Roast, Bangkok

I went to a hipster cafe/restaurant in Bangkok, just to experience the hipster culture there, which to my surprise is not too dissimilar to Kuala Lumpur. According to my friend Jason who was with me for this trip to Bangkok, everything in Roast was awesome, so we ordered several dishes and stuffed ourselves silly. What is a great trip without overpriced, fancy-looking hipster food? Also, it was the perfect end to my shutter therapy session - a cup of overpriced coffee.

I cannot wait to share my street photography images from my Bangkok trip! The articles are submitted to Ming Thein and are in queue to be published very soon at the end of this month. Do follow me on my Facebook Page for instant updates whenever new articles are being published here or on Ming Thein's site.

All images were shot on Olympus PEN E-PL9 and M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens. 

Taking the Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 Out For A Spin

So I have just got the new Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 for my birthday, obviously my fingers were itchy and I took it out for shutter therapy sessions. I am now more comfortable using the 25mm lens for my street shooting than 45mm, and it has become my most used focal length (I am also including the uses of 25mm F1.8 lens previously before I purchased the 25mm F1.2 PRO lens). I still love the 45mm F1.8, it is my go to lens for tight portraits (portraits of strangers), but I do tend to go for wider framing and more environmental shots these days. Either way, the 45mm F1.8 stays in the camera bag and I would not hesitate to switch over if absolutely necessary. The Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO is mounted on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II most of the time!

I also have been doing a lot of event coverage shooting lately. Do read up my tips on how to shoot an event here on MT's site. The main lens I have been using for my jobs is the 25mm F1.8 lens. Upgrading to F1.2 PRO allows me more flexibility when it comes to low light shooting, I have about one stop advantage, which means I can effectively lower my ISO and produce cleaner images. This is applicable to both flash use and shoots with entirely avaiable light, the F1.2 wide open is a significant advantage in less than ideal lighting circumstances. The fact that Micro Four Thirds has 2 times equivalent depth of field, the F1.2 lens is perfectly usable rendering sufficient depth of field for most of my shots. I can use it at fully wide open F1.2 without stopping down, getting enough zone in focus and super sharp results at the same time.

Some users complained that the F1,2 PRO lenses are huge. Yes they are much larger than the F1.8 lenses, I agree with that. However, in terms of handling, I felt they were perfectly balanced on the E-M1 Mark II (I cannot say for smaller PEN cameras). It was as if I was using the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens, which was perfect in terms of handling with the OM-D E-M1 series camera. The F1.2 advantage is huge, and having slight size and weight penalty, I am totally ok with the compromise.

Anyone else using the Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO lens? Do let me know your thoughts!

 Of course, the M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO lens will not be my default food photography lens. New Years resolution 2019 - shoot more hipster overpriced fancy looking food. 

Check out the Feathered Bokeh! Smooth, creamy!

First Photography Sharing In Bangkok, Thailand

For the past one week I was in Bangkok Thailand, eating local food, doing touristy things like visiting temples and also doing some shutter therapy along the way. What was supposed to be a personal holiday somehow turned into partial work when Olympus Thailand invited me to speak to their consumers in a photography event. I immediately jumped in and said yes! This was my first photography event conducted outside of my home country, Malaysia. I was extremely excited and nervous about it. The photography sharing session took place on 9th January 2019 at Olympus Store in CentralWorld shopping mall in Bangkok.

The event venue was Olympus Store at Centralworld Shopping Mall. Such an impressive store with a dedicated space for workshop/seminars. 

Originally, my one-hour long presentation was made up of images I have shot in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia only. Just hours before the actual event, I decided to do something extra. I thought the Thai audience would appreciate me sharing some images from my recent shutter therapy session in Bangkok. I did a last minute edit and included about two dozen images at the end of my presentation as a surprise. It was no easy feat as I did not have that many images which I was very happy with, but they were sufficient for that brief photo-sharing. After all, I wanted to show how much I love Bangkok and how I have enjoyed doing shutter therapy there. What better way to show some of the results?

The audience was surprisingly responsive and asked me more questions that I have expected, which was a good indication that they were paying attention and they were interested in my sharing. I always welcome questions during my talk. Our biggest concern was the language barrier, and Olympus Thailand had their staff on standby in case translation was needed. It was indeed a wonderful experience speaking to an entirely different audience. I sure hope my tips and tricks about shooting on the street can spark some ideas and inspire some of the crowd to go out with their camera and do some street shooting.

All subsequent images were from Olympus Thailand and used with permission.

Special thanks to all awesome Thai participants who came to the event! It was an honor speaking to everyone. 

