Thursday, August 09, 2012

Sudden Itch and Panorama KL Scene

I did not quite know what got into me today but my hands were unbearably itchy for the whole day, desperate for some shutter clicking action. After work I rushed home to my beloved Olympus PEN E-PL1 with half-charged battery and chucked that into my camera bag with two lenses: the kit lens 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 and also my newly acquired CCTV lens 25mm F1.2. I was not quite sure what I wanted to do, and surely I have no proper plans or whatsoever, all I knew was that I just had to go out and shoot something, to ease that itch. The sky was quite clear and the sun was looking intense, so I made a last minute decision to rush over to the 16th floor of a low cost apartment in the city to shoot a landscape view of Kuala Lumpur approaching sunset. 

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and M.Zuiko 14-42mm kit lens, or CCTV lens 25mm F1.2

Panorama Stitched Photograph composed of 9 separate images, created by freeware Hugin. 
For larger display (2500px width) please click the image above. 


As I was at the top of the low cost apartment, overlooking the heart of Kuala Lumpur, I suddenly realized that my kit lens 14-42mm was not exactly wide enough to capture the sweeping landscape I have had in mind. In all honesty, 14mm (or 28mm in 35mm format equivalent focal length) is not really sufficiently wide for most of my wide angle shooting. I have been so used to my beloved Zuiko Digital 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 (in reality, many reviewers have commented that the field of view was closer to 10mm) that at 11mm focal length, I can squeeze in a lot more width into my frame. Now, not happy being restricted to just 14mm, I did not give up. I shot 9 separate images, with intention of them being stitched together to form a larger panorama photograph, wide enough to display what I have pictured in my mind. 

In order to create the panorama image, a few things must be taken into consideration. To maintain consistent exposure, I shot all 9 separate images in manual, making sure all shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings were the same. I trust Olympus' in camera Auto White Balance engine to be consistent, hence I left the white balance to Auto. In case your camera is being overly sensitive to changes of white balance as you shift the camera around, you might want to set the white balance manually to minimize irregular colour blending when you stitch the images together. The trick to good panorama shooting is to allow a lot of room for overlapping. I gave each image about 30% or more room to overlap, hence the lines will converge easier, minimizing errors in combining the images. If you are diligent enough to carry a tripod with you, please do so for more controlled output. I shot all the 9 images hand-held, and with a little luck the images combined nicely in the freeware Hugin to deliver the above output. If you are shooting on a tripod, you may increase the number of images to 12 or more, to provide more data for better stitching process. 

In case you are wondering what the advanatage of doing this panorama, or was it worth the trouble taking 9 shots and stitching it in computer, let me show you what the 14mm wide end is limited to in the following image:

Single image, taken at 14mm wide end. 

In comparison to the earlier panorama image, surely the panorama image has fit in a whole wide world, showing the surrounding villages of Kampung Baru which resisted change and modernization, despite pressure from the government to evacuate the residents there. It was indeed a stark contrast having traditional village setting residing just adjacent to a concrete jungle erected with skyscrapers. Should I have decided to just stay with the 14mm, the story-telling capability of that restricted field of view would not fulfill my intention of showing the contrast between the two worlds that exist together, side by side in Kuala Lumpur. I have always, always stressed the importance of having an ultra wide angle lens. Of course, if you have the 9-18mm, or even better the 7-14mm, you can save yourself the trouble of going through all this painful panorama shooting procedure. But where is the fun when it gets too easy?

I did not intend to stay long at Kampung Baru, because that area was known to be high crime zone, hence I left before sunset. I took a train to KLCC which was just one stop away, and had a quick dinner there. After dinner, I went to the top floor, and visited Kinokuniya, one of the largest and most reputable bookstores in Malaysia. Guess what I found at the photography section?

Hi Kirk!! Nice to find your LED Lighting on our local bookshelves here !!

As I have mentioned before, this roaming around did not have any purpose thought out beforehand. It was practically aimless, and I had no fixed direction to go. After spending about an hour at the bookstore, I felt a little exhausted already, not surprising since it has been indeed a long day. However, that itch for shutter clicking has not been satisfied, and I was going to go home just yet. 

So I took a longer stroll to another LRT station which was at Hang Tuah near Times Square (about 2km walk away). Along the walk, I just kept myself relaxed, and when I saw something interesting, I clicked the shutter button. I think in this session my photographs are being as random as they can be. I just wanted to be out there, and snapped something. Anything. It did not matter if I come home with anything usable, I just wanted to walk and shoot a little. Sometimes, it is the process of shooting that is truly enjoyable, regardless of the end results. 

