Iceland travel for asian, {single camera} Part 1

best iceland travel blog

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

Yeah, i went to 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 had spent 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!)

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

 

Portraiture with Olympus 35 UC {portraiture|film|gear review}

olympus 35 UC with 42mm 1.7

olympus 35 UC with 42mm 1.7

Recently i have come to acquire an “unloved” camera. According to the seller Eugene, he came across this camera from a bundled sales of various film cameras and he was surprised to find this gem. Unfortunately in Malaysia, seems like there isn’t much love for film cameras of any other brand except Leica, Nikon and Canon. Listed on his page is this peculiar Olympus 35 UC with a fixed 42mm 1.7 lens.

I bought it and i been using it for 3 weeks now. Now, just to bring some context to my short review here, I do own 2 (two) Leica M7s among other film cameras that are M mount, Lomo LCA120s/LCA+ and Nikon F100. I have used all the mentioned cameras for both model shoot and particularly the M7 on my recent trip. After i have used this Oly and seen the results though, i am totally stunned.

The lens is SHARP and the rangefinder focusing is very easy to see. The fun of using this camera, its operation and simplicity of setting it to 1/500 almost everytime on an ISO 400 film at 1.7 for outdoor is just dummy proofed.

Lets see some results.

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stephy. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

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stephy. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

All the images here are shot at f1.7 handheld. On an ISO 400 film, i didn’t bothered to load the batteries into the camera because the metering is a series of EV values and i have never used or set EV in any single shoot that i have done in the last 4 years. I prefer to keep things simple by ISO, Shutter and Aperture, EV to me is nothing more than a distraction. Granted the camera shows the EV values and you just need to turn either the aperture or shutter speed to get the “same” shown EV in the viewfinder and your set. Since i am always on f1.7, the metering was merely a cosmetic feature.

 

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stephy. Xtra400. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

These shots on Stephy (stephy yiwen) are one on Petaling Street, the Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur. The backdrop you see here is the oldest tailor shop in malaysia and has been in operation for over 100 years. Love the fact that i am using a very old Olympus camera to match the whole theme.

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charlotte. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

The Oly uses a leaf shutter and the size is kinda perfect for my hands. The camera is not “solid” like the Leica in terms of build quality and the feel you get when you hold it but it has its own charms. Among some of the things i really love about the Olympus 35UC is that its a very serious tool with a simple and humble front. There is nothing inferior when it comes to its output.

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charlotte. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

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charlotte. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

42mm is an odd and vintage focal length. There is something about this focal length that i really love. It just looks a tad more natural than 35mm that i use on my M7. For some days i couldn’t figure it out, i alluded the reason to placebo effect of having a “new toy” but after 5-6 rolls of images done across three weeks, i found myself preferring this focal length more than anything else.

It was only later some friends pointed out to me that 43mm is most likely the actual focal length of our eyes in the central zone that i became convince that the “its just more natural” have some credible reasons behind it.

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charlotte. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

In summary, i totally dig this camera. So much so i got another copy of the more common Olympus 35SP (they are the same camera with differing cosmetic changes) as a backup for parts. The lens reminds me of a Leica 35mm 1.4 summilux that i have tried sometime ago but at less than USD 250 per camera + lens, its impossible not to love this camera.

This opens up my mind entirely when it comes to Olympus film cameras. If they could do “this” quality setup since 1969, i am intrigued to find out what else we the “new generation” have missed out on this perceived underdog brand.

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 3

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tourists 101

This is the 3rd chapter on sharing my film only travel experiences on Croatia from the period of June 28th to July 12th 2016. You can find read about Part I and Part II before coming here.

Upon reaching the entrance of the old city Dubrovik, you can see huge crowds of tourists from various countries. Mostly are white people from Europe, America, Australia and some asians from Japan and Korea. Particularly interesting is that i have seen more Koreans here than from any other asian countries.

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crowd

I took these 35mm shots feeling much safer and bolder than i would have done in Malaysia. It is after all a tourist spot and you can see in the picture above it is not easy to find someone who still hangs a camera at their neck. There are some canons and nikons around no doubt, but mirrorless and mobile phones are the cams of the day.

Street photographers would find these spots interesting but i saved most of my films for the scene inside the old city.

