Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Day in Batu Pahat


Side note: My Sifu/Master for macro photography has started his own Blog !! He has always been generous in dispensing tips advice, and his work has always inspired my passion in macro insect photography. Please kindly visit his blog here. He was recently featured in NTV7 breakfast show.

It has been quite a hectic working week for me, since an engineer left the company and he threw two new projects to me, when I had my own plate full already. I do not exactly mind the additional workload, but what I was more concerned about is all the information that I was not aware of since I am taking over the projects which have been running halfway. Nonetheless, this weekend had been pre-planned since quite a while ago, and having something to look forward to after a long traumatic working week was something that kept me moving on.

*click* image for larger view

A tiny kitten greeted us at Batu Pahat. Again, I was using only the humble kit lens. Never underestimate what a kit lens can do.

Frederick and I made a day trip down to Batu Pahat, Johor. It was also the same day that the Sultan of the state passed away. Our main purpose there besides making beautiful photographs, was to meet up with a photography master which we have known through our online forum for quite some time, Uncle James. He has been well known for his breathtaking landscape works, as well as his specialty: birding photography. Looking at all his wonderful shots around the town of Batu Pahat, it was very tempting for Frederick and I when the awesome Uncle James extended his invitation to take us for a full day tour around the magnificent places in Batu Pahat. The offer was too hard to resist, and we finally made it happen last Saturday.

*click* image for larger view

An old, but very famous coffee shop operating next to the morning market.


*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

Morning market at Batu Pahat. I tried a different attempt in photographing people, by focusing solely on the actions of their hands. This may not reveal the entire story, but the guessing game is what maintains the interest of viewing the photographs.

The Photography Master

Uncle James has always been the person to look up to in our photography forums, and he never fails to impart words of wisdom, be in on photography related discussion or any other life issues. His immense experience dating back to film days even before the advent of Autofocus capable film cameras, made him quite an experienced and infinitely knowledgeable person in the photography world. He has been an active photographer throughout many eras and evolutions of photography equipments, and even at current drastic digital revolution this Uncle James never fail to keep up. Having such vast database of collected know-hows and practical applications in photography made him quite a versatile, and very true to the heart photographer. Frederick and I was privilleged to have known this photography master, and we were fortunate to have him so willingly to open up to us, and share his countless stories and encounters in throughout his walk in photography.

An Entirely Different Photography World

Uncle James came from an entirely different background of photography, in comparison to today's newbies such as myself and Frederick. He has been trained, or more appropriately put, self-taught since the old days. He has gone through so many trials and errors, and the results he obtained from those attempts served as very usable and practical even till today's digital age. Many of you may bluntly point to the fact that many film applications in photography are no longer relevant today. Part of that statement can be true, but even though we have advanced thus far in digital world where almost everything have been made simple and quickly accessible, basic knowledge, understanding on how the camera functions and how a photograph is made, can prove to be extremely powerful.

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

I simply love the authenticity of trishaws in Batu Pahat !! The trishaws in Malacca were somehow perverted by commercialization. Seriously, the trishaws in Malacca do not look like Trishaws at all, with all those weird flowers and subwoofers blasting ah beng musics.


Film Vs Digital

It was almost everything manual when photography started. Every settings on camera has to be set accordingly to different shooting conditions, and it was entirely up to the photographer to make the quick and right decision for every single frame he captured. Focusing was also done manually. Today, we have all been spoilt by the available aids such as programme exposures, aperture priority, and of course the miraculous autofocus which works so rapidly just by a simple press of a button. The fact that we can have infinite amount of storage and ability to preview our shots on field have been quite a convenience in comparison to old days of film. It is true that those new advancement in technologies greatly improved our handling and operation of the cameras. However, many of the new comers in photography, born in the digital age may have taken all the conveniences a little for granted.


Some may argue, why the fuss of going back to basics when you can use what is already new?

