Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just Click It

A fellow Kuching blogger has blatantly claimed that: capturing a good photograph is nothing more than just clicking the shutter release button.

I do not know how exactly did he come up with such an idea, or how anyone are so easily led to believe in that perception. It sounded as if photography is effortless. Supposing it was that easy, I believe everyone can be good photographers already.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

I am in no position to voice up my opinion regarding this matter, since I still consider myself rather fresh to the photography world. Nonetheless, I just could not help it but felt cut when someone mentioned that photography is in any way, easy. I strongly believe that, in order to produce a good photograph, there are a lot more elements to be taken into account besides just clicking the shutter button.

So you think that, by holding a DSLR in hand, just looking through the viewfinder, twiddling with some settings, getting your focus checked, then releasing the shutter and viola, the wonderful image is captured. Ask yourself this: Is that stretch of processes the only part of photography involved? Is that the MOST important part of photography? Is that the part of photography that determines how good your photography work is?

Think again.

Photography is a lot more than merely converting light signals travelling through the optical elements of your lens and being converted into digital signals to build up a viewable image on your computer screen.

Allow me to demonstrate with a set of photographs which I have taken recently. It may not be award-winning, or magazine print worthy, but it was up to a level that I felt I was quite satisfied with. Of course, as we grow along with our course, we will raise up the expectations we set upon ourselves.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

So that was a picture of a butterfly with droplets of waters on the eye. How hard can it be to obtain this simple looking photography? How was that single shot performed?

Here goes the story.

I was at the butterfly park (in one of my recent frequent sessions) and while I was eagerly shooting, it started raining. It was down pouring so heavily that the water was practically gushing along the walkway pavements, flooding up to my ankles. Normally in such situation, people would run back to the shed, and hide from the rain. I did just the opposite. Rain, so what?

1) I switched my lens from the 40-150mm (tele-zoom) to 35mm (macro), and mounted the external flash on top of the camera.

2) I made sure my Kata DR-467 bag was fully zipped up and properly wrapped with the weather-sealing cover. (gotta love this bag, thanks Yiaw Wei)

3) Popped open a mini-foldable umbrella that I always carry around for some shelter…

4) And stormed out into the rain looking for butterflies

Call me nuts, but it was what it took to make this shot happen. And I was glad I did just that, because I believe it would be difficult to find similar shots ever again.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

The rain was so ungodly heavy that I soaked even my boxers. My balls shrank to the size of raisins. The umbrella was not for myself, but merely providing enough shed for my camera plus the working distance required to the butterfly. I made this shot happen single-handedly, by full manual focus, with full manual settings. I was shooting in such cold and wet condition where the rain was splashing everywhere on me, with horrible unfriendly wind blowing every direction. I made my way to get as close as 5cm away from the butterfly, set my focus, steadied the camera with just one hand while the other was holding the umbrella which was constantly being frantically shaken by the hysterical wind…

and finally..

finally, after all this trouble…

I clicked the shutter release button.

And I clicked again. And again. And some of them happened to be the photographs displayed here.

And you think that was all in the story?

I have wanted to make this shot happen in the first place, it was not a spur of the moment thing, and I did not spontaneously come up with the idea at the scene.

I have already had the concept of what I wanted in mind from the beginning, and planned carefully to obtain the shot. The morning dew in butterfly park was hopeless, it did not create much dramatic effect at all on the butterflies. I know I could create more stunningly natural images if I venture into the wild, but like I said, I am not up to that level just yet.

I believe that, if you want bad enough to make something happen, you will find a way to make it happen. I needed, and anticipated the rain to bathe the butterfly for the water-drop effects and prepared myself for it. My camera bag comes with weather-sealing, and I brought an umbrella along. I have been in more terrible situations of course (no thanks to Jasonmumbles and his fireworks in thunderstorm assignment) and I knew well enough of what I was getting into.

In short, I was well prepared.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

But honestly, the first time you saw these photographs in this entry, have you even come across in mind all the preparation and trouble I went through to get those shots? If your answer is yes then I believe you are a much better photographer than I am.

You see, this is the sad case for photographers. You only see their end results. You do not see the long story that lies behind the photograph. You do not see the moments leading to the “click of the shutter button”. And this was just a humble beginner’s attempt in more interesting macro photography. And it was NOT easy in any way for me. I cannot imagine at what impossible lengths the professionals would go to obtain the shots they make in… say the National Geographic.

So guys, do you still think that a photograph is just nothing more than a click of the shutter button?

Tell me that in front of my face and I will make sure you find pieces of my shattered lens elements cutting your most beloved body part wide open.


  1. Hhmm... that's sounds like me... Muahahahaa.....

  2. hey molicuva,
    great minds think alike LOL

  3. Oh dear. I'm sorry, Robin, for offending you. I do suppose that I've yet to experience the challenges of macro photography - though I must admit that I am too creeped out by hairy insects to ever do it *shudders*. I do appreciate you dedication and your skill - not to mention your taste - that you bring to your photography. I think you're a really good photographer.

