Sunday, July 05, 2015

Shooting with Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm F4-5.6 II Lens

Special shout-out to Jia Yeen for being such a sport, you were awesome! Thanks for spending time with us noob portrait photographers. 

I have done something rather unusual this weekend. Instead of shooting with my favourite prime lenses, or even the newer PRO lenses, I decided against all my usual preferences and picked up the one lens which I rarely used, the M.Zuiko 14-150mm F4-5.6 II from the office, mounted it on the beautiful OM-D E-M5 Mark II and I went out for a full on shutter therapy weekend. With just ONE lens. 

About General-Purpose Zoom Lenses
I will be very honest here, I normally would not recommend a 10x or more zoom lenses, especially the lenses spanning from wide angle to telephoto zoom range. I believe that in order to fit in such a huge zoom range into a lens, there must be some compromises. Since most cameras are equipped with at least the basic kit lens, it makes much more sense to get a dedicated telephoto zoom lens (such as 40-150mm F4-5.6) to complement the original kit lens, and save a few hundred dollars of hard earned cash. I always had this perception in my head that the basic kit lens and the telephoto zoom lens will both perform considerably better than the all zoom wide to telephoto lens. This statement is valid based on many feedback and experience from many friends who come from all sorts of camera brands. So is this the same case with Olympus? This is what I will find out and discuss in this blog entry. 
Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm F4-5.6 II lens looks great on OM-D styled camera

Friday, July 03, 2015

The Problem with White Balance

One of the things I rarely discussed here is white balance. I personally think that these days, all cameras are equipped with reliable auto white balance engine that negates the need for manual intervention. Most of the time the camera can decide the required white balance settings accurately, or close to what we consider accurate. 

So what is white balance?  Well, according to the experts (and scientists) white balance has something to do with neutralization of colors to a certain percentage of grey, or whatever that means. Why is that so important? Colour is the first thing that our brain processes when we are viewing a photograph, and if we somehow get the colour balance unacceptable to the brain, we might think that there is something wrong with the photograph. (side note: this is also the same reason why by removing colour in the process of shooting black and white photographs, the brain processes the subjects more directly, without the distraction of colours). 

Oh dear, that was a terrible explanation of white balance and if I were to teach photography I think I might just get fired. 

White balance has been a topic that was playing at the back of my mind for some time now. I do not believe white balance can be achieved by simply using some mysterious grey cards. Strangely, I do not even think there is such thing as a perfect white balance. Now bear with me as I explain with some examples. 

1) What our eyes see may not be what we want to have in white balance. Sometimes. 

My final photograph, with corrected white balance in Olympus Viewer 3. This was not what I saw but what I thought looked better in my final output. Compare this with the original image shown below, which was representative of the real colour captured as seen with naked eyes. 

This was the original, untouched image, SOOC. The purple colour skin was as seen with my eyes, and the camera did nothing wrong registering this. I decided this did not look good and I modified to white balance, so that the skin colour looks more believable, and can be accepted by wider viewing audience. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fun On The Street with E-M5 Mark II Titanium

If you are still unaware, there is a newly released Limited Edition of Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II that comes in superbly sexy Titanium finish. Paying homage to the legendary OM-3 Titanium in 1994, this Titanium tinted variation of E-M5 Mark II looks much better and more alluring in real life, than in photographs! 

I took some quick snapshot of the camera (I am completely noob when it comes to product shooting) while I was in office and I actually brought it out for my weekend adventures. Shaun (visiting from Brisnane) and Bjorn joined me on the streets, and to add more drama, I loaned (again) Shaun's voluptuous Panasonic 42.5mm F1.2 Nocticon! What more can I ask? 

Strangely, the previous blog entry that I have posted few days ago have photographs taken on the street with no close up street portraits, which is quite an unusual thing for me. Not that I have deliberately intended to do something different, as I was shooting for that previous session, I wanted to distanced myself from my subjects to allow myself to think about the content I wanted to write (hence the 5 truths I have learned). 

However for this particular session, since I was joined by great company and we had so much fun, I have reverted to my usual self of going up really close to my street victims and attacked them at point blank. And boy I had such fun doing that! The Panasonic 42.5mm F1.2 Nocticron did a superb job in rendering amazing portraits: beautiful bokeh for effective subject isolation (F1.2 !!!), excellent sharpness (some claims this lens is as sharp as the Olympus 75mm F1.8) and the material used to construct the lens is made of a metal called unobtanium. To ALL camera manufacturers out there (and yes I mean ALL) please give us more super bright aperture prime lenses. 

A Young Boy 
42.5mm F1.2 Nocticron

Saturday, June 27, 2015

5 Truths I Have Learned About Photography

Photography is an ongoing learning journey, there is so much to explore, so much to experience. Some lessons come easy, some are difficult to learn. I think it is extremely crucial to acknowledge that there is no one ultimate form for photography, consequently being open and subjective. I also believe that we all want to improve and get better in what we do, simply because we will be able to enjoy what we are doing if we are good at it. After all, what is the point of picking up the camera and do this thing called photography, if you are not able to have fun while doing it?