Sunday, August 25, 2013

Robin Wong Returns

Heeeeellllooooooo beautiful people! I miss you all dearly!

I could not believe myself I have not updated this blog in such a long time, and more than that, it was an incredible fact that I have not done any shutter therapy or being involved in photography related activities for almost two months! Life is indeed unpredictable and it has been quite a journey so far, with unexpected twists and turns. I was home in Kuching, being by my beloved mother's side throughout her stay in hospital, hip replacement surgery and her recuperating at home all this time I have been away from Kuala Lumpur, and of course this blog. The surgery was a success, everything went very smoothly (with exception to the two week plus wait for the surgery to happen) and thanks to you generous people, who have donated for the costs of my mum's surgery, I did not have to resort to selling my Sony gear! 

Initially I intended to publish the list of names of people who have donated to my mum's total hip replacement surgery costs, but I have been contacted by quite a number of people who requested their names not to be mentioned publicly. Therefore, I shall honor those requests, and by omitting so many names, it just felt the list will seem rather, incomplete. The cost for the total hip replacement's metal implant was RM6,500 and the hospital bill (including surgery, hospital stay, medication, X-rays, etc) was RM496. Therefore the total expenditure was about RM7,000 and we did spend a bit more than that, with the purchase of some very necessary items such as walking frame. I would say all in all, with the unseen costs, we have spent about RM8,000 for the past two months. Of course things were a lot more complicated than that, since I was away from work by unpaid leave, and not having paid any salary for two months time obviously caused my funds to be depleted faster than usual. 

I have received from Paypal donations amounting to almost RM10,000 (USD3,000) and that was no small figure. With further incoming donations from close friends, relatives and colleagues, I have collected all in total of RM12,000. After deducting the surgery costs, I have about RM4,000, which I have spent more than half during my time in Kuching (I do need to eat, travel and pay bills!). With the amount that was left, and topping up from my own available funds, I do have enough to survive until the end of next month when the soonest salary rolls out!! 

I would have NEVER expected this to happen from you guys, seriously!! I do not know what to say, but thank you. My mum and I truly appreciated the help and amazing generosity coming from you beautiful people. The RM10,000 was almost a godsent gift to ease this difficult time, and because of that we do not have to go in deep, ugly debts. Thank you all again. 

So what shall I do to repay the kindness and generosity given to me and my family?

To continue my shutter therapy, and keep this blog ALIVE!! It has been something that I love doing for a long time now, and my passion will not stop anytime soon. I have returned to Kuala Lumpur now that my mum has been recovering very well (she has started walking without the aid of walking frame!!!). And yes, the first thought that came to me was, LETS GO OUT AND SHOOT SOME PHOTOS!!

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

Morning Sun



Mode of Transport: bicycles. 

Friendly, Chatty Locals

When a photography friend, Carlson created an event and invited me to join him for the weekend shoot at Pulau Ketam (roughly translated as Crab Island), I immediately jumped in and said yes, knowing I could make it in time for this outing. I have shot this place before, with a crazily large group of photographers, on a not so nice weather day, which rained half of my time there back then. However, this time things were very different. You have to recognize the fact that I have not been shooting for nearly two months (the one time in Kuching did not count, it was merely to satisfy the hand itch) and I have this build up tension that must be released somewhere. Also, not obtaining any good shots from my first visit there several years ago, I was back to the Pulau Ketam with revenge, to compensate for my loss of time there previously! I MUST get some shots. 

Waking up at ungodly hours in the morning, we arrived at the Port Klang jetty at about 8am, and took the earliest ferry ride to the island. I chose Olympus for this outing, because, well, let's face it, my Olympus gear setup was more complete and filled in almost all my shooting needs. I have all High Grade lenses from super wide angle (11-22mm F2.8-3.5) to super telephoto lens (50-200mm F2.8-3.5). I did bring around the tele-photo lens, just in case you know, something interesting happens at a far distance I do need the extra long reach which my beloved 50mm f2 macro can't. 

After not using the Olympus E-5 for sooooo long, suddenly the emotional feeling just overwhelmed me. I do not know how to explain this to you, but it was as if I have not seen a good friend in a long while, and the reunion was such a sweet experience. I love the familiarity the Olympus setup brings, I like how the shutter sound slaps and clacks with confidence and reassurance that I have nailed the shots even without reviewing (chimping, they say?) much, and I know the amazing quality the Zuiko Digital optics will produce. I was all out to shoot, and no time was wasted. We walked on and on and shot at anything that crossed our paths. Even cats, dogs and fish. Literally. You will see. 

