Canon Creative Asia Wedding Photographer of the Year!

Further to my previous post about the Canon Creative Asia Photography competition that saw 1500+ entries worldwide.  The final judging was done ‘live’ in front of an audience and stream online, and I’m very pleased that this entry came in 1st for the Engagement category and clinched the title Canon Creative Asia Wedding Photographer of the Year!

1st place in Engagement category and Overall winner – “Two” Balloons

Apart from that, 2 other images came in 2nd and 3rd placing in two other categories, both came rather close with a difference of 2 and 4 points from the top image in the category.

2nd place under Bride & Groom together category

3rd place – Bride or Groom Alone

Nonetheless, it’s really good to hear what different judges have to got to say about the images that were submitted – expert opinions are certainly more valuable!

Chinese New Year sure come early this year! 🙂

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7 Awards from Canon Creative Asia Photography competition!

I am very thrilled to have received 7 awards from the Canon Creative Asia Awards!!!  This is an international competition with a panel of esteemed and renowned judges.   To top it, up, 4 of them are awarded Silver!!!
My early X’mas pressy ! 🙂

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More reasons why Hasselblad H4D-40

The previous post about the Hasselblad H4D-40 has officially become the most read thread on this blog ever!  There has been so much interests in it from both clients as well as photographers about this new tool that we are using.

One other thing that the Hasselblad can do very well over the 35mm DSLR is the optics that are made for it – sharpness and contrast aside, they have excellent flare control and here’s an example of what exactly I’m talking about.

 The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L mk II probably has the best flare control in my canon range of lenses.  Lens hood were mounted on the respective lenses to minimise flare and both filters were spotlessly clean when we shot these.  Note that both the camera angle and light position were kept constant (mounted on tripod).  Camera setting are identical, ISO 400, 1/20s shutter speed, f/8 for this test.

Hasslelblad H4D-40 with 35-90mm aspherical


Canon 1Ds mark III with 16-35mm mk II


I’m sure the results speaks for itself.  The Canon suffers from contrast loss as a result of the flare, whereas the Hasselblad truly shine in this area.  That’s another 1 more point for the Hasselblad!

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Our latest tool – Hasselblad H4D-40 digital medium format

I have been procrastinating about digital medium format for the past 1.5 years and the easiest excuse to cool the urge of getting one such system is to tell myself that these mammoth machines are just overkill for wedding.  As what many wedding photographers I’ve spoken to have said “Clients can’t tell anyway whether it’s 35mm or medium format”.

And then, came the invitation to attend a seminar that I should and shouldn’t have attended – the Hasselblad product launch held at Shriro Singapore.  The highlight of the event is the latest H4D range of digital medium format cameras and the H4D-40 simply caught my attention because of superb image quality that it can produce.  40 megapixels of goodness.

To me, all these stats means nothing to me until I get to try it for myself.  And the kind folks from Shriro Singapore, who is the distributer for Hasselblad product in Singapore and Malaysia loaned me a set to try out for my upcoming assignment. No obligations to buy if I don’t like it.

Seok Kuan & Charles were more than happy to be our lab rats for this.  The initial scepticism was that it ain’t goint to work because 1) like most medium format cameras, you can’t handhold it unless you’re using strobes  2) Files are huge, it’ll slow you down, kill your computer system later, flood your harddisks, tadi tadi tadi tadi…  Well, I bit the bullet anyway, and so long I have the good old Canon 1Ds mark III, what could possibly go wrong?

People are pretty much contented with what they have, until they’ve touch something that’s a lot better.   I did the assignment with the Canon DSLR on parallel with the Hasselblad H4D-40 and these are some of the images from the mammoth machine…

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Dynamic range is the biggest jump in terms of image quality when compared to the files from the 35mm DSLR – I get really nice tonal graduation especially in the highlights.  What amazes me is the amount of details I can recover from the highlights and shadows when required and if I’m to apply the same processing technique to a 35mm file, I would probably see the details breaking up or looking a little ‘powdery”.  The colors is something that even my clients can tell the difference straight off because of the richness and depth.

