What You Shoot Is More Important Than How You Shoot

I remember the time when I just first stepped into the world of photography, where everything was new, tempting and exciting. From the gear point of perspective, there were so many lenses to lust for, that ultra wide angle, that super long gigantic lens, or that macro lens, all seem like they can make my life so much better. Then there were endless list of shooting techniques to explore: HDR photography, long shutter speed exposure, etc and of course. being overly adventurous when it comes to post-processing, spending heaps of time trying to make the photograph look better by sliding the adjustment bars here and there and clicking a few more magic buttons to add that "creative" effect. The burning sensation, and the stamina to go on and on were abundant. However, as I went along the journey, little by little, the processes that used to entice me got stripped away. After countless hours of shooting session, only I came to realize photography is a lot more about seeing, conveying my personal vision and inner voice, and imprinting parts and pieces of my own characteristics and personality into my pictures. 

Gone were the days of "I wish I had that lens", or exploring funky techniques, or copy some unorthodox shooting methods done by popular photographers. Now, when I am out there shooting, I am happy with an obsolete Sony A350 (the camera is.... 6 years old?), and just one or two of the cheapest prime lenses in the Sony lens line-up: 35mm F1.8 or 50mm F1.8, and I never wished for anything more. Instead of trying to process my images to make them "pop", now I am more inclined to just convert my files to black and white, and actually I found myself loving black and white more often than I originally thought I would. Everything has been simplified, and the main focus was shifted heavily on finding my subject, creating a vision and making that happen in photographs. I still find myself struggling in this area: translating my visual thoughts into physical images (well... I consider pixels as physical quantifiable entities), but I have noticed my lack of strength in this area, and I am pushing myself to see better, and really shoot more than just technically accurate photograph. I believe photography is a lot more than just properly focused, accurately exposed images. 

All images in this entry were taken with Sony Alpha A350 and 50mm F1.8 or 35mm F1.8 lens

Taking Off


I can't wait already!

Taken from Matilda Bay, Perth in 2007, just after my undergraduate studies in UWA. 

There was a night I could not sleep at all, and I stayed awake until dawn. Then I walked to the nearby riverside, with my old compact point and shoot Kodak Easyshare CX-7430 (4MP, 3x zoom) and an al-cheapo China brand tripod. This was my one and only sunrise photography. 

I think I might just do this again soon, at the exact same spot I did 6 years ago. This time, with a BETTER camera. 

Athena Carey Photowalk and... a Brief Encounter with Fujifilm X100S

Athena Carey, an IPA (International Photography Awards) Winner 2012 came all the way from Switzerland and joined us at a Photowalk happening near a dam in Ulu Yam, Selangor (about 40 minutes drive away from Kuala Lumpur). Sanjitpaal Singh a friend and amazing photographer, who himself was also an IPA winner last year, was one of the organizers of this event. Fujifilm Malaysia has come in as a co-sponsor, and I was very fortunate to be provided a loaned Fuji X100S to be used to shoot the entire event. All I needed was to bring my own SD card, slotted it inside the beautifully sexy X100S and started snapping away. As I go along this blog entry covering the Athena Carey photowalk, I shall also describe my quick thoughts and initial impressions based on a very brief encounter with the Fujifilm X100S camera. 

Photo Credits, Above: Jason Lioh, Bottom: Ronnie Oh

Nicholas & Landy: Wedding Day

Toward the end of the year I was almost fully booked for weddings for every weekend, and I have not shared any of the photographs here at all. So I thought why not showcase some of my recent photography assignment/work here? I am no expert when it comes to wedding photography, but I am proud to say my clients have been giving me overwhelmingly positive and encouraging feedback. 

Here are just a few shots, my own favourites, from Nicholas and Landy's wedding which I covered with friend photographer Jason Lioh at Batu Pahat, Johor, late last year. 

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

The Most Memorable Photograph from This Blog

I have met many people who randomly came up to me and said they read my blog, and often a conversation would follow, discussing my review of Olympus gear, my photography style and of course, some of my photographs which they could recall, which obviously managed to leave some lasting impression. There were  some notable photographs which have been brought up again and again, but one stood out from the rest, and has been the most popular of all. 

