USM HBP Studio Life | with Leica IIF

USM HBP Studio Life | with Leica IIF

    All Architecture student would recall their life during those intense three to four years of study.  Some would say it the best period of their life, while others would call it a nightmare to forget. For me, it was a great journey throughout. Those sleepless night couple with caffeine induced design session is something I wish I wouldn’t repeat in the future but it was nevertheless, epic. Hanging out with my studio mate or going out on a date with your girlfriend around the University compound is something that I always try to capture with my camera.

   The Leica IIF came around the time where I was using the Olympus OM1 with 35mm lens for the last few years. After using the Leica for a while, I grew fond with it. The Leica is much more compact compare to the Olympus, which makes carrying it to class much easier, and the shutter noise is much more acceptable to most people (not exactly quiet either).

This series is a compilation of selected picture taken during my final year of my Degree in Architecture study at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. If anyone is curious what film it is, I use Ilford Pan 400 at box speed.

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My Fortress of solitude. 
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When the weather is not so nice.  
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Sleeping roommate. 

   I stay at different dormitory block throughout my study and the last one being at Desasiswa Tekun. Its one of the newest and tallest dormitory block in the University. To be honest, my roommate would not be pleased when he saw this pictures (Sorry Qi Kai).

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A night stroll for dinner.
5
Looking up. 
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Bench outside the library fill with students bag. 
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Few days after USM convocation. 
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Post convocation photo-shooting session.
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I have no idea what happen here. 
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Every Wednesday (or was it thursday?), is the extra-curricular day. 
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We use the bus to go around the campus area. 
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Walking back home. 
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They were punished for being late. 
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A close up of the punishment. 

   ‘Casual Sports’ is something like a privilege that you can only get when studying. Once we begin with our career life, exercising for fun is as rare as winning a lottery. During the entire year of my studying life, I spent my free time running, cycling, swimming, and lifting weight at the gym. It is a great way to spend your free time, especially when doing it together with your girlfriend.

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Rumor have it, they are still stuck to this position till now. 
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The want to ‘keep fit’ gang. 
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My girlfriend practicing her swimming stroke for the upcoming swimming test. 
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Enjoying a great evening.
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Extra-curricular time. 
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Putting Investor First = Capitalism at its finest. 
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Its a fake wound for our St.John accident simulation exercise. Looks real though. 

   Studio life is just hectic. I see it as a temporary working space but for others, its the closest thing to home. People spend time fooling around the studio is what define our career choice. There is certainly more laugh than there is tears and I miss the noise (sometime) when everyone is in the studio.

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Happy Driver.
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Someone got herself a gift. 
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A nervous smile.
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Give you eyes, Poke your eyes. 
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Design Crit
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Hero of the Night.
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A long morning presentation.
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Celebrating Birthday. 
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Our very own Studio Cat, sort off. 
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A friend complain that his slipper got stolen, hence the lock. 
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He walk around with this notice at the back for the entire day. 
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A friend desk. 
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Doing a last minute model for one of our competition entry. 
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When DJ is in da house!
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A very long night. 

   At the time when this post was published, its been a year since I graduated from the University. To be honest, there is a lot more pictures taken during the  entire period but the one selected is somehow safer for general viewing.  

Laugh, cry, and scream as you may but thank you for being part of my life.

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My last General Meeting for St.John Ambulance Malaysia kor USM as an EXCO. A great 3 years with them. 
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A serious crit session with one of our best lecturers. 
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An old model built by our senior. Now all dirty and dusty. 
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After a sleepless night. This was taken at 6am in the morning. 
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A year with a free Leica | PART 2

A year with a free Leica | PART 2

If the Leica M series is consider as the Porsche among the plethora of cameras, then the Leica screw mount series following the philosophy of the Ur-Leica, is comparable to the Volkwagen Beetle. Utilitarian aesthetic combine with Germans precision. There is no doubt made the camera one of the few surviving camera model from the early 1940’s, simply because of the mechanical engineering put into it.

Following my previous post, I will continue sharing my experience in using the camera in general. This whole post was never in my intention but seeing the lack of detailed user experience in using this camera on the internet prompt me to start a draft that list out my experience since I got the camera back in September 2017. Comment and question are always welcome, just drop me a line on the comment section.

For starters, I am not exactly a beginner in ‘film’ photography per se. In fact, I had been developing my own black and white negatives in my toilet for the past 5 years. Therefore, using a film camera never really much of a trouble for me as I use my Yashica 124G regularly for my ongoing project and an Olympus OM-1 on daily basis. But, all those years of using those film camera has never prepared me for this basic steel block of a light tight box. The Leica IIF. 

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Control and size of the Leica IIF is the standard for their competitor even after millennium. 

Basic specification of the camera is that it is a rangefinder camera that use 135mm film format with a fixed viewfinder for 50mm lens without any parallax error correction. Despite having a rangefinder, using it is very different compared to a more familiar styled rangefinder where the rangefinder is separated from the viewfinder as seen on the following image. The whole experience in using the camera is cumbersome (compared to, say, an Olympus OM-1), enough said.

A list of summary on what to expect for a first time user like me was as following;

  1. You need to extend and lock a collapsible lens properly. (I am using a Leica Elmar 5cm f/2.8 for this camera)
  2. Shutter speed can only be changed when the shutter is fully cocked.
  3. Film need to be trimmed before loading, and loading the film from underneath the camera is way more complicated than I expected.
  4. Manually wind the film instead of using a winding lever.
  5. Parallax error couple with a small sized viewfinder.
  6. Ensure that the lens cap is removed when taking picture.
  7. Focusing is done through a separate viewfinder that have 1.7x magnification for easier focusing.
  8. No built-in exposure metering.

