Talking Photography: Marklin Ang
Marklin Ang is a photographer based in Singapore, known for his breadth of stunning landscapes ranging from waterscapes to astrophotography. From working with tourism agencies to giving a TEDx speech about his travel photography, Marklin is a wonderful person to speak with about capturing the majesty of your surroundings with a camera.
Thank you Marklin, for taking the time to talk photography with us!
All photos in this post are by Marklin.
How did you get into photography?
Marklin: I got into photography when I was in ITE doing my NITEC in Digital Audio & Video Production. It was more a videography course than photography actually, but there was a 3-month module that introduced us to the basics of photography.
Sometimes there's a moment in which something "clicks" into place and you realize you want to pursue it. Did you ever have that moment with photography generally, or with landscape photography in particular? What was it like?
Marklin: Yes! I still remember vividly the epiphany. After I started playing around with the camera ITE had loaned me, I began to realise the interest it sparked within me. I then subscribed to photography magazines but focused on Practical Photography (a UK-based photography magazine). After purchasing the latest issue, I went home, sat down on my chair, and was browsing through when I stumbled upon a spread of the Brooklyn Bridge shot at night. It was that picture that made me go, "Wow. One day I want to be able to capture an image like this too." On hindsight, it wasn’t a really good picture. Haha. It was a camera review and shot on really high ISO, but it was a really clean image!
Usually when people think of landscapes, they think of wide open spaces and nature. Singapore is very urban. What are your thoughts on taking landscape photos in dense cities?
Marklin: I don’t generally brand landscapes and dense cities together. These are more cityscapes than anything. In Singapore, it is especially tough to get landscapes with prominent natural features in the photo since there are man-made structures everywhere. It’s a strange concoction of nature and buildings which I don’t personally prefer. Therefore, I shun away from landscapes in Singapore and just focus on cityscapes. Being the most light-polluted city in the world further recapitulates my first point. It’s a pity, really.
What are 3 critical things that every photographer should do to compose a nice landscape photo?
Marklin: Scout the location first and work out the possible angles for the shot you’re trying to achieve. Use apps like The Photographers’ Ephemeris, Photopills, or Sun Surveyor, as tools to help you better visualise the shot. Even when you arrive at a whole new location, look for any potential foreground interest first. Decide after if sunrise or sunset works better, or even a shot with the Milky Way in the background.
You have some beautiful photos in which you integrate people into your landscape photography to create images that blend portraiture and landscapes. How did you develop this unique style?
Marklin: I definitely wouldn’t consider this unique. It started when I needed a new display picture for my Facebook. Hahaha. After that, it just became an obsession. I include others to show a sense of scale, that’s all!
Do you have any recommendations for a basic landscape photography kit for beginners?
Marklin: Any modern camera will work. However, if time and money are on your side, research and see which cameras have great dynamic range and are full-frame systems. I personally switched to Sony (not sponsored) after they released their A7RII camera, and have never looked back. If you’re not intending to shoot night sky photography, you can skip full-frame. I don’t generally use ND (neutral density) filters or GND (graduated neutral density) filters anymore. However, 2 other things that are a must are a tripod and an intervalometer.
What's your favourite piece of photography gear of all time?
Marklin: My Phottix intervalometer. Haha. It is more of a sentimental item rather than a favourite piece of gear. It has been with me ever since I started landscape photography 6 years ago. It has been everywhere with me and has never failed me.
Do you have any tips for readers just starting out on their photography journey?
Marklin: Do you really need a proper camera when mobile phones take awesome photos nowadays? Also, times have changed. Learn to edit after you master the basics of photography. It’s sad to say that the photography landscape has changed to an "I can edit better than you, therefore my photos are better" era. Lastly, get a good body and focus on good lenses after. Good lenses are the key to everything and I wished I’d known about this earlier. I look out for the shape of starbursts, and corner-to-corner sharpness.
Thanks for sharing your insights with us Marklin!
Please consider sharing your photos with the community by tagging #dharmaportraits on your Instagram photos - I'd love to see how you're using these tips to create beautiful photos.