My name is Kwai Bun. I’m an adventurous and enthusiast photographer. Photography inspire my life, that’s why i want to share with you.
The name “Dark Moon” came from the fact that I was trying to capture the vibe around the night-life area in Hong Kong: Lan Kwai Fong. People get drunk, escalate, scream, passing by, or bored. And the most interesting thing is how they expressed themselves in front of camera, when invited on the street.
The Dark Moon Technique is a special combination of skills to create these special look of stunning head-shots. It is derived by myself starting from my passion to create extraordinary head-shots with very mobile equipment in any location, and virtually zero setup time.
The aesthetics of Dark Moon Technique is special: anyone’s skin texture will be exaggerated like landscape. And the technique allows easy dark background separation and very sharp images in a heavy mass of Black, low-key contrast. So whats the Dark Moon Technique all about? Read on…
Few days ago I discovered the Hasselblad Xpan. It takes “panoramic” photos but it’s not the same as what modern panorama means.
Modern panorama are either done by image stitching or “pan panorama mode” by successive photo taking or video, and it can be as wide as 360 degree horizontal, or even spherical panorama. That means resulting image are born from multiple focal plane by a nodal pan. The image will always be a “wrapped” perspective. That’s not what this post is talking about.
On the contrary, panorama in Xpan (lets call it the “wide-angle-panorama”) means it’s technically a dual-frame wide image aspect ratio that use a wide 24mm (135 eqv.) focal length. and the film area is 68mm x 24mm (normal 135 format is 36mm x 24mm) Meaning everything is in the same focal plane as in normal photography, and perspective is no difference from a normal wide angle lens. and you got double film resolution due to a near double film length exposed. Exciting feature.
I haven’t been a big fan of wide angles (<30mm), for one i don’t photo architecture nor landscape a lot; for two, Most of my street photography I prefer a subject in it. If you put the subject too close, it’s very distorted. If you put it at normal distance it looks insignificant in contrast to the whole picture. Look at my photos here and imagine extending upper and lower borders: its what you will get normally in wide angles with a subject: on top a big sky or some buildings probably, and at bottom a huge area of ground. Can be great photos of course but the subject will always becomes less important.
Now probably you already understand what kind of unique images can be obtained. This “wide-angle-panorama” offers me a new composition possibility. When seeing the photos taken, they are really unique:
It’s wide, but when you place a subject in the frame, its height can still fill the frame easily without looking too small and insignificant like you usually do in wide angle lens.
The other way of thinking of it is, you are still framing your subject like a normal 35-50mm lens, but with extended “peripheral vision” on the two sides.
The above points is illustrated by the following comparison shots below.
Instant loving this unique result and googling a bit shows no similar dual frame camera nor digital version. I’m pulling out my ebay, tempted to bid one… But, it’s not a cheap camera at all (in ebay range from $1500 -$2000 USD, and > $3,000 for Xpan 2).
Having second thought to save some money, an idea to mimic it digitally comes to my mind, and it works how?
This set try to utilize lots of concepts we discussed earlier and put it into experimentation: absurdity, symmetry, making fun of yourself, your body, manipulating scale of objects, perspective, destroying form, direction of gravity, creating ambiguity, confusing viewers, re-inventing symbols, etc.
The closest concept I can attribute my work here is “Surrealism”, “Abstract Photography”. However, I can’t find anything similar enough and I hope my further development of these will take it even further and unique.
To elaborate on this more soon!
Symmetry is an old and digital technique that not all will recognize as “Photography”. There might be too many attempts to focus on the “effect” itself, producing meaningless mirror effect, but not focusing on manipulating the basic photographic or visual elements.
I say we shouldn’t be limited, at least not as in “creative photography”. As you see in this series of symmetrical photographs,
I try to manipulate the perspective, destroy the direction of gravity, and alters the form and tonality to achieve surrealistic pictures. Something that provoke your normal logic of the world, or even purposely mislead your perception.
The symmetry technique itself is just a tool, the main thing is how do you make the unique twist by this techniques. I borrowed a lot of concepts to break the conventional perception of “what it is” from this earlier experimentation: Going Creative with iphone
by Dionysus Contemporary Theatre | www.dcthk.com.hk
Starring Anthony Wong, Hins Cheung, Directed by Olivia Yan
Original script by Peter Shaffer
EQUUS 2014 is breathe-taking. What I saw on stage is very impactful. And what residues in my mind is really powerful.
Without any literature review nor am I a drama expert, this is a not a critic, but a direct personal responds to this marvelous art piece. Equus, like many great art, has many open and abstract suggestions, thus my interpretations might not reflect the accurate expression of the producers. Nonetheless, I find it valuable to share the insights.
