BERSIH 3.0: Voice of Malaysians

Inspired by IAN DAVIS

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

Today is a historical day in Malaysia, my beloved country, where BERSIH 3.0 rally took place. Tens of thousands of Malaysians (we do not have the official finalized figure yet) turned up at all roads leading towards Dataran Merdeka today to voice up and protest: we want a CLEAN (Bersih means Clean in Malay Language) electoral reform, we want a clean government ruling the country, and we want change. Enough is enough, the whole world know how bad in shape this country is, and how desperate of a change we need to build a better nation. 

When I heard about this rally few weeks ago, I originally did not intend to be a part of it. However, as it grew closer to closer, I thought to myself, am I happy with the current state of my country. My answer is simple: NO. And I want change. No one can do this alone, and the people, the Malaysians will have to come together, make a stand, and make a loud statement. This will be a mark that turns history for Malaysia, and I don't want to look back many years from now and regret that I have not done anything. Yes, I want to be a part of this revolution, and yes I intend to play my part, no matter how small it may seem, no matter how insignificant it may be, as a photographer, to document this event, and share it out to the world, however far and wide I can reach through this humble blog of mine. I march in the rally with tens of thousands of people, as Malaysians. I fought as a photographer, and I will be showing you loads and loads of photographs taken from today's event. 

I know, deep down in my heart that, if I did not do anything, and chose to be ignorant instead, evil will win. I will NOT let that happen. 

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Lenses: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 and 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 Mk1 (non-SWD). 

BERSIH: Version THREE point ZERO


A cat decided to join the party. Did we fret, or get so frustrated? Did we throw the cat into the water? 

I decided to add the cat into my composition. 

Not an originally planned shot, or what I have had in mind. For some reasons, I really like this shot. It has some very personal meanings to myself, but of course, many times, good photographs are personal photographs. 

Why worry so much about what people say about you or your photography work? First and foremost, you must be comfortable and like your own work, before you can share it out. If the photograph is your personal favourite, no matter what people say, it is still your favourite. 


A lot of things have happened lately, that even started to have me questioning many things in life, which I have never thought would need questioning. In the midst of all the chaos and confusion, sometimes I believe it was already too late: damages have been done, some were serious, and the consequences have become irreversible. Realizing some wounds are there for a reason, and things could not have happened otherwise, the only step to take is forward. Time to move on. And not look back. Faith is such a fragile thing. 

All images were taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and kit lens 14-42mm

The 50mm Perspective

Olympus Zuiko 25mm F2.8 pancake lens is probably one of the most underrated lenses from Olympus. The reasons are obvious. In today's craze of chasing wider and wider aperture, F2.8 is not exactly sounding very enticing for a prime lens. Add to the mediocre image quality of a standard grade lens, not matching the superior sharpness and technical perfection of the High Grade and Super High Grade brothers, this 25mm pancake lens may be regarded as a lens to accompany the original kit lenses for the entry level DSLR bodies, alongside 14-42mm and 40-150mm kit lenses. 

However, I find myself loving this lens very much. I admit, it is nowhere as sharp as my beloved 50mm F2 macro. The control of narrow depth of field is disappointing, for an Olympus system having smaller sensor, the F2.8 does not produce much bokeh at all. There really is no wow factor using this lens, it is as ordinary as it can be, and one should not be expecting miracles. Nonetheless, learning that photography is not all about how sharp your images are, and how much bokeh you can squeeze into a photograph, this 25mm pancake lens provides me a refreshing perspective and different outlook towards my street shooting, allowing me to explore certain shooting styles apart from my usual execution. I must say, at a very low price point, being so small and compact the pancake lens is a no brainer. 

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko 25mm F2.8 pancake lens. 

Drain Construction

Anston & Janice

It has been quite a long while since I did a proper arranged portraiture shooting, and a fresh chance came when a dear friend Anston asked if I would like to shoot some portrait photographs for him and his beautiful girl, Janice. I immediately jumped in and said yes !! This very glorious morning, we headed into an open park with lake, absorbing ourselves into the golden, warm morning yellow sun, and made some photography happen. It is indeed very refreshing to do something rather different once in a while, away from my usual street photography sessions. Having a coordinated, planned shoot, or what I usually called a photo-assignment, is indeed different from my usual shutter therapy where I just snap at whatever I like as I chance upon my subjects on the streets. 