 

1.LEICA Elmar 5cm f/2.8

The lens that I had is a gem. People always spoke about the ‘Cron’ and the ‘Lux’ lenses from Leica but this classic collapsible lens is rarely mentioned before, but oddly enough the 50mm f/3.5 did. For a 50mm f/2.8 lens, it render the scene perfectly and the bokeh has the classic distinction of a lens designed in the late 1950s, odd glow at the edge with overall crisp texture throughout. They say its a single coated lens but I haven’t got any problem when using color negatives but most likely it depends on the quality of the scanning and film processing.

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Small, light, sharp and hugely underrated. 

As mentioned earlier, to use it, you need to extend the whole thing. Another thing worth to mention is to pull and ‘twist’ it to lock the lens. If you haven’t lock it, chances are all your picture taken will be blurred. There is a trick for it where you need to twist and snap it into places as you extend the lens fully. Take note guys.

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Fully extended and locked position.
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Fully enclosed. Easily fit your camera bag. 

2. Adjust shutter after the film has been re-cocked

Unlike most modern SLR camera, the shutter setting can be adjusted independently without having the shutter re-cocked. It seems on the Leica IIF, the shutter setting is inter related with the shutter mechanism, therefore, any changes need to be done after you have re’cock’ the shutter.

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Shutter need to be re cocked and only then the shutter speed can be dialed in. 

3. Awkward film loading mechanism

Loading the film to any Leica camera is beyond any conventional method. The only awkward thing about Leica camera design is the bottom base film loading method. Design wise, it’s the best light tight design to prevent light leaking inside the film chamber. But still, while folding camera back design became popular in the early 1970, even the most advance Leica rangefinder at that time use bottom base film loading.

LEICA _9re

However, the old Leica screw-mount camera had a film loading process that is way more difficult to engage properly. In order to load the film into the film spool, you need to trim your film leader into a thinner width. This is done in order to allow the film to wind around the spool nicely without having to worried about the film jammed inside. Personally, I dont like this. Trimming the film leader means that you have to trim all of your film to be used for the Leica IIF and secondly, not all camera can use the film that you already trimmed.

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Image taken when the lens is collapsed into the body. 
AGFA 400 (35)re
Image taken when you didn’t extend and lock the lens properly. 

This is a sequence on how to load the film into the camera;

  1. Trim the film leader in a long thin width as shown on the picture. I use scissor.
  2. Open the camera bottom plate.
  3. Pull out the film spool.
  4. Attach the trimmed film leader into the film spool. Push it in nicely and deep so it stay properly when winding.
  5. Put the loaded film spool into the camera.
  6. Close the camera bottom plate.
  7. Wind the film and wind it until the tension is tight.
  8. Snap two blank shot.
  9. Reset the film counter on top.
  10. Wipe your anxious tear with a grin.

I load film into the camera many time before but it is still something that I totally not enjoy doing especially when you are out shooting in a crowded places. Compared to my Olympus Mju I, loading film into the camera is not as fun as it should be. But this is a camera built in 1952, so go figure.

4. Manually wind the film instead of using a winding lever

After loading film into the camera, another thing that you will realized is that there is no such thing as film winding lever, only a film winding knob. This means that you need to turn the tab every time you want to re-cock the shutter. This is way slower than what I am used to though.

5. Parallax error 

Another thing that you notice when using the camera is how small (but bright and clear) viewfinder that the camera has. The view is for 50mm lens and therefore should work wonders even for Henri Cartier Bresson. But unfortunately, I wore glasses. And the distance between my eyes and the glasses made me unable to view the overall viewfinder properly. There are many time where I didn’t compose my picture correctly and there are many other case of parallax error. Rangefinder camera from that time has maximum focusing distance of 1m for reason.

For those who are using glasses, do be wary that the viewfinder piece might rub against your glasses and switching between those two pieces of viewfinder might be troublesome sometimes.

6. Ensure that the lens cap is removed when taking picture

After decades of using SLR, I am used to the fact that what I see on the viewfinder is exactly what my camera will see.

Unfortunately, it took me a couple of roll to realize that I always forgot to remove the lens cap when taking picture. So get used to the fact that Rangefinder viewfinder is not an indication of what will expose on your film.

7. Focusing is done through a separate viewfinder

Modern Rangefinder have their focusing patch inside the viewfinder. However the Leica IIF (or other Leica Thread mount rangefinder) use a separate viewfinder for focusing. After focus is achieved, you will need to recompose it through another separate viewfinder.

Slow, but effective.

LEICA _7re
The viewfinder for focusing is 1.7x magnified while the viewfinder on the right side is used for composing and has a FOV for a 50mm lens. 

8. No built-in exposure metering

Sunny 16 rules apply when you are using this camera.

The camera have no exposure metering system what so ever, as a camera technology from the 1940s, this is to be expected. But this doesn’t ruin the experience in using the camera though.

LEICA _4re
Small and Fun. Pair it with a wider angle lens and it will be a fun street shooting tool. 

Conclusion : Its a fun camera, no doubt. 

After a year of using it, more than 50 rolls of film, I can conclude that Leica thread mount camera is still relevant to be use on daily basis, or better yet, as a tool to create an exciting photography project. The lightweight body and pair with an external viewfinder can make for a fun street photography camera, of course, if its pair with a 35mm or 28mm lens.

The camera is definitely slow for some people but I doubt Henri Cartier Bresson complain about that before. With the price, it is consider ‘affordable’ nowadays for a Leica, and there is a lot of choice in lenses and some at a rather bargain price.

