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.

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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.

 

 

Shooting film in 2016, 2017 {kodak ektachrome revival}

I take it that you are here is because either you are curious about shooting film or that you read about the revival of kodak ektachrome. I been shooting ALOT of film in 2016, fueled mainly by the desire to slow down (you will hear this reason from almost anyone who shoots film) or the cosmetics tones that film provides.

Film labs in malaysia are cheap. So cheap that the labs like ColorDotCom and Bang Bang Geng have films from all over the world posted to it for development and scanning. The results are uploaded via wetransfer or google drive the moment its completed and owners can enjoy the results while their negatives takes its time to return.

Total cost per roll? USD $3, that includes both development and scanning.

Don’t get me wrong, i am not giving up on digital. But digital, like a genie from the lamp gave me so much power that i forgot whats it feels like to enjoy the process and to stop being a gear head or reading up exciting new gears every quarter. Moore’s law guarantee that your current digital gears will be crappy in comparison to new releases faster than the new car models.

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film tones, fujifilm 400H, olympus 35 uc 42 1.7

Film cameras on the other hand had reached its golden age somewhere in the middle of 1970s. Since no “sensor” was involved, manufacturers had to think out of the box on how to make the next release. Premium and even mid level cameras were built so well, they have a heft to it when you carry them and they easily lasted over 20 years. Most of these manufacturers focused on quality and build and the vast amount of film cameras available today and still functional are a testimony to these decisions.

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mamiya rz67pro, 180mm f4.5. Kodak Porta 400

Truth is, digital cameras have reached a level whereby you don’t need to buy a new one anymore. The nikon d3000 that i purposely buy because of its large CCD sensor produces amazing results. Yup, d3000, the supposedly weakest camera released by nikon according to Ken rockwell ;-).

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nikon d3000, sigma 50 1.4 (non art)

Around 6 years ago, the camera that got me interested in photography in the first place is the quirky Sigma DP2. I was interested in why would a manufacturer go against all odds to pursue and release a camera using a different sensor than everyone else is. I soon gave up on that camera after realizing that i am addicted to pixel peeping  but produces nothing interesting in actual photos. Film on the other hand is at the far right side of the spectrum, where one no longer pursue sharpness, latest and greatest or burst speed, but rather the communication with the subject and the process to think more before pressing the shutter.

Shooting film enables me to appreciate the digital gear that i had, the awesome power of technology and how much it has progressed since early 2000.

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Canon 6D, 35 1.4L lens with VSCO film tones.

My only FF digital camera is the Canon 6D and i have only 1 lens to go with it, the 35 mm 1.4 L. This to me is more than sufficient to create albums that new models and existing models friends would want. When the album are not urgent, i would use film as well. In the world of film, a Leica M7 with a Noctilu f1.0 do not have much advantage over a cheap USD $100 camera like the Olympus 35 uc, they are both used depending on my mood for the type of results i want to get, instead of showing off  Leica as a brick around the neck.

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Leica M7. Noctilux f1.0. Kodak Color plus 200

As i went one full circle from 2011 till 2017, i began to appreciate and understood the reality and truth that “gears” are not really the important factor, but rather the photographer.

I bet if i had my hands on the tragic Sigma DP2 again, perhaps this time, things would be different.

 

 

 

jun yan {portraiture|film}

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A friend from Macau came back and she is going to stay for 6 months in malaysia before continuing her career in Macau. When i first met her, life is just starting out and she decided that working overseas is financially a better option. I agree.

Now that she is taking a necessary Macau enforced break for all foreign employees, managed to catch up with her during a lunch break. Life is a lot better for her now, financially stronger and open up her eyes to the world, working in account management in one of the luxurious hotels in Macau is more rewarding than a 5 years exp manager in Malaysia.

