Tabi basa & greetings everyone! Today I’d like to share the recent photoshoot that I have with Felicia, one of the most active followers of my Facebook page & has participated in few competitions that i have organised online. This photoshoot was part of the reward of the recent event that I have done, namely Road To 2022. There are few other winners that I have scheduled to shoot with, but since I am at Miri for work, I just concentrate to do for those at Miri. There are some who is scheduled to visit Miri, and you will see them in my photoshoots.
This photoshoot is one of my way to promote my artwork and how I’d like to create my images. There are some peoples who like to use warmer tones. For me, I prefer to use cooler tones & inclined to make my images more vibrant.
Venue for this photoshoot is Taman Awam, Miri. It is one of the best place for us to do photoshoot in Miri. I only concentrate on the upper part of Taman Awam, as I target to fully utilise the structure that we have there.
Thank you Fenny!
Special thanks to Fenny, Felicia’s sister for helping me out with this photoshoot.
If you are interested with this kind of photoshoot, feel free to WhastApp me at 014-8677585. Have a good weekend everyone! 😄
Tabi basa everyone! Sarawak is a land full of majestic land and beautiful peoples. For today’s story, I proudly present my work on capturing Bidayuh beauties. Bidayuh means people of the land, where “dayuh” means land, and “bi-” (pronounced as “bee”) is a prefix meaning “belonging to”. Bidayuh peoples can be found at Kuching & Serian Division, though work nowadays bring Bidayuh everywhere, including offshore.
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.
How’s your week so far? I hope it is good, and all is well at your side. The All Saint’s Day and All Souls Day were celebrated by Christians on 1&2 Nov, but I think the one that get the most attention is All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween, because it is the one that can be commercialised and celebrated at parties. However, for Pichins, we don’t celebrate Halloween and go to church instead on 1 Nov for All Saints’ Day mass.
The following day is the day to visit graves. However, preparation is being made a week before, where villagers clears the graveyard from all of the weeds, or any infesting plants and some even redecorate the grave, especially the old ones that was deteriorating due to exposure to the UV and heat from sun and rain, and repeat.
Before talking about going to the grave, I want to brief you about the proper etiquette at a Christian Grave.
Proper Etiquette at Christian Graveyard
My sharing here is based on what I have practiced throughout years of living my life as a Christian (Roman Catholic) at Kpg Pichin, Serian. This applies if you were to do any business, or even photography job there.
Don’t go there without permission, especially if you don’t know the relatives of the particular grave you are visiting. If you must go, do contact the head of the village. The best time to go is during All Souls’ Day on 2nd Nov every year. This is the best time to visit graves, where all of the relatives of the departed ones visit their grave. It is totally different story if you want to visit your late great-great grandmother’s grave to clean it. You and your relatives, or friends of your choosing can go there anytime you want. You have a specific job to carry out there.
Don’t play around at Graveyard. It is not a playground. If you want to play, go visit LePapa, Serian. They have a playground outside.
Dress appropriately. To be safe, just wear any non-revealing attires or even better, wear casual attire, just like how you want to visit your friends during Gawai, Kaamatan or even Raya. The best dress is the black or white, and non-colourful or cheerful themed dress.
Don’t make noise or even play inappropriate music there. It is not a rock concert or a stage. The acceptable case is when everyone recite a prayer together or even singing hymns together during All Soul’s Day. For me, that is the best part of the 2nd Nov, to see my villagers pray and sing together at our beloveds final resting place; praying for them to demonstrate our love even though we are no longer occupying the same phase of life.
Do not do inappropriate business at graveyard. For example, sleeping there to get lucky number (superstition), do photoshoot there with intention of getting viral, which is inappropriate and a sign of disrespect.
Remember to take bath after you came back from graveyard, because you don’t want to bring back anything to your residence. You also need to clean your gears from the graveyard soils because of this reason.
Wedding Dress Photoshoot at Christian Graveyard, Batu Pahat
Recently I was shocked to see a viral post, showing a bunch of people went for a photoshoot at a Christian graveyard at Batu Pahat. Initially I thought they were related to them, or it was part of the recent All Souls’ Day celebration. I was wrong. They are not doing it as part of religious celebration, but they are doing it as per normal photoshoot to promote their latest wedding dress just like how any photographer treat any normal photoshoot venue. That’s the first red flag.
