Here I am

I was supposed to be traveling and enjoying myself in Japan at this very moment… supposed to be. But we all knew what happened, and we are all waiting for the day when we can travel freely again. Will that day ever come? I wonder. What if we are stuck here, unable to go back to how things were before the pandemic… scary but possible, and hopefully it won’t go down that road.

Had my ticket booked before the virus spread became a pandemic, nothing much I could do as it is not within my control or influence. Been following up on the news and updates, but things were gloomy all along. I was hopeful, but about half way through the year, I had already given up on hoping. Well, it’s not that I’m afraid to travel, if immigration opens and flights are available, I am willing to travel as I trust the relevant parties would do enough to ensure a safe journey for everyone. What’s on my mind was that if travel is possible, I would rather head home to spend a week or two with my family back in hometown instead of heading elsewhere.

It’s been a long long while since I last met them earlier this year during Chinese New Year.  Gotta spend some time to catch up with them as well as some of my old friends. Traveling elsewhere can wait. With that mind set, I was pretty much just waiting for the airline to process my ticket cancellation, together with booking for accommodation. Luckily most of them offered full refund. Sad, but this is just life, and we just have to deal with it. My travel spree to Japan has since halted after a 5-year stint. Hopefully things will recover soon. Stay safe everyone, and till then.

A photography journey – The burned out

When we talked about photography journey, we have to face it that it is not just all ups and excitement. We have to admit to failure at times, and the inevitable burned out that one will face at some point on their journey.

There will be a point of time you just don’t feel inspired at all, don’t feel like grabbing the camera at all, don’t see any subject that’s worth the click of your shutter, or can’t seems to see something that’s different enough from what has already been shot by everyone else.

Professional photographers often find themselves ended up in a rut, when you shoot the same thing over and over again, it’s easy to get your energy and creativity drained. Amateur too, as one would go out and shoot so often that soon one hit a plateau on skill improvement. Then everything just went downhill or stagnant f there.

Perhaps I’m currently at such a stage as well, I have not really picked up my camera and shoot properly for this year. It’s not to say there wasn’t any opportunities for me to bring my camera out, but in the end I just decided to stay casual, stay minimal and only shot a few pictures using my phone. 

To put it simply, I’m not motivated to work hard for an image at this moment. A few retreats or travels would fix this easily, but with current situation, it is impossible to do so. I could always explore new locations within my neighbourhood, but I have chosen other priorities over taking picture at this point of time.

Anyway, I have not given up in shooting, that’s for sure. So I’ll just sit through this low period and hibernate myself, hopefully things will get better soon. 

A photography journey – Sharing your photos

Back then, when I exported the photos from editing software, I will post them on Flickr (which I still did for selected photos). Flickr was the go-to place for photo sharing, getting inspiration, and to discuss among the community on gears and photography skills. It used to be a lively and lovely place. Perhaps it still is now? I’m not too sure as I’m no longer actively involved in most community and forum pages.

Then came social media pages like MSN, and Facebook (there was Friendster before that!) and people tend to share more of their stuff there. I too posted my photos on my Facebook account, and then Facebook groups were born and all sorts of communities are forming. There are groups for landscape, brands, gears and so on. For those who are into blogging (like I am), there were blogger, WordPress and Tumblr back then that allows us to share our photos and some writing as well. Then came 500px trying to challenge Flickr, and some other services such as SmugMug.

But it all trailed and faded as other form of social media rises. Instagram, Pinterest, and even YouTube has become the space where people started sharing their photos and their journey in photography. I personally tried most of them, but due to the fact that I’m seeing ads everywhere I go… I felt guttered and left most of those platform. Now I’m only sharing occasionally on Flickr, while most of the time I just post here on my blog and also on my personal Facebook account acting as an “archive” for me to search through at times.

Few years back I printed a lot of photobooks, and a few larger print every now and then. But due to space constrain, I have stopped printing photobooks. I do enjoy flipping through them every now and then. I think I will only resume printing when I finally own a house that I can call my home. So, how have you been sharing your photos all this while? Feel free to share your journey. Till then.

A photography journey – From darkroom to lightroom

Darkroom prints by Mr. Loo Chee Chuan

Apart from gear acquisition syndrome and actually taking photos, there’s another path that we all went through during our photography journey, which is the post processing workflow. Photo editing is something new to me when I started off learning about photography. It has always been shooting on film, sent it to the lab and printed pictures are returned to me. And during the times when I was shooting on digital point and shoot or my mobile phone, there’s no such thing as RAW files either.

So when I started using the Canon PowerShot G10, I was intrigued by it. I have no idea what I can do with it, so it’s all about self exploring and experimenting. At that time I was only using Canon’s own Digital Photo Professional software, which has limited controls. But still, I spent a lot of time playing around with the sliders and presets. Slowly, I was introduced to Lightroom and I had been using that application ever since.

And there was a point of time when HDR photos were fashionable, everyone was trying to run tone mapping algorithm on every single of their photos, making all these super fake HDR photos and still loving the result, and I was one of them. With limited understanding on how dynamic range works, I just dump my photos into any HDR software found from the internet and HDR the hell out of my photos.

Fortunately, I soon realized that it was a huge mistake. So I spent some time learning myself how to use Lightroom properly, and perhaps a little of Photoshop as well. And that’s when things got improved a little from there. I won’t call myself expert in editing, in fact I’m still pretty suck in editing photos. But at least I can do a much better job that I was back then. Nowadays, the trend is on AI editing, which is something I didn’t get my hands on to try out yet. But if I am going to continue my photography journey, it is perhaps something that I need to take a look at some point in the near future.

What was your post processing history that you would laugh over today?

A photography journey – Our secret collection of camera bags

One is never enough. That’s probably what we told ourselves. We need one for each different occasions, different situations, different shooting conditions… sounds like the reason given by my wife in justifying herself to buy yet another handbag.

For us, our handbag (a.k.a. camera bag) is equally expensive. Comes in all shapes and forms. We have backpack, sling bag, messenger bag, waist bag, luggage bag, pelikan case and so on. We have all sorts of materials to choose from, canvas, nylon and leather, just to name a few. Not to mentioned various different design language, how some are built towards street photographers while some for adventurers, and of course the marketing hype of what these bags can do to improve on your photography.

I owned a number of bags for the past 10 years, but I believe my collection list is not as long as some others. The Peak Design Messenger bag, ThinkTank Perspective, a Crumpler sling bag and Zkin RAW are a few bags that I used to owned, but now I’m just rocking my Billingham Hadley Pro and Shimoda Action X30. The Billingham has followed me the longest, while the Shimoda Action X30 was a new addition this year, thinking about using it for my travel but has since became a white elephant due to the current world situation.

I was a fan for sling / messenger bag all along, I really like the versatility and ease in accessing my gear. However, as my shoulder and back started to signal me strongly on their age, I need to fall back to a backpack just to keep them happy. So now, I ended with the Billingham (to keep my love on messenger bag) and the Shimoda backpack. Hopefully both will last me for the next few years.

So, what’s your hidden secret collection of camera bag? Till then.