Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bihzhu Live At Bobo KL

I have been quite active lately with a selective group of local singer-songwriters in Kuala Lumpur, following their gigs and live performance whenever I can. I brought along my faithful Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II to shoot some stills as well as record footage of the stage performance. What better way to end a stressful day (or week) by immersing myself in good quality, locally made music while having my camera itch scratched away at the same time.

I was at Bihzhu's live performance at Bobo KL last Saturday, and it was a full house! Such intimate performance spanning about 2 hours long of great music and soulful, powerful and melodramatic vocals was exactly the best way to cap off my Saturday. I had a half day Olympus Street Photowalk which I led in the morning, and an afternoon appointment with friends that drained me off, so in the evening it was nice to just sit back and relax to some really awesome music!

Shooting condition was not ideal, typical low light stage situation but the E-M10 Mark II handled this session gracefully. I had to shoot between ISO1600 to 3200 to maintain fast enough shutter speed (at F1.8) but surely this was nothing that the OM-D can't handle. Original stage lighting had too much warmth with a strong hint of greenish color cast. The auto white balance did a splendid job to automatically balance the stray colors to produce realistic and pleasing skin color. I believe Bihzhu's lovely dress being dominantly white helped in producing natural looking white balance.

The biggest challenge for me, if I were to really put some effort in getting my shots, would be being stuck in one stationary position, since the venue of show was not large, and the audience filled it to the brim. No matter where I moved myself, I would have accidentally blocked someone's view, and that would have been rude. I decided not to be an annoyance and just stayed seated at one spot, moving to a second location only after the intermission.Where you are standing and shooting from is probably one of the most important factor to determine the outcome of composition and coverage, and this was something I lacked from this particular session. Furthermore, being stuck in one spot prevented me from shooting every member of the band, something which I always tried to do.

I think the life-saver of the night, being stuck in a full house event, seated not too near to the main stage, was having both the 45mm F1.8 and 75mm F1.8 lenses. To those of you shooting a lot of stage events, these two lenses can make a world of difference. Tighter perspective can draw the facial expression and emotion conveyed by the performer much closer and this produces a more impactful outcome. Also, the F1.8 wide open aperture aids in gathering as much light as possible, especially in less than ideal lighting conditions. The fact that Olympus M.Zuiko lenses are already so sharp even at wide open F1.8 means I can shoot everything wide open without the need to stop the aperture down. All images in this post were taken at F1.8, and I have not wished they were any better in any way.

I was focusing on getting the right moment (critical expressions, etc) but the more I listened to Bihzhu's enchanting voice the more I realized shooting was not really that important after all. I was enjoying myself and that was all that mattered. Sometimes we get too engrossed with photography that we live our entire lives through the viewfinder, it is good to just put down the camera and take in the moment. This is so true when it comes to music and live shows.

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II and M.Zuiko lenses 45mm F1.8 and 75mm F1.8

I have also recorded some video, and this was a cover of Dirty Projectors, "Stillness Is The Move".


Check out Bihzhu at:
Official Website: http://www.bihzhu.com/

Every time I recorded a video I am always stunned by how good the 5-Axis  image stabilization is, and the convenience of not having to use a tripod. Imagine, I was attending an event and every one was seated comfortably in a tightly crowded space, a set up of a tripod would have stuck out like a sore thumb! Some may argue that the video on OM-D (older then E-M1 Mark II) has nothing to write home about, I beg to disagree. If you are a cinematographer, a professional videographer, then you can decide what you want. All I wanted was a high quality recording of my favourite singer-songwriter in action and I believe the E-M10 Mark II did a splendid job, despite my lack of skills in video recording. 












A group photo to end the night!

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Birds That Fly

I have been looking back at my own collection of photographs lately and discovered a consistent subject which I have been actively hunting. No, it was not the cats on the streets, I have talked about my love for street cats and how they always become the center of my street shooting attention in my previous blog article here (click). Unexpectedly, I have been shooting birds, almost as much as I was shooting cats on the streets.

A while ago, a good friend of mine questioned the "zoo animal" photographs being unrealistically fake and uninspiring, not only because the animals were caged, but the close up shots of the animals do not portray what they instinctively do in the free, wild world. A free bird will not just perch on a branch for the whole day, the bird will spread the wings and fly, and a shot of the bird doing that is a lot more dramatic and real. Another friend of mine, who is a visual artist and a prominent local comic blogger has shared that he drew birds in his sketches and comics as a symbolism of freedom. Perhaps, these important people have influenced my thoughts and inspired me to take a closer look whenever there were birds flying by near my street hunting grounds.

I fully understand that not all the images taken at my street photography sessions are actually street photography, but lets bring that to a different discussion on another blog entry. Including a flying bird in a shot of a local landmark adds a different mood to that framing altogether. I think there is always a human fascination of a flying subject, and men always wish they can fly (I wonder why we were not given wings). Also, if you look at some of the amazing street photography by other established photographers, birds can be quite popular too in their work.

All the images shown here are compiled from my shutter therapy session for the past one year or more. I thought placing all of them together can form an interesting montage, creating a consistent visual story.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kuching Street Photography Again!

So I was traveling home again last weekend, this time for the official launch of my first ever photo exhibition, the Street of Kuching, a collective of Kuching street photographers. I chose to stay on for a few days after the launch, just to have some time to catch up with beloved mum, relatives, and some beautiful friends. Surely, I slotted a bit of time for street shooting! Nothing beats shutter therapy in my lovely, awesome hometown, and I had two mornings all to myself to roam the streets of Kuching freely, shooting whatever I wanted. The first session I went alone, and the second one I was joined by Jee Foong, a talented photographer friend.

Special thanks to Jee, who took time and effort to show me around, and revealed some secret locations which I never would have known! It is interesting finding out new locations to shoot, even when I was talking through the same streets. Although I was back in Kuching some time late last year (to shoot for images for the photo exhibition), strangely even in such short amount of time, there were noticeable changes around town. There were a few more street arts decorating the walls of old shops and that observation tower of the Open Air Market was painted white! The last time I was back I remembered it was yellow.

I armed myself with my own Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II with Panasonic 14mm F2.5 (yes the pancake lens is making a return), M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 and 45mm F`1.8. I used mostly the M.Zuiko 25mm f1.8 this time.

The observatory tower standing from the Open Air Market is now white! I think I prefer it looking white now, compared to the previous yellow, which was a little out of place. Though I cannot say how long it will remain white, considering the constant rain and humid weather in Kuching. Anything white spells disaster when it comes to maintenance. Lets hope we do not have to wait too long before this is being repainted again. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Cheap Alternative For Macro Photography, Raynox DCR-250

Not too long ago, I have purchased a Raynox DCR-250 macro adapter to be used on the Panasonic Lumix LX-100, which gave satisfactory macro shooting results. I have since then been curious to try the Raynox adapter on an Olympus lens, and only recently found some time to do this experimentation. The fun part about macro photography is the infinite possible options of using alternatives to achieve sufficient magnification as well as creative lighting techniques. This time, I fitted the Raynox DCR-250 macro adapter onto the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 lens, and did my usual insect macro shooting with that combination.

The macro adapter itself, Raynox DCR-250

My humble, simple insect macro photography setup, Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, 75mm F1.8 lens with the Raynox DCR-250 macro adapter, FL-50R external flash used wirelessly with Gamilight mini softbox diffuser.