FROG HILL, Penang Mainland

FROG HILL, Penang Mainland
Hair flippin before taking instagram worthy picture. 

   I believe it’s been a few months since we went out together while visiting some new places with our cameras. Studio projects and random assignment has kept us busy over the past few weeks in which I believe are heard from time to time again in this blog.

Last year we did plan to visit this old abandoned mining place at mainland Penang as she has been there with her friends and calling it a ‘beautiful’ place with ‘blue’ colored pond. True to her word, a random google search proves that it is indeed a beautiful location but I couldn’t find any clue on why it’s called Frog hill, the actual hill doesn’t even look like a frog in the slightest.

So chances came by when we happen to source our timber material for a project over at Penang mainland in which Frog Hill is only half an hour away from the shop that we were about to visit. Since we did plan to visit the place before, its a quick decision to drive straight to the area. (We got lost, thanks to a Pak Cik for the direction)

If you are wondering where is this place, I suggest you google it yourself. This blogpost (or this blog) is never about the place but more on my personal visual experience organized into a blogpost.

I think she was saying why do we need to climb this hill. 
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She were complaining that the surface is slippery as well. 
And this one is about the rock being sharp. 

   Finding the area is a bit difficult but I leave the fun to you guys if you happen to be visiting that place. The road leading to the site is covered in red colored soil and it will soon lead you to one of the nicest man-made landscape that you can find in Penang (not the Island).

Climbing it is not as difficult as shown in the picture, any decent human capable of taking 2 flight of staircase would survive the climb easily. The only concern is whether you are able to hold the urge to dive straight into the crystal clear water that surround the area. But from what I heard, the water is unsafe for your skin due to the high level of alkaline. (which I highly doubt)

This one is for instagram. In celebrating that small climb I suppose. 

The landscape is pure eye candy and luckily the weather is slightly cloudy which is nice. With the pond crystal clear with slight green tint and a rather awesome rocky landscape, Its only a matter of time before someone close it from the public.


Just imagine that the dark part is green and the shiny area is tinted blue. 
An attempt to admire the detail of the landscape. 
Someday I gonna go down there exploring the area with a tripod in hand. 

  We spent about an hour and a half but most of the time was spent sitting down admiring the landscape while having some silly talk. Its a very secluded area with rarely anyone passing by. But still there was a few visitor who came to the hill and taking some picture before they left.

The only steep part that we need to climb to get the highest vantage point possible.
Our car and the landscape. With tiny human for scale. 

Overall, it was a great experience. The place is beautiful and hopefully will be preserve well for the future. The only regret is that I dont have any black and white film for my Leica hence this series of picture in monochrome taken using my girlfriend Nikon.


For more information about this place, just google. Its worth it.

Queen of the world

FUJIFILM XT20 – An hour with XT20

FUJIFILM XT20 – An hour with XT20

I rarely had the urge to write something about a camera that I try before but this one is an exception as I felt that there is a few points that I need to put out.

A week ago, Fujifilm did a camera hands-on session which include a small street photography workshop done by one of their brand ambassador (I think). To be honest I do not expect much from the workshop but the chance of trying out Fujifilm high end equipment on the street of Georgetown is much more interesting, and it’s free.

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Fujifilm XT20 – the camera that I tried for an hour. 

Ever since I continue my study in Penang, I never got the chance to explore the street of Penang as much as I thought I would be. Project submission and curricular activity has made me very occupied throughout the week. So this is like killing two bird with one stone, a chance to explore Georgetown with a better camera and to actually try Fujifilm recent offering.

Since it’s free and doesn’t seems to restrict only to Fujifilm camera user. I decided to give it a go.


The event was held at Gayo Cafe, next to the Chinahouse. A cafe that doesnt seems to bother to check their location on facebook, which made many of us late for the event as we scramble to find the exact location of the cafe.

As I was late, the talk already gone through halfway and the place was literally packed with people. The talk was done by Thomas Phoon where he gave a basic introduction on street photography.

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Street photography talk by Thomas Phoon. 

Street photography in general is a very difficult genre to dissect. Even the speaker try to keep it simple while at the same time entertaining to the crowd. It keep up with the basic approach to street photography while at the same time showcasing why Fujifilm X series camera are the best camera for street photography.

But I am not expecting a talk from Alex Webb here.


The only experience that I had with Fujifilm camera before is their X100 model. A camera which I was planning to get before getting a second hand Sony a900.

