Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Kuching Food Galore

I know I have been blogging about Kuching food quite frequently since I have been returning home more often these days. However, I find myself loving the food shots I have taken each and every time I was home. There was just something about Kuching food that you cannot find elsewhere. And they are super photogenic too.

All images were shot on Olympus PEN E-P5 and M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens

Sarawak Laksa
Chong Choon Cafe, Padungan. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

When I Am Not Shooting Portraits of Humans, I Shoot Portraits of Food

Featuring Six Feet Under, not listed in the regular menu and available upon request from myBurgerLab. Shot on Olympus 45mm F1.8 lens. Not only it does wonders on people shots, but it creates surprisingly handsome burger close up portraits as well. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

OBSCURA Photography Masterlass Alumni Interview: Alvin Lau

OBSCURA is the largest photography festival in South East Asia and they run photography Masterclass by experienced industry experts. I personally know the organizing team of Obscura and also some of my photographer friends have participated in their Masterclass before. This allows me to interview these photographers and I shall be featuring them in this and following few articles, sharing their experience being in Obscura Masterclass. To find out more about Obscura Festival of Photography, kindly go to their official site here. 

Monday, July 09, 2018

Shooting Portraits Of A Friend

I am not sure if I make any sense in saying that it is more difficult for me to shoot photographs of people that I personally know in real life, versus strangers. Shooting random strangers on the street has always been a touch and go affair. I found someone fascinating, either with interesting facial features (facial hair, nice smile, soulful eyes, etc) or unusual character (choice of clothing, doing something cool) and I would approach them and triggered the shutter button merrily, without much thought. We may exchange short conversations and the encounter ended just there. However, when it comes to shooting friends, family or anyone that I know, I think I have the fear of "what if they do not like how they look on my photographs?".

Nevertheless, that did not stop me from taking the risk, and still point the lens on my friends anyway, with only willing participants of course.

Recently my dear friend Georgette Tan visited KL after her work trip to Berlin, and I attended her poetry recital at June Readings @ Seksan event. She looked super stunning in a white floral printed dress and I just had to take portraits of her. I brought her out to the yard and positioned her against short trees and shrubs in the background. The natural ambient side light from an overcast day did wonders in creating a flattering look on Georgette!

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko lenses 12-40mm F2.8 PRO or 45mm F1.8

Thursday, July 05, 2018

OBSCURA Photography Masterlass Alumni Interview: Benjamin Khong

OBSCURA is the largest photography festival in South East Asia and they run photography Masterclass by experienced industry experts. I personally know the organizing team of Obscura and also some of my photographer friends have participated in their Masterclass before. This allows me to interview these photographers and I shall be featuring them in this and following few articles, sharing their experience being in Obscura Masterclass. To find out more about Obscura Festival of Photography, kindly go to their official site here. 

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

OBSCURA Photography Masterlass Alumni Interview: Tang Chun Cheuh

OBSCURA is the largest photography festival in South East Asia and they run photography Masterclass by experienced industry experts. I personally know the organizing team of Obscura and also some of my photographer friends have participated in their Masterclass before. This allows me to interview these photographers and I shall be featuring them in this and following few articles, sharing their experience being in Obscura Masterclass. To find out more about Obscura Festival of Photography, kindly go to their official site here. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Secret? No Secret, Just Shoot

One of my favourite things to do on the street is to shoot portraits of strangers. I have been asked too often the techniques I used to approach random people and get friendly looking shots. I have also repeatedly answered that I did not have any secrets or techniques, I just walked up to people and took their photographs. With consent? Definitely, else their facial expression would look very differently. Yet people have difficulties believing that I have no other ways to making my portrait of strangers shots. And believe it or not, even cats come to me and pose willingly for my shots. I have friends who have followed me around to testify.

Photo credit: Matti Sulanto

Here is what matters: show yourself, don't hide and pretend like you are invisible and sneak around like a thief or someone suspicious. As stealthy or invisible as you would like to think you are, people can see you with your camera. Present yourself as a human being, show respect and kindness, and prove that you are not a threat and you do not have ill intentions. Be open, be courteous, be polite and be generous with your smile, because how people respond to you is usually a reflection of how you show yourself to them in the first place. 

People are not stupid, they know that you have a camera and you want something from them. Be up front and tell them your intentions if you have to explain yourself. Don't give excuses and don't challenge people into an argument. If your subject is not willing, move on. What is the point of aggression and in the end you end up with all the negativity dragging at your feet all day? Drop it, forget it and move on. There are plenty of opportunities waiting, just keep an upright attitude and walk on. Rejection is part of life, deal with it. Resisting is making things worse. 

I like natural looking poses, like my subject is exactly right in his environment, doing whatever he is doing. I don't mind smiling human subjects in my images, after all it is a perfectly normal thing for humans to do: smile. I know many street photographers discourage this, but you are your own captain of your ship and you may set your own directions and course. You decide what you want in your image. 