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Since the sun is out with all its power, we tooks some of these photos at the BBG film shop, using a porta 160 and a borrowed camera from Mr.Koon, the owner for this film lab. The ambiance and the props in the shop make the whole vintage feel more enacting.
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In  the end i am pretty happy with the results and added some texture via Analogue2 to enhance the actual film output. As we chat about current life and her plans,  i could only be happy for her and her family for making allowing her to make that decision. As an independent woman, she could easily flourish in her solo career and gets to tour the region as well. 12473561_1026804364033802_8998618461248825383_o.jpg

Outside the shop we notice a well decorated cafe has just gone out of business and decided to try a few shots there.
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A very short session. Looking forward to hear more of my friends adventure as they make life changing decisions and i, gets to note down these moments during our candid chats.

Decisive moments in film {portraiture|film}

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turning heads. Kodak ProImage 100, film.

I assume the general public already knows how to use an autofocus camera for decisive moments. While its super easy to do on a digital camera, its costly to use the same attitude on film.

Now lets learn how to do it with a rangefinder. It’s a lot easier with the rangefinder. Here are the 3 steps :-

  1. Focus on the subject, preferably at f2.0 or smaller aperture. You can focus at the “ground” or nearby object whereby the subject will be passing or at the subject itself if you are expecting a change in expression.
  2. Wait for the moment
  3. Press the shutter

Thats it. How does these steps differs from a normal autofocus camera?

In an autofocus camera, the focus kicks in when you half press the shutter, or you use the de-coupled autofocus button. Due to the way we shoot in digital, we cannot help but to re-press the button whenever the subject changes the expression or if he/she about to walk into the location that you want. There isn’t much thought required so you just focus on the subject and press multiple shots. When i said “we cannot help but to re-press” it has a lot to do with how often we depend on the camera and build that into a habit vs inability.

This is where a rangefinder comes in real helpful. Its essentially a dated mechanism for focusing that got replaced by SLRs. If you use it long enough however, you soon learn to think and be rewarded with its simplicity. It is both the slowest and the fastest autofocusing mechanism in the world.

In 100 shots i have taken with my rangefinder whether its the Leica ME/M9 or the Hexar/Bessa/M7 film bodies, i have maybe 2% of mis-focused shots. In my autofocus bodies, i have around 5-10% of mis-focused shots. This might sound absolutely ridiculous until you try it. I am going to keep that surprise as the reward that you deserve to receive for trying out.

Keep shooting.

 

 

 

Why i moved to film in 2016 {portraiture}

 

I packed the Leica ME and visited Desmond of YL camera, a popular distributor of cameras both used and new in Malaysia. Desmond is a friendly guy, humble and realistic…

I had a lot of good memories using the Leica M9 and leica ME. In my last commissioned project on Charlotte i found myself depending on Nikon D3000 instead, a cheap USD 150 camera that i paired with the Sigma 50 1.4. The results are beautiful and both client and model are happy and popularity index soars.

The D3000 is just a 10.2 mp camera and few focusing points. It is however a hidden gem, one which if discovered, would cause a worldwide buy on it. I might as well let the cat out of the box so to speak. D3000 is nikon’s last CCD sensor camera and D200 is Nikon’s last pro-bodied CCD sensor camera, both are APSC.

Charlotte. D3000. Sigma 50 1.4

 

Now back to the story. The Leica ME/M9? Lots of good memories with it. I used it on the Stephy first photoshoot in 2011.

M9. voigthlander 40 1.4

I have sold it off before and switched to Nikon D4 -> the Sony A7r -> DF and i realized that the Leica M9 it was the preferred shooting experience for my own projects and shoot and i got the Leica ME back in 2014. The D4 and DF produces nice images no doubt.

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Nikon D4. Nikon 24 f1.4

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nikon DF. Nikon 58 1.4

malaysia top portraitist

sony a7r with legacy vivitar lens 28mm

 

Using back the Leica ME was a joy. My shooting was slower and instead of having 1300 files to process, i often have around 300 files at most. The experience of handling and using the D4, DF, A7r taught me the difference between CCD and CMOS and i wanted the FF CCD back, which was only available in the Leice ME/M9 series.

I “played” with the idea of shooting film back in 2015 and realized that for non-collaborative projects or commercial, the film experience yielded me more satisfactory outcome than digital. For commercial and CCD stuffs i have my d3000, D200 ready to kick in. But for street, model shooting for artistic projects, the film experience is just fantastic.

