Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Batu Pahat Shooting Spree

To all my Muslim readers, I wish you all Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri !!
May you all have the awesomest and happiest celebration with family and friends.

I have been wanting to take some time away from the busy city Kuala Lumpur, and just hide away in a place where modernization has not fully crippled every single way of life. Therefore, I decided to make a short day trip full of shutter action, just to clear my mind off some clutters. In the first light of the dawn for first day of Hari Raya, I traveled down south to Batu Pahat, Johor together with friend Frederick. We met up with the famous Uncle James, who is a senior in photography with vast experience to share and great stories to tell. It was one full day of shutter therapy and I have enjoyed myself thoroughly.


Batu Pahat has a lot to offer in terms of photography opportunities. The folks down there are really friendly, and they still live their lives free of high hills, huge cars and shopping mall cultures.

In all honesty, I would prefer shooting a portrait of an old man with a facial expression beaming with pride and sincere joy gained over years of life experiences, rather than a dolled up model with plastic looking face polished by an inch thick make up, dressed scantily and posing suggestively. I understand the urge of many new-comers to photography who define "shooting" by anything to do with "models" and "hot chicks". In my opinion, capturing true beauty is a lot harder than just skin deep appearance. In smaller towns like Batu Pahat, you will find many beautiful people with truest smiles, not worrying about how their hair fall into place, or if their lipstick color does not match their shoes. They smile, because they have something to share. It is up to the photographer to capture that.

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 or 50mm F2 Macro.

Left Behind.
11-22mm, Pinhole Art Filter applied.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sorella: Lingerie Fashion Show (featuring Yeung Yi)

I have been shooting with the loaned Olympus PEN E-P3 and the 45mm F1.8 for more than a week now, and I crave for some shutter action with my trusty DSLR E-5. Chance came knocking on my door when John Wong, a fellow Olympus lover invited me for a fashion shoot earlier this afternoon. It was the Sorella Ambassador Unveiling event, featuring a lingerie fashion show in the Fahrenheit 88 shopping mall. Things could not get any better, because I have always wanted to shoot a public fashion show with my newly acquired Zuiko 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 tele lens, and this was the perfect opportunity to put the lens in good trial. I was shooting alongside a group of photographer friends, many from the PEN Lovers group which I have been hanging out with a lot lately.

There is just something about fashion shows that begged me to go back again and again for more. I used to check shopping mall events for any free public fashion shows so I can be first in line to get that extra auspicious spot to shoot the models on stage. Sadly, I am still far from the level of professionals who shoot models for magazines, and attending high profile supermodel shows, hence I shall just target any free shows I can find. The catwalk of the models, strutting their style down the runway gets the blood rushing and heart pumping, as I snapped away the camera to capture that pose, or walk. The feeling of being in the midst of a few dozen more photographers at the shooting area was out of the world, with audible sound of shutter/mirror slapping "clack clack clack" of possibly more than 50 DSLRs chanting in harmonic synchronism.


All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 (non-SWD)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

One Last Round

Side Note:
1. All images were shot in RAW and developed to JPEG in Olympus Viewer 2.
2. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto, Gradation = Normal
3. Minimal post-processing applied to the images. Only exposure compensation (adjusted brightness/contrast) and cropping performed for better consistency and overall presentation. Apart from that, the images were as good as straight out of camera (color and sharpness)


Not having enough fun, just before returning the loaned Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8 lens to Olympus Malaysia, I decided to bring the lens out for one last spin. This time, I brought along my own trusty E-PL1 together with the loaned E-P3 for a short, but enjoyable shooting session. I did not do any side by side comparison between the E-PL1 and E-P3, I have never intended to do so in the first place. This is not exactly a review entry either, because whatever I wanted to write about the 45mm, I have covered in both Part 1 and Part 2 of my user-experience reviews of the lens.

I was in the central city area, and I originally intended to shoot everything with E-PL1. I wanted to convince myself that the lens is good regardless of the camera body, and I should be getting the lens for my E-PL1 in the future (after months and months of saving up of course). I mounted the 45mm on the E-PL1, and started shooting away. After only 20 minutes, I decided to give up shooting with E-PL1 and switched to the e-P3 instead.

Chilli Pan Mee
E-PL1, ISO200, F6.3, 1/125sec

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Brief Alien Body Encounter

One of my friends bought a Lumix G3, one of the latest micro four thirds line-up from Panasonic that got quite an attention besides the Olympus E-P3.

We met up for drinks, and I had my hands on the G3.


