Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Allen, Coffee and KLCC


Side Note: All photos in this entry were taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8.

It was one week ago that Allen had a brief visit to Kuala Lumpur, and I had a chance to meet him up for dinner. Since he was itching to play with his wireless flash system, I suggested the venue of KLCC, which he has not shot with his DSLR before. After a quick dinner at Subway, we headed out to the open and start clicking our shutters happily.



I brought along my tripod (obviously you need this for night time shooting) and my compact camera, the Lumix LZ8. I know I have tested the camera on night shooting before, and even some long shutter exposure stunts which turned out rather satisfactorily, but I have not shot the camera much using the built in flash. Hence, I was eager to try out the flash of the Lumix on night outdoor environment.



I did not have high hopes on the flash performance, and the results were nothing out of what you would expect from a compact camera. The flash exposure was very uneven, and harsh highlights can be seen everywhere, creating a very unreal looking photo. Skin tone comes out terrible, and the camera was struggling to keep the white balance between the ambient light and the light produced by the flash. The colour rendition has somewhat become very flat.

MEET ALLEN ANG



If you were thinking that I was comparing the compact camera with my current DSLR then you got your assumptions invalid. I have used three compact cameras before (Kodak CX7430 and C875, they all died due to my ungodly chronic usage) and I know well enough of what to expect when it comes to a compact. My previous cameras did not fare too well either when it comes to flash exposures, but they performed decently better than this current Lumix of mine. Not to mention the recycle charging time for the flash (pause between each shots fired with flash) for Lumix LZ8 is quite unbearable, averaging from 4-5 seconds.



Another issue I encountered with the flash of Lumix was the inability to “tone down” the firing intensity according to the focus range. For example, I was shooting in macro mode, capturing the cup of hot latte at probably 10 cm away from the camera, and as I released the flash the entire photo was blown out bright white. This problem was not encountered on any of my previous compact cameras before. Nevertheless, this can be easily remedied by applying a piece of white tissue paper directly onto the flash to diffuse and soften the flash intensity.



I could not find any white tissue papers around that night (all tissue papers were brownish) hence I decided to bump up the ISO to shoot in the low light situation without the aid of flash. At ISO400, I was shooting at shutter speed of 1/5s and I could get away with blur free shots. The noise issue has become apparent, and somehow this has gravely affected the overall colour production of the photo.



I am not asking the compact Lumix to perform miracles, but it was good to test and understand its capabilities and limitations. After all it is going to fill in and perform its jobs at places and times my bigger Ollie could not make it for whatever reasons.



That was my first visit to Dome in Malaysia, and having the Latte there reminded me of my old times in Perth. I know some of you will go “oh no, not again, all those nostalgic Perth moments”. One of the things I do miss is the coffee culture. You just go to the coffee house and order a cup of anything hot, and sit down there, chat and practically cruise your time into the night with really cool bunch of friends. There is just something about coffee that makes the whole evening special, something not even beer can do.


Oi Chong, when are we going to do the PnS frenzy session?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sudden Fashion Show


I woke up to a bright weekend morning, and as I was browsing through my recent blog entries, I find that there is one constant element missing these days: chicks. The previous time I went fashion show frenzy was in April, during the KL fashion week when all the major shopping malls participated in hosting fashion shows to promote the spring summer fashion.

That was.. centuries ago !!

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness



I initially planned to go spider hunting, or anything bugs related so I could make use of my beloved macro lens. As I was already out of the house, towards the direction for macro adventure, I decided to make a change of plans and randonly pick a shopping mall. My instinct told me that there should be a fashion show happening somewhere out there, and though i did not come up with positive response through my online research, i still trusted my guts and ventured to Pavilion. On the other hand, I have not done much walking around in any malls lately, which I used to do to empty my mind off some useless junk as I wander aimlessly.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness



I arrived at Pavilion around noon, and much to my dismay I discovered the only event happening there was some Indonesia Tourism Festival. Therefore, I decided to take the escalator up to the shopping lots, but I was frozen in tracks when I heard the announcer mentioned: "Do not go away, our next activity coming up would be the Indonesian Cultural Fashion Show!!" There and then, I think I got the huge W.T.F. sign popping out of my head. Seriously, what are the chances, I wanted the fashion show and it happened, at the right place and the right time !!

Much luck, no?

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness



The fashion show this time was not a grand one, but it was executed very professionally, and the show managed to spiced up the otherwise very dead environment of the whole festival. During the intervals of the shows, there were slots of cultural dance performance from native Indonesia, and the crowd was immensely entertained !! The traditional costumes looked great, and the dances were superb. Back to the fashion bit, there was nothing much to shout about really, but I dare say I found a few of the models very pretty.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness



All shots in this entry were performed with an external flash unit. I was quite pleased with the skin tone results, and the highlights were properly controlled this time. I did not arrive early, hence I did not secure very good location to shoot from. Therefore, the background appeared to be very cluttered and messy. That aside, I still quite like this session, and the models seem to "glow" in a certain quality.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness




Indonesia does seem like a nice place to visit. Oh well, I have got to save up a bit, there are so many places I want to travel too. Perth is on the top of my priority now, and as soon as the unexpectedly traumatizing H1N1 clears up, and having enough cash in hand, I might actually start spreading out my wings again.

As for now, I cannot fly too far. The broken wings are mending, but they are getting better and better, day by day.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Remember


I was backing up my older photos, burning them into DVDs, as I came across the set of photographs I have taken since many years ago, while I was in a place I love so much, Perth.

