Sunday, December 29, 2013

Project Burger: Awesome Gourmet Burgers with a Healthy Twist in Kuching

I know I know, I said my previous Japan trip blog entry would be the last one for 2013, but during my trip home to Kuching, I stumbled upon Calvin Kho's Project Burger, and I just have to blog about this!

I have known Calvin (the founder of Project Burger) for many years now, and we do have a lot of common friends. He came from Graphics Design background, having explored to education, being a school teacher for several years. Being adventurous, Calvin had always wanted to try out F&B and finally decided to take the plunge and started this interesting venture. Last Friday evening, together with my Kuching friends we sampled the best burgers in Kuching, my beloved hometown. 

Starting small, the venue was a humble car porch area of Calvin's Kuching home at Heights Avenue. It was a one man show, meaning Calvin is doing everything from taking the orders, preparing the burgers and serving the customers, all by himself. Kuching does have a homely, small town atmosphere hence the venue and dining style worked perfectly well. Considering Project Burger just started about half a year ago, this was a wiser option, and as the crowd expanded over time, Calvin does intend to open a restaurant/eatery. 

Pork Burger with Extra Toppings, Bacon and Poached Egg




Sunday, December 22, 2013

Land of the Rising Sun, Japan

Side Note: This blog has surpassed 7 Million page views!

I have just returned from my Japan short visit (for business trip actually), which I managed to squeeze out one and a half day for personal walkabout and shutter therapy. Yeap, you heard that right, I was doing Shutter Therapy on the streets of Japan, a perfect conclusion for my 2013. In case you do not know, this was also my first ever visit to the land of rising sun. 

As usual, bloggers at this time of the year would start to summarize and conclude their major events of the year and perhaps compose a closing blog entry for the year. I decided not to do that this year, after all I can always pause and do a quick reflection, re-capping the happenings in my life from time to time, and that does not necessarily have to be at the end of the year. As an alternative, I decided to make this Japan trip blog coverage as my final blog entry of this year. Therefore, this blog will be extra long, with a lot more photographs than usual (apologies to slow internet users) and I shall also randomly throw in more thoughts and sharing my experience in a more lengthy writing than usual. Considering all that I have gone through this year, with my mum's surgery, change of career path and me joining Olympus Malaysia in an official capacity, I do think that being out of the country for almost a week in Japan was the perfect finale I could have asked for. 

Before flying to Japan, I have consulted a few friends for advice, tips and recommendations on places to visit and shoot, especially for a photography-enthusiast with extra itchy fingers, with extremely limited time. Huey Yoong (click) has been extremely helpful in providing me very useful info, in fact I planned my entire layout for my schedule almost solely based on her detailed, well thought-out recommendation. I have shown the initial plan to my colleagues in Japan and asked for further improvements or tweaks if necessary, but everyone agreed that the plan worked, and was very good already. Also special thanks to a Japanese blog reader Norikazu Maki who emailed me and added a location for my shoot. The following list describes my locations which I have visited, in chronological order:

1) Hachioji
2) Shinjuku
3) Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
3) Senso-Ji Temple, Asakusa
4) Akihabara
5) Yebisu Garden Place
6) Shibuya

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko lenses: 9-18mm F4-5.6, 17mm F1.8 and 45mm F1.8


Friendly Japanese Folks. Hachioji

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Introducing Zuikoholics

Side Note: I will be travelling to Japan for work, and will be gone for about a week. I am not sure what kind of Internet connection I will be having there, hence if I have been more silent than usual, do not panic, it simply means I will be terribly busy with work, or have no access to Internet (or more piratical reason, too busy out there shooting, if I do find some time). Well, this will be my first visit to the Land of the Rising Sun, so YAY!

Earlier this morning, I had the privillege to join a group of local photographers whom I admire a lot, and they call themselves the Zuikoholics. Formed by fans of Olympus and Zuiko products, this group of photographers are some of the most passionate Olympus users I have known in Malaysia, and many of them have stayed with Olympus for many years, some even longer than me, and these days with the camera wars going on, loyalty has become a rare and extremely admirable trait to have for a photographer. I have often respected and awed at the photography work they produced, and they are maintaining a photography blog here (click to go to Zuikoholics). It was quite an interesting pool of talents, because they basically cover many grounds, from street photography, macro photography, abstract art to landscape and events. Considering how much they love Olympus and have stayed with Olympus all these years, they are amongst the most knowledgeable Olympus users I have known and I would gladly recommend any newcomers to Olympus to seek Zuikoholics members out for advice. 

I met up with three of their active members, Suzailan Jai, Ahmad Jaa and Capin Zaini at Pudu Wet Market and we had some shutter clicking action. I felt so inspired and motivated just by walking alongside them! I should really make time to shoot with them more, and perhaps next time, doing an insect macro outing. So much I can learn from.

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens

Take My Fruits

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Heavy Breakfast

A heavy breakfast to start a weekend full of adventures.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens. Shot at F8



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Night Photowalk with Johan Sopiee

A prominent Malaysian wedding photographer, Johan Sopiee organized a photowalk at KLCC area earlier this evening, and I was privileged to join the gang for a short shooting session. There was a heavy downpour in late afternoon and the sky did threaten to rain, but that did not stop many of us to turn up and have our shutter clicking happen. The gang met up at Dome, KLCC, had drinks and proceeded to shooting around the KLCC area. I did bring a tripod along, just in case I wanted to do long exposure shooting, but I decided not to do so for most of my shots, probably because I came from a long day of work and I was physically very tired. Nevertheless the shoot went on!

