Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Best Shot (50mm) winner for Sep '12!

Fuchsia! I like the name of this color..and the way it rolls off the tongue sounds pretty cool..hehe

The portrait