Phottix’s Photog Friday interview feature storms back from hiatus. Today meet HK shooter Michael Loh. A mixed lighting photo by Michael was featured recently on the journal – after perusing his photostream on feature we thought it best to get to know him better. After a start in sketching and 3D fantasy art Michael moved toward photography. The results can seen in many online venues. No, meet Michael – what are his secrets, what’s in the future for him and his photography?
Name: Michael Loh
Country of residence: Hong Kong
I am a Malaysian-born Australian living in Hong Kong. By day I am an IT professional and in my free-time I am a freelance photographer shooting events, engagements, weddings and portraits. When I was still in school I taught myself how to draw and got pretty good at it. It was also a good way to meet girls as I would be asks to sketch snapshots of them. From sketching I progressed to creating landscapes and fantasy art using 3D rendering tools and Photoshop. My digital artwork has been published in several art publications and I also contributed tutorials to 3D art magazines.
How did you first get interested in photography?
I was looking for another creative outlet from digital fantasy art and thought I would try photography as they employed similar principles in terms of composition and lighting. I bought my first Nikon D70 DSLR in 2004 and photography has got me hooked since to the point where I have now put my fantasy art on hold. I took a correspondence course with the New York Institute of Photography which focused more on film cameras but this was not an issue as camera principles like ISO, shutter and aperture still apply to all cameras. I learnt the fundamentals of photography in the course and it was invaluable for a newbie like me. My interest really kicked off when I joined the HK Photography Club in 2008. I learnt more in that few months after joining the club than I did since I bought my first DSLR as I got to mingle and share knowledge with like-minded enthusiasts.
What do you like to shoot?
Nothing really specific though lately I find myself gravitating towards creative portraits which ties in to my earlier work on digital fantasy art. I like the creative process of photography, whether it is planning towards a portrait shoot, walking on the streets of Hong Kong doing street photography or hiking up mountains to capture a great sunrise or sunset, and the post-processing where I can add my own spin to the images taken.
What’s your approach to photography, your philosophy? What do you look for? How do you set-up a shot?
It’s about what piques my interests and my senses. The eureka moment comes when the mind, heart and subject matter comes together and this can be far in between. I am always looking out for that perfect moment in time when the factors I mentioned click. It can be a face, a scene, landscape.. something which interests me as an individual.
Shot set-up can be as complicated as shooting in a studio to using available light. Photography is about using light to “paint” a picture. As a photographer how you use the light and position your subject with respect to the light available to you is the key to getting a well expose picture. But it does not stop there.. you also need to know how to best compose your scene to get maximum effect for the result you want. A lot of trial and error is involved before you get the perfect combination of light, scene and composition.
What is the best photo you have taken? Why? Background and details, please…
I have yet to take my best photo. I am always striving to snap that elusive perfect photo, the holy grail of all photographers. However if I had to choose I would say it is a sunset coastal shot off Binhai coastal Road at Dalian, China. I was on a business trip and hired a taxi to explore the city on a weekend there. The sun was just setting in the distant horizon casting an orange tint in the sky and on the rocky cliffs. Contrasting with that the sea was bluish-green. I liked the picture so much that I have it printed on my business card.
What gear are you using? What else do you want to buy?
I am currently using a Nikon D700 with Nikon 50mm 1.8, Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 VR, Nikon 85mm 1.4, Tamron 90mm 2.8 macro, Nikon SB800 and SB600 flashlights, Phottix Strato Receiver/Transmitter, Phottix Video Light, tripod, light stands, ND graduated filters, Gels, snoot, barndoors, softboxes and reflectors.
I would love to get a wide-angle lens for landscape shots, maybe a 16-35mm range.
Which area of photography would you like to explore further (macro, landscapes, portraits)?
I am looking to combine my experience with fantasy art with photography to create a hyper real image. This requires a good knowledge of Photoshop and as images need to be manipulated and composited. I think it would be great fun to do.
Where do you see your photography 5 years from now?
I would love to be able to ditch my day-job to make a decent living in photography.
What’s the best advice you would give to fellow photographers?
Take as many photographs as you can, go out and shoot, join a club, do peer reviews and don’t forget to have fun! Be inspired by works of other photographers but don’t forget to infuse your own style into your work. As you start getting deeper into photography you will surely find your own style as a photograph is not just a record of light in a moment of time but it is also an exposure of the photographers heart…