Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve, is it really ?

12 months have passed, and it went by like a flash of lightning. The year of the Tiger ends here! And what a year it turned out to be. From the first day of school, to the day I wore my school uniform for the last time, it has been one truly spectacular year. I never thought 2010 was going to be a special year (because there was that SPM examinations), but it really was. All the moments and little details, I shall cherish forever. All the joyful events with friends and family (and photographic equipments) shall always be in my mind till the very last breath I take on this planet.

However, for some reason, I don't feel like today's New Year's Eve. Maybe I'm so used to seeing everyday as a normal day, as a routine. So, maybe today is too. Of course, I'll have a different feeling tomorrow!

So, what have I achieved over the last 12 months?!

Focused on my studies all year (albeit a few shortcomings, but there's no way I could've enjoy school without having fun and ignoring my books for a bit), and did my best for SPM.
Reduced some spending on certain things - of course not on photography, sorry Mom and Dad !
Shot another prom, that's 3 in 2 years. And I'm proud that I've done a better job this year from my experience last year.
Made some very good friends, met a lot of interesting people, met some special people.
Finally got a job! Its a secret (oh no I just reveal the secret).
Made the switch to full frame. As I mentioned before, I enjoyed using 35mm film, so going back to that format but still maintain my usage of digital imaging is something I truly embraced with open arms.
Contributed a lot to my school. Photography wise, and other things too, I hope!
Got closer to friends and family, something I'm looking forward to more and more as I grow older.
Enhanced my passion for the things I love ; football, photography, environment, and food (?)
Gained a lot of knowledge, on life, photography, being a good human being and everything good in general!
And finally, made this blog!

I wish I have better memory of the things I've done, actually I do! But some of those memories are too special to put into words, so I'm gonna let those remain in my heart and soul.

I wish you a great ending to 2010, and let us all have a fantastic 2011 ahead ! 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Selling my beloved Frogeye

The Frogeye Lomography camera was my second last film camera. At the time I had my eye on it (which was 2 years ago), the camera was already discontinued. I bought this from eBay. When used with colour slides, you'll get images so powerful and colourful, you won't need to post process it. The lens of the Frogeye produce stunning flares, though that is much down to personal preference. The main attraction the Frogeye brings is that it can be used underwater as well. The technique I loved using most when using this baby underwater, is to go deep, and look up. Let's say there's a person just below the surface of the water, and the sun is shining right on top, the Frogeye will produce a very vibrant and saturated image that is pleasing to the eye. From my experience, the Frogeye is not too prone to producing silhouettes, but that is down to other factors as well. Why am I selling this gem? I'm a bit short of money currently (which is why I started work so early on) and in need of a lot of dough to buy a few lenses before my trip to Germany in March. I'll post some pictures of the Frogeye soon !

More info on the Frogeye I'm selling here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Assunta Prom Night 2010 - Photos!

 The time has come for me to upload the photos - actually I've been trying to send them to the organizers but the connection has been somewhat pathetically slow, surprise surprise.

These were taken with the D700 along with 3 lenses (Nikon 50mm f/1.8 + Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 + Carl Zeiss 2/35) and some were taken with the Nikon SB-600 attached as well. Post processing was applied, mostly to the images taken with the Nikon 50mm f/1.8, they were not up to the standards set by the other 2 lenses. Please note that the 50mm f1/.8 costs around RM400, and for the price, it is fantastic, but not the best.

Enough talk. Pictures, yes?

Let's make this a story, shall we? :)

Lights - checked
I did mention about the beautiful lights they had, didn't I? Here is one of the few that shows just that.

Early on, after scouting the ballroom, I went around the hotel to take some photos.

I bumped into these 3 who were the receptionists.

I got distracted by some flowers at the front desk :D

Here's the college dude I met, Ka Kit, with his girl, Navina.

A group of gentleman, didn't know what that sign was

Ballroom door is open to the guests, time to get the night going !

