Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Shutter Therapy Was What I Needed, And I Was Getting Some

The never-ending surgery date re-scheduling drama has caused much frustration to me and mum, and I feel bad for mum being trapped on the hospital bed (she was not allowed to move her hip) for so long. Nonetheless I do have to do my best to keep her spirits up and be as positive and optimistic as I can. As much work and time sacrificed being around her, I do not feel the physical demand was as exhausting and draining as the emotional toll everything has taken from me. It was easy to tell another person that everything is ok while underlying my own thick skin of optimism I do feel scared, and unsure of how everything will turn out to be.

I do need to break, and what better way to take my mind off things for a while, than doing some quick shooting with whatever limited gear I do have with me in Kuching. Mum was fine having me away for a quick few hours, and I fully made use of this time to shoot around my beloved hometown Kuching. Nothing beats a slow, peaceful walk around town with just one camera and one lens on hand. No pressure, no stress, just me and my camera, and shooting whatever caught my attention.

This is shutter therapy at its best!

 Old Court House

Monday, July 22, 2013

Back to Blogging

First of all, I must thank you all beautiful readers so, so much for showing so much concern, support and help in my time of need. The generous donations from you all (everywhere in the world!!!) and the abundant words of encouragement and comfort brought much warmth and optimisim to my me and my mum. We truly appreciate the love and care you have all shared.

The cost of the metal implant is quoted to us at RM6,500. Up to date I have received about  RM5000 (USD1600), and adding to that from my own pocket we do have sufficient funds to cover the metal implant. We were told we have to clear the payment of the metal implant first before we can proceed with the surgery. Now that the money issue is out of the way, the drama of operation date rescheduling continues to haunt us. To be honest I dare not mention any dates now because none of the dates given to us happened and there were more than 5 delays already. The lastest promise given to us was this coming Saturday (27 July) and I sure hope there is no more delay.

My humble blogging machine setup: cheap Android tablet with an external keyboard. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

On Hiatus

Update: Thank you all for the encouragement and kind words! My mum and I appreciate them a lot! I was overwhelmed by the generosity of many of you and yes I am listening. Hence here is the PayPal Donate button.

I thank you all in advance for whatever small contributions to ease this difficult time I am going through. Please subscribe to my facebook page for updates on the latest developments on my mum's condition.

Dear beautiful people,

I have some not so good news. My beloved mum accidentally fell down from the staircase and has fractured her hips. I was informed on Tuesday morning and immediately took the next flight out to Kuching. She was hospitalized at Sarawak General Hospital and the doctors are still in the process of finalizing the best option for her treatment. Most likely she will have to undergo a major operation to install a metal implant to replace the fractured bones at her hip area. We were not informed the exact date for the surgery but we were told the waiting time might take weeks.

Therefore I am currently taking unpaid leave away from my engineering day job. At the same time unfortunately I will have to halt any photography related activities as well and that means there will be no shutter therapy for me for the coming month or longer. I shall commit myself to stay at my mum's side until her full recovery. Hence this blog will not be updated until everything is over.

Considering my current financial conditions I am seriously contemplating of letting go all my Sony gear and also selling a part of my much beloved Olympus system. It will be painful but the sacrifice is necessary. I am not sure where this leads me and how will things move on from here but I do want to hope for the best and believe that one day I will be out there shooting again, doing my shutter therapy, perhaps even in a grander scheme than ever before. At this moment not workinf for possibly more than a month means my funds will be depleting quickly and God knows how much the medical bills will add up to be at the end of the day. For now to set the priorities straight I do have to take care of mum and hope she gets the best attention and care possible. I will be at her side at all times.

I apologize for not being able to keep this place alive and as frequently updated as I always do. I do feel very guilty and sad having to abandon this place like this. I have fought consistently and persistently no matter bow busy I was with work of life to have this blog updated. However any words of encouragement from you all will be deeply appreciated. Do keep me in your prayers and I sure hope for the best for my mum. She means a whole world to me.

Yours sincerely
Robin Wong
(This blog entry was published from my mobile phone)

Monday, July 08, 2013

Beercan: Minolta 70-210mm F4

A long time blog reader, calex from Singapore contacted me several times for meet ups when he was stopping by in KL but we never did until recently. He has promised me a gift of the legendary Minolta 70-210mm F4, or more affectionately known as the "beercan". I have been needing a tele-photo zoom lens for my Sony gear, which I complained the lack of longer focal length in my recent shoots and assignment. I always emphasized the need and importance of having longer focal length, not just for the reach but for compressed perspective, creating different and more dramatic outcome in photography presentation. Ming Thein described it as "cinematic", and I found that to be a huge part of my shooting style as well. Hence the meet up with calex finally happened a few weeks ago, and to my surprise the beercan was in such pristine condition, and I was amazed by how well calex took care of the lens (note to self, learn how to take care of your equipment Robin, and don't overabuse your camera and lenses). I actually felt very guilty for receiving the lens and I wanted to pay him for the trouble but he insisted that I took it, with a promise I will make full use of the lens. And so here, in this blog entry, is my first time shooting with the Minolta 70-210mm F4 lens. 


