art historical term used to create a three dimensional illusion onto a two dimensional surface, using light and dark values/contrast . in photography, the sense of light and dark, the lighter areas appearing closer to the viewer enhances the sense of three dimensionality, contrasted with the dark as receding into space and appearing farther away from the eye. this is one of the tenets or foundations of lighting and the phenomenon of making a photograph using light. (KEY POINT)

what is light ? photons ?

skies the limit when considering making a photographic portrait and using lighting. using light creatively is a challenge both on location and in the studio. much can be said about the ‘how to’. one important key is to learn some basics and then apply those basics to create a feel and develop your personal style.

Should you use available light or artificial light such as strobe, HMI or LED constant light sources ? colored gels or CTO warming gels ? what feelings or moods do you want to create with the portrait ? these are many questions which click into my head as one heads off on assignment to create a portrait. personally, i previsualize an image i want to create, then while making the portrait i improvise, use some available props that the subject has around and incorporate into the image to create a personal image, unique to the person involved.

my personal style, i love drama, dramatic light. personally, lighting that i have been influenced by movies such as casablanca, theatre productions and stage production/opera. microcosms of light happen on stage with professional lighting meisters called lighting technicians. these meisters create mood and feelings thru light. they also have scenes preprogrammed on their computers.

Lisa's  Overpass

above photograph. Mamiya film camera. RZ67 w/ fisheye. Film ? can u believe it ? 3 lights in the foreground, 15 seconds long exposure for the traffic lights. right, small vivitar 285 w/ blue gel baretube bottom, second 200b with red gel at left and key provided by a small softbox. i find it more challenging shooting on location with portable lights than shooting in the studio. yes, i did use instant film polaroid proofing for this image. no chimping !

john portrait

Mr. DeMello’s portrait at the Waikiki Shell for COSTCO Magazine. Rolleiflex 3.5F, 75mm/3.5 Planar lens. Fuji Velvia 50. 3 light sources. Vivitar 283 armatar modified baretube strobe in a small WAFER soft box at left, norman 200B on right side for the chairs/highlight on face and the 3rd, the nearly $1 million dollars worth of stage lighting for the concert to be held at the Waikiki Shell that night… while i was shooting, the background was constantly changing colors and intensities. i prayed a lot and hoped for serendipity.

the above is a mix of strobe and contant light or ambient light.

go forth and make some portraits that create a sense of the person, a sense of you the creator and thirdly, a sense of the phenomena of light.

aloha !

light painting 101

leica blue

aloha !

today i’d like to share this wonderful tool called a Hosemaster created by light painting guru Aaron Jones. found a link below to familiarlize yourself with a total in camera process with a special tool. one could use a LED flashlight too.

above, Leica M2 painted with light. on blue paper background. 20 seconds, 100 iso, 50mm lens. painted with a AA led light with a custom snoot made from paper / optic fiber wand attachment.


above u can see the hosemaster w/ shutter unit. not exactly portable. usually a camera is placed on a tripod with lens shooting thru the shutter unit.

below a close up photograph of one of the many attachments that be changed to control the light. notice the red button. there are two buttons that control opening and shutting the shutter and dropping diffusion filters in front of the shutter unit.

hosemaster tip

shutter unit w/ diffusion

above, close up image of the shutter unit and below a view of the diffusion filter. the filters can be changed also.


here is a paddle attachment. noice the beautiful highlights on the metallic surface.

paddle hosemaster

cerreus light painted

light painted cerreus. using LED light modified with a optic fiber attachment. background light vivitar 285HV w/ blue gel . background is blue paper shot thru. so u can see paper fibers..


what is light painting ?

light painting is usually created in camera while the shutter is open in a dark room, a light source is used to ‘paint’ in subject/objects. exposure in the film days was usually made with a polaroid proof. exposure times can vary from 15 seconds to more than 1 minute.


background light, vivitar 285HV with RED GEL snooted, foreground (key light) LED flashlight. 20 seconds, f/7.1 , ISO 100 with RED LIGHT GEL. NO PHOTOSHOP. CREATED 100% in camera. Campagnolo cork screw


background light, vivitar 285HV popped 3 times, foreground (key light) LED flashlight. 20 seconds, iso 100. NO RED LIGHT APPLIED.

sleeping hexar

lit with Vivitar 285 HV background on 1/16th power, LED flashlight foreground. Lensbaby 2.0 lens with custom aperture disk. 15 seconds, f/8 iso 100

painting with light

aspara light painting

greetings !

