Olympus has just launched their latest Tough series camera, the Olympus TG-6 today, and I have had the chance to shoot with it for a few days last week. I am not an adventurous person, certainly I do not do crazy intense activities like diving, mountain climbing, trail running or anything extreme, which this camera is designed for. Therefore, I shall be exploring some special features in the Olympus TG-6 such as the extreme macro shooting capabilities and comment on the general experience using the camera.
Important notes: Before we go too far, allow me to remind you that currently I am an active Olympus Visionary member, being an ambassador for the brand. The Olympus TG-6 was a loaner from Olympus Malaysia, I had it only for few days and it has been returned before the writing of this article. This blog entry is NOT a review of the product. Instead, I am only discussing a few key aspects of the TG-6, specifically the macro shooting capabilities, general image quality and overall comment on the TG-6 as an imaging tool. My experience with the camera and observations may be subjective. All images were shot in RAW and minor post-processing (exposure compensation, white balance tweaks, etc) was applied via Olympus Workspace.
Olympus Tough series is no stranger, the many incarnations of Tough cameras up to the previous TG-5 have won numerous awards and recognition for the robust build quality and reliability. Being waterproof, dustproof, shockproof and freezeproof, tested again and again the Tough cameras always survived, and have earned Olympus a strong reputation in this particular product segment. In fact, Olympus over the years has axed all the other variations of compact point and shoot cameras with the exception of the TG-series, the remaining Tough product line which continues to be a testament for what Olympus is capable of achieving generally in their imaging products. The two strongest features found on the flagship Olympus OM-D system are weather-sealing and superior optics, both I am very happy to report are present in this new Olympus TG-6.
Perhaps the biggest question is - why do I even bother with a compact camera with a small sized image sensor, especially me being a city-sheltered boy who does not venture out much on extreme activities where the Tough camera thrives? My answer is simple - I have suggested to many friends and blog readers to have a Tough camera handy as a backup. The Tough camera is small, it does not take much space in your camera bag, should anything happen to your main cameras, in the harshest environment the Tough camera will most likely survive. There is no question that this TG-6 (or any other previous iterations of TG cameras) is built like a tank. For the first time, I am picking this up and seriously giving it a closer look to determine if the TG-6 is sufficiently capable as a back up imaging tool?
Olympus knows what they are doing when it comes to optics
Let's get the key specifications of Olympus TG-6 out of the way:
12MP resolution on 1/2.33 inch BSI CMOS Image Sensor
Truepic 8 Engine - similar to Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and E-M1X
TOUGH Features - Waterproof (down to 15m), Droproof, Dustproof and Freezeproof (down to minus 10 degrees Celsius)
Olympus lens 25-100mm F2.0-4.9, with built in Image Stabilization
Lens design - 9 elements in 7 groups
Super Macro AF - 1cm minimum focusing distance, now available in P & A shooting modes (in TG-5 only available in Microscope mode)
Built in field sensing and tracking features - GPS, Thermometer, Manometer, Compass & Acceleration sensors
Improved LCD-Screen with 1.04 Million Dots (over TG-5 with 460k Dots)
Olympus Specific Features: Live Composite, Pro Capture Mode (in 10 fps), Focus Stacking in camera
Obviously I was unable to test every single feature listed above, and I shall just jump right into the most enjoyable part of this article - shooting with the Olympus TG-6!
Knowing that the TG-6 can go incredible close to the subjects I specifically chose to do insect macro with the camera first. I also brought it out for some street shooting rounds, both in the day as well as evening time.
For the insect macro shooting, I used A mode (Aperture Priority) and manually select the F-number, usually not the widest to get a little more depth of field. I also activated the in camera flash. I controlled the flash power manually. ISO was fixed at 100 (minimum) for optimal image quality.
F4.9, 1/100sec, ISO100
I finally found something I have been looking for a long, long time - an Ant Mimic Spider preying on the Ant it was mimicking. I have shot Ant Mimic spiders many times, and have seen them together with other ants, but never captured one eating the ant before. This was my first shot (I know this is not an uncommon image, but to me it was my first, so it was special), and I managed to shoot it with the Olympus TG-6! The lighting was not ideal since it was from a harsh direct in camera flash, but to be honest, all technicalities aside, knowing that it was a compact camera that produced this, with minimal effort, the overall result was still quite impressive.
I am not expecting the level of details I get from using an OM-D camera and Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens, that would be an unfair comparison. I have even customized my wireless flash technique to achieve better lighting than this. Nonetheless, for a simplified point and shoot effort, I think the TG-6 performed admirably. Images came out clean, colors were punchy and realistic and there was sufficient bite in the sharpness. Truth to be told, that one tiny lens on the TG-6 is one heck of a great lens!
F6.3, 1/100, ISO160
I obviously did not go as close as 1cm for all my shots, I did not have to, and the insects I was shooting were not that tiny that I needed to go super near. For most shots, the insects were about 3-10cm away from the lens, with a majority of them being closer thsn 5cm. And I have zoomed in the lens to the furthest end 100mm equivalent for all the insect shots.