I have taken quite a few shots of the KLCC scene but they all turned out too ordinary, and honestly the twin towers have been shot too many times before in all imaginable ways possible. It was not easy creating shots that can stand out from the rest. Considering it was a rainy day, there were low clouds hanging and fortunate enough for us some puffs decided to crashed on the peak of the twin towers! That was when the magic happened, and we only had very short windows of opportunity. I know I know, out there, at other many times many people might have shot similar towers with clouds shot before but hey, it was my first time and boy was I excited!

All and all it was a great session, and I had fun catching up with Johan, and making a few new friends. More importantly, I got shutter clicking going on and I could not have asked for a better evening spent!

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 with M.Zuiko lenses 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 and 45mm F1.8 



Sunday, December 08, 2013

Twestival KL 2013

In the midst of crazy busy week that has been, I managed to squeezed some time out to attend a charity event yesterday, which was the Twestival KL 2013. It was basically a Twitter's Festival, some sort of a gathering of local tweeters in support for charity purposes. Plenty of fund raising activities were happening, including item auctions and merchandise sales with all profits going to Persatuan Kanak-Kanak Istimewa Hulu Langat.

You must be wondering what the heck was I doing there, since I do not really use Twitter. Well, I do have a twitter account but it has somehow been inactive for a while, and I do not really have any friends I have made in Twitter so, I was afraid I would be a stranger there. Nonetheless, before Twitter ruled the world, blog was the dominant social media and thankfully I did make some friends from my blog! I was pleased to see a few familiar faces: Jian (akiraceo.com), Ivy /hungryc.com/) and Anna (annna.net). I was surprised to find Anna using Olympus OM-D E-M5 already! Also present was Carmen Hong. 

There were also entertainment on stage with live performance so there I was with the OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens and I started randomly clicking at things. The lighting on stage was horrendous (with bluish, purplish and pinkish strong color casts) so I decided to present everything in monotone. 

Iphonegraphy

Elaine Daly 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Shoot What You Want to Shoot

I am often asked "what do you always look for when you shoot on the street, and what should we watch out for?". Honestly, there is no straight and easy answer to that. My consistent answer has always been go and shoot what caught your attention, what spoke to you, and what attracted you. If you found something interesting enough to grab your attention, then that should be an interesting subject to photograph. 

The mistake that most people do when they shoot on the street? They read too many street photography books, read too many tips and tricks on street photography blogs or forums or listening to every rules from some street photographer gurus, and tried to emulate and produce what they thought what street photography model was. The way I see it, there should not be any model. There were great street photography work done in the past, but let's move on. Let's make even greater images. Stop referencing the past. The people, the place, the culture, the history, the time, everything is different and we should move forward. We, the new generation of street photographers should define our street photography. I am not discrediting or putting aside where street photography came from, I have deep respect for that, but are we really making our own photographs, or are we merely trying to be what they were?

So yes, I see things very differently, because I am different. I shoot differently, because I am different. I am not a great photographer, but I am happy shooting what I see, and I am glad I can share these images here. There are no secret recipe, special techniques, or tricks to get the kind of shots I am showing here. They are honest, straight to the point, no drama photographs. 

Kuala Lumpur

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Olympus Malaysia Walkabout at Pudu

Olympus Malaysia had a walkabout session at Pudu, Kuala Lumpur this morning, and guess what, I was the one leading the session! 

The purpose of this Walkabout was to encourage our Olympus OM-D, PEN and E-System (Four Thirds DSLR) users to go out and shoot more with Olympus gear. After all, the purpose of having a camera is to shoot photographs and we do want our users to use our cameras and lenses more. At the same time, it was a group outing so it was a platform to connect the Olympus users together. I was an Olympus users for many years and believe me it is a lonely camp when you do not know where to go and how to find other similar brand users. The registration to this event was open on last Tuesday and within just one day, the slots were already filled up! I limited the slots to only 15, mainly because it is easier to manage a small group, and in case there were questions or issues I can try to make sure that I am available to tend to as many people as possible. I have joined outings with 30-50 people and while they were fun, it was almost difficult to have any chance to talk to the leader at all. 

The turn-up was great and we had 16 people with us this morning, which comprised of many OM-D E-M1 users, E-M5 and also PEN users. Of course managing a lot of people means I have less time shooting (hence less photos here) but it was a joy to be able to bring a group of people to my usual street hunting ground, Pudu and introduce street photography to many people for the first time. People there were friendly and very approachable and there were so many activities and things happening around the place. My only wish was to be able to connect and communicate better but that was difficult to do when the group was difficult to move together once we have hit the wet market (we had to move in smaller groups). 

Full Attendance - Olympus OM-D, PEN  and E-System users for Pudu Walkabout!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Almost an Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro Lens Review. Almost

I actually intended to do a full blog review on that amazing Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens. I got out shooting most of the weekend, but at the same time I also had visitors from Germany who travelled to Kuala Lumpur to spend a day trip here, and I was more than happy to show them around my usual street hunting grounds. Well, I was not really a good multi-tasker anyway, and I really enjoyed myself with Robin and Jenny whom I brought along to Chow Kit, Kampung Baru and Masjid Jamek area. 

Having the 12-40mm F2.8 lens review in my mind, I did make some effort to shoot, but coming home and reviewing my collection of images, they were somewhat insufficient to constitute a full review. There were so many things to cover for this lens, some notable strong points such as good close up shooting capability was not tested. 

