Just wanted to quickly share two images i just took tonight.
If you feel that portraiture are beginning to bore you and you have been doing way too many portraits, try doing it at night.
Its a totally different level and playing field at night and the resulting images often brings a long lost smile to that photography kid hiding inside.
All images below are taken with Nikon CCD sensor camera at F1.4. As to which camera it is, you will have to dig around my blogs to find out, i have been very vocal about how underrated this camera is, i bought three of them just so i have some assurance of its continuity.
The model is Amanda CME, also known as Mak3upQueen, you can find her on facebook and if you happened to be in Malaysia, do engage her makeup services for your model photoshooting.
We have to ask ourselves whenever we try to justify our purchases. Especially one that comes from the red-dot company (cough*). The left brain begets us to explain, to sanitise our conscience through logic. The big question is “Why did you buy this camera, will you even use it?”. There is a thin line between a gear head, a collector and an actual enthusiast user that appreciates using the tool.
When i bought the Dragon M6 limited edition, i was clearly stunned by its built and quality. I even blogged about this earlier . It has been weeks since i had the camera. All the early shouting and self afflicted propaganda to keep buyer’s remorse have subsided. I couldn’t allow myself to keep the camera in the box to just appreciate its aesthetic values, my views of collectors are pretty low in respect and using that same measurement on myself would make me a complete hypocrite.
A beautiful tool such as the Dragon M6 have to prove its worth and a camera is useless if it isn’t used to create images. So i took it out for a whole day shoot when my model friend and internet idol Stephy Yi Wen told me that she would be going to Korea for studies. I got myself some rolls of Fuji Superia 200 and Fuji Venus 800. I knew that i would be using the 35mm Zeiss Biogon wide open but in a room with only dimly available natural light coming in, the ISO 800 film would be handy.
If you happened to be travelling to South East Asia and passing by Malaysia, do get your films replenish and develop in Bang Bang Geng in Publika. With the pathetic level of Malaysian currency today, you could get a Superia 200 for USD 4 and scanning with development for USD 4.5.
Now back to shooting session. I noticed that there are indeed some improvement that M7 does have over even this Dragon M6. One of them being the iso dials you see behind the body, the M7’s iso dial is clearly easier to use and felt more robust. The other is the shutter dials. The Dragon’s shutter dial are more polished and looks great but turning the knob at each stop felt better on the M7. The M7 is after all a much newer camera.
The rewind knob is used slightly differently than how i imagined it would be. The Dragon’s knob needs to be lifted up while the 2 dots remains submerged to do the rewinding. I found myself winding for 5 minutes and getting nowhere initially before i realized that the knob needs to be lifted.
There are several aspect of the camera that made it a very inspiration tool for use. First, the body is slightly lighter than the M7, i would say almost nobody would buy an M7 or M6 without using it on a holster or case. The Dragon just felt perfect while the M7 felt a bit on the heavier side. This is of course a purely personal evaluation. The other advantage is that the Dragon only uses 1 battery as opposed to 2 on the M7, the mechanism of replacing the battery on the M6 is definitely built better than the M7s. The 0.85 finder, delicious.
Enough about the camera, how did it do, i will leave some images here for you own evaluation.
Could i have gotten better or similar results from the Leica M7? Of course i could, don’t be silly :-). The Dragon M6 might be the most beautiful Leica M6 that warrants it as a collector item but it should by all means be used. The 0.85 works really well with the 35mm frame lines. What was you weekend shoot, did you try film? Do share some of your thoughts here.
Recently I have been shooting on both the sigma dp2x and the canon 6d digital. It’s Chinese New Year and the film labs are not open so i invited Stephy chang over for a session.
Sigma have amazing colors but highlights often blown easily. Despite what some die hard sigma fans will defensively tell you, it’s pretty much Sigma’s silly decision to put the AFE conponent into an otherwise usable camera.
Well regardless of brands and advantages, let’s just enjoy some of these images.
I have a lot of beautiful images taken by the canon 6D, it’s amazing how easy the common cameras are in delivering results vs sigma. There is this beautiful airbnb site “sekeping jugra” that allows various interesting scene with the play of light. If you happened to be in KL, do drop by this place or make it your accommodation.
The sigma images are shot on 41mm and the canon images on 35mm. I am a fan of using non standard portraiture lenses focal length because I needed the outdoor scene for context . I find it often hilarious how some would travel far and shoot models on 85mm losing any relevant context to the images.
One of the unexpected nice location for photoshoot in Penang is this small opening at Babylon restaurant .
I have always strived for taking portraits that are natural with an element of candid feel to it. With the wind on my side and a close and happy model at the scene, the right recipe for a beautiful album that presents itself.
