2017 has been that kind of year where you had been trying out many different thing but in the end it didn’t left you with much. It left me a bit unorganized and unprepared for the next venture but hell was it fun. By the end of the year, I notice that all this small tryout has somehow made me understand what I need to focus on more in 2018, whether its photography or architecture.
As for this year planning, I personally set to end one of my photography project if possible and preparing my own architecture portfolio before continuing my master study. It will remained to be seen if any of this will materialize but finger cross.
In the mean time, I need to get myself a new DSLR soon and I am also selling some of my ‘excess’ photography equipment on carousell, do check it out here -> Kelvin carousell profile.
For 2018, it’s probably the right time to appreciate those people that are close to you and treat them better in some sort. If possible, I would like to give advice to those that are younger than me that the final year of your study is just the beginning in the pursue of many thing. Life is rough and it is never is a fairytale.
Mid-semester break is definitely what every University student are looking forward to every semester. The 9 day of holiday away from tedious group assignment and laborious series of test and quizzes, mid-semester is truly a week of blessing to everyone especially for those who had been away from their family for a few months.
It’s the same for me although a week of holiday is probably better off spent by traveling around the peninsular side of Malaysia. It’s been like this since my Diploma years where the cost of my return flight ticket to my hometown is used to support my week long traveling to various places in peninsular Malaysia. Malacca and Kuala Lumpur is my favorite.
So when my mid-semester break is approaching, the thought of going somewhere interesting grew on me despite being drowned in the sea of endless assignment and project deadline. The list is endless (maybe not, as it’s capped off within a certain budget)
Go to Kuala Lumpur and spent time at Kinokuniya.
Go to Langkawi and spent days at the overprice hotel. But I thought it’s better to go there with friends.
Take a train Ride all the way to JB and then to Singapore before returning back to Penang on flight.(Good idea but didn’t have enough money)
Take a bus to the scenic route to Kelantan and Perlis through Kedah.
Maybe just stay in Penang and explore the area on bicycle.
I did a post on my facebook wall and a few friends notify me that they would be more than happy to meet up with me when I got to the places. So a long time friend that I got to know through our interest in photography had decided to bring me along to explore Kedah and Perlis. Last time I met him was years ago in Kuala Lumpur and it is great to have a true local to show me around the scenic view of Kedah. Surely this would turn out great.
Up until then, there was nothing solid being plan. All that I had decided is that it would be from Kedah and somehow afterward I gonna take the train to Ipoh and then Kuala Lumpur, all through the brand new KTM ETS train.
I bought the bus ticket a week earlier just so that I would not be disappointed for missing the bus ride as University students will be going back to their hometown by Bus and most of them are from Kedah and Penang, so go figure.
I woke up extra early than usual on that day while double checking my rucksack and camera bag, I also made sure that I bring some books to read along and it’s Haruki Murakami new book ‘Colourless’.
I took the morning bus to Alor Setar from Stesen Bas Sungai Nibong. Grab a quick Gardenia vanilla bun for breakfast before I went off across the Penang bridge and all the way to Alor Setar. Falling asleep was the easiest part when you only get a few hour of sleep before the trip.
Upon arrival, I was welcomed with the sight of newly refurbished bus station. The big steel structure consisting of a series of repetitive steel trusses covering the entire area which seems to be recently painted new. It was few hour past afternoon and after meeting up with Akmal at the bus station entrance, we decided to get some lunch before heading somewhere else.
Kedah has a spectacular scenery. I knew it from the words that my friends has told me, they say the paddy field seems endless over the horizon and it is true. A glistening green field with a patch of solid limestone hill along the foreground. Certainly I wish to visit it again, as well as exploring the shorelines.
That evening, Akmal decided to bring me to some random places around the area as well as showing me how the paddy field actually work. It seems the layout is determine by the paddy field owner and each has its own name or code given. Can’t remember the detail for the name but the Kampung address is based on it.
I have another reason to visit Kedah other than to actually visit the Paddy Field. There is someone that I have been wanting to meet for so long and that is Mr Jusni. He is one of the person that has inspire me to widen my perspective on the world and he has consistently share the beautiful landscape of Kedah through Flickr. Without him, I won’t be taking photograph using film camera, and thanks to him, I am a fan of Olympus OM camera.
Akmal used to stay around Mr Jusni area and they are quiet close. He call Mr Jusni for some short teh tarik session and finally I was able to have a chat with him face to face. As expected, he is a great guy with a lot of experience. We also share similar passion on cycling and he did brag that Kedah is a good place for cycling.