So in this blog entry, instead of being a blog review for the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens, this shall be a small collection of images I have taken over the weekend.



All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens. 

Robin and Jenny from Germany. Check out Robin Schimko's amazing photos here (click)
1/80sec, F2.8, ISO640, 40mm

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Olympus Walkabout with Robin Wong

Hello beautiful people! There will be a street shooting session this Sunday (1 December 2013) at Pudu (my favourite steet hunting ground) and I will be leading the walkabout. If you are in Kuala Lumpur and you are free, why not join us and have fun shooting and sharing knowledge and experience on using Olympus gear. Do register (PM to Olympus Malaysia FB Page) and this event is only for Olympus users. I sure hope to see some of you there this weekend! My hands are getting itchy already. 


Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Wedding in Perth, Australia: Christopher & Charmaine

A wedding assignment earlier this year in Perth, Australia. Great friends Charmaine and Christopher got married, and I was privileged to shoot their wedding. It was one of the most beautiful weddings I have been to, and I have them both to thank for. 

Can't wait to return to Perth again for another wedding assignment next year!

Original images were in 4:3 aspect ratio, I recropped the images just for the fun of it, into a cinematic 16:9 ratio. I thought it worked well!

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital lenses 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 50mm F2 macro, 25mm F2.8 pancake or 50-200mm F2.8-3.5


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Meeting a German Professional Wedding Photographer Who Uses Olympus OM-D

Kindly support the Prints For Philippines project, a unique collaboration of photographers selling highly collectable photographic prints to raise funds for the DEC Philippines Typhoon Appeal - 100% of sales go directly to the Disasters Emergency Committee.

I feel very privileged to have blog audience reaching far outside of Malaysia, and whenever I have foreign visitors dropping by Kuala Lumpur and requested to meet up, I get extra excited. This is especially true when I get to connect with photographers from different culture and background, yet sharing the same faith in the Olympus Micro Four Thirds system (sounds like a religion, now that I have typed that wordings out). This evening, I had a great chance to get to know a wonderful German professional photographer, who visited Malaysia. 

The cool thing about this guy is that, he name is also Robin. This was probably the first time I was writing an email starting with 'Dear Robin', and ending with "Regards, Robin". Nonetheless, this Robin Schimko from Germany has earned my respect after he showed me his photographs, both from his professional work as well as his personal street photographs. For his professional work, he has used Fuji and Nikon cameras, and recently made a jump into the Olympus system. Robin claimed that he was very happy with the output from his Olympus system (he now uses OM-D E-M1 and PEN E-P5) and was amazed by how reliable and blazing fast the AF performance of the Olympus system. He has also shown me some of his works in prints and was amazed by the quality he could accomplish even shooting at high ISO on the PEN E-P5. I admire his style of street shooting, which was completely different from mine, as he prefers environmental portraits and uses dominantly wide angle coverage, which I rarely practise. 

 Robin Schimko 
 his blog here: http://www.fotodesign-rs.de/


Although I have been a long time Olympus believer, it is reassuring to hear another photographer tell me wonderful things about his choice of using Olympus. I guess I have been shooting with Olympus all this time, and being an Olympus meaning I have been in the minority group and most of my other friends actually shoot with... well, what else if not Canon and Nikon cameras. My friends have always been supportive and understanding and not many people questioned my work or choice of equipment. Nonetheless, it would be a dream come true to form a larger group of Olympus community, and have more people realize the wonderful things that Olympus gear is capable of. Instead of me telling others how great Olympus is, it was rewarding to hear someone telling me instead!

A great thank you to Robin Schimko for having time for me, and it was great knowing you. I surely hope we can find a bit of time for shutter therapy! It would be my genuine pleasure to show you around Kuala Lumpur streets, and I am curious to see what you can do with your street photography style here. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Let's Talk Images

Kindly support the Prints For Philippines project, a unique collaboration of photographers selling highly collectable photographic prints to raise funds for the DEC Philippines Typhoon Appeal - 100% of sales go directly to the Disasters Emergency Committee.

When people think about me, or see me in person, they often associate me with a few things, notable one being a camera reviewer. Eric Kim, during his short visit to Malaysia did ask me before if my blog is gear review oriented, in an attempt to persuade me to use a proper website domain name (eg, robinwong.com) instead of having the suffix dot blogspot dot com after my blog name. He was trying to determine the purpose of this site, and I can truly understand his observation and analysis that my blog somehow has transformed into a site where people come here with the main intention of reading my gear reviews (or more specifically put, Olympus gear reviews because I rarely do review any other stuff).

Not that I mind people seeing me as a camera reviewer, but that was not my sole purpose of photography involvement and surely not the only thing I want to be known for. Thank goodness I do blog religiously week after week with fresh photographs from my shutter therapy adventures, to fill in the long gap between gear reviews, which only happened about 3 times per year! I would like to think that the reason people come to my blog is a lot more than just reading my reviews. And surely I am doing my best to improve my photography skills (by shooting more and experimenting with techniques, meeting new photographers, etc) and as usual, share as much as I can along this never-ending journey of photography.

In this blog entry, I am re-cycling some of my photographs taken within this year 2013 and I am taking a deeper look into them, describing to you how I managed to capture the shots, what caught my attention in the first place and why I thought the shots worked. I am more or less thinking out loud. That, and of course, an excuse for not having fresh photographs recently to make my usual blog entry but that is besides the point.


Holi Festival 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show 2013

We take a short break from usual street shooting, for the Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show 2013 which was happening at PWTC. Some change is good, and a little difference can make things more interesting, right? So there I was, just clicking away merrily. 


