Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Why Black and White Over Color?

We often look for that perfect light hitting our subjects, hoping for the best scene setup hence getting that beautifully lit photograph. Unfortunately, shooting outside on the streets in real life conditions, we do have to deal with unfavourable lighting most of the time. Sometimes, the lighting is so bad that no matter how good the subject is, it was just not worth shooting. 

I encountered such situations from time to time, I do admit often I just walked away. For example, the following portrait of a stranger. 


What was wrong with the above photo? The man was standing under red canopy, hence his skin tone was overpowered with red cast, which was destructive and made the overall impression of the portrait rather uncomfortable to look at. Lighting was flat and not flattering, creating an uninteresting portrait. No matter what magic you perform in photoshop it is almost impossible to fix this photograph in color. The only option was to go black and white. Color was not the important element in this photograph, it was the look in the stranger's eyes that caught my attention, it was his willingness to be photographed, the sense of friendliness and that mystery of wanting to know who he was, that compelled me to shoot him. Colors played very little role in this particular shot, hence leaving colors behind was not such a big deal for this one. 

So here the same shot, minus the colors.


Turning the image black and white solved the ugly red color issue. Also, no color means no distraction and the main attention can be drawn to the eyes of the man, then emphasizing his friendly facial expression. Since the image was relatively flat to work with, I boosted the contrast to add sense of depth, and having the background overblown in highlight to show the feeling of being in a very bright place. 

I think I will keep the second black and white version.

Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that you can fix failed color shots with black and white conversion. However monotone is a very beautiful way of conveying the world of photography, and I sure hope more people can see that!



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lens of the Day: M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8

It is no secret that the new Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 (BLACK!!) has become my favourite lens, and will be the one I use most. I love it so much that for today's shutter therapy session I have left every other lenses behind, and only had one lens on the OM-D E-M5. Did I wish I have the other lenses with me when I was shooting on the streets? Nope, the 25mm perspective was good enough to cover everything that I needed to shoot. Of course I acknowledge the fact that if I wanted to do a lot of street portraits close up shots that 45mm F1.8 would have been a better lens. However, the 25mm is just so much more flexible, and covers a lot more ground which the 45mm is just too tight to do. 

Today's hunting ground was Chow Kit. The markets in Chow Kit are some of my best shooting places, I always, always come home with a lot of personal favourite shots. There is one drawback shooting in the markets, some parts are rather low in light and require use of very high ISO settings (6,400 and above) which may not be something that Micro Four Thirds shooters can do comfortably. Nevertheless, the E-M5 did not let me down. Having F1.8 wide aperture on the 25mm did help a lot, and staying at ISO 6,400, I can afford to slow down the shutter speed a little because we have the 5-Axis Image Stabilization (as long as the subject is not moving). Today's photowalk reminded me of why I fell in love with Olympus in the first place, and why my faith has not been misplaced. The camera just works!

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens

The Cat Knows

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Simplicity or Layers?

Coming from an engineering background my mind is often rigid framed and that affects my ability to compose my subjects when I am shooting. One singular rule that I have been adhering to all this time is: one subject and one background (good subject and good background of course). Nevertheless, great photographs rarely contain only one subject, in fact many interesting photographs are derived from the interaction of multiple characters within one frame, and their successful relationship with the chosen background that made the image work with impact. All this complicated stuff, too much for a simple minded photographer like myself to take in!

Sometimes, accidents happen, and accidents may not be all the time bad. For example, with this photograph below, as I was shooting the man selling lottery tickets, another man walked into the frame (on the right of the frame) which caught me by surprise. I did not intend to have him in the frame at all, because I was sticking to that one subject and one background rule. However, looking at two images (the accidental entrance of the man, and the one with only one man) I actually preferred the one composed by accident. 


The Accidental Shot (man on the right entered the frame). Also, there was another man in the background, hence there were three men in this frame, and somehow the image did not appear cluttered at all. The focal point was still clearly on the man in the middle selling lottery tickets, and the foreground and background supported the main subject well. 

The original clean shot. Now it seems too empty. 

So what say you? Which image do you prefer? There is no right and wrong of course, and I would like to hear your opinion!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Olympus Workshop and Photo Sharing, Happening This SATURDAY!

Beautiful people, if you are in Kuala Lumpur and you are free this Saturday, do come to Olympus Malaysia. There will be two events happening on the same day!