Miss Tata was the person I communicated with throughout the whole of this event. None of this was possible without her help and support, she did a fantastic job at making sure everything ran smoothly. Fun fact - Miss Tata was also there during my South Africa trip, she the representative from Olympus Thailand office. Another fun-fact - she is a wonderful photographer! Check out her Instagram here (click). 

Look who made an appearance! Ekkarat Punyatara, a National Geographic photographer and a fellow Olympus Visionary! Thanks so much for coming and I appreciate your support man. We should definitely collaborate soon. 

I also dropped by the Olympus Thailand HQ and caught up with some people. Amornsak is the Product Specialist for Olympus Thailand, we went for training together in Tokyo several years ago when I was still employed by Olympus Malaysia. It was great seeing him again!

I have worked closely with these two gentlemen before during my time with Olympus Malaysia. Oh how I miss the good old days! Special thanks to Mitch for having me in Thailand, I could not ask for a better way to start the year! It was also great seeing Hiro again, he was the one taking care of me and my ex-colleagues when we were in Hokkaido several years ago. 

Special thanks to Olympus Thailand for organizing this event and included me as the guest speaker. I appreciate the opportunity and experience on sharing my photography to a new audience. I have had an awesome time and I enjoyed every single moment of the event. It was fun interacting with Thai participants and I only hoped we have had a chance to do a proper photowalk together on the streets, and definitely that may even happen in the future. 

To all Thai participants who came and support the event, thanks so much for coming and I hope you all have had fun! Go out and have more shutter therapy please!

Packing Light For Bangkok

I am flying to Bangkok, Thailand this evening, and will be spending several days there. I plan to fill my coming days with plenty of great local Thai food and of course shutter therapy at the locations that I will visit. I am currently writing this article from the airport waiting for my flight!

I have decided to use a small camera bag by Manfrotto (not sure which model this is, but it is very small). I am including the following items into the bag:

1) Olympus PEN E-PL9 
I just wanted to go as light as I can, using the PEN makes sense!
2) M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 PRO
I did not want to use this lens but I admit when I arrive at some of the most beautiful and majestic temples in the world in Thailand, I will regret not having this lens. Hence this would be the only PRO lens in the bag.
3) M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8
I plan to do a lot of street shooting while in Bangkok, but I also realize 17mm is not my favourite lens. This is the "just in case" lens, and why not, since it is so small?
4) M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8
This will probably be my most used lens for this trip. I even had an idea to do everything with just 25mm lens. Who knows, that plan may just happen.
5) M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8
Portrait of strangers in Bangkok streets, maybe?
6) Plenty of SD cards
7) 3 batteries (one is in the camera)
8) Beyerdynamic Byron BT
Can't survive long without high fidelity audio

I am on a holiday and I will not be shooting anything too seriously. Hence the minimalist setup. I would have left the 7-14mm behind but part of me wanted to do some awesome landscape shots too.

I have no fixed agenda laid out for this particular trip. I am travelling with a friend so we will do some touristy things and eat a lot of food surely. I also have an Olympus photo sharing session on the coming Wednesday, 9th January 2019 at Olympus Store in Central World shopping mall.

I think this will be an adventurous trip! I am extremely excited and I cannot think of a better way to start the new year 2019.

Soweto, Johannesburg

When I arrived in South Africa, the first stop was at Johannesburg. We spent a full day there and only flew out to Madikwe Game Reserve the day after. We stayed at Southern Sun Montecasino Hotel, and had an afternoon brief tour around Soweto. We went to the museums, Mandela's house as well as having a bus drive through the city perimeters (we did not get to explore the city center itself). Since I was not that interested in museums, like a few other Olympus Visionaries we decided to explore the surrounding streets. I was hoping to catch some portraits of strangers of local South Africans, and I did, just a few.

All images were shot with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens

This gentlemen walked up to me and asked if he could take a photograph with me! It was indeed awkward but pleasant at the same time. We had a short conversation and I then asked to take a portrait of him. South Africans are generally very friendly!

The teenagers were equally as eager to have their images taken!

The sun was still high above our heads and the youngsters have beer in their hands! I am loving this culture more and more already. 

The sight of "tuk-tuk" was quite an unexpected one. This type of "touristy" transport originated from South East Asia, one far continent away! How did it make an entrance to Africa is beyond me. 

Some grilled chicken by the road side.

Stayed at Southern Sun Montecasino Hotel. Did not gamble at the casino though, I am not one with luck when it comes to gambling. But the hotel was really clean and comfortable. 

Managed to sneak myself into the frame via the mirror reflection. 

This concludes all my blog articles on my recent trip to South Africa! In case you have missed out on any of the earlier blog entries, here is a list:

On Ming Thein's site:

On this blog: