Street

Portrait of a Stranger

I’m having a super busy 2 weeks lately and thus, the lack of updates. Here’s one of the portrait from my “Portraits of Strangers” series…

I wish to know you more.

Red

Shot with Leica M9, Nokton 50mm F1.1.

Cheap Photography

Photography NEED not be complicated and expensive. I just need a plastic toy camera and some basic knowledge in exposure. Total investment: less than RM300. These are from my simplest camera. Just 2 apertures, 1 shutter speed, zone-focusing. No digital fiddly menus!

Photography is MORE than just expensive equipment, cracking-sharpness, F1.4 bokeh, high digital ISO, 9 frames per sec… I am taking a break from them all!

Garlands Seller

Fortune Teller

Bloody Torn Arms

A Biker's Stare

No Haggling!

Taxi Driver

Old Bus

The Street-shooters

Heaven's Cat

My Simplest Camera… …

also my MOST favourite camera, the Holga. This is no NEW Holga, it’s been with me for more than 8 years.

Sometimes, All you ever NEED is a plastic lens on a black plastic box loaded with film. This IS the BEST Therapy ever! Shutter Therapy, as my blogger friend Robin calls it.

Have you ever thought of quitting photography? Yes, I do, in some ways… …

Sometimes I just feel so tired of looking at tons of digital images everywhere, especially online, and ONLY FEW can make me look at it for longer than a quick glance. For example, it makes me wonder why some bothers to shoot 10 shots of the same cat in a similar pose and post them all in flickr!?

In the current wedding industry, it’s common for couples to receive 12 sequential shots of a groom wearing his bow tie, and another 12 sequential shots of the parents covering the bride with her veil… … the list goes on and on…

I ever hired an assistant photographer who gave me just that! And editing his shots after the wedding is a real pain in the ass!

I wanna throw a question to all you guys out there… Do you seriously think photography standards have improved TODAY as compared to film days? Or to be MORE specific, do you seriously think wedding photography standards have improved in recent years due to the latest technology, the MOST intelligent cameras, the Nikon D3S, Canon 5Dmk2, etc. and etc… …???

So what if we can shoot smooth and silky jpegs at ISO25600 at 9 frames per sec?

Lowlight Shooting with Olympus E-PL1

The following shots are done at the last Olympus workshop which I conducted. Location is Chow Yang Pasar Malam. Many of us are impressed with the high ISO performance by the Olympus E-PL1. Shots are all done in P mode with auto ISO and many of the shots are at ISO1600. It’s a truly enjoyable camera to use! These are some of my favourite shots:

Best Mode of Transport

Medicine Man

Pink Theme

Resting

Underaged Drivers?

DVD Seller

Cheap Wardrobe

Look Out for our next workshop! Join us and have fun while learning something valuable!

My Olympus E-PL1 Workflow and Re-Review

Okay, as promised in my previous post, you shall see my crappy shots in this post. Again, I seriously think my shots aren’t half as good as some of those Olympus Brand Store Guys. But, still I really enjoyed the shooting session with the whole bunch of them. Join me for photography workshop in future. It’s fun!

I have been getting quite a number of questions emailed to me regarding the use of the Olympus digital PEN E-P1/2/L1… so I’ve decided to list down here how I usually “manage” the camera.

1. I shoot in P mode when I just wanna concentrate on getting the shot, the expression, the action, irregardless of the depth-of-field. In fact, I want a deeper depth-of-field in order to quickly capture a moment, minimizing the risk of getting things out-of-focus. “F8 and be there.” Like Weegee said.

2. Using the camera in P mode when there’s sufficient light, i.e. when ISO does not automatically go up to 1600 with corresponding aperture of F3.5-5.6 for the kit lens is fine for the “F8 and be there concept”. Yes, I use Auto-ISO too. Sometimes, when I want more control, I will set the ISO manually.

But for lowlight usage, WATCH your shutter speed. Even with the Image Stabilization (IS) ON, a slow shutter speed CANNOT freeze action. Image Stabilization helps to capture non-moving subjects in sharpness when shutter speed is slow.

3. To speed up the camera, I always TURN OFF the automatic preview on my LCD and use my camera in Sequential Shooting Mode. To capture a certain action, I usually shoot 2-3 frames to get the best shapes and forms. I also hardly “chimp”, i.e. look at previews when I shoot. I don’t wanna lose a moment while “chimping”!

