An Interview with Andrew JK Tan

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Financial Skyline

We sit down for an interview with Andrew JK Tan, from Singapore.

Can you please tell us a little about yourself?

Born a Malaysian. Have been living in Singapore now for the last 25+ years. Been married to my lovely wife Grace for the last 18 years and have 4 children (2 boys and 2 girls)

What is your occupation?

Have a full time job as a Business Development Manager in a semiconductor manufacturing company

When and how did you get into photography?

Got into photography since I was a young boy while I was still living in Malaysia , all thanks to my father. He invested in a Fujica ST801 35mm film camera and used it to take family shots. I started using the camera while I was about 13 years old and have been hooked ever since.

Have you entered you photographs into any competitions?

Yes, between 1988 – 1990 I have been participating successfully in International Photographic exhibitions/salons all over the world. I was shooting heavily using slides. In 1989 I won a Gold Medal in Kortryk , Belgium (open category).

I got involved in the digital world in the early 90s, scanned my 35mm negatives & slides and started post processing in digital. Published in numerous UK digital photo magazines then.

Started using D-SLRs only in 2007 (a Fuji S5 PRO, you can see my affinity to Fuji / Fujica) when I was introduced to DPChallenge. Since joining DPChallenge, not looked back and my photographic knowledge have improved significantly.

I also regularly participate in www.Photos2win.com and www.Pictures2win.com and have been relatively successful in these sites too.

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Croc

May19-2008. ISO800, 1/40s, f8.0, Sigma 150mm macro f1.8, Nikon D3. Croc captured at the Singapore Zoo. The croc was approaching me while I was behind the glass panel separating this predator from me. I was fortunate to have a 150mm macro on at the time to take advantage of the minimum focusing distance. The eye of the croc and the texture captured really conveys the mysteriousness of this predator. The eye anchors the image again and really engages the viewer.


On which websites can our readers find your photographs? Do you have a personal website?

My images can be found on mainly two photo management sites:

  1. www.andrewjktan.smugmug.com
  2. www.flickr.com/photos/andrewjktan/

I do have a personal website focusing mainly on my photographic exploits and providing useful information to fellow photographers.

www.yourfotobuddy.com

What type of camera equipment do you own and why?

I own mostly Nikon equipment (D3 body with a couple of Nikkor lenses). Why Nikon ? This was because I hung out more with fellow photographers who happen to be using Nikon equipment.

I have no bias to the camera brands and own many Sigma and Tamron lenses which I personally feel that they are more than a match for the expensive Nikon lenses. I also own the Lumix GF1 micro-four-thirds / mirrorless camera system which is great as a spare & travel camera.

What software do you use to edit your photos?

I have been editing my photos since the 90s using Photoshop and have now settled down using Photoshop CS3. I also used Topaz Adjust filters in my post processing flow.

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Pelican Action

Nov16-2009. ISO800, f9, 1/3200s, Sigma 150-500mm @500mm, Nikon D3. Pelican captured at Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park.  I love the energy from the explosion of water droplets due to the Pelican flapping it’s wings. It was just amazing !!


Do you have a favourite lens?

Well the answer is no, as I am into all genre’s of photography.

For portraiture, my Sigma 50mm f1.4 is a tremendous lens and I am so confident that this lens is more than a match than the Nikon or Canon versions.

For macros, I love my Nikkor 105mm micro with VR1

For sports, I use the Sigma 300mm f2.8 with the 1.4x & 2x tele-converters for extra reach and I have no complaints with the image quality even with the converters attached.

Do you have any formal training?

NO, I have no formal training at all. Everything that I know was picked up through practice, experience and interaction with many photographers.

What type of photographs do you enjoy taking the most?

Honestly, I enjoy ALL genres of photography. What I shoot is more determined by mood and access to events & locations. If I really have to choose just one genre then it will be Nature  photography.

Do you have any tips for aspiring photographers?

Definitely. The following 5 tips are the most important to me and have been the main reasons why I continue to improve.

