Lunch After Fashion Photoshoot at Chocha Foodstore

Immediately after the outdoor fashion porttait photoshoot which I blogged about before this, my mates and I decided we needed some overpriced hipsterish food for lunch as our stomachs were grumbling loudly. Coincidentally one of our favourite spots was located within 15 minutes walk from our shooting location (near Central Market) and we made our way there before any of us passed out of hunger. It was Chocha Foodstore, restaurant that serves fusion food and they do have some really interesting items in their menu. I had a plate of olio aglio with roasted duck while my friends had the rice dishes. We did order salad on the side, and the must have, Cencaluk Fried Chicken, their signature dish and a must must must try!

Before we ate our food, we serve them to our cameras and lenses. Images shot with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens

Duck Confit Rice

My Olio Aglio with Roasted Duck

Cencaluk Fried Chicken

The things that make a happy Robin

After lunch we head over to another cafe for coffee (unfortunately Chocha Foodstore does not serve coffee and we spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out, enjoying each other's company and some high fidelity audio. I could not think of a better way to spend my Sunday afternoon!

Shooting Portraits with Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO Lens

Currently I had a loaner Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO lens and I thought it would be awesome if I can shoot some portraits. Then there was this fashion model street shooting event organized by local fashion label RG by Ruzz Gahara, featuring their latest collection. It was a huge event, open to anyone interested and on the actual shoot itself almost a hundred strong photographers of all background, sizes and shapes appeared. There were a dozen models wearing the latest fashion wear from the local designer and the participants were free to shoot, direct and interact with the models. In return, of course postings on social media and appropriate hashtags were requested from the photographers. I think this was a brilliant PR idea to get as much exposure as possible from young and learning photographers. The models, fashion wear, make up and event coordination were fully sponsored. I went in with two objectives in mind: 1) to observe and learn how the hell the organizers can coordinate such a large number of participants in an outdoor event and 2) to put that 45mm F1.2 to good use and see some bokelicious shots.

I did not have the chance to shoot every single model because there were too many of them. Also the event went on past noon, and my friends and I decided to cut our shooting session short and head to a nearby restaurant to fill our grumbling stomachs. It was an enjoyable session for me, and I was again amazed by how the Olympus F1.2 PRO lenses render such beautiful images. The "feathered bokeh" may not be something I truly understand but I can differentiate the 3D look the F1.2 lens creates that the counterpart F1.8 lens version does not deliver as effectively. Some of these shots were taken with the F1.8 version (I did swap with my friends present with me, allowing them to experience the F1.2 PRO lens as well. Sharing is caring) and you can clearly see for yourself how different the rendering is. I am a huge fan of the original Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8, and will probably not sell it off ever, due to it's light weight and amazingly small size. I am still happy with what that tiny lens can do, but I do admit that F1.2 new PRO lens is something different altogether.

All images were shot on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.

45mm F1.2 PRO lens

45mm F1.2 PRO lens

45mm F1.2 PRO lens

45mm F1.8 lens

45mm F1.8 lens

45mm F1.8 lens

45mm F1.2 PRO lens

45mm F1.8 lens

45mm F1.2 PRO lens

45mm F1.2 PRO lens

45mm F1.2 PRO lens

My partners in crime for the shoot - Van, Robert and Sim

I still have a long way to go when it comes to shooting portraits and I do not pretend to be good in doing this. It is a work in progress, and I have to push myself to take up more arranged shoots to work better in communication/interactions with the models, directing them for poses as well as paying attention to subtle details like background composition as well as lighting. To be entirely honest, the only shot that I was happy with was the opening shot only.

Nevertheless, photography is a journey, and I am in no rush.

Any of you beautiful readers out there own an Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO lens? Do let me know your thoughts on the lens!

Images of Night KL Skyline from My Old Olympus OM-D E-M5 (Original)

Important note: If you are doing any Black Friday shopping at B&H online, kindly do use my affiliate link (here) for your purchases to keep me going and so I can afford coffee money to keep me awake to write more photography articles here as well as on Ming Thein's site! Any help is appreciated. Just use the link and feel free to navigate around and I will earn small commission from your purchase. Thanks!

