I have not been to Pudu for quite a while now, since most of my friends prefer to shoot around Petaling Street area in Kuala Lumpur. Last weekend, I decided to go for a short solo adventure on the streets, a personal shutter therapy session, and I thought why not revisit a place which I used to shoot a lot at not too long ago. Pudu is a busy, busy wet market, full of life and people and activities. People here are generally very friendly and will not mind having their photographs taken, unlike in Petaling Street, a tourist heavy area that the locals there are attacked by cameras way too often. 

After flirting with the old, gorgeous Olympus Camedia C-8080, I am now back to using the OM-D E-M10 Mark II. I brought along my usual lenses, 14-42mm pancake kit lens, the 25mm F1.8 and 45mm F1,8. The weather was beautiful and I think I got away with quite a few decent shots!

E-M10 Mark II is my regular camera now, and I am deeply in love with it

So one random day I chanced upon a dinosaur camera in the archived section of the office, the 2004 released advanced compact camera, Olympus Camedia C-8080. While the whole world is obsessing over newer cameras with superlative megapixel counts and sky-high ISO numbers, I somehow found this old C-8080 rather appealing. The camera called out to me (if such a thing can be understood) and I decided to bring it home with me, and utilized it for my usual shutter therapy session. This camera was considered one of the legendary, best, compact camera at its time, and if that is true, it should still be able to perform rather well today, in my own opinion. Or was I wrong?

When it comes to an environmentally challenging situation, such as shooting inside a charcoal factory where dust is a big problem, I would not hesitate to pick up the ever reliable Olympus OM-D E-M1. I armed myself with all the necessary lenses for this particular shoot: M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 PRO, 25mm F1.8 and 45mm F1.8. This marked my second visit to the charcoal factory, the first one being about three years ago with a group of Sony shooters (it was a Sony Malaysia official photography outing, back then) and boy was I excited to get some shots with Olympus this time around! I joined a group of passionate and enthusiastic photographers from the PSPJ (Photographic Society of Petaling Jaya) and we drove all the way from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Sepetang (it was more than 3 hours long drive out of the city), where the charcoal factory was at. 

I was faced with the exact similar issues as I did few years back, it was a Sunday, and the workers were not exactly working. Furthermore, it is now the fasting month for the Muslims (Ramadhan), and we encountered a slow, rather quiet morning, with little to almost no activity all around the charcoal factory areas. The weather was not on our side, the sky was cloudy, blocking the important sunlight, thus negating the "sun ray" effect through the holes and cracks on the ceilings/walls of the factory. While all things did not seem to work, the important thing is to stay positive, keep the optimism going and not to give up too quickly. As we walked around we did find some friendly workers were rather chatty, and friendly enough for us to shoot them! I immediately shifted my photography objectives to what I do best: shooting people in their environment and portraying what they do. So here you are, portraits of charcoal factory workers!

A resident

Before jumping into photographs of my usual, weekly, now getting more and more predictable shutter therapy sessions, I shall divert your attention to Rizki Skema Maulana, an awesome, young and talented photographer who has just self-published a mini magazine, .IMG. The .IMG project is a collective of photographs from a group of KL street photographers, many of whom I have shot alongside with frequently for the past few years! 

You may have seen many of these familiar faces on my blog before:
Nick Wade
Luke Ding
Amir Shariff
Scott Chung
Alvin Lau
Razlan Yusof
KG Krishnan
And of course, the man behind the project himself, Rizki Skema Maulana

The man himself, Rizki and his beautiful street photographs in PRINT!
Last weekend, I was working in Malacca, probably the oldest and most the historical city in Malaysia. I was giving talk on stage at Mahkota Parade Shopping Mall on both Saturday and Sunday evenings, and on Sunday morning there was an official photography outing organized by Olympus Malaysia, which was headed by me. I knew very well that I would not have much time to shoot on my own if I were to be there bringing a group of photography hungry people walking on the beautiful streets of Malacca. I would be too busy answering questions, sharing some shooting tips and composition techniques, as well as making sure every one was ok. Not having shutter therapy, especially street shooting for several consecutive weeks will turn me insane!

