When taking images is more than just photography. {thoughts}

i see u
i see u

its 12:45 am. i am sitting next to my bed, a smaller bed that is just next to the main one. i have just ordered from ebay a BessaR3M and a Nikon F3ma, both are film cameras. film? what?

four years ago before i started photography, life is just standard operating procedure. married with a kid, financially sufficient, runs a company with shares in two more companies. life is good one would say.

Day in, day out, visit my office, chat with the staffs, partners, dividends, sales, technical issues.
Life is good one would say. i am a prodigy in computer development, wrote my first game on commercial game on floppy disk when i as 14, on the apple ][. my best friend who inspires me in programming went to silicon valley and never came back. literally. He died of heart attack last year.

my circle of friend for the last 15 years, guys that grew up with me in the church, Phoenix that i met from the church and some collegues from 2 companies i joined before i started my own. I believe in God, all programmers should, seeing how stupid it is to cook up codes by chance, everything is by design.

chimping
chimping

Fast forward to 2012. Participated in a paid portrait event. Portraiture hits the key. I have never found interest in anything except people when it comes to photography. Humans are the ultimate design and whose image are so divinely created, i could find no joy in taking photos of dead objects nor animals. At that time i was 38. I pursued this field by learning from the best, ming thien, dragon chow or whomever that i felt i could learn from.

Like a born-again superhero, i added some noble intention to my newly acquired skills. Helping young models to create albums that they can use in kickstarting their freelance jobs and offering advices on standing out but keeping it safe. It was all too enjoyable. Why wouldn’t it be, meeting beautiful aspiring models every week, fanning friendships and seeing some purpose in life. Any guy would have enjoyed doing it. You shouldn’t be reading this part in a sober mood though, hahaha. Truth be told, after having done thru over 86 models and albums, one tends to go over the initial excitement and focus more on perfecting the art.

As my page in facebook : http://www.facebook.com/marcuslowphoto became more popular, write ins poured in. Paid jobs came in which i happily took, not because of the money, but because its just something you had to do when people wanted to pay you to do the thing that u love to do. I had to turn away most of the invites for events and group photos regardless the pay.

Apart from models, female friends continue to ask me to shoot. Some guys ask me why. Its pretty simple. The flower fades and the grass withers but your photos last thru generations. Female beauty are at the peak in the range of 16-27, after which the ageing effect inevitably sets in visually. If the photos are not captured during this stage, it has missed the train, so to speak.

happy
happy

Capturing light has brought plenty of experience and episodes in these four years. I fell in love with not the mere output of the art, but the whole process. Leica being an outdated camera with minimalistic knobs just works. I wager that film shooting this time round would allow me to focus even more. Looking back, there are episodes where i fell in love more than just on the gears, but that is life, in its full vulnerable state and journey. This craft have changed my life, open doors and reached out in many ways, there is no regret in photography.

My next plan is just to shoot and pass to labs to develop, no plans to open up lightroom nor photoshop at all. Lets keep it organic and real. Lets do this for some albums.

* images here are taken recently at myespresso cafe, one of the best cafe in kuala lumpur, subang jaya. model is a long time friend Angela Lieche that has her own story to tell about her freelance life in malaysia.

That noc-thing again {portraiture|thoughts}

pastel
pastel

There is just something about the noct on the leica CCD that keeps you addicted to it. These images are taken casually without much editing, in fact, when i saw the colors and bokeh, i just loved them. This particular shot exhibits candylike pastel colors and it didn’t require much effort on my side. If i were to be downright frank, in reality the rendered image beats the actual image.

vape
vape

It takes a little bit of practice and once you developed what i would call the “bokeh eyes”, you can envision certain aspect of the images and bet that it would turn out amazing. An example would be the distance and lights behind the subject, the noctilux f1 is at f 1.0, it renders it very differently than say a 1.8.

B
B

These images are taken during the non flattering hours of the day. They are all taken in shaded location without any form of reflector nor flash. In Malaysia, the equatorial position guarantees that the sun will be directly above the country most of the time and you have very short side lighting than other non equatorial countries.
Using the noct, you need to get around 3 meters away to allow a certain margin of movable recomposition. This is because on the rangefinder like the M9, you can compose only in the center and you recompose by moving the camera horizontally, but because you are using f1.0, you only have a very small margin of depth in the subject you are shooting.

A
A

I should be shooting a lot more and sharing them. The GR now lies in my other bag as the noct’s alluring call for action is just hard to resist haha. I have been offered to goto Korea to do a portrait shoot for a girl whom i think has just undergone plastic surgery and wanted to have an album to share her newfound beauty, but we’ll see.