No matter how many times I have been on the street, no matter how many portraits I have made, each time I nailed a portrait of a stranger shot, I get that satisfaction which I cannot describe in words. That is why I keep doing it. The magic never fades. 

Secret? No, not really. I just go out and shoot. I shoot a lot more than other photographers, perhaps, that itself is the secret. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

OBSCURA Festival of Photography 2018 in Penang, Malaysia

If you are a photographer then you will definitely want to check out the upcoming Obscura Festival of Photography in Penang, Malaysia on 25 to 31 August 2018. The festival is the place to be deeply immersed with anything and everything photography related, with highlights including print exhibitions, photo sharing sessions, photo books and mixed media presentations spanning 5 separate venues by 22 artists.

All images & captions by Tang Chun Cheuh. Used with permission. 

Masterclass with Maggie Steber

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

True Black and White Photo Mode on Motorola G5S Plus

It was rather disappointing that there was no dedicated black and white mode utilizing the one camera that has only black and white image sensor on the earlier camera app on the Motorola G5S Plus. One of the perks of having dual camera is the advantage of a true monochrome image sensor in one of the modules. In Motorola's latest firmware update, the "True B&W" mode was added, finally, after relentless requests from their fanbase. I have just discovered this mode last night (pardon me, for I only use smartphone camera for my daily casual snaps), and can't wait to bring the new monochrome mode out for a spin.

My previous experience with multiple Huawei dual camera iterations (P9, Mate 9 Pro, P10) has been positive when it comes to monochrome shooting using the dedicated black and white image sensor. I may not necessarily expect similar performance on the budget-friendly Motorola option, but I am very curious on how Motorola renders monochrome results.

Lets hope the shooting session goes well and then I shall have a full blog entry update on smartphone black and white photography!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Secret To Studio Like Product Shots Without An Actual Studio

Recently I conducted a new photography workshop for Olympus Malaysia, dealing with casual and lifestyle product and food shots. In that workshop I have shared several interesting tips and the one that got everyone chuckled in disbelief was this particular figurine shot in a simple plain white background with side lighting. When I revealed that the shot was nothing more than a simple, straight to the point image taken on a white chair by the window with no other tricks, I could hear some people gasped.

I think improvisation is important. Of course it would have been better if there was a proper studio setup with professionally done background and wireless flash or strobes for better control of light and a more polished finish. If you are a working professional photographer you do what you have to do to get the shot. However, I was not speaking to a crowd of pro photographers. I was speaking to hobbyists, amateurs and also social media users, who were looking to improve their shots. Simple messages like these go a long, long way: 1) Watch your background, keep it plain and simple, 2) Utilize effective and beautiful lighting, opt for abundant natural light, windows work wonders and of course some basic camera settings and fundamentals of how to get sharp and well composed images.

Observing the local photography crowd in general, sometimes I feel that people are trying too hard, and stressing out at all the wrong reasons. The best images come from the simplest of setup but with a lot of heart and soul poured into the shooting process. It is not the grade of your lens or the size of your camera that makes or break the shot, but your understanding and control over even the most fundamentals of photography: lighting and of course, simplicity always work.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri 2018

To all my fellow Muslim readers here and also on Ming Thein's site, I wish you Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin! 

May you eat all the awesome festive food and have joyous time with family, relatives and friends in this auspicious celebration. I can't wait to feast on the ketupats and rendangs! Here is a portrait of me in a loose baju melayu to hide my ever expanding tummy.

Image credit: Robert Evangelista
Photo taken with Olympus PEN-F and M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8

Sunday, June 10, 2018

But We Can Eat More Burgers

An excerpt from a recent conversation with a friend.

"Whatever happens, will happen. At the meantime, we do the best we can.
Some things are beyond our control.
we can surely eat MORE BURGERS!"

Chicken and Egg Confusion - Myburgerlab, Mytown
Image shot with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens. 

Friday, June 08, 2018

The Ocean's Story Photography Competition 2018

If you have been following my writing over the years you would probably have come across me voicing my disapproval on photography contests in general. I believe photography is a personal journey that should not be made into a competitive sport, stroking ego and glorifying stereotypical approach and styles. However, I also believe that if done correctly, photography contests can be a great platform to create awareness and draw a crowd for a good cause.

My photographer friend Sanjitpaal Singh is co-organizing a currently open "The Ocean's Story Photography Competition 2018", and he is also the chief judge for the contest.

Sanjit in action, in his natural habitat shooting wildlife somewhere deep, deep, deeeeeeep inside the rainforest. Photo by Sanjitpaal Singh, used with permission. 

Sanjit has been a photographer that I have admired for the longest time. He is an award winning nature and wildlife photographer, whom I have learned a great deal from over the years. He is always generous in sharing his knowledge and his passion in photography is one of the most infectious I have encountered in Malaysia. He has been championing nature conservation activities and also being persistently involved in Hornbill research in the wild. Therefore, it is no surprise when I found out that he is involved in similarly themed awareness and appreciation campaign for Malaysian sea and marine environment. 