I found myself experiencing “disappointments” over my shots, thinking more for each frame that i use and having a lot more time to chat and to know the friends/models that i shoot with during the session. Often in digital during break time, i would hand the camera to the model and we goes thru the same dialogue of :

“can you delete that. sure, ok.”

“dont worry about this, i shot in raw, it could be salvaged”

“its a bit bluish cause its raw, i could easily adjust the temperature during edit”

With film, all these goes away into just shooting, meaningful dialogue and the surprise that greets you when you see your scan results uploaded by the processing lab.

I estimate that i spent at least half of my time in getting an album up vs my digital workflow. I didn’t need to use VSCO or editing to “tone” the raw files images since each film comes with its own tones and feel.

Along the months, i have decided that film is the way to go. The satisfactory-index level, if there is such a thing, is just high vs digital. So there i handed the ME over. The new workflow saves me time, something that i spent in a beautiful startup that i am attached to.

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konica Hexar. 35 f2. Fuji 400H pro.

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Konica Hexar. Fuji 400 Super Premium.

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Konica Hexar. Kodak porta 400

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bessa r3m. Fuji Superia 200

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Bessa R3m. Kodak Pro-image 100

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Bessa r3m. Superia 200. Noctilux f1.

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Nikon f100. Kodak Porta 160. Nikon 50 1.4d

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Bessa R3m. Fuji 400h pro

Notice the different feel on each of these images? They are different film. Changing film is like changing sensor.  All the images above are shot with a range-finder like camera.

Now, after i handed in the Leia ME. I got myself 2 beautiful camera, same model, one silver and one black. Both film. I will end this post with a picture of the black model.

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Thanks for reading and have a nice weekend.

images that changes lives {film|portraiture}

reminiscence

reminiscence

The year is 2015. We see a shift of marketing from magazine and printed ads to influencers and celebrities in the social media.
There are now full time fashion bloggers that manages to etched out a living by blogging, uploading photos and socialising.
The source of power behind all these activities : images.

the homecoming

the homecoming

Daniel wellington gave away their watches to mid level influencers in instagram and facebook. Influencers whom are not actresses nor celebrities in any level. The actual celebrities and high end influencers are only available to actual luxury brands, but the mid and entry level influencers whom none of the big names cares to contact were flattered by such invites and free gifts.
DW made a killing with this strategy. The lower influencers just wears it and images of them begin to populate the average feed of the millennials.

dreams

dreams

Images can change lives. I have personally seen how my photos changes lives of some of these new models/influencers in many ways. While the complexity of life and opportunities are never attributed to just image generation, it is without doubt part and parcel of today’s marketing. Marketing creates leads and opportunities.

The line is blurring between those capable of creating images, the subject herself/himself and the advertising firms. Google, facebook, instagram, whatsapp, youtube are all tied to the advertising industry as a whole. The biblical truth of “do unto others what you want others to do unto you” being applied unknowingly, in the most powerful and direct manner : advertising.
We help you make money, you give us money.

The power behind advertising today? 3 types of images.
– Static images
– Images that moves
– Images that moves and have sound/voice/music.

Texts are just messages carried by the images to strengthen its message.

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emotion

Are you an image maker? Congratulations, you have been empowered to do something in this world. We were all made in His image when the world begun, its a process that works across borders and time.

 

All images shown here are taken on film, superia and fuji pro400 on Nikon F100, 50 1.4d.

Why i shoot film in 2015 #2 {portraiture}

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Instead of talking about resolution and the whole she-bang, re-hased reasons of why film rocks, slows your down blah blah blah. I decided to share my pictures taken last week. This is my 2nd article on why i shoot film in 2015, the first one can be found here. Personally i think there are just too much reasons given and argued for that its gets to a point where nothing really matters or makes sense anymore.

