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?
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!

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.

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!
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.

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. 

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.