Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Upgrading your skills

Its very hard to change how a person behaves. That is bec its equally hard to change how a person thinks.
In photography, your skills and "creative eye" are limited by your own set of thinking and to really break out of the hole that you dug urself in, you can do either one of the following :-

1. purposely shoot how you would never shoot
2. copy someone's else composition

I attended a Bride's theme shooting lately and i tried to modify my default shooting behavior as much as i could. I could already imagine and see how other photographers who participated in the event will end up getting the same images, so i tried to move anywhere that i don't see them moving to.




Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wish granted!

Last week, read this, i met this lady that i believe would do very well in a photo session that does not require make-up nor flash.

I must say when i trumpeted around the idea of having a theme whereby no flash nor make-up is allowed, it didn't really go well with some folks. Partly some felt that i was just playing odd ball and some models felt sensitive about the theme. I sure wasn't running a psychology filter on anyone who thinks they won't look good without one.

However, for me, its just something that i felt i wanted to do. If someone looks beautiful without make-up and in natural light session, i bet that person fares very well in the real world. The photos will never end up in any high fashion magazines or even a glance for those used to perfect lighting and plastic skins, but hey, i gotto believe in what i like rite?

Well, as the story goes, i managed to locate her and ironically, she is actually someone i already seen before, a year back in some similar event.

It did cross my mind that maybe its the familiar faces playing tricks on my mind? So a photo session was arranged and i knew i had to either deliver the photos and capture what i claimed i saw or be a laughing stock of some photographers.

How did it fared? see for yerself :






Saturday, October 15, 2011

Naturally pretty and natural light

I visited Futuromic event today at Sunway. Many models posted there but i am pretty much reluctant to take any pictures unless i can get them to pose something non standard. I think i have enough of model images posting sideways inside shopping complex, holding files, lens etc.

My new policy is, shoot everything using natural light. If the person looks good in natural light, she will look good in the real world and i ain't sure going to shoot just anyone that is leggy and model like.

I did notice this staff manning the booth, she doesn't have much make-up and and looks radiant despite being just illuminated by indoor light.

Somehow i still fail to capture the image that i wanted. But here are some glimpse of her.
Readers might not agree with my description but i am very sure that given a photo session of her, i should be able to get the correct shot and a picture can tell a thousand words.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Review sites can they be trusted?

After looking over and over at some review sites i began to ponder if some of those reviews could really be trusted.

Seems like almost ANY new gears that is reviewed is contains subtle and not so subtle "buy" signals.
This can't be helped i guess, some of them makes money from those links, so if you are not buying, they are not making $$$.

The other question is, do they make $$$ out of commission or percentage of  the sales? Cause if they do based it on percentage, they might as well focus on promoting M9 and all those Summicron and luxes because it will yield the highest commission. I can see some sites does, but on the other hand, the problem of Leica keeping up with their stocks of availability of those lenses means that other gears needs to be promoted to keep the cash coming.

I am grateful for review sites, cause i don't think its all 100% about the $$$, i can see some does have some heart in it.


Monday, October 10, 2011

stare of grace

Would u take a portrait using a 40 mm lens?
I did. In fact i did a whole session of portraits, poses using just the Nokton 40 mm and
zero flash.

This might be a crazy idea? but then hey, Steve job says "stays foolish" rite? Maybe i should practice to focus and press the shutter the moment i see someone's flash flashing. Too fast?


Friday, October 7, 2011

Voigtlander booth in KLPF 2011

L1000749, originally uploaded by Marcus++.

I tried my hands on the 40 mm nokton 1.4, she shies away by looking down.
The lens detection was set to my prev lens the 50 mm 1.1 nokton.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Double dip?

The world is now in turmoil as both Euro and US sees no improvement on their current debt situation.
Stocks are actually bad for the world. Why? Because you don't actually buy anything except papers and
when it burns, it burns fast, but real money are being discarded whenever stocks values are lost.
For example, you can buy Energy or oil stocks, but you are not actually buying any to store in your house, those money just went to the company's value instead of to the public. When you buy gold, you are not buying gold from some gold smith shop whereby the money could be earned by the sales staff and the shop owners but you are just buying some value of Gold.
Do i sound ignorant, well, i should be. 
double pose

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Leica 1.4x Magnifier Review

Here is a short review of this magnifier.
I am using this on a 50mm Nokton 1.1.
The price is pricey, around USD 3xx but it served a very unique purpose.
Now before i get to that purpose, lets just see what exactly it is supposed to do.

Basically it just magnifies whatever you see on your viewfinder by 1.4. The aim is to enable you to superimpose (focus) much easier on your M camera. Does it work? Of course, it is much easier
to focus using this 1.4 magnifier.

