Sunday, December 13, 2009

Street Shooting in Malacca, Again


It has been almost a week since I last posted an entry, though I did intend to stay on break a little longer, I felt the urge to write something here all of a sudden. Call it a blogger's itch, I do not quite sure what it was, but when I have something to say, and I really want to say it, I will make a point to say it out. Blogging is a way of me to say something.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness




As I have mentioned in my previous entry, I was down in Malacca over the weekend for an important event: Overseas Christian Fellowship (OCF) 50th Convention 2009, and I went particularly for a single slot of 50th Anniversary Dinner celebration, which was on Saturday night. I met up with a bunch of old mates from Perth who came down all the way to Malacca, and I shall be blogging about this event in the next coming entry. Since I arrived in Malacca on Friday night, and I had the morning of the Saturday free since the dinner was only at night, I dragged a few people out for street shooting: Fred, his friend Timothy and of course, the infamous cat who does not need any more introduction: Jian aka Akiraceo aka Miao aka the Kucing !!! I forgot to snap a photo of everyone, since I was so into my shutter therapy. Oops.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness




Why am I so into street photography these days? A year ago I would have complained how dangerous it is to walk around any streets with your gears proudly being displayed and the desperation of people around the streets might drive them to do crazy things to get your gears. I still do have the mindset, but I have also discovered that street shooting was least ventured, and since I have picked it up recently, I could not help but find myself enjoying it more and more. The joy of not knowing what comes up next in the corner, and bumping into unanticipated subjects or incidents while you walk around with a camera ever-ready for action can be quite a thrill. I usually start a street hunt with relatively an open mind, and finding the details out of the ordinary everyday things we all see around us did not come easy, but presenting them in photographs is a creative challenge. I have learned from the OCF Convention that "it is a RARE thing to find an honest lawyer, but it is even RARER to find a Creative Engineer !!!" I cannot agree more with that particular claim. If I were to move on further into this photography thing, I have got to push my creativity limits, as square headed as I am forged to be an engineer. Perhaps, street photography can be the platform for me to find something to juice up my almost extinct sense of creativity. I am not kidding.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness




I have to say shooting in the streets in Malacca is very different from the streets of KL. We, the gang of street shooters started our trail somewhere at Jonker Walk, and randomly walked around, being led by Frederick. We went off to some really odd looking back alleys, and some really old traditional looking Chinese shops. The atmosphere was very encouraging for photography opportunities, and subjects were abundant. The weather was scorching hot, since the sky was extremely clear and cloudless that particular morning. I originally intended to continue my panorama experiments by taking multiple shots of the street scenes to be stitched in software later, but I decided not to. The casted heavy shadows and high contrast on buildings resulted in less appeal for architectural and building shots, hence I diverted my focus on other subjects other than the old buildings.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness



My focus on street photography this time was actually on people. I wanted to capture the actions and activities of the Malacca town folks who runs around operating businesses or doing their everyday errands at the streets we were at. Unfortunately I have not developed large balls yet, hence I was quite shy when approaching my subjects. It is not easy to shoot people. On one hand, you do not want to distract them, or letting your presence as a photographer alter their natural portrayal of what they were doing and their facial expressions. On another hand, you need to get close enough to have enough impact by filling up the frame. I guess a long zoom lens does help in this regard, but I have come to learn to get as close as I can to my subjects for maximum impact. Of course boundaries must be drawn in order for us not to intrude the comfort zones and privacy of others. The last thing I wanted was to be chased around with folks holding parangs in their hands.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness




Quick thinking and immediate response are significant on the streets. I am not a very fast thinker, and sometimes I react like a turtle. Every single subjects are probably at different places on the streets, some under the shed of a wooden hut, or out in the open in the middle of the road. The variation of lighting conditions can be troublesome at times, as I needed to continually adjust the camera settings to suit the changing situations. Not all subjects were static, some were moving, and they were moving at different speeds. I believe if you do want to make one shot happen, you would do anything for it, and whether you get it or not, it depends on how much you want it to happen. No, I do not have much difficulties with setting my camera on the go but I just need to train myself to think faster. And train my fingers to move faster.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness



I used Olympus Zuiko 40-150mm F3.5-4.5 as my primary lens for my shooting this session. I occasionally switch to Olympus Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 for wide shots as the need arose. Nonetheless, I pretty much stuck myself to the longer zoom lens for maximum reach from a long distance. I have heard stories of people loving to conquer the streets with a fixed focal length, for example a 50mm, or 35mm prime lens. While the challenge proved to be beneficial for the photographer to improve in terms of composition and creative planning, I still treasure my zoom capability very much. I need the flexibility. I am not saying I was lazy to move my huge heavy ass around, or closer to my subject. Having the ability to zoom can really open up different opportunities. I guess I am not exactly a prime lover.

*click* image to see its awesomeness

*click* image to see its awesomeness




It was already reaching noon, and time sure passed by so fast whenever I am on my shutter therapy. We stumbled upon a shop selling mixed pork roast rice where loads and loads of people flocked into, hence answering to our grumbling tummy, we ended our hunt there and grabbed ourselves a table in the shop. It has been a while since I treated my tastebuds with really juicy fat roasted three-layer pork meat... and oooohhhhh it was heavenly. Washing that down with cold fresh sugar cane juice was a awesome way to end a great photo-hunt session.

It has been quite a happening weekend for me. The street photography session was a blast, but the best part of why I went to Malacca has not even happened yet !! OCF Convy will be coming up next.

So, do you like street photography?

22 comments:

  1. hey KM Lim,
    Thanks mate. come back malaysia oledy ah ???

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  2. Siew Yuk!!

    One day we shud use solely on prime lens. Just one fine day. Hehe.

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  3. hey chong,
    but but what happened to our compact camera only outing??

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  4. waaahhhh... these are the shots that really make me envious of those with DSLR.

    Street photography rocks!

    -cyrildason.com

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  5. Hey cyril,
    Thanks! But do not be envious, but make full use of your current camera and make the DSLR users be envious of you instead!

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  6. Street photography? =)

    It's probably the only form of photography I do. So very true, that it's addictive.

    BTW, Robin - for street photography, more stories, less inanimate objects. What was that man doing on the table? Or the man sitting on the chair, by the wooden caskets? What are those wooden caskets? If you don't dare to ask them, what do you think he was doing? Where was the shot taken? And the reflection in the green pond - what was that guy doing (cementing the wall?); where is he from, where was it taken?

    If you tell us that, we become more interested in that moment in time you just captured, and your photographs become more than just pretty pictures displayed one after another - they become shots with things to say.

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  7. Oh God, just realized my last comment sounded snarky. Didn't mean it to sound like that!

    *apologetic hand movements*

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  8. Hey dienasty,
    long time no see! No,you do not have to apologize for voicing up constructive comments. It is most welcomed here.
    I believe your suggestion of interactions with the subjects is more fitting for a photojournalistic approach. You engage and immerse your audience with information and stories to amplify the effect of the photograph being presented.
    However that is not street photography. The purpose of hunting for subjects on streets is shooting them as they are as naturally as possible. Interaction with the subjects involuntarily made them aware of your presence. Everyone has a comfort zone,once you have breached it you lose the originality of the shot. It was the moment i wanted to capture and i did not intend to alter it in anyway. The subject pose in the most uninterfered manner, and this strongly displays their true nature at is best.
    I chose not to elaborate so much on my photos mainly because i do not want to distract my readers with too many words. My writings only record my experience and encounters leading to the photographs. From there onwards i let the photos do their talking.
    I guess you do have valid points when you suggested ways to improve the photos. I may give photojournalistic approach a try.
    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hey dienasty,
    Typing this reply from phone and it has become too laggy, thus the second comment.
    I purposely only display parts and pieces (hide other big part) of my subjects on the photographs to create mystery, to give some hidden impression on what the photograph is actually telling. Every photo tells a story, it is entirely up to the viewers to interpret the meaning on their own. I did mention i was focusing on more creative approach,it may not be so successfully presented.
    For all the questions that you have sparked,if other viewers have asked similar of other questions after looking at the photos, that means the photos did create an impactful impression, generating interests of wanting to know more of just what they can see on the photo. That is what i want to present in the first.
    Of course if i answer all the questions it would just render the shots dull since theres nothing more to know about it!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ah.. its been some time since I've seen such long and lengthy comments.