Focusing on the insects at such close up distance was unexpectedly fast and responsive. I had no issues locking focus even in heavy shade environment where many insects and bugs were hiding in. I did move the focusing area around to make sure that I achieve critical accuracy on the exact area I wanted. The focusing was sufficiently reliable to get the job done.
F4.9, 1/320sec, ISO250
F6.3, 1/100sec, ISO100
F6.3, 1/100, ISO100
F6.3, 1/400sec, ISO100
F4.9, 1/100, ISO125
F4.9, 1/320sec, ISO200
My biggest complain of the camera so far? No ability to control the shutter speed. I just feel that having Aperture Priority and Program exposure modes are very useful indeed, but why not include Shutter Priority or even better, full manual shooting mode? To say that the users whom the TG-6 is targeted for are not serious photographers and may not even care to use the advanced shooting features is an unacceptable excuse. There are many advanced features in camera - Pro Capture Mode, focus stacking and the fact that the camera allows RAW image shooting show that this camera is preparing the users for the next advanced level in photography. Not having the option to control shutter speed is a little limiting.
I wish I could do some slow shutter speed motion blur shots of the water, or pedestrians walking on the street. Surely there are workarounds to force the camera to achieve slow shutter speed, but a dedicated control would have been a better option.
Using the Olympus TG-6 on the street was quite an interesting experience. I have always preferred to work with smaller cameras doing street photography so people do not immediately feel threatened at the presence of a gigantic black boxes shoved in front of their faces. Nonetheless, the bright red color of the TG-6 loaner I had did not help me being stealthy at all, as the bold red screamed attention. Having said that, there is a black TG-6 variant, which i should have personally requested for my own shooting instead of the red.
F3.5, 1/10, ISO100
F4.1, 1/100, ISO100
F4.9, 1/100, ISO100
F2.7, 1/50sec , ISO100
F2.3, 1/60sec, ISO200
F3.2, 1/800, ISO100
F4.9, 1/200, ISO250
F5, 1/60, ISO100
F2.4, 1/1000sec, ISO100
The images at base ISO 100 came out clean and sharp. Perhaps I was only happy with the images up till ISO400. Anything above that to me has lost too much details into aggressive noise reduction, smearing the images into "painterly" look. Then again, I must remind you this is coming out from a small 1/2.33 inch image sensor, and I am not expecting miracles to happen here either.
The lens, for non-macro shooting, performed well in all situations. The lens handles wide angle very well, with no distortion noticeable, and this could very well also partly due to in-camera software correction kicking in hard. I did notice some traces of Chromatic Aberration, but that would be me nick-picking, as the purple fringing in bright contrast areas can easily be eliminated in post-processing. Sharpness was consistent throughout the focal range all the way to the longest telephoto zoom. I tested the lenses in various lighting condition, shooting subjects near and far, and they all rendered beautifully.
For night shooting, especially for landscape shots, I highly recommend having a tripod handy to stabilize your shots. There is only so much you can do with F2 aperture and ISO100-200 for clean shots. While the image stabilization in camera can be helpful in gaining a few stops of shutter speed advantage, it was far from the effectiveness of the OM-D level of image stabilization.
F2.8, 1 second, ISO100
F2.8, 1 second, ISO100
Top left ISO400, Top right ISO800, Bottom Left ISO1600, Bottom right ISO3200
ISO tolerance, personally for me, is up to ISO400. Anything beyond that to me, I would do my best to avoid.
F2.8, 0.5 second, ISO100
F2, 1/20sec, ISO400
Shooting directly against extremely bright source of light, the lens handles flare and ghosting well. there are traces of lens flare but nothing too distracting, and can be easily remedied by shifting the framing around a little.
Handling on the TG-6 was very good. The buttons will feel very "rubberized", and you need to exert some force to push them, since the camera is sealed against water. It will take some time to get used to, but nothing too difficult to handle. The camera feels light yet reassuringly solid in hand. There is a sense of confidence when holding something that is so well built and robust.
The battery life of the camera isn't amazing - I could get about 200-300 shots per charge, just enough for a half day outing. In fact, it was barely sufficient for one single intense insect macro shooting session, since almost every shot I used the flash, with some shots near full power. Therefore, I highly recommend getting spares if you do travel with the camera.
What I did like, was the new LCD screen. Having the TG-6 side by side against TG-5, tt was apparent that the TG-6's 1.04M Dot resolution is more crisp, and easier to determine critical focus accuracy for each shot that I took with the camera.
I did briefly test the Focus Stacking feature. There is no way to control the width or distance from each incremental movement from shot to shot. You can choose how many shots taken for stacking, up to 10 shots. The resulting "stacked" result will only be in JPEG, and you do lose a little width due to minor cropping to align the multiple images for compositing. I personally do not see the need for focus stacking using a compact camera, because due to the nature of shooting with smaller sized image sensors, we already have massive depth of field. Also, the advantage of having Aperture Priority mode means we can further stop down the F number to achieve even greater depth of field.