There would be a part 3 of this post showing the image taken with the camera.

 

 

OBSCURA 2018 – A ‘brief’ visit

OBSCURA 2018 – A ‘brief’ visit

This year Obscura Photo festival was something to remember. I didn’t join through the entire week but it was a short break that I needed after an intense week in the office.

Obscura Photo Festival 2018 program schedule went out late and most their full list of activities was out few days before their opening ceremony. Nevertheless, it was something that I knew I shouldn’t missed out on and bit of excitement came inside of me when they updated their facebook page stating ‘PORTFOLIO REVIEW AT BLACK KETTLE THIS SATURDAY’. Among the name on the list was Hajime Kimura, Maggie Steber, and Ian Teh.

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Last minute cutting at the printer shop. 

It was exciting as I just finished my 5 years project on documenting Labuan shorelines and I needed some feedback on the project as a whole. Of course, this could be counter-productive as I could risk getting unnecessary influence or direction into the project. But I am quiet matured in my artistic insight compared to years ago and the review might just give me an extra perspective on what I need to do for my next upcoming project. I went back from my office that night and started arranging a series of my scanned negatives for printing tomorrow morning. I hit the bed early so I wouldn’t overslept for the registration tomorrow at 10am.

As expected, I had trouble waking up on time and it was hectic as I rushed to the printing shop near my office. The shop was open and the printing went on smoothly until the time when the owner ask me whether I want the picture to be cut to sized. But seeing that it takes time for the old owner, he was kind enough to let me cut it myself using one of their cutting machine. By the time I finished cutting the print, it was already 10:25am. 25 minute late for the registration.

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The portfolio review session starts and I am late. 

I arrived at Black Kettle around 10:55am. However a woman at the registration counter told me that I am already late and the session already started half an hour ago. But despite her fiery glare, she was kind enough to put my name into the list. For the portfolio session, we are able to set an appointment to whichever photographer that I wanted. The list of photographers are;

• Maggie Steber
• Ian Teh
• Wawi Navarroza
• Nicolas Combarro
• Léonard Pongo
• Peter Bialobrzeski
• Hajime Kimura (I am a fan of his work)
• Atsushi Fujiwara
• Yusuke Takagi
• Tom White
• Louis Lim

It was an easy choice on who I want to meet, and since I dont know half of the other photographer (sorry, but I manage to google you guys afterwards) the choice was set to Hajime Kimura and Ian Teh. The only regrets is that I didn’t went for Peter Bialobrzeski as well, it seems his work and opinion might be worth listening to.

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This year booklet is small an economical. Easy to carry throughout the week. 

   My portfolio review session was set around 1pm and 3pm for Ian Teh and Hajime Kimura respectively. It left me with some time to prepare myself and seeing the people around the room shows that I am the only one who seems to be unprepared. They present their work with laptop, business cards, and glossy prints while I am the only one with a lousy cheap inkjet print on cheap paper. So I thought since I already registered, why not grab a lunch and maybe get my laptop as well. At least it makes me look prepared in a way.

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Some of the participants waiting for their turn.

The first session is with Ian Teh, the entire room is filled with photographers doing a review session. It does made me nervous in some way but I was hoping for the best. Ian Teh needs no introduction, I have 2 of his books and been a fan of his work on China Industrial landscape.

This is my first time attending a portfolio review and to be honest, I don’t have any idea what to do next after saying ‘Hello’.

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Ian Teh with one of the participant. Waiting for my turn. 

During the session with Ian Teh, I gave a brief introduction about myself and the work that I was about to present to him. The work is of course my recent project on my hometown. Overall, the feedback was good. Most of his concern is basically on what I actually want from the series. I wouldn’t share most of his word here but it was positive. I did ask him how he would usually do for his project and he gave me some great insight on his own editing approach on TRACES and Confluence project.

One thing that I realized is that you have to come with a clear idea of your own project (I actually do, just the final edit need time to decide) and also a final edit of your work. Mine was so half-assed that it became hard to comment on especially since its a portfolio review. But the experience was good and I learn much.

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Part of the image from my project. 
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Some lovely work show inside the room. 
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Manage to catch-up with Alvin Lau. An upcoming photographer from KL. The second person that I show my prints to. 
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I am not sure but why but their shirts match one another. 

My next session is with Hajime Kimura. Again, this guy needs no introduction as well and I had his book reviewed many years ago in this blog. Currently he is a full time photographer and working on some interesting project which he will present tomorrow.

Of all the photographer in the room, Hajime is someone that I can relate to slightly. He is an Architecture graduate and one of his big break in photography happen to be done when he went out in search of himself. Hence, his first photobook.

Hajime is a funny guy and somehow have this bright smile eventhough we just met. Typical Japanese I presume. We exchange greeting and sat through the session. As I was arranging the prints on the table, I manage to tell him my admiration on his work and stating that our work is similar in certain way. He reply with a bow saying thank you and quickly going through my work. Again, I wont be sharing much of our session but enough to say that it was positive.

And yes, I manage to ask him about the camera that he use for the Kodama photobook, It is a Nikon FM2n with black and white film pushed all the way to 3200 ASA.

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A creative approach for exhibiting photo. Cheap and big, but the impact from this kind of presentation is questionable. 
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Manage to catch up with the owner of Bang Bang Geng in Publika. Thanks to Andrew for letting me know. 
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My kind of photography work. Simple. 
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The title is stated. 
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“Kagerou” by Yusuke Takagi, Japan.
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One of the interesting story among the exhibited work. Worth a read. “Confiteor (I Confess) by Tomaso Clavarino, Italy. 
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ABKHAZIA by Ksenia Kuleshova.
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A very nice touch. Not sure if its necessary. 
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“I’ll be looking at the moon but I’ll be seing you” by Harikrishna Katragadda and Shweta Upadhyay, India. 

