Monthly archives: August 2020

LA River Cottage in Monochrome

Tabi basa and greetings everyone! To start this post, I would like to share a heartbreaking news about the passing of our well-loved Black Panther actor, Chadwick Boseman due to colon cancer. This news is shocking, but for those who knows him, they know that he has been fighting it for the past four years.

RIP King T'Challa, Wakanda Forever - 9GAG
RIP King T’Challa

Colon Cancer

I am sure we all heard about the might of Thanos, but let’s leave him in the hand of the Avengers. Colon cancer, on the other hand, is another scary beast. It is a silent killer, killing you from the inside.

What are the symptoms? (Source: American Cancer Society)

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Dark stools, or blood in the stool
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

If you have any of these signs, it is better if you seek professional medical attention. Don’t just swallow paracetamol to kill the pain away. It might worsen the already bad situation.

Flow of Story

  • Introduction
  • Journey to LA River Cottage
  • The Event Day
  • Experiences with Monochrom
  • Epilogue


It has been a while since I last tested my Monochrom in the field. I remember I did few events at Miri using my Monochrom (black) as shown in the image below. During that time, it was considered as a pure Leica enthusiast camera because it can only capture in black and white. Despite its niche, I ran a few event using it and a 50mm lens.

Unscrambling The Egg: The Leica M9 Monochrom
Source: PetaPixel

However, after a while, newer tech comes in and I can’t help but to desire an upgrade. The first one that I bought three years ago was sold to a lucky collector.

Then, I felt the regret of selling mine and after a while, I decided to get myself another one (Leica poison – no cure). This time, I eyed a unit from Ebay. It is not easy to find one anymore because it is considered rare, with a value only collector can appreciate.

Silver Monochrom

Gentlemen from Leica Store has been trying to convince me to upgrade into M10-M, but as of now, I still think I am yet to “outgrow” my camera with my skills. Therefore, there is no need to upgrade yet even though this tech is already 10 years old. In digital photography, 10 years tech behind is considered very old.

However, for my needs, the more I use my gears, the more familiar I am with it. The better satisfaction it will bring.

Journey to LA River Cottage

Anyway, for this post, I want to write about the recent photography works that I did, which took me to LA River Cottage. As you can see below, it is located about 30km from Miri, which will took you about half an hour drive from town.

Source: Google
Source: Google Maps

Over the weekend, the traffic is quite slow due to people coming in and out from Miri to Bintulu. It is advised for your to always remain vigilant on the road and don’t forget to fasten your seatbelt. Make it a habit for your own protection.

Fun In The River

LA River Cottage, as it name suggests, has a river flowing in it. That river was quite shallow, but it is challenging enough for the kids to spend their time there. Meanwhile for Jezebel and Raphael, there used the tranquility to inspire them to create Tik Tok video. Your Tukang Rantek uses that opportunity to capture the photo instead.

Boy and friends
Jezebel and Raphael is discussing about their next Tik Tok video.

When night falls, a different enjoyment was employed, which the hunt for leaping frogs. Yes, another frog (an old joke when I was in uni).

Bon Apetit

Jezebel and Tik Tok Star: Raphael.Sli. Follow him on Tik-Tok.

End of an Event

Finally, it’s the end.

Event Pictures In Slideshow

Experiences in Handling Monochrom

Handling a M9 Monochrom after have been using M10 most of the time is like a breath of fresh air. I realised I am being pampered by the ease of using M10 that when I used back M9M, I was recalled of the experiences that I had using it. The best part about the whole experience is the joy in hearing the mechanical shutter. For some, it is quite loud. But for me, that is the sound that I am familiar with since I started with my now-sold M9-P.

As for weight, M9M is much lighter than M10. Therefore, I can feel the ease in my wrist when I was carrying it around. The ISO button for M9M is quite useful as well. I don’t have to get into the dial like what I am used to with M10. It is an easy transition for me, as if I am meeting an old friend. For me, each of these wonderful machines has its own “soul”, especially black and white images. Colour images is no doubt beautiful, and transmits a lot of information. However, black and white images have their own soul. It is timeless.

Probably you have noticed, its low light performance is not as good as M10M. However, that is understandable considering that they are almost a decade apart from one another. However, it still can hold its own in a good light, or when you are assisted by a Noctilux. Then, everything will change.

Thoughts About LA River Cottage

I think this place is very peaceful and its a perfect setting for a village-like experience of outing, if you want to have a simple family BBQ outside. There is no limitation if you want to BBQ pork, you can do as you please with your own cooking style. The room is quite homely as well, with a simple decoration. If I were to bring my family to Miri, I would want to bring them here. It is like having a BBQ with family at our own “kebun” / orchard.


Lucky Star

Looking at these images few years from now, I will be recalled of its beauty. I want to remember this session as a bonding session that starts more bonding session with fellow friends and family.

Tukang Rantek,

Note: Claudius is a “tukang rantek” (photographer in Bidayuh Pichin) based in Miri.

