Today I would like to write about our frontliner’s love story – Dr Gilbert and his wife, Dr Sonia, who both are part of the bigger group under Ministry of Health, where both of them are serving at Miri. Despite their busy schedule, they still find time to immortalise their love story in the form of pictures. Both of them came from Kpg Sungi Duuh, Siburan, just right beside my father’s village of Kpg Masaan. Their love story started long time ago at Sungi Duuh, and Molly Christopher, Gilbert’s neighour & cousin, is partly the mastermind behind it. The details are not permitted to be disclosed, but suffice to say, it is another reason why Gilbert is motivated to pursue excellence until both received their doctor-ship. Being Eastern peoples, Bidayuh peoples are not generally expressive, especially when it comes to love. I can see that in my father, where it took considerable effort to hold my mother’s hand in public. Gilbert and Sonia is no exception, but they are very supporting in expressing their love towards one another before the lens. No matter how busy you are, if you love one another, you can make time for one another and to express your love to them. Love is a choice – where you override logic and rationale, where you choose to stay with your loved one, in good times and the bad, in joy and sorrow and only death can part the two of you. May God bless Dr Gilbert and Dr Sonia.
Tabi basa dan selamat sejahtera, keluarga Tukang Rantek!
Pada hari ini, saya ingin menulis berkenaan cinta “frontiner”, iaitu berkenaan Dr Gilbert dan isteri beliau, Dr Sonia, yang mana keduanya adalah merupakan ahli Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia yang berkhidmat di Miri. Disebalik kesibukan mereka, mereka masih lagi mencari masa untuk mengabadikan kenangan bersama di dalam bentuk gambar. Kedua mereka berasal dari Kampung Sungi Duuh, Siburan, yang bersebelahan dengan kampung bapa saya, Kpg Masaan. Cinta mereka bermula sejak lama dahulu di Sungi Duuh dan Molly Christopher mempunyai kaitan dengan cinta mereka. Informasi selanjutnya tidak boleh dikongsikan di sini, namun memadai untuk saya berkata, Sonia merupakan antara pemangkin kecemerlangan beliau sehingga kedua-dua mereka berjaya bergelar seorang doktor. Sepertimana orang Timur yang lainnya, orang Bidayuh juga tidak begitu lantang untuk menyuarakan isi hati, terutama sekali berkenaan hal cinta. Ini boleh dilihat melalui bapa saya, yang mana ia memerlukan kuasa yang luar biasa bagi beliau untuk memegang tangan ibu saya di tempat awam. Gilbert dan Sonia pun tidak terkecuali, namun mereka sungguh bersemangat untuk meluahkan rasa cinta mereka di dalam bentuk „posing“ di hadapan kamera. Sesibuk manapun anda, jika anda cinta satu sama lain, anda akan mencari masa untuk diluangkan bersama yang tersayang. Cinta adalah pilihan, di mana anda melangkaui batas logika dan rasional, dimana kamu memilih untuk bersama yang tersayang di dalam kesusahan dan kesenangan, baik kaya mahupun miskin dan hanya maut memisahkan anda dan orang yang anda sayangi. Semoga Tuhan merahmati Dr Gilbert dan Dr Sonia.
Tabi basa and greetings everyone! Another weekend has come to an end, but life goes on as usual. For this post, I would like to showcase the recent project that I have done with these beautiful ladies, Jill, Yusnani (Yus) and Stephine (Steph).
Tukang Rantek’s Official Shirt
I am proud to announce that Tukang Rantek finally have its own official shirt, as what you can see below. I designed it in a minimalist manner, where only the logo and Tukang Rantek word can be seen. Initially I intended to put an intricate Bidayuh motive, but in the end, as I think, I scrapped the idea.
Elley Liana who is from Legacy Jersi also helped to make this T-shirt a reality. These are the designs that she sent to me after putting into the computer-generated design.
When I receive my shirt 14-working days later, I am so excited and I called for a photoshoot with these ladies. Here are the shirts being donned in action.
Then comes the group photoshoot.
How to Order The T-Shirt?
If you are interested, you can drop your request to me via Whatsapp (0148677585). Information that I would need are as follows:
Colour (Black and Red is available, though other colours can be requested)
Price: RM55 for long sleeve, and RM50 for short sleeve.
