May 2012 Archives

Streeting is like a box of chocolates

You just never know what you're going to get. And that's part of the charm, the allure, the bait to lure the adventurous spirit within each of us to get out there, camera in hand.

Some days you come back empty handed. Some days you come back with a photos you can spend hours looking at, and wonder.

Click through the images for the larger version. All shot with a Canon 5D MarkII, 50mm f1.4 lens.

The Seven Apostles

At the time i didn't realize how interesting i'd find this scene. The moment i saw it on my monitor, i thought, "Wow. 7 men (excluding the one inside), each with body language and facial expressions that tell much more than is obvious."

The number seven was nagging as me. It had a significance, though it took me a moment to realize how it would fit into this context. Then it struck me -- the twelve apostles of Christ, SEVEN of whom were crucified. It spurred me to look more closely into the shot. Peter? Andrew? Phillip? Simon? 

*EDIT 8 June: I've been informed that seven apostles were not crucified (though some could have been). The idea that they were is an uncertain oral traditional.

Screw you!

A bit further down the road, an old lady was getting really wound up at one of the stall sellers. Screaming profanities, hunched over, sharply jabbing her finger at him. I waited for her to turn so that i'd capture her anger, and she did eventually, but from the contact sheet, i chose this instead. The vehemence of the posture, the jabbing accusation at an unknown person off-frame. This photo just seems to suck me in with it's emotion.

la mode faux

It looks like a tattoo. But it isn't. He looks like a tough, mean man, brawny and powerful with a gold bracelet and a Rolex. But maybe just like his fake tattoo, he isn't, and it isn't. Perhaps it's the shoes that just gives him away.

Once in a blue moon

Every once in a while, the view outside the office window becomes truly jaw-dropping. Very thick, very low cloud cover dominated the skies this morning. Laden heavily with rain, the few minutes before the sky opened up it's bounty were photographically magical. The texture, the natural desaturation of colours, the dull, stony ache -- all made for the perfect storm. Incredible, powerful, majestic.

Rolling thunder

Embrace the grain

Streeting has been a journey for me. It's one thing to compose a street photograph correctly, and to be decisive in the shutter capture. It's another to draw out the right impact of the photograph with adequate processing and editorial of the contact sheet. Some days, i go through a whole memory card that looks good in the camera's LCD only to be disappointed upon processing. A number of issues can arise -- the photo lacks critical focus on the subject, the dynamic range is unusable and cannot be recovered, etc. There is one other that i've been struggling with: despite the fact that the street elements are there, i'm unable to get the "feel" of the purpose. Technically adequate without being excellent, but emotionally empty, soul-less. That's a huge problem i've had in a great majority of the photos.

Sometimes, it feels like i'm getting closer. Most days it feels like i'm getting further away. One step forward, two steps back type of progress. Being positive, it doesn't mean that i'm getting worse, it just means that i'm discovering more and more what doesn't work.

Today, as i went about for my daily dose of street therapy (why does that sound so wrong? haha), i shot with something in mind, similar to something i've been experimenting with lately -- let's see how many things i can get wrong by design and pick the "best" out of all the wrong. If nothing else, such an approach might defeat the trend of trying hard but getting nowhere; now i was trying to do badly and see where that would lead. Flipping the coin, so to speak, to see what was on the other side.

Let's get the metering wrong. Let's blow out the dynamic range by shooting into the setting sun. Let's zone focus beyond the subject. Let's completely toast the processing. Then, let's see what happens, let's embrace the grain. This is what i got.

Comments are very welcome.

Click through the images for the larger versions.


Bagman with flair, i meant flare


Living dangerously



Taking a compact to a wedding - YES YOU CAN!

Well, the Olympus OM-D EM-5 is a compact camera in terms of size. But it delivers fabulous results, comparable to what you'll find with a DSLR. Good enough for a wedding shoot, certainly.


The wedding throne

I ran into a friend the other day, a professional photographer. We both happened to be covering the same event. He was decked out in a rapid sling body harness with at least 20 lbs of gear hanging on him. Two bodies, Canon 1Ds, 24-70mm on one, 135mm on the other, both with 580EX speedlights, then several other lenses in pouches, and a monopod hanging off his belt. I had a tiny Olympus OM-D EM-5 hanging around my neck, a pancake 14mm. I didn't even have a flash attached.

