Saturday, March 08, 2014

It Has Been A While, Petaling Street Again

The week has been an unexpectedly long one, with work stretching to ungodly hours, and shutter therapy was needed more than ever. I joined a group of old shooting friends and we attacked the Petaling Street, KL this morning. Not exactly my favourite street hunting spot, but somehow it turned out to be very enjoyable. 

A while ago, a friend Raja Indra Putra commented on the way I approached the street people (strangers) before I took photos of them. He said I would make my entrance to the scene, posing as someone harmless. After establishing that message of "me being here, not a threat" with the stranger since the stranger is already aware of my presense, then I walked in closer, and work my camera. He said that happened almost all the time, and it worked because it gave the strangers time to decide that I was not someone evil (I do have a very friendly appearance, I think), thus allowing me go in closer and taking photographs of them. 

I never really thought about that before! That friend's observation was correct, to every detail, but there was a twist in it. Now the truth, from my perspective, I did not intentionally "enter the scene" and establish that I was a non-threat, at least that was not part of my plan at all. 

What actually happened was me taking a quick pause to quickly adjust the camera settings before I approached my strangers on the street. You see, when I saw a stranger that I have decided to attack, I wanted to have all my camera settings set before I go in and make the shot happen. I set the focusing point to exactly where I want the eye to be in the frame, I set the aperture to have sufficient depth of field (depending on how near or far the subject is and how much I want to be in focus), I set the ISO to compensate for the light or lack of, and surely I must watch the shutter speed and ensure it was fast enough to mitigate blur if necessary. All the camera controls should take about 2-3 seconds, and then I make that strike happen by pointing the camera to the stranger and BAM. I tbought it was 2-3 seconds, or so I wanted to believe it was only that brief and I was so efficient with camera controls. Another truth to be told, I actually took about more than 5 seconds, perhaps even 10 sometimes when I do hesitate on my settings (hey, I am not perfect, seriously, I do make mistakes, but at least I rectify it before I shoot). That many seconds of me being stagnant, staring blankly at the camera fiddling with settings, was helpful to give out a friendly signal to the stranger that I was about to shoot them, and for those who are ok with their portraits being taken (of course not all, if they said no, I would respectfully oblige), they have that nice, friendly, beautiful expression on their faces. Honestly, I did not know how they looked the way they looked, but it probably was a mirror to my own expression when I was looking at them. We are all human after all. 

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko Digital lenses 45mm F1.8 and 17mm F1.8

Portrait of a Stranger 1



Portrait of a Stranger 2

Legs

Incense Coils

Passing By

Glee

By the River.
There was another street photographer in the frame. I could have cropped it off but I thought it was cool seeing him there. 

The Flag Bearer

Flea Market People

Plastic

Cart

Portrait of a Stranger 3

Portrait of a Stranger 4. I mean X-T1. 



30 comments:

  1. Great photos as always!

    Did you increase clarity of the old man's eye? His eyes seem really brilliant.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. There was something not right about his eyes, not sure if he had a disease going on of some sort, but the eyes were the way I found them. I am no eye expert, perhaps someone can shed some light. I can post up a photo with colors if needed.

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    2. In my opinion, ( I'm a doctor ), this is an arcus senilis. Follow this for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcus_senilis

      Great photos as usual

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    3. Thanks Andre for the info.

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  2. Hi Robin !
    Very nice pictures, as usual. My favorite being Portrait of a Stranger 3, those eyes are crazy !
    Did you also get the chance to shoot that X-T1 ? What are your thoughts about it ?
    Greetings,
    Sam

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. The thing that drew me to shoot the man was his eyes, but I dare not make any comments because I thought maybe there was something wrong. We asians do not have eyes like that.

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    2. Cataract, possibly?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cataract

      Anyway, once again great pictures and you're obviously enjoying the 45/1.8!
      What about the 25/1.8? Any plans to buy one for yourself? I remember you writing the 50mm point of view is more to your favour than the 35mm.

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    3. Possibly too !
      Yes I am getting the 25mm F1.8, very soon.

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  3. It was a fun therapy this morning.

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    1. Kelvin, it was good to see you being inspired and shoot more again, and of course, shooting with you again. Fun morning it was.

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  4. Hi, Robin
    You are the photographers who use the EM5 very well, can you tell me about technique (contrast, sharpen, etc ... you set default?) before shooting.
    Thank you ^_^

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    Replies
    1. For example, the first image.

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    2. Chadon,
      If you have the patience and time, I have shared EVERYTHING about my shooting techniques, style and philosophy on this blog. If you want to know more you will have to tag along me for a shoot. I hold nothing back, I keep no secrets. Everything is on this blog, and I have spent so much time writing them.

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  5. Do you share the photo with your subject after you shoot?

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    1. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. It depends.

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  6. Beautiful set, Robin. Every post I see, you sell me more and more on the beauty of the Olympus system. Your shots with the 45 are absolutely stunning, and it looks like you and the 17 1.8 are becoming good friends! ;~)

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    1. Thanks Rob. Most photos were taken with 45mm so I am still not quite there with 17mm yet.

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  8. VIbrant, and candid portraits, as always.
    Not here to teach you better, but considering how tightly you usually frame portraits with the 45, why not use the E-M5's excellent face detection paired with matrix metering (which meters in favor of a face when one is detected)? One or two steps less, and maybe you close the gap to those 2-3secs ;)
    It's never failed me so far - like a cruise missile.

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    1. This blog may not be the best example but sometimes I do have more than one people (face) in my frame. I do not trust which head the camera chooses. Also, in the case of my preferences, I always composed my subjects against strong backlight, and using the face detection it will somehow preserve the highlights (eg, first photograph). This is a special case where I do need to override the camera settings, and yes it does happen quite a bit.

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  9. Great images robin! You convinced me to switch from Fuji to the em1. I want blazing auto focus which is not the case with Fuji and also deeper depth of field. I love the colors from Olympus just wonderful!

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    1. David,
      THANKS YOU!!! I love Olympus colors better than the Fuji, which I know is subjective. Glad to know more people are thinking the same.

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  11. If I "attack" a street with my camera, people will be afraid and run. ;-) :-D I usually seem to attract the wrong kind of attention when I appear with the equipment. It could be this area, though. In other parts of the country, people are more interested in what I'm photographing than why I'm photographing it.

    You and your friends must always have fun, no matter where you are.

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    1. Malaysians are nice people! come here and we go for shutter therapy!

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  12. Hello robin, i really enjoy your pics with the 17mm ... Flea market for example...for me its more difficult to compose with a wider angle for street shooting or other... Some say that a 35 and a 50mm is all u need... Why.?

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  13. Your portraits are, as always, special, grabbing one's attention - in a word, Robinesque. Love it, great work!

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