Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 6

Read the earlier series :

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 5

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 4

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 3

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 2

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 1

On this 6th series of travel with film, i am sharing amazing photos taken on the edge of dubrovnik with the Leica M7 with Zeiss 35mm f2.0 ZM. You reach this area by walking all the way into Dubrovnik and you will soon see an opening into harbour like scene.  Absolutely beautiful.

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Dubrovnik harbour like scene

The view of the houses stacked on the stony hills of Dubrovnik can clearly be seen from this site. I wonder if there is a way to walk up those hills on foot, reminiscing scenes from the Lord of the Ring or games of thrones. Houses here are pretty standard on their roof top colors and built, almost if there is a template/theme given to the residents.

houses on hills

left view 

This is the perfect spot to take some portraits with dynamic elements. It’s windy and the background provides a good setting for some good subject separation and yet retains enough details for the mind to complete the picture. Shooting with film really made this whole trip enjoyable without the load and distractions. When i got back and got my photos developed, i am rewarded with both anticipation and enactment of the scene, it is almost like going back to Dubrovnik and living those moments again. I recalled one of my trips with digital, it was a chore going thru thousands of photos that i didn’t even bother to select to share them out. On film, each 36 shots carries with it the memories on why i took the shot and what happened.

portraits with dynamic elements

portraits with dynamic elements

I took a ferry across to Lokrum, it cost around 40 kroner. Lokrum is a very special island that host a few restaurants, a dead sea pool, nude beach ūüėĄ and where bunnies roams freely. It is one of those itinerary that you must add in to your travel plans. The gov of Croatia made a rule that nobody is allowed to stay overnight in Lokrum, i find this rule strange but exceptionally good. The island is well kept and preserves its natural beauty.

 

toward lokrumar

towards Lokrum


lokrumar!

Lokrum’s stunning shore

I will end this post with one photo of the shores of Lokrumar and will be sharing more on the next post on exclusively on film photography done in Lokrum.

Beautiful Portraiture at 35mm {portraiture}

Recently I have been shooting on both the sigma dp2x and the canon 6d digital. It’s Chinese New Year and the film labs are not open so i invited Stephy chang over for a session.

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Sigma dp2x

Sigma have amazing colors but highlights often blown easily. Despite what some die hard sigma fans will defensively tell you, it’s pretty much Sigma’s silly decision to put the AFE conponent into an otherwise usable camera.

Well regardless of brands and advantages, let’s just enjoy some of these images.

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Sigma dp2x

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dp2x on vertical portraits, 3 meters away

I have a lot of beautiful images taken by the canon 6D, it’s amazing how easy the common cameras are in delivering results vs sigma.¬†There is this beautiful airbnb site “sekeping jugra” that allows various interesting scene with the play of light. If you happened to be in KL, do drop by this place or make it your accommodation.

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Canon 6d. Added grains

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Canon. Moving candids are easy on canon, impossible on sigma

 

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Canon 6d

The sigma images are shot on 41mm and the canon images on 35mm. I am a fan of using non standard portraiture lenses focal length because I needed the outdoor scene for context . I find it often hilarious how some would travel far and shoot models on 85mm losing any relevant context to the images.

What is your favourite outdoor portrait lens ? I have once tried using 18mm for portraits.

 

What camera is a hybrid between film and digital? {gallery}

There was a story about this guy who went to Nepal in search for peace and simplicity. The guy have half his lifetime focusing on his career and building a corporate life that he soon got tired of it all, gave away bulk of his money, sold his house and took a one way ticket to Nepal.

As the story goes, after 7 years in Nepal, he came to a conclusion. Peace and simplicity isn’t found in Nepal or anywhere else, ¬†he could pursue the same objective of living a simple life back in an apartment in Amsterdam. Nepal and its basic lifestyles and people gave him a chance to know himself better.

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the search, processed from raw file

I started off photography on a peculiar camera, the sigma dp2. From there i went all the way to nikon D4, Leica M9, A7R, Canon 6D and a lot more gears that i am more shameful to bring up than to boast about. Did i improve? Nope. My improvement came from lots of practice, 2 workshops that i attended on portraiture and film photography.