I looked at him, and he looked at me. We both had a good laugh. He asked, "I've heard a lot about the OM-D, how does it handle?" I replied, "It's great." He smiled.

"Why don't you use a smaller setup when you go on assignment?"
"I wish i could. It's not what the client expects. If i don't come looking like this *decked out*, then they don't think i'm doing my job."

And there lies the rub, isn't it? It's not that smaller, lighter cameras are not good enough; i believe we've past the level of photographic adequacy a long time ago -- the limiting factor now is not the camera, but the photographer. But it's because clients expect an uber geared warrior otherwise the photographs simply can't be good. You have to give the client what the client whats, right?


Uncles lined up in a row


An usherer waiting at the door

The last time i shot a wedding, i brought along my full frame gear, and multiple lens choices. Admittedly, i think i captured one of my photographs of the year at this wedding, but i can honestly say i think my gear choice wouldn't have made the difference. I knew what i was looking for, and when it happened, i made sure i was in the right place to capture it. Even with a tiny Point & Shoot, i would have gotten the shot, and considering how good these cameras are nowadays, despite the low light, it still would have worked.

This time, for my cousin's wedding, i was travelling very "heavily" -- in the sense that i had my family with me. So baby in one arm, i only had one other arm free. The only way i was going to get any photographs was with a smaller camera, my Olympus OM-D EM-5. Even with a spare lens in my pocket, the whole setup weighed the same as 2 loaves of bread and about as bulky as a mid-1990s mobile phone. One handed shots, no problem.


You can tell they are sisters from the smile


Husband and wife

Moving around, the one thing i noticed immediately was the small setup i was sporting made it easier to get into position. Mobility isn't an issue with a full frame either, but it was simply easier. Being easier, who doesn't prefer that? The other thing i noticed quite quickly on was that fatigue took a lot longer to set in, despite the fact that i was running around like a bunny snapping photos at nearly everything that moved.

Getting home, and looking at the images on the computer, i was very pleased with that i had. I don't think i missed a single shot due to something i wished my full frame could do that my compact micro four-thirds camera couldn't. If i missed something, it was because i missed it; i would still have missed it regardless of any camera used.

So, the question remains, can you take a small camera to a wedding and expect to walk away with very satisfying photographs? I believe so. At the end of the day, what makes the difference is the photographer himself, rather than the gear used. Can he "see" the shot, does he have strong "anticipatory" instincts, is he patient enough to capture that "decisive moment", is he creative and bold enough to engineer the moment? That makes the difference, that will make the shot.

It's a different story whether clients can be convinced to accept the output from a photographer using a small camera. 


The bride


A parents' blessing

See the full photoset (15 shots) on Flickr. Click through any of the images above for the larger version.

She seems to always catch the Light

It's incredibly easy to take photos of Mia, my daughter. The camera loves her. As do my parents, her grand parents.

Sleeping beauty

A moment with her grand dad.


And her grand mother.

DAS WESENTLICHE - The Essential Element

Was happy to be invited to attend the Leica launch event for it's latest cameras in the market -- the Leica M-Monochrom, the Leica X2 and the Leica M9 Hermes Edition. A new lens, the ultra-sharp APO-Summicron-M 50/2 ASPH was also launched. Met some people whom i knew, and made new people who shared a passion for photography in general and a fascination with the Leica brand in particular.

The cameras themselves were an interesting mix. The Leica M9 Hermes Edition is a beautifully crafted camera, and extremely exclusive. The Leica M-Monochrom has made waves as a B&W only digital camera -- a very bold move by Leica, and probably only something they can pull off considering the history and type of following the brand enjoys. The Leica X2 is a very compact, very light firecracker of a camera. Read the review of the excellent pair of reviews for the Leica M-Monochrom and the Leica X2.

It's unlikely that my near future sees me owning any one of the cameras launched tonight, but that's where aspirations and desire comes into play -- i can want to own a Leica M one day and work towards this goal. Who knows what the next day might hold. 

