December 28, 2013

Christmas Card from Olympus

Card from Olympus Europe

I received a Christmas card from Olympus Europe yesterday, YAY! It probably arrived before Christmas but our mailbox got pried and I did not get the new key from Canada Post until yesterday. I wasn't expecting this although they contacted me recently because they wanted to include one of my photos in a book they are working on. I did not know they created a Christmas card as well and they included one of my photos in it. Can you guess which one is mine?

December 26, 2013

Shooting a Christmas Concert

CCS Christmas Concert

It is my second time shooting my daughter's Christmas concert (third if you include a spring musical event). The first time was last year and this post is about my experiences so far shooting such an event. I'm shooting mainly for myself, it's not for the school and most of all I'm not being paid to produce photos for the event. Hopefully it will help the other dads or moms out there and give them ideas to get more keepers. Events like this are a challenge because you have no control over lighting and most of the time the scene is dark with harsh lighting. Also, your point of view (POV) can be a problem depending on what you want to produce. I can compare shooting an event like this to shooting sports but I think there's less subject movement.

December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I want to wish everyone a Joyful and Happy Holidays. I hope Santa filled your socks with the gifts you wished for whether you've been naughty or nice. Stay safe and enjoy the festivities with your friends and loved ones. Cheers!


December 20, 2013

Expert Shield Giveaway

In my last posting about my user experience with the Expert Shield Screen Protector I forgot to mention that my contact at Expert Shield offered giveaways for my readers. I don't have many readers so I'll just make it first come first serve. The first two to comment can get an Expert Shield screen protector either for your camera or phone. After you comment I'll get in touch with you so I can hook you up with my contact and we can go from there. Cheers!


December 18, 2013

Expert Shield for the Olympus OM-D E-M5


Back in May I received an email from an employee of Expert Shield in the UK asking me to review the screen protector product. I believe he found my blog and my postings about the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and that is the reason why he contacted me. You're probably asking why it took me so long to review it. To be honest I was hesitant because I don't really review products and this will be my first. My blog posts about the OM-D E-M5 were my personal experiences using the camera, I was not reviewing it. Call it a review or what not, for me this is also about my user experience with the Expert Shield screen protector for the E-M5.

December 13, 2013

Email School Favourites & Final Report

Tentacles at Canada Place

A few months ago I did sort of a half way report about the Email School. This post is my final report and a collection of my favourite images from the time I started the course until I finished it.

December 5, 2013

Some iPhone Photos

Architectural Shapes

This is a collection of photos taken using an iPhone. They are from my most recent iPhone work and it's also my own way of saying that the camera doesn't matter and that the best camera is the one you have with you.

November 29, 2013

Graduating Assignment - Ming Thein Email School

Light and shadows

I have finally completed the Email School and while it's the end of the program I see it as a new beginning, a start of a new journey. It took more time than I expected but that's part of the beauty of the program. You get to do it on your own time and pace and you're not forced to making images if you're uninspired or you lack the motivation. For this final assignment Ming called it "Open Graduating Assignment". Subject doesn't matter, I can shoot anything and I can apply all of the techniques, tips and learnings from previous assignments. The challenge is I need to submit 5 images and each image must stand on their own with no explanation. So how did I do? Read on...

September 10, 2013

Using Color to Create Mood

Mt. Baker and Full Moon

I'm not sure how often the full moon shows up within frame of Mt. Baker but I was lucky to be able to preserve this moment and use this as an example for my previous assignment (A8) with Ming Thein's Email School of Photography. This assignment is about colour, tone and brightness and how it affects our mood and the way we feel about images. It boils down to psychology, how we feel at a given situation depends a lot on light; bright/white being pure and clean, dark being mysterious/dangerous, warm yellow light is homely and welcoming, blue is detached/impersonal/scientific/clean/cold, green & purple are alien. Most of these associations are due to the way we are used to observing the real world. Cinematographers use this all the time to create a certain feel for a scene. It heightens the impact of the rest of the visuals because we are predisposed to observing them in a certain way.

September 6, 2013

Using Secondary Objects to tell a Story


The subject of a photograph is what it's about but sometimes it helps to add context. Adding context in the form of secondary objects help in photographic story telling. In fact the more careful you select the contents of your frame the more precise a story you can tell and the more layering and complexity you can add to the story. Assignment 7 or what I try to label as A7 is about using secondary objects to tell a story. This is helpful to both attract attention as well as hold it because it forces your audience to pause, think and take in the details.

