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. 

Non-digital gang. Count the red dots !!
Photo taken by Kelvin Ng with his camera phone.

The sun was harsh in the morning, and the sky was clear. Our walk was quite a long one, starting from Masjid Jamek, walking through the small streets of Jalan Masjid India, leading to Chow Kit territories. The final target was the wet market, and I was delighted to find Tom loving that place. I believe if you truly want to see a lot of things about Malaysia, you have got to at least go into one of the wet markets, there is so much to see, touch and smell (not all things smell good, but still a must try). The market is so alive, full, of people, buzzing with activities, and the local produce on sale there, vegetables were so vibrant in colours and variety, one can get lost shooting that alone. There are of course many other things to explore, and we did spend some time in the market. 

Since this was a "be Tom's guide and show him around" session, I was not fully focused on shooting, hence the photos in this entry were not shot in my best condition. Nonetheless, I was not too stressed or pressured about this, because the main thing that I had in mind was to make sure Tom had some good shots to bring home to, and by doing so, I surely have good subjects to photograph myself. Indeed, Chow Kit never disappoints me, and I always return with plenty of good photographs. 

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



On the floor, and on the wall


Walking Difficulty



Unforgiving Sun

On a concrete footing/slab. 

The people here are genuine, they are real. That is the reason why I like this place so much, rarely can anyone find a place where all the major races come together, and do what they do everyday, being themselves. This is Malaysia at its most natural state, away from modernization, away from steel and glass structures. When they smile, they truly smile to you, and everyone is very friendly. Tom did point something out to me that I have not exactly thought of before, the culture in Malaysia is very different from those that are found in other countries. People here are generally very approachable, and you have no problem striking up a conversation with anyone, hence it is only natural that you make contact, and talk to the people you photograph. It is the culture here to shine your generous smile, and be courteous among one another. 

The very "strict and pure" street photography rules were not invented in Malaysia, but in western countries where situations on the streets may be completely different, and some places privacy is highly prioritized, and people get paranoid when you point your camera at them. What I am doing may not exactly qualify as street photography by the rules, but I have been capturing Malaysian culture on the streets, and I believe that is more important, because I was shooting what was real, and what was TRUE. I did not "change the shooting conditions" just in order to fit into the categories of "what street photography should have been". Yes, it is not difficult to shoot real street photography where the subjects should not be posed, and the scenes should be completely undisturbed, but that is completely the opposite of what Malaysia represents. To truly capture the essence of the local Malaysian streets, you have got to establish that friendliness of the people here, the willingness to connect, the generosity of smiles (hence I have a lot of smiling portraits) and the kindness to strike up a conversation. You have got to represent what was there, and not twist it around to suit what you thought was right in the books of street photography. I would rather shoot what I felt was right in my heart, and show the world what Malaysians are. 

Morning paper

Kitchen helper

Morning laughter

under the tree


Chilling by the road

Market people



Planks of wood

Some street photographers said that they prefer their portrait subjects not to smile because it reveals more character, I disagree with that !! When my subjects smile, their emotion just bursts out of the frame, and that is exactly what I wanted. They smiled, because they wanted to smile, and I did not ask them to. If that is NOT natural, I do not know what is. Smile is probably the most human thing for anyone to do, and it is a universal language that transcends all kind of barriers. 

Tom (left and top right) and Luke (bottom right) in action. 

Tom and Jeff (top), Kelvin, Yeow and Luke (bottom). 

It was great having you with us Tom !!

Roast Pork for Lunch. *slurp

After shooting, we walked (quite a distance) to Dang Wangi, and had lunch at a Hainanese Kopitiam, Yut Kee. We had their famous Roast Pork, and the food was heavenly after hours of shooting under Malaysian hot sun. 

I surely hope Tom has had a great experience on local Malaysian streets. More importantly, I hope he has got good shots. 

On a separate note, Olympus OM-D E-M5 is already available in many countries by now. How do you find the E-M5 so far? If you already have one, I want to hear from you !! 


  1. If Tom can, I want too! Your images makes me reconsider my silly urge to swop my Olympus for Nikon.

    1. Hello Geir,
      What is your reason to swap from Olympus to Nikon? I am sure you have valid reasons, so don't let me sway you !!
      Anyone is welcome to join my shutter therapy sessions, provided the timing is right.

    2. Hi Robin and Geir:
      Comparing Nikon to Olympus.....
      Recently came back from bright sunny Florida and took photos in some spots with both Nikon D300s and also Olympus EPL1. Nikon did an okay job, but Olympus colours in bright sun looked better overall (with less highlight blowout in jpeg) and great detail from Oly lenses. D300s is now an older camera from when it came out in 2009 I think, however my D700 I use for wedding work takes photos well in all lighting conditions. For personal use, I prefer the Olympus PEN which is exceptionally accurate in bright light for vacation in Jpeg mode and lightweight of course and does a very good job to moderate high iso compared to Nikon full frame. My favourite for PEN is Oly 14-150mm although some may say not as good as primes is actually quite sharp and versatile for all day use exploring Florida's attractions with family and 2 children with me.
      I am a recent big fan of your work last few months, Robin. Great work.
      Adrian from Toronto

    3. Hello Adrian,
      Thanks for sharing your experience with the PEN !! I am surprised to hear this coming from you, a professional photographer using both the top APS-C and also Full Frame DSLR. Indeed, the E-PL1 is a wonder, I have one myself, and use it on casual basis. Such a small, and delightful creature to have with at any time.
      Thanks also for the kind words, I really appreciate it.