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no.19

Droves after droves of tourists with their guides will arrive here. There are also individual guides that you can hire here that will walk you thru the old city and provide historical expository guidance.

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handcrafts

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majestic walls

Before entering the walled city thru the obvious gate, you can walk near to the side of the restaurant and see how the walled city looks like on a majestic ocean view. There are still vintage like ships that would be seen sailing here and for those seeking additional adventure, there are kayaking services that will bring you into some of the gates built at the bottom of the wall. You can see one of such entrances in the picture above, looks pitch black on my shot here.

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first steps

Here is a glimpse of inside of the walled city, here is where you will see cameras snapping away and its pet friendly too. I spend nearly 4 hours here before my kid got tired and took a lot of amazing images that i will share in my next chapter.

Chapter 4.

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 2

Between my rented apartment and the old city Dubrovnik is a beautiful harbour. I took a stroll down with Phoenix while Sheryll takes a rest from the flight.  Retail stores here are nothing like those in Kuala Lumpur city, they are more “vintage” and gives the impression that the owners are of aged.

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The harbour. Pro400H

It’s a pretty narrow set of shops lined against a the backdrop of rocky hills. There is a constant lure by the scene to hike along those hills and create your own “Lord of the rings” experience. Walking along the harbour towards the old city takes around 20 minutes.

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peace along the harbour. Pro400H

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the walk. Pro400H

The walk itself is a peaceful and unfolds several serene scenes. There are residents along the main road that resembles some mansion and old rocky stairs that leads to the homes. I like these scenes. It strikes a nostalgic chord somewhere inside of me, wondering what happened to those people who have taken these steps and how so much activities have preceded us.

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old rocky stairs. Pro400H

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mansion of old. Pro400H

There is a bakery shop that we stopped by and we were wanted to experience what Croatia bakery is like. While they were enjoying the bread and cakes, i took the shot below.

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the bakery. Pro400H

You could take a taxi or bus to reach the old town but for the next few days here, i walked there every single day. Enjoying the same scene and answering more and more of my curiousity of the people who lives here. Different time of the day grants the same scene a very different feel. Shooting these scenes on film….are just perfect.

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the view. Pro400H

Halfway towards the old city, you will come across some locks with love messages locked to the fence. This fence leads you to an opening view of the sea and you can see the shores on the left and the newer city and hotels on the right. It gets really windy here, a perfect spot for emotional portraiture. I am not an aficionado for landscape, so i had to include a model in most of my shots, no models around, my family had to fill in 😉

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next “The old city Part III”

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 1

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I want to share the photos from my recent trip to Croatia done entirely in film. This will span several chapters and posts to complete. When my family decided on Croatia for this year’s family trip, i selected the Leica M7, some rolls of Pro400H and Superia 200s. (All images in these series are taken on M7, 35mm Zeiss ZM)

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Amsterdam Superia 200

Our flight have to stop by Amsterdam for a night before leaving for a very early flight the next day to Dubrovnik. I carried a small Crumpler sling bag and i am surprised i managed to put the M7 with the 35mm f2 Zeiss and 7 rolls all into that bag.

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Superia 200. M7

My “home ministry of tourism” decided to be thrifty and she booked a budget hotel for this overnight stay because its very near to the airport. We took the free shuttle provided by Ibis just outside the airport.

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no makeup and tired from the trip, i hope she don’t see these photos haha. Superia 200.

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IBIS budget hotel. You buy food thru the vending machine downstairs. Superia 200.

In Malaysia, if you are into photography, you will definitely lament on the fact that the “golden sun” only exist between 7.20am to 8.30 am and 6 pm to 7.20 pm. So you can see how ecstatic i was when i landed in Amsterdam around 8pm and the golden rays greeted me.

IBIS budget hotel is exactly what it is. A small room with a double decker just enough for a small family of three. We walked over to the non-budget IBIS hotel which is located just 200 meters away and had our dinner there.

The flight took 2 hours to reach Dubrovnik. We were greeted by Nikolina, a mother of 2 and had coffee with her while her father in-law prepares the apartment for us.

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The apartment. Superia 200.

Located at Grutz, it is a 20 minutes walk to the old city Dubrovnik. Our apartment is built on top of a reclining slope and leads to a beautiful harbour. It’s a beautiful sight to behold and walking by the harbour around 18 C is enjoyable.