May 28, 2013

Ilford Delta 100 on Olympus OM-10 and G. Zuiko 50mm f/1.4

Colorless grass field

My friend Eric Flexyourhead lent me his Olympus OM-10 (which had the G. Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 on it) since I wanted to use an old camera as a subject for an assignment I was doing with Ming Thein. I took advantage since Eric let me use the OM-10 and it was perfect timing since my Nikon FE still has film in it and it's acting up. Perfect timing because I wanted to try the Ilford Delta 100 for the first time and I do not have any other film camera. I was inspired by Ming's BW images and the rich tonal characteristics of the film. Pair the Delta 100 with a sharp lens and viola, I now have a favourite BW film.

May 1, 2013

Shooting at moderate distances with everything in focus

Rectangles in a square

Assignment 6 is done, finally. It took me a while because I was not shooting at all, I was uninspired. The assignment was exciting but was a tough one for me. Just as the title says, it's about shooting at moderate distances with everything in focus. Confusing? Easy? I guess if you take it literally you just need to stop down and Ming's advise was to shoot at f/16 (for FF) or use a compact camera to get the depth. The goals of the exercise are:
  1. Not to always rely on using shallow of depth of field to isolate the main subject 
  2. Focus on composition (hint: subject placement is key)
If everything is in focus on the frame then careful consideration of what we include is required or else it might end up being too busy or with a lot of distractions.

April 15, 2013

Color or Black and White?

Sakura and photography

Why do you convert coloured images to black and white? What do you look for when aiming to produce a black and white image? For this post I'm going to cover what I learned from my mentor Ming Thein, about why we should choose one over the other and why some subjects work in colour but not in black and white and vice versa.

April 5, 2013

365 Days Project - The Benefits and the Potential Disadvantage

FE Relaxing

First of all let's define what a 365 Project is since it is the subject of this post. It is generally the name or term used for making and posting one photo per day for an entire year. In a photo hosting site like flickr it is quite common and there are many flavours. There's an iPhone 365 (photos taken with iPhone only), 365 days in colour (coloured photos only) or 365 - DPS Assignment (there's an assignment everday or every week I suppose). Those are just to name a few, a search on flickr for "365" came back with many pages. There is also a similar version, the 52 weeks project or simply Project 52. Instead of one photo per day it's one photo per week. For this post I would focus on the 365 project and touch a little bit on the 52 weeks project.

April 2, 2013

Half way through Ming Thein's Email School of Photography

Mt. Baker with birds

My journey through this online school is past the half way point and it is a good time to write about my experience so far with the mentorship program. A few of you asked about it too and that's another reason for me to write about it. I also think this will be of help for those who are considering Ming Thein's Email School of Photography or those that are already in the early process of taking the Email School program. Once I'm done with it I will do another blog post, a conclusion and photo essay about my journey and development throughout the whole process.

For those that are not aware of the setup, it's basically all via email unless you live in Malaysia where Ming can do a face to face portfolio review, then the rest is by email. It is assignment based and the outline of how it works is on his website and if you have other questions the best way is to ask Ming directly. His contact information can easily be found on his website and he is very quick to respond, normally between 1 - 2 days and sometimes quicker if you're in the same timezone as him. Just take note that he travels on assignments. If you want another opinion other than Ming's I'm open to answering any questions you may have. Kindly leave a comment, email me or flickr mail me if you have a flickr account.

March 31, 2013

SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy Lens

SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 on OM-D E-M5

Eric Flexyourhead lent me his most current acquisition, the SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy Lens. I want to thank Eric first before anything else because this post won't be existing if not for him lending me the toy. Also, I want to note that this is not a review of this lens. This is a blog of my experience using the lens and I have to say I had so much FUN! All images in this post link to flickr. Click any image and you'll be able to see EXIF data and a larger version if desired.

So what is it about the lens that made it fun to use. For me it was about the unique images you can produce from this toy lens, size & weight (it was very light) and ease of use. The lens reminded me of how enjoyable it is to make photos when your camera and lens combo is light and comfortable. I'm using it on an Olympus OM-D E-M5 and a quick google tells me that it only comes with a M4/3 adapter. I believe it is a cine lens or a CCTV lens with C Mount. The SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 + OM-D E-M5 combo is swell!

