Monday, December 13, 2010

A Morning on the Street is a Morning Well Spent

It was a glorious, sunny Sunday morning that I met up with Gerald, Yeow and Lee for a morning street walk at Chow Kit, my territory usual street hunting spot. I have shot here so many times that I do not quite understand why I kept coming back again. Perhaps the streets on Chow Kit have certain characteristics that I really like in the images that I capture. The people here do have particular lifestyle and local culture that are rather unique to this place itself.

After grabbing a quick and light breakfast, we walked our way from Masjid Jamek to Chow Kit, and attacked the streets with our cameras. All three of the others, except me, used Olympus PEN, which is supposed to be a preferable weapon on the streets due to its lighter size and much smaller size, in comparison to a DSLR. I have shot alone on the streets for so long now, it was quite a refreshing experience to have people around me as we move along the not-so-safe corners of the backalleys. At least I know my friends have got my back, just in case. I have mentioned many times, and I need to remind myself that KL streets are not exactly very safe to walk around with thousands of bucks worth of gear. Nonetheless, the photography opportunities are so worth the risks, that was the reason why I never failed to hunt on the streets week after week.

Nasi Lemak seller. Breads and cereals are not that favorable here. Nasi Lemak is the Malaysian breakfast.

Coffee Shop goer. A smile in the morning makes four street photographers happy.

Packing and unpacking the boxes.

A huge load of coconuts.

The cat that stared right into my 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 lens.

Good thing the cat did not decide to scratch my lens just now !!

A beggar by the roller shutter.

The back-alleys on Sunday morning.
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

I have no idea what JBA is.
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

Painters, taking a break.

Sunday morning laziness.

Random items hanging on the wire fence.

Undivided attention.

I am quite sure he is homeless.

Street chess on Chow Kit.

Remember the nasi lemak I was talking about in my first photograph? Here is one kid, about to feast on a freshly opened pack. Yummy !!

Nasi Lemak is best eaten with hand. Though I eat it with fork and spoon. I know I know, I am a city lad.

Another friendly dude. One of the main reasons I love shooting in the morning, is because you get more abundant smiles, readily.

Moving the plastic chairs. Plastic chair is such a common thing everywhere in Malaysia.

Now this is a painful sight. I shot him from a distance. I did not mean to degrade him in anyway, but such scenes are painful truths, many Malaysians choose to ignore. I am doing every bit I can to create awareness amongst us, that these tragic conditions do exist amongst our supposingly "modern" community.

Three friends.

They came from the Sikh temple nearby in Chow Kit.

The Gansta pose as I pointed my lens towards him. Then he cracked up badly.

Dude, where is your plastic chair?

The cat was so peaceful... until...

It heard my shutter clicking.....

And it got ridiculously near my 50mm macro lens.

Apam Balik, another great Malaysian food.

The making of Apam Balik: super thin pancake with grounded peanuts and margarine/butter filling.

The ring maker.

Sleeping at owner's risk.

Would you want to stay here?
DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

Mangostines, local Malaysian fruit.

What big eyes you have.

That was Yeow, one of the friends who joined me for street shooting.

After shooting, we had our lunch at Yut Kee, a Hainanese restaurant at Dang Wangi. That was Lee's Roasted Pork.

The rest of us had Chicken Chop... gosh it was GOOD !!

This session, I did my best to obtain more natural looking shots. If you have noticed, I avoided ussge of Art-Filters in most of my shots. I know I know, I could not stop popping out some Dramatic Tone shots, those were just too irresistable. Other than that, I preserved most of the ambient colours, and original skin tone which worked beautifully coming straight out from Olympus colours.

I also tried to get close to my subjects, but I also concentrated on nailing that "decisive moment". It was not easy, as it involves more luck than skills sometimes, and of course, tonnes of patience to get some of the shots. Apart from that, I also focused on getting the facial expression with impact. Facial expressions can convey stories and emotions that can either make the photograph work, or break it. It was not easy when you get someone to pose for you, since they were aware of your presence and their self-awareness can take the authenticity away from the intended impact. Nonetheless, trial and error, and a friendly conversation can warm the people up, mitigating the awkward moments and bring in that oh-so-bright smile that could shine right out of the image.

There is still so much to learn, and explore. So much to improve on, but I am certainly working on it. The thing I like about street photography is that, it allows you a huge room to grow. You do not just finish up at one level, because the possibilities out there are limitless.

Street hunt, again, anyone?


  1. this post reminds me of the time u got your camera stolen. i dont mean to rake up the painful memory but i just want to prove a point that theres always a silver lining in every cloud. now u get to use a kickass new model from olympus!


  2. Nice Work, Robin, I love the cat, again, though I´m not a friend of cats at all...
    I really don´t care too much about noise, but there is a lot of it in the first few shots. I expected the E5 to deal better with this issue...
    Have a nice day, and go on shooting. You produce so much high quality stuff in such short time, you must be a real zuikoholic... :-)

  3. Hey Marcus,
    Thanks mate !! Yeap there is always silver lining. Agreed.

    Hey SvenReinhold,
    Thanks !! How can you not love cats? They are so adorable ahahah.
    E-5 deals splendidly with noise. The photographs on this entry have been post-processed, some to quite a heavy extent. Therefore they should not represent the original output from the camera. I boosted the saturation and contrast a lot.


  5. Hello Kerry,
    Streets in Australia are awesome !! I wish I was more serious about photography during my time in Perth.

  6. i want to visit KL so badly. maybe if it ever actually happens i would love to be able to shoot with you guys.
    also, im 6'3" 230 lb and trained in krav i could probably help keep the session a little safer. hehe =)

  7. Hello Eric,
    To be honest, the streets here are not exactly that great to shout about, what I am showing here were merely ordinary stuff of everyday routine anyone can find.
    I think more dramatic scenes can be found on the streets of India, Thailand and Myanmar.
    Nonetheless, if you do visit KL, drop me an email. Maybe we can arrange some shooting sessions together.

  8. Awww, I miss taking photos.

    I think my lens or camera is spoiled.

    Hard to focus on subject. =(

  9. JBA is jabatan bekalan air if iam not mistaken.

    first time posting here..
    great great work. initially i am not so keen on your work because it was good, everything was shot at a distance. now you are in the zone with close up and the impact is tremendousness..

    keep it up robin...

    a fan..

  10. Hey Snowfire,
    Fixed the camera and lens yet? Still under warranty right?

    Hey Kerry,
    I love cats too !!

    Hey Podd,
    Thanks mate. There are situations where long lenses are important, and certain shots work best being taken from a distance. Nonetheless, getting close is a general must in all sorts of photography.

  11. sorry about the bad english..

    its lovely work since you have broken the wall so to speak on the distance with your subject..

    seems that the impact on your photographs and and the connection with the subject is immediately palpable, you can feel it.

    keep it up...

  12. Hey Podd,
    Ohhh, thanks for the clarification, I appreciate that.
    Interaction with the subjects is important, something I am still in the progress of learning to develop. Not an easy thing to do !!