First thing I saw when I got in, FOOOOOOOOOOD !

and more food.......

Group by group, couple by couple, they came in.

The guests settled in and get comfortable.

Some, a little more than the others ;)

meet our master of ceremony, Denise !

first performance, great duo !

second one, not-at-all-cliche' dance performance !

Dinner is served ! Not for me though, I ate much much later. 

Next, the Prom King nominees were called up !

And off they went with the Prom Queen nominees,
to impress their voters !

And you can clearly see, they thoroughly enjoyed it :)

Of course he enjoyed it :P

I just love the look on her face :D 

The opening+drinking the milk competition.
That's when they spilled it on my gear !

The Prom King was announced, and here
he is giving his speech.

And that's the Prom Queen (holding flowers) with
the Organizing Chairperson.

And the party begins !

All smiles for these gentleman.

Guess who decided to drop by? She's already a star here in Malaysia !
She was with her band, Atlas. They were very very good !

I'm ending this post with a shot by the CZ 2/35, naturally! ;)
He is a fellow photographer I met during the Prom,
and she is a friend of his.

That was it, those are the main photos I took during the Prom ! There's more, which I'm sending to the Organizing Chairperson, soon I hope. 

Final thoughts? What a splendid prom ! Good food, good people, good performances, it was awesome! What a way for the girls from Assunta to take off their heels and say goodbye to high school. I really think it couldn't have gone any better. The organizers did a stunning job, from sponsors to decorations, they were spot on.

Photographically speaking, it was enjoyable using the 3 lenses, it felt really at home, particularly the CZ 2/35. Who said you can't use a manual focus lens for events? I would definitely use this lens again for events, if I have the chance to! And it was easy taking pictures of the guests. They were all very chatty and very friendly, and most importantly, very natural in front of the camera. I really wish I had another hour with them, just to get more portraits done. But eventually, all of us had to go home. Who knows if I'll see them again. Who knows when they'll spend a night like that with each other again. But, I know, every each one of them, would be remembering their prom night for the rest of their lives.

What a disastrous weekend !

 The title says it all. A vicious thunder struck on Friday and disrupt my internet connection, as well as damage my other entertainment sources. As a result, I've had no internet the whole of yesterday and only bits of it today. Also, since my monitor, too, wasn't working, I had no chance to process the photos I took during Assunta's prom night. Worry not, they're all done after I scrambled to do them all this morning. I will upload them shortly on the blog and flickr !

Oh how did your Christmas day go?! I spent mine over at my cousin's, with the exceptional barbecue delights we had. I took some photos, not many, but I'll upload it when I can.

With the New Year fast approaching, I kept thinking of what it has in stored for me. Anyhow, let that happen on its own. I have decided how to end 2010. Self-portrait, anyone? Yes, I'm gonna do a self-portrait, any day now. Hopefully the photo will be done before new year. Hopefully, no more misery will strike from mother nature anytime soon !

Friday, December 24, 2010

Assunta Prom Night 2010 postmortem

Originally uploaded by Ahmad Ihsan
Hello !

Last night was Assunta's Prom Night. And what a night it was, what a Prom! In the last 2 years, I've been to 3 proms, and this was the best yet. The atmosphere was great, all the guests were bonding like they've known each other for a long time although the true fact is they don't, the organizers were having fun, what more could I have asked for? A wider lens - though that was impossible to get at the last minute !

I arrived at the hotel at 5pm, and head to the ballroom straightaway with my camera bag, tripod, and the most important thing I had with me - a water bottle! I knew I didn't have a lot of time to play with the settings, before the guests arrived. So I took out my camera and start shooting. Funny thing, ISO was bumped up to 3200 for the first shot and several ones later. They were testing the lights (which you will find very cool - I did too!) I setup my tripod too, but I found out minutes later that the room was too small, and with all the different lights flashing, it wasn't ideal to shoot long exposures. But I did try some and they came out pretty good, so I'll post the pictures later!

