Monday, July 25, 2016

A Quiet Sunday, A Short Photowalk with Shaun from Brisbane, Australia

Shaun from Brisbane, Australia is visiting again and we had a quick photowalk yesterday. We went to Chow Kit, hoping to catch a glimpse of the old market building before it was being torn down. Fortunately the building was still standing, but now almost fully evacuated. It will be within days the demolition work begins.

We had a slow, relaxing walk and we shot anything that got our attention. I armed myself with my Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II and my most favourite lens, the M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8. The focal length was familiar and comfortable for me to work with, and the lens, being so small and light, felt right at home on my hands.

Shaun visiting from Austtalia

Human Replacements

Along the Walkway

Showering the Chicken before slaugther


Point A to Point B

Sweet Potato Seller

A Chow Kit Resident

Portrait of a Stranger

Too Bright

Mickey Mouse
I know I have taken shots like this a couple of times, but this dude had a Mickey Mouse cap on! How can I not take a photo of this?

Rambutans. One of the most delicious tropical fruits, you must try them!

A little pixel peeping will not hurt anyone (this is directed to die-hard traditionalist no chimping street photographers)
Even after using the 45mm F1.8 lens for 3 years now, I am still astonished by the incredible sharpness in the images this lens produces!

Afrer the shutter therapy session, I went to the Kuala Lumpur International Audio Visual Show 2016. The only shot I took at the KLIAV show (an expo for Hi-Fi, Audio Visual stuff, where audio enthusiasts can audition many high end equipment that may cost a car, or a house). 
I walked away with a Beyerdynamic Headphones and StraightWire speaker cables. Very satisfied with my purchases, though nothing huge or game-changing. Yes, I am an audio-enthusiast but I am not able to afford anything more than entry level equipment at the moment. 

Flat White and Oatneal Cookies to end the day. 
If I do not post coffee photos, people start to question what happened. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Fading Old Market, Chow Kit

At the time I fell in love with street photography (or more appropriately put, photography on the street, just so that I do not insult the "traditionalists"), I discovered this hidden holy grail of street hunting ground in KL, Chow Kit. I fell in love with the place instantly, and every single trip I made to Chow Kit has been fruitful, and I always came home with the SD card filled with photographs, many have become keepers from this wonderful location. Unfortunately, the original, old building of Chow Kit that houses a huge area of the market, and the surrounding lanes and storage locations will be demolished very, very soon. I was told by the locals that they were asked to evacuate the premises, and demolition work has already begun phase by phase. In one or two weeks time, the main building will go down.

When I heard the news, I did not exactly know how to feel. For many years now, I have spent so many hours camping, and strolling around these streets in Chow Kit, inside and around the main old market building area. So many wonderful shots, so many friendly faces and smiles, so many beautiful moments, now all that's left, are nothing but memories. I do feel sad, because I do not think there will be a place like Chow Kit else where in the world, this is truly a unique location, and strangely, it has defined the look and feel of many of my photographs I have displayed here in this blog. 80% of the close up strangers portraits that have become my favourites came from Chow Kit. The beautiful, diffused yet directional light in a relaxed, easy-going environment made it an ideal place for street portraits, and people in Chow Kit are just the friendliest of all KL streets. It is impossible not to be able to make good street portraits here.

With mixed emotions, I picked up the Olympus PEN E-P5 and the M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens, and just walked casually around last Sunday, and shot a few images. Nothing specific I wanted to accomplish this round, just taking my time, in a way, to say goodbye to this place.

I don't think this blog will ever be the same if I have never found Chow Kit in the first place!

Dangling legs

Saturday, July 16, 2016

5 Reasons Why Olympus Micro Four Thirds System Is Suitable For Insect Macro Photography

I have written lengthily before about my shooting techniques when it comes to Insect Macro Photography, if you want to find out more about the equipment I use and how I get my shots, kindly read my post here (click). 

In this post however, I will not discuss about how to shoot, but rather why I find that Olympus Micro Four Thirds system is highly recommended for newcomers to photography who want to explore the world of insect macro.

Being the mirrorless system, Olympus OM-D and PEN cameras are generally smaller and lighter than DSLR alternatives. Adding useful features such as 5-Axis Image Stabilization, large Electronic Viewfinder and built in wireless flash TTL control capabilities, you basically have all the tools necessary to shoot extreme close up insect macro. The M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro lens offers a large magnification of 2 to 1 (in 35mm equivalent) which is plentiful of magnification for small insects shooting.

Image Credit: Tian Chad

Monday, July 11, 2016

KL Street Shooting - A Different Approach

I think it is crucial for a photographer not to just stay stagnant with one particular shooting style and not experiment with different approaches or techniques in photography. I have seen a handful of narrow minded photographers who think they are so sure of what they are doing and just fully concentrate on their own specific methodology. I do not think there is a single best solution when it comes to art, and we do have to constantly update ourselves, daring to try different ways of doing something and often the best results are the combination of multiple alternatives of approaching the same subject.

My usual set up for street photography is: OM-D or PEN camera with either M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 or 45mm F1.8 lens, and usually in full colour (because I love glorious colours). I would do close up portraits and tight composition of certain scenes, and I will plan my shots carefully with precise execution (having the focusing point at the exact location of the frame I want in focus and fervently adjusting the exposure compensation to get the right balance of brightness, etc).

For this particular session, I have done something rather different:

1) I used the PEN-F and activated the Monochrome Profile Control, using Mono Profile 2 for most people/usual street subjects, and Mono Profile 3 for buildings and sky scenes. 
The main reason I went all black and white in this session, is to eradicate the constant consideration and thought process that involves colour. This way I am simplifying my workflow to just focus on the subject, minus the distractions of colour in the frame.

2) I chose the 17mm F1.8 lens, providing an equivalent of classic 35mm perspective, something much wider than what I comfortably work with
This is not exactly a new experiment, as I have used the 17mm lenses (both the 1.8 and 2.8 pancake versions) quite frequently recently. While this is not my favourite focal length to work with, I find it challenging to myself to compose using 35mm classic perspective, and sometimes it does yield rather interesting results.

3) Instead of using Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority, I switched the mode dial to Program. I decided to trust the camera on the metering too (Evaluative/Pattern)
Because, not having to think too much about which F-number and what shutter speed to use helps me not to obsess to much about the technical part of the photography execution, we are paying so much for modern cameras these days, I would think that the camera should be able to work for us and not fail us!

4) I left the ISO to Auto (with high ISO limit of ISO6400). Normally, I will change the ISO settings necessarily to compensate for varying lighting conditions.
The default monochrome profile 2 in the PEN-F added so much film grain that you cannot even distinguish if the photo was taken with low or high ISO settings. Furthermore, the highlight and shadow settings were pushed to the extreme by default, shadow -6 and highlight +6, effectively blowing out the highlight and clipping the shadow regions, crushing whatever available dynamic range in the photograph. It is good to remove yet another variable to think about as I was shooting.

5) Usually I would painstakingly select the focusing point (single point) but for this session, I left the AF to be fully controlled by the camera (activating all area) and turned the Face Detect AF on
I still would not recommend this for usual shooting (or anything that requires critical focus) but Henri Cartier Bressan said sharpness is a bourgeois concept, so...

6) I shot in JPEG. No RAW this time. Just JPEG and I set the compression settings to Large Super Fine.