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thank You, KK and Kuching

Over the past weekend, Olympus Malaysia has made an appearance in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and Kuching, Sarawak, bringing over our hero Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the accompanying micro 4/3 lenses. During the brief user events in both places, I have met many wonderful people, and I am truly thankful to have so many people coming up to me and saying hi, and telling me that they come to my blog here often. I just want to say that without you beautiful people, this place would not even exist in the first place. Without your constant visits and support, I am not where I am here today, and I would not be able to do what I am doing now. So, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! I treasure every single one of you, though I might not have the chance to speak to every one, but your presence to the event and your show of faith and support meant a whole world to me. 

I have told myself to make an effort to shoot every single people who attended the event, but being nervous, and taking every opportunity I can find to talk to the attendees, I have missed out more people than I thought I would. I think I only took about less than half of the people who came to our events, and I am showing them all here. I am only one person after all, I cannot do everything at once. And during the event I have had a thousand things running in my mind, and so many things I have to look after. So if your image is not here, it is my fault, do not think that you are not important. 

I try my best to remember everyone's name, but having to meet SO MANY people at once, I failed miserably. My facial recognition ability is at the noobest level, and that is my weakness, which I must learn to improve. If you do not find your name here (or wrongly labeled) I apologize in advance. 

Kuching is my hometown. Many of the people who came were my personal friends, some I have known for a very long time. It was an occasion where I thought I was truly home, because it was that special. It was strange speaking in front of everyone. Nonetheless, it was so good to see so many people, so many familiar faces, and I was overwhelmed at the same time. 

I was using my own Olympus OM-D E-M5, and I was pushing myself to use the M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 lens for all the shots here (except the group shot of course). 

Dexter

Monday, November 11, 2013

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

I have taken six flights over the past weekend, and boy, was it exhausting! On Friday I had a whole day business trip to Singapore, which was a day visit only. The following Saturday, I took the early flight to Kota Kinabalu (KK), Sabah, which was the northern territory of Borneo island. We had the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Touch and Try session at KK on Saturday, and the following morning, Sunday, we brought the Touch and Try session to my hometown, Kuching, Sarawak. This must have been one of the craziest weekend in my life, with so many moving around, meeting so many people (amazing and beautiful people!!). Despite the hectic schedule, I managed to squeeze in a bit of time for shutter therapy. 

It was my first visit to KK Sabah, and I must admit this is one of the most beautiful places in Malaysia, and I was only at the city area, not exploring further. After the Touch and Try event, it was already 5pm, and I had about an hour before sunset. That was my only window of opportunity to shoot, because we had dinner arrangement and later appointment with friends. Though the shooting time was very brief, I made the best I can to experience the waterfront view, and take in the breathtaking scenery overlooking sunset. The place was beautiful and the people, even so heart-warming. I was standing still for quite a while doing some slow shutter speed shooting (resting the camera on flat surface), and a kind local man approached me to say hi. Initially I thought he wanted my help to take a photo of him and his friend/family, but I was surprised to see him holding a box of cigarette to me and asked me to grab one! I thought I stood still for a full 3 seconds before responding no, thank you. I was speechless. Too bad I do not smoke, but that kind gesture is rare in other parts of Malaysia, certainly something impossible to find in Kuala Lumpur. I fell in love with this place almost instantly. 



Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Tips on Improving Photography?

There are so many articles published online as well as in photography magazines and books on tips and tricks to quickly improve photography. There are many variety of techniques or special methods to help the photographer to get better shots, or achieve photographs nearer to the perceived standard of "perfection". Many would pay thousands and thousands of dollars to attend workshops or photography training by the photography gurus. Some go extra lengths to achieve that status and to be claimed a "pro". I believe I am the weird one out from the norm. I rarely read photography magazines, I do read tips and tricks of photography online, but honestly, when it comes to real life shooting, practical photography can be so different. 

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko Lenses 45mm F1.8 and 12-50mm F3.5-6.3

High Above the Ground. 45mm F1.8

Monday, November 04, 2013

Deepavali: Festival of Lights, my Second Attempt

Happy Deepavali to all of my readers who celebrate the Festival of Light!

Last year, in conjunction with the Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 lens review, I went to Shree Lakshmi Narayan Mandir Temple at Jalan Ipoh for the Deepavali Eve, where the Hindu devotees would light up the whole temple with candles and oil lamps. I did have difficulties shooting that event, mainly with restrictions of the single focal length which happened to be my least favourite focal length to work with. This year, I was revisiting the temple to shoot the Deepavali Eve again, and this time with my Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the few M.Zuiko lenses that I do have now.

I consider myself very fortunate living in Malaysia, where there is a large Hindu Indian community that still practise the traditions and celebrate beautiful festivals such as Deepavali. In this occasion, the Hindus were dressed up in their traditional costumes and presented their best, which made the celebration such a colourful scene for photography. It was a celebration of joy and happiness, hence emotions and expressions were abundantly available as photography opportunities. 

If you were to ask any Olympus users 3  or more years ago, shooting in very dim light condition, many would have complained a few issues using the system, and I do admit to these shortcomings especially on slower focusing, as well as poorer high ISO noise handling in comparison to peer DSLR counterparts. In some conditions shooting this amazing Festival of Lights, it was near darkness with only available light from the not so brightly lit candles. So how did the OM-D and Olympus M.Zuiko lenses fare in this situation?

Lets see some photos first!