Looking back

Up Against the Slope

Cigarette

Self Made Shade

Hello Friendly Rider!

Compact Transportation

Custom Seat

At the edge


As you can probably tell by now there are MANY bicycles in that island, being the main mode of transport for the locals there. Being quite a small island with everywhere virtually interconnected to one another by small roads, bridges and paths, it was no surprise riding a bicycle can get you everywhere on that island. It was also fun observing all sorts of modifications being made on bicycles found there, from having addition of custom made seats to accommodate children, to installation of roof to provide shade from cruel Malaysian sun. There were also motorized version of bicycles (not to be confused with motorcycles, these were merely bicycles with motor) and people were zooming in and out everywhere with bicycles everywhere!! I had a fun time panning those bicycle riders, and they seemed to love having their photos taken by us too!

The local folks at Pulau Ketam were very friendly. Most of them did not mind having their photographs taken at all. I did not approach that many people to shoot (I may be deprived of shutter therapy but I have not become that desperate just yet) and with those few that I did encounter, they often respond very positively and had no problem with their photos taken. I guess the Pulau Ketam has become a hotspot for tourists and they are used to people visiting them and pointing the cameras everywhere. 

Washing hands

Bed and Breakfast

The Cat Sees Something

Salted Fish

Even the dogs were friendly

Hanging by the Moment

Sunny

Different Levels

I think it was great that I have somehow taken a break from everything. I have not been working for almost two months now. On top of that, I have not been shooting at all, and I was completely away from the photography world. I actually never thought I would survive that long without shooting, you know, since shutter therapy has somehow become a drug to me. I guess we humans can adapt fast and well, when the necessity happens. It was indeed a scary thought that this blog which I have maintained for so many years (8 years now), I have almost abandoned it. I am glad I am back. 

Having my mind clear from work and photography, two major elements which took out almost all my life for the past 5 years, was refreshing. Now I am back, somehow it felt like a new beginning. Things will not be easy, there are consequences which I must deal with, but I have returned with my mind recharged, and passion somewhat renewed. I know what I want now. Being forced to leave everything behind allowed me time to think and really reflect on my life. I can see what is important and how I have come to this point of my life. I am starting to appreciate my blog and photography experience more, and I have also come to realize that the readers who come to this blog are not just here to read my blog, but they have become something more than that, they have become apart of me through my journey in life! I cannot ignore that and I must also acknowledge my presence here was also brought thus far by the support and loyalty of you beautiful people. These surely have strengthened my heart to continue blogging and writing. For the first time, the reality hits me: I have an audience, a real, true audience, who have been with me and even reached out to help me in times of need. 

I think we have all started at the very beginning of photography (as hobbyists of course) not knowing what purpose we want to achieve or which directions we will be heading. Over these years, and over the recent experiences I am going through, things are indeed getting clearer. 

I shall continue to strive harder and improve in my photography skills. Time to push harder, and there are so much more to learn and explore. And you know what, I know you guys will be with me !

Shirtless

Windows

Houses on Swamp

Suspended Foundations

Superhero on a Bike

How to Dry Salted Fish

Naturally tanned

Seaside Activities

I always, always make an effort to shoot my friends who are with me. It is always an honor shooting alongside people who share the same passion and love for photography. This was also my first time shooting with an Olympus gear with a majority of Sony supporters/fans. 

Gear is secondary when it comes to photography, we have always been reminded of that so many times before. To me, I just wanted to focus on shooting. The question which I have answered earlier, is my current Olympus gear adequate to get the job required (my own expectations of course, yours might vary) done? It was a big yes, and no doubt, I have come home very satisfied with the output. The only problem I have was my own limited vision and sense of art. I felt somehow there were many opportunities which were missed, and many times composition could have been improved. There were brief moments of hesitations and yes, I did missed some important moments. Nevertheless, those were mistakes which I can live with, and I surely will learn from. How else can we learn and improve in photography? 

Importance of having tiltable LCD screen and Live view shooting

Joseph Cheung with his awesome Sony A99. 

Danny Lee and Olympus PEN E-P3. Still an awesome camera. 