Afterward, we decided to go back to and get some rest. We are staying at Akmal parents home for the night before going to Perlis or Perak tomorow morning. The hospitality that I received throughout that night was beyond on what I would expect, wish I could repay their kindness in someway. They also keep a lot of cat with many different unique character as well.
On the next morning, we already prepared for our trip to Perlis. The journey will take long hour and basically we are trying to find a way to keep the journey fun and interesting. Akmal did share his story on his hiking trip to Japan with the Ricoh GR and also some tips on how to travel to Japan for cheap. We discuss a lot about bagpacking and stuff but I do wish to visit that part of Japan someday. We spent a lot of time inside the car that day, a total of perhaps 6-7 hours where we eventually decided to go to Ipoh instead.
After spending hours inside the car accompany by Queen Bohemian Rhapsody album throughout the day, we finally reach Ipoh after a rather heavy downpour. Since it was late and we dont want to waste any money to stay at the hotel for one night, we decided to sleep in the car instead. It was a bit damp due to the weather but we slept through the night anyway due to being exhausted.
We woke up rather early that morning, I believe it is partly because it was uncomfortable and Akmal need to do his morning prayer. To be honest it was enough but Akmal seems to be rather okay about it, as expected from someone who loves camping outdoor. Afterward, we visit University Teknologi Petronas which is just next to the oil station that we parked for the night. Akmal is an alumni of that place and it is nice of him to show me around the area. The university building is designed by Lord Norman Foster from UK and this a very exciting building to observe. We did take our breakfast at the cafeteria though and that place is rather huge.
After a good walk around the University, we decided to grab our lunch at Ipoh for some of the famous Nasi Ganja. But of course not without visiting some of the interesting place in between. I did told Akmal that I enjoy looking at old abandoned kampung house and he did exactly that, we drive along this kampung area and there is so many thing to look at.
After we check-in at the nearby hotel in Ipoh, we decided to take some rest to make up for the lack of sleep last night. Afterward that evening we decided to walk through the town area and its amazing on what a few years could do to the area. The ugly empty landscape in front of the KTM station has become a great public space while the path towards the clock tower has been reworked somehow.
We take our late lunch nearby and then decided to stay at KTM station for the night just to immerse ourselves with the nice cheerful vibes around the area. The surrounding area is rather happening with parents bringing their kids while some people renting out rollerblades and hoverboard. I spent RM15 just to try the hoverboard around the area, I look like a giant kid among kids.
The initial idea was Kedah – Perak – KL – Penang, I already told Akmal about it and basically he is cool with sending me all the way to Ipoh. We bought the ticket earlier and there is only one ride left which is at 5:30am, it sold out quicker because tomorrow is Deepavali and that is a public holiday. I wish I could take breakfast before proceeding my trip to KL and accompany Akmal a bit before his ride back to Kedah. After saying goodbye to Akmal, I walk myself to the train station from the hotel.
I didn’t stop by to any place afterward, I just informed a few of my friend that I will be in KL for a short while. I decided to go to my favorite bagpacker hostel just to make sure that there will have a room for me. Surprised to find out that they remodel the ground floor into a nice Cafe with proper expresso machine and stuff, I didn’t try it during my stay though so can’t say how good it is.
I got a message from Nick that afternoon that he will be at his favorite bar at the Pavillion, its nice to catch up with fellow ‘Street photographer’ to chat on geeky stuff about photography.
Contrary to what people thought about me, I don’t drink as much as they think. I do enjoy alcohol but not to the point that I will passed out for no reason, unless there is someone that will take care of me. Nick brought Daphne along with Scott and it was an entertaining chat that we are having that night. Not sure on what but it was fun.
Fun until I have to walk to my hotel slightly drunk, but if I could cycle back to my hotel dead drunk at Chiang Mai, I can do the same at Kuala Lumpur by walking.
I remember that Nick told me last night that he will accompany me for tomorrow morning, I wish I could woke up early but being the student that I am, the earliest that I could was 9:30am. Nick brought me to a decent nearby stall at Petaling Street before we hit the street with our camera and stuff. Chasing shadow and light.
After a wonderful stay at Kuala Lumpur, it was time to say goodbye. It was great to catch up with some of them but the next time I visit KL, I will try to catch up with some old friend as well. For now, I will be going to KL Central to catch the evening ride to Penang. My luggage is getting heavier thanks to the loots that I bought from Kinokuniya.
