Sunday, April 14, 2013

Facebook Page and Shutter Therapy in Pudu

After frequent pestering from friends as well as dozens and dozens of emails and comments from blog readers asking for me to setup a Facebook Page, at last, I have an official FACEBOOK PAGE for this blog. You can find the page here (click). I think it is crucial in separating my own Facebook account from the page which is dedicated specifically for blog readers and people who come to know me through the photography world. I am sure you are not interested to know what I ate for lunch or places I go to shop for my sweater which I put on my own Facebook account. The official Facebook Page shall be fully photography oriented, including updates from my latest gear review (lets hope something interesting to happen soon) as well as sharing of anything related to photography in general. 

Do bear with me as the Facebook Page is still rather empty at the moment, as I have not yet find the time to post photographs and update all the relevant information/details. Working life has become unforgivingly busy (I needed to work till over midnight in many occasions throughout the weekdays, and sometimes, Saturday too). so whatever precious time I have left, I would rather spend it outdoor shooting, doing my shutter therapy, rather than in front of computer. Nonetheless, I shall do my best to get the Facebook Page up and running as soon as I can. At this moment, please do support me by clicking "LIKE" on the my Facebook Page. 

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50mm F2 macro lens


Hungry Mother


Ciggy in Hand

Portrait of a Stranger 1

The passer-by

Transparent Protective Sheet


As I have mentioned in my previous blog entry, my hands were very itchy for some shooting for this weekend, and there was no better place to scratch the itch than Pudu. Together with me this morning were Ripi and Tai Foong. It has been a while since I last came to shoot in Pudu, and I almost forgot how alive the place was. This was a place busy with people doing all sorts of things, and most important of all, everyone (well, almost) was friendly here and we had no issues approaching the people here at all. In fact, there were a few occasions it was the street people who asked us to take photographs of them, rather than us requesting permission to shoot them !! Generally I like the vibe and positive energy here. I always come home with shots that I personally like from Pudu. They may not be the strongest set of images (I admit my images from Chow kit usually turn out stronger in terms of subject content and the story I want to tell) but Pudu is the fail-proof shooting ground that I always come home with a set of usable images. 

I utilize only one lens for this session, which is the amazing Zuiko Digital 50mm F2 macro lens. I think I am starting to become lazy, I used to switch lenses a lot, especially with the 11-22mm to cover my wide angle needs. Strangely I did not find the very long focal length, 100mm in 35mm format equivalent (extremely long for any "conventional" sense of street photography) limiting at all. It was the complete opposite, it did what I intended, and I have no trouble framing my subjects with a little bit of necessary background or surrounding elements to support the main subject. Yes, I do have to stand a few steps backward, but what was wrong with that? I prefer to stand a little further away, than say sticking a 28mm lens just inches away from the stranger's face, which in turn will result in the "WTF" look and cartoon-ish distorted face. I always watch out for the comfortable working distance between myself and my subject. If they feel any disconfort or having their personal space violated, it will show in their facial expression !! I do not understand why would any street photographer want that kind of negative reaction at all.

Holding Tight

Laughter in a Wet Market

Crouching

Walking By

Portrait of a Stranger 2

At the rate of me hunting my photographs from a wet market, I think my shooting sessions will never qualify to be street photography. The purists will say these are wet market shots after all. To a certain degree I do agree, but seriously, who cares right? Even those close up portrait shots are not exactly categorized as street photography, since at the true definition, street photographs should not be staged, and the direct eye contact just disqualified my images. Yet every single time the stranger smiled for my camera, and I managed to capture the natural, unintimidated and welcoming friendly look on their faces, I somehow felt I have done something magical. There was that sense that I have done something right. Perhaps that sense of accomplishment was at a personal level, but the good feeling was important to me, and I like having that feeling. It may not be universally acceptable, or agreed upon. Then again, I am known for not playing by the rules all the time, and I bend them necessarily.

