Shooting The Ordinary Things

I think too many of us are striving too hard to achieve that National Geographic kind of photograph. Strangely, I have seen too many friends around me struggling to find that award winning photograph to prove themselves superior than others. Is photography a competition? Is there an ultimate goal in photography? Is photography like sports that only the champion has the last say? 

I say, screw all that. All I want to do is just grab my camera, head out the door, bathe myself into the dangerously cancer-inducing hot Malaysian sun and have some shutter clicking action going on! I am happy that way. I just shoot because I want to, and because I can. I do not aim for impossible goals in photography. Heck I know very well none of my photographs are competition worthy, and I could care less, really. These are my photographs, and I am proud of them. They may not be breathtaking or super sensational to look at, but hey, I can guarantee you at least they are fun to look at. And most of the things I point my camera at are merely ordinary, everyday things. Nothing spectacular, nothing fantastic, just plain, simple and common subjects we encounter often. 

May it be a scene from the streets I walk along often, or that plate of bowl of delicious noodles soup, or that new watch I have saved for months to purchase, or simply a painting I found on a wall. You know, something ordinary. 

Photography does not have to be hard and tiring. Why not shoot something ordinary?

This was taken from a train station. I have just left the train and was going to catch the Antman in this newly opened shopping mall. It was a good movie, I enjoyed it. 

This famous squarish structure at Nu Sentral (KL Sentral) has gotten a lot of attention from street photographers. I was waiting for a friend and my fingers got itchy. 

My lunch. Yes I am a typical Asian who shoots plenty of food photographs. 

Though I shoot plenty of food, I am not particularly good at food photography. But who cares, that steak burger was a killer. Outback Steakhouse at Nu Sentral (RM28.99). Expensive lunch but totally worth it. 

I carry my toys everywhere I go to. Not just my camera. 

Bored while waiting for food? Never. Reflective table with toys and a camera at hand: fun fun fun. 
Since I had the camera rested on the table, I decided it was time to put the lens to test. I shot the same frame at different apertures. 

Whoever said Fujinon 23mm F2 on the X100 is a sharp lens is a liar. At F2 it is soft soft soft. This was taken at wide open F2. 

At F2.8 it gets better, but still soft

At F4... the sharpness is acceptable. 

Optimum sharpness at F5.6. 

Look, I am not finding fault here, but I am just so used to Olympus M.Zuiko lenses that are sharp readily wide open. Please do not get me wrong, I have loved the Fuji X100 so much, the camera got so many things right. But that 35mm equivalent lens needs some work, seriously. 

I like explosion of colors. These mural paintings are supposed to carry hidden meanings, usually with political and social undertones. 

Yet these walls are just a stone throw away from a train station in the city. I do not see many local photographers interested in shooting these beautiful paintings. 

I love cats. I am one of the guilty photographers who shoot cat photos. 

I also like rustic, decayed, weathered kind of subjects. 

Or random things that hang around along the walkway.  

Sometimes we think too much, try too hard. Images are just there, we just have to relax and let them come. 

Oh that same reflective table. Let's shoot the camera instead. 

And yes I do selfie as well. What is wrong with that? But no selfie sticks please. 

The take away message is, do not over-think. It is not worth spending too much time and effort over-analysing photography, time should be spent being out there, shooting and having fun. Enjoy yourself and the images will pop up, if you are feeling positive it is easier to see beauty in even the most ordinary of things. 

There are days I go for a full on portrait shooting, dedicated street photography sessions, sunset/sunrise chase, or even insect macro shooting deep in the rainforest feeding my blood to leeches. On normal days, I would have just as much fun shooting randomly at anything that I see. 

The trick? Bring the camera with you everywhere you go. Best photography opportunities happen when you least expect it to. 


zendodesign sales and services said...

Wa, X100!! I still cannot even get this sexy body killer even the price already decreased. T.T I really agreed what you write about "National Geographic kind of photograph". I having this kind of problem last time giving me so much pressure and impossible to achieve that kind of photograph. Finally, now become more relax and happy shooting. Waiting you back here for shooting therapy and teach me more. haha :)

Kay Hong :)

Robin Wong said...

Aiyo nothing to teach lah. Just grab the camera and go out shoot. Now X100 second hand can find below RM1k liaw. Sell off some old camera or lens add a bit can buy oledy

zendodesign sales and services said...

wow, below RM1k?Thats cheap! Here selling used unit still about RM1.5k - RM1.7k!! I sold my old gears and just bought Panasonic GF5 for my wife. Remember last time i ask about Olympus and you recommended EPL-7. I love it so much, all just about the price ><lll

Robin Wong said...

Panasonic GF7 now new selling for about RM1.7k or lower. Not bad lah haha. E-PL6 new now selling for RM1.2k i think, if still can find stock.

Unknown said...

Hear hear Robin! Well said...

ulfie said...

Another great article and images, Robin, proving that things are not "ordinary." They just are what they are. It's how our photographic "seeing" images them that makes them special.

santo said...

Nice set of pictures, Robin. I especially like the cat. So simple but very expressive. I think he likes your X100. Hopefully he is not after these birds (which I captured using an LX100):

Robin Wong said...


Robin Wong said...

Thanks Ulfie. The art of seeing is not easy to master!

Robin Wong said...

Well, honest;y Santo, that kitten was afraid of me. It was hiding behind that corner. But the cuteness demands a photograph.

Ananda Sim said...

One must find inner peace, inner satisfaction. That Nat Geographic pursuit can be empowering or it can be debilitating. Have you seen Ben Stiller's Walter Mitty? I loved it, visually, photographically and also in understanding what it is, we pursue

Robin Wong said...

Nope I have not seen. Maybe I should check it out.

Ananda Sim said...

You got to. It's got insider photographic points, aaah Nat Geo visuals with some humour. It's far from Zoolander and Fockers, more restrained than the Museum series.

ozturert said...

X100's lens is bad in close distances (horrible in macro mode for instance), better after 1-2 meters.

Robin Wong said...

If I added 1 meter, the lego would disappear

Munhyong Kim said...

It is hard to find interesting objects around me. That's the problem.

Unknown said...

One great challenge in photography, make ordinary things look interesting. It's your purpose. Just open your heart and
hone your eyes.

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