On Your Back

Do not be alarmed. I just needed to step on your back. I know you can't touch me where I stand. So there is really nothing you can do about me stepping on your back.

I promise, I won't break your back. I am not sure if you feel any pain, but it is fun being up here. Did I say I won't break your back? I think I did.

The F Cat

Side Note: There was this stunning set of photographs taken by Sony RX100 at Ken Tanaka's website. You can view the images here (click). The link was discovered through TheOnlinePhotographer. 
Man, looking at the images alone I am already convinced that the Sony RX100 means serious business. Looks like Steve Huff is not bluffing when he claimed this RX100 is the best digital compact camera ever produced.

They say at the moment you click the shutter button, you have a certain emotional attachment to your photograph which could cloud your own perception of the quality of work. They say that emotional attachment is temporary. They say good photographs will withstand the test of time, and will not have anything to do with the temporary emotional attachment that made the photograph shine for that particular one moment. They say a lot of things. 

I say, a good photograph is a good photograph, not matter what they say. Period. 

F-F-F Cat
Taken in May 2010, when I just started to explore into the world of street photography. 
Image was shot with Olympus DSLR E-520 and humble, underrated, kit lens, Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6

Looking back now I do think that I have produced some better photographs in my early days in street shooting. Perhaps they do not fit very well into what the world would try to define true street photography as a genre, but the photographs I took a year or two ago has a lot more "identity" or parts and pieces of "myself" in them. They may not be something that everyone would agree to, or click the "like" button on Facebook, or receiving many "comments and favs" in Flickr page. However, they were my images, and as I made them happen with my beautiful camera and lens, there was that beautiful emotional connection I have created, no matter how brief or insignificant it may be for the rest of the world. That connection is what made the photograph work, and worth spending time and effort being out there shooting. Even though that connection between the photographer and his image may not be relevant to the audience, it has a very strong personal value behind it, and that itself is good enough reason for the photographer to love his image. 

Non-Human Portraits

Things have been a little crazy lately, hence it was indeed a necessity to get away from everything for a while, and just be with myself. Waking up on a glorious Sunday morning, I took a bus down to the Zoo Negara. I have had the Zuiko 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 lens with me for almost a year now, but strangely I have not brought this lens to have a work-out at the zoo before. Therefore, I thought, instead of shooting people, I wanted to shoot something else for a change, to refresh my mind and rediscover the wonders of shooting with a long telephoto zoom lens. Did I tell you I love long, big, zoom lenses?

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 (non-SWD)

Watchful Eyes.
The elephants were so huge, there was completely no way I can compose by fitting the entire body without including ugly backgrounds (man-made structures, fences, etc). As I was looking at the elephant, there was something in their eyes that caught my attention. I felt sorrow. I know I must be imagining things. 

Early Morning Shoot

I like to begin my shooting session early. I normally do not spend more than 2 hours on the street doing my shutter therapy, and by then, I have spent most of the morning, but still have the rest of the afternoon and evening free, which I can do a lot of things with !! Plenty of time to have lunch with friends, catch that latest movie, or do some shopping (retail therapy is very good too). 

This morning, we (a bunch of crazy street warriors, waking up early even after staying up all night waiting for that Olympic Games Grand Opening) attacked Chow Kit, my favourite street hunting ground. I do have a lot of things I want to share and discuss in my blog, but I figured I should keep my mouth shut until I have sorted out my own thoughts at the moment, which have become really messy. Lets just focus on the images instead, that way, things are more straightforward and less complicated.

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Lenses 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 and 50mm F2 macro

Friendly Man
I like shooting close up portraits, mainly head and shoulder shots. What makes this kind of portrait works, is the connection you are able to establish with your subject. How the subject looks at you, the facial expression of acknowledging your presence and the mild, friendly manner of this man added the connection. 

Evening Shoot at Petaling Street

I remember mentioning that I intended to do more shutter therapy session last weekend, but that did not come to happen due to some unforeseen circumstances. It was an unfortunate incident that happened which completely destroyed the desire to pick up the camera and shoot. Nonetheless, by now I know that I should not have invested too much time on worrying about things that have become hopeless, and start concentrating on the future. The past is there to remind us of where we are and how we got here, but if the past is holding us down, we have to decide what to let go, and stop hurting ourselves. Sometimes, the most difficult decisions in life to make is the right thing to do. 

