Reaching the Iceberg {portraiture}


Almost routine. It’s 12.45 am midnight and i found myself sitting at the corner of my bed, reflecting on life and God. In my forties now, the “uncle” prefix is getting sticky. Just last sunday, i looked at two of my relatives children in disbelief, they have all grown into teenagers. Time is on my side, i would tell myself, while everyone withers away in time, i really felt no difference now as when i was 33.

Photography shows itself at my doorstep in 2012. I was already happily married, owned a few houses and founded a company that have survived since 1999. But Photography decides that there is more to life than warming church benches and pursuing endless meetups with clients. So i took a detour. Literally took tons of images. The process itself is a contradictory experience, creating images as it seems, have no right or wrong. You can take a shitty photo and call it art and there would be blind fans fighting on your side.


Despite the obvious genre that i immersed myself in, to put it bluntly, pretty young models, i found myself at times struggling along the morality lines of doing art vs pretending to do art. Shook my conscience’s hand and settled for non-nudity, not lingerie, non-call-it-art-peeping-tom photography. Told my Maker i would put my skills to good use and delivered photos, guidance to various young models into their career while raising red flags when wolf like photographers attempt to take advantage of my new found friends.

This journey changed me. I spent more time with these new group of friends than my with own generation of friends. The constant round table talk of who’s got the bigger dick ($$$) and empty praises of each other’s business, routine talks on children in my generation of friends have numbed my interest in joining their talks, while pushing me more towards these vibrant young people of which i have so much to offer and learn.

When a startup had an opening, i took the opportunity to venture into it. You see, technical stuffs are easy for me, i been a genius at it since 14. I quickly learned and performed all i could to keep the startup tech’s on the edge while doing gazillions of business model changes and apps direction. The startup is founded by a brilliant young guy and needless to say my collegues are all in their early twenties and i fit right in.

That was nearly 1.5 years ago.


I found myself right here again. By my bedside, thinking about that roller coaster ride i took in my life directions in career, business and my current state. Photography found me, i found photography, life changed, not just mine, many others. It’s akin to that Interstellar movie where nothing makes sense and yet everything is tied together in a complex, interwoven fabric of time.

Usually it’s at this time, among these midnight self talk and blogging i do, that an old friend resurfaces. Boredom. He has a knack in motivating me to find more adventure in life than settling down. What if i grow technically in other even more challenging areas? What is the point of my current photography of just shooting more new pretty faces and yet arriving at the same point.
Boredom extends his hand to me, come.

Amanda kills digital {portraiture | film}

Amanda | mamiya rz67pro | fuji400H pro

Perhaps this picture will cause you to consider doing medium format film photography. Although i did a lot of nice sexy beach shoot with Amanda, this photo taken in a cafe on the Mamiya RZ67Pro with 110 f2.8 lens just raised the level to 3D literally.

The colors and tones are just so beautiful. Its mind blowing to think that one need to spend USD 2000 on puny FF digital nowadays when USD 400 gets you this amazing gear with plenty of $$ for film development. Awesome.


■ amanda ■ Sands {portraiture | ccd sensor}


This is Amanda CME (fb,insta: mak3upqueen). I met her 3 years ago and last sunday we decided to collaborate. I shot this album using both film and CCD digital. Unfortunately film is still processing and not out yet, so do enjoy my digital version. Shot on the “lousiest nikon camera – ken rockwell” D3000.


As much as i am eager to see the output from the 6×7 film i shot, these CCD output from my Nikon camera are just awesome. Amanda have done so much makeup for her clients, doing model poses is like a walk in the park.
DSC_0184-Edit-Edit DSC_0010-Edit DSC_0025-Edit-Edit DSC_0034-Edit DSC_0043-Edit-Edit DSC_0054-Edit-Edit DSC_0069-Edit-Edit DSC_0103-Edit-Edit DSC_0140-Edit-Edit

Hope you enjoyed the photos. I am the best portrait photographer in Malaysia, not commercially, but in my thoughts, reach out and passion.  Do forgive me for the arrogance 😉

Film + Digital and why LCA120 should be avoided {glance review| sharing}



LCA120 shot from 1 meter

I going to be real blunt here even if that includes shooting myself on my feet. Having been thru several sessions and shooting both films and digital, it gives me the pleasure of filtering out the gems from the garbage.