Train Station

I did not even know what I was thinking when I shot this. I saw the guy walking into the bright, colorful background, and I just clicked the shutter button. 

Growing impatient. 
A muslim boy awaiting for the time to break the fast. It is the month of Ramadan where the Muslims have to fast all day till sunset. It was very, very near to sunset and you can see that frustration on the kids face. 

Escalate down. 

Empty Fashion

Differing styles. 

I came home feeling so much better. Shutter therapy to me, is a way to relax and take off my worries from my mind for a while, and let myself heal. 

This weekend is going to be a very, very busy one indeed. And that means, even more shutter therapy sessions to counter-balance things off !!


41 comments:

  1. The photo of the guy in front of the yellow advert is simply stunning!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Hugo! I like that photo too but to be honest my mind was rather blank when I shot that image!

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  2. The silhouette in front of the ad is nothing but pure genius. Love that image, perfect moment!

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    1. Thanks Andreas, seems like that image is getting popular. And it was not even an intended shot or planned !!

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  3. I also like the silhouette against the yellow ad. But the other photos are worth mentioning as well. I see that with that kit zoom you've got motion blur because of long exposure times - but sometimes that even contributes to a photo; bravo! And the stitched image is, well, stunning. Never saw KL like this (because I've never been there in high up places yet, only on the roads, mostly in a car). For panorama shots which I stitch together I ususally take some "normal" focal length tho, to avoid distortion on the single images. I rarely do it, but it's fun indeed. And I also use Hugin (on Linux here, no windows in da house ;-) ).

    Good to see Kirk's book - did you buy it? I have all 5 of his, and can recommend them all. Investing in books and self education is often better than to constantly buying gear. Nothing better than some books about art history and such...

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    1. Thanks Wolfgang for the kind comments. For the long exposure photos they were purposely slowed down to have the motion blur in the shots.
      Glad to find that you also use Hugin !! A great software that is, very versatile.
      I did not buy Kirk's book from the bookstore, it was over-priced I think, would have gotten a better deal from online purchase, or download as a e-book.

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  4. Robin, if you want do panoramas seriously, look at Gigapan robotic tripod heads. Makes huge panoramas very, very simple. Check out gigapan.org, and search on "JohnF" for some of mine. :-)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks John for the kind tip. I prefer to work with ultra wide angle lenses. Sometimes, in case of only stuck with what I have, then I use panorama for an alternative, which is not bad at all.

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  5. It's also a form of therapy to view great photos. Thanks Robin!

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  6. Thanks for sharing your shutter therapy session with your readers! I've been thinking of buying a CCTV lens for my girlfriend's e-pm1. I was hesitant to bite the bullet because of higher prices of some CCTV lenses (Pentax/Fujinon). Your pictures from this post and previous posts demonstrate that I don't need to focus so much on technical specifications.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Brian,
      it was my pleasure to share my photos from my shutter therapy sessions!!
      The CCTV lens is surely a fun lens to play with, as long as you do not mind the flaws and imperfections. it is everything that a modern lens is not. also, I sure hope your girlfriend does not mind manual focusing!
      Indeed there is a lot more to a good photograph than just mere technicalities!

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  7. Robin, your pano looks great! Did you rotate your camera to portrait orientation to take your 9 photos? The software that you use, Hugin, seems to do a very nice job, too. (I shoot a few dozen panos a year, but I use Photoshop, and I always find if very fun and exciting to see the results come together on the computer monitor.) Nice to see Kirk's book is now world-wide! I read it about Christmas time, and it was very informative. (I ended up buying a few inexpensive LED panels that Kirk recommended in a blog - some that he did not mention in his book.)

    I completely relate to what you are saying about going out to shoot, not knowing what you will be shooting, and not really even having a plan. I do that often, and I find it very relaxing and therapeutic, too!

    And like all of the others, I really like the photo of the silhouette in front of the yellow advertisement!

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    1. Hey Gregg,
      I used landscape orientation for all the 9 photos, but I allowed plenty of room for overlapping. It was a 3x3 grid (3 rows vertical and 3 rows horizontal) arrangement.
      I am not sure what people see in that yellow advertisement photo !! I think the reason why i shot it was the striking color and brightness, then I saw a man walking by so I snapped him with the background. There really is nothing else to that photo !

