Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wa Si Kuching Kia

Title Translation (local Hokkien): I am a Kuching lad.

Mum had errands to run spanning entire Sunday morning, and having even just a few hours to myself, I woke up ridiculously early and stormed out of the house with my Olympus E-5, 11-22mm and 50mm to the streets of Kuching. In my previous entry, all I intended to capture was the unbelievably stunning Kuching skies and dramatic scenes of this precious hometown of mine. This morning however, I have a different target in mind. I want to capture the local Kuching folks, as I stunbled upon them on the streets of Kuching on a lazy Sunday morning.

I started to roam the Carpenter Street, Gambir Street, India Street and finally the Main Bazaar along the Kuching Waterfront. It was quite a different experience walking the Kuching street, in comparison to the streets I usually explore in Kuala Lumpur. This is my hometown, where my heart resides, and I have been around those many streets uncountable times since young, knowing many of the shops by heart. Interestingly some of the folks even recognized me !! I felt truly blessed being brought up in such a humble yet lovely city of Kuching. Everywhere, the streets are clean (like, surprisingly clean), and the people are gorgeously friendly. Smiles are more genuine and abundant here and I know very well this is the place that I belong to.

Since I am still currently on my choking/dying laptop, I decided not to perform any post-processing. All photographs were shot in JPEG, and presented here as they were straight out of the camera, save for resizing and watermarking via Picasa. Yes, if you have not known by now, Olympus has the awesomest JPEG engine in the world. Non-arguable.

Kuching CBD view from 9th floor, Medan Pelita. Don't you just love it when the sky is blue?
I-Enhance.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Olympus E-5 in Kuching

I took an early Air Asia flight early this morning returning to my hometown, Kuching, a place that I have missed dearly. The most recent trip home before this was in August 2010, which was almost half a year ago.

What was the first thing I did upon arrival?

I ate Tomato Fried Kuey Tiaw for lunch.

What was the second thing I did in Kuching after that?

SHUTTER THERAPY !!

I brought my Olympus E-5 with the 11-22mm and 50mm out for a spin along the familiar streets of Kuching. It was great to see open clear, blue skies, and breathe in fresh air. After being away for so long, suddenly everything in Kuching appears so surreal and beautiful. This was not exactly a street session, which I do intend to get deeper into perhaps some time later. In this session, I emphasized more on the clear skies and all the scenes that caught my eyes as I walked and walked all day long.

Since I am currently away from my usual working computer, I am running my photographs and blog entry on a rather old laptop (possibly 5 years old). Hence, the LCD screen has limited resolution and depth of colours for me to produce my usual post processing routine, on top of the sluggish hardware performance. Therefore, during the course of my stay in Kuching, I shall be posting my photographs on this blog as JPEG straight out of the camera. My main reason to return home was to spend time with my family, relatives and friends, celebrating the coming Chinese New Year. I shall spend less time on computer, thus skipping post-processing can save me tonnes of time. Do allow for some inconsistencies, especially when it comes to exposure and white balance accuracy, as I have difficulty fine tuning those two parameters using my dying laptop.

Padungan shops, still standing strong after decades.
Grainy Film Art Filter applied.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Expectations

Art is not about conforming to the flow of the masses. Art is the power and ability to express yourself freely, to show who you are and to tell your story. Everyone has something to say.



I shall challenge myself to be original and to stay true to myself, always.

Every moment you spend looking down on me is every step closer I am getting to the destination, no matter how far it may seem to be. I may not be anything significant in your eyes now, but one day, I will get there, slowly, but surely.

One day, I will be there.

When I am there, you will see the art in me.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Silent Scenery at KLPAC Open Day 2011

It has been quite a long week, and even my weekend had piles of errands and pending items to be cleared off, I could hardly find time to breathe. Despite of that, when I saw the Facebook update on the Silent Scenery’s page announcing that they would perform on Sunday 23rd January 2011 at KLPAC Open Day, I just had to make way for this event !! My friend Ivan is in the band, I have been trying to attend their many past performances but unexpected turns of events just kept getting in the way. For this particular session, I told myself, no, I must do whatever it takes to be there.

It was easier said than done, really.

