hitz.fm Birthday Invasion 2012

It was a hectic Saturday, that started with an unusual portraiture shooting session in the morning, but the highlight was actually much later in the day. Gerald Wong, a dear friend had an extra ticket to hitz.fm Birthday Invasion party at Stadium Putra, Bukit Jalil. It was the perfect opportunity to enjoy live performances from some of the best Malaysian music, and to work the camera at the same time !! The gate opened at 4.30pm, and we made our way into the stadium with a huge crowd, and found ourselves quite an auspicious spot, only 10 rows from the front of the stage.

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 Mk1. All images were straight out of camera JPEG.

Robin Does Portrait Shooting (... and he chuckles while doing it)

I know, I know, this is probably one of the rare occasions when you find me out there shooting an arranged portraiture session of a model posing deliriously in front of many cameras pointing at them all at once. I have my fair share of bashing talk especially targeting newcomers to photography (Malaysian crowd particularly) who would shoot portraits and models ONLY, and disregard anything else about photography. Their sole purpose of shooting is to shoot models, and nothing more. I have often talked down on this trend of photography locally, and how it actually did not encourage the growth of photography at all, especially when it comes to learning the creative side, as well as technical mastery of the camera.

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Olympus ZD lenses 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 50mm F2 macro and Sigma 30mm F1.4.

Olympus 50mm: 1/80sec, F2, ISO160

Khee Hwa & Ee Ling

An old friend of mine from the hometown Kuching, Khee Hwa was getting engaged days before the auspicious Chinese New Year celebration last month. Since I was heading home for the festivity he asked my help to shoot his engagement day. Though it was extremely near Chinese New Year where every Chinese families would be busy cleaning their houses, baking cakes and cookies, doing last minute shopping and prepare themselves for the big celebration, I decided to pick this assignment up and shoot. I was paired up with fellow friend photographer Frederick Yap, and we attacked the engagement day together.

What Your Camera Cannot Do

I have done my fair share of lurking around the online forums, following the discussions on the newly launched Nikon D800 as well as the Olympus OM-D E-M5. Everyone has something to complain about and everyone is searching for that “perfect” camera that can do everything. Camera is a tool that allows photography to happen, and having a good camera will ease the process of photography and benefit the photographer in many ways. However, true photography is not all dependent on the camera alone. All the new ground-breaking technologies of better high ISO performance, mega-resolution sensors and all other decorative specification write-ups will not instantaneously create an award winning photographer over-night. There are so many other components in photography that the camera cannot do for you. I just find it strange why so many people can lose sleep on how they wish the cameras could have been better, instead of wishing how they could improve themselves as photographers?

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5, Zuiko Digital 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 and Sigma 30mm F1.4


Olympus OM-D E-M5 Hands On Preview at Olympus User Gathering, Malaysia

Olympus Malaysia was kind enough to organize a free public event targeted mostly at loyal Olympus users locally, a gathering to promote the newly launched Olympus OM-D E-M5. On this glorious Saturday, two sessions were created to cater for 50 people each, one slot in the morning, and another in the afternoon. The gathering was held at Full House, Sunway Giza Mall, and prior RSVP must be made to Olympus Malaysia. During the gathering, the Olympus staff had the chance to interact with the end-users, feeding them with useful information regarding the E-M5, highlighting some features by live demonstrations, and of course, allowing the attendees to “touch and feel” the camera. Since I was working on Saturday, I attended the later session of the day.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital lenses 25mm F2.8 pancake and 50mm F2 macro

Michael Wong, oh such joy looking through the Electronic Viewfinder of E-M5 !!

Hip Shots

God knows how many million methods and techniques there are that many photographers since the days of dinosaurs have utilized for street photography, and libraries of books discussing on how to properly define what street photography is and how to shoot actual street photographs have been published. Hip shots may not be one of the most popular method to be used in street shooting, rarely would you find many writings in the well sold street photography books recommending this method as the effective tool for street photography. You wont find many great photographers giving advise on shooting from the hip either.

Now you may ask, why do hip shooting? Why not just compose from the viewfinder and attack your subjects directly? Why not go near and seek permission, creating that connection with your subject and then attack them? I believe there are many ways to approach a subject on the street, and it is up to the photographers quick decision to do what he wanted to do, to capture the outcome which he already had in mind. If you do not want eye contact, if you intended to create a completely natural unposed photograph of your subjects being in their natural environment without the polution of your presence in their scene, yet at the same time you want to get so close (we are talking about 1-2 meters away, for your Americans that is less than 6ft), the best solution is doing it with hip shot.

The direct approach makes your subject more self-aware, and they will act differently when they know you are shooting them. They will change their facial expression, and they might even stop doing what they were originally doing. Sometimes, this can break the entire purpose of the photograph: to tell stories. How can you tell a story as it is, when you have stepped in and changed its main character's expressions?

Natural expressions preserved, and no traces of "hesitation" or "worries" in their faces, or wondering "what the hell is that camera pointing at us for?" They just did what they did, and the image was captured as if the camera was never there.


Sometimes, there are a few encounters in life which would make us pause our footsteps and let our eyes sink into the scene before us for a moment. That sight can be astoundingly breathtaking, as well as unbelievably unreal. There are times when we started to think what we were seeing were actually there at all, and it took a while before the photography instinct started to kick in and make that shutter click happen. This happened to me in one of my recent visits to my usual street photography hunting ground, Chow Kit.

Images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50mm F2 macro lens

The Imperfect Shot

This morning, as I was shooting on the street with fellow friends, I intended to utilize my super wide angle lens, Olympus Zuiko 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, and I did all I can to make sure I have the best shots I could make in whatever situation I was thrown into.

