Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Looking Through Old Photographs

Sometimes I would take my time, slow down a little bit, and look back at some of the photographs I have taken during my early days with my first few cameras. I wanted to see how I have progressed, but at the same time, remind myself why I picked up the camera in the first place.

I picked up my first compact camera, a Kodak CX7300 in the year of 2004 during my 3rd year of university studies in Perth, simply with the purpose to record down memories. I wanted to keep some memories of that good plate of noodle I ate, that breathtaking sunrise or that great friend I want to remember. Soon after my first few experimentations with the basic compact camera (3MP, no zoom, no macro mode, no Autofocus, no nothing, seriously), I find myself wanting something more capable. Being en engineering student, I was craving for more controls, hence I moved on to Kodak CX7430 (4MP, 3x zoom, macro mode, some basic manual controls such as long exposure and ISO setting), and subsequently Kodak C875 (advanced point and shoot, 8MP, 5x zoom, and full PASM manual controls). Those were my early years in photography, before diving into the world of DSLR with Olympus. They all died on me due to my heavy usage and... ermm.. torture.


BENQ DC2410
Cottesloe Beach
Photograph taken by Chun Chow.
That was a silhouette of me. This has remained one of my favourite photograph over the years, and Chun Chow was one of the important friends who inspired to pick up photography and ventured into the world of DSLR with Olympus.



Kodak CX7430
War Memorial, Kings Park, a place where I frequent a lot.

Kodak CX7430
South Perth, view from Kings Park. By the way, that is a river. At first I thought it was the ocean because the other side seems so FAR away !! Those tiny white dots on the water are yacths sailing.

Kodak CX7430
Me, Sarah and Thiam at Fast Eddies, having supper in the middle of the night.

Kodak CX7430
Orchard Glory Farm, sunrise view. I was at Overseas Christian Fellowship Winter Camp 2006. We had freshly plucked apples and oranges.

Kodak CX7430
Perth City View from Matilda Bay at Sunrise. I could not sleep one night, and I decided to walk to this river side (yes it was a river, NOT an ocean, crazy right?) and took some sunrise shots. It was winter.

Kodak CX7430
Photo of me taken via self-timer, camera on tripod, immediately after the previous sunrise shot.



It was rather interesting looking back at my old photographs. There were no complications, there were less dramas in the images. The photographs I took were straightforward, and very direct. I saw something I liked, and I would just point the camera at that and snapped. No hassle of setting up the camera, or thinking about the right composition, or lighting tricks, or worry too much about noise and distortion in the image. Heck, anything at ISO200 was so full of noise, and dynamic range of the cameras were seriously horrendous. It was funny how I did not complain about such things back then, yet I still continued clicking the shutter away and enjoyed myself thoroughly through my early years with camera shooting. I did not exactly made many beautiful photographs. I admit there were nothing artistic, or technically strong in those pictures. Even though the photographs were nothing praise-worthy, they all meant a great deal to me, because they represented fragments of memory I had left, something I bring with me. The images were like windows to the past, that I can open and take a peek into. Those still moments are priceless.

I used to carry the compact camera everywhere I go to. I had a little pouch which I would sling around, and I would attack anything that caught my attention. I do admit my photography skills were laughable with those compact cameras. One thing remained true however, I have always been passionate about shooting. I sucked, but step by step, I improved. Those three compact cameras have trained me to be patient and consistent. They have taught me to keep an eye out for photography opportunities at all times. They were my first loves. They did not create any award-winning photographs, but they steered me to the right direction in photography. I learned so much, and grew over the four long years with those cameras. Those were merely entry-level budget compact cameras, but they prepared me for something greater to come.

Kodak CX7430
Matilda Bay, where all the white boats and yachts are at. Yes the waters are naturally blue at Perth. Did I say that was a river? It was Swan River. Yes, there were real swans swimming there.

Kodak CX7430
Perth CBD.

Kodak CX7430
Structural Dynamics. Uni life was, rather depressing sometimes.

Kodak CX7430
Church friends, Jae-Ann and Jon. Miss them dearly.

Kodak CX7430
Culture shock. I did not realize how HUGE the Zinger burger was in Perth in comparison to the ones we find in Malaysia. Seriously....

Kodak CX7430
Kings Park. I love to just walk to this park (an hour slow walk) from the place where I stayed and just relax there.

Kodak CX7430
Flowers just randomly grow everywhere during spring. This was taken at the roadside outside the place I used to stay in Park Road.

Sony DSC T1
Taken by a friend, a group photo of my residential college mates. We had plenty of crazy times.



Why am I ranting about past experiences and dead cameras?

Perhaps I have been questioning myself a lot lately about how I have been pushing myself to improve further and seeing things more differently in photography. I have been going through some thought-changing experiences after meeting up with many different people who all have different principles and vision in photography. While I do have my own stand, sometimes I cannot help but admire and respect a few other more experienced photographers who had so much to share, though their ideas may clash with mine. In the midst of all the conflict and mind battles, I was in the struggle to find that inner peace and the "right" direction to guide me towards improving myself further in this journey in photography. I do not want to stay stagnant, and I certainly do not want to take too many steps back. Therefore, I started to trace back my roots and recall why I started photography in the first place. Simply, to record memories. To capture moments. To keep the pieces of lifes that I want to remember.

If it was worth remembering, if it was worth keeping, if it was worth looking again, if it was worth sharing with someone else, it was surely worth photographing !!

