Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Three Layers

Today I shall be featuring one photograph from a friend, Jack Koh, which he took at Pudu Market, along with me in one of the usual shutter therapy sessions. 

Three Layers


I think the modern photographers have been overly obsessed with gear talk and measurebating, and it is wise to just put all the technical gear discussion aside and talk strictly about photographs. In this case, I shall discuss about this photo taken by Jack, which I quite like a lot. 

1) First, let me explain how Jack got this shot. 

Before this particular visit, Jack did tag me along to Pudu and as he saw the whole market scene, he wanted to fit everything within his wide angle frame. He was especially attracted to the giant umbrella canopy setup providing shades to the market stalls and people. To do so, he needed a high ground. We did try to go into one of the shops nearby and tried our luck seeking permission to shoot from at least 2nd or 3rd floor window. Alas, luck was not on our side, hence Jack left the first encounter at Pudu without the shot. He was frustrated, I can see it in his face, but he was still very determined. He already have that particular shot in his mind, and somehow, that shot stayed burned (or is frozen the more appropriate word?) in his mind for quite a while. 

Then came another shutter therapy at Pudu, and this time, Jack went prepared. At first I did not know why he brought along a monopod, since we usually would do street shooting with as little gear and equipment as possible. When he found his sweetspot to execute the shot, it finally came clear to me, and I remembered he still had that one shot he has not accomplished !! He mounted the Sony Alpha A99 (what a gorgeous camera that is) on that monopod, and extended it as high up as he could, with a wide angle lens shooting the sweeping scene of the Pudu Wet Market, the largest open air wet market in Malaysia. 

The following is the image of how he executed the shot:

Like I said before, you know a passionate photographer, when you see one. 

2) Pre-visualization and Pre-planning

I love Batman. And I believe Nolan screwed up TDKR movie but lets not go there for now. Batman always wins, because he is always well prepared, and he does pre-emptive strikes on his opponents, gaining him a clear head-start. He is always a few steps ahead of his enemies. That is one of the most important traits that made Batman, Batman. 

I can say similarly applies to photography. To get the shot that you want, you have got to pre-visualize the shot, and plan beforehand on how you are going to achieve that shot. If one method failed, there will be another alternative. We tried to climb to higher ground, but did not have permission to do so. Did Jack give up? No, he went back to the market with a monopod, his alternative to achieve his shot. I was impressed by his will and determination to get this shot. The final outcome? It did not disappoint. That one shot nailed the sense of location perfectly, and showed the huge open area of the market covered with umbrella canopies, surrounded by old shop buildings, something unique to Pudu district only. His pre-visualization and pre-planning paid off. 

Why three layers? In case you have not figured it out, the layers were the buildings, the canopies and what was underneath the canopies. 

3) A Glimpse of my Street Hunting Ground

I have been to Pudu for so many times, I have lost count on my visits there. I come here almost every single time I was reviewing a new gear from Olympus. On ordinary weekends, I would also frequent Pudu for my shutter therapy sessions. I have come to love the place and the people. There is so much activities happening, people are always moving, the place is very lively and noisy, and full of subjects to shoot. 

Perhaps, the only one thing that spoiled this otherwise a perfect shot, was me being accidentally captured in the frame. I underestimated his wide angle coverage, and it was my fault for stepping in to shoot him in action. I know I know, how could I ruin another photographers shot?

But come to think of it, now that I am in the shot, suddenly I felt that I was one of the subjects taken in this photograph, and I do not mind being there at all (can't say the same about the photographer's intention). This photograph literally showed me in my own shooting ground, in action, with a camera. This does not happen very often !

Some may argue this does not qualify to be street photography because it was not exactly street but at a market place and none of the shots looked anything similar to what HCB books and Vivian Maier books would tell you what street photography truly is. Screw that. I shoot what I want to shoot, and I love shooting what I want to shoot. 

Note to self: stay out of other photographer's frame !!

16 comments:

  1. Totally agree with your "screw that" comment.

    On the monopod technique - it works. I did it for weddings years ago to get a different type of group shot. People would be surprised at what that little bit of height difference can give you.

