Thoughts

Heaven

My Favorite Favourite Favourite Song of All Times!!! Click Here and view the images at the same time.

When you are in love, you are in heaven. You forget all unhappy things. There’s no way anyone or anything can take that feeling away. Oh… how deeply I still love my wife after more than 12 years of marriage. Thank You, Lord!

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Olympus E-P1, A Class of It’s Own.

Olympus PEN E-P1, image taken from dpreview.com

Olympus PEN E-P1, image taken from dpreview.com

I’ve been a professional photographer for more than 12 years, specializing mainly in portraits, weddings, people photography, whether choreographed or on-the-move. I have been a fervent Canon and Nikon user for years. But never have I encountered a small camera like the Olympus E-P1 that produces such quality in it’s size with such user-friendly features.

Talking about “Making Photography Easy”. For years, since the camera was invented, the world has been wanting to make photography easy. A view-camera needs about 11 adjustments in order to take a picture. Then came the Nikons and Canons that only require THREE adjustments: Aperture, Shutter Speed and Focus in order to take a picture. And if this wasn’t easy enough, cameras that came later began to even do all THREE adjustments for us – the Program Autofocus SLRs!

To read a detailed article on the above, click here.

Olympus E-P1, shot through car windscreen in a rain, B&W art filter

Olympus E-P1, shot through car windscreen in a rain, B&W art filter, 16:9 format.

Olympus E-P1 set to manual focus, b&w art filter.

Olympus E-P1 set to manual focus, b&w art filter, 16:9 format.

This shot shows that E-P1 is quick enough to capture action. My son did this action in a split-second. Tough not as fast as a DSLR, it is not that bad afterall.

This shot shows that E-P1 is quick enough to capture action. My son did this action in a split-second. Though not as fast as a DSLR, it is not that bad after all.

I often ask myself, “Why do camera-designers always want to make things easier for us?”

Especially as a earning professional photographer, doesn’t it seem obvious that as photography gets easier and easier, our commanding prices go lower and lower since more and more people think that they can “do-it-yourself” anyway?

But if I think as an artist, I just want to focus on my feelings, my imaginations, my visions and indulge in all my five senses when I go out and create images with my camera.

Isn’t it so much easier to have a camera that doesn’t interfere with my thoughts, by introducing questions like what aperture to use and what shutter speed to set or whether the image is in focus?

Okay, you may disagree with me on this cause deciding how blur the background we want it to be or whether to use a slower shutter speed to depict movement, or whether to set it off-focus in order to create some abstractness do play a part in our creativity process.

But my point is, sometimes it really helps if you just indulge in all your five senses without being distracted by technical functionalities, and shoot what you feel!

 

Olympus E-P1, B&W art filter. I pre-focused the camera to infinity before reaching out to shoot the birds returning to their home using the grainy black and white art filter mode.

Olympus E-P1, B&W art filter, 6:6 format. I pre-focused the camera to infinity before reaching out to shoot the birds returning to their home using the grainy black and white art filter mode.

Who says you can't see beautiful sunset downtown KL? Shot using "Sunset" Mode in Olympus E-P1

Who says you can't see beautiful sunset downtown KL? Shot using "Sunset" Mode in Olympus E-P1, 16:9 format.

Shot using "Pop Art" art filter, Olympus E-P1. This is a spontaneous shot, again done within seconds spotting the chef's head covered by a bunch of roast pork

Shot using "Pop Art" art filter, Olympus E-P1, 16:9 format. This is a spontaneous shot, again done within seconds spotting the chef's head covered by a bunch of roast pork

Olympus E-P1, shot using "landscape" mode. It really does make the sky much nicer.

Olympus E-P1, shot using "landscape" mode. It really does make the sky much nicer., 6:6 format

In today’s digital professional photographer’s context, things have just gone a lot worse! Our modern DSLRs contains at least 100 menu and function options! It throws you questions like “D-Lighting Off, Default, Auto, On, Normal?”, followed by trick questions like “Compression: Lossy or Lossless?”… etc. and etc.