It was the photograph of a Bak Kut Teh Claypot at Petaling Street, taken on a Friday night as I was testing the then new Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens.

This photograph happened partly due to luck. I saw the sparks coming on and off, so I was waiting and waiting for the right time: when the sparks come alive. I stood there for about 5 minutes, still not being satisfied with the photograph. Then the stall operator must have noticed me standing there, and he must knew I was waiting for the sparks. He then did something (honestly I did not remember what he did !!) and moved the claypot, that suddenly the sparks started to burst to life. I said thank you to that very kind man !!

I would not say that this was my strongest shot, but it has become somewhat a favourite. I have even seen this photograph being used in forums and websites (permissions were asked of course) discussing about the Olympus 45mm F1.8 lens. 

I often think that my review photographs were not my best work, because I always did them in a rush (I was given very limited time to review and blog the new gear from Olympus). Nonetheless, from time to time, and I must admit due to more luck than skill, I do get some decent shots !!

Sony Alpha Experience 2013

Over the past weekend, one of the largest photography events in Malaysia happened at Zebra Square, Kuala Lumpur, and it was the Sony Alpha Experience 2013. The event was some sort of convention where a series of invited guest prominent/professional photographers went on stage and shared their knowledge and experience in various photography fields. Notable guest speakers were Michael Yamashita (a National Geographic photographer) and Gary Friedman (professional photographer who strongly supports Sony, and has written many books for Sony cameras). It was a two day event, spanning across the weekend (Saturday and Sunday). Apart from the photographers speaking on stage in a large convention style, in between sessions, there were photo-shooting activities, challenges and competitions, and lucky draws. Prizes from the competitions and lucky draws include the NEX-6 and an Alpha 57 cameras!! Very generous of Sony Malaysia, and also if you attended at least 6 speaker sessions, you are entitled to collect a free 8GB Sony SD memory card. Everyone wins here. 

Unfortunately, I was only able to attend the Sunday's session. I was there for the entire day! Surely this was a great effort by Sony Malaysia to pull their supporters and fans together, there were people travelling from other states to Kuala Lumpur just for this event. It was true what my friend Jack told me, it was Sony being generous in giving back to their community of consumers, surely many would benefit from the Sony Alpha Experience. Successful professional photographers from across the globe as well as some local ones too coming to share their photographs, experience and knowledge, great photography shooting opportunities to keep the itchy fingers satisfied, free food (buffet lunch), free door gifts (8GB SD cards), lucky draws and competitions, and above all, entrance to the event was free, as long as you have a Sony camera. 

Grand Group Photograph. Spot me if you can. Hint: I was very near to Gary Friedman and Michael Yamashita
Photo credit: Eppy Man

Athena Carey Photowalk, Malaysia on 24/3/2013

One of the things that I told myself to do this year, besides exploring other genres of photography, is to get myself out there more often, participate in open photography events and surround myself with great photographers. Therefore, when my friends Ronnie and Sanjit told me about an event coming up involving an International Photography Awards 2012 winner, Athena Carey who will come to Kuala Lumpur, all the way from Switzerland, I immediately jumped into the bandwagon and said yes !!

The following are excerpts taken from Sanjit's website, with details of the Photowalk:

Join Athena Carey (2012 IPA winner) and Sanjitpaal Singh (2012 IPA winner) for a photowalk as they discover the wonders of Malaysia’s Natural Heritage – strutting on their cameras and doing what they do best. This time around, they’re inviting you to experience photography with them. Furthermore, they will be giving away a couple of goodies.

Date: 24/3/2013
Time: 3.00-6.00pm
Venue: Batu Dam, Ulu Yam (Latitude: 3°16’28.01″N, Longitude: 101°41’28.00″E)
Fees: FREE (yes you read that right, FREE)

For registration and details, please go to the official event FB Page here:

Your inspiration here: www.athenacarey.com

Supported by:
XUME Quick Release Adapters 
RDT Prints
Fujifilm Malaysia 

A professional, award winning photographer travels from halfway across the globe to be here with us, what is your excuse of not coming? 

Also on a separate note, since this event was co-sponsored by Fujifilm Malaysia, I heard I will be loaned "something" to play with. Now things surely are getting interesting. If everything is going right, I might just be using a Fujifilm camera instead of my own gear, and as usual after the event, you will see a sort of photo-blog format of a report here. 

I hope to see some of you beautiful people there !!

Olympus Macro Photography Workshop with Sanjitpaal Singh and Amir Ridhwan

I have been waiting for this day to happen for a long time, when two of my favourite local photographers, Sanjitpaal Singh and Amir Ridhwan, both whom have inspired and influenced my growth in photography came together to conduct a workshop for Olympus Malaysia. The workshop happened at Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) earlier today, and I was fortunate to be one of the participants. I would not miss this for anything else in the world !! No, not even that Sony "Jom Alpha" Event happening at the very same time. 

I have written about both Sanjit and Amir, how I got to know them and admire their photography work, passion and dedication to photography over the years in this previous blog entry (click here), so if you have not read that, please do so in order for you to understand how important those two amazing photographers are to me. That shall save me from repeating myself here over the same stories !!

The Contrast of Shooting Styles, yet Complementary 

The workshop started with Sanjit's presentation, and followed up by Amir's immediately. Sanjit coming from design and art background approached his macro photography very differently from Amir, who is more technically conscious about his macro shooting. However, Sanjit has demonstrated high level of technical expertise and control over his subject matter while keeping artistic sense his priority, and similarly applies to Amir, who emphasized on creating photographs with "impact and drama" that can wow an audience, not just a technically well executed photograph. They both presented different methods of approaching macro photography, very contrasting ideas and concepts, but the beautiful thing about photography in general, when you put them both together, they do complement each other very well. Sanjit preferred non flash macro photography, with use of long exposure (slow shutter speed) and shooting with camera mounted on tripod, with additional lighting from torchlight(s) if necessary for that light boost, or to create certain effect as he has intended. As for Amir, he used flash for most of his shots, and he preferred to hunt his macro subjects hand-held, for easy movement. I must say my own approach of macro photography has been originally and heavily derived (and slightly modified over time) from Amir Ridhwan's own technique, which he has shared generously. Nonetheless, having heard Sanjit's side of story, he has opened my mind to even more creative possibilities and flexibility: there are endless ways to go about shooting macro, and there is no right and wrong in this matter. There is so much more to explore, and that got me really excited !!

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital lenses 50mm F2 Macro, 25mm F2.8 pancake or 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 

Olympus gear available for loan for the macro practical shooting session. Gear Buffet ! Yummm

Center: Presentation in progress

Visitors from Jakarta, Indonesia

Last weekend, I met up with a fellow blog reader, Cen Wei from Jakarta, Indonesia, and he brought along his group of family and friends !! Amongst the large crowd there were three strong Olympus fans, and they were shooting proudly with their OM-D E-M5s !! Surely it was amazing seeing friends from across borders coming together to visit this beloved country of mine, and I did my small part in bringing them out to my usual street hunts at Petaling Street for a short shutter therapy session. 

Vinna, Hendry and Cen Wei, all OMD Warriors 

When I started this blog and when I got myself deeply involved in photography never did I expect I would somehow manage to grow an audience reaching outside of my home country. Surely, much thanks to technology advancement and the Internet, we are all easily discovered and connected, wherever we are in the world. My life has surely been more colorful and vibrant having you all beautiful readers around. 

To Cen Wei and company, I hope you all had a great time shooting and shopping in Kuala Lumpur. I sure hope to see you guys again some day in the future ! Keep that photography passion burning!

On a separate note, my day work schedule has suddenly become rather unpredictable, that I might need to work extra long hours, till ungodly past midnight (such is a typical life of engineers in Malaysia). Therefore, much time was spent away from my PC and I may not respond to comments and emails as quickly as usual. 

Meanwhile I had a great time reading Scott Bourne from Photofocus as he put forth his argument dismissing myths about Full Frame camera advantages. Seriously, those who are still stuck with that Full Frame cameras are everything and smaller sensor system cameras are inferior, they really do need to update their knowledge on photography technology progress, which I admit is not easy to catch up since everything in these modern times is moving at blinding speed. 

