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Through Different Lenses: An Interview with the CPMC 2018 Winners


9 days travelling through Western Japan and Kyushu, 8 intense photo challenges, and countless memories and experiences. What does it take to make it through the Canon PhotoMarathon Asia Championship (CPMC) 2018, and how has it shaped the three winners? We find out in the interview below.


“I endured squatting in freezing water to get the perfect shot”

Mohammad Norfahan Bin Bahron (Malaysia), Champion

Itsukushima Shrine at sunset

EOS 6D Mark II/ EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM/ FL: 16mm/ Manual exposure (1/125 sec, f/22, EV±0)/ ISO 1600/ WB: Manual
Theme: Event Challenge/ Location: Itsukushima Shrine, Hiroshima Prefecture


Tell us about your winning shot (pictured above). What was the story behind it?

This shot features a boy walking across the shrine gates with the sunset behind him. I imagined that he was returning from school and had to cross the shallow water to get home wearing rubber shoes.

To get the perfect composition, I squatted in the cold, shallow water and waited for the boy to walk across the shrine gate. The low angle helped to achieve the reflection effect, and the backlight from the setting sun turned the boy into a silhouette. To emphasize the sunset, I used a yellow filter, and changed the colour temperature to yellow.

I think this shot is outstanding because of the unique angle and the fact that I endured the freezing cold water to get the shot.


Tell us about two more of your shots. What is the story behind them?

Shot 1: Event Challenge

Itsukushima Shrine at dusk

EOS 5D Mark III/EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM/FL: 70mm/ Manual exposure (1/100 sec, f/3.2, EV±0)/ ISO 1600/ WB: Auto
Theme: Event Challenge/ Location: Itsukushima Shrine, Hiroshima Prefecture

I shot this on my way to the dinner venue. It was very cold, and the shrine was calm and quiet. I was mesmerized by the beautiful clouds. As clouds change shape very quickly, and I also didn’t have a tripod, I only had a few seconds to shoot. So I stood by the edge of the beach in the cold and took the shot handheld. I think the lighting and the colours bring out the beauty of the shrine at dusk.


Shot 2: Unique Composition

Karato Fish Market with unique composition

EOS 6D Mark II/ EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM/ FL: 35mm/ Manual exposure (1/125 sec, f/5, EV±0)/ ISO 8000/ WB: Manual
Theme: Unique Composition / Location: Karato Fish Market, Yamaguchi Prefecture

The idea for this shot came when I accidentally stepped onto the green netting in the fish market. I curled the netting into a funnel and put my lens through it. The result was really interesting!


What were the most important things you learnt during the CPMC?

Patience, and how to adapt to an environment that is so different from Malaysia in terms of temperature, weather, timeline and nutrition. Besides that, I also learnt to use the given time as efficiently as possible.


Mohammad Norfahan Bin Bahron
A wedding photographer since 2008, Mohammad Norfahan Bin Bahron hopes to develop his talents and put Malaysia on the photography map. His advice to those who want to improve their photography is to take workshops, and learn from experienced photographers either by asking them or by studying their works.


“Through curved glass, I saw new colours and shapes that no one else had ever seen”

Ly Min (Cambodia), 1st Runner-up

Close-up of hands holding orchid

EOS 5DS R/ EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM/ FL: 70mm/ Manual exposure (1/500 sec, f/2.8, EV±0)/ ISO 100
Theme: Uniquely Singapore


Which was your favourite shooting location and why?

My favourite location was Itsukushima Shrine because of the diversity of culture there.


Tell us about your winning shots. What were the stories and the techniques behind them?

Shot 1: Uniquely Singapore (above)

We were provided with many models for this theme. However, the image I had in mind was not a portrait shot but something that represents the uniqueness of Singapore. Therefore, I decided to shoot a close-up that shows only the model’s hand and the flower that represents Singapore.

I think my imagination helped to make this shot outstanding. I try to create images that other people rarely think about.