Evening Dress Photoshoot
After the t-shirt photoshoot, it’s time for evening dress photoshoot with these ladies. It is a good departure from the t-shirt that they have been wearing.
As a parting gift, these are the words of advise to all of you. I posted this one at my Instagram story, dedicated to those who is still on the fence on what they want to do in their life.
If you are controlled by what others think of you, you are their mental prisoner. If you have something that you really want to accomplish, just do it. Concentrate all your effort there. Don’t be a jack-of-all-trades just because you want to impress Mr/Mrs Sanuh that lives next door who doesn’t care if you fall or broke. You like black and white photography? Just do it. Why worry about colour or camera brand? You like lifting/fitness? Just do it. Why wait for it to become a trend. You like someone? Tell him/her. What’s stopping you? If they reject you, move on. You will save yourself few precious years waiting like a helpless beta male/female. Why waste your time? In the end, it’s your family that will be there for you. If someone talks about you behind your back, let them be. You can’t please everyone no matter what you do. Therefore, do what you need to do. Have faith in yourself. You can do it. Jia you.
Note: “Tukang Rantek” Claudius is a Portrait, Wedding & Event Photographer based in Miri, with a passion for writing.  “#TukangRantek” means photographer in Bidayuh Piching.  Event covers Funeral, Birthday, Party etc.
Disclaimer: No parts or images of this blog can be used without prior written permission from “Tukang Rantek” Claudius Weson
Memories – each and every one of us has it. It is something to be remembered from the past. Inside our 2.5 penta-bytes brain, there is a lot of faculties which our mind stores and remembers information. Some of these faculties store memories that we wish to forget, while some contains those that we wish to remember, always. Accessing these memory faculties clears its neuron path, while less accessed one will have an undergrowth in its path, much like a less travelled road. Soon, it will become secondary jungle in our brain, where the faculty will eventually be forgotten over time, which results in us not remembering anything about that particular incident. Unless somebody came with the map to that faculty of memory, which is a picture of the past.
Imagine that you have a wonderful childhood. Realising the importance and value of photograph in the future, your beloved parents or family members (in my case, my aunty) set aside an amount of money to buy film camera despite life difficulties. 3 decades gone by, no one remembers what happened at your 5th birthday party. But when you saw the pictures of the happier times, suddenly all of these memories came back rushing in, as if the dam that holds it back collapsed and you memories overflown. At the back of your head, you remembered your family and friends happily singing “Happy Birthday” / “Selamat Hari Jadi” to you, with your little niece mistakenly singing “Selamat Pagi KP” (same tune by the way). But it does not matter, because it was memory of a happy times.
Same goes for the memories of our departed beloved ones, which is captured using photographs. We tend to forget them, because they reminded us of the pain the left us, but let’s not forget the wonderful memories they gave us throughout their lifetime on Earth. They are the one that supports us, they are family. Their pictures are family treasure, so that the younger generations know how their ancestors looked like.
Time flows forward, one second at a time. Our perception might change, but time flows steadily. In our good times, time seems to gone by so quick like lightning, but when we are in pain, times travels slowly like a tortoise. We can gain back our lost money, but we can’t gain back our lost time. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. If we don’t seize the day, we’ll lose out.
Me and the rest of the photographer community are aware of this fact, and that’s why we love to create photographs. Our intention might be different from one another, but fundamentally, we helps people to remember the memories of the good time we had. Be it wedding, engagement, funeral or just simply to remember that you once had this particular look (6-packs, flawless skin, hourglass-shaped body, you name it). For me, I call it “immortalising memories” – to ensure that our memories are eternal, at least in a digital format that we can see and enjoy. Just like our fingerprints, each and every one of us is unique. We have our own ways of looking at things. A single picture might evoke a different memory to different person. That’s why people say, a picture is worth a thousand words. For some, prefer it to be hung at their wall so that every day they can admire it.
Similar to our existence in this world, with a unique path and way of life, every photographer has a different things they want to achieve. Some has an immense passion to achieve glory by winning international awards, while some just want to make a living. A lot of photographers that I admire has the passion for photography itself, and by being genuine to their passion, they are able to achieve greater heights. For me, my passion is to immortalise memories, with a focus to make people look beautiful/handsome in the photographs that I have created. When people came back to me and tells me that they love the pictures that I have created, I am happy “tukang rantek”.