I intend to take a few picture around Georgetown area but looking at the time, waiting for a few hours before Obscura Festival opening ceremony seems like a better idea. I know a friend that is coming all the way from KL and will be arriving soon so I also think it would wise to stay and catch up with the others.

The opening ceremony is held at Hin Bus Depot along with a number of photographer exhibiting their work. Going through the previous edition of the photo festival, this year exhibit seems to be staying away from the conventional photojournalism and documentary issue. The theme for this year exhibition is ‘Multiplicity’ which is curated by Anshika Varma. There is a long write up on her curation but simply put, this year  they explore the hidden human condition that seems to blur the line between reality and fiction. I dig most of the work shown here.

As the night approaches,  more people gathers around the gallery area. Some familiar people pop-in and a number of VIP seems to be there as well for the opening ceremony. It was a warm atmosphere and surrounded by the exhibited work, people can simply take their time while waiting for the event to start.

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Only For “THE DEAD ON DUTY” by Naraphat Sakarthornsap. Thailand.
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The MC starting to warm up the space. 
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The people within the room. 
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All attention towards the front. 
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The people that make the photo festival happen. 
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My favourite series from the entire exhibition. ‘Uncanny Lovers’ by Paulina Otylie Surys, Poland.

The opening ceremony was a success, everyone was happy and the atmosphere turn casual as everyone decided to catch-up with one another. It was great opportunity for those who wanted to do some networking. For me, I am just trying to enjoy my weekend.

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Eiffel Chong. I have been studying his work recently. Probably one of the biggest name in Photography coming from Malaysia. Adding his picture here in a hope that it will increase my blog traffic someday. 
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The organizer did a good job. Free beer for all. 
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Catching up with William Sim and Alvin Lau. Not to mention Munirah on the right outside of the frame. 
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Hajime got drunk. 
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It was a nice evening.
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Slightly sober and getting some drinks with Moon and Ben. William join us afterwards. 

The next morning, I attend the Photobook Presentation by Atsushi Fujiwara, Matt Alett and Hajime Kimura. They have an evening session as well but I got caught up with my office work.

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Some of the exhibited book. 
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They compile all the students work for Ian Teh Masterclass into a book. An interesting compilation of work taken in Penang. 
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Check out that clean binding. 
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I have no idea what is the book title or photographer is. 
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But the content is good. 
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An interesting cover and content layout. Yoshikatsu Fujii, must google. 
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Before. 
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After.

One of the highlight of the session for me is probably the chance to go through Hajime Kimura photobook. Ever since I continue my study, I never got the chance to get his latest book after Kodama. I read about his scrap book photo book concept that earn him some awards and I finally I got the chance to go through it.

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The proportion of the book is interesting. 
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The scrapbook contains a lot of photograph that is not selected into Kodama. It is arranged in a way to resemble a photo diary of Hajime journey with the Matagi.
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Love this series. A scrapbook where you thought she is Hajime relatives but it is not. 
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Hajime told me that Kodama is a book that is not edited by him and as a result, not the way he intend to tell the story (lucky, as I am a fan of that series) but he told me ‘Scrapbook’ is a book that he made base on his original intention to use the photograph. 
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He told me to attach some personality or identity into your work through old picture or sketches. I think this is what he meant. 
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I also ask him what camera he use for the Kodama series. He told me that he use Nikon FM2n as the weather is cold on that area and a compact fully manual analog camera would have better chance of surviving. 
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And he is also a fan of Presto 400 before Fujifilm discontinued it. 
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I like the way he insert some graphic with some high contrast imagery. 

   Overall, it was satisfying. I didnt manage to follow the whole week of activity but catching up with some people while learning something new is always a good way to keep the drive going. The photo festival is a success as well and here I hope that the next edition would be better. This year exhibited work is a great departure from the usual documentary/photojournalism approach, a rather refreshing change of view.

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Hajime Kimura presenting his published book. He also talk about his own personal approach in photography and also about his ongoing project. Good stuff. 
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The end. 

A year with a free Leica | PART 1

A year with a free Leica | PART 1

A bit of introduction on the brand that made the camera on this post. Leica is a camera brand that has redefine photography since the early 20th century and their camera has been a staple among renown photojournalist worldwide. It’s association with the creation of many iconic photographs throughout the history has led their camera to earn a legendary status and has huge followers (fanatics?) all over the world until now. As a brand, in the early year of the shift in technology from film analog to digital sensor. Leica has struggle to catch up with the rest of it’s competitor. Their slow adaptation to this change towards digital saw them being left forgotten for more than a decade before being bought over by a billionaire that saves the company from bankruptcy. This day, the camera has became more of a fashion symbol for the rich where the price tag of a single M-mount camera is equivalent to a year worth of salary.

So what does this has to do with this article?. Everything.

Most of my favorite photographer use a Leica M camera at certain point of their career, many even stand by it until today. Therefore, obviously there was a time where  I wish to own a Leica just for the sake of it. But god work in a mysterious way and on August 2017, my prayer (I didn’t pray) was answered. Someone actually gave me a Leica IIF along with Leica Elmar 5cm f/2.8, for free.

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A clean camera in a good condition. Just serviced to boot according to the owner. 
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Using the camera for the first time. I didn’t even know how to load the film into the camera. 

