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Behind The Image : The Nepal Boy

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Back in 2014, I bought myself plane tickets to Nepal without having a proper plan. The main idea was to get lost in Nepal. When I say lost, it doesn’t mean not being able to find my way home. I just wanted to walk and explore the city of Kathmandu without having any plans in mind.

When I was younger, I never thought I’d ever visit a country like Nepal. Thanks to photography, it took me to places I never thought I would visit – and Nepal was one of them.

The photograph above has a special story behind it. This was taken in Thamel, which is known as a hotspot for tourists to hang about. On my way back to my hotel, I was walking through the crowded street filled with people doing their own things and I stumbled upon this small tunnel. I stood there contemplating to myself if I should see what was on the other side of the tunnel. If you look at the photograph, the black hole on the left behind the boy, that was where I came from. As I walked in, I was surrounded by windows of places people were living in. A boy and his mom was on the other side sitting down talking to each other. When I came into the picture, they both looked surprised. I guess they reacted that way as not many tourists walked down that way – which wasn’t to my surprise.

I went up to the boy and greeted him “Namaste” whilst pointing to my camera asking if I could take a picture of him. He then started smiling covering his face and ran around me. This is when I started slowly capturing him running around that small space. I had maybe 6 shots of him, but I particularly like this photograph asI love the color of the windows and the texture from the door – and I was lucky enough to have him standing there looking straight at me.

During trips like these, a compact camera would be ideal to capture these fast paced moments. Hence why I am intrigued by the new compact camera released by Light called L16 which combines 16 different lenses in just one body. It amazes me what technology can create these days. It definitely takes my photography trips on a truly different level.

Looking forward to many more trips like this in the future. Next stop Japan in December!

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Weapon of Choice : Mamiya 645AF

Disclaimer – This is not a full spec review by the way. This is just my own personal opinion about the cameras I use. How I like using it and how it fits my way of shooting. If you want to know more about the camera in terms of specs and all. You can ask http://www.google.com

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The Mamiya 645AF my current latest gear. Before this, I’ve used a many different 120 Format cameras. For example, Mamiya RB67, Hassleblad 500CM & 500 ELX, Pentax 6×7, and the Rolleiflex. This is my first time using a 645 format which is so much more useful for me. To be honest, I am not a huge fan of 6×6 format. Yes i’ve changed cameras so many times and if you’re asking why? Basically, when I started film photography, I’ve always wanted to try out different cameras. What I’d do is buy and sell, buy and sell. From there, I learn how these cameras work and find the suitable one for me. At first, I thought the Hasselblad system was the one for me but again, I was never a fan of square format. It has its own art form yes but it isn’t my kind of style. Anyways, why the Mamiya 645? 2 things, built in lightmeter and a hot shoe. If you know how I shoot, I tend to do a lot of flash photography. Before this, I’d use my Hasselblad with the pc sync cord to trigger the flash. But despite it being an old camera, sometimes it doesn’t trigger which annoys me a lot and I can’t really depend on it. So I wanted something reliable. With the Hasselblad, I would need to carry a separate light meter as well because it has no built in light meter. To be honest, before this I never had a problem carrying my light meter around and metering with it. But when I’m on shoots, time is money. I need everything to be fast. So having to meter the model or the product and shoot and yada yada takes a while. Unless I have an assistant but that cost money. And i’ve read a couple of good review of the Mamiya 645AF. I was always keen but never could find a good condition one until my buddy Jeff who sells second hand film cameras on Facebook had one unit in good condition. You can check out his page here https://www.facebook.com/TheShutter.Films?fref=ts . Reasonable price and a nice guy to talk to. I buy most of my stuff from him.

 

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Danial Naim – Mamiya 645AF//80mm 2.8//Kodak Potra 400

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Jean – Mamiya 645AF//80mm 2.8//Kodak Potra 400

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May Lim – Mamiya 645AF//80mm 2.8//Kodak Potra 400

After 3 months of having this camera, I am very happy with the photographs it produces. I am currently shooting with a 80mm 1:2.8 lens which is equivalent to a 50mm on a the 35mm format. The bokeh (depth of field) is beyond beautiful. And this camera is idiot proof. Idiot proof meaning anyone can pick this camera up and start shooting. It has the normal modes you find in a DSLR for example Aperture priority, Shutter priority, and Manual. A built in light meter so I can adjust my settings while looking through the viewfinder. In terms of weight, no complains. I’ve carried much heavier camera than this. Imagine shooting street photography with a Mamiya RB67. What was I thinking? Shooting on a 645 format gives me 16 frames as well which is just nice. Sharpness of the lens suits me. I mean it shoots on film and I’m not that anal about sharpness. Interchangeable backs which is useful for me if I’m on a location and if I need to switch between colour or black and white film. Viewfinder is bright as well.  I mean its a nice camera and I doubt I’ll be changing to another camera anytime soon (Hopefully). A lot of people told me to get the Contax 645 but the price is OVERKILL. I rather get a Leica MP if I had the chance. I haven’t pushed it to its full potential yet but I am waiting for the chance when I can.

