Archive for July, 2009

Taking pictures is fun again

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

I am on a plane back to my home town. Nothing beats a few rounds of alchohol while spinning a few numbers by John Lennon, cruising at 40,000 feet. That definitely kick starts my desire to write something. Ok, before the Bacardi Coke takes me to another realm, I better get back to what this article is intended… 🙂

Well, it was 1993, I was surviving with a meager scholarship in the university with FAMA* handouts during the summer holidays. I used up all my savings of that year to get a point-n-shoot Fuji film camera before my 9-day trip to mount Tahan, the highest peak in the peninsula of Malaysia. I was really excited. It was my first camera, my “own” camera! Taking pictures was fun and carefree. Just frame and snap. I was snapping happily from Kuala Tahan to the peak and on the way back. The camera went to a few more places with me until I got my first SLR, the Nikon FM10.

It was 1995 when I started thinking of owning a SLR after I knew that there’s a dark room in the architecture department and they were offering a photography class. I couldn’t afford both the camera and the class at that time. And then an opportunity came. The Wild Life Department wanted to change their logo and they had a competition and the first prize was RM900. So I gave it a try, hoping to get the prize and embark on a new journey after the point-n-shoot Fuji.

Very fortunately, I got the RM900! If you see the Wild Life Department logo with a Yin and Yang shape of two animals merging into a circle, it is my idea. They had an artist to design a new logo based on the idea. After collecting my prize money, I immediately zoomed to the nearby camera shop that I had been visiting for months drooling over the FM10 on display.

I entered the shop and told the shop owner that I have around RM950 (the prize money with whatever available in my pocket) and I want a FM10. He wouldn’t want to give me a brand new FM10 with the kit lens for RM950. But he had a second hand FM10 body and a second hand Tamron 28mm for sale. Well, a begger can’t choose. So I took the offer. Paid RM950 for an old FM10 body, an old Tamron 28mm, and a roll of film. My first 36 exposures were ecstasy.

But soon I realised, taking photographs with the SLR is not that “fun” anymore, I was more concerned with the exposure, depth of field, ISO, and list goes on. It was also the factor that shooting with film was a bit expensive when I was living on scholarship. So I had to make sure every photo had to turn out “right”.

Those years was not that fun until I got my D100 a few years ago. But old habits are hard to change, the moment I hold an SLR I will start adjusting the settings. The urge to take the “right” shots is stronger than taking the shots of the “moments”. So I shoot things very “calculatively”. Hell, it’s hard to break that habit. But as time goes by, I learned little by little to “let go” of the attachment. It’s ok that the exposure is not right, it’s ok that the framing is not according to the golden 1/3 rule, it’s ok if the focusing is not perfect sometimes. It’s ok to POINT and SHOOT. But it doesn’t mean I had to discard technical considerations. Well, life is complicated anyway…

To help me to break the habit of getting too technical in photography, nothing came so timely as the Olympus E-P1. Gosh! I am so blessed with one in my hands. Changeable lens, compact body, classic design, and most importantly, I can try my luck or have full control of the camera when I want to. Damn! Taking picture is so much fun again. I can Lomo with it because it has these art filters. I can point-n-shoot because it does not has a view finder. And most importantly, it looks like a compact camera and people feel more relaxed because I am not holding a “serious” DSLR. I have neen taking photos all over and people don’t feel overwhelmed by it. Gosh, I love the new E-P1.

OK. The Bacardi is dragging me a bit far from writing a proper sentence. Better get a nap now.

*FAMA : Father and Mother Foundation