Click through the images for the larger version. See the full photoset of the event (15 photographs).

The Leica M-Monochrom

The Leica M-Monochrom. See no touch, unfortunately.

The Slinged Leica

The ultimate accessory

The Leica M9 Hermes Edition

The Leica M9 Hermes Edition

Unveiling the Hermes

Unveiling the Leica M9 Hermes. What a beautiful camera!

The Leica X2

Shooting with the Leica X2

The street rojak pesembor

Probably one of Malaysia's most famous street foods, the rojak pesembor has a special place in the hearts of most Malaysians. A combination of fried flour batter with small prawns, fried coconut and fried tauhu -- all chopped up into small cubes. Topped off with a salad of cucumber, turnip and beansprouts then literally drowned in a generous serving of thick spicy sweet peanut sauce. Some variations include boiled potatoes, hard boiled eggs and chili squid. Served on a small plate, eaten on a stool under the tree, on the street, or the sidewalk. 

It's quite a treat, and a must try for those of you who are gastronomically adventurous. 

Then as a dessert, the better stalls also serve the most famous street dessert in Malaysia -- iced cendol. A concoction of pandan flavour flour droplets, served with shaved ice and a soup of rich coconut milk, sweetened with a thick dollop (or three) of red palm sugar. Perfect for the warm humid days of the Malaysian clime, perfect to douse the spicy flames of the rojak's peanut sauce.

The following exponent of the rojak pesembor is particularly well known, situated in the affluent Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. It draws crowds in the dozens during lunch everyday. Absolutely delicious.

Click through the images for the larger version. Shots taken with an Olympus OM-D EM-5 with a Panasonic 14mm f2.5 ASPH lens.

Slicing dexterity - 2 packets a minute!

Her dexterity is amazing, slicing through the ingredients at a rate of about 2 servings per minute. Customers hardly have to wait.

Cendol tapai - sweets with fermented rice

Roughly translated -- "Cendol with fermented rice tastes AWESOME... Try it!"

Spicy sweet peanut sauce

A deep well of peanut sauce, the "heart and soul" of any good rojak.

Pouring the sauce

Those small little baggies are used to hold everything.

Cendol, famed street dessert

Even the awesomely sweet and delectable, cendol. 

The Freedom Train

I wonder whose idea it was to put quotations from our Prime Ministers on the hand-holds in the LRT. It certainly caught the attention, and considering how recent the wounds of Bersih 3.0 are, sparked off a sensitive nerve. These very same trains carried Malaysians to the Bersih rallies, at which they were tear gassed and beaten by the police. Its poetic that they literally held on to these words before and after it happened. 

The Freedom Train

The Men of Freedom

Tun Abdullah Badawi

This is certainly a debate i'd like to have

Tunku Abdul Rahman

Seems like a steep price, loyalty.

Plenty of room for all

There is plenty of room for everybody. Ironic in the claustrophobic confines of a public train.

The Forlorn Cup

You see them in every major city on earth. But do you really see them. 

I walk past them in my rush to work, or my rush to someplace that isn't there. I hardly give them a second look. Perhaps i'm ashamed that if not for a lucky twist of fate, i'd be sitting there in their place. Perhaps, it's natural to ignore, to block what the mind doesn't want to, or can't deal with.

Yet, they sit there everyday. A cup in hand, hopefully pointed to the heavens, empty, devoid of the the metal clink of coins or the ruffle of notes. They keep on waiting, forlorn.

The Forlorn Cup

Asohan Aryaduray

Every once in a while comes along a person who was destined to be a journalist. And a really good one too, standing the test of time, and even several boomerangs. 

I had the good fortune to run into Asohan Aryaduray the other day at the launch of the Google Chrome App Store Malaysia. I've seen him on and off over the years, and have spoken to him in passing several times too. This time, we spoke about the "good old times", and about how blogging has changed in Malaysia. The lines between blogs and media have become increasingly blurred over time, he said. When there used to be dozens of blogs that existed for the sake of blogging seems like so long ago. Now such blogs, noble in purpose, rarely last very long, and those that do have evolved into quasi-commercial media entities with their owners becoming mini-celebrities in their own right, making a living from product endorsement and URL linking.