 

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Cat Stare – Mamiya 645AF//80mm 2.8//Kodak Tmax 400 – 1600//Kodak HC110B

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Azlan – Mamiya 645AF//80mm 2.8//Kodak Tmax 400 – 1600//Kodak HC110B

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Allicia Amin For Civil – Mamiya 645AF//80mm 2.8//Kodak Tmax 400 – 1600//Kodak HC110B

 

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Civil Lookbook – Mamiya 645AF//80mm 2.8//Kodak Tmax 400 – 1600//Kodak HC110B

Overall, I am happy with this investment. No complains so far and I enjoy shooting with this camera. For some weird reason, every time I take a picture with this beast, I know the picture will come out beautiful. If your looking for a 120 Format camera to start with, this camera might be the one for you.

 


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Photographing People Vaping.

Vaping in Kuala Lumpur is huge now. It’s crazy how vaping has evolved within a short period of time. I started vaping about a year ago and I’ve pulled a lot of my friends into it. But this topic isn’t about vaping itself. It’s about photographing people vaping or using vaping as a prop. I’ve always loved photographing someone having a smoke of cigarette but I could never do it indoor because of the smell or the fear of triggering the fire alarms. I’ve always wanted to photograph someone smoking on a black background with a couple of studio lights but I never had the chance. And now, as we have vape, a tool where I can get someone to blow smoke indoors without having to worry about stinking the room up. I got my friend to help model for me and we would do all kinds of different things with it. Usually I would work with a black background or somewhere dark, and use one light source only.

While my friend was servicing his vape, I decided to photograph him. I used his table lamp as the light source and under exposed the background. I asked him to slowly blow the smoke out so it looks more fluffy and thick.

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“No Smoking”

 

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Until today, this has to be my favourite vaping shot. This was taken with one light source on a black background. Notice how the shape of the smoke is like an arrow?

 

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My colleague helped me shoot this photo for me. My new setup could produce a lot of smoke by firing it by itself.

 

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If you have a friend who owns a vape, give it a go! I’ve seen so many photographers use vaping as a prop for their shoots. There are so many ways you can experiment.


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Portrait Series : Fuad Alhabshi

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Senior Analyst by day, rockstar by night, Fuad Alhabshi leads a 5 man strong rag-tag outfit that goes by the name of Kyoto Protocol.

When I was assigned to shoot this, I needed a story and a concept. I didn’t want to do a typical guitarist rockstar look kind of shoot. I wanted something different. As I got to know Fuad, I found out that he works in an office like everybody else. So I use that as a base point. I wanted to show the world that side of him but how? After weeks of brainstorming, I got the idea of using the whole Superman Concept. Clark Kent, journalist by day, superhero by night. Everyone knows Superman as the Man Of Steel but no one knows he’s real identity.

I started researching about Superman on the net trying to look for ideas and concept. Then when I got all the ideas I started drawing out my story board. When you looked through this album, you need to start from first picture till the end. Because the way I shot this is like a story. How he transition from working in the office into a rockstar.

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For the first set of photographs, I got the idea of stock photographs from the internet. Typical office stock photos where everyone is happy, pointing at the board, discussing about work, perfect lighting that kind of vibe. But again, I used that as a benchmark and then start putting my own ideas into it. The next important is working with your model. Your model needs to know your vision, what you want and what the mood of the shoot is going to be like. Talk to your model, make them laugh & make them comfortable. If you need them to look stupid then tell them. If you want them crying then tell them. Working with a model who is very sporting and follows instruction very well is also good. Make him or her believe in your vision.

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Superman is famous for the whole pulling his shirt and having the S symbol photograph. So I wanted to recreate that. Heres the finish product.

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They are times that Clark Kent uses the phone booth to change into he’s costume so I wanted to do that as well. But in Malaysia, our phone booth do not have a doors, but that didn’t stop from making him strip in public. Again, working with Fuad was a breeze. I asked him if he didn’t mind taking he’s clothe off, and he was more than happy too! Again make him or her believe in your vision.

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The whole Idea for the last set of photographs is to filled an alley with guitars and amps. I got Fuad to bring he’s guitars and my colleague to get some amps for props. The last set of photographs turned out great. I told Fuad to just go all out with the guitar and be himself.

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One of my most memorable shoots I’ve done. The team I worked with was great! All you need is ideas and concept. Once you have that, see how you can execute them.