Striking a Balance

Side Note: I have been receiving increasing number of emails, and the length of the mails are also getting longer. I apologize in advance if I cannot reply your email as quickly as usual. I do have a full time job which is my priority, and I do have a life outside my working life, besides photography. Nonetheless, do give me a little bit more time, I will get back to you soonest as I can. Though it might take a longer while to answer the extra long ones !! Your understanding and patience is appreciated.

It has been a hectic week indeed, for me and most of friends, and I was just glad the week is coming to an end. Right in the middle of the week, somehow having a brief shutter therapy session with a drink or two with friends after that proved to be rather necessary and important to keep myself sane and alive throughout the rest of the week. Here is a series I have captured yesterday evening, right after work. 

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

Pointing at the right direction

Smiles and exhaustion

Not Walking Through

One legged Stunt



On shoulders


Good things come in Large Boxes

Army of shoppers. 

Fragile Box

Mechanical Parts

Map reading

Sea of Motorcycles

Holding Hands

Mobile Phone generation

Cherry on top
I just got my external flash back from a friend, and I was getting itchy when I saw this drink. I suddenly recalled I had a macro lens, and with the flash fired off camera, I made this shot. I admit it could have been better with one or two more light source but hey, it was just a glass of drink, lets not over-do it !

I believe that street photography practice for anyone is an ongoing process of experimentation, with plenty of trials and errors and improving along the journey, to find better photography opportunities and at the same time respond with better reflex and technical execution (composition, exposure control, etc). Street photography can be both easy and challenging as well. Street photography is easy, because all you have to do is bring your camera (whichever camera, really, it does not matter whether its the top of the line professional camera or just a point and shoot pocket camera), being out there, and start firing away. 

On the other hand, street photography is challenging, because in order to create images that stand out from the rest, it takes a lot more patience, the artistic vision and very quick reflexes (quick thinking and also how fast you can get your camera to respond) to capture that moment, which may happen in that blink of an eye.

I do think that street photography will train a photographer to strike a balance between the artistic side of the photographer against their technical side. To bring out the best of your photographs, your technical basics and controls of the camera must be good enough, so you do not miss-focus, or wrongly expose your shots. You have to know your camera and master its controls. However, technically accurate images were not enough, having an artistic vision is what takes the photographs further. It is difficult to strike a balance between the two. Unlike many other photography which may be overly biased to either one side (macro photography is highly dependent on technical mastery alone, while abstract or conceptual plays with the creative and imaginary side) but on the street, you need both to excel. 

In my observation (based on my limited knowledge and experience of course) I do think that one of the mistake that many street photographers did was not paying attention to both the technical and artistic sides. 

It is either they obsess too much on the technicalities (using better camera and gear to get better results, argue over the best techniques to zone focus, or how to use mystical numbers and complicated maths to justify certain composition techniques), or they do not care about the technical side of things at all. Nothing against Lomography, but their catchphrase "Don't think, just shoot" is something that many people have come to practice, literally. They would not care if their images were out of focus, or being completely overblown to almost all white. In whatever photography that we choose to explore, it is best to at least pick up some basic controls of the camera. Knowing how to focus properly and play around with aperture and shutter speed will save lives. You will be able to do so much more, and express your creativity with less restrictions. 

I think the worst excuse I come across many people, when they try to explain or defend their photographs is "you do not understand what I am trying to tell through the photograph" or "you do not see what I see". If you need to explain yourself then something must be wrong with the photograph in the first place. Perhaps you may have a few photographs that are so elusive or mysterious that requires Nolan's "Inception" genius intellect to figure everything out, but if every single photograph require that much of thinking, those are probably too subjective and abstract to be appreciated. There is an obviously clear, but not definitive difference, between "artistic photographs" and "completely-random-I-don't-know-what-I-am-doing-I-just-shoot-and-hope-something-comes-out-nice" kind of images. 

As for me, I do believe I lean more toward the technical side of things. But hey, like I have mentioned before, street photography is an ongoing experimentation. We have got to try them out, before knowing what works, and what don't. Many successful and famous photographers do not just suddenly become successful and famous after reading some great books written by their predecessors and magically being able to create stunning images over-night. It takes decades and decades and decades of passionate dedication, undying patience, and unimaginable amount of hard-work to get where they are. There is no short-cut. 

For this moment, lets just worry less, and enjoy shutter therapy !!


  1. Different light, different crowd, different challenge? Still, same excellent results!

    1. Different light and crowd indeed !! But I would like to think the outcome is different !! haha or it is just me.

    2. Different for sure, but it still bears your mark! ;-D

    3. Thanks Bert !! Still discovering my own "mark" though !!

  2. Hello Robin,
    Thank you for sharing those awesome images and valuable insights. I will be on the street again after my 8 days spiritual course which start tomorrow morning. Your weekly street images will surely help my urge to roam the street. Thank you for bringing the street into my study room.
    May you have a great evening and wonderful weekend.
    John Ragai

    1. No worries John, always my pleasure to share images and my thoughts. All the best on your spiritual course. 8 days is a long time !

  3. Hello,
    I just wanted to take a minute to tell you that you have a great site! Keep up the good work.

  4. This set is even better than usual. Particularly since nearly all the shots have more context by back-a-bit framing. And you have effectively used juxtaposition techniques for subjects, expressions, actions that Luke Ding has also been developing himself.

    Of course technical sharpness, tones are superb as usual.

    As to your commentary though, I just had interaction with a young fellow who said nearly the same thing but was not experienced enough to discern the difference between the number of compositional elements and personal style vs "just a snapshot aimlessness".

    At the end of the day, interpretation is still with the viewer's maturity, experience, left vs right brain, cultural clues, age-life experience.

    Perception of art is a high ratio dependant on the viewer, unlike engineering where 3.1427 is indisputable.

    Which leaves every artist open to "Emperor's New Clothes" syndrome