Another empty year?

Chinese New Year is around the corner, and this year it will be a little different. As the pandemic is still ravaging through the world, travelling to other countries are still difficult, if not impossible, which means I would not be able to head home to my hometown back in Malaysia to celebrate the new year with my family and friends. Well, it’s a little sad, but I’m fairly okay with it. We do our part in limiting the spread of virus, and to reduce the burden of everyone else, hoping that things would eventually turnaround as a result.

This made me think about my own photography. When was the last time I actually shot something with my camera? I think in 2020 my camera only fired a few test shots just to ensure it is still in working condition… nothing more. Perhaps 2021 would be the same again… who knows. Yes, I know, the world is still moving, many are still out and about shooting, but for me I just don’t feel like it at the moment.

I’m not complaining that there’s nothing to shoot, even when you are staying home under lockdown, one can embark on photography project from your home as well. One good example would be spending time learning with flash photography at home or try out macro photography and so on. For me, despite the situation here in Singapore is slowly getting better, I still don’t feel like heading out, roaming the streets and look for shots. In fact I’m still spending most of my time indoor, away from the crowd. I do not have plans for home project at the moment… so it seems like it is going to be another empty year for me when it comes to photography.

Well, we’ll see. Who knows what would happen in the days to come. Let’s hope everything would turn better soon. Till then.

Selfie?

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Not sure if I have discussed about this topic before, but here goes.

I don’t like selfie and I don’t really do selfie except a few rare occasions where I photographed myself holding my own camera. In fact I don’t like to be photographed altogether, if that’s even possible. But reality is… it’s impossible, I know. Sometimes it’s unavoidable that group photos or wefie need to be taken. So sometimes I just have to give in and play along.

For me, I don’t understand the appeal of taking selfies. I’m not any famous people, I’m not good looking, I don’t crave for attention, so why do I need to flood the internet with my selfies? Some argued that it’s for memory, some say it’s a proof that “I was there”. It’s okay, I really don’t need to prove anything to anyone. For me taking a picture of places I had visited is more than enough for me.

Anyway, that’s just my take, or perhaps my personal preference. I’m not judging you for taking your selfies, so please be kind to me and don’t judge me when I don’t want to be photographed next time.

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?