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    2. Robin, the relection is very interesting to me. The wall has the real image, and the floor is just the reflection. The walking man is the only thing in the image that crosses the line between the wall and the floor.

      I'm just sayin' that I'd be proud to put that one in my portfolio!

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  8. Hi Robin, great read and fun photos too. I particularly like the last image, Differing styles"

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    1. Thanks Tom !! I made a quick snap of the photo and realized that the top spotlight was over-powering the background (the main subject of the man at bottom right corner was fine). I wanted to make some adjustments (maybe use flash) but the guy walked off. Oh well, I guess I do need to act faster !!

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  9. Rafael Alcaide8/09/2012 06:16:00 PM

    Thank you, Robin! The beauty and deep feeling of your pictures is hard to describe in a few words. The Very difficult field of street photography has a master in you. The photo of the father and his litttle boy on the bike is an award winning image, it really touch me!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Rafael for the kind words !! I do not think I deserve such compliments, you are being too kind. The photo of the little boy is my favourite too.

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  10. absolutely lovely images mate!

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  11. I don't know exactly what it is, it's hard to describe, but your images have a certain special sparkle to it - the rich but not oversaturated colors, a certain smoothness, yet vivid and always tack sharp where it counts. Call it magic pixie-dust. Very special indeed and I love it. And always great compositions and topics, your macro work for example was nothing short of stunning. This series also has some very lovely images with that special Robin-sauce.

    Nice to see you're using Hugin too. A great tool of excellent quality and capability indeed.

    I've been in KL many times in the past, always a lovely experience. Not to mention the fantastic country, people and food. I shall be returning many more times to your excellent blog, longing for more lurking therapy ;-)

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    1. Thanks Andre for such kind words !! I am not sure about that "robin sauce", but I do think that it is important for photos to have strong colors, being vibrant and true to life !! I guess having that set in my mind, I followed them when I execute my shots on the street, and also while post-processing to have the look that I have intended.

      Hugin is such a joy to use, very easy and straightforward.
      Thanks again for your continuous visits and support !!

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  12. Nice work!

    Have you tried using the 11-22 on your E-Pen? While the autofocus is very slow, the image quality is excellent. I initially bought the 11-22 to use with an E-P2 using a Panasonic adapter and I was so impressed with the results I bought a used E-520. Before long I had purchased several previously owned Olympus 4/3 lenses and an E-620 as well. The Olympus lenses are impressive.

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    1. Thanks Dogman.
      Nope, I have not used the 11-22mm on the PEN but I am very, very happy seeing what the 11-22mm can do with my E-520 as well as E-5. Having that is more than sufficient.

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  13. Hi,
    Nice to know you all in this web site.
    I use olympus E5, 50mm lens and 12-60mm.
    Suresh

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    Replies
    1. No worries Suresh. 12-60mm is a great lens, I wish I have one too.

      Delete
  14. "Kampung Baru, because that area was known to be high crime zone" ???? what proof?

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    1. if you want your comment to be taken seriously, please do not post anonymously. otherwise you will be ignored.

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  15. Hi Robin,

    Can you tell me about 150 mm lens, have you tested or taken any pictures with this lens.
    Suresh

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    1. Suresh, as far as I am aware of there is no such lens for micro 4/3. What were you actually referring to?

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    2. Robin,
      I'm sorry, I'm refering to ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 150mm F2.0.
      Suresh

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    3. Hey Suresh,
      Nope, I cannot afford that lens !! It is also a lens with very long focal length, which I do not use often.
      May I know what do you intend to use the lens for?

      Delete
    4. Hi Robin,

      I was just asking because not many of them using this Zuiko 150 mm is that because of expensive lens.
      Just to find out from you if you have taken any picture with this lens.
      I'm thinking to get Zuiko 50-200 mm.

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    5. Hey Suresh,
      Nope I have not used the lens, and none of my friends have one. It is too far from my reach !!
      Do get the 50-200mm, it is highly recommended, very sharp, and flexible to use. Very, very perfect to be used on E-5.

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    6. Hi Robin,
      Thank you,for the next Zuiko lens may be go for 50-200 lens.

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    7. Hi Robin,

      In internet there are some rumours going on that Olympus E7 going to be out. Some also says E5 is the last DSLR in E series and no more Zuiko lens also. I haven't come anywhere Olympus camera manufactuter saying anything. I'm about to buy some Zuiko lens. Do you know any thing about this.

      Delete
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