Chun Chow and Panasonic Lumix G3, with Olympus 45mm F1.8 mounted on. Note that he front ring of the lens was removed, exposing the threads to attach the lens hood.

It was just a very brief tryout of course, a playful round over a coffee session in the local Old Town Cafe. I shall not post up any photographs from the G3, simply because, I was at a coffee shop, with very bad lighting, with not many subjects to test the camera with besides ugly coffee cups and saucers, dodgy cafe styled tables and tools, and of course, the not that handsome looking yours truly. Lets not scare any of you away with portraits of me.

I decided to do some match-making and mounted the Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens on the Panasonic G3 body.

I was actually quite amazed at the Autofocus speed on the Panasonic G3. It was very quick to focus, and very accurate too. In comparison to the Olympus PEN E-P3, the autofocus on the Panasonic G3 was slightly slower, but respectfully very close to the lighting speed on Olympus E-P3. Although the difference in speed was noticeable between both bodies, I dare say the difference was safely negligible and would not pose any significant impact in real life shooting. Panasonic shooters should be delighted to hear this.

I did not shoot much with the Pansonic G3 to comment any further. Should the chance arises, I may bring it out for a shutter therapy session.

Do you think that the lens good look on the G3?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 Review: Chinese and Hindu Temples

Side Note:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and developed to JPEG in Olympus Viewer 2.
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color set to OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. Minimal post-processing applied to the images. Only exposure compensation (adjusted brightness/contrast) and cropping performed for better consistency and overall presentation. Apart from that, the images were as good as straight out of camera (color and sharpness)

This is a continuation from my previous entry: Part 1 of Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8 lens review, if you have not read the Part 1, kindly do so here.

In my Part 1 of the 45mm F1.8 lens review, I have brought the lens coupled with Olympus E-P3 out on the streets during night time, shooting in harshest and most challenging lighting situations. The lens fared rather well despite the far from ideal lighting both in terms of image quality and autofocus performance. Therefore, in this second part of review, I have brought the E-P3 with 45mm and shoot under much better lighting condition during daytime. I shall be concentrating on how the lens performs under natural good light, and the overall performance of the lens in terms of resolution and sharpness. Early tests during the night shooting have shown incredible sharpness even being shot with ISO1600, at wide open aperture of F1.8, so how fares the lens when it was subjected to the optimum ISO200?

As a reminder, and a note to first time visitors, this review will be written from a photography-enthusiast’s point of view. This will be a user experience based review, sharing on what I think and feel using the M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 mounted on PEN E-P3 in real life shooting situations. Therefore, this is not a technical review as there will not be elaborative technical explanations, such as explanation of corner softness, optimum aperture range, chromatic aberration and so forth. In addition to that, I will not be doing direct side by side image and performance comparisons with other lenses. I apologize for the redundancy of this reminder paragraph, but I do find it necessary, because from many feedback I have received online (yes I do read what you folks are discussing over at DPreview forums and 43rumors website), it seemed like many have missed the crucial purpose and objectives of my review works. What I am presenting in this entry is merely what I can do with the Olympus 45mm F1.8 lens for my usual shutter therapy session.


ISO200, F2.8, 1/80sec. Note: Red color cast due to red interiors typical in all Chinese Temples.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 Review: Petaling Street, KL

Side Note:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and developed to JPEG in Olympus Viewer 2.
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color set to OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. Minimal post-processing applied to the images. Only exposure compensation (brightness/contrast) and cropping performed for better consistency and overall presentation. Apart from that, the images were as good as straight out of camera (color and sharpness)

Since the announcement of the new Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens, I have been thinking about it non-stop. It was no surprise that I would seek this lens because on my usual street shooting, my favourite and most frequently used lens is the 4/3 DSLR 50mm F2 macro lens mounted on the E-5. Having a natively built for micro 4/3 equivalent to the said lens was a huge welcome. This time, I approached Olympus Malaysia and requested for a loan unit of the M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8 lens. Much to my delight they agreed to my request, and they added the E-P3 for me to test the lens with !! Hello again, E-P3.

As a reminder, and a note to first time visitors, this review will be written from a photography-enthusiast’s point of view. This will be a user experience based review, sharing on what I think and feel using the M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 mounted on PEN E-P3 in real life shooting situations. Therefore, this is not a technical review as there will not be elaborative technical explanations, such as explanation of corner softness, optimum aperture range, chromatic aberration and so forth. In addition to that, I will not be doing direct side by side image and performance comparisons with other lenses. What I am presenting in this entry is merely what I can do with the Olympus 45mm F1.8 lens for my usual shutter therapy session.