The competition objective is to spread awareness and appreciation for Malaysian seas and marine life through photography. There are two categories: 1) Hope for the Ocean and 2) A Bruised Ocean. The photo contest is open for Malaysians (and expats in Malaysia) in the age bracket of 18 to 30. If you fit into the requirements, why not give it a try, standing a chance to win good prizes and have your photographs exhibited in one of the largest shopping malls in Malaysia (One Utama) as well as helping out a great cause? I'd say go for it. 

To find out more about The Ocean's Story Photography Competition, go to their official site here. 

To find out about the chief judge and awesome photographer Sanjitpaal Singh, go to his page here. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Olympus PEN E-PL9 Special Edition Blue

I have just found out that Olympus officially launched their special edition PEN E-PL9 Blue. My E-PL9 review was published on Ming Thein's site here in February this year and I was actually using the limited edition blue for the review! I do think that the blue color is rather unique, definitely not a mainstream choice of color scheme. Personally I prefer my own cameras and lenses to be either classic black or silver, and I am ok with any combination of both but I would not intentionally go overboard with color choices. Call me traditional and conservative but hey that just fits my own style and personality.

Nonetheless, for those who love bombastic colors and daring to be fashionably loud, I can totally see how the denim blue can fit into creative style easily. After all, if you are just shooting as a hobbyist, using a camera that looks good can inspire confidence and you want to pick it up more and use it frequently. I always thought Olympus PEN cameras look sleek and classy in their own way, and suitable for everyday casual users. Having used the special edition blue E-PL9 for a week or two, I did grow to quite like it.

Here are some of my favourite shots from my original review article. I remember fondly how impressed I was with the little camera's performance, delivering even in demanding shooting circumstances. I am sure many will complain about the lack of EVF attachment option, but if you do want a viewfinder, there are plenty of other options, E-M10 Mark III or even some Panasonic counterparts.

The Olympus PEN E-PL9 Special Edition Blue is available for pre-order from B&H here (click). 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Being At The Right Time and Place

I have always believed that luck plays a very important role in everything we do in life, including photography. Photography opportunities may happen at the least unexpected times, and one of them happened in my recent photowalk.

It was an official Olympus Malaysia outing to Batu Caves, and we have been doing this workshop for at least half a dozen times now. However, we have never encountered this particular moment when the light shined into the dark cave in glorious looking golden rays. The newly built temple inside the cave did an extensive incense burning in that particular morning and the smoke produced from the burning was well timed with the exact moment the light ray came in, creating a dramatic effect.

Coincidentally I had the Sigma 16mm f1.4 lens so I thought this could make a great sample image for the lens review, which was published recently on Ming Thein's site. 

There are many things we cannot predict or control in life. Sometimes when we go out for a photowalk it may not be productive, and we end up with not too many great shots. That is ok, because you have to win some and lose some, and you cannot win all the time. The best thing that we can do is to get out there as much as possible and hopefully when the wonderful photography opportunity presents itself, we are ready to capture it with our camera.

The biggest question is, when that rare, awe-worthy, one in a million chance of a photography moment does happen in front of you at the most unexpected place and time, are you fully ready to shoot it?

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Cafe Inside A Bus

Last weekend I was away to a photography trip at Sekinchan to shoot the Milky Way. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side, the weather forecast indicating 80% chance of thunderstorm throughout the night. While it did not rain at all, the sky was shrouded with heavy clouds, with not a single star visible in the sky. To me, it was not always about getting the shot. What truly matters was being out there, surrounding yourself with the right people, people with similar passion and love the things that you do and support each other in this crazy journey called photography. Indeed it was possibly the largest outing for Olympus users in Malaysia!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Olympus Reintroduces RC Mode (Wireless TTL-Flash) into OM-D E-M10 Mark III

Due to the buzz surrounding Malaysia's 14th General Election several days ago, I have missed out on an important piece of camera related news: Olympus has released a new batch of firmware updates for their cameras and lenses. One particular update that stood out from the rest was the addition of RC Mode (enabling wireless TTL Flash control) into Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III. I was one of the first to voice up my dissatisfaction toward the removal of such an important feature on an Olympus OM-D camera body when I reviewed the E-M10 Mark III on Ming Thein's site here. I am glad they have heard my feedback (as well as many other loyal Olympus fans) and enabled RC mode via the latest firmware update.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Featuring Amir Shariff

Inspiration comes in different forms. While most people look up to incredibly famous, well celebrated star photographers, I find myself drawing inspiration from often lesser known people, especially those who are around us that we can actually reach out to and have real conversations with. To me, it does not matter if you have won countless list of prestigious photography competition or awards, or someone who has a million followers on Instagram. When I look at photographers I look at their work, and today the highlight is turning to a friend of mine, Amir Shariff. 