  1. Master the basics and do not rely on automation, post processing and features. Learn how to shoot in Manual mode including manual focusing – this is SO important. Learn how to post process without using filters or create HDRs without using convenient software like photomatix as an example.
  2. Always look AND appreciate good photographs. Acknowledge why the photos look so good, figure out how the photographer achieved the result. Always acknowledge a great photo !!!!
  3. Practice, Practice and MORE Practice. This sharpens your reflexes and is the best way to achieve a high success rate.
  4. Know your equipment well.
  5. Keep and OPEN mind & Shoot ALL photographic genres if possible. The exposure to different genres and the subtle differences in techniques is a HUGE plus and makes all the difference.

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Sunset Marina Bay

Mar02-2009. ISO500, f14, Sigma 12-24mm@12mm, Nikon D3. HDR of 5 shots with Photomatix. Shot of Singapore’s city skyline from the Esplanade.  The sunset was so spectacular & unique only covering a portion of the sky. As the dynamic range was so great , I knew that doing a HDR would be the best option. So 5 shots were captured with my D3 mounted on a tripod. HDR using Photomatix with further processing using CS3. I liked the way I composed the shot, using the row of lights and texture to add foreground interest while leading the viewer’s gaze into the shot.

If you could travel anywhere to take photographs, where would you go and why?

There ARE so many exotic locations that  I would love to go so this is a really tough question to answer. Since the last 12 months , I have committed to travelling to at least 2 exotic locations a year.

Now my next goal is to have a photographic expedition in Africa photographing wildlife / people. I am even planning to include aerial photography during this trip.

Who inspires you?

Ha Ha Ha !! Another tough question and my HONEST answer is the National Geographic photographers and ALL my fellow photographers in DPChallenge.

What aspect of photography would you say you are strong at?

I am very comfortable with landscapes, sports and nature photography.

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Butterfly B France01

Aug17-2010. ISO3200, f3.2, 1/1250s, Sigma 300mm, Nikon D3. 100m Butterfly event at Singapore Sports School.  I wanted to include a sports shot and I just love this shot due to the difficultly in capturing the shot. This was a French swimmer competing in the recently ended 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and I was fortunate enough to be shooting in the games for Singapore Press Holdings.  The event was a night and indoor event so the lighting was artificial. To freeze the swimmers I had to use at least 1/1000s and with the artificial indoor lighting I had to push my ISO up to 3200 and use an aperture of f3.2.  I loved how the splash was “frozen” and the form of the swimmer.

What areas do you think you can improve on?

Portraiture and fashion/glamour genre’s are the areas that I am not so comfortable with which I have been focusing  a lot this year and plan to do so in the future.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Definitely retired !! and

  1. Traveling the world in photography expeditions especially with all the fellow photographers that I have had the privilege to be friends with
  2. Passing on my knowledge and experience to young & budding photographers

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Glamour

Aug14-2010. ISO400, 1/3200s, f2.2, Sigma 50mm f1.4, Nikon D3. Glamour shoot at Singapore Chinese Gardens.  Straight shot with ambient light using one large reflector. Model was captured from a top view angle. The very shallow DOF was from the f2.2 setting and the very close shooting distance. I loved the way I composed this shot (no rotation, slight crop) which provides what I felt was a very unique if not slightly puzzling composition making the viewer exercise his/her imagination if she was shot in a normal portrait orientation. Her eye and eyelashes are the anchor to the image.

What do you love most about photography?

I am naturally an extremely competitive person and photography provides with this unsurmountable CHALLENGE to excel in a skill that can NEVER be mastered and……

The little contributions that I can do to influence other photographers and even non-photographers provides me with the greatest of satisfaction.

Thank you very much for taking the time to participate in this interview Andrew. Best of luck in your future endeavours. – PhotoWeeklyOnline

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6 Responses to “An Interview with Andrew JK Tan”

  1. Yo_Spiff says:

    Nice interview. It’s nice to understand the background an experience behind the folks who can beat my own best week to week.

  2. An excellent interview which has gone into deep understanding of a photographer’s background and experiance. And the excellent photos phosted.

  3. Andrew JK Tan says:

    Thanks for the opportunity Jonathan !!