Noteworthy is the quality of the Hasselblad lenses.  Again, I’m not going to go into sharpness because that’s a very fundamental quality of most modern lenses anyway.  I tested the 80mm (used 10%) and 28mm (used 90%) and the 28mm is one of the best wide angle glass i”ve used so far.  Distortion is very well controlled , corner to corner sharpness which I could never get on the canon 16-35mm II;  best part is, the flare control is 2nd to none as you can see from one of the veil images that was shot against a strong backlight.

Having said all that, I’m going to be honest here about the limitations of the camera.  However, if you take the effort to work around it, it will do its job wonderfully.  Think of 35mm as a Chef knife and medium format as a parring knife.  A chef knife is going to be able to do 90% of the things you required, but if you require the finese, you’ll need a parring knife for that, which is going to be a lot harder and slower to use in comparison.  Going medium format WILL slow you down, don’t expect to do 10 frames-per-sec-and-pray-one-frame-got-it ; for one, each raw files (and they only have raw setting, no jpeg small, medium or large) is a whooping 54Mb in file size and opens up to 141Mb in uncompressed TIFF or PSD format.  Now that’s for 8-bit files and if you’re to do 16-bit, just multiply that by 2.  I did a 16bit TIFF file that turned out to about 3Gb per image by the time I put in all my adjustment layers and all.  No way can I spray and pray with this camera, it’s about getting the shot right there.  Every shot just have to be on the money or you’re going to be wasting a lot of time and resources culling those unwanted files.

Another reason why you can’t spray and pray would be the battery life of these cameras.  Each battery costs USD$228 from B&H photo or SGD$400+ if you purchase it locally.  Each full charge gives you about 200 exposures before it completely drained off.  In comparison, I have shot 1700 frames from the Canon 1Ds mark III and still left with 15% battery life, in other words, never have I ever completely drained a battery since I bought the camera in 2008!

What you see on screen really does do much justice to the image.  The prints made from it are simply stunning – loads of details at 20×30 print.  It’s not just how sharp the images are at this enlargement factor, it’s how smooth and crisp the details are at this point of ‘torturing’ the image.  It’s like comparing a Ferrari and Subaru WRX, no doubt the latter can go hit 180 km/hr, the car engine would probably be choking and trembling by then as compared to a Ferrari that can drive at that speed pretty effortlessly.  Digital medium format is a completely different class altogether and I’m pretty sure it won’t be just a tool for commercial and fashion photographers only.  Back to this thing about medium format being overkill, well, if a fashion photographer can shoot with digital backs for editorial spreads that are A3 size max, what more wedding photographers who are doing much bigger prints like 24×12″ for our albums or 30×45″ for our canvases?

Lastly, I would like to say a big thank you to Lawrence from Shriro Singapore for loaning us the equipment for the photoshoot.  I’m sure many people who are reading this will be itching to get their hands on a set to test drive soon 🙂

Coming up next… Side by side comparison Hasselblad Vs Canon 35mm

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The Eagle has Landed! New albums arriveth! (FINALLY)

Man, when the UPS guy knocked the door and delivered the parcel, I’m like a kid in a candy store.

I’m very pleased to introduce the latest albums that have arrived from the States.  These books are of quality and dripping of luxury, y0u just got to see them for youself! 🙂

Latest flushmount album with the presentation case

Book unveiled

Quality & Luxury

Old 30-page flush mount (Left) and New 40-page flush mount (Right)

Latest photo/Art book

Book opens up flat, plus no more worries about the centre fold!

The binding is just awesome

Flat! I'm happy! Cheers!

And some lucky couple will get to be the first to view the sample albums! I’m so excited! 🙂

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WPJA Q4 Results

Another piece of great news just came in while sipping my morning latte – two of my images have won the 1st and 3rd place in the Off-Camera Flash/Strobe category for WPJA 2009 Q4!

