Sunday, January 29, 2012

Shutter Therapy on Kuching Streets

I have returned to Kuala Lumpur just a few hours ago, and you may have noticed that this blog has not been updated for almost a week. I was running on a dying ancient laptop, hence I decided to postpone my blog updates until I am back to my usual workstation PC in KL.

Originally, before the Chinese New Year celebration hit, I intended to go for a shutter therapy session around Kuching old city area, and I have even invited several friends out for that session. However, a last minute photo-assignment came in and it clashed with the planned street shooting outing. I had to cancel the street photography outing with my friends, but it was also my first time shooting an engagement ceremony of any kind. One door closes, another opens, and I really should not be complaining. I shall be updating this blog with photographs from that engagement ceremony some time soon.

Then when the Chinese New Year celebration came, I was overwhelmed with visiting and dinners, mainly with close relatives and friends. I guess that was all Chinese New Year is about, getting together and spend time with each other; since this is the time everyone returned to their home town once a year from far away land. As busy as I have been with all the usual celebration routine, I could not help but get the shutter itch tingling all round me throughout the week. I decided that no matter what happened, I must satisfy this itch for shutter therapy at least once before I return to Kuala Lumpur for work. Besides, Kuching always has a special place in my heart, and I want to photograph it the way I see it, because this is my home, and I love my home.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital Lenses: 50mm F2 macro or 25mm F2.8 pancake.

Sarawak Kolo Mee, the perfect breakfast.


Carpentry, the traditional way, in Carpenter Street

Dying generation

Snippets of Carpenter Street, Kuching.

morning folks.

Believe me, this uncle was not as scary as he looked.

Lorry workers.

Staring at goods.

Business outside a closed shop.


I asked Frederick, Chun Chow and Khee Hwa along for the street shooting session. Chun Chow invited his friend, Wee Nien. We wanted to start the glorious morning with a wonderful bowl of Sarawak Laksa, but to our horror the Madam Tang Laksa place in Carpenter Street has closed down. We made some quick decision, and everyone agreed that the next best thing would be Kolo Mee, and Kolo Mee we had for breakfast.

After a quick, yet deliciously satisfying breakfast, we started our shooting session from one end of Carpenter Street, leading to the Old Post Office. We crossed over to the Old Court House and explored the area a bit, and then we headed to the nearby India Street. A lot has changed in those places: many buildings were being torn down, new buildings being constructed, and even the road system has changed quite a bit. At India Street, we took the back lane to Electra House, and slowly walked to the central bus station area. After that, we cut to the Gambir Street and then back up to the Main Bazaar, which was opposite the waterfront. We walked along the Main Bazaar, which took us directly to Tua Pek Kong temple, one of the oldest and most frequented Chinese Temples in Kuching. The final destination was the 9th floor of Medan Pelita where we shot some nice sceneries of the Kuching City from a high vantage point. We did plenty of walking, a lot more than usual, but the weather was on our side, being cloudy most of the time, but cleared up as it approached noon.

Iron Man (Allen's nickname for this dude). He travels around the streets and delivers tanks of gas.

Dragged around in India Street.

Old newspaper seller.

Waiting at the corner of India Street.

Market shopping in the morning.

Scenes from Kuching

Gambir Street, the early crowd.

Cheerful shopkeeper.

One of the local dudes, lounging around at Gambir Street.


Kuching folks are plenty lot of friendly people. We had no issues at all getting close to the people on the streets, and most of them did not even care about their photographs being taken. I was a lot more confident on this ground because I was a local, and I speak their languages, may it be Hokkien Dialect (amongst the Chinese) or Bahasa Sarawak (amongst the Dayaks and Malays). It was easy for me to blend in the crowd, and people can connect easily to us. There were even a few encounters where passer bys actually talked to us and encouraged us to photograph more of the Kuching street scenes, because they commented that those scenes are slowly fading away, and should be documented before that happened. I have to agree with them, the modernized shopping centers and new urbanization process slowly but surely stripped away all the beautiful things that made Kuching.... beautiful. The culture, the tradition and its colourful background.

Since I wanted good results, I stayed safe with my trusted set of lenses: the Olympus Zuiko 50mm F2 macro for most of my close up shots, and the Zuiko 25mm F2.8 pancake lens for wide angle and other general shots. Originally I wanted to bring home only the Olympus PEN E-PL1 and the kit lens, which would have sufficed really in all honesty, but the last minute call for photo-assignment as mentioned earlier required me to lug home my working gear: the Olympus E-5. And I have almost forgotten how SHARP the 50mm F2 can be, even shooting at wide open F2.

The shooting session ended at noon, and I have surely scratched my itch for shutter action, and was fully satisfied. I rushed to the Hills (Pullman Hotel) to meet up with awesome bloggers, Cyril Dason (founder and moderator of Sarawak Bloggers) and Rodz. We had a lot of catching up to do, and I was glad we did, because I wanted to find ways to be more involved in Sarawak Bloggers, and contribute to this wonderful community, in whatever small ways that I can.

A portrait of a Sarawakian Lady

Arranging rambutans. Rambutan is an English word which was Malay/Indonesian in origin. Yes, we contributed to the English Language too.

Taking turns to have their haircut. Outside a barber shop in Main Bazaar.

Raw meat, fresh from the van.

Lighting candles at Tua Pek Kong Temple.

Strong red is the theme of most Chinese Temples in Malaysia.

Folding it since young. Tradition must live on.

My shooting partners for the day. Chun Chow, Frederick, Khee Hwa and Wee Nien. Mix of Canon, Nikon and Olympus cameras.

Lunch meet with Cyril Dason and Rodz Nocturne, both awesome Sarawak Bloggers.

So there you go, I have not exactly done such extensive shooting on Kuching streets before, and this was my first time going all out. I wish I have more sessions (that I can meet other wonderful photographers in Kuching and shoot with them too) but as usual, Chinese New Year is not the best time, since everyone is so busy during the celebrations. Nonetheless, there will be future sessions, and I will cover more ground in Kuching, my beloved hometown.

Argh, it shall be an eternity again until I can taste the delicious bowls of Sarawak Laksa and Kolo Mee.

6 comments:

  1. Hi there, welcome back!
    Nice to see you go on your shutter therapy.

    Meanwhile, I completed my little E-PL3 review and I'm quite happy with this little camera.

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  2. Thanks Alf !!
    Heading over to read your review now.

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  3. Thank you for the great sunday blog!!

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  4. NO worries !! It was my pleasure.

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. Hi Robin! I was googling for Kuching Street Photography, and I stumbled upon your blog. And I'm glad that I did! You take really good portrait shots. I love them! Hope to see more photos of Kuching and its people from you, soon :)

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