Enough Comparisons And Jumping Ships. Just Shoot Some Photos Already

The recent forum discussions on smartphone cameras can get even more dramatic than the most extensive "equivalence" argument on DPReview forums. It is true that in terms of smartphone wars, it is no longer just about specifications or what the smartphone itself can do (everything is about the same, having powerful processor with fluid, smooth operations, long enough battery life and beautiful, large responsive touch screen capabilities). The war centers on the camera prowess and feature sets, plunging smartphone photography right at the center of the most heated debates everywhere.

Pandan Soda. 

The popular topics being how the newer smartphone cameras can finally take photographs at night (as if the older ones suddenly stopped functioning) and that the newer iterations are replacing actual dedicated cameras. The brand wars can get quite aggressive with camps from Huawei championing their multiple camera module setup versus other alternatives out there, while Samsung claims that their physical aperture changing on the lens is a next huge thing. The cringe-worthy moments happen when I started reading comments or argument put forth by people who clearly are not photographers and have very little interest or understanding on how camera actually works. They were fed with marketing and advertising junks and when you start to believe that today's 40MP smartphone can be a as good as today's 40MP DSLR, something got terribly wrong somewhere.

I have used some of the "flagship" smartphone cameras over the years. Let's not name brands as I do not intend to get caught in the middle of the war. To me, as always, what matters the most is you going out there actually using your camera and actively make new images. Shoot and shoot and shoot, stop caring about what your phones can or cannot do, and just take more photographs. You may spend the rest of your waking hours obsessing about the lack of megapixels or wanting better low light performance but those things mean nothing if you never had a meaningful photograph to begin with. The more you shoot, the more you will realize that the features and functions of the camera were there to serve you, and you have to be the one to create the images. If that is true, should you not be spending time being out there shooting instead of worrying what others may reply to your latest defense on why your smartphone camera is better than others?

Instead of using a highly ranked smartphone for my mobile photography, I am now using the Motorola G5S Plus, a budget-friendly smartphone that never oversells itself. No over the top "super high Megapixels claim", no "see in the dark" slogans, etc. Just a plain, straightforward, simple phone. And you know what? I love it. I found myself shooting more and more with the Moto G5S Plus.

Got new spanking red casing for the phone, to match al-cheapo red in-ear headphones that I have. 

 The Sunset that almost could happen

Portrait of a friend. 

Leaves and Windows

Expensive Sandwiches

Lanterns and Fabric

Yes, the smartphone camera may not perform too well when the light drops. Focusing can be a problem in some difficult conditions, and the wide angle fixed focal length is not really that flexible to work with. The tiny image sensor has very little recoverable headroom when it comes to dynamic range. All the above were true, but if you care so much about photography and if you want to get the images, don't be lazy and pick up that camera. I am sure that camera will solve all your issues in your rants. 

To me, the smartphone works well for very quick snaps and moments when you know you can shoot away without having real consequences. For a photographer, the limitations on a smartphone can prove beneficial as a training ground to improve certain skill sets. For example, not being able to change lenses and being stuck at a wide angle focal length allowed me to improve my wide angle game. I have to pay more attention to what goes into the frame of my wide shot and use more creative means to isolate my subjects. I also have to be more mindful about perspective distortions that can render unnatural and ugly looking results. The basics of photography have become more important than ever: careful and smart compositions, creative play with lighting and finding visually appealing subjects. 

Photography was never about point and shoot. Anyone can do snapshots. You do not need the best smartphone camera to produce high grade image output. Have you looked into your own specifications/skill sets as a photographer before upgrading to that new smartphone with better camera?

My usual hangout location

An unholy combination of Green Tea and Lime

Mount Santubong in the background

PORK RIBS I LOVE PORK

Not sure if those plants are real

Floor, Patterns and Shadow

Overpriced Coffee

New Blog Layout and Revamped Youtube Channel

When I tried to recall when was the last time I changed my blog layout, I honestly could not remember. I must have been using the same theme on this blog for more than 5 years or more! I just thought I should give it a simple face-lift and a much needed refresh for a more modern and updated look. The previous layout did seem a little dated. The new layout is a work in progress and still requires some fine-tuning, so do expect a little hiccups along the way for the next few days until all the kinks have been ironed out. Do bear with me.

Photo by Jason Lioh

Also, I do have a Youtube Channel, and this may come as a surprise to many. A fun fact for all: I have owned a Youtube Channel since before Google bought and acquired Youtube on November 2006. Yeap, I have had Youtube for more than 10 years. I have also a few hundred videos which may or may not be related to photography. I have spent a huge amount of time removing non-photography relevant videos out of my channel and have a cleaner, more presentable curated content on my Youtube. 