On the M9, which have 0.68 on the default viewfinder, this 1.4 means that it will be : 0.952.

Now let me iterate on the unique purpose. Don't buy this if you plan on using anything lower than 50 mm!
- it will obscure the wide frame and you will have a hard time guessing what is the frame that you will be getting if you are using something lower than 50 mm

On the 50 mm that i have, i find it VERY suitable because the frame is actually the whole viewfinder when i use the 1.4. So its not hard to estimate where is the wide frame because it is more or less equivalent to the whole picture that you see.

The unique purpose however is :
- You can focus with both eyes open on the M9.

It gives you a view of around 1.0 real life image so you can open both eyes and still be able to focus! This also means you no longer need to depend on the viewfinder to see if anything is entering/leaving the scene, because its just going to be like you wore an eyewear and you are looking plainly at the subject while you are composing.

So thats it. A short review and probably not helpful for users of anything except M9. But if you are an M9 user and you frequently use the 50mm or above, i guess this buy can't be wrong.

The magnifier comes in a rugged leather hardcase and a chain that you can mount on your strap. You can basically carry it seamlessly with the camera and mount at will. For me, i just mount it and spend the time learning to estimate the wide frame.

Seize the day!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stocks rises, world rejoices.

Today the stocks rose sharply. Everyone is happy.
If you ever come to malaysia, you should visit the KLCC twin towers...at night.
The view is surreal.





KLCC (not hdr)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Stickers and Mercedes

What are exactly are the value of things that we buy and desire?
Isn't a mercedes and BMWs way overpriced when compared to a toyota? Do you really think the 4 tires touching the road deserves so much more value ? Maybe there is, most of the time we buy what we like regardless of the value. Value, is perception.
On the other hand, we have people making a living by selling stickers.
Stickers that carries a fun phrase. Inspiration can always sell, doesn't it?
Meanwhile, an elderly mother looks on aimlessly as her son fascinate himself with some cars.




Sunday, September 25, 2011

Freedom to capture

Today i finally got the chance to spend the whole afternoon doing street photography. Photography is a time consuming hobby like many things else and you need a supportive family to understand and tolerate such venture, especially if its on weekends!
(at the back of my mind, i wonder how the US and Euro stocks will do this monday).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Uncertain times, we are in.

I wonder when will Europe and USA stop giving bad news. Its funny that the next generation will remember that this current generation enters recession not because of natural disaster or war, but because of greed.





Thursday, September 22, 2011

Typhoons and Stocks dip

Today the US stocks dive and Europe stock records 2 year low.
Life goes on for most people on the coffee table, however some seems to show concern over the news.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

M9 vs GXR : which is better for street photography


I own both the system and since Street photography is what i enjoyed doing, here is my personal review on the suitability and claims of these cameras for this genre.
Instead of going thru the specs of each system, i will just cut to the chase.

M9 - what users claim as the ultimate street photography tool
- small size and not intrusive like a typical Canon/Nikon DSLR
- mostly coupled with fast 50mm or 35mm and the discreet shutter mode
- full frame and 18 mp allows generous cropping and high IQ

GXR - what users claim as very suitable for street photography tool
- 28 mm at 2.5 lens
- small compact size
- APS-C sensor and 12 mp has good IQ and high ISO

Do note that Street photography i am referring to going close, say 2-5 meters away from the subject and shooting it. Those who shoot using zoom lens is not street photography, its voyeurism. I had the same misconception once and thought i was doing great street photography using the Canon SX30IS, after looking at much images i realized that its different and missing the main ingredient of street photography, getting close.

The other factor to take note is that, unless you are shooting from the hip, Street photography will be very limited. Shooting from the hip allows near zero visual hint that you are aiming a shot and hence minimizes any posing shots.

The main reason of using M9 in street photography as you can see in various Leica Forum and popular sites like Steve Huff Photo site boils down to it being discreet and the ability to cock shutter at a later time after taking a shot and smaller than DSLR size.

The GXR totally surpasses the M9 in this main point.  The leaf shutter on the GXR is so quiet that snapping it like a distance of 1 meter away in a normal environment and even a bookstore is easy. The LCD on the GXR can be turned off so that it doesn't even appear to anyone near or behind u that you are shooting anything. 
I find the M9 shutter loud in comparison and the discreet mode of cocking the shutter later is only suitable requires further effort in masquerading (you need to pretend to turn and face something else then release the shutter). The GXR could take multiple shot discreetly given the same time. The only thing you need to set on the GXR is "snap focus" and select 5 meter (or 3 if u prefer much closer shots).
When it comes to size and weight, the GXR is significantly lighter and smaller. 

