Thursday, September 01, 2011

Pudu with Blue Skies

I am still on my Hari Raya break, hence to maximize my time I spent it with lots and lots of shutter therapy sessions. This time, I went to attack one of my favourite street hunting grounds, Pudu with beautiful friends, Chun Chow, Wendy and Choon Wee. It was an unexpectedly wonderful morning with clear, deep blue sky, and the spirit for street photography was really high. It is hard to explain how it happens, but sometimes the urge and instinct to shoot come rushing in, and it was that exact moment that the photo opportunities present themselves abundantly.

I specifically wanted to utilize the Zuiko 8mm F3.5 Fisheye in this session, hence I paired the fisheye lens with my Olympus E-5. I understand that fisheye is not exactly the preferred lens for street photography mainly due to the distortion that can be quite unsightly. Certainly, technical perfection is out of the window when it comes to shooting with the fisheye lens. Nonetheless, I look beyond the stereotypical restrictions that people placed on condemning the usage of the fisheye on general shooting. Many people say fisheye lens is only suitable for that one or two shots out of a hundred shots. I pushed over this limitation by forcing myself to shoot more than 50% of my shots in today's session with the fisheye, while the remaining of the other shots were covered by my super sharp 50mm F2 macro lens.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko 8mm F3.5 Fisheye or 50mm F2 Macro


Coffee Shop
8mm, minor distortion correction applied.


Old shops of Pudu
8mm, minor distortion correction applied.

Perfect Sky
8mm, minor distortion correction applied.

Watch maker
50mm

At the back of a kitchen
8mm

Making food
8mm, minor distortion correction applied

Trapped in a kitchen
8mm

Playing with dough
8mm, minor distortion correction applied

The day is hot.
50mm macro

Passing time in Pudu
8mm, distortion correction applied


After a light breakfast, we walked around the Pudu area, attacking anything that came our way. The lighting was quite harsh due to bright and clear sky, but that also meant better colour saturation and overall toning. Pudu is probably one of the friendliest places around, with people generally easy to approach. The majority of people here are Chinese, hence being Chinese myself it was rather easy to blend in. I did not even encounter s single situation where I was denied the permission to photograph the people there, and mostly everyone responded with the warmest smile I could ever ask for in the glorious morning. It was because of the friendliness of the people in Pudu that I decided to bring out the 8mm F3.5 fisheye here, because I needed to get very, very close for the shots I had in my mind.

Challenges shooting with the fisheye:

1) 180 degrees field of view super wide angle.

The main advantage of shooting with the fisheye is the incredibly wide field of view it covers. In theory, the fisheye provides 180 degrees coverage from left to right horizontally. Having such wide angle, the background must be considered in the composition, and this was one of the most difficult challenges in shooting with fisheye. It was easy to fit everything in one frame, but sometimes, everything is too much to include. Care must be taken to control distractions or unwanted elements in a photograph. If you are not careful you can even shoot your own foot or elbow.

2) Managing distortions

Fisheye is known for its curvature and circular distortion from edge to edge. However, distortion is almost absent at the center of the frame, hence placing human subjects in the center during composition can produce more pleasing and "believable" images in overall photographic perception. Anything important should not be placed at the side or extreme corners, unless specific exaggeration purposes are intended. Any lines will be bent in a fisheye view, but this does not necessarily be a bad thing. Some curved lines can add drama to the shot when composed appropriately to amplify the main subject, but most of the time, they do tend to become annoying.

3) Getting close

Like any wide angle lens, being extremely wide, you have to get really, really close to your subjects when you shoot with the fisheye lens. Standing a distance away, your main subject would appear small and does not stand out from the overall wide scene. Therefore, I needed to move myself as close as less than a meter away from my subject to acomplish my desired impact. This was no easy task, because you need to be able to get your subject to be comfortable with your presence, and allow you to move nearer into their comfort zone. And while I was within the close distance to shoot, I have very limited opportunity and time frame to execute my shot, because people rarely would allow you to take more than one or two shots before they start getting agitated. It was mostly hit or miss for me, but I did manage some really good shots, mostly due to luck than skill. I still need more practise, no doubt. I was fortunate because people in Pudu have been friendlier than usual and so far almost all approach I made went smoothly this morning.

Morning market goer
50mm macro

Choon Wee, a great wedding photographer.
50mm macro

Weight support system
50mm macro

Meow
50mm macro

Sleeping in style
50mm macro

Written over the years
50mm macro

Taugeh
8mm, minor distortion correction applied

Morning smile
8mm

Just outside the market
8mm, minor distortion correction applied

The photographers: Choon Wee, Chun Chow, and Wendy
8mm

I feel that the fisheye is a lot more powerful than many photographer would give credit for. It is not an easy beast to tame, and it takes time to get to know the lens' characteristics and how to fully maximize its potential. I am still new to this lens, and still finding my way around it. So far the lens has been very kind and produced many images that I personally think are rather out of the ordinary, something unique and different from usual. I know my shots are not exactly "there" yet, but hey, cut me some slack, the fisheye lens is my least used lens. I shall bring the lens out more often, and we will see what else the lens can do.

Any fisheye shooters out there? Care to give your thoughts?

14 comments:

  1. I always get in and out of Pudu but don't see what you snap. Your eyes are brilliant.

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  2. Simon,
    Thanks !!
    Those places are around Pudu Plaza, and also along the way to the open air wet market, and its surrounding areas.
    But I do admit this morning the photo-opportunities were more than usual. I was lucky I guess ahahah

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  4. Hey, Robin!
    You don´t need the fisheye to take great pics, send it to me!
    I shot my first wedding last WE and I would appreciate your thoughts and comments on it in my blog. There are just a few pics, but I am going to post more over the next days...
    Blog is in german, please ignore the blahblah... ;-)
    bw
    Sven

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  5. Hello SvenReinhold,
    I have seen your wedding pictures !! They look really great. I will post a more elaborate comment on your site later, I am currently away from my computer.

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  6. Great stuff Robin. Another set that is superb,

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  7. Ananda,
    Thanks !! I think this is your shortest comment ever !! Not that its a bad thing ahaha.

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  8. tiger beer! there's a bit of singapore in pudu! and he's putting sporeans to shame by drinking it with a straw!

    -Marcus

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  9. Hello Marcus,
    I guess KL and Singapore are not that dissimilar in the olden days. Pudu is a reflection of what KL used to be decades ago.
    LOL... drinking with straw is quite unique eh?

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  10. Drinking Tiger with a straw during bright daylight (morning). That's something! Haha.

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  11. chong lets do that sometime haha

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  12. drinking beer with a straw gets u drunk faster!

    -Marcus

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  13. Marcus,
    Oh !! I see, no wonder.

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