Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Simple solutions

Some parties have expressed the opinion (both directly and indirectly) that my latest projects aren't the best way to put my photography skills to good use. I hope I'm not causing others to stumble, especially in a 'conservative' asian context.

While photographing models, I've been fortunate to learn a fair bit regarding the basics of portrait photography. As photographers, we always try to make people look their best. We're not plastic surgeons in any way (though it would be good if we were), but we use the aid of lighting, posing, composition and even the liquify tool in Photoshop to make our clients look their best. And one of the best techniques to master is how to make our subjects look slimmer. This is particularly an issue in Western countries where more 'overweight' subjects are more commonly encountered.

For example, to make your subjects look slimmer, shoot from a higher angle. Getting the subject to look up makes the neck look longer and more elegant. It makes their eyes look larger too.

Shooting from a slightly lower angle with a wide lens (24-28mm would be ideal in my case) makes their legs appear longer than they actually are, and it can appear quite elegant.

It's easy to make legs look longer when they're in a standing position. I know more intensive photoshop work would be required to make the legs more spectacular.

On a separate note, this stance, with the model's weight on her front foot and one foot crossed over the other is contemporary and natural looking (though some may disagree with me on this matter). The space created between the arm and torso, and also between the legs allows the eyes to travel to the background and makes the model look slimmer. Turning the subject at a slight angle to the camera makes her look slimmer too.

If you 'fail' to position the subject at a slight angle away from the camera, she will look more confrontational, and the broad shoulders don't capture the feminine essence of the subject. Taking a relatively tight shot with a telephoto exaggerates this problem too.

Using wide angles at close distances for head shots appear interesting, but don't do that too often as it may distort their appearance. Thats why telephotos are in vogue for portraits.

Low key lighting can also be used to increase the amount of shadow in the portrait and give a natural slimming effect.

 Don't forget to take time to chill out, relax and have fun. That would create opportunities for better pictures and establish rapport, especially if you're meeting for the first time.


Friday, March 26, 2010


Tanah tumpahnya darahku
Rakyat hidup bersatu dan maju
Rahmat bahagia Tuhan kurniakan
Raja kita selamat bertakhta

Rahmat bahagia Tuhan kurniakan
Raja kita selamat bertakhta

When tourists, investors and VIPs visit our country, various brochures paint a very pretty picture about the beauty, diversity and harmony about our country.

In a certain sense its true. But when we look closely, things aren't that rosy.

For example, the spot that the Kinta and Gombak river is just merely a large drain that no one ever wants to get close too. I guess its a good thing to see it from afar; the toxic fumes that the river emits isn't too good for our health anyway.

We spend our days in air-conditioned shopping malls and office buildings, wanting to build more and more skyscrapers everyday..

Yet when viewed from a certain distance, its a form of failed city planning where everything is just mashed together haphazardly, like how a 1 year old child plays with lego blocks.

We are easily distracted and are eager to mix around with those who are rich, powerful and beautiful...

...yet we ignore the unseen sufferings and sacrifices made by those who are keen to hold up basic principles such as justice, truth and peace.

We hide in our luxury imported air-conditioned cars..

yet despite this temporary comfort, we have to endure endless traffic jams, insufficient parking spaces, endless tolls, and toxic fumes from our vehicles.

We take pride in our food, to the extent of criticizing that Singapore is taking away the rights to our local delicacies and claiming them as their own.

Yet we ignore the hungry, homeless, fatherless, and poor who're still roaming our streets, having nothing to lay their head upon except a hard brick.

Rules and regulations were meant to protect us from harm and doing wrong.

Yet in this country, even the lawmakers and enforcers don't follow their own rules and walk the talk. Its a stifling and dangerous environment. And sometimes, we can get hurt really bad.

Yes, we can go about our own business, earning money and ignoring everything around us.

But we can't ignore the fact that there's a more powerful force at work behind us, constantly watching and squeezing the life out of us who're trapped in the rat race.

Will we stand up for what is honorable, fight the good fight, or take the easy way out and escape to foreign lands where the grass is supposedly greener on the other side?

The answer is up to you. We each leave an imprint in this world, and have to answer to our own conscience.

Till then, Malaysia is where my blood has been spilt (figuratively), and will always be close to my heart, no matter what the future holds for this country.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Malaysia's retail experience

It's amazing that I have so much to blog about after a 5 day trip to KL. Hopefully there will be more inspiration to come :)
Though our retail therapy is not as advanced as Singapore and Bangkok, the shopping centers in Kuala Lumpur still have much to offer for tourists and local residents alike.

One gripe which I have about our shopping centers is the inefficiency of public transport. For example, one of my friends who works in Mid Valley says that it takes 2 hours for him to make a one way trip from Mid Valley to Subang Jaya. Even when I visited Mid Valley last Monday, a supposedly 15 minute trip took 35 minutes, even though it was only one station away!

The Mid Valley complex has indeed grown quite a fair amount since I last saw it. It's currently constantly built upon with extra condominiums, hotels and their supporting industries.

Unfortunately, judging by the amount of space these huge retail complexes require, there's often not much space left for plants, which just act as supporting graphic elements.

There's a nice skybridge connecting the Gardens and Mid Valley. Lot's of floor to ceiling glass give it an airy feel.

