Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Braving KL Streets


It has been a weekend full of camera actions for me, but that did not stop just at Malacca itself. Unfortunately due to work obligations Frederick had to be on duty the entire Sunday, hence I made my return to KL early in the morning, on a 8.30am bus. I arrived at KL and took a direct train back to my place, and got into my room even before 11am. And so I thought to myself, shall I take a quick, hot shower, bite some junk food and jump right into bed? Or should I grab that DVD or some other downloaded movies which I have not watched and have a mini movie/drama marathon throughout the afternoon? Perhaps just lock myself in my room, pull in the thick curtains and blast my speakers out of their boxes with depressing emo music and drink iced milo as if it was wine?

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness





Knowing full well what monster I have become, you guys can tell the answer was none of the above.

Instead, I took a quick shower, repacked my ever ready gears into a smaller sling bag and stormed out of the house into the open, expecting more shutter therapy sessions. I was well aware of the two events happening on that particular afternoon. One would be the model search final round organized by Philips Malaysia at One Utama, which is not very convenient for me to get to via public transport. Therefore, I chose the second option, to Times Square since there was a Dance competition by Astro, and fast shutter action did entice me. As I have arrived at Times Square, it was discouraging to see that the event has already started, and the crowd has covered the dance platform, which I had some difficulty in penetrating through. Great, an opportunity busted. I was not disheartened, since I was already out with my gears.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness





As usual, I looked into the sky, and this time I was pleased with it. It was clear, though not as deep in blue as I had loved, but that was good enough. So I thought to myself, why not just walk and walk and walk and then snap and snap and snap? I am not exactly a street shooter myself, nor did I plan to do street shooting there-on. However, I have wanted to further try out the panorama photo-stitching technique and for this to happen, I need more photographs especially those taken outdoors. I commenced my walk from Times Square, and went through all the small streets, wandering around the faces of KL city, passing by some uncle pimps who offered me China ladies, and a 50 something year old beggar who looked me into the eye and called me “uncle” three freaking times to ask for money. I would have shot that 50 year old beggar dead if I was holding a riffle instead of a camera.

The condition was not ideal for urban scape photography, and the right time would be before, during and after sunset, with the scene being rendered in more dramatic depth in terms of colours and contrast. I intended to arrive home early to have enough rest for the coming working day, thus I only flew by the streets of KL in the hot afternoon sun. I tried a few varieties of shots, and from the photos being displayed on this entry, you can see my attempt in fitting as much wide space as I could into a frame. Some photos consisted of no less than 10 images being stitched together to form a wide panoramic view. Do not be mistaken by the usual panorama reference of stitching two to three shots horizontally to form a super long photograph. Yes, I agree that is the universally agreed form of panorama photograph, but why restrict yourself to just horizontal stitching? Softwares and computing powers these days allow for much more flexibility, and you can stitch your series of photos in whichever direction you like, not only side to side, but also top to bottom. Three quarters of the photographs here are panorama stitched photographs.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness




Here are some reasons and advantages why I am starting to fall in love with panorama photos:

1) Breaking the MegaPixel barrier

Most standard zoom kit lenses that come in bundle with the original entry level DSLR sets are made of lower grade lenses. The lens may be suitable for general usage, but when it comes to wide angle end of shots, especially on landscapes and scenery; it will not be effective to gather enough details to produce a pleasingly sharp image. Panorama option can break this limitation, because by stitching more than one photograph together, you already pushed in more pixels into a frame. I had a few photos with 12 original, separate photographs being stitched together, and formed a humungous 24 MegaPixels photograph (each photos have been resized, and overlapped, hence direct maths may not be representative in total numbers of MegaPixels). This is a superb advantage, with such densely packed pixels, I did not have to apply any sharpening at all and the photographs came out looking very popping realistic. Zoomed in further, the finest details captured were astounding.