Yup, like the story of that man, film gave me time to discover myself. Now after one full year on film, i decided to find two cameras that have the same inconveniences of film but a digital unlike any other. I call them the “twins”. The very thought of owning these two cameras and carrying them around with me tickles me somewhat, it is like cowboys in the older days where the top gunner would carry two guns on each side of his belt.

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single exposure, processed from raw file

These two twins are the Sigma DP1x and Sigma DP2x, fix lens, APSC cameras with a strange, weird sensor.

Let me just provide a note of warning here. Do not follow me on this path, haha, no kidding, i would go so far as to say that shooting film is much easier than using these two cameras.

But i have come to a point whereby limited gears don’t really trouble me much. These two cameras main selling point is its Foveon sensor, it’s what i would call, an anomaly sensor that produces results between a film and a digital.

At 4.7 megapixel, its even smaller than my regular film lab’s output. I wouldn’t have come to this mindset of accepting such low-res results if it wasn’t for my one year film pilgrimage, it reinforces what i already knew about megapixels and what we really need in our image sharing and even printing.

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unedited, jpg from dp1x

The image above is unedited jpg straight from the camera’s raw file. Man, it already feel so film like even without going thru VSCO.

Here is another sample.

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dp1x jpg out of the camera

The uncertainty that these “twins” presents, the dog slow auto-focus and the availability of a crappy manual focus are just so similar with the film cameras that i use. Instead of labs, i have to wrestle with Sigma Photo Pro, an obscure software that can process the raw files or extract the jpg as shown above. It’s a bit like waiting for the lab results.

I am not giving up on film, don’t get me wrong here. It’s amazing that the DP2x 41mm focal length is so much like my favourite Olympus 35UC’s 42mm focal length. The DP1x’s 28mm would cater for wide angle shot.

Note : I wouldn’t recommend Sigma cameras to anyone, personally I felt Sigma is a company that continuously betrays its camera users with experimental, unproven and stupid decisions. If you google up the reviews of their new cameras e.g.¬†One such review, those are plainly evident.
I have lost this camera. This camera has been stolen on 27th January 2016 near VCR cafe, Kuala lumpur malaysia, together with a hood and AML-1 lens and 2 wasabi backup batteries.
– Update : 24th jan 2017.

What do you think of these images? Drop me a line or two in the comments below.

Penang beach {portraiture}

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Serenity

One of the unexpected nice location for photoshoot in Penang is this small opening at Babylon restaurant .

I have always strived for taking portraits that are natural with an element of candid feel to it. With the wind on my side and a close and happy model at the scene, the right recipe for a beautiful album that presents itself.

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True smiles, a rarity among portraits

Eilein Pang have collaborated with me for over a year now for her albums and her popularity and freelance jobs have grown too. Often we would chat about some local issues that are faced by the freelancers and the individuals that we could draw inspirations from.

She has never doubted my  constant preference to try new ideas on different mediums and gears. When I pursued film for the skin tones and organic feel she was pretty patient with the waiting period that her generation have never experienced before.

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Horizon

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Calmness

I will be visiting this place again if I visit Penang. Curious as to how the light would be at sunrise.  I hope you enjoyed these short series of images.

Vintage streets of Penang {portraiture}

On the last week of 2016, I visited penang, a northern state and island in Malaysia. Penang have a heritage site recognised by UNESCO for maintaining its vintage streets and architectural aesthetics.

My first stop was Lebuh melayu where I rented a room via airbnb. Two of my model friends visited me and I took the opportunity to do some albums.

Eilein @ Sekeping Pinang – fuji400pro, olympus 35uc

The street outside here looks like it’s stuck in the 1940s. Some shops have been converted to lodging and  cafes while the corner shops are hosting hawkers like stalls. These hawker like stalls are infamous for its local dishes.

