Last weekend, I had the privilege to be the official photographer for dear friends Fei Seong and Lih Shiong, both wonderful ex-colleagues I have known since my engineering days many years ago. I have also covered a casual outdoor pre-wedding portraiture shoot of them about a month ago (click here to go to that blog entry). As usual, I used my trusty OM-D system with M.Zuiko lenses to cover this beautiful wedding. Here is a preview of quick initial edits.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Sunday, December 28, 2014
I had a visitor from Finland this morning joining me for shutter therapy, Matti Sulanto. I think this is probably the first time I have met anyone from Finland! Matti has got quite a story to tell in his photography journey, he has started decades ago in professional photography in the film era, moving on to the digital age, using many different formats. Previously he was using Nikon full frame system which he has since then switched fully to Olympus. The turning point was the introduction of electronic viewfinder that worked so well, changing the way he shoots, having the "what you see is what you get capabilities". He has never looked back, while he still flirted with other brands such as Fuji (which he did for a year), he found himself coming back to the Olympus OM-D system. His reasons: the camera that is so reliable, and yet small and light, producing image output that is more than good enough for everything that he does. Also, he commented that the current OM-D E-M1 is a camera that can do anything!
It was such a breath of fresh air, listening to testinomies about the Olympus OM-D system from a real professional photographer! I have written lengthily from a photography enthusiast's point of view, but I dare not represent the voice of professionals. Nonetheless, it was clear that more and more prominent photographers are switching to OM-D and it is very clear that mirrorless is the future.
I brought Matti to my favourite street hunting ground, Chow Kit. I sure hope he liked the place, and found some nice shots there as well!
On another note, my M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 has been missing from me for the past 2 months, I loaned it to a friend who travelled to Japan and Australia for holidays. The 25mm F1.8 was returned to me just a few days ago, and boy, did I miss the lens so much! I decided to just use this one lens for today's session. It was a short session, as I did have something occupying me in the afternoon. It was great to have the lens back and I foresee myself using it more and more.
All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8
Meet Matti Sulanto from Finland, an Olympus OM-D professional user. Check out his amazing photographs at www.sulantoblog.fi
Sunday, December 21, 2014
It was a lazy, lazy weekend, I was hanging out with friends, shooting on the streets with the still new to me full manual legacy lens, OM Zuiko 55mm F1.2, which I have used on the OM-D E-M5. For the first few times I used the lens it was very awkward indeed, and I admit rather difficult for me to do my usual street shots, considering I have always been so used to the blazing fast Olympus autofocus system. Taking the AF away was like ripping apart a limb from me, and I felt somewhat handicapped. Nonetheless, in life we are rarely complete, we usually do not have everything that we want or need, hence we strive, we struggle and we work harder. The lack of AF allows me to push myself further, and plan my shots more carefully, rather than just machine-gunning my way around.
I am proud to say that after many attempts in using the manual focus lens, now I am getting more and more comfortable with it! My reaction is a lot quicker and my estimates are more accurate now.
Although the lens requires a lot more hard work, gosh, at the end of the day, when you nail it, the shots came out very rewarding indeed. I do like the look of the out of focus (bokeh) area this lens is rendering, and when stopped down to F2, or smaller, the images are VERY sharp indeed.
My settings on the OM-D E-M5, using the OM Zuiko 55mm F1.2 lens:
1) Aperture Priority, with constant fiddling of exposure compensation to get the exposure balance as I judge on the fly through the electronic viewfinder (what you see is what you get)
2) Image Stabilization set to focal length 55mm. This is crucial, to ensure the IS works with the lens and not cause unwanted shake.
3) Magnify 7x on focus area for manual focus assist. I used the magnification preview while manual focusing, to aid in getting a tact sharp in focus image, and this worked very well so far. No, focus peaking did not help (we have been through this before and I do not intend to get into another discussion). I assigned the magnify function to Fn2 button.
4) White Balance adjust in Post. There is something wrong with the white balance engine using a non-digital lens, it was not as consistent and accurate as I expected, hence most of the white balance was adjusted manually in post processing.
5) I rarely use F1.2 wide open, I normally stopped down a little, in between F1.2 and F2 (I am guessing around F1.4 or F1.8). Still having a 55mm at F1.4 to F1.8 can render superbly shallow depth of field. For subjects further away, or in scenes I require more depth of field, I do stop down the lens to F4 or even F8.
6) Shutter speed was watched carefully, not to go below 1/50sec, since I was shooting hand-held all the time.
7) Contrast was boosted significantly in post-processing. The out of camera images lack contrast generally.
Jackie and Calvin
Into the Morning Light
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Last weekend, on stage for the #Ohhsome Festival, one of the act I was looking forward to, besides WongFu Productions and David Choi was our local star, Darren Ashley. Halfway through Dash's performance, John Oommen, the lead singer from another band, Paperplane Pursuit came up and did a duet to their now very popular song on the radiowave, "Beat of Your Love". When John went on stage, the crowd went on the overdrive frenzy mode! I joined in the cheer and I personally that this was the best performance for the whole night at #Ohhsome Festival.
