Rachel with gladiators {portraiture}

L1007638-Edit
caravan

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).

L1007615-Edit-Edit
sexy

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.

passenger
passenger

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.

dusk
dusk

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.

distance
distance

* featured image, taken using F2.0 at 1/3000, 40mm 1.4 voigthlander, Leica ME.

5 real reasons why i shoot film in 2015 {portraiture}

Copy of 000028
fuji superia 200, noctilux f1.

* All images here are unedited and taken using film on fuji Superia200 and kodak Porta160.

Often its the old school guys that pushes for shooting films. Folks that are caught in the past and never got the balls to seriously try digital. As a result of that we end up having all kinds of articles in the internet that is both misleading and silly. Sifting through the internet for gems and valid points from experience people who have done both and yet decided on film is like mining for gold in a ghost town.

I believe that before you can judge something, you need to either have divine knowledge in it or you have spent enough time to provide some authoritative opinion on it. Being ignorant or reactively being defensive is a fool’s mentality.

i am a firm believer in digital. I have subscriptions to LR and Adobe CC and i have spend countless hours perfecting my outdoor portraiture works both in editing and photographing. I could shoot manual 100% easily in almost any lighting. I have owned and used Sony a7r, Nikon D4, Sigma SD15 and various other cams during my course of photography. Ownership of premium gears is of course not a credible factor except for being a gear head. My last set of gears that i still own are the Leica ME/M9, Ricoh GR and the Panasonic FZ1000 travel cam.

And so i tried film…gave up few months ago…and i am back.

Copy of 000035
fuji superia200, noctilux f1.

Here are 5 reasons why i have no plans to do digital anytime soon. I have one caveat to list here, that is, i am a hobbyist, i don’t shoot studio commercials, my commercials are outdoor portraiture.

1. film are for pros.

Pros as in using a camera and knowing what to set. I am not in the learning stage nor amateurish level where topics like iso, aperture and whitebalance are being learned. If you are starting out, i highly recommend digital. If you can’t take up any camera and shoot successfully in manual, i recommend sticking and using digital. I use 0 exposure compensation for all my images shot since 2013, if you don’t understand how is that possible, stick to digital.

If you have done all that. Welcome to film.

I am using a bessa R3m, which is a rangefinder, similar to my M9 except its 7 times cheaper.
Because it has a magnification of 1:1 i could open both eyes and just decides when to press the shutter.
I have like 500% less things to fiddle on the film camera. Just the shutter speed.
Films is less fiddling because you know what you want.

Copy of 000041
fuji superia 200, noctilux f1

2. film sticks to the moment

There is no chance for chimping. You keep ur eyes open, you raise your alertness to the model’s or subject’s ever changing situation. You take the shot, wind the film, next. All the while, you are in the moment, u never left the scene.
When you are using film, you surrender the luxury of digital capabilities like replaying the shot and retaking, 5-100 fps (use a 4kvideo plz) and every click cost money.
Suddenly, your mind is more alert, sober and serious when taking the next shot. This only works on film.
When you have digital and even if you cover up the LCD or if you attempt to limit your shooting process, your mind is not stupid, it knows and you will shoot it like a machine gun.

Copy of 000058
kodak porta 200. noctilux f1.

3. film saves you time

This might sound really silly but its true. A typical workflow in digital goes this way.
– 300-1200 shots on a 2 hours shoot
– 1-2 hours just identifying which photo to use, simple tweaks
– 1-3 hours per retouching on each photo

A film workflow is :
– drive and pass to the lab (30 minutes?)
– goto nearest cafe and enjoy your coffee or go home

Today’s modern labs will scan and automatically upload to your google drive, you can collect the film negatives only when you need it. I do pay for the development and scanning, but it comes down to around USD 0.50 per shot. Time is always more expensive and precious.

The tones are so beautiful and i don’t even need to edit to tweak the image vigorously. (See 4 : film tones are awesome)

Copy of 000066
kodak porta 200, noctilux f1.

4. film tones are awesome

VSCO dominates most of the picture editing apps today. In instagram VSCO is used more than any other apps added up.
VSCO attempts to deliver film-feel to digital and people just realized they love it.
When you shoot film, you get these awesome tones out of the box. In fact, i could not use any VSCO on any of my film images because the original is just so much better.

None of the images shared here were edited.

kodak porta160. noctilux f1.
kodak porta160. noctilux f1.

5. shooting film slows you down

Each click cost your something. Your “system” is aware of that and you will compose much more before you take that shot.
You will see more and get yourself out of the digital upgrade hell hole and insufficiency complex that the industry is selling you.
At this point of writing i am in Tokyo. I took 5 days off my full time job, to Japan. I came with one film camera and 12 rolls of film.

Don’t get me wrong here. Film is in no way superior to digital when it comes to output and clinical sharpness. It is however, a fantastic process and experience to get into.

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}