The ride to Penang I believe will take at least 6 hour instead the usual 9 hour before they upgrade the train into the ETS. Train ride nowadays has become so comfortable that you could actually just sleep on your seat which is more comfortable than taking the aeroplane. The toilet is cleaner as well but the train ride that I took stop to many times for my liking, maybe I should make it clear that it’s not a non-stop train ride.
I arrived at Butterworth around 11:20pm, almost midnight. It took us another 20 minutes walk from the train station and maybe another half an hour for the ferry. The thing that I worried now is my transport back to my dormitory. Rapid Penang stop working by 11:30pm and I arrived at Georgetown at 12:10am. Go figure.
As I mentioned earlier, going back to my University in the middle of the night is one of the problem that I didn’t expect to encounter. My phone is so outdated and it couldn’t even install UBER or GRABCAR apps. For once, I have to rely on Taxi eventhough I knew it would be very expensive as hell.
It cost me RM35 to go back to the university eventhough I share the same taxi with some nice aunties who is concern on my safety and also on my wallet. God bless them but fuck the overpriced taxi driver.
After arrived safely at my room, I took the time to clear my bag and then took a long shower before hitting the bed. Until next time.
As it has always been, New Year celebration is pretty much the same each year with the only difference is whether you gonna celebrate it alone or with a random bunch of people, plus the economy outlook in Malaysia means that the fireworks won’t be as grand as the previous years.
I am currently writing this during my exam week. There is only one paper left and the gap in between allow me to focus on other stuff such as my design for a Timber design competition and other miscellaneous pending task that I should had finished last year.
If anyone wondering how I celebrate my New Year this time, it’s by being stuck in a UBER car for 1 hour and a half. We still manage to catch the firework though.
As for 2016, there has been a lot of realization and newly acquired responsibilities. I realized that if I were to be successful in the next few years, I need to change a lot in terms of my habit, sleeping late is certainly something that I want to reduce this year and so does keeping up with my fitness level. I also happen to be in relationship with a certain someone, which as sudden as it seems, was probably one of the best thing to happen in my life.
Photography wise, I believe I did became a little bit mature in approaching a story. There was a time before where I think the highlight on my journey in photography is by being able to present my work to a huge crowd of people. It’s an egoistic dream of course but I believe I had pass that phase last year, photography has always been about the content and story but less on the photographer.
And 2016 has also been a sad year for me as 2 of my main camera malfunction with the Ricoh GR suffer from the same lens mechanism error and the Sony a900 with its focusing motor problem. With my restricted student budget, I don’t think it is worth to get both of the camera repaired. So currently I am thinking of my future working setup and the camera will need to be well equipped than my Nikon D60. Some of the candidates are the Sony a600 and probably a Nikon D5500. Then again, maybe I just get a new lens instead or go fully analog with my Olympus OM-1.
As for some of my new year resolution;
Try to update my blog and instagram more.
Curate my online work properly.
Be more considerate.
Sleep less in a good way.
Eitherway, 2017 is the year where I will try to focus on the thing that are important to me the most. There has been time where I was distracted and somehow lose my sight on it. It should be another great year ahead with many stuff to explore and appreciate. Especially with my Rusa.
For those who know me personally, I am probably best described as that annoying bastard with a camera (probably). Clicking and snapping picture in random situation, like when its raining heavily and suddenly someone ran across the street without any umbrella!, its going to look nice on frame and guess who will be missing from the group?.
Taking picture has became a second nature for me and what started as an interest has somehow turn into a habit; an addictive one at that. Mind you, I started ‘photography’ when I got my first smartphone in high school and that was more than 9 years ago. Within this so called ‘journey’ in photography, the one thing that has always been loyal by my side is non other than my beloved camera. After all, what is a photographer without a camera?, an eyewitness?.
Camera is also the reason for a photographer excuses in many situation; for it might as well be called their source of superpower.
“What are you doing here?” “I am a photographer Sir!” as you wave your Leica around “Okay” followed by a slow thumbs up.
“Can I take your picture?” as you nudge your Nikkor lens slightly. “Sure, why not?”
“Can you let me in?” while slowly raising your white luscious leather covered L lenses camera. “Sure, just enjoy yourself” as the bouncer open the door for you. Sounds of some techno song struck through your ears.
