Tourists in KLCC {street portraiture}

Just did a model shoot last sat, so on sunday, wasn’t really planning to do any but since i am at KLCC (that twin tower that you will 100% visit if you happened to be in KL because we have no idea where else to bring you) might as well take a stroll and see what is interesting.


There, a pair of japanese tourist. How did i know? Well…u can easily recognize them by their outfit and …height. Unlike koreans, japs are typically shorter. How did you think they came out with all those cute characters like hello kitty, doraemon and such? hahaha, jokes aside, i heard them speaking japanese so yeah…


Japan is the country that produces nearly 80% of our cameras, so when you see one of them taking photos, bow and learn their techniques…


Another simple shot at the KLCC garden, if you live in kl, you would hate these photos, they are as routine and boring as they come with every angle shot to death. In my case, even jpeg ooc. πŸ™‚

The B&W curse


B&W has always been a problem to me. For one, i have never considered it as fine art because of my background as a top gun developer. B&W Tv’s are long gone and so are B&W films. Life as designed and perceived has always enjoyed the beauty of colors. The rainbow exist because of water droplets reflecting the angle of light and water is a necessity to life.

However, sometimes in the absence of light, where colors are dull or those pesky yellow indoor ambience casts the whole picture to be yellowish…a B&W conversion is warranted.

self aware
self aware

This was taken in pure darkness with only her phone lighting up her face. Leica Xvario.

start young
start young

A cafe in busan hosts a number of happy felines to keep you warm. The whole ambiance however Β is yellowish, since anyone could imagine the orangey colors of this cat, a B&W conversion makes sense here.


Ran this image thru Nik Silver Efex Pro. If you are a fan of B&W, you would love this software. Have a nice day πŸ™‚

Backlight and random ramblings on models selection {casual shots}


A group of us were having lunch and chatting about work and whats not. Strangely today is the only day i did not bring my CCD nikon and the 58 lens, instead the Leica Xvario was chosen. Taking this shot i already expected that i will get very strong backlight and overexposed shots on anything except miss Anouschka’s face.


In Malaysia and i think almost all the countries in APAC, caucasian models as well as pan asian dominates the modelling and casting industry. There are few reasons for this.
1) Caucasian models are associated with developed countries and implies, grants any ads a “professional” feel to it.
2) Fashion labels are mostly associated with the western world, having a caucasian model adds a feel of class to it
3) Sharp features. Lets face it, asians doing plastic surgery often aim for double eye lids, sharp face, tall nose and beautiful mouth. Look at miss Anouschka here, her features already top the list without trying.

In the last 3-4 years, we do see that Chinese models are getting somewhere, this is largely due to the association of China as the emerging powerhouse of economy. Everyone wants to have a pie in China and hence your ads better show some local relation, hence the crazy amount of unnecessary cameo appearances in movies like Transformers.

Photography Reset : One single truth that you can’t afford to miss out

Photokina 2014 is here and over. New gears, new lust, new features, new comparisons.
While the world goes on its normal course and manufacturers praying to increase its fair share of the market, i was totally oblivious to it. I was on a course of self discovery. Discovering the things that really do matters to me and why. In short i pressed the reset button.

Since this blog is about photography, i will just focus on the “reset” effect on my photography side of the story and the one(1) truth that makes all the difference.
Last few weeks it was all about using film. I had my hands on a vintage kodak, the Leica M6, Mamiya 645 and the GW690ii.
Kodak and M6 is now in my cabinet, in their respective coffins so to speak, service no longer needed. Mamiya was returned due to shutter fault and GW690ii did four(4) rolls of film.

Once you used film, you be very grateful when you looked at your current digital cameras. So much so that i took two(2) steps back and took a look at my journey so far. My love for Sigma Foveon and how its SPP software continues to disappoint me when i even volunteered to fix up the code for free and wrote to the CEO. Enough then, Sigma and two(2) lenses sold and shipped out to a Russian buyer.

Took out the Xvario and did some shots. This is the camera that was way overpriced in Malaysia, selling at more than USD 3k. I chucked it into the cabinet previously because it does not have enough shallow dof. I tried using it and trained myself on composing and doing portraiture without shallow dof, did that, done that and my verdict was that its just not suitable, or is it?

Xvario. Gaussian blur added to bg.
Xvario. Gaussian blur added to bg.
Xvario. Gaussian blur added  to bg.
Xvario. Gaussian blur added to bg.

Took these two(2) shots outside a photo exhibition and the colors are just beautiful. Clear, sharp and some tweaks in PS and i have some satisfactory images. The Xvario has always produce beautiful skin tones and colors, right out of the camera. Nevermind that its optics results actually involves some cheats of software correction in raw, the results are beautiful.
So why stop here i asked myself, lets dig out other “useless” cameras from the cabinet and see what i can do with it. I went thru my list of cameras in my cabinet and took out the very first DSLR that i bought in early 2005, the Nikon D50.

The Nikon D50 uses a CCD sensor, type of sensor that “snapsort website” labels as “low” sensor, inferior to CMOS. I took it out, put in the old SDCard 2GB and took it to the exhibition hall to shoot with a 50mm 1.8d lens (another old lens that uses screw to focus). I took this featured image, using built in flash, you know, that ugly pop up flash.

Nikon D50. 50mm 1.8d. Flash 1/16, built in.
Nikon D50. 50mm 1.8d.
Flash 1/16, built in.

I was surprised at the results i got when i load it up and did the same post processing as i would with any other camera. Hence the realization of the one(1) truth that hobbyist photographers should know.

#1. Your Gears are more than sufficient even BACK THEN.