I'm not going to say that this is bad, and i think, if i read Asohan correctly, neither would he. It's just different. 

Click through the image for the larger version. Taken with an Olympus OM-D EM-5 with a Panasonic 14mm f2.5 lens.

Asohan Aryaduray

Asohan, through the glass

Photoessay: The Malaysian Mamak

You'll find the mamak restaurant everywhere in Malaysia. Run mostly by Indians, either of the local or the sub continent variety, they perform a very important function by making sure there is always food to be had at any time of the day, any day of the week, everyday day of the year. 24/7 -- day in day out the curries, the roti canais, the nasi lemaks, the fresh coconuts, teh tariks and dozens of other items on the menu that can, given time, give you a heart attack, diabetes or both.

And yet Malaysians flock to them, at all hours. Truly, we love our food. By extension, we must love our mamaks.

Click through the images for the larger version. All shots taken with a Olympus OM-D EM-5 with Panasonic 14mm f2.5 pancake.

Chinese man with Indian curry

A chinese man with indian curry. Globalization at it's best.

Layers of Mamak

Looks closely and you'll find a hidden easter egg in this photo. Hint: it has nothing to do with eggs.

Checking out

Keeping the figures straight. In a purely cash business, millions of ringgit per day flow through the mamaks across the nation. Easily, millions.

A method to the blur

On the way home today, i wanted to try something different, push some creative limits (well, my limits in any case). I'm generally from the school of thought that precise technique is important, and one of the qualifying factors in a keeper is the sharpness the photo has achieved. Blurred photos tend to get junked during the first pass of processing.

But was it possible to intentionally blur a shot, and still maintain a modicum of sharpness in critical elements in the frame? Layering the image, using motion blur to draw attention to the subject while creating a secondary subject with the direct opposite. 

Setting out with zone focus and manual metering in mind, i was about to find out.

The contact sheet for the attempts made is a mixed bag of weirdos. But the following two photos made it out with the objectives achieved -- the eye is drawn to the foreground subject because of the motion blur, while intentionally and purposefully distracted by a juxtaposed sharpness in an adjacent background layer. Each image tell a compelling story: The first of love, Starbucks and a walled garden (Marlowe would have been proud). The second of tradition, East and East meeting in multiple exposes. 

Click through the images for the larger version.

Hand in hand

Hand in hand, lovers, Starbucks and walls.

Looking forward

East within East, the lady is not what she seems.

My submission for

Slim pickings today, and difficult shooting conditions. Baby in one arm (and she isn't a featherweight anymore!) meant that i had to shoot one handed. Not easy, not at all. 

Shots taken today can be submitted to to be a part of the global photography movement of photographs taken today, 15 May 2012. 

I noticed this lady walking around the mall with her daughter in a stroller. From the way she held herself and her clothes, you could tell she was a reasonably sophisticated woman. Beautiful and in her prime, already with a 3 or 4 year old daughter. I took this photo as mother and daughter connected over her phone, possibly to pass the time while waiting for a table to open up at the restaurant.

Be like mom

I wanna be like mom.

Geartalk: Streeting with the Olympus OM-D EM-5

I enjoy taking photos on the street. Candid, unassuming photographs of people i see on the street. Sometimes, i stalk these people for a little while, if i find them particularly interesting. Follow them around for a bit, hoping to catch them in that "decisive moment" when interesting transforms into art. It doesn't always happen, but that's part of the fun. 

The camera you choose to take with you to the street does have a direct impact on the ease or difficulty in how all of this is achieved. Generally, larger is worse, smaller is better. A large camera (say, a full frame DSLR) attracts a lot of attention due to it's obvious size -- point the camera at someone and odds on you'll be noticed; being noticed will almost certainly affect the behaviour of the subject. A smaller camera reduces the risk of being noticed, and also often provides additional mobility to take photos from unconventional angles. Plus the fact that streeting = walking, and walking around with 5-10kgs of gear gets tiring very quickly. Smaller = lighter.