4. In my personal opinion and experience with different brands of digital cameras, I found out that Olympus’s RAW files are not all that “tweakable” as compared to the other brands. I figured out that since I am not getting a whole lot more from it’s RAW files, unlike the Canons or Nikons where the tolerance can go as far as 3-4 stops, I’d rather shoot Olympus JPEGs. I also figured out that the Normal JPEGs are good enough for me for general usage as I find no visible difference comparing them to the Fine JPEGs.

However, if I need to use the camera to shoot any stuff that’s exceptionally important, I will still shoot RAW, more for my mental and emotional consolation. Olympus’s JPEGs are about the BEST you can find in the world. The only other brands which I think can come close to it are Leica and maybe Pentax. Okay, I know I may sound subjective, but look at the skin tones! Any colors on any inanimate objects can lie BUT skin colors DON’T LIE! (If you still disagree with me, okay.. it’s my personal taste, alright?)

5. The E-PL1 has much lesser noise at high ISOs as compared to the E-P1 and E-P2, so I am more confident using it at ISO1600-3200.

6. According to Steve Huff’s review, he complained that the movie-record button on the E-PL1’s back can be easily and accidentally depressed BUT I have since found out that it only takes less than 5 steps to OFF the switch permanently in the menu system! No Issue At All! Just OFF it and use the same shutter button for recording video and stills. (Menu-Button-oFunction-Off)

7. I shoot in A mode when I wanna shoot at specific apertures to achieve the depth-of-field I want.

8. I prefer P mode over the E-PL1’s i-auto mode as I don’t like the i-enhance to be always ON as it does in the i-auto mode. Personal preference.

9. Generally, Olympus JPEGs can be a little under-exposed. So some brightening is usually necessary at post-processing. Or for the E-PL1 users, you can choose to use it’s Live Guide, which is “idiot-proof”. If you know digital cameras, a little under-exposed is definitely better than over-exposed as burnt highlights in digital files can never be restored.

10. When using the Pin-hole Art Filter, images may seem a little under-exposed too, so some brightening at post-processing stage will be good.

11. When using the Grainy B&W Art Filter, avoid high contrast scenes as highlights can easily be washed out!

12. If you are a fervent Art Filter Fan, I suggest you shoot RAW and choose your desired Art Filter in Olympus Software afterwards so you can enjoy shooting without having to wait for the “almost forever” in-camera Art Filter processing. Those few seconds can mean eternity when you are out there.

Okay, finally, there’s ONE THING I hate about the E-PL1!

It DOES NOT HAVE AN ORIENTATION SENSOR! Which means, I have to manually rotate all my vertical shots! Olympus, is it that expensive to have this included in the E-PL1? This should already be the norm among all digital cameras of year 2010!

Here are my shots from the street shoot, constructive comments are welcomed!

Drying her hair by the roadside, hip shot.

Pinhole Art Filter Effect

Prostitute outside motel entrance, hip shot. I forgot to watch my shutter speed!

panned shot of man walking past

HOT!

Fierce! Hip Shot.

Pin Hole Art Filter

Travelling

My small reflection in-between.

Beggar

Security Guard

Summon!

Diorama Art Filter

Diorama Art Filter

Pop Art Filter, shot by manually focusing till patterns appear

The following are two shots by the NEW 9-18mm M-Zuiko Lens. This is such a small, compact and sharp lens with good close focusing distance! It’s in stock!

Shot with NEW 9-18mm M-Zuiko Lens

Another shot by the NEW 9-18mm M-Zuiko Lens

Lastly, the bunch of Olympus PEN Street Shooters! Shot by a stranger. Isn’t it great to have an “idiot-proof” camera for a stranger to hold? I’m sure the in-camera IS helped. LOL…

Malaysia Olympus Brand Store Street Shooters!

Related Posts:

1. BEST Street Photography Machine

2. Photo-enthusiasts ROCKS!

3. The Power of Small Cameras

4. E-PL1 Review

5. More about the E-PL1

The (one of the) “BEST” Street Photography Machine Ever Made!

I am very sorry for the overdue updates to this site due to my busy schedule lately. I actually have the images of the “Mom and Baby Fair” photo kiosk shoots that are yet to be posted… followed by some of the images of last week’s workshop’s night street shoot… and etc..

Not too long ago at Olympus, we had a workshop training with the staff of the newly setup Olympus Brand Store at Mid Valley Shopping Centre Unit #LG068. There were a total of 8 participants and we had a street shooting session at Petaling Street, each holding a Olympus PEN E-P1 with the 14-42mm kit lens. I was using the Olympus PEN E-PL1 with the kit lens.

As I have always said, Images That Speak! Let the images do the talking. Now, let’s see some of these amazing shots and you tell me, is the Olympus digital PEN one of the BEST street photography machine ever made?