Caught up with Amir on his recent trip back to KL, and that was him holding the Sigma 16mm F1.4 in his hand. 

I have known Amir for a while now, and he was my travel/shooting partner during my short trip to Cambodia a few months ago. I see Amir as an extremely talented street photographer with a unique eye for drama and interesting moments, seeing things a little bit differently than most people. When I knew him in KL several years ago, we were shooting together almost every weekend. He has since moved to London for further studies and that auspiciously granted him immense travel opportunities to many other parts of the world. Having traveled to so many different countries, seeing different culture and people, it was a huge advantage for a street photographer.

I have been the persistent voice nagging Amir to start his own blog and start sharing his photography to the world in a more systematic and blog-like format. To me, having a blog is a better platform to showcase your photography in a series, instead of just blasting images at Flickr, Instagram and Facebook. Amir finally did, and please do go visit his awesome new spanking blog and you will understand why I find myself inspired by him and his photography work.

Funny story, Amir was the one who pushed me to start my Instagram. I initially did not want to have an Instagram account because I could not find something specific that I wanted to do. At that time, Amir has started his street photography specific Instagram showcasing images only in black and white, and I thought wow, what a fantastic idea! Then it hit me, what if I did my own Instagram with a similar concept, but everything in bold, loud, eye-poking colors, that could work too! Hence I had my Instagram images selected purely based on strong colors.

Shout out to Amir for the loan of Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens which was reviewed at Ming Thein's site here. 

Amir will return to KL and you will see plenty of our shutter therapy adventures soon!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A New Beginning For Malaysia and A New Sigma Lens Review

Today is a historical day for us Malaysians, as the post-election results favored the opposition for the first time in history kicking the ruling government out since the country's independence in 1957. The previous ruling party has been in power for over 60 years and has controlled the country for far too long. It is time for a fresh new beginning, and I am foreseeing challenging, difficult and exciting times ahead. Regardless of what will happen, for better or worse, shutter therapy goes on.

On a more photography related note, today marks my first ever Sigma lens review being published in Ming Thein's site here (click).  I have had a blast shooting with that lens and it was nice using something other than Olympus or Panasonic on a Micro Four Thirds body for once. There were some interesting surprises shooting with the lens exceeding my initial expectations, and also some aspects of the lens performance did fall short. Nevertheless, it is a good addition to the ever expanding Micro Four Thirds lens family and I can see many poeple finding what Sigma has to offer very compelling.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Goodbye Espressolab, Nu Sentral, KL

There was one particular coffee place that I came back to again and again just for one specific reason: the perfect location for all my lifestyle casual product shots. That cafe was Espressolab located right at the main entrance of Nu Sentral (KL Sentral). While the coffee and food were not really anything to write home about, I found the location had just the right background, table texture and amazing lighting that I was looking for to get my opening product shots, especially for my review blog articles. Unfortunately, that place has closed down since early April this year, much to my dismay.

I acknowledge that it was probably not that difficult to replicate the similar look and outcome of the images taken there at other alternative locations or even at home, but it was so much more convenient to just be there and get my shots done. Needless to say, Espressolab Nu Sentral has a soft spot in my heart now, and I will miss having that place around. As I looked through my previous images taken there I thought why not do a compilation post just to highlight some of my shots taken there before, and I am sure you will agree that there was some magic at work in getting that special look in the casual product shots.

The full floor to ceiling transparent window panels worked wonders in creating dramatic 3D lighting effect on my subjects, adding perhaps sometimes too much contrast which can be easily toned down by a little post-processing. The clean background with enough elements to turn into "bokeh balls" made this shooting perspective quite unique. 

Friday, May 04, 2018

Photo Symposium Asia 2018

If you are in Kuala Lumpur on the following weekend and you are actively involved in the world of photography, there is an exciting event that you might just find yourself being fully immersed in. Photo Symposium Asia 2.0, a two and a half days conference-styled event that consists of selected speakers from multi photo discipline and background discussing the theme "Photography As a Medium For Social Change". This will happen at KL Journal Hotel from Friday 11 May to Sunday 13 May 2018, providing a platform for photographers to gather and have an open discussion.

According to Photo Symposium's official Facebook Page, they claimed to:
 "look at a wide range of social change projects, from the high profile stories like the Rohingya issue, refugees, trafficking, to more ‘closer to home’ stories like domestic abuse, ageing, transgender and LGBT issues, addiction, family matters, self-identities and also including environmental issues like illegal logging, water and air pollution, recycling and the green culture, over-development, conservation, politics, marginalization, indigenous population etc"

Unfortunately I am unable to participate in the Photo Symposium this year, since my weekends are tied to Olympus Malaysia related consumer events, such as photowalks and workshops. I do think this is a great opportunity to mingle with the local photography crowd, experience dialogues and discussions with the real professional photographers and expand your network in the industry.