I shall not go into lengthy explanations, but allow me to illustrate the answer to the above question with an example. So many DSLR users these days (such as myself, inlucded) often made so many errors, despite the technology and modern conveniences showered by the digital age. There were wrongly exposed shots, wrongly captured focus, unskilled control of the flash, poor handling of bright light and heavy shadows, and so on. Then the DSLR users will blame the lousy ISO performance of the camera, the incompetency of the lens they used, and how they wish they have better camera and gears to help them make better shots. But we all agree that DSLRs provide us with so many modern conveniences that the film age did not have the luxury of, no? They why was it that the film users back then have no trouble of getting the right exposures almost every time, and their chances of hitting rate was high? Although they had to set everything to manual, there were not so many automatic settings, and they were running on limited films, they still managed to nail down their shots, almost, if not perfectly.

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view



Essence of Basics

The difference between film users in the old days and the new-DSLR born age photographers is: the film users have got their basics right. We, the new generation of photographers have been too spoiled with previewing, hence just trying unlimited shots and hoping just to get a few of them right. And even if nothing comes out right, there is still hope in photoshop. This mentality never existed in the film users' mind, hence they made sure they have everything right before clicking the shutter button. They think, before they click. They know what they wanted. They nailed them down with lots of fore-planning. They were diligent and persistent that their natural instincts and quick response on camera settings were even more accurate and powerful than todays most advanced set of camera system and technologies. They decided what was best for the camera, not the other way around.

I believe we, the new generation of photographers should really look into the basics, as a way to seriously improve our natural instincts as a serious photographer. This was a revelation that Uncle James vividly painted for us.

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

I have friends who come to me recently and told me that Olympus "bokeh" is not as good, not as smooth and not as nice as the ones produced by other manufacturer's camera and lenses. Well, if the bokeh on the above shot is not nice enough, I do not know what is enough. It was shot at F4.5, no you do not need F1.4 for that creamy bokeh.

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view



Batu Pahat, Photography Paradise

Certainly, Uncle James had a few more dozens of experience and timeless stories to share, but I shall not make this entry as a report of all those details. Lets move on to where we were at, Batu Pahat. According to Uncle James, this place is a photography paradise. Being there for just one day, I have to admit that claim is 100% true. The area was surrounded by three hills, and an opening to the ocean. The feature of this location was just auspicious for so many categories of photography: insect macro, birding, landscape and scenery, street shooting and many, many more. The entire area was not exactly that huge, but if you are looking to make really good photographs, I must tell you one day was definitely not enough. Me and Frederick made full use of our limited time there.

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

It was raining when we were at the temple, and many opportunities were lost, but it does not stop us from finding other photography subjects.

*click* image for larger view




Friendly People, Friendly Town

It was such a nice place, and somehow different from other parts of Malaysia that I have been to. People are soooo friendly over there !! Not only were they nice to chat to, but they were definitely photographer-friendly as well. They would not mind you pointing your lens at them, and snapping away. Some of them would simply ignore your existence, though they were well aware of your presence, they just went on with their routine activities, as if they were posing in their most natural appearance just for your camera !! Where else in Malaysia can you find this? The folks were always smiling, and this was truly a street photography paradise. We started our photo hunt at the morning market, and boy oh boy there were so many things to photograph. All I wish was having more time there.

Beautiful Places

There was a stretch of road going into the rock mining quarry, that houses more than a hundred Chinese Temples along it. It was quite an interesting feeling, and it was not surprising because the feng shui of the location must have been really auspicious considering the fact that the whole place was bounded by three hills and also the ocean. We were fortunate to be able to visit a few of the temples, and photograph its surrounding there. One of the largest temples was built just next to the seaside, and the view from there was just spectacular. I have always loved landscape photography though I have not done so much scenery shots.

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view

Though the sunset was not as dramatic as we hoped for, but the view at the jetty was quite spectacular.

Luck may not be on our side when it comes to weather. It was raining later in the afternoon, just before the sunset, hence the sky was covered by heavy clouds. We were hoping for the sun to peek out of the clouds as sunset approached, but alas that never happened. Even so, the view on the jetty floating platform was simply stunning. The soft golden ray of the sunset sky hitting the entire scene was something to awe at. For such a long shoreline, I was quite amazed by the calmness of the water. I was expecting more of choppy waves, and loud sounds of the crashing waters on shore. Nonetheless, the peacefulness of the beach view, overlooking the sunset time was one experience I have never had in my life. The sea breeze was also quite gentle.

I cannot imagine how much more stunningly breathtaking the sunset would have been, if the condition turned out to be more ideal. Perhaps I shall have more luck next time.