If I am to bring two cameras for a trip. Which two I will choose?
I finally grabbed my Fujifilm X-T1 + 35/f1.4 as the main gun, plus 56/f1.2 hoping I can shoot portrait on street, and again the Ricoh GR is so negligibly thin and light to carry it as additional wide coverage.
Now i got decent lens in 28mm + 50mm + 85mm, all with decent APS-C sensor behind, still in a pretty light package. Guess what can go wrong in a travel shoot?
The weather it is! It’s like 100% shady cloudy overcast days. Was I still able to produce some nice images?
Also, in this trip, I bump into an old photographer in his little shop and we had chatted and viewed his 40 years of photographs for an hour. What’s the insight I gained as a humble learning photographer?
I made these images while I was working overnight. I was so tired and dizzy. My logic brain is not functioning, and I can barely think.
Suddenly, absurdity kicks in my head and I start shooting
Without concerning any photographic techniques and quality (it sucks anyway), I’m able to think out of the box (Or not think at all). Some may dis-regard these as photographs. Fine, take me as “making images”. (No, I didn’t use photoshop. I only use instagram and a double-exposure App)
Most importantly, it’s to unleash your intuition, humor, rebellious self, exploratory eyes, unconventional attitude into your photography. I’m able to have fun, making jokes on myself, and explore garbage “found objects” as I see fit. No pressure, just play around.
If you think the photographic quality sucks (they do), imagine the possibilities of utilizing these new mindset using a “real” camera.
I’m having fun, your turn
P.S. Guess what the above objects are?
These photos surprises me! considering they are just quick tests at home.
It’s the technique I always want to try. It’s half referenced by others and half deduced by myself by experimentation.
The images below are pushing even further using this technique.
Hong Kong has a community of photographers who like to organize sessions of casual model shoots. Yes, a “group shoot”! At first, it’s a weird idea for me because I can’t imagine how can a shoot proceed with multiple photographer with one model. And what about lighting? even though each has their own strobe but everyone will crowd around, competing for angles and model’s attention. Not to mention who to direct the model and the jamed radio frequency of wireless strobe, and few other’s strobe stand is blocking your way!
As a studio shoot beginner and adventurous photographer, I still want to experience that and humbly learn from this community.
One hour, 6 photographers, it was fun experiencing my first “group shoot”.
A model shoot is something new to me, both in terms of direction and strobes. With my new Fujifilm X-T1 and older Canon 5Dmk2, I can’t wait to test how the smaller XT-1 hold up. Cause if it does, i can ditch my bulky 5Dmk2
It’s a haunted house in the country side, we arrived late and we only have less than 2 hours before the sun gone completely. I have one basic wireless flash with reflector, operating in manual mode. And we start shooting. We start with natural light first.
My 5D mk2 was quite a workhorse in its days. And it still is, as a DSLR, it’s speed certainly surpass X-T1 to capture the ever moving model. However, it’s heavy, and IQ is slightly inferior to the X-T1.
The X-T1 has nearly everything I wanted, except I’m doubtful whether its improved speed can catch up for a model shoot.
Flickr album for more photos here.
Hong Kong food markets are great photography locations. Not a formal comparison but you can have a glimpse of 5 cameras photographing the same theme:
Fujifilm X-T1 | 56/f1.2, Sigma DP2M, Ricoh GR + VSCO Superia-100, Olympus OM-10 | 50/f1.8 | lomo Slide 200, Lomo La Sardina | ISO1600film, iPhone 5S + VSCO Cam
If you haven’t tried, food market is a bit of challenge: low light, fast and chaotic moving people wiping in front of you. Subjects are easily blocked by a lot of people back facing you. And traditional Chinese culture isn’t the most accepting when it comes to being photographed by strangers.
It’s interesting to look at different characters of photos resulting from different cameras, films, and lens:
The Angenieux M1 25mm/f0.95 is legendary, it’s used by NASA for first high-resolution photographs of the Moon by Ranger 7.
( First of all, don’t judge the photos’ IQ. It’s some Lo-fi lightroom preset I like, that clips the black and gives more noise than it originally is.)
Being a “lazy” photographer. I always want my gears to fit into my pocket without carry a bag and being stealth-able. This way i can make photography an everyday habbit.
There are great pocketable cameras like the Ricoh GR or Lomography L-CA+ or even the iphone. However all these pocketable gems have one missing puzzle: they are all 30-ish mm (35mm eqv.) or wider and at most f2.8. Not the best for portraits nor very low-light.