Today, many professional digital photographers began to take pride in “setting their camera professionally” rather than concentrate on creating excellent images. Photography seems to have “developed more professionally” in recent digital days, cause to operate a DSLR is 100 times more difficult than an old film SLR!

And so we started thinking, maybe we can charge our clients more, since photography has gone so “difficult”! We started to tell our clients how high-end our equipments are, how difficult to use them, how expensive they cost, in order to justify and convince our clients to buy our services. I always thought as a proficient photographer, shouldn’t we be confident that our clients engage us because our works are good, not because of what equipment we own?

 

Olympus E-P1, B&W art filter

Olympus E-P1, B&W art filter 6:6 format

Olympus E-P1, B&W art filter

Olympus E-P1, B&W art filter, 4:3 format

The Olympus E-P1 is a camera so small that it fits into your bag easily. I have been carrying it and using it almost everyday since I bought it about 2 months ago. I use it for shooting “nonsense” in my daily life, use it for casual street shooting, and even use it for my professionally-paid wedding jobs!

I was caught previewing on the E-P1. DON'T SPEND TIME ON PREVIEWS! CONCENTRATE ON GETTING YOUR SHOTS!

I was caught previewing on the E-P1. DON'T SPEND TIME ON PREVIEWS! CONCENTRATE ON GETTING YOUR SHOTS!

FOR THE GEEKS:

The ISO is absolutely usable up to 3200. The default setting already produces fantastic images. It’s Auto ISO is also pretty reliable (I hardly have to switch it about). It’s IS (image stabilization) is most impressive! I ever use it down to 1/2 sec and still get a reasonably sharp picture.

You can choose to set “Graduation” to “Normal” instead of “Auto” to get deeper blacks but personally I prefer “Auto” as I prefer to increase contrast in Adobe Lightroom when necessary. I find that images can get too contrasty sometimes if I set it to “Normal”.

Olympus E-P1, Pin-hole effect art filter

Olympus E-P1, Pin-hole effect art filter, 4:3 format

Olympus E-P1, Pin-hole effect art filter, 6:6 format

Olympus E-P1, Pin-hole effect art filter, 6:6 format

Olympus is amazing in it’s in-camera processing! It produces such good Jpegs that you almost have no necessity to shoot in RAW for easy post-processing. It’s absolutely a camera for people who just want to concentrate on ARTS and have minimal worries on camera settings or post-processing.

Also, you can choose to shoot in 4:3 format (default), 16:9 format, 3:2 format or 6:6 format for your creativity.

I fell in love with E-P1 files once I laid my eyes on it in a camera store downtown and immediately ordered one for myself. I find that Olympus’s digital files are processed in such a way, closest to what film achieves comparing to other brands. Being a fervent film shooter, I can easily appreciate Olympus’s efforts in processing their digital files closest to what film achieves. (But if you really like film, shoot film! Digital still has it’s digital characteristics in it.)

I have used the Canon 5D, the Nikon D700 (owned 2 of each at my craziest times). I have gone through post-processing my images since “Adobe Photoshop 5” days. I would say this digital route for me since the Canon D60 (if anyone still remembers what it is) has been crazy! (I plan to write about my crazy path of switching from film to digital in a later post, so keep me bookmarked if you are interested).

What I can say is that after comparing the Canon files, the Nikon files and the Olympus files, I love the Olympus files the most! (Olympus is not paying me to say this)

I love the noise (It’s different from the Canon or Nikon’s noise), I love the skin tones, I love the contrast, I love the blacks (Nikon and Canon somehow captures blacks as grays), I love the colors and I love it’s Grainy Black and White and Pin-hole Art Filters!

Shot by my wife using "sunset mode". She's not a photographer, if you know what I mean.

Shot by my wife using "sunset mode". She's not a photographer, if you know what I mean.

Then, I love it’s handsome looks and it’s size too.

The best camera is the camera you can easily grab and use when opportunity arises. If you are looking for a camera that can boost your creativity, and it’s light and easy to carry around, with quiet and unobtrusive shutter sound, achieves jpeg files that require minimum post-processing, plus an added convenience of HD video recording (get an adaptor for leica m-mount lenses and you can easily achieve cinematic effects with F1.4 blur)… … … …

THIS CAMERA IS FOR YOU!

