Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Camera Itch and Spontaneous Street Walk

Side Note: All photographs were taken with Olympus E-5 with various Olympus Zuiko lenses: 7-14mm F4, 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 50mm F2 macro. All photographs have been post-processed.

I have been away for the past weekend, and most of my time was occupied for the Pre-Wedding shoot which I have blogged in my previous entry. I have always, always set aside time to go out with my camera and do photography for myself, every single week without fail. Somehow, skipping my usual shutter therapy sessions left a hole over the weekend. The feeling was as if I forgot to brush my teeth when I got up in the morning. I just have got to do something about this, and I just have got to pick that camera up and go out and make something happen with it.

Came late Monday afternoon, my hand was itching so badly for shutter therapy session I decided to grab the camera bag and attack the streets just before sunset. Made it home from work rather early, I sped off to Petaling Street in the city, just in time to catch the dying lights. Unfortunately, it was raining rather heavily when I arrived, but that did not stop my determination to come home with enough pictures to make myself smile. I just need to be on the streets, and shoot purely for myself. Oh no, is this what we call, an obsession? Or an addiction?

DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.
Sunset under gloomy sky. Noise-filter set to high, producing a fake-smooth overall appearance.

It was raining, and it got heavier, but I moved on.

Construction workers hiding under the shade, safe from wet weather.

A blind couple, being together most of the time, playing tunes that could break your ear-drums.

My dinner, finger lickin' good !! Ok ok, I know it was unhealthy, but...

The man was actually holding an umbrella, but it looked like a hook. Remember that movie "I know what you did last summer"?

An umbrella and a newspaper

Rain is a good weather for naps.

I just do not know how to explain this, but I guess I have tried more than once. Shutter therapy sessions never failed to provide me peace when I was shooting. My mind was taken off from my worries and troubles that are weighing me down, and I could truly concentrate on my photography vision. Setting the world aside, I can allow myself to breathe, and relax, even just for that short 2-3 hours photo-walk session. My mind was clear, and I just did what I love to do, capture the sights that I liked seeing. This has very serious therapeutic qualities, and I felt rejuvenated and refreshed at the end of every shutter therapy sessions. The positive energy I garnered normally stayed with me for many days. If I managed to photograph something which I really liked, the positive energy is further amplified. These are the things that kept me moving on, and on in my life.

I have fallen deeply in love with street shooting, and people who read this blog, or people who know me in real life know that this is no secret. I believe Malaysian streets are so full of photography opportunities that not many people are aware of. There were so many places to walk and explore, and each corner and street I turned to, I have so many scenes I just want to share with the world. Malaysia is indeed a unique place, so rich with diversity and culture. Yes, the tourism ministry has successfully painted Malaysia as a modern, civilized, and developed country, through the KLCC Twin Towers, and the beautifully landscaped streets such as Bintang Walk. The hard truth is, those buildings and selectively few modern looking streets do not represent Malaysia as a whole. Looking through the glass of the gigantic twin towers into a high-standard living life-style can paint a very positive picture of what Malaysia generally is. Nonetheless, as you walk your way to the rest of the streets in the surrounding areas, what really brought life and colours to Malaysia can be evidently seen. I shall not be describing the conditions of the people on the streets, since the photographs very much speak for themselves. These truths, some may be quite harsh, are what I am capturing on my street photography walks. I only wish more photographers in Malaysia would pick up street photography, instead of obsessing over model shooting, portraits after portraits, shots of sexy chicks in ridiculously clad clothings, one after another, which is getting really annoying.

Food stalls, unaffected by rain.

The rain stopped, and the cart was out.

Have you got what I needed?


A beggar on a wet pedestrian bridge.

A mini-convenient store.

A man in stripes.

A cat under heavy camouflage.

A hidden corner. Shot at ISO2000, with gradation set to auto to bring out details in the dark. Noise control was doing very well, even though noise-filter was set to low only.

Sultan Abdul Samad building in Pink. Handheld slow shutter speed.

I know generally smaller cameras are favourable when shooting on the streets, approaching people. I have shot countless street sessions with my DSLR that for some unknown reasons I have progressed beyond the feeling of awkwardness when I approached people. I have learned that a smile, can go a long, long way. How you present yourself to the people, being a friendly, fellow street walker, people usually do not mind having their photographs being taken here. Of course, I do not force my way in if certain people do not want me to, and I have to respect their decision. Nonetheless, shooting more and more on the streets, I get more and more comfortable approaching people, and getting more and more opportunities happen. Gone were the days when I relied on my tele-photo zoom lens to capture shots of people unaware of me attacking them from a long distance. Now, I move as close as I can, and shot most of the shots at point blank. It was not easy, I admit, but a lot of the risks were worth taking. The fear existed mostly within myself, as I slowly gained more confidence, I finally understood that a lot of the restrictions on getting the photographs were mostly coming from myself. I was the main factor in limiting my own photography growth. As I explored further and discovered myself more, I understood what prohibited my photographs from getting better. My improvements may not be drastic each time I pick up the camera, but I know, no matter how small the step was, it was surely moving forward. That itself, is a thrill and reward in my walk in photography.