At about 6pm, some guests arrived, or rather, some committee members. Needless to say, the girls wore very pretty (and EXPENSIVE) dresses, while the guys were looking good in their tuxes. I on the other hand, wore a shirt and a tie. Yeah, I don't own a tux. But, who cares! That was one way to differentiate me and the guests really, at least for the organizers!

I took some photos of the guests who arrived early, and I must say, a lot of them were some of the nicest people (of my age) I've ever met! I met this college guy who brought his girl for the prom, and he was very nice! We talked a bit about college courses, and he was helpful and encouraged me to take green technology. His girl was very nice too, and they're a great couple, totally a good match!

At around 8pm, the doors were open and the guests went in! A few other photographers and I stood in front of the doors and took some shots of the guests in their classy clothes! OH, remember when I said the guests were some of the nicest people I've ever met? That includes one of the photographers who were there too, I manage to talk to him, and we shared our views on photography a little bit, and worked together throughout the night. Later on, the guests took their seats, and the night truly begins! Didn't really concentrate during the speech, have never been a fan of those. The performances were good, the dance performance was nothing normal, pretty spectacular, definitely not a cliche'.

Throughout the night, the guests were served with some great food (which I got a taste of, thankfully!). There was also games. One of them was something like opening a milk box without using straws, and drink it. Unfortunately, one of the guests spilled his/her milk box and the milk went flying across the tables and onto my camera + lens + flash. Thankfully, the D700 stood out like a champ, it still worked perfectly (though now it has that strawberry smell!), so did the SB-600. The lens however, which was attached, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 was okay. BUT, about half an hour later, onto the last shot I took with it, it had some troubles focusing, even in brightly lit situations. I have not had another chance to test that out, will do so soon.

To sum up the prom in one sentence, I would say, it was the best prom I've ever been to so far, and the only time I truly enjoyed taking photos of an event and knowing that it was for free, I had absolute no regrets doing so, and it was a night to remember!

So, I made new friends, found out what its like to shoot an event with a manual-focus lens, enhance my creativity and experience in event photography, and enjoyed what was truly a memorable event. The only downfall was I didn't get the names of the new people I met! But, with the growth rate of social networking, I'll find them somewhere soon.

Look out for my next post, as the Prom photos will be up! I will try my best, but it should be up on the blog by the weekend :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shooting a Prom with a Manual Focus Lens

Last year I shot 2 proms, Sri Aman's and Sri Permata's proms. While they were both great experiences, I didn't have the right gear with me - Nikon D60 with Tamron 17-50 was just pathetically slow. I did however get some decent shots, some were better than I had hope. While the buzzing focusing noise made by the Tamron annoyed me, it got the job done. I tried the D60 with the 70-200mm as well, and it was painfully front-heavy. I didn't bother to mount the 50mm f/1.8 because of the manual-focus only option, and the 'too-smooth' manual focus ring.

A year has passed, and here I am with a similar situation. Though I wish I was chosen to shoot Sri Aman's prom again, to make it 2 years in a row, they weren't interested. Then again, now I can focus on doing the best I can for Assunta's Prom, which is tomorrow night!

Out with the old, in with the new

12 months on after shooting my first prom, a lot has changed in the gear department. I no longer use my D60, it is now hibernating in its box kit box. Won't be taking it out for a while, it deserves some rest after being heavily used for the last 2 years. Forward comes the D700. While this magnificent camera has been around for 2 and a half years, mine has only been around for about 5 months. And mounted on my camera is no longer the Tamron, it is now the rightful place for the Zeiss 2/35. And on the hotshoe of the D700 is still the Nikon SB-600. Sure the SB-900 is fantastic (also pricey and huge!) and the SB-700 just came out with impressive specs, but the trusty oldie in the form of the SB-600 does everything I need it to do. Having said that, I am considering on buying the SB-700, but not anytime soon. And if you have viewed my latest photo, I mentioned that my new tripod just arrived. The Jusino tripod is so flexible, seems like the legs can fold in all sorts of angles ! It is also cheap (not the materials mind you, its made of Aluminium which makes it lightweight and strong - though not as strong as some other models, I'm okay with it.), I bought it from Shashinki and its far cheaper than other brands that I checked. What I also have now is a circular polarizer for the Zeiss 35mm, but I probably won't use it much during the prom. So, 1 camera with 1 lens attached, 1 tripod, that's all that's mine.

