Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Soaking in the vibe

The thing with most humans is that they want everything, all at once, right now. It’s not an unusual desire but in most cases, it just doesn’t happen. And so with photography as well.

I’m on my annual pilgrimage to the air, sights, smells, sounds and vibe that I grew up with. It’s quite a fascinating return each year if I allow myself the pleasure of enjoying the old and the new. I have old memories and perceptions to catch up on and I have new friends to see – Robin Wong, C.L.Yeow and Ronnie Oh were very quick to extend invites to a specially arranged photowalk and friends at the PEN Lovers group (as well as others) were there to make it a social and fun happening.

Although I have very fond memories of the locale (well, I prefer the fond memories than the gawky, fumnbling youth that I was), my street vibe in Melbourne with Marg is quite different. From the very fundamental thing like preferred exposure – Ev -0.7 in Melbourne’s direct sun vs Ev +0.7 in Kuala Lumpur’s gauzy sky, to the way human subjects react when encountering a dude with a camera, it’s different. Sure most passionate photogs want to step off the plane and get way excellent street shots in any city in the world, in reality, it doesn’t work that way. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So, I changed pace, soaked in the vibe. It isn’t all about photography as well. It’s human watching, taking in the ultra wide angle view of the scene (which only the human eye can do), interpreting the significance of dress, facial expressions, gestures. For maximum satisfaction, absorb that – it remains with you long after you’ve shown off that travel set of shots for the upteenth time.

The shot above – with a Tamron 28mm manual focus prime lens on the Olympus PEN E-PL1, faded effect courtesy of Picasa desktop client. Coming from a long flight, the atmosphere was lethargic – taxi drivers waiting for work. The guy on the left did not appear to be a taxi driver. And you sit on anything other than the floor – the public floor in the tropical Malaysia isn’t something locals are conditioned to sit on.

This was the neighbourhood wet market – the wet market is well, sorta wet. Old customers come back to favourite stalls and money changes hands, for in this case, freshly slaughtered chicken. That’s the way they do it.

Take a drive amongst tall buildings and you are in a different world – where the locals come to shop, relax, be seen.

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