Nikon fans, here’s a wallpaper of the venerable Nikon F2 for your screen from me…
Here are some of my images for my review of the Leica Monochrom. Select Full HD option for highest quality.
How should I describe the Leica X Vario? It was as if Leica engineers met at the cafeteria and decided Fuji wasn’t kicking their ass hard enough with the X100/X100s. “Hey, let’s challenge the Fuji XE-1 with a new camera. We will up the ante this time… let’s be double the price of Fuji, AND we will not have interchangeable lens!” Guffaws exploded across the cafeteria as the engineers outlined more specifications to make life living hell for the Leica sales team.
And then the engineers invited the Leica marketing folks to join in the fun. The head of marketing exclaimed, “Let’s do a teaser for the camera and call it a ‘Mini M’. Imagine the look on the consumers face when they try to change the lens on the new camera!” The laughter was so loud that the Fuji folks heard it halfway across the globe and wondered what Leica was up to.
If camera manufacturers were high-school boys, building super telephoto zooms would be their equivalent of a pissing contest to see who can shoot the farthest or most accurately. Sports photographers would arrive at the stadium packing the biggest lens to win bragging rights, acting like Arnold Schwarzeneggerslinging his Gatling gun in Terminator. But Canon’s super telephoto zoom – the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM is getting so long in the tooth, it’s time to say, “hasta la vista, baby”.
For the “Portraits of the Animal Kingdom” series, I wanted to capture photographs of animals with the same techniques that we normally use for people portraiture, such as shallow depth of field, high contrast lighting, foreground blur, side profile poses and painterly background. I hope to capture the essence of the animal kingdom just like we photograph the human soul in a portrait.
Here are some of the animal portraits I captured for this project…
To view the images in higher resolution, please visit my gallery at “Eye & Mind”. For the “Portraits of the Animal Kingdom” series, you can click on the direct link below:
Lust. Gluttony. Greed. Sloth. Wrath. Envy. Pride.
The last time I checked, cropping is not included in the list of the seven deadly sins. So why do photographers have this compulsive aversion to cropping their photos? Some say that shooting loosely and cropping in post-processing are signs of sloppy technique and a lack of discipline. And that cropping wastes precious real estate of film or digital pixels, degrading the quality of the final image.
I agree fully with the rationale to compose carefully prior to the exposure for certain types of photography, where the photographer has the luxury of time to compose before taking the shot. Landscape or portrait photography, or even commercial or still life photography all fall under such a category. There is little excuse for radically cropping the final image to achieve a new composition, other than to fit the print media size that may be different from the sensor aspect ratio. Or perhaps you really had a square or panoramic image in mind when shooting.
However, it seems to be mostly street photographers or journalists who oppose strongly to cropping their images. I suppose the fact that Henri Cartier Bresson – the most prominent figure in street photography – was a strong advocate of “no cropping” really helped to reinforce such a viewpoint.
Photojournalists have resisted cropping for another reason – their editors and layout artists. Photojournalists compose the scene for a reason, and their composition might have included certain elements to tell the story. Editors and layout artists may crop the photo to suit the layout of the page, which frustrates the photographers greatly, and hence haphazard cropping of photo journalistic images may lead to misinterpretation of the original intent of the image, which is why cropping is taboo to some photojournalists. But why do other photographers object so strongly?
When I started photography, digital was nowhere in sight. Around the turn of the century, digital cameras appeared and film was left for dead in less than a decade, shocking considering that film was dominant for eighty years.
Today, the dwindling demand for film has killed off many emulsions, leaving the selection of film stock limited and ever shrinking. However, there is a small renaissance of film by photography enthusiasts who appreciate the experience of shooting with film.
Digital offers a lot of advantages for the photographer, and like most I do shoot digital on many occasions and assignments. However in my spare time and capacity, I enjoy shooting film for my own pleasure, and here are some reasons why film continue to appeal to me…
1) Feelings of permanence
In that fraction of a second when an image is exposed on film, I know that the moment is captured eternally on emulsion, forever etched in silver. When the image is immutable and unchangeable, encased in a strip of celluloid, it gives me the feeling of permanence and importance accorded to a single unchanging moment.
2) Feeling of being there
I came across an article that resonated with my experience with film. The author came across some old film taken by his dad during the Vietnam War. The awareness that the piece of film in his hand actually came from the battlefield and passed through his dad’s hand as he loaded it into his camera connected him to his dad and the war. Likewise, holding the film I shot when I was much younger brings back much nostalgia.
I watched dumbfounded for 90 seconds, and I watched it over and over again. Five minutes later, I decided to sell my kidney to buy a Leica M8.
You see, I drank the Leica Koolaid – not just a cup, but an entire barrel of it.
It was 2008, and Leica just launched its revolutionary Digital M-series with the M8. It was as sacrilegious to the Leica Luddites as Buddy Jesus is to the Pope, so Leica wisely decided to take a preemptive strike by positioning the new Leica M8 as a evolution instead of a revolution. And oh boy did they get it right!
As a photographer and a marketing communication director, I must give Leica and their agency a standing ovation. Seldom have I seen such a brilliant and complete execution of a product brief. The treatment was sensitive, the mood was inspirational (great soundtrack!) and most importantly, the message was complete. And here’s why the commercial is so great…
Caveats about this preview
This is a “first look” preview of a pre-production unit of the Ricoh GR, which I have been fortunate enough to get my hands on – for a day. My time with it is limited to the half-day shooting I had, and I am only sharing my experience with all readers the initial impressions of it. The images are selected to demonstrate the fast response of the Ricoh GR, and not the noise performance because it will not be fair to make any judgment based on a pre-production unit. Most of the images are in monochrome because I prefer black-and-white in street photography. None of the images have been cropped, to demonstrate the focal length effect of the Ricoh GR.
I shall not be comparing it with the Nikon Coolpix A as there are detailed specs comparisons out there already, and without a production unit of each side-by-side, comparisons are frankly quite futile. As I was shooting with a pre-production unit, I would not like to go into too much detail about stuff like image quality, as quite understandably the final production unit will show improvements. You will however read about my impressions of it as a street camera in terms of usability and functionality.
I recently returned from a trip to Siam Reap, Cambodia and I’d like to share my experience about traveling lightweight for a photography trip.
Low evening sun across the ruins
The weather in Cambodia at this time of the year can only be described as scorching hot. The temperature hits 40 degrees Celsius by early noon, and the heat saps away your energy every minute you stay in the sun. It is difficult to capture good photos when you are tired, so the strategy was to travel light in Cambodia. To keep the weight down, I brought along a Fuji XE-1 with 4 lenses instead of my usual repertoire of a DSLR set. The lightweight and compact gear was packed into a Lowepro Nova 4 AW camera bag for the trip. And oh boy did I make the smart choice!