    Dienasty, I believe for photo blogs, we prefer to let our images do more of the talking rather than our words. Of course our mileage will differ, but I believe Robin has done more than enough justice with his words and pictures to ensure that they become "shots with things to say", and hence the posts don't have to be overly wordy, which is what I would prefer actually.

    cheers from down under.

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  11. hey brandon,
    Thanks for the comments !! I appreciate it heaps.
    Somehow, we are presenting our photos in a manner that only photo-enthusiasts would be able to appreciate, and I am afraid when those who are new to photo-blogs would be turned off by sooooo many huge pictures and little words. I once was criticizing this trend of blogging style but look where I am now, LOL I have become one of them.
    Nonetheless, it is a trend, and yes, we let our photos speak for themselves.

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  12. @Robin, @Brandon:

    Good points, those. But sometimes, I really WANT to know what the people you've shot are doing. I think the photo of the man doing the carving, for instance would benefit from some text to contextualize it. I mean - what's the name of the shop? Or, are shops like this common to Malacca? Is this scene common, or rare? Because if it's rare - your photo takes on added significance - you've just caught a man practicing what is fast becoming a dying art.

    I agree with you that not interacting with your subjects is best. But there are certain things that cannot be captured in a photograph, but would do much to help a viewer's appreciation of a street photography shot. Like, say, you captured a bunch of uncles talking, and all of them have very interesting hand movements. That would rock, but if you tell us what they were talking about ... suddenly your photo takes on new depth.

    I don't know if this is true for all photographs, though. I suspect some are best left without captions. But I think that for some, adding a couple of words would do wonders for a picture. =)

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  13. Hey dienasty,
    In my previous entries on street photography in KL i did "describe" certain scenes, and one of them seemed awfully like a drug dealing process. Yes some words add depth to the photos. I only choose to say something if i feel that there is a need to say something. But the best photo gallery/exhibitions i have been to are shown without captions. I know my photos still lack the impact at the moment but my ultimate goal will be able to present the photo and let it tell the great stories by itself.
    Words, will just kill the mood.

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  14. I can tell roughly... u were in Bunga Raya's Jalan Kg Jawa area and several other cross streets...? Nice shots! I have not been to the streets in Malacca for shots for a long time... last try was during night. I guess I should go again soon ;)

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  15. hey Allison,
    I did not even know where I was. Was following my friend blindly on the streets and just simply shoot.
    Thanks for the kind comments !!! Yes yes, next time we drag jason out together go shooting also ahahahahaha

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  16. Nabueh, come Malacca no call me. Herk! I can't take Malacca pictures like yours. Haha.

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  17. hey jason,
    I thought you were in Taman Negara? LOL...
    Ive not seen your street pics yet, so dunno yet. Maybe I will get pwned.

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  18. Nice shots there... after seeing urs i better delete off all my shots man.. Hahaha.a...I'm a prime lover... so i love Optimus Prime~! Muahahaha....

    Frederick D'WinBreaker

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  19. love your melacca shots !

    Greetings from Moscow.

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  20. hey fred,
    thanks, but dun underestimate yourself ler. You have your own different style, and I have seen your photos anyway. They are pretty good themselves.

    hey Evan Chua,
    thanks mate !!

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  21. Such a nice post, it is really interesting, want to admire you, you are really a hard worker guy, Thanks.

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