Carlson Yow and his beautiful wife, Eva Kok. Sony A99 and NEX-6

Oh you think this is the end? My shutter therapy adventure for the weekend has just begun!! Stay tuned for more photographs.

 I assure you, I am back, and I am back for good!

66 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Tom!!! When you coming KL again? Lets shoot again.

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  2. BTW, Love those amazing pics!

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    1. Cheers Tom. Could be better tho, but yeah, gimme a bit of time to readjust myself!!!

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    2. It wouldn't be until next year... buddy, March... But I can't hardly wait...!

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    3. Oh that is not too far away! Do keep us all informed.

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  3. Amazing pictures, glad to have you back! :)

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    1. Thanks! I am soooo glad to be back.

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  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Eva! Can't wait to see your photos and Carlson's as well. Sure plenty of awesome shots!

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  5. Delighted everything went well for you and to see you back here! Am in love with photo No. 23 above, terrific scene captured!

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    1. Hey Ida,
      Thanks !! That was one of my favourites from this series too! I was shooting from a distance with my 50mm for that shot.

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  6. It's GREAT to see that you are back, your Mom is doing fine, and you didn't go deep into debt over the whole thing. Your photos reveal that your mind and soul have been refreshed! The photo of that poor fellow in the photo you captioned "Cigarette" is stuck in my mind's eye, and I can't seem to forget it...

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    1. Hello Gregg,
      Thanks to you and many generous blog readers who have donated, I was not in debt at all. The donations was sufficient to cover the costs, and sustain me for the month to come!
      That was quite a difficult shot to do, the cigarette, but I like the "zoned out" look on the man's expression.

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  7. As always nices pics. Glad to hear everything went well for your mum. Looking forward to see more of your shuttertherapy in the upcoming weeks.
    Glad to hear you didn't have to sell you gear that would be a heart breaker thanks to your fan base and your blogreaders.

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    1. Thank you so much for the support and help!! Appreciate it a lot.

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  8. So glad you made it back! The shots are great, too, keep 'em coming!

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    1. Thanks Bert! I am so glad to be back!

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  9. Welcome back Robin, missed your blogs, and I'm glad your mother is ok.

    It's good to see you back.

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    1. Thanks mshafik,
      feels so good to be back!

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  10. Hello, really pleased that you are backed with renewed enthusiasm for photography and everything else... there is always hope for those you persevere... enjoying the great pics now!

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    1. hello Johan!
      Thank you so much for staying with me all this time!

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  11. Robin glad you are back and your mother is improving. I suggest you leave your "Paypal donate" button up on the front of your blog, so some of us can continue to support you and your wonderful blog.

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    1. good suggestion! Will do so soon.

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  12. Great to hear things are back on track in all fronts, Robin!

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    1. Thanks Gonzalo, glad to be back too!

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  13. Missed your photos. Checked daily and so glad to know that you're back and that your mom is feeling well again. She's blessed to have a caring son!

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    1. Thanks! Will do my best to update as frequently as I can!

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  14. Great to see a coming back and beautiful photos Robin, my prayer to your mom and hope she get well really soon.

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  15. Glad to hear that everything turned out well!

    Welcome back! I missed your splendid photos.

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    1. Hey Samuel,
      Thanks for the kind words! I miss shooting too!

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  16. All the best Robin > i enjoy your site very much!

    Jan Broekema , The Netherlands

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    1. Thanks JB! Do stay around!

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  17. Welcome back Robin!
    I am really glad you made it through the tough times, and everything is fine with you and your mom now. He provides... Trust in Him. :)

    This set of your photos are among the best!!! Robin the man hasnt lost a single bit of your golden touch at all. There are so many photos here that i like, i dont even know where to start. It really depicts the life at the village very very well. I can almost feel as if i was there too. :) Thanks for sharing them.... take care!

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    1. Thanks calex for staying with me all this time!
      Thanks also for the kind words on the photos in this series. I did put a lot of effort in this one since it was the first session after a long time of not shooting.
      And yes, do not worry I have not forgotten about that awesome minolta beercan! Will spin some photos out of it soon.

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    2. Hi Robin... dont worry about the beercan. Its meant to be your backup for Olympus anyway.
      I am just looking forward to your review of the upcoming E-M1 and m4/3 12-40 f2.8 PRO zoom.
      Who knows, maybe you'll get a set of the E-M1 as your companion in future since you really helped Olympus sell so many stuff through your honest real world review here. ;)

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    3. Thanks and lets hope that happens too!

