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Friday, August 28, 2009

Zuiko, Finding Inspiration

I am in a photography rut right now... actually not seriously shooting anything for the past three weeks! And, the dearth of inspiration has also made me not to bring my camera to the office.


What has happened?

Well, I wouldn't know.

A bit jaded with it, maybe?

Or maybe a shift in interest. Recently I got myself a new toy in a form of a Bose Acoustic Wave system. I haven't been spending much time listening and playing music for such a long time. Maybe the photography rut is due to this shift. Possible?...

Oh, the thirst to savor the acoustic beauty has taken over my oversatiation of visual perfection. That make sense. Maybe my auditory system is sending different signals to my brain to partake a new enjoyment of the senses.

Ok, I can blabber what may be. But, the obvious thing is I am a dearth of inspiration. Even I passed an recent photo assignment to cover a corporate event.

E-3 with Zuiko Digital ED50mm F2.0 & EC-14
70mm, f/5, 1/250s, ISO800, FL-50R

It took me simple inspiration back then to produce this shot. This macro of the hibiscus was taken early 2008, and abstractly it shows a human form, sort of with arms wide open for a hug!

Only if it is now...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Zuiko and a Birthday at Carcosa Seri Negara

Carcosa Seri Negara.

A beautiful lodge right at the heart of Kuala Lumpur, and be amazed of the lush greeneries surrounding the compound!

The interiors were captivating.
14mm, f/2.5, 1/13s, ISO800, Auto Gradation

Last night was a special night. For both of us, and definitely for my lovely wife to celebrate her birthday. In actual fact, it was supposed to be last week; alas, little Imran was admitted to the hospital.

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm F2.0 SWD
14mm, f2.5, 1/13s, ISO800, Auto Gradation

A romantic dinner? Nothing comes close to candlelit fine French cuisine.

Carcosa Seri Negara is a little hotel located on a hill surrounded by huge Angsanas. It's hard to phantom, but this hamlet is just a stone's throw away from my ultra-urban office!!

14mm, f/4, 1/5s, ISO800, Auto Gradation

Based on the colonial residents back in the days of Sir Frank Swettenham, Carcosa is adorned with plush interiors with the nostalgic rustic charm. The dark but cosy ambiance ensures a private yet warm feeling while dining, with the waiters ever so ready for immediate attendance. Very exclusive indeed.

14mm, f/2.8, 1/20s, ISO800, Auto Gradation

The architecture hides nothing of its past. The open columns and tall ceilings that are the hallmarks of colonial design are very apparent.

Such a nice atmosphere. Amazing. The food was just perfect for the occasion.

This is the place for special occasions. If you want to celebrate it with your loved ones, this is one place at the top of the charts.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Zuiko and the Search for THE Perfect Bag

Camera bags... Aaaahhhh, the necessity of all necessities.

28mm, f/5.6, 1/5s, ISO800, -0.7ev (OM lens 28mm f3.5)
The Bagman Messenger aka Crumpler 6Million Dollar clone is very spacious.

Ever since I went digital in 2004, I became self-aware about the existence of branded camera bags. In the days of my OMs, I just used any bag that I can find. School bag, shopping bag, any bag! The reason: those 70's tech design was so robust that I did not find a real necessity for such protection from bumps and drops. Digital, on the other hand, was very fragile.

My first "real" bag was the Lowepro Nova AW 1. Blue in color, I can fit my C-750UZ system with the FL-20 and WCON-07 lens & adapter, and even a Panasonic 3CCD camcorder, too. Nimble and small, this was perfect. I started to love these Lowepro bags, that I became a "worshipper" for a couple of years!!!

Among other Lowepros that I acquired throughout my time until late 2008 were the Nova AW 2 "Black", Slingshot 200 AW "Black", Fastpack 350 "Red", and a TLZ Mini "Black". I have to confess, these bags were purchased for a so-called different photoshoot situations. All had its strengths and weaknesses. Of all the bags, I loved the Nova AW 2. To me, it was a bag of all bags!!! Imagine that I could fit the E-510, ZD 11-22mm f2.8-3.5, ZD 14-54mm f2.8-3.5, ZD 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 and the FL-36 without the bag bulging in awkward points. That was really an ultra cool bag!!

I tried to like the Slingshot, but the single strap proved to be a burden for long walks due to its imbalance that disrupted my walking gait and posture. It just felt annoying after a while. The Fastpack was a total disappointment. It was not a serious photographers bag; more of a jack-of-all-trades type of bag. The TLZ? That was for my brief impromptu romance with the E-420.

Now here's the problem!

I changed my lens line in the later half last year. Somehow, SHG lenses required more real estate, and none of my bags could provide!! The Slingshot and Novas were sold off easily as these were popular bags. I still have the Fastpack and TLZ, though. (If you are interested in them, please let me know).

