Monday, October 31, 2011

Warming Up to Petaling Street

Before I dive into this week's beautiful shutter therapy session, allow me to introduce something rather awesome, which I think many of you will like. My friend Ivan's band, Silent Scenery (click) has just released their official music video on Youtube. It is a music video for one of my favourite tracks in their new album, These Still Moments (OMG!!! I am looping the tracks on my PC and MP3 player now). The music video has "interesting" hints and traces of satirical underlying messages, do check it out and show some love guys !!!

Stop Motion and Fragments


To find out more about Silent Scenery, go to the following links:



About a month ago, Luke Ding has asked for a shutter therapy session with me on the streets, and I gladly agreed, but I had to delay the session due to extremely busy schedule I have had. There were so many things happening back then and finally, I have had some spare time for myself and this very glorious Sunday morning, I attacked Petaling Street together with Luke, who armed himself with an Olympus E-P3 and the deadly 45mm F1.8 that the entire world is getting crazy about, partly due to my fault for writing so shiningly about it in my earlier user-experience review blog.

Hey, it was not entirely my fault, even Steve Huff wrote beautiful things and sang praises for the 45mm lens in his own review.

All image in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and the Zuiko 25mm F2.8 pancake lens.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Silent Scenery @ Pipit Wonderful Market 7

Construction progress at site is coming to an end, hence I am regaining my freedom on Saturdays. This particular weekend, there are two major events which I have been anticipating, the first being the PEN Lovers 1st Anniversary Luncheon, and subsequently, it was Silent Scenery (my friend, Ivan is in the band) performing live at Central Market for the Pipit Market Seven. Life has suddenly become beautiful and hectic once again. The Pen Lovers Luncheon (which I intend to blog about in a separate entry) ended just after 3pm, but I unknowingly lazed around hanging out with the beautiful people there until 3.30pm, leaving me less than an hour to get from Subang to downtown KL before Silent Scenery starts their live performance !!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

John & Aarynn: Wedding Anniversary @ The Art Cafe

It was on last Monday night that I received an unexpected call from a friend, John Wong (who blogs regularly using Olympus gear too), inviting me as the photographer for his second wedding anniversary dinner with his beautiful wife, Aarynn, the following Tuesday night. I hesitated in the first place because I would not want to be the "third person" while the lovely couple were having their romantic dinner, but once John explained that I will be joined by two more friends, a professional pianist and a female vocalist, I immediately agreed to the invitation.

The dinner was held in a really cosy and fully private dining place called the Art Cafe in Petaling Jaya. I have not been to the dining venue before, hence I did not know what to expect in terms of lighting and other shooting conditions (space/constraints). Therefore, I decided to just go with the flow, and brought along my primary shooting gear: Olympus DSLR E-5, together with 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 50mm F2 and the external flash FL-36R.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Spin with 25mm Pancake

To all my Indian readers, Happy Deepavali !!

Since it was a public holiday, it was the perfect opportunity to fulfill some of the pending promises for photo-walk sessions with some photo-enthusiast friends. This shutter therapy session, I was joined by a new friend, Chun Chung, together with familiar faces, Choon Wee and Jason Lioh. We attacked the familiar Petaling Street of Kuala Lumpur.

In this particular session, I only used the Olympus Zuiko Pancake 25mm F2.8 lens, all the way with my E-5. I did bring along the fisheye and my staple lens, 50mm F2, but surprisingly I did not switch lens even once throughout this morning. Therefore, I can conclude that the 25mm pancake lens is surprisingly flexible and versatile, almost usable in every shooting situations. Not bad, coming from a budget standard lens, though I must admit the performance in terms of sharpness and overall image quality is no where near any of the High Grade Zuiko lenses. But hey, expectations and measurebating aside, the lens delivered what it promised: a good all around performer for everyday general shooting. It is hard to find any fault with the pancake lens, really.

Top left: Chun Chung
Top right: Choon Wee
Bottom left: Jason Lioh
Bottom right: Robin Wong (me of course)
Everyone is having a piece of that Leica M9 !!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Smile for a Stranger

Street photography is a form of real life people documentation process, especially taking portrait shots of random strangers encountered on the streets, and is no easy task.

It is either you grab a photograph of total randomness, capturing the feeling of awkwardness between the subject's response towards your camera pointing at them directly, or producing a completely different outcome: your subject being connected to you, with an eye contact or facial expression that engages the viewer, and speaks out strongly. It takes time for the subject to get comfortable with you, giving you a natural look and it does not just happen quickly. Sometimes, it does not happen at all.

The look in the eyes are extremely important: does your subject look at you angrily, as a threat, or a person he wants to shove that huge thorny durian he is holding into a random orifice of your body? Likewise, the facial expression or the smile tells all the stories of the person: does your subject see you as a complete stranger? Is he comfortable being around you? What is he thinking when he is looking at you and your camera?