Therefore, I decided to travel to Malacca a day earlier, on Friday evening, staying over a friend's place, and started my Saturday extra early, roaming the streets and attacked whatever subjects that I came across. I had with me, the trusty Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, and I used the much underrated M.Zuiko 17mm F2.8 Pancake lens as my main gear for this session. It was a fruitful, enjoyable session and I managed to grab quite a few good shots which have become my personal favourites. 

Those of you who follow me on Instagram (@Shutter.Therapy) and Facebook Page, you would have noticed my "What's In The Bag" post. 

A glimpse into my bag:

1) The bag was a Honx, made in Indonesia. They have an official Facebook Page here (click). They make awesome camera straps too. 

2) My own E-M10 Mark II, with 17mm F2.8 pancake lens as my primary lens. 

3) M.Zuiko 8mm F1.8 Fisheye lens, just for some fun shots, if I want to

4) M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens, for tight portraits, just in case. 17mm F2.8 remained as the main lens. 

5) Two spare batteries with colorful soft pouches

6) Think Tank Pocket Rocket with plenty of SD cards

7) ECG-2 external camera grip for the E-M10 Mark II

8) Powerbank for my phone, as I was out the whole day

9) Small, foldable umbrella for unpredictable Malaysian weather

10) The new book from Saharil Hasrin Sanin, "Cerpen-Cerpen Underground" to accompany coffee breaks
I am human, just like everyone else. I may stay strictly loyal to Olympus and probably not sway too easily, but I am also susceptible to gear acquisition syndrome (GAS) that all photography hobbyists suffer from. There were moments when I do wonder how my photography workflow and shooting experience will differ if I were to use a different camera. The fact that there are so many exciting cameras out there makes things even more difficult!

On one hand, I am a strong believer of Olympus Micro Four Thirds system as a complete, well-rounded, reliable and effective photography system. There are just too many can't-live-without features such as 5-Axis Image Stabilization, small form factor & lightweight yet robust construction, super fast & accurate autofocus, and most important of all the wide selection of available sharp and small high performing lenses. On the other hand, I cannot help but always wonder about a few other cameras out there and what they can do for me!

Here is a short list of 3 cameras that I lust for, at this moment. 

What is there not to like about this camera? Small, light, same philosophies as what I have always shouted about, and the super-versatile 28mm focal length, which is one of the highly valued perspective for street photography. Oh and that killer, sexy classical look, Fuji makes beautiful cameras so easily to fall in love with at the first sight. I personally have owned and used the Fuji X100 (first version) and I simply loved the camera, despite the few shortcomings (painfully slow Autofocus, mediocre lens). Fuji X-series camera has come a long way and I am sure the AF has improved over the years. Having a fixed lens camera for street shooting is not a bad choice, and the external controls and dials (not excessively done) would aid in some quick settings when necessary. I can totally imagine myself shooting with Olympus E-M10 Mark II with 45mm F1.8 for longer, tighter shots, and switching quickly to Fujifilm X70 for all my wide angle coverage needs on the street. I have also known a few street shooting friends who regularly use the 28mm perspective for their framing. After trying my best to adapt to the 35mm focal length, I have concluded that the 35mm is just not meant for me and I should only use it when necessary. I am now shifting my shooting style back to my original preferences: wide angle and medium telephoto range. Not so much of 35mm which is neither here nor there. And yes, the 28mm works well for me and the Fuji X70 is really tempting. 

The reason for the less frequent updates on this blog for the past 2 weeks? I have been away for work, outstation in Johor Bahru, for business meetings as well as supporting an Olympus event there. We just had an Indoor Portrait Shooting session, organized by a local Olympus fan group, Pantheon of Olympus (check out their FB page!) and headed by a fellow Olympus photographer, Sapphire Ker. 

It is no secret that I am not that good at shooting portraits! Nonetheless, it was sure super fun, and I do wish to do more, the only issue now is finding time to do so. There have been many working weekends for the past month and my hands have been getting unbearably itchy for some shutter therapy session, which I have been deprived of. 

The lighting was quite bad in the cafe, but hey, sometimes I take the easy way out and I converted all images to black and white for simplicity.