I am a regular reader of Japancamerahunter.com and their recent post during that time was on why the 35mm film is in high demand. From this, the comment section turn into a forum as they were arguing whether the film camera industry itself is in jeopardy as the market consist of a cameras that has age more than a few decades, with many has past half century mark. The question of parts availability and the declining number of capable repairman was part of the argument. Within the comments I slid a short question asking about “What camera brand that still service their film camera?” and left it there for a few day before returning to read anyone reply. Of course, many gave their response (Leica is probably the only one) and one of them happen to be the one responsible for giving me his camera.

I received an email on the following day stating that he was interested in giving out his camera for free and to send it directly from Japan. At this point, I was very skeptic. The argument was that there is nothing for me to lose and following their discussion before on Japancamerahunter, he believes that a mechanical camera such as the IIF would outlive it’s owner and there is nothing to worry about as parts is not as scarce as it seems. Film photography is here to stay and mechanical parts is always easier to replace than electronic. Hearing his reasoning, I don’t think it’s polite to decline his wishes especially as there is nothing for me to be worried about. I gladly accept and waited for the package.

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The camera has some used mark but otherwise good. The lens was in great condition. 

Few weeks later, I received an EMS package from Japan along with a name and a note wishing me to enjoy the camera. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much to . Maybe a bunch of worn out camera with a decent Russian made lens. But upon opening the package, I notice a glimpse of the camera shade and further unpacking reveal a Leica IIF with a collapsible Leica lens that I don’t know off.

I contact the sender afterward to inform him that the package has safely arrived and to confirm his motive in sending me the camera. It was unimaginable for me as the camera could fetch a high price on the market today. His reasoning was pretty simple, the camera is not really appreciated by the collectors in Japan given its condition (it’s pretty clean for me) and he bought it as a part for his beloved Leica IIIG. For him, he felt like a waste seeing a capable camera being wasted inside a drybox so instead he decided to give it away (Fuck capitalism he said) to someone who will actually use it. Seeing their discussion from the post in Japancamerahunter, he believes that mechanical camera will last much longer than it’s owner given that it is being used regularly and serviced when needed. A reminder for myself as the camera was actually made in 1952 based on it’s serial number.

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Me trying to explain why the camera I hold has such ‘value’ in the history of photography. 

I am not a Leica geek but having the Leica has led me to study a lot about Leica not only as a camera manufacture but it’s impact as a brand to the development of photography itself. At this point, i kept on reminding myself that this isn’t any post on the history of Leica design but you can’t kept it out from the writing seeing how big the brand is itself.

AGFA 400 (2)
Photo that I capture a lot during my first few rolls. 

For this, I would like to state my gratitude to Mr.Damien for his generosity to a poor Architecture student from Malaysia as myself. The camera itself might someday be given away to a certain someone but until then, this is mine to use.

I will be update on my first few months experience on the next post.

COMING HOME, FOR A WHILE

COMING HOME, FOR A WHILE

After 3 years spent on completing my Degree in Architecture, its finally the time to straighten back my life away from extra-curricular activity and pressuring studio assignment. Few years ago, I believe I needed some dedicated time to focus myself on studying Architecture, an exercise of some sort to prove myself that I could become better in this complicated branch of art.

Learning is surely a never ending process, as I do plan to continue my further study in post-graduate. Place to be decided.

So, after my last paper. I decided to join my girlfriend back home while carrying all our stuff there. We had been planning for this trip for quiet some time and finally got time to do so. I had almost a week before my flight back home and she decided to bring me to Ipoh for some food hunting. As I mentioned before, she told me that the food in Ipoh is way better than those in Penang. The only difference is that Penang had a lot more choices, but not necessary a good one.

I had been to Ipoh numerous time in the past but I never actually went there for the food. I always know the food is great but I just didn’t have the transport to actually explore the area. But I am lucky that my girlfriend decided to bring me around. She is after all an alumni of Politeknik Ungku Omar.

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The famous Penang Bridge 2. This bridge is freaking long. 
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Heading to Ipoh. 
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This is one of the two dolls that I got from the arcade. 
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Feeling like playing Gran Turismo. 
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Its not even Hari Raya and its already jammed. Turns out there was a road maintenance a few kilometer away. 
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Ipoh Big Tree Restaurant. The food is super good and the drinks are GIANT. Recommend this place if you are going to Ipoh. 
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My driver and tour guide. 
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She actually involve in the drawing of the mural behind her. This is her trying to show that she has grew taller than before. 
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Her best ‘cute’ face. 
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Impressive mural around this area. 
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We spend some time around the town area that morning looking for a decent breakfast. Had a nice Coffee with whisky. 
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Happy kid. 
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A very ‘haram’ doll to have. 
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She is showing the area where she used to stay during her study. 
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She say “Stop, this one not so nice!”
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Then she go and pose with my girlfriend. She used to stay with the aunty during her study years. They still kept in touch with each other. 
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Afterward, she brought us to Kek Look Tong caves. This one is interesting and its not a temple but maintained by the Kek Look Tong temple. 
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Fishes!!!
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The cave interior.
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The cave entrance view from inside. 
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I just love the juxtoposition of the nature and the man-made structure. 
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Very peaceful ambiance here. 
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The hotel pantry that we are staying is lovely. All the furniture from the table to our bunk bed seems to be custom made. Would love to know the architects and designer involved in doing this. 
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Ban Loong Hotel, and the price is affordable and the location is just strategic. 

