On the 12th of February, I went on a studio shoot with some of my photography enthusiast friends. This is the first time I am shooting in a professional photo studio with bona fide studio lighting equipment.
I must say that I am impressed with the lighting equipment. They are big, bulky, powerful and expensive! One of the lights we used costs RM 20k! I don't think that I can ever afford to buy that light.
Anyway, we have 2 freelance talents for our shoot and they were a fun pair. The studio owner set up the backdrop and the lights and we just hung around until it was time to shoot. I didn't get to play around with the lights but hey it's the concept that matters. You put the lights in the desired positions and tune the intensity to your liking.
Here's a shot of Feliz on a gray backdrop. More on the backdrop later.
Here's June on a black background. If you look closely you can see 2 lights in the shot. The main light that lights up her face is to camera right and positioned higher than her face coming down. The second light is from camera left behind her. Lighting up part of her hair and neck and giving a little outline on her shoulders and forearm.
Above: Feliz under the same 2 light setup on a dark background. Below: June & Feliz in a shot taken at a slightly different angle. The light from behind them is now directly behind them and not to one side as in the above shots. You can see the light giving June's head a good outline and completely separating her hair from the dark background. This is why the light is sometimes call a separation light.
The main light lights up their faces and provides some catch light in the eyes.
We move on to a white background. The shot may seem simple but it requires 3 lights. One main light to one side of the talent. The second is a fill light on the other side and the last light to light up the backdrop, which is a big sheet of white paper that drops from the ceiling right onto the floor. The talent is actually standing on the paper. That's how one gets a shot that does not seem to have a line separating the floor and the wall.
A little bit of editing in Photoshop and the background will become all white and the talent will seem to be suspended in a white limbo.
In the above shot, you can see the shadows on the floor. I didn't want to remove the shadows as doing so will make the shot seem a bit unrealistic. I'd rather have the teddy bear sitting on the floor than being suspended.
The shot below has Feliz laying down on the floor/white paper.
Feliz & June brought along plenty of outfits for the shoot. It was a blast. We all had fun during the shoot which is what is important. As you can see, the emotions shine through in the photos. You can have all the lighting and other equipment tuned to perfection but if you don't have emotions, your shot will seem to lack something.
You cannot fake emotions. Talented, experienced professional models may be able to fake some emo or sultry looks but to get a smile that really shines through, you need the real thing.
Oh, almost forgot about the backdrop. The white paper was used in all the shots. Yes. The same paper but with different lighting setup. The white one had a light shining directly at it. The gray one had some light falling onto it but not bright enough to show up white in the pictures. The black background had the ambient light completely killed off. See what I mean when I say photography is all about lighting?
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Feliz & June for the shoot. Also not forgetting the owner of the studio who was so gracious to let in a bunch of noobs like me and use expensive lighting equipment. Of course thanks to my photography friend also for inviting me. I got in at the last minute when someone could not make it. For you readers, I hope you all like the shots!
The past one week or so, a new controversy has broken over the Malaysian political scene. The ruling government's proposed national healthcare insurance scheme, dubbed the 1Care, has some details leaked to the public. The public was not pleased at all with the information and protests against it.
Among the details leaked are:
- 1Care required the workforce to contribute up to 10% of their income for the scheme and its mandatory.
- 1Care will limit the number of visit one can make to the doctor.
- 1Care will assign a doctor for you and you can only get free medical treatment if you go to your assigned doctor
- 1Care covers only primary medical care which means hospitalization is not covered
The public is furious at this as it hinted that the government wanted to increase tax but the whole plan is inferior to the exisiting healthcare system that Malaysia has. The government, instead of acting quickly to clear up the issue, gave conflicting and confusing information and it all hints towards a cover up. The public grew more agitated and the voice of protest grew louder. The latest news is that the plan is still in its early planning stages and nothing is decided yet but the people are viewing this official statement with a wary eye.
The protest against the controversial proposed 1Care plan is done mainly via the internet, through Facebook and online news portal. Incidentally over the last few days, another piece of news went viral over the net. This involved a fight between a customer and a worker in a fast food restaurant in Malaysia.
What saddens me is that the petty fight gained a lot more exposure than the controversial 1Care plan over my Facebook account. That means many more of my Facebook friends are sharing news and video clips of the petty fight than the 1Care plan. I do not have all that many friends in Facebook and already I'm seeing the trend. That means generally most of the younger IT savvy Malaysians are more interested in the petty fight than what's going on politically in their country.
I am really disheartened by this fact. I made a lot of effort in sharing the news about the 1Care plan on Facebook. I think that it's imperative that I get the information to as many Malaysians as I can. It involves our lives. It directly affects our standard of living. The government is proposing to increase our taxes for no justifiable reasons so we have to have our say in that matter.