In search of my pocketable-lowlight-portrait solution, I find this Panasonic ultra-tony M43 camera: Lumix GM1. This camera is so tiny and lovely and online reviewers said the IQ is on Par with GX7 and better than GH3. Great, but what lens should i choose? two suitable candidates are panasonic pancake 20mm/ f1.7 (but still a bit wide) and Olympus 45mm/ 1.8 (great for portriats but the length of this tiny lens already extrude my pocket too much). the new Olympus 25mm /f1.8 is great too but it isn’t available at the time i bought it. They are all plausible but what if I want to go even further? I begin to search the entire big world of vintage lens…
Film is great. and film camera is something you can love it for what it is, despite its discrepancies.
I got this Olympus OM-10 from my Dad which is a camera that i saw him carrying around in my childhood. The camera feels great in hand and the shutter sound is additive. The old hazy viewfinder is not easy though, but the range-finder type of manual focus is a joy to use. And oh wait, he also got the Zuiko 50mm/ f1.8! Couldn’t resist to load a film and shoot-out!
It was a morning in Central market of Hong Kong, one of the busiest place in that hour with so much small stories going on. House wife are busy, shop keepers are waving for thier customers. The vibe is great, the colors are beautiful and you got so much textures there. Perfect photographic locations!
But wait, i almost forgot there’s sth unusual about my film and camera…
Miracle does happens.
This elegant old camera was the camera my Dad has been carrying around in his youth. He gave it to me, but the shutter is faulty and cannot use. Over the past few weeks, i asked around and took it to 2 very famous old camera master for repair, but both of them refuse to take it cus the camera is too old and they will have big works and still have no confident they can fix it.They both recommended me to put it on display only and I can easily buy the same old model for very cheap price in eBay, at good working conditions.
But no, that’s not what i wanted. I was so disappointed because even it’s the same model that looks and works the same, it wouldn’t be my dad’s camera. It’s just not the same. I want this one and only one camera. I wish I can carry it around to take the lovely film as if I’m doing what Dad was doing in the old days. But there simply seems to be no solution.
Desperate and ready to give up after weeks, my love to this camera doesn’t stop. Read More
In digital era, we have complete freedom in color alteration, but has this freedom liberate photographers? Or does it sacrifice authenticity?
This is a huge topic that i wouldn’t be able to cover in great details, nor can I claim myself to be at mastery of it. And there are huge difference in opinions on whether color of photos should be altered digitally. Not starting a debate here. Instead since I have some years of color alteration experience, partially in photography, partially in motion pictures/ TV commercials, I would like to share what I observed.
When I was beginning photography, B&W is like a shortcut of good photos.
B&W photos has certain appeals that pleases all of us. It was like one of the “effect” that looks good, because when you choose between color effects in lightroom, iphone, or even in-camera color presets, lots of time proves switching to B&W instantly make the photo stylish.
When i shoot more, I begin to deconstruct why B&W photos easily make many photos looks good:
- photos with unexciting colors doesn’t reveal itself as bad as it originally is.
- it unifies a photo set. Often without careful planning, a photo set ends up with varying, inconsistent color and lighting. B&W make it consistent and easily look like a set. look at your facebook photo album!
- color noise/ grains/ under-exposed greyish colors are reduced to monochrome and these unwanted distraction are less prominent, essentially increasing the range of low-light/ under-exposued photos usability.
- due to above reason, a converted B&W can also be manipulated with tonity vastly without breaking the naturalness of colors.
- most people just think it’s cool.
That’s why simply converting your photo to B&W can easily make your photos look good, but far from great.
The Black magic Pocket cinema Camera (BMPCC) isn’t a still camera at all. If you google it with “still photography” related keywords, you gets nothing but a few people wondering if the idea of using it as still camera is possible, and no photos of such is found. . Of course, i bought BMPCC not because i want to use it as still camera either.
Using BMPCC with a vintage lens and Film Convert Pro, the images are so cinematic and organic.
So, why do I want to use BMPCC as a still camera, and will continue to do so?
Smartphone is an irreplaceable camera in its own genre.
my Instagram here.
Technically it’s zero weight comparing to bring any extra camera. And it’s always charged, with memory, and always with you. The instant sharing and photo effects app differentitates it from any other camera you could use. And naturally, it influence greatly the photos you will take with it.
While most people use it causally for social or documentation purpose, there are some striving to make some difference out of it. Of course, even the latest powerful camera in smartphones are still lack of optical zoom, offering only a general purpose 30-ish mm eqv. and the resolution/ resolving power is still well below many cameras.
a good Instagram photo usually looks bad if you view it on big monitor. It stays good on the smaller smartphone screen. Hence we need some special strategy.