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko lenses: 45mm F1.8 and 17mm F1.8 

45mm F1.8

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Pushing Myself Further

One of the biggest mistakes that I see in many of my photographer friends, is being content with their photography level, and starting to brag about their own photographs and showing off how good they have become, claiming how much they have come and how far better they are than other photographers (their friends). Perhaps they do not speak that directly, but acknowledging that you are better than others and letting the "ego" take the better of you will not be good in your journey to improve in photography. Photography journey knows no end, it is ongoing, and those photographers who thought they have done it all, knew it all, did not realize that they have stopped growing, and won't improve further any more. 

I am afraid I will fall into that category. I am afraid one day people will think that I am lost in my own world that I no longer can connect to anyone else, and my photography work won't be able to speak to the audience any more. 

Therefore, it is a crucial thing to do for any photographer to always take a pause from time to time and truly reflect on their own work, what they have done, the good and the bad things, and in what ways that can be pushed even further, and be a better photographer. It is the process of continuous improving, even if the steps are little, tiny bit by bit, that gets any photographer to the place he wants to be. 

List of items that I strive for and am working on now:
1) Use more wide angle, and learn how to truly master wide angle shots. 
2) See things differently than what I already have, and challenge myself to find beauty in ordinary things. 
3) Consider more than one main subject in one frame. All this while I have always stayed with one subject one background rule.
4) Break rule of thirds. I noticed how strictly I adhere to this composition style. 
5) Meet more photographers and it is time to network and LEARN, while I share what I have as well. Time to brush up my networking skills.

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko lenses 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 and 45mm F1.8

Multiple Spirals. 12-50mm kit lens

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Some Behind the Scenes Photos

You know, I very seldom thought of how I looked like when I was shooting, and certainly when I have been shooting with many people who tagged along with me on the streets lately, more and more photos were taken of me while I was shooting away, and when those photos came back.... I almost always went "whaaaaaattt....... no waaayy I looked like that!!!". Honestly, I never knew how I blended with the street while I was shooting, that was one mystery yet to be solved. 

Awwww please don't walk away...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

DPReview Awards E-M1 GOLD, and Some Macro Shots from 12-50mm Kit Lens

If you have not noticed yet, DPReview.com has released their complete review for the Olympus OM-D E-M1, and awarded GOLD with 84% high rating (not something very common for Olympus products). DPReview has also stated in their conclusion page that in comparison to Nikon D7100 and Canon 70D, both being E-M1's direct competitors, there really is no noticeable difference when it comes to side by side image quality comparison and this can be negligible. The only significant difference against E-M1 would be comparison with full frame cameras, but of course that is an entirely different story altogether. Ultimately this was consistent with my own findings in my review, the gap between Micro 4/3 and APS-C DSLR is almost disappearing completely now with the E-M1, and mirrorless is surely the future. It is amazing how far Olympus has come with their mirrorless technology in just a few years!

All images in this blog entry were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens


Sunday, October 27, 2013

My Blog is an Island

I am so glad to finally find some time for proper shutter therapy, and together with Shaun visiting from Australia, we attacked Chow Kit, my favourite hunting ground. I have not been to Chow Kit since... I don't even remember when. Must have been more than half a year since I last went there. Chow Kit, as it has always been, remains my number one place to go to for more serious street photography outings. I always come home with better photographs, not necessarily the photos that my readers will like, but those are the photos that I am personally very satisfied with. Photographs that I want to take, and photographs that show the way I see things. There is just something about this place that kept me going back again and again for more shutter therapy. 

In my bag (now a much smaller bag) I have the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko lenses 45mm F1.8 and 12-50mm F3.5-6.3. As usual I would expect myself to use mostly the 45mm F1.8 lens, but somehow this time, I have changed lenses more often than I used to, and I have utilized the 12-50mm kit lens more than I have originally intended. It provided me with wide angle coverage, something very useful when shooting in tight spaces especially when we were in the wet market. To be honest I am starting to warm up to this lens. I know very well that the new M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 is a far greater lens in every aspect, but this 12-50mm kit lens is not exactly doing too bad, especially in situations where I do not need the extra speed of F2.8 bright aperture, and in shots where sharpness does not really dictate the better outcome of a photograph. For my usual street shooting, the 12-50mm kit lens did its job wonderfully!

Dried Food. 12-50mm kit lens 

Gas Tank. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

New Tripod Shooting Spree

Update: Please check out our Olympus Malaysia Online Shop, we have new stock arrival of some really cool items!

Bought myself a spanking new tripod at a local warehouse sale, sturdy lightweight and compact tripod, capacity up to 3kg weight and having ball-head for quick adjustment. Giottos VGRN 9225, and I got it for 50% off the retail price. Not a bad deal. 

So what happens next? It is not too difficult to guess, I went for a shooting spree earlier this evening. 

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. 
ISO200, F8-11, Shutter Speed varied (shooting with aperture priority). Image stabilization was turned off. 


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Shaun Visits KL Again, and Night Street Shooting with E-M5

Shaun Nykvist is back in KL again, and I met him up earlier this evening for a very short shutter therapy session and dinner. It was great catching up with Shaun, and joining us was Nick Wade, another usual street shooter around KL area. It was a rainy evening, but that did not stop us from walking about and catching some shots. 

