Monday, January 28, 2013

Thaipusam Shooting Spree

About two years ago, I joined a few crazy friends to shoot the Thaipusam celebration of Hindu Indians in Malaysia at Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur. The odd thing that happened was the choice of shooting right in the middle of the ungodly early morning hours, and we left before sunrise. You get the idea... caves, before sunrise... very, very dim, poor, lousy available light, and I got away with mediocre (I would like to think they were mediocre, but now looking back those shots were nowhere near decent) shots. I vowed to myself to return one day to shoot Thaipusam again, but in the glory of warm, golden morning light glow, where available light quality just could not be any better than this !

I was asked by Luke Chua to join him to shoot in the morning of today's Thaipusam celebration. I met up with Ronnie, Peck Yah and Lonny at ungodly 4.30am in the morning and Ronnie drove us all the way to Batu Caves, parked at quite a distance away from the epicentre of the celebration activities and we walked about 2km to our destination. Along the way we were joined by Marcus, and subsequently I met up with Luke Chua outside of Batu Caves, just next to the river. Out of nowhere, Tennyson Lee decided to show up !! And he has got an interesting new toy, I was so jealous. I also bumped into the Sony gang, Meng Keat and Joseph, both happily shooting Thaipusam away with their amazing Sony Alpha A99 full frame cameras. Unexpectedly, I also bumped into Amir Ridhwan, whom I have not seen in a long time !! Spotted Amir was with an OM-D mounted with the OM 90mm lens. What a combination !

All images were taken with OIympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5

























Meng Keat



Just in case you are wondering what Thaipusam is all about, do visit wikipedia's write-up here (click). 

This time around, I waited until the sun rose before I whipped out the camera from my bag, and with the morning's golden light, I managed to capture some better shots, in comparison to my previous attempts shooting Thaipusam at night. I have climbed up the 272 steps for the consecutive two years and shot what happened within the cave itself, hence I decided not to repeat the same process this year. Instead of following the devotees in their route to the end-point at a temple residing inside the cave, I actually exited the cave and walked around, exploring the surrounding areas. I then chanced upon the river side where some of the most interesting activities in the morning took place. All the photographs shown in this entry were taken from that one spot only. Maybe I have gone lazy and moved around less, but I have come to realize that trying too hard to document everything does not produce good results. Instead, focusing on something important and having careful plan can go a long way. Staying in one spot does not mean I am missing out on anything else. I am simply making the best of what I can. 

Thaipusam on Sunday means, public holiday on Monday. You know what I am saying? Shutter therapy on Monday !

30 comments:

  1. Likewise I was rather lazy this year, just roaming at the street outside. Didn't even enter the courtyard. But this time I have certain missions to do and that's the best way to get them done, unlike previous years where I went for pleasure.

    But good meeting you just now. Haha actually I was following someone before stumbling into you.

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    1. Oh my... you stalker !!
      Likewise Amir, glad to have bumped into you. Must do macro some time !!

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  2. Some wonderful shots here. The fruit wit the hooks made me hurt - ouch! The favorite here - like a little angel - precious.

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1MO2LkmKgYg/UQVM_0ncYxI/AAAAAAAAW08/ZMUe7nN1j1M/s1600/P1274211.jpg

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    1. Hey Libby,
      that one is my favourite too !

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  3. Fantastic set you have..... :)

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  4. Amazing images. Thanks for sharing your wonderful & colorful culture

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    1. Thanks !! I am privileged to be in Malaysia !

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  5. Great shots, Robin.

    I especially like the one of the 5 women with 5 pots on their heads.

    Unfortunately my efforts were nowhere near as good. I shot at night-time in Ipoh. Initially it was too dark. Then it rained, and it was too dark and wet! I didn't think to get up early the next morning.

    Maybe next time ...

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    1. Newzild,
      Thanks for the kind words.
      Sorry to hear about the bad weather. Do consider shooting in the morning next time, because thats when the best light happens !

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  6. Love your work.
    -Albert

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  7. Great captured, Robin.
    My favourite shot is the little child head shaving. She looks so innocent.
    Last year I stayed in one place and shoot whatever comes my way but this time I am lost in the human traffic. I was stuck at the foot of the steps until one Mr Thanna guided me back out by following his Kalvadi's drum beating team. Photos not much but I have a wonderful experience to be one of them. Once awhile I got ghoosebumps, not scare but I felt something different. (maybe I am scared.)
    May you have a great evening.
    John Ragai

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    1. Hey John,
      Thanks for the kind words.
      You were not the only one with goosebumps, we know very well something was not quite in place, that is for certain.
      Nonetheless, it was a good photo opportunity !!

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  8. Hi Robin,

    As always, your shots never cease to amaze me. Didn't make it to Batu Caves this year but will definitely be there next year.

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    1. No worries, there is always next time !

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  9. can we see some shots of women getting headshave?

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    1. As I have mentioned I did not shoot everything. What you see here is what I have shot.

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  10. Hi robin ..nice pic with nice moment ..this year is my 1st experience to shoot d event of thaipusam ..its very interesting when i stuck in d center sorrounded with d kavadi parade..i can see d drama & action during d parade ..from d drum player untill d family who join d parade ..all has a personal character with strongly image ..hopefully next year i can join u to shoot d moment together ..
    *hadi nik *

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    1. Hey Hadi,
      Glad that we have such beautiful culture and tradition in Malaysia, surely we must treasure our amazing country, and what better way to do than to shoot photos and help promote it !! Glad you went, I am sure you enjoyed the celebration !!

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    2. Of course robin..really enjoy during that time..the best thing is all my friend keep asking me about d 'live' story during kavadi parade..im proud about it..for sure after this i will always shoot during big event..
      *hadi nik*

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  11. It was a unforgettable moment for me. It was my first time shooting thaipusam in singapore. I was in the temple at night till the next morning. I was tired but those devotee were even tired than i am. now i understand how they setup the kavadi and really appreciate their faith towards their religious. Will go again next year.

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    1. Hey Jason,
      You should come to Batu Caves !! It is crazy here, a lot grander too. We had 1.7 million visitors, god only knows how many were photographers being busy body instead of Hindu Devotees.

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  12. haha. yes. there are many over here in singapore too!

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  13. that first shot has got to be in my top 3 fav shots of yours

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    1. Oh my goodness... there is a list now !!

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  14. awesome! would love to reshoot thaipusam again next year. such a wonderful event. i missed out on the river, now that ive come across your blog, i am aware. thank you for sharing your amazing photos. if only mine were half as good
    jeremy

    www.jeremyvillasis.com

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