A good example was the photograph above of a random kid I found on the street, clinging to his mother. Initially, the kid was rather shy, and hid away from me. The mother was kind enough to allow me to snap some photographs. Hence, I moved closer, and smiled. I believe I do have a good smile, because my subjects have been responding very well to my smile this far. The kid slowly warmed up to me, but still gave me that cold, curious, "who the f*** are you" kind of stare.

Soon enough, the kid let his guard down, and smiled in such an adorable manner, it was the most beautiful smile I have seen in a long, long while.

I had my E-5 and the 50mm F2 pointed at the kid all the time, ready to spring in action. More by sheer luck than skill (though I was indeed ready), I captured that shot, and this is one shot that I am most happy about from my recent collection of street hunts. There is so much going on in that simple photograph, which begs the question, what made the boy smile the way he did?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Return of an Old Friend

I have made an impulsive purchase just a few hours ago, and boy, have I not felt this good in a long, long time !!

It was the Olympus Zuiko Digital 25mm F2.8 PANCAKE lens !!

I have had quite an interesting history with this pancake lens. The first week it was launched in Malaysia (about 3 years ago), I bought it without hesitation and I was very happy with the lens I almost brought the camera (then Olympus E-410) with me everywhere I went to. Until several weeks later, something happened (click) and the pancake was snatched away from me. Not too long after that, I made another purchase, knowing how much I loved the lens and would benefit from the compact, light and small design. After using the lens for about a year later, I decided to sell it off to fund for my current super wide angle lens, 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 which was more important, and needed for most of my paid photography assignment.

The Pancake lens, Looks sooooo cute on my E-5 don't you think?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Street Photography, My Style

The street is full of photography subjects, ranging from portraits, still life, old architectures, urban landscape to urban decay just to name a few. The choice of subjects and the appeal would differ from one photographer to another, as we see things differently, and approach photography with individual unique styles. I have been receiving overwhelmingly positive remarks on my street photography work lately, and I have you all beautiful readers to thank for. I have also been requested (on several occasions) to share what goes on and around during my usual shutter therapy sessions, where I would attack my subjects on the streets. I shall gladly share whatever I can, including some tips and tricks on getting my usual shots. However, do bear in mind that my photography techniques are just my own preferences, since there is no right and wrong in photography, and you may choose to agree or disagree with my methods of execution. Choose the style that works best for you, and you will only know what works and what does not by shooting more and more. Also, street photography is a very, very wide genre, with various definitions.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5, Zuiko Digital Lenses: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 50mm F2 macro and 50-200mm F2.8-3.5

I like catch-light, and I usually made sure they are seen on my subject's eyes when I do close up shots like this.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Be Consistent

One of the many important aspects that I believe is extremely important in anyone’s growth in photography, particularly for learning/amateur photographers is consistency. I have seen many people trying too hard, and exploring too many things, with their minds scattered all over the places without proper focus and concentration towards a clear and aimed direction to lead to. Being consistent in every aspect of photography, may it be technical execution, photography vision and choice of gear can influence your overall pace of improvement. Of course, if you are a professional photographer or have been practicing photography for many years, you know what works best for you, but for many new-comers to photography, they do not even know what they want to do, and what works for them, or what not. Therefore, my sharing here is only valid for mostly beginners and new-comers to photography, the group of photographers that I can relate myself to better.

1) Be CONSISTENT with your Choice of Gear

Jumping ship from brand to brand will not improve your photography that far. Upgrading to that more powerful lens does not necessarily upgrade your skills either. Shooting with too many mediums all at once, trying too many different cameras and setup will lose your focus and screw up your learning process. Pick one main camera system, with some basic lenses to begin with. Start simple, and learn to master your simple setup before you progress further. Learn how to bring the best in your equipment, manipulate its weaknesses while exploiting its strengths to bring out the maximum potential of your setup. How can you decide whether your camera is bad or good, if you have only been using it for a few months, with very limited hands on shooting experience with it? I shudder at the thought of some friends upgrading straight from an entry level DSLR to a full frame (or even more advanced the rangefinder such as Leica) but they could barely control their basic camera system well enough. How do you know if you have maxed out the capabilities of your camera, and not explored the power that is stored within it? It is often prudent to stay with one camera and one system, while consistently shooting to know the system inside out. Only through countless shutter clicks that you will come to reap the benefits of your consistency of camera choice, and see the stark improvement between the photograph you took with that same camera now, than a year ago.