How does the OM-D fare as a street camera? Very well. We've already covered how well it handles in High ISO/low-light scenarios. A lot of street shots, those in the evenings, can be done in very low-light settings. How about the 5-axis image stabilization? It works great here. While streeting, you're moving a lot, your subject is probably moving as well and chances of motion blur can sometimes be high. This is mitigated somewhat by the built-in IS. 

The other deal maker is the AF speed. In 2 of the 5 photos below, i only had a split second to get the shot. I didn't even have time to bring the camera up to my eye for the EVF, or to review the composition in the LCD. I just pointed and snapped. The AF locked on in 200-300ms, achieved critical focus and the shutter fired. Any slower and i'm certain the shot would have been lost; the subject turned away and the connection with the camera was lost. 

And finally, the tilt-screen. In 3 of the 5 photos below, the photos were taken by swiveling the screen upwards 90 degrees and looking directly downward into the camera to get the photo, almost like how you would should with a top-down viewing medium format camera. Being able to see the subject without even looking into his direction is what this feature allows you to do; and it works great in reducing the chances you'll be noticed, thus adding to the level of candidness in the shot.

The following photos we taken with a mix of lenses: Olympus 45mm f/1.8 and the Panasonic 14mm f2.5. Click on them for the larger version.

Angel in white

Street angel

Always open

Always open. The cobbler that never sleeps.

Thank you, come again

Thank you, come again. Down the hatch.

Leaning to exist

Leaning to exhale.

A chance meeting

And boy meets man. 


You can tell a lot about the composure of an artist when you stick a camera in their face while they perform and shoot away. Just 17 years old, Neeta Manisha didn't flinch a muscle as i snapped 20 frames of her and her band from close range. So young and already so comfortable with the attention. I'm impressed.

Read more about Neeta on her Facebook page.

Shot with a Panasonic 14mm f2.5 ASPH on a Olympus OM-D EM-5. Click through the images for the larger version. 

Neeta and her band, IAMNEETA

A lady and her band.


Strumming sweet harmonies


She is 17, but her band members certainly aren't.


Caressing the microphone


I was practically right in her face for this shot. She just smiled.

Geartalk: The Olympus OM-D EM-5 in Low-Light Conditions

Don't miss Geartalk: First Impressions Olympus OM-D EM-5 published earlier for daylight and indoor mixed-lighting shooting performance

The high ISO, low-light capabilities of the Olympus OM-D EM-5 is one of the camera's most popular discussion points. Generally, previous Micro Four Thirds (M43) cameras have struggled with anything higher than ISO1600; noise of the speckled type (instead of the can-be-pleasing-grainy type) just takes over in the darker areas of the image. But the new OM-D is a different beast altogether.

Equipped with a new 16MP sensor, a significant upgrade from the sensors of earlier Olympus M43 cameras, the OM-D takes on low-light challenges with gusto. Noise is kept to very acceptable levels, even into ISO6400 territory, and with the built-in Noise Reduction switched off. As an added bonus, it also looks like the sensor is able to handle very strong mixed lighting conditions as well, with detail retained in areas of the image you would otherwise expect to be blown out; the dynamic range of the sensor is excellent. Not sure Olympus managed to pull this off given the size of the M43 sensor, quite possibly a new technique to increase the sensitivity of the photosites. 

A final comment about the camera performance in low-light, perhaps the most important one: AF remains fast and snappy. Perhaps just a shade off the pace in normal lighting situations, but i can safely say i didn't miss anything because i had to wait for a hunting AF. Having used an Fuji X-Pro1 recently in similar conditions, i would say, the AF speed of the OM-D is at least 3x-4x faster. Yes, it's that fast (or the X-Pro1 is that slow, whichever way you want to look at it). Having said that, X-Pro1 high ISO performance and IQ is excellent, but a hunting AF can be quite a deal breaker for many.

The following images were taken after the Russell Peters Notorious World Tour 2012 performance at Stadium Malawati, Shah Alam. Light sources were limited to very bright stadium spotlights that created a dull ambient glow in the shadows. Processed using my normal workflow in Lightroom, perspective adjusted to the more cinematic 16:9. None of the files required any special attention, they were reasonable out of the camera.

