Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas and happy holidays to our readers celebrating from the mingthein.com team – MT, Robin and Praneeth (behind the scenes). May you have a great day and a full area under the tree… 🙂

The most important things in photography

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In the better part of 17 years’ worth of shooting – there are just a few critical things I find are inescapable when taking the shot. I perhaps have the benefit of having gone full circle a couple of times around the effort and equipment wheel, and shifting priorities force me to work both faster and smarter. Please note that the descriptions following have some subtlety and may at first seem contradictory, but bear with me…

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Working with overcast light

When the weather is overcast and light is not great, street photographers (myself included) usually lose motivation to continue shooting. After all, light plays a vital role in producing results. With less than ideal lighting, there is no opportunity for the widely practiced deep shadow and highlight play, silhouette shots or even dramatic high contrast shots, both in color or black and white. I do envy photographers in regions further away from the tropics (Japan, Australia, Northern European countries), where directional beautiful light is more common and present for an extended period of the day. In Malaysia where I reside, if there isn’t tropical afternoon showers, then we have to contend with haze or harsh light for most of the day. Directional and interesting light is confined to mornings and just before sunset.

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MT’s scrapbook: Duo

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I happened to be staying at the hotel in this rather interesting property a couple of months back; whilst I don’t think I’d want to live here (there are apartments in one of the other towers) because it feels a bit cold and impersonal – the architects did a good job breaking up the potentially overbearingly massive geometric forms with cladding and ground landscaping, so you never feel that dominance at ground level. There’s no question some very clever structural engineering was involved to make the masses balance (and to install that curtain wall). The interior spaces are strange though – despite the size of the building, they never feel very large inside; I don’t know if this is due to the internal space division or the very non-square geometry. Still, it made for a pleasant half an hour or so’s worth of diversion wandering around and hunting for images. MT

The Scrapbook series is shot on an Olympus PEN F, with unedited JPEGs straight from camera bar resizing (and of course some choice settings). One or two were reprocessed to match the rest of the set using The Monochrome Masterclass workflow, for visual consistency and correction of verticals.

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Robin visits South Africa, part II

Continued from Part 1

It was hard to believe how close we were able to get to the wild animals in Madikwe Game Reserve. Our park ranger drove us as close as 5 meters from the animals! The feeling of potentially fatal danger was persistent even while we busied ourselves composing images. The animals kept turning toward us and glancing at us from time to time, but they never showed any sign of aggression or agitation. I guess they’re so used to human presence with the never-ending stream of tourists that pass through the reserve. I was thrilled to be able to continue shooting my portraits of strangers, only this time my subjects were wild animals instead of humans.

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Robin visits South Africa, part I

Let me begin by expressing my gratitude for the overwhelmingly positive response to my recent announcement about joining the Olympus Visionary team. I am grateful to have such supportive readers and have come this far thanks to your support. So please do continue to visit the site regularly as MT and myself endeavour to produce content.

From December 7th to 13th, I traveled to South Africa with a group of Olympus Visionaries from Asia Pacific. This photography trip was fully sponsored by Olympus with the objective of encouraging the 19 photographers from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia to share ideas, inspire each other and to work more closely with Olympus. We went to Madikwe Game Reserve for safari shoots and stayed at the Tau Game Lodge. We spent 3 days going out in the field, trying to capture wildlife and nature shots. This particular trip was full of new experiences for me. For this first part of my South Africa series, I will share wider landscape and environmental photographs of the locations we visited.

All images shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko PRO lenses (300mm F4 PRO IS, 40-150mm F2.8 PRO and 7-14mm F2.8 PRO).

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Guest review: the 2018 Nikon Z6

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MT: Today’s thoughts on the Z6 should be thought of as an accompaniment to my Z7 review and are courtesy of the man behind the scenes and one of the partners in my watch venture, Praneeth Rajsingh, who’s the one keeping me organised and pointing in the right direction these days. I tried to get him to buy the Z7, but he knows his sufficiency threshold…

Hello! While I’m usually involved behind the scenes, Ming thought it might be interesting to have me share my thoughts on the new Nikon Z6 – which I recently acquired. As an amateur photographer who only buys gear to meet his needs (and budget), my review will not be the comprehensive and in-depth coverage that MT excels at, but I hope some of you find it useful.

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Photoessay: vignettes of melancholy and longing

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Here’s a slightly unusual (and personal) curation, matching my usual mood: I hugely cut down the amount of travel I’ve been doing (after pretty much ten years of non stop, at least twice a month work trips), starting in the second half of 2017 and continuing on to 2018. But the last couple of months have reminded me precisely why I made that choice: yes, you get to do some fun stuff, but it’s also fatiguing, you don’t see your family (worse, if your wife happens to have an opposite travel schedule which means you’re never in the same place at the same time), hotels are soulless, and working off a laptop with a malfunction keyboard (hello, double alphabets) and trackpad (goodbye, click!) when you’re used to a dual screen 27″-32″ setup is positively claustrophobic (and unproductive). Hell, I even miss my car and my polar bears. Sometimes these feelings concentrate, and leave you with an odd sort of creative inspiration that makes you search the back catalog and realise that at some point – many points, really – in your previous travels, you’ve felt exactly the same way. And it somehow made you a little creative at the time. And I have to say, in an odd way – that cheered me up. MT

Shot over a long, long period of time with a wide variety of equipment. Mostly processed with PS Workflow III.

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Congratulations to Robin Wong – ‘Olympus Visionary’

I am proud and happy to announce that I have recently joined the Olympus Visionary program. In this short article, I’ll explain my decision of becoming a brand ambassador for Olympus Malaysia as well as how this changes my writing as a photography blogger moving forward.

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Exploring Pulau Lang Tengah

At a recent Olympus event for bloggers and social media influencers, I was requested to conduct a night photography workshop at Pulau Lang Tengah – an island off the eastern coast of Malaysia. Since it was the start of the monsoon season, we anticipated rain and cloudy weather which is counter-productive to night sky and landscape shooting. I had most of the day before sunset to myself – a good opportunity to explore the island. I’m a land creature, allergic to the presence of water. So scuba diving or snorkeling was a non-starter, but given the great location and my purpose for being there, landscape photography was the natural answer!

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