Personally I think photography is a great medium for social change, but the real challenge is reaching out to the masses who are not really photographers. I may be doing some thought provoking photo projects that can create awareness and positive impact but the medium itself can only go so far if it fails to reach the general population (who are not the usual photography crowd). You may do photo exhibitions, publish books, create photo websites but non-photographers would not appreciate them or even pay attention. Hence, the issue is finding the suitable platform, or an effective and efficient way to showcase the photography to the world. 

To make a difference in the world, it is not just simply going out and take nice photos. It goes far beyond that. I would really like to see this being explored in depth during the symposium.

For more information about the Photo Symposium, you may visit their official website here and their Facebook Page here. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Fiio A3 Portable Headphones Amplifier

After my friends got me the surprise birthday gift, a Sony MDR-1A headphones, I knew that the next item on the hunt would be an amplifier to adequately drive the headphones. While running the headphones directly from my music player (or smartphone/laptop output) was an easier, fuss free option, the headphones definitely benefit from clean power boost that the amplifier can provide. After looking through a few options, I decided to purchase the Fiio A3, partially due to budget constraint (yes, I am probably one of the poorest audiophile out there) as well as the overwhelmingly positive reviews that the amp managed to get everywhere online.

As usual, with new toy comes new photography opportunities. All images were taken with Olympus PEN E-P5 and M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens. That Olympus 25mm lens has become my favourite lens for lifestyle product photography!

I originally intended to get the silver color version of Fiio A3, but it was out of stock. I settled with black, which probably did not match the overall color scheme of the Sony headphones and my Nokia smartphone too well. I was still using Nokia at the time. 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Something Sigma This Way Comes

Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for Micro Four Thirds, shooting in progress now, and full review will be updated on Ming Thein's site soon.

It is an exciting, unusual and unique lens indeed. All I can say now based on preliminary findings, the lens surprised me by exceeding my expectations in some ways, but also fail to impress in certain aspects. I am having so much fun shooting with this lens now. Shout out to Amir for the kind loan.

Do any of you own this lens? Any thoughts and feedback will be appreciated. For once, maybe I hear what you have to say, before I publish my own review?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Smartphone Camera Vs DSLR/Mirrorless Cameras

So this article at Petapixel happened few days ago, a photographer pitted the Huawei P20 Pro against a 50MP full frame DSLR, Canon 5DS R. I did skim through the article and did not intend to react considering how clickbaity the title of the piece sounded like, but then I received emails and messages via social media seeking my opinion and feedback on the current hot topic: is the current smartphone camera good enough to replace traditional dedicated camera?

My current smartphone the Moto G5S Plus. All images shown after this were taken with this smartphone. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Thonet & Vander Frei - Portable Bluetooth Speakers

I do travel rather frequently for work, as well as back to my hometown Kuching from Kuala Lumpur and I absolutely cannot survive anywhere without good audio. I have had some good headphones with me, but the experience of listening to music over the air in the openness is a joy that I must have. However, having spent quite a fair bit on headphones, I thought I should look at budget-friendly portable speakers that can still pack a punch and deliver powerful sound that I desperately need. After much Google-ing around, I found Thonet & Vander, a German brand that specializes in consumer audio equipment. The particular speakers I was looking at was Thonet & Vander Frei.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Hameer Zawawi Performing in Kuching This Saturday (14 April 2018)

Hey beautiful Kuching people!

My friend Hameer Zawawi, a local singer-songwriter is currently in the midst of his "Plug Out The Machines Tour" around Malaysia and guess what, the next stop will be in Kuching! He will be performing at the ground floor of Haus Kuching alongside some awesome local bands such as Nading Rhapsody. Event starts at 730pm till late. 

I have known Hameer for several years now, following his gigs around KL before he made it to the US and disappeared for a year. I fell in love with his non-mainstream yet still totally relate-able music, featuring his hauntingly powerful and soulful vocals. He has songs about TV shows, zombies and video games! Honestly, I have missed Hameer's live performance so much because he went on tour to the US for a year and was just back to KL very recently. It was indeed so refreshing to hear Hameer perform on stage again, and wow, now in a full band!

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Carmen's Farewell

You may have seen Carmen on my review entries before, especially when I was testing new lenses or cameras. Carmen has always been generous to volunteer as my test subject for the new equipment that I was reviewing, and put up with my noobness in portrait photography. She always did her best and eventually has helped many of my reviews significantly over the years. When we (her friends) heard of the news that she is leaving Malaysia soon, we decided to do a surprise farewell dinner for her.

Carmen in my recent Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III review. Image shot with the Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 lens. 

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Black And White, Maybe?

I have been playing with colors all the time recently in all my images that somehow it felt that I have neglected black and white photography. I do love shooting black and white, just that I seem to appreciate colors more these days. However, when I saw the opportunity to create a black and white portrait of a friend yesterday while encountering dramatic lighting by the window, how could I resist? Sometimes, all you have to do to find inspiration is to observe how the light falls in place.

Portrait of a friend. 
Robert Evangelista (he is also an avid Olympus enthusiast)

This portrait shot was taken with the Motorola G5S Plus. There was not much post-processing done, except to boost contrast and deepen the shadows. The available light was working great to create a dramatic effect on Robert, highlighting the side profile of his face. 

Now I know what my mission is for my next shutter therapy session. To see everything in black and white. I shall even set the EVF/Live View monitor to fully black and white view (switching the picture mode to black and white) and compose my images without the presence of colors. Some images, especially the one portrait of Robert shown above, just stood out particularly well in black and white. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Olympus Viewer 3 Basic Post-Processing Workshop

Tomorrow, I will be conducting my first ever post-processing workshop for Olympus RAW files using specifically the Olympus Viewer 3 software. I am both extremely excited and nervous at the same time, as I have not done this before, and I am showing my own RAW images in the live demonstration on how I achieve the "Robin Wong" look for the first time to an audience.

Selected RAW images for the Post-Processing workshop demonstration

I acknowledge the Olympus Viewer 3 is not the most user friendly software and it is so sluggish that it makes any grown man cry after using this software just for a little while. I would not recommend Olympus Viewer 3 for serious professional use, as it is resource hungry and it is just too slow for anything productive, especially dealing with a huge batch of images (wedding/event or sports shooters). I am not sure why Olympus could not make it any more efficient, it is surely just some programming optimization and even the fastest computer now will struggle with the use of Olympus Viewer 3, doing something so basic such as white balance tweaking.

So why the post-processing workshop with Olympus Viewer 3? The software ihas basically the same JPEG engine built into Olympus cameras, the Truepic engine, which renders the magical Olympus colors which I have worked with all these years, producing beautiful, life like colors and pleasing skin tones. Furthermore, having fully automated lens technical flaw controls (CA, distortion, etc), sharpness and details optimization as well as excellent built in noise reduction for high ISO images, I have not really found any other software that can get so much out of Olympus RAW files. The magic sauce that everyone is asking me all these years, how to achieve the kind of look in my images? The answer has always been openly obvious, I did most of my post-processing work with Olympus RAW files on Olympus Viewer 3.

If only we can somehow get Olympus to significantly improve the Viewer 3's operational speed and performance, at least good enough for commercial use.... One can only dream.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Adventures With Motorola G5S Plus In Kuching

Thank goodness for beautiful weather in my hometown Kuching when I was back there a few days ago, and I managed to get some quick shooting done, further testing the newly acquired Motorola G5S Plus. I met up with local Kuching photographers, Jee and Lance, whom I had my street photography exhibitions with last year and together we attacked Kuching. The sky was blue, the light was fantastic and I was just so happy to be home and breathing the fresh air of Borneo, away from overly polluted metropolitan Kuala Lumpur.

Lets start with a hearty bowl of Sarawak Kolo Mee, which we had for breakfast. I know I have said this before, but I cannot over emhpashize that any resemblance or clone variant of Kolok Mee found in West Malaysia should be avoided like a plague at all costs. The only real Sarawak Kolo Mee comes from Sarawak. Do not try it elsewhere. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Joining The Milky Way Craze

So it is the season again to hunt and showcase night sky photographs, and my social media feeds are filled with milky way shots from all over Malaysia. Unfortunately, my recent attempt to get a milky way image was a failure due to cloudy sky and also excessive light pollution. With nothing to show, being desperate, I dug out my old milky way photos from yesteryears and shared them, for the fear of missing out. All jokes aside, it was fun to find the older milky way shots I have done while I was reviewing the OM-D E-M5 Mark II and the 7-14mm F2.8 PRO lens several years ago!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Of Coffee, Robin & Smartphone Photography

I am flying off again to Kuching, my beloved hometown this coming weekend with extended stay till mid next week for work. I shall be conducting an evening photography outing for Olympus Malaysia in town, which I really hope the weather will be kind to us.

I am a simple person with simple thoughts. I rarely complicate myself with too many unnecessary things in my mind. I have somehow managed to fit all that I want to do this weekend into a single photograph, as shown above. The Lego Robin to represent me, having plenty of good coffee and going about shooting with the newly acquired Motorola G5S Plus. Sometimes, it is true what they say, one photograph is worth a thousand words.

Oh yes, I am not done with that smartphone camera yet. I only hope that the Kuching skies will be blue and dramatic enough for me to pull off some decent wide angle shots. Kuching can be quite a surreal and attractive when the light is right.

Smartphone camera is the most utilized medium of photography today. Although there is still a large margin of difference between a smartphone and a dedicated camera in terms of imaging capabilities, there is no denying convenience is the ultimate factor is pushing the dominant use of smartphone photography, and is responsible directly for the sharp decline in camera sales over the years.

