I bought my new lens alright, but it stayed inside the box for the entire week before I had the time to bring it out for a “spin”. Exam was just around the corner and I had to set my priorities right.
Together with my trusted gears, I joined Shutter God, Robin Wong‘s weekly shutter therapy with the objective of familiarizing myself with the lens. Since I was already at it, I invited my friend, Ivy Soon to tag along, hoping that she too could learn a thing or two from Shutter God himself.
First thing first, breakfast at an old Punjabi restaurant, Jai Hind along Jalan Melayu, that is said to serve really awesome chappati and other traditional Punjabi food.
I like my chappati fresh and hot from the stove, not cold. Big boo-boo! It was served with three types of curry, dhal, chicken curry and one cooked with chick and green peas. Not a big fan of chick and green peas but surprisingly, it tasted pretty good.
We also had a Punjabi snack called Pakora, served with a few spoons of chutney. It is made using ingredients such as onion, eggplant, potato, spinach, cauliflower, tomato and/or chili and dipped in a batter of gram flour and then deep fried.
This dessert, Ras Malai had a texture like grated coconut and is paneer soaked in malai (clotted cream) flavored with cardamom. It was really refreshing and delicious due to its sweetness and served chilled.
After a simple but satisfying breakfast, our street photo shoot began.
Unlike Robin, both Ivy and I aren’t really into street but food photography. On top of that, it was our first time hitting the streets. I didn’t know what I wanted from this photo walk so I snapped whatever I saw, hoping that something would prevail when I got back home later.
This isn’t exactly the right way to kick start a photo shoot (read: concept, idea and visualization) but since it was my first (and hopefully not the last), I kept an eye shut. Naturally, I came back with more food related photos than photos of the streets. :-|
We started from Masjid Jamek and ended at Chow Kit area. Perhaps it was still early, there wasn’t any crowd and most business operators just arrived and about to start setting up their stalls/business.
To be honest, I picked up photography not because I was interested in it but because I knew I needed a better camera than the 2.0MP Sony Cybershot U-20 if I ever wanted to put up better photos on my blog.
If you looked at the food pictures I took like five years ago, you would probably wonder what the hell I was thinking when I decided to put that picture in my blog. :-|
The interest came at a much later stage and even so, photography is more of a money making, ironically, also a money spending tool than hobby to me.
Instead of doing portraits or so called model photo shoot on weekly basis like most photographers these days, I only practiced my photography skills during events, press conference, grand openings, launching, presentations and etc. aka journalism work and during meal times.
Despite holding the camera for more than two years now, what I know and understand about photography is very little, if not, nil. I only learned some of the skills that I knew would be useful to me and tend to ignore the rest that I know I won’t be using or not that useful to me, for example, wireless flash photography.
I am a rather practical person; you can also say that I am not exactly a very hardworking photographer but the least I can do is to deliver usable pictures. Heh!
On the other hand, Robin Wong is a very dedicated photographer. He would try to understand every thing inside out before hitting the field to put his theory and understandings to test. He would probably spent 30 minutes at one spot and go great length just to capture that one shot whereas I would spend three seconds to get a shot and move on.
When he’s at the field, he would abuse his camera down right to every single component and squeeze out whatever power he could to get the shot he wanted. If you want your dSLR to break down, just loan it to him for three months. :P
Ivy is my boss, my good friend, my teacher and also, allow me to say this, sometimes, my student. She teaches me loads of stuffs on writing, journalism and food while I share my little knowledge about photography with her and trying my best in guiding her to be a better photographer than she already is.
Unlike Robin and I, Ivy doesn’t have a good grasp on the more technical side of photography and probably have to flip the manual to activate a particular function deep inside the menu. She could well understand shutter speed and aperture by themselves, but throw in ISO, exposure, white balance, metering and/or any combinations of the aforementioned, she would be lost.
However, she has some of the advantages that I totally lacked of, i.e: creativity, composing the picture (especially in food photography) and food styling; in other words, the “eye” for good pictures. And we all know how creativity can make or break a good photo.
Have you ever have that feeling where the photographer aren’t willing to share the setups or knowledge on how to capture a certain photo, afraid that you end up shooting a better or more stunning version of the same photo than him/her?
Do you believe in your so called mentor or sifu in passing down every knowledge or skills that he or she had acquired and perfected over the years?
As a mentor/sifu yourself, are you willing to share all your tricks so that your student/apprentice truly excels and be a better photographer than you?
Robin and I are willing to share, provided that you know your stuffs and not expecting spoon feeding. You can’t expect me to help you when you don’t even know the very basics of photography, right?
There were three very different photographers that day but all of us had the same objective and mindset, to be able to capture good photos and share what we have to offer that day.
While I have been teaching Ivy for quite some time now, I believe Robin’s inputs, advices and explanations on the technical parts of photography would provide Ivy with fresh perspective and hopefully, something good might come out from it.
It does help when you join a photo shoot with photographers whom you look highly upon. It shows you where you stand or how good/bad your skill is compare to another photographer.
And after looking at Robin’s photos of the same walk we took, I realize I have much more to learn and understand. Good thing is, I am now much more familiar with my new lens now and is beginning to get a good hold of it. However, I also realized I have problem controlling my flash and exposure/histogram.
Now, if only Robin and I can convince Yoon Onn to stop being *coughs* anti social *coughs* and join us during one of Robin’s weekly shutter therapy, it would be fun. It has been sometime since I last took photos of the same thing with him and he’s a great photographer. Not to mention, we are using the same body, Canon EOS 40D.