“Immortalising Memories” 📷
Tukang Rantek, Claudius
Note: Claudius is a portrait “tukang rantek” (photographer in Bidayuh Pichin) based in Miri.
A lot of us want to have someone to love in our life, especially those who wants to live until the end, share our lives until old age. To like someone is the easiest part because more and more people knows how to groom themselves, apply proper make-up to beautify themselves and make them more handsome. To pretend to fall in love is easy in first encounter, because lust is often masked as love and we call it love first sight, when it’s actually hormone in action, fueled by libido. For some, love just happens. Like a spark, it just go boom. For others, it takes time. For some unfortunate ones, they are still waiting and hoping for that miracle.
To fall in love is the easy part. The real challenge is to maintain it; to maintain the same love as when we first started to fall in love.
Tabi basa and greetings everyone! When there is life, there is death. We are taught to celebrate life, but we are not openly taught to embrace death because it’s saddening and bring grief and despair to the affected family, especially when the deceased is someone’s significant others; husband or wife, or even a life companion.
In this post, I’d like to write about the funeral of my late grandfather, or his nickname “Babai”, which means grandfather in Bidayuh Siburan/Padawan/Bau, instead of “babeh” or “babuk” in Bidayuh Serian. Partly this is because I want to remember the final celebration of life that we had with him.
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.
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
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
Journey to LA River Cottage
The Event Day
Experiences with Monochrom
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
End of an Event
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.
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, Claudius
Note: Claudius is a “tukang rantek” (photographer in Bidayuh Pichin) based in Miri.
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.
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.
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.
Today marks the 11th day of Movement Control Order, where Malaysians are required to stay at home and do not wander off without any purposes. We also have heard about hilarious episodes where the head of the house, mostly men, were asked to do grocery shopping. For some, this is something new, and it is like treasure hunt for some of them. But the good thing is, despite its terror and fear surrounding it, MCO gave most of us a lot of time to do the things we never get to do. For example, Tik Tok, cooking, singing at Smule, and for me, it’s studio lighting.
I have not been doing studio lighting project for quite sometime, so I guess it’s time for me to do it for learnings.
History of Leica M
Talking about Leica M means talking about Leica M, we have to go back to its original history. “M” means Messsucher, or rangefinder in Germany. In 1914, the founding father of Leica M that we know today, Oskar Barnack, an engineer at Leitz Company, who was suffering from asthma, decided to make a smaller camera, which begins with Ur Leica. In 1924, the camera was called Leica, an anagram of Leitz Camera. In his design, he used a horizontal film transport, allowing an extended frame of 24x36mm with 2:3 aspect ratio, a revolutionary design against the camera at that time, where the aspect ratio is 18x24mm, vertical. To complement this smaller film design, a high-quality lens capable of producing the image is required. If he were to use the lens at that time, the larger size of the frame is partially required. The first lens created was 50mm, f/3.5, which was eventually known as Elmar series of Leica lenses, employing M39 screw bayonet.
Leica M-mount that we know today was introduced in Photokina 1954, with Leica M3 as its first camera. That camera was a huge success and over 220,000 units was sold by the end of its production in 1966. Few notable users including war photographer Robert Capa, David Douglas Duncan and most famous of them all, Henri-Cartier Bresson. Henri was a 50mm user, where he can be seen most of the time with collapsible Summicron (first version), while Robert uses wide angle lenses, including 24mm during his early days with Leica.
In 1979, on the occasion of the centenary of its birth, the Leica Oskar Barnack Prize was awarded, endowed with 5000 euros and awarded in July at the Meetings of Arles.
Nowadays, there is a lot more Leica photographers, using M. The ones that I have met personally including Mathias Heng, Fulvio Bugani, Craig Semetko and Thorsten Overgaard. I also have met Leica Q2 Ambasassador, Anthony Barlan, based in KL.
One thing that I appreciate if that all of us shares the same passion for Leica, and I could spend hours listening to them talking about Leica – its history, progress, creating images, composition and finding that “decisive moment” as popularised by Henri.