 

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On the way down, we took some photos by one of the neighbour’s door, beautifully surrounded by flowers. Sheryll is camera shy and cant wait until we are done. Superia 200.

Dubrovnik is where the Games of Thrones was filmed for the “King’s Landing” scenario.

next, the walk Part II

■ amanda ■ Sands {portraiture | ccd sensor}

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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.

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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.
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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 😉

Setting the intuition free {LC-A | Photography}

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yashica camera as a prop

Two rolls. So i took the infamous LC-A and i shot two rolls. All these images are as is, without editing and straight from the labs. I didn’t want to be associated with some funny 10 rules of the lomography, i took these shots based on the simple fact that you can’t focus, so to speak. By just anticipating the distance and with your eyes as the only other reason to “click”, it opens up a whole new way of shooting.

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crack a joke

I could of course do that on my leica M7. But the situation is just the same with Digital, one argues that on digital you can stop yourself from chimping and preview and focus on the moment, or take less shot. Never happened. Using the M7, i will use the rangefinder focus because its there.  But The LC-A has nothing to focus on, just 4 ridiculous stick levels.

Its instant in shooting. Since no focusing is needed, i realized i could get really candid shots of my daughter, something which has been a hard to do thing. Parents worldwide will attest to this, some even buys the latest and greatest focus tracking digital and yet misses the shot. Ironically, something as ancient and raw as setting a zone on the camera solves everything.

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tourists

This picture of korean tourists enjoying ice-cream and embraced with beautiful blue colored objects is shot from the hip. I do recall one of lomography rules is to shoot from the hip . I did it not because it was a more creative approach but because its totally less confrontational in shooting street. Love it.

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the mini

Now looking at these images i wondered, where are the infamous vignettes wishy washy lens magic that the LC-A is famous for. Thank goodness the images are not vignetting like those i saw on the net, for one, i don’t want to cross process my films, these are all shot on Fuji Superia 200 🙂 . The colors are strong even on superia and i have to admit, i love it.

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publika

The exposure on the LC-A is anyone’s guess when it comes to selecting the right exposure. In my images so far, most are pleasing and some with heavy backlighting are the ones with trouble. If you have never felt anxious about your shots, the LC-A will make you.

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Double exposure

This picture was taken using the multi-exposure switch, i forgot what was it that i tried to take as the first layer but here it just ended up adding some interesting blob of light.  A failed attempt but likable.

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lovely

Took this shot indoor in the mall. Was expecting it to fail but since i have time to position it  over my face, that must have added stability. I am surprised at the exposure taken here, its just spot on.

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starbucks

Final image, another shot from the hip during my street walk. There is a distinct 3D feel to this despite the camera max aperture of f2.8 which we have no control over. You can see some of the subtle vignetting and the colors are just beautiful, this is after all taken on a cheap Superia 200.

I must say, that i am proud that a company like Lomography are selling the LC-A, LC-W and LC-A 120, these cameras are a blast to use. In fact i love these test shots so much that i am going to place an order for the LC-A 120. Oh yea, medium format on a dumb camera.

Chinese Vintage Story {film}

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It’s been an exciting week for me. Each roll that was uploaded to my Google Drive by the film lab never fails to surprise me.

On the 13th Feb decided to try doing a roll on fuji superia 200, a relatively budget film that works very well on Asian skin tones.

I went to the same temple and did the shots with miss woh yon, a pharmacist friend I met few years back when she did freelancing modeling.

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The joy of shooting film is in the sum of its experience. The uncertainty of each exposure I took given the limitation of 1/1000 max shutter on broad daylight and the challenging indoor ambiance.

I shot everything manual.

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The analogue tones are just so beautiful. I actually tried duplicating these tones on vsco two months back by selecting Superia, utterly time consuming and disappointing. There is just no way to get the same feel.

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The shot above is a bonus to me. It was pretty dim inside and I shot it at 1/15 and expected the results to be blurred or shaky. Maybe the cloth shutter on Leica M7 is more than meet the eye.

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Feel free to ask me anything if you would like to try film. It’s not a superior medium by any means and I totally don’t recommend it for product or commercial studio works.

But… if ur feeling an artist block and you need inspiration. There is no better route. Trust me.

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