Tag Archives: Thoughts

I Love Kids

I love kids!!!

These are some shots quickly selected from a recent birthday party… more pictures to come…

If you wonder what I have been doing…

1. hibernating

2. just sold one of my favourite lens: the Panasonic Lumix 20mm F1.7 lens

3. from fiddling with my Fuji X10 to fiddling the Ricoh GXR and GRD3… and now happy with my GRD3 for daily random recordings (with the 21mm attachment of course…)

4. haven’t been touching micro four thirds for a while, happier with smaller sensors like the X10/GRD and the larger digital sensors, and above all… larger films.

5. sorting out my past works

6. teaching private lessons

7. doing selective portraits

8. a little tired of street photography

9. thinking

10. loving people

Live a day at a time, live it to your best, love the people around you. Thank you friends!

The World Owe It To Pixel Peepers!

I have been pixel peeping A LOT lately… … scrutinizing my past works, works done on 120mm film, 35mm film, then the now ancient Canon D60, then the not-too-long-ago Canon 20D, then the Canon 5D, then the Nikon D700, then, the Olympus E-P1, Olympus E-3(loaned), and now, Olympus E-P2.

For those wondering whether to buy Panasonic GF1 or the Olympus PEN series… I have also tried out both. The only thing I can say is, there are 2 camps: the Panasonic Camp and the Olympus Camp. You either love or hate one or the other. For me, I hate GF1’s clanky shutter sound. For those who know me personally, I have this thing in me about Shutter Sound! LOL… probably ever since I touched a Leica Rangefinder. But there are many things good about the GF1 which many appreciates. For me, I use the Lumix 20mm F1.7 lens on my E-P2. No offence Olympus, the Lumix is really way sharper! With rumors about the next EP-xx coming very soon, for all those who haven’t yet invested in MFT(Micro-four-thirds) system, you might wanna hold your horse.

I treat photography as an ART. I used to hang out a lot with some photographers who think highly of themselves as artists. They hate pixel peepers. Who are the pixel peepers? They are those who couldn’t resist pressing the magnifying button on their computer, and those who kept emphasizing on “actual pixels”. They get their satisfaction doing test shots, scrutinizing the difference between F1.2 and F1.4 bokeh, studying chromatic aberration, looking out for “doughnut rings” in the bokehs… and so on.

Artists view them as a waste of time and energy. Artists view them as the bottom feeders, the lowest class of photographers, the proud and unproductive ones, the talk but no action/no true masterpieces ones, the gearheads, the equipment-enthusiasts and not the true photo-enthusiasts, the insecure ones who need big and expensive equipment to boost their self-confidence.

But when the “artist” comes to buying a certain piece of equipment, they seek out internet reviews. They seek out their “gearhead buddies”. They too go pixel peeping online, looking for an answer. How ironical and hypocritical can human be? (I used to be like this)

Just for example, the controversial Canon EF50mm F1.2L lens. This lens has created such a stir on the internet regarding it’s focus-shift issues that at least for me, I will not waste my money on it. So who found out about it’s focus-shift problems? (This lens constantly back focuses at close distances and front focuses at infinity) THE PIXEL PEEPERS!

Photography is not a competition! There are no real champions or real losers! There’s no “finishing line” like in a race! In sports, you can beat someone’s previous record, or score more goals than your competitors, but in photography, don’t tell me you guys out there are calculating how many awards you can win each year in order to compete with your neighbour??? I really hope not! Human is imperfect and so are the judges of each photography competition. You subject your own artistic interpretation for somone else to judge, and you should be prepared that his/her views may not be your views. Nobody’s right or wrong. Can’t you see?

To set a standard for everyone to follow is “communism”. It will be so damn boring to have everyone shoot the same way! Organizations which declare themselves as “world standards” often are doing it for commercial reasons, never ARTS. They exist for clients who want quick answers.

So what’s about my “pixel-peeping” lately? I am learning from my previous works. I am doing lotsa comparisons. (I’m still not that “FREE” ok? I pixel-peep in between clearing current workload). I am studying if I am progressing. I am studying if the photographs I made can last a lifetime without making me sick of looking at them. That’s one reason why I hate Fisheye lenses. I just don’t think Fisheye images last. They make me feel giddy. And in today’s digital world, it is also obvious that “overly-photoshopped” pictures don’t last long!

All in all, we should thank the pixel peepers around us. They help us realize the difference between full frame sensors and four-thirds sensors, the beauty of creamy bokeh vs harsh bokeh, the worthy buys and the not-so-worthy ones… … etc. so that we can settle down on which equipment to use for which purposes, and concentrate on creating masterpieces of our own!

Equipment does play a part in image-making! If you are a true hardcore artist, this post is not for you as you are most likely happy with that $20 toy camera in your hands!

The Power of Small Cameras

Man smoking, waiting. Olympus E-P1 at 14mm, 16:9 format, built-in art filter.
Man smoking, waiting. Olympus E-P1 at 14mm, 16:9 format, built-in art filter. I was about 2 metres from my subject.

I have recently grown much in love with small cameras like the Olympus E-P1, Leica M6, Rollei 35mini, and even the old classic legendary half-frame Olympus PEN FT, just to name some. My madness and fanaticism over small cameras is not getting any better and in fact, is getting worse… though the Leica M9 at RM25k is way out of reach. I figured that I can do the same thing by mounting my Leica lenses on my Olympus E-P1 via an adaptor and manual focus it even better than the M9 by using live view. Haha… self-consolation maybe. Or use my full-frame film Leica M6. Cheers man!