A previous photography client was requesting for a old shot I did in 2012 and as I was in deep excavation into my hard disk storage, I pulled out additional images which I have taken during similar time period. I found some interesting old shots of KL night scene, all shot with the M.Zuiko 12-50mm kit lens on the first OM-D E-M5 camera. I was in situations that I wished I had the 7-14mm or anything wider than the 12mm on the kit lens to capture a wider scene. Unfortunately some of the spots that I took the images from were no longer accessible to me, and I am posting the images here in this blog entry to remind myself not to take things for granted. What is here readily available to us today may not be here anymore tomorrow. It is then crucial to make the best out of what we can at the present moment and worry about things when they are gone.





Looking at these old images, I cannot help but to be at awe at how much the image quality has improved over the new iterations of Olympus OM-D cameras. Even on the E-M1 (first 2013 version) the dynamic range, especially on the highlight region was better preserved (perhaps half a stop better) than the E-M5 original, as I did not remember having such extensive highlight clipping issues shooting similar scenes later using the E-M1. Of course for E-M1 Mark II the headroom is even raised further and as long as shooting under reasonable ISO numbers, the dynamic range is more than sufficient for all the photography that I am doing. I cannot say the same for you, since we are different photographers but I have not encountered a situation when I needed that much more dynamic range. I am speaking as an event, portrait, wedding and lifestyle photographer. If you do a lot of landscape or shoot in extremely challenging situation with difficult contrast, then I can understand the limitation and frustration you are dealing with.

I cannot wait for the rumored new camera to arrive. I sure hope Olympus paid more attention to the high ISO (I do at times, need one more stop usable ISO, that would be a huge advantage) as well as any improvement to the dynamic range is plus. I do not necessarily need more Megapixels (20 or even 16 is enough for all that I do). Unfortunately I do not work for Olympus anymore, I no longer have insider information so like everyone else here, I shall be tuning in to rumor sites and wait patiently.

What is your wishlist of features or improvements in the coming new Olympus OM-D camera?

Playing With Colorful Food at The Good Co.

As a photographer, it is no secret that I like colorful things. The more vibrant. bold and having mixture of multiple strong colors excite me. It is evident through the kind of photography that I am doing and I cherish beautiful, striking colors in my shots, both I am doing personally or commercially shot for my clients.



There is this vegetarian health-conscious hipster cafe in Bangsar which my friend Robert Evangelista have been frequenting lately and they serve the most colorful food I have ever seen in my life! The place is called The Good Co. and everything there is vegetarian (with options to go full vegan upon request). They put immense amount of effort to making sure their serving looks fabulous. One fine afternoon, I thought why not have a meal there, take some shots of the food so I can share here with you guys, and do some work there? After all, a change of scenery is good to inspire creativity, especially I do need to do a bulk of writing on photography heavy articles.

Sumo Bowl 
Soba noodle, grilled eryngii mushroom, wakame, okra, pumpkin, cherry tomato, tossed with roasted sesame sauce

Nasi Lemak Beckham
butterfly pea brown rice, healthy sambal, free-range egg, kyuri, tempeh, roasted peanut, cherry tomato, rendang monkey head mushroom

I cannot say that the vegetarian nasi lemak tastes better than the real nasi lemak (which has different version of sauce) but it does have it's own uniqueness and flavour. I absolutely love the Sumo Bowl and it is my staple order every single time I visit The Good Co. I think after eating so much meat (I am a meat lover, always have been) all the time it is good to have a few vegetarian food sessions. Just a few!

But you gotta admit these food look sooooo good! Surely worthy to be photographed. Not to mention lighting in the cafe was fantastic too. I used Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO lens for the food shots. 

I also took advantage of the cozy environment to get some work done. Brought my "surface-style" laptop with me, the Lenovo Miix 510 so I could get some articles written. It also helps that the location was not crowded on afternoons, after lunch rush hour. 

And yes the little Robin comes with me to work too. 

Do you get excited seeing colorful food? Or is it just me that is the weird one standing out from the crowd?

The Good Co. Cafe
184, Jalan Maarof, Taman Bandaraya, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Official Website: https://thegoodco.my
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/fXhX1RqzE8r

Ventilation

My friends and I were exploring an old neighborhood in the city area where residential flats were still standing amidst the vast development and modernization in the surrounding area. Walking around residential locations, I was being conscious about not intruding into the privacy of the residents there. After all, street photography is valid only in public, communal spaces which excludes private properties and residential buildings. Admiring the old architecture and building structural designs (I was a civil engineer after all) I decided to whip out the smartphone to utilize the wide angle lens, which I did not have with me on my OM-D camera at that particular session. The ventilation wall at the stairs drew my attention and I paid closer attention to it. All images were shot with Motorola G5S Plus using Google Camera App (ported over).

