The festival of light {street photography]

murals in the heart of kuala lumpur
murals in the heart of kuala lumpur

Its deepavali in Malaysia. Apparently, for the first time, my invitation for a model shoot has no takers. Maybe my street photography is giving mix messages compared to my more popular outdoor model portraiture. So its street photography again :-). This mural must have been there all the time, but i have never noticed it. Amazing piece of work, it talks about the love for “kampung” which means “village” in Bahasa Malaysia.

LOKL cafe. A modern cafe in an old stretch of road.
LOKL cafe. A modern cafe in an old stretch of road.

Since its a public holiday, i can’t just go around shooting without bringing my family out for breakfast. So surprise surprise a new cafe for them to visit. Phoenix was surprised that i could locate a new cafe that she haven’t really heard off. While there are many new cafes booming up in KL, including one which i am personally investing in “myespresso”, there are just too many of them that lives on “hype” while the really good coffees and quality recipe are held by a few cafes.

Getting married in a cafe.
Getting married in a cafe?

Just next to LOKL cafe, i noticed they are decorating this long table and some love messages, i guess some folks wants to either propose or throw a small party related to wedding today. Its after all the festival of light (deepavali). In Malaysia, it doesn’t matter which race and culture is having the holiday..cause its a public holiday to all 🙂


Just took the opportunity to take this photo given the beautiful mural behind. Phoenix wanted to go UK for a year, but her application for the university in UK requested for some transcripts that she could not find. I guess she will be sticking around in Malaysia for sometime hahaha.

All these photos are taken using just 1 lens, 58mm 1.4 AF-G on a Nikon CCD sensor camera, D3000. My policy is less gears and more photos. How did i managed to take these photos given the crop sensor (90mm!)? Give up your gears and stick with one cam+len and msg me 🙂

Separating the living from the dead

we grow mask just to live
we grow mask just to live
modest transport
modest transport

Life in the city, always evolving, adapting but the climate is always getting colder, in the heart at least.
Some find joy despite the cry of the want for material and wealth, some find love as though as they found a door to another dimension, in the cold city.

All images taken with fuji GW690ii on neospan 100.

Chelsea Chang & Sasha Gold, Portraiture

Most of the images here are done using the Zeiss 18 f4. However some are done using a very ancient lens, the Cyclops 85 1.5.
I take it that you will have no problem knowing which is which.
You may contact Chelsea via facebook from my page : for modelling jobs and casting.
I must say she is a very dedicated model and able to do her own makeup. Sasha is not working towards being a model, so its just a fun collaboration.

I hope you enjoy the images as much as i did creating them. And as for the Cyclops, there is 1 very big con that i should mention, its only sharp at centre. Hence even for some of these photos where i composed using rules of 3rd, the face is a bit blur. That is the limitation you will have to live with, but the legendary bokeh, its not something u can create by photoshop easily.













Back to the land of bokeh

Yesterday a friend who is a full time photographer, mr.kitt wanted me to help find a model for a night shoot in cafe.

What turns out to be pretty obvious though was his intention to test a combo and he wanted me to witness it.

Now I brought along my Olympus and a portrait lens 45 1.8 and was expecting to show him a thing or two too on m43 system .

However what he took out while shooting the model was not his Leica ME…. But a rather queer combo, the sony A7R with Leica summilux 35 1.4.

After seeing a few shot from this Combo it became apparent to all of us there that it’s an amazing combination . Basically it did what leica M nor ME would find hard to match with, very high resolution of sharp images.

The pop is totally awesome and reminded me and struck me as the reason why sigma cameras used to produce to first time viewers. Total sharpness at 1.4 .

I reluctantly had to put my gears into the bag and played with the combo for the duration.

As we parted, he took back the leica 35 summilux and slapped on the Zeiss 55 1.8 and made me an offer. Trade in some unused Nikon lens in my collection for this gear and he will top up cash for me . (The summilux is already booked by a client and I could not justify buying one)

The unit was particularly new and the Zeiss had some kind of bokeh that I like and missed lately due to the lack if shallow dof in xvario and unavailability of wider lens with shallow dof in my EP5.