But that was back in 2012, where the autofocus was not up to standard and the control is a bit tedious compared to what I heard recently. For this session I was hoping to try the X-pro2 or the X100F in which I was unlucky as I was one of the last few at the back of the line.

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Due to my phone camera quality, the thing that the girl was holding is actually the Xpro2 Graphite. 

So for this, I have to settle with the Fujifilm XT20 with some random zoom lens that is left with them. The girls in front of me manage to use the Xpro2 Graphite, damn.

We left our MyKad with the organizer before taking the camera off to the street of Georgetown. I also ask one of the brand representative to teach me how to use the camera and to adjust the setting in which I find the camera control to be similar to my Olympus OM-1.


After a 10 minutes of basic Fujifilm camera session with one of the Fujifilm representative, I head out with the usual intention of taking photograph of whatever that I deem interesting.

This is also a good way to try the camera where in the recent year, saw many hardcore Nikon and Canon enthusiast to switch to the X-series system. On first impression, the camera control is pretty direct and simple with most of the necessary control are put on top of the camera plate. The most noticeable difference compare to the usual DSLR is the classic look of the camera which resembles the SLR back in the 70’s from the like of Olympus OM and Pentax LX. The camera is also surprisingly solid with the lens built quality is stunning, similar to a solid classic analog lenses made from stainless steel. Even though my loan lens had some used mark here and there.

You can refer to more information on XT20 at, as this blog is never meant for a scientific camera review. I used to like Fujifilm for its 400H Pro film.


One of the first frame that I took after I went out from the Cafe. Autofocus is blazing fast, no complain on that matter. 
I believe I was struggling with the EVF response rate. The camera has a rather annoying turn on rate when I switch from using live view to the EVF. Perhaps there is a problem with the sensor. Solved the problem by using only EVF for the entire time. 
So while testing the camera, I bump into my long lost senior back when I was studying for Diploma. On a side note, the camera retain the highlight details perfectly well and this is converted from RAW. 
I think this stray dog develop a sort of bond with the community. So chill. 
I was hoping for a Daido Moriyama kind of head turn from the dog. But no. Again, the camera retain great detail from this image file. 
Chill dog, enough said. 
The camera is not exactly discreet but the shutter sound is definitely quieter than what I am used to. The guy was talking something about California.  
More chit-chat on California. 
His name is Syed Mahathir. I did chat with him for a while. Wish to talk more but I am in a rush to return the camera soon. 
More people on bicycle around Georgetown. Again, great detail and sharpness from the camera. Wish I have some spare 8K under my pillow. 
Miscellaneous item. 
I wish to take this one with my TLR but somehow the shutter is stucked few days ago. 
One final picture before I return the camera. The kid was cute as she pose for her mum. Should have try a higher ISO for this. 


In general, mirrorless camera is a very viable option as a serious workhorse camera. For me that is. But this is not a surprise considering that Sony has somehow conquer the market with its mirrorless full frame camera, the RX1r and A7 series camera.

My point here is that I used to have some doubt on mirrorless camera, not in term of image quality but more on the actual shooting performance and I am glad that the technology for the camera is getting better.

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They were giving out comment on a selected 2 image from the outing. The selected 2 image were given some sort of prize. But the first selected image is interesting though. 
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The end of the workshop. 

In this day, most digital camera is a good camera. With only differences is more on the features than the actual image quality. For a starter the only thing that I find irritating with the camera is only the following (nothing serious) ;

  1. The EVF still could not replace the actual experience of using a viewfinder. Which I believe the X100F or Xpro2 suits me more. I am the kind of person who use viewfinder most of the time.
  2. The organizer doesn’t even bother to provide a neckstrap for their camera. So basically you are carrying 7K equipment around the area by holding onto the expensive lens.
  3. I just wish to try the Xpro2 instead. 😦

Given the opportunity, I wouldnt mind using the XT20 all year long. Its a great camera with tons of feature but so far, I am impressed.

As for the event, I believe it was a success. I consider myself a neutral when it comes to camera brand but Fujifilm did a good job on this and they even have a free meal.

Looking forward for a Leica camera hand-on test in the future. Hopefully.


