Inanimate Objects

My nine days long holiday in my beloved hometown, Kuching has come to an end, and I cannot believe how fast time travels. Nonetheless, I have made good use of my time, spending a great deal of quality time with dearest mum and of course, catching up with many friends. Somehow, I felt I did not have enough time, and the final few days in Kuching were extremely hectic that I wished I had more time, at least a couple of more days. We all know too well that good things don’t last forever, and yes, the holiday has come to an end.

I purposely flew back to Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, so I have my Sunday free to breathe. Feeling like stretching whatever little time I had left before returning to work, I decided to have a rather spontaneous shutter therapy session. Luke joined me in the morning and we attacked Petaling Street. I brought along the old, but still alive Olympus E-520 and just one lens, the Sigma 30mm F1.4. I was not planning to do anything extra adventurous for this session, all I had in mind was to let myself drift along the streets, allowing my eyes to feast on the beauties around me and capture them as they come to attract my attention. Did I have anything specific in mind? Not really. Sometimes, randomness can produce unexpectedly amazing surprises.

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-520 and Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens.

General camera settings:
Aperture Priority with Exposure Compensation adjusted necessarily, F1.4 (mostly), ISO 100, JPEG converted to Monotone in post-processing.

Me and Luke, attacking Petaling Street.

No shoes

Setting up.

Kitchen utensils

Birds hanging around.


Chinese New Year decors.

Portrait of a friendly Indian man.

The sky was rather gloomy, with thick clouds overhanging and slowly building up in the sky, signaling rain to come much later in the afternoon. This unfortunately casted a rather flat and uninteresting lighting to the subjects. Even the colors appeared dull in general. Therefore, I decided to convert all my images to black and white in this entry instead. The streets were rather empty on Sunday morning, something that we did not quite expect. Complain? We did not, and we braved the streets and had our shutters clicking away merrily.

Once upon a time I have had a reader who commented on my street photographs that went something like this: “try not to shoot too much inanimate subjects, focus more on human subjects instead”. I could not remember the reasons why I got ticked off after seeing that comment. Well, for one obvious reason, I have NO PROBLEM shooting people !!! However, as much as I loved to shoot people on the streets, sometimes, I believe the story lies in the objects or a part of a scene in the background. It can be that abandoned Barbie Doll in lying next to a torn basket, or a stomped rose on a rusted metal manhole. I believe many little things you find on the street may give you a rather different perspective, and tell you a story from another point of view. I am fully aware that shooting people subjects is a lot more challenging and takes a lot more out of your photographer self to accomplish just even a few shots. When you present your photographs in a series (most street photographs rarely stand alone anyway), why not include the background, the surrounding atmosphere, the small objects to tell your story from varying angles. They should all add up and build an interesting plot.

Food preparations

To cut

What is the color of the flowers?

Lanterns, more lanterns.

On the ground

Sparkling eyes.


Wet floor?

Objects, as inanimate as they can be, reveal part and parcels of truth. One look at the subject or the scene on the street can tell you a lot more about the situation you are shooting. Take some photographs in this entry for example. The Malaysian flag clearly indicated that I am shooting in Malaysia (obviously). The overhanging lanterns tells you the time: it is Chinese New Year, and the location of shooting, Petaling Street is dominantly a Chinese district. Furthermore, the cooking utencils lying on the table shows that there were food joints and coffee shops along the way, even without the need for me to shoot the entire scene of the coffee shop. The hanging ducks is a clear sign telling that a Chinese Restaurant was there, since duck is one of the many important meat in Chinese cuisine/cooking (Roasted Duck, Peking Duck, etc). Evidently, objects can act as precursors to a larger picture that you want to project to your audience. I rarely ignore anything interesting that caught my attention. I acknowledge the significance of shooting people on the street as what truly defines street photography as a whole, but hey, whats wrong with shooting what you want to shoot? Lets not go into the discussion on what the proper definitions of street photography are. It is neverending.

Nothing beats a cold Large Bubble Tea to quench the thirst from shutter therapy sessions.

Luke's machine. Quite beastly, in its cute ways.

Can you believe how small Olympus PEN cameras are?

It was a lazy, lovely Sunday morning, and I have come home happy, after a refreshing and much needed shutter therapy session. How I wish Monday never came. Not all was lost, because this coming Wednesday is Federal Territory Day, which means, I have one more day off work to look forward to before the weekend. Oh Yeah !!


  1. Nice and relaxing pics, beautiful tones. Welcome back!

  2. Hello Alf,
    Thanks !! It was a relaxing Sunday, hence the relaxing outcome.

  3. You're becoming better and better. I like the new post-processing style (also with colors in latest entry). Your photos and words are always inspiring!

  4. The picture of the dead ducks makes me very sad. I'd rather not seen it. The cruelty and thoughtlessness in this world is disappointing.

  5. But you've taken some wonderful pictures. Not trying to upset anyone or start a fight. Just saying that picture makes me a bit sad.

  6. Anonymous,
    Please leave a name (and preferably an email) for easy comment reference/tracking purpose.
    Sorry for the cruelty shown, but truths are always cruel. Telling the truth is part of street photography.

    Thanks Bartosz,
    Trying something different, and of course, still experimenting. Good to have different ways of doing things from time to time. Thanks for the compliments !!

  7. great shot! i like the monotone feel!

  8. ...and next Monday and Tuesday are holidays, too. Look forward to seeing what you can shoot over the long weekend.

  9. Robin, I like your monochrome conversions. Do you use Silver Efex Pro? I'm thinking of downloading the trial version.

  10. Great pictures with E-520. I always enjoy reading your articles and the pictures.

    What are the camera model and lens Luke is using?



  11. helo Newzild,
    Cant wait for the holidays !
    I did simple conversion using ACDsee editor 7 (with powerpack), a very old software. I added the color cast manually by adjusting the red, green and blue slider, by feel until I am satisfied with what I see on screen.

    Thanks for the kind words.
    Luke was using Olympus PEN E-P3, and the lens attached was M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8, with a third party metal hood.

  12. Flat light often works well with monochromatic, and a little boost of contrast. "Scene setting" images are indeed important to the story, like a wedding or your hometown. I enjoy seeing your place and the culture, most of which I wouldn't know about without "things" images. Thanks for a great post and the images from the 520 still look good!

  13. Thanks Carl for the feedback and very kind words !!
    Yes, the E-520 is still good !!

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