Monday, August 31, 2015

Malaysia BERSIH 4.0 - Cry of Malaysians

Important Note: In case you have not noticed I have blogged about Bersih 3.0 previously, you can read my coverage here. 

Before I begin, allow me to clarify a few things. Freedom of speech is dead in Malaysia, all media is censored, and controlled by the ruling government. Any attempts at speaking ill at them will result in the said media, be it mainstream publication or a harmless online blog, much like this one you are reading now, silenced. The control over what is being written and published is absolute. Therefore, I shall compose this blog entry carefully, as I do intend to continue blogging in a foreseeable long future. 

If you have followed what has been happening in Malaysia, you will find all kinds of news pointing toward corruption and abuse of power by the current government. I shall not go into details about the accusations (made by Wall Street Journal and several other fully valid, legitimate parties. both locally in Malaysia as well as outside), but it has come to a point that the people can no longer sit still and not do anything. As a Malaysian, I too am faced with deep frustration at the current state of the country, which I have mentioned recently, is falling apart. 

Therefore, Malaysians got together for this one gigantic rally, Bersih 4 (you can read more here) to show our protest. You can also read the full objectives and demands of the Bersih 4 rally in the provided link. Bersih 4.0 happened at Dataran Merdeka and all locations adjacent to it, or leading to it, on 29th and 30th Auguest 2015. The nation celebrates the Independence day tomorrow, 31st August 2015. 

The theme of Bersih has always been Yellow. Hence, if you find that the photographs are on the warmer side of color balance, it was not the white balance issue. Joke aside, it was quite mind blowing seeing so many Malaysians all dressed up in Yellow, came together hand in hand, Estimated attendance was about 300,000 strong Malaysians. 

I brought along the new Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II and M.Zuiko lenses 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 and 45mm F1.8 to cover this event. 


Interesting things and activities did happen from time to time, and the crowd was never bored. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Insect Macro Photography

Note: Before anyone starts asking, the focus bracketing feature in E-M10 Mark II does not work with my usual macro shooting technique. For the focus bracketing to work the camera must not move when the bracketing was in action, and tripod use is a must. 

In the very beginning of my early adventures of photography, I started with insect macro photography, something I did fairly often. Macro photography is probably one of the technically more demanding types of photography, it is an all rounder in getting all your photography basics right. You have to take care of accurate focus, steadying your shots with proper hand-holding techniques, trying different techniques to gain magnification and more importantly, the use and control of additional lighting which usually require diffuser or reflector. 

After shooting a little bit of insect macro last weekend (for the OM-D E-M10 Mark II review), the itch to hunt for insects returned, and I decided to do a little macro shooting this weekend. In this blog entry I shall share my techniques and execution of insect macro photography. 

Before proceeding further, kindly take note of the following important points:

1) For new comer to photography, do not skip your basics. If you still struggle in understanding the relationship between shutter speed, aperture and ISO, then make sure you master these very fundamentals of photography before venturing into macro photography. 

2) My techniques are not entirely made by me, I devised it based on information I have read, observation of other macro photographers as well as my own limited experience in shooting. Each time I go out I did trial and error experimentations. It is still work in progress, hence my technique I am sharing is not perfect, and there is plenty of rooms to improve. 

3) My technique may not necessarily work for you. There is no right and wrong, there are more than one ways to accomplish the same goal. Pick what works for you best. 

WHAT I USE FOR MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY

1) A camera, of course, and my own camera is the OM-D E-M5, I also use any other OM-D cameras. For this weekend, I have used the new OM-D E-M10 Mark II. A camera with a viewfinder, ability to do macro, or attach a macro lens, and have wireless flash control capability. 

2) A macro lens. I used Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro. 
You need a true macro lens for the large magnification. For Olympus 60mm I get 2:1 magnification in 35mm equivalent format. 

3) External flash, fired off camera. I had the Olympus FL-50R. 
I have tried many methods of flash use in macro photography and find using wireless flash to be most practical. Most of the insects do not just sit on top of the leaf posing nicely for you. They often hide underneath the leaves, behind the branch, or sticking vertically on a tree trunk, with their face looking down to the ground. With flash being attached on top of the camera, I have no control of where the direction of light will fall, and often not successfully light the parts of the frame that I want. By moving the flash away from the camera, I can position in anywhere I want, and this has allowed me to shoot at very difficult angles. 