I brought along the Olympus OM-D E-M1 hence Shaun was able to have his hands on the E-M1 together with M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 lens. He was impressed to say the least, coming from a long Olympus usage background since the days of Olympus Four Thirds DSLR. I asked both Shaun and Nick to try the E-M1 and slowing the camera down to 1 second shutter speed, and they were shocked to find that they could shoot one second hand-held, SHARP images! You know it is difficult for me to convince others by showing my own photos but when you are able to do it yourself, I am sure you will be completely convinced. If I remember correctly, Shaun managed to push all the way down to 1.6 sec slow shutter speed, shooting handheld. 

I was of course shooting with my OM-D E-M5, and this was my first time shooting night street in a long, long time. The last time I did this was.... probably... in the beginning of this year? I cannot even remember when! The shooting location, Bukit Bintang has changed so much due to the MRT construction happening, hence the streets had ugly barricades and construction hoardings everywhere. 

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5, 45mm F1.8 lens and 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens

New Fences. ISO2,000

Wet Evening. ISO6,400

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Electronic Viewfinder

I think Kirk Tuck will be laughing at me and say "I told you so, since two years ago" if he ever finds out about this post. Kirk has been a very strong supporter of Electronic Viewfinders (EVF) and he has written lengthily for many times, the benefits EVF brings for practical photography. 

On last Saturday night, I was on the way out to purchase a lens filter for my now still naked lens, but on my way to my favourite local camera accessories shop I stumbled upon a charity concert via Facebook postings. You see, in that charity concert, my favourite artist, Ariff AB was performing, and I thought why not made it there since I was free for that particular evening. Lens filter can surely wait. I made a rough mental calculation and I could make it in time before the concert started, with very minor detour. 

Arriff AB performed on stage and he was AMAZING. I am a huge fan of local music, especially the Indie rock scene. It has been a while since I last seen Ariff AB and after all the hectic Olympus roadshows, touch and try events and the KLPF recently, I thought the live concert was a nice, sweet reward I can give myself. There is something about being drowned in loud music and surrounded by a cheering crowd that is therapeutic as well (besides shutter therapy).  

Please do check out Ariff AB (Youtube Channel)


Monday, October 21, 2013

Sony A7 and A7R Full Review.... Ok Kidding. Just Some Thoughts

Sony once again, has turned the whole photography world upside down with their latest announcement of Full Frame camera in surprisingly small and compact NEX sized body, namely the Sony A7 and Sony A7R. I have had a chance to have a brief hands-on session with pre-production models of both the Sony A7 and A7R, thanks to Sony Malaysia allowing exclusive preview to their loyal Sony supporters earlier this afternoon, immediately after the photo sharing session by Dr Chen who was the winner of Sony's World Photo Award (Malaysia) last year. The whole world is talking about these two Full Frame small cameras, and I too, cannot stop myself from thinking about them!

For full specifications of Sony A7 and A7R, please go to DPReview's page here (click). 


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shutter Therapy with OM-D Users

I have been shooting with a lot of people and rarely have I come across a group with all Olympus users, until very recently, in my previous shutter therapy session last Tuesday, and also this very morning. Basically I pulled together a group of people who have requested to shoot with me on my street hunting session, a few whom I have met during the KLPF 2013 last weekend. As usual I would keep the group small so it is more manageable and we can have more interaction time between each other. When you have a photography outing with too many people, people just tend to break into smaller groups anyway, and get separated from the bigger group. Why not just form smaller groups in the first place?

The location of choice was Pudu, with the primary shooting location being the Open Air Wet Market, a place which has become my favourite. There were a few newcomers this time, and it was their first time shooting in Pudu. As expected, one of the main questions raised today was how I approached the strangers and shoot their portrait photos so up-close. As usual, my answer has always remained consistent, I just walked up to them and shoot. No secret methods, no special techniques, and surely those searching for something extra from my shooting session will be disappointed. I just, literally, pointed my camera at my chosen subjects, and shot them. Did I get rejected? Yes, sometimes, but it does not really matter. There were so many more people to shoot, so many opportunities waiting. Just keep the smile up, and focus on positive thoughts, you will end up with even better photographs than the one you have missed. 

The interesting fact, which I did not anticipated in the first place, was the majority of the photographers using Olympus OM-D E-M5. There were 7 of us, and 5 of us used OM-D, which was something I have not encountered before. I know I am known for being one of the significant blogger who pushed the OM-D into good light, but I myself am always surrounded with photographers and friends who do not actually use micro four thirds system. 

This image was taken with my Nexus 4. So easy to tell which camera was mine, because I was the only one who used black. 


All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko lenses: 45mm F1.8, 17mm F1.8 and 12-50mm F3.5-6.3


Awesome Hair

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Bowl of Noodles

After the street outing yesterday with a bunch of Olympus Micro 4/3 shooters, we sat down at Yut Kee, a Hainanese restaurant that has been operating since 1920's. We planned on shooting some photographs of the food there, which I did, but none of my food shots turned out alright. Since the place was so crowded we had to share our table with 2 other patrons, which was something very common in this restaurant (we had to wait 20 minutes before we were seated). Now, the interesting part was, the couple who shared the table with us actually offered us to shoot their food before they eat them, seeing how eager we were shooting our own food. Shamelessly, we took a few shots of that delicious looking Lor Mee. That shot turned out to be the only food shot I could use from this particular session, and I am showing it here. 

Olympus OM-D E-M5, 45mm F1.8 lens, available light

Although I did not eat this bowl of noodles, I started to regret not ordering one when I was reviewing the photos at home. 