Looking at the results, the focus stacking in some situations almost obliterated the background blur, which may work against macro shooting when we still want some subject isolation from the background while achieving sufficient depth of field to cover the whole subject itself. Having everything in the frame perfectly in focus and clear may not be appealing for every one, especially not for macro shooting purposes.
Live Composite is a unique and useful image stacking feature built into Olympus cameras that has been introduced since 2014 in Olympus OM-D E-M10 (first generation). Live Composite allows extremely long exposure shooting without overexposing the image. Typically, an ordinary single frame of long exposure image will capture too much light if the shutter is left open for too long. To prevent overexposure, Olympus' Live Composite basically stacks multiple images of similar exposure over a long duration of time while maintaining balanced exposure from the first frame. The exposure settings are fixed on first frame, set on a shorter exposure duration and are the same for subsequent shots. To illustrate this, instead of capturing a single 60 minutes exposure image which will certainly cause overblown outcome, Live Composite stacks 60 images (all taken at 1 minute exposure each) subsequently and continuously. The compositing process only selectively and additively blends in brighter parts of the subsequent frames onto the previous image. As a bonus, as the blending happens (for example, trailing of light due to slow shutter), you can view it occurring live on the camera's LCD screen, hence the name Live Composite.
While this Live Composite is not a new feature, I have rarely used it. Living in the metropolitan Kuala Lumpur, light pollution negated the possibility of shooting night sky. Furthermore, due to tropical weather, we typically get thunderstorms or lousy cloudy skies at night. Recently, I made a trip to Perth, Australia and did some star trail shooting with Olympus Live Composite. I thought why not do an article about this, and maybe share some tips to those who may want to explore this feature with their cameras?
All images in this entry were shot on Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 PRO
5 seconds each image, total composite duration 40 minutes, ISO200, F2.8
The beauty of using Olympus' Live Composite was the convenience of having compositing feature already built into the camera, generating results at the press of just a few buttons. Traditionally, to get a star trail image, hundreds of images were taken subsequently and then composited via software processing on a computer. When shooting Live Composite, Olympus gives you not only the ease of capturing one frame with full composite result, all done in camera, but also the ability to preview the star trailing effect as it happens right in front of your eyes. HOW TO CAPTURE STAR TRAIL USING OLYMPUS LIVE COMPOSITE
1) TRIPOD You will need a tripod, there is no going around this. You may think that propping the camera against the rock or your backpack will work, but trust me, if you want to get into the photography game, do yourself a favor and get a sturdy tripod.
2) START WITH FULLY CHARGED BATTERY The last thing that you want to happen is battery dying off in the middle of an almost successful star trail shooting, losing a chunk of precious time and have to restart the process again. 3) TURN ON LIVE VIEW BOOST 2 To enable easy framing using the LCD screen in the dark, switch on the Live View Boost 2 feature. Go to Menu --> Gear/Cogs Icon --> D tab --> Scroll down to Live View Boost --> Live Composite/Live Time --> On 2. With this setting turned on, you may even see some visible stars in the sky, and you can clearly see the foreground (trees, structures, etc). 4) SET TO MANUAL FOCUS We are shooting landscape (if you are doing portrait photography then skip this step), so the focusing should be set to infinity. If you have Olympus PRO lenses (12-100mm, 12-40mm, 7-14mm, etc) pull down the focusing ring, and set the focusing mark to the infinity symbol. 5) CAPTURE A SINGLE FRAME To start, shoot the scene with a normal exposure. For the Crawley Edge Boatshed at Mounts Bay Road scene as shown in the opening image, I did some trial and error using Manual shooting mode, and figured out that a single frame capture of exposure settings ISO200, 5 seconds shutter speed and F2.8 aperture were needed for a balanced shot. The shot below is an example of the single frame taken before replicating the exposure settings for Live Composite.
5 seconds, ISO200, F2.8
6) ACTIVATE LIVE COMPOSITE Having figured out the exact exposure settings for a single capture as explained in point 4), then we can now turn on the Live Composite mode. Turn the mode dial to M. Dial down (slow) the shutter speed to 60 seconds, then you keep turning it to find Bulb, Live Time, and finally, Live Composite. At this point, the LCD screen may suddenly become dimmed, do not be alarmed, that is perfectly normal as we normally use Live Composite shooting in dark environment, hence the camera intentionally dims the screen.
7) SET EXPOSURE SETTINGS FROM 4) Based on the single capture settings from point 2), make sure all the settings are the same. You can adjust aperture via the control dial, and ISO from super control panel (or any other shortcuts you have set). However, to adjust the shutter speed, press the "MENU" button. This step is extremely crucial, and is often missed by many newcomers to Live Composite.
