Monday, August 09, 2010

The Seedy Part of Town

Side Note: I am currently hooked to "Magnificent" from U2. I know, I know I am a bit late. However, it is refreshing to finally see strong religious influence on u2's music.
I love weekends tremendously, same as many of you out there, but to me it is even more important because it is the only free time I have to truly go out and make myself feel alive. One of the reasons I am alive would be.. obviously Shutter Therapy. So you think I have had enough doing the macrology outing in the jungle during midnight? Of course not !! Shutter Therapy adventure continued on to the streets, and this time I have selected Chow Kit, one of my favorite hunts for street photography.

How peaceful can you sleep on a street of Chow Kit?
Human traffic.

An umbrella, a tool, or a weapon?

I know, many of you would roll your eyes at me for choosing such a seedy and risky street for photography. I am well aware of the risks, but in contrast to that, it was actually the seedy and dangerous essence of the street that truly bring out the gripping subjects in photography. This place of town is almost void of street photographers, or tourists, and only flocked by the locals. Therefore Chow Kit streets can be considered unpolluted by commercialism and tourism advancements in any manner, pure to the original street characteristics which I was trying to capture in the first place. The drama and thrill of street photography comes from the stories that lie on those streets, and I find Chow Kit streets telling very compelling, and unique stories, each time I walk along them. Nonetheless, each streets (there are many other street photography hunts, such as Pudu and Petaling Street) share many common traits, but at the same time having their own individual distinctiveness.

Free ignition to burn your lungs and life away.
Obviously on Chow Kit, a single padlock is never enough. No, not even two.

Open space is actually an abundance here.

A popular mode of transportation.

Saving the environment.

I think one of the reasons why I prefer Chow Kit so much would be the abundance of people. People who just walk by the streets, people who sell something by the roadside, people who go to the market, people looking for prostitutes, people dwelling on the streets (homeless), people hanging out on the streets, and the list just goes on. The possibilities are endless. People here are generally unfriendly, and definitely prefer not to be photographed. Extra caution should be exercised not to cause trouble. Keeping a safe distance should be prioritized. Nevertheless, seeing the expressions and emotions overflowing on these streets, I really felt compelled to press my shutter button non-stop.

Cardboard Man.

Waste of electricity.

Walking down the street with style.
Morning paper headache.

Walking around in boxers.
Sucking red juice.

I think this may come as a shock to many of you who have not known yet, I have sold off my Olympus Zuiko 70-300mm super zoom lens. I loved that lens to bits, but I have made a decision to acquire the Olympus 50mm F2 macro lens, hence to fund the 50mm macro I needed to trade the 70-300mm off. When I am not financially buff one day I shall be buying back the 70-300mm. Not anytime soon though. Not having the 70-300mm was quite a bummer. I have been so used to shooting everything from a far distance, staying in such a safe and comfort zone. Now I go to the streets with only 40-150mm for far reach subjects, and 50mm for most of the shooting conditions. This was quite a hard step to move into, not having the flexibility of long telephoto end (we are talking about 300mm, which is 600mm on 35mm format equivalent).

A friendly, or loving gesture?
Everyone is waiting for something. The question is how long are you willing to wait.

No roof over my head.

A place called home.

I must train myself to move myself physically closer to my subjects to obtain a shot with enough impact. While doing so, I must also fiddle my fingers rapidly and be able to make decisions quicker than before, because the subjects at such close range usually do not warrant more than one or two shutter click chances, unlike shooting unnoticed from far away. My presence is known, and chances of nailing the shots are being slimmed down. I can complain and complain, but hey, is it not the challenges and obstacles that add more depth and meaning to the shots I was taking?

Sleep like you are on the streets.

Putting a pair of jeans on.


Cheap handphone accessories.

Just another place in Malaysia, on the streets of Chow Kit.

I am not exactly sure why I have become so crazy about street photography. Probably it was largely due to the unpredictability of subjects, and the thrill of not knowing what you will find next. Also, the street subjects I chose to capture may very well represent my state of mind at that moment, what I was experiencing and trying to express myself through my photography work. Shutter therapy was surely working its way around through street photography. Furthermore, immersing myself as another individual walking and blending into the streets, was also quite an experience itself.

How have your weekend been? I hope it went well, and if you did have shutter therapy sessions, do share your work with us !!


  1. Dead weekend I had. Btw, good work on Chow Kit again ! I shall revisit that area again.


  2. hey rustie,
    Owh dear. Thought you went to the PC Fair?
    Yeah Chow Kit is a good place for streets, but do go there with extra care.

  3. Something came up last minute. So practically I didn't have my therapy for the entire week. Feeling kinda groggy now. LOL

  4. Hey Rustie,
    OMG !! Shutter Therapy has evolved beyond therapy... into drugs. LOL...
    Don't worry. This weekend we go have our "fix" kow kow.

  5. nice set of pictures!~ like it!~

  6. Wah Robin at this rate I would hire you to take photos someday! Fantastic photos!

  7. hey Ahmike,
    Sure thing !! You know my number *grins

  8. Hey Robin,

    Those shots are really detailed and sharp. I would like to get the 50mm one day - it's like the poor man's version of Brandon's 35-100 f/2 - not because of optical quality but because it can't zoom. However Brandon's 35-100 f/2 won't settle and focus stably on my 510 so to use that lens you need a better AF module e.g. E3.

    I would just love the 50m.

    Those shots in this session are great in colour as well.

    The 70-300 will give more comfort in standing back further and the luxury of zoom framing, I am not as impressed with the final optical result - it is a good price though.

  9. hey ananda,
    I agree, the 50mm produces incredible sharpness and detail. The overall output is somewhat popping out.
    70-300 may not be able to produce image quality near to 50mm, but the flexibility it brings is priceless. there are just so many shots that the 70-300 can churn out with, that the 50mm can't, especially in dangerous streets like chow kit.

  10. HeLLO RoBin,

    Nice photos. I am not yet into 't street photography coz, I don't really have the time to go out to the street and shoot.

  11. Robin, you have a great eye for photography. In my opinion the best photo from this series is: "Open space is actually an abundance here".

    Again, you amaze me. You put all your heart in what you do.

    P.S. Do you have a Flickr account?

  12. hey willie,
    Thanks !! Street photography is fun !! You should try it out.

    hey bartosz,
    Thanks a lot !! I like the "open space" photo a lot too.
    I am still learning and improving. There are so much more to explore in street photography.
    I do not have a Flickr account yet. Perhaps I should start one soon !!