 

After our 1 night trip at Ipoh, it’s time to head back to her hometown at Negeri Sembilan. Its a long ride and her father had to come to Ipoh to accompany her back, but she still drive all the way to Bahau. There is a lot to look forward to in Bahau and it was enjoyable as usual. The next morning, they decided to go for shopping at Tampin area. The shopping outlet is similar to the Design Village in Penang.

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I really miss the coffee. 
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Check out the Banner. 
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If you arrange simple object in pattern or grid, chances are the pattern would look nice. 
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1Malaysia. 
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This is a proper family photo. 
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We take a look inside the famous A’famosa resort and theme park. Its big and they told me how the place used to be so nice. I heard about it since I was in high school but got the chance to visit it. It was a short pass by inside the area so couldn’t see much of the resort. 
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Bahau have a nice roti canai and coffee place. A must visit. 
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Check out the roti canai that we ordered. 

On the next day, it was weekend and they decided to bring me for a trip to Malacca. Its actually just an hour drive to Malacca and on the way, we stop by to get breakfast and lunch at Malacca. Oddly enough, many store were close and all the place that visit is either overpriced or full of tourist.

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Rojak Negeri Sembilan. Very similar to those I usually had at Sabah southern area. 
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People with their morning routine I guess. 
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Enjoying Kopi-C and Rojak in the morning. 
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Happy Uncle. 
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One of the place where we visit is the Malacca Chief Minister official residence. Which is open to the public for a month as a way to promote the new goverment with its people. 
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Too much tourist. Local and foreign alike. 
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The house lobby. Again full of people. 
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One of the quest bedroom. Such furniture. No one died here. 
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Of course, being in such luxury mansion will see many of the tourist that will pose with anything. Even with a plastic flower from Daiso. 
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And in front of the master bedroom mansion. 
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And it become a nice place for photo shooting. 
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or family portrait. 
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The porte cochere of the mansion. 
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The water landscape behind the mansion. 
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The official car for the Chief Minister. 
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The driver and the passenger. 
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I never got to this place before during my visit to Malacca. But they say the Peranakan cooking and cookies are good. 
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But as usual, it’s full of people. 
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Peranakan style Bak Chang. What is left of it. 
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More people taking the Bak Chang. 
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More people waiting for the Bak Chang. 
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And we arrived at Brazil. 
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That day we spent so much time to actually look for parking and places to eat where we ended up going around the area. Still, it was fun and we were wondering as well why Malacca is so packed with people this time of the day. 

Going through the day, it was fun. After our trip from Malacca, we return back to Bahau later that evening. It only took an hour or so to reach Malacca which is not that far even for my standard. There is only a few days left before my flight back to Labuan and therefore I intend to enjoy my stay at my girlfriend hometown.

On the next afternoon she told me that we should go on hiking at Bukit Taiso (not Daiso). The trail is something that her mum told me few days ago but I have no idea how high or difficult the trail is. But according to my girlfriend, based on her childhood memory, it’s not that difficult. Therefore, for the first time in my life I went into a jungle trail (Palm plantation area to be precise) with a newly bought slippers. It was a funny and exhausting experience (due to my lack of fitness) but at the end it was rewarding. The view from the top is beautiful where the sky is full of orange purple hue while at the same time accompanied by someone that I love.

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First stop during hiking. At this time we were wondering if we are even half-way there. 
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Bukit Taisho, not Daiso. 
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The peak of the trail. Maintained by the local community I believe. 
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Fun fact, Negeri Sembilan used to be the former Barisan National Stronghold before they lose terribly during the recent General Election causing even the beloved for N9 CM Dato Sri Hasan to lose at his own area. 
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Still catching her breath. 
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Hikers gather at the top bringing their friends and family. Look at the view and color. 
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Checking out the view. You can actually see her home from here. If not for the haze. 
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A new Malaysia. 

 

So the day finally arrive, the day where I need to be away from my girlfriend for the next few months. I finally got a taste of her breakfast, the last time he serve me is okay-okay only but this one is good. The egg was fluffy and the salmon is nicely cooked. Afterward they rush me to the bus station as I will be going to KL to meetup with my sister.

The time away will be spend with my family for sure but in the next few months, my time will be for the future. I will be returning to Peninsular Malaysia soon where I will be working temporarily before continuing my master study.

Until then, see you guys.

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Setting up the breakfast, Masterchef Chin Xin style. 
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Looks okay, but taste great. 
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Our selfie together before taking the bus. She told me that we didn’t take much picture together. 
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This face expression I don’t know what it is for. 
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Saying goodbye to my little piggy. 

 

 

 

Thailand Trip 2015 [THROWBACK]

Thailand Trip 2015 [THROWBACK]

   As everyone was busy preparing for Chinese New year that year, I finally got the opportunity to travel to Thailand for a week, alone. Getting a day off from my work was difficult as the office was busy in the previous year. The only way to take a long leave is by waiting for this kind of public holiday and luckily Malaysia has tons of it.

   My first choice was to travel to Hong Kong or Taiwan but luckily Zhuang Wu Bin told me that he will be involved in Chiang Mai very first photo festival as a curator. Chiang Mai is one of the states in Thailand and when he told me that it will be cheap and fun to go there by train, I was basically convinced.

   To begin with, I really didn’t do much study on Thailand or Bangkok before going there. The only thing that I prepared was some map that I photocopy from Lonely Planet book and the train ticket that Wu Bin send to me from Chiang Mai.

   To be honest, I did study the interesting place to visit in Bangkok but none of it seems to be that interesting. So I decided to skip all the famous tourist spot and instead, take my own time walking around the city at my own convenience. But I really do wanna visit the famous (infamous?) Thailand Go-Go Bar.

