My friends and I were exploring an old neighborhood in the city area where residential flats were still standing amidst the vast development and modernization in the surrounding area. Walking around residential locations, I was being conscious about not intruding into the privacy of the residents there. After all, street photography is valid only in public, communal spaces which excludes private properties and residential buildings. Admiring the old architecture and building structural designs (I was a civil engineer after all) I decided to whip out the smartphone to utilize the wide angle lens, which I did not have with me on my OM-D camera at that particular session. The ventilation wall at the stairs drew my attention and I paid closer attention to it. All images were shot with Motorola G5S Plus using Google Camera App (ported over).

 Count the birds

 Count the humans

 Ventilation wall

 Stairs vs Vents

My friend actually teased me because I wasn't shooting any human subjects (out of respect and acknowledgement of privacy at residential spots) and that it must be a boring outing for me. I have learned long ago that if we truly keep our minds open, we will see subjects that compels us to shoot. I have trained myself to find beauty in ordinary things, not necessarily things that are out of the usual of spectacular. There is beauty and photography opportunities all around us, we just have to grab the camera and walk out to capture them. If someone says "there is nothing to shoot" then something is very wrong with his mindset when it comes to shooting. Being a passionate, hungry and growing photographer, you should never run out of inspiration and drive to shoot. Your fingers will be unbearably itchy anytime you are away from you camera.

To me, doing a photowalk is not necessarily about shooting the subjects that I want to shoot. Sometimes it gives me an opportunity to explore beyond my own comfort zone, move out from what I like to do and experiment with different approach and shooting styles. There are times I do need to see things differently and find an unusual approach to get the shots. After all, the more we shoot the more we learn about ourselves, our vision and voice in photography. It is an on-going process and the journey never stops.

So my question to you, have you spent enough time shooting lately? If not, what are you waiting for, grab that camera and go out and make some nice photos! That camera is not going to click by itself.

Seeing Bold Colors

Every time I am walking around, whether I have my Olympus camera with me or not, the ever trusty smartphone camera is on standby to capture something that catches my attention. Usually that something will be visually striking, and I am particularly drawn to interesting and bold colors. Most of the images I am showing in this blog entry were taken when I was strolling around Brickfields in KL, and the buildings there have walls in vivacious combination of colors, I just cannot help it but capture frames after frames. Some images (the obvious one with the fallen road sign, Jalan Sultan) were shot in Petaling Street, the epicenter of street photography activities in Kuala Lumpur. I must admit the Motorola's humble smartphone camera does pretty well in such well lit environment and the colors do pop (with a hint of over-saturation) and come to live.

Looking at these images, they were far from what I would usually be satisfied with coming home from a typical shutter therapy session. Nonetheless, I also have to brave myself to explore other styles and approach when I shoot on the street. I am a fan of color photography and Malaysia is such a colorful place (literally). It does not take much to open my eyes to the wonderful variety of colors splashing all over the city streets. Maybe these are not qualified to be called street shots, but who cares. All I wanted to do was record the beauty that I saw.

There are times that we just have to set aside our gear obsession and not worry too much about technical perfection. Start seeing the beauty around us and shoot with whatever tool is at hand. I think visual artistic appreciation does not have to go too strictly with ever-increasing megapixel race and larger format war. Just be happy, use what you have and enjoy the beauty around you!

I Got My First Moleskine from Isetan's Moleskine Concept Corner, The First In Malaysia

Earlier this morning I attended the media launch of Malaysia's first ever Moleskin Concept Corner at Isetan (in The Gardens Mall).  Veedoo Malaysia is officially bringing in  the premium luxury notebook (the actual thing that you can write with real pen, not something with a screen and keyboard) brand, Moleskine to Malaysia and has plans for expansion in the local market here. Veedoo is also an official distributor for major photography brands such as Lowepro and Manfrotto, both having products prominently displayed in their concept corner at Isetan in The Gardens Mall.

I have not owned an actual Moleskine before, but have always had that lust for the Italian premium notebook featuring their signature elastic band seal, ribbon bookmark, expandable pocket inside the rear cover and also rounded corners. Everyone who attended the event walked away with a small classic hard cover Moleskine notebook. Mine was "willow green" in color. Yay, finally I have one now!

All images in this entry were shot on Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko lenses 25mm F1.2 PRO or 12mm F2

You know your day started right when the Barista chose a matching color coffee cup and saucer to go along perfectly with the color of the Moleskine. I swear I did not talk to the Barista in advance. Sometimes the Universe has a way to tell you that some things are meant to happen and they happen beautifully. Or maybe I have collected sufficient karma points from the photography gods. 