*click* image for larger view

*click* image for larger view





So there you go, a full day in Batu Pahat. We drove out of Batu Pahat after a light snack as the evening approached.

It was great, knowing Uncle James, and listening to his stories and experiences was very eye-opening and refreshing at the same time. It is always prudent to open up our hearts, minds and ears to the knowledgeable folks, and empty our cup from time to time so that it can be filled with new water. Thank you so much UNcle James for having us there, and taking the trouble to bring us around.

There must be another trip, purely for photography to Batu Pahat in the future. There were still so many places I have not explored yet. Nevertheless, I do hope you guys have enjoyed this series of my humble photographs !!

20 comments:

  1. Great stuff here mate, keep writing and keep shooting! Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  2. hey nelson,
    thanks mate !! I sure will.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Then the DSLR users will blame the lousy ISO performance of the camera, the incompetency of the lens they used, and how they wish they have better camera and gears to help them make better shots."

    I guess it's common within the new DSLR users. But don't be surprised that you'll here those 'excuses' from seasoned DSLR users too. They would b*tch non-stop how sucky their gear is and yada yada and hence, they can't take good photos. Getting bored of hearing those 'b*tches'. Haha.

    ReplyDelete
  4. hey chong,
    I guess those gear-heads will always be there. But do bear in mind it is because of their complains, and their desire for better performance that is actually driving the manufacturers to improve and come up with better cameras/lenses. As much as we dislike their view, we need them !!!! Darn.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My pixel peeping friend with a 1D mark 3, 5D2, and a 200L IS still complains about his gear non stop. But at he takes technically perfect photos :p

    Nice street shots by the way. Batu Pahat has indeed alot of photography material. Did you take a pic with Uncle James btw?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well, actually, their desire to have better gears means we have many supplies of second hand gears in market for us to grab/choose. Hehe. :P

    ReplyDelete
  7. hey brandon,
    Thanks. Yeah it is true that batu Pahat has many opportunities, and I only covered just a small portion of it. I believe theres still many unexplored photography subjects.
    Nah, did not manage to get a photo with Uncle James ahahah, photographers are always behind the camera !

    ReplyDelete
  8. hey chong,
    another important point, exactly !!!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your pictures made me wanna pay Batu Pahat a visit. Seriously.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hey Jasonmumbles,
    Go go go !!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. wau, BP sims so great under ur lens...it is my hometown act, hehe...
    *adeline*

    ReplyDelete
  12. hey adeline,
    are you the adeline that is currently studying in Kuching?
    BP is such a nice place, my lens does not do justice in capturing its beauty, really !!

    ReplyDelete
  13. yup, i nvr realize d beauty of BP til i saw tis post, mz appreciate fr nw on, hahaha...btw, reli lk ur photo =)
    *adeline*

    ReplyDelete
  14. hi adeline !!!
    Long time no hear from you. Thanks for the kind words. It is really a beautiful place, and people in BP are soooo nice and friendly !! I will surely go back there to snap more photographs, covering the places I have not been to.

    ReplyDelete
  15. haha..gd gd...i've been bz v lotsa thg since d start of new sem so...BP ll owez waitin 4u,hehe..
    adeline*

    ReplyDelete
  16. hey adeline,
    I guess college life is like that, no worries, im sure you are doing fine there.
    Yeah, looking forward to my next BP trip already !!

    ReplyDelete
  17. haha, u so keen o.. wish cn do wel on my 5nal sem...... i m lukin 4wd 2 bck thr on cny, haha =)
    adeline*

    ReplyDelete
  18. hey adeline,
    all the best for your finals then !! Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  19. My in-laws are in Batu Pahat and I concur that it is certainly a nice town. I have never taken street shooting there, spent most of the time in the Soga Perdana forest reserve instead. So typical of me.

    Looking at what you cooked here, I'll give Uncle James a call the next time I'm there.

    ReplyDelete
  20. hey amir,
    the opportunities for street shooting, considering the friendliness of the town folks, and the authenticity of the places there still not severely damaged by modernization yet, are many. Uncle James is a great guide, he opened me and Fred up to an entirely new world !!
    You must go if you have a chance. I don't mind tagging you into the forest ahaaha

    ReplyDelete