A day with a professional photographer : Shamshahrin Shamsudin

A day with a professional photographer : Shamshahrin Shamsudin

Labuan have been blessed with a couple of exciting photography event this year and I am truly grateful when Rahman Roslan decided to visit Labuan for a photography talk after being invited by our local photography group. Whatever the reason is, having his very own ‘sensei’ coming to Labuan for a Photojournalism workshop is indeed exciting. This is the guy who is responsible in guiding some of Malaysia very own young photographer into an award winning photojournalist while at the same time, involved in almost everything related to Malaysia photojournalism industry. So, what happen when this iconic figure came to Labuan for a 2 days of Photojournalism workshop?, lots of laughter and serious idea exchange.


I present you, Shamshahrin Shamsudin, one of Malaysia veteran news photographer who is comparable to the like of Bazuki Muhammad and Jimin Lai.

The Photojournalism workshop was organized by photography group from Kota Kinabalu and was fully supported by the photography community in Labuan. The 2 days program consist of theory lecture, photo presentation, practical exercise and a photo review session. Its an intensive full day event that saw Shamshahrin being busy for the entire day and many didn’t want to missed the chance to ask him for his word of wisdom.

0039Impromptu group photo during the last day of workshop.

Most of the participant are coming from Brunei, Labuan and Sabah, and most of them are working either as a lecturer or as a professional photographer. Although the workshop starts on 2 November, most of us have decided to meet up a day before the workshop and hang-out at their homestay near Labuan Financial Park. It was a good idea as it allow most of us to catch up with  everyone and at the same time, having a nice chat with out workshop tutor before tomorrow workshop.

0008Heated discussion in session.

Everyone seems excited in meeting Shamshahrin, especially one of my friend who have been a fan of news photography especially those coming from Reuters and AFP. They manage to spark some serious discussion with Shamshahrin and to make the atmosphere much more interesting, I even put a bit of effort in bringing some photobook for sharing. There was a lot of question raise on photography ethic (even with the recent World Press Photo of the year issue) during their discussion but seeing Shamshahrin having his hand full with other people, I realized that I might not have the chance to ask him for his opinion on some of the question that I have listed in my mind but chances appear during midnight where everyone is trying to take some rest for tomorrow and again, somehow I manage to pull Shamshahrin all the way until 2 in the morning, and to be fair, here is some of the point that I manage to discuss with him;

On approaching a project.

One of the thing that I  ask him is on how to develop a good photography project. His answer was calm and short, find an interesting story to tell and just keep on shooting.

Our discussion was a bit loose and I couldn’t grasp the whole point that he mentioned but I’ll try to write it down nevertheless. According to Shamsharin, photography project (Documentary photography) can be divided into 3 which is Poetic, Narrative, and Thematic. Every approach is hugely depended on the photographer themselves and its up to us to know or identify the main objective of our project.

Poetic is probably one of the most abstract in terms of approach and usually could be identify through its ‘artistic’ approach. One of the best example on this is probably those from Jacob Aue Sobol, Antoine D’Agata  or Martin Parr. Poetic usually involves a high level of thinking in terms of its artistic approach but nevertheless, its one of the most exciting to look at on any gallery wall.

Narrative is one of the most common approach in most photography project where it rely on its proper picture sequence or script to tell a story. Although it usually isn’t fixated on certain type of picture, the aim is always to give the whole story to work as a conclusion. I couldn’t remember the name of the photographer that Shamsharin told me to refer to but I believe it was some South East Asia photographer.

Thematic, on the other hand is a photography approach based on a certain theme and usually it involves a wide range of subject matter. I remember that Shamsharin told me that this kind of approach require a lot of research and dedication as it usually takes years to complete such project to perfection. One of the best example is Ian Teh on his lovely story on China Industrial landscape and Andri Tambunan on the HIV victim at Papua, Indonesia.

The discussion is pretty deep and I really regret that I didn’t try to take down some notes but I couldn’t really help it even if I wanted to as there was a lot of stuff that was mentioned here and there. I did told him that I plan to make a project with ‘Labuan’ as its main subject but he told me that it depends on what kind of story that I want to tell. If its revolves around economy or history, then I need to take some time to do a proper research because taking picture is easy but what binds the whole picture together is the research.

0005I brought about 10 different photobook that night. 

0006Jebat even brought his copy of Kevin WY Lee recent work, Bay of Dream. Awesome project and print quality, as expected from the Invisible Photographer himself.

0010Someone is telling their experience from travelling to China recently while comparing it to Hajime Kimura works.

0007Flipping through Kosuke Okahara magazine.