Yes, I know… the person behind the camera plays the Major Role in seeing and capturing the images, but we absolutely can’t deny that the Olympus PEN indeed helped us so much in getting what we want! It was a truly enjoyable and memorable street shooting session we had with the digital PEN!

And do you know? It’s not the first time I encounter in my teaching that a student with the least knowledge in photography actually produces the best shots! This is enlightening! If you have been a photographer for many years and if you call yourself a “PRO”, you really ought to think along with me, why does this actually happen, I am saying, a person who knows nuts about photography, takes up a camera and produces a higher amount of keeper shots as compared to someone who’s actually trained in aperture and shutter speed.

The question is, “Are we all too bothered with what white balance to set, which shutter speed to use, which focal length is best, what aperture is better… etc… OR are we more concerned of getting that expression, getting that “look” we saw, getting the moment?”

The following are the selected shots by the 8 participants.

NONE of the pictures are cropped. Only slight brightening is applied to some of the color shots. If you are a PRO who often crops your own shots during post-processing, you ought to be ashamed. All of them are staff in the Olympus Brand Store and they are not PROs. They are not even frequent shooters! Due to the large amount of pics in this post, I shall feature my own shots in a separate post. I seriously don’t think I got better shots than some of these here.

Enjoy!

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1

Pinhole Art Filter in E-P1

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1

Sleeping Guard

Foreign Worker

Asking directions from a monk?

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1, same sleeping guard from another point of view.

Grainy B&W Art Filter in E-P1, I like the tension in this shot.

Pop Art Filter in E-P1

Related Posts:

1. Photo-enthusiasts ROCKS!

2. The Power of Small Cameras

3. Olympus E-P1 Review

4. Olympus E-P2 Review

5. Olympus E-PL1 Review

1st Photography Workshop 2010

In partnership with Olympus Malaysia, I’ll be conducting my 1st workshop on 27 May 2010, Thursday evening. This is a comprehensive workshop organized by Olympus Malaysia and it’s open to both Olympus users and Non-Olympus users. Location will be at my studio in Petaling Jaya. The exciting thing about this workshop is we’ll all be going out for a Pasar Malam Night Shoot together and review the pictures after that! (If weather permits) This short 4-hour workshop is gonna cover the basic handling of your camera, practical shooting tips, basic artistic expressions and going beyond making ordinary pictures. I will also be answering all your questions and doing a photo critique. Charges are made very much affordable by Olympus. Please CLICK HERE for more information and to register.

Who Says You Can’t Shoot Streets With A Telephoto?

I hardly promote anyone in any of my posts and have never just write a post directly referring you to another blog post or source for reading. But here is ONE I think really deserves it!

I can’t help but to share with you how Robin, my friend has handled the Olympus 70-300mm F4-5.6 lens so well FOR STREET PHOTOGRAPHY! Mind you, it’s NO F2.8 super-professional-expensive-fast-nano-aspherical-weatherproof-whatever lens we are talking about here! Guys and gals, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves if we shoot crap with the Leicas or big Nikons/Canons/what-nought…

Photography is from the heart and from the heart comes the CONTENT! Junk IN-Junk OUT. Shame to all those who only know how to shoot F2.8 bokeh shots of pretty girls on the streets and call that street photography. I am no fan of those shots. I like COMPELLING IMAGES!

CUT the talking, SEE IT HERE: ROBIN WONG

Photography: Art Or Gadget Lifestyle?

Taken with Holga 35mm Pinhole Camera using Tri-X 400 film, self-developed in Rodinal using stand development.

In recent years, photography has changed so much in the world from what it used to be. The advancement in photographic technology, the “super-duper-magical” digital cameras which can shoot at ISO1million (very soon I guess)… , the BOOMING camera-trading industry, the almost complete death of film once (Thank God, it’s very much back alive!), the death of very good professional labs…(they are still not revived yet)… , and the influx of thousands of “professional photographers” who become “professionals” literally overnight by getting themselves a 2000 bucks DSLR.

Recently, we have the PC Fair in Malaysia, and it’s not the first PC Fair to have camera booths selling cameras in it. I thought PC means personal computer? I know me and my wife are backdated… as my wife still asked me, “why are they selling cameras at a PC Fair?”

So many-a-times, I asked myself,” why the hell have I gone digital?”

