Shutter Therapy with OM-D Users

I have been shooting with a lot of people and rarely have I come across a group with all Olympus users, until very recently, in my previous shutter therapy session last Tuesday, and also this very morning. Basically I pulled together a group of people who have requested to shoot with me on my street hunting session, a few whom I have met during the KLPF 2013 last weekend. As usual I would keep the group small so it is more manageable and we can have more interaction time between each other. When you have a photography outing with too many people, people just tend to break into smaller groups anyway, and get separated from the bigger group. Why not just form smaller groups in the first place?

The location of choice was Pudu, with the primary shooting location being the Open Air Wet Market, a place which has become my favourite. There were a few newcomers this time, and it was their first time shooting in Pudu. As expected, one of the main questions raised today was how I approached the strangers and shoot their portrait photos so up-close. As usual, my answer has always remained consistent, I just walked up to them and shoot. No secret methods, no special techniques, and surely those searching for something extra from my shooting session will be disappointed. I just, literally, pointed my camera at my chosen subjects, and shot them. Did I get rejected? Yes, sometimes, but it does not really matter. There were so many more people to shoot, so many opportunities waiting. Just keep the smile up, and focus on positive thoughts, you will end up with even better photographs than the one you have missed. 

The interesting fact, which I did not anticipated in the first place, was the majority of the photographers using Olympus OM-D E-M5. There were 7 of us, and 5 of us used OM-D, which was something I have not encountered before. I know I am known for being one of the significant blogger who pushed the OM-D into good light, but I myself am always surrounded with photographers and friends who do not actually use micro four thirds system. 

This image was taken with my Nexus 4. So easy to tell which camera was mine, because I was the only one who used black. 

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko lenses: 45mm F1.8, 17mm F1.8 and 12-50mm F3.5-6.3

Awesome Hair

Market street


Dying Chicken

Cap Side

Man in Backalley

Hands-free Umbrella

Very Young

Another popular question which was asked today, as well as through many other readers through comments and emails I have received over the years, is how I post processed my images. 

To be entirely honest, I do not apply much post processing. I do not use Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. I know I should be learning them and started to include those must have magic softwares in my photography workflow, but I am just being stubborn and decided not to. I am using mostly Google's Picasa, mainly because of how Picasa is fully integrated with Blogger, my blogging platform which saved me tremendous amount of time as I can organize my photographs, edit and upload to online album, directly linking into my Blogger's compose page where I am writing my blog entries. Also, Picasa is very resource friendly and is very, very straightforward, allowing very quick processing for very basic fixes, such as cropping, brightness/contrast control and quick white balance tweak. Obviously I am not recommending Picasa for those photographers who are delivering professional results to clients as well as the photographers who want to print huge. 

For more complicated editing, I do use other softwares. I have the very old version of ACDSee 7 with Powerpack, for more extensive processing and editing. I also use Snapseed, another software which has been discontinued for desktop version. These softwares were more then sufficient for what I need, and I rarely needed anything more. 

Of course, to obtain the amazing Olympus colors (someone mentioned to me they did not like Olympus color, that was fine, everyone has their own preference, but seriously?????? You and I must see colors very differently) I use the Olympus Viewer 3 software to convert my RAW files into JPEG. In the conversion I make sure everything is optimized, exposure compensation, white balance, etc. 

I don't think emphasis should be placed on post processing. While I do not deny the importance of post-processing and how it has become an integrated part of digital photography workflow, I still strongly adhere to the old school mentality of getting it as much right as possible in camera while shooting, and perform minimal post processing later. A huge part of a great photograph comes from the photographer, the subject content, composition, lighting control, camera settings and timing execution just to name a few factors that determine how great a photograph can be. I do think many photographers have spent way too much time in front of computer, instead of being out there with their gear and shoot to make more photographs!

Deep Frying


Busy Street


Foreign Worker

Kids Fashion

Waiting for Customers

Happy Morning

Empty Cages

This was the second time I have used my own OM-D E-M5 shooting out there in a shutter therapy session. In tight spaces, I still fully utilized my Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 in most of my shots. I somehow have a strong preference to longer focal lengths, something rather unusual for street photographers. The compressed perspective, and shallower depth of field appealed to me, which I insisted of having in my street photographs. To say that I shoot exclusively with long lenses is also not right, I do from time to time, switch to shorter lenses, especially for wide angle coverage, when I find an interesting scene or background to work with. 

Foreign Worker 2

Red and Green

Heavy Vegetables

Facial Hair

Shooting the friends who joined me for this session was also as fun! 

Joey, Siew, Dipin and (oops... Dipin's friend..

Bottom left: Khong
Bottom right: Tai Foong and Alex

Khong's new funky Manfrotto Tripod. And it is cheap!

I think it was quite interesting to shoot in a group of friends who use OM-D. I surely had plenty of fun shooting and I hope the same for the others who joined me today. 