I wouldn’t think it can produce enough resolution for a full screen view. That’s why i regard it as “thumbnail photos” or “sticker” photos and the photos i showed here are also a montage of smaller tiles.
So what is my approach in getting these thumbnail photos good?
Photos that are out of focus, under/over exposed, back-lit, too grainy, wrong color, cropped subject head, generally goes to trash and regarded as failed photos.
It’s true most of the time, but have you ever find some of your above photos that is actually beautiful? I did, and over the years, I discover interesting common characteristics in those photos. And this post focus mainly on one significant type among these photos.
Such photos are interesting, but our brain is fascinating!
Coming from a heavily digital background, I had some bad experience in Lomography. First is the one with 4 lens in one photo camera (Action Sampler) which i broke it the second time I used; Second is the medium format Belair which I pre-ordered with excitement, but when arrived, found the tactile extremely toy in such size, and I mistakenly thought it has a reasonably usable aperture. (it’s f8 day-light camera when I found out later)
For many people, Lomography is highly overpriced for selling cheaply constructed camera with cheap plastic lens. But is it?
I have to say I have new impressions after I re-visit their site and the photos taken by its community. I’m impressed and aspiring about the somewhat “avant-garde” philosophy about Lomography.
The photos in their site and photobooks are special, energetic, and all those “cheap” construction somehow works together so well. Most people will either love or hate between the lo-fi feel of it. I used to hate it too, but this time I somehow see through that “absolute image quality” criteria and focus on the actual photos, the subject and content, and the “energies” of the subjects that they present.
Im tempted for this new perspective of taking pictures, and I pick the most classic and practical camera to start with: L-CA+
The beauty of this little camera is that, you don’t need to think when taking a picture, and it makes you a better photographer.
Why is it so? Read More
Interesting enough, the reason I bought the Ricoh GR is primarily influenced by iphone.
I beleive everyone agree that the iphone is soooo portable that basically changes all of our habbits of taking photos – its just ALWAYS AVAILABLE. It makes taking pictures a pleasure. Other “real cameras” are only meant to be carried if you intended to, say, “let’s take some photograph today” . Well, this simple fact about smartphone is important and changes everything. More on my journey on iphoneography in my other post here.
The only pocketable APS-C cameras exist, are Ricoh GR & Nikon Coolpix A. I chose the GR.
I’m really picky – No m43 or smaller sensor camera actually lived up to my standard of good IQ (except OMDs). With the pocketability factor in mind, the obvious answer is Ricoh GR. (GR vs Coolpix A here)
It’s a no brainer. This ultra-light weight, thin camera slip right into my pocket at ease. I don’t even remember it exists sometimes. Yet it’s IQ surpasses a lot of bigger heavier camera+lens combos. And its offers much more than IQ.
There are literally hundreds of apps in smartphones offering photo color filters. I have tried several dozens of them. They varies in usability, quality, and most importantly how beautiful are the color filters.
The most obvious turn-downs of color filters, is most of them aren’t designed by referencing analogue look, or are bad mimics, resulting unpleasant digital looks or even technical implementation of colors adjustment
(I’m refering to apps with hardcoded filters, not apps like photoshop that offers flexibility). It’s about the artistic eyes of app developer for choosing what filters to offer and how good they do it.
There are only less than 10 apps in my iphone I found to be relatively more artistically pleasing, and some of them have put great effort to reference true film emulation.
While Instagram chose some nice filters collection and confident enough that you will love and stick to them, the filters are still not delicate enough for my taste and it limits your photo resolution to 1024. If you want to push it to another level of analogue feel and retains a higher resolution result, let me re-introduce you this great classic: Hipstamatic.
Some reviewers said the Sigma DP2M (and DP1M, DP3M) 16Mpix APS-C Foveon sensor resolving power is on par to the 40-50Mpix medium format cameras like Hassled.
When i first saw full size images of Sigma DP2M, I’m just shocked. I have never seen anything like this detaility, particularly in such an ugly box design when i bought it at just around $650. (cheaper than a decent lens) Its APS-C foveon sensor, just 16 Mpix, yet captures so much more information! I think the DPxM are still behind medium formats. But when comparing with the 35mm big guns like Nikon D800E/ Sony A7R/ RX-1R who has 36 Mpix, I think Sigma DP2M hold up quite well, magically with its 16Mpix.
megapixel is just half of the equation. It’s about RESOLVING POWER. With Foveon sensor there is no interpolation like all other cameras that uses Bayer sensors.
