Monday, May 21, 2018

A Cafe Inside A Bus

Last weekend I was away to a photography trip at Sekinchan to shoot the Milky Way. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side, the weather forecast indicating 80% chance of thunderstorm throughout the night. While it did not rain at all, the sky was shrouded with heavy clouds, with not a single star visible in the sky. To me, it was not always about getting the shot. What truly matters was being out there, surrounding yourself with the right people, people with similar passion and love the things that you do and support each other in this crazy journey called photography. Indeed it was possibly the largest outing for Olympus users in Malaysia!

Sekinchan is situated outside the city, about 2 hours drive away from Kuala Lumpur. Sekinchan is famous for their paddy field, the one nearest to KL. In the afternoon, I was invited by some of the participants to join in their coffee session in a nearby cafe. How could I say no to coffee? Little did I expect the cafe was actually a re-purposed old-school real life-sized bus! I guess a hipster cafe cannot get any more hipster-ish than this! I thought this could be the perfect opportunity to give the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II a much needed warm up before the night Milky Way shoot (that did not happen in the end, unfortunately). All images were taken with the gorgeous M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 PRO lens, unless otherwise mentioned. Man I do miss the awesomeness of the 7-14mm ultra wide angle coverage!

The cool thing about having coffee in this bus cafe: it is overlooking the vast paddy field plantation just outside the bus, stretching endlessly! There is just something about being in the open space that gives the sense of calm and peacefulness. Which was a total contradiction to the limited seating space inside the bus. Quite an interesting experience. 

Menu was quite limited, and kitchen was downstairs preparing the food and drinks. I had coffee with Mango Cheesecake. They also serve lunch menu, with dishes like pasta and chicken chop. The coffee was good and the cake was really delicious. This shot was taken with Olympus 25mm F1.8 of course, for that yummy creamy bokeh. 

Almost everyone in the bus were participants for the Olympus Milky Way outing event. Many of the people who went were recurring/returning workshop participants, from my previous sessions. It was like a mini gathering and I was happy to see so many familiar faces!

I have been to Sekinchan several times now, but I am still awed at the sight of the paddy field. My only complain was the overbearingly hot weather, if only it was 15 degrees Celcius cooler, it would have been perfect!

Another view inside the bus cafe. 

The Olympus M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 PRO lens was just the right lens for this situation. It was effective in two separate situations: firstly the wide angle lens effectively captured the breathtaking landscape of green paddy field with blue skies surrounding the bus and secondly, the much needed extra wide field of view for interior bus shots, which was quite cramped. While the choice of focal lengths always comes down to personal preference and shooting style, I cannot deny the need of certain specialized lenses for very specific shooting needs. The 7-14mm delivered the results needed in this case.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Being At The Right Time and Place

I have always believed that luck plays a very important role in everything we do in life, including photography. Photography opportunities may happen at the least unexpected times, and one of them happened in my recent photowalk. It was an official Olympus Malaysia outing to Batu Caves, and we have been doing this workshop for at least half a dozen times now. However, we have never encountered this particular moment when the light shined into the dark cave in glorious looking golden rays. The newly built temple inside the cave did an extensive incense burning in that particular morning and the smoke produced from the burning was well timed with the exact moment the light ray came in, creating a dramatic effect. Coincidentally I had the Sigma 16mm f1.4 lens so I thought this could make a great sample image for the lens review, which was published recently on Ming Thein's site. 

There are many things we cannot predict or control in life. Sometimes when we go out for a photowalk it may not be productive, and we end up with not too many great shots. That is ok, because you have to win some and lose some, and you cannot win all the time. The best thing that we can do is to get out there as much as possible and hopefully when the wonderful photography opportunity presents itself, we are ready to capture it with our camera.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Olympus Reintroduces RC Mode (Wireless TTL-Flash) into OM-D E-M10 Mark III

Due to the buzz surrounding Malaysia's 14th General Election several days ago, I have missed out on an important piece of camera related news: Olympus has released a new batch of firmware updates for their cameras and lenses. One particular update that stood out from the rest was the addition of RC Mode (enabling wireless TTL Flash control) into Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III. I was one of the first to voice up my dissatisfaction toward the removal of such an important feature on an Olympus OM-D camera body when I reviewed the E-M10 Mark III on Ming Thein's site here. I am glad they have heard my feedback (as well as many other loyal Olympus fans) and enabled RC mode via the latest firmware update.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Featuring Amir Shariff

Inspiration comes in different forms. While most people look up to incredibly famous, well celebrated star photographers, I find myself drawing inspiration from often lesser known people, especially those who are around us that we can actually reach out to and have real conversations with. To me, it does not matter if you have won countless list of prestigious photography competition or awards, or someone who has a million followers on Instagram. When I look at photographers I look at their work, and today the highlight is turning to a friend of mine, Amir Shariff. 

Caught up with Amir on his recent trip back to KL, and that was him holding the Sigma 16mm F1.4 in his hand. 

I have known Amir for a while now, and he was my travel/shooting partner during my short trip to Cambodia a few months ago. I see Amir as an extremely talented street photographer with a unique eye for drama and interesting moments, seeing things a little bit differently than most people. When I knew him in KL several years ago, we were shooting together almost every weekend. He has since moved to London for further studies and that auspiciously granted him immense travel opportunities to many other parts of the world. Having traveled to so many different countries, seeing different culture and people, it was a huge advantage for a street photographer.

I have been the persistent voice nagging Amir to start his own blog and start sharing his photography to the world in a more systematic and blog-like format. To me, having a blog is a better platform to showcase your photography in a series, instead of just blasting images at Flickr, Instagram and Facebook. Amir finally did, and please do go visit his awesome new spanking blog and you will understand why I find myself inspired by him and his photography work.

Funny story, Amir was the one who pushed me to start my Instagram. I initially did not want to have an Instagram account because I could not find something specific that I wanted to do. At that time, Amir has started his street photography specific Instagram showcasing images only in black and white, and I thought wow, what a fantastic idea! Then it hit me, what if I did my own Instagram with a similar concept, but everything in bold, loud, eye-poking colors, that could work too! Hence I had my Instagram images selected purely based on strong colors.

Shout out to Amir for the loan of Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens which was reviewed at Ming Thein's site here. 

Amir will return to KL and you will see plenty of our shutter therapy adventures soon!