Do check out their cool stuff at the official Youtube Channels:
All images were taken with OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro Lens
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
I am loving the good old OM lens, Zuiko 55mm F1.2 the more I use it. I have forced myself to just use this one lens on an Olympus OM-D E-M1 this time, shooting people that I get the opportunity to meet over the weekend. Using the 55mm F1.2 on the E-M1 is a lot easier in comparison to the E-M5, mainly due to the much larger, brighter and higher resolution electronic viewfinder in the E-M1, allowing much faster and easier manual focusing. Although the E-M1 has built in focus peaking to assist manual focusing, I still find it rather difficult to use for critically sharp photographs, and I resorted to the slower magnify the area to focus method, for better accuracy. What is the point of shooting if you cannot even get the images in focus in the first place? Accuracy is almost always more important than speed.
All images were taken with Olympus Zuiko OM 55mm F1.2 lens, mounted on OM-D E-M1
Meet Pekchekkia and Akiraceo, both very prominent comic bloggers in Malaysia, whom I am proud to know personally. They came over to give a presentation/speech at the #Ohhsome festival.
Cyril Dason, the founder of Sarawak Bloggers, and one person whom I know can make things happen with sheer determination and will power. Congratulations to Cyril on the newborn baby girl!
Shaun Nykvist, one photographer from Brisbane, Australia that I envy so much, for having the opportunities to travel all over the world and shoot amazing photographs! Shaun is also an Olympus shooter, with amazing street, travel and underwater photography in his portfolio!
Sunday, December 14, 2014
I have been a huge fan of Wong Fu Productions for many years. I followed Wong Fu even when I was in my university days, since they first released their Yellow Fever (I saw the video some time in 2007 I think). Wong Fu Productions is perhaps, one of the biggest motivations to me, to pursue what I love doing, and dare myself to go the distance. I can relate to Wong Fu very well, considering two of the core members Philip Wang and Wesley Chan share the same age as me, but look at how far they have come and all their huge accomplishments! They started from filming just for fun in college, and as the Youtube age hit the internet, they took advantage of that and over time, they have improved in their film productions in every single possible angle, from script writing to cinematography. Their passion to go further, dedication to their art and surely, pure determination have brought them far..They made it, and they made it HUGE, turned their passion into a living dream, and have inspired millions of people around the world.
When I heard Wong Fu was coming to Malaysia, I MUST go and see them. I managed to do that earlier this evening, at #Ohhsome Festival happening at Avenue K, Kuala Lumpur. They travelled halfway across the globe to Malaysia, and I must snap a frame or two of their photographs!
Oohsome Festival was a celebration of the power of social media, including Youtube, Instagram and Facebook. Many social media experts or celebrities, both internationally and locally were invited to perform, or deliver talks to inspire the general crowd. The headliner was surely Wong Fu Productions, and along with them also appearing on stage the same evening was David Choi, whom happened to be one of my favourite non-mainstream artists. Seeing both David Choi and Wong Fu, my Saturday night could not have been spent better. It was a night to remember, though my feet hurt so much from standing for more than 5 hours securing the standing spot before the final appearance of Wong Fu on stage. It was all worth it.
All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko lenses 40-150mm F2.8 PRO or 75mm F1.8
David Choi performed about 5 songs on stage, and totally melted the hearts of all the girls there.
Monday, December 08, 2014
So Christmas is near, so is my birthday and I decided that I deserve something to pamper myself with. I decided to splurge (OMG) and bought something which I do not really need, but I do desire to have, an F1.2 lens. Unfortunately the Panasonic 42.5mm is just too far a stretch out of my affordability. Hence I settled with something low key and more wallet friendly, the old OM Zuiko 55mm F1.2 lens.
I know the lens is an old one, and it comes with a bagful of imperfections. I totally understand that at F1.2 the image is soft and I do need to stop down to at least F2 to obtain reasonably useful and sharp results. I also understand that such lens will exhibit plenty of other flaws such as chromatic abberation, and well, I think many of you can fill in the blanks better than I do. The main point is not enough obtaining a perfect lens or the best lens, if I wanted that, I would have gotten so many other amazing digital lenses from both Olympus and Panasonic. The idea of using an old lens, was purely just for the fun of it. Who cares if my images are not exactly that sharp, who cares if they were all technically flawed? This is probably one of the cheapest F1.2 lens I can ever get (the CCTV lens does not count) and I am loving it so far!
Thursday, December 04, 2014
Monday, December 01, 2014
After all the heavy shooting in Vietnam, I suddenly felt the urge to use something simpler and more down to earth for this weekend's shutter therapy session. I wanted to use the Stylus 1 but I could not find one in the drawer hence I took a quick look around and found this baby, the Olympus Stylus SH-1. It caught my attention mainly because of the PEN styled classic design, and as I inspected the camera further, I realized the one important fact about this camera which not many people know: this is probably one of the very few compact cameras (well, that Panasonic FZ1000, which is not exactly a compact, due to the SLR-sized body) with built in 5-Axis Image Stabilization. The SH-1 has a 24x zoom range, which is massive for a camera of such small size, sporting focal length of 25mm wide angle to the farthest tele end of 600mm. Typically most people would shrug off superzoom cameras in a compact body, since anything beyond 8-10x zoom is deemed useless when the camera is shot hand-held. Nonetheless, the inclusion of 5-Axis IS changed that, and I was eager to see how much the 5-Axis IS benefited the long zoom of SH-1.
This is not a review of the SH-1, think of this blog entry as me having fun with the camera, bringing it out for one full day, coming home with some quick snapshots.
Olympus Stylus SH-1, image taken with OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens, the SH-1 being lit by an LED ringlight, and two small LED torch-lights.