    And yes, I still do think that photography is easier, if only because it is a limited medium. But let's agree to disagree, okay? I wrote that post at a time when I was seriously blocked in my writing - like 6 months blocked, I kid you not; the worst I've had in 5 years - and I indulged myself in the relative ease of visual storytelling. It was fun. I was shocked. And slightly miffed. So curious, the traits of our medium, ae?

    I hope that makes sense to you. Because I see where you're coming from (even if I don't agree), and I find that dedication to macro incredible. Something I wish I can say about my writing. =/

  4. hey dienasty,
    Offended is a bit far stretched, but yeah, I do like that "agree to disagree thing !!"
    But thanks heaps for understanding dude. I really appreciate that.
    of course, writing is an entirely different medium, and I entirely agree that it takes a lot to be a competent/good writer. A friend told me that, to be good at something, anything at all, is not easy. Could not argue with that one. (eh friend, you know who you are)

  5. Dude, can we move on to something else other than bugs and photography?

    I know this is your blog but your posts on bugs and photography are turning your blog into an insect encyclopedia (without the information and text) and blog that talks about photography, techniques, skills, how-you-did-it and etc.

    Man, I want something else man. Too much of one thing is not a good thing and clearly, it is beginning to irk me.

    While I do agree with everything you say (except the bashing Canon part but that's just me), this is slowly becoming a habit of yours to counter what people say, especially when they are wrong.

    Its beginning to sound like preaching rather than sharing already. I know you are the Shutter God among us, but still, you don't have to be almighty all the time. Flipped through your blog and all the posts are refuting people's claim about photography. (35mm cannot take macro, photography is as easy as pressing a button, bla bla bla bla...)

    Each time I read the first paragraph, I would go, "Not again." and I feel like skipping the entry but at the same time, I am curious about what you want to say. Yet at the same time, all the opinions are turning into lectures and people don't like lectures.

    I am amazed at how far you would go for that photo and for that, I take my hats off for you. But not everyone is like you, I certainly won't go that far. Moreover, when you keep stressing how difficult you took that shot, it sorta pushing people away as in telling people photography is not as easy as you think but it sure hell as difficult as Robin thinks.

    Man, photography is supposed to be fun. You are making it into a national security matter and need to raise the alertness to delta level and maybe even send the US president to bunker for safety purpose. If newbies are venturing into macro photography and read your blog, I am pretty sure they would be put off.

    Ease up a little.

    Now, can we move on to something else? Please? I don't want to see bugs anymore. I want food pictures, landscapes, actions, abstracts or others, things that I can learn from because I am not into macro and bugs. Moreover, those bugs pictures don't help my appetite.

    Man, that sure sound offensive but I know you take it well base on how we usually hate each other. LOL. Sorry, in case you take it too personally.

  6. Hey jason,
    while i do appreciate ur concerns and shocking level of transparancy,i wish you could have done it a little less publically. I know i can take it,but not like this ok.i guess that was too much to ask for.

  7. LOL, that's like saying Nike and Asadi are the same things.

  8. @Ian: have any of you, err, actually read the original argument I put forth?

    Robin didn't display the entire argument in it's entirety - but he linked to it, and I assume you WOULD have clicked on the link to understand what the reasoning behind my statement was all about.

    Oh, and a clarification: that wasn't originally my assertion, it was the assertion of Henri Cartier Bresson, the father of modern photography.

    I DO have my reasoning, just as Robin has his. An impartial friend who I called in to read Robin's post, and then my argument told me that she thinks we're both right to a certain point, and wrong too, to a certain point.

    I think that sounds just about right - that if an argument is being made by two people on two extremes, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

    I'll be posting a summary shortly, of my argument, and then please, please stop saying it's like 'Nike and Asadi'.

  9. Summary posted:

  10. Nat Geo photographers spend 3-4 months in a location just to get that 1 shot.. :D
    Now, that's crazy!!

    Actually, photography should be easy once the workflow is part of you. The problem is, to achieve that, you have to be a pro or just a crazy hobbyist!

    Enjoy photography; sharing the memories with friends & families is what matters most. If mau shyiok sendiri, then it will get more serious. Pros are trapped between shyiok sendiri and satisfying the clients; that's to me is photographer's hell!!


  11. hey Ian,
    I get not what you mean.

    Hey Dienasty,
    I guess I owe you an apology too, but I shall make that into the next entry. About Ian, well, d try not to take him too seriously, he was just messing things aorund, and he did not exactly sounded like what you think he intended.

    Hey Fahrur,
    finally the real pro speaketh. I do agree, the sharing with family and friends is important.