What the M9 is better is the ability to have significant faster lens and the full-frame allows much better cropping and IQ. So i would think that if you want high quality shots, the M9 will deliver them and when you are not doing 100% street photography cause u saw something that you can aim at and shoot, the M9 gives you the shot that you can be happy with. 
The other advantage of M9 is the ability to change distance/zone quickly in the event you notice something else interesting and you want to quickly capture the shot. 

So in conclusion :
GXR is the ultimate street photography tool, if you are looking at discreet and size/form being the main factor. 
M9 is decent in street photography but performs much better in IQ in any situation.

The other camera that could be of interest are the Sony SLT (DSLR replacement) and NEX. If you handled a Sony SLT apsc, you notice one thing, that its very light and comparatively smaller than a Canikon, so coupled with a 35 mm 1.8 lens, it could do wonders in Street photography since the shutter is also very quiet. In fact its more quiet than the M9. 

Updated : jafleming3 (dpreview, leica forum) pointed out that X1 is an even better tool if one were to consider package sized and discreet. The claim is that X1 can set manual focus to 3 or 5 m and the LCD turned off while shooting from the hip. So there you go. 
There is also now the M-Module A12 for GXR. Early users report indicates that not only you can use any M-mount lens but the shutter is SUPER quiet. X1 vs GXR ? That i will leave to those who are lucky enough to own both the system to provide comparison. 

Updated : Harold66 (dpreview nick) have offered other views in support of M9. You can find his posts here : http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1013&message=39433937

Sample images of shooting from the hip :

Here is a shot i took using M9 today, from the hip at F2.0 and 5 meter. The ISO is high though cause this is indoor. 
street.photography: The lady in Cerutti

Also on the M9, but using F/1.7, shot from the hip, indoor.


Here are some using GXR, 5m snap focus.



Sunday, September 18, 2011

Buying cameras online, is it worth it?

My favourite shop is ylcamera.com.my a shop in pudu plaza where i can find anything i want at a good price. The guy running the show, Desmond, is smart young guy that pretty much knows what he is doing and have recently expanded another outlet in PJ.

But there are times when something i wanted just can't be found here. I very much prefers to buy locally anything i want even if the price is 10-15% more but gears like Sigma SD15 and Leica are not one of those. Sigma cameras are unknown to the public in malaysia and no marketing activities are done, so when i wanted Sigma SD15 (a DSLR with foveon sensor), i had to import from BHphoto.com.

The other gears whose pricing don't make sense here are the Leica's. I am referring to new gears, used gears you can pretty much source around. I love the Leica outlet in Ampang, its a beautiful outlet and i also met a veteran there, an elderly guy who have the patience to explain to people what are rangefinders. But i can't say the same for the pricing. I made a call to the Leica outlet but i felt the routine and mediocre response i get in negotiation for a good buy is pointless.

If you check shashinki, a local online shop, you will find the leica's are around 16% cheaper than the Ampang outlet, that translates to a whopping RM 3.5k, enough to be used to buy a decent lens. (i dont buy from shashinki, just a comparison example)

Sometimes you just have to risk and act as a vote against the local prices by buying online.
When the price of what you pay online + priority shipping is still 20% cheaper than what you get here, the option is clear. I do suggest that you negotiate with your local shops first, if the price higher but acceptable, by all means buy locally.

This is an example of transcript from FEDEX, a typical route u can expect to see if you track your online order via BHphoto and priority delivery (USD  270). UPS priority is cheaper, around USD 200, but the items travels to 2-3 more countries before reaching Malaysia.

There are no tax for cameras, but you can be taxed for batteries and filter kit, that is what i assumed since even if you order something around RM 6k, u get only RM 87 tax.

Friday, September 16, 2011

There are times when you need to jump to the next level

As in all things in life, once a while u wake up and decides that you need to do something very different. Do something u really like.

So what is it that i like in photography.

Answer : Street photography.

What camera is good for street photography, my GXR.

What camera is the ultimate for street photography?

Hmm.. a fullframe camera with a fast 50 mm lens? (update : there are other basic requirements and after those are considered, it comes to this)

Ok. That is exactly what i am talking about. I am gonna break my bank (so to speak) and get a camera that if fullframe and a fast 50mm lens.

This site will then be wholly re-dedicated to that objective in mind.

No more Nokia edof, DP2, GXR. Just street photography and hopefully images that will inspire many and transfer meaning that i see in daily life.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nokia EDOF : Crap camera in the hands of a hobbyist (but nice models :-))

Using the Nokia EDOF but with the intention of capturing images solely for blogspots and facebook. How did it fared? Judge the samples yourself.

E39 The familiar face