13 years. 4748 days. 113,952 hours. 6,837,120 minutes. 410,227,200 seconds. It’s just beginning of more love stories between Donny and Debra. The love that was blessed in holy matrimony 13 years ago.
I, for one, always love to capture the love expression between couples because it reminds me that life is beautiful, no matter what malicious things being spread across the media nowadays, be it mainstream or social media. All of those sometimes sways of focus on more important stuff, which is to love the one who loves us.
Amidst the business of daily life, sometimes we forgot to tell our loved ones that we love them. Some opted to express it through actions, some opted for reverse or indirect word selections to express love. But most impontly, a strong married life is an accumulation of smaller love expression, just like looking after one another in joy and sorrow. It doesn’t have to be a bombastic one-time event, and thinking that it will be carried out throughout the years. That is not sustainable.
The best one is to express it daily, no how busy you are. And when the time comes, year-by-year journey should be immortalised, for memories in the form of images tells the best story, for a picture worths a thousand words, just like how Debra and Donny, and daughters in the pictures below. Enjoy!
P.s. May God bless Donny, Debra and family. 😀
Your Tukang Rantek, Claudius Weson.
Claudius Weson is a Miri-based “tukang rantek” (photographer in Bidayuh).
First and foremost, Happy International Women’s Day to all great ladies out there. May God bless all of you always! Today’s story is the continuation of my experiment with M9-P and my effort to combine flash into my outdoor photography. Ideally, this would be simple if I have a dedicated helper. But, due to limited resources, I just have to make do with whatever I have.
On this beautiful Saturday morning, me and local talent from Miri, Angelyna had a photoshoot at Coco Cabana, because I love how that place is. It is usually crowded with people over the weekend. To avoid this, we did out photoshoot in the morning before everyone comes out.
On my way there, I can see a lot of health-conscious Mirians, young and old, and their family jog in the morning with their family and friends at Marina’s pavement. Some did it solo, with Airpods accompanying them. Others, with a band of cyclists. For me, I usually exercise in the evening to keep my for any upcoming photography jobs, especially weddings, because you have to be physically fit and active to catch all of the decisive moments.
Gears: M9-P & Noctilux
About the gears, I am using my M9-P and a Noctilux lens. My camera is a 9 year’s old rangefinder, serviced at Leica Store Malaysia and the CCD sensor that its own signature look out of the camera, something like the Kodak film. That’s no surprise, because the maker of the sensor is Kodak. On a side note, its first successor, M-240 has a different rendering that does not appeal to me, hence the reason why I skipped it until M10 came, where Leica finally got it right. M10’s image is much closer to M9’s rendering than M-240, although a bit too “clean”. However, if the job is not so demanding, like dimly-lit places or event, I will just stick to my M9. Another reason is because M9-P is my first Leica camera, so the emotional attachment is there, just like any other artists with their favourite paintbrush, microphone, plectrums etc.
I was frequently asked this question: what is the best Leica camera to start with? I would say, M9 – first, it is full-frame and secondly, it is relatively cheaper compared to the older bodies, although you can find its advertisement popping up in Mudah ever once in a while. Also, the next question is, the technology is already 10 years old, so is it still relevant? My answer is yes, and I have been photographing weddings using it. I love the colour that it produces. Also, if you do it right, it is not prone to be soaked by water. I did headhunter run and SMEP Fit For The Future Run coverage using it, under pouring rain. As long as you do not purposely expose it right under rain water but only receive splashes, you should be alright. Make sure to dry it right afterwards, and put it either inside dry box (best method) or container of uncooked rice (cheapest method).
King Of The Night
Also, I am using Noctilux for obvious reason – I love the bokeh that it produces. I tried f/1.4, but it is not pleasing enough for me. Also, Noctilux’s low-light performance is second to none in the world of rangefinders, considering the maximum effective ISO that I can use with M9-P is only 800, so I have to rely on high aperture to get the same light input. With f/0.95, it is a staggeringly high number, that my beginner-self “fought” to acquire 3 years ago. I did get few comments from other fellow photographers that what I am doing is not correct because the norm is you should not blur out the background too much. I did tried to follow their advice, but as time goes by, I realised I keep on reverting back to it, and after that, I just do it. Why should I stop doing what I love most? Also, that will be my signature style. Bokeh. After such a long time operating it, the relatively long focus throw no longer bothers you as your left fingers and your left eye, in a beautiful synchronisation, automatically adjust the rangefinder to find the right focus as the target moves on. Once the target it set and found, the trigger is pressed, producing the beautiful M9-shutter tune. It is like a Termignoni exhaust to a Ducati afficionado.
On the other hand, when I am doing day-time street photography, I prefer to use Summilux 50 or APO-50 because it is much lighter that 700g King of the Night. 50mm has always been my favourite focal length, and it has shaped how I created my images, be it wedding or events, or even photoshoot like this.
First thing when I do is to get the white balance right, which will minimise my time when I am doing post processing later. The good news about Leica is you will get the best skin tone rendering, natural looking if you get the white balance correct. I am using a simple white balance card and then set it manually. After that, we just proceed with the photoshoot. You can see the sample images below.
Overall, I am quite happy with this photoshoot but I admit that there is so much to be learnt about this particular field. Being so used to event photography, where you just “react”, this one requires me to think and plan ahead for the shoot. To make an image is the easiest part compared to planning a successful photoshoot. This sort of challenges makes life became so much interesting and I am looking forward to work with more talents in the future. I hope you guys enjoy this post.
Inspirational note here – Make sure your dream is big and do not be afraid or shy to make it happen. A thousand miles is just an accummulation of 63,360,000 inches. So make your steps counts.
The month of March marched into our life, signifying the end of the first quarter. But the year still has long way to go, with everyday is an opportunity to learn something new that will make a change. For me, it took my time to learn a new set of skills in photography. It was a warm Sunday morning at Padungan area of Kuching with fellow photographers from Kuching area at Great Wall Photo. Since this is a masterclass, the participants are limited to 8 peoples only to ensure that the learnings are well-delivered and so that everyone has the opportunity to learn. Few of those are Alvine of Mambu Bauh Photography, Lipina (EOS R lady), Michael of D’Moments, Fidelis of Mata Kucing, Ben Foo and Pauline Pui, with one of Kuching’s best – Edwin Lay as the instructor.
The session started with introductory words from Edwin about flash photography and their functions. Essentially, there are two main types of light producers, which is the speedlights and strobes. If you want more power, get studio strobes. But this beast is not cheap, it can easily fetch more than RM500. The higher-end brands like Broncolor and Profoto can easily reach thousands, but these are made for professionals. For beginners, it is a safe and economical bet to start with Godox.
Edwin then move on to explain about the types of lights used in studio or in flash photography, starting with the most important of it all, the main light, or the key light. Then it is supplemented with fill light, head light and kicker light. These terms are used to decribe the types of lights and the effects that it has to the final images.
Once we have the light, then we need to move on to the movement of light, or as what my SMKT Physics teacher used to say, the propagation of light, which refers to the manner in which the electromagnetic wave transfer it’s energy from one point to another. In this case, from flash to the subject, or model. The moment flash is lighted up, three processes occurs – transmission, reflection and refraction. If the refractivity index of the medium is similar, then there would be no refraction observed. However, this effect can be used for some creative photography, which I might explore in the future.
Studio Strobes 101:
For flash photography, the one that we need to control is the transmission (the power of the flash/strobe) and the reflection. The reflection bit is the one that is indeed a lifelong learning. To make sure that we get the desired effect, this is the part where Edwin taught and gave demonstration on how to used these unique light modifiers. We are very lucky because we managed to experience this using Profoto light modifiers. Its build quality really shines though, and it feels solid. A bit more on the theory, we learned about the camera setting, selecting the effective ISO, shutter speed and the right aparture. From there, we learn about the placement of the strobes and we went on playing around with the controller and did some modelling for the rest of the team. The most lively member, Pauline offers to be the first model. Her cheerfulness really shines through. Michael also posed for the photos, which I managed to take. The first session was done indoor using the strobes, and the subsequent session was done outside with professional model, Adeline.
My Comfort Zone – Natural Light
For me, this is a new experience because being an M photographer, I am so used to work with available lights in my paid works, be it weddings, dinners, birthdays, outdoor modellings or even street photography. Even my lens selection and camera selection reflects the need for my niche, the ability to shoot any events using my Leicas (currently still using M9-P during leisure shoots and M10 for some serious photography needs). For day time, I will be using my Summicron and for night time, I will be switching to the Beast of the Night, Noctilux. Those combinations are the ones that created my images and it is more about the joy in shooting, the feeling that you get your focus in your “messucher” or rangefinder in German. Doing hyperfocal shoots and sometimes crazy bokeh is the secret ingredient of the M-shooters life. And yes Ben, it is fully manual – from its ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Manual all the way. The best part about shooting in this manner is that everyday is an exciting day. You will never know what you will get. This is also the reminds me to the exciting days that I has last year when I attended Thorsten’s photography masterclass – first-hand experience of becoming a Leica photographer.
Stepping Out The Comfort Zone:
For flash photography, it is a different story. You are in complete control. Quoting Edwin Lay, if you can master around 50 to 60% of the content, you can go to any studios around the world and you will always get that consistent result, a mind blowing result. That is the beauty of the flash photography. I started to enjoy flash photography. I admit that this field is a new playing ground for me (pardon my half-cooked flash photos), but with the right guidances, tools and lots of practices, it holds an interesting future.
In the end, do what you love, and love what you do. Have a good day ahead! 🙂
Do Not Undervalue Yourself
This is an interesting topic that we had during our photographer’s lunch at Feast and Furious. Ben brought up this topic and he shared his side of story on managing clients. That reminds me my own share of experience as well, where the common argument is that I am charging much higher than other photographers. For info, we, photographers in general are not only charging for the short session that we have with you and your event, but also the countless hours that we spent behind the scene, before the computer screen just to get your final images correct and beautiful. Not to mention the equipment maintenance fees, transportation, bills, helpers (if there is any) as well as the trainings that we have to attend just to keep ourselves sharp and relevant to the business. Therefore, if a photographer charges you a tiny amount of just RM300 for the entire event, he is actually shooting himself in his foot and will damage his reputation, morale and economics. It is what we always call – “kacau market” (distrupting the market).
For info, reasonable charge of a photographer is RM2500 and above per wedding job, if he really want to make a living out of it and after taking into consideration of all of his charges. However, if you already made a promise onto anything lower than that, do honour your words because your reputation also depends on your words.
Most importantly, enjoy! We live in the golden age of photography, where the innovation never seems to stop. who knows what comes next? A tin-can sized 500W strobe?