It does not matter which choice of camera you want to shoot with, the important thing is to stay consistent with it. No camera is perfect. However, being able to deliver consistent results with the camera you have known very well, makes a huge difference than using a powerful camera that you can barely master.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-520

Public display

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Voigtländer Nokton 25mm F0.95

Not too long ago, during a "teh tarik" session with the fellow PEN Lovers, I have had a chance to have a very quick try on the much sought after Voigtländer Nokton 25mm f0.95 lens. Koon Yik, the founder of the PEN Lovers group (click to find out more about the group), have the 25mm F0.95 lens, hence I grabbed it from him and mounted the beautiful lens on my Olympus PEN E-PL1. My goodness..... the bokeh... at F0.95 wide open, was unspeakably wicked.

All images were taken with Nokton 25mm F0.95 on Olympus PEN E-PL1 (except for first and last image)

The lens actually looks very small in hand, the size and weight was just right for a PEN sized camera.

Monday, October 17, 2011

All the Negative Comments

Side Note:

I have revamped my Portfolio Blog where I gathered and showcased almost all my paid-assignment work. Kindly visit the page and do let me know what you think !! Go to the Portfolio Page here (click).

I am still trying to decide whether I should convert to a new layout for this main blog, incorporating Google’s new Dynamic View. You can test the new Dynamic View here (click). Any feedback is appreciated.


I used to know this unimaginably bitter photographer who never failed to find fault in every single photography work he has come across, except for his own work of course. He would have a long list of complains about any other photographer’s work, condemning their unimpressive style, non-existent originality and questionable creativity. He often criticizes how photographers these days lack the insight to “read” photographs, and how they lack the element of “artistic sense”. I too, have been a victim through his cruel bashing and unforgiving attacks.

I guess it all comes down to each person’s personality. What do you choose to see, and how you approach people and life in general is strongly reflected in your photography as well. When I am presented a photograph, I would not immediately mark it down and kill it off instantly. I would ask myself what I do I find unique and different in this photograph, what made the photographer choose this subject and why did he adopt the techniques he used to make the shot happen. I choose to see the good things that the photograph speaks, rather than pointing out exclusively the negative points only. Often, the vicious online community (such as photography forums) would pick on technical faults such as poor composition, badly executed lighting, inaccurate white balance, distortion, etc etc. Consequently, how would a newcomer to photographer feel when the first photograph he posted to be commented and criticized received more than a dozen sledgehammers pounding repetitive morale destructive blows?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Day in Ulu Tamu

I have been rather occupied lately, with the wedding assignment spanning the course of more than two weekends consecutively, the first one in Bali, and subsequently at Kuala Lumpur, cutting me off my usual supply of shutter therapy for nearly three weeks. By now, you would know that a Robin without his usual dosage of shutter therapy is a grumpy and unhappy Robin. Therefore, after all the assignment was over, I promised myself a relaxing weekend to rejuvenate and recharge myself, which of course includes loads and loads and loads of shooting just for myself only. You have no idea how itchy my hands were!!

It was close to weekend that I was invited by a dear friend Gerald for a full day out shooting to Hulu Selangor area, to explore a Orang Asli (native aborigines) settlement at Ulu Tamu. Initially I declined the invitation because I wanted to spend time just by myself only. After giving it some thought, I changed my mind to join Gerald, Yeow and Mun Keat for this day trip out of Kuala Lumpur, mainly for the following reasons: 1) I really need to spend time with friends, especially those friends who have been there for me, and supporting me all these times, declining their offer would have been just plain selfish on my own part, and 2) A shooting session far, far, far away from the hectic and busy Kuala Lumpur sounds tempting. Hence, we made our way early morning to this Kampung (village) which is near Batang Kali district.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital lenses: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 50mm F2 macro, 50-200mm F2.8-3.5

Mun Keat trying out the much-discussed 45mm F1.8 on his E-P1. Oh, you just got to love that skin on his E-P1 !!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Undernourished

I found an extremely skinny cat. I had my ever-ready Olympus PEN E-PL1 with 14-42mm mk1 kit lens mounted on it. I zoomed in the lens to the furthest 42mm end, at the widest F/5.6 aperture opening. I moved myself closer and closer to the skinny cat. I fired one shot, *CLACK*, the skinny cat got scared by the shutter sound of the PEN and decided to disappear.

Olympus PEN E-PL1, ISO400, F5.6, 1/500sec

Seriously, Olympus, please dampen the shutter sound on your future PEN bodies !!! We do not have the mirror slapping sound but the mechanical shutter unit is still rather loud, especially when the surrounding is quiet.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Shoot to the Moon

I saw the moon tonight. I fell in love with it. I could not stop gazing into it. Hence, I picked up the camera, and shot the moon. I shot and shot and shot.

Taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko 50-200mm F2.8-3.5
ISO200, F/8, 1/400sec, handheld



For some unexplained reasons, many people have thought that to shoot the moon, a tripod is necessary to hold the shot steady. That was a total bogus, because I found my metering (spot) read 1/400sec average, which was more than sufficient to hold the long lens steady. There was no need for tripod at all. I purposely underexposed the moon to reveal the texture on the brighter region. The Olympus Zuiko 50-200mm did not disappoint.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Realignment

I still feel a little disoriented after the Bali wedding assignment, though it has been more than a week since my return to KL.

Prized possession.
Olympus E-5, 50mm F2, ISO 1000


One of the most beautiful smile I have seen in a long while.
Olympus E-5, 50mm F2, ISO 1000

One day, I shall make a visit to Bali, strictly for street/travel and landscape photography only. One day.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Calvin & Mabel: A Wedding in KL

Remember the couple that got married in Bali not too long ago (click here if you have not read that entry), Calvin and Mabel, my friends whom I have known from Perth, that I had the honor and privilege to be their photographer? That was one week ago, and subsequently they flew to their homeland and had another wedding reception in Kuala Lumpur. Again, I was the photographer for them. But before the reception dinner, we went around the hotel and snapped some portrait shots of Calvin and Mabel.

Initially I intended to bring the couple out to the Taman Tasik Perdana which was not too far away from their hotel for an outdoor portraiture shooting. Nonetheless, considering the tight schedule of the day, it was decided to just shoot within the hotel compound.  The biggest challenge was not being fully prepared for this shooting session, because we did not anticipate the last minute change of venue, and I did not do prior research on the hotel locations. We explored the places such as the restaurants, lobby and even some scenes were shot inside the suite they were staying in.

I shall not elaborate too much in this particular entry, and just share a few favourite photographs I have selected.


All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5, Zuiko Digital lenses: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 50mm F2 macro, 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 and 8mm fisheye.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

KLPF (Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival) 2011

If you are in Kuala Lumpur this weekend, and you have not been to KLPF (Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival) 2011, do make a visit to Mid Valley Convention Center, it is happening right now, from Friday to Sunday (7th October 2011 to 10th October 2011). I have just got back from KLPF, and boy, it was one place full of camera porno-graphy !!! So many things are going on in there right now, and the highlights include the major camera manufacturers showcasing their latest products and technologies, some great promotions for gear and accessories (including bags, memories, flash equipments and tripods) as well as many photography talk and seminars going on at different stages all over the Mid Valley Convention Center. I went in with a group of friends whom I have known through the locally setup Olympus PEN Lovers.

I guess the main reason why I went was to molest some of the newest cameras that rolled out into the market recently, which I have not had my hands on. There are some very sexy cameras, and they were all gathered in one centralized area for everyone to play with. Free demo is available, and of course, like any other crazy photographers out there it was indeed a great opportunity to feast our lust for lenses and camera bodies. I spent a great deal of time fiddling with some of the newest cameras, especially the Sony A77, Sony NEX C3, and not to forget, the new offerings from Olympus PEN series such as the Lite E-PL3 and the Mini E-PM1. Everything looked extra sexy in the photography fair where possibly thousands of professional photographers and photography enthusiasts flooded the hall and drowned ourselves in our own saliva.


Nikon J1.
Too bad those are mock-up models only. The design is not half as bad as I thought they looked from the images I saw online. They actually looked not too bad.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Forgotten

Just a quick sharing of a scene that caught my attention on my way home from work. Always remember that there are those less fortunate than us. They too, are human. They too, feel pain, hunger and sadness.

Image taken at Chow Kit
Olympus E-PL1, 14-42mm Mk1, ISO2500

The next time you kneel down and pray to God, please remember those in need. And ask yourself, what can you do, and how will you act?

Even that half-eaten Big Mac you threw away can help them make through the day.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Calvin and Mabel: A Wedding in Bali

Hello beautiful people !! I am back to Malaysia, and boy, what an adventurous ride for the past four days. I travelled to Bali, Indonesia to cover my friends' wedding ceremony, as well as doing some pre-wedding shots at the surrounding locations of the breathtakingly stunning looking island. It was a full on solid four days of shooting and and shooting and shooting and I have come back with a truck load of photographs !! Here is a preview, comprising of small selection of my favourite photographs in this blog entry.

This was my first Destination Wedding assignment, and I was very nervous and excited at the same time. There were many uncertainties and doubts in the beginning, but thank goodness everything went smoothly and beautifully. The sky was perfect for all the times of shooting, including the actual day of wedding ceremony itself, and no one could have asked for a better weather on such an important occasion for Calvin and Mabel. I have known both Calvin and Mabel since my university days in Perth, and it was indeed a huge thing for them to get married. They did it with style in Bali, and I was honored and privileged to be the invited as the photographer for their most special day.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR: E-5 and E-520, Zuiko Digital Lenses: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 50mm F2 macro, 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 and 8mm fisheye.

The wedding ceremony was held at Infinity Chapel at Conrad Resort, Bali.