Follow me on Instagram: @tukangrantekclaudius

Like my Facebook Page: Tukang Rantek Claudius

Studio Photoshoot with Gador

Tabi basa and greetings everyone! How’s your day? I hope it has been a good day for you and your family. These days, with COVID-19 threat still lurking around, there is no way for us to lower down our guard. The best thing to do is to keep ourselves informed on the latest news from Ministry of Health and keep ourselves protected by ensuring utmost hygiene in our daily lives. Don’t forget your mask wherever you go.


Tukang Rantek

Starting last month I have started to formally use the title Tukang Rantek in my Facebook page. Why?

Tukang Rantek’s Story
Tabi basa and greetings! I’m Claudius, your Tukang Rantek (photographer in Bidayuh), who is also passionate in music, which I will post here to entertain all of you. I’m using Leica M manual rangefinder camera for all of my photography jobs, and recently starting my videography journey. I understand that I came from a poor family, where I hardly find any of my pictures growing up. It is because family resources are allocated into the things that really matter, including food and education. While for some has abundance of growing up photos, mine was only picture on rare occassions, when my aunties rent a film kamera to capture our sweet family photos. 

That’s why I am passionate in capturing my family photographs beautifully, especially my niece and nephew, because family is precious, thus in a way returning the favour. We can earn back money, but not the time we lost. Honing my skills by practicing with them, I slowly make my way to where I am now all thanks to requests from family, friends and ultimately to the person that I haven’t met, just communicating via soc-med or Whatsapp. Your trust in my photographic touch makes me want to deliver my best to capture your best family moments. Behind the lens, I’m a photographer, but given a microphone, I’m an entertainer. I’m am forward to work with all of you! Stay safe and take care! 😄📷

(Dalam Bahasa Malaysia)
Tabi basa dan selamat sejahtera! Nama saya Claudius, Tukang Rantek anda, yang membawa maksud jurugambar di dalam bahasa Bidayuh, dan juga merupakan insan yang meminati muzik dan akan memuatnaik video muzik saya untuk menghiburkan anda semua. Saya menggunakan kamera Leica M manual “rangefinder” di dalam semua kerja kerja fotografi saya dan baru-baru ini saya memulakan kerja videografi saya seandainya ada permintaan khas. Saya memahami saya datang daripada keluarga yang tidak berkemampuan dan tiada gambar semasa saya membesar bersama keluarga tersayang kerana duit hanya digunakan untuk perkara yang penting sahaja, contohnya makanan dan pendidikan. 

Gambar-gambar hanya diambil pada masa yang tertentu sahaja oleh makcik-makcik saya menggunakan kamera yang disewa dari kedai. Oleh sebab itu, saya mempunyai minat yang mendalam untuk mengabadikan setiap kenangan bersama keluarga di dalam bentuk gambar, terutama sekali anak buah saya yang baru sahaja mengenal dunia, lantas membalas kembali jasa baik mereka. Ini juga adalah kerana masa bersama keluarga adalah tidak ternilai. Tiada jumlah wang di dunia yang boleh mengembalikan masa-masa yang sudah hilang. 

Syukur kepada kepercayaan dan amanah yang diberikan oleh anda semua, saya mampu berada dimana saya berada sekarang, yang mana saya bermula hanya sebagai tukang rantek keluarga, kemudiannya buat kawan-kawan dan seterusnya orang yang saya cuma jumpa di alam maya/Whatsapp untuk berurusan berkenaan sesi fotografi. Dengan kebolehan saya ini, saya harap agar saya dapat mengabadikan kenangan keluarga anda, saat-saat indah anda di dalam bentuk gambar, yang boleh dikongsikan bersama. Dibelakang kamera, saya adalah tukang rantek/jurugambar; namun apabila diberikan mikrofon, saya menjadi seorang penghibur. Saya menanti saat untuk berkerja bersama anda. Jaga diri anda sekalian baik-baik.📷😁

(Duwah Sanda Bidayuh Serian)
Tabi bada ndug bala kende. Ganan aku Claudius, aku mah tukang rantek kende. Aku ti pan minat muzik lagih, dangan ku ra post video bilagu aku ati tinan pirimpu bala kende, ngancak kende kai bidenge. Aku puan aku mandug masu mambu de sasi, gamar wang ami bahas pan kai ne ahi. He mada aku ti mene2 ira ngundah gamar ahi2 tinan kenangan, ngancak bala anak sungkuh de ira mandug tebek gambar bala babuk tayung ne paguh2, labih-labih lagi bala anak buah aku de pajin makat bahas tebek dunya. 

Minan pimandai aku ti, ku ira ngundah gambar de paguh. Ganan Tukang Rantek iti pan odog tinan ngin ira ngakat sanda bala adep kita de bateh bala rayat dunya, ngakat ganan Bidayuh. Kan jogon kamera, aku Tukang Rantek. Pak kan jogon microphone, aku pirimpu bala kende. 😁🔥

July 26th, 2020 – Post at Facebook.

I think it is important for me to embrace who I want to be, instead of striving to fill people’s expectation of me, which gaves an unnecessary mental load. Art should be created sincerely. If your drive to create art is just to impress others, I don’t think you will last longer versus the people who genuinely wants to create art.

Photography, being another branch of art, is no different. When you are a photographer, if you learn just enough knowledge of a specific genre, you can make money out of it. Even if you are only good in one branch of photography, say studio photography, you can make money by helping others to create their passport photos. Their setup is simple, two light sources, an suitable background (either white or light blue) and a good camera (doesn’t matter if it’s crop sensor or full frame). All the customer wants is a printed image that meets their need at that time.

As for studio photographer, there is various techniques to be used, depending on the requirement of the clients. You can employ one, or two, or even five different lighting setup, with one ultimate goal in mind, which is to make your client looks good. During the initial stage of Movement Control Order that starts in 18 March 2020, I think most of the business is brought into a standstill. Photography is no exception, most of its branch, because it requires you to have a client that comes to your studio, or outdoor studio. Having a RMCO (recovery MCO) is like a breath of fresh air because finally photography business can run again as usual with some limitations, that is understandably to control the spread of COVID-19.

Then I managed to work with many peoples again in Miri, and even involved in mobile videoshooting at various locations. That is a good experience for me, since there is always a room for improvement.

The Art of Studio Photography with an M

Ever since I am involved with photography in serious manner back in 2017, I have always been intrigued by studio photography. Not only because it is quite challenging, but it forces me to be more creative with curent limitation that I have. You would have known me for using manual rangefinder camera from Leica, but that camera with its nature built for street and candid photography, to go into studio is breaking its own comfort zone. But like any challenge, it is fun.

Your lens does not have any leaf shutter, so it is entirely dependent on your manual shutter from the rangefinder. Due to camera limitation, I am using it up to 1/180 shutter speed only. Any faster than that, I would not be able to capture the light evenly. That alone makes me want to play with the other three elements as well – aperture and ISO. It is rule of thumb to use its base ISO of 100 to get the best image from the camera. I am using M10-P, which is already old, since camera technology advances quite fast. Now camera giants are racing to make a sensor bigger than 40MP. For my needs, 24MP is good enough. What I need to do now is to outgrow my camera. So long as I don’t outgrow it, I have no technical reason(s) to upgrade.

Studio Session with Gador

As for today’s post, it would be about the recent photoshoot that I have done with Gador, a friend of mine. All this while, my photoshoot session is always done with women. Thanks to Priscilla, who always been supportive with her talents, I learned about studio photography with women as my subjects. However, with men, I need to learn more because, it is not easy as it seems.

The first challenge is to make your subject felt at ease and let them open up to you. Otherwise, it would be another robotic session like when you capture your passport pictures. Studio photography supposed to be fun and entertaining. That allows a person’s to show their best, unless you want to create a moody picture. That is another requirement.

We started off with colour studio photography, to capture the energy that his circle of friends know about him. He is a cheerful and happy-go-lucky guy that like spontaneous activity.

Look at that tattoo.

Then, once the colour photoshoot is done, I switched to black and white mood, because I think it is a good way to capture the often unseen side of man. Not to mention that it is timeless.

The direct light is good to emphasis his masculine energy and depart from his usual carefree style. This monochrome style lis one of my favourite, especially for couples.

Passion for Monochrome

When I started with my photography journey, I started off with monochrome, using Leica’s M9 Monochrome, a camera that can only see in black and white. It sounds weird, but as weird as it is, it has its own niche. The quality of black and white image that it creates are different from just converting your image to black and white in post processing. You can see your monochrome image being created on-the-fly as you shoot.

Even outdoor portrait is also can be done in monochrome. It is no doubt that in the golden age of photography, monochrome was done because they don’t have a choice. However, soon it develops its own market, even in the world of colourful pixels. Having images done in monochrome is also another reason that a lot of war-time gens dream in monochrome.

For me, due to the demand, I ventured into colour photography because it is how it is, and Leica colour is beautiful, especially the old CCD sensor in M9 camera that M10 is trying to imitate. M9 is severely handicapped by its sensor, but in a good light, M9 is a beast. Coupled with a Noctilux, it can handle any lighting situation.

I can only speak on behalf of Leica rangefinders because that is the camera that I use to create images. I do acknowledge that there are more and more amazing mirrorless cameras coming into market, but being a diehard M fan, I will be using my camera for a long time. I am also so used to it.


With that, I hope you will find your passion, and stick with it. Don’t hop into every single trend that you saw, because you will have to invest into it a lot of time and energy. Otherwise, you better off stick into something until you achieved mastery. Even if you have all of the money in the world, you can’t buy this cute little thing called “fulfilment”. It is a feeling that comes from accomplishing something deemed impossible.

All the best to you!

Tukang Rantek,

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