Coffee Talks and Photography Tips with Squarepad

Of flat lays, coffee and food photography, you’ve probably wondered and attempted those aesthetic shots you find on Instagram. Fret not, because we have Ryan Chew, otherwise known as @squarepad on Instagram and he’s going to impart some tips on how to take great pictures like the ones you see on your Instagram explore page.

The Humble Beginnings

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It was about 6 years ago when the cafe culture came along, and that was also when Ryan started taking pictures on his Apple iPhone 3GS. Befriending other Instagrammers, he started to learn from them and that was how he started getting into the scene.

“Along the way, I met with many inspiring café hoppers in town and they were all very humble and were never stingy in sharing their photo editing tips and photography experience.” Ryan asserted and we couldn’t agree more! To take things even further, he had taken initiatives to meet up and organised Insta-meets to unite all other creatives with the same passion.

Not everyone could afford a camera with a snap of fingers and it was months after using his iPhone camera, he became a proud owner of a mirrorless camera. Since then, he has been creating better quality content on his Instagram.

If you’re wondering what gear does he use currently, be excited because we’ve asked that question for you and you can now have the answer from the man himself.

What is your favourite gear, and why?

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“At the moment, my favourite gears are my mirrorless cameras (Fujifilm XT1 and XT20) with 23, 35, 56 and 90mm Fujinon prime lens mounted. I only started to shoot using these mirrorless cameras roughly 3 months ago. Needless to say, both cameras work magically in terms of performance (autofocus speed and precision).

Having different focal length of lenses have allowed me to shoot in all kinds of environment (tight space area/outdoor). For example, I usually mount the 23mm focal length lens for most of my interior and flat-lay related shots. Then, the 35mm or 56mm focal length for my food/ coffee/ portrait shots with a decent amount of depth of field effect.

And finally, my 90mm focal length for most of my outdoor portrait. All the prime lenses I have allows me to shoot even under poor lighting thanks to the wide aperture of the lenses (f1.2 to f2). Despite having both cameras, iPhone 6s remains to be my favourite device to shoot flat-lays because I have better control over the angle and partially because I’m also used to shooting a flat-lay using my phone.”

Where is your to-go cafe of all time?

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“Honestly, any café that has great coffee, food, cosy ambience, and background music played will easily be my favourite café to go to. A café that has nice interior built will be a bonus too.

So far, there are a few cafes that I really like: Kopenhagen café at Vista Kiara (read more about it here!), VCR at Jalan Galloway, Cream at Prima Avenue and Botanica + Co at Nexus Bangsar South.”

Now that you know where he likes going to, perhaps you might be able to bump into him. Check out our write up on Kopenhagen Coffee here and see why it’s a great place for coffee!

Hey @squarepad, give us some tips on editing our pictures!

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“I always emphasize in my own photography workshop that photo editing is very subjective and there is no right or wrong to how a photo can be edited. You just have to make sure that a photo is not overly edited in terms of colour. And if you are applying filters using apps like VSCO, adjust the strength of the filter accordingly to the effect you want to achieve. The rule of thumb to a perfect composition photo is to get the picture aligned as properly as possible to ensure minimal touch-up later on.

In my opinion, the best alignment editing app has to be SKRWT. Other than that, filters from applications like VSCO can be applied selectively to a photo captured to bring out unique details, tones, shadow and highlight. Finally, the best application for final photo touch up has to be Snapseed where you can fix all minor/ major imperfections in the photo by using the features offered. Photo editing can be very difficult and slow if you have no idea what is natural and what should be touched up; therefore, it’s important to constantly have someone to look up to that’s good in photo editing when you just started. With time, the editing speed will be faster and soon enough you will know exactly what and how much to adjust, and when certain effects should be applied.

Finally, the best application for final photo touch up has to be Snapseed where you can fix all minor/ major imperfections in the photo by using the features offered. Photo editing can be very difficult and slow if you have no idea what is natural and what should be touched-up; therefore, it’s important to constantly have someone to look up to that’s good in photo editing when you just started. With time, the editing speed will be faster and soon enough you will know exactly what and how much to adjust, and when certain effects should be applied.”

What are some great cafe-hop tips? Do tell us!

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Here are the few best cafe-hop tips. (A few good ones will do)

  • Always go on your café-hop when there is natural lighting. When you shoot under natural lighting, all photos will turn out to be flawless and editing is almost not needed. Incandescent lighting is a no.
  • To enhance your cafe-hop or food photography experience, go during the weekdays because it’s where you have the least crowd and you don’t have to worry that strangers will judge you when you overspend your time trying to take some Insta-worthy shots. If you can’t do weekdays, be the earliest to hop on weekends.
  • Always prioritize the cafés to hop within the same area to avoid time loss from travelling.
  • Money-saving tips: Visit cafes in a group of 2-4 people to minimize the cost.

That’s all for our quick chat with Ryan! Now that you’ve got some tips from one of the best on Instagram, when you take GoCar to your cafe-hop adventures, remember to put up your best shot on Instagram (make sure it’s made public) and tag us by using the hashtag #GoCarMoments, and you might just win yourself a 2-day GoCar rental for free. Tag away!

Catch ya later,
Edmund

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