» Wazari Wazir Photographer Blog, Malaysian Photographer

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  • Welcome to My Blog!

    Hi, I'm Wazari Wazir, Malaysian Photojournalist working for the Government of Malaysia. Will be sharing a wide variety of pictures here from my official assignment and personal pictures. I do conduct Photography and Photoshop Workshops if there is any invitations.

    I've Conduct a Photoshop Workshops in IIUM International Islamic University Malaysia (Gombak) and also at Universiti Kuala Lumpur Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology (UniKL MIAT), in Selangor and other Photography Workshops all over the country including Sabah Malaysia North Borneo.

    My Blog is The Winner for Best Photography Blog 2014 during MSMW Malaysia Social Media Week Blogger Awards 2014.

    Thank you for visiting My Blog and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me through my email...

    wazariwazir@yahoo.com | Tel No : + 6012 2812753

Travel Photography | Which Lens is Best for Travel Photography?

© 2014 Wazari Wazir | Photographer Shukur Jahar Surrounded By Curious Onlooker at Bhaktapur | Nepal

“Photographers like Cartier-Bresson would only use one or two lenses, and work mostly in available light. I think the simplicity in this approach creates a timeless quality. To focus overly on the technical approach detracts from the power of the image in its own right.”

- Steve McCurry -

First thing first, are you hoping to become the next legendary National Geographic Photographer, Steve McCurry? If you have no idea who the hell he is, and have to Google his name, I think it’s going to be hard for you. Anyway Steve McCurry is not the greatest travel photographer of all time but surely he is among the most talk about when we talk about travel photography.

The Photograph of Afghanistan girl named Sharbat Gula, which made the front page of National Geographic magazine for June  1985 issue is what made him famous. Just for your information the Afghan Girl photograph were taken in December 1984  in a refugee camp near Peshawar, PakistanHe was using a Nikon FM2 camera with a Nikkor 105mm F2.5 lens.

Okay, did I just answer your question? Go and get the 105 mm lens and voila! You’re next Steve McCurry, congratulations. Anyway, it is not that easy, one thing that you must be remember is that they did not become travel photographer overnight, most of travel photographer that I knew or have read about them have passion for traveling. They did not travel because they want to become travel photographer, they travel because they like to see the world.

There is no straight answer about which lens is best for travel photography, but to make it easy I just wanted to narrow it down to just two type of travel photography, the one is those who like to take a photograph of landmark, building and landscape, human interest does not interest them, the other one is those who travel like Steve McCurry or Mike Yamashita, which mainly focus on human interest, they do take a photograph of landscape, a great landmark but that is not their main subject.

Once you know what really interest you, then thing will get a little bit easier, if you wanted to focus more on landscape, landmark, building, like Taj Mahal in India or Ayasofya in Istanbul or a beautiful farm in Tuscany Italy, then you need to have a wide angle lens, something from 10 – 24 mm, you need to have UWA lens or Ultra Wide Angle Lens, “Ultra” means wider than normal wide angle lens that most people refer to which is 35 mm on full frame body.

Why you need UWA lens? Simply because in a certain places, a normal wide angle lens like 35 mm just is not enough, some beautiful place or landmark are located at cramped space, if you only have normal wide angle lens, you might not be able to photograph the landmark fully, only part of it and people who look at it, have a hard time to guess, what photograph is that, or what is that place. Having an ultra wide angle lens will widen your choice, more room for creative composition.

Next, for those of you who like photographing “Human Interest” portrait, environmental portrait and something like that. For this type of photographer, having an UWA Lens is not a must. Some people who are quite shy to approach a stranger, prefer to have 70-200 mm lens with them. They like to photograph people from afar and they tried best not to talk to stranger. 70-200 mm has its place when traveling especially in a situation when you wanted to get a close up shot of the subject or person but you can’t get close to them physically, for example in a situation where you wanted to get a close up shot of  a Bali dancers while she perform her dance, you cannot simple walk close to her and get your shot, someone might get angry for blocking their view.

