Saturday, April 29, 2017

With A Heavy Heart, I Have Left Olympus

Three and a half years ago, I braved myself to leave an engineering career behind to pursue an entirely different path by joining Olympus Malaysia as a product specialist, a job which is closely related to my passion in photography. Now, I am gathering sufficient courage to exit the company of a brand that I have loved so deeply, to move on and ironically because of a rather similar reason to draw myself closer to my photography passion.

It is time to take the leap. 

I joined Olympus Malaysia in 2013 because I knew that I can contribute positively to the company and the fact that I already know their products inside out, having been using them for many years helped me in my tasks of liaising with photographers, local dealers, members of the media as well as general consumers from all over Malaysia. Adding my genuine staunch belief in the brand and true desire to want to see more people use Micro Four Thirds system, I was confident that I can be a powerful weapon and make a real difference for Olympus. I could not have joined the company at a better time, as it was during the launch of the OM-D E-M1 (first version), which was the beginning of a revolution that propelled mirrorless cameras into the center playing stage, that they can compete head on with DSLR for most shooting scenarios.

While I did enjoy the work I was doing for Olympus, especially the interaction with many interesting people and being able to share my love of photography with them, I have to admit most of the tasks that I was handling as an employee had nothing to do with photography at all. There were countless consumer events (Touch and Try for new products), business meetings with dealers, training sessions with storefront staff, workshops and training for consumers. Almost ALL my weekends were consumed at a time, especially when there were new product launches. In addition to my 8-5 work on weekdays, I did not actually have any weekends.

It is true what they say, if you love what you do, you will not have to work a single day of your life. Here is the deal, I love photography. the whole world knows that, I love being out there with a camera in hand and shoot. Unfortunately for me, time for shooting was almost non-existent for me, and I have my not so frequent blog updates here to prove that. I used to be able to blog at least 2-3 times a week before I joined Olympus. Now, I would be happy if I could manage one blog entry per week! This was in contradiction to my original intention of leaving my engineering career, to be more involved and grow my photography. Honestly, I did not see much personal growth over the past few years. I did not participate in any exhibitions, did not get much photographs published outside of my blog, and no further involvement in the local photography community. Only recently, I joined a group of photographers in Kuching to do a collective photo exhibition, and after that, I knew I needed to be more active and take my photography more seriously. I need to step up to the next level.

Another reason, which is more obvious and predictable, would be the blatant conflict of interest whenever I was reviewing an Olympus product. No matter what I did and tried my best to be impartial, honest and fair, a direct employment under Olympus undermined my credibility as a blogger, photographer and product reviewer. I acknowledge, and deeply appreciate the immense support from all of you to keep inspiring me to continue writing and doing what I love doing, but the truth is, I cannot have it both ways. If I started writing negative things about a product, it would hurt the company, which in turn would hurt my own conscience as well. If I have chosen to keep quiet and lie in my reviews (I have tried my best not to), I will lose respect and validity as a blogger, then what was the point of blogging in the first place? The only obvious choice, was to leave.




What is next for me?

What I can assure you, is that I will continue shooting, doing my shutter therapy sessions, sharing fresh photographs and blogging on. However, there will be a HUGE significant change, happening very, very soon. I am extremely excited about this new project, which I am working closely with a friend, and everything will be revealed. You have all stayed with me all this time, and I am sure you will like this new direction I am taking in my blogging and photography ventures. I seriously can't wait!

Olympus will always have a special place in my heart. I am still currently using Olympus as my main gear for shooting. Leaving Olympus was not an easy decision but surely the right one for me, to further grow myself in photography without restrictions of being tied to a camera brand, and focus more on my own shooting.

I want to thank you all for being here with me all this time, all your kind words of encouragement and show of support have brought me so far and I am not where I am today without your help.

What do I want to do right now, go out and have a great shutter therapy session of course!



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

5 Compelling Reasons Why Huawei P10 Has The Awesomest Smartphone Camera

Huawei Malaysia has loaned me the newly launched Huawei P10 smartphone, which features their signature Leica dual camera module. Considering that I have reviewed the dual camera setup performance for the previous iterations, Huawei P9 and Huawei Mate 9 smartphones, and the fact that the new Huawei P10 uses similar setup (with some improvements of course), I shall not be doing a redundant full camera review here. Instead, I decided to spend a full day out shooting with the Huawei P10, exploring the features of the camera on the smartphone and came home with a collection of interesting images. After all, the purpose of a camera (any camera at all) is to shoot images, and from the images and my limited experience with the P10, I shall share with you why I think this P10 has an awesome camera.

Kindly take note that I do not have any further relationship with Huawei, other than being loaned the phone to do basically whatever I wanted to do with it. I am a photographer enthusiast and I shall be writing from a photographer's point of view, using a smartphone camera. I will not be discussing the technical aspects of the smartphone (the processor, RAM, battery life, screen, operating system, etc), and my focus is purely on the camera capabilities of the Huawei P10. I am sure you can find such information in many larger tech related sites and blogs out there.