Bokeh vs Bokehless, the lost art {Portraiture}

angela {bokehless}
angela {bokehless}

I been struggling to master the bokehless portraiture. This struggle has motivated me to force myself to use cameras with deep depth of field and hence inability to produce bokeh photos. One such ridiculous camera is the Casio TR. If you read my previous blog, i took this camera and went walking around Singapore as well as shot my model friends in Kuala Lumpur. Things took a change when i decided to ask Angela Lieche to do a shoot with me. Angela (x.x.angela instagram) have been creating beautiful bokehless images and her fame instagram is rising fast, thanks to her images.
Bokehless portraits, takes a very different set of eyes and mind to capture them. When i had the Casio TR, i tried my best and eventually i admit i could not take any satisfactory portraits with it. You can read about how the model herself could take a better picture here.

angela {bokeh}
angela {bokeh}

I am lucky to be the owner of a Noctilux f1. An ancient lens granted by Leica to possess magical qualities. I maybe exaggerating but the fact that you use a rare aperture, it can only create different bokeh and imagery. So in this shoot with Angela, i use the new skills of utilizing both bokeh and bokehless cameras. The bokehless camera is the Ricoh GR 28 mm f2.8 and the bokeh camera is my trusty Leica ME Noctilux F1 v3.

angela {bokeh}
angela {bokeh}

If i were to be downright honest here, i am one of the best outdoor portrait photographer anyone can find in Malaysia. Not the best, but definitely one of the best.
Well, let me correct that statement earlier, “best outdoor female portrait photographer”. LOL.
I pay my dues with constant learning, practicing and restrain in learning and enhancing my skills, do visit my other articles and photos to see the various themes that i have done and collaborated with. I learn from the best, be it Dragon Chow from HK, Ming Thein of Malaysia or a freelance model like Angela who is gifted, i take my lessons with no prejudice.
Is it profitable? No by a far margin, photography to me is like an art and a gift to me and people that i meet.

Please do enjoy the images below and drop me a comment if you enjoyed my images and lame jokes.

angela {bokeh}
angela {bokeh}
angela {bokeh}
angela {bokeh}
angela {bokehless}
angela {bokehless}
siew may  {bokehless}
siew may {bokehless}
siew may, {bokehless}
siew may, {bokehless}

Natural vs Fashion poses, Jaclyn Lee {Portraiture}

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Jacklyn Lee wants to do a shoot and while i am personally studying bokehless photography, i feel it won’t do her justice to shoot and learn because she comes all the way from the States. So the leica and noctilux 1.0 comes to the rescue. She is more accustomed to fashion poses but i decided that the theme would have to be natural like and not fashion poses. Natural poses blends beautifully with background such as this garden, it grants the viewers a feeling of peace, reflective and happiness.

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Do enjoy the photos and if i made your day better in anyway, please do leave a comment, it means very much to me to know that i have somehow touched someone with my art. Enjoy.L1004772 L1004773 L1004782 L1004790 L1004800 L1004804 L1004807 L1004811 L1004814 L1004818

Three story of people i met that you should read {portraiture}

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irresistible

Elaine Cheah. An internet idol. As a student in a quiet state north of Kuala lumpur, her reputation for being cute, beautiful, sexy didn’t take long to go viral. She found herself having over 400k fans in facebook and her new instagram account went over 20k. As an internet idol, she has a lot of offers from businesses and new ventures for advertisement posts for her huge base of fans.
Reputation comes with its price though. As her chosen photographer and friend, i personally witnesses how some random strangers would try to “get her” with baits of contracts and career. One such instance was just in April, 2015, after our shoot in Bangsar Village Shopping Centre a guy claiming to be of some management position gave us his card and took our numbers. He then personally msg just Elaine for “private invites” to some event which happened to have only “1” ticket availability and the promise of meeting prominent people.
Elaine rejected that event simply because she wasn’t free, the event turned out to be just some lineup launching of a bag brand in a public mall where anyone can just see. He followed up with msgs like “hook up for coffee” which is highly inappropriate usage of words. One can only wonder if its ignorance of english words used by new generation today is the reason for such construct or just another subtle way to reveal his purpose.

 

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short hair

I met Nicole thru another friend from Kampar, Perak. This is the same place where Elaine study. Nicole is a tall, girl that occasionally model for her varsity. For asians 170cm is considered tall. Reminded me of Janice which i met in 2013 which is at 173cm and today is an active freelancer in decent catwalks and ushering, a friend that i often miss and yet happy for her new found success.
Now back to Nicole. She was just finishing her studies so her request for a photoshoot was greeted without resistance on my part since she would be in KL.
It was 1st January 2015, a public holiday where people go out and celebrate but we decided to shoot the whole day with 3 different makeover and location. I enjoyed myself much that day with all the laughs and awkward situations of her learning to pose for the camera. We met up with Danny for a cafe shootout and did a nightshoot outside a prominent KL shopping mall, Pavilion.
You can find her albums in this blog on January 2015.
Nicole has a more laid back attitude about her images and often taking up stronger moral stand on daily issues. One could easily see how happy and proud she is on her boyfriend, a handsome young man that is at least 180 cm. Looking at their images that they have done for the varsity and bridal houses in Kampar, i often joked about how they don’t need to get photoshoot on their actual wedding day. She has a dimple on her right side of her face, which made some images unique and that extra punch in character.

