Monday, January 26, 2015

Simplify

There are times that I may have over-think before I shoot. In contradiction to that I have also always emphasized simplicity, which I do practise when it comes to composition and subject content, but not so much on the photoshoot execution part. When it comes to the technicalities of the camera, I usually set the ISO manually, watched the shutter speed all the time (when I shoot in Aperture Priority), fiddle with the exposure compensation all the time, taking multiple shots of one scene, you know, just to be sure that one shot out of many is the perfect one, and always left wondering what I have missed out or might have done wrongly. There is that hesitation of "what if I stand over there" and "if I have moved closer" or "hey this works with wide angle too". Too many possibilities to go through, to many variables to play with and certainly not enough time to consider everything. Being hard-wired into engineering background I struggle to control everything. 

We know photography is never all about control.

Acquiring the Panasonic Lumix GM1 changes things for me. It is my way of simplifying my shutter therapy sessions. The following are my steps of simplification:

1) I ditched manual ISO control. I have ISO Auto with maximum ISO of 6400

2) I have shot everything in JPEG instead of RAW. What if I screw up my shot? Well, let the shot be screwed up. It is not a matter of life and death. If the shooting session was that important, I would have used my Olympus OM-D and PEN cameras instead. 

3) Limited battery life to play with. I have always brought along spare batteries for my OM-D, in case one runs out, and sometimes after a long exhaustive day, it usually does. GM1 is known to have poor battery life. It does not matter, I won't go trigger happy. Make every shot count. 

4) Chimp less. I have often admitted to chimping, and I do encourage that, reviewing your images after every shot to check the focus accuracy and make sure nothing went wrong. With the GM1, due to the limited battery life, I skipped chimping more and more. 

5) I normally would change lenses if necessary, and if I do not, I would use two camera bodies with different lenses mounted on them. I stayed with primarily one lens, the Olympus 25mm F1.8 on the GM1 thoughout the whole session, and (yes I caved in) only switched to Olympus 45mm F1.8 twice. 

6) I care less about the technicalities of my images, I have less worry about controlling everything, and just enjoyed the shooting process. Modern cameras are good enough to handle many photography situations.

7) No, I still do not trust the Face Detection AF. I switched that off. I manually select the focusing point, which was no biggie since I can use the touch screen to do so on the GM1.

Iron Men

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

No Strangers for One Weekend

I have always been shooting strangers on the street for my weekend activities. You know what, I decided to do things differently this time. I was with friends, spending time, having fun and catching up. Instead of shooting people that I do not know, I chose to shoot the people that I do know!

Last weekend has been quite interesting. There was a local photography exhibition organized by Exposure Plus group, and the exhibition opening happened at Feeka in Bukit Bintang. Such local event would surely pull together the photographers from many walks of life, and guess what, even our very own Ming Thein attended! Unfortunately I was too engrossed in conversation with him I did not manage to take a photograph of him before he disappeared. The exhibition featured the works of local photographers who underwent a 3 month mentoring program with respectable photographers from various industries. There was quite a wide variety of photographs being displayed. 

It was indeed a night of meeting photographers, catching up with friends, and making new connections as well. Here is a collection of random portraits of people who have been featured on my blog before (if you have been with me this long you would recognize some of them surely). 

Nick Wade, he spent months in Tokyo, Japan just to shoot on the streets! I want your life Nick. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Timothy and Stephanie

It has been a busy start to the 2015 year for me, with wedding shoots happening consecutively for a few weekends in a row now. No I do not intend to mutate into a wedding photographer, and after the third job in a row I knew exactly why. It was physically and mentally draining! I wake up the next day after a full day shoot feeling like a walking dead. 

However, I cannot hide the fact that I do enjoy shooting weddings. The joy on the faces of the newly weds, the overall sense of happiness and even the stories of love can be really inspiring. 

This time, for Timothy and Stephanie, I was shooting a church wedding, and it was held at St Mary's Cathedral, at Dataran Merdeka, KL. This was my second time covering a wedding in this church, and I have come back much more prepared than my first encounter. 

Again, for many times now, my macro shots during wedding assingnment were taken care of by that marvellous 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 kit lens 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Close Encounter with Panasonic GM1, the Tiniest Micro Four Thirds Camera

I have a confession to make. I, like every other human photographers out there, am the same, and susceptible to a disease called Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS). Here comes the surprise: I have bought myself a new camera: the Panasonic Lumix GM1. 

OMGwhathappenedrobinisanolympusfanheshouldnotbeusinganyothercamerastheworldwillendWTF

Yes, I got a non Olympus camera. Mind you, this is not the first non-Olympus camera that I bought, I have used Sony Alpha DSLT system quite extensively for almost a year, blogging frequently with the Sony setup. In my journey of learning photography I have come across and made friends with so many beautiful people, photographers who have used all kinds of cameras and system, and I have also been given many opportunities to try many other brands (yes, including Canon and Nikon too, both are great camera makers). I may look like I am completely biased to Olympus but if you do know me in person, and if you have sat down and spent some time talking to me you will realize that when I speak about photography I generally do not talk much on camera brands. Photography is a lot more than just what camera and what lens you use!

Panasonic Lumix GM1. 


Friday, January 09, 2015

A Decade Old, More Shutter Therapy Sessions to Come

I was so busy lately that I have not even had the time to do a proper recap of the year 2014. I have been busy with shooting weddings for the last weekends, and I could barely find time to catch my own breath! 