A note about the lens used that night: a Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 ASPH LUMIX G. Wide open, it's pretty sharp in the middle and quite soft around the edges; the softness is managed with a combination of some cropping and vignetting. Besides the slight softness around the edges (that completely goes away by f4.0), it's an excellent lens. Will do a review of the lens once i've had some time to use it in a variety of situations.


The crowd leaving the stadium after the show. Some highlights were blownout around the bright light, but consider that the rest of the foreground was almost pitch darkness. Some fill light used to bring out the detail; quite impressed with how much details was captured in spite of it all.


I watched this lady for several minutes as she furiously texted on her phone. She was obviously waiting/trying to find a friend who had been separated from her in the large stadium and the chaotic manner in which the crowd dispersed. Don't let the image deceive you -- there was very very little light in this photo. A spotlight a couple of hundred meters behind me illuminating shadows against the stairs, and another spotlight a few hundred meters behind her. It was very very dark. Some noise at ISO3200 but it was kept very much under control.


Perhaps this is the group of friends the lady in the previous photo were waiting for. There is another raised staircase just around the corner from where the lady was waiting. This group seemed to be waiting for someone as well. The spotlight in the top left corner? That's the light source for the previous photo.


The dynamic range torture test. Notice the amount of detail in the lighted areas, the staircase and doors. Pretty amazing considering (a) everywhere else was pretty much dark and (b) the light areas are quite bright. Click on the photo for the larger version to see more detail.


The rustic, empty, and tomb-like quiet of the ticket box offices. This was nearly an hour after the show ended. Traffic was terrible so i stuck around to take photos of the stadium architecture. Again, the detail retained in the brightly lit areas AND in the shadows is very good. The processor manages to balance it out nicely. 

Geartalk: First Impressions Olympus OM-D EM-5

A lot of ink has been dedicated to the Olympus OM-D EM-5. It comes from a rich history, the OM series of cameras. A stroke of marketing genius to bring it back, add the -D, and push it as the climax of everything the Micro Four Thirds (M43) consortium has learned over the last couple of years. Does the end product match the hype? 

I must admit, i'm a fan of the M43 system. Small, powerful and versatile, it let me take a camera to places, and take photographs from angles and perspectives that a large full bodied DSLR can't. Many of my most interesting photos in my Flickr-stream were taken with the Olympus Pen Mini, the smallest full featured M43 camera in the market. So you can imagine when the OM-D was announced several months ago, i was particularly excited to see what it could do, especially as it was claimed it resolved some of the weaknesses of M43 cameras that came before -- poor high ISO performance, lack of EVF, lack of image stabilization. Would the OM-D deliver?

Edit: Small sensor issues such as as lack of DOF and subject separation have been handled by the M43 consortium by putting out some amazing lenses. The Panasonic Leica 25/1.4, the Olympus 12/2, the Olympus 45/1.8 and the highly anticipated upcoming Olympus 75/1.8 all produce amazing bokeh and gives the photographer substantial control over the DOF.

After shooting with the camera for a couple of days, i've got to say i'm impressed with it. Low light performance? Very good, much better than my Canon 5D Mark II - which isn't saying too much; but saying it's on par within a usable range with the 5D Mark III would be saying lots about how good it is. AF speed? Super fast, blink and you'll miss it. The much-discussed 5-axis Image Stabilization? Awesome, shooting handheld never felt so "safe". IQ (image quality) and IR (image rendering)? Amazing, much better with the same lenses than the smaller brother, the Olympus Pen Mini. 

Is it perfect? Nothing is, but i think the issues i have with the camera are probably an issue of personal taste, some will agree, some won't, to either a lesser or greater degree either way. For example, i'm really not digging the rear buttons, they seem to be getting in the way for a comfortable hold of the camera at rest. Battery life isn't great either, and after 4-5 solid hours of shooting, it's down to the last 1/3 bar of juice (in comparison, a Canon 5D MarkII can go on an on for a full day and still have 75% power remaining). AF accuracy while generally solid, fast and snappy, does seem to miss a little more than i'm used to; when it nails it, it's tack sharp. But when it misses, i could i sworn i had it in the EVF, so that's throwing me off a bit. 