So without further ado…enjoy the photos. All shot using a Konica Hexar, Kodak porta 160 and 40mm 1.4 cv lens.
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Athena, Morocco’s Duchess [Portraiture B&W]

Neopan 100. 47mm f2.0. 1/500

Neopan 100. 47mm f2.0. 1/500

This is a pavilion built at the left of the Putrajaya Botanical Park, Malaysia. The Botanical Park as well as Putrajaya itself has been an extremely popular spot for photography. There is practically not much people around during weekends because Putrajaya is where the Federal Government offices are located, hence, weekend it turns to a ghost town.

I do find these images too grainy to get used to, I am not sure at this point if its caused by a kind of exposure issue with the 1946 Kodak RetinaII camera or just the way the Gang Gang Geng shop scans them. They do looked very very filmic….wait a minute, this is film. In “retrospect” i am often intrigued by the numerous articles online describing the weakness of a camera in low iso (read: leica M…, Nikon 1) as being filmic. Having used and own all these cameras i can tell you one thing :
– There is nothing filmic about digital low iso noise.

Well, don’t get me wrong though, i am not endorsing film as anything superior, thats just as delusional as the other view. These are mediums that produces different results and feel and thats it. Film based cameras are extremely fun to use…..after you have mastered your basic that is. Digital is where you learn and train. If you are a pro, i would say, go digital straight, use film for the less serious stuffs. There will always be some Film Jedi’s around that will use film for professional stuffs, those are just exceptions, not a recommendation. I wouldn’t ask anyone to cycle to work just because i could (i wish this was true). But, the limitations set by working with films are often the chains we needed to control ourself and grow to greater heights.

Enough with all these guru talks, enjoy the photos and drop me some comments.

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I am leaving the last post for the surprise here. Actually i never planned to use B&W in this shoot, but my Mamiya 645E encountered a file loading issue which most probably is due to my first time mounting film on it and i only got 1 shot off it.

This is the one, my first Medium Format film photo.

Kodak Porta 160. Mamiya 645E. 80mm f2.8.

Kodak Porta 160. Mamiya 645E. 80mm f2.8.

For old rangefinders, the must have tip

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The Kodak Retinaii is a rangefinder and an old one.
Sometimes focusing is very hard because the rangefinder square is small unlike the Leica’s M9.
After much cleaning up and reading, i came across this tip published in a rangefinder forum.

I tried it and…kazam! Focusing has suddenly improved dramatically. The tip is a very simple idea.
Cut a square black tape and stick it to the viewfinder, the size preferably should be near the rangefinder other “window” that you move to focus.
By blocking the main viewfinder with a corresponding square, when you move the rangefinder window, its so much easier to see.

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Try it today, it might change the way you look at old rangefinder cameras. I tried it in low light and other scenario, it has my vote as the no.1 tip of all time for rangefinder camera.

Camera Jedi i became

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So how does it feels like using a camera without :-
– autofocus
– metering
– large OVF
– LCD/EVF
– batteries!

*blindfold guy image from http://brandleadership.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/feeling-the-future-the-emotional-oracle-effect

No joke. I loaded in a Fuji Superia 200 and it requires that i use everything i knew about photography on this beautiful vintage camera.

Its kinda mind boggling when i first loaded up the films into it. I was like a child playing with a new toy, exploring the nooks and finishes of the camera.
Some big questions like, does the rangefinder still works or out of alignment? Its after all a 1946 camera……thats like..wow…68 years old.

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For a moment in time, blogs like Steve Huffs and other gear centric lost its appeal. Here i am using a camera without batteries, evf, or even decently bright OVF. But i can tell u, the built quality and weight of the camera…it makes the M9 build looks like a downgrade. Credit to M9 though, for almost everything that i managed to use on this camera came from my experience in using the M9, that low iso 160 and other related attributes.

Film loaded. Shutter cocked by locking a lever, much like a gun. Aperture set. Thats it, focus using the miniature rangefinder window and..frankly, i felt like a jedi.

I got the photos both developed in a 4R print and in scanned jpgs. I am surprised that the 4R print was much better than the jpgs, whether scanned quality could be improved further by trying other processing shops or not, remains to be seen.

Here are some images taken, added watermark and untouched.

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