But no. The FB savvy young Malaysians are more interested in a fight that broke out between 2 people in a fast food joint. Whoever wins the stupid fight has no direct influence on any of our lives! Why should that take more importance? I'm baffled! I'm stumped!
Is our current education system so bad that these young Malaysians cannot even evaluate what's more important in their lives? Had they been so spoon-fed while in school that they just accept what the authorities dish out? I know for a fact that the younger generation does not like to read much but is their dislike for reading so big that they would rather view a petty fight video clip than reading to expand their knowledge of what is happening in their country?
If it was just this one case, I would probably not be writing this post. The same scenario holds true for another issue: The Lynas rare-earth plant in Kuantan. In that issue too, I have made the effort to spread the word about the public's protests against the plant on Facebook. Not many seem to care. What's most disheartening is that a lot of working adults, some who have been out in the work force for more than a decade, have no idea what the issue is all about.
Some foreign company wants to make Malaysia a radioactive waste dump site and the Malaysian government is agreeable to the plan. No consultation has been done to solicit the view from the public about the plant and there are plenty of hints that the government wanted to cover up the whole thing and yet many Malaysians are oblivious to the issue! If this is the level of intelligence that the younger generation of Malaysians has, then I think we deserved to be bullied and cowed!
These people go on Facebook everyday. They can download endless streams of movies and songs off the net and yet remain oblivious of what is happening in their own country.
These young Malaysians whine endlessly about the rising cost of living that they face. They complain about the high taxes they need to pay when buying imported cars and yet most do nothing when it's obvious that the ruling government does not put the interest of the people in front. What's the use of complaining then?
If you all are uncomfortable with the rising cost of living here in Malaysia, then I implore all of you to wake up! Wake up to the fact that you can do something about it. We hold the power of the vote! We can vote for a better government. We can vote for a better tomorrow. We must be aware of what the politicians are doing or trying to do.
You may not be interested in politics but we need to be aware. What the politicians do will affect our lives. It will affect the the lives of our children. Two people involved in a petty fight over fried chicken will not have any lasting impact on our lives apart from the 30 seconds of scant entertainment it brings. Please get your priorities right.
Please take note of what is happening in the country and when the time comes to vote, use it wisely. Show the politicians that we are aware. That we have the power to evoke change. Show them that when the voters are united in a cause, our collective voice can and will be heard! Please! Don't let unscrupulous politicians take us for a ride and dump us unceremoniously on our behinds while they put their own selfish interests before the interest of the people and the nation.
I was first introduced to 'Pan Mee' when I was a young boy. My mother used to cook them for us. She would meticulously knead the dough and prepare the soup and mince pork garnishing and we would have a hearty meal. It was delicious. Mom would break off pieces of the dough and pull on them until they are thin and put them into the soup. The Pan Mee would come out soft and smooth. Just heavenly!
Mom seldom made Pan Mee because it involved a lot of work. As I got older, mom made them less and less and I haven't tasted my mom's homemade Pan Mee for quite a while. Since then I have eaten Pan Mee sold from stalls in kopitiams. There was one that was quite good in Damasara Utama when I was in a college near there. Then it moved and I discovered years later that it had moved to Puchong. After a while the stall was no longer there. I wonder if they stall owner still operates the business as the aunty selling the Pan Mee was quite old even when I was in college.
Recently, Pan Mee has seen a kind of a revival. There's now specialized shops selling just Pan Mee and they don't come cheap. I've eaten in one shop that specializes in Chilli Pan Mee but I had the traditional soup based one. They were ok. Not very good but not bad either. Not like those that mom used to make but I'm asking too much. Anyway, they were just ok in my books. The price however was a different thing. Passable but just barely.
Just a couple of days ago, I had another Pan Mee. This time in 1-Utama in their newly renovated old wing LG floor. The place is called Noodle shack. One bowl of Pan Mee costs RM 8.50! That's really expensive in my opinion but I decided that since it was in 1-Utama, it could justify that price tag. My first bite into the Pan Mee was all it took for me to decide that I would never patronise this outlet again.
There was practically nothing Pan Mee-ish about the Pan Mee! The soup tasted flat. The dough pieces is too chewy! it's like they just dunked the dough pieces from the freezer straight into the soup! Yes. It was that bad! To top that all off, the portion served is miniscule! I had to get a Ninja Pork Burger from the next shop to feel satisfied with my lunch after downing the whole bowl of Pan Mee. Although I do admit that I eat quite a bit but the portion would satisfy only those girls wishing to maintain a chopstick-like figure.
Of course I had the traditional soup based Pan Mee. Didn't try any of the other varieties so I can't comment on those. All in all this traditional Pan Mee from the Noodel Shack is a total fail in my books. My recommendations : Do not order the traditional Pan Mee there.. any old Pan Mee stall in any kopitiam will beat it if only for the price alone. RM 8.50 for a bowl of tasteless, over-chewy Pan Mee is not value for money by any standards!