 Count the birds

 Count the humans

 Ventilation wall

 Stairs vs Vents



My friend actually teased me because I wasn't shooting any human subjects (out of respect and acknowledgement of privacy at residential spots) and that it must be a boring outing for me. I have learned long ago that if we truly keep our minds open, we will see subjects that compels us to shoot. I have trained myself to find beauty in ordinary things, not necessarily things that are out of the usual of spectacular. There is beauty and photography opportunities all around us, we just have to grab the camera and walk out to capture them. If someone says "there is nothing to shoot" then something is very wrong with his mindset when it comes to shooting. Being a passionate, hungry and growing photographer, you should never run out of inspiration and drive to shoot. Your fingers will be unbearably itchy anytime you are away from you camera.

To me, doing a photowalk is not necessarily about shooting the subjects that I want to shoot. Sometimes it gives me an opportunity to explore beyond my own comfort zone, move out from what I like to do and experiment with different approach and shooting styles. There are times I do need to see things differently and find an unusual approach to get the shots. After all, the more we shoot the more we learn about ourselves, our vision and voice in photography. It is an on-going process and the journey never stops.

So my question to you, have you spent enough time shooting lately? If not, what are you waiting for, grab that camera and go out and make some nice photos! That camera is not going to click by itself.

Seeing Bold Colors

Every time I am walking around, whether I have my Olympus camera with me or not, the ever trusty smartphone camera is on standby to capture something that catches my attention. Usually that something will be visually striking, and I am particularly drawn to interesting and bold colors. Most of the images I am showing in this blog entry were taken when I was strolling around Brickfields in KL, and the buildings there have walls in vivacious combination of colors, I just cannot help it but capture frames after frames. Some images (the obvious one with the fallen road sign, Jalan Sultan) were shot in Petaling Street, the epicenter of street photography activities in Kuala Lumpur. I must admit the Motorola's humble smartphone camera does pretty well in such well lit environment and the colors do pop (with a hint of over-saturation) and come to live.

Looking at these images, they were far from what I would usually be satisfied with coming home from a typical shutter therapy session. Nonetheless, I also have to brave myself to explore other styles and approach when I shoot on the street. I am a fan of color photography and Malaysia is such a colorful place (literally). It does not take much to open my eyes to the wonderful variety of colors splashing all over the city streets. Maybe these are not qualified to be called street shots, but who cares. All I wanted to do was record the beauty that I saw.









There are times that we just have to set aside our gear obsession and not worry too much about technical perfection. Start seeing the beauty around us and shoot with whatever tool is at hand. I think visual artistic appreciation does not have to go too strictly with ever-increasing megapixel race and larger format war. Just be happy, use what you have and enjoy the beauty around you!

I Got My First Moleskine from Isetan's Moleskine Concept Corner, The First In Malaysia

Earlier this morning I attended the media launch of Malaysia's first ever Moleskin Concept Corner at Isetan (in The Gardens Mall).  Veedoo Malaysia is officially bringing in  the premium luxury notebook (the actual thing that you can write with real pen, not something with a screen and keyboard) brand, Moleskine to Malaysia and has plans for expansion in the local market here. Veedoo is also an official distributor for major photography brands such as Lowepro and Manfrotto, both having products prominently displayed in their concept corner at Isetan in The Gardens Mall.

I have not owned an actual Moleskine before, but have always had that lust for the Italian premium notebook featuring their signature elastic band seal, ribbon bookmark, expandable pocket inside the rear cover and also rounded corners. Everyone who attended the event walked away with a small classic hard cover Moleskine notebook. Mine was "willow green" in color. Yay, finally I have one now!

All images in this entry were shot on Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko lenses 25mm F1.2 PRO or 12mm F2

You know your day started right when the Barista chose a matching color coffee cup and saucer to go along perfectly with the color of the Moleskine. I swear I did not talk to the Barista in advance. Sometimes the Universe has a way to tell you that some things are meant to happen and they happen beautifully. Or maybe I have collected sufficient karma points from the photography gods. 

