Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Short Insect Macro Shooting Session

Olympus Malaysia has been incredibly busy lately with consumer activities, following up all the new product announcements at Photokina in September. Therefore almost all the weekends I have had were occupied with Touch & Try events, photography workshops or photowalks around KL, Penang and Johor.

However, as busy as I have been I tried my best to squeeze a bit of time for personal shutter therapy session. I figured I have not done any insect macro shooting, so I thought why not do a quick one while I was in Johor last weekend. All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II and M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro lens, with FL-50R flash. For my full macro shooting technique, I have shared my methodology here (click). 

Unfortuately the location I was shooting, Hutan Bandar, was undergoing some construction work (upgrading underground drainage), hence causing much disturbance to the whole park. Consequently I could not find many insects or spiders to shoot. I did however find a few and that was sufficient to scratch the itch I have had to do some insect macro.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Understanding Subject Content Choices

As I shoot on the street often, almost on every weekend doing my weekly shutter therapy sessions (whenever we do not have an Olympus event), I have collected a large amount of random images. I generally would walk around with no particular end-goal or objective in mind (unless I was reviewing cameras and lenses of course, that is a different story) and end up with a series of disconnected, disorganized and chaotic frame of work. In the midst of all the randomness, there were repeated ideas, themes, composition styles and specific subjects that I have consistently kept an eye out, and captured again and again on the street. I am sure if you have followed me on my shutter therapy adventures here in this blog (which I should be updating more often), you will find these patterns happening again and again. I want to take a closer look at these recurring messages, understand them and discuss the meaning behind the redundancy in this blog entry.

I think it is crucial to understand yourself if you do want to improve in photography. Your photography, whether it is your conscious decision or not, does reflect a part of who you are, and your unique identity. While ideas and contents can be easily copied and plagiarized (now this is even more rampant in the age of Instagram/Twitter/Facebook), personal style in photography is something that can only be developed and seasoned over time, and it becomes a signature that the photographer imprints in his photographs that his viewers can often immediately recognize. Before you can reach that far in photography journey, it is prudent to take a step back and study on your own progress, scrutinizing your own preferences of photography execution. This is what I am doing here, and I am sharing my thoughts on what I felt, wanted to tell, and reasoning behind what I normally shoot.

I know I have a lot of photos of cats but cats are just cats and I have taken images of cats on the streets because they love me and I love cats and I must play with them and I should stop talking about cats. Moving on...

I think this is a rather straightforward one, that anyone can easily guess why I was so drawn to birds. My name, Robin itself, is a bird, and men have deep fascination with things that can fly since forever. One of the movie quotes that have always been stuck at the back of my mind was from the movie Batman Forever (I know, I know, not the finest Batman movies out there, but it was still a cool movie), Alfred gave a prudent advice to then an injured Dick Grayson, saying "broken wings will mend in time, one day, the Robin will fly again". When I heard that line, it struck a chord in me, and this was so true in so many levels, because temporary setbacks happen so often in our lives that we easily lose hope at times, feeling helpless and cannot look beyond our difficulties. Just observing the birds flying, I find it calming and reassuring that just like the bird, I will one day be able to break myself away and just soar high, fly far away from whatever mess I have managed to get myself into. Birds easily symbolize freedom. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Day Out With Ming Thein X Frankie Falcon Ultimate Photographer's Daybag

Let's do something different for this blog, instead of just reviewing cameras and lenses, for the first time ever, I am writing about a bag! Not just any bag, but the newly launched Ming Thein X Frankie Falcon Ultimate Photographer's Daybag!

Ming Thein, a fellow friend and incredible photographer/blogger was super generous to loan me a pre-production unit of his personally designed camera bag which was done in collaboration with a renowned bag manufacturer, Frankie Falcon. When he showed me the bag it was love at the first sight: having just the right size and capacity to fit in cameras and lenses and just about anything you need to be on the move, and it comes in really sexy design and stealthy black finish. It is a camera bag that photographers need, want and more! When he told me I could borrow the bag for personal use, I was thrilled of course!

All photos of me using the MT x FF Bag in action were taken by Robert Sarmiento Evangelista and Van Ambruce Ligutom.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Alena Murang's EP "Flight" Launch in Kuala Lumpur

About two weeks ago, I managed to squeeze some time out of my hectic schedule to attend Alena Murang's EP launch happening in Timbre at The Row, KL. I arrived early and secured a front seat together with my friend, Jackie, and it was a great experience seeing a local Sarawakian talent performing traditional musical scores on stage, live on a Saturday evening. Alena's speciality is a traditional guitar like string instrument called Sape', which she incorporated prominently in all her music in the latest EP, "Flight". Many local Sarawakian artists were also featured on set, notably Amir Jahari who did a beautiful duet with Alena on the song "Ingga" which was sung entirely in a local Sarawakian language (or Bahasa Sarawak).

I brought along the E-M10 Mark II and several M.Zuiko lenses and shot the performance. I used mainly Aperture Priority, switching lenses when necessary (mostly between wide angle, 12mm F2 and 45mm F1.8). The lighting was not that good, with the light hitting directly from the front creating very unflattering outcome. I would have preferred if the main light was shined more from the side. Nonetheless, we were there to enjoy live music and truly Alena has made it huge with her debut album! She is also a painter and TV host for local stations, and have appeared as a speaker on TDxKL talk this year! The EP launch was a huge success with full house strong support from the fans, and I personally decided not to get my CD autographed in the same session as that would mean I need to battle the impossibly long queue!

Sape', a traditional Sarawakian musical instrument was Alena Murang's signature sound in all her music. I am proud to see a Sarawakian making it huge and took the opportunity to spread the awareness and love for Sape'! I cannot help but feel homesick when I hear Sape's tunes, which is always so smooth, soothing yet energetic and radiant at the same time.