today’s post will be succinct and short. taking off for some photographs on the volcano, big island of Hawaii.

by using a small LED flashlight, balanced nearly at 5000 kelvin, u can paint with light with a long exposure and a dark room.

the above asparagus image was made on film. iso 200 at 30 seconds at f/8 in a dark room, i first ‘painted’ in the top of the image while lens was sharp then shifted the focus and ‘painted’ in the area in the center. bokeh light painting if you will. please note, no photoshop was used for any manipulation. actually, its the only thing photoshop cannot do is add light to areas selectively…

below is a sample LED flashlight with a DIY snoot that protects the camera from stray light entering the lens during your 8-15 second exposure.

my light brush w/  new grid snoot

Last Night Blooming Cerreus

light was applied in the center of the stamen area.

a smaller LED light w/ optic fiber was used to paint the inside of the rose.

the inner rose

even people can be painted. just have your subject stay still for up to 20 seconds exposure time. feel free to mix flash / strobe gelled and ungelled.


6 seconds at f/14 iso 100. back light fired red gel (barebulb armatar 100 modified vivitar 283) with LED light painted foreground. tattoos by the infamous Mike Ledger.

some of the more challenging subjects is glass. below u can see some squiggles of light caused by reflection of the LED light being ‘seen’ as a reflection.

Bottles Painted

20 seconds, f/8. 200 ISO fuji Super G200. no photoshop manipulation. at the end of nearly 18 seconds exposure, i put the lens out of focus at random, then fired the background strobe.that is why the forms around the glass are out of focus. background light Profoto Compact Plus

more to come !

4×5 frankenstein SLR

aloha !

up and early this AM. survived/celebrated Randy’s 41st surprise birthday party ! fun ! nice seeing old friends and meeting new ones ! seen clayton Yee of www.nervouswaterhawaii.com/ amazing fly fishing shop in waialae.

today i’d like to share a small project involving a very unusual 4×5-inch single lens reflex called an Arca Swiss 4×5 SLR. i first saw photographs of this rare beast in an Arca Swiss catalog years ago and was fortunate to find one in mint condition. the camera features a focal plane shutter with the top speed of 1/500th of a second. amazing ! first off, its very light in the hand and although the one i found is lacking the front focus bellows unit, i was thinking of adding a Linhof Technika as the front focus unit.

when operating this camera there is a lever on the right side, after cocking the shutter, setting the shutter speed (rear dials), you release the shutter by gently swinging lever in a downward motion. first the mirror glides up and secondly the focal plane shutter snaps and makes an exposure. the mirror then glides back into its downward position. all in one soft motion. most folks accustomed to a large mirror slapping in single lens reflex cameras will be quick to notice the fluid movement of the mechanism. i’m amazed.

arca reflex 4x5

when making photographs with a 4×5-inch large format camera, there is the lack of the ability to ‘see’ the image being made. first off, you focus, then stop the lens down. secondly, close the the shutter on the lens. thirdly, while muttering nice words to your subject, you also need to assure the subject to stay still. if u don’t they move and you need to repeat the above process. lastly, you carefully load a film back into the rear of the camera and hoping while u do this you don’t shake or rattle the darn camera, if not, you then repeat again the above ‘song and dance’. sounds laborious ?! hehe ! this is only the beginning.

with the 4×5 SLR (single lens reflex), all you need to do is load a film back at the rear of camera, focus and bam ! the moment you expose the film, the mirror flips up and the shutter opens and SHAZAM ! a lot more spontaneous images can be created using the single lens reflex large format camera.

the SLR 4×5 large format camera traces its roots back to a camera used in the early part of the 20th century called a Graflex 4×5 which was a giant 4×5 single lens reflex camera.

amazing photographers like Dorothea Lange and Joe Rosenthal toted these behemoths around the world and made iconic images that left their imprint in the annals of history. Close your eyes for a second, imagine Rosenthal’s pulitzer prize winning image of the flag raising on Mr. Suribachi or Lange’s iconic ‘migrant’ mom pieta. all created using circa graflex 4×5-inch single lens reflex camera.

below is an image of Mr. Joe Rosenthal and i and an image of him blowing out his birthday candles at Eddie Adams’ ranch in the catskill mountains of upstate New York.

joe rosenthal and a young me

joe rosenthal birthday at Barnstorm

below is an incarnation of a linhof technika IV melded with an Arca Swiss 4×5 single lens reflex, complete with Dallmeyer Pentac 8-inch f/2.9 lens.

linhof-arca 4x5 SLR