Invited a friend of mine for an outdoor portrait shoot at the popular Petaling Street. A group of friends requested that i organize this shoot for a friendly rate for the model. Since i don’t organize for fees, i just do the transportation and took a few shots while the group event took place.
Just sharing some of the images that i took during the shoot. The model is Kim Goh from Penang, i met her in 2013 when she participated in Miss Malaysia 2013 and was selected for the finals.
It been 5 years since and as the saying goes, Class is forever, beauty is temporal, Kim could easily carry out the portrait shooting successfully.
Ginny comes from a popular startup in Vietnam, Grab. However there seems to be a culture in Vietnam whereby the female citizens are more willing to explore the path of entrepreneurship. She left Vietnam to join a startup in Malaysia and wasn’t satisfied with just a job, she ventured into starting her own business, a shoe cleaning service for sneakers : shoemo.
It’s is surprisingly a virgin market in Malaysia as we have high end heels repair services but never had a cleaning service just for sneakers. Soon clients begin to pour in and investors contacted Ginny to expand her modest business which is already turning in profits.
I took the opportunity to have lunch with her and took some portraits during those short hours. All the images here are shot on Nikon U2 / 50 1.4 sigma non-art on either Premium400 or ColorPlus200 films.
I make it a point to know more about a person when i take her portraits. I needed that element of knowing her character personally so that the images would reflect the essence of her personality.
Ginny is a person that brings in the adage of “more than meets the eye“. For her shoot, i decided to bring in an equally interesting prop in my collection, the Olympus SP 35, a camera whose lens matches even the leica summilux but totally underrated.
Starting your own business is akin to travelling to another country alone and trying to make a living there. In that sense, taking such risks is nothing new to Miss Ginny here. That confidence that she has and the willingness to go all out doing what you believe to be worth risking, is an attribute that is hard to be captured on her portrait.
January 2018 will be her last month with her current startup. I am glad to have met her in this short time and as much as her colleagues and managers would wished she would stay, we all know deep down, that given such an opportunity, no one should stop her from pursuing her dreams.
With this note, here are the two of my favourite images taken during this session.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 😉
I spent sometime reflecting upgrading my mental faculty to add poses to my workflow. Yup, poses. I think its working, i can now easily pose any outdoor model in decent poses regardless of the props available. Its not that hard once you have spent 30 minutes a day studying poses after your long day of work in a completely different field (app developement in startup). In this set of portraiture, i used a Voigthlander 40 1.4 that costs less than USD 500 with the Leica ME (ccd sensor).
Sexy. I find myself often struggling with this theme. The asian traditional values of grace, beautiful poses and my inherent preference of not doing anything on nude/lingerie which downgrade any beautiful model into soft porn is often at odds against each other when i study western art. Truth be told, i find recent works of China’s chinese photographers posing nude ladies outdoor tasteless, gimmicky and downright a hit at women’s honor.
On the other hand, as a women, sexy and curves are advantages of her body design, it should be highlighted in poses if its done correctly, with decent clothing that invokes that primitive visual response of viewers at a basic level.
A prop is essentially any item, object that the model can use to add interest to the visual image. In this picture, highlighting Rachel’s gladiator using the rear passenger seat and door adds interest to an otherwise weak image.
Simple poses with good natural lighting can never go wrong.
Thanks for viewing my latest portrait session, i have a lot more beautiful photographs from this session and will be sharing them on my next blog.
I know i been churning out a lot of crap reasons and morality lectures that nobody wants to hear, but hey…its how i feel in all honesty.
* featured image, taken using F2.0 at 1/3000, 40mm 1.4 voigthlander, Leica ME.
Film. Yeah, i been talking about the joy of shooting film and why the lesser road travelled might have more to offer than you could imagine.
These are simple images taken on Elaine Cheah. Elaine is a very simple girl, loves cats and have a strong devotion towards relationships. I have met many freelancer models in these last 4 years and seen various pageants and contests where some of these freelancer friends joined or win.
Elaine on the other hand, have no interest to join contests. Doesn’t apply much makeup at and looks like someone that jumps out of some korean drama into the world.
Now back to film, as incoherent as my thoughts are, the point is simply this. Just because its popular, doesn’t mean it represent the best. Digital been going around countless megapixels and features, the resemblance is almost to many pageants contestants, wipe off those makeups and it has nothing to offer. Layer after layer of makeup, hairdo and mascaras populates the face of the next contest winner.
Both the mobile and camera world has gone mad and offering gears after gears and lens after lens with no real contribution to your photography skills. In fact, do notice that mobile phones have nothing much to boast about nowadays and have focused primarily on its camera features.
In a short view of some of the top digital brands today.
Nikon released a series of cameras in these last 3 years, d600, d610, d750, d4, d800, d4s, d800E, d810. Megapixels jumps all the way from 16mp to 24 to 36. Shooting buffers goes from 6fps to 10fps and beyond.