8) PRESS SHUTTER BUTTON ONCE TO GET READY The camera will require capture of first frame to get ready, so just press it. 9) PRESS SHUTTER BUTTON AGAIN TO START Press the shutter button again the second time to start the Live Composite process. When the process started, you should be able to see capture information at the bottom right corner of the LCD screen, showing number of frames captured and total duration of capture.
Once the Live Composite process begins, you will get live feedback shown on the LCD screen. Within 5-10 minutes, you will start to see the stars trailing a little. 10) PRESS SHUTTER BUTTON AGAIN TO STOP Please allow about 45 minutes or more for the trails to develop. The longer duration of the capture the longer the trails will be. Once you are satisfied with the developed trails in the frame, press the shutter button to stop.
Additional tip - Live Composite can be shot in RAW, meaning the final composited result can be recorded as a RAW file. This allows better flexibility in post-processing, having full control over white balance and some detail recovery over shadow and highlight regions of the photograph.
Behind the scenes image of the E-M1 Mark II shooting the famous Blue Boathouse at Matilda Bay
30 seconds, ISO3200, F2.8
60 seconds each image, total composite duration 45m minutes, ISO1600, F2.8
Trail was not smooth due to intermittent frames with no star visibility, sky covered by cloud obviously. Trails should be smooth with clear, cloudless sky throughout the duration of shoot.
60 seconds each image, total composite duration 45minutes ISO800, F2.8
This was taken at Tau Game Lodge at Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa. Shot from the balcony of my room.
There are some limitations imposed by the camera while using Live Composite (hardware limit, or software processing capability) which should be taken note of:
ISO highest limit - ISO1600
Shutter Speed - 60 seconds (for single frame)
Aperture - No limit, but typically set to widest to capture as much light as possible
Image Stabilization is disabled during Live Composite, hence sturdy tripod is necessary
Practically, I highly recommend maxing out the shutter speed, set the aperture to the widest (if you have an F1.2 lens, use F1.2!) and finally, only increase the ISO as necessary.
If you have an Olympus camera (E-M10 or newer) and you have access to location with not too much light pollution, and the weather is not too cloudy, why not give star trail a try? There is always something magical shooting the stars in the sky. If you have any questions regarding Live Composite please ask!
Acknowledgement - Special thanks to Charmaine and Chris who brought me to awesome places to shoot night skies in Perth, Western Australia recently!
I was recently invited to attend the official launch of The Barn's latest outlet in Sunway Pyramid, marking their 6th outlet in Malaysia. I original found out about The Barn at One Mon't Kiara when I was still working for Olympus Malaysia several years ago, which was then situated within the same building. We even held mini gatherings and events at The Barn with Olympus consumers and photographers, since the venue was just perfect for small functions in an intimate, quiet environment. I am happy to hear that The Barn has grown over the years and finally is opening a branch in a more commercially accessible location such as Sunway Pyramid! I attended the event as a blogger, and I just could not help myself but snap away with my camera!
The door gift for guests!
The stage area in bold, bright red!
The Barn is known for it's huge selection of wine. The bar is a prominent area within the restaurant
I must admit that the only other outlet of The Barn that I have ever dined in was the one in One Mon't Kiara. I simply loved the food there, usually in small servings but delightfully presented and they were all delicious as I remembered them. I also particularly loved their coffee, there were so many catch up sessions with Olympus photographers that I have had outside of office, since The Barn in One Mon't Kiara was the nearest legit place (better than Starbucks coffee anyway), it has become the most frequented place for me to talk to photographers who worked closely with Olympus Malaysia back then.
The comfortable and charming interior were carried over to this new outlet in Sunway Pyramid, and I am glad to witness such a huge ground area with many tables yet the place was spacious and airy at the same time. To me, I prefer to spend time catching up with people at locations with tables and chairs that are not too small and cramped, I just like space, lots and lots of space. The ceiling high side fully transparent glass served as the perfect lighting for Instagram worthy selfies or food shots. While I personally do not drink much, I can see why people love the cocktails and other drinks served here!
The Emcee in full costume, in theme for "The Barn".
The founder of The Barn, Ms Candice Lee giving her opening speech.
And then out of nowhere there was a camel! YES A CAMEL IN THE RESTAURANT!
The camel had a name - Barny The Camel!
The media, bloggers and guests flocked the grand opening, and I was honestly lost in the sea of people, none that I knew (except for Charmaine, who has always been super awesome in blogger's events). It was a simple event, officiating the official opening of The Barn in Sunway Pyramid, with the VVIP of a real life camel, being brought into the restaurant for selfies and group pictures with everyone. Yeap, you heard that right, a real camel, who would have seen that coming? The camel's name was Barny. Get it? The Barn? Barny? They even had a special cocktail drink named after Barny, which was called "The Hump".
I was just minding my own business, shooting at anything that caught my attention. I was using Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko 12mm F2, 25mm F1.2 PRO lens and 45mm F1.8 lenses for all the shots shown in this blog entry. I somehow wished I have brought along the M.Zuiko 7-14mm for a much wider coverage.