Of course, none of the dialogue is true. It probably happen to someone but its plausible at most. Having a camera by your side is like having a free passport to anywhere, you will never be short of excuses if you are clever enough. After all, the camera is your sidekick or in some cases, your Wingman.
Camera is a companion that most photographer choose and consider as a set of tools. You can liken it to a knife that the chef would choose to make the right cut or a soldier who choose which gun caliber suits best for a situation. Camera is a tool for the professional where its uses can be very specific rather than subjective.
I personally have 6 different camera, each have a rather different use as I see fit. From a Ricoh GR for a casual day-to-day shooting to a Sony A90 for a rather serious attempt or maybe vise versa . I also use film camera for a certain photography project that I am currently working on. The reason for using a film camera has more to do with how using the camera alter my usual approach to my subject than the actual final output from the film camera.
“If you want to change your photographs, you need to change cameras. Changing cameras means that your photographs will change. A really good camera has something I suppose you might describe as its own distinctive aura.”
– Nobuyoshi Araki
We photographer need camera and the need varies depending on our intention. Of course, an artist never brag about the brush that they are using but they still going to have a set of it to make a painting. To imagine how this actually work, think about Hajime Kimura works in color or Henri Cartier Bresson using the large format camera, can’t really imagine how their picture would be right?. Specific demand require specific camera, so choose the right partner.
Still, everything that I mention here doesn’t justify the urge to get all the best camera in the world (My dream camera is the Pentax 645D). You only get what you need. Like someone I met few years ago said, photography is a bit like marriage, you need to balance everything considerately or risk losing everything.
As for my University life, all the thing that I try to do from my ‘New year resolution list’ is slowly being done but of course apart from my love life; which is as miserable as it always is. So far for this year, I manage to get into my first architecture competition at the end of last year and managed to get third place out of 20+ participant from all over Malaysia. I also got myself busy with some extra-curricular activities which I try to avoid before in the past, something that I try to actually get myself involve in a different circle of people and at the same time improve my time management skill.
The thing with my semester break this time is that I will be involve in a several events few weeks before the next semester start which means my ‘holiday’ is not exactly 3 months but only for a solid 2 months. It did force me to change my mid-semester plan short as I did plan to take several design commission but nevertheless, I happen to work at my old company instead since they are short in staff at the moment (a rather surprise decision actually). This in addition will help me ease through next semester financially and hopefully funds me to do something interesting on the next semester break.
Coming back to Labuan for the semester break allow me to be more collective in thought, like considering how much had I progress so far in life (Current Level : 24, 2456 EXP required to the next level) and focusing on what to do next. Photography wise, it’s time to get back to my previous work and to actually review my past work. There is this wise photographer once told me that you need to detach yourself from your photograph that you took and guess what happen when you been away from looking at your photograph for like a year?, that awful nauseating feeling of seeing a newbie works!.
True enough that some of the photograph feels as if it works when I show it to Wu Bin last time but now I realize how true his opinion is, it just doesn’t work, composition wise or technical wise. Maybe it’s time to be more ruthless when it comes to editing my work and to be a more tougher critic of my own work.
Going back to my contact sheet for my ‘The Promised Bridge’ long term photography project, maybe, just maybe I finally get a grip on what I actually been seeking through the project; that mundane melancholy of Labuan itself.
This will be another tiring mid-semester break all over again.
Its been a long day of flight for me and I just finished organizing my workdesk for little bit. I guess the right thing to do now is either to read a few pages of Haruki Murakami or finish this blogpost which has been in draft since last year. (pun intended)
Looking back at the stuff that I manage to do last year, I would have to say that it’s been another great year. Continuing my study is perhaps one of the major highlight of the year because I am leaving a rather comfortable job as a Junior Architectural Designer. It’s been a great 3 year stints at the firm but I foresee a rather bleak future where I am unable to reach my true potential as a mature professional.
At the start of the New Year, my former mentor, Steven Lee post up a rather interesting request to all his photography friend. The request were rather simple where everyone post up their own definition of photography along with their Favorite photograph that define their understanding or style of photography over the year. This simple question has a really strong effect on me at that time since I will busy with my study for the next few years, where would my photography work would go?, or will I be able to retain the same curiosity and vision to produce a great series of work in the future?.
“Photography started out as an excuse for me to go out and getting away from my family and still is one of my favorite excuse to stay late while hanging out with my friends. Over the years, this excuse turn into a routine that has became part of my life where the act of capturing a ‘great’ photograph become more as an act of preserving thoughts and memory.