Still, I am often humbled by the fact that good images do not rely on good cameras BUT good photographers! Just browse through Flickr and you will be humbled just like me. Many of my favourite shots often come from my small compact cameras too.

Why own a perfect, what I call a “magic camera” like the Nikon D700 or D3, that when you wanna “steal a shot”, the cameras are so huge that you will be caught way before you press your shutter button! Not unless you are using a 70-200mm telephoto or even longer, and stand 50 -100 feet away. However, I also remember Robert Capa said,” If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough. So, I guess wide angles and standards are still my preferred choices. I like to sneak up close and personal, “steal” a shot without scaring my subjects with huge cameras, and sometimes, “ask” for a shot from my subjects. (I’ll be writing on the difference between “stealing” and “asking” for shots in another post).

So, why do I call the D700 a “magic camera”? Cause it really can continue shooting at ISO6400 or higher when all other cameras “died” in the darkest environment ever. (Of course the Canon 5Dmark2 too will continue shooting, but maybe focus blur. Kidding… cause personally I think Nikon’s AF is better).

Then the Olympus shooters will exclaim, “why shoot in such lowlight when the lighting is not even good, all flat?” And the Olympus shooters will whip out their off-camera TTL flash and boasts of the best skin tones and lighting achievable in such situations! No doubt, they will get the best-looking portraits.

I often wonder, why still shoot when all around you is so blindly dark??? Oh, then I figured that maybe you are a paparazzi or a private investigator doing your job trying to catch someone in their “act”. Lighting is no longer important, “the act” is more!

Now that I’ve been missing my big SLRs, let me try listing down it’s advantages.

ADVANTAGES OF BIG DSLRs:

1. Faster frame rates (but the loud clanky shutter sounds will give you away)

2. Size and look will boost your self-confidence or ego (if being regarded as a professional by “how you look” is more important to you than your images)

3. Faster auto-focusing (compact cameras with F8 aperture can “focus ” faster due to deeper depth-of-field)

4. More inter-changeable lens choices (an up close personal 28mm F8 shot of a stranger on the street is a 100 times more compelling than a 85mm F1.2 shot showing a reluctant face)

5. You look like a PRO, you look like a PRO, you look like a PRO. Oh, what can I say? The whole world thinks you are a PRO. You get people asking you for business cards. You don’t really have to show your images. The gear you hang on your body speaks everything. No one dares to comment openly about your images. All you will hear is,“Nice. Very professional.” (I’d rather not live in delusion)

Conclusion: Yes, I still use my big professional SLRs when the need arises (faster frame rates, lenses, etc.) But I will always want my images to speak for me, NOT my equipments.

And the power of small cameras must not be undermined! A small and insignificant camera with a quiet shutter doubles up your photographic opportunities, even triples! It also tests your communication skills with your subjects!

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.

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!

I Quit

1. I quit shooting weddings after weddings, which is what I have been doing for many years, no time to think of what I really want to achieve artistically, neglected many clients in my busy schedule which I feel bad till today.

2. I quit from the repeated routine of shooting weddings. Artists need to break their usual routine, that’s when they can breathe some fresh air, and mature in their thoughts and feelings, thereafter reflected in their works.

3. I quit following the world in believing being rich and famous is an essential. There are just too many things in life that money cannot buy.

To all who cares for me and love my works, don’t you worry. I still shoot weddings, just that I only shoot a certain number of weddings per year. 38 weddings per year is way too many for me. I am a part-time wedding photographer, freelance teacher, freelance editorial and non-profit community photographer now. I love training people, believe in effective personal training and mentoring, enjoy the sincere company of my few associates from 1 Avenue Photography.

Photography yesterday and today, what’s in for the future?

It’s amazing how photography has developed since the introduction of digital cameras. Respect for photographers has dropped tremendously over the years since digital has started to make photography “easier and easier”.

With the latest advanced technology in today’s DSLRs, more and more “photographers” arise, snapping thousands but choosing just a handful to put up in their blogs. Furthermore, images are tweaked(or repaired) using easily-available software. We are depending on “Chance-Shots” more than ever before!

It is no longer easy to judge a photographer’s real strength anymore since we hardly read the “whole book” (thousands and millions of multiple-shots) but only read that “few sentences” on websites and blogs. Talking about not to judge a book by it’s cover? (For my full set of proofs to read my “whole book” – click here).

Yesterday we took painstaking effort even in family snapshots, cause it’ll cost you a dollar or more if you make a mistake on film. Today, we snap away like nobody’s business leaving tons of trash images in our computer unedited, unseen for years. It’s time to really re-consider photography.

Art or Junk? Vision or Chance? Switch to your camera’s “continuous-shots mode” and click away non-stop like nobody’s business OR think, imagine, previsualize and feel before you shoot?

Digital shooters, it’s time to slow down and ask yourself who you really wanna be.

Slow Down!
Slow Down!
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rushing, rushing...

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Yesterday
Yesterday
Today
Today
Yesterday's snapshot
Yesterday's snapshot

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Images from Michelle & Aravind’s Kampar Wedding.