On the balance of things, i feel i have a lot more to be excited about. Most importantly, i'm having fun snapping away with it, and enjoying the experience. Bottom line, that's what counts the most.

The following photos have are from a walkabout in KLCC; all have been processed using my standard Lightroom workflow. Doing this allows me to compare output with the rest of my photos that i process the same way, thus giving me a truer indication of what i'm able to expect when i use this camera. 


Shot with the excellent Olympus 45mm f1.8. Notice the dynamic range, despite the strong highlights in the background, the foreground detail is faithfully captured. 


Notice the IQ rendering. The detail retained is stunning.


Heavy mixed light sources and WB. Colour saturation is near perfect, only requiring minor adjustment. Despite the difficult lighting conditions, exposure metering didn't fail.


Another example of excellent control given difficult high contrast scenario under very bright sunlight.


Outdoors, direct light conditions are a piece of cake for the OM-D (as expected considering it gets the tough ones right). But just checking. In particular, notice the colour saturation in the green. No colour adjustments in this file required.


Outdoors, mixed contrast scenario -- no problem in the shadow highlights. 

More review shots will be added to this dedicated Flickr photoset. I've also had a chance to test the OM-D under EXTREME low-light conditions, will post those findings up next.

A mobile conference

One of the good things about having to send in the Canon for servicing is that it gives me a chance to use my other camera more. Took it for a spin at the GoMobile Conference today and took a couple of snaps in between speakers.

One of the distinct advantages a smaller camera like the Olympus Pen Mini has over larger ones is the ability to take photos from more interesting angles. With the Canon i could probably still get this shot, but i'd have to by lying down on the floor to get it. With the Pen Mini, it's a simple matter of lowering the camera to the floor from where i'm sitting, and composing from a distance using the LCD. 

Camera mobility at a mobile conference. How apt.


Geartalk: How-to manually clean your Canon 5D MarkII sensor

Perform at your own risk, i'm just sharing how i fixed my problem

As i was randomly snapping pics tonight, i noticed there was a dark spot in the photos, and it appeared in all the shots in exactly the same spot.


Notice in the top right corner. See below for magnified crop.


Initially, i thought it was a hot pixel. That occurs sometimes in Canon EOS cameras and is easily cleared by using this technique: manual sensor cleaning mode, 60 seconds, then power off, power on. So i gave that a try, twice, and it didn't work. The dark spot was still there. That's when i decided that it was probably a physical item, possibly a speck of dust on the sensor. A hot pixel is generally also blue or red or purple, not black like the one i saw. Black tends to mean dust or some physical element on the sensor.

Don't try this unless you're very sure you know what you're doing. So i went back to Manual Sensor cleaning mode, accessible from the menu system. What this does is raise the shutter permanently for as long as you leave the power on, thus exposing the sensor behind. With the sensor thus exposed, you can reach it with a cleaning element such as a clean air blower, or a dry cotton swab, or like i used, one of those dust pens (like the one pictured below). By using a small penlight, i spotted the small speck of dust immediately on the sensor in the corner of the sensor, gave it a quick swipe with the dust pen to clean it, then quickly powered off the camera to bring the shutter back down.


And that was all it took! Sensor is clean again, and no more dark spot in the frame. 

It's probably a good idea to do this in a clean and dry room where there isn't any dust floating around in the air. The sensor will be exposed for 30-60 seconds at least, and it's very easy to make things worse than they are unless you're careful.

An evening in the park

I'll look back on days like this one day and long for them again. It's one of life's simpler pleasures that we often take for granted when we are given the opportunity to indulge, only for it to be gone all too quickly. And by then, of course, it's just too late. 

Down the chute!

Down the chute!

Daddy and Mia sitting in the swing

On my knee

Flying high!

Flying into the sky

That's my papa

That's my daddy!

Sliding to victory


Sometimes the mojo deserts you

Weddings are great photographic events. See the last one i went to, there was no shortage of photo fodder. However, last Saturday night i went to another, and only came back with one usable photo. The rest were uninspiring, boring, plain. 

What can you do. Some nights the shutter just refuses to fall the right away.


