A Bridal Shoot at Setiawan

I was away for the weekend in a place called Setiawan, about 3 hours drive north from Kuala Lumpur, together with a gang of Sony crazy shooters. The main agenda for us to travel so far up north was to have a bridal shoot at various locations around the beautiful, yet peaceful town of Setiawan. The group and photoshoot was led by Kevin Ng, who introduced me to studio portrait shooting, and guided many newcomers to Sony system (both DSLT and NEX) since he was an appointed Sony trainer. 

There were 12 models dressed up in wedding gowns, with make up and hair done professionally, awaiting to be shot by us, photography enthusiasts. None of us were professionals, and we were doing this purely for the joy and fun of photography. Of course the arrangement was done by Kevin, and he was kind enough to guide us and help us out. I know you all must think that I have been shooting wedding actual day coverage for a while now, but the huge difference here is the absence of groom. Having just the brides, was something unusual, because most of my portrait poses for weddings were done with the couples. I really did find it a challenge to shoot brides!

We had various locations to cover, from the seaside, to indoor studio and also the streets of Setiawan! Considering this was an outing exclusively organized for Sony users, it would be suicidal to carry along my Olympus gear, hence I left my Olympus behind and brought along the Sony A57 and the few lenses that I only have for now. 

I shall share the few photographs from this session, which were initial edits, with very quick post-processing done, sufficient to be displayed on this blog entry as a preview to what I have been shooting for the weekend. Please do not use these images to gauge the final delivery, as there obviously would be a lot more work to be done for any kind of portraiture post-processing works!

All images were taken with Sony A57, DT lenses 50mm F1.8, 35mm F1.8 and 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens

A few notes from this shooting session:

1) I dislike the kit lens 18-55mm. For a few reasons. Firstly, the 18mm widest end was very poor. It was soft, and I did not like what I see coming out of it, probably due to distortion correction or whatever digital manipulation done with the camera. Something seemed wrong. Adding to the fact that 18mm is just not wide enough for most of my wide angle shooting. And I did wish I had something wider to work with. 

2) The battery life of the Sony A57 was surprisingly good. I shot the full day event with only one battery. I came home with about 850 images, and yes the battery indicator was blinking red at the end of the session, and I did have two more fully charged batteries as spares. I can safely get away with 600-700 images, without stretching the battery life, in a single charge.

3) For outdoor shooting, I really, really, really prefer working with Optical Viewfinder. There is something not so right about the electronic viewfinder. However when I was indoor shooting the portraits in studio setup, the EVF was a godsent. There were two setup, studio flash and LED lights. The EVF helped a lot in determining the white balance (hence the accurate skin tone) as well as exposure even before you click the shutter button. 

4) The built in image stabilization was not as good as I expected it to be. Using the wide angle kit lens at 18mm, even shooting at 1/40sec (at the seaside, nearing sunset), I get a few blurred shots. The Olympus would have nailed the slower shutter speed, even down to 1/20sec, confidently. I am not even talking about that 5-Axis IS just yet. The 5-Axis would take this to an entirely different level. 

5) I used the Olympus FL50R flash, being fired wirelessly as fill light for the sunset by the beach shoot. It worked well, and soon everyone else started using my flash! It was set to slave. 

6) For portrait shooting, I have to admit the 50mm focal length (equivalent to 75mm) is just not long enough! Perhaps something between 85mm to 135mm is the sweetspot. Something just did not feel right. Using the Olympus 50mm F2 (equivalent to 100mm) all these while, the wider perspective did not really bring out the magic for my portrait shots. Something felt wrong. Yes, I did wish I have a tele-lens (zoom) to work with.

7) This was a very tiring session, we have to move from location to location, with plenty of work and time spent on setting up and packing up stuff after we are done with each session. Nonetheless, it was all good when the shooting session started, this was one of the most adventurous and exciting shoot I have had in a while. It was not planned by me, and I was merely a participant. Took off a HUGE load from my shoulders, and I can concentrate on shooting, and having fun!

8) Oh dear, I really do suck at shooting portraits!! Oh well.. lots of work needed... I have the patience, so all is good. 

I have no time to edit out the background yet. 

This was my favourite shot of the day!! Don't ask, if you have been following my blog for a while you should know why. 

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  1. Wow, Robin, these are great! What a great learning opportunity that you were invited to participate in. You should not feel that you suck at this... you really don't.

    I'm sure that someone else would also like to know how you wirelessly triggered that Olympus flash from your Sony camera. Those sunset beach photos, using the fill flash, are beautiful!

    1. Thanks Gregg for the kind words. I still feel that something was not right, or something was missing from the photos. I guess I do need to explore and experiment further.
      The Olympus FL-50R was set to slave mode. Control was done manually. That's all!! No other tricks.

  2. Ha ..ah ..ha I confess I mistook it to b a wedding shoot ...untill I read the written matter !

    lovely captures ...:):)

    1. Oh dear, if it was a wedding, and there were 12 brides, it would be a nightmare to shoot!!
      Thanks for the kind words.

  3. My fav is the one below the photo with the ladder. Very classy look.

    1. Thanks Ananda!! I was shooting that from the side, because someone was directing her from the other side.

  4. very superb robin!!..really nice..so jealous as i cant join d group..so nice to look how u compose d pic..very nice robin..dunno wat to say now..its really3 nice..

    1. hello Hadi Nik,
      Wish you were with us!! It was fun and challenging at the same time.

    2. cant join on that day..need to stl fmly matter..anyway good job robin..surely its a happy shooting session on that day..

  5. Hi Robin,
    Very nice photos as usual but missed your captions.

  6. Still a great photography workouts Robin. Another great entries from you. My portraiture photos....hmmm, dare not to comment.

  7. Are you going to switch to Sony?

  8. Some very nice work.

    Couple comments on the lenses:

    1. I agree with you on the 18-55. It's got a couple sweet spots but it's overall pretty mediocre as a kit lens. The two normal zooms worth looking at are the Sony DT 16-50 f2.8 SSM and the Zeiss ZA DT 16-80. Both are very sharp, noticeably wider than the 18-55 and with superb colour. The Zeiss has a wide range, while the Sony is fast & weather-sealed.

    2. Check out the Sony 85/2.8 SAM. It's cheap, being an Easy Choice series lens like your 35 and 50, and very sharp (better than either the 35 or 50). It also focuses closely (1:5 magnification) and is a rather nice portrait lens. The lens design itself is Zeiss, being a direct clone of the Contax 85/2.8 Sonnar.

  9. One word: superb.

    You really, REALLY can be proud of yourself, as this is exquisite work.

  10. Wow, absolutely loving the one with the ladder!


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