However, with limited movements due to COVID-19, one has to be creative to keep the photography flame alive. Whilst not much can be done on the streets now because of MCO, one has to be creative and take photography indoors. Whilst Leica M is popularly known as street photographer’s dream camera, it also can be used indoor as a studio camera, albeit with limitation. But this makes it more fun as it is more challenging.
For this episode, I want to try Low-Key lighting.
Low Key (Not Loki, God of Mischief)
Low key lighting is an image where more than 50% of the image is dark. This type of lighitng is suitable for moody, or dramatic look. In film noir photography, they take it further by adding elements such as detective, smokes (because detectives like to smoke), long trench coat, and fedora hats. With that being the background, one has to properly illuminate the face of subject and a little of light to light tbe hair, to emphasist space, although you can always use one light only, to emphasis the mood.
So, now that we know what low key is, let’s get started
What Do You Need?
Obviously, you would need a subject. However, in this case, since there is no models around, I have to do it myself. This is also a good chance for me to update my Facebook profile picture, or whatever that needs picture. Then, you would need two lighting sources. You can use whatever lighting source, be it speedlight or strobes, but in this case I am using my Profoto B10, though you can make it using any light sources. That aspect is personal choice, so I won’t talk much about it. Most importantly, you have to use whatever you have. Light is universal. Hey, you can also use continous light just fine, but that demands a topic of its own. Then, to make this setup works, you would need a black background to absorb any light that falls unto it. White also can be used, but that makes it more challenging as you would need a stronger lighting and uses a smaller aperture.
In this case, since I am doing it all on my own, I have to use a tripod for my camera. Lens used was APO-Summicron 50, the best lens for studio photography if you have to use a Leica M. To control my camera, I am using my smartphone, using Leica FOTOS apps. It is a neat apps, and allows me to connect to my Leica using wifi, and I can trigger it from a distance.
I will setup my equipment as per diagram below. For this case, I only approximate where my lighting it. My bad is I don’t have any lightmeter to measure the lighting precisely, so I have to make a guess. The goods news is, after playing around with the setting, I managed to approximate the strength of light required to create a desired image. As for its focus, Leica M being a Leica M, I will set it up first before I start shooting. This one is fairly easy to do, and I maintain an aperture opening of f/3.4 for the shot because I want to have an adequate depth of field for my face, so that I can see enough details. I can opt for f/2, but that means some part of my face is blurred out, which is not desireable.
Another key things to be taken into account is the colour temperature. For me, before I start shooting, I will set-up my white balance using grey card because strobe lights tend to be cooler that what it actually is. For this photoshoot, since I want my final result in monochrome as I want to have that film noir-ish final image, I switch my camera to Monochrome. This neat trick was taught by Thorsten when I attended his course back in 2018. He’s a genuinely nice guy, and we talked a lot about Leica during that course over countless coffee sessions.
Creating Monochrome From Colour Leica M10
First, you have to go to JPG setting.
Once you have selected JPG, then turn on Monochrome. This will enable you to create black and white JPG on the fly, but its raw file, DNG (digital negative) image will remain in colour.
I always shoot DNG because it is the best file format that you can have. I know it’s huge, but in the long run, you will appreciate it.
As mentioned, don’t forget to check your white balance. It will save you a lot of time in post-processing and eliminate all of the guess-works.
The result that you can see are as follows. The initial image is good, but I want to add in film noir element, so I add more contrast and clarity so that the details will pop even more. For image editing, I use Adobe Lightroom. You can also amplify the effect using Silver Efex. In this example, I did not show it.
I have a strong affinity for these moody images, because when I was shooting this picture, solitary was in my mind. Also, it emphasises the low key because if I want to make a happy-looking images, I would use high-key photography technique, employing three or more lights.
Throughout these processes, I had some fun despite the limitation that I had; have to do it myself, no models and have limited space. This experiment also gave me more insight on how to conduct a proper studio photography, and perhaps next time I will play with more light. It was one of the best decision to join Edwin Lay’s course back in 2019 about studio lightings, because it gave me new insight about studio photography.
If you are passionate about something, do it. Don’t just do something for the sake of money. I know some people that have been doing wedding photography for some time already, but because of the image they created, they cannot run away and has to keep the momentum although deep in their heart, they want to do something else, perhaps street photography?