But, to be really great at travel photography, you must be willing to interact with local, some of the great travel photographers that I know like Mitchell Kanashkevich. lately  have tried and use Fujifilm X100s with fixed 23 mm lens attach which is equivalent to 35 mm focal length in full frame camera and he produced great picture just like when he used his Canon 5D Mark III.

By this time, I think some of you, especially newbie, get confused, after spending few minutes reading this post, you don’t get the answer that you are hoping for. Here’s the thing, you can’t become travel photographer overnight and the only sure things to know which lens is suitable for travel photography based on your preferred genre, be it human interest or landscape is to travel often.

If you travel often, you will know or what interest you the most and you will know which lens is best for any particular place or situation, experience will teach you. For the time being, my advice is just to use whatever lens that you have and make full use of it.

Another travel photographer that I like is Oded Wagenstain,  wrote in his blog that when he start photography as a hobby, he just use old fixed 28 mm lens that his brother gave him, with that lens he taught himself to work with what he have and at the same time learned how to photograph people from a close distance and until now, the ability for him to shoot people up close become his style.

We must start somewhere with what we have, nobody buy a camera today and become the best photographers next day or week. It take years to learn photography and it take years also to master the equipment that you have.

If you have a camera and have the time and money to travel the world, you are a few of a lucky people than those who have a camera but can’t travel for whatever reason only known to them.

Back to the question above, Which Lens is Best for Travel Photography? You can only find an honest, unbiased answer yourself by traveling, I’m not talking about the optical quality of a certain lenses here, I’m talking about the best focal length, about the optical quality, that’s another story.

For me, when traveling, I only carry 24 mm and 50 mm lens with me, just two lens and tried to make the best with what I’ve. Yes, off course in certain situation I might not be able to get the photograph that I really want with the lens that I’ve but there is so much things to photograph in this world with what you already have than what you don’t have, just make full use of your equipment.

My friend, Shukur Jahar in the picture above only travel with Fujifilm X-Pro 1 during our trip to Nepal recently , and he took a great photograph with it. He has been to the summit of Mount Kinabalu in Sabah with that camera with just one single prime lens attach.

But, just for the sake of answering the question above without making you hate me for wasting your time, let’s talk about “practicality”, from my experience, among the suitable lens for traveling is 24-70 mm, 24 -105 mm or 24 – 120 mm. Nowadays most entry level DSLR which is not a full frame camera usually comes with 18-135 mm as their kit lens, this is just good enough, it can cover from wide angle to a medium close up.

 From my traveling experience, zoom lens is practical, photographers normally called this lens as “walk around lens.” You can photograph almost anything with that zoom lens, except  the Cheetah in Tanzania, you don’t “walk around” in a Safari do you?. Anyway, hopefully you get my answer. If you just bought a new camera and think that you need to buy another lens before traveling somewhere, my advice is don’t. Instead use the extra money to buy tickets to somewhere that you’ve never been before, then only you will know which lens suit you best, based on  your preferred style or genre.

Travel Photographer for your reference :

Steve McCurry | Mitchell Kanashkevich | Oded Wagenstein | GMB Akash | David duChemin | Matt Brandon | Karl Grobl

Azim Yusoff - Aslm, taking your advise couple years ago, i’m known using fixed 24mm attached to my new basic ff nikon camera.. as a family/travel oriented type of photographer, i admit this is the best combination so far.. a part of my cheap 55-200 tele.. but yet i’m still shy to share my end result.. thx for your advise sifu..

Travel and Photography Tips | Light is Language

© 2014 Wazari Wazir | Boudhanath Stupa | Kathmandu | Nepal

© 2014 Wazari Wazir | Blue Hour | Boudhanath Stupa | Kathmandu | Nepal

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

- Albert Schweitzer -

According to Oxford Dictionaries; Language means the method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way, and according to WikiPedia; Language is the human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, and a language is any specific example of such a system. The scientific study of language is called linguistics.

When it comes to photography, we communicate with a photograph, photography is a form of communication but the reason I’m writing this is because I’ve watch one of video interview with Joe McNally, a well known National Geographic Photographer, who once said in the interview that, “Light is Language“. At first, I really didn’t get it, I don’t understand what he really meant, but once I watch his explanation, I began to understand.