Why I Think Photo-Enthusiasts Are Cool!

Engaging a typical professional? Think again.

After more than 12 years of being a photographer, I have recently re-discovered the joy of being a photo-enthusiast once again. Sometime ago, I discovered that I have sub-consciously lost the true joy in photography after being stuck in the commercial photography world, where each shot better make some money.

As I think deeper and deeper into it, I realized it’s partly Chinese culture where my parents used to teach me when I was young, that I better grow up doing something that makes lot of money like a lawyer or doctor, rather than being an artist. So if we discover something that we are good at, we tend to use how much money we make out of it to measure how “successful” we are! And there we go digging for money, comparing ourselves with our competitors, and get stuck in the “Gold-digging Game” that never ends. How Sad!

Taken from "Project-Disillusion". Shot with Olympus E-P1 with kit lens during a photo-outing with friends.

Taken from "Project-Disillusion". Shot with Olympus E-P1 with kit lens during a photo-outing with friends.

As a person who really loves photography, photography is my everyday life and not just a 2-hour weekend hobby. When I was stuck in that “Gold-digging Game”, photography became unhealthy competition and comparison, and money became the ruler for measurement of so-called success. Here’s why I think photo-enthusiasts are cool… …

1. Photo-enthusiasts shoot what they like, how they like it without having to think whether it makes money or not, or whether it must be better than a competitor’s shots.

Shot with Canon A480 point-and-shoot, a reflection of a glass panel near my office

Shot with Canon A480 point-and-shoot, a reflection of a glass panel near my office

2. Photo-enthusiasts express freely all the time without the fear of rejection. But many professionals will call their daily mundane shots “nonsense”. Probably, “nonsense” to commercial photographers means it doesn’t make money OR it’s not up to commercial standards of sharpness, megapixels, photoshop retouching, bokeh… … etc. I shoot “nonsense” all the time.

 

My Boy's Toy Cars, shot with my Olympus E-P1 using 6:6 format

My Boy's Toy Cars, shot with my Olympus E-P1 using 6:6 format during a dinner

My leg, shot with Olympus E-P1 and 14-42mm kit lens on 16:9 format

My leg, shot with Olympus E-P1 and 14-42mm kit lens on 16:9 format. This shot was taken spontaneously during one of my photo-outings with my friends out on the streets.

3. Photo-enthusiasts are never tired of shooting. Sometimes, a commercial photographer will rather “take-a-break” when it comes to shooting for pleasure, shooting streets, shooting a family’s outing.

4. Photo-enthusiasts NOT equipment-enthusiasts, I must emphasize, are not insecure about what sort of equipments they own. They can shoot from their mobile phones and be happy. They do not need high-end equipments to prove to others that they are professionals, cause they don’t need to. Many of them own the simplest photographic equipments and produce works that can put many commercial photographers to shame. When I was stuck in that commercial rat race, I was stuck in upgrading my equipments every 1-2 years. And I recently discovered some of my best wedding shots are only done with my humble Canon 20D camera I used to own.

Shot spontaneously during a wedding dinner using Canon 20D I used to own

Shot spontaneously during a wedding dinner in year 2005 using Canon 20D I used to own

Shot in year 2005 with my Canon 20D I used to own during a Sikh Wedding

Shot in year 2005 with my Canon 20D I used to own during a Sikh Wedding. Effects added in photoshop then.

5. Photo-enthusiasts also do not constantly need to prove to others by shooting with new gimmicks every time, just to attract attention to themselves, or prove that they are knowledgeable in gimmicks, or to “stay ahead” in their particular photography industry.

6. Photo-enthusiasts can stay happy, really happy, just within their small group of friends and families without the need to prove to others that they have a multitude of supporters.

7. Photo-enthusiasts have the time to learn new skills, whether it’s from the internet, from books and magazines, or from another individual. It’s hard for a commercial photographer to suddenly slow down and cut down their number of jobs, just to spend time learning.

 

Taken with Canon A480 Point and Shoot Camera. The Sky's the limit in learning.

Taken with Canon A480 Point and Shoot Camera. The Sky's the limit in learning.