The loaned Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8 and PEN E-P3 from Olympus Malaysia.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Segambut Dalam

I am currently stationed full time at a construction site at Mont' Kiara, which is located very near to a Malay village Segambut. I have been taking the bus which travels directly from Mont' Kiara to Chow Kit (where my usual street hunting ground is), and I cannot help but notice the stretch of small road full of village life. There were small shops and huts being set up all along that small road selling alll sorts of items ranging from groceries, vegies and fruits to hardwares. It was during the off-work hours in late evening that the entire area seemed to buzz up in such lively manner it always called out to me to just walked the road and snap away with my PEN.

All images were taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and 14-42mm mk1 kit lens.

bicycle is a regular form of transport in a Kampung, more convenient to maneuver the smaller roads.

Rain outside a barber shop.

I love how everything is blue, except the boy's red shirt, amplifying his burst of laughter.

A very basic grocery store run by a mum.

I decided to attack Segambut today, and I walked about more than half an hour from my work location to the said small road. As I started to warm up to some of the photography opportunities there, the Photography God decided to call the day off and ordered heavy rain that poured like there was no tomorrow. I only managed to fire away less than 20 shots !! Disappointed as I was for not having a satisfying shutter therapy session after a long day of work, I know that I can always come back to the same place on another day. Nonetheless, not all was lost, I still did grab a few shots which I was quite happy about. Sometimes, quantity does not really matter, agreed?

It was indeed refreshing to divert away from my usual hunting grounds and explore new grounds. I will make a return again one day.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ramadan Night Bazaar with PEN

It is the month of Ramadan, a holy month for the Muslims to observe the fasting practice, before celebrating the Hari Raya on the first day of the following month. During this particular Ramadan month, stalls and bazaars are being set up everywhere, selling all sorts of merchandise such as Hari Raya clothings, accessories, house decors, and all sorts of festive themed food. All the stalls and tents set up were done in a night-market style, or what the locals here would call "pasar malam". I happen to pass by one of the longest Ramadan Bazaars around the city at Jalan Masjid India on my way back from work every day, hence it was only natural that one fine evening I would arm myself with the PEN that I carry everyday to do some shutter therapy there. I did it earlier this evening.

All images were taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and 14-42mm Mk1 kit lens. Noise filter: Standard.

Who does not love bokeh?
ISO640

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Breaking the Stereotypes

It was nearing the weekends, that a group of my friends made street shooting photography plans, having a discussion on Facebook. I was inside the conversation. Initially I mentioned that I would not be joining the shooting session due to work obligations, and by now I think most of you who know me know that I work on Saturdays. However, today was a little different, since there was no critical works that require my presence at site, I excused myself from the site (officially I am not required to work on Saturdays by my office, I have to work only if there is activity on site). Therefore, without announcing to anyone, I just decided to pop out of nowhere to surprise the group of friends at their meetup point this morning. The look on their face was worth the trouble of getting up early !!!

I armed myself with the Olympus DSLR E-5 with two lenses: 50-200mm F2.8-3.5, mainly because I am still learning how to use this lens, and familiarizing myself with the handling and 8mm F3.5 Zuiko, a lens which I have been underutilized since the review works of the Olympus PEN E-P3. The fisheye provided me the wide coverage in case I wanted to shoot anything wide, while the telephoto zoom lens 50-200mm is the main lens I was shooting with at all times, attacking my subjects from a safe distance. I had no particular aims in my mind this particular session, I just wanted to blend into the group of friends who are also equally as crazy (if not crazier than me) in photography, and hunting on the streets. I wanted to enjoy myself walking the streets again, shooting whatever subjects that caught my attention.

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 ED or 8mm F3.5 Fisheye


Morning warmth.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Friendly Encounter

One of the great joys in the social photography encounters would be finding photographers that share similar outlook and passion in the camera system which you have chosen and poured your heart out into.

Meet Capin Zaini, who travelled all the way from Kedah (one of the far northern States of Malaysia). What a long journey dude !!

A Portrait of an Olympus Zuiko Follower

Image taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and 14-42mm mk1 kit lens, available light at ISO2000.

He was holding proudly the legendary Olympus E-1 with OM 50mm F1.4 mounted on, and ready to attack. His presence oozes infectious inspiration and he made me want to burn holes in my wallet to try out manual lenses.

Capin is a long, long time Olympus supporter, a lot longer than myself. He shoots with Olympus film OM camera too. He has got many great stories to tell, and I sure hope I will have chances to hear them all in the future. Perhaps do some shutter therapy sessions together too !!