I simply love the full black version of the Huawei P10. The design is beautifully modern yet subtly matching my other gadgets and items I am carrying around with me. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Short Adventure in Pudu

It was a lazy Sunday that I kicked myself out of bed because I knew I needed to satisfy the itch of my fingers for some shutter action. I loaded the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II into the bag along with some small prime lenses, the M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8, 45mm F1.8, and of course the newest addition the Panasonic 14mm F2.5 pancake lens. I did not exactly have anything planned out in mind, no specific objectives, but I knew if I went out even just for a short stroll I will come across some interesting moments and subjects on the street that will be worth shooting. The trick is just to get out and start observing, the photography opportunities will manifest. After all, it was a Sunday, so I was keeping things slow for the day.

I finally ended up at Pudu wet market, but explored the streets around the main market. It did not took long for interesting moments to appear. Lighting was glorious for the morning, intense directional sun light, and the sky was clear, creating bold and high in contrast image output. I think it was an hour and a half quick walk, I have gathered some images, and I thought I should call it a day. Solo photowalks are always faster and more efficient, as I got to go to the locations that I wanted and less waiting around.

Portrait of a Stranger 
Saw this dude waiting outside the staircase entrance and thought the bold red shirt he was wearing matched the blue painted walls on the back nicely. He was friendly too and we had a little chat. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Lazy Weekend

It has been a terribly long week, so when the weekend came, I decided to take it slow this time. There were a few errands to run and important events to go to, but I basically let the weekend drift and made sure I had plenty of rest. Went to several locations to get some shots that I have had in mind, and I treated myself to some good coffee and comfort food. We deserve to pamper ourselves once in a while.

The thought of making a photobook has always been at the back of my mind. This was an experimental print I did for a compilation of of my street photography shots. I still want to produce the photobooks and make it available for sale but I think the biggest challenge is to make it affordable or at the price point that everyone agrees with. By keeping the price down, I do need to restrict the number of photos in the book and also compromising print quality. This photobook idea will be shelved for this moment. 

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Revisiting Panasonic Lumix 14mm F2.5 Pancake lens

Recently I have re-acquired the often underrated Panasonic 14mm F2.5 pancake lens, and naturally it became the most frequently used lens for my latest shutter therapy session. I brought along the Panasonic 14mm F2.5 pancake lens alongside Olympus M.Zuiko  45mm F1.8 to Chow Kit, which was my favourite street hunting ground for a much needed street photography session last Saturday. I had Van, Robert and Sim joining me for this session.

I genuinely love pancake lenses, and I think Olympus and Panasonic should produce more pancake lenses. We already have compact and superbly sharp F1.8 lenses, why not create pancake lenses of respective focal lengths, but instead of F1.8, make them F2.8? I can totally imagine having 25mm F2.8 and 45mm F2.8, and perhaps a 12mm F3.5 (since it is more difficult to do a pancake design for wide angle lenses) but keeping everything in slim, pancake design. Yes, F2.8 means we are losing some light or having more depth of field but imaging the lens being so slim and compact! I can live with the aperture brightness compromise, as long as the image quality is still decently sharp and technically well controlled. Give us more pancake lenses, make them ultra portable, and most importantly, reasonably priced (oh make them cheap that we do not even have to think twice to buy).

I am falling in love again with the Panasonic 14mm F2.5 lens. I simply love the 28mm focal length (equivalent) perspective, which is rather wide and produces different coverage than what I normally do with 25mm F1.8 and 45mm F1.8 lens.

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II with mostly Panasonic 14mm F2.8 and a few shots with M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8

Oh yes, I test printed a photo-book, just to see how the print quality is. Was also toying with the idea of making a photobook for sale to my blog readers. This idea will have to remain an idea for the time being. 

Sunday, April 02, 2017

KL Tower Series: Doing Similar Shots Differently

I have often been asked, why do I walk along the similar shooting routes on the street since I have been there so many times everything would look the same and I will obtain similar photography output?

My answer to the above question:

1) I have not shot the "best" photograph yet. In fact, every single time I walk on the same location, shooting the same subjects and scenes, I am getting better, even if the incremental improvement is so marginally small. Over time, I can see my growth.

2) Different time, different moments. It is nearly impossible for the same moment to repeat itself again, but we can always hope and anticipate new and perhaps more interesting moments to happen, if we put ourselves out there enough to be ready to capture them.

3) Different vision, and different way of seeing things. Every time I go out I try to put on a fresh perspective, I always asked myself - if I have done this before, how can I do this differently this time, and certainly, how can I make this shot better? Perhaps, a use of different focal length, shifting shooting position, or more dramatic composition choices? The possibilities of producing different outcomes of the similar subject or scene are endless.

For example, the prominent Kuala Lumpur Tower (as well as the even more popular KLCC Twin Towers) has been shot like a billion times over by locals and tourists, why would anyone bother to add to the internet junk collection? Surely there would be no way anyone can outdo anyone else, and should not we consider doing something more original, less popularly photographed, to stay ahead in the game?

Then my sincere advice, is that there is no game. Because there is no finishing line when it comes to photography, and it is ok to shoot what everyone else is shooting. You just have to tell yourself that you can create your own photographs based on your own vision.

So here, I present to you, the collection of KL Tower shots that I have accumulated, with different point of view, composition, and ideas behind the shots.


Since the KL Tower is a prominent landmark, it is a great backdrop for street subjects. Here I was emphasizing on the pigeons in flight, but utilized the KL tower to establish the sense of location of this image.