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From Labuan to Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok. That girl was not waving toward someone. 
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Arrived at Dong Mueng Airport. 
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My first impression of Thailand. 
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A 20 minutes ride to my hostel. The driver was friendly though. 
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22km ride per litre of fuel. Impressive. 
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One of the cat in the hostel. 

   When I arrive at my hostel, I was hungry. 7Eleven was everywhere but the sandwich price is ridiculous when I convert it. So I decided to eat the local food which is Sticky Rice with Spicy mango and sliced beef. It was good but extremely spicy.

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I thought this dog was a rag. 
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First food in Thailand. 
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See how impressive the ingredient is, and the amount of Chili. 
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They have different menu in the morning. 

My train was in the evening around 6pm so I have plenty of time to explore the Chinatown. I notice on the map that there is some temple near the area so there I go.

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Jaywalking in Bangkok. 
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Better than Penang mural art. 
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You can tell that you are in Thailand. 
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Since I was staying in Chinatown, the place is full of Thailand Chinese. This scene feels like Kuala Lumpur petaling street. 
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I still feel like I was in Petaling Street. 
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This is so KL. 
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Not sure if its a missing person poster, or a congratulatory poster.  
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The temple is stunning. 
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The temple is famous for it Golden coated buddha statue. This three statue is not it. 
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This is the real Gold coated buddha statue. 
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I find the texture interesting. I believe that is a mercedes benz. 
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Street of Bangkok. 
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Vandalism 
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Crossing the road. 
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On the way to train station. 
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This is my platform according to my ticket. 
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I love the light here. 
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People waiting for their train. 
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That is my only bag that I bring along for the trip. 
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Family from French. 
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My food for all my train ride in Thailand. 
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A group of Germans. 
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This is my bunk bed. 

  The experience in waking up inside a moving train in the morning was surprisingly pleasant. It was cold but not noisy, it was shaky but not horribly shaken. Overall, it was just like another day in the morning except that you need to wash your head/face in the small train toilet.

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Brushing my teeth in front of this guy. 
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That is the logo for Thailand Railway. 
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Early morning with instant coffee. He like it. 
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My ride to Chiang Mai University. 
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On the way. 
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Chiang Mai street food. 
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This is the Main entrance for Chiang Mai University. 
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My ride for the day. 
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Peacock for a pet. Saw this at WuBin place. 
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A home for the god. 
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It is actually pretty cold despite the picture. Temperature is around 28 degree celcius. 
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Community store. Check out the design.
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Its not just a store selling local products but also house a coffee shop. 
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Apparently the university is organizing some sort of a events for the students. Its big. 
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One of the reason for me to visit Chiang Mai. 

 

   The whole point of the trip was to actually learn and observe new photography material and culture from South East Asia. Seeing first hand on how they organize a photo festival from a real photography and art curator perspective was the ideal timing for as I was at that time involved in a way in organizing a Photo Festival in Sabah. Which is successfully organized by my friend, do check the festival out, kinabaluphotofestival.com)

 

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This was a selected work from Asean brightest young photographer. 

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This was a selected picture from Korea and Hong Kong (I think) 

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This was interesting. I believe you do a google search about the writing. The work selected here is curated by Zhuang Wu Bin.

 

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Geric Cruz work from Philippines. 
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This series was taken with Holga. 
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Documenting the rubber industry in Thailand (or was it Cambodia) 
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Awesome series. 
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This series was awesome as well. Not sure about the subject but was it border patrol or prison guard. 
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Mr Zhuang Wu Bin took a rest while overlooking the exhibit. This was taken before the opening tomorow. 
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I got the tote bag though. 

 

   The exhibition was simply mind blowing. The image showcased in the exhibition is very impressive and I was lucky that WuBin was there explaining stuff around regarding those pictures he curated. Afterward I believe we went around and went on to welcome one of Wu Bin acquaintance from Indonesia, Deden Durahman.

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This was some bakery selling organic bread and drinks. 
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Zhuang Wu Bin work on the Chinese in South East Asia. 
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Always put your awesome printed picture in Hahnemuhle paper and put it in a tin box. 
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Dinner with Pak Deden and Kak Rita.
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This is some serious talk. I couldnt keep up as it was too deep. 

My second morning in Chiang Mai was spent cycling around the old city area, which is basically in the middle of Chiang Mai. I also notice that it is very difficult to find public toilet in Chiang Mai, not to mention a thrash can.

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You know the love their king. 
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Part of the old city wall. 
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Check out my bicycle. 
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Morning Yoga. 
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Yoga seems like a good activity to do here in this park. 
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Opening of the Chiang Mai House of Photography. 
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MAC.

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Not many people know how to use apple product. 

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I still want this cap. 
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Admiring the architecture. 

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Teacher Kui showing me around that day. 

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One of the many events that day. This one is the open public talk featuring Benz Thanachart. He was famous recently for taking picture inside a train for screaming random words. 
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Apparently, he is also famous among the youth. Those line there is all his fan waiting to have a sign on their book. Equivalent to Malaysian Matlufthi. 
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Deden Durahman told me that “In order for a photograph to exist longer in this world, you need to pair it with a writings. Which this guy has actually done.”
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Would buy if this book is translated into English. 
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They are buying some wines for tonight!. 
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Leading the way. 
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An opening to one of the photography student exhibition. 
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This series was about Equality I believe. 
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He was more into street fashion shooting. 
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A friend was giving her some flower, I just took a picture. 
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Her series is probably the most honest of all during the exhibition. Its about her relationship with her dog. She explain to me in fluent english and I think she thought I was someone important as I was tagging along with their lecturer and their quest. 

