This week I participated in my first ever photography competition.The idea behind the competition was to promote the E&O properties which include 18 Andaman East. Through their Facebook page (Click here to see it or if the link is broken or expired do a search on Facebook for the 18 Andaman) they selected 9 amateur photographers out of several thousand, and decided to pair them up with 9 professional photographers. The idea was probably to level the playing field and stretch everybody, as they chose professionals not generally known for their architectural or landscape work. The rules allowed no digital manipulation (aka Photoshopping!) other than basic enhancements e.g. exposure, and cropping.
I had two other shoots that week, a family shoot in Penang and a wedding at the Four Seasons in Langkawi, so it seemed like things really came together for me as far as scheduling was concerned. I debated what to take as all three shoots demand different equipment. I decided to leave my Nikon’s at home partly as I haven’t been shooting with them for a while, opting instead to take my Canon system due to the fact I was able to borrow a nice 24mm tilt-shift lens which is made for shooting architecture, and decided to supplement it with my light weight Fujifilm kit. Subject matter for the competition wasn’t known until we actually arrived so it was reasonable to believe we would be doing architectural shoot of the E&O since they were the sponsor. How wrong I was.
The subjects and themes for the shoot were given to us on the day of our arrival and we were all dropped off in the same spots with our partners. The locations were as follows:
- Penang’s Straits Quay Marina
- 18 East at Andaman (Andaman at Quayside, Penang)
- Penang’s old town – the touristy bit!
I already knew the day was going to be long and hot so decided to leave the much bulkier full frame DSLR in the hotel safe and took the crop frame Fujifilm X-T1 along with the 10-24, 18-55 and 56mm 1.2 lenses along with copious amounts of water and a lightweight aluminium tripod. My intention for the day was to have fun and not carry a big and bulky camera! My partner Danny brought his diminutive Panasonic DMC-GF6 camera and armed with these “baby” bodies we went to work.
Looking around at everyone else equipped with their big DSLRs, shoulder and roller bags, I thought…oops! I certainly started to wish I had something a little longer like my normal go to lens which is the 70-200 F2.8. It was too late anyhow, so we went for a wander and met lots of nice people, set up shots and enjoyed the day. But in the back of my mind I had that lingering doubt….maybe I should have grabbed the big guns too. This really became apparent when we were at the Straits Quay Marina as we were not able to do down onto the quay itself…the whole place was locked up so the extra reach would have been really useful.
For the Straits Quay Marina we were given the theme “Intriguing Sea Front”. I decided on the following image because the Marina and ocean makes me think of travel and I wanted to emphasize the meeting of the Andaman sea with the land.The interior modern stairway and the exterior quayside also posed an interesting contrast I thought.
The theme for the Andaman 18 at Quayside was “Captivating Andaman”. This was challenging due to the harsh midday sun which produced hard and sharp shadows.Although there were several photos on my shortlist, I wanted to portray this location as an oasis from the heat and hustle and bustle of city life so I was looking for a location that exuded a sense of peace and serenity, and looked inviting. Someplace I wanted to be “captivated” by so I could hide from the hot day.
Fortunately we found this area which was in the shadow of the apartment blocks and therefore gave nice subdued light.
The last theme of the day was “Colors of Penang”. If you have never visited Penang, believe me, you will be struck by the colours every where. Again, too many photos to choose from but in the end I settled on this one with the red bird cages. I liked the faded reds on the stone work which gave a feeling of the city being old…timeless and full of history. The bright colors show how each generation that lives in the city renews it.
Once we got back to the E&O hotel we were given 2 hours to prepare the photos for submission so they could be printed and made ready for the presentation the following day.
Judgement Day (sans Terminator) was amazing. All the photos were unveiled and I saw so many of the other contestants’ photos that I wish I had shot. One thing became really obvious and that is Malaysia has no lack of extremely talented photographers. Winners were announced and I was really shocked to hear that my partner Danny and I had won! The generous prizes were awarded and there were congratulatory hugs all around.
After that there were interviews with the press and the final summary before we all checked out.
- The camera isn’t the most important thing. I was shooting with a crop frame camera and my partner with a 4:3 (four thirds) while everyone else had their DSLRs out.
- Read and understand the criteria for the judging. It is critical.
- Have fun. You can control whether you have fun or not, but you can’t control the judges’ decisions. So control what you can. I didn’t focus on winning but instead enjoyed taking time to meet and talk with a variety of Penangites and sent them their photos while I was shooting.
- Related to the above: Built in wifi in any camera is an EXCELLENT add-on. With it I was able to Whatsapp photos to people within minutes of shooting them.
To see more on the E&O hotel itself, please visit their main page here.
To find out more about the Andaman 18 at Quayside please visit here.
And to find out more about the Straits Quay Marina click here.
For 18 East at Andaman or Quayside: http://www.quaysideresort.com