Through the Lens

I always wanted to get more into photography. While I always felt I had some idea about what makes good composition, I never really bothered to know more about photography. I therefore wanted to get more into the art and the technology. For many years, I used a point-and-shoot Casio camera, and I felt that it served me well for what I needed. However, I wanted a camera that could give me more flexibility as I delve deeper into the wonderful world of photography; something that isn’t as daunting as a full-frame DSLR camera. After digging around on the internet, I narrowed my search down to Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras (or Compact System Camera). These types of cameras come with a compact body but has a sensor size that is comparable to that of some DSLR cameras. I found a good deal on a used Sony Alpha NEX-5N including the 18-55mm kit lens and a Sigma 19mm F2.8 EX DN lens (which at that time I didn’t know was a great prime lens for the Sony E-mount).

In the last two months, I’ve been amassing great knowledge about photography and camera settings like a sponge. Now I have a fairly good understanding of camera sensors; exposure settings involving aperture, shutter speed & ISO; metering modes; depth of field, and so on. There is still so much to learn, and I’m really excited about the journey. My foray into getting better at photography would no doubt lead me to learning about vintage lenses, which can be used on the mirrorless cameras using a cheap adapter. Why use vintage lenses? Well for one, the quality and build of vintage lenses are top notch, and are marginally cheaper compared to their equivalent modern counterpart. Also, vintage lenses often create unique effects and colour rendering on photos. Since I’m still learning, I find it a good thing to be manual focusing, as it gives me more control over my shot. Sure, it’s a slower process and I might miss a good shot, but it really helps me to stop and think about what I want to shoot. So I found myself scouring eBay for all sorts of vintage lenses with different apertures and focal lengths. You get really into it – at least I did. Haha! Apparently there are common “diseases” that afflict photographers:

  • Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS)
  • Lens Buying Addiction (LBA)
  • Photo Forum Addiction (PFA)

I found the acronyms from this site, where these common ailments are described. I find that it’s all part of the journey. I really like keeping up to date with technology and gadgets, and this is no different. Knowing what kind of gear you can use with your camera, what kind of lenses are available, and how other people shoot all helps make you a better photographer. I got a really good deal on a Helios 44M-6 58mm f2 manual focus lens for very cheap. The lens has a FOV corresponding to 87mm on the 5n’s crop sensor. Below is a photo of what I have so far.

Lens party

But at the end of the day, for a novice, the common mantra is “Gear doesn’t matter.” Make do with what you have. Use the camera and gear you have until you’ve completely mastered it. As a novice, learning how to control what you see through the lens is what makes you a better photographer. When your gear starts to limit what you can do, then it’s time to upgrade!

So I went for a nature walk in Skodsborg, north of Copenhagen, along with my two Bromies, Claus and Anders. I got to shoot with the Helios and the Sigma. I really like the swirly bokeh that the Helios renders. The Sigma is great for wide angle shots. I picked out my favourites from all the shots that day, and edited them using Lightroom.

Enjoy the photos and stay tuned for more!

/Gideon

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Picture Postcard

No photoshop Try to picture one of those tacky postcards: white, sandy beaches, palm trees marking up the shore line and the turquoise sea water battling it out with the sky to see which blue nuance is the brightest. At Perhentian Islands, postcards don’t do reality justice. I stayed a whole weekend in this paradise where my fellow travel-companions and I quickly got spellbound by the island-vibe, where time seems to slow down and errands and to-do lists get tucked away somewhere in the back of the mind. Little was on the agenda other than slurping mango smoothies and soaking up some sun with the occasional dip in the sea. We also took a 3 hour snorkeling trip to other, smaller islands lying around the Perhentian Islands, offering colourful fish and untouched corals. It is safe to say that it was an unforgettable snorkeling experience, with a blue marlin jumping near our boat, turtles coming up for air as we were lying in the water and of course, not to forget, the finding of many a cute Nemos. Picture Postcard To make sure that we didn’t miss our flight back to the city we decided to take the jetty back early on Sunday and go explore Kota Bharu and its famous central market, Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah. This colourful wonder offers a wet market with the usual produce like fish and veggies, and it was also here that I got to try the famous Nasi Kerabu, a beautiful blue-coloured rice dish that is really popular here in Malaysia. As you ascend the stairs in this building you get to the dry market – a myriad of small pathways that will lead you around dried snacks, cooking utensils and beautiful batik clothing. It is easy to get lost in here and lose all sense of time. <3 Getting over my dengue fever also gave me back my appetite, and food suddenly became appealing to me once again. That opened up for countless food adventures around the city – everything from local Malay to fine Japanese food. One such local adventure was a trip to the nearby Imbi market, which hid itself from us for some time but proved worth the chase once we found a spot at one of the glitzy plastic chairs and tables, barely shaded by the sun. The heat was heavy, but with a plate of Sisters Crispy Popiah in front of me, I forgot all about the sweaty circumstances. Other edible delights included an amazing experience at Gangnam 88 in Mont Kiara where kimchi stew and bulgogi blew my mind and made me want to fly away to Kpop-land right away. Dim sum also crept its way back into my life, and I realized how much I have missed this usual Sunday ritual from when I was living in Hong Kong. This weekend we simply had to try the afternoon high tea session at The Majestic Hotel, with fine bone china of teapots and teacups and a circular tower of goodies. Of course, the only correct way to eat your cucumber sandwich is with a pointy pinky. Yes, the colonial feel is a bit much, and yes it is a bit pricey, but once you dig into that scone you have already convinced yourself that you have to come back. High Tea session The 2015 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix also came to Kuala Lumpur, attracting thousands of enthusiasts from around the world. Not being a car or adrenalin junkie, I did not plan to go to this big event, but was lucky enough to be invited along on some free tickets. And though I must admit I never understood the fascination e.g. why my dad would want to spend a whole Sunday watching cars driving around and around and around on a pit (and still don’t), I am happy that I was fortunate enough to try it and “tick it off” the list of musts. One weekend was also spent traversing all of the acres of the ‘Lake Gardens’, also called Perdana Botanical Garden. I was very surprised by all the colours and how bright the greenery was. Due to the intense heat that follows you everywhere you go, I often have a difficult time accepting how green Kuala Lumpur actually is. Of course the almost daily afternoon showers give plants and trees the necessary sustenance, however, these rain showers always seem to escape my memory (which might also explain why I always forget an umbrella). The garden area is absolutely stunning and offers an orchid section, a hibiscus section, a small deer park and everything in between. Walking around the big lake in the center of the park made me reminisce about my time in NYC the past few months, wondering if this heritage park is KL’s equivalent to my beloved Central Park. Botanical gardens KL is still treating me real good and apart from the usual cab driver trying to press me for an extra ringgit or two, the past month has offered me some amazing memories, like a funky jazz night at No Black Tie, a mojito at Marini’s rooftop bar, not to forget the many snacks and deserts that find their way to my tummy. If you are a resident in KL, please share with me your favourite food spot, and any local must eats– always up for a new food adventure. Follow me on instagram if you are a foodie yourself. Until next time! /Krissy