Incidentally, both images came from the same wedding, thanks so much Nat & WP!!! 🙂

Here are the 2 winning-entries:

Looking at past competitions, we’ve been doing very well in the Off-Camera Flash categories – four of them won 1st , 2nd and 3rd placing for WPJA and AGWPJA 2008; the escalator piece that won me the MPA Overseas Wedding photographer of the Year for 2009 was a play on two off-camera flash; 5 won AGWPJA 2009 , including a 2nd place.

What a great start to a weekend! 🙂

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Tools of the Trade – inside the Wedding Photographer’s bag (part 1)

“So what camera / lens do you use?”  This is probably one question that haunts me throughout my career as a professional wedding photographer, and they either come from friends, other photographers, or even my clients (occasionally).

Yes, equipment discussion is not really my cup of tea, but some of you might find this post interesting to read, maybe.  First, let me qualify myself. 

1.  This is purely for info sake.  I’m not sponsored by any photographic related companies nor paid by anyone for writing this. 

2. One should use equipment according to his /her photography style – there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all-uber-setup. 

3. These equipment that I’m reviewing are based on what I’ve used and what has worked for me.  To put it simply, this setup compliments my style of photography. 

4. Good photography is not about how well-equipped you are, it’s about how well you use your equipment. 

5. When in doubt, please refer to point #1 🙂 

Ok, here’s a snap shot of my bag just before I packed the contents into my dry box. 


What's in my bag

A. Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L Image StabliserB. Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L Mk 2

C. Canon EF 85mm f1.2L Mk2

D. Canon EF 35mm f1.4L

E. Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

F. Canon EOS 1Ds mk 3

G. Canon EOS 5D

H. My trusty 8-year old Swiss-made blower

I. Gary Fong’s flash diffuser.  Some call it Fongdom, most of my clients call it the tupperware 😀

A. Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L

One of my first Canon ‘L’ series lenses that I bought back in 2002.  Use this mainly for outdoor portraits and / or in situation where I want to compress the scene.  I don’t use this alot indoors because f2.8 is just not fast enough for me. Personally, I find this lens very useful on a dull day, especially when we want to isolate the subject from the background. For example, the photo I shot in Bath, UK

Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS 

or use to compress the scene, as in this example that I shot in Marina Barage, Singapore.

 Equipment - Lenses

or for a reasonable amount of bokeh or background blur…


to be continued…

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Overseas shoot in Munch

Will be in Munich for a shoot from 20 to 27 April, if there’s another one else who would like to have a session in Berlin, Dresden or Munich, do drop me an email Let me know if anyone’s interested to assist the shoot there, preferably those who’s not afraid to drive around Europe 😉

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Overall 5th placing on AGWPJA for 2009!!!

I’m delighted to announce that after 4 quarterly AGWPJA competitions, with 12 winning entries, I have been placed overall #5 for the year 2009! Last year, I was placed overall #5 for WPJA for year 2008 and wondered if I could pull off the same for the AGWPJA…and it finally came true! Many many thanks to all my couples for going against the grain and putting their faith in the quest for more experimental and cutting edge work. I don’t think any of these would have happened without their support, so thank you, thank you, thank you! 🙂

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The Beginning of an End

Luke and Rachel is another one of my couples who have come a long way – in fact both knew each other since primary school and after a long distance relationship between Los Angeles and Singapore, they have decided to tie the knot 🙂

Titled this post “The Beginning of an End” to refer to this photo shoot being the last job of 2009, and it marked the beginning of a radically different style from the images that I’ve created previously.  The kind of post-production involved isn’t something that can be achieved simply by running some plugins or quick-fix-witch-doctor software; instead each of these images are meticulously crafted, giving me total control to the different elements in the photo.

Shall let the images speak for themselves. Who says Singapore Wedding Photographers can’t create images like these in Singapore? 🙂

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