Alright, onto some glorious, hipster-looking, yummy food!
On a chilly, rainy Sunday evening, I went to Publika to catch an acoustic live performance by some of my favourite local singer-songwriters in Malaysia. I was there to catch Hameer Zawawi and Beverly Matujal, both I have come to love their music so much. While enjoying myself with original awesome music on a lazy Sunday evening, I also get to work out the camera and get some shutter action. Nothing overly serious or crazy, just casual relaxing shoot.
The stage was quite dim, even with the F2.8 wide open on M.Zuiko 40-150mm PRO lens, I needed to boost the ISO to about 3200 and at times 6400 to get about 1/100 second shutter speed. I brought along two lenses, the 40-150mm PRO and also the 17mm F1.2 PRO (using the 17mm for any wide shots). I have been so used of using F1.2 or F1.8 lenses for shooting stage and live music that I forget how dangerously dim and challenging the light can get even for an F2.8 lens! What I normally could get away with ISO 800 or 1600, now I need to go up to 3200 or even more. Nonetheless, this was a shoot that was entirely personal and it does not matter if there were traces of noise in the image. The rendering of the 40-150mm PRO lens is just simply superb, creating a life-like image with good contrast!
Continuing from my previous post, I have separated all the food photographs to be posted in this single blog update. Yes, you got that right, I am spamming all the food images here! I have always loved the food in Perth since my university days, and I believe Perth did some food really well. The images were all shot with either my new smartphone Realme 2 Pro, or Olympus E-M1 Mark II. Honestly, when it came to food, I was always too hungry to bother about taking high quality images. There were even a few meals which I skipped taking any photos altogether. Just enjoy the food!
I first discovered the joy of good coffee in Perth. This was at a time when coffee culture has not picked up in Malaysia. When I started working in KL in 2008, there was no proper coffee places yet, the most common places were Starbucks and Coffee Bean. I was dying from coffee withdrawal syndrome and I don't think I truly ever recover. Thankfully there was a huge overpriced coffee revolution in KL, but expensive coffee is not equivalent to quality coffee. It is no wonder that during my short stay in Perth, I overdosed myself with at least 2-3 cups of coffee per day.
Brunch in Australia is awesome, thanks to the abundance of bacon, and not just having bacon, but properly prepared and sizzled to perfection slices of heavenly supercilious bacon!! This plate of wholesome pork goodness was called "This Little Piggy Went To The Market", found in Duck Duck Bruce at Fremantle! Honestly I ordered this dish just because of the name. Yes, branding matters!
Auber-Jean Is Not My Lover, Duck Duck Bruce, Freo.
So, sooooo goooood!
As expected I did a lot of walking around for street photography around the CBD area. I found this little cafe Toastface Grillah from one of the prominent graffiti in the inner streets. Who would have thought, graffiti can be such a powerful tool to draw people in! All the 3 people in the frame were waiting for their morning coffee. I noticed that people in Perth cannot function without their coffee. I have that disease too.
Grilled cheese ooooohhhhhh heaven!!!
Had this breakfast in a bagel thingy at the Botanical Cafe, Kings Park!
Good coffee is everywhere, so easy to just make a quick stop to rest the legs, get away from the scorching UV radiation and sip some caffeine. This was at The Italian Corner, Perth CBD.
You know what I miss most from Perth? THEIR GLORIOUS PIZZAS!!! YESSSS!!!! This was at Theo and Co, a spinoff from the original Little Ceasors. We used to drive an hour to Mundaring just for these pizzas! Now it is much nearer to the city, at Leederville. Owhhh, look at the juicy prawns and Prosciutto!
A slice of heaven! Janes Addiction - one from the seafood pizza menu, an award-winning one that is!
Smoked BBQ Short Ribs, with a side of slaw! YUMMMMM
I could not help it but order a dessert pizza. Read the descriptions:
MAGIC DIRT - Chocolate soil is tossed over a rich chocolate sponge, topped with an in-house made strawberry and sour cherry jam, drizzled with fresh cream and dusted with icing sugar. Get your shovel out and dig in
One of the must try places in Fremantle - Bread in Common! The place is soooo huge. You know how those Malaysian cafes tried to imitate "industrious" look? Well, this is not just looking like a warehouse, it is one.
Bread and butter, that's all you need to make a happy Robin
Good butter is also hard to come by in Malaysia. The bread, oh don't even get me started on the bread!
baby beetroot macadamia, apple, mustard
duck fat roasted potatoes, lemon thyme, ketchup
This thing is legit the bomb! Potatoes that tasted like roasted duck!
lamb ribs, lime, mint, black garlic, sherry
Possibly the best lamb I have ever tasted in my life so far, though I admit I don't eat lamb that much.
Went deeper inside Bread in Common and explored a bit more. I can imagine this place to be amazing for a photography workshop!