First off let’s talk about LOMO LCA120. This is a medium format film camera that i bought after using the LCA+ for few weeks. My opinion was that if i had so much fun with LCA+, LCA120 would be worth the purchase. My opinion now is that it is a camera that should be avoided. Like many others i read phoblographer’s raving review on LCA120 but here are some reasons why i am find it off my recommendation list.

  • 4.5 is a slow for the LCA120, the problem is the shutter button, unlike the LCA+, the button on LCA120 is challenging to press. Makes me wonders what got into Phoblographer for even recommending this camera. While the LCA+ have an aperture of f2.8, its usability was decent. On a light plastic camera like the LCA120, its horrible. Don’t expect to use it anywhere except bright outdoor or tripod.


LCA120 auto exposure
LCA120 auto exposure (note the distortion pillar)
  • At f4.5 the autoexposure is crap when used on a medium format LCA120. Vignetting on a medium format is just silly when you have to pay over USD 400. When phoblograher says this is best for street shoot, i think what he means is this is only usable for bright, outdoor street. period.
  • Distortion everywhere. See the picture above, notice how distorted the pillar is. Unless you are shooting infinite all the time, expect all kinds of distortion on this Minigon 38 f4.5 lens.


LCA with f2.8
LCA+ with f2.8

So get yourself the LCA+ from the same LOMO company and ditch any idea to buy the LCA120. I have a LCA120 totally like new now with all the original box and packaging if you want to give it a go, make me an offer. But my conclusion is that LCA120 is best used as a prop not as a photographic tool, its defnitely nowhere as fun or as useful as the LCA+ .


digital on FZ1000 at f2.8 25mm
digital on FZ1000 at f2.8 25mm

When you own and major in shooting film, sometimes the digital itch rears its head and i digged out whatever digital camera that is left with me to bring to a shoot along with my film gears. The picture above is taken with FZ1000, took me like 2 seconds to take it and 10 minutes to post process it with a barrage of mix presets from VSCO.  You know that saying “Once you go film you can’t go back” …it’s true (though i made up this quote).  I find digital output a bit too clean and not a single picture i took ever since was released without post processing them with grain. If you like film grains, use the Color EfexPro, its not just adding grain blindly, its adding them like how a film would have them.


F100 50mm 1.4 Sigma, Fuji400HPro

Film gears comes in two flavours. The Autofocus and the manual ones. The F100 that i use for this picture is autofocus and it works with any lens created for Nikon F mount as well as older autofocus lenses such as the “d” lenses. While i do enjoy shooting film manually, sometimes its a joy using autofocus when you want to lean your thoughts more towards results and yet enjoy the beautiful tones from professional grade films like Porta or Fuji Pro.


nikon D610, sigma 50 1.4
nikon D610, Nikon 50 1.4 D.

I have sold off my Nikon D610 too to a good friend, at a huge discount. During my ownership of the camera, i often spend way too much time processing the output into film hence i rather use F100 for my projects. Example above is a result of processing with VSCO AGFA preset .


noctilux f1, kodak superia 200 film
noctilux f1, kodak superia 200 film


Noctilux f1, Kodak Porta 160
Noctilux f1, Kodak Porta 160


XA2, FujiChrome, 16 f1.4
XA2, FujiChrome, 16 f1.4

These last 2 pictures are taken on the Fuji XA2 and 16 f1.4 fujinon lenses using in camera film simulation of FujiChrome. The still look digital to me, but the film simulation provides a closer gap between film and digital.

XA2 Fujichrome 16 f1.4
XA2 Fujichrome 16 f1.4


I will be going on a trip to Croatia soon and after much pondering, i will bring the fuji with f1.4 over. It is a family trip and travelling light is the priority. I do find myself mulling over this decision and thinking of ways to fit in one of my film gears with me, perhaps the Leica M7 with 35mm zeiss.