The following days were a bit more different but as the workshop progress over the day, it become much more casual than I expected. The first day is more on theory, an introduction to Photojournalism. Shamshahrin manage to explain it in a clear manner in which everyone could easily grasp some of the complicated part in differentiating Photojournalism from other photography genre. It was a great session nevertheless.

0014One of the most excited participant of the day.

On the second day,  there was a practical session along with some photo review to conclude the photography workshop. To be honest, I joined the workshop in a hope to learn something new (which I truly did) but its not because I wanted to become a photojournalist in the future (who knows right?) but more to gain extra knowledge on the true definition of news photography and how to clearly differentiate a certain genre in photography. Shamshahrin did point something on my work when I show him my portfolio but his response was like ‘meh’ and he told me to just keep on taking pictures and try to develop a good story out of it.

Another friend of mine received a rather special attention from Shamshahrin but I am not surprised because his work is really impressive (plus he even prepared a series of slideshow for comment complete with title and description). I even learn something from listening to his comment on my friend work so again, it was worth it.

0024 0026 0027There is some interesting story to tell during the second day of the workshop (practical session). One of the main point that we were told during the workshop is that news photography is all about the content and its story value, and the funny thing is that, there was a fire accident at the village nearby during the practical session. It was pretty rare for Labuan to have such emergency case but it give us a nice experience to be able to take picture alongside one of Malaysia top photojournalist under a real-life scenario. By the time we were at the scene, the fire have already took out several houses while the firefighter is busy containing the fire from spreading to the nearby area. The experience was indeed something that we wouldn’t forget.

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Overall, the workshop is truly amazing. It strengthen my belief in my own photography skills and at the same time, it gave me a better understanding on Photojournalism. There was a lot of interesting idea exchange during the whole workshop and it truly is as some of participant is coming from different background. All us learn a lot from Shamshahrin and hopefully I could meet up with him again in the future.

So what did I learn from the workshop?, Patience!. Patience is what differentiate a good photographer and a normal photographer. According to Shamshahrin, there is no such thing as luck. Luck is something we could create if you are prepared for it but every person have their own definition on luck though.

And here’s some interesting quote from him during the workshop, and a damn good one as well – “A picture worth a thousand words, that is true, but then again, it should only apply to news photography and not on every photography genre or story.”



“Never go alone if you were shooting around Petaling street!, someone just got murdered over there a few months ago.” those were the word that my old physic teacher told me during my stay at his house in Kuala Lumpur. “You better off by wearing a cap, you look to much like a tourist without it.” he further added. That was the first advice that my teacher actually gave to me when I told him of my interest to explore Kuala Lumpur all by myself.

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Some antique foreign money that is on sale

Kuala Lumpur has always been a fascinating place for me ever since I was young. Its a place that represent Malaysia on international level and I always thought it was the most advance city in the whole Malaysia. I have never consider it as a dangerous place before and that is until I have seen the street life of Kuala Lumpur with my own eyes. Its Crowded, hectic, and heavily congested. The scene changes within a specific period of time where office worker commute their transit via the LRT in the morning to the joyous crowd at the Chinatown in the evening, its truly a sight to behold especially for someone who is used to the calm life in suburban area of Labuan.

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The view of the Maybank tower from my hotel window.

Over the year, there is one particular place that manage to slip through my list and that is the infamous Pasar Karat.

Pasar karat is more of a flea market that open during the weekend. From what I heard, It’s full of interesting character that is looking for a legit source of income, a place that is full of interesting character. I still remember the word from an old Chinese photographer that I met  years ago who used to shoot around the street of KL Chinatown, he did show me some of his picture from that area (which is not that impressive) and how he keep on mentioning that you need massive ‘balls’ to shoot around the area as it was guarded by a triad who have their own member guarding the area within a certain radius. The fact surprised me a bit but it doesn’t deter my curiosity to explore the area.

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A guy showing off the duck that he just prepared at the back of his restaurant, where Pasar Karat is actually located.

Even after the next few years, I couldn’t find this elusive Pasar Karat but eventually, I found it by accident and to my surprised, its just next to the hotel that I used to stay in Petaling Street. It was during the recent IPA KL Street Photography workshop and around that time, the street photography community is buzzing with the work by Che Ahmad from his ‘A Walk of Life’ series and some of the picture from the series was  taken at Pasar Karat. It was Che Ahmad (one of the mentor during the IPA Photography workshop) that pinpoint the location for me but I never really knew that it was that close to the place that I was staying.