After all, the best camera is the camera you have with you at all times.

What are your thoughts on smartphone photography? Is it the future? How many of you have left your cameras behind and decided that smartphones are good enough for most of your shooting needs?

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Motorola G5S Plus Smartphone Camera Review

I have purchased a new phone, the Motorola G5S Plus and I have spent a weekend snapping away casually with the built in camera. The Moto G5S Plus replaces my Nokia 6 which I acquired in August last year, being a superior phone in every aspect, despite having the similar price tag. The photography enthusiast in me was curious about the dual camera module in the Moto G5S Plus, so I have spent quite a bit of time with it, shooting anything around me whenever I can. This blog entry is focused on the camera performance of the Motorola G5S Plus only, and I shall be sharing tonnes of sample images taken with the G5S Plus' camera.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid review. I am not associated with Motorola or Lenovo. I purchased the Moto G5S Plus from a local dealer shop and have done this review independently. Similarly to all my camera reviews, my review approach is user-experience based and may be subjective. Kindly take note that all images have been post-processed to taste.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I Like Colorful Things

I see the world in full, vivid, explosive array of colors. I celebrate the beauty of vibrant and joyful mixture of different colors around us. My images have always been overly bright instead of dark and more often very colorful in nature. Therefore, when I found a wall painted in rainbow colors, I just could not help but to pose for a portrait shot of myself. Special thanks to Matti Sulanto who helped shoot this image, I love it so much!

All images and video by Matti Sulanto. Used with permission. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Sushi Teriyaki Chicken Burger at Third Wave, Nexus Bangsar South

Sometimes, I am adventurous enough to try unusual food just for the kicks of it. Sushi burger is not exactly something new, the fusion between Asian and Western food is quite common these days. However, not many places can get the fusion right and the mutated food usually ends up disastrous and nothing like the original counterparts. Nonetheless, the best part of living is being able to eat, and daring to try different food is part of the fun that keeps the game interesting.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Guest Post by Matti Sulanto: PSPJ 30th Anniversary Exhibition Launch

Note from Robin: I was unable to attend the official launch of PSPJ's 30th Anniversary Exhibition Launch yesterday (10th March 2018). I sought out help from my friend, Matti Sulanto, to cover the event and have the article published here. This is my first time featuring a guest blogger! Special thanks to Matti for doing this and I owe you a huge one. 

All images in this blog entry by Matti Sulanto. Used with permission

Photographic Society of Petaling Jaya is having their 30th anniversary photo exhibition, titled ”Malaysia: My Home, My Country”, right now at Malaysia Tourism Centre (MATIC) in Kuala Lumpur. I was invited to the opening ceremony of the show and I must say I was quite enthusiastic to see how a Malaysian photo society works and the kind of images they exhibit. I know some local photographers and their work, but was still keen to see the work of 60 photographers featured.

The former Deputy Education Minister Dato´ Hon Choon Kim spoke at the opening ceremony.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

And Then There Was A Lego Robin Brickheadz

My friend Allen Ang got me a belated birthday gift, the Lego Brickheadz of Robin from the Lego Batman Movie. Thinking through the history of gifts that I have received, this was probably the only one time that I received something that is directly related to my name. And we all know that Robin (in any versions of Batman) kicks ass!

The image above was taken with the M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens, and that bokeh was truly delicious!

Monday, March 05, 2018

Reminiscing the Original Olympus OM-D E-M5

From time to time I love to pick up an older camera and just give it a quick spin, to see how far we have come in terms of imaging innovation, as well as to remind myself that good photography is not about the the gear that we use. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is a special camera to me personally, it was the camera that propelled this blog to wide internet reception, and got me deeper and deeper into the Micro Four Thirds world. It was the camera that made everyone believe that mirrorless cameras are capable too.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Chinese New Year 2018 That Was

This year, my family and I celebrated the festive season with a low key. No bombastic decorations, no extensive food preparations, no buying new cloths, and basically nothing much was done. What I did was to spend as much time as I could with mum, and whatever time left, I allocated for some close friends. It was interesting because as I grew older, the less excitement I felt for Chinese New Year. Perhaps that was because I was never a fan of explosive firecrackers, dramatic lion dance and unbearably loud Chinese New Year songs. Red is not even my favourite color.

Kieron Long, an up and coming street photographer from Kuching. My partner in crime in one of my recent shutter therapy sessions in Kuching. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Minimalist Camera Straps by The Bandit Co.

My photography friend, Jee Foong has been making minimalist-styled, hand-crafted, genuine leather camera straps. I have always struggled to find the suitable straps for my camera that balances both function and design. Considering the mirrorless cameras that I own actually look quite stylish, I want the straps on them to look equally elegant as well as being comfortable in use. There are many camera strap options but the premium ones that are both comfortable to use and look great are usually not budget-friendly at all. This leads me to another crucial point that makes these hand-crafted straps stand out from the crowd: they are unbelievably affordable.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Unpopular Opinion: Why I Don't Shoot Film

A lot of you have stayed with me over the years, and some of you must have wondered if Robin Wong has ever tried shooting film? Why is there no blog articles about film? The short answer is, I do not shoot film. I shall explain myself in this article why I never bothered about film and why I never will.