Gear for Prom Night

Nikon D700
Carl Zeiss 2/35
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 (borrowed)
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VRII (borrowed)
Nikon SB-600
Jusino AX-253 tripod with BT-02 Ballhead

Looks like I've got it all covered, from semi wide-angle to telephoto. I wish I have another option on the wide end, my wallet doesn't allow that for now. What I have my eye on is the Carl Zeiss 2.8/21, though the lens is still far away from my reach. RM6000 a pop, might be years before I get to purchase this legendary lens. Half the price of that, the Carl Zeiss 1.4/85 is also on top of my wishlist. However the much cheaper Nikon 85mm f/1.8 is a wonderful lens for not that much, so I haven't decided which portrait lens to go with yet. Okay enough future talk, lets focus on the present and the prom itself! Basically the 6 are all I'm bringing, stuffed into a Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home, except for the tripod which came with a nice little case!

What to shoot tomorrow

Mostly I'll be taking portraits, group shots, some scenery settings, but mostly of the prom committee and the guests! So, mostly portraits really. I don't have a problem with it, though some may not appreciate it when I manually focus the 2/35 and not have the patience to wait for me to snap their photos. Hopefully not, hoping for the best! But I'm limiting the use of the Zeiss to only group shots, and the 50mm to individual portraits, so that should make my job easier. I'm also hoping I'd be strong enough to hold the 70-200mm without screaming in pain! The focus is really on the Prom committee, can't wait to meet them!

Since I'm leaving for the prom at noon, and the event lasts until midnight, and I have work almost the entire day the following day, I won't be blogging for a few days. Hopefully I'll be back with some nice prom pictures :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

the bigger picture or zoom-in on the dots ?

DOF at f/2
Originally uploaded by Ahmad Ihsan
Funny thing happened at work today. One customer left her keys on her table, and left the restaurant with her friend. I was happily cleaning her table, when I saw her car keys. I raced to her as she was walking away. She was shocked. She said thank you, and I went back to cleaning the table. After that, a customer gave me some tips (first tips for me!) and before he left, he told me to study hard for my future. I haven't met the guy before, certainly haven't met his girlfriend either. So why did he do it? Only God knows. But I assume he was in my position when he was my age, having to work to earn his own money, even though he was doing something he wasn't good at. He looked like he just finished his studies, maybe even embarking himself in the working environment now. Whatever the reason is, I was thankful, and further reminds me of the saying, 'do something good, something better will happen'.

Oh! And the point of me including this picture with this post? To be honest, I don't know. For the last 16 years of my life, I've only looked at the past, and the present. But starting this year, I matured, and look at the distant future. The further I look, the more exciting life gets. But, every now and then, I focus on the tiniest parts of every aspect, just so I won't get dragged away by anything or anybody. Hence, I won't get into a crash course without even noticing it. Then again, its more fun to look at the future, daydreaming about the perfect world.

PS : The point of me putting this picture is there, somewhere ;)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Photowalk - Images !

Here they are! :) There's one at my flickr too !

sit and admire

Hey Nadiah !

the girl with the white watch

Seri Saujana Bridge

Not much, I know. But there's more, I just decided not to post them now ! The last image captioned "Seri Saujana Bridge" is the first image (s) I captured and converted via Digital Blending. Its not as dramatic as I would have thought, or maybe I just didn't do it right. But, I'm convinced that using ND Grads are better. One, because you get to adjust the dark-clear area of an image by simply moving the filter, or by using stronger/weaker filters. Two, for half-blinded people like me, it saves us the trouble of looking at the sickeningly bright pc monitors ! So now, I'm saving to purchase some Cokin ND Grads. My wallet is getting emptier by the moment.