An old friend, Sarah brought me to Aliment and we had brunch there. Buttermilk Fried Chicken on Pancakes, with Bacon and egg! AND MAPPLE SYRUP OMG!
Apparently this Kombucha is a thing in Perth, and I have just tried my first one.
The Dragon Paddle, Shy John's. Gotta admit this was my first time drinking beer while having dim sum. Quite an experience.
Dim sum is another thing that I miss so much from Perth. KL dim sum cannot lah!!!!!
Look at how cute those molten lava salted egg thingy!!
More dim sum adventures, this time at Dragon Palace, Northbridge.
My favourite - deep fried squid tentacles! I eat them like I eat French Fries.
Aussie is the land of awesome burgers, but I did not get to try much. This was the only one I had at Big Rigz Burgers.
Seafood platter at Kaili's in Freo!
This Coke No Sugar - Peach is so good it deserves a spot here, also not found in Malaysia yet. Why does Perth get all these good stuff?
My all time favourite, all the way since my university days, MEAT LOVERS from Broadway Pizza. Toppings include beef, peperroni, bacon, ham and cheese
LOOK AT THAT!! LOOOOK AT THAT!!
During my time in Perth, I had a lot of Malaysian friends who complained day in and out about how they miss Malaysian food being away. I was probably the only weird one keeping quiet in one corner because I enjoyed ALL the food I have had in Australia. Yes there are weirder stuff like Kangaroo meat and more, but you get the idea. I think I am a food lover, wherever I go to, my stomach will say yes and I will always have a fantastic time eating! I live to eat.
I had a portrait shoot for an old friend last week, hence I was in Perth, Western Australia and after the shoot, I extended my stay to do some shutter therapy. During my time there, I have visited quite a few places from walking the streets within the CBD to the ports and beaches in Fremantle. I did quite a bit of shutter therapy but I also spent a bulk of my time catching up with old friends, eating amazingly Delicious food and basically just enjoying myself, eg watching the sunset by the beach while eating an ice-cream. I did spend quite a bit of time here in Perth many years ago, during my university days. I graduated with a Civil Engineering degree from University of Western Australia, hence Perth holds some precious memories for me. I took the opportunity to revisit some old places and relive nostalgic moments, walking down memory lane.
The images from my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II will be shared on Ming Thein's site soon, so do keep an eye out for that. Perth is such a wonderful place for street photography! At the meantime, I am sharing snapshots from my still newly acquired smartphone, the Realme 2 Pro.
With each image I shared here, I shall accompany them with short anecdotes from my past and the significance of the location to me. An interesting note: ALL photographs here were shared live on my Instagram stories during my trip in Perth, so please follow me on Instagram @shutter.therapy
Perth CBD sykyline as seen near the War Memorial, Kings Park. When I purchased my first compact camera, a Kodak Point and Shoot, I hiked up to the peak or Kings Park (about an hour walk, uphill) from UWA. It was at night, and the trail leading to the peak was almost pitch dark with no street lights. When I got to the top, I planted the tripod and did my first ever long exposure night photography, shooting the city landscape during the night. I remember the camera settings perfectly - 4 seconds, F3.5 (fixed) and ISO100. I still remember the euphoric sensation I felt when the shot came out beautifully. That was one of the huge turning moments in my life when I knew photography was in the future of my life.
Matilda Bay has always been special to me. Located within the UWA grounds, just by the Swan River, it was the perfect location for picnics or a stroll during sunset to clear the mind off uni stress before dinner. I have seen a school of dolphins swimming in the river during sunset. I even co-organized a surprise birthday party that ended by having the birthday boy being thrown into the river. That birthday event of my friend was also my first ever blog entry, but of course I have taken down most of my earlier blog posts. Matilda Bay had open BBQ pits, you can just bring your own food and grill them here (electric BBQ).
School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering, UWA. Nothing special about the building, but I did spend a lot of time here for lectures and also studying in the library inside the building. Graduated from a Civil Engineering Degree here, and made some truly awesome friends. University was not an easy phase in my life, I did have some struggles but that also revealed some of my truest friends who have stayed loyal with me all this time. A big part of me came from my university days, that have shaped me into the photographer I am today.
While I was walking around university grounds, I just had to find this statue at the entrance to the Physics Building. The statue was still standing proudly, greeting students entering the building. I have taken photograph of this and blogged about it here about 12-13 years ago. It is funny how this image reappeared again so many years later. Speaking of blogging, my blog did not start out as a photography blog, it was an online journal, documenting my daily adventures and also penning down my thoughts and feelings, going through uni life in Perth. I was not quite sure how it mutated into a photography blog, but it must have happened so gradually over time that I never took noticed or bothered about the change.
Took the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II with me for street shooting in Perth. Many photographs were taken and will be shared on Ming Thein's site soon. Stay tuned!
