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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?