D50 didn’t change while it was in the cabinet. I did. Most of the features and knowledge on using cameras back then wasn’t available to me because i am not who i am yet, the same camera did wonders now. There is a reason why film died or rather got frozen in the ICU state, its because our gears entered digital and like any other digital stuffs, it went on hyperdrive every six(6) months and declared obsolete any previous versions and everyone voted yay.

Truth is, at some point in time, Digital Photography jumped over the acceptable limit. Do we really need to pay for PS and LR every month because our new cameras and raw files needs them? Do you really need those 20 sharpen features if you got your image sharp in the first place? Was CCD obsolete because CMOS is really better, was that a quality choice or a choice made because of manufacturing cost and that we want to see images taken in crazy ISO that our eyes can’t see.

Looking at my Sony A7R in the Lowepro Runner bag and looking at the D50 in this small crumpler bag, i honestly don’t know if the Sony would produce any better images than the D50, in my hands. It never did. The wifi function? nice to have, but transferring 6 mp images on the D50 was even faster. One hundred an seventeen focus points(117) vs five(5) focus points on the D50, gee, i only used the middle one as an electronic rangefinder, selecting other focus points was just pointless and slower to operate. 5 fps, 10 fps? Use a video if you need more.

If there is any features on any new cameras that anyone might really need that wasn’t already available few years ago, it must be a very niche type of photography which one could already live by without or without it. Today there are still die hards using films to shoot wedding photography commercially, think about it, that whatever entry level digital SLR or mirroless camera you have, most probably blows it out of water. It didn’t stop them from making beautiful images in film and happy customers paying for it. I am pretty sure clients don’t do pixel peeping unless he/she is a photographer too.

There are enough pixels on your monitor today to form smooth beautiful fonts, definitely enough to display images that you eyes can discern and unable to discern even if it goes higher. So how much resolution do you really need. I personally can’t see any differences on 6mp images vs 36 mp images without zooming in 100%. I bet you have an APSC that is already doing 16 mp.

#stilwithyourgears #morethansufficient

Where familiar faces treads

Its been like forever since MH370 went missing. Malaysia, my country, is bombarded with a series of bad management and some would say “bad luck”.
Apart from the missing plane, we have unprecedented forest fire and draught. The latter being a peculiar humour seeing that we are a country located at the equatorial and blessed with tropical forest. As i am typing this today, water rationing is taking place throughout the state of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

Malls are big business in Malaysia, simply because of the hot weather, we have no where else to go except home. With the rationing in effect, shopping malls are the refuge of many here. What do you do, when routine forces its way into your weekend? You do ur best with it, i took my camera and just took whatever i came across.









skin tones

I always found the skin tones on my Nikon D4 a bit strange and my buddies 5D MK3 too red. Post editing them usually requires tweaking on saturation on the orange tone.

On the lower ISO, it seems to be acceptable on the D4, boost up the ISO to 800 and suddenly the skin turns barbie like.

In my early days, i just slide the LR’s clarity bar to the left and make the model looking like complete plastic. Later on, i progressed by using the Nik color Efex pro’s Dynamic skin softener, and managed to make the model looking …plastics again.

While i had some satisfaction publishing such photos and seeing how the models love their plastic, out of this world’s skin, i am oblivious to the pros in the community laughing their ass off while during tea time.

When i was told that the XVario produces one of the best skin tones ever, my curiosity piqued. While i do know that Leica have a bunch of smart engineers, German’s heritage and talents, i was skeptical the company could produce anything that would be exceptional compared to the existing veteran players.

i was a previous owner of M9, and i am largely disappointed it was more of a “logo” prestige than an exceptional technical experience and i have not changed my decision to stay away from the M system until its more reliable and at least worth half its price.

The XVario, however, is a different beast, auto sensor and everything non-M, i am surprised it was once Mini M πŸ˜‰
Now, the XVario, did produce skin tones that continues to puzzle me. Like a curious child, i often gets surprised by the results. All the images below are unedited, JPGs OOC.

You tell me…





Simulating the XVario JPG Engine

The Xvario have a unique jpg engine. One that produces amazingly nice results that leans towards desaturation. However that is not the full story.
Its not easy to simulate the Xvario jpg colors and feel but i think i got it working at least in some lighting condition.

XVario JPG sample
Here is my DNG after applying the preset that i made, pretty close?

You can download the preset here, foc, courtesy of Marcus low photo, do kindly point others to download from here so that i could enjoy some moments of gratification.
But please be aware that this is for the DNG that came in Xvario itself ;-), yeah sorry, i know its kinda pointless if you are using other cameras and this might not work as advertised.

Download preset for Lightroom : here

Portraits should never be boring

The one thing i find consistently present in wedding photography is “boringness”. While the occasion itself is of tremendous importance and significance to the couples, the shots are the same.

We have the same white gown, some exotic background the the guy trying hard to smile and pose. We have them looking at each other and doing exactly the same pose repeated over 100 years ago.

And guess what, photographs are actually one of the single most important artifact that could enact a wedding’s memories and resurrect that love that couples had in that occasion…..but alas…the photos are totally posed, unrealistic and often promotes nothing except conformity.

I would feel, that the most important part of wedding photography should be about “fun” . That is, the process and theme should be so fun, the couples would embed those feelings into the pictures that are taken even if the images are totally out of this world, for e.g a Star Trek theme or Saving private ryan or even “dong fong bu bai”!.

So when they looked back at those pictures, the fun and happiness of that process will instantly pops up. Now, that is priceless.

Here is a totally dumb pose photo i took in korea of Phoenix (wife) but it was such fun taking it, we laugh when we looked at it, despite it saying nothing much.