The size of the Moleskine notebook was just perfect. Any larger than this I would dread bringing it out with me. I will slot it somewhere in my camera bag, which I minimize the gear I carry inside. 

There is a story about that Parker Pen that has my name on it. I shall probably share that next on my coming blog entry!

I was pleased to find that finally Moleskine is getting proper brand concept treatment in a premium shopping gallery. I have known reporter/journalist friends who use Moleskine and swear by its quality. Previously Moleskine is only available in obscure hideouts in several bookstores around town, but never being displayed out openly and proudly. I was told that Moleskine has evolved from just producing notebooks, journals and paper based products to more everyday used accessories such as wide array of bags and carry around cases. Primarily all the signature Moleskine products are available at the concept corner, including the notebooks,  planners as well as bags and accessories.

The Moleskine concept corner in Isetan is currently debuting their 2018 Fall Winter collection of products. The main highlight was the "Metro Bag Collection" that has simple and minimalistic overall appearance yet being overall stylistic. Moleskine claimed that these bags, ranging from backpack, duffel bags, messenger and tote bags were made to be practical both for work and play. They even have a dedicated wall to fully display numerous bag products from Moleskin available here. To find out more about the Metro Bag Collection, click here. 

The Moleskine corner in Isetan, The Gardens Mall has extensive collection of latest products, including their signature notebooks and planners, as well as new bags and accessories which have just been launched for this season. 

I was pleased to see that Moleskine is not purely making notebooks and journals anymore, as they are constantly diversifying their product options. 

I really like the wall of bags that has a wide selection of different designs, all to suit the extensive preferences of the market. I was also surprised to see how adventurous Molekine is getting with their color choices, not being too conservative with neutral and flat colors only. 

The hallmark of Moleskine - notebooks, pens and carry cases. 

The recently launched limited edition "007" line of products from Moleskine is also available at the concept corner. 

During the launch, a calligraphy artist was present to scribble the names of participants into their Moleskines. I chose not to have mine written as I wanted a blank, clean cover. I am simple and straightforward like that!

If you are shopping (or window shopping, like what I usually do) at The Gardens Mall, do drop by Isetan's 3rd floor Men's Department. Currently, the Moleskine Concept Corner is situated right next to the entrance to Isetan on the 3rd Floor. Also, that same corner hosts plethora of gadgets and accessories from huge brands. I particularly love the collection of fresh and modern Lowepro lifestyle bags displayed there. There were also Lowepro products (their unfailing lens pouches), bags as well as Manfrotto products. There were also something for audio-heads like myself, featuring Fender speakers as well as headphones and other audio related accessories. Also worth noting is that they are having huge discounts for premium mobile accessories from now until 22 November, you may find out more at their Facebook posting here (click). 

Special thanks to Veedoo for the invitation to the launch of the first Moleskine Corner in Malaysia. Who knows, in near future, we may get a Moleskine Concept Store, or better, a Moleskine Cafe in Malaysia?

Solving Life Problems with Ramen

Last Sunday, I found this cool Ramen (dry, non-soup based style) place at Sri Petaling called Menya Hanabi. I went for their signature dish, the Nagoya Mazesoba, a dry Ramen served with toppings of minced meat, lettuce, seaweed, a raw egg yolk and chasu (braised pork). This was my first time eating a Ramen which was not a broth/soup based. You know what? It was fantastic!

Image was shot with Olympus PEN E-P5 and M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8

I remember back in the days when I was working in Olympus, I had opportunities to travel to Japan for business trips. The common question which I have asked my then Japanese colleagues was - "what is your favourite Japanese food, being a Japanese yourself? Or, in other words, what is the Japanese food which you are most proud of?" The answers that I have received have always been consistent - Ramen. Bear in mind Japan has no shortage of awesome food and I particularly like their clean and subtle style of cooking and food preparation which is a total contrast to Malaysia's overbearingly strong and rich flavoring in food.

The struggle is real coming back from my several Japan trips, as it is a challenge to find high quality Ramen places in Kuala Lumpur. Do not get me wrong, there are too many Ramen places around, but the truly good ones are too few and far in between.

Sometimes, when the going gets tough in life, perhaps the only thing that can make everything OK was a beautiful bowl of Ramen.

Happy Deepavali

Happy Deepavali to all you beautiful people who celebrate the Festival of Lights! I almost made a shooting outing to capture the vibrant and joyous festive mood of Deepavali Eve in Kuala Lumpur but I had a last minute plan change. Nonetheless, here is an image from my original review of the Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 lens 6 whooping years ago in 2012. Image was shot on then Olympus PEN E-PL5 at a local Indian Temple, with the people there so warm, friendly and welcoming of us outsiders who sought to just took some nice photos. It was such a beautiful experience!