Moving on is not easy, but I am thankful to have more things in life to look forward to now. My friends were shooting at Petaling Street this very evening, and I was asked to join, and it was the perfect time to just go out there, not to think too much about anything else, and just shoot. That is what shutter therapy is all about. It takes my mind off things, and I get to work my mind, concentrating on producing images. I purposely chose to use the CCTV lens 25mm F1.2, mounted on my trusty Olympus PEN E-PL1, due to the need to do manual focusing, forcing my mind to work even harder. Not having the convenience of autofocus means I have to slow down, and really think about getting my shot. A lot of pre-visualization and planning were required in order to make some of the shots work. 

All images were taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and CCTV Lens 25mm F1.2 

Covered in plastic sheets

More Coverage from the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 Walkabout Event

I have blogged about the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 Walkabout event organized by Olympus Malaysia in conjunction with PEN Lovers (led by our beloved KoonYik Chin) and it was a very lengthy one with more photographs than usual. However, I am only human and I cannot be everywhere at the same time. I have been around the PEN Lovers group since its beginning and have known many of the members well. They too, have done their part in documenting the event, or simply shooting photographs of the models and shared on their blogs as well. They have covered many other ground which I could not be at while I was shooting in my own group. There were 6 models for the event, and one model was present in each group. 

Photo credit goes to John Wong (blog source here) 

10 Reasons Why The Dark Knight Rises Suck

Warning: Spoiler ahead. If you have not watched the movie, please refrain yourself from reading this blog entry. 

All those photography talk and image loading from the past few entries must have been pretty heavy, so lets take a pause for a bit, and talk about some other stuff, like that new sexy batman movie that everyone is raving about at the moment. 

I watched The Dark Knight Rises earlier this evening, and I must say, I have not been more disappointed by what Christopher Nolan have come up with thus far. Do not get me wrong, I was a huge fan of his, I love his work especially on The Prestige and Inception. I cannot say the same for The Dark Knight Rises. 

Before I go on with my reasons why The Dark Knight Rises suck, please bear in mind that I am a Batman fanboy, and I am practically obsessed (I admit this shamelessly) with both the Batman and Bruce Wayne characters. I grew up watching Batman the Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, read some of the comics (obviously there is too many to even follow) and have watched almost all movies there ever was created for Batman. 

M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 Walkabout

I know I have been awfully silent for the past few days, and I have been rather occupied with work lately. Nonetheless, this weekend was a highly anticipated one, not only by me but also by dozens of other Olympus faithful users. There was a gathering held for Olympus users, organized officially by Olympus Malaysia in conjunction with PEN Lovers (non-profit local user support Facebook group, led by Koon Yik). This particular gathering session allows the attendees to touch, try and play the newly launched Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 lens which I have recently reviewed. 

All images in this entry was taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko lenses: 25mm F2.8 pancake, 50mm F2 macro or 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 (non-swd version)

Nicole giving the OM-D and 75mm a try !

Street Photography: Fiction or Truth?

I was shooting on the streets with a dear visitor friend from India, Mithun Kumar on last Sunday. He was busy testing his newly purchased MMF-3 adapter that allows him to use the gorgeous Zuiko 70-300mm F4-5.6 lens on the much revered OM-D. He claimed that the focusing of the 70-300mm + OM-D + MMF-3 combo was noticably faster and more reliable in shooting than his previous use of the 70-300mm on Olympus DSLR E-620. I believe Mithun, and I think this has something to do with the optimization of Contrast Detect AF system, which the 70-300mm lens is compatible with. Good discovery indeed. 

While shooting on the streets in this particular session, something came across my mind as I was framing my subjects on the streets. Photographers are often assumed to be documenting real life events, or shooting what is already there. For most case of photography this is proven true: a photograph of a cat is a photograph of a cat, no more or no less. Similarly goes to a portrait of a beautiful young lady, or a sweeping landscape of the ocean on a sunset. The responsibility of photographers telling the truth as he captures the details presented to him is even more significant when it comes to documentary purposes, such as reportage and journalism uses. However, the more I look into the world of street photography, the more I realize that street photography may be lacking the credibility when it comes to telling the truth, because I see more work of fiction. 