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Street dentist service. Slightly unhygienic yet popular with the people due to the cheaper service fee compare to the Licensed and certified Dentist.

On the second day of the workshop, I decide to find the Pasar Karat as it seems to be an interesting place for our photo assignment (and to recreate CheMat iconic picture) and I have to be early as they only open within a certain period of time which is from 7am until 10am.

And guess what, it was really just down the balcony of the hotel that I was staying and soon I find myself immerse within the crowd of people;

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The moment when I realized that the Pasar Karat is just next to the hotel that I was staying.

The Pasar Karat is as mentioned earlier, a flea market that consist many people from all walk of life trying to sale something or simply looking for a bargain. Few minutes later I discover that the Pasar Karat stretch along the back lane of the shop houses near Petaling Street (i have no idea on the street name around Kuala Lumpur), which is truly interesting as it does seems to be full of potential for interesting story and picture ( I was participating a street photography workshop at that time).

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The busy crowd along Pasar Karat.

I was a bit hesitate whether I should pull my camera out and hang it around my shoulder but after I remember the story that the old Chinese photographer told me a few years ago, I decided to walk through the area just to get the idea on how the place actually work.

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I have a nice chat with them and they were joking on something which I couldn’t remember what, but something about animal.

The atmosphere is again, surprisingly familiar, and it feel pretty much the same as the busy hustle of Gaya Street at Kota Kinabalu. After a few minutes of walking, I couldn’t sense any malice from the people as the rumour were saying and every time I smile at them, they smile back. There is probably some slight misunderstanding with the people and soon I started to loosen up.

resize ipa 11One of the most friendliest guy that I met at Pasar Karat, he told me the medical benefits of the Lintah Gunung from Sabah.

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I am basically an introvert and some of the easiest way for me to start a conversation is by pulling out the camera which I personally believe, an all access passport/excuse to almost any situation that I could imagine.

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After a few conversation with the people along Pasar Karat, I finally realized something that people who sale their stuff along Pasar Karat doesn’t have any permit to sale on that particular area from DBKL. A guy that I manage to talk with told me that people over here often got chased away by DBKL (Dewan Bandar Raya Kuala Lumpur) and usually not in a friendly/polite manner. So its quite often that people mistaken someone with a camera as a DBKL officer in disquise, hence the usual warning to not take their picture.

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I did strike a long conversation with him and he was nice enough to reassure me that the place was actually very safe to what most people think off, but a bit of precaution wouldn’t harm anyway.

It is certainly nice to hear the other side of the story and after spending a total of 1 and a half hour around Pasar Karat, I manage to snag a few bargain on some old NGEO Magazine. If  people say that Pasar Karat is a dangerous place to visit in Kuala Lumpur, then they obviously never try to stand in the middle of the LRT track. Regardless of what other people have to say on Pasar Karat, I truly wish that DBKL have a proper way to handle some of the issue.

IPA KL 006

I really have no idea on what the guy was trying to say but he did mention that the girl in the picture was her daughter. (this is not from the same guy from the previous picture).

Pasar Karat is really an interesting place to visit and I really recommend people to visit that place although just try not to offend the people with your camera. The next time I visit that place, I will be sure to wake up a bit early. 🙂

MID 2013 Update

MID 2013 Update

Some people update their blog on weekly basis but I don’t really have such time to spend on writing. Some people would probably realize that my English grammar sucks in which I believe one of the reason on why I don’t like to update my blog as often as I would like. But nevertheless, this year prove to be another interesting year although I have a lot to catch up with my Architecture study.


To cut it short, recently I got myself a workshop grant from IPA (Invisible Photographer Asia) for one of their Street Photography Workshop at Kuala Lumpur. It was a workshop that was organize in conjunction with the closing of KLPA Winner exhibition at Galeri Petronas, KLCC.

It was my very first photography workshop and the entire 3 days of intensive photography workshop has given a huge impact on my photography journey. The whole workshop program was good for amateur (or advance) photographer and one of the thing that I was really looking forward to was meeting new people. Like most people, once you met someone that you have admire (celebrity or some sort) for a long time, you will lose your word even when you are facing them face to face. I am talking about world class photographer here, someone who have themselves established on international photography scene.


I met Ian Teh, Rony Zakaria, Andri Tambunan, Kevin WY Lee, Eiffel Chong, Ox Lee, Che Ahmad and many other photographer, who is mainly from Asian region. I want to ask a lot of question but I didn’t want to be a bother to them, knowing that most of them have probably more than 10 years in experience. I am an introvert by the way and sadly I couldn’t really apply my approach on street photography into a normal ice-breaking session.