I was pleasantly surprised that the evf is equal or even better than the evf in the Olympus that I loved. Seems like mirrorless is the future as far as I am concerned.

M43 size is still preferred but for those longing for very shallow dof, using legacy M lens with the A7/A7r could be a release.

Some shots done today at the train station. Last two photo is from yesterday’s summilux with A7R







Be kind



Frankly i just can’t take it when i see some people trying to make a living in the streets and have no customers. The purpose of writing this is just to share my thoughts on this and not as a boastful post or self righteous pump.
For some, earning is not that hard, decent jobs, a shelter to live in, a car or motorcycle and we could afford to splash once a while on gadgets. When walking on the streets, i often see some folks struggling to make a living, selling cakes, noodles, desaturated belts and other items.
These people need to eat too, have a family or kids to take care of and maybe due to lack of education or certs, unable to secure a moderate income.

I personally can’t take it, not because i am trying to sound like a pompous “holier than thou” asshole, but i believe its because i tried hard not to ignore or close my eyes. I believe everyone would feel the same. On the other hand realistically i can’t keep pretending i am actually helping when i know the truth is there is just not enuf $$$ to go giving around.
While i have not much sympathy for people who just beg for money or food being fully limbed and too lazy to work, i am totally defenseless for those who does work or tried to, but hard.

In the pictures above, i been observing the nice cafe that sells tea “jeju tea” instead of coffee but then i saw this aunty selling snacks and ramen outside. After 30 minutes while my wife still scours the cosmetic shops nearby, i noticed nobody really buy from this aunty.
I told my kid, do u want to eat ramen? actually we just had dinner like 30 minutes ago, but knowing that my kid loves ramen, its a way for me to help that aunty without being too obvious.

While she was cooking, wife joined in with the kid for the meal.
I took one of the skewered snacks that was boiling there and tried it too.

Ramen cost 3000 won, the skewer 700 won. U know how much was a cup of the jeju tea? 6000 won.

I wish there is a better world for everyone.

Part II : Busan & the traveling photographer

I just want to share further images from my trip to Busan previously, particularly images that i feel are worth sharing. i am not a big fan of B&W, given that some of the images are taken in very boring lighting, converting it to B&W serves to brings out the subject as a matter of salvaging it.

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Koreans are people who loves privacy. See, all covered 😉L1032735

Cats are generally having a great life in Busan, i have not come across any that looks too shabby. This particular guy is suntanning while people just walked past by.
L1032741 L1032776 i just love this image. A modern, korea girl with an almost k-pop feel to it. There is a reason why she is walking this way, the wind is very chilling.L1033232 L1033241 L1033257 L1033260 L1033266 L1033289 L1033325 L1033339


Death cometh! Well it looks scary with guys carrying all kinds of weapons, including one that looks like a scythe. They are actually workers that just worked on some forest nearby in Taejongdae.

This image of a young pretty lady was taken, 0.5 meter in front of me as she sat and chat with her friend. Mirrorless cameras with quiet shutters such as XVario allows such photos to be taken really discreetly. I had to pay attention to the wind and light falling on her hair and took around 8 shots, 2 are usable.L1033388

The observatory in Taejongdae has this iconic design. L1033397This cliff are open to all tourists regardless of age. Mind you, there are no protection set at those cliffs once your at the main site. Its free fall all the way down.


Singapore, models, friends and candids



Just a week after i wrote about being an anti-black and white photography guy, i noticed my mind comes under constant probing by myself. “what if i was wrong, what if B&W truly is the best way to show forth the soul of people?” .

“Nah! nothing beats the beauty of colors, with the exception of high key shooting. ” retorted my other self, in justification of what i wrote. Thus, when i was in Singapore last week, i realized that i begin to see things differently, i no longer have the excuses of shooting stuffs thats gonna need B&W to salvage it or make it look more “moody” since i have some chinese-face to defend (hahaha).

Anyway here are some photos i took in Singapore, enjoy.

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Street photography : Ipoh

I visited Ipoh for a day yesterday, took the opportunity to use the Xvario for street shoots.