It surely is assuring, and refreshing at the same time to meet a fellow photographer having common love for a camera system. Olympus Warriors, unite !!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Street Photography for You and Me

I have missed out my shutter therapy session for the past weekend. I worked full day on Saturday and then I had the Proposal assignment to shoot on Sunday, leaving me with no space at all for my usual street shooting. Somehow, I felt incomplete without street shooting to cap off the week, and the void stayed with me until the following the working week. My hand has gotten very, very itchy for some shutter action, hence today I got off work early and stormed Chow Kit with my Olympus PEN E-PL1 which I carry around everywhere, everyday now. I finally caught up with my much anticipated and missed shutter therapy, and I am whole again.

Some people may say that I am crazy, for getting so addicted to my shutter therapy sessions. Some people question whether I have anything better to do with my life, or spend my time on. Seriously, I do not go clubbing or bars, I do not have expensive hobbies like golfing or go-karting. I am happy just to pick up the camera and go about shooting at anything. Some people also question about the value of my photography work. What for putting so much time and effort in my street shooting if I am not even earning a bit in return? True enough. However, they did not see my facial expression when I managed to nail down that shot that I really loved, or know the excitement and rush that went through my pumping heart when I found a rare, golden photography opportunity. The satisfaction from the shooting alone surpasses many other things I have come across in life. This good feeling is keeping my life together, and it stays with me. The best part of all, it costs nothing (besides the initial camera purchase). Is this not better than any drugs or alcohol?

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and 14-42mm Mk1 kit lens.

A reflection or a shadow?
GRAINY FILM Art Filter used.
Darn, that white paper should not have been there.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Proposal

A couple of months ago, a colleague of mine, Alvin who sat besides me in my workplace, like literally next to me, asked me if I would be interested to be the photographer for an event he has been putting a lot of time and effort in planning. It was his proposal to his girlfriend, and my goodness, for such a wondrous occasion, how can I turn such opportunity down? For a friend who has been very kind and generous to me all this time, and to be able to capture such an important moment of his life, I was truly honored.

I have photographed pre-weddings, actual day weddings, registration of marriages, but I have never taken a proposal before. I did not quite know what to expect, or what to plan for. Nonetheless, it was a casual session, with a gathering of some close friends. This was certainly a good chance for me to be exposed to something rather unusual, and a good experience it was for me.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 or 50mm F2 macro. FL-36R flash was used in selected images. ISO setting was set between 1000-1600.

Cups of roses.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Getting Close with a PEN

After shooting a while with the PEN E-PL1, I can safely say that people (my street subjects)  are generally feeling less threatened and more warm towards me approaching them, especially in close shooting range. Not that I was having that much trouble in the first place with the gigantic E-5, but PEN somehow draws smiles and welcomes quicker and more effortlessly. Perhaps it is the small sized factor and cuteness that people would not think too much about, because people equate large black DSLR as serious business. Obviously, people feel more relaxed around small cameras, hence being able to get very, very close to the people I was shooting on the streets really opened me to a whole new world of opportunities.

Most of them know I was shooting them directly, and I did not even have to ask their permission. All I did was looked at them directly in the eye, offered a generous smile, which most Malaysians would politely smile back, thus there and then I would attack them with the PEN, since the friendly connection has been established. It does not work all the time I admit, but I did get most of the shots I wanted with this simple, straightforward and fuss-free approach. In the case where rejection was encountered, I just continued smiling, and moved on. One door closed, another surely would be opened. Leave that behind, and move on to the next opportunity. Attack the next victim. This worked wonders with the cute PEN, and I am growing more and more in love with my E-PL1.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and M.Zuiko 14-42mm Mk1 kit lens.

Such mesmerizing gaze. I sure hope he does not lose it as he grows up.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Eargasm

You know, photography is not my only obsession.


Well, obviously I am nowhere near affording a pair of B&W bookshelves or Tannoy floorstanders. A set of generic China cha-pa-lang brand speakers will do for now to fulfill my eargasm needs. Still beats the crap out of any Altec Lansing (you call those speakers? pffffft) junks out there.

Eargasm is a word I have stolen from Eugene, a friend who is also crazy about both audio and photography.