Eilein Pang have collaborated with me for over a year now for her albums and her popularity and freelance jobs have grown too. Often we would chat about some local issues that are faced by the freelancers and the individuals that we could draw inspirations from.
She has never doubted my constant preference to try new ideas on different mediums and gears. When I pursued film for the skin tones and organic feel she was pretty patient with the waiting period that her generation have never experienced before.
I will be visiting this place again if I visit Penang. Curious as to how the light would be at sunrise. I hope you enjoyed these short series of images.
On the last week of 2016, I visited penang, a northern state and island in Malaysia. Penang have a heritage site recognised by UNESCO for maintaining its vintage streets and architectural aesthetics.
My first stop was Lebuh melayu where I rented a room via airbnb. Two of my model friends visited me and I took the opportunity to do some albums.
The street outside here looks like it’s stuck in the 1940s. Some shops have been converted to lodging and cafes while the corner shops are hosting hawkers like stalls. These hawker like stalls are infamous for its local dishes.
If you travel to Malaysia, you have to visit Penang. Rooms here cost a mere usd $50 per night , complete with breakfast. I wouldn’t mind the breakfast though, the food at the streets and cafe are so much better.
Just another 12 km away from the city you will reach Batu feringgi, a stretch of beaches for those beach lovers . I visited that part for some shots but in this piece I will just share images done at the street .
I took both a film camera and my canon digital with me . My pretty friends actually prefers digital since the results would be fast but nowadays film development in Malaysia won’t take more than 2 days.
There are plenty of specialise cafes as well, from ice cream centric ones to those offering own cakes.
So walking in the humid and hot tropical streets here I have to occasionally stop by a cafe or two just to escape the heat and chat with my friends .
I hope you enjoyed these images and visit Penang one of these days.
Inside the walled city, i feel the fusion of urban commercialization with medieval haunting covering the whole place. It is as if two lovers struggling to keep the relationship alive and yet dances in harmony to the playing music.
I walked passed by a shop selling potpourri of trinkets only to be greeted by the next shop with hand crafted items and arts. Today is the first day in Dubrovnik and after 15 minutes inside this ancient city, i knew i made a big mistake.
I had only 7 rolls of film and about to finish up the 3rd roll.
(Do visit my previous chapters here : 123, this whole series is done completely in film)
As my family strolled along the main path looking at the shops and cafes, we noticed there are narrow paths between some shops and those paths are opens up smaller shops that array themselves along the corridors.
On top of these shops are actual residents living in almost apartment like setting. They are not allowed to renovate the outer construction to preserve the medieval theme. Most are available for rent and you could find them at premium prices in AirBNB.
I didn’t want to buy any souvenirs since it is just day one and constant reminder that i am running out of film only leave me with two options. I could either switch to use the Fuji digital camera that Phoenix is carrying with her and that amazing 16 f1.4 in her green bag or i should try to find a shop here that sells film.
I went for the latter.
It is a vintage location with vintage look, feel and ambiance. Who in the right mind would prefer digital over film in Dubrovnik? Hahaha, that was playing on my mind as i turned on my “radar” as we tour the ground level.
When Phoenix and Sheryll got tired and decided to snack at a cafe (there are 1 at nearly every 10 meters away) i took the opportunity to walk up some of the visible stairs leading up to side of the city. Away from the main attraction you can see people going about their normal lives, doing laundry and chilling outside the window.
There are all kinds of restaurants here and even at the higher level of the city if you walk up the stairs you will see smaller establishments. It does feel “crowded” sometimes in this city despite the vintage settings and i was really hoping to find a quiet spot to just take in the moment.
Next, i be sharing images taken at the wall tours and piers in the tip of the walled city.
Perhaps this picture will cause you to consider doing medium format film photography. Although i did a lot of nice sexy beach shoot with Amanda, this photo taken in a cafe on the Mamiya RZ67Pro with 110 f2.8 lens just raised the level to 3D literally.
The colors and tones are just so beautiful. Its mind blowing to think that one need to spend USD 2000 on puny FF digital nowadays when USD 400 gets you this amazing gear with plenty of $$ for film development. Awesome.
This is Amanda CME (fb,insta: mak3upqueen). I met her 3 years ago and last sunday we decided to collaborate. I shot this album using both film and CCD digital. Unfortunately film is still processing and not out yet, so do enjoy my digital version. Shot on the “lousiest nikon camera – ken rockwell” D3000.
As much as i am eager to see the output from the 6×7 film i shot, these CCD output from my Nikon camera are just awesome. Amanda have done so much makeup for her clients, doing model poses is like a walk in the park.
Hope you enjoyed the photos. I am the best portrait photographer in Malaysia, not commercially, but in my thoughts, reach out and passion. Do forgive me for the arrogance 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Outside the shop we notice a well decorated cafe has just gone out of business and decided to try a few shots there.
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.