  1. That's the beauty of photography, it's like looking through a keyhole into another culture. Thanks for the post and blog, I'm always enjoying it.
    Maybe Snapseed will be a part of Blogger/Picasa soon, they've already included it into Google+.

    1. Hey Leif, thanks for the kind words!
      Indeed, culture is best shown through photography!

  2. Hi Robin, I just showed my wife this excellent shutter therapy outting of yours. All she could say was "WOW". I agree. I just love how open people are to having photographs taken of them, where you live. People here would be so much more suspicious... or at least that is my feeling. On the other hand, you obviously have a particular skill for making people feel comfortable... Personally, I find I do a lot of photos without people... that difference between your style and mine is why I enjoy so much going to your blog. It is so refreshing for me.... Peter

    1. hey Peter,
      Thanks for the kind compliments and thanks to your wife too! If I have such great landscapes as you at your place, I would be taking photos without people too!

  3. I always enjoyed your stories and look at your fantastic pictures because they have a personal touch to them... you mentioned picasa... Question: do you convert to jpeg and import to picasa or to you import raw directly to picasa? Can picasa handle raw files?

    1. Thanks Johan, I am glad to be able to share these photos.
      I use Olympus viewer 3 to convert (and do minor corrections) RAW to JPEG. And then I do the rest with Picasa.

  4. Robin do you notice that the reaction of the people you shoot are different as compared to when you used the E5 for your shutter therapy?

    1. Hey Johan,
      I believe, they are about the same. I need to shoot more with the E-M5 to notice any difference in reaction, if any.

  5. Since you are with Olympus shooters of other brands are intimidated and don't dare to come along. ... Just kidding! I personally love Olympus color very much and I am very sad that Lightroom does not provide them. I very much appreciate how Olympus keep evolving the in-camera processing for JPEG output. The E-M1 is a good example. Wouldn't it be nice to get everything perfect in camera and then just use the JPEGs without any additional work? I shot slide film for a long time and that was just like that. Great post and great images!

    1. Agreed! Olympus colors really do shine, and I am not sure why some would think otherwise. Of course to each their own. I know exactly what you mean, having optimized JPEG without having the need to shoot RAW anymore, that would be a dream come true.

  6. Hi robin, is it just me or do your omd pictures lack the usual bite and microcontrast? Something's missing...
    Just an observation, pls dont get upset.

    1. I am not sure what you were referring to but I see a lot of micro contrast in the above photos.

  7. Fantastic shots as always.

    I played around with Olympus Viewer 3 yesterday. I think I need to work with it more though to understand it's quirks. I've been using DxO Optics Pro 8 for most of my E-M5 processing, but they aren't supporting the E-M1 yet so I'll need to figure out a new plan. I'm thinking of shooitng RAW+JPG and hoping I don't have to do much work on them.

    1. The JPEG files from the E-M1 is already so optimized, but I also acknowledge that these days photographers like to instil their "signature" processing onto their images. I am sure soon, the RAW support will be released for all other image editing softwares

  8. You've a most interesting technique.

    I have used Picasa but only as an intermediate step from Phase One Capture One raw converter to Picasa Web Albums. I generally don't change much--only light and colour, depending on the situation.

    It's been a long time since I did serious street shooting, especially when using a fixed focal length lens. I almost always take the ZD 14-54mm or 14-35 with me. I'm not sure I could ever come close to what you do but then, you are you and I am not...or naught. :-D

    1. I think you are right, everyone is different and we see things differently. I won't be able to do what you do, and likewise. So just shoot what moves you and enjoy the whole process!

  9. Brilliant work - the Robinesque Force is strong in these ones. I loved the "facial hair" portrait. Reminds me of medium format and tri-x.

  10. Hi Robin,

    Very very nice pics as always! Love the colours, composition and sharpness. The people also seem to be very expressive in KL!
    Curious to know how u nail the WB in these shot? Do u use a white/grey card prior to shooting at a location and light? Also what are ur cam settings - colour setting etc.


  11. Dear robin,

    I know this is an old post, but I'm hoping you'd see my comment. Talking about software, I want to point out one major setback that I've to face as an Olympus user. I find the color rendering of the current Olympus cameras the best in the sector, the jpegs are just gorgeous. But as you know we all might need to tweak our photos, afterall that's why many of us shoot raw. It's ok to work with Oly. Viewer 3, the raw initial raw output is the same as jpeg and usually I just do some small tweaks and that's enough. However LR is the preferred tool for many of us when it comes to batch editing, organizing, exporting, printing, tagging etc. and I just need to use Ligthroom because it just makes things easier. But then those wonderful Oly colors are gone.

    I don't know who to blame, maybe Olympus doesn't want to share their secrets with Adobe, maybe Adobe doesn't care about us as much as they do about Canikon users. But this should be solved. I believe Olympus is using an amount of its customers because of this. Seen your special relation with the firm, I thought I should share this with you.