Canon released the 6D, 7DmkII, 5ds, 5dsr with the latest megapixel news of 250 mp.
Sony the leader of the FF mirrorless A7 line of cameras. 6 months and your existing gears are obsolete.
Its an endless chase. We all know where the best girls are, next door and rarely any of them made it to pageants as winners.
Those who win, gets dethroned the next year. I believe any of the digital FF entry level given by nikon, canon or sony is good enough to produce the best images for ANY passionate photographer. The rest of the features imho…caters for a very niche set of professional photographers.
Some say a tool is just a tool.
Some say a high quality sensor, FF and a set of premium lens helps a long way in making any images stands out more.
Some opt for higher resolution while others harp on low light performance and high iso cleanliness.
Some say all you need is the mobile phone since its the camera that is with you all the time.
Some swear on nikon, some canon, some says Sony mirrorless is the dawn of the new age.
All useless points.
I would like to share the following on my personal opinion on gears and how it actually affects our output and choices. You may be surprised at the conclusion that i settled on.
1. INSPIRATION MATTERS
Like every other creative work be it writing or painting. Creativity starts from inspiration. Without inspiration, you are as good as dead. What makes a particular work creative or inspirational is an inspired person.
A bigger sensor or bigger lens won’t grant you inspiration anymore than buying 2 pens allows you to write a successful novel.
2. GEARS THAT SPARKS INSPIRATION, WINS
There is a reason why the images shot on Elaine and those on Taylor differs greatly in style, tones, objective and appeal.
When i hold a D4, it feels like a professional, commercial tool. So despite that i usually talk to Elaine in a very casual way, when i am shooting with D4, you feel “inspired” to shoot something more of the higher-end genre of fashion.
When i hold the Konica Hexar, i feel i am holding a camera that have seen the ups and down of life. These inspiration comes from the very design and nature of the camera’s purpose and timeline. With the Hexar, you feel that life is to be appreciated in a simple way as though as your walking down memory lane.
3. Limitations are like physics.
Every action there is an equally opposing reaction. I can’t recall the exact words uttered by my physics teacher but this holds true not just in physics but in everything else. A limitation imposed by a camera causes you to use it in a very different way than a camera that does not limit you.
There was a time i got the Leica Xvario. A beautifully crafted camera that will have its owner going through a love/hate relationship. That camera have a mediocre 28mm f3.5->70mm f6.4. Ouch. You can’t get any worse specs than this in any new APSC camera.
But because i paid a silly amount for it, I was adamant to use it to the best of my knowledge and i actually spent time creating images that caters for that camera’s strength, IQ and natural muted colors.
The Xvario didn’t have any bokeh that i could use to isolate the subject so i had to use its rather deep DOF and decent image quality. That was the only time i agreed to go on a local trip driving up all the way to the hills.
I shot the above using F3.5. While this may surprised some but it highlights the personal struggle i had with the Xvario. I am only interested to shoot wide open any of my lens regardless of its make and at f3.5 i easily hand held the shot.
4. Ergonomics will break you or raise you
Before i ever owned a Leica, the logical side of me says that Leica users are either dumb ass or arrogant fools. I am a known veteran in the developer’s community and security. I founded the Python user group Malaysia, wrote some crazy shit VPN and Firewall from scratch and part of my code are were once used by the US ministry of Defense in mid 90s.
But when i hold my M9 few years ago, i just felt like going out to shoot. It was pretty silly because i am shooting models most of the time, before i could take one shot, my friend next to me took 10. The M9 felt fantastic when held on to, the knobs and dials are just there with a function.
I eventually argued myself out of it and went for the Sony A7r, during a time in 2013 when i had a fallout with someone i cared for very much. The Sony was cold, computer like camera that i distracted myself mostly by using all kinds of vintage lens on it. Everything just felt cold. My images became technically “clean” and scientific.
If you are reading this and where it is going you probably think that i am promoting leica. No. No, you can find extremely inspirational tools in film cameras as well. I borrowed a friend of mine a Nikon FM3A and the next day itself he is already sold on getting one despite being a digital user all these while. The FM3a is just so beautiful and simple that you can’t help but to feel like creating art with it.
Leica just got it right by keeping to the designs and film cameras. There are loads of solid, inspired-imbued film cameras just waiting for you. Please, just stay clear of Lomo plastics. If Lomo were to produce solid film cameras i would line up in support, but as of now, its anything but a toy.
5. Subject Matters
I am an advocate of portraiture because i believe the image of a person is priceless. The communication, friendship, joy and discovery that photography grants you could only be found in portraiture, not in scenery. While there are awesome sceneries that deserves to be in the hall of eternity, there is just no one else in eternity, like you.