How can 16 Mpix hold up against 36Mpix?
This is a rather unconventional post on photography.
In case anyone don’t know already: the image above is CGI (computer generated imagery). And it’s achieved in very short time by a technology I developed and patented: Quantum Human (under-construction)
My main career is a businessman running a CGI animation company. I’m also a creative director. But what people don’t usually know is that I’m a programmer too and i found programming one of my biggest talent in college.
This post isn’t about advertising on my technology. It’s rather a discussion on the ever-growing technology. Imagine, if within a year of two, CG rendered image or even video are so photorealistic to an level that is indistinguishable from real photographs. (i admitted the above image still not 100% photo-real) What could have possibility happen? Probably nothing, and probably anything you have already seen in numerous Sci-fi movies.
In fact the CG technology is already so matured that it can create the illusion of reality and the whole industry is built on this magic. See Avatar, see Benjamin Button. But it still takes huge expertise, man-hours, and time to do. Especially CG human is considered one of the most complex thing to do, even more complex than a CG Ocean in general. What if, the above CG rendered human can move and react to you in realtime ? What if it combines with holograhic projection of star wars and it becomes affordable in every cafe? What if, the CG human combines with artificial interlligence AI? What if, cloud and quantum computing makes it possible that billions of AI virtual human are living in a group of community online and you see them in every shop around the corner or in your mobile phone?
These ideas are certainly not new, only that how fast it becomes the reality. And my technology might become part of the digital revolution.
2 years ago i bought the Fujifilm X-Pro1 – its the first camera i feel love
It’s fantastic in IQ as a non-DSLR: its X-trans sensor offers great details that feels natural and without over sharpening, accurate color balance and warm organic “fuji color”, top class high ISO performance, and great primes to go with. I was using the sharp 35mm/ f1.4 (although its excluded from DxO lab test, some reviewers regard Fuji’s primes as “Zeiss-class”).
At that time, without exhaustive nor scientific comparison, my researches showed its IQ surpass a lot of DSLR and APS-C. (a test done by myself shows it at least surpasses my 5D mk2 in terms of detail resolving power, high ISO, and color) As a non-DSLR, it feels quite top choice for me, just second to Leica M9 . Of course, I picked X-Pro1 also because its Bokeh possibility with its primes is second to none in similar form factor (except the expensive Leica Ms) and its retro control and design.
I found myself a constant low light shooter. Before i have X-Pro1, any cameras i used feels limiting. Whenever im in low light and saw some good shots ahead, I was used to hesitate if it’s too dark to worth taking out the camera for useful shots. Well, the X-Pro1′s famous low light performance and the sharp wide open f1.4 has completely set me free in most low-light situations.
I’m also obsessed with Bokeh. At the time of purchase, there is literally no m43 lens combo that can produce such shallow depth of field. And the bokeh of Fuji XF lens are all so tasteful.
Flickr Album here.
If you are looking at mirrorless or even DSLR, superzooms may not be your target, considering its small sensor image quality, I myself included.
After my Tibet trip with a Sony HX-100 superzoom, I basically feel insufficient on its image quality and decided to step up to larger sensor. However, when i think again, that zoom range in small-medium size has really some unique edge. When i view my Tibet photos again, i could safely say, if I haven’t brought the superzoom for this trip, i wouldn’t have produced as many good shots as possible, despite the smaller sensor IQ.
In my Tibet trip, at least one-third of good shots are not possible without a superzoom camera.
Flickr Album here.
It was the old days in 2002. Everyone still use the film cameras. And my camera is the simple and good Canon EOS 300, with 24-85mm zoom.
I was a photography beginner and this camera is my first camera, but since I was a flight attendant for a year, I wouldn’t want to waste my chance to take beautiful photographs. I have traveled 53 cities in 1 year. nearly 70 rolls of film. It was a great year.
When i look back on my photos, despite my photography eyes are still in infancy, the fact that these 53 cities had offered so many photographic locations still result in lots of good shots.
At the first half of my journeys, I take a lot of photos with the beautiful scenery: mainly architectures and nature. Mostly day due to the lower low-light performance of film and my zoom lens won’t be that fast. I usually shoot at ISO 200 or 400. My 24mm wide lens fits me just well that my mentally of taking photos are mostly “I feel and see good about a place, and I capture it through camera”. But as my other post is discussing, this mentality only get you so much due to the fact that, a place feel and look good, isn’t necessarily a photographically good spot. Examples are like sea-front, or beautiful interiors.
Then I was more conscious about composition,
after a while I get bored because i felt i was producing too many “postcard” photos: beautiful but boring to me.