Anyway, the lighting in our photograph can conjures up a different mood, just take a look at your favourite film, especially those who have won the best in cinematography, what did you see, what did you learn. They use lighting creatively to make their visual story engaging, sometimes without a dialogue spoken, viewers manage to grasp what they were trying to communicate.

A happy scene, normally have a different set of lighting compared to scene where someone is crying, a great lighting help communicate well, grab your attention. I don’t now whether you understand what I’m talking here, well, since this is a blog about photography and most of you here are someone who like photography, I think you can understand what I’m trying to say here.

Talking about travel photography, photographing a place at different times of the day, can also conjures up a different kind of feeling. Joe McNally once said that, if a photographer manage to portray a place in a great light, well composed image, manage to photograph the  visual experience in a great lustrous light, and making someone who saw it later on wanted to be there, then you have communicate well. You’ve use the “language” very well, or you’ve use the lighting successfully.

Sometimes we have to visit a certain place at different time of the day, because some place look better at sunset than sunrise depending on where the sun is coming from. If you take a look at the top photograph of Boudhanath Stupa there, the lighting was very flat, uninteresting, the photograph is just good for documentation, to show how the activity going on, but few minutes after the sunset, things get different, if you can see, there were two Buddhist devotees up there lighting a candles. At first I think they were going to light a candles all around it but actually, they were lighting that particular area only.

Personally I like the second picture, this place is mysterious  to me, you can barely see the Buddha Eye on the second photograph but the language that I wanted to communicate here is to show you how mysterious this place is, maybe it is not mysterious to you, but to me, it is.

Why the Boudhanath Stupa is so mysterious, maybe you wanted to read about this; There are numerous legends concerning the Stupa’s construction. One of them has it that after the death of Kassapa Buddha, a certain old woman and her four sons buried his remains in the place where the Stupa now stands. Then, they asked the king for permission to erect a temple in this place, and the king agreed.

When, after many sacrifices, the woman and her sons had completed the groundwork of the structure, all those who saw it were amazed at the big size of it, and many were eyeing what was being created with undisguised envy. They went to the king and asked him to stop the construction process on the grounds that if such a poor woman was able to build such a huge temple, then the king would have to erect a temple as great as a mountain! The king is said to have replied: “I have finished giving the order to the woman to proceed with the work. Kings must not eat their words, and I cannot undo my orders now.” In this way, the Stupa could be completed. (The Boudhanath Stupa is said to contain the relics of Kassapa Buddha himself, the predecessor of the most famous Buddha Shakyamuni),  jewellery and other things connected with the function of the stupa.

What I’m trying to say here about the photograph above is “A Sense of Mystery” and I think by photographing the Boudhanath Stupa with that lighting, just few minutes after the sun went down, making the stupa a silhouette, manage to do so. Sometimes a dull place looks great with the help of great lighting. There is a reason why most travel photographers like to go out shooting in the early morning and in the late afternoon when the lighting is great, if you wanted to communicate well with your “language” then choose it well, choose the “lighting” well.

Travel | Kathmandu | Backpackers Heaven

© 2014 Wazari Wazir | Children Looking at Kathmandu Valley From The Monkey Temple

Travellers and backpackers normally will refer Kathmandu as backpackers heaven. I don’t know what, they called it heaven, this city is not beautiful or breathtaking, in fact it quite difficult to breath here without wearing a mask. Maybe they called it heaven because there is so much things happening here, “heaven” sometimes can be very subjective matter.

Yes, if you are trekkers and backpackers this is among the best place to hang around, the accommodation is among the cheapest in Asia, if you like trekkers, this is a heaven for you, you can easily find trekking equipment at a very chela price here, why not, Nepal is blessed with eight out of ten of  highest peaks in the world, and because of that, there is hundreds or more selling trekking and backpacking equipment, each and everyone of them fighting to give you the best price.

The other thing is, in Kathmandu alone, they have seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, not many country or city in the world can boast about that like Kathmandu. But then, for those of you who have just arrived in Katmandu for the first time, might be wondering wether you’ve had arrived at the right city or just arrived at “Dustmandu” instead of Kathmandu. Anyway due to road expansion here and there, Kathmandu become polluted, some people need to wear mask when they get out of their house, even the people of Kathmandu wearing a mask, so you can imagine.

