F.U.N. Photographer of the Month – May 2010
[written by Bluffname and compiled by KopiOkaya]
Effective June, F.U.N. officially has a National Geographic photographer among its members. A picture of Excelglsi showing a black ant being attacked and “pulled apart” by a group of red ants is published in the June 2010 edition of National Geographic, which is arguably the world’s most prestigious and best-loved “photography magazine”.
National Geographic (June 2010 edition)
[Images copyright © 2010 National Geographic Society. Cover photo: Peter Essick / Bottom photo: Luke Chua (Excelglsi)]
We are proud of Excelglsi. But it is not for this reason alone that we honour him as our Photographer of the Month for June 2010. Rather we like to highlight his spirit of learning, adventure and experimentation that got him to where he is today. In fact, we thought up an alternative title for him: “Researcher of the Month”.
Excelglsi loves to experiment and try new things. He used to shoot film and slides, but stopped for a few years. When he returned to photography, he was disappointed with the quality of digital cameras. He almost gave up. But his disappointment led him to explore the world of macro photography. And he excelled in it. His macro photographs, mainly of spiders, earned him the nickname “Spiderman”. He is also among the first and few to take “action” macro pictures, like the one of the red ants attacking the black, which earned him a place in National Geographic.
In the process, he made some surprising discoveries about super macro photography where tiny subjects like spiders and ants can be made to fill a large part of the picture frame. Among other things, he found that inexpensive point and shoot cameras, fitted with a Raynox close-up filter, are actually better at macro photography than costly DSLR cameras with equally costly macro (or micro) lenses. And he has shown other F.U.N. members how to take super macro photographs just like he did.
More recently, Excelglsi starting experimenting with IR (infrared) photography. Here again, he is not afraid to try new things. While almost all IR photographers shoot landscapes and greenery, Excelglsi also shoots IR flowers, people, insects and more.
With his enthusiasm, he was taking and posting photos almost daily! Among the group of us, Excelglsi is by far the most hardworking. And productive!
And he stumbled on more surprising discoveries when he shot his first IR stage performance at the Esplanade recently. While he rest of us struggled with low light, high ISO and slow exposures – which often resulted in blur and noisy photos – Excelglsi found that his IR camera allowed him to shoot at much higher shutter speeds.
He ended with clearer, sharper pictures than most of us. As for the strange colours that came with IR, he either left them as they are for special effect, or converted his images to black and white. It takes an experienced eye to detect that his black-and-white images were originally IR.
This brings him to another area of experimentation – and to the most remarkable thing about Excelglsi… post-processing.
Excelglsi has long resisted post-processing, and we only recently discovered why. He is colour blind! This makes it difficult to distinguish certain colours and to make good judgement during post-processing.
But it did not stop him. When Excelglsi finally learned to use Photoshop and Nik Software, it sparked another rash of experiments.
To be sure, not all this experiments are successful and not all his images are liked by others. One recent photo that he processed, in particular, looked like a picture of ghosts. Others look like old, faded photographs taken by our grand parents.
But Excelglsi is never discouraged. He takes it all in stride and goes by the motto: Failure is the mother of all success. That’s the spirit we all admire.