Sunday, December 05, 2010

A Day Out in Pulau Ketam

A friend and professional photographer David Chua organized a day trip to Pulau Ketam (loosely translated to English as Crab Island), a place not too far from Klang. The intended participants were mainly targeted at existing Olympus PEN and DSLR users, but it was also open to anyone, with or without cameras, or anyone with different camera systems. On the day itself, 21 people turned out for this event, which was quite a large number considering the casual nature of the event organization. I have had quite a number of friends whom I know who joined me for this occasion, namely Chun Chow, Frederick, Jason Lioh (aka the infamous Jasonmumbles), Ivy Soon, Yong TM, Michael Wong, and last but not least, a very kind and generous chap, Gerald Wong who offered to fetch me all the way from my place to the island and back.

A view from the jetty at Pulau Ketam.

Joyful local people, such genuine smile is hard to find in the city, but abundant amongst the people here.

Bicycle is a very popular form of transport here.

A wheel on a table top.
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied. Selective colouring done during post-processing.

Wall Painting.
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

Repairing a broken net. A very typical scene on this island.

A Wok outside a window.
PIN HOLE Art Filter applied.

Fishing equipments lying all around the places.
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

Everything is floating. The docks were built for the boats to rest outside the houses.

The original ground was all mud and swampy. Some of the old walkways were made of timber, and the wooden walking platform seemed so decayed it was rather scary to walk on it.
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

The day started with a meet up at David's studio in PJ, and we headed off ridiculously early in the morning to Klang for an awesome breakfast, what other than Bak Kut Teh !! Yes, we were a group of crazy people who have forsaken precious sleep on weekends, and decided to take up our gear and headed up shooting instead. After a blast with Klang's succulent Bak Kut Teh, we made our way to the Port Klang, parked our cars there, and took a ferry ride crossing the waters to the island. It was not a short journey, but very, very worth it. This was my first trip to the Pulau Ketam, and it was also the first time for most of the people who went on this trip, thus it was an exciting time.

Arriving at the jetty of Pulau Ketam, I instantaneously realized why the island was named as such. Ketam means crab in English, and the entire land of the island consists of very soft ground, looking very muddy everywhere. On the muds, there were thousands and thousands of crabs crawling their ways merrily everywhere. I could not snap a decent photograph of the crab, because of my len's limited reach (gosh I do miss my 70-300mm, I must get one copy when I can). The crabs were just everywhere, and it was quite a marvelous sight.

Many houses were made of timber, and still standing strong.
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

Wow, and I thought my room was messy, until I saw this.

Cheerful folks riding the bike merrily.

Death of a fishing boat.

In between houses.
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

This dog looks a little out of place.

Blue seems to be a favourite color here.

Does anyone know what this is?
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

Showcase of local fishing equipments, all laid in a store room.
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

A depressed dog on an island.

Since the whole island was founded on very soft ground, it was only natural for the villagers to build their houses on stilts. Everything on the island were floating structures, from the roads and bridges to houses and shops, they were all sitting on foundations raised up at least 5m above the original ground level. This was also to counter the effect of high tide when the sea water would rush in and rise. When we were there, it was during the low tide, hence there was no water under the platforms we were walking on and we could see down to the original ground clearly. Thus, the visibility of the ever available crabs.

Pulau Ketam is a fishing village. It was an island after all, being stuck in the middle of water only naturally made fishing a convenient lifestyle and occupation for the people there. You can find boats everywhere, and many of the dead boats with only the skeletons left intact can be seen left behind at many places on the island. The houses were also built in a way that the smaller boats can be docked to it through a small platform besides it. Coming from a city life culture, every single sight I have witnessed on this Pulau Ketam was something fresh and new to me. It was quite interesting to discover an entirely different lifestyle in a place, which was not exactly that far away from where I currently stay.

Every single open space, you will find things occupying them. There is no unused space on this island.

This dog was on the other side of the fencing, but it was pleading me for something. Yes, by now you should know that there are many, many domestic dogs on this island.

A man, and a mop.

A bike.
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

Whatever that was, it seems fun to ride.
PIN HOLE Art Filter applied.

A panning shot of a man passing by on his bicycle.
GRAINY FILM Art Filter applied.

A school on an island.

Closed windows.
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

Outdoor cooking facilities?
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

A carpenter?

The weather was horrible. It rained mercilessly half of the time we were there, and the overcast sky was very ugly. It did not help the overall dull and grey tone of the scenery at all, and many of us were disappointed with the weather outcome because as photographers, we really hoped for clear, dramatic blue skies. The overall images would be affected, and turned out very flat looking with unlively colours and lack of contrast, but we can only complain and complain. I decided to just ignore this, and concentrate on anything that I can photograph. Rain or no rain, the shutter must click on.

I shot with the Olympus E-5, and to counter the unfriendly weather, I employed some of the art filters. I loved how the Dramatic Tone Art Filter can add so much depth into an otherwise flat looking image. The grittiness and heavy shadows introduced much sense of drama to many of the dull, uninterestingly lit subjects. In this session, I have also tried a few other Art Filters (finally) such as Pin-Hole and Grainy Film. Both produced splendid outcome, though I would not use them too often. If the lighting and shooting circumstances were better, I would have worked more with natural lighting and produced more pleasingly true-to-life results.

Another panning attempt. This was not a good one, the face was blurred, and the motion was not smooth enough.
PIN HOLE Art Filter applied.

Blue, green and red.

I did not intend to snap a photograph of her, but she just kept staring at me.
PIN HOLE Art Filter applied.

I liked how the vertical lines on the window clashes with the horizontal wall lines.
GRAINY FILM Art Filter applied.

A permanently open window.
GRAINY FILM Art Filter applied.

Thread carefully, for you are doomed should you fall down from the platform.
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

Finally, there was a cat !!

DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

Weathered paint.
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

The lonely chair.
GRAINY FILM Art Filter applied.

I did enjoy myself thoroughly in this somehow short, but really sweet trip to the Pulau Ketam. I know the photographs shown here were not exactly at its best, and could have been a lot better should the weather be more forgiving. Will I make a return on a sunny hot day to claim back my missed opportunities? Perhaps, but not anytime soon. One day maybe, I shall return with a group of friends for another photography trip.

Special thanks to David who organized such a wonderful outing. I am looking forward to the next one already. Gerald, I owe you lunch, do look me up when you are free, we go attack some nice food. Also, thanks to everyone for coming, and making this trip such a good one. Despite the gloomy weather, we all had lots of fun and laughters. Sometimes, it is all about the company you are with, and I was glad to be with a really good one.

Pulau Ketam was one successful shutter therapy session. So did you have your shutter therapy lately? Do tell.


  1. robin, i remembered your 2nd panning shot of the uncle on the bike... he practically shooed u away after u took his shots haha.

    good shoots, as usual!
    mike wong

  2. Hi Mike,
    thanks mate !! He shooed me a little too late because I already snapped the shot I wanted LOL.

  3. I am so not gonna post up my pictures after seeing yours. :P

  4. WTF Jason,
    My photos are not even that good this time. But it was really fun though

  5. Robin, I love the 2n panning shot as the expression by the rider and him sucking I think a pen is street style the way, the middle of the handle-bars and the corrugated wrap looks sharper...why?

  6. Hi Koonyik,
    Thanks, I like that shot too.
    That was a panning shot, not a very successful one though. I could not freeze the whole person, and managed to do only so on the front of the bike. The blurring was due to motion blur. I should use higher shutter speed to counter this problem.

  7. how come only 1 photo?


  8. Marcus,
    Click "read the rest of this blog entry".