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    1. Hey Libby,
      Thanks for agreeing !!
      I should be hunting for a monopod for myself !! I know now how important high angle is. For that group shot, I stood on a chair on a table on another bigger table and had my friend stabilize me. Unnecessary risks (considering problem solved with monopod if available) but the shot was worth it !

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  2. I like Jack's photo. I like it a lot. I also like that you were in that photo!

    Something seems strange to me, though. The buildings in the background, at the extreme right and left ends, slope outward, instead of inward. Was this photo cropped so that we are seeing the "bottom half" of the original photo? That's the only thing that I can think of that would lead to this result. (Maybe I'm missing something else here...!)

    I have done something similar to what Jack did with his monopod. I wanted a photo of a new building being constructed, and I didn't want the fence surrounding the construction site to be in my photo. I had my tripod with me, so I mounted the camera on top, extended the legs fully, and kept the legs folded together. I put the camera on 10 second self timer, and raised it up jsut high enough to see over the top of that 10 foot (> 3m) fence. With the wide angle lens, it came out great!

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    1. Thanks Gregg for the kind words, I am sure Jack is reading this.

      I do not think the photo was cropped, because this was as I have remembered as we previewed the photo taken immediately. Perhaps it was due to perspective distortion?

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  3. Jack always amazed me with his pre-visualize & pre-planning technique. His art of seeing is something that I admire very much. When we start comparing pictures, I realize that "I should have done this or that, etc, etc.".

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    1. You were right !! We should pre-visualize our shots better and with a bit of planning, the photographs will go a long way.

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  4. Indeed a very nice shot, well planned, well framed, well executed. Planning and previsualizing absolutely pays off! And it's nice that you are in the frame - it shows how photographically interesting that location is! I think you belong in that shot.

    Assuming there is something like an evening market, imagine a similar shot, a few minutes after sunset, from a similar angle, but all the lights of the stalls streaming down on the people and the pavement. Tungsten WB to make the evening sky deep blue. Should be interesting as well.

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    1. Hello Andre,
      Indeed, a lot I can learn from this friend Jack from this one shot !!
      Unfortunately that Pudu market is only a morning market, by early afternoon all the stalls are closed already !! I surely can imagine your sunset theme of the image.

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  5. hey there Robin,

    Your friend really did an amazing job on this photo, really inspired by it. i just started photography not long ago and i bumped into your blog. since then i never stopped reading all your old posts. all the photos you took really inspired me as well, especially the macro and street shots. Plus, i bumped into your Olympus Zuiko 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 lens review, although i know its been a long time. i just got that lens recently since i love macro shots but couldnt aford to get a decent macro lens. Actually thanks to your reviews and abit of guidance, i got my hands on that lens (second-hand). However my camera body is a Panasonic G3. I did emailed you not long ago but i understand your busy with work as well. i hope you may be able to guide me with this. thanks. :)

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    1. Hey Edwin,
      He did an amazing job, I agree !!
      Thanks for your support and visits to my blog, really appreciate it. I am not too sure about the email but yes I have been very busy lately. Do email me again if you do not mind.

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  6. Robin

    Going out with friends is a great way to improve your vision, or as Jack did, previsualization. Though in my case, my experience has been to look at what my friends, or classmates are doing and think why are they doing that. Then, after I see the results, I usually start thinking, "How did I miss that?" Sometimes our preconceived ideas about what we are after get in the way of seeing what is there.

    PaulB

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    1. Hey Paul,
      Having previsualization is important to get the shots that we really do want or have in mind. However, when we are shooting, it is always important to keep an open mind and eye. Best photo opportunities happen when we least expect them to.

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  7. Wowww....so passionate about photography..i can see that ur friend has a lot of imagination about photography..work hard n work smart..after that u will get d best n awesome result..it same goes to u right??
    *hadi nik*

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    1. Hey Hadi,
      haha, I can say so too !

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  8. Thats a great perspective of Pudu Markets - well done to Jack!

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    1. Hey Shaun,
      Great perspective indeed, sometimes, high angle just works !

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