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And the say Malaysia censorship is the worst. 

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I learn how to differentiate different types of wine that night. 
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Last picture for the night. This guy is all lecturers for Chiang Mai University. 

   And after the last picture, I was drunk as hell and probably embarassing myself by talking something unrelated to their topic. Went to WuBin place to get my bicycle and there I go cycle back to my hotel which is half an hour from his place.

For the first time in my life, I am cycling drunk alone in a foreign city in a cold 24 degree celcius weather. Safe to say that I arrive safely but of course, by taking some wrong turn along the way.

The next morning I decided to went back to Bangkok, I took some breakfast with Wu Bin and say goodbye to my host. It was a great experience overall.

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Short meet-up. Still like the cap. 

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Chiang Mai train station. 

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You can tell that they are locals. 

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Sink for the entire cabin. 

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Boobs. 
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F/22 and be there. 
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This was the restaurant. They say the coffee was good but I havent try it.
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And this was probably the most interesting experience during my 1 week trip in Thailand. I forgot his name but he really loves everything about America. We start our conversation regarding his burger and how the American burger was the best. 
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Apparently he also have some deep interest in Cowboy culture and somehow has a theme park or hotel that is full of cowboy stuff. He gave me a brochure to his place but I seem to misplaced it. 
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He was showing his ring and hats. 
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And he somehow met his old friend. 
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This guy. 
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They were speaking in Thai so I dont really understand but he was actually wanted to show him his new charm to his friend. 
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Apparently he got it recently from a temple in Chiang Mai and then pass it to me to have a look. 
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He also told me that the wood is  carved by an expert craftsmen to create that buddha charm which then he covered in epoxy. 
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Kinda surprised when he pull out that magnifying thingy. 
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An an agreement was made. Although I believe he just gave it to his old friend. 
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The conductor decided to join their talk. 
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Apparently this guy wearing the flowery t-shirt is a retired train conductor of the exact train that I was riding. Those two girls was actually his juniors before he retired recently. 
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I have no idea what it was. All I can do is smile and laugh. 
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Before going to bed, I say good night to the uncle. After that, he gave me this piece of wood that he used to make his charm. It smells good and told me that it was the same wood that people used to make incense. He told me to find a good craftsman and make something out of it according to my zodiac. I still keep it inside my bag to this day. 

Woking up in the morning made me realize that I missed Chiang Mai cold winter season weather (they call it winter but they also say the summer season is hell). So as I arrived in Bangkok, I decided to walk all the way to my new hostel. It was stupid as I ended up getting lost for 2 hour before actually reaching my hostel. My internet data was lousy and I couldn’t read Thailand.

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She havent shower since yesterday. 

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Early morning and people went to work. 
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I like the color here. 
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Thailand have some issue regarding electrical wire management. 
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THAILAND.
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Street of Bangkok. 
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In front of Bangkok Art Museum. 
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Shopping mall in Bangkok is so advance that they have showroom selling Bentley, Roll Royce, Lamborghini and even porsche inside their shopping mall. 

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A decent lunch. 
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The american lady that really like to look down on Asian. She say her jewelry is confiscated after arrived in Thailand which makes no sense. 
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Near the Stadium. 

I was really hoping to visit one of the closest Go-Go bar but after walking non-stop since morning, I was basically exhausted. I slept early around 9pm and ended up waking up in the morning, just in time for check out and took a taxi to the airport.

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Thailand taxi driver is very friendly. All smile. 
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Exchanging my leftover Baht. 
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Good bye Thailand. It was nice. 

   After my Thailand trip, I was planning to save up some money for a trip to Japan. But opportunity shows up and I went to continue my study in Penang. What I learn from the trip was humility in general. Thailand people are surprisingly friendly and somehow resilience in nature. We could learn a lot from them, just check out their creative talent, they are amazing.

PENANG : AN OBSERVATION | Part 1

PENANG : AN OBSERVATION | Part 1

   Its been a few years since I continued my studies in Penang. While the Island has changed in many way since my last visit many years before. The underlying culture that makes Penang interesting remained the same.

As the title suggest, this series is mainly just an observation on the place that I have visited around Penang island and in no other way were it meant as a reference towards the Island as a whole. In the recent year, the Island has been promoted intensively as a street food heaven by the local government and with their successful bid in making their city area a UNESCO Heritage site, the Island has been striving with tourism investment.

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Murals are everywhere. They even have a printed guide that you can pick up from the airport and hotels. 

Going around the town shows tons of murals made by local and foreign artist and this itself was created under the government initiatives of promoting Penang as an Art and Cultural hub in the country. Obviously, this bring tons of cultural events that has attract the attention of the international community.

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The street is not as hectic as Kuala Lumpur but its still relatively busy in view. 

But, despite all this, the island still retain its cultural value pretty well despite the rapid urbanization that is ongoing throughout the island. Exploring the small detail of the island will still surprised some seasoned traveler I believe.

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Stuff that you will find around the alley of the Georgetown shophouses. 
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An offering to the god/deities I believe. 
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Penang beloved Chief Minister. Symbol of Penang.

   Although Penang is majority occupied by the Bumiputera, the Island town area is predominantly Chinese and Indian Muslim. This can be seen on the daily activities and the annual celebration held throughout the year. The street would be filled with offerings and road are sometimes closed for this special occasion. Still its a sight to experience yourself.

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I forgot what they call this but its literally everywhere during certain season of the years. 
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Sending offering to the deities. 
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At Kek Lok Si temple. 
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Fun park somewhere around Queensbay mall. 
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Fishing near the first Penang bridge.