While shooting this particular session, a random thought hit me. It has dawned to me how cinema photography has influenced my own style of shooting. Good movies and television shows are great examples of strong composition, with excellent execution of principle photography to draw your attention toward the main subject in the movie or TV show, yet at the same time providing sufficient variety and drama to keep you interested throughout the whole show. What are the camera tricks? Nothing new really. Using longer focal lengths for framing is a good start. Then working from multiple angles, so the main subject appear more dynamic, and not just being seen from one flat dimension. And always there is the way the sense of location is being established. I think there is much we can learn from watching movies or TV shows alone. Finding the wow factor in composition is not easy, since the usual compostion techniques have been overused again and again by millions of photographers worldwide, now seen in popular photo-sharing sites such as 500px and Flickr. I found myself copying adopting the composition methods from the popular movies or TV dramas that I watch into my own shooting. 

On High Place

Selling Shirts

Relaxed Position

Public Seats

Portrait of a Stranger 3

Tai Foong (top) and Ripi (bottom). Both using the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the new M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 lens !! 

It has been a while since I last brought the Olympus gear for street shooting. As you all have probably known I was using my Sony A350 and a few primes for my street hunting recently, and while they worked out great and I generally do love the images that the Sony system produces, somehow there is something that the Olympus can do, and do so much better. There is that spark in the images, a kind of mystical "glow" that makes the Olympus files stand out. I know now I sound like an Olympus fanboy (not that I am denying this), but the truth is I also love the older Sony dearly and I am far from trash-talking it. I also admit Olympus has its flaws, but gosh, after coming back to Olympus for a full length street shooting session, I missed how my street images used to look like !! It was like "wow, this was what I have been missing all this time not shooting with Olympus". The images look very much more alive and vibrant (even though in black and white presentation!!). 

I sure hope whatever rumor (NOT FROM ME) that is circulating out there about a hybrid camera capable of taking in both 4/3 DSLR and micro 4/3 lenses will come true !! I want to be able to use my current AMAZING Zuiko Digital DSLR lenses in a micro 4/3 body with FULL Autofocus capability, in terms of focusing speed, accuracy and reliability. When that day comes, I will do whatever it takes to make sure I own that camera. What say you guys?

19 comments:

  1. Hey Robin,
    Glad to see that you are back on the street. Awesome images as always. Crispy street personal portrait. I like all your images and my favorite is the Hungry Mother as it need an alertness, good eyes and a quick reflect to captured those moment in time.
    Now I still have a lot of missed opportunity shots with OMD as it always 'sleep'. I need more camera's function training on OMD.
    I will be good one day..maybe next week or next month. Practice and practice....as you always said.
    May you have a great week ahead and more 'like' on your FB web page and more $$$ moving your way.
    Thank you,
    John Ragai

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the well wishes John ! There is a setting to prevent the camera from going to sleep, or set the intervals. Alternatively, you can do what I do, randomly pressing the shutter button halfway (it is a bad habit I have), and surely that prevents the camera from sleeping !

      Delete
    2. Hahaha..now I know where it came from..."randomly pressing the shutter button halfway" habit. Actually yesterday, my partner Ivan Tan also told me about this habit and it works. I will work on the setting part.
      Thank you for the confirmation on this tip, Robin.
      John Ragai

      Delete
    3. I would not recommend the technique because the E-M5 has poor battery life !! I do that on my DSLR, which is less power hungry, so it is fine.

      Delete
    4. Ops!
      That's bad news (poor battery life)but I did grab another battery last Sunday getting ready for our Surabaya trip this Saturday.
      May you have a great evening, Robin.
      John Ragai

      Delete
  2. Hi Robin,

    Just wanted to mention how much I love that first shot, Hungry Mother. It's truly exceptional!

    Take good care,

    Bert.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Bert !! I love that shot too !!

      Delete
    2. I guess it struck me hard (so to speak), 'cause I forgot the rest of what I wanted to say... must be getting old for real. Sigh. Anyway, looks like you had a pretty good session, actually. Lots of good shots in there, and I do love the tight framing brought by the longer lens. You really should stop worrying about what is or isn't street photography, yours has a style that really doesn't need to fit in a box. And you sure have a knack for exploiting what you have at hand - I really can't see how you could have made Relaxed Position any better using a wide angle! And if that isn't street photography...

      Do keep up the wonderful work!