    4. Well, my answer would be low light photography, where I often rue the bad handling of the Oly E3 at ISO1600. I often need to capture images at this kind of settings. But having used the E3 with the 12-60 for a month in Asia, I really don't know any more. The images are so sharp, and the colors so nice I would be silly to let go of it. Maybe add the full frame for those dark nights and weddings?

    5. Geir, give OM-D E-M5 a try. You wont be disappointed. Seeing is believing.

  2. Thank you Robin. I think we enjoyed a lot this morning. I like the photo shot by Yeow, very funny.

    1. Thanks for the support Kelvin, appreciate it. Yes, that Yeow's photo is sensational !!

  3. Love to try that Roast that make one's mouth water!!! Yummy. By the way, how do you like the 25mm F2.8 pancake?!!! lens? Thanks.

    Chi Lee

    1. You must try the Roast Pork !!!
      Yes I love the 25mm pancake.

  4. Thank you so much for the link and the informative review of this lens.

  5. First time visiting! Nice photos! :D

  6. I have yet to receive mine. Waiting..waiting..patiently. Hopefully I'll be hearing the good news next week? Would be so awesome if I get it on or close to my birthday! Would be a great birthday present to myself. :)


    1. Hello Nga,
      If you are in Malaysia and have pre-ordered, it should be this coming Friday, as promised by Olympus Malaysia. Soon !!

  7. I delight in seeing your street photography. As an American, my interest in this extends mostly to other cultures and witnessing daily lives of others. Cool to see the group using small cameras. My local shop doesn't have the OM-D in yet but has received some accessories. Can't wait to handle one and see whether I can live with it, so to speak.

    1. Hello diforbes,
      Thanks for the kind compliments. Indeed, it is a good move to try one out yourself first, see how it is in your own hands, and see if you like it, before making any decisions.

  8. Love the group shot with Luke Ding sticking his tongue out. That dude missed his calling - he's a riot. And that photo of Tom and Jeff looking at each other's thing.

    1. Ananda, it was a very spontaneous thing !! Never knew there were so many hidden stuff here haha

  9. Robin,

    got mine; my colleagues say the colour on the screen is a bit off; otherwise the DR, skin tones and overall colour is MUCH better than the EP-3; and by implication the E-5 that I owned. I am trying to get some shots taken in similar cirucmstances with the E-5 to compare. The RAW files are slightly larger, averaging 13-15mbs versus around 10 previously.

    The eye sensor sometimes is a hassle. The buttons are smaller than E5 and need some getting used to.

    Overall LIKE LIKE LIKE.

    1. Thanks Mark for the sharing !!
      Indeed, the screen is a bit different from the E-5's LCD, the E-M5 uses OLED.
      I intentionally switched off the eye sensor, and used the switch at the side of the "hump" to toggle between EVF or the back OLED screen. Yes, the buttons are indeed very small, will be an issue for people with large hands.

    2. The thing I want with the two displays is the setting that you have on the E-5, EVF for visuals and led screen for settings. Swtiching off the eye sensor does not allow for that leading to either OR condition.

  10. Great candid street photos and interesting reading, Robin.
    I have not wandering into your Chow Kit street yet as I am only covered Petaling Street, Pudu and Leboh Ampang. I have surveyed Jalan Masjid India without any shot on my trial walk two weeks ago. Looks very interesting and very colourful, mostly Malays and Indian origin. I believe Chow Kit more less the same. This weekend, I am heading for Malacca street.
    Looking forward for your next posting.
    John Ragai

    1. Hello John,
      Glad to hear from you again. Jalan Masjid India and Chow Kit are probably the friendliest places, filled with many interesting stories, some very sad and depressing ones indeed. Nonetheless, the place is very honest and true, hence very powerful for photography.
      I am sure you will love your Malacca street shooting !! That itself is a uniqueness on its own.

  11. Hi Robin & gang:
    That was a blast shooting with you guy, thank you all!. Am in Penang now, with a bit of wifi access at a McD's...trying to upload some pics to Flickr. Learned a lot shooting with you, and have gained a bit of confidence to approach strangers up close. Easier when my daughter's around, co she's cute! Very glad I ventured into the wet market at Chow Kit, the images I shot of the trays of chilis, limes etc are keepers.
    Right! Finally loaded on Flickr!
    Now we're off to the beach!

    1. Hello Tom !!
      It was great having you with us on Sunday, the gang enjoyed themselves tremendously. I am glad to be able to share and help in any way I can. People here in Malaysia are friendly, so approaching them should not be a problem !!
      Continue to make more beautiful images in Penang, that place itself is filled with unlimited photography opportunities.
      Enjoy the rest of your stay in Malaysia !! And I am waiting for that blog of yours to happen. Stay well Tom.