Food photography, something I do intend to explore, but then again.... I am also watching my own weight now. Am not getting younger, but what the heck, good food is meant to be eaten!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

At Last, Shutter Therapy! With OM-D E-M5

Woke up to a beautiful morning, a public holiday in Malaysia, and that means catching up on my much needed, and very deprived shutter therapy sessions. Joining me this morning was a group of Olympus Micro Four Thirds shooters, and it has actually been quite a while since I joined an Olympus only group for any shoot. Of course, this was also officially the first session I have done a shutter therapy (for non-review purpose) with my newly acquired Olympus OM-D E-M5. The gang met up at Masjid Jamek and we shot around the area, ending up for lunch just before noon at Yut Kee. I have been looking forward to this particular shooting session, mainly because I have not been doing any shooting for myself only (as usual, not review related). 

I only have two lenses with me, the M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 and the 45mm F1.8. I felt that I can exclusively shoot with just the 45mm F1.8 lens, but I also wanted to test out the 12-50mm lens, you know, just to get myself re-familiarized with it, since it has been quite a while since I last used the 12-50mm. The E-M5 did a splendid job in grabbing nearly 100% focus accuracy (with blazing speed). When I was using the E-M5, it did not feel alien at all, and somehow, I was quite comfortable with it. The menu system is basically the same with the E-5, and coming from Olympus background, it was quite easy to pick up the camera and just shoot. The basic setup and settings are the same. 

Portrait of a Stranger 1

Monday, October 14, 2013

Moving on to Micro Four Thirds, and KLPF Olympus Shoot-Out Challenge!

I posted a while ago on my Facebook Page (yes I do have a FB Page, if you have not "liked" it, please do do) that I have bought some new gear (camera, lens and bag). Many have responded with rather interesting guesses, such as Fuji! Goodness, never have I in my blog stated my intention or interest in any Fuji cameras. And you should all know by now how loyal I am to Olympus, now that I am fully employed by Olympus Malaysia. 

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 will only arrive later next month, and I cannot afford the E-M1 anytime soon. I cannot even get staff discounted price now, since I am still under probation, and it will be about half a year before I can get my confirmation. I would really, really want to have the E-M1 but it just cannot happen anytime soon. However, at the same time I am facing the same question again and again wherever I go, whomever I have met "Robin, why are you not using an OM-D?"

The Olympus E-5 won't last me long. God knows what I have put it through, and all the tortures it has endured. I dare not even to check the shutter count. Although the E-5 is still fully functional, I cannot trust it to survive for long, and I am not surprised if it just suddenly decided to give up on me. Therefore, the only logical move now, is to go fully Micro Four Thirds. 

For now, Olympus OM-D E-M5 will have to suffice. 

My NEW Gear: OM-D E-M5, 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 and 45mm F1.8



Saturday, October 12, 2013

Olympus at KLPF 2013 Day 1

Being an Olympus employee now, I was stationed full time at the Olympus booth for the Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival 2013, specifically in charge of a section dedicated to the new OM-D E-M1 only. It was an exceptionally exhuasting day, having to explain again and again the advantages and amazing capabilities of the E-M1 to the visitors to our booth, but the whole day felt incredibly fulfilling. It was great meeting the photography crowd, some who do know me through my blog. It actually took bits and pieces of my exhaustion off whenever someone said hi to me!
Being stuck at one place also meant I did not have a chance to roam around and explore the entire exhibition hall. I foresee things will get a lot more hectic on the remaining days, with expected higher volume of crowd visiting as well as our Olympus booth having a lot more activities happening over the weekend. We will have a Shoot-Out Challenge with Full Frame camera users. I shall not go into detail about this Shoot-Out Challenge, but I sure it will be something worth blogging about next. 

I think I did not expect the crowd coming to see the OM-D E-M1 to be so huge. We have relatively lower attendance to the KLPF on the whole today, mainly because the afternoon is occupied by Muslim Prayers, and the day itself is still a working weekday. Hence we are expecting even larger crowd on Saturday, and gosh, I sure hope I can survive the sea of people flowing in. 

With whatever small opportunities that I have had, I whipped out my trusty E-M5 and snapped some shots. 

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sanjit: An Olympus Inspiration

Sanjitpaal Singh is an amazing wildlife photographer, who strongly supports Olympus Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds system. I first saw him giving a talk live on stage at Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival in 2008, sharing tips on shooting wildlife, and I was blown away by his images taken with Olympus DSLR system (with that crazy amazing 300mm F2.8 lens). He left a very strong impression in me and made me believe in Olympus, and love the system even more. He showed me how capable the Olympus Four Thirds system can be, and I was merely scratching the surface of what I could do with my then Olympus DSLR E-520 and kit lenses, and motivated me to explore further and improve more and more. Sanjit has always been a local idol for many Olympus photographers in Malaysia, and I still see him that way even today. 

I had a Godsent chance to work alongside Sanjit during my OM-D E-M5 review series, where he took care of the video review part, shooting me in action for all my review activities. Working closely with him I was amazed even more by his endless creative ideas overflowing from his artistic mind. and I got to witness first hand his dedication and passion toward the craft. He is not just a great photographer, he is willing to go the distance, dare to dream big and push beyond the limits. I was moved by his unfallable discipline and sacrifice he was willing to make to accomplish his creative goals. No wonder, he is a multiple winners of many prestigious international photography awards, which includes last year's IPA Award. I was blessed to have known Sanjit, and be touched by his photography work and passion. 