      Delete
    3. Thanks for the kind remarks Bert. I guess like everyone else, I too have my own struggles, and I do want to fit in somehow.
      About the Relaxed Position, if I were to use wide angle lens I would need to go really close, and if I did that, the man in the picture will not look so "relaxed" anymore. The part that made the image worked was how at ease he was though in the midst of such a busy marketplace in the morning. The way he lounged around with not the care of the world was what I wanted to capture in the image.

      Delete
  3. Hi Robin !
    I loved the skin rendering ..[even though these are tinted black and white]

    It is indeed nice to have friendly strangers smiling in to the lense ....renders pleasent portraits...:)

    forgive me for coming in late ....but is it due to the high humidity[due to the two rain seasons] in Malaysia that u often use the weather sealed cam and lense [as also Ripi and Tai Foong]? :)..... O.K. i know that the sony A350 is not so weather sealed :) ... so is it more vulnerable to mould and needs more baby sitting:):) ..?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello drpankajshukia,
      Thanks for the kind words. Indeed Olympus produces the best skin tones, and that is evident even in black and white images.
      The choice of Olympus has nothing to do with weather sealing. I strongly believe the Olympus camera system serves my needs well, and it never failed me before. I love the images that it produces, and the impressive optical quality of their Zuiko lenses.

      Delete
  4. I agree with Bert. If what you are doing is not street photography I don't know what is. Certainly simply having the attention, expressed through eye contact, should not disqualify your images. I think it is increasingly difficult for the photographer to remain unobserved these days with the proliferation of cameras in every colour, shape and form. I feel many young photographers use 500px and Flickr and other photo sites as training grounds. Hence a certain similarity as they try to imitate their favourites. What you do has a freshness and vitality. The other word for purist is pedant. Keep up the great work.

    PaulS

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    Replies
    1. Hey PaulS,
      Thanks for the kind words !! Trying to be fresh, and being myself are what I always considered when shooting. Not an easy thing to accomplish, but I gotta try. Sometimes it works, aometimes it does not, but after sufficient trials and errors, we do chance upon something interesting!

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  5. Robin, I'm a quiet but great admirer of your work, your pictures, and the kind, hearts winning man behind the camera. You show me/us in Europe/Germany a multi-cultural picture, we only can dream of. In every of your "shoots", the targets - "strangers", women, children -, smile, are confident, appreciate, what your are doing. What a satisfying, giving situation for both. Please place ads, as much you want. My eyes will always focus on your work. Whenever you want to stay in Southern Bavaria, let me know.
    Thanks Robin,
    Ludwig E.

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  6. Robin,

    Well, looking at the Facebook and Twitter logos and especially that of B&H, I am so glad to see that you have finally taken the plunge, and begun
    to go after some very well DESERVED $ (or I guess more accurately, RM ?) !
    Remember, as I told you, "Man does not live by shutter therapy alone."

    Know that I am wishing you the very best from the other side of our dear Earth.

    And who gives a rat's rear quarters what someone else calls, or doesn't call, your work ! It is what it is !
    Honestly, I've never given that subject even the slightest passing thought -- for your work, or anyone else's.

    But now to the business at hand. Once again, you never disappoint - a wonderful set ! It leads me to comment on Olympus and the 50.
    Though I do not own it, a friend has an OM-D and the 50 (and adapter of course) and a few months ago he purchased the new super
    60 macro.

    I have as a result, now shot with both. And though I find the new 60 to be a superb and unique lens -- also, shaaaarp (and 1:1 capable, such a nice plus),
    there is still something inexplicably special about the 50. Despite it's quirky slow hunting AF on m4/3, there is an undeniable magic to its rendering,
    something beyond mere specs of resolution and micro-contrast and blah blah blah.

    And I must say, that with your eye and talent, you constantly manage to extract the max magic out of it in your work,
    as is once again evident here.

    Ben

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  7. Another remarkable set - winners, all of them! The mother is special, the tight portrait of the child exceptional. The expression in the child's eyes is priceless. I just love the "relaxed position" - the viewer immediately connects with the guy. And plenty of Robinesque portraits... a treat. And yes, the Oly is a stellar performer, just like its owner!

    ReplyDelete
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