8. Photo-enthusiasts loves to share. They are not insecure about what they know. They have no fear of competitors. They are humble and real. They are not living in disguise. They have no need to put up a false commercial front to attract business or fool their competitors. They basically are themselves and expresses themselves freely. They shoot purely for pleasure.

As a commercial wedding photographer for many years, I was forced into thinking, my shots must make money, they must be approved by my clients, or I’ve gotta be better than my competitors. I’ve got clients who came showing samples of other photographers’ works asking if I could do the same. I’ve got clients who bargain over 50 bucks! The point is, I have lost myself. I shot for people to approve, I shot what people will approve, I shot what people wanted. There’s nothing totally wrong in that but it’ll be wrong if you just do that.

Now that I’ve found myself, I’m not gonna lose it again. I shoot from my heart. I shoot what I feel, what I love. Photography is the best hobby I’ve ever had, that’s why it’s stuck to me longer than many other hobbies, and I’ve found out that if you do something that you genuinely love, you’ll excel in it and you’ll have your supporters!

I am a photo-enthusiast once again!

My Current Outlook on Life

I’m a professional photographer who believes in being a photo-enthusiast for as long as I live, to keep my innocent passion burning without being restricted by how much I earn from it and being caged by the world’s so-called standards.

Images that last with no “expiry dates” attached

A meaningful way of introducing newly wed to their new family members

A meaningful way of introducing newly wed to their new family members

This is the start of a series of classic wedding images I intend to post, pictures I believe that can last forever with no expiry dates tagged, images not overdone with photoshop effects. Though they may not catch the common eye with a SHOCK, and make them crack their heads thinking, “how did he ever do that? what lens? strange effect. he must be really good!” My images are meant to show off as much as possible, the true essence and ambiance of the actual scene captured through my eyes and NOT to show off my equipment or my knowledge in photography gimmicks. I’d rather choose the path of faithfully creating real and honest photography. Well, that’s the direction I’m taking now.

Litter Bug, Litter Truck and the Unsung Heroes

Litter Bugs' Doing - Common scene in Malaysia

Photographed with a toy camera. Litter Bugs' Doing - Common scene in Malaysia

Cleaners who start work while we are sleeping, cleaning up our rubbish

Cleaners who start work while we are sleeping, cleaning up our rubbish

LET US ALL APPRECIATE THEM! Before we conveniently drop a tissue or throw some used parking ticket on the floor, let us remember the unsung heroes who wake up before the sun rises each day, cleaning up our rubbish. Let’s be reminded to have some self-respect, and remember our basic social responsibilities.

Rushing Home

There’s no place better than home. Let us all remember the many homeless out there each day when we are travelling comfortably in our air-conditioned car. At the end of each passing day, it’s good to have some time to yourself, quiet and alone. Sometimes we work so hard for what we’re after and pass it without realizing it.

sunset1

Rafferty Boy

A very cute boy

A very cute boy

Hope this picture cheer you guys up out there in this gloomy world – Michael Jackson died, swine flu, economy down, Malaysia’s political situation, more-and-more-“photographers” charging cheaper, nasi kandar still so expensive, sucky photographers winning awards(subjective), everything getting more expensive(except for digital SLRs), poor getting poorer, more and more babies being thrown away, homeless not fed and dying, children being sold to prostitution daily, etc, etc… never-ending human rights violations. Let’s all not forget life is not just about ourselves.

Bukit Tinggi Malaysia – 12 Jul 2009

A passing moment of clouds travelling past. This happened just for a few seconds before the light is all flat.

A passing moment of clouds travelling past. This happened just for a few seconds before the light is all flat.

Shot of the day – 12 Jul 2009, with my new toy (all my buddies know what it is). Good photographs depend on great imagination NOT gear. (Though the Olympus E-P1 grainy film art filter really helps this time… haha…) The best camera is the one in your hands.  Let’s all focus on expressing our IMAGINATION!

Self Portrait June 2009

My self-portrait during one of my project shoots

My self-portrait during one of my project shoots

Busy, busy, busy… … so sorry for the long gap in updating. My thoughts on this whole blogging trend lately can be found here.