The first day was great and somehow a bit overwhelming for me. I didn’t expect to be expose to a variety of new things such as a certain philosophy, ethic, issue and debate especially on street photography (and journalism). Some of the stuff that I was taught is nothing new for me but I never really apply it properly to my work. Kevin WY Lee has been very patient with me although I was hoping to learn more from him in the future.



The other great thing that I experience during the workshop is the fact that I manage to meet a few people that I have been following through online community such as Flickr and facebook. I met Nick Wade, a British who happen to work in Kuala Lumpur for the past few years and he is also a keen street photographer. Check out his work on Flickr, Nick is one of the tallest guy in the workshop, so it’s easy to spot him.


The other great highlight is after the workshop session. They always hang out at a certain restaurant all the way until midnight. It was pretty obvious that all of them know each other quite well which make it more awkward for me to approach every photographer personally. I was lucky that Andri Tambunan was one of the friendliest and most approachable  of the whole bunch, and like the other photographer that I met, I have also been following Andri work ever since his photography project was featured on IPA website last year.

He taught me a lot of stuff on editing and approaching a personal project while relating all the stuff that he explain to his project on the HIV Victims at Papua, Indonesia. (Which is awesome and he is making a limited run photobook as well).

Check out Andri Tambunan work at –


Another thing that I am looking forward to is getting a comment or critique on my current work. I have a group of people back at my hometown who I can rely to for a critique but they will always be a bit biased on their review as they are very familiar with my work. I wanted to show my work to a group of professional people so I prepared a a few  prints in a file holder.

And then they told me that it is better to show them in small prints of 4R or 5R as they can lay it out on a table while they could arrange it at will. It is also easier for them to pinpoint a certain picture as they can simply pick it up instead of flipping through the clear holder. Another new stuff that I learn and I will certainly keep that in mind in the future.

They give out a honest comment on my work which I truly appreciate plus they have somehow help me in finding my own true sense of photography style. I have show my work to at least 5 different photographer during the session and each one of them have different comment on my work. I have a list of their comment on my work which I have noted down after I got back to the hotel room, I will post it up in this blog someday.


After the end of the 3 days workshop, I learn a lot and by a lot I mean a LOT!!!. My head was constantly filled with thoughts and information in which I find it a bit hard to digest properly into my memory (even after the next few days). The workshop have provide me a boost of confidence on my capabilities as a photographer and it will certainly help me in becoming a better photographer in the next few years.

A few things that I learn which is worth mentioning is the fact that editing is an essential process for every photographer;

If you cannot edit your own work, you basically are admitting that you are unsure of what you are doing as a photographer, because your vision, the story you want to tell, is not clear to you. Of course, editing is difficult; but it is a fundamental part of shooting, of storytelling, and you cannot responsibly disavow your obligation to perform this final stage of the act of creating imagery. It is, in a sense, the second decisive moment in the process.” – Jon Anderson (Andri keep on stressing this quote into my head.)


And this is the picture that was taken by me  which is edited and sequenced by Ox Lee for the IPA KL Street Photography workshop. Surprisingly, he manage to sequence my picture into something interesting, something that I have never really thought was good in the first place. He select the similarity that was obvious from the whole file that I took for the workshop which is more on the ‘close-up’ and ‘Intimacy’. I receive a few comment (which I will keep it for myself) for the selected picture which I will improve in the future and I will certainly need to thanks Che’ Ahmad for all his advice and encouragement.


I really want to thank Invisible Photographer Asia for giving me the opportunity to learn with some of Asia finest photographer and hopefully I could meet up with you guys again in the future. But for now, I have to focus more on getting myself a proper website.

A day with a Professional Photographer : Rahman Roslan

A day with a Professional Photographer : Rahman Roslan

Labuan is usually one of Malaysia most isolated states and often ignored by most people other than those who are interested in  the business opportunity in Labuan (or cheap chocolate and booze).

Having a photography related event here in Labuan is quite rare as majority of the enthusiast photographer would rather rely on their peer or the internet community to learn something new. When I started photography, I have no one to rely to and most of the time I learn something new through online photography forum and from the local photography magazine. Of course, participating a photography workshop might help but there is none during my time and if there is, it would be to costly and usually somewhere further away from Labuan.