That was why my photographs back then were so simple, yet they spoke out directly at me. They meant something. They had strong subject content. They may be badly lit, or wrongly composed, or not having all the proper technicality setup, but they were real photographs, taken with pure honesty. I took them with a clear purpose.

I think probably I was trying too hard lately. To find that "wow" factor. To find something new and fresh, to create something out of the ordinary. I mean, if I cannot stand out from the crowd, my photographs would just be like the millions of other photographs floating motionless around the cyber-space, right? Why bother add in more to what have already been dreadfully overly-crowding the whole Internet? Seeking to be unique, and at the same time stressing to push the creative boundaries have made me a better photographer, improving in baby steps, but sometimes, I do feel I have tried too hard. Shouldn't photography be stress-free? Shouldn't photography be about self-pleasure? The conflict is there, and I want to go back to the moment I fell in love with photography.

Kodak CX7300
Something a friend, Aidan wrote on my door in the residential college.

Kodak CX7430
Perth CBD at night. Taken at Kind's Park, near war memorial.
Now this photograph was an important turning point in my photography life. I decided to go serious, and got myself a tripod, then walked an hour up the hill (no street lights, at night) and my first long exposure experimentation. I was really proud of this shot.

Kodak CX7430
Mooncake Festiavl, playing lanterns at War Memorial.

Kodak CX7430
Japanese girls came over to make home-cooked Japanese dinner. How can I forget that night?

Kodak CX7430
Cottesloe Beach, I still can't believe how blue the water is.

Kodak C875
Sorrento Quay, near AQWA (Aquarium of Western Australia).

Benq DC2410
Taken by Chun Chow.

Looking through some of the old photographs, they did bring nostalgic moments, and I can't help but shed a few tears. There were places that I have missed so much, there were friends that I would give anything to see them once more, and of course, Perth has become a huge part of my life, no matter how much I try to leave it behind. It has been quite a while since I last said anything about Perth in this blog. I have not forgotten how heavy my heart was when I left it, throwing everything behind. Should I, or should I not look back? Things were so much easier back then. Life was a lot more peaceful and calm.

Kodak cameras, wonderful creatures those are. Faithful and unfulfillable colours, beautiful flash color balance and very consistently pleasing overall output.

Why did you pick up that camera in the first place? What was your purpose of photography at that moment? Did you remember the joy of your early times clicking that camera? Do tell !!

16 comments:

  1. What's with the hairstyle back in Perth man? LOL.

    You used the 7th picture as your header before right?

    Y U NO MENTION ME ONEEEEEEEEEE?!?!! *bangs table* LOL. Joking!

    Man, sure have come a long way man. Come to think of it, I know you when you were still using a compact and you are now lightyears ahead! Well done man! You will achieve something even greater, and I have faith in you.

    Keep it up!

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  2. Hi Robin,

    Very good images, you've had it all the time, and look at your pictures now thumbs up !!

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  3. Hey Jason,
    Thanks for the kind words man, I certainly do not deserve it.
    I used the first picture, not the 7th picture. I did blog about the 7th picture a few times though, maybe thats why it rings some bells.
    LOL... you came into the picture much later in my uni life la, most of those images were taken during my early years. Perhaps there would be part two in future and you will be in it LOL !!

    Hello Rick,
    Thanks for the compliments !!

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  4. Btw whats wrong with my hair ggrrrrrr

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  5. What do you say to the "Blue" color of Kodak? hehe!

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  6. tj, olympus blue is still better haha

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  7. Gosh... Look at the Zinger burger patty!!!

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  8. chong, I know right? kinda sad looking at what we have here locally

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  9. uni life.... !!! the only thing that would remain deeply nostalgic in a person's life.

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  10. E-P-I-C post! for that i'll forgive u for not putting a photo of me :p i miss perth too!

    -Marcus

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  11. hey andrew,
    indeed!! sigh I miss it dearly, now only memories remained.

    marcus,
    I knew you had something to say!!! miss you too man.

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  12. I know that these photographs mean much to you, but the reality is that they would look like crap in print. It's funny because cameras 60 years ago produced better photograps than millions of people are producing today with cheap point and shoots and smarthphones. Only high end compacts and DSLRs are producing photos that can be compared to even the cheapest film photography (DR is the biggest issue here).

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  13. Bartosz,
    True, very true.
    But you forgot one very important point.
    I did not use the digital camera to produce prints.

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  14. I thought I have similar feeling as you after upgraded to DSLR, even still less than 1 yr.

    Indeed the picture quality with my 1st DC is horrible especially night shots. Now with DSLR, I can use higher iso, flash, big aperture whatever, but I become worried when the images come not as good as what i expected. Then I start to use RAW, PS, Lightroom etc to correct. Sometimes I do feel more pressure when shoot with DSLR. Back to the days I used DC, it was fully of sweet memory and most important, the fun factor.

    Not to mention the higher specs gears cost a bomb compare to the kits set. So until now I still restrict myself to few kits lenses & manual lenses. Mostly 2nd hand.

    -Proud Owner of Oly E500/510

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  15. Hello Anonymous,

    Thanks so much for your sharing. DSLR introduced a lot of variables and controls, sometimes we get too deep and lost, negating the fun factor. I have always believed in simplicity. I guess that is not the case for DSLR photography.

    Great to find another Oly user !! Do at least leave your name (with email would be great) next time, so I can trace back if you are coming back and comment again.

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  16. long hair like cat = kuching

    meow meow~~

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