Saturday, July 17, 2010

Olympus PEN Workshop by David Chua

I do not exactly know why Olympus Malaysia loves to announce their events at extremely last minute, and expecting the attendees to register and RSVP to confirm their seats. It was only two days ago I saw the notice of the event "Olympus PEN Workshop by David Chua" at One Utama which was held earlier today at 1pm. Seriously, Olympus Malaysia should learn to announce the events at least two weeks in advance to allow us a little bit of flexibility in arranging our time, and make way for this event. Thankfully my projects at work are not picking up hecticly at the moment, else I would have to give this great event a miss.

So what makes this event so great?

Olympus PEN E-PL1, the latest Micro 4/3 system body from Olympus. With standard zoom 14-42mm F3.5-5.6

The highlight of the day, new lens 14-150mm F4-5.6

There is only one reason of course: the workshop was conducted by David Chua, a professional photographer whom I have come to respect and admire. I started following his blog ( for quite a while now, and not only do I find myself awe-ing at his shots published there, I also agree with his thoughts and ideas being put forth strongly. He believes strongly in perceving photography through an artistic manner, shooting not to impress others but only for yourself, and stressing very heavily on originality, which Malaysians generally are lacking. Above all, I deeply admire his true passion for photography.

The workshop was broken into 5 main parts: 1) Presentation by David Chua on his experience with Olympus PEN, 2) Presentation by Olympus Marketing Staff on the new Micro 4/3 Olympus lenses, the 9-18mm wide angle lens, and the 14-150mm zoom lens, 3) Refreshment (my favourite session of course) and 4) Walkbout with PEN session 5) Photo Critique session.

The crowd testing the PEN cameras and the new lenses, 9-18mm and 14-150mm.

The presentation by David was the one thing I was really looking forward to amongst all the items lined up for the day. He detailed his experienced in such a personal, yet generally perceivable level that everyone can relate to when he was illustrating his points. He emphasized the importance on shooting freely without the hindrance of the technical obstacles that would usually weigh the photographers down, the advantages of shooting with smaller and lighter cameras, and of course, on the whole idea of why Olympus PEN is such a great and fun camera to use. On top of that, he also added a lot of his life experience and very useful tips which could very well inspire and at some level, encourage the audience to have a more openly creative and fresh outlook towards photography. His conclusion was Olympus PEN is Photography. I cannot agree more.

The event was held at a function room inside MPH at One Utama Shopping Mall.

I was actually shocked at one point when David mentioned about "shutter therapy" repeatedly, and further on noted that the phrase actually originated from me. My goodness, I had the most "paiseh" (Hokkien slang for embarrassed) moment in my life. Never would I thought I would find this phrase being used at any other places outside this blog. Part of me felt honored, but somehow it did feel really awkward coming from another person, especially presented in front of an audience !! Nonetheless, shutter therapy has defined a huge part of what this blog is about now, and I foresee countless shutter therapy sessions coming along for a long period of time. Shutter Therapy is definitely something to be shared and I would be happy to see more people enjoy photography as much as I do !!

Every attendees to the workshop were loaned an Olympus E-P1, which was the first generation Olympus PEN micro 4/3 camera with a standard zoom 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 for the walkabout session. It was generous and kind of Olympus to allow everyone to use the cameras, but I do find it a little odd somehow. Since now Olympus is heavily promoting the latest PEN which is the E-PL1, why not push the audience with the new product and let them have a taste during the walkabout? Yes, the usage during the walkabout would drastically reduce the face value of the units being loaned, but letting everyone use an older unit, yet in the main agenda of the event, and the marketing strategy of pushing an entirely different camera were two contradictory acts. If you want to tell the crowd how good your E-PL1 is, then let them use it.

A refreshment session was provided at the Espress Soup cafe inaide MPH. We were provided an assortment of salad, sandwiches and pastries.

I took up one E-P1 of course, and went for the 45 minutes walkabout shooting session with the rest of the gang. The walkabout was done around the One Utama shopping mall compounds, and everyone was free to choose whatever subject they wanted to photograph. After the walkabout, everyone was required to submit a maximum of 3 best shots for photo-critique session. In this photo critique session, everyone can voice up their opinions, and David would be the main compiler, as well as providing his own insight towards the photographs. Generally, the main purpose of this session was geared on identifying ways to improve the photographs taken, and this can be achieved mostly in various manners, such as composition, artistic sense/value, subject interest, technical control, etc etc. Although one may only submit 3 photos, but listening to the comments and feedback on other people's photographs, everyone has a chance to learn from each other.

Oh and I did a close-up shot on my food. I love macro, can't help it.

If you have not noticed, I did not take many photographs from this event. Why? I decided to put my camera down, and just enjoy the event and truly immerse myself in it. When David was giving his presentation, I opened up my mind and really listened. During the walkabout session, I used the PEN E-P1 camera, and did the walkabout session like it was supposed to be done. I found a ladybug on a leave, and I was so tempted to whip out my 520 and the 50mm macro lens with my wireless flash, I admitted I almost diverted into that moment, but I stayed away and just maintained the shot with the PEN. During the makan session, I took some quick snaps of the food, and once I put the camera down, I made sure I ate as much as I could and really enjoyed my food. I paid attention, because I wanted to be inspired, and I wanted to learn. Above all, I wanted to fully enjoy the afternoon.

Therefore, you do not see my usual trend of camwhoring, or taking random shots of the people there.

This was definitely one awesome workshop. I would strongly recommend to my friends, especially those who has only newly picked up photography. If there was any future sessions by David Chua, I will spread the word. Something not to be missed !! Again, may I reiterate my request for Olympus Malaysia to at least put up the notice earlier, so we have time to spread the word and get people to join !! Such great events should be shared and be known.

Weekend is now, and shutter therapy continues. More entries coming with more photos. Stay tuned.


  1. Hi, discovered your blog via Brandon these food shots! Did you take them with the 50mm? I have that lens as well, using the e510 (and e1) as bodies...I don't have the wireless flash however. Does it make a big difference you think?

  2. tasty natural light food shots with the 50 macro :P


  3. hey richard,
    thanks for the visit and compliments !!
    Yes it was the 50mm macro, and I am loving it. However all the shots were taken with natural lighting, since we were sitting just next to the window. Wireless flash makes a huge difference when taking photos of extremely high magnification. Without the wireless flash, there are also tonnes of other alternatives to explore.

    Hey brandon,
    What happened to your blogger profile? Anyway thanks !!

  4. Dunno what happened. Anyway its working again fortunately. Hope you had a great time at the street shoot this morning :)

  5. Hey Brandon,
    I always have great time during my shutter therapy sessions. LOL

  6. hi robin!~

    nice to meet u..look forward for an outing with u.. :)

  7. hey Rustie !!
    Yeah man !!

    Hey Oyama,
    Sure thing !! Will let you know if something comes up.