Photoessay: Ming Thein

Ming Thein is a clever man. Engineer. Physicist. Horologist. Photographer. Cigar aficionado. Metrosexual. I've known him for a more than a year now, and i still find it hard to pin him down. There always seems to be different shade of him i haven't seen, layers within layers, like a never-ending onion. Constantly evolving, always looking to create something from nothing. A dynamic, modern, educated and talented Malaysian, if there ever was one. 

He recently opened his Leica and Jaeger Le-Coultre exhibition here in Kuala Lumpur to great fanfare, the opening officiated by the Minister of Tourism, Datuk Ng Yen Yen. And today, was kind enough to take some friends and fans on a personally guided tour. His energy and enthusiasm for the subject matter was infectious, and he was happy to share his techniques and methods. Professional hubris? "I don't mind showing you how i did it, because even if you knew how, you wouldn't be able to replicate it." Fair enough, i suppose. And he would be right.

The exhibition, though pared down from the gala opening, was amazing. 18 fantastic photos of watches that most mortals can only dream of owning. It's a testimony of his art that even so, the 5 of us in attendance, felt just that much closer to the dream, than if we had simply seen the watches in the window display or on the pages of some glossy magazine. I have no doubt, that based on the strength of the images, if any of us had half a million ringgit in our pockets, the Jaeger Le-Coultre showroom would have been our next stop. They were just breathtaking on so many levels, each one able to articulate a particular aspect of the Jaeger brand. 

In many ways, observing Ming during his tour, and how he interacted with us, and more importantly, how he interacted with his art, told us a lot about him. If there was one word i would use, it would be pride. He is genuinely proud of what he has been and is able to do, describing the photos as his "children" when asked which one is his favourite shot. Just like a proud parent, it would be unfair to ask him to name one he liked best. 

Click on the image for the larger version.

The tour group

The tour group, at the start of the exhibition

And this goes here

Explaining the intricacies of watch design

Two faces of sophistication

Which is more complex? The watch or the Man. The answer isn't so obvious.

Objective subjectivity

Long shadows, longer impressions


Enjoying a rare cigar at the end of the tour. Apt considering his talent is a rare one.

My 5 most interesting photos

Flickr has an algorithm that it uses to determine the "interestingness" of a photograph. It's a combination of how many views the photo has received, how many people "liked" it, how many people engaged with it with comments, and how fast all of this happened. It's a fairly accurate gauge of how well received, and generally how interesting your photo is. Notice, it doesn't gauge how "good" a photo is; that's too subjective for any algorithm to figure out. 

I've uploaded 679 photos into Flickr in the last 6 months or so, and the following 5 are what my audience find the most interesting. The first was shot with a Canon 5D MarkII 50mm, and the next 4 were taken with an Olympus E-PM1 45mm.

What do you think of them? Click for the larger version. Here are my Top 50 most interesting photos. My Flickr photostream.


Shot in Cameron Highlands, night market


An unknown lady of uncommon beauty and poise

A lady's beauty

A colleague, at a corporate function

A beautiful lady in a hijjab

A colleague, at another corporate function


Mia, my daughter (i liked this photo so much, i printed it on a large canvas that now hangs proudly on my wall)

Giddy'up horsie!

She just hit one year old. She is starting to stand on her own, walking can't be far behind. And she seems to have an affinity towards horses.

Mia on a horse

A diver's calm

There is a nice quiet time after a dive, when the diver, even if it's only just for a short moment, will look within himself and be totally at ease. It's probably a little bit like what a warrior feels after a fight, or what a runner feels after a run. Perhaps the effects of adrenaline, slowly wearing off. Or perhaps an introspection of the amazing sights under the waves just witnessed. Whatever it is, it's something, that small private moment, every diver looks forward to.

At peace

The colours of dusk

The last few moments of the Golden Hour, the photographic equivalent of the caviar of light, is just before all light is gone: dusk. You don't actually see the sun anymore at dusk, all you see are the trails of light it leaves behind as the horizon engulfs it. If you're lucky and conditions are right, you'll get to witness one of Mother Earth's greatest natural lightshows at that very moment.

Click for the larger version.

Sunset at Tanjung Aru

The view at dusk from the Sunset Bar, Tanjung Aru, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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