His ending of that article really got me going: "If your photography is so bad that you put more importance on how your camera looks than your images, there is no hope for you. Start learning to garden, fish or whittle – photography isn’t for you."

Can't agree more. 

Fujifilm X100S Review..... Ok Just Kidding. This was just another ordinary Shutter Therapy Session

Side Note: Olympus Malaysia is organizing a Macro Workshop on 16th March 2013. The speakers are Amir Ridhwan and Sanjitpaal Singh, both great photographers whom I admire and respect. If you want to learn macro photography, learn from the best!! I will be there, so I sure hope to see some of you there too.
More info on my previous blog here (click) and Olympus Facebook Page here (click). 

My mate Kelvin has got himself a spanking new Fujifilm X100S and he was having it as we attacked the streets this morning. Tai Foong joined us as well, and after a filling breakfast to fuel up our energy level, we roamed the Petaling Street. Kelvin was very generous that he offered to loan me the X100S for a weekend for my review purposes. As tempting as that idea may be, I am going to be extremely busy for the coming weekends. Even if I did finally decide to take up his offer, it might not happen anytime soon. 

All images were taken with Sony Alpha A350 and DT Lenses 35mm F1.8 or 50mm F1.8

The new Fujifilm X100S

Yet Another Studio Portrait Encounter

Side Note: Olympus Malaysia is organizing a Macro Workshop on 16th March 2013. The speakers are Amir Ridhwan and Sanjitpaal Singh, both great photographers whom I admire and respect. If you want to learn macro photography, learn from the best!! I will be there, so I sure hope to see some of you there too.
More info on my previous blog here (click) and Olympus Facebook Page here (click). 

I signed up for another Sony Studio Portrait Experience workshop, this time conducted by another Sony trainer, TJ. I think I am getting deeper and deeper into this kind of arranged portrait shooting. I don't quite know how to explain it, but my interest in pursuing this further has just increased. There is certain satisfaction shooting beauty. 

TJ the workshop conductor did a great job setting up the lights and explaining to us how each source of light affect the overall outcome: the distance between the light and subject, the intensity of the light, positioning to create different outcomes and also how to watch out for where the highlight and shadow fall on the subject. I gained better understanding on the studio lighting control, perhaps not to the point where I can independently set things up myself but I am getting a better grasp of the whole thing. It does not seem to be too complicated at all, and more importantly, it involves plenty of trial and error to optimize the lighting controls, and we know engineers love this sort of play. But then again, studio lights do not come cheap. Perhaps I should really look into Kirk Tuck's LED lighting for portraits instead. 

All images were taken with Sony Alpha A350 and DT 50mm F1.8 lens. Stopping down the aperture to F8-11, that 50mm lens is mighty sharp. Used on the A350's 14MP CCD sensor, shooting at ISO100, the amount of detail captured in such controlled test environment, was nothing short of breathtaking. Quite an amazing performance for the nifty fifty.

Aizuddin's First Solo Exhibition at Leica Store, Avenue K

When I saw Aizuddin's posting on Facebook announcing his first solo exhibition at Leica Store, Avenue K, I just told myself I must make time to be there. I have known Aizuddin Danian for a while now and I am constantly amazed by his photography work, which he does share in his blog here (click). His exhibition was titled "Themes of Istanbul", which is a series of photographs taken from his visit to Istanbul (obviously), all taken with a Leica M9. In total there were 10 photographs printed out for the exhibition, and scattered around the Leica Store. I went for the opening reception, and it was such a joy seeing a friend having his photography worked being recognized, and proudly displayed in a public space !!

All images were taken shamelessly with a Sony camera in a Leica Store. 
Sony A350 and 35mm F1.8

Here is Aizuddin Danian, the man himself!

Motivation to Keep On Shooting

Side Note: Olympus Malaysia is organizing a Macro Workshop on 16th March 2013. The speakers are Amir Ridhwan and Sanjitpaal Singh, both great photographers whom I admire and respect. If you want learn macro photography, learn from the best!! I will be there, so I sure hope to see some of you there too.
More info on my previous blog here (click) and Olympus Facebook Page here (click). 

