My digital photography journey -
Click here to read Why the Fuji S5 Pro is my choice for digital photography?
I was late in embarking on this journey. I was a film / slide diehard. There is a certain magic that comes from looking at a piece of slide, even just holding it up against a light. Digital images are still unable to reproduce this magic, although they get closer with improvements in technolgy.
And so for a long time, I had lots of reasons for not going digital. One reason was that I did not have the money. But I once stated that, if I had the money, I would rather spend it on a dedicated negative / slide scanner instead of a digital camera. To that, one digital photography enthusiast retorted: “My camera has a built in scanner!”
I believe I have grown tremendously as a photographer during the past one year. I take much more pictures now, and also much better pictures. In short, I have become more of a photographer - much much more.
One of the reasons I used to cite against digital photography was that it encourages the "bad habit" of taking too many pictures - of taking pictures without thinking simply because it is free.
With negatives and slides, because costs are involved - it used to cost me approximately S$1 per image for negative, processing and scanning, and I don't even get a print - the photographer has to think more carefully before releasing the shutter.
Even though I remain conscious about not taking pictures mindlessly, I still did not expect to take so many photographs - about 10,000 in my first 11 months, and close to 5,000 in my 12th month! That could well be more than all the photographs I had taken in the past 30 years!
The big change in me was that, with my digital SLR, I now take pictures a lot more than before. I used to take pictures only on special "photography outings" - whether with friends or alone. Now, I carry my camera almost wherever I go, including at night.
I also began to actively seek out photo opportunities, looking into various events calendars. And I discovered that The Esplanade, Singapore's arts and cultural centre, has free - and often excellent - performances every weekend. This explains my surge in photo taking during the past month.
All that practice has not gone to waste. I not only take more pictures, but, more importantly, I take more pictures that I am happy with. In the past, with negatives and slides, there had been times when I return from a photo outing disappointed, with just a handful of barely ok pictures out of two to four rolls. Now, I find myself consistently getting good pictures, and often enough getting pictures that I consider great.
Here, then, is a sharing of my 10 "best" out of close to 15,000 images taken during the first year of my digital photography journney.
The first that comes to mind is this Evil, Ugly Fella, taken during a recent trip to the Singapore Bird Park. This may not be my absolute best digital photograph to date, but it definitely had a big impact on me - it made me keep going back to the Jurong Bird Park and even buy a one-year season ticket:
And, to my own surprise, I have another two bird pictures among my "Top 10". I was previously never interested in photographing birds.
This abstract image of a crowned crane was from my third visit to the Jurong Bird Park.
And this also somewhat abstract image of a blue stock, was from my fourth visit. I actually have another very similar image, with the eyes open. It probably has more popular appeal, but I like this version better:
Another new area for me is night photography.
With digital cameras offering sensitivity of up to ISO 3200 in the case of my Fuji S5 Pro, and even higher in the case of some newer cameras, I became somewhat of a "night photographer" and took hundreds, if not more than a thousand, night photographs. I am most proud of this one:
I even put up a page of night photography tips and lots more night photographs. Please refer to the menu bar on the left of this page.
Taking place mostly at night are various performances. Here, my interest is not so much in photographing scenes of the performances, but in taking close up portraits of the artistes - musicians, dancers and others.
And so I have another few memorable images in this category from my past year of digital photography. The one that is most deeply etched in my mind is this Chinese opera actress, taken at the Chinese temple near my block of flats during Chinese 7th month - The festival of hungry ghosts.
Just as memorable for me was the Chinese mid-autumn festival where one dancer from China got me enchanted. I kept returning to her performance just to take digital pictures of her.
Plus, I did a photo essay for JPG Magazine, titled Seven Portraits of a Mid-Autumn Dancer. It was very well received. It got featured on the cover page of JPG for a while, and attracted close to 2,000 views!
That, on turn, started me on a series of photo essays featuring portraits, usually Seven Portraits...
My personal favourite series is Seven Portraits of a Didgeridoo Artiste. I will put it up on this site later, but for now, click the link to the photo essay at JPG Magazine. I like this series best because I managed to put together seven images of the same person, in the same performance, yet all seven images are sufficiently different from each other.
Also, this series yielded another great photograph of hands:
In fact, thanks to digital photography - which increased the effective maximum focal length of my zoom lens to 450 mm - my collection of photographs of hands is expanding very quickly.
Here is another of my personal favourites from Thaipusam 2008, my first "digital Thaipusam":
One more "photograph of hands" made it into my Top 10 list from the past year of digital photography, this one from a back alley near the Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam, where my friends and I went quite often to have teh halia, or ginger tea.
Finally, another old theme - the lotus.
One of the first things I did when I started digital photography was to re-visit the lotus pond near my home. I had taken lots of lotus flower pictures in the past and you can view them here and here and here and here.
Even though the lotus is a cliched subject, especially among Asian photographers, I find it challenging to capture lotus images that are out of the ordinary.
On the day that I visited the lotus pond early on in my digital photography journey, there weren't that many flowers. In fact, most of the pond consisted of dead or dying leaves. And I captured this:
It has no flower. Yet it is, to me and some of my friends, one of the best lotus images that I have ever created!
I hope you enjoy this presentation / sharing of my "best" works in digital photography. Do visit my more recent photographs and photo essays at JPG Magazine and Red Bubble - where you can also buy cards, prints and calendars of my works.