Center court atrium in Mid Valley

The interplay of light and shadow when the sunlight shines through the glass roof is quite interesting.

There's a spacious skybridge linking Mid Valley and the Gardens.

The Gardens is an upmarket shopping mall aimed to rival Pavilion at Bukit Bintang.It's interesting how they've used several 'sails' to admit diffused light into the mall. And as you can see also, on a Monday morning, there's almost no one in sight.

The internal angles created by the atriums and skybridges are quite dynamic when you photograph them with a wide lens.

Sunway Pyramid has taken a more interesting concept of promoting some 'cheesy' Egyptian elements into the shopping mall (at least for the old wing). Kinda reminds me of Robert Venturi's concept of the duck.

I'm not sure when large green urns were a part of Egyptian architecture :s

The main atrium looks a little gloomy without the inclusion of natural light. Looks like the Chinese New Year decorations are still there.

There's even an indoor ferris wheel...

... and a large skating rink. Unfortunately I was never good at balancing myself, hence I don't think I will be visiting one soon.

The main entrance of Pavilion is where the mob dance occured after the Olympus presentation at Lot 10

We Malaysians are always busy with our hands, hence the necessity to include signs such as "Do not touch! Do not cross!"

This large skylight emits plenty of natural light into the main atrium.

KL's shopping centers are a fry cry from the retail experience in Melbourne, which mostly consists of arcades, street boutique shops, cafes, and the occasional 'large' DFO shopping mall at Docklands and Westfield. Nonetheless, shopping centers are here to stay. Just be careful to not have your wallet emptied at the cashiers!

5th Olympus User Gathering: Olympus PEN E-PL1

I got this facebook invitation a while back:

You are cordially invited to attend the 5th Olympus User Gathering.

In this event, we will be featuring our latest model the Olympus PEN E-PL1, New Generation System Cameras.

Date : Saturday, 20th March 2010.
Time : 11.00am – 2.30pm
Venue : BON TON Restaurant, Lot 10

Who should attend ?

•Yourself (of course!) and your friends or anyone you know who wants to take great SLR quality photos but do not know/have photography knowledge or skills, and do not like the size and weight of a conventional SLR.
•Current PEN User – get a chance to try out the new M. Zuiko 9-18mm lens!


•Feast your hands on the new Olympus PEN E-PL1, New Generation System Cameras (Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens system camera) and the M.Zuiko 9-18mm lens that has – fast and silent autofocus!
•Special guest speaker to speak on his experience with the Micro Four Third system.
•Special photo gallery & PEN showcase and accessories.

Special Highlights

•After the event we will adjourn to Pavillion to witness a very cool Flash Mob --a dance evolution from the 60s,70s,80s,90s and the current era! Be a part of it or go ahead and snap away! Great shots guaranteed! Show starts at 3.00pm!

For those who don't know, the EPL-1 is the latest addition to the Micro 43rds system by Olympus in its attempt to attract more users who're currently in the compact camera market.

The main agenda on some minds would be the free food, which is pretty awesome by the way (eg. nasi briyani, curry chicken, fried fish fillet, spaghetti). But other than that, its a great opportunity to meet up with other Oly users and to network with them. They're a great bunch to be with, in my opinion.

Before lunch, we were treated to a series of talks regarding the EPL-1's capabilities by several of their staff, including a live demonstrations of the camera's advanced live view functions. I was pretty impressed with what I witnessed.

Behind the wine cabinets was a small room that accommodated the several EPL-1 units (which are unfortunately chained to the cabinet). To the right side of the image are several large posters which illustrate the potential enlargements that can be made from an EPL-1 file.

The PEN EPL-1 is a small critter, even when fitted with the all purpose ultra wide angle M. Zuiko 9-18mm lens, which gives an equivalent field of view of 18-36mm. In a compact high quality chassis that's no larger than your average compact camera, SLR-quality images are now within the reach of the average photographer enthusiast.

The conventional fourthirds E-620 camera is already one of the smallest DSLRs to date, but when compared with the EPL-1 and the M. Zuiko 9-18, it's size and weight advantage is pretty evident.

In some ways, I do feel the EPL-1 should've been the EP-1. It has a very user friendly interface, and the addition of several valuable functions, eg. the EVF attachment, pop up flash, stereo microphones and a dedicated video recording button make this quite a hit.

Regarding the actual presentation given by the Olympus staff, I felt it lacked some conviction and confidence that the EPL-1 is a great camera for the photo enthusiast. Perhaps if we emulated the enthusiastic presentation style of Olympus visionaries like Lou Manna and Jay Kinghorn, we would see a surge in the popularity of the Olympus system.

The last speaker did a pretty elegant speech on how his Olympus EP-2 helped him in his photographic journey to document his street shots and the life of his kids. Unfortunately, I guess the target audience was a little misplaced. Most of us are more serious supporters of the Olympus E-system and not Micro 43rds as a whole. Of course we are impressed with its capabilities, but I reckon that another separate presentation should be given at larger shopping malls (eg. Mid Valley, Pavilion) to maximise public awareness of this new product who are more importantly the possible target audience of the Micro 43rds market.

The Flash Mob dance group did a spectacular performance in front of the Pavilion shopping center.

Rock on, Flash Mob ! :)


blogger templates 3 columns | Make Money Online