I think one of the many weird traits that I do have is the persistence to keep shooting, no matter what. I never (or rarely) run out of motivation to pick up the camera to shoot. Unfortunately I am working on weekdays as a full time engineer, or else I would be out there shooting every single day. To some people who have seen me and known me in person, it puzzled them how I can keep shooting again and again without hitting the saturation point or get bored. 

So where did I find my motivation?

All images in this entry were taken with Sony Alpha A350 and DT 35mm F1.8 lens


There Is Something About Olympus...

Side Note: Olympus Malaysia is organizing a Macro Workshop on 16th March 2013. The speakers are Amir Ridhwan and Sanjitpaal Singh, both great photographers whom I admire and respect. If you want learn macro photography, learn from the best!! I will be there, so I sure hope to see some of you there too.
More info on my previous blog here (click) and Olympus Facebook Page here (click). 

I have not been using my Olympus gear for street shooting for a long duration of few months now, delegating that task to the newly added Sony A350 and some nice prime lenses. Last Sunday morning, before the afternoon Wheelchair Basketball event (as seen in the previous blog entry) I was helping out a friend Jason on an assignment in leading a group of youth on a photo-walk at Petaling Street. Since I was heading straight to the Wheelchair Basketball League after the photo-walk, it only made sense to carry one system. I chose the Olympus. 

I know how people always mention shooting with Leica will give you that special "look" that other cameras won't give you. Tonnes of fantastic descriptions and elusive explanations were given to differentiate how the godly Leica stands out from the rest of mere mortal cameras. While I may have limited encounter or experience with Leica, comparing to just mere mortal cameras among-st mere mortal cameras, I would say Olympus has its own uniqueness, its own special beautiful characteristics that made their images shine. I do not quite know how to put these all down in proper words, but there are many qualities that I have accomplished with the Olympus, that were absent from the Sony images, and any other cameras. Perhaps it is all in my head, but I would like to believe otherwise. 

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50mm F2 Macro

People keep saying Fuji does very well in color, and is the best. I do not fully agree. I like Olympus color MUCH better. I know color preference is very subjective, as Canon will argue how their colors trump Nikon's. I much prefer Olympus' skin tone and overall "true to life" color rendition. They are very believable  and pleasing to look at. 

Malaysian Wheelchair Basketball: First Encounter

Side Note: Olympus Malaysia is organizing a Macro Workshop on 16th March 2013. The speakers are Amir Ridhwan and Sanjitpaal Singh, both great photographers whom I admire and respect. If you want learn macro photography, learn from the best!! I will be there, so I sure hope to see some of you there too.
More info on my previous blog here (click) and Olympus Facebook Page here (click). 

If you have been following this blog recently, you must have known a very important photographer whom I have mentioned a couple of times here, Luke Chua, who is wheelchair bound. The incredible thing about him is that he is not just an amazing photographer whom I have come to respect and admire a lot (seriously his photography work is nothing short of breathtaking, check out his blog to see for yourself) but he is also a National Athlete, having represented the country for international basketball competitions. So when he asked me if I was interested to tag him along in one of the national basketball league which happened today, I thought this was a photography opportunity NOT to be missed !! Hence, I spent an entire afternoon capturing wheelchair basketball in action, and this was my virgin experience. 

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital lenses: 50-200mm F2.8-3.5, 25mm F2.8 pancake or 50mm F2 macro. 

The man himself, Luke Chua !!

HOT !!! Coming Olympus Macro and Wildlife Photography Workshops

I do believe it is extremely important to acknowledge the people who have largely influenced and helped you in a great deal to get you to where you are. 

I consider myself very blessed to have known two very important photographers who inspired and shaped me over the years of my photography journey. They are Amir Ridhwan and Sanjitpaal Singh, both proud Olympus supporters, and amazing photographers. Why am I suddenly bringing them up out of nowhere? There will be coming Macro and Wildlife Photography workshops organized by Olympus Malaysia, and both Amir and Sanjit will be the workshop conductors. 

The images in this entry were re-used from my older collection of macro shots. Taken with either Olympus DSLR E-520, or E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50mm F2 macro lens