Earlier this evening, Sanjit was giving a talk at Peter Tan's Behind the Lens session, and it somehow reminded me of the first time I saw Sanjit on stage. That reminder has made me reflect on how far i have come ever since that first year I have got my first Olympus DSLR, all the incredible adventures I have gone through, the beautiful people I have met and the wonderful experience I have had while shooting as well as all my activities here blogging. Surely I have come a long way, and I have a lot to thank Sanjit for. 

I did not have a camera with me, so I have to make do with my phone camera for shots with Sanjit. I thought, after all the reflection and nostalgic reminders, a photograph with an important local Olympus hero has become a necessity!

Please check out Sanjit's work at the following links:
Website/Portfolio: http://fullcirclepix.com/
and also here: http://www.jitspics.com/



Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Penang Diaries

Over the weekend, Olympus Malaysia crew has travelled north to Penang for a user OM-D E-M1 Touch and Try event. The event went amazingly well, and I was so glad to find so many friendly Penang folks that know me from my blog here. Thank you folks for coming up and say hi to me!! I shall blog about the Penang Touch and Try event in my coming blog entry. 

This morning, before we drove all the way back (about 5 hours drive) to Kuala Lumpur, I managed to squeeze in some time for shutter therapy. I did not walk far, but within the areas and streets of Komtar. It was very early in the morning, and much to my dismay it rained for more than half of the time. I only had about two hours before checking out of the hotel and leaving Penang, and the heavy rain was not helping me at all. Nevertheless, I find Penang street to be really, really beautiful and suitable for street photography. If only I had more time, if only it did not rain that heavily, if only I did not have to spend half of the time sheltering myself from rain. I MUST return to Penang again, just to shoot the streets. Everything here is so different from what I find in KL, and it does seem like there is a lot of place to explore! 

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital lenses 11-22mm F2,8-3.5, 25mm F2.8 pancake or 50mm F2 macro. 

Frames

Raincoat

Friday, October 04, 2013

Olympus OMD-E-M1 Review: Comparison with E-M5

Important Notes:
1) I am an employee of Olympus Malaysia. I am reviewing the Olympus OM-D E-M1 from a photography enthusaist’s point of view. I was given the liberty to perform the gear review as usual. 
2) This is a user experience based review.
3) General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
5) No post-processing applied to the images. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

This is Part 5 of my Olympus OM-D E-M1 review. If you have not done so, please go to my previous parts here:
About one week before I published my Part 1 of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 review, I have posted up a poll to survey what are the priorities that you beautiful people want for the key items that I am reviewing. The item that got into the top of the list was "Comparison between E-M1 and E-M5". I have never done direct comparisons between cameras, knowing well there are just too many differences to consider and variables to control. Furthermore there are so many other websites that provide such technical photography gear review with comparisons, and obviously they are better equipped to provide you with better information and more accurate results (studio set-up lighting). There are just too many things that can go wrong and change in blink of an eye while shooting on the field. However, since it was a popular request (and how much I love you all), I shall do a side by side comparison with the older OM-D E-M5.

In this blog review, I shall discuss the key differences between the E-M1 and E-M5, especially the improvements in image quality, new features and technologies implemented in the E-M1. 

Left E-M1, Right: E-M5

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Personal Photographs vs Gear Review Photographs

Whenever someone commented on my photographs shown during my camera review, I always find it difficult to explain that I was not exactly doing my best when I was shooting for reviews. Whenever there was an end product set in my mind, something to expect, or something to work towards, such as reviewing the new camera or lens, I was not concentrating on making art, I was merely making images that fit the purpose of the review, either to demonstrate certain features, or to show some improvements that the new gear has over its predecessors. As my mind was occupied by these "to do checklist", it was difficult to create photographs which I usually like. I always find this a struggle. Yes, I do enjoy taking new cameras and lenses out to play and test them out, but at the end of the day, photography is something a lot more personal, and it involves the photographer's freedom to express his ideas, messages, or emotions. I have done nothing of that sort for the past few weeks. 

I also believe that it is the very "engineering" trait of me to focus on prioritized tasks, and not be distracted by other unrelated activities while working on accomplishing set-out to do objectives. I have come to a point last Saturday, when I was trying out the Color Creator, that it hit me, I should take a break from my long list of checklist of items to shoot for my review, and shoot some photos that I personally wanted to shoot. I was walking on a very fine line here, those photographs that I personally like will not be suitable for use for any of the review entries. I did not have the luxury of time, weekend was short, and I had tonnes and tonnes of things to do. Nevertheless, I decided to make them happen anyway, as I saw the opportunities happen and I just could not help it. Therefore, there is a separate set of small collection of photographs which I am showing here, that I took together with my review entry. One or two photographs may be the same from the review blog but I am processing them differently. 

At the end of the day, after playing with any cameras and lenses, ultimately what a photographer wants, is to photograph. And it is always, always important to listen to that photographer self in you, and shoot what you really want to. Those are the photographs that will feed your soul. 

Narrow Gap

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Review: Color Creator

Important Notes:
1) I am an employee of Olympus Malaysia. I am reviewing the Olympus OM-D E-M1 from a photography enthusaist’s point of view. I was given the liberty to perform the gear review as usual. 
2) This is a user experience based review.
3) The images were shot with JPEG (Large Super Fine) and no post-processing was applied, except resizing with ACDsee7 (with Powerpack). 
4) General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
5) Color Creator applied to all images.


This is Part 4 of my Olympus OM-D E-M1 review. If you have not done so, please go to Part 1 here (click)Part 2 here (click) and Part 3 (click)


Special thanks to friend Khong for taking this shot of me in action! Image taken with E-M5 and the new M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens.