Iceland travel for asian, {single camera} Part 1

best iceland travel blog

Reykjavik at noon (35mm zeiss FE f2.0)

Yeah, i went iceland. Let me just drag that timeline cursor to the beginning so i can share some of the tips and ideas you can do while travelling to iceland, especially so if you are not an expert backpacker or if you are coming from Asian countries like malaysia, singapore or thailand.

Before i took this journey, i had tons of tips coming from well meaning folks about what i should or should not do in iceland. “You will need to spend at least RM 5k (USD 1.3k) on gears and clothing!” says one uncle, who had never been there  himself.  “Why are you going on summer?, you will miss the aurora lights!”, says the other.

A short advice about these things that ppl dishes out to you….”ignore”, it’s absolutely ridiculous to take any of those advices given that different seasons in Iceland requires a firsthand experience, not from some imaginative minds.

Well here are the cost breakdown that i spend on my own clothing and gears :

iceland from asian

water proof shoes (iphone 7+)

  • waterproof shoes – karrimor shoes, from sports direct RM 250 (usd 60).  i got mine from the sports direct outlet at Double Tree Hotel. Even though i went on summer, i faced unpredictable weather in Iceland and lots of walking and simple hiking. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish, get yourself a waterproof boot or shoes.
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waterproof jackets from uniqlo / blocktech (35mm zeiss FE f2.0)

  • uniqlo blocktech jacketRM 120 uniqlo, you will need these water repellent and wind proof jackets so that you can get behind some of the beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. If you notice most instagrams have the picture of the person way in front of the waterfall, its because they didn’t bring these jackets along.  Get the ones  with the hood.
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Get near the waterfalls (iphone 7+)

  • Bring other basic clothing like pants, gloves and i totally recommend those light clothing from Uniqlo’s heattech.

Now that you have the basic gears covered, you will need to book the flight ticket.  There is no direct flight to Iceland from Malaysia, so we went there using Thai Airways, 1 day stop in Bangkok, landed in Denmark and went on a direct flight to Reykjavik using IcelandAir. The flight from Denmark to Iceland that we took is not a connecting flight, its a separate flight that we booked online and it was 3 hours departure from our ETA to Denmark, so we took a little risk there.

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IcelandAir Direct Routes

Now, the CAMERA. For the last few travels i did, i always chose film over digital but for Iceland i decided to bring my trusty Sony A7s with three batteries and a Casio TR wide angle camera (otherwise also known as selfie girls cam hahaha, a little bit on that later).  So why? Why digital over film, fact is that i kinda chickened out, i could not google up much information on film labs and availability in Iceland and given that this is one trip that i needed wide angle lens, i have the 35mm Zeiss f2.8. I have partly regretted that i didn’t bring along a film camera for a surprise reason that will be shown later on!.

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That one Camera one Lens

 

For the next chapter i will be sharing on some of the early photos i took using this setup and other things  i encountered with my family during our visit to Iceland.

 

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 8

Read the earlier series :

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 7

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 6

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 5

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 4

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 3

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 2

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 1

After Dubrovnik and Lokrum, we went to Zagreb and took a personal tour with a local there to visit the Plitvice National park, on the way we stopped by this small town named Rastoke. Boris is a super personal guide that drove very safely and was patience in showing us the locations and updating us on the scenes that we visited. You can find Boris in trip advisor, be sure to tell him that about this blog and ask for  a discount 😉

This is a beautiful town that looks like it came out straight from the disney fairy tale.

 

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fairy tale residential scenery

Houses are built surrounded by beautiful mini waterfalls and streams. Its a sight to behold and there is a cafe at the entrance that you can sit and enjoy this beautiful view. Prices here are cheaper than Zagreb and if you want there are lodging that you can book and stay.

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slope for scenery view

If you walk up the road on the side you can see how the houses are built around the streams and in harmony with nature. There is no better landscaping than one that makes nature your neighbour. Totally awesome and the envy of any architect.

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surreal living

One of the main attraction here are the houses at near the entrance just a 5 minutes walk in the area and you will see crystal clear water in a shallow lake by the houses

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Mesmerizing scene

We spend around an hour at Rastoke, enjoying the view and sat a while at the cafe. We then proceed to the Plitvice National park.

Plitvice is our last travel destination and thus the end of this long series of travel with film for Croatia. We spent nearly 5 hours here. Yup, 5 hours. It involved a lot of walking, trekking and walking. I suggest you get a some water resistant shoes and clothing when you visit this place.

In fact, if this was a solo trip, i would probably spend the whole day here. While Rastoke is beautiful and surreal, its also a small town, Plitvice on the other hand is a huge garden of Eden.

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You will find yourself surrounded by emerald lakes and clear rivers that will make you wonder if such paradise is worthy of humans. These images that you see here are unedited and captured on film for its analogue and organic feel, something which i feel would be corrupted by digital capture.

Lets just enjoy these last set of images as i close this chapter on Travel with film for Dubrovik, Croatia and its attractions.

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Say grace to God, for allowing us to enjoy this beautiful scenery

This whole series has taken me one whole year to write and share. All the images in this travel blogging photography series is done using Leica M7 with 35 mm Zeiss ZM f2.0 lens. All the images are shot wide open and i used various films like kodak color plus 200 (bought in Dubrovnik), Superia 200 and Fuji Pro400H and developed in Publika Bang Bang Geng, Malaysia.

Thank you for visiting my blog, i hope you find inspiration to travel to Croatia.

(Next in 2017, ICELAND!)

Medium format fun with RZ67 {portraiture|film}

When the world first herald the end of film, film gears prices went downhill very quickly. Today, we no longer talk about “film is not dead” as a topic but rather whether one chooses “film” or digital as a choice of medium. The recent Rollei “Vario-chrome” was sold out all most as fast as it reaches the shelves, even if those are virtual shelves sold online.

If you wanted to try film, you should go ahead and try Medium format as those gears are just a fraction of its original cost and being medium format, you get huge “sensors” hahaha. These huge negative size produces really amazing and beautiful results even when scanned by the same scanner that scans the normal 135 film.

For medium format portraiture, i would recommend the Mamiya RZ67 and its legendary 110mm f2.8. So as per the style of my blogging, lets see some of the images i done for the last 2 months using the Mamiya RZ67 and films like pro160NS or kodak porta400.

 

This image barely got any editing, the model is a stranger i bumped into an offered her a makeup with an album. Her name is Kiwami and she is a local chinese in malaysia. Look at those faithful rendering of her hair and the skin tones on her, see how those highlight behind just falls in beautifully into the bokeh.

This is Amanda, a popular makeup artist in Malaysia, aka Mak3upQueen. This scene was shot at a rooftop around 630 pm and some of the sunset light are coming in. Just love those tones!

Notice that in the portraits above, Amanda wore red, a color that is often problematic to digital sensors even today. For film, its just a walk in the park. I must say, i wished the sunset golden light was better.

Blue are gorgeous on film too, even though its indoor. You can find out more about Mamiya RZ67 pro cameras from google and checkout its pricing in ebay/etsy or other online used marketplace. I personally went for the version 1, instead of the more expensive RZ67 proII. Hope you enjoyed the medium format portraiture samples that i took.

 

If portraiture bores you, try doing it at night {portraiture | CCD}

Just wanted to quickly share two images i just took tonight.

If you feel that portraiture are beginning to bore you and you have been doing way too many portraits, try doing it at night.

Its a totally different level and playing field at night and the resulting images often brings a long lost smile to that photography kid hiding inside.

All images below are taken with Nikon CCD sensor camera at F1.4.  As to which camera it is, you will have to dig around my blogs to find out, i have been very vocal about how underrated this camera is, i bought three of them just so i have some assurance of its continuity.

 

malaysia top portrait photographer

malaysia top portrait photographer

 

The model is Amanda CME, also known as Mak3upQueen, you can find her on facebook and if you happened to be in Malaysia, do engage her makeup services for your model photoshooting.

cheers.

 

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 7

Read the earlier series :

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 6

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 5

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 4

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 3

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 2

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 1

 

I boarded the ferry with my family and off we go to Lokrum. The main attraction of that island is the dead sea, the amazing view and clear waters. There is a nude tourist section but since i am not ready to be seen on my beach bod, that was skipped.

The best part of this island is that the gov of Croatia does not permit anyone staying overnight there. That limits the kind of facility that can be built on the island, the usual unsightly footprint of human accommodations construction and hotels are nowhere to be seen. There are just a few restaurants there and that is good enough for everyone.

 

scenery at f2.0

towards lokrum

Sometimes film photography is “the only” way to go travel. If you look at the picture above, that korean tourist is on her phone busy uploading boring instagram images while the beautiful scene fades away. When i carry a digital camera i just can’t avoid looking and double checking on the LCD screen all the time and machine-gunning every scene repeatedly. The more time u spent with ur eyes in the camera, the less you travelled.

 

lokrum photography

shores

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sofa of rocks

amazing foliages

The way natural lights dances in and out of Lokrum is just amazing. I shot everything on F2.0 wide open on the Zeiss biogon and i take the results with vignette happily. You don’t need any metering at f2.0, if its bright, set the shutter to 1/1000 on the Leica M7 and your done. If its shady, set it to 1/250 and you are good to go. Most of these images are taken on Fuji pro400.

Looking back at these images as i type these words, man, those colors and organic feel is just awesome.

the couple

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dead sea

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dead sea crowd

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crystal clear

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party

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lokrum opening

Lokrum is a must visit island if you are travelling to Croatia or Dubrovnik. Its one of those beautiful places that you just wished you could be remoting and living there for months. While the inland dead sea pool view are not as breathtaking as the plitvice lakes which i will be sharing on my next installment,  the shores and foliages in this island sets it apart as a tourist spot.

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Last Chapter

 

fujifilm GA645 review thru portraiture {review}

I was visiting a film lab in Publika KL last week and the owner offered to loan me a Fuji GA645 for my portrait works. I took the camera and did some googling. After reading a few reviews i was totally disappointed. Most reviews talk so much about the authors’ feeling on the camera but failed to show any interesting portraits or even images.

Here are some example of sites : filmshootercollective.com, dantestella.com , while they do contain some useful info about the camera and some nice photos of the camera itself, i came out feeling empty and hungry.  Maybe its because i am into portraiture and the lack of such examples just doesn’t show the camera any justice.

Without any materials to draw inspiration from, i took the camera, a roll of kodak Porta400 220 and went shooting with Irene near bangsar at Plant Cartridge.

There is this idea that have been in the air for sometime about what kind of imagery can we create that would hit the mass appeal for “the perfect girlfriend impression”, to the asians. Reading up on some articles and some sharing of ideas with makeup artists like Megan, the suggestion is that guys prefer girls that are just simple, wears basic clothing that are comfortable, long hair (what?), slim and with a pleasant personality. Sexy elements such as showing strong curves and cleavages didn’t make it to the list. #pfibyM

Enjoy the images and do leave me a comment or two. All the images are shot wide open at 60mm f4, Aperture priority mode.

fuij ga645 portratis

beauty and flowers

 

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Skintones

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its summer

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floral balcony

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hello

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serendipity

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joy

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yellow bokeh

World’s most beautiful Leica M6 Part II {does it takes pictures?}

best leica m6 available

M6 Dragon Y2000 Black Paint

Read Part 1 here

We have to ask ourselves whenever we try to justify our purchases. Especially one that comes from the red-dot company (cough*). The left brain begets us to explain, to sanitise our conscience through logic. The big question is “Why did you buy this camera, will you even use it?”. There is a thin line between a gear head, a collector and an actual enthusiast user that appreciates using the tool.

 

leica zeiss ultimate m6 camera

Leica M6 dragon with 35mm f2 Biogon

When i bought the Dragon M6 limited edition, i was clearly stunned by its built and quality. I even blogged about this earlier . It has been weeks since i had the camera. All the early shouting and self afflicted propaganda to keep buyer’s remorse have subsided. I couldn’t allow myself to keep the camera in the box to just appreciate its aesthetic values, my views of collectors are pretty low in respect and using that same measurement on myself would make me a complete hypocrite.

A beautiful tool such as the Dragon M6 have to prove its worth and a camera is useless if it isn’t used to create images. So i took it out for a whole day shoot when my model friend and internet idol Stephy Yi Wen told me that she would be going to Korea for studies. I got myself some rolls of Fuji Superia 200 and Fuji Venus 800. I knew that i would be using the 35mm Zeiss Biogon wide open but in a room with only dimly available natural light coming in, the ISO 800 film would be handy.

 

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The Dragon 2000

If you happened to be travelling to South East Asia and passing by Malaysia, do get your films replenish and develop in Bang Bang Geng in Publika. With the pathetic level of Malaysian currency today, you could get a Superia 200 for USD 4 and scanning with development for USD 4.5.

Now back to shooting session. I noticed that there are indeed some improvement that M7 does have over even this Dragon M6. One of them being the iso dials you see behind the body, the M7’s iso dial is clearly easier to use and felt more robust. The other is the shutter dials. The Dragon’s shutter dial are more polished and looks great but turning the knob at each stop felt better on the M7. The M7 is after all a much newer camera.

 

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Immaculate finishing

The rewind knob is used slightly differently than how i imagined it would be. The Dragon’s knob needs to be lifted up while the 2 dots remains submerged to do the rewinding. I found myself winding for 5 minutes and getting nowhere initially before i realized that the knob needs to be lifted.

There are several aspect of the camera that made it a very inspiration tool for use. First, the body is slightly lighter than the M7, i would say almost nobody would buy an M7 or M6 without using it on a holster or case. The Dragon just felt perfect while the M7 felt a bit on the heavier side. This is of course a purely personal evaluation. The other advantage is that the Dragon only uses 1 battery as opposed to 2 on the M7, the mechanism of replacing the battery on the M6 is definitely built better than the M7s.  The 0.85 finder, delicious.

Enough about the camera, how did it do, i will leave some images here for you own evaluation.

recommended leica m6 for today

beautiful stephy. M6 dragon. venus 800

 

desire leica m6 dragon edition

Enlightenment. M6 Dragon, venus 800.

 

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Alluring. M6 Dragon, venus 800.

 

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Stephy @ Sekeping Jugra. M6 Dragon. Superia 200

 

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“There”. M6 Dragon. Superia 200.

Could i have gotten better or similar results from the Leica M7? Of course i could, don’t be silly :-). The Dragon M6 might be the most beautiful Leica M6 that warrants it as a collector item but it should by all means be used. The 0.85 works really well with the 35mm frame lines. What was you weekend shoot, did you try film? Do share some of your thoughts here.

The most beautiful Leica M6, 2000 Dragon {exhibit}

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The year was 2000. The millennium, a year that promised great changes and greeted by chaotic predictions of a technology Y2k bug.

That year Leica at the suggestion of Schmidt HK decided to celebrate this amazing lunar year 2000 with a special edition of M6, the Dragon. The Chinese have long followed a 12 month calendar based on creatures. On that year 2000, it’s the year of the Dragon.

The Dragon have unique position in the hearts of Chinese and also in both biblical representation as well as western folklore. Bruce lee, for example is known as the little dragon and his epic movie that brought the pride of Chinese to the big screen was the movie “Enter the Dragon”.

Limited edition m6 ultimate

Leica’s Limited Edition

The limited edition would be released in a small run of 500 units of Leica M6. Each camera would bear a calligraphy character of the Chinese word for Dragon and Year 2000. I am not sure if Leica is aware of how rare is the combination of a millennium year that falls exactly on the Dragon.

The sales was just average with folks complaining about the origin of the idea being founded by Schmidt instead of Leica (though Leica has always been known to accept great ideas be it marketing or innovation and more importantly, it’s all produced by Leica).

One of the reason for the lacklustre sale was because the Limited Edition was seen to be made and targeted at China . It seems that the association of a luxury item and brand like Leica and China just isn’t glamorous. That was China in year 2000, which is also ironically known as “the sleeping dragon”.

China today is an awaken Dragon and it’s very hard to find these gems around . This Leica M6 became a milestone in the millennium year that saw the Dragon awakening and the China we know today .

When I first got this unit I was sceptical it would exceed my leica M7 in craftsmanship or the inspirational feel of holding one. I could not be more wrong . Leica chose to put the 0.85 finder in this Dragon, black paint and the M3 rewind knob.

M3 styled knob

The knob itself is a surprise to me when the body is placed into a beautiful leather holster, the fact that the knob isn’t protruding diagonally makes it so much easier to dress it up. I found that I could use a Leica M 240 holster or a M9 and it would just flush in beautifully.

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Black paint

The black paint is just so beautiful and the single stroke lever is so raw and like a piece of cut out metal.

This edition totally changed my mind on the craftsmanship of Leica films’ bodies limited editons. While the titanium version was cringe worthy and I sold that off quickly, this M6 dragon is an entirely new level of beauty as a tool.

If you could get find a used or new unit of this gem, use it . Forget about making it as a collector item unless you have two. It’s total injustice not to use this beautiful M6, or my opinion the most beautiful M6 so far.

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Back

Read Part II here, weeks after owning and using the Dragon M6.

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 6

Read the earlier series :

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 5

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 4

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 3

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 2

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 1

On this 6th series of travel with film, i am sharing amazing photos taken on the edge of dubrovnik with the Leica M7 with Zeiss 35mm f2.0 ZM. You reach this area by walking all the way into Dubrovnik and you will soon see an opening into harbour like scene.  Absolutely beautiful.

dubrovnik film only travelling

Dubrovnik harbour like scene

The view of the houses stacked on the stony hills of Dubrovnik can clearly be seen from this site. I wonder if there is a way to walk up those hills on foot, reminiscing scenes from the Lord of the Ring or games of thrones. Houses here are pretty standard on their roof top colors and built, almost if there is a template/theme given to the residents.

houses on hills

left view 

This is the perfect spot to take some portraits with dynamic elements. It’s windy and the background provides a good setting for some good subject separation and yet retains enough details for the mind to complete the picture. Shooting with film really made this whole trip enjoyable without the load and distractions. When i got back and got my photos developed, i am rewarded with both anticipation and enactment of the scene, it is almost like going back to Dubrovnik and living those moments again. I recalled one of my trips with digital, it was a chore going thru thousands of photos that i didn’t even bother to select to share them out. On film, each 36 shots carries with it the memories on why i took the shot and what happened.

portraits with dynamic elements

portraits with dynamic elements

I took a ferry across to Lokrum, it cost around 40 kroner. Lokrum is a very special island that host a few restaurants, a dead sea pool, nude beach XD and where bunnies roams freely. It is one of those itinerary that you must add in to your travel plans. The gov of Croatia made a rule that nobody is allowed to stay overnight in Lokrum, i find this rule strange but exceptionally good. The island is well kept and preserves its natural beauty.

 

toward lokrumar

towards Lokrum

lokrumar!

Lokrum’s stunning shore

I will end this post with one photo of the shores of Lokrumar and will be sharing more on the next post on exclusively on film photography done in Lokrum.

Read the chapter 7

Beautiful Portraiture at 35mm {portraiture}

Recently I have been shooting on both the sigma dp2x and the canon 6d digital. It’s Chinese New Year and the film labs are not open so i invited Stephy chang over for a session.

malaysia portraiture best photographer

Sigma dp2x

Sigma have amazing colors but highlights often blown easily. Despite what some die hard sigma fans will defensively tell you, it’s pretty much Sigma’s silly decision to put the AFE conponent into an otherwise usable camera.

Well regardless of brands and advantages, let’s just enjoy some of these images.

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Sigma dp2x

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dp2x on vertical portraits, 3 meters away

I have a lot of beautiful images taken by the canon 6D, it’s amazing how easy the common cameras are in delivering results vs sigma. There is this beautiful airbnb site “sekeping jugra” that allows various interesting scene with the play of light. If you happened to be in KL, do drop by this place or make it your accommodation.

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Canon 6d. Added grains

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Canon. Moving candids are easy on canon, impossible on sigma

 

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Canon 6d

The sigma images are shot on 41mm and the canon images on 35mm. I am a fan of using non standard portraiture lenses focal length because I needed the outdoor scene for context . I find it often hilarious how some would travel far and shoot models on 85mm losing any relevant context to the images.

What is your favourite outdoor portrait lens ? I have once tried using 18mm for portraits.

 

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