Street Photography, Bukit Bintang {digital}

malaysia street photography

Streets, one of the unlimited source for shutter therapy. Bukit Bintang is a major commercial square in Kuala Lumpur. I come here nearly every week to either chill in a cafe or just to be surrounded with vibes of life.

Here, we have Pavilion, an upper end shopping mall very much like Giza in Tokyo and the flow of tourists goes from Pavilion -> Fahrenheit -> Isetan Japan KL.

(* All the images here are shot on 23 f1.4, Fujifilm with Acros film simulation)

street photography in malaysia
just do it, smoking

On that short stretch of walking pathway, you can find all sorts of cafe’s and side shops. Recently i noticed the following shops, a new bakery shop, taiwanese ice tea shop, two new ice-cream shops and a money exchange.

There are a lot of middle east people here too, in fact one could easily tell that two bigger cafes here are owned by them. A walk further from Pavilion and it becomes obvious that the locals no longer have a prominent presence here. Shishas, kebabs and massage services occupy the right side of the rows of shops, while the more hipster setups of shops are on the left.

street photography malaysia
A man and his phone
malaysia street photography
Free Bus

There are free buses that travel thru the main attraction in Kuala Lumpur between the commercial centres. From Bukit Bintang here, one can hop on to such buses and alight in KLCC (The Petronas Twin Towers).

malaysia street photography
Dignity

I saw this man riding his bike to the side and took a few seconds to adjust his helmet. Usually these streets are packed like sardines, but because this week in Chinese New Year, a large percentage of the local chinese in KL have returned to the other states for family reunion and celebration.

malaysia street photography
Solo

This was taken just outside H&M near to Lot10, a much smaller mall that have lost its former glory and surviving due to its superb location. You will find plenty of tourists here taking selfies.

I often visits the hawker food at the lower ground level of Lot10 for some mouth watering local food. The basement of Lot10 only holds reputable hawkers stalls and is the brainchild of YTL (a strong developer company in Malaysia that flourished during Dr.Mahathir’s era). He even gave it a name “Hutong” and interconnects with Isetan Japan KL.

malaysia street photography
LED balloons anyone?

There are some peddlers hawking their wares along this walkway. The common items are bubble guns, umbrellas, fidgets and today i saw these led lighted balloons. They often cost just around RM10-20 (USD3-4) and the main clients are the kids tugging at their parents.

malaysia street photography
China power

There is a MRT station here for Bukit Bintang and i usually take it to reach Pasar Seni (China town). As in anywhere else in Asia nowadays, you will see a lot of chinese tourists in Bukit Bintang buying original branded items here that are cheaper than almost any other country.

The structure on the left that in the picture above is the MRT station.

Go closer

How do you like these images? Are these simulated film on fujifilm cameras good enough?

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.

 

fujifilm GA645 review thru portraiture {review}

fujifilm ga645 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

 

ga645 beautiful portraits
Skintones
fujiga645 medium format film
its summer
fuji GA645 full body portraiture
floral balcony
fujifilm ga645 outdoor solo portraiture review
hello
fujifilm 645 medium format GA645 portraiture
serendipity
fujifilm camera review medium format 645
joy
fujifilm medium format camera gear view ga645 portraits
yellow bokeh

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

 

 

LCA120
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.

 

film
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.

Elaine + Eilein {Portraiture|Fujichrome}

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Elaine. 16mm f1.4. Fujichrome.

I gave in to the alluring temptation of trying out the FujiChrome film simulation. How did this happened? Ever since i sold off all my full frame digital cameras like the leica ME and Nikon D610, i had only the d3000 nikon, F100 nikon film camera, a FZ1000 bridging digital 1″ sensor and two M7’s, a Bessa R3m and a Hexar for my M mount lenses. So you can see its 90% film cameras.

Shooting film been great and i truly enjoy photography and slowing down so much. However there are some films that are no longer in production and as i scoured through the internet looking at the tones and feel of some of these bygones film, i came across discussions about Fujifilm’s simulation of FujiChrome.