All images in this blog entry were taken with Sony Alpha A57 and Minolta 70-210mm F4 lens. 


Sunday, July 07, 2013

Sarawak Bloggers Wins Social Media Gathering of The Year at Digi WWWOW Awards 2013

I am a proud member of Sarawak Bloggers, an independent non-profit society founded and headed by awesome Cyril Dason. However, I have always felt guilty and frustrated at myself for not being able to contribute much to the society, mainly due to the fact that I am physically away from Sarawak, working in Kuala Lumpur for years now. When Cyril contacted me a few days ago asking if I could represent him and on behalf of Sarawak Bloggers to be present at the Digi WWWOW Awards ceremony, I thought, I MUST make an effort to be there. And so it happened. 

The venue of the event was at Starbucks, TTDI. The top floor was closed for the event in the afternoon, and I was there rather early. The TV screen was showing the countdown, about half an hour before the event started. 

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Olympus PEN E-P5 Review: Time Lapse, Cheer Leading and Conclusions

Important Notes:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in JPEG (Large Normal).
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. No post-processing applied to the images, except slight brightness/contrast balance tweak. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

This blog entry is the final part of my blog review series of the Olympus PEN E-P5. If you have not done so, please read my previous review parts here: 

In this particular blog entry I shall be summarizing my opinion and thoughts about the new Olympus PEN E-P5, what I like about the camera and what I thought can be improved. 

Apart from that, I also have done an additional feature demo video on the newly added built in camera Time Lapse function. As a closing entry, I have attended a cheerleading competition at Bukit Jalil Stadium and captured some action shots of young girls being thrown around in the mid air, a perfect opportunity to torture the camera for some high-speed shooting. 

Time Lapse Demo

The Olympus PEN E-P5 came with quite a few additions of useful features, and that included some sort of intervalometer to enable time lapse shooting. I must honestly admit that I have not done any time lapse photography prior to this, and my attempt of shooting was purely to see how the camera functions and what I can do with it. Looking into the menu system to enable the time lapse function in E-P5, I immediately noticed that the main limitation, which many will find restrictive is the total number of photographs being set to only 99 images. Of course you can continue taking photographs after the 99 photos are taken but that would be rather troublesome, and higher number photographs limit would allow more flexibility surely. You can customize image to image intervals, and a choice to automatically converted what you have shot into a movie clip straight from the camera processing itself.

Though with limitations, I still think the time lapse feature can be useful, and with proper planning and setup (and that comes with some inconvenience) can still function for serious purposes. The thought of not having to set up the camera with an external intervalometer, or connecting to phones and computers makes life a lot more hassle free. It is a matter of making it as simple as possible and easily usable without too much effort. Time lapse photography should be fun, and Olympus E-P5 proved this to be true without all the cumbersome setting up and execution process. Of course, I am not speaking on behalf of professional or serious time lapse photographers out there. 

Olympus PEN E-P5 
Time Lapse Feature Quick Demo


Note: This video demo was published ahead of this blog review entry on my FACEBOOK PAGE. If you want faster news and some quick updates, please follow me and support my FACEBOOK PAGE (click) by "liking" it. 

Monday, July 01, 2013

Olympus PEN E-P5 Review: Wi-Fi Features and Shooting with CCTV Lens

Important Notes:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG (High Quality) via Olympus Viewer 3.
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. No post-processing applied to the images, except slight brightness/contrast balance tweak. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.


This blog review is a continuation from Part 1 (click) and Part 2 (click) of my Olympus PEN E-P5 review series. If you have not read the previous parts, please do so. 

In this particular blog entry, I shall be going two main things: 1) discussing about the new built in Wi-Fi feature, which is the first for micro 4/3 Olympus cameras and 2) shooting on the street with a C-Mount CCTV lens, as promised earlier, to test how well the focus peaking works in manual focusing for street shooting. 

I strongly believe that in the future, built-in Wi-Fi functions will be a mainstay for any cameras, promising better connectivity with computers as well as smart devices (phones and tablets). After all, with Wi-Fi being the mainstream feature in most devices we use day to day, such as laptop computers and smartphones, it only makes sense that having the camera with Wi-Fi enabled capabilities will surely make overall photography workflow more seamless and efficient at the same time.

To demonstrate how the Olympus E-P5's Wi-Fi function works, I have made a very short video clip demo, as follows:





Obviously, your smart device (Android phones, tablets, or I-phones and I-pads) must have built in Wi-Fi feature. To be able to use the Wi-Fi features on your smart devices, you will need to first download and install an App called O.I. Share (Olympus Image Share), which is available for two main platforms: iOS and Android. The App can be obtained from Google Play Store or Apple Apps store. 

So what does the wi-fi feature allow us to do?