Saturday, March 16, 2013

Olympus Macro Photography Workshop with Sanjitpaal Singh and Amir Ridhwan

I have been waiting for this day to happen for a long time, when two of my favourite local photographers, Sanjitpaal Singh and Amir Ridhwan, both whom have inspired and influenced my growth in photography came together to conduct a workshop for Olympus Malaysia. The workshop happened at Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) earlier today, and I was fortunate to be one of the participants. I would not miss this for anything else in the world !! No, not even that Sony "Jom Alpha" Event happening at the very same time. 

I have written about both Sanjit and Amir, how I got to know them and admire their photography work, passion and dedication to photography over the years in this previous blog entry (click here), so if you have not read that, please do so in order for you to understand how important those two amazing photographers are to me. That shall save me from repeating myself here over the same stories !!

The Contrast of Shooting Styles, yet Complementary 

The workshop started with Sanjit's presentation, and followed up by Amir's immediately. Sanjit coming from design and art background approached his macro photography very differently from Amir, who is more technically conscious about his macro shooting. However, Sanjit has demonstrated high level of technical expertise and control over his subject matter while keeping artistic sense his priority, and similarly applies to Amir, who emphasized on creating photographs with "impact and drama" that can wow an audience, not just a technically well executed photograph. They both presented different methods of approaching macro photography, very contrasting ideas and concepts, but the beautiful thing about photography in general, when you put them both together, they do complement each other very well. Sanjit preferred non flash macro photography, with use of long exposure (slow shutter speed) and shooting with camera mounted on tripod, with additional lighting from torchlight(s) if necessary for that light boost, or to create certain effect as he has intended. As for Amir, he used flash for most of his shots, and he preferred to hunt his macro subjects hand-held, for easy movement. I must say my own approach of macro photography has been originally and heavily derived (and slightly modified over time) from Amir Ridhwan's own technique, which he has shared generously. Nonetheless, having heard Sanjit's side of story, he has opened my mind to even more creative possibilities and flexibility: there are endless ways to go about shooting macro, and there is no right and wrong in this matter. There is so much more to explore, and that got me really excited !!

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital lenses 50mm F2 Macro, 25mm F2.8 pancake or 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 

Olympus gear available for loan for the macro practical shooting session. Gear Buffet ! Yummm

Center: Presentation in progress




Heading into the forest trail for macro hunting

On the field briefing 

Macro Workshop participants trying their hand with practical experience, with guidance from both Amir and Sanjit on the field. I too answered some simple questions, but of course threw the harder ones back to Amir or Sanjit. 

Practical Macro Shooting

After the presentation from both Sanjit and Amir, the practical shooting session began. We spent about 2 hours shooting in a short jungle trail and attacked any insects or tiny creatures that we can find. This is the most crucial part of the session, as both Amir and Sanjit would be available to answer any questions, and guide the participants along the technical execution of the shots, down to steadying the shots or adjusting the flash exposure accordingly. Though the shooting time was close to noon, it was still bearable to walk along the path that we took, because the trees provided enough overhead canopy that created sufficient shade for us. Most participants were Olympus users, but of course non-Olympus users were also welcome, as this workshop's main target was at macro photography crowd. The advantage if you use Olympus is the ability to loan and use any of the provided accessories (flash, lens, adapters, converters, etc) if you need to.  Surely a good way to try out that macro ring flash, or how good the converter is, if you need to see the results for yourself. 

My only complain for this workshop? The shooting session was too short !! We were shooting for about almost 2 hours, but another one hour would have been perfect. Most of the time were spent walking and looking for the subjects (they were not all readily available). Nonetheless, we can continue shooting on our own after the workshop elsewhere !!

I too, had my itch scratched, as I shot macro with the group. Aaahhh it has been a while since I last done macro shooting. It felt really good, though I do not get any good shots at all, but the part of being out there with a bunch of macro crazy photographers was enough to make my day. 













After the 2 hour shooting session, we were served lunch. 

C&C Session

The final activity of the day was sharing of photographs, where everyone needed to submit at least two best photos and they will be commented by both Sanjit and Amir in the C&C (comment and critique) session. I strongly believe this is an important session, as the participants have taken their photographs, the immediate feedback from both Sanjit and Amir will help them to improve the shots in any ways possible. There is always room for improvement, and much more to learn !!

Another thing about this C&C session: you are to submit your photographs straight from your memory card. That means you are showcasing your photographs straight out of camera. All your photoshop skills cannot save you in this session. If you have mistakes in terms of technical execution (focusing inaccuracies, exposure errors, poor flash controls, etc) you have no ways to hide them. 

I too submitted my photos. The comments I have received: 1) Watch out for blown highlights, The one way to solve this issue was adjusting the flash head pointing direction to minimize highlight reflection on the subjects. This is surely doable as I use wireless off camera flash for my macro shooting. 2) Composition could be better in terms of story telling, and showing important features of the insects (eyes, face, details, patterns, etc), and finding the best possible position to have the lens to point at the subject. Also, it is good to sometimes show the background to reveal the surroundings (the insect and its habitat). 

