Again, What Drew My Attention To Shoot?

A New Camera from Olympus (Interchangeable Lens System) is coming. I think we can all safely assume after so much "leaks" everywhere online that, it will be the new OM-D E-M1. If you happen to be in Kuala Lumpur, you have a chance to touch and try the new camera in a coming event on 21st September!! First come first serve basis, so hurry up and register. I will be there, and hope to see some of you beautiful people there!

Registration and more information here:

I think I have done several times before, stating down the reasons and factors that attracted my attention to certain scenes or subjects, that compelled me to shoot. We must keep in mind that different people react to similar situation very differently, and what triggered my photography sixth sense may not necessary be the same case for you. However I think it is good to share what I saw and what made me click the shutter button. Obviously I do not just run around and attack subjects randomly!

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital lenses 50mm F2 macro or 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 wide angle lens.

Standing High
I have always admired the superstructure landmarks of Malaysia, namely the KLCC Twin Towers and the one shown in the shot above, the KL Tower. Those two buildings have been shot millions of times before in all possible composition and techniques known in photography, so there really is not much left to do to make a creative shot. However, the crows lined up on a signboard, screaming out loud. That got my attention, and since it was shooting up, I placed them against the KL Tower, an important landmark, as an opening image, to establish a sense of location. 

Matching lines and colors
Sometimes, it is coincidence, or luck, but we do have to really open our eyes and be aware of the interesting subjects placed against interesting background. The man's striped pink shirt matched the pink shop fence panels!

Portrait of a Stranger 1
Despite popular belief, I do not just go up to anyone and everyone and started shooting them close up! In addition to that, I cannot make this kind of shots work on anyone I wanted to shoot. A quick accessment has to be made on the spot: is the man friendly enough to be approached? Is he in a good mood? For this man above, he was sitting around, and was already smiling and I smiled to him first before pointing the camera at him. 

Deep Concentration
On the street, we do encounter plenty of interesting activities. People selling things, skateboarders passing by, a man carrying a huge basket above his head, and in this case on the streets of Chow Kit, street chess games. No harm to stop by and grab a few shots. I was a school chess player, but it has been a long while since I last played any chess, but the interest lingered somewhere in me and as I saw the game, I suddenly felt the urge to take a photo or two. 

Two things that got my attention: the man was sitting on the floor, more specifically five foot way outside the shops, and his huge, opened umbrella placed in front of him. This is the kind of shot that I would just grab and fly. As I point the camera at him, he would instantly noticed me. Just as he turned his head to me I made the shot happened (now it is crucial to have extremely fast focusing camera + lens combo). Before he could react (or say anything) I was already moving away so in that sense, well, he really did not have any chance to complain!

Back Entrance
I already have this back-alley scene in mind. The old shops were in a beautiful contrast against the towering new development in the background. As the man in red came into the picture, he opened the door, and the action of opening door plus his striking red added the drama I needed to otherwise a too plain image of just a back-alley.

Portrait of a Stranger 2
This man was standing still, waiting for someone I presume. He saw me and he appeared approachable. So I trusted my gut and asked point blank if it was ok for me to take his photograph, he laughed and said OK! He was somehow instinctively stepping inside into the shade, perhaps somewhat feeling threatened by me (well, any man with a huge black camera can somewhat seem threatening) but I asked him to stand out into the light! He did, and it was interesting to still have that bit of heavy shadow at one side of his face, which added dimension and depth to this portrait. One important thing about working with available light, is to play with the direction of light and watch the falling shadows, balancing both will create pleasing results. And always, always keep the "catchlight" glow in the eyes, if possible!

The Bus Conductor
The man was calling out to possible passengers to board the bus, yelling the destinations the bus was travelling to. I thought his head sticking out of the door was fascinating! I composed him framed by the bus doors, and used the heavy traffic as a background to further emphasized on the location. 

Always stop and play with cats. And take some pictures! Unless you have cat issues, or cat hates you. 

My country celebrated her 56th Independence Day yesterday, thus it was no surprise Malaysian flags were still hanging up everywhere. Yes I do love my country and I will show this whenever I can. 

Me and my Olympus E-5
Self-Portrait is pretty much what many photographers would shoot, and that includes me. Be proud of yourself, and be proud of the gear you use. Be happy and let that happiness show in your photographs. 

I think the most important thing I have always adhered to while shooting is simplicity. I keep everything very simple, and straight to the point. Most of the time, just one main subject and one main background. It is wise to pay attention to both subject and background, how they interact with each other, and how they complement or clash with each other. Keeping composition clean is not easy, with the streets usually being completely random and unpredictable, but if you know what you want to shoot, if you have already established your main subject of interest, it is a lot easier to isolate that subject and minimize clutter or distractions. Only you can decide what your subjects will be, and only you will know what you love to shoot. 

The above session lasted about an hour, on a late lazy Sunday morning, just before lunch, and I would say that was an hour well spent! It does not take much to satisfy my shutter itch, really. 


  1. Great pics, I especially love "Standing High" and "Patriotism", exceptional compositions in both of them, with just the right bit of editing :)

  2. nice shots... like matching lines and colours... you've a keen eye for street photography. The close up portrait are very nice are also not easy to do... we don't see much of them on the web. The story behind each shot simply gives them a deeper meaning.

    1. Thanks Johan!! Indeed I admit the close up portraits are not easy. Nonetheless I love doing them and I love the challenge as well.

  3. And yes don't forget to put that donate button up again!

    1. Will get that sorted out but not at this moment. I think everyone has donated generously and asking for more so soon is wrong!

  4. Nice shots, Robin.

    I didn't know you had an interest in chess. I played in a club for a couple of years and have played in quite a few tournaments, although only three in the past 10 years.

    Some seriously shallow depth of field on that kitty photo! That's really impressive for the 50/2.


    1. Hey Scott !
      thanks! I don't think my chess skills can quite match up, considering I was only playing at school level.
      But yeah, I should have stopped down a little for the cat. but when I did so the cat walked toward me!

  5. Hi Robin,
    Again some very nice shots. Just do not seem to be able to keep out the distractions from my main subject and also to avoid camera shake.

    1. Hello XiaoKS,
      No worries, keep shooting and I am sure you will find ways isolate your main subject! And about camera shake, Olympus has the best 5-Axis IS!

  6. Hi Robin,
    Again some very nice shots. Just do not seem to be able to keep out the distractions from my main subject and also to avoid camera shake.

  7. Very fine work, once again, Robin. I love the almost high-key one with the old man and his umbrella, and the chess players, the color patterns... in fact they're all very good. And it's heartwarming to see you smile in your self-portrait. Keep up the good work!

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