Just wanted to share some of the images i took in the last months of 2016, between November and December 2016. Some friends call me the best portrait photographer in Malaysia jokingly, looking back, i have done portraits without any limitations on myself, pursuing whatever medium and gears i felt is inspiration for the album and experiment and learn at the same time.
I have been using mostly film exclusively, some on the medium format Mamiya rz67pro film with Kodak Porta and some on the leica noctilux f1.0, M7, fujipro 400h film.
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.
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.
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+ .
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 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.
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 .
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.
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.
The fuji superia 200 is a cheap film that deserves to be praised for its amazing colors. All the images here are taken as is without any editing. The picture of Ramona was taken in a dim cafe where the light comes from a small tungsten reading bulb. I am pleasantly surprised when the colors shows beautiful hues of pinks.
We found a cafe in Jaya One, started by a lovely couple George wong and his wife. George is an avid photographer whom have worked in sony and leica Malaysia as well. His wife focuses on street photography and runs this cafe accompanied by her two cats.
A simple portrait of Ramona with her just facing a natural light and behind her is just a board that the cafe used to pin up names and stick it notes. At f1.0, the rendering of this natural shot is a keeper. This is one of the reason i always prefer the natural outdoor even if it means outside a mall or office, the structures available and the tones of objects plays very well into the bokeh of noctilux.
This is a typical shot of a serious stare, no fashion poses needed. I couldn’t go back any further as the wall is about just 4-5 meters away from her. 50mm is strange focal length despite its popularity. The recent Leica Q have the coveted 28mm at f1.7, that focal length would be very suitable for outdoor portraits and dramatic isolation of subject. I am however more interested in the 28 f1.4 leica lens for my film usage.
The black frames of these windows cast a very nice shades of colors in film. Its almost as if the fuji creates auto complementary colors when you least expect. Just love it.
In this last photo, i wanted to capture the emotion of a person leaving a scene, as if saying “goodbye” with a tint of hesitancy. Ramona’s emotionless face and the film’s grain provided the right feel to the image.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I just came out of the hospital on friday, my daughter was hospitalized since monday due to a pain on her stomach. Spending 5 days in hospital gives you plenty of time to think about life and purpose while having of remoting without anyone interrupting. Thank God she is now discharged though doctor have not figured out the actual cause of it.
Nicole showed me a new cafe here that she stumbles upon near Dang Wangi (kuala lumpur), we decided to try out some shots there.
I decided to just use noctilux f1. Speaking of which a friend of mine just got his stolen : 50mm f1 E60 : serial number 3738438
Ok, enjoy the images, do leave me a comment. If you are an aspiring model and your visiting malaysia, send me a msg, lets collaborate.
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.
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.
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.
I am often baffled at how the f1.0 produces the most amazing subject isolation. Unlike zoom lens where you turned the background into cream, the 50mm f1.0 retains the background visible shapes and you can get very decent size of the person with just a few steps away.
A handheld shot at 1/60, iso 320. The image retains the ambiance that is often felt at these beautiful dim lighted places.
Its friday, shoot long and prosper.
The noctilux F1 continues to amaze me with its seemingly out of the world rendering. At the end one must ask, does the price justify the results?
Shooting with the noctilux F1 takes on a different kind of eyes. You need to pay attention to the background and to the formation of bokeh that might occur, often making your wildest guess as to what the results might be.
Using the M9/ME CCD sensor only adds surprises to the results. The M9 sensor is a bad performer in high iso, but with a F1, you only need to do ISO 250-400 max.
I found myself torn between focusing on the model as well as trying to envision how the background bokeh might be. Its easy to lose yourself in either one and end up with average photos that focuses too much on bokeh or ignoring its possible distractions.
Even the most mundane background produces a kind of art around the subject.
The noctilux is not a sharp lens by any modern top lens standard…
but it can render nothing that the modern lens have.
Occasionally I come across a friend that has no fear of doing a portrait session without makeup and without editing. Miss Taylor Yap here used to be a freelance model but now pursues a full time job in auditing. If i may be frank about auditing, i find that it is a lifeless job where you spend hours and hours afterwork at client’s site. Since i am using noctilux i am hoping that some of the softness of the lens would make this “nude face” photo-session a less intimidating session for the model.
Its 2.30 pm in the afternoon and its the worst time of the day to do any shooting. I had to hide among shades and try get some interesting shots. Miss Taylor here wore an interesting tops that have multiple holes. I know its kind of a trend nowadays, but coming from my generation, people would have thought she is in destitute of clothing. Haha, anyway her equally scratchy pants complements the tops.
The shoot ended around 30 minutes as we both feels that the weather and heat is really too much. I hope you enjoyed the images.