Old stool – canon 35 1.4 L

Canon 35 1.4 L


If you travel to Malaysia, you have to visit Penang.  Rooms here cost a mere usd $50 per night , complete with breakfast. I wouldn’t mind the breakfast though, the food at the streets and cafe are so much better.

Elaine – canon 35 1.4 L


Just another 12 km away from the city you will reach Batu feringgi, a stretch of beaches for those beach lovers . I visited that part for some shots but in this piece I will just share images done at the street .

I took both a film camera and my canon digital with me . My pretty friends actually prefers digital since the results would be fast but nowadays film development in Malaysia won’t take more than 2 days.

Vintage streets – canon 35 1.4 L

Poses as a tourist – canon 35 1.4 L


There are plenty of specialise cafes as well, from ice cream centric ones to those offering own cakes. 

So walking in the humid and hot tropical streets here I have to occasionally stop by a cafe or two just to escape the heat and chat with my friends . 

Eilein – fuji400pro olympus 35uc

Eilein – fuji400pro olympus 35uc


I hope you enjoyed these images and visit Penang one of these days. 

Shooting film in 2016, 2017 {kodak ektachrome revival}

I take it that you are here is because either you are curious about shooting film or that you read about the revival of kodak ektachrome. I been shooting ALOT of film in 2016, fueled mainly by the desire to slow down (you will hear this reason from almost anyone who shoots film) or the cosmetics tones that film provides.

Film labs in malaysia are cheap. So cheap that the labs like ColorDotCom and Bang Bang Geng have films from all over the world posted to it for development and scanning. The results are uploaded via wetransfer or google drive the moment its completed and owners can enjoy the results while their negatives takes its time to return.

Total cost per roll? USD $3, that includes both development and scanning.

Don’t get me wrong, i am not giving up on digital. But digital, like a genie from the lamp gave me so much power that i forgot whats it feels like to enjoy the process and to stop being a gear head or reading up exciting new gears every quarter. Moore’s law guarantee that your current digital gears will be crappy in comparison to new releases faster than the new car models.

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film tones, fujifilm 400H, olympus 35 uc 42 1.7

Film cameras on the other hand had reached its golden age somewhere in the middle of 1970s. Since no “sensor” was involved, manufacturers had to think out of the box on how to make the next release. Premium and even mid level cameras were built so well, they have a heft to it when you carry them and they easily lasted over 20 years. Most of these manufacturers focused on quality and build and the vast amount of film cameras available today and still functional are a testimony to these decisions.

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mamiya rz67pro, 180mm f4.5. Kodak Porta 400

Truth is, digital cameras have reached a level whereby you don’t need to buy a new one anymore. The nikon d3000 that i purposely buy because of its large CCD sensor produces amazing results. Yup, d3000, the supposedly weakest camera released by nikon according to Ken rockwell ;-).

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nikon d3000, sigma 50 1.4 (non art)

Around 6 years ago, the camera that got me interested in photography in the first place is the quirky Sigma DP2. I was interested in why would a manufacturer go against all odds to pursue and release a camera using a different sensor than everyone else is. I soon gave up on that camera after realizing that i am addicted to pixel peeping  but produces nothing interesting in actual photos. Film on the other hand is at the far right side of the spectrum, where one no longer pursue sharpness, latest and greatest or burst speed, but rather the communication with the subject and the process to think more before pressing the shutter.

Shooting film enables me to appreciate the digital gear that i had, the awesome power of technology and how much it has progressed since early 2000.

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Canon 6D, 35 1.4L lens with VSCO film tones.

My only FF digital camera is the Canon 6D and i have only 1 lens to go with it, the 35 mm 1.4 L. This to me is more than sufficient to create albums that new models and existing models friends would want. When the album are not urgent, i would use film as well. In the world of film, a Leica M7 with a Noctilu f1.0 do not have much advantage over a cheap USD $100 camera like the Olympus 35 uc, they are both used depending on my mood for the type of results i want to get, instead of showing off  Leica as a brick around the neck.

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Leica M7. Noctilux f1.0. Kodak Color plus 200

As i went one full circle from 2011 till 2017, i began to appreciate and understood the reality and truth that “gears” are not really the important factor, but rather the photographer.

