Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bukit Bintang Streets

It has been a two week long craze, being busy both at my day job as well as the Olympus OM-D E-M5 review. The amount of emails I received was unexpectedly overwhelming, and I do need time to catch my breath before I reply all of them. If I have not got back to you, please do understand that I need to eat, sleep, earn a living, do my shutter therapy, watch movies, do my stalking on Facebook and all the ordinary things that people do. Ok, not so much on the stalking, but you get the idea.

It was on this glorious Sunday morning that Luke called me out for a street shooting session on his new-found favorite shooting ground, Bukit Bintang in KL. I must admit this is not a place I shoot often, and I should explore different places instead of just sticking to my usual hunting grounds. After a quick breakfast, a group of street crazy shooters (Wilson, Yeow, Mun Keat, Luke and myself) attacked the streets.

I armed myself with my trusty Olympus DSLR E-5 with lovely Zuiko lenses, 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 and 50mm F2 macro. I did not exactly have anything specific thought out in my mind for this session, and I intended to walk casually and shot at whatever subjects that attracted my attention. Sometimes I think too much careful planning and anticipation killed the interest and excitement of the whole process. On the streets, one of the main contributing fun factors would be the unpredictability of what you will chance upon. Not knowing what you will be shooting next is what drives your curiosity and the hunger to explore more and more at every corner and turn of the streets. Life is similar in this context, you cannot have everything laid out perfectly in front of you, many times, it is the spontaneous moments that get you going.

Stranger


Umbrella and Book

Mother

Angry Birds

Gentle pastures

Family

Helplessness

Roadside smile

Pedestrians

KL

Breakfast

closed

Young

Torn

Conversation on a bridge

Public Seats

Hard labor

KLCC

Wilson

Luke and the Red Dot

Understanding that you are not in control is important to have an open mind approach to street photography. Street photography is a process similar to photo-journalism, having a huge part of documentary, to record what is already there, and capture the moments that happen in such brief fraction of time. The restriction that holds many photographers from going all out on the street is the natural instinct to control everything in their frame. Often, the subjects will never appear on the most auspicious location, and the light will never fall in the right position to properly illuminate your subject. Acknowledging the fact that we have very little control over the subjects on the streets will minimize the fear of "not getting the shot". There will always be the photographer's considerations of "what if there are blown highlights all over" or "what if the background distracts my viewer's attention away from the subject" or "should I add flash to compensate for the dark areas of the frame". Every single technical debate happening in your mind on how to make the photograph better, every single hesitation that you exude before you press the shutter button to bring out the best in your photograph is a dangerous risk you take, missing the crucial moment.

Yes, sometimes, you do not have the best composed image. Sometimes, the background appeared to be messy. There are many factors that could have improved the shot better. Many street photographers have agreed that technical perfection is not what street photography is about. It comes down to the core of street photography: WHAT are you shooting on the streets? WHAT are you trying to tell? WHY did you shoot the image? WHAT caught your attention? WHAT did you see that you want others to see?

Images should not be forced to happen on the streets. It is not prudent to create what is not there. We should learn that we are just a part of the world, and having a privilege to capture and share those tiny moments through our photography work is something wonderful. A street photographer observes, and then takes that observation one step further by translating it into images. Such observation is powerful, because they represent what was truly there, the natural state of occurrence in the world. Truth is often more impactful and can appear much stranger than fiction.

Have you shot on your streets lately? Do share your thoughts !!

16 comments:

  1. Lovely pictures, which is very inspiring. One day should visit Malaysia to take pictures. Thanks again.

    Chi Lee

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  2. Thanks Chi Lee !!
    Do come to Malaysia !

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  3. nice, and sharp photos, i just like it!

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  4. To be honest, i enjoyed this set of your street photos on your E5 more than your review of E-M5.
    These were brilliantly captured in monochrome, and reflected the sharpness of the lens. How i wish Olympus makes this premium 11-22 zoom for m4/3.

    I love the photos - stranger, family and closed.

    i wish you were at sepang today and got some nice photos...

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  5. Hello Calex,
    Thanks for your kind compliments. When I was doing the review for E-M5, I did not do any post-processing. As I was shooting only for myself with the E-5 this morning, I just edited the images as I liked, hence the stronger contrast and sepia tinge added to the final output that I desired. Thanks for the kind compliments.
    The Sepang F1 was too far and too exhausting for me, I wanted to have a casual and relaxing weekend !!

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  6. Hi Robin,

    Just wanted to say hello. I started reading your blog with the E-M5 reviews and now I'm checking it every day. You're very talented! I look forward to seeing more pictures from you.

    Lorraine

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  7. Hi Robin! Have become a fan of your photos and your blog. You are truly gifted. I too have recently acquired the E5 and am using your favourite lenses. I am thinking of trading in my older E620 for an OM DM5 as a back up camera and for low light work and for those situations where I do not want to carry the weight of my E5. I would use the fast primes and maybe the weather sealed kit zoom. Would this seem an appropriate option to you? Continue the great work and inspirational photos. What software do you use for your post processing?

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  8. I really like both your photography and your blog style.
    I took to street shooting some 2 yrs ago thanks to micro cameras - I shoot from the hip.

    Conventional street sshooting is donein B&W but I dissent. More interesting and informative shooting in colour.

    Amalric

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  9. 1. What's the benefit of using the 50mm macro over the native m43 45mm f/1.8?

    2. How fast and accurately does the 11-22mm focus on the E-M5?

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  10. Oops, in the previous comment I confused the E-5 with the E-M5.

    Olympus really needs to give it's cameras more individualistic names. They all sound the same.

    I think the street photography with the E-5 would not be very stealthy.

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  11. Hello Thadues,
    Thanks for the kind compliments.
    I am sure the E-M5 will work great alongside the E-5, they belong to the same family after all.
    I am currently using Picasa for very quick editing (crop, straighten, brightness/contrast) and ACDsee for more extensive editing (adding the sepia tinge, etc).

    Hello Almaric
    Thanks for the kind compliments. of course there is no "conventional" rules when it comes to street, you may present your sfreet photographs whether in colour or B&W.
    I am currently in the mood for B&W and I do think that color is important !

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  12. Hello Michael,

    Indeed, street photography is not stealthy with the E-5, but people are quite approachable on the streets if the photographer go about the friendly manner.

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  13. Angry birds, haha!
    Great photos and story as usual! I agree completely about the whole concept of letting go. I am never satisfied with my photos, be it color, framing or whatever, but there are people who like and enjoy some of them. That's the important thing. Better not to forget it.

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  14. Thanks Vladimir,
    Yeap, we should appreciate kind remarks about our own work too !!

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