Ipoh is a beautiful city located in Perak, Malaysia. Urban legend has it that its a place where most of Malaysia’s beautiful ladies comes from, quoting various examples, eg Michelle Yeoh, Malaysia’s first bond girl.

The food in Ipoh is plentiful and comes in all kind of creative forms. What i mean by this is that the local in Ipoh tends to be very entrepreneurship when it comes to food.

Enjoy my set of street photography.

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Form Matters

A camera like Ricoh GR and XVario has a form that promotes street photography. I have been trying out various other cameras but i have never been motivated to capture images and be surprised by the results as i did with these cameras.

Why? I believe it boils down to something so simple and raw, its practically the trigger for motivation. It begins with “Form”

1. Size matters

You can shout and chant the whole day and read magnum contact books and dead photographer’s portfolios. But if you gonna hold a 70-200 zoom lens on your dlsr and walk up the street and shoot, you not going to succeed. Size matters. Holding on something big, is not going to give you the speed and flexibility to move right into a scene and shoot it. Street photography is about people and expression where you are almost at the same place, witnessing and participating. I love zoom shooting in mall photography, something i did as a kind of street photography when i am just too tired or motivated to walk outside. I get nice photos but nothing that i am really happy with.

If you gonna carry a 50-500 lens, you are better off joining the Olympics than doing street photography. The anticipation in street is not just one direction, it could be behind you or on your side, and to shoot discreetly and yet breath in the scene, size affects mobility and mobility affects results.

A camera that is of the correct size grants the bearer such joy, that its hard to describe. When news of friends and people moving away from DSLR to 4/3, Fuji’s and whatever else out there, i initially thought that its just a rush decision. Make no mistake about it, liberty and freedom is a feeling that many associate as criterias for happiness and when your camera gives you event a taste of that, its hard not to understand why they did it.

2. Camera Quality matters

Motivation begins when you feel inspired by something or a thought that you hold in your mind. Holding a lego camera, will not get you motivated unless your motivation is pre-planning to fail and yet not feel bad since you got a bad deal to begin with. Lets face it, carrying a plastic camera that feels like toys, does not contribute a single motivating trigger to you anymore than a B rated movie gonna get you high expectation. Expectation however matters. A camera that is build nicely, triggers all kinds of good thoughts and inspirational feeling when you carry it.

When i first had my M9, despite the reality that its a camera that is kinda “stupid” with all kinds of limitations, i did produce some photos that i am very happy with. Logically any camera today with a fast lens could easily out gun any Leica M shooters if the photographers are on the same level. Auto focus is just too stupid to be ignored. After i sold my M9, i got all kinds of cameras. They all could in theory, capture much better photos in various lighting conditions. I did have many keepers no doubt, but the joy of holding the camera just isn’t the same. M9 felt stupid due to the technological limitations and rangefinder, but the build and touch of the camera, inspires one to go out and shoot. I know one day, Leica will produce one that you won’t feel stupid and at the same time highly inspired by the build quality.

Partially this condition is met in the Xvario. The camera immediately brings back the feeling i had with the M9 and minimizes on the stupidity part. The only “stupid” part i felt was the slow lens but given that i wanted to train on deep dof, this counters the thought. The Xvario, to me, is the real Digital Leica. Its far from perfect, a perfect one would be 24-70 mm 1.4 on a FF Leica but at the current situation, that is crazy thinking 😉

3. Inspiration matters

It begins when you hold the camera, up to the point when you shoot it. My nikon D4 performs flawlessly and was iron clad dependable. Inspired, hardly, but it does removes me from distraction of limitations since if D4 cant’ perform, its entirely the photographers fault . Ricoh GR is so light, u feel immediately like moving around and shoot. Xario feels so solid, you feel that every moment is special. D4, tells you, go do your job. Its not a bad thing if you are a full time photographer on duty, but for your own passion based projects , inspiration goes a long way.

No article should be complete without a photo to prove my point right? I have been fetching my daughter for more than 4 years to the school. I have used all kind of cameras trying to capture something i like, her silliness and laziness when waking up from the car, or just some expression. I got that with the Xvario.