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desolate

 

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white

 

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classic

Stephy is another internet idol here in Malaysia with over 100k fans in Facebook, but an equivalent amount in Instagram. Instagram seems to be a much better platform for advertisement and Stephy found herself courted with many offers for advertisement. At a young age of only 19 now, i recalled my first photoshoot with her when she was just 15. It was one of the most challenging shoot i ever did simply because of the mounted pressure i had on myself for the quality of images to be delivered…and i was just starting out myself in photography back then.
Stephy Yiwen is a very friendly and comfortable person to be around with during photoshoot, she gave clear indication of her objectives what are some of the images she likes or don’t like and i often found myself forgetting that i was shooting someone with a huge fan count. She could play guitar by learning it from youtube and is currently taking up japanese language classes as her additional language. In Malaysia, most people know at least 3 languages, so adding japanese would mean knowing 4 languages.

 

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many reasons to be happy

 

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the baby

Do pay their facebook a visit to know more about them or for advertisement opportunities. Keywords: Elaine Cheah, Stephy Yiwen.

Where no cameras matter {Portraiture|Mystery camera}

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Amanda cme, a full time makeup artist in malaysia, KL.

Last few weeks its all about using that “premium” level noctilux F1. This week, i decided to use a mystery camera to educate friends and public. The point is..

 

2-sit
all smiles

You don’t need the most expensive lens or gears to make art. You can’t be using an iphone if you want quality images of the same scene. But here is the good news…

 

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chelsea, beautiful

Today’s camera, if you were to buy one that is even 1″ sensor. Its more than enough to keep you busy. After all, lens or cameras are servants of light.

 

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the eyes

These images taken here are of very high quality, i have no reservations printing it out and matching even the best 35mm have to offer…with billboards as exceptions.

 

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its all about the expression

What is even more important is to have quality of light and focusing on what you love to do. I love candids and i love portraiture. This is where leica will have a big problem matching, fast focusing. I had good success using 18mm F4 on the Leica ME with zone focusing. But if you gonna do some composition and you want speed…

 

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emotion

you will be spoilt by choice by other brands. Autofocus has reached a godlike speed. All the images in this series are taken with 1 camera that cost less than USD 1000 and 1 set of cheap triggers costing usd 30.

 

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love

When i have that bokeh lust, its the Leica with the Noctilux that does it. When i want those beautiful candids and i need autofocus, almost any camera will do.
 

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straight pose

This mystery camera is just the Panasonic FZ1000. A zoom lens of 25-400 and 1″ sensor.
Enjoy your day.

Two cheats in Portraiture {Portraiture|Noctilux F1}

Prime Arrancar #1
Prime Arrancar #1

There are two things that can make your portraiture stands out. Two things that resembles more like cheats than skills. I have tried all kinds of portraiture techniques, styles and lens and i believe these two factors are the “cheapest” way to improve, its almost cheat.

The first one is BOKEH.

Bokeh allows your portrait to stand out instantly. This is because bokeh only affects the lights in the background or those highlights behind your portrait or those way in front. In a way its like adding elements to your images that surrounds your main subject. This is where most kit lens sucks and sucks big time.

Next is BIG APERTURE

You can forget about bokeh if you have a slow lens. Even a 2.8 is crap nowadays. Get a 1.4 and we start talking. Bokeh is a by product of big aperture lens but its a totally separate factor to consider. Large aperture affects the DOF of the subject that you are focusing, this makes whatever in focus sharp while the others are blurred. This allows you to have subject isolation powers that will immediately pop your image, even if its a bad one.

Did i mentioned “cheapest”, i really mean its the laziest way you can improve in portraits. Period. If you don’t have both of these, you better have very sharp, contrasty lens, good studio setup or a beautiful scenery that adds interest to your images, else its gonna just looks like its some iphone images.

Have fun with your gears. Shoot long and prosper.

 

She came into the temple with hair as gold…{portraiture}

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With Chinese New Year around the corner and everyone doing a cheongsam (chinese traditional costume) shoot, its my turn. As auspicious as it sounds like, heaven sent me a suitable candidate for this shoot. A chinese girl with a decently tall nose bridge, doves eyes, straight chiselled teeth and hair as fine as the threads of gold. The last time i met such a person was in 2013 in a similar cheongsam event that i organized. Well, enuf talk then, enjoy the images.
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