Shot 2: Colour

Surreal painting-like image at Huis Ten Bosch

EOS 5DS R/ EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM/ FL: 67mm/ Manual exposure (1/200 sec, f/7.1, EV: -0.6)/ ISO 320/ WB: Manual
Theme: Colour/ Location: Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki Prefecture

For this theme, I really did not know how to get an outstanding shot. Although the theme seemed simple, everything was colourful in the park so it was difficult to decide what to shoot. I thought that shooting through the curved glass would result in something that people have never seen, so I waited until I could get the best shot. I like how I transformed something in real life to look like a beautiful painting.


Ly Min
Ly Min loves travel photography, and is motivated to capture the best moments wherever he goes. He looks forward to sharing with his friends and family about the people, culture and landscapes that he encounters, and believes that learning about new culture, people and places can help his travel photography in the future.


“I learnt a new mindset for approaching subjects”

Herman Chow Ho Man (Hong Kong), 2nd runner-up

Colourful double exposure umbrellas

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF35mm f/1.4L II USM/ FL: 35mm/ Aperture-priority AE (1/1000 sec, f/4, EV-0.3)/ ISO 100/ WB: Manual
Theme: Colour/ Location: Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki Prefecture


What was your most memorable experience?

Definitely the experience that I had on Mount Aso. When the theme, “Peace”, was announced, the wind and rain were so furious that I could hardly walk, and it was obviously not a “peaceful” situation at all! The weather kept changing—5 minutes later, it was sunny again.

Despite the rather unforgiving weather, Mount Aso is still my favourite shooting location. The view was spectacular and unique, and the unpredictable weather actually provided many different special scenes that the participants could capture.


Tell us about your favourite shots.

Shot 1: Colour (above)

I like my entry for the “Colour” theme the most because of the use of creativity and imagination.

The shot is actually umbrellas of 4 different colours hanging from the ceiling. I tried many different angles, but couldn’t get a good shot until I laid down on the floor and looked up. The umbrellas became a little transparent under the sunlight, and moved in the breeze.

However, the real magic began when I tried double exposure! After taking the first shot, I rotated about 45 degrees. The transparency of the umbrellas acted like “colour mixers” and the original 4 colours became 8. I kept trying, and eventually got this flower-like shot. It was amazing to see the images evolving into something that I like as I tried different angles.


Shot 2: Event Challenge

Black and white shot of man fixing chair

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF35mm f/1.4L II USM/ FL: 35mm/ Aperture-priority AE (1/1250 sec, f/2.8, EV-0.6)/ ISO 800/ WB: Manual
Theme: Event Challenge/ Location: Okawachiyama, Saga Prefecture

Okawachiyama, where this shot was taken, is a small village famous for making products from traditional high-class porcelain. Life here is simple and peaceful, and I felt that this scene of an elderly man fixing a chair represents it well.

I used black and white to present this photo to convey a stronger sense of simplicity. The dark and light areas are well balanced. I used the car on the left as foreground and the lines brought the viewer to the main subject of the photo. I really like the realistic feel of this photo.


What was the most important thing you learnt during Canon PhotoMarathon Championship Asia?

The mindset for approaching subjects. Aki-san [CPMC instructor GOTO AKI] taught us about the importance of paying attention to the details around us. Through him, I learnt to observe the subject carefully, identify what makes it interesting, and then design the composition and apply techniques to convey this message to the audience.


Herman Chow Ho Man
Herman entered the world of DSLR cameras when he became fascinated with long exposure technique, but could not get the shots he wanted with a compact camera. He discovered the beauty of the 70-200mm range during the Championship, and now counts it as one of his top 3 pieces of equipment alongside EOS 5D Mark IV and his 35mm f/1.4L prime lens.


About the Canon PhotoMarathon Asia Championship 2018

Held from 5th to 14th April 2018, the Canon PhotoMarathon Asia Championship 2018 took 17 passionate photographers from 11 countries and regions on a series of intense photography challenges at famous photography spots in Western Japan and Kyushu, such as Itsukushima Shrine (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Mount Aso. These, together with guidance from renowned landscape photographer GOTO AKI and informative workshops, provided valuable experiences to help participants to grow as photographers. 


For more information and images from the participants, check out:
Canon PhotoMarathon Asia Championship 2018 Official Page


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