Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Batu Pahat Shooting Spree

To all my Muslim readers, I wish you all Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri !!
May you all have the awesomest and happiest celebration with family and friends.

I have been wanting to take some time away from the busy city Kuala Lumpur, and just hide away in a place where modernization has not fully crippled every single way of life. Therefore, I decided to make a short day trip full of shutter action, just to clear my mind off some clutters. In the first light of the dawn for first day of Hari Raya, I traveled down south to Batu Pahat, Johor together with friend Frederick. We met up with the famous Uncle James, who is a senior in photography with vast experience to share and great stories to tell. It was one full day of shutter therapy and I have enjoyed myself thoroughly.

Batu Pahat has a lot to offer in terms of photography opportunities. The folks down there are really friendly, and they still live their lives free of high hills, huge cars and shopping mall cultures.

In all honesty, I would prefer shooting a portrait of an old man with a facial expression beaming with pride and sincere joy gained over years of life experiences, rather than a dolled up model with plastic looking face polished by an inch thick make up, dressed scantily and posing suggestively. I understand the urge of many new-comers to photography who define "shooting" by anything to do with "models" and "hot chicks". In my opinion, capturing true beauty is a lot harder than just skin deep appearance. In smaller towns like Batu Pahat, you will find many beautiful people with truest smiles, not worrying about how their hair fall into place, or if their lipstick color does not match their shoes. They smile, because they have something to share. It is up to the photographer to capture that.

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 or 50mm F2 Macro.

Left Behind.
11-22mm, Pinhole Art Filter applied.

A happy family.

Fox behind bars
50mm macro

A happy family man.
50mm macro

Wings to fly.

Where the Pilot sits.

How to fly a plane?
Grainy Film Art Filter applied.
14-54mm mk2

Uncle James, a great photographer and mentor.

The pilot, the inventor, the engineer. The man who flew all over the world. The man who inspired me to fly.

How to make a plane fly.

I was traveling light, hence I armed myself with Olympus DSLR E-5, shooting primarily with 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 and 50mm F2 macro. This was one situation where the wide angle lens is really useful and important, to capture and fit in as much surrounding as possible into one single frame. The 11-22mm worked like a charm, and the field of view it provided was just right, not being overly wide with annoying perspective distortions creeping in, but still wide enough to fit what needed to be fit. I used the 50mm F2 to capture mainly close up portrait shots. Occasionally, I would borrow the 40-150mm F3.5-4.5 tele-lens from Frederick, my shooting companion of the day, to reach further distance subjects.

This was not my first visit to Batu Pahat. We visited places where we have not covered during our first visit (click here). We started of by visiting a home of an Indian friend of Uncle James, where we found a yard full of used and abandoned cars. We found a fox there, and this was my first encounter with a life fox. After taking photographs of the down to earth family, we moved on to visit yet another friend of Uncle James, who is a pilot, engineer and inventor. He can modify and create his own aircraft, which was quite amazing, and he basically knew everything about a flying plan inside out. We had a chance to get upclose and personal with a few of his Micro-Light aircrafts, and I even took a seat inside one.

Shall I pick up flying as a hobby in the future? I'd say why not, right?

Serenity of life by the waters

A man and his boat.
40-150mm mk1

To catch the fish

The gathering of sea creatures.

The fisherman
50mm macro


On the road with no wheels

Another fisherman
50mm macro

Carts and trolleys

Money to burn

The alter and hanging incense coils

The photographer friend, Frederick.

In the afternoon, we visited the fishing village. The life there was so calm and peaceful. The houses were made of wood, standing on stilts elevating the platform off the water level. The boats were parked just outside the house, and you can find all sorts of seafood being sun-dried everywhere. Quite an interesting community. We were free to roam around from house to house, because there was no fence or gate. All doors were open, and the local folks were so friendly they allowed us to take photographs of the many things that fishermen would have lying around all over the place. They also were not shy to have their photographs taken by us.

After shooting the fishing village we went to one of the 400 temples in Batu Pahat. We were expecting to shooting sunset, but the weather was cruel and did not permit us to do so. It was pouring and the sky was not looking pretty at all. We skipped sunset plan and just shot around the temples instead.

Uncle James was very kind to spend his time bringing us around Batu Pahat, and we were moving from place to place consecutively for the whole day. Thank you so much Uncle James !! Hopefully in our next visit, we would be able to shoot those breathtaking sunset shots overlooking the ocean.


  1. They are not your usual postprocess effect - the Robin Wong signature. I am glad that you are taking the time to experiment and try different styles - many pros "perfect" a particular subject and particular style and that defines them. It is excellent that you are trying new and fresh ideas. That fisherman with the very weathered face, that is superb.

  2. Thanks Ananda, you are being too kind as always.
    Our styles of shooting, and post-processing are always evolving. It is dangerous to stay stagnant. It is a huge, wide world of possibilities out there. experimentation is the only key to move forward and improve.

  3. Phenomenal series of shots, each one is outstanding in its own way.

  4. i like the picture of the fox.LOL

  5. Awesome series as always Robin - and I agree about the old men vs. the supermodels. Plus I love Batu Pahat, it's one of my most favourite places on this planet. Oh, and I'm quite envious about that 11-22mm, which complements the macro very well. But the inside the plane shot, the one with the dashboard, taken with the 14-54, that's quite a good one as well.

  6. Hello Peti Kecemasan,
    Thanks !!

    Hey Wolfgang,
    Thanks for the compliments. The 1454mm was on my e-5 momentarily when my friend Fred switched lenses with me. hence I shot with it for a few scenes. 11-22mm is still my favorite lens !!

  7. Hi Robin,

    This is the first time i am writing in any photography Blog, and you are indeed the first lucky one... Ha, Ha.

    You really have Matured since the last time the both of you were here. Your style of PP and composition has really Matured in time. And I must say they are almost there !!!

    Love all the pics here, it shows you have the talent and the '' EYE '' for all things photographic. I am so proud for the both of you.Maybe it's the place itself ( Batu Pahat ), that's turning good photogs to even better ones....Ha, Ha.

    Yes, your new style is indeed a fresh way for any photographer to venture into, and you did it in style.

    Great Job Robin... !!!

    Regards.....Uncle James.

  8. Uncle James,
    Thank you so much for taking time to comment here, it is a great honor!!
    Above all, thanks so much for spending your whole day with us, we could not have gone to so many places without your guidance and help.
    Me and Fred are still learning and improving, photography is a long journey. We are blessed and proud to have someone like yourself to inspire and motivate us to shoot.
    Thanks again Uncle James, we will surely visit Batu Pahat again.

  9. Robin,
    I have followed your blog and today decided that you might be interested to know that someone in Arkansas, USA appreciates your work and blog. The 2 close up shots of the fishermen were my favorites in this series and I have been particularly impressed with your macro work with the E-5.

  10. hello lewis
    thank you so much for such kind compliments, I certainly do not deserve them. I am still rather new to photography, so much to learn and explore.

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