Looking Back At 2019’s Best
There’s nothing wrong with looking back to move ahead. Especially when it’s revisiting the good. With the start of a brand new year, join us in a journey of self-reflection as we present you with some favourite shots captured by notable photographers across Southeast Asia. Scroll down to find out more on their inspiration behind each image, plus personal tips to elevate your photography prowess.
Alpha 7R IV | FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM | 16mm | 1/125 sec | f/3.5 | ISO 320
Nguyen Thanh Tung
As part of a cultural preservation project in my country, I decided to spotlight Hát Bội, classical Vietnamese opera, and was extremely pleased with how the shot turned out. Captured at the perfect moment when sunrays were streaming into the temple, the shot sends you on a mental trip with multiple layers of storytelling. It is anchored by a beautifully blurred-out traditional opera crown, before diverting the attention to the bustle of activities in the background. Sony's Alpha 7R IV brought out the details in the image, including shadows, and performed brilliantly in the low-light conditions of the temple. Bolstered by the FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM (SEL1635GM), the image’s quality was exceedingly stunning, where resolution was amped up beyond the 61-megapixel camera. The lens also provided me flexibility to shoot in the temple’s confined space.
Pro tip: Always activate the Alpha 7R IV’s Real time Eye AF and Real-time Tracking AF as these functions will detect subjects, even when they’re not in plain view. Silent shooting is useful for your subjects feel more comfortable and less distracted by the shooting process. Finally, take advantage of the SEL1635GM to tell a story from a unique angle.
Alpha 7R III | FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM | 16mm | 1/320 sec | f/22 | ISO 125
My favourite is this photo of The Encore in Malacca. It showcased the clever play of lights and shadows that accentuate the contours of the architecture, injecting an overall three-dimensionality to its appearance. Framed within the lighted area are silhouettes of two tourists that breathed life into an otherwise simple architectural image. I especially love the added human element, as with most of my images. The pairing of Sony's Alpha 7R III and FE 16-35 F2.8 GM (SEL1635GM) is excellent for street photography, giving both impressive quality and all-round sharpness with excellent fast focusing. The revolutionary lens, in particular, is truly a game-changer with its fast focusing for corner-to-corner resolution images even in the widest aperture, making it the leader in the wide-angle lens fraternity.
Pro tip: Approach your shots creatively. I wanted to shoot something more unique from the typical images of The Encore, so I explored different angles and composition of the building, while playing with the shadows. Finally, the right moment presented itself when two tourists walked into frame within the inner-lighted area and I got the shot.
Alpha 7R IV | FE 85mm F1.4 GM | 85mm | 1/125 sec | f/8 | ISO 200
While fuzzy and soft shots are a crowd-pleaser, it is the high resolution that matters in my line of work of advertising photography, especially where large media platforms such as billboards are concerned. This portrait is a testament to what I am after and the performance of Sony's Alpha 7R IV: Sharp, crystal clear and extremely high resolution. Furthermore, the mirrorless camera comprises a range of benefits I cannot find in a DSLR such as fast Eye AF. This way, I can shoot swiftly without worrying about the focus constantly. Pairing the camera with the 85mm also helped me focus on building a rapport with the model, while playing with different angles and securing moments before they pass.
Pro tip: It is more efficient to get both Sony’s body and lens as a pair. For starters, give the FE 85mm F1.4 GM (SEL85F14GM) a shot. It is versatile enough for shooting portraits in my studio, from full-length images that are taken from head-to-toe or above the knees to headshots or everything in between.
Alpha 9 | FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM | 19mm | 1/100 sec | f/2.8 | ISO 1600
I noticed the drummer loved to twirl his drumsticks and tossing them up in the air. He did this a couple of times throughout his performance. During a song, I took a gamble and decided to go behind the drummer with hopes that he would repeat this quirk; and he did! That is why this shot is my favourite as it was captured from a perspective most people may normally overlook. Sony's Alpha 9 and FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM (SEL1635GM) proved a winning combination, where the ultra-sharp wide-angle GM lens and the shooting speed of the camera easily secured the moment when the drumstick was in mid air.
Pro tip: Take time to observe your subject, keeping an eye out for the extraordinary. With that in mind, you can plan your shot. As I wanted to feature both the drummer and the audience, I shot from behind the drummer at a wide angle. With the right lens, anticipate the moment and when it happens, fire off a few frames!
Alpha 7R IV | FE 24mm F1.4 GM | 24mm | 1/250 sec | f/11 | ISO 1250
A playground scene is one that we can find everywhere. But in the right place at the right time with a camera, you may capture something extraordinary out of a simple setting. I love this shot as it manages to secure the split second of a child at play in an otherwise familiar environment. Aside from possessing the capabilities to achieve such a great shot, I found Sony’s Alpha 7R IV and FE 24mm F1.4 GM (SEL24F14GM) to be extremely travel-friendly as well. Both are very lightweight to carry around, plus the camera’s grip makes shooting more comfortable. I really appreciate the Alpha 7R IV’s 60-megapixel image file. Together with the SEL24F14GM, I can use APS-C mode on the camera by pressing the Customize button to simulate the angle of view at 36mm while still obtaining an image file that is as large as 26 million pixels.
Pro tip: Savour every moment that happens in front of you. Try to look for every possibility to get an image and give extra care to composition. Most importantly, do not press the shutter only once. If it's a scene that gives you time to shoot, keep shooting and only stop when that scene doesn't have anything else for you to capture.
Alpha 9 | FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM | 27mm | 1/200 sec | f/16 | ISO 125
This photograph encapsulates everything I want in storytelling: Details, emotion and ambience. And who’d thought a single lens is all it took to nail this shot? Sony's FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM (SEL2470GM) lens is the most suitable for the varying needs of wide-angle and close-up shots. It solves the issue of needing to bring a diversity of lenses. Furthermore, the Alpha 9 proves as versatile for any occasion. High-speed focus, 20fps with no blackout and a comfortable 24 megapixel resolution, the camera guarantees I will never miss once-in-a-lifetime moments.
Pro tip: Focus on the details to weave a story. I used F16 to cover as many details in a shot. Bringing extra lights adds more dimensions in the storytelling as well. In this photograph, I harnessed the sunlight that shone on a side of my subject, and placed an artificial light in front of him to distinctly sculpt his features more prominently.