Ending of 2014 marked that this blog has been in existence for 10 years! Yes, robinwong.blogspot.com is a DECADE old! I can barely believe it myself, and little did I know I would come this far and stay this long when I started this humble blog all these years ago. Also, I have accumulated more than 10 Million page views (90% coming in the last 2 years). Goodness, where did everyone come from? 

I am glad that I have had the opportunity to speak to so many people and contribute in whatever small ways I can in the online photography community. I realize my blog updates frequency has slowed down dramatically for the past few months, but I also ensure that I have longer blog posts, with more photographs (not just simple snapshots, but photographs made with a lot of thought and effort behind them). I shall continue to do so!

Photo Credit: Matti Sulanto


Here is a list of highlights over my 10 blogging years:

2004
My first blog entry was about a surprise birthday party I helped made happen for a friend, which involved everyone being thrown into the river in Perth, Australia.

2004-2007
Documentation of my university life, my struggles, my journey, the beautiful memories, the delicious food and awesome people that I have met. My blog was the usual random, online diary format, a place where I can rant and pen down anything I wanted, freely. 

I have taken down my blog posts from my early years for privacy reasons. My blog here now only started showing from the year 2008 onward

2008
I left Perth behind. That was a painful phase of my life, and I started a new life in Kuala Lumpur. I have also picked up my first DSLR (Olympus DSLR E-410), and getting more serious in photography. After a few months the E-410 was snatched from me at a public train, and I replaced that with a newly launched Olympus E-520. 

2009
My father passed away in this year. Again a very difficult and dark time for me. Many people do not know, but the phrase Shutter Therapy was born during this time. I was feeling depressed and I thought to myself, photography could be doing me good, and it did, hence it became a form of therapy for me. I started using the phrase Shutter Therapy ever since and become something that become widely accepted, within the photography community. 

2010
Olympus Malaysia approached me with the Olympus E-5, which I was loaned with to do a blog review. And I did, but with little expectations on what would follow. This blog suddenly become known and page views surged to tens of thousands per day, from just mere hundreds. This was possibly the turning point of my blog, a defining moment that paved my path and led me to where I am today. By this time, robinwong.blogspot.com has somehow transformed into a full photography centric blog. 

2011
Another important year for me, as my blog grew larger in audience. Initially my blog only had spike of visitors during blog review seasons, but I have noticed that the retention of readers got better after each review I did. This blog also started to get recognition from more prominent photography bloggers, such as Mike Johnston (the Online Photographer), Steve Huff and Kirk Tuck. It was an honor being mentioned on their blogs!

2012
The peak of my blog has got to be during the OM-D E-M5 review. Come on, everyone has got to agree that E-M5 could possibly be the most successful, and most highly regarded mirrorless camera up to date. It was the mirrorless interchangeable camera that changed the perception of what a mirrorless interchangeable camera was, and totally raised the bar of camera performance, surpassing and matching even DSLR counterparts. 

2013
Two huge events happened in 2013. First, my mum was hospitalized, I spent two months with her in the hospital including her recovery at home, and got huge support from my blog readers. Suddenly I was reminded that the people here are very real, and I can never thank everyone enough for helping me through this extremely difficult time. Secondly, I quitted my old job (Geotechnical Engineer) which I have been doing for the past five years in Kuala Lumpur, and joined Olympus Malaysia Marketing team. 

2014
What an exciting year, a change of career, and I have just turned 30 years old. I have met so many people from all over the world, dived deeper into photography, and loved what I do even more here. 


I know it is a little late, but hey, Happy New Year to all of you beautiful people out there! I appreciate your support, visits, comments and contributions in any way that you have made to me. Many of you have helped me through difficult times and I am grateful for that. Here is to more shutter therapy sessions to come for everyone. 


Sunday, January 04, 2015

Tobias & Steph

I know it is weird that suddenly there is not much street photography happening here, and updates have become far in between posts. I have been doing a few wedding shoots lately, mostly for friends, families and colleagues. However, yesterday marked the first time I was engaged by a blog reader, Tobias who came all the way from Germany! He had his wedding ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, with his beautiful Malaysian wife. Tobias is an OM-D system user, who has switched over fully from a Canon full frame system, and has never looked back ever since. I was privileged to cover his beautiful wedding, together with my partner Jason Lioh. 

Unlike traditional weddings where the brides wear white gowns, Steph has opted to have a Chinese red dress, looking elegant and classy at the same time. Tobias wore Chinese red samfu, similar to something you find a Kung Fu master wearing in one of those martial arts movies. They looked great together, and the grooms party were also dressed in white samfus. Not a common sight even in a strong Chinese community here in Malaysia, with grooms mostly in full suit and tie while the brides in white gowns. 

The lenses I used were M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8, 25mm F1.8 and the kit lens 12-50mm F3.5-6.3. I used the 45mm mostly for capturing candid moments and expressions. The 12-50mm has the close up (macro) mode which was very useful when I needed to shoot tiny details such as the engravings on the rings. You may not believe it but the 12-50mm kit lens is good enough to do the macro job, and I did not even need a macro lens (carrying less lens is better). I have also used the FL-50R flash for most of the shots shown in this entry, and it is important to blend the flash with the available ambient light. 

Here I am showing preliminary edits of the shots taken from yesterday's wedding. Kindly take note the edits are not final. Also, I have a partner, Jason Lioh who covered bride's side of events in the morning , thus the missing part of Bride's preparation and portraits which I am not showing here.