This is my second time visiting Kathmandu since November 2012, and I really hope in some near future when the expansion of road all over Nepal is finished, we, especially the travellers can breath the fresh air, without the need to get close to the foot of the mountain, for trekkers, normally this should not be an issue because they normally will spent a day to two here and spent another weeks or month trekking the Himalaya, breathing the mountain fresh air.

“Dust and grime have slaughtered the charm of clean and fresh air in Kathmandu. I have lost my expectation again to catch the fresh breath in the Valley. Who wants their own homeland and self to be covered up with haze of dust? However, we have been left with no choice. No can rarely be an answer if anyone is asks whether this situation has affected their health. Of course, this has affected my health too.

It has affected our lungs and respiration, harmed our eyes, makes us suffocated and we are covered with dust. In the streets, I can sense dust hovering into my mouth while talking. Yes, it has become a major issue to safeguard oneself from being victimised with the adverse effects of dust while commuting. I save myself from this through mask. We also can shelter our eyes with safety glasses.”

- Srijana Joshi, New Baneshwor, Kathmandu -

“Thirty years ago people could swim in Kathmandu’s most holy river, the Bagmati. Today, it is so polluted with road dust and refuse that people do not want to go in it. Trash piles several feet high line its banks. But still, funeral services at Pashupatinaath, one of the most famous temples to Shiva in the world, still culminate with people entering the river’s waters and depositing their deceased’s crematory ashes in it. What happens when the river is so polluted that one cannot enter it without getting sick?”

- Alex O’Neill | Environmental Biology and Anthropology -

To those of you who wanted to visit Kathmandu Valley in near future, you need to be prepared, Kathmandu is not for everyone, it is heaven for some people but might be hell to others, for me, I still like the city, I like the chaotic environment, otherwise why bother visiting it again when I can choose Paris or Tokyo. About photography, Kathmandu will only attract certain type photographers, just like India, some people doesn’t bother to go there. We can’t argue about taste in term of photographic genre or interest, but sometimes it is not about taste but more about health and safety concern. Some people can tolerate bad air pollution while others can easily get sicks.

Anyway, actually you don’t have to stay in Thamel Kathmandu when visiting Nepal, once you arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport, just take the taxi and head to Bhaktapur, it is much better compared to Thamel Kathmandu, less chaotic, better yet, just arrange with your hotel, so they can send people to pick you at the airport. If you need to buy some trekking or backpackers equipment at Thamel Kathmandu, just go day in a day trip, it take you less than an hour to get there from Bhaktapur.

Travel Photography Tips | Capturing The Perfect Moment

© 2014 Wazari Wazir | Monk Circling The Boudhanath Stupa | Kathmandu | Nepal | 24 mm

Among the skills that most professional photographers have is the “anticipation skill”, this usually comes from the experience, they know what to expect, in order for them to capture the perfect moment that best tell the story. The other thing is that, we must be patient, most of the times we need to wait in order to captured the right moment.

Take a look of the photograph of the  monk circling the Boudhanath Stupa there, to those of you who have been there, knew that, there are hundreds or sometimes thousand of people visiting this great stupa. Most of the  tourist also circle this stupa in anti-clockwise direction and as you knew, tourist does not wear red robes like a monk.

You may think that it was my lucky day to get the above photograph where  there is no tourist in sight, well, actually there are a lot of tourist as usual but I wait a little bit longer just to get what I want. Actually prior to visiting this place, I’ve already pictured it in my mind, the kind of a photograph that I want to have, and one of them is like this, a monk with red robe circling the stupa.

Once I know what I really want to take, I just find the right angle and wait. Yes, I know that the “No Entry” sign can be distracting, I’ve tried  another angles at that time but the lighting on the other side is not that great, so I choose here instead. The photograph were taken on late afternoon, the sun was behind me, to the right hand side behind me and you can tell by the shadows, I need to get the golden look of the Buddha Eye there, that’s why I choose  here.