The CBD has changed a little bit, with some new buildings and also new areas such as Central Park and Raine Square, or at least those two were new to me. I particularly love the modern urban structures, having mixture of steel framework, concrete and glass structures all coming together to form interesting geometry and stunningly beautiful city appearance. I could not stop pointing my cameras to many possible angles.
The harsh sun of perfectly clear blue sky created dramatic light, casting deep heavy shadows everywhere. Shadows in the right places add definition and depth within the frame, and was just what I needed to add that "ooomph" in my images.
It was quite interesting that I started to pick up photography when I was in Perth in 2004. Back then, I was merely getting my feet wet and had to self-learn everything. I admit I was a slow learner, it took me some time to get better, and I was not even aware of what street photography was back then. Why am I bringing this up? Because I was using a digital compact camera, and now coming back here, I was also shooting extensively using my smartphone's camera. The smartphone has outperformed the aged digital camera in nearly all aspects. It was not a surprise that smartphone has killed off digital compacts. I wonder how far can smartphone cameras evolve, now with AI and deep learning technologies getting more advanced, and how long can dedicated cameras stay relevant. The smartphone revolution is an unpredictable creature!
I remember clearly the Kodak compacts that I have used were not as wide (maybe something like 35mm widest focal length, remember it was a time when the more zoom means better camera), and I have struggled most with dynamic range since Perth's sun was blindingly bright. The harshness in the shot also resulted in blown highlights and black shadows, with no possibility of recovery. I was blown away by how effortlessly the smartphone managed to balance the extreme exposures and still produce a pleasant looking image. Mind you, the Realme 2 Pro that I am using now is a budget smartphone (below RM1k) and all reviews out there (not even one done by a photographer, all reviewed by gadget/tech experts) unanimously claimed that the camera on this smartphone is poor. Really?
Perth has many street art popping out everywhere now, and has become more vibrant with interesting graphic graffiti. However, I find most of these wall graffiti to be unsettling with a consistent "death" theme. I am not sure if this is the reflection of what the society is thinking about in general, but I would want to see happier paintings on the walls. The one pictured above was one of the less disturbing art around, and these are few and far in between.
I just cannot help myself.
Checked out an on-going photography exhibition in Fremantle, the photography project was about memorial sites. I should spend more time exploring the photography culture here and get to know the local community better.
My hosts when I was in Perth, Charmaine and Chris. both amazingly beautiful humans who took care of all my needs and I could not have asked for my stay to be better. Do follow them on Instagram: @charmaine_hon and @the.industrious.kwokka
Fun fact - they are both passionate photographers, and Charmaine is now an Olympus enthusiast.
Kaylee, the furry little creature that I stayed with for the past week, I miss her already!
Sunset in Perth! One of my favourite things to do when I was here was to just walk along the beach and wait till the sun drops into the ocean. There is just something therapeutic about the beach and the ocean, and the amazing thing about Perth is the easy access to the beach, and the beaches are so freaking clean, with white soft sand, deep blue waters and FREE for the public!
Oh yes I did some night shooting too. Can't wait to share the results with you guys soon!
This was me at Hay Street Mall, Perth, on my last day, doing one last round of shutter therapy before flying back to Kuala Lumpur in the same evening.
Also shout out to Sarah Chen, another old friend of mine who allowed me to shoot her portraits, as well as hosting me during my first night, and taking me to shop!
I had too much fun perhaps, reliving past memories in Perth. At the same time, I also realized that I was no longer in Perth, having moved on and forward in Kuala Lumpur. Everything seemed so distant now, and as much as I loved this place, I have to put it behind me and just continue to walk on. I am lying to myself if I said I never had a second thought, or thinking about what ifs, especially the different kind of path in my life should I have stayed on in Western Australia. These lingering scenarios are dangerous and best kept suppressed. I found joy in my current path, and I do have a wonderful life in Kuala Lumpur, surrounded by many beautiful friends who walk the same path as I do. Looking back now, maybe Perth was not meant to be, but hey, that does not mean I cannot just fly to this city of unlimited blue skies and have a sip of their impossibly aromatic coffee from time to time.
This is not the end, I have more posts to share about my Perth adventures.
Thank you so much for those who came to the mini-gathering earlier this evening at Greens & Co, Leederville, it was such an amazing experience meeting everyone! If you did not know, this was my first time ever in my life organizing a meetup with my blog readers, and it was done in the beautiful city of Perth, WA. I am extremely grateful that I do have loyal readers who have been visiting my site for so many years, some even as long as more than 10 years. I had great fun listening to the stories shared with me, some about their personal journey in photography. I feel truly blessed to have such wonderful people reading my blog, I guess my readers are the reflection of what I have shared and written on my blog. I am glad I have attracted such passionate, truly remarkable bunch of photographers!
Thanks Charmaine, Dan & Emma, Dan, Giovanni, John, Roy, Chris, Jason and Augustine (not pictured).
The reason that this blog still exists, and that I continue to write about photography, sharing my shutter therapy adventures (also on Ming Thein's site), is because of the support from you, this blog reader! So, to whoever you are out there reading this, I sincerely thank you, and I do hope we get a chance to meet in person in the future, if we have not. To all the awesome Perth photographers that I have just met earlier, I wish you all continue to do "shutter therapy" and enjoy photography.
I have spent the last few days shooting the breathtakingly scenic Perth and I cannot wait to share the photographs with you beautiful readers. I am currently blogging this article from Perth, and will be returning to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow. I shall do one last round of shutter therapy tomorrow before flying out in the late afternoon. My hands are already getting itchy thinking about street shooting tomorrow, the final session in Perth.
I bought this tripod (did not bother with the model, was an al-cheapo China branded one) several years ago and I have rarely used it ever since. With the capabilities of Olympus' 5-Axis Image Stabilization, I have used the tripod less and less these days. I do admit there are occasions when the tripod is an absolute necessity. However, the last time I used the tripod about a year ago in a trip shooting the night sky, I remember accidentally destroying one of the legs. I did not remember how it happened since everything was in the dark but I felt something snapped and there were rattling sounds as I carried the tripod along. The leg could not stand properly and the tripod wobbled in use after that incident. I have since put the tripod aside and did not think of it until recently, when I was spring cleaning my room and there the tripod was, staring at me. I have considered discarding the tripod but a voice in me told me to just have one last look. I took the tripod out of the carrying bag and set it up for one last time. To my surprise, the tripod stood up proudly like nothing happened before. There was no sign of anything broken (I admit I did not inspect the damage after coming home from the trip a year ago) and the tripod worked well with no hiccup. Not even a scratch. The tripod looked like new.
Part of me was happy that the tripod worked again, but part of me was also getting a bit horrified. You know, as if something changed and I was not aware of it. I am sure you have read the "Mandela Effect". Or possibly worse, I had a faulty memory of what happened, or maybe that shooting incident never happened at all.
Then there was the almost full moon over the balcony and I decided to put the tripod to immediate use. Shooting with Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens on the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, with the 50MP high res shot enabled, I managed to capture a highly detailed shot of the moon even with a heavy crop into the frame.
No, I am not going to show you the photo of the tripod, let's keep it a mystery. After all, it did just somewhat come back to life.
Have you experienced any of such encounters? A little creepy, but hey, looking on the bright side, I now have a tripod to use, and do not have to buy a new one anytime too soon.
Hello Australia! I will be travelling to the beautiful Perth, Western Australia on 23rd March 2019 to 28 March 2019 for some shutter therapy action, and catching up with old friends. I was wondering if there are any Robin Wong readers in Perth, and is a coffee session/meet-up possible? I would love to meet you guys! I want to hear your crazy stories in your photography journey, and if you have any questions you want to ask, I would love to answer them. I will be free from 25th onward, and location-wise possibly any of the evenings downtown in the CBD area would be awesome. Before I finalize the details and create an actual event, let me hear from you cool Perth people, let me know what you think!
My plans when I am in Perth? Lots of street photography, eating Dim Sum, watching sunset at Cottesloe, roaming around in Freo and maybe go out somewhere out of the city to do some night sky photography. I miss Australian coffee. And importantly, I miss the deep, deep clear blue skies! I just cannot wait to visit Perth again. So beautiful Perth people, show yourself!
Whenever I found this particular plain plastic chair (yes, it is environmentally unfriendly, but so, so good for photography) I cannot help but to do something with it. Leveraging on available directional window light, with plain background, interesting results can be achieve on site without much aid of additional or artificial lighting. The results can often look clean and professional. Even if the image was shot merely with a smartphone, and in this case, which was also true. I was still itchy over the new smartphone I had, Realme 2 Pro, though I have not had much chance to shoot out with it.
I was checking out the new Antipodean Cafe in Bukit Bintang. I did not even know they have opened an outlet in Jalan Alor, and apparently this branch has been operating for more than 4 months already. This will probably be my default coffee place to go to immediately after my shutter therapy sessions in Bukit Bintang, one of my street hunting grounds. Yes, I still practice what I preach - end the shutter therapy session with an overpriced cup of coffee.
I have always loved Antipodean Coffee, and I particularly like how they serve their coffee in bright red cups. They have the similar red tone on their furnishing and I took advantage of the red chair as my backdrop for the cup of flat white I ordered. Light was all natural, coming from window. Camera settings? What camera settings? The shot was done in all auto and slightly post-processed in Snapseed by Google on my smartphone. I added a little bit of warmth to the image and boosted the contrast more to add some oomph to the red. I think photography needs not be too complicated. I frequently find ways to simplify my execution and trust me, simplicity works!
I could not wait, need to finish the coffee before I took this "behind the scenes" shot. Can you really blame me? Good coffee must be downed when still piping hot.
If you are in Bukit Bintang do drop by Antipodean. Who knows you might be able to catch me doing silly things like shooting a cup of hot coffee on a chair by the window. Come say hi and join me for a cup!