Over the past few years, the photography community around Labuan have become a bit more stronger than before, thanks to the affordable price of an entry-level camera. It is nice to see that finally, Photography is appreciated by people of Labuan and hopefully we could make it even better for everyone to enjoy.


One of Labuan most ‘active’ photography club manage to organize a photography talk where they invite a professional photographer to give a talk on his work experience and tips and trick in photography. I was expecting someone older but instead, I finally met one of the photographer that I have been following for years on wordpress, Rahman Roslan.

He is a 29 years old (I think I got his age right)  freelance photographer who work for a range of client but mostly news and documentary related assignment and one of his recent assignment is the Malaysia 13th General Election. The photo talk was interesting as he share some of his latest work from the recent Lahad Datu Standoff. The Lahad Datu incident draw a worldwide attention to that small part of Malaysia and he manage to interact with the military forces and also capturing the aftermath on the local surrounding. It gives us a thoughtful insight on the job risk and he was kind enough to give a few tips on how to avoid a certain misunderstanding when taking a sensitive picture; for an example, a pool of blood, corpse and even military officers.


His entire talk revolves around the idea of how photojournalist should try to put themselves within their given assignment. He keep pushing us, the participant to refer to someone outside their circle and forces us to look at the work of other famous photographer, particularly from Magnum Photos, AgenceVU, and Noorimages. Since he was talking something about Photojournalism, here is some of the tips that I manage to list out from his talk.

1) Photojournalism or Documentary photography is all about story telling, so make sure your photograph could speak for itself.

I consider this as one of the most important consideration for every photojournalist wannabe. A picture work better in a series and it tells a story in a more poetic way. Rahman was kind enough to comment some of my work and although he noted my keen sense of details and aesthetic vision, he thought that most of my picture didn’t actually tells a ‘story’, apart from being visually interesting.

His word have somehow struck the inner soul within me and hopefully I could capture a much vocal picture in a way that it is related with the project that I have been aiming. to complete.

2) Learn from various kind of photographer, and Internet is your best friend.

Learning is a non-stop journey where we learn new stuff almost everyday. Internet has been a huge leap in helping photographer compared to the past few decades and we can get a good access to most photographer portfolios and communication is faster as email can be replied within hours.

I consider myself as a ‘stalker’, not in a perverted kind of way but I usually email the photographer that I admire (I did email Shinya Arimoto, Kosuke Okahara and a few other), especially if I have a certain question that I want to ask. Usually they reply in great manner and make sure you support them by buying one of their photobook. That way, you will appreciate their work more and learn something from their approach in photography.

That is the good thing about internet, so make good use of it.

3) Keep a good attitude and intention when approaching a subject and story.

Rahman was telling his story while he was taking some picture during the Lahad Datu incident for one of his assignment. He wanted to take a picture around the water village that involves the murder of a few Police officer, so the place is potentially dangerous as there was some illegal immigrant living around the area. But still, he believes that a good attitude and sincere intention will help in getting your story.

Body language is important and so does communication skills.


Later that evening, I manage to get a face-to-face photo review, which is awesome although I was not totally prepared. It was good to hear other photographer opinion on your work but I will keep all his word about my work for myself.


Thank you Rahman Roslan, for the great insight in the life of a freelance documentary photographer.  (I met him again during IPA Street Photography Workshop at Kuala Lumpur recently.)

Here is a link to some of his featured work and website – |

A rather Impromptu Outing in front of the UMS.

The day goes on as usual; nothing special. Facing the computer desktop for an hour is really tiring, that is until I notice my friend facebook status where he plan to sale his 18-105mm Nikkor. My current lens is not ‘okay’ to most people standard but I need to change it because the lens condition is getting horrible, not to mention that the lens is infested with fungus.

After I done with my work, I decided to join him on a photography outing at the beach near the Universiti Malaysia Sabah since he insist that he would let me try the lens before deciding to buy it. The lens was awesome, no complain at all but this is because I compare it with my current crappy lens. Hence, the biased opinion.

Here is a picture of an enthusiastic photographer, I don’t know what kind of picture that he is taking but at least he gave a very good picture for me.

I snap this while I was walking along the beach from the parking lot, I should revisit this place with a Flashgun.

Overall, meeting with my friend is a pure photography poisoning session where he let me try a wireless trigger which can take bulb exposure and even a fader filter where we could change the light stop at our own will. This picture was taken with an exposure of 2 minutes If I was not mistaken.