I really need to be quick here, because if I was a little bit late pressing the shutter, some other person which might be walking faster than the monk will enter the frame and spoil my picture, so it was not as easy as it might seem, but once you have some patient, everything is possible. Just do not rush.

So, the tips on getting the right moment is, to anticipate, when you arrived at certain places, take your time without taking any pictures, just watch at the activity there, and look for something that is worthy of photographs, take a look at the best place to position for yourself. Then all you have to do is wait for the right moments, or in my case, I also need to get the right person to enter the frame.

The monk in the photograph above did not only act as my point of interest but also act as “a sense of scale,” by including the person in the photograph, someone who have never been there will know, how large the stupa is.

One last thing, once you get the photograph that you can be proud of, just pack your camera, if possible put your camera in a camera bag and just enjoy the moment, yes I know, you might miss capturing much more beautiful moment that you’ve already have, but trust me, you should never see all the great moment behind your camera viewfinder, just sit back relax and enjoy the moment with a cup of hot coffee if possible. You will never have enough photographs, so don’t worry and be happy.

Photography Tips | Why Everyone Should Have 50mm Lens

© 2014 Wazari Wazir | My Son HaiQal With  Nikon 50mm f/1.4 Lens

One of the reason on why everyone should have 50mm lens in their bag is that, it is a versatile lens. It is not expensive if you choose 50mm with f/1.8 (Canon around USD 150) and just a little bit more if you chose 50mm f/1.4 (Canon around USD 400). Yes off-course there is another  expensive 50mm like Canon 50mm f/1.2, but here, we will talk about the most affordable, 50mm f/1.8/ & f/1.4.

© 2014 Wazari Wazir | My Wife and Daughter Arianna | 50mm | f/2

Even though it is affordable, quite cheap, do not underestimate its quality. They are very good, for those of you who have one, for sure will agree with me. I’ve been using 50mm quite a lot especially for photographing my children, personally I think 50mm is great for portrait, it may not produced a beautiful bokeh (how the lens renders out of focus areas) like 85mm f/1.8 or 135mm f/2.8 but if you compare their price, 50mm is better value for money.

If you take a look at the portrait of my daughter Arianna above, 50mm lens produced a beautiful bokeh, I’m using aperture f/2 to throw the background out of focus, to make my little princess stand out from the background.

© 2014 Wazari Wazir | Annapurna Range From Sarangkot | Pokhara | Nepal | 50mm

I’ve also use 50mm lens for landscape photography, like the photograph above, I know that 50 mm is not the best lens for landscape but like I said before, it is versatile, you can use it in a situation where you don’t have a tripod and need a fast lens, a lens which have big aperture like 50mm f/1.4/1.8. Most entry level DSLR camera nowadays comes with a  standard kit lens, usually zoom lens like 18-135mm with aperture of f/3.5-5.6. With aperture like that, you should know that it is not fast enough for low light situation, without the need of a tripod.

50mm lens also a good for travel photography, a great companion to your existing kit lens. They will be a great help capturing low light photography where the tripod is forbidden. You may say that, having 24-70mm f/2.8 is better option for travel photography, where you don’t have to switch lens, yes that’s true but look at the price. So for beginners who doesn’t have much cash on their hands but still wanted to captured great picture, then, give 50mm a try.

© 2013 Wazari Wazir | Blue Mosque at Blue Hour | Istanbul | Turkey | 50mm Lens

When taking about traveling, I like to travel light, the only lens that I carry with me when traveling is 24mm and 50mm prime lens. I don’t have zoom lens with me. If you look at the Blue Mosque photograph above, I shot it with 50mm lens but that one, I’m using a tripod.

By now, hopefully you will understand that 50mm is a versatile affordable lens, you can use it for portrait, landscape, architecture, almost anything and  another thing about 50mm lens is that its mimic the field of the human eye, that’s why some people called it “normal lens” if you attached it to a full frame camera. Yes, definitely it has some limitation but with limitation, comes creativity. Do not let its limitation hold you back, use it creatively.

*If you have hard time getting a sharp picture using 50mm at wide aperture, please read this article –  Photography Tips With 50mm Lens