An audio geek, I am.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Olympus E-5: Highlight Retention

People have been questioning Olympus cameras' capabilities in handling dynamic range in demanding situations, especially on the highlight retention. I admit, in comparison to generally superior and much more expensive camera systems auch as full frame, Olympus having smaller sensor size does have limitations in this regard, and would not have as much flexibility and buffer safety zone. Highlight clippings happen in harsh, contrasty regions of the photographs. Yes, we know there are better cameras out there, and the comparisons never ends. The question I am asking myself: is the highlight retention on the Olympus E-5 sufficient for my shooting requirements? My answer is absolutely, yes. Allow me to illustrate with an example, more appropriately put, a mistake which I have made.

In one of my actual day wedding assignment from earlier this year, I screwed up one of the most important shots during the wedding dinner, well almost actually. It was during the wedding dinner march of the newly wed form the entrance of the hall towards their main dining table. I set the camera settings manually to gather as much ambient light as possible, with the aid of my flash to boost up some additional fill. I considered the available dim light, and the single spot light shining on the couple. Everything went well in the first half of the walk, until somewhere in the middle of the path, the spotlight suddenly intensified and the become extremely bright. In the midst of shooting I have failed to consider the change of lighting condition to set my camera accordingly to compensate for the extra brightness due to the intensified spot lighting on the couple. The result? A disaster, overexposed image, overblown skin, and highlight clippings all over the bride's dress. When I previewed the results on E-5's LCD screen, I went "Oh SHIT !!!!!"

Thank goodness I shot the photographs all in RAW.

ISO1600, recovered by Ev compensation value -2 in Olympus Viewer RAW development.

The original image, all blown out. Mistake in manual exposure setting I have made. Critical mistake I must say. Thank goodness this was shot in RAW.

A tighter crop of the previous image to show how seriously burned out the overblown region was. In JPEG this could have been beyond salvation.

The rescued photograph. Take a close look at the maintained skin tone color, as well as the details on the white dress. This truly is impressive coming from Olympus, and shot at ISO1600.

To view more photographs from this wedding assignment, kindly go to my PORTFOLIO Page here (click).

As I got home, I loaded the Olympus Viewer software (yes I am one of the few people in the world who actually used and depended on the original bundled Olympus software, while everyone else is using Lightroom and the much more powerful Photoshop). As I come to the particular image shown in this entry, I quickly went to the exposure compensation (EV setting) and slided it down to minus 2 EV (-2 EV). To my surprise, the image did not come out too bad at all !! Do take note that the image was shot at ISO1600, and at such high ISO, the E-5 still managed to hold in the details which could be salvaged even after being OVEREXPOSED by 2 EV. I certainly did not anticipate this, and knowing I have this much flexibility, I would be shooting RAW more confidently, and trust the E-5 more. I know this camera could have done much better, but seriously, if I lower down the ISO setting, I could have achieved even more highlight retention capability with the E-5, perhaps a additional stop at ISO400 or lower.  I am not greedy, and for now, this shall be more than sufficient for all my shooting needs.


I have come to realize the importance of shooting RAW especially for paid assignment and any crucial shooting sessions that require technical perfection without compromise. As much as we rely on our own ability and consistency to make sure all controls and settings are right on camera during shooting, there are times when the situations can turn out to be rather unexpected and disaster is not possibility to be overlooked.

I know how frustrating it is, having easily burned out whites at bright and harsh lighting conditions. Yes, it is a valid issue for most Olympus cameras, but have you tried the latest cameras from Olympus such as the DSLR E-5 and the PEN E-P3? They may not be as bad as what most Olympus haters have published all over the internet. Recently, thanks to one of my blog-friends, I have spotted a possibly FAKE image supposingly taken with the E-P3 and being used in a review site. I do think somehow the haters have gone too far to tarnish Olympus. This, shall be a story for another day, if I see the need to blog about it.

Share your thoughts on Olympus dynamic range and highlight retention issues. I know many have plenty to vent out !!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

PEN Lovers @ Facebook

Through my walk in photography, I have come across many circles of friends, clubs, forums and groups. Recently, I have been participating rather actively in the PEN Lovers, a Facebook group based in Malaysia (click to join).

What drew me to this particular group?

There is this new breed of photographers resulted by product of the new generation hybrid camera system (mirrorless, lens-interchange-able type). These people do not follow the general technical fanaticism as heavily practiced by usual DSLR crowd. Yet, they are serious about shooting, but mainly for the love and fun of it. Enjoying themselves in photography is the main driving force, and anything else is secondary. At the same time, they do not just simply point and shoot like typical compact camera users, they do take their time to plan and improve their shots. Just like how Olympus PEN strikes a balance and brings out the best of both DSLR and compact camera worlds, this new breed of photographers bridge the balance between DSLR and compact camera users.