I spent more than an hour going through the photographs, and somehow, flood of memories crashed my head. It has been a year now I have left good old Perth behind, but I could not help but wonder how it would have been if the path I was thrown onto was different. I do know that things happened, and there is no point pondering on the "what ifs", but still, my colourful history there never ceased to haunt me.

I remember Perth, very vividly.




I remember the impossibly blue Matilda Bay




I remember and deeply miss the crazy people.



I remember the expensive but purely awesome food.




I remember the scary looking stuff.



I remember the great beaches.



All the photos shown in this entry were taken with two of my older cameras, both of them were already dead due to over-exhaustion by yours truly. Both were budget point and shoot compact cameras: 1) Kodak Easyshare CX-7430 and 2) Kodak Easyshare C-875. Looking back at those photos, I miss the simplicity and ease of using the compact cameras, with pictures looking very punchy in colour and contrast coming straight out of the camera. Those two cameras may not be the best of their classes out there, but I was very happy with their results back then. They have thought me much about photography, and imprinted immensely strong sense and love for photography in me ever since. I miss Kodak, truly.


I remember SEXPO.




I remember Harbor Town Factory Outlets.




I remember camwhoring at Adidas in Harbor Town.




I remember the astonishing sunsets at Cottesloe.



I remember the sweet, sweet moments.




I remember the insanely beautiful skies.



And most importantly, I remember looking at the insanely beautiful sky.




I think, I am HOMESICK!!!!


Help !! Somebody !!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Believe


Question: How do you know it will work?

Insanely beautiful answer: Because I BELIEVE it will.

Such faith.

Little did I know movie these days delve so deeply into it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Drinking From an Empty Glass


I find it quite hard to find the balance in anything these days. It is either it is too much of one thing, or too little of it, or sometimes in an utterly awkward situation, having both at the same time. Even when I tried my best to strike the balance, one side always seems to tip off heavier.

*click* image to see its awesomeness




Trying really hard to find my symmetry again. I know it is impossible to please everyone, but it just irks me off when you know and everyone else knows you have tried your best, but certain people still beat you down and say that you have not done enough.

I am not trying to prove anything, but sometimes I feel like I am gulping down wine from an empty glass.

And even when the glass breaks, no one will know there was never a drop of liquid inside.

*click* image to see its awesomeness




So why bother?

I just keep on drinking and drinking from the empty glass.

Maybe if I drink enough I would get myself drunk.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Butterfly Effect


Side Note: I have seen where the obsession to win at all costs can lead you to. The place is quite ugly. Believe me, the true winner is the winner that wins everyone's heart.

I have had numerous comments on my 35mm macro lens, which I have used extensively since my purchase not too long ago. I receive mostly positive remarks, but along with them I have one constant comment that kept popping out from many people, repeatedly. I was sternly told that 35mm is just too short to be of any use in macro. I boldly responded that the working range was quite alright, and I was comfortable shooting at close range, which I have managed to successfully come in close to many of my macro subjects: dragonfly, bees, spiders, ants, etc. Nonetheless, some of them openly and loudly doubted the capability of the lens, and said "How about butterflies? I am sure you cannot go close to butterflies with the 35mm. You need the 105mm or 150mm to shoot butterflies !! Your 35mm is useless".

Having those insensitively blaring sentences burned into my head, I woke up with one mission this morning. I was going to prove those people who looked down on my humble budget 35mm F3.5 macro lens WRONG.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness




Therefore, yet another trip to the Butterfly Park was made. I know I have been there probably 4 times before, but this was my first time shooting butterflies with the 35mm. I did not exactly wanted to do it in the first place, since I have had enough with butterflies already, but I guess I got to do what I got to do when I got provoked, and this would probably be the only solution to tell the world that, look, the 35mm is in fact USEABLE.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness



I started shooting with the tele lens, which I could manage some decent shots which were not exactly macro at all. I could not get close enough, but for large butterflies it was sufficient to nail the task. After 30 minutes or so, I switched to the macro lens, and getting in really close to the butterflies.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness




I had to get as close at 10-15 cm away from the butterflies to fill the frame. I could get in even closer and have higher magnification, but I believe closing in so much would defeat the purpose of photographing the butterflies. The one significant aspect of the butterfly is the colorful wings, and to fit the whole thing into the frame, there is no need for that full 1:1 macro magnification anyway. Hence I call those shots half macros.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness



How did I get that close without the butterflies flying away? Not exactly so easy, but I move in closer and closer real slowly, and once I reached my desired shooting distance, I clicked the shutter like there is no tomorrow. I minimized movements, meaning while I was closing into the butterflies, I do not adjust the camera settings, I do not press any buttons, or twist the manual focus ring of the lens. No sudden movements, just fluid, smooth super slow motion, moving closer and closer to the butterflies.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness


I used a very simple camera setup for this session. I mounted the external flash unit with the ciplak stofen omnibounce diffuser, and being set to TTL. I used Aperture Priority as opposed to my usual full manual operation, so I do not have to fine tune the exposure and left the task to the camera. I relied on the Autofocus, instead of my usual full-time manual focus. The Autofocus worked well enough, though a little to the slow side hunting for focus sometimes. I did all of the mentioned above to minimize movements, mitigating the need to press any button or do any adjustments while hunting the butterfly. You will be surprised how well this worked !!

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness




I know there may be nothing much to shout about seeing those pictures I have taken on this session. There could have been lots of improvements in terms of lighting control and composition, but heck that was not the main objective of this session. Nonetheless, my point is strongly proven: Yes, I can shoot decent butterfly shots with my 35mm. And for a budget lens, there is nothing more I can expect it to do for me.

So yeah, stop complaining about my lens already, I am happy with it, and thats all that matters.