I bet if i had my hands on the tragic Sigma DP2 again, perhaps this time, things would be different.

 

 

 

Portraits, last months of 2016 {portraiture|film}

Just wanted to share some of the images i took in the last months of 2016, between November and December 2016. Some friends call me the best portrait photographer in Malaysia jokingly, looking back, i have done portraits without any limitations on myself, pursuing whatever medium and gears i felt is inspiration for the album and experiment and learn at the same time.

I have been using mostly film exclusively, some on the medium format Mamiya rz67pro film with Kodak Porta and  some on the leica noctilux f1.0, M7, fujipro 400h film.

 

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 5

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rain

Previous :
Dubrovnik, Croatia, travel with film, chapter 4.
Dubrovnik, Croatia, travel with film, chapter 3
Dubrovnik, Croatia, travel with film, chapter 2
Dubrovnik, Croatia, travel with film, chapter 1

 

All images here are taken on superia 200 film, Leica M7, 35mm zeiss zm f2.0. The aperture i use is f2.0, i always shoot wide open no matter which lens i have.

You have to option to take the tour around the walled city by buying the tickets inside the old city itself. This would be at the left of the entrance where you came in.  You will walked up a flight of stone made stairs and you begin to see the beautiful houses around the city.

dubrovnik travel with film leica

tourists

dubrovnik travel film photography leica

orange tiles

The roofs of the houses are mostly orange in colors and that is what make them beautiful, almost like a theme. On the lower right here u see some broken site, i am not sure if they are going to rebuild it or leave it to add that old feel to the whole view.

dubrovnik on film leica photography portraits

the lands

beautiful dubrovnik on film zeiss 35mm

crypts?

I found myself looking at these same images and wonder if i should have brought digital and applied VSCO to get the same tones and feel. But on hindsight i should have just brought more films with me, buying film from the shops here cost around kroner 70, which is around USD 10 per roll. Back here in Malaysia these rolls only cost USD 3 each. Ouch.

travel with film photography leica zeiss dubrovnik

feed a cat

Around midway of the tour, you can exit the tour and feline lovers would love this spot. There are a lot of cats there that roam the city and well fed. You will find a box here that you can donate for their wellbeing.

film street photography dubrovnik leica 35mm

work

They are building something near the end of the tour so its not so i took the opportunity just to snap a shot here on this guy working on the site.

On the next chapter i would be sharing images taken at the harbour of the old city and the tranquil Lokrumar island, shot gorgeously on film!!

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 6

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia {travel with film} Part 4

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Art seller

Inside the walled city, i feel the fusion of urban commercialization with medieval haunting covering the whole place. It is as if two lovers struggling to keep the relationship alive and yet dances in harmony to the playing music.

I walked passed by a shop selling potpourri of trinkets only to be greeted by the next shop with hand crafted items and arts. Today is the first day in Dubrovnik and after 15 minutes inside this ancient city, i knew i made a big mistake.

I had only 7 rolls of film and about to finish up the 3rd roll.

(Do visit my previous chapters here : 1 2 3, this whole series is done completely in film)

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The oldest pharmacy in the world

As my family strolled along the main path looking at the shops and cafes, we noticed there are narrow paths between some shops and those paths are opens up smaller shops that array themselves along the corridors.

On top of these shops are actual residents living in almost apartment like setting. They are not allowed to renovate the outer construction to preserve the medieval theme. Most are available for rent and you could find them at premium prices in AirBNB.

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postcards

I didn’t want to buy any souvenirs since it is just day one and constant reminder that i am running out of film only leave me with two options. I could either switch to use the Fuji digital camera that Phoenix is carrying with her and that amazing 16 f1.4 in her green bag or i should try to find a shop here that sells film.

I went for the latter.

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Narrow walls

It is a vintage location with vintage look, feel and ambiance. Who in the right mind would prefer digital over film in Dubrovnik? Hahaha, that was playing on my mind as i turned on my “radar” as we tour the ground level.