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16mm f1.4

Fujichrome only exist in digital today, to be exact, it exist only as a jpg output on a digital Fuji camera. I resisted the idea of buying another camera since the whole exercise been done with and i could finally have “peace” 😉 but days of looking at the FujiChrome samples got the better of me. I went out and acquire a Fuji X-A2, the entry level Fuji, a M to Fuji adapter to use my M mount lenses and a 16mm f1.4.

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16mm f1.4. Shot at around less than 1 meter away. FujiChrome

It happened that two of my friends are coming down to Kuala Lumpur, two very attractive friends that is. So i took the opportunity to use the FujiChrome simulation and 3 lenses to produce some new albums. The lenses are 40mm 1.4 Voigtlander M(60mm on fuji), 28mm F2 Ultron (42mm on fuji) and 16mm f1.4 Fuji native lens.

The 16 f1.4 is an amazing lens. It could focus as close as 5 cm away and have shallow DOF for full body portraiture at a close distance.

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28mm f2.0 (42mm) Astia film simulation. Eilein.

I switched to Astia film simulation while using the manual 28 mm f2 (42mm) to see if it gets me what i want. I would say the results are good but i still prefer the FujiChrome tones. On the Fujifilm X-A2, i am unable to have the other film simulation like Acros but since the X-A2 is using a conventional CMOS sensor instead of the Xtrans II, i didnt need to waste time on my LightRoom, almost all the pictures you see here are cleaned up from its JPG instead of raw.

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28mm f2 (42mm) Astia film simulation
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40 mm f1.4 (60mm) FujiChrome

Just look at those beautiful FujiChrome tones. I can only wonder what if the film still exist today, how much more different can it be apart from actual film grains. Using 40mm f1.4 mostly for the rest of the images here, I realized that focusing on Fuji is easy and you can magnify a moveable focus point to aid in the focusing.

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40 mm f1.4 (60mm) FujiChrome

Eilein have a beautiful visage and a taller than normal asian nose bridge. Shooting her portrait from the side angle highlights her features while the interesting light at 8 am brings in some drama to the image.

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40 mm f1.4 (60mm) FujiChrome
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40 mm f1.4 (60mm) FujiChrome
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40 mm f1.4 (60mm) FujiChrome
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28 mm f2 (42mm Fuji) Astia film simulation

I hope you enjoyed this series of mine. Overall i feel that Fuji did a very good job bringing FujiChrome film simulation to the public though i believe it still looks very digital in comparison to my other actual film albums.

Analogue vs Digital, a glance reading {film|portraiture}

 

film vs digital
film vs digital

Which one is digital and which one is film? You have 5 seconds.

There is 80% chances you will guess right. While this comparison makes no sense given the different dof and the variation of expression, I would like to draw your attention to the “feel” that you get when looking at the images on the left and the right.

There is just more “life” on the image on the left. The whiteness of the dress, the shadows and tones on the face and the overall mix lighting being captured. The one on the right was taken instantly, immediate gratification of image making. The one of the left took me 4 days to get it back. When i look at these pictures, i could feel that i recognize in a very natural way, Rachel Liu in her posed smile (she is not a model btw, just a friend joining me for a cup of coffee). While the picture on the right, though taken with a better angle for a sharper face and looking pretty, lacks that “life” that is often in digital images.

Here are more images taken casually on this “cafe moment”.

 

F1020020_1
side

I remember setting the speed at 1/250 for this shot, knowing that i would not get her face lighted up but preserving the natural shadows and tones as it is. A candid pose taken on film might seems to be a waste of cost and film but if photography taught me anything so far, its often that the candid shots are the best and most deserving whatever cost needed to capture it.

bread
bread
black and white
black and white

This image portrays Rachel in a relaxed pose. I waited for some seconds and when i noticed that she exhale and begin to be less “posed” i took the shot. The dull stare of her eyes, not fixated or rigid is exactly what how anyone would looked like if a camera is not pointing at the face.

 

not flattering but real
not flattering but real

The last image for today’s sharing. A candid smile, awkward but real.

 

Chinese Vintage Story {film}

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.