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 mk1

Sunset Pyramid

I had a recent photo assignment taking me up to Level 18 of Sunway Hotel and Resorts. The sunset view from there overlooking the Pyramid was simply breathtaking. 

Image taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 lens. 
EXIF: ISO500, F/3.5, 1/6 sec, at 11mm, Handheld shot. 

There is beauty around us, if only we are willing to open our eyes, minds and hearts to experience the beauty. 

Kaw Kaw Burger

Earlier this evening, me and a group of friends traveled all the way to Puchong, braving Friday traffic jam, just to have a taste of the now famous "Kaw Kaw Burger". The burger stall has just started its operation a few weeks ago, and it has already gained a huge crowd recognition and following. If you did not pre-book your meal earlier, and just barge in ordering on the spot, you might need to wait in line for more than two hours long, until your food is served. That is how popularly in demand this newly launched Kaw Kaw Burger is getting.

I shall not do much talking, I shall just let the photographs speak to you.

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko 25mm F2.8 pancake

Close up on the Beef Triple Cheezy Baconizer. 

Those That Were Left Behind

I was once asked by a friend: "Robin, you shoot every single weekend. And in every session you shoot on the streets, you come home with, say, more than 50 photos, and perhaps, more than 100 photos, who knows? You only selected 20-30 photos the most for each entry. What happens to the rest of the photos?"

Yes, indeed what happened to the rest of the photos? Sometimes, when my fingers were terribly itchy, I could go trigger happy and come home with 200-300 photos easily. Nonetheless, many "professional advise" on the net would advice you to simply select your best of the best of the series, and do all you can as if it is the matter of life and death to hide all your flawed images. Good photographers only show good photographs, and know best how not to show their bad photographs. Is that not true? Some can go even more drastic that you only choose the cream of the crop and compile it into a small portfolio. 

For the sake of presentation, and for the sake of creating strong impression for your photography work, I agree, it is all about editing, picking the best and leaving the rest behind. I have been doing that too, no lies here. I believe every single photographer who are sane would do the same too, we all have that fragile ego to stroke, and be extra cautious not to let anything open for attack, and hoping that we get "good critics and comments". In the process of sifting through hundreds of images, some images that may have been just ok, have been shoved aside, only allowing the higher perceived standards pass the selection. The photos must have perfect technical execution, interesting composition, strong subject matter and compelling visual interest and story to tell. Anything less than the photographer's own set standards will never see the light of the day. 

No, I am not going to argue with that, it is perfectly fine. It is only human to show our best. Why would we want to show our ugly side, right?

I like this panning shot due to the variety of speed between the man who pulled the baskets against the faster passer-bys. However, I would have preferred if he did not look into my camera. For this kind of "being there" scene captures, I want it to remain natural. The eye contact just killed it. 

Another Visitor, This Time from New Zealand

I have just had visitors last week from Sydney, Australia, but at the same time, another friendly chap from New Zealand has contacted me through email, telling me that he is stopping by Kuala Lumpur on this weekend, and asked if he could join in my shutter therapy session. As usual, I attack the streets on Sunday mornings, and it was my greatest pleasure to have yet another visitor from abroad to join my street shooting session. We met up with Tom from New Zealand at Masjid Jamek, together with the usual suspects, we ate light breakfast, and braved the streets of Jalan Masjid India and of course, my all time favourite, Chow Kit, KL. 

I found out that Tom was not exactly new to Malaysia, and he has been here at least once a year for many, many years. He has grown to love the local culture and food, and I was surprised when he told me that he loves "belacan" !! Belacan is some sort of sauce made of thick paste based on prawn, which has very strong smell, and not many non-locals can take it. The fact that Tom loves belacan, speaks some local dialect, including basic Malay, was truly something I did not anticipate at all. Tom uses Olympus PEN system, and just recently acquired the lovely Panasonic 14mm F2.5 lens, and he was all out to give the lens a test in this shooting session. Chow Kit area was rather new to Tom, so it was indeed a great place to explore local people, culture and food as well. 

The Shutter Therapy Gang. Ready for some street hunting. 
Photo Taken by Yeow Chin Liang, with his beautiful Fujifilm Klasse S camera
From left to right: Mun Keat, Kelvin Ng, Tom (the dude from New Zealand), Robin (that's me, if you can't recognize me), Jeff and Luke Ding. 

