Friday, 31 July 2009
This is a series of photographs taken at the Sunday market at Satok Pasar Tamu on the outskirts of Kuching, during our Borneo photography workshop in April this year. Satok market is a weekly occurence where local and indigenous traders from around Kuching congregate to sell their produce of live animals, fish, fresh meats, vegetables, kitchen and household utensils, clothes, amongst other more obscure items, like iguanas and strange fruit.
It is also a photographer's haven for its myriad shapes, colours and facial expressions, juxtapositions of old and new, young and the elderly and this outing, being the first for the workshop participants, was certainly an eye opener.
Despite the colourful offerings before me, I opted to photograph in Black & White, omitting the usual distractions of an exotic Asian open market, by purely focusing of the local people going about their weekly shopping, under the heat of the tented market, which was close to 30C at 11am.
To get upfront and close to my subjects, I used a small compact camera, with a 28mm lens at chest height, manually set focus to 4 feet, -1.0 EV and Aperture priority, with flash ON. I wanted to convey a sense of proximity, closeness, but depict the bland and blank facial expressions of the people walking about, unnoticed of my camera. I use the technique of predicting the scene, observing the people that are inching their way towards me, and then raising the camera to above eye level in an instant to press the shutter release an then lowering it. More often than not, the subjects were not even aware of the flash going off within feet of them., Other times, I just smile and act like a tourist.
(Click on the photos to enlarge)
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
I love street shooting.. basically, you don't know what you get till you get home. I don't chimp. Well, at least not after every shot. I have my LCD screen turned off, mainly to save battery and make sure I have a large memory card and a spare battery. I also use manual focusing, set at 6 feet and F2.8 on Aperture priorty, as I am currently using a non-AF body. Its a hit and miss affair, mind you, but when I get a decent composition, I am happy! As I am mainly walking, I carry a small shoulder bag, some water, 1 camera and a small notebook.
(Click on the photos to enlarge for better viewing)
I will try to explain what grabs me in street photography and the various juxtapositions, scenarios and how I approach subjects, with stealth..next..
Friday, 17 July 2009
About 'Not A Crime'
Police in the UK and abroad routinely invoke bogus anti-terror legislation to prevent photographers from carrying out their work, and photojournalists are constantly filmed at gatherings and their details kept on an ever-growing database.
The British Journal of Photography is beginning a campaign for photographers' rights, and we need your help.
There is no point petitioning governments, because they're not listening, and the problem is generally that laws are being misused, rather than drafted, to harass photographers. We need to raise awareness, so we have decided to launch a visual campaign.
Over the next year, we hope to gather thousands of self-portraits of photographers - professional and amateur - from around the world, each holding up a white card with the words: 'Not a crime' or 'I am not a terrorist.'
Add your mugshots here :
Saturday, 4 July 2009
Bio : Jenny Chu (half Malaysian) recently earned her master's degree from U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. After spending years as a still photographer, she recently shifted her focus to documentary film. For her photographic work, she has traveled extensively, documenting the ethnic minority groups of China, the massive changes overtaking Shanghai, and the struggles of those in war-torn and poverty-stricken African countries.
Watch her latest video (click the link above), following Yeabu's journey, a farmer from Sierra Leone, who suffers from obstetric fistula, a common problem in Third World countries, to Freetown to receive surgery from a team of doctors funded by Mercy Ships.
I found it highly informative and well put together.
Thursday, 2 July 2009
Once in a while you can spoil yourself rotten. Today, I received a letter bearing a Milton Keynes postmark on it, and yes, for those 'in the know', its where the headquarters of Leica UK is located. You see, a few weeks back, I picked up my 50mm Summicron lens from inside my camera bag and ..eh..I did not recognise this piece of lens, it was like a familiar friend had suddenly become unfamiliar, and for the life me, I just cannot see what has changed but change there was.
I couldn't put my finger on it! Literally speaking! Got it!
The little raised plastic red dot on the lens barrel was missing! Shock horrors! Its a Summicron first and a Leica M lens second, or was it the other way round. How can this be. The Red Dot is a signature piece, just like the flying lady in front of Rolls Royces, or the Three Pointed Star in a Merc. Its the the little halved lime you squeeze into a bowl of Sarawkian Laksa. Its the icing on the cake..ok enough, you get what I mean. Without it would mean, utter shame and a let down. A Leica lens would merely be 'another' branded lens.
I searched every crevice and fold deep in my bags, tipped everything out, (found other things unmentionable though) and basically had a clear out but nada. No little red dot. I was depressed for days. My lens was naked like a turtle without its shell.
Then I read in some online forum that if I wrote nicely to Leica AG, they would gladly send me a little red dot replacement. I took the chance of shooting an email off from their website a two days ago, telling them how much I missed my dot. promptly forgetting the whole episode once the send button struck. How silly I told myself. Grow up. A lens is a lens with or without the red dot.
Now those of you that use M or R lenses would understand. Its just not the about the plastic raised dot. Its about execution and finesse. Ah..these German designers long ago were clever engineers. You see, there is a purpose to the little plastic hump on the barrel, as any one who has changed lenses in near darkness or in candle light would testify. Leica's Ms are known for their compact dimensions, solid build, quiet stealth shutters with no mirror slap, and its brilliant fast lenses. All Leica lenses are designed to be shot wide open, as wide as F1.0 with maximum resolution and little flare.
. (Before any Canon user would jump in now, yes, Canon EF lenses also have a tiny red dots on their lenses, but somehow, I never noticed it, maybe because its smaller, and the barrels are larger, and I have a zoom lens so I hardly change lenses. I can't vouch for Nikon and other makes, contributions please?)
Today, my red dot arrived and my lens is happy, and so am I.
On the Leica M, all it takes is a one handed, slight (1 cm perhaps, 1/16th ) turn to secure the lens, unlike most makes which make take a 1/4 turn). In fast changing low light situations, this can be a God send in camera handling. Most cameras would require a separate finger to depress the release button and another hand to twist off, and a third hand to hold the camera body steady. I don't have three hands. With my left hand holding the body, my right hand thumb can depress the release button whilst grabbing and twisting the lens off in one swift action. Its really quick.