Silent Scenery at Pentas 1, KLPAC

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Olympus Walkabout in KL

It was a glorious morning that a group of Olympus PEN Lovers and Zuiko followers met up at Stadium Merdeka carpark and walked along the streets of Kuala Lumpur for some street shooting. Amongst the notable people present was Ananda Sim, a fellow photographer friend who flew in from Melbourne to KL for holidays, and decided to join in the fun. It was really fantastic meeting you, I do hope we can have another yum cha or dinner maybe.

The whole morning was all about photography, the love for Olympus, sharing and fellowship session amongst Olympus users. It was really great to shy away from wedding assignment which I have had for the past three consecutive weeks and did something less stressful. I had wonderful time meeting so many familiar faces as well as making new friends.

Olympus people are a great, loveable, friendly and fun bunch, no?

5D screams HEEEEELLPPPPP !!!! Now who's your daddy huh?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thaipusam at Batu Caves

Happy Thaipusam to all Hindu/Tamil beautiful people out there !!

It was nearly midnight that three insane photographers decided to embark on an adventurous shooting session the following ridiculously early morning at Batu Caves, to capture the festivity of Thaipusam. Why insane? After finalizing our plans, it was already midnight, and that left us less than three hours of sleep before Jasonmumbles, Huey Yoong and I met up at ungodly 4am and we drove all the way to Batu Caves from Sri Petaling.

I was born and raised in Kuching, and am relatively new to Kuala Lumpur. Back in Kuching I was not very well exposed to Hindu and Indian traditions/culture, simply because I live in the part of town with Indians as minority. Nonetheless, now working in KL, I have the opportunity to widen my views and knowledge on the Indian community. Today is the Thaipusam festival, a huge celebration for the Hindu community, and I decided I should take this chance to learn, witness and immerse myself into one unique culture that shaped up this unique nation of Malaysia. I was really glad I did, because what I saw today was beyond what I have imagined and expected.

Shaving the head before the procession.
ISO 1000, F2, 1/30sec

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sudden Shutter Therapy Sunday

I have been deprived of shutter therapy sessions lately. For the previous few weeks, I have been rather busy with my day job at the construction site, and on the weekends, as I have blogged I have had full actual day weddings which I have covered for three consecutive weekends, including a new one yesterday. It is quite scary watching my time slowly being sapped away just like that, without much time for myself, to do the things I want to do, and to have proper rest. All the remaining free time were spent on post processing for the wedding assignment, and I suddenly feel like a photoshop zombie now. There was no time for shutter therapy at all, and no shutter therapy is directly equivalent to a very unhappy Robin Wong.

I woke up to a cloudy late Sunday morning, preparing myself for an afternoon shooting session with a photographer friend Aaron Chin (do hop over his site, he has some serious talent that I truly admire). Suddenly, I received a call from Aaron about the cancellation of the shooting session. There and then, I suddenly have a whole afternoon to myself, finally !! There was really only one thought that crossed my mind: hit the streets. Not even considering the gloomy sky with high chance of thunderstorm, I headed out of my house, jumped into the next train to Chow Kit, my most favourite spot for street hunting.


Silhouette of pigeons against the KL Tower, an iconic landmark in Malaysia.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Technology Ruins Photography


Through immense advancement of technology, photography equipments have evolved at such blindingly quick pace that a camera that rolled out in production a month ago would smoke any cameras produced three years ago. Much thanks and praises to pixel-peepers and measurebators, we have cleaner and cleaner high ISO performance, faster frames per second continuous shooting, and higher megapixel resolution being squeezed out from the black little box we are so fond of calling, the camera. So is technology necessarily improving photography? I am not referring to the gear and tools only, because cameras and lenses alone do not fully define the whole equation of photography.

Yes, we have better and more powerful camera release after release, but the core of photography, the essence of what it used to be has been eroded. Lets not do the comparison too much between the film and digital age (gosh when will this debate end) but I am looking closer to the occurrences more relevant within the past 5-6 years of DSLR photography development.



Sunday, January 09, 2011

Daniel & Jo-Ann

Over the weekend, I travelled down to Malacca again for an actual day wedding assignment, which I covered together with friend, Frederick Yap. I have just got home to KL, and I have very precious little time left on my weekend, which I intend to relax, unwind and recharge before the new coming week starts to kick in. Therefore, I shall save myself usual lengthy words and just share some photographs taken from the wedding assignment yesterday.

The wedding ceremony of Daniel and Jo-Ann was held at St Peter's church, a very, very old Roman Catholic church in Malacca. The day was full of activities, including brother and sister wars (Chinese Tradition), tea ceremony and also the wedding dinner at Equatorial Hotel. All photographs were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5, with Zuiko 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 50mm F2 Macro and 40-150mm F3.5-4.5, and an external flash FL-36R. I shall include brief descriptions as captions below each images, and what made them my favourite amongst over a thousand shots I have captured the entire day long.

The job started early in the morning, even before sunrise. A lot of the shots were done indoors prior to morning sun, and it has been typical for most of the wedding assignment that I have covered so far. I sure envy other photographers who get to play a lot with morning light coming through the windows.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Dramatic Tone Art Filter on Olympus E-5

Art Filters were first introduced in Olympus E-30, allowing users to instantly process their photographs into a selection of available creative effects, such as Pinhole and grainy film effects. While many professional photographers initially frowned upon such redundant installation of bells and whistles to a seemingly mid-level DSLR from Olympus, the Art Filters did win the hearts of many. the popularity of the Art Filter has grown, and been included in all Olympus newer cameras, DSLR system, PEN series and even the compact cameras (called magic filters). It was not so much of what the effects produced since they can be easily manipulated and reproduced by many other means through post-processing software. What really worked was the user experience while shooting in Art Filters, firstly you can instantly view the effect in real time as you compose the shots in live view before even making that shutter button click, and secondly, you can obtain the results straight out of camera.

On the Olympus E-5, there is a new art filter added, which is none other than the Dramatic Tone. I have blogged about what Dramatic Tone art filter is all about in my user-review write-ups for the Olympus E-5 not too long ago. The Dramatic Tone is simply an in-camera pseudo-HDR processing capability, to convert the ordinary looking image into a fake rendition of a HDR shot. In this entry, I will explore what I like about this Dramatic Tone Art Filter, when and where to use them effectively, at what situations that the art filter should be avoided and how it could have been improved further.

Dramatic Tone is a Pseudo HDR Processing.

If you have dabbled into the world of HDR (high dynamic range) photography, you would have realized that this Dramatic Tone Art Filter is no magic at all, it is simply a very quick processing to drastically lift up the details in the shadow region, while toning down significantly the brightness in the highlight region. Basically what the filter is trying to do is to balance up the dark and bright areas, but at a very extreme margin that the image will most likely turn out looking very unnatural. The lighting balance has been heavily manipulated, and the colour saturation has also been boosted, along with the overall contrast of the image. The overall outcome is a very punchy, strong, vividly surreal looking image.


Dramatic Tone works very well fighting a back-lit situation, such as this temple which I shot directly against the sun. The details in the sky was well maintained, with heavy and strong textures, while the overall frontal part of the temple facing was also looking well balanced.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

First Wedding Assignment of the Year with Olympus E-5

The New Year day of this year, 2011, which was exactly 1.1.11, was regarded as an extremely auspicious day for weddings. I am sure many photographers out there, professionals and freelance (like myself) alike have been rather busy with photo-assignment. I had the privilege to cover an actual day wedding for a good friend’s sister, and what a great way to start the year 2011 !!

This was my first actual wedding day job that I have shot fully with Olympus E-5. I did not have much expectations, because my E-520 which I have constantly used as my workhorse for all my previous assignment have been very reliable and never has it failed me before. Knowing that Olympus E-5 is a giant step-up from the Olympus E-520, indeed I should be having fewer worries than before. I have always believed that any camera system can be a good one, if you put enough time and effort in getting to know it well and work with it efficiently.

I brought my usual gear combination out: the super wide angle 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, coupled with 50mm F2 Macro and the 40-150mm F3.5-4.5 tele lens. I used mostly only the 11-22mm and the 50mm which I interchange on the E-5 from time to time. I covered all the wide angle frames with the 11-22mm, which provided me extra width than usual for broader perspective, especially images taken from low angle. Macro lens which I have used extensively to capture details, as well as close up shots have always delivered crispy, sharp images. I also used the cheapo Olympus Flash FL-36R to fill in the light most of the time. That was all I brought in for my assignment, and I must say using them on Olympus E-5, it worked well with what I have had intended to accomplish in my mind.