Don’t become a victim of you own mistake. Own your decision and do what you love most. For me, my preferences are portrait photography, be it in the street or studio. That is where I will focus on. However, if there is any personnel that requries my services in other branch of photography, I will be able to support as well.
With that, I end my blog for today. Thank you for reading. Stay safe and take care!
All of the images on this site are protected by copyright laws and are the exclusive property of Claudius Weson Photography. Images may not be copied, reproduced, manipulated, used or altered in any way without written permission. The use of any photography as the basis of another photographic concept or illustration is a violation of copyright.
On this beautiful Thursday, I want to share about my mini adventure to a place close to my work area, which is at Lutong. Sarawak, as all of you know, is a land full of its own stories and tales, where to cover all of the area in Sarawak is an equally challenging and exciting adventure on its own. However, today, inspired by the things that I have saw and experienced on my own, the topic of my story is about “bubuk” or its English name, shrimp.
Introduction to Bubuk
When I talk about “bubuk”, I am sure all of you know because this thing is quite famous and well-known throughout the region. Just like how Rantau Abang in Terengganu is famous for its turtles, Miri (and Bintulu) is famous for its bubuk. I keep on typing bubuk because it is the best word to describe it. The word shrimp doesn’t have an emotional touch because it reminds me to whale’s food.
Bubuk’s scientific name is Acetes intermedius and Acetes indicus, where the name Acetes belongs to the group of small shrimp that has the length of around 1 to 4 cm. These little things are the main ingredient of “belacan” (shrimp paste). Bintulu’s Belacan, made from bubuk is highly sought after, and that on its own deserved another topic of discussion as it is quite a detailed and intricate process.
Thursday Bubuk Market Story
Bubuk market place at Miri is usually at the Pondok Area, at Jalan Lutong-Kuala Baram, which is only comes alive when bubuk season is around the corner. To know more about bubuk, I pay a visit to the place and noticed that there is a lot of people over there. Usually, there is much more, but today’s crowd is not too bad as well. There is always market for bubuk, and I can see a mix of peoples there – from Ibans, Kedayan, Orang Ulu to the local Malays. I think I am the only Bidayuh guy there. Anway, doesn’t matter – we’re all Sarawakians, so I used our favourite mother tongue, except when I am certain that the person I am talking to is an Iban. Then I will switch to “jaku Iban’.
When I was there, I noticed a group of photographer/videographer in a white van. Out of curiosity, when my inner photojournalist took control, I managed to spoke to one of them, who would like to be called Arif, from Raku and Roll group. I learned from Arif that they doing coverage about Miri Bubuk, which will be aired in Miri before Ramadhan, i.e. sometime around April this year. His buddy seems to be occupied, so I do not disturb him carrying out his job. Instead, I took few shots of him and the other bubuk-buyers gathering around the newly-arrived bubuk stock, which was just landed onshore. I am in for a good luck today.
After she was no longer busy, I approached her to know more about bubuk. She introduced herself as Sanisah. Kak Sanisah can’t recall when she first started doing bubuk business, and that means she has been doing this for a very long time already. Well, it is in the family. From her, I learned quite a lot about bubuk, which I will explain later.
Miri Bubuk Market
Miri Bubuk Market concentrates around the shoreline areas, where Lutong is one of the most active, as it also attracts customers from Brunei, who is willing to cross border just to get a supply of fresh bubuk. Bubuk market at Pondok area, next to Sribima Maritime Traininc Centre (SMTC) is only alive when it is bubuk season. There is no exact date when bubuk season is, but according to Kak Sanisah, it is after Chinese New Year and ends around a month later, when the sea picks up and winds are getting stronger. Even now, as we speak, every day Mirians can sense that the wind is getting stronger, which signals the end-days of Miri bubuk season.
I also learned from there that there are two types of bubuk, red and white bubuk. The red bubuk is no longer available at Miri shoreline recently, but there are reports on red bubuk sightings at Bintulu. To make it clear, I sketched what I heard in the form of pictures for ease of understanding. Red bubuk is better, but it is also more difficult to catch and only available at the earlier part of bubuk season. As the bubuk season draws closer to the end, white bubuk is easier to find and it is cheaper, around RM 7~8 per kg, where red bubuk costs about RM8~9 per kg. However, I heard that bubuk price reaches about RM30 per kg. That is one of a craziest price that I have heard.
