Never stop exploring

For my recent trips, there have been a slight change in terms of what activities I planned for those trips. Before this, it was all about walking around those touristy spot, snapping some pictures of the famous locations and that’s all. But as time goes by, I started to enjoy a little more on something else.

It probably started during my trip to Hong Kong, where I hiked through a few trails and paths (be sure to check out some of the blog posts I shared previously on this), and I found that although tiring, I very much enjoyed the experience. And then I tried to venture into some “off the beaten path” location in Japan, and later in Taipei. I am not ready to camp out in the wild yet, but I do enjoy hiking through some day trails, getting close to nature and away from the busy buzzing crowd.

With that change in taste, it had partly contributed to some changes in terms of my gears and the way I plan my trips. For camera setup, I ended up switching from only primes to mostly zoom lenses, this is to cater for the unforeseen circumstances and photographic opportunities arise during hiking. Now whenever I plan my trip, I’ll research for locations where I can hike for half or full day. And I am considering to get a better backpack that is more comfortable for hiking use.

Let’s hope I can explore more places while I am still able to do so. In fact, I’m flying over to Tokyo tonight (yes, again…) for a trip that I have been planning for so long. It will be my fifth visit to Japan and the first full solo trip all by myself. Let’s hope that everything will be fine, and I’ll share more when I’m back from the trip. Till then.

Another new chapter

Finally… I decided to drop my soul and made the jump. I am officially shooting with a Sony A7 III now. I bought this camera just awhile back, together with the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16–35 mm F4 ZA OSS, Sony FE 70-200 mm F4 G OSS and Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III RXD lenses.

It’s a big shift from my previous setup indeed. I started off with prosumer compact camera, which was then followed by DSLR and mirrorless cameras. I then decided to make a switch to rangefinder and now I’m back to mirrorless system again.

I think I talked about why I made my switch away from rangefinder previously so I’ll never touch on that topic today. But after shifted away from rangefinder, I had been using the Fujifilm X100F solely for the past year or so. Can I continue to shoot with only this camera? Or if I even want to continue with photography altogether? Those were the questions I was trying to answer for myself.

I had been shooting my class events and couple of my trips with just the Fujifilm X100F. But the reality was that besides these occasions I had rarely shoot anymore, unlike previously where I would go out and shoot at least once a week. That’s probably the reason why I was holding back with any camera purchase, I want to understand whether I would still want to continue on this journey.

After much consideration, I decided that “yes, I still want to continue” and “yes, the Fujifilm X100F will not be enough to cover my needs”. Hence, I started to look around and I was considering the Nikon Z6, Sony A7 III and Canon EOS R. The Canon’s offering is a total disappointment to me, the whole camera simply is just… doesn’t make sense and does not entice people to shoot with it. Between the Nikon and Sony, in the end I decided to go with Sony as it is a more matured system overall. The Z6 really impressed me though.

As for the lenses, I made the decision to switch from prime lenses to zoom lenses. Well, I may add a prime lens to my arsenal in the future, but for now, zoom lenses are the one that will meet my needs. This will be the setup that I’ll be bringing to my coming trip in August, so let’s see how everything turns out by then. In terms of weight and bulk, it will be slightly more than what I carried for the past years, but then again it’s not much different from my days with Fujifilm X series mirrorless. Hopefully I’ll get used to it soon.

Some asked why I don’t go with A7R III instead. Well, I’m just a casual shooters, I really can’t justify the extra money I’m paying for that camera, the equation just doesn’t add up. Anyway, after shooting with it for awhile, I’m still trying to get used to editing their raw files, and the menu system was actually not that bad, Sony just need to work on the naming of the functions better and it should be fine. Otherwise, let’s see what I can capture with this camera in the days to come. Till then.

Digging into the thought process of a photographer

I bought the book “Magnum Contact Sheet” quite a while back but was not able to really to have time to sit down and read it through. Well, finally I did now. For those who enjoyed shooting streets or documentary style photography, this book can easily be the “bible” for one to own and keep. Of course there’re a lot more to offer in terms of content inside the book, which I believe is useful to all photographers out there.