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toys of thrones

 

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charlie

When Phoenix and Sheryll got tired and decided to snack at a cafe (there are 1 at nearly every 10 meters away) i took the opportunity to walk up some of the visible stairs leading up to side of the city. Away from the main attraction you can see people going about their normal lives, doing laundry and chilling outside the window.

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the chef

There are all kinds of restaurants here and even at the higher level of the city if you walk up the stairs you will see smaller establishments. It does feel “crowded” sometimes in this city despite the vintage settings and i was really hoping to find a quiet spot to just take in the moment.

Next, i be sharing images taken at the wall tours and piers in the tip of the walled city.

Dubrovnik, Croatia, Chapter 5

Portraiture with Olympus 35 UC {portraiture|film|gear review}

olympus 35 UC with 42mm 1.7

olympus 35 UC with 42mm 1.7

Recently i have come to acquire an “unloved” camera. According to the seller Eugene, he came across this camera from a bundled sales of various film cameras and he was surprised to find this gem. Unfortunately in Malaysia, seems like there isn’t much love for film cameras of any other brand except Leica, Nikon and Canon. Listed on his page is this peculiar Olympus 35 UC with a fixed 42mm 1.7 lens.

I bought it and i been using it for 3 weeks now. Now, just to bring some context to my short review here, I do own 2 (two) Leica M7s among other film cameras that are M mount, Lomo LCA120s/LCA+ and Nikon F100. I have used all the mentioned cameras for both model shoot and particularly the M7 on my recent trip. After i have used this Oly and seen the results though, i am totally stunned.

The lens is SHARP and the rangefinder focusing is very easy to see. The fun of using this camera, its operation and simplicity of setting it to 1/500 almost everytime on an ISO 400 film at 1.7 for outdoor is just dummy proofed.

Lets see some results.

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stephy. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

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stephy. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

All the images here are shot at f1.7 handheld. On an ISO 400 film, i didn’t bothered to load the batteries into the camera because the metering is a series of EV values and i have never used or set EV in any single shoot that i have done in the last 4 years. I prefer to keep things simple by ISO, Shutter and Aperture, EV to me is nothing more than a distraction. Granted the camera shows the EV values and you just need to turn either the aperture or shutter speed to get the “same” shown EV in the viewfinder and your set. Since i am always on f1.7, the metering was merely a cosmetic feature.

 

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stephy. Xtra400. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

These shots on Stephy (stephy yiwen) are one on Petaling Street, the Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur. The backdrop you see here is the oldest tailor shop in malaysia and has been in operation for over 100 years. Love the fact that i am using a very old Olympus camera to match the whole theme.

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charlotte. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

The Oly uses a leaf shutter and the size is kinda perfect for my hands. The camera is not “solid” like the Leica in terms of build quality and the feel you get when you hold it but it has its own charms. Among some of the things i really love about the Olympus 35UC is that its a very serious tool with a simple and humble front. There is nothing inferior when it comes to its output.

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charlotte. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

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charlotte. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

42mm is an odd and vintage focal length. There is something about this focal length that i really love. It just looks a tad more natural than 35mm that i use on my M7. For some days i couldn’t figure it out, i alluded the reason to placebo effect of having a “new toy” but after 5-6 rolls of images done across three weeks, i found myself preferring this focal length more than anything else.

It was only later some friends pointed out to me that 43mm is most likely the actual focal length of our eyes in the central zone¬†that i became convince that the “its just more natural” have some credible reasons behind it.

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charlotte. Pro400H. Olympus 35UC 42mm 1.7

In summary, i totally dig this camera. So much so i got another copy of the more common Olympus 35SP (they are the same camera with differing cosmetic changes) as a backup for parts. The lens reminds me of a Leica 35mm 1.4 summilux that i have tried sometime ago but at less than USD 250 per camera + lens, its impossible not to love this camera.

This opens up my mind entirely when it comes to Olympus film cameras. If they could do “this” quality setup since 1969,¬†i am intrigued to find out what else we the “new generation” have missed out on this perceived underdog brand.

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