I notice a lot of photographers struggling to improve or be at the proficiency that they aspire to be, and that can usually be traced to one particular cause - not spending enough time shooting. They may spend time scrolling through thousands of images on Instagram, or watching tutorials or photography tips videos on YouTube, but they just did not use their camera enough. You can read all the photography books you want, attend the most prestigious and expensive workshops by celebrity photographers, but if you don't actually shoot, you will never get better. There is no secret really, in order to be the photographer that you want to be, all you need to do is to do the work, spend more time shooting and be super consistent. 

Image taken by Van Ligutom, used with permission. 
I have been scouring the local used marketplace for cheap, old cameras to play around with. I found an RM200 (USD40) Canon 1100D which seemed to be in really good condition, and the seller told me it was in working condition. I was not made aware of any issues with the image shooting process, so I hit the "buy" button and got the item delivered to me. I could not test the camera immedately because my Canon lenses were loaned to a friend. We had a photowalk planned on a Saturday, which I intended to shoot some street images using the Canon 1100D with my 35mm F2 EF lens. Everything went well, until I reviewed the images and it appeared to be half black frame (bottom half). Of course I can initiate return and refund process but, at this point, I just chucked this case into one of the few unfortunate ones. You win some, you lose some, when you gamble on ultra cheap, old used products. I continued shooting anyway, hoping that the RAW files would appear differently, but as I have guessed, I was not so lucky. I decided to show you the half black images, but I cropped off the black part of course. 

I admit, I was attracted to this Canon 1100D because it was in red. 
Just for the sake of fun, I paired the smallest interchangeable lens camera, Panasonic Lumix GM1 with the super slim body cap lens from 7Artisans, 18mm F6.3. The result - the world's most compact 35mm equivalent street shooting setup, well almost, because 18mm is roughly equivalent to 36mm, but hey, I believe that is close enough. There is a certain joy in using such a tiny combo on the street, it feels so liberating having handled much larger cameras before. Also, the fun factor is there, it is almost like a toy camera, but you can get some seriously good results if you know what you are doing. Of course there are some compromises like manual focus only, optically the lens isn't great and handling a small camera comes with its own challenge, but hey, you can't have everything, there will be some compromises as you downsize the setup so much. I thoroughly enjoyed this session and I think I got some cool images. I did a POV video showing how I got the shots with this GM1 + 18mm BCL combo, you can check out the video here (click). 

I believe that as photographers, we cannot avoid putting a little piece of ourselves into our photography work. Whether we intentionally do so by allowing our thoughts and feelings dictate the outcome of our images at that specific moment, or sub-consciously doing so without realizing that what we go through, or our state of mind can affect what and how we shoot our images. Of course, I am discussing this topic from a non-scientific point of view, as there probably is no research or data to back up any of my claims (maybe there is, who knows) and I am blurting out merely theories that I have in my mind, as a practicing photographer. Maybe my curiosity on how human psychology works inside a photographer has a lot more to do with myself, and how I perceive my world around me. 

Image taken by Jojo, used with permission. 
My friends were still persistent in getting more images to join the Fujifilm Malaysia contest, which required them to shoot food and location images in designated cafes. I merely tagged along again, and of course, enjoy the hipster, overpriced food and drinks. This time we went to SWOL Cafe in Bangsar, just after our morning shoot (outdoor portrait of a model). I had with me the Nikon Z5 and an 85mm prime lens, so I took some food shots with this lens. I think longer lenses work so well in managing unwanted perspective distortions that can make the outcome look less natural. When I was shooting with my Micro Four Thirds gear, I'd usually go for the 45mm F1.8, or if I were shooting with the 12-40mm PRO zoom, I'd zoom close to the full telephoto end anyway. Lighting in this cafe was great, plenty of window light for the perfectly balanced colors, without the mixed ambient light that can usually be destructive to the images. At the rate of me cafe-crawling around KL, I can probably start a cafe/restaurant/food review already. 

Classic Wagyu Beef Cheeseburger
Viltrox sent me their 16mm F1.8 for Nikon Z mount, and I had the opportunity to test this lens on my own Nikon Z5 at various locations in Kuala Lumpur, at different times of the day. This was not a new lens, they have made it available for Sony FE mount a year ago, and now finally the lens is made compatible for Nikon Z system. Having used the lens extensively, I have to say I am genuinely impressed by what Viltrox has done with this lens, there is so much to like, and almost nothing to dislike about the lens. I have also done a full video review, you can check it out here (click). 

Viltrox 16mm F1.8 for Nikon Z, quite a large lens

The lens being on the bulkier and heavier side, does balance quite well on my Nikon Z5
Back in the year 2019, just before the misery of Covid-19 struck, I went to Bangkok, Thailand for holiday, which partially turned out to be a work trip, as I was also invited to conduct a photography workshop there. The workshop did not take a lot of time, and I had plenty of room to roam around the streets, especially in early mornings. I particularly love exploring Hua Lamphong Train Station, which was the famous location for Rammy Narula's Platform 10 photo project, and overall, I just love shooting street photography in Bangkok in general. Now that the pandemic days are behind us, I should make new plans to travel to Bangkok and hit the streets again with my camera. Some shutter therapy in a foreign land, which is not too far away, and on an affordable budget sounds really exciting at the moment. Until that plan actually materialize, for now, I shall relook into older photographs, and share with you guys some of my favourite street shots taken during that trip. All images were shot with Olympus PEN E-PL9 with M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 and 45mm F1.8.