The book shows contact sheets, which are series or sequence of photographs taken by the photographer for a particular event or moment. Looking through the contact sheets, you will be able to understand how the iconic pictures were made back then. The first thing that struck me was that there’s almost always more than one frame being captured in order to arrive at that one iconic shot. By looking through the contact sheets, you will get a sense of the photographers’ thought process in arriving at the final image.

Is it a decisive moment? Is it spray and pray? Is it staged? Is it cropped or post processed? I’ll leave it for you to explore and find out the answer on some of the iconic shots. You’ll be amazed. My key takeaway from this book is this: it doesn’t matter if you take multiple shots in order to get that one shot you want, it doesn’t really matter if you crop or post processed your picture, all that matter is the mind behind the camera. The thought process when moving from frame to frame, changing of composition, waiting for different subject, playing with the light and shadow… if there’s a thought being put in for each frame, you will eventually find the “one frame” that defines your thought.

This is indeed a good photography book for me to kickstart the year. Although there isn’t much plan for me on photography this year, reading books like this does keep my spirit and interest going. Highly recommended.

On “Spraying” and “Backup”

Had a good chat the other day with this old man who bought over one of my lens. He has a shooting style that’s similar to me. We shoot mainly landscape and streets, and we chatted about the lenses, the locations, the setups and so on.

We talked about the habit of spray and pray. “Come to think of it, it’s crazy when I saw my friends just shoot 10 frames on the same subject, same composition, and then go home and pick the one “decisive moment” picture… for which they looked the same to me anyway.” There will always be those who just spray, well, technically speaking if you are shooting sports or actions, is kinda unavoidable to shoot in burst just to make sure you get both focus and composition right for one of the frame, even more so if it’s a paid shoot. But for hobbyists like you and me… it’s indeed a little too much.

The other thing we chatted about is on backup. “Do you backup everything from your memory card and keep storing them like forever, and then giving reasons saying that one day you might come back and re-edit some of those?” I must admit I’m sort of guilty on this. When I get pictures imported into lightroom, I’ll edit whatever pictures that I wanted and just leave the rest as it is and dumped them into my backup drive. Perhaps I should really start looking into improving my workflow, rate pictures accordingly and delete those that are not rated. There’s really no point for keeping pictures that you know is not good to begin with.

It’s nice to talk to others once awhile to learn about how they manage their workflow and how they view photography. Now I’ll need to take some of those best practices and incorporate them into my habit. Till then.

Auf Wiedersehen, Leica

Honestly, I had never imagined that this day will come, and yet it came to me all of a sudden. The day when I decided to pack it back into its box and say “Auf Wiedersehen” (or goodbye) to it… the day my Leica M-P Typ 240 leaves me and move on to its new owner.

This is the camera that was most hated by the Leica fans. Bulky, heavy, it shoot video, it uses EVF… everything that’s “not Leica” present here, in the iconic body of a Leica M rangefinder. Despite that, I believe this camera is a very important milestone in Leica M history. It marked the transition of a tradition rangefinder camera to a modern one, it served Leica well as a platform to test out a few ideas (like the cost down version of Typ 262, the screen-less M-D and so on) and not to mentioned all the cash cow limited edition Leica managed to release along the years. Without all these, I would argue that the M10 will not be as great of a camera as it is today.

funny bunny photography

“But why?” That’s the question I got from everyone. Nothing major, really. It’s just that I’m currently undergoing some self reflection phase (which I often do once in a while) and decided to make some tweaks and changes to things in my life. Just like with my film photography, I was thinking about having a short break from the M-P as well, at least for now. I had shot some pictures with this camera that I really loved, and despite all the complaints I have on the M-P and Leica Singapore’s customer service, I still enjoyed every moments and frustrations I endured with it. It’s something that I’ll cherish as a part of my journey in photography for the days to come.

So after selling my M-P off, what’s next? M-10P? Well, I don’t know. At least for the short term, it’s unlikely. I still enjoy shooting with rangefinder camera, that’s for sure. Will I ever get back to owning a Leica M? Probably, but no one knows what the future lies. So we’ll just have to wait and see. But for now, I’m only left with a Fujifilm X100F camera with the two conversion lenses. Maybe this will be my pure setup for next year? Or maybe I will buy something else since the market is so on fire with full frame mirrorless camera nowadays? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. Till then.