PC Fair and Canon G1X

After work today, I rushed my way to Kuala Lumpur Convention Center for the PC Fair, the largest IT and gadget/gear fair in town. I went with a few intentions: 1) to search for a suitable protective casing or any casing at all for my new HTC One V, 2) to find a good earphones to replace my aging Sennheiser CX300 3) to check out any new cameras out for demo purposes. 

I found a very good casing for my new phone, which was purchased at a very good bargain. I did not find anything worthy to replace my Sennheiser yet, so I shall get the earphones elsewhere. Basically there were not that many new cameras on demo or display, but one that I have not touched before was Canon Powershot G1 X, and that shall be the main discussion in this entry. 

Before we talk about Canon, as usual, because I love Olympus so much, lets just head over to the Olympus booth and have a look see. As expected, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is out for the public to molest. I have had blog readers who emailed me saying that they were stopping over in KL within this period of time and were asking me where to purchase the E-M5. Unfortunately, the E-M5 is not ready for purchase yet, and you can't find it in any local camera stores at this moment. And obviously I would not know the street price, until the camera actually hits the street !!

Snapping OM-D with Nokia Lumia. That is a NICE phone. 


In the midst of all the review work for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 about a month ago, something unexpected happen. I was so engrossed with shooting and planning what to write that some small things have slipped my mind. One of them being my Nokia phone being left in my jeans pocket and did some acrobatics in the washing machine. It died. My fault, I destroyed it. 

Alright, here is the full story. I came home on a Friday night after shooting at Bukit Bintang (click here for the full entry). I was extremely exhausted from my full day engineering work on site (if supervising construction work under hot sun is not tiring, I don't know what is), rushing to Bukit Bintang to meet up with Sanjit after work, and shot the streets, coming home close to midnight. Even after a full day out, I had plentiful things left in my mind to do before I call the night off: back-up photos from my computer into the external hard-drive to clear some space for the E-M5 photos, install the updated Olympus Viewer 2 to convert E-M5 RAW files, to transfer the photos from the E-M5 to my computer. As you can see, there are plenty of waiting times in between the backing up of computer files and transferring of photos from the camera, hence I decided, in that almost flattened state of mind, to do some multi-tasking so I can save some time. Bad, bad idea. The first thing that popped up in mind was to do my week long laundry. It did not occur to me that I had so many things running in my mind concurrently I have forgotten to even take my phone out of the jeans pocket. Laundry I did, and I did not realize the phone was still in the jeans pocket until I wanted to charge the phone battery. It was too late. 

Don't You Ever Get Bored?

I have been questioned many times, "Robin, don't you ever get bored shooting the same thing again and again?" Or more crudely put "What? You shooting the streets again?"

It has been getting more and more exhaustive to explain myself, the reasons why I do what I do. To some, shooting the same thing (same photography genre) is a waste of time. To others, once they have done or tried something, they moved on. I have so many reasons and answers to the above questions, some of them have no relationship with one another at all. 

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Lenses: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 25mm F2.8 pancake, and 50mm F2 macro

Local Malaysian Breakfast: Char Kuey Tiaw. Nothing beats a scrumptious treat before the start of a shutter therapy session. 

Visitors from Sydney, Australia

The past weekend has been a superbly hectic, yet unusually exciting at the same time. About a couple of weeks ago, Ian from Sydney, Australia emailed me, telling me that he was coming over to Malaysia for the first time, and stopping over at Kuala Lumpur. He requested to join in one of my weekly "shutter therapy" sessions. I have had readers who contacted me through my blog or email and asked to join my street shooting routines, but they were all local Malaysians. This was the first time I had a request from outside the country, and boy was I thrilled !!

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Olympus Zuiko Lens 25mm F2.8 pancake 

Ian and Magge, all the way from Sydney, Australia. 
Ian shoots with Olympus DSLR system. 

Just Photos

It is one weekend filled with so many events, activities, meet-ups and gatherings, that I barely find time to sit down in front of my computer much. However, I did manage to get my healthy dosage of my shutter therapy first thing in the morning, together with a friend visiting from Malacca, Frederick, and some usual suspects, Chun Chow, Choon Wee and Chung Chung. Together, we braved the surroundings of Petaling Street and made some street photography happen. It was a sunny day and the sky was very clear, a rather rare scene in KL skies. Since I do not have much free time this weekend, I shall just let the photographs do their talking for this entry. 