Because of work, I’ve “gotta” upgrade my digital cameras every few years. (nowadays, the advancement is so fast that it’ll probably be shortened to every one year). Do I really have to upgrade? Even for photo-enthusiasts, they are upgrading, many even quicker than the pros usually. I only know of one wedding photographer around me so far, who upgrades as fast as a rich photo-enthusiast/gearhead, that most of us can’t even keep up to half his speed. LOL… :p

Shot at a wedding, Nikon FM3A, 85mm F1.8, Tri-X 400, self-developed in Rodinal.

What has photography become?

It used to be about mastering the ART of capturing fleeting moments that passes us by too quickly that a paintbrush is hard to describe. Is it still? Oh yes… maybe… and it’s has gone so much easier today with digital cameras isn’t it? Face-detection, smile-detection, what else?

But, why is it that it doesn’t seem any more enjoyable than the old days, when we don’t get to see the results immediately, when we often screw up in our exposures, etc. and etc.. For the new generation, you possibly do not know what I am talking about, then maybe, you should really try getting an old film camera, pop a roll of film in it, and try it out for yourself?

We have heard that Olympus has in her plans, the potential of making cameras that can shoot up to 100 frames per second, like what Casio once did… except that this time, if it’s successful, the images are gonna be stunning. It’s the “motion-jpeg concept” they talked about… when I can imagine future wedding photographers inviting their clients into their posh and cosy lounge, looking at huge screens with a remote control in their hands, viewing “motion-jpegs” or shall we call it video? … and pressing the pause button whenever they see a “moment” to do a screen capture for output as an enlargement print. Oh, not-to-forget some soft background music and two glasses of champagne too… Now, isn’t that lovely?

Will Henri Cartier-Bresson jump out of his grave since he strongly believed in “decisive moment” by the photographer but now, it’s about “decisive pauses” by the audience?

Shot with a camera called the Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super, made in 1959.

Also shot with the 1959-made Contaflex, using cheap China Lucky Color Film

I am just being emotional again.

Photography is about being emotional. The whole photography process is emotional. By introducing “better” cameras that supposedly make life easier for the photographer to concentrate on ARTS can also at the same time, take away certain pleasures the photographer is enjoying.  I am imagining and asking myself, “if the whole world shoots using the “motion-jpeg/video concept”, will I still be a photographer? ”

I know it’s definitely exciting for technology to advance like this… exciting for the engineers, NOT the artists, not really for me. It’s a cool gadget to have, but not for serious photography I would wanna do.

Photography is such a hybrid. It involves heavily with gears and instruments, and yet you can develop it as ART. So, it’s not surprising that many photographers are more “involved” with changing equipments than actual shooting. You change your camera, you get a different result. Take the camera away from the photographer, and he/she can’t produce pictures anymore. Whereas, a painter can still try painting with his/her fingers. So, it’s definitely highly equipment-dependent.

But how should we develop our artistic vision in the midst of all this technology advancement? Cameras are no different from mobile phones nowadays. The newer and better cameras are always luring us to believe that owning them can make us better photographers, which is TOTALLY UNRELATED to your personal photographic vision!

Taken with Rollei 35, Ilford XP2, part of my personal project "Cari Makan"(earn-a-living).

Also taken with Rollei 35, but on Kodak BW400CN.

Simplify!

I have ever mentioned that the Olympus E-P1 helped me in expanding my photographic vision, unleashed the experimental part of me, and that it is a camera that gives you great JPEGs without much retouching. I used it in automatic mode so I could concentrate on my photographic vision. That’s one way. Get a camera which can produce wonderful images without having to do much post-processing and in-camera settings. Set it to auto and concentrate on your composition.

Shoot film.

Shooting film slows you down. From shooting thousands with my DSLRs, I slowed down to shooting 36 per roll, a few rolls per week. Recently, I shoot just 12 shots a day on my favourite medium format camera for about 3-4 days per week. I am telling you this “slowing” is gonna continue for me. I am currently addicted to seeing as high as 10-11 keeper shots out of 12 per roll. And this feeling definitely beats having 30 keeper shots out of a hundred odd digital snaps.

Photography: ART or Gadget Lifestyle for me?

It’s still partly ART and partly a gadget lifestyle for me since I am often tempted by good old film cameras and sometimes the small digitals. :p But, I’d rather keep to my First Love which is Shooting! I WILL NOT spend more time on the computer than going out there for actual shooting as long as my eyes can still SEE.

Do feel free to share the images you shoot with me by inviting me to your flickr or whatever photo-sharing website you have… I’d love to see them!

I’ve been doing private coaching for quite a while now and I am gonna have a group photography workshop soon, so please email me if you are interested. Thanks!

Related Posts:

1. Why Photo-enthusiasts are cool!

2. Good to stay “innocent”.