Few years ago, the worlds seems big with Photography but now my work has become much narrow in perspective and I am slowly turning into a selfish photographer that only concern with my own fetish of my surrounding. Certainly, I consider myself as a good photographer, just not a great one.” – Kelvin Ah Kian
That was the same comment that I post to Steven on what photography means to me. There is probably a sense of ego and humility in my post but being honest is all I had for it. For those who had been following me on facebook over the years, It seems that I have nothing new worth showing up on facebook. True but not because of artist block or anything, I just have been very selective on what to show and what not.
So for 2016, I have my own resolution that hopefully will allow me to be better as a photographer and much more focused on my interest, especially on student lifestyle or maybe landscape. Part of the thing that I will focus on for the rest of they year is probably as following;
GET BACK TO THE FUNDAMENTAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Philip Chong (one of my earliest online mentor) always stress before that any amateur photographer should master the true basic fundamental of photography which consist of 5 point (if I was not mistaken) Shutter, ISO, Aperture, Composition, and probably type of lenses?. But that is not the point, the rule is that once you have master all this point, understanding other photography genre is easy and the same thing apply when you try apply a certain idea or concept into your work. Surely since my Ricoh GR has been performing well on most situation, my photography skills has been a bit dull compare to the time when I use my old Nikon.
So I am going to refresh myself by going through some photobooks by Henri Cartier Bresson, a hero that I sought after, before I hit the shorelines around the Island in the next few months (Labuan or Penang).
The Ultimate camera.
REPLACE MY COMPANION FOR THE YEAR
I am a fan of football.
Not a fanatic, just a fan, especially on Arsenal FC, the current leading team for the Premier League 2015/2016. Similar to football, you need to replace or add someone into your team every season since, well, football technical strategy reason of course.
I believe I have a decent amount of gear to enjoy with to go through the next few years with my personal project but ever since one of my player camera has died on me, I have been thinking of getting something much more robust that suits my hectic student lifestyle. There are thousand of option but thanks to my limited student budget, I could only get a certain few. Surely the medical repair cost for the camera going to cost a ton so why not spend it on a brand new camera?.
The criteria should be align with my main objective for the year, which is getting ‘back to basic’ so I believe getting a film analog camera should be great. I have been planning to replace my Yaschica TLR since it suffer from a rather serious haze on the lens element but somehow getting a compact camera or an SLR camera seems a better choice since it is much more flexible to use.
Since this was written during my semester break, I will probably have a few stuff that I need to get done with before I can enjoy the freedom of roaming around the Island. Surely this year seems to be heading towards another great year and with a few photography festival that I plan to attend in the coming month, I am sure I could learn more in the coming years.
For those who are close to me in real life, they already know that for the next few years, I will be based in Penang for my further study.
Some of the SMS that I received on the result of my University application.
After my 3 years stint as a Junior Designer in a small Architecture firm at Labuan, its finally the right time for me to part way with the company. My years at the office has been fun and far more valuable than I imagine before as I experience the real world construction industry especially in a small busy industrial island of Labuan. During my time with the company, I had manage to conceive a few large scale construction project by myself and that alone gave me a great insight which I am sure will be a help for me during my study. Nevertheless, at my age, I felt that there are still many thing that I could achieve. The decision to continue my study was a no brainer. I knew that with my result and experience, I could get into most University (which is true where I actually got an offer from 3 of Malaysia top university to continue my study). After reviewing all the choice that I have, I finally decided to continue my study at University Sains Malaysia, simply because of its ideal location/courses and the fact that there is an unlimited choice of food around Penang.
Photography is not just about taking pretty pictures, its about preserving time and memory that will soon be forgotten by time. Shown here is some of the picture that I took and receive from other photographer.
As a Photographer and an aspiring Architect to be, this journey mark another chapter in my life. My main objective is of course to improve all the skill that I had and meeting new people. Despite being an Introvert, I actually enjoy meeting new people. Meeting new people allow me to share my idea and in exchange, gaining a few more knowledge on anything related.
Consistency is something that I try to achieve in both Photography and Architecture. After finishing a series on my father, I continue to work on the short edit for my photography project on the shorelines of Labuan.
My fellow classmate for the next few years.
For the time being, I am working on a blog that document my student life at the University. It’s not a photography project but more like an ongoing journal on the life of an Architecture student. I am not sure how long I could keep it up. Only time could tell.