I am not against film photography in the digital age. If you love shooting film and it gives you that much pleasure and satisfaction, by all means, continue doing what you love doing. This is not going to be an article about film vs digital photography, that is a treacherous terrain that I would be suicidal to cross. I will explain myself as simple and as straightforward as I can: I just do not see the point of shooting film now.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Happy Chinese New Year 2018

If you are celebrating, I wish you a prosperous and happy Chinese New Year! May this year bring you happiness, love, good health and abundant opportunities.

I am finally back in my hometown Kuching (Borneo), preparing for the coming celebration of the new year. Of course I have had my over-dosage of Sarawakian food goodness over the past few days before the stalls closed down for the celebrations. My cravings were adequately vanquished but I do wish I have more. I will have to wait until the 3rd or 4th day of Chinese New Year for some of the stalls to re-open.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lunch at CalleVerde Cafe, Petaling Street

So what happens when there is a newly opened cafe incidentally being smacked right in the middle of my usual hunting ground for street photography? We do some street shooting and we eat some good food there immediately after!

CalleVerde is a Fillipino and Western fusion themed cafe that serves a variety of commonly available Fillipino food and also some western dishes. This is not exactly a food review blog entry, and I have no intention of doing food reviews here either. However, I am a photographer and my hand gets itchy whenever I see something interesting to shoot. It is no secret that I am a food lover (judging by the size of my physical appearance) and putting the two things that I am passionate about together, I do enjoy shooting food tremendously. Though I must admit that my food photography still need plenty of work, but it is work in progress nonetheless. What better reward for food photography than to be able to taste the subject that you have just photographed on the spot?

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Revisiting Kuala Lumpur - A Photography Exhibition Comparing KL from 1976 vs 2017

One of the advantages of being a photographer living in Kuala Lumpur is the bountiful of events and activities that are available to get myself immersed with and be inspired. Photography exhibitions happen frequent enough that we never really run out of opportunities to absorb new idea, get motivated and push our photography boundaries further. The most recent photography exhibition I have attended was the "REVISITING KUALA LUMPUR" by three local Malaysian photographers, Eric Peris, Lee Hong Leng and KF Choy. This exhibition specifically compares urban landscapes from the early scenes in 1976 versus what they have changed into in 2017.

KF Choy, Eric Peris, Academician Professor Emerita Datuk Dr. Mazlan Othman, Chairman of Sutra Foundation Datuk Ramli Ibrahim and Lee Hong Leng

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Is The Grass Greener On The Fuji Side?

I know the camera brand that neither me nor Ming Thein touched is Fujifilm. Although Fuji has been making splashes with their X-T series and X-Pro series of mirrorless cameras, somehow none of them made it into my grasp, or available for me to review. Buying cameras just to review is out of the question, as that is not the way to sustain a long term solution for a blogger. However, I do have friends who own Fuji and have spoken highly on Fuji imaging products. I even have a friend who is willing to loan me his Fuji X-Pro 2 for review purposes. The question is, after about 2 years since the X-Pro 2's release in early 2016, will there be still enough interest from my readers to see me review it?

I have heard of the wondrous colors of Fuji JPEG files, but I must acknowledge that color preference is highly subjective, and may not be the same for everyone. From the general online photography discussion, I can summarize that the X-Trans sensor for Fuji has gained much attention, having respectable high ISO performance, better resolution resolving power, yet at the same time suffering from being able to be fully optimized when the RAW files are being processed with commercially available post-processing software. I have to be honest to say that I am not a fan of rangefinder style design for a body, and I am leaning toward a traditional DSLR look, mainly for better handling and also many other practical shooting considerations (viewfinder being on the same axis as the lens).

I do have my own curiosity, are Fuji lenses really as good as what everyone says? Has the AF improved since the days of X-Pro 1/X-T1 (which were lagging behind most cameras in terms of speed and reliability)? What is the fuss with all those film simulations? Do they make an impact on the image colors, or do I get better color processing the images myself?

My only brief flirtation with Fuji was with the first and original classic X100. It was a good camera, but it failed to deliver when I want something practical to work with. The lens was soft, the AF was terribly slow and the image quality was nothing to shout about, even during its time. I do admit the design was super sexy, the camera feels good on hand and I have had some beautiful images taken with X100 that made it into my Kuching exhibitions last year. Of course the X100 was many years apart and I am sure Fuji has come a long way since.

So Fuji people, if you have somehow stumbled upon this, do share your thoughts and your experience using the X-series. And is there anyone interested in reading my review of the X-Pro 2?