SAFRA Photo Club Slideshow – Clicks for Keeps

When I started getting serious about photography slightly over a year ago, never once did I imagine that I would be considered good enough to hold a public session to showcase my photos. I’ve been sharing my shots on Facebook, Flickr, Picasa and here but they’ve always been somewhat of a support to illustrate my life’s encounters be it travel or daily happenings… a personal pictorial diary.

Some friends and viewers of my photographic works have urged me to copyright my photos, to add a watermark to exert ownership but I evaded that practise. In part it is because it’s troublesome, but more because of the fact that I don’t think my photos command any merit that people want to use them. Frankly, if someone asked for my shots or used them, I would be very flattered! I am neither a pro nor a very experienced amateur in photography so I never saw the need to tell people this photo is taken by me.

Can't help feeling a sense of accomplishment to hold my very own slideshow even though I've only been taking photography seriously for about a year.

So you can imagine my elation when I was approached by SAFRA Photo Club to hold a slideshow to exhibit my works! The club was where I took my first formal lessons in learning how to use the DSLR camera and it is considered to be one of Singapore’s most established pioneers in developing our nation’s passion in photography.

Quite a number of well-known award-winning photogs in Singapore have their roots or are affiliated with the SAFRA Photo Club. One of them, Victor, the club’s chairman and former photographer with the Straits Times is my sifu (teacher) and he approached me to hold the slideshow. Gosh! An expert thinks my photos can make it! What a great honour indeed!

About 40 people attended the session that lasted 45 minutes. Thanks to all who attended & to my photo khakis for their support to make it a fun event & help in administrative coordination.

Although the event wasn’t a big one and the attendance was of a cozy size, I was mightily encouraged by the fact that the people who taught me the basics in digital photography – Victor, Calvin and Peng Siong, thought well of my photographic skills. There were quite a few in the audience who are very experienced photogs who had their own exhibitions, whose photos I look up to, and they came to hear me share my experience. I felt so inadequate throughout the talk, like an ant telling a bee how to fly. Who am I to be talking about taking good photos in front of these people?!

But thank goodness they were there. Many of the photos I took, I have no idea why they turned out well. I’m terrible with the technical aspects of handling the manual camera and usually get my good shots by trial-and-error, so thanks to their pointers, I gained some knowledge in flash handling techniques to achieve motion-blur of the background while maintaining sharpness of the foreground subject. I learnt that when we had a floor discussion about how I got this shot…

This photo was taken with a fisheye lens with flash while spinning the camera. It was a fluke shot and I had no idea why it turned out well. Now I know it can be achieved with rear curtain flash.

Why Clicks for Keeps?

When thinking about a title for the talk, I wanted something that encapsulated my learning journey in the past year. I settled on “Clicks for Keeps” because I remembered how many times I’ve deleted shots rather than keep them. For every photo that made it into my hard drive, at least 10 would’ve been deleted from my memory card. Over time, with practise, that ratio has been improved and that’s what the session was about – increasing the odds of taking photos that are keepers over a variety of subjects and situations.

My original intention for this session was targetted at everyday people who just want to take better pictures whether it is with the regular point-and-shoot compact cameras or with a DSLR. However, as those who turned up were mostly experienced photogs, I decided to share tips on where the shots were acquired rather than how. Tips like where to stand to get an awesome sunset photo of the Tanah Lot sea temple in Bali, what interesting subjects can be found in Bangkok’s Jatuchak weekend market, and even how to get a monkey to look at you when taking its picture.

My parents came to support me too and I think the session helped them understand this new hobby of mine better... why I'm sometimes out of the house before dawn & where my money goes to!

I also shared about the thoughts and meanings that some of the photos inspired in me. These photos can be found in the ‘Photography‘ category of this blog. What was heartening for me was that my mum told me the next day how very inspired she was by the meanings behind those pictures (which she claimed could be due to her simpleton mind) and said that if I ever go out of a job, I should consider becoming a pastor!

Hmm… I don’t think being a pastor is something one does if there’s nothing else left to do. It is a calling, not so much a job. But I am thrilled that I was able to inspire my own mother! She has always been a great source of inspiration in life for me and to have her tell me that she can identify and agree with my life’s percepts as presented through the photos was a huge pat on the back. I hope her womb is feeling proud of its fruit.

