All images © Peter Tsang. All rights reserved.
Peter Tsang (aka Tanguerochino) was the 1st Place Overall Winner of PhoozL’s inaugural Photo Assignment (“After Dark”) with his wonderful image “Night Fog.” Peter’s photos are remarkable in their power, simplicity, and high technical quality, especially when learning about his relatively recent interest into more-serious photography. Let’s find out more…
PHOOZL: Where is home? Where do you live? Have you always lived there?
PETER: I am originally from Hong Kong, but have lived in Toronto since I was a teenager.
How long have you been involved with photography? What got you started?
My current sojourn began in 2010 when I bought the Panasonic FZ35. This camera lets me go from fully automatic to having control over every aspect of taking a picture. What’s more, it lets me shoot RAW. I got these features so that I can learn the basics of photography with it, and decide if I want to take the next step in investing in DSLR or other more advanced camera systems. Along the way, I also discovered the joys and the controls I get from the digital darkroom.
Looking way back, I guess I have liked photography since I was quite young. I remember having shot some nice photos and slides on trips I took with my parents and with my wife. But that was back in the film days. It was expensive to buy and develop film, and to make prints. As a result, I used the camera only when I travelled.
I bought a point-and-shoot in 2007 for a trip in Europe. With this camera, I discovered the joys of digital photography. Even though I was only using the most basic (and free) software to edit my JPEGs, I had full control over the look of my images. At some point, my realization of the limitations of the point-and-shoot led to the purchase of the Panasonic.
How did you get your photo education? School or self-taught? Workshops? Books? Internet? Or…
I am still at an early stage in my photography journey. Most of what I know now I read on the internet. I have also picked up some tips and pointers in the seminars of consumer photography shows.
The other way to learn is to take pictures, lots of pictures. I learn from my mistakes when things do not turn out. My engineering and science background helps me understand the technical and theoretical aspects. And this allows me to sort out the reasons behind the various camera settings, and why some pictures do not turn out the way I want them to.
I still have lots to learn in photography. I am not very experienced working with flash, and I have yet to learn about printing.
Do you have a photo speciality, or what is your favorite type of photography? Do you have a style?
Artistically, I tend to like minimalism and simplicity in the work of others. I am not fond of highly staged or highly processed images.
A major part of my photography consists of urban landscapes and architecture. I also do a lot of macro photography, mostly of flowers and plants. By nature, I am a contemplative person. I like situations where I have time to study the subject that I am taking pictures of, try different angles, different approaches. Someone did comment to me once that my pictures often have a melancholic feel to them.
I am not naturally an event photographer, but I have brought my camera for special occasions like birthdays and baptism for friends. I also do some street photography, but my camera is not exactly discreet, and I am a little timid. I still need a lot of practice.
How does photography fit into your life? Is it a hobby? A passion? Something you’d like to take further in the professional arena?
Photography is one of two passions of mine at this time. The other one is dancing Argentine tango, which I have been doing for many years.
I try to have my camera with me as much as possible to take advantage of opportunities that may present themselves. Photography is still relatively new to me and there are many things I need to learn. Like many others, I dream of being able to earn a living from photography, but it is still just a dream for now.
What equipment do you use? And how do you do your image-editing?
My current camera is the Nikon D7000. The lenses I use the most are my 17-50mm and 11-16mm. These are great for my landscapes and architecture images. When I need a longer reach, I have an 85mm that is also great for portraits. I also have a couple of manual focus lenses, including one for macro photography for which focusing should be manual anyway.
I do all my processing in Lightroom 3.
You seemed to have been well-matched with the “After Dark” assignment. Is nighttime photography something you especially like to do?
If you look at the pictures I have put on the Internet, you will realize that I do take a lot of pictures at night or in low-light situations.
I read somewhere that buying a good tripod is an investment, because it will last much longer than any camera, or even lenses. I heeded the advice and bought a sturdy tripod soon after buying the FZ35. My first time out with the tripod was at night. After taking the first long exposure picture of the city lights, I was smitten.
Unlike humans who see the world at every instant continuously, the camera accumulates the light hitting its sensor, and then presents the result as an image that the naked eye can never see. This transformation of the scenes in front of me is magical. I have spent many hours shooting when others are sleeping. Shooting long exposures also gives me time to contemplate my surroundings and see things with a different eye.
Who or what has inspired or influenced you and your photography?
Since I have not had any formal training in photography, I have not really followed or studied any photographer’s work in any organized way. However, I have found many inspirations and discovered many styles of photography just browsing the internet. Some of which has led me to try new approaches to my own photography.
Living in Toronto helps too. There is a great community of photographers here, and many local web sites provide various degrees of exposure for photographers, to the world, and to each other. In fact, Toronto is home to 500px.com, a web site that has had quite a bit of attention and uptake recently.
Do you have any advice for others who want to evolve their own photography?
Practice, practice, practice. Cameras and lenses are tools, and so is the software used for post-processing. The better one knows about one’s equipment, the less it will get in the way of creating images.
Having others critique one’s pictures is also a great way to learn. As photographers, we have big emotional investment in the pictures we take. Comments from others, who don’t have the same emotional investment as we do, will teach us how to subjectively evaluate our images.