Is street photography an honest representation of the world, or simply telling you strictly in limitation to what the street photographer wants to tell you? That is the question I want to explore in this blog entry. 

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


My Usual Camera Settings for Street Shooting

One of my blog readers, Mithun Kumar from India was visiting Kuala Lumpur for holidays, and he was asking if he could join in my shutter therapy session. Of course !! He has just purchased his new spanking Olympus OM-D E-M5, and together with a large group of friends, we attacked the streets of Pudu, Kuala Lumpur this morning. Joining us also this morning was Ananda Sim, an Olympus shooter who currently resides in Melbourne, Australia but also having his holidays in KL. 

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Lenses 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 or 50mm F2 macro

Blurry Thursday Night

One of the comments in my previous blog entry hit me, it went something like this "I just love the sharpness", which was made in reference to the portrait photograph of the Indian lady, and it was indeed an image exhibiting high level of sharpness. I think, over the course of the blog review saga of Olympus gear, until the recent 75mm F1.8 lens, I might have over-emphasized on the sharpness part a bit too much. I admit, I am a little obsessed with sharpness, and no thanks to Olympus Zuiko lenses which must be handled with care, or you might accidentally cut your fingers off handling them. 

I noticed ALL my photographs show a great deal of sharpness. Whether this is a good thing or not, is a subjective manner. Hence, I was out shooting about the usual hunting ground with a dear friend Luke, and I thought, why not, for once, lets make everything blurry for a change. It was an evening walkabout, so there was plenty of opportunity to play around with all kinds of motion blur. All I had to do was to slow down the shutter speed, and I engaged the Shutter Priority mode, alternating from 1/8sec to 1/20sec to vary the motion blurriness to be captured. Yes, blur was the main thought in mind and sharpness was not the objective of the night, but I did do my best to ensure my main subject stayed in focus (at least you can still see what the main subject is). This is probably one of the rare things I would do, but hey, this is the incredibly fun part about photography. If you are willing to explore and try out different things, there are endless possibilities out there, all you have to do is having the positive attitude to make the camera work. 

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Pancake 25mm F2.8 lens

Shadowy Foreground

Being Ordinary is OK

Sometimes, we all struggle to hard too accomplish something more, something extra-ordinary and something better than others in our photography work. We want the photograph to have that "wow factor" which would impress the viewers at the first glance. I admit at times, I pushed myself to shoot in a way that I want to just capture "award winning" worthy shots. We tried and we tried and we tried harder, sometimes we accomplished what we wanted (or we think we did), other times we did not, but I am sure, many of us know this truth, it was when we stopped trying, and just be ourselves when we shoot, that we truly shine. 

The Indian Lady

Do Not Over-think. Be Yourself.

I think after all the gear review saga and previous consecutive weeks of me being drained by paid assignment  photography jobs, I finally have some time to breathe, and do what I want, shoot and shoot on the street for myself only. This weekend's shutter therapy session was a much anticipated one, and I was joined by a group of beautiful friends, Luke Ding, Scott Chung, Kenyrl Loke and Dan Loke. We attacked the streets of Chow Kit, KL, my favorite street hunting ground. Not surprising, I came home with tonnes of images that I really like. I have said it many times, and I will say it again, there is just something about Chow Kit and me, the place always provide me with very good photography subjects and opportunities. 

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital Lenses 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 and 50mm F2 macro


Rainy Evening Through CCTV

So we have all been having high dosage of superb lens sharpness, technical perfection (as near as you can get), blazing fast AutoFocus and all the modern photography supremacy greatness over the week on this blog, through the Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 review series. Just as I have ended the review work, I immediately picked up the CCTV lens, 25mm F1.2 (C-mount) which I have acquired last week and shoot some images on the street with the lens mounted on my humble, lowly Olympus PEN E-PL1. 