2) Wider, more interesting Perspective

The more photographs you fit into a frame, the wider angle you can gain, pushing the limit of the wide angle end of the cheapo kit lens. If you were crazy enough like some dudes around the world, you can make 360 degrees panorama shots, covering scenes all around you in one single photograph. The output can be mind blowing, if the photograph was done right. The stitching software allows for perspective control, which was not entirely effective I would say, and also depending on the proper execution of the series of photographs being captured. Distortion was present but can be corrected, but I left some of the edge distortion in tact to show the defect, which can be comical at times. The softwares these days even allow for fisheye effect conversion, and I have displayed in one of the photographs of the Times Square.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness





3) Flexibility in Composition

I find that being able to fit extra space of the foreground does make a hell lot of difference in improving compositions of a photograph. Fitting in the extra stretch of details from the front without sacrificing by chopping off the top or side of the photograph added deeper sense of space and creates a feeling of being loose from tight constraints.


4) Best of all, it costs nothing.

That is right. By using what you already have, all you need to do is to try out alternative ways to create variety to your shots, and panorama just requires a little few extra steps. OK I admit I am broke and I cannot afford that uber-cool ultra wide angle lens. All I can do now is to maximize the potentials of my current set of lenses, with very limited options.

Of course, I acknowledge the fact that panorama can never take the place of a true ultra wide angle lens.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness



I am still terribly new to panorama techniques. These are my series of experiments, and each and every time I do it, I find bits and pieces of improvements to be made. I did all the shots handheld, and this was not really favourable because there would be some issues when it comes to merging parts that includes straight lines. Time can be spent in editing the photographs, and correcting the overlapping mistakes, but time is something that I do not have. You can observe the defects very visibly on some of the photographs if you are careful enough. Like a car losing some wheels, or the street lamp having disjointed pole. This problem can easily be solved by using tripod, and yes, I was lazy to lug it around. Maybe I should bring it next time, so I can use it to impale the 50 something year old beggar who dared to call me “uncle” three times.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness




I guess the photographs would have been nicer with blue waters, green mountains, and colourful flowers and open wide fields of stunningly fresh green grass. Too bad I am stuck in the jungle made of concrete, and all I have here are city scapes which are not that interesting to begin with. I walked from Times Square, and made my way through some random streets and ended at KLCC. I did not go shutter frenzy on KLCC for obvious reasons, I have shot it like a dozen times, and it is starting to lose its appeal. The total walking distance according to Google Map was approximately 5km. I felt like I have walked more than twice the distance just for shooting with my trusty compact camera once upon a time in a land far, far away called Perth.

*click* image to see its awesomeness




Ending this entry with a self-camwhoring photograph. It has been a while since I last plaster this blog with photos of myself. I could not help it but look at the refection with approaching sunset as I was waiting for the next train home. On another note, people have always told me that the camera almost looked non-existent being held with both my hands. Looking at that last photograph, I got to say Olympus makes one hell of a small DSLR.

I can't wait for another weekend of shutter therapy sessions already !!

9 comments:

  1. thats cos your hands are too big around the olympus! more panoramic shots please...

    -Marcus

    ReplyDelete
  2. hey marcus,
    LOL.. its the camera being too cute already !!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Really nice examples of Olympus's Panoramic capabilities! Nice shots! This is what I call understanding your camera and overcoming it's limitations. Too many out there miss out on Olympus's fantastic opportunities offered in their cameras!

    ReplyDelete
  4. hey David,
    Thanks !! However I did make a mistake of shooting the pano pictures at full wide angle end. I should have zoomed in to 20-25mm for better distortion control. No worries, there will be more attempts to improve.
    But yeah, Olympus is indeed very capable, and I agree many people are missing out on the opportunities !!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great and beautiful shots.
    Keep posting.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Regards,
    panorama blending

    ReplyDelete
  6. hi, Robin, i really enjoy your blog, i'm using exactly the same camera and lenses as you are now, except the flash( i'm using metz)....i'm very new to dslr, and your blog really makes me see the greatness of the camera! keep it up!

    Tan

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey Tan,
    Thanks very much for the kind comments. I am glad you like the photos.
    Olympus DSLR is the best choice for new-comers, and I am sure you feel right at home with your current set of gears.
    It is also very cool to see another fellow photographer utilizing the similar set of gears !!
    Feel free to ask anything, I will do my best to share what I know.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank u :) take a look that emo boy hair on this blog:
    http://emo--boys.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. How r u? your website is rocks
    look at at that crazy emo song:
    http://tinyurl.com/8lxnsg

    ReplyDelete