And with that, I felt my first ever photo sharing session was a success. I may not have the most sophisticated camera equipments, am a technical expert, photography veteran or had a huge crowd for the talk, but I got through to my mum, the person I most cherish in this world. A picture need not have fancy photographing techniques but the stories one could tell from it. And I think that is what makes a photo a click to keep!

Clicking with Compact Cameras

I started the session by sharing some of the photos I took with digital compact cameras. The shots ranged from my very first shot with a digital camera (back in 2003 using the 4 megapixel Nikon Coolpix 4200) to recent photos taken with my Canon Ixus 980IS compact camera.

Not that the shots were fantastic but I just wanted to show that you don’t need a complex camera to get good shots. And many of us own compact cameras so I hope that can give some ideas on what the compact camera can achieve.

Clicking with Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) Camera

While the compact cameras today are pretty powerful, nothing beats the image quality and flexibility offered by DSLR. I bought my Nikon D90 in December 2008 for my Siem Reap trip with no idea how to use it. After a frustrating year trying to learn on my own, I decided to enroll in SAFRA’s Basic Digital Photography course and that’s where I finally figured out how to optimise my DSLR. If you’re deciding to invest in a DSLR, be mindful that it is a heavy item to lug around during travels and an eye-popping shot is more than good composition and framing, it depends on Photoshop skills as well.

All my photos have gone through brightness and contrast processing and colour saturation enhancements so on top of the effort spent on acquiring a shot, time has to be spent on learning digital darkroom skills. Again, I’m no expert in this area and I have just enough knowledge to get by. For me, photography is the best hobby that I’ve ever picked up. I hope I’ll continue with it and keep getting better over time. For now, here’re some shots I’ve accumulated since I acquired the DSLR. Hopefully it’ll give you some inspiration and ideas for your shots…

Every Occasion a Photographic Moment

After the slideshow, a couple of us continued the night at SAFRA Mt Faber’s K Box karaoke joint. I needed to unwind. I’ve been sleeping only an average of about 4 hours the past few nights preparing for the talk amidst a heavy work schedule and creating entries for the blog campaigns I’m involved in. It’s a crazy time. And the next few weeks will continue to be packed with closing year-end jobs, Christmas parties and upcoming custom-crafted blog posts about my recent Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas cruise.

Side effect of photography - new friends! I'm grateful for their company that night because I sooooooooo needed to destress & they were so uninhibited when it came to having fun!

This K Box outlet is pretty new so the environment and sound system and stuff were in tip-top condition. We opened a bottle of whiskey which set us back S$228.00 but includes the cover charge for 4 persons and the fifth was charged S$28.00. Total bill was S$340.00 for the night and we had fun all the way till 3am. It was a blast! Except for the super-freeze air-con.

In the Mood for Love starring Maggie Cheung's sister, Maggie Mee.

2046 starring Tony Leung's brother, Hunky Song.

As you can see, partying with photographers is never boring because apart from the main activity, there’s always the fringe fun of using each other as models. And it helps that the room at Mt Faber’s K Box was gorgeously wall-papered.

We just love being behind and in front of the camera! Kok Yew's excellent rendition of 分飞燕 still echoes in my head while Ken's brooding vocals was an unexpectedly pleasant surprise! Allysia's choice of songs were the most zany and Siow Har as usual, never fails to add the sparkle to any gathering!

The karaoke session was a great end to a fantastic night where I finally came to accept that my photos are not too bad at all. When I received a compliment about my photos in the past, I’ve always attributed them to luck and belittled the sacrifices I’ve made, sometimes pretty extreme, to create this ‘lucky shot’. But of course, a great photo sometimes does depend on being at the right place at the right time.

I practised and experimented a lot during the past year and I’m glad the photos turned out well. Photography has brought me to places and got me to do things I normally would not go or do. This post about the slideshow is not to glorify my achievements but to share that if I could take decent photos without knowing exactly what I’m doing, anybody could take great-looking pictures too.

I would like to once again thank all who came to the slideshow and the many of you who shared photos on Facebook, blogs and online albums so that I can observe and learn from. You’re all my teachers! Finally, I would like to thank everyone involved who made the slideshow a smooth event for me. There were some kinks in the organisation but I’m very thankful for the help to work them out. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to hold another sharing session or even have my own photo exhibition one day!


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Camemberu
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 17:27:41

    Very nice photos, Darren! Even your P&S camera shots are fantastic!


  2. 思斌
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 21:22:00

    Well done Darren ~
    You have great sense of photography 🙂


  3. Edmund
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 11:49:40

    Very Nice Photos! 🙂


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