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  18. The two of the boy bicyclist - "Looking Back" and "Up Against the Slope" - are brilliant. Glad to see you back in action.

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    1. Thanks Patrick!!! I really love those two shots. I did not know which to decide, and usually people will just advice us to pick the best one. I was so undecided so I showed both photos.

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  19. Great to see you back and read that all went well with your mom's surgery!

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    1. indeed was glad that things went well!

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  20. YESSSS... he's back! Wonderful, in one word, to see you back and in good spirits after that ordeal! It's great to hear your mother is doing well and recovering nicely. You've shown not just to be a great photographer and a kind, genuine human being, but also a fantastic son. And guess what -- of course, it is GREAT for us all to enjoy those brilliant pictures again, but nothing is more important in life than your loved ones.

    Welcome back!

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    1. Thanks andre for being here and showing your faith and support all this time.
      It feels so good to be back and I am very grateful everything went well. Thanks again!

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  21. Welcome back Robin!!!..honestly that i really miss with ur blog..like to see ur panning pic on bike..really nice pic..since last 2 month without any story update from ur blog, i feel that my xtvt didnt enough..everyday i will open my phone n surf d net to see what new story from ur blog..now today u update ur blog with a great story n great pic as usual..i more thing..glad to hear that ur mom is ok now..i know how ur feel..finally just want to say "welcome back Robin!!"

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    1. hello hadi!
      It was great seeing you yesterday and I am happy to hear your mum is doing well too. Thanks for staying with me and my blog here!

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  22. Great to have you back, Robin.

    I checked in to your blog a couple of times in the past month and was alarmed to see it hadn't been updated. I feared that something horrible had happened. I'm very pleased to hear that everything has turned out great for you and your mum.

    The first photo in this blog is striking!

    Looking forward to seeing more great shots.

    I bet you can't wait to fix your 11-22 and 50/2.0 macro onto an E-M1 ...

    All the best.

    Scott

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    1. Hello Scott,
      thanks for the concern and kind thoughts! really do appreciate them a lot.
      Oh yes, can't wait for whatever that is coming soon!!

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  23. Welcome Back Robin! So glad that all is well. Your story in the past few months has given me a lot of hope - seeing what the love of a son can do to help his mother and seeing that so many people worldwide had the same reaction: "How can I help Robin!".

    We are all strangers, but you've drawn people together in a way that no-one imagined. Still, it is no surprise - your photos have always communicated warmth, humanity, and that we are all in this together. Keep up the good work!

    Tom

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    1. Thanks so much for the kind words Tom!!

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  24. Welcome home my dear friend! I am very very happy to read that everything went well for your mum, so you can come back to our beloved shutter therapy sessions!

    All the best and a big hug

    Stefano

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    1. Thanks Stefano for staying with me!

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  25. Great to have you back and pleased your mum is progressing well.

    I think the donations were all about the connection we have made with you through your pictures and it is no surprise that so many helped out.

    Great first set back.

    Best wishes,

    Paul

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    1. Thank you so much Paul. And yes, I am back!

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  26. Robin, I am very very glad to hear that the sun came back into your and your mothers life which is really good news!!!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and of course your pictures, which are impressive as so often before. For me, it looks like these pictures also tell that you got more cheerful as your moms condition is much better now.

    Best wishes,
    Klaus

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    1. I am so glad to be back!
      I think Malaysians are warm people, hence capturing the warmth and happiness was not difficult!

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  28. Good to have you back and what a relief to know that your mum is well.
    How wonderful that your blog is active once again and be a good source of inspiration to all your followers

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  29. Welcome back! Glad to hear your mother is doing well. Really missed your blog.

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  30. Welcome back to the blogging world mate =) Glad ur mum is already fine and walking. Hope things get better from here on. yippie!!

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  31. Welcome back Robin! I'm glad to hear the good news.

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  32. Welcome back, Robin. I am glad to hear that you and your mum are doing well. I hope for the best for both of you in the days ahead.

    Pulau Ketam! It's a wondeful place and I have a few relatives staying there. Many times I want to go there but never materialize. This morning, my cousin talked about it again which tickle my heart again. I will go there one day. Thank you for sharing those images which shows the preview of the life on the island. Your images are awesome as ever which I always admired.

    May you have a great evening.
    John Ragai

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