Firstly, in the morning, I will be conducting a basic photography workshop, covering the very fundamentals of photography and this brief workshop is especially helpful for those who are very new to photography and wish to master the basics of exposure and camera controls. The workshop also includes complimentary professional lens and camera cleaning service, carried out by our own Olympus Malaysia service team!



Secondly, in the afternoon, we have a photo-sharing session by Raja Indra Putra (Ripi), a dear friend and awesome photographer who actively uses Olympus OM-D system to shoot amazing photographs. Be inspired by Ripi's photography and you may even learn a thing or two about street and travel photography. As a bonus, immediately after the sharing session, we have a Mini TOUCH & TRY Session with our latest Olympus products such as OM-D E-M10, M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 and 9mm F8 body cap lens. 


Both events require registration by PM (with name, contact number, email and camera model) to Olympus Malaysia Facebook Page (click). Both events are open to all (Olympus and non-Olympus users). For the workshop, a small fee (as described in the event poster) will be charged, and the afternoon photo-sharing session is completely free. 

Location to Olympus Malaysia can be found here: 

Come join us this Saturday, meet some beautiful people and be inspired to shoot more with Olympus. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Olympus Photowalk at Petaling Street

Early this morning there was an official Olympus Photowalk in Petaling Street, and I had the privilege to lead the group for some awesome shutter therapy action. You have got to have an Olympus camera to join in the fun, and it was a group of crazy, fun-lover, Olympus fans coming together, attacking the streets of Kuala Lumpur. It was nice to see so many Olympus users being out there making some awesome images happen. If you are in Kuala Lumpur and you are using Olympus, please do join us in future outings and activities. We will have more and more activities coming up, and will be announced at Olympus Malaysia's official Facebook Page here (click). 

Got Olympus?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Makes This Image Work?

I have had an idea of selecting a few of my favourite images and then pull out some points on why I think the images work the way they do, and hopefully this sharing can benefit some readers (new-comers to photography) as they find ways to improve in photography. I know I have been randomly doing this for a while but lets just take a closer look at one image, and see what we can find out from this one image. 


This was not a new image, in fact I have taken this about a few weeks ago, and displayed in one of my weekly shutter therapy blog entries. 

1) LOW ANGLE
We shoot too often at our eye level. Although eye-level photographs are mostly natural and easily acceptable by the viewers, they appear too ordinary. From time to time I would explore different angles, mostly low angle to create a more dramatic outcome. In this particular image, the light leaks from the roof was a very important element and to successfully emphasize on the bright light coming in the alley, shooting from low perspective helps. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

MIrrorless Is The Future

I have come from a long background of using DSLR (Olympus E-410, E-520, E-5, Sony A350 and A57) and I can testify that there really is nothing that I miss from my DSLR days, since I have fully converted to mirrorless Micro Four Thirds system now. Gone were the days of carrying huge and heavy camera and lenses, and now we are seeing the new generation camera system that emphasizes on smaller, lighter, yet siimilarly powerful, if not even surpassing what most DSLR cameras can do. Mirrorless system is maturing, what is your excuse in clinging to the DSLR?

Indeed, there are still that top of the line full frame cameras which seem to be somewhat untouchable when it comes to pure speed and low light shooting performance, cameras such as the venerable Canon 1Dx and Nikon D4/D4S. Yes, you may need to shoot at ridiculous ISO25,600 and you need the shots to be usable. Nonetheless, looking at how far the other systems have caught up all these years, I do not feel inferior when I am using the Olympus OM-D cameras. I am perfectly fine with ISO3,200 images, and would not hesitate if I needed to boost up to ISO6,400. Now we have a wide selection of F1.8 lenses, and Panasonic has taken the wide aperture game a step further by introducing their latest 42.5mm F1.2 lens. You have sub F2 lenses to work with, at very usable ISO6,400, and you know what, the technology is still improving, surely things will get better and better with every new camera releases. More and more interesting lenses are being released. For most photography situations, that combination should be more than sufficient! Times are exciting for the next generation mirrorless camera and there is still a huge potential of growth. 

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 or PEN E-PL5, and M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 or Panasonic 14mm F2.5 lenses

Fashion

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Olympus Macro Converter: MCON-P02

I think I should do a dedicated review on this new Macro Converter from Olympus, the MCON-P02 which fits nicely to whichever lens that has 37mm or 46mm diameter filter threads. Initial tests show very promising results. 