I have another image that I used the Digital Blending technique, but I'll upload them later ;) 

Oh yes, Christmas is in less than a week !

Saturday, December 18, 2010

new photos - coming up soon

Hello !

Photowalk is over ! I went with 3 others to Putrajaya, and it was a whole load of fun! The day started off well enough, had a good lunch, I had waffles too. We then head over to the beautiful Putra Mosque. Unfortunately the mosque isn't completed yet, and we didn't get a good spot to take pictures from. Final destination : Seri Saujana Bridge. Another disappointment was there to meet us, as the skies were gloomy and the sun was already disappearing at around 6.30pm. The few positives I can take from today is I'm getting better at manual focusing with the Zeiss 2/35, I tried bracketing again (this time with a tripod and all the frames looked inline to me) and finally, I burned a lot of fat from all the walking! Its now 10pm and after that marathon, I can't quite get myself to the pc and upload the photos I took today. So, I'll upload them tomorrow, so make sure to check back !

Thursday, December 16, 2010

bokeh by the CZ 2/35

bokeh by the CZ 2/35
Originally uploaded by Ahmad Ihsan
Sorry folks, have not had time to be out with my camera the last couple of days. So this is one of the few that I took during my class party. The lights were very sparkling, and the 2/35 created beautiful bokeh, which is almost circular. The light falloff is also quite pleasing to the eye (depends on your taste) and forces you to focus on the out-of-focus light bulbs in the middle of the photo. One thing I've learned lately is that, Christmas trees and Christmas decorations are perfect for mastering the art of bokeh !

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More from my class party !

A follow up to my previous post, I have more images taken by the 2/35. The WB are tweaked due to the horrible artificial lighting at the restaurant my classmates and I had lunch at. Though the Christmas lights were pretty ! Here are the images, enjoy and comment if you will ! :)

The Zeiss 2/35 does portraits for the first time !

When we meet again
Originally uploaded by Ahmad Ihsan
Meet 3 of my classmates for the last 2 years ! They look good don't they? :) And I thought I'd have problems taking pictures of people with the 2/35. BAHHH, I didn't whatsoever. The MF ring was so smooth, I thoroughly enjoyed rotating it, even if it was just a second. What's more is that the bokeh is sublime. Not to mention, the lens did not create any over-contrasty images. That surprised me a little because in my experience the lens tend to make images appear very vibrant and contrast is certainly its specialty, suitable for landscapes. But now I know it works well for portraits too. A handy lens, this one, and dear I say it, I won't need a longer lens for portraits ?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Colosseum copycat ?

Colosseum copycat ?
Originally uploaded by Ahmad Ihsan
This is my fav. shot of my trip to Putrajaya yesterday. Simple one, building and sky. Shot this one on the D700 with 2/35 attached, wide-open. No post-processing applied, only border and watermark.

not much to show, yet

I never knew I was such a big klutz. I attempted 'Digital Blending/Exposure Blending' yesterday without a tripod. And the results? Misaligned shots. Never mind, I'll try again this Saturday during the Photowalk. That means I have to carry the tripod.... anybody care to lend a hand?! Anyways, I don't have much to show for now. The sunset photo I mentioned in yesterday's post? Didn't pass the verdict after the blending. Never mind, lesson learnt. Worry not, I have a few photos to show, enjoy !

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Two colours in harmony

Two colours in harmony
Originally uploaded by Ahmad Ihsan
I don't have much to show for now, veeeeerrryy sleepy after that trip to Putrajaya. Can't picture how the Photowalk will go, it could only be more tiring. Anyway, I'll post up some sunset photos soon. I'm also gonna try 'Digital Blending', hope it works !