In January, I accidentally got hold of the E-30; which did not help my problem a bit...

What's next?

Enter my lust for Think Tank bags, particularly the Urban Disguise line. You see, I tend to carry my gear to work. And, the Lowepros screamed camera bag in an office environment, and I would only bring to office when there was an anticipated need such as office functions! I had to be more inconspicuous if I want to carry my gear anytime I like!! During the brief bag-less period, after I sold my Lowepros, I simply used my laptop bag!! Not a perfect solution, though as the lack of paddings and compartments meant the gear knocked each other out!

14mm, f/2.8, 1/2000s, ISO100, +0.7ev (wireless)
The TT UD35 fits the SHG Zuikos 7-100mm, E-3 with HLD4, E-30 and 2 FL units.

The Urban Disguise 35 to me is a masterpiece bag perfect for my need!!! Believe it or not, all my gear can fit in the bag, with some room to spare for a netbook!!! This bag looks like a typical executive bag, a bit thick on the side, though. Not a big deal, since I did not pack in the laptop (up to 15", not bad!); thus, a thinner profile.

After a couple of months using, I realized that the UD35 is not perfect for everything! It's just too big for a short photo stint, or for carrying my gear for leisure walks. In a casual environment, it screams laptop bag!!! Hmmmmm.... another conundrum!

If I were to only carry a body with a couple of lenses and a small flash, I was bagless!

So, yesterday in utter desperation, I went to my favorite shop in Ampang Park and simply told my predicament. I wanted a bag that did not scream camera or laptop bag. It should not be very brightly colored, too. It should look like a simple shoulder bag, but must not be bulky with padding. It must be very spacious! Spacious enough to handle an E-3 body with HLD-4 grip, at least 2 short lenses and a small flash! After close to 20 minutes, I settled for a Bagman Messenger. Though an old design, that did not bother me at all. When factor was primary, form was thrown into the drain.

Perfect!! Another perfect bag!! Now I have two perfect bags for each of its purpose!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Zuiko and the Private Hospital

My son was admitted to Selangor Medical Center for suspected meningitis. It was a tough ordeal for both of us. The doctor warded him for three nights.

E-30 with Zuiko Digital ED14-35mm F2.0 SWD
35mm, f/2, 1/100s, ISO800

After a couple of blood and urine tests, the results were negative for meningitis. But the hemoglobin was a bit low, though. More tests later, and all was clear.

It was a great relief for us both, as it was just a viral fever. Nevertheless, the symptoms were very distressing as he was in a bout of mild fit, and that really scared my wife.

Thank God all is well now.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Zuiko and f/4

Whenever in trouble, shoot F/4. All will end well!

E-500 with Zuiko Digital 11-22mm f2.8-3.5,
22mm, f/4, 1/45s, ISO400

Ever heard the quote, "F8 and be there."? Well, this phrase emphasizes the importance of being on location to capture the shot than meddling with the technical details.

It was coined during the height of 35mm film cameras, to remind gearheads that the picture matters not the gear!! This is where the aperture stopped at F8 at most general focal lengths will result in the images having adequate in-focus sharpness for most of the frame. Somehow, this is a type of a hyperfocal distance hack, of sorts. If you have a 135 format camera, it's safe to say that you are at the optimum sweetspot of the lens coupled with the ample depth-of-field for general photography.

A quick scan at the depth-of-field table for a typical 35mm and 50mm focal lengths yield adequate depths-of-field for scenes shot from a 10-foot distance. With a 35mm lens, the backfocus will have acceptable focusing depth of up to 24 feet, and with a 50mm lens up to 14 feet.

Now, will this apply with the Fourthirds system?
Definitely, not!! Simply because it's a different format from 135; and being smaller by 2x, the effect changes.

I have long abandoned F8 ever sinced I moved to digital. And the digitals I have been using eversince have never been larger than 135, there is never a need for me to shoot at F8 for general photography.

With 4/3, I have to readjust a lot of things I learned with the 135 format. One of it is to shoot F4 instead of F8!!! It's no easy task, but at least the 2x crop factor is much easier to calculate than the 1.5x or 1.6x.

When shooting with E-system cameras, to get similar F8 just use F4! In this case, I will use a lower ISO compared to 135 format for a similar lighting situation. I won't say that this is an advantage of achieving lower ISO, but it's just different.

With a 25mm lens, all I need is an F4 to mimic the situation of a 50mm lens in 135 format stopped to F8.

* Note: when I mean F8 or F4, it also includes the +/- o.3ev of the range.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Zuiko and "The Commute" Challenge

In the latest challenge series I entered, this image made it at 34th place out of 203 entries.

Aptly titled "Escalating to the Train", I used the Art Filter Pinhole to isolate the subject.