To start with bubuk, one needs to have their own “bubuk boat’, which costs around RM7~8k. In the past, bubuk fisherman uses wood to fabricate their own boats. However, as time goes by, cheaper and safer alternative material, fibre are widely used because it is safer and does not sink straightaway whenever bubuk boat hits the seabed or rock as it has emergency floatation mechanism in the middle of the boat. That boat is usually maned by 3-4 person, though using 2 crews are possible.
To catch these bubuks, there are plenty of tricks. However, the one that was revealed to me was the “sobor” method, which is using the front net as you can see in the image below. That is the tool used to cateh the red bubuk which is floating near the surface of the sea.
Another method is to use the beam trawl, where this method is used by the fiherman to catch the white bubuk. Beam trawl is the net that is being casted at the sides of their boat, and slowly it is drawn to catch more bubuk. Another method that is used at the earlier days of bubuk is “lengkung” or “purse-seine” net, utilising multiple boats. This sometimes can yield up to 10 trays of bubuk, each easily contains RM500 worth of bubuk,
The biggest challenges of this bubuk industry is season. It is something that only happens once in a year. Therefore, they have to make full use of the time as much as possible. Weather is also another thing that affects the fisherman. If the weather is bad, then they cannot go to the sea as it dangerous for the small boat. Furthermore, bubuk is hard to come by in bad weather. Also, it is about marketing. A lot of people were not happy with the price, but otherwise, the bubuk fisherman and family will not be earning much as it is not an easy task for them to catch it. It is all abotu supply and demand, and RM7~8 / kg seems to be sitting nicely at the sweet spot.
To conclude this story of bubuk, I am quite proud to be able to cover this story although it is a short duration. Thank to the ladies and gentlemen who entertained me while I was doing this “photojournalistic” job at Lutong. Should you have any other nice and interesting story that you would like me to cover, do let me know. Thank you!
Photography Gears Used
In this blog, I am using my favourite gears, my Leica M10-P black and APO-Summicron 50mm as it is the smallest gears in my set-up, and it fits nicely with Leica’s theme, of being nice and discreet. My advise is, if you want to buy these kind of items, be it Profoto or Leica, don’t talk about it to someone else and just go buy it. Otherwise, if you delay it, you will not be buying because 1) you will talk yourself out of it, or 2) someone else will, or 3) you will use that capital for something else. Either way, just don’t be a victim of G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome). Just buy the thing that can last a long time. In that way, you will buy that item and will not waste long hours reading reviews, which is an even greater loss because unlike money, time cannot be gained back.
There is something about Leica that I am always passionate to tell about to others. For me, I just love to be part of the history of Leica. Period. Of course, there is a lot of camera gears out there that comes with its own bells and whistles, that can do ultra-fast frame rate, that has blazing speed auto-focus, but none can give the experience that my Leica M gave. Only Leica can fill the vacuum in every Leica M shooters. That probably is another reason why I never bought any SL because all I want is an M. For me, M9 is good. I love the colour. However, after 10 years, it requires an upgrade. Having skipped M240, I opt for M10 instead. I never regretted it. It is like an M9 on steroid, with a permanent effect. M cameras are small too. It is dicreet enough to be carried here and there. Some might argue point and shoot like Ricoh GRIII is the best, but for me, M gave the best experience. To each their reasons, I do love my M.
The thing about using a manual camera, or any other camera, we need to teach our camera how do we see the final images. Our perception has an auto-correction that is done real time, such as auto-colour temperature adjustment, auto aperture control or even auto-ISO control, which makes our eye as the best photography tool ever existed, and inspired the birth of many cameras. That is why we do final touch-up in our post-processing, because, for various reasons, the camera did not managed to produce the image that we see in our mind. Hence, need to tweak it a little bit. But not too much though, otherwise it will look fake.
All of the images on this site are protected by copyright laws and are the exclusive property of Claudius Weson Photography. Images may not be copied, reproduced, manipulated, used or altered in any way without written permission. The use of any photography as the basis of another photographic concept or illustration is a violation of copyright.