I have also returned to my old post-processing style in presenting my photography work here. I like rich, vivid, saturated colors and deep contrasts. I want my black to be pure black, and I want my white to be bright. Therefore, I boosted the saturation and contrast on my shots through final post-processing, which may not very well represent the original output of the camera. I know many people will argue that if the shots were already that good in the first place, why do you have to tweak it? My answer is simple, the shots were nearly what I have intended to capture,  and I have a different final output as visualized in my mind. I have my own ways of seeing the world, it may not necessarily be agreeable to everyone, but they are my own perspectives. What really matters is not what comes out from the camera, but what comes out from the photographer's eye and vision. What the camera sees may be in tuned with what the photographer sees, but finally the imagination and visualization of the photographer takes priority in deciding how the final image will look like. What the photographer shows you may not be what you see in the real life, but it is what the photographer wants you to see. A photograph is only a portion of truth that the photographer chose to tell you. Sometimes, there may not be any truth at all (which is not the case for my photography works, just to clarify myself). I believe post-processing is important to further amplify the message and ideas that the photographer is trying to underlie in his works.

Push it up the kerb.

Life has to go on, no matter what. We just have to keep walking.

Cheerful kids.

KL Tower under rain.

Guard rail.

On the hood of a car.

Shot at ISO6400, street graffiti.

If you are in KL, you have a camera (whichever kind), you love photography, and you have not explored street photography yet, I urge you to start doing so !! Trust me, you will be opened to a whole new world which you never knew existed.


  1. nice,one day wan to join u street photo.... Amy FB

  2. Hi Amy,
    Eh you are Amie Li? Can, more TT sessions ahahah

  3. The photo with the hand out in the rain its simple but packed with...I don't know..too much words to find the right 1 to match it. Nice !


  4. Hey Rustie,
    Thanks man !! Eh, must find some time to shoot together man. Long time no do this liaw. ahahaha

  5. Will do but not this weekend. Haha

  6. so nice to read how your life as a photographer has evolved. any chance of returning to perth for photo shoot?


  7. Hi Rustie,
    sure, lemme know when you are free !!

    Hey Marcus,
    I am still keeping Perth alive in my heart. Might be returning, not sure. Visits? definitely yes.

  8. Me again, too much time today...
    My three favs:

    1. The Cat
    2. The Tower
    3. The Hand

    Shutter therapy! Seems to work, eh? In German I would call it: "Spiegelschlag-Therapie (mirror clapping therapy)", sounds better than "Verschluss-Therapie", which would be the correct translation :-)

  9. Hey Sven,
    Thanks for the compliments !! I am surprised you loved the cat. I think composition wise it was very poor, because the cat does not stand out, and from the overall frame it seems very small.
    "mirror clapping therapy"? I like the sound of that !!

  10. owww.. love the cat and waterdrop bokeh photo.. nice set Robin..

  11. darn, missed you again, i was at DBKL yesterday till about 5pm and then went back, stuck in jam as well, oh well tough luck for me XD

  12. Look at its face, Robin! The cat HAS TO BE small, the poor little thing in that cold and hostile world...

  13. I have a feeling that the second last paragraph was meant for me. Mean Robin!

  14. Bartosz Dawidowski12/01/2010 04:52:00 AM

    Robin, this is it! I see some of your best photos here! Faboulous pictures, great ideas.

  15. Hey Daniel,
    Thanks mate !! The bokeh photo was kind of a spur of the moment thing.

    Hey Gerald,
    LOL !! Next time mate.

    Hi Sven,
    Wow, I did not see it that way. Now that you have put it in another perspective, the small cat does seem to stand out.

  16. Jason,
    That has nothing to do with you. I am making that clarification just in case people are using the photographs from this entry to represent what E-5 is producing, but they do not since I have already PP so much. And of course, I have to state my reasons why I did so, right? No worries mate, though I boost saturation and contrast, a lot of photography basics such as composition, exposure and all other things must be done right in camera during shooting.

    Hi Eve,
    Thanks !!

    Hey Bartosz,
    Thanks mate !! Appreciate that.

  17. Somehow or some way, you made KFC exquisitely looking food. Haha.

  18. Hi Wolfgang,

    hi Chong,
    erm.. its just KFC LOL

  19. Hi Robin,
    I want to be like you,I mean street shooter hehe..thanks for sharing.
    Shutter therapy! I like it.

  20. Hi Awang,
    Thanks !! Maybe we should go shooting when I am back in Kuching one of these days.

  21. great street photos as usual.

    peeping on "A hidden corner", I can see the similar problem on E-5 as E-3, the noise banding.

  22. Shamrie,
    Thanks for the compliments.
    However, I have mentioned in this post a few times, that the photos have ALL been post-processed, some to quite a heavy extent.
    Therefore, the final outcome as seen on this blog cannot be used to characterize the original output from the camera. It is not fair to do so.

  23. Damn Damn Damn Damn!!! I should have not come to this blog at night. The photo of KFC now is making me pretty hungry. Now, there goes my diet *munching maggi already*

    Robin, the KL Tower looks nice.. love the shot. should frame it...

  24. Hi Cyril,
    Alamak, I thought thats just an ordinary looking KFC ahahaha... now you make me feel guilty LOL.
    Thanks for the compliments. I should have been more hardworking and find a place to shoot KLCC on the same evening, probably can get the same effect on it too since there was still some light rain going on. Ah, but laziness kicked in ahahahaha

    any thoughts on thE 620 PLEASE?

    any thoughts on thE 620 PLEASE?

  27. Hello factual kerry,
    I have not used E-620 extensively, but I can share what I know about the camera, no problem. However, I cannot seem to find your email address from your blogger profile or on your blog.
    Can you kindly email me at hamish7ian@gmail.com with your questions, what you want to know about the E-620, I will gladly reply.