The size of the Moleskine notebook was just perfect. Any larger than this I would dread bringing it out with me. I will slot it somewhere in my camera bag, which I minimize the gear I carry inside. 

There is a story about that Parker Pen that has my name on it. I shall probably share that next on my coming blog entry!

I was pleased to find that finally Moleskine is getting proper brand concept treatment in a premium shopping gallery. I have known reporter/journalist friends who use Moleskine and swear by its quality. Previously Moleskine is only available in obscure hideouts in several bookstores around town, but never being displayed out openly and proudly. I was told that Moleskine has evolved from just producing notebooks, journals and paper based products to more everyday used accessories such as wide array of bags and carry around cases. Primarily all the signature Moleskine products are available at the concept corner, including the notebooks,  planners as well as bags and accessories.

The Moleskine concept corner in Isetan is currently debuting their 2018 Fall Winter collection of products. The main highlight was the "Metro Bag Collection" that has simple and minimalistic overall appearance yet being overall stylistic. Moleskine claimed that these bags, ranging from backpack, duffel bags, messenger and tote bags were made to be practical both for work and play. They even have a dedicated wall to fully display numerous bag products from Moleskin available here. To find out more about the Metro Bag Collection, click here. 

The Moleskine corner in Isetan, The Gardens Mall has extensive collection of latest products, including their signature notebooks and planners, as well as new bags and accessories which have just been launched for this season. 

I was pleased to see that Moleskine is not purely making notebooks and journals anymore, as they are constantly diversifying their product options. 

I really like the wall of bags that has a wide selection of different designs, all to suit the extensive preferences of the market. I was also surprised to see how adventurous Molekine is getting with their color choices, not being too conservative with neutral and flat colors only. 

The hallmark of Moleskine - notebooks, pens and carry cases. 

The recently launched limited edition "007" line of products from Moleskine is also available at the concept corner. 

During the launch, a calligraphy artist was present to scribble the names of participants into their Moleskines. I chose not to have mine written as I wanted a blank, clean cover. I am simple and straightforward like that!

If you are shopping (or window shopping, like what I usually do) at The Gardens Mall, do drop by Isetan's 3rd floor Men's Department. Currently, the Moleskine Concept Corner is situated right next to the entrance to Isetan on the 3rd Floor. Also, that same corner hosts plethora of gadgets and accessories from huge brands. I particularly love the collection of fresh and modern Lowepro lifestyle bags displayed there. There were also Lowepro products (their unfailing lens pouches), bags as well as Manfrotto products. There were also something for audio-heads like myself, featuring Fender speakers as well as headphones and other audio related accessories. Also worth noting is that they are having huge discounts for premium mobile accessories from now until 22 November, you may find out more at their Facebook posting here (click). 

Special thanks to Veedoo for the invitation to the launch of the first Moleskine Corner in Malaysia. Who knows, in near future, we may get a Moleskine Concept Store, or better, a Moleskine Cafe in Malaysia?




Solving Life Problems with Ramen

Last Sunday, I found this cool Ramen (dry, non-soup based style) place at Sri Petaling called Menya Hanabi. I went for their signature dish, the Nagoya Mazesoba, a dry Ramen served with toppings of minced meat, lettuce, seaweed, a raw egg yolk and chasu (braised pork). This was my first time eating a Ramen which was not a broth/soup based. You know what? It was fantastic!

Image was shot with Olympus PEN E-P5 and M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8


I remember back in the days when I was working in Olympus, I had opportunities to travel to Japan for business trips. The common question which I have asked my then Japanese colleagues was - "what is your favourite Japanese food, being a Japanese yourself? Or, in other words, what is the Japanese food which you are most proud of?" The answers that I have received have always been consistent - Ramen. Bear in mind Japan has no shortage of awesome food and I particularly like their clean and subtle style of cooking and food preparation which is a total contrast to Malaysia's overbearingly strong and rich flavoring in food.

The struggle is real coming back from my several Japan trips, as it is a challenge to find high quality Ramen places in Kuala Lumpur. Do not get me wrong, there are too many Ramen places around, but the truly good ones are too few and far in between.



Sometimes, when the going gets tough in life, perhaps the only thing that can make everything OK was a beautiful bowl of Ramen.