The second one is, they are not part of the community there, and I highly doubt that any of the community members of the departed ones were involved. The biggest red flag here is that they are disrespecting the grave. I believe majority of non-Muslims do not have any intention of doing photoshoot at Muslim graveyard because we, Christians respect Muslim’s religion, culture and graveyard. However, this bunch of people have crossed the line. That’s why, many of the Christians all around Malaysia were infuriated.
I dig further, and I found that Harian Metro interviewed her, Nur Amirah Mohd Amiruddin, 26, the owner of the boutique. You can read it here. In that article, she said that she just want to do something different, and inspired by the photographers and models outside of Malaysia, which is understood as they have a lot of cultures. She also mentioned that she has no intention of being viralised when she first did this.
“Saya pilih lokasi itu kerana mahu mencari kelainan dan mahu lari daripada kebiasaan dengan mengambil inspirasi daripada luar negara. Tujuan saya memuat naik gambar berkenaan di FB adalah untuk suka-suka dan tiada niat langsung mempermainkan mana-mana agama,”
(Translation: I chose the location because I want to find something different and to go outside the from the norm by taking inspiration from outside Malaysia. My intention to upload the picture is for fun and has no intention to make fun or ridiculing any religion).
That is the statement that was being given when she was being interviewed by Harian Metro.
Why Is This A Big Thing and Makes A Lot of People Angry?
For Christian, graveyard is the final resting place for someone after they leave this world. It is where their body resides. For Christian, our body is the temple Holy Spirit and it should be treated with reverence or deep respect. Love that we have is stronger than death. That is why we visit graveyard every year, to remember the one that left us behind as their soul passes on to God.
When I was a small kid, and to many other Christians, we were being taught to RESPECT the graveyards. I remembered that my parents and grandparents told me to not play around at graveyard, it is not even a place to play, joke around or even horse play. Even when you need to be particular when you are sitting on the grave, because for us at Pichin, we shouldn’t CROSS a grave (melangkah). It is a big no no. For us, it is a huge sign of disrespect. For other graveyards, even the priests will come and bless the grave with holy water. Grave plays a vital role in a Christian faith, where it is a symbol of reverence or deep respect to our body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit as our soul passes on to God. Each steps should be taken carefully as we visit graves and when we want to visit our departed beloved’s grave. I do remember I had to be guided by my uncle as I find my way through the grave yard. Now that I am big, it is my turn to guide my niece and nephew as they grew older later on.
Also, they are using wedding dresses. Wedding is a sacred union between man and woman. It was unthinkable to do combine wedding-related items with graveyards. This is real life, not Hollywood. Not Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. I am not sure what concept they are trying to do, but to trying to do whatever you see on TV at an actual graveyard is not a good idea. Whoever suggested the idea should be brought to justice.
I am glad to see that even her fellow peoples, (Malay & Muslims) understands the level of respect that graveyard deserves and condemning the activities of these irresponsible peoples that disrespects the grave. Such action is indeed a disgrace to the Muslim community in Malaysia, because I know that majority of them respects the other religions.
It is a shame that the bad apples get the most publicity. Therefore, there is no need for you guys to apologise on behalf of your religion because it is not your fault. The one at fault is the one who does and involved with this photoshoot.
I think that if you are desperate to be famous, any way is a good way, even if it infuriates other peoples. I learned that her followers’ number skyrockets. But at what cost? Losing your pride? You don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reason, particularly an over-the-top venue of photoshoot. In this particular case, not only they are being lambasted in social media, but they are also being schooled and scolded by their own fellow Muslims. Such is the price to be paid.
If someone does that to my great grandparents grave, I will find you. Other headhunters descendants are not so forgiving though. Just be glad that you don’t do it at Sarawak. Otherwise, I am not sure what will happen next.
What I can say is, respect others, to earn respect from them. That’s the fundamental things to be learned from one another, especially if you are living in a multi-cultural country like Malaysia. Also, she had posted a live apology. If it is sincere, then may she gains peace. Otherwise, only God knows what’s next. I hope this post teaches you what do do next during your next visit to any Christian graveyard. There might be some difference, but fundamentally it is the same, where you should treat it with respect.
Let us treat each other with respect, and show each Malaysian the level of respect that we all deserve. Since she apologised already, let’s forgive them as Jesus’ teaches us to forgive one another just like how Father forgives us. Let’s close this book as there is benefit in harbouring hatred and move on, but let the lesson remains lest it is repeated. Have a good week ahead!
Your Tukang Rantek, Claudius Weson
Note: Claudius Weson is a Pichin-born, tukang rantek (photographer) based in Miri, mainly doing portraiture (indoor / studio / outdoor photoshoot), weddings and event photography.
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.