MCON-P02 attached to 45mm F1.8, shot on OM-D E-M5. F2.8 at ISO2,500



Monday, April 07, 2014

Messages From My Blog

Side Note: Olympus users at Asia and Oceania regions! If you have not submitted your photographs to the Olympus Asia Oceania GrandPrix, you still have a few days left before the closing date. Stand a chance to win an E-M1! More info here: http://phc.olympus-imaging.com/?lang=en

I shoot again and again, and I share my images week after week. There is no end to shutter therapy (lets hope it goes on forever), as I deeply enjoy doing it, and love to share that joy and whatever catch of the day with you beautiful people here. Sometimes people came up to me and told me how amazed they were about my self-motivation to go on and on, and never get bored or tired of doing the same thing over and over again, or shooting on the same streets week after week. If you truly love what you do, if you are truly passionate about your craft, and you seriously want to be a better photographer, you will not tire easily, and you will not run out of inspiration to go on. There is so much more to learn and explore. 

After going through some of my recent blog entries, I found a pattern of consistency running through my writing and photo-sharing here. There are similar and repetitive messages that played over and over again week after week, some I have written lengthily about, some I have not yet done so but the messages have always been evidently seen. I shall discuss in this blog entry what are the main messages that I hope my readers will take home, and hopefully be a part of their exploration in the world of photography as well.

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and PEN E-PL5 with M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 or Panasonic 14mm F2.5

No Cars

Friday, April 04, 2014

Khee Hwa & Ee Ling

I am not exactly a wedding photographer, but I would be lying if I said I have no experience in shooting wedding. I have been taking photography assignment sporadically, mainly to supplement my gear purchase funds (those gear money has got to come from somewhere), and a number of them are wedding shoots. I usually would advice people who ask me to shoot their weddings to hire "real" professional wedding photographers. 

Nonetheless, when a friend, Khee Hwa asked me to cover his wedding, it was a different story! It was a chance of a lifetime to shoot such a wonderful friend's wedding, and it was my honor and privillege to be there covering that big moment of his life. I may not be able to deliver those incredible award winning shots, but I knew in my heart that I have had sufficient experience and knowledge not to screw up. 

The wedding took place in Perth, Western Australia, thus me disappearing for one week away from Kuala Lumpur (and also this blog). The weather was not favorable, and it was cloudy even on the actual wedding day. The venue of the wedding was at a park by a river, and should the sky be blue the waters would have been blue as well. We have much to thank for because the heavy downpour only came immediately after the ceremony ended in the afternoon. The days remained cloudy and we decided to postpone our outdoor shoots 2 days later. It was not until my last day at Perth that the sky decided to clear up and we had a bright, beautiful day to do our outdoor portraiture shoots. 

The wedding ceremony was simple, and elegantly beautiful. In this blog entry I am showing a quick preview of selected images from the wedding shoot. All these images are not final yet, and may be subjected to further post-processing I finished processing these images within an hour and more. 

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 or PEN E-PL5, and M.Zuiko lenses 12-50mm F3.5-6.3, 25mm F1.8 or 45mm F1.8 and Panasonic 14mm F2.5 lens. Flash FL-50R and FL-36R were used when necessary. 


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Perth Revisit

I have been away from KL for a week, shooting a wedding assignment at Perth, Western Australia. It has been a fruitful trip, the shooting went well, and I did have some spare time for myself to roam around freely. Therefore, short shutter therapy session in Perth happened, and on top of that, I have eaten more awesome Perth food than I should. Special thanks to Khee Hwa and Ee Ling (and families) for hosting me and Fred, providing us such warm hospitality and making sure our stay was enjoyable. 

For those of you newcomers to this blog of mine, it is an interesting fact that my blog here was actually born in Perth, back in my university days, starting with an intention to record moments and memories. This blog, before it mutated into a photography-centric site, was a personal online journal, detailing my life and adventures. Perth is a place of significance to me, I graduated with an engineering degree here and I have made so many wonderful friends and collected uncountable beautiful memories along the way. There will always be a special place in my heart for Perth. I have always wanted to come back to Perth to shoot on the streets, and this time I did, though the shooting hours were shorter than I wanted. 

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 or PEN E-PL5, and lenses Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8, 45mm F1.8 or Panasonic 14mm F2.5

Sunset at Cottesloe Beach
This is an actual assignment shot, and I decided to show it here because it really shows the beautiful Perth sky during sunset. I have spent countless hours in Perth beaches lying down on the soft white sand, looking deep into the impossibly blue sky.