After the final session, the event concluded. 

To those of you beautiful readers in Malaysia who has interest in macro photography, I highly recommend this macro workshop by Olympus Malaysia to you. Surely there will be future sessions, so do check out their  official FB Page here (click) for future updates. I have learned much from both Sanjit and Amir, and I am sure the same applies to the rest of the participants today. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself, and you know what? I will continue to make the best of the rest of this weekend. 

P.S. To the few beautiful people who came up to me and told me lovely things about my blog and my photography work, thank you so much !! I don't deserve such compliments, but you guys have made my day. That really made my effort and time spent here worthwhile. 

24 comments:

  1. enjoyed the report and pics a lot thx...
    for all who like Makro and stacking...
    have a look at :
    www.pen3.de

    only german but awsome

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    1. My pleasure to share the event with you all.

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  2. Missed the fun!
    From Ronnie

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  3. wow...that was very natural all those macro

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    1. can i have my face photo from you that in your post?

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  4. Sounds like it was an enjoyable workshop, Robin! Great macro shots included here! So envious! :-)

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    1. Thanks Puteri !! But I know you have some amazing shots yourself, bring back macro lens next time you come KL !

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  5. Hi Robin - did you get a chance to play with the ring flash I saw in the top photo? I have been meaning to post some pics I have ben using with the ring flash on the Olympus OM-D and Panasonic GH3 for some time but its a busy time of year here. While in the labs the other day I photographed some asbestos rocks (before their disposal) with the ring flash and the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro. I had some good results - especially at the narrower apertures.

    Cheers
    Shaun

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    1. Hey Shaun,
      I have used ring flash before, and personally I do not like the "too flat" look with no shadows. That is just me, but it is very useful in many situations where the insects (or leaves) have reflective surface that may cause flash fired to be too harsh with unwanted highlight burns. That is when I wish I had the ring flash for softer and more neutral outcome.

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  6. Just beautiful. I like it, that Olympus is so active (and generous) with events like this. Some excellent pictures!

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    Replies
    1. Hello Andre,
      Thanks for the kind words. Yes, Olympus Malaysia is indeed very generous !

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  7. Hey Robin - thanks for update. I was there too yesterday. We have the same type of camera bag.

    Cheers
    Khoo

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    1. Oh forgot to mentioned you have nice macro shots too ...

      Khoo

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    2. Hey Khoo,
      No worries, glad to have you around !! Hope to see you in the next workshop !

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  8. I was there too..with my three hyperactive kids..
    Really nice to meet you and Mr. Amir in person. As for Mr. Sanjit, that was my 2nd time meeting him.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Hayati,
      Glad to have known you!! You have some great shots too, and keep on shooting!

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  9. Hello Robin.
    Thank you for sharing this interesting workshop. I always tell myself than I am not interested in Macro Photography even when my friend give me a very good offer for Nikkor 60mm. But since I got hold of the OMD-EM5 last weekend with it's kit lens which capable of macro function, I am feel I like it. I think your amazing macro shots in your blog also play it's role. Thank you for embedding that seed of interest in me.
    If your street images push me to shoot more and more, your macro shots make me asking, "How did he do that?" I think I have a new pushing power in my journey to be a better photographer.
    Thank you, Robin. May you have a great weekend.
    John Ari Ragai

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    Replies
    1. Hello John,
      I am glad I have sparked interests of macro in you. Do explore around, I have shared ALL my techniques and method of capturing my shots in previous blog entries. I even have a video of me describing step by step on how I do it during my E-M5 review.

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    2. Robin,
      For sure as the beat getting hotter, I will need all the information on Theory of Marco Photography and your blog will be the first I will dig beside the rest on the net. I have gone thru all your posting on macro. It's very informative and worth a 'BIG THANK YOU." Actually I am a bit shy of being too passionate of photography at this age. But what the heck, it's fun and i love it beside it's lower my blood pressure.
      Thank you again for your generous sharing of knowledge on photography. Hopefully I can do the same with my limit knowledge in the future.
      John Ari Ragai.
      Ps: Olympus Malaysia ask me to register my OMD-EM5 as per my NRIC...with the 'BIN' and my Melanau name.

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  10. Hi Robin,

    Good to have met you in person although we didn't really introduce ourselves during the workshop. I was thinking if it could be you when I saw the name "Robin" on the screen as Sanjit and Amir were commenting on the participants' photos. Hope to see you again next time!

    P/S: Good luck in finding out Amir's secret in detecting spiders. Let us know when you do! ;)

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    1. Hey Edward,
      No worries, there will surely be another opportunity !! Hope you had a great time and learned some tips from the pros !

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  11. new xperience to me..jump into insect world where we can see a diff view from this tiny creatures..feels like a movie from prev yrs "honey i shrunk d kids"..i will try next time to shoot macro..may u can teach me futher..hahaha..
    *hadi nik*

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