4) Mini Softbox attached to the external flash unit. I had recently acquired the Gamilight Box 21. 
I have previously created my own diffusers or reflectors, from all kinds of materials, including shoeboxes, but they did not last very long and I could only used the fragile constructions for a few limited times. Now I decided to not go through so much trouble each time I needed to shoot macro and just bought a proper mini softbox. Gamilight Box 21 was the only one I could find within short notice, and it was not expensive, and got the job done decently. 

1/125sec. F11, ISO200, Wireless Flash fired

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Review

Important Notes:
1) I am an Olympus Malaysia employee. 
2) This is a user experience based approach review of a camera. I spent considerable amount of time shooting, and I am writing this blog review based on that shooting experience, with plenty of sample photographs to show and support my findings. 
3) This is not a full technical analysis review site. There are many of such sites out there, I am not equipped with sufficient expertise and equipment to perform elaborate technical tests. 
4)I may be biased (who isn't?) but that does not mean I cannot shoot photographs, share them, and write about my experience using the camera, all which are still valid. Do not just rely solely on my review alone, there will be plenty others available for you to make a more rounded conclusion. 
5) All images were shot in RAW and converted to JPEG directly via Olympus Viewer 3 software. Very minimal post-processing were applied (minor exposure compensation, white balance tweak, etc). 
6) Important image parameters: White Balance Auto (warm color off), Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation = 0, Noise Filter = OFF, Gradation = Normal

Today, Olympus is launching the new Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, the second generation of the premium compact E-M10 series in the OM-D system line-up.

The OM-D series is aimed at professional and serious enthusiasts wanting more from their camera and expect the best of the best that the system can offer. Characteristics that define an OM-D include large Electronic Viewfinder (EVF), powerful image stabilization system, DSLR like controls and features (twin dials, plenty of shortcut customizeable function buttons, good ergonomics and handling etc), high performance in terms of AF speed/camera response, as well as the final image quality results delivered by the camera. E-M1 and E-M5 series are weather-sealed, while the E-M10 series, including the new E-M10 Mark II is not. It is crucial to note that the OM-D E-M10 Mark II is not a direct replacement of E-M10, and sits comfortably between E-M5 Mark II and E-M10.

The key highlights of the OM-D E-M10 Mark II:

1) Powerful 5-Axis Image Stabilization 
Continuing the tradition of the OM-D strength, now the E-M10 Mark II has 5-Axis Image Stabilization, much like the elder siblings E-M5 Mark II and E-M1. The Image Stabilization works in both still and movie recordings.

2) Small, light-weight, premium quality construction
E-M10/E-M10 Mark II is the smallest of the OM-D series, but still fully built in metal body and high grade material.

3) Large Electronic Viewfinder (new OLED design)
E-M5 Mark II and E-M1 share the same LCD viewfinder (0.74x magnification), but the E-M10 Mark II is slightly smaller at 0.62x, with high resolution of 2.36 Million Dots and 100% frame coverage.

4) High Performance (fast AF, OM-D image quality)
Olympus AF system has been known to be super fast and accurate and this continues in the E-M10 Mark II. The E-M10 Mark II also uses the similar image sensor and processing engine (Truepic 7) as the E-M5 Mark II, so I am expecting the camera to deliver very similar image quality.

5) Creative Shooting Features 
Art Filters, HDR Mode, Color Creator, etc

For full specifications please visit the official product page here (click). 

I like the new design of the E-M10 Mark II. It looks cleaner, simpler and more straight to the point. I'd pick silver if I were to choose one. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

35mm Adventure at Pudu Market

In the continuing effort in learning 35mm photography, I brought the beautiful Fujifilm X100 to Pudu Market, the largest wet market in Kuala Lumpur (and possibly Malaysia). I do not remember using much 35mm perspective in this market, my favourite perspective has always been 50mm, especially shooting in this market. Nevertheless knowing that I will work with very tight space, a wider coverage is always a plus point and having more fitted into a frame forces me to consider my shots more carefully before pressing the shutter button. The market setting is possibly the messiest place to achieve clean composition. 

Joining me this morning was the new friend from Germany, Stephan as well as the KL streets regular Nick. We started earlier than usual, to catch the beautiful morning light, and that really did pay off. The lighting on human portraits were fantastic, and there is almost a magical glow thanks to the beautiful morning light. 

Gigantic Fish
We were lucky to have come across these two friendly market sellers. We did not approach them, they saw us with our cameras, and immediately asked us to come to them as they picked up those huge fish!