Olympus E-5, Zuiko Digital 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 lens
11mm, 1/25sec, F9, ISO160
Shot with live view on the swivel screen
Pseudo-HDR processed in Photomatix.


Photographers are usually not very open to criticism and negative feedback concerning their photographs, and this is evidently seen when they deliberately defend their photographs, countering any comments with whatever reasons and justifications they can come up with. Now, lets not go too far into the entire world of photography, lets just narrow the scope down to street photography alone, for simplicity sake. I often hear many excuses given by photographers, some genuinely honest, some were just blatant lies to cover-up their flaws and mistakes. To be fair, there really is no right and wrong, but when challenged, anyone can suddenly put up an invisible force field surrounding them that anyone who attempted to penetrate that force field will be zapped into the high voltage of intimidating counter attacks.

I myself too, sometimes would come up with ridiculously silly answers to defend myself, only to realize the embarrassment I have caused myself at that moment. Is it that difficult to admit flaws, mistakes, or imperfections? Aren’t we all imperfect to begin with? Why do we have to show others something that we are not? Believe it or not, all those imperfections scream out loud in your photography works more than you would want them to. People who see them, will see, and know.

Here are a few examples, which I am sure many of you can relate.

1) Why is your photograph out of focus?
Excuse: It was meant to be out of focus. I purposely created the out of focus effect on the main subject. Don’t you find all photographs which are sharp boring? Why must all photographs be sharp? Why can’t they be blur?
Truth: Camera’s focusing was slow and can’t keep up with subject’s movement.

2) I don’t see anything interesting in your photograph.
Excuse: That is because you do not know how to read my photograph. You are not seeing hard enough. There are layers and layers of meaning, which you have to think from many directions.
Truth: There really is nothing interesting in that photograph.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5, ZD 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 and Sigma 30mm F1.4.

Public Seat

Olympus OM-D E-M5: First Impressions

For the past few weeks I have been receiving many questions from you beautiful readers, mostly asking about the rumored Olympus OM-D camera, which has been announced worldwide yesterday. To answer your questions, Olympus Malaysia has invited me for a short “preview” session with them, yes I have seen the camera, which was a pre-production unit and had a very brief encounter with it. Thus I shall share my first impressions with the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 here. No, I have not had the opportunity to do any review or tested the camera yet, because the camera was simply not ready for testing.

All images in this entry are provided by and used with permission from Olympus Malaysia.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Silver Version. What a sexy small beast !!

Thaipusam 2012

After having a great full course Chinese Dinner for Chap Goh Meh with the fellow PEN Lovers celebrating the end of Chinese New Year festivals, we headed towards Batu Caves to have some shutter clicking action. Coincidentally, it was the eve of a significant Indian celebration, Thaipusam, which gathered a huge crowd, creating a massive traffic jam at all roads leading toward Batu Caves, and out of it. We intended to shoot the celebration and the beautiful Indian culture and tradition, which is unique and performed at such a grand scale at Batu Caves.

Just in case you do not know what Thaipusam is, a quick excerpt from Wikipedia to explain what the celebration is about:

"Thaipusam (Tamil: தைப்பூசம், Taippūcam ?) is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). It is celebrated not only in countries where the Tamil community constitutes a majority, but also in countries where Tamil communities are smaller, such as Mauritius[1], Singapore[2] and Malaysia.[3] The word Thaipusam is derived from the month name Thai and Pusam, which refers to a star that is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a vel "spear" so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadam. There is a misconception among people that Thaipusam marks Murugan's birthday; however, it is believed that Vaikhasi Vishakam, which falls in the Vaikhasi month (May/June), is Murugan's birthday."

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital lenses: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 and 50mm F2 macro, Sigma 30mm F1.4

Shoot, Shoot and Shoot

The long weekend has arrived, with public holidays stretching until next Tuesday. Waking up early morning, I was excited and brought along my gear to my usual street hunting ground to do some shutter therapy. It has been quite some time since I last shot on the streets alone. It was rather refreshing being all by myself, focusing on the shots that I wanted to make happen without worrying if I was walking too fast or having the need to wait for others. I did not have to entertain anyone, hence I have my full concentration to shoot. No conversations, more brain power dedicated to making photography happen.

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital lenses: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 25mm F2.8 pancake and 50mm F2 macro.


Random Facts

Here are some random facts about me, my photography work and my shooting style. I thought perhaps I should just list them down, in case some people are wondering about certain things that I do or do not practice. Just for the sake of sharing. Feel free to comment, or add suggestions.

1) I shoot with my right eye (using the optical viewfinder). I usually keep my left eye open to see whats happening around me and my subject.

2) I chimp. Well, not sure if chimping is the right word to use, but I do make sure I review my shots from time to time. I prioritize accurate focusing, and checking the exposure balance. If I can find out my errors on site, and fix it on the spot, why not? You may scoff at photographers who chimp, but I call it insurance.

3) I have not shot film before. Not scared to admit that. And not ashamed too. I am a proud, digital boy.

4) I have a habit of half pressing the shutter button randomly even when I am not shooting. Just to hear the "teet-teet" AF confirmation sound, it does get me going. I am not sure if I have annoyed anyone with this.

5) I only use Adobe Photoshop to add in Watermark and borders to my photographs these days. I post-process my photographs mostly with Picasa or ACDsee 7 (with powerpack). I know, I am weird. But old habits die hard.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko 25mm F2.8 pancake lens.

If you know what camera this is, you probably are old enough to be my father, or you have spent too much time reading and researching cameras.