I have also spent some effort customizing the landing page with highlights and created playlists that take you to the most relevant videos. Some of my readers have commented that they were unsure previously if that was my Youtube Channel, because it did not have my profile photo and the videos shown on the main page had nothing to do with photography. I am glad I finally sat down and made the much needed revamp. The cool thing about owning Youtube since its early days? My channel URL is www.youtube.com/ROBINWONG

So please do subscribe to my Youtube Channel, I will be making more videos soon. If you have not checked out my latest video "Before & After Each Shot", in that video I am inviting you along with me on my shutter therapy session, seeing through my camera the scenes that happened immediately before and after each of the images I have taken on the street. 


Do let me know what you think of the new blog layout? Do you prefer the cleaner, smoother look? Or do you have suggestions you would like me to think about? No promises on implementing any feedback (I am terrible at coding and HTML scripts) but if I do think it benefits everyone, I will gladly take your idea. 

Pork Rendang Meets Nasi Kerabu at ANTE

It is no secret that I am a pork lover and I eat all things pork. A few days ago, I was fortunate to be invited for an exclusive tasting session at ANTE, a highly acclaimed premium pork specialized restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. God knows where have I been all this time, missing out all the porky heavenly cuisines ANTE has to offer!

The highlight dish was Pork Rendang Nasi Kerabu. 

Pork Rendang Nasi Kerabu


ANTE's Pork Rendang Nasi Kerabu 
will be available as limited edition lunch feature from 11am to 3pm daily throughout 1st August to 31st August 2018 at RM23.90. 

The combination of Pork Rendang with Nasi Kerabu was quite surreal and undoubtedly a great match.

That was something I never saw coming. I have always been a fan of the traditional nasi kerabu, having vivid blue rice served with a plethora of accompanying condiments. Furthermore, rendang, both chicken and beef have been my comfort food and these dishes are unmistakably uniquely Malaysian. It is then fitting to have this dish as a special limited edition only available for the coming Merdeka month. Oh did I say I love pork? Never would I have imagined having a pork rendang, this was certainly my first experience.

ANTE's Nasi Kerabu features traditionally prepared blue pea flower rice, surrounded by house pickled acar, salted egg, wok slow cooked sambal, toasted kerisik, four angled beans, long beans and keropok ikan. To make the Pork Rendang, select imported pork shoulder cuts were slow cooked for about 5 hours in a traditional rendang style.

While I am not an expert when it comes to Nasi Kerabu, I can be very picky about my rendangs. I like strong flavoured and bold spicy taste. The Pork Rendang certainly had the dominantly unique rendang traditional signature, but without being overpowering and just at the balance to preserve some of that irresistible pork flavor.



Chermoula Spiced Pork Shoulder Steak


Besides the new dish, we also feasted on several items on ANTE's on-going menu. To me, the most memorable one was the Pork Steak (pictured above) and ANTE definitely lives up to the title of best Pork Steak Restaurant in town. There are not many places that can do proper Pork Steak, mostly some form of Pork Chops or deep fried meat. ANTE served a properly grilled steak, which was fabulous and the tenderness and juiciness of the meat was well preserved. When I was shooting the Pork Steak I cannot help but think of what Antoni from Queer Eye (Season 1 Finale) said: "grill marks make me so happy".

Those who know me will know that I am a meat-lover. I will eat all the meat and I live to eat!

 Iberico Baby Ribs 

House Smoked Bacon

Green Curry Seared Duck

White Chocolate Ganache. 
White chocolate ganache with raspberry jelly coating topped with macerated berries, crispy yogurt and served with 1 scoop of Lavender Honey gelato from Whimsical Publika.

I am so glad to have found ANTE, which has become my favourite place to binge on all food Porkilicious. If you are a pork lover and you have not checked out ANTE yet, you surely are missing out. I am sure to return to ANTE soon to get my Pork fix!

ANTE is available at 1 Utama Shopping Mall and Publika, Solaris Dutamas. 
You may follow ANTE at their official Facebook Page here. 

I Keep Coming Back To Olympus PEN E-P5, The Little Sexy Beast

I have a few Olympus cameras at the moment. The old and dying OM-D E-M5, which I have retired from active duty, the two E-M1 (original) bodies strictly for paid assignment and serious work, and an E-M10 Mark II which currently had a faulty screen (due to a nasty fall during a demonstration in one of my workshops). Oh and also an E-P5 which has stayed with me and strangely, of all my flirtations with different cameras over the year (there were Fuji X100, Sony RX100 series, Panasonic GM1, Panasonic LX100, etc) the one that I ended up keeping was the E-P5.

Image was shot with the humble Motorola G5S Plus smartphone. Not too shabby for a budget friendly smartphone camera, eh?

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. 

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. 


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. 


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


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. 





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.