Wesak Day Adventures

Wesak Day was a national public holiday, a perfect excuse to sleep in without paying attention to the time passing by. I was woken up by a text from a friend asking for a lunch meetup at one of the Hokkien Restaurant in Sungai Wei. I hesitated at first (sleep is hard to come by these days) but I got off bed, and stormed out of the door to meet up with a bunch of photo-crazy people, who also have big hearts for Olympus.

Meet the Olympus PEN-Lovers

David, Mun Keat, Yeow, Thian Jin, Simon, and Yong
Photo taken with Olympus ZD 8mm F3.5 fisheye lens.

It was sort of a little farewell for Yong, who was heading off to Miri for his work the following day. This was Yong's favourite eating places, and he claimed that the place served some of the best and authentic Hokkien dishes, which are not readily available anywhere else. This is quite interesting, because where I came from, Kuching my hometown has majority of Hokkien people (amongst other local Chinese dialects) but I have not even seen half of the dishes served at that restaurant !! Those must be real speciaties, really, and boy, do they taste great !!

All photographs taken with Olympus E-5 and 50mm F2 Macro

Pork Spare Ribs with Salted Egg

Deep Fried Brinjal

A PEN attacking the food. Thian Jin's E-PL1 in the background.

Dry Hokkien Noodles

Steamed fish

After lunch we decided to jump over to FRIM (a forest reserve and research facility in Kepong) for some nature shooting. Thian Jin was all hyped up and super-enthusiastic on the FRIM shooting session, probably because he really wanted to make full use of his newly acquired Olympus E-5. Also I am impressed with his motivation to shoot and wanting to do more "serious" photography. Unfortunately the weather was against us and as soon as we arrived in the FRIM it poured like it never poured before. We were forced to take shelter in one of the coffee shops within FRIM for a few hours before the rain cleared off. Not all was lost, we still had a great time sitting together and sharing tales, conversing on various life experiences.

When we left FRIM it was dangerously near sunset. Not wanting to give up just yet, I decided to shoot the Wesak Day Floats procession happening in selected roads (12km stretch long) in the city area. After going some quick research, I discovered that the procession would pass through Jalan Bukit Bintang, which was convenient for me as it was reachable by public transport. I have never seen any Wesak Day Procession in Kuala Lumpur before, hence I did not really know what to expect before shooting. Nonetheless, I went with an open mind, and capture whatever that grabbed by attention.

Check out the people-flood

The glowing flower

The monks in the floats kept splashing holy waters all over the crowd. Good thing the Olympus E-5 with HG lenses were weather sealed, it got splashed really, really bad.

The reason you wont see that many floats photographs here, is because I do not think many of them were that good looking anyway.

I only saw two troops of lion dance. I remembered seeing a lot more in Kuching parade, and they even have dragon dance.

You will be surprised to find many young kids participating in this procession/celebration.

The procession arrived at Jalan Bukit Bintang an hour later than the predicted schedule, but it did not turn off the vicious crowds from flooding and making a nuisance at the entire area. There were so many people everywhere it was impossible to get away with a clean shot without any of them distracting left right front back and at the center of your frame !! It does get annoying and I dare not step too close into the procession because that would be interrupting the flow of the parade and cause unwanted disturbance.

This photography session was particularly challenging. The following are the reasons why:

1) Extremely dim and bad street lighting.

Actually one of the main reasons why I chose Jalan Bukit Bintang was because I thought the streets would not be too dark, since it was one of the busiest places in KL at night. I was so wrong, the street lights barely helped at all, and I needed to shoot at high ISO territories I seldom venture into, such as ISO3200 to achieve adequate shutter speed to mitigate motion blur. The colour of the street light was rather mixed and bad, not exactly something very welcome in photography.

2) Fast motion

Everything you see in the photographs were NOT stationary at all. The floats (decorated vehicles) were constantly moving on the road, with rather high speed mind you. Also all the people were walking at rather brisk pace, accompanying the floats. I found that even at shutter speed 1/125 and even 1/160 seconds, I still could not fully freeze the motion. Yes some would say this would be a good time to play with motion blur in my photos, but I still want MOST of my photographs to come out blur-free.

3) Impossible composition

It was nearly impossible to compose at all. There were people everywhere, and nothing stays still. It was easy to capture that waving hand on the left, or a kid that suddenly ran by.

Flag bearer

Candle light

Rain maker

Dragon float

Over 100 people holding this giant flag. Quite a magnificent sight, symbolizing unity and people coming together in such large scaled celebration. Shot at ISO3200.

All in all, I did not come home with many good photographs, but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself.

It was really eye-opening seeing so many people coming together, not just the procession participants but also the spectators by the roadside. It was in such large scale events that you see the colours in Malaysia truly shine. I still believe in this country, no matter how hopeless it seems. There is still hope, and I just wish the politicians would be less selfish, creating racism issues everywhere and really work on towards what truly can carry the nation through.

If there is a will, there is a way !! I do admire his determination. One advise, get a sturdier tripod !!

COTTON ON !!! OMGGGG !!! I know it is not exactly a glamourous retail store in Australia, but seeing this at Sungai Wang brought back many, many memories. I did shop in Cotton On in Perth several times.

I thought my Wesak Day adventure was quite a good one. Not everything happened according to plan, but I still found myself having my shutter therapy, had an awesome time with it.

If you truly enjoy doing something, do you really need a good reason to do it?


  1. A little different to your normal shutter therapy and it looked like very difficult lighting.

    I have to laugh at the guy with the tripod! So determined!


  2. Hey Andre !!
    Different indeed, and very difficult lighting.
    I know right, the dude with the tripod does deserve some credit for being so ambitious.

  3. The flag bearer photo IS REALLY NICE. You have told us with this one photo about the whole evening/night. I feel the athmosphere, the happyness of people emanating from just one photography. This is a hard thing to do (it's always easier to tell a story with a series of pictures) and you've managed it. Splendid capture!

  4. If you enjoy something there is never a reason needed to do it. When you have a ilussion that something is your hobby you will always find obstacles (for example: "my camera is too weak to make great photos", "I have a back pain today" etc). :)

  5. Hey bartosz,
    thanks! The flag bearer is my favourite too. You were right, if it was not real and true in the first place it would not be so enjoyable.

  6. cotton on rocks! i miss harbourtown!


  7. Marcus,
    Cotton On Rocks !! I miss Harbor Town too.

  8. victoria campbell6/18/2011 04:47:00 AM

    I have an E-5 and love but until its night time or low lighting I always have issues...these pictures were amazing to me...do you mind if I ask what setting you had it on...I am going to assume auto because of all the action but aperture, shutter priority, or program? Thank you maybe this will help me get the right setting for my issues with low or difficult lighting.