SLR Magic 26mm f/1.4 Toy Lens

March 20, 2013

Subject Isolation

Trees BW

There are five ways to isolate your subjects, by:
  • Light
  • Depth of Field
  • Colour
  • Texture
  • Motion
You can combine all to increase visual impact. Subject isolation is important because it helps to direct your viewer's eyes to the portions of the frame to which you want them to pay attention. The better isolated your subject is, the stronger your composition becomes, and the less distracting any other potential unintended (or uncontrollable) elements in the frame are. Paying attention to subject isolation also makes you pay attention to the subject itself in the first place. You must know the subject of your photograph is, if not then you should really question why you are taking the shot in the first place.

March 16, 2013

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm F1.4 ASPH

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux F1.4 on E-P1

This blog post is to show photographs made using the Pana-Leica DG Summilux 25mm F1.4 lens. This is NOT a review of this lens. I've used the lens for about a year now and it is my most used lens on my Olympus E-P1 and OM-D E-M5. My goal for this post is to provide real world examples of:
  • How the lens produced bokeh
  • How it performed in low light
  • High ISO
  • Long exposure
  • Portraits
  • Flare
  • And some black and white conversions
All photos on this blog post link back to my flickr account where you can see the EXIF data. Enjoy!

March 9, 2013

Balance, Symmetry and Use of Empty or Negative Space

Vancouver Architecture and Buildings

Assignment 3 is done and it is getting more interesting and tougher. Ming Thein has been true to what he said since the beginning. No sugar coated comments and he is a very tough (extra tough, I'd say) critique with very detailed descriptions of why your submissions are good or bad. All that is great because it is meant for learning and nothing is personal. So what about the assignment, it is mainly to make conscious use of negative/empty space while maintaining balance. 

March 1, 2013

Fit the Frame to Subject and Vice Versa

Lines and shapes

I just finished my last assignment and it was a great one. As the title says it’s about fitting the frame to subject and vice versa. It sounds quite easy specially when you take the meaning literally but it is not as simple as framing your subject. For this assignment cropping is allowed but only to a non-native aspect ratio. This means one of the dimensions must always remain the same as that of the camera. Cropping smaller is both lazy composition and will change the perspective properties of your lenses. The primary goal of the assignment is to learn how to use space and essentially how to create a balanced looking image. Does it still sound easy? For me it wasn't quite so until I realized what I needed to do and the realization came from two things:

1. Looking at many photographs online, mainly of my teacher/mentor, Ming Thein. Photographs on flickr and also portfolios of professional photographers.
2. Two comments made by Ming through our email discussions. They were "It is about how you use space period." and "Ultimately...images are just a collection of shapes."

February 27, 2013

Motivation and Inspiration to Photograph

Full moon on 2013/02/25

What do you do when all of a sudden you find yourself NOT wanting to photograph? Maybe due to lack of motivation or inspiration. I think we all experience this stage and it's not just in photography, it happens in all walks of life. Here are a few suggestions that could perhaps bring back the motivation and inspiration to keep on shooting and wake up that creative side that we have in us.

February 23, 2013


The V43 Gang

Can you tell me the story of the photo above? The main subjects here are the people and their reflections but why are they so small. They seem to be secondary objects only to this vast open beach. The foreground is mainly empty and there's also a lot of sky. If you're curious I used the M. Zuiko 12mm f/2 here, wide at 24mm equivalent. I should have gotten close to my main subject (the people and reflections) with the 12mm or better yet I should have used a telephoto to compress my subjects and be more clear with my photographic story telling.

Not so long ago I was told there are two perspectives, wide and telephoto. There is also normal (somewhere in the middle of wide and tele) but depending on how you use your foreground and background a normal lens can render as either. Wides are all about the emphasis of foreground. Things placed closer to the camera will be emphasized over things further away. Like in the photo above, the sand in the foreground is emphasized because it is closest to the camera. The closer the subject and the wider the lens the more extreme this emphasis becomes. One of the tricks to using a wide is to get close, NOT to get everything in or to get more in. Telephotos on the other hand de-emphasize the relationship between foreground and background, they will look relatively about the same size. You use a telephoto to get a compressed effect, to separate your subject from background using focus planes rather than because you want to get closer. Understanding perspectives is one of the fundamental tools of photographic story telling. This is important because it lets you dictate to the viewer how important the subject is.