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and CCTV lens 25mm F1.2

A Striking Skin

Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8mm Extra Sample Images

This blog entry is not really a review, but I thought many would like some extra sample images to look at. One of the important consideration of using the Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 lens would be for stage shooting. Last Saturday, I have brought the Olympus OM-D E-M5 together with the 75mm F1.8 lens to a traditional Chinese Opera show at Panggung Experimen, ASWARA. 

I originally intended to use the Chinese Opera shots as my main review image samples, but I decided against it. I thought the stage lighting would pose a challenge for the camera to handle, but I managed to get away with extremely high shutter speed even at just ISO400 shooting at wide open F1.8. Furthermore, my seating position was a little too far for that "impact" shots, and to properly present these images, I might need to crop away the negative space, which would not show the true characteristics of the lens. Most disappointingly, the Opera show was not as grand and as entertaining as I expected, and I really did not have that much chance to produce many interesting shots. Not having the right opportunity to "torture" the lens and not being able to produce good enough images, I made a separate shooting session at Petaling Street and in sheer luck (sometimes I think there is such thing as Photography God and this was one time he smiled on me) I stumbled upon the Kung Fu showcase, which was a more appropriate testing scenario for the 75mm F1.8 lens. 

Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 Review: Night Street & Kung Fu Shooting

Important Notes:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG (High Quality) via Olympus Viewer 2 version 1.31 
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. Minimal post-processing applied to the images. Only slight tweak of brightness/contrast and minor adjustment of white balance for better overall consistency. 

This blog entry is a continuation from the previous entry: Part 1 of Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 Review. If you have not read the Part 1, kindly do so here. 

In the Part 1 of my review, I have brought the Olympus 75mm lens out for street shooting in Pudu, Kuala Lumpur, where majority of the shots were taken under abundant and good amount of light during early morning in the open air wet market area. In that shooting session, I have also found that the 75mm F1.8 lens is remarkably sharp even being used at wide open F1.8, and can produce admirably creamy and smooth bokeh (background blur). The 75mm F1.8 lens was tested at its optimum performance in terms of resolution and sharpness at mostly ISO200 settings, yielding best possible results under favorable natural available ambient lighting condition. 

What if we reverse the situation, and bring the lens out shooting in the dark? That is precisely what I am doing in this Part 2 of my Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 review. I have brought the 75mm lens to Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur for night shooting to test how the lens perform under street lighting condition, where I needed to boost up the ISO settings to compensate for the lack of available light. While I was walking along Central Market (just opposite Petaling Street night market) I chanced upon live Chinese Kung Fu demonstration, which was performed free for the public !! Yet another fabulous opportunity to put this 75mm lens to test. 

As a reminder, and a note to first time visitors, this review will be written from a photography-enthusiast’s point of view. This will be a user experience based review, sharing on what I think and feel using the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 mounted on OM-D E-M5 in real life shooting situations. Therefore, this is not a technical review as there will not be elaborative technical explanations, such as explanation of corner softness, optimum aperture range, chromatic aberration and so forth. In addition to that, I will not be doing direct side by side image and performance comparisons with other lenses. What I am presenting in this entry is merely what I can do with the Olympus 75mm F1.8 lens for my usual shutter therapy session.

ISO1250, F/1.8, 1/1000sec
Wrong Side of the Fence

Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 Review: Street Shooting in Pudu

Important Notes:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG (High Quality) via Olympus Viewer 2 version 1.31 
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. Minimal post-processing applied to the images. Only slight tweak of brightness/contrast and minor adjustment of white balance for better overall consistency. No cropping done. 

The Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 was one of the lenses initially announced during the launch of Olympus OM-D E-M5, alongside another lens, the 60mm F2.8 macro. The 75mm F1.8 lens was officially launched on 24th May 2012, which was about a month ago. Not until earlier this week, there has been no reviews and image samples made available to the public just yet. I was contacted by Olympus Malaysia early this week, and arrangement was made for me to test and review this fresh Olympus 75mm F1.8 lens in the weekends. Boy was I excited ! To go along with the silver lens, I was also loaned the OM-D E-M5 SILVER version. 

Silver E-M5 with Silver 75mm F1.8, ready to attack the streets. 
Photo taken by Shaun (his blog here).