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Lenses: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 25mm F2.8 pancake and 50mm F2 macro

Looking Up

PEN Lovers and Pasta Zanmai

It was an ordinary weekday that the group of wacky PEN Lovers (find out more about us on Facebook) decided to have a small gathering for dinner. We headed to Sunway Pyramid, and had Japanese cuisine at Pasta Zanmai Restaurant. We ate and ate and ate, had plenty of catching up with each other, and laughed like we were in a bar drinking beer. Great food (I have always loved Japanese food) and great company, I could not have asked for a better way to spend my Tuesday night. 

I brought along my Olympus E-5 and intended to use the 25mm Pancake solely, with the aid of flash, knowing well the ambient light would be very dim. Unfortunately, the ceiling of the restaurant interior was fully black, negating my usual flash bounced off the ceiling technique. Therefore, for all my shots inside the restaurant, I resorted to using high ISO at shoot mostly wide open at F2.8. The combination of ISO1000 and F2.8 allowed me good enough shutter speed for most of my shooting, but I overlooked a crucial factor in food photography: depth of field. Being in the atmosphere of great friends chattering and bursting with constant laughter, I neglected the importance of stopping down with narrower aperture, and I wished I have paid more attention to have more zone in focus. Nonetheless, this was not exactly a serious shooting session, it was merely a night outing with friends, having fun. No pressure, and surely no worries. 

I intended to shoot the menu page with all our orders on it, but for some unexplainable reasons I have forgotten to do so. I shall not invent weird names and just leave the food descriptions blank. 

Yap Tzee Meng and his trusty E-PL2. I dig the customized skin !!

Shutter Therapy Overdosed

UPDATE on E-M5's "humming noise" (2 April 2012)
It has become a hot discussion pertaining to the "humming" sound emitted by the Olympus OM-D E-M5. I have received quite a number of email asking me this in the past few days. Initially I did not notice the humming sound, until Sanjit (the friend who did the videos with E-M5) pointed the sound out to me, when we were in a very quiet room for our voice over works. We have asked Olympus Malaysia and in their response the "humming" was due to the New 5-Axis Image Stabilization mechanism. Though we turned the IS off, the humming sound was still there. I did not highlight this in my earlier reviews because I did not think it was anything significant to report. It did not in any way pose  consequences to the photographs or video recording work that we did. I seriously think that the assumptions and fantasized stories have blown out of proportion, and to me, honestly, the "humming" is inaudible in most situations. I do not see this to be of any problem at all. 

I think this past weekend has been a marvelous one, the most enjoyable I have had since a while ago, simply because I have had a healthy dosage of my shutter therapy sessions, perhaps a little more than usual. In my previous entry I have shot in Petaling Street for two sessions. Usually I only have one or the most two street shooting sessions in the weekend, but this time, on top of the previous two sessions, I went for another two sessions, one in Pudu with a dear friend Jack, and another one in Bukit Bintang with Luke and Johan. Call me crazy, but I think life is too short not to get the camera out and shoot as if tomorrow will never come. And God knows how much shutter therapy was needed to patch back and compensate for the traumas I have had over the one week long full time day work. 

In this entry, I shall just present my set of photographs, and in addition to that, I shall add in some small tips and descriptions on how I made the shots and why I think that made the shots that I like. Do keep an open mind and understand that my opinion is purely subjective, and are formed based on my own preferences and shooting style, which may not be fully accepted by everyone. Feel free to disagree, or have your own stand. As we all know it, there is no right and wrong for photography as a whole, and the pointless debate is just getting obsolete on how to properly define a good photograph. Sometimes I get so tired and fed-up on reading how people can pick on the mistakes, flaws and imperfections on the photographs they so willingly critic, but seldom have we seen people who actually see the good in the photographs first. It is so easy to find faults in everything, that is only human. I agree, to learn, we have to make mistakes, and learn from them to improve further. However, to improve, we need to have the right motivation and inspiration. We inspire and motivate ourselves through the good that we see, not through all the negativity !!

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Lenses 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 or 50mm F2 macro. 

Chinese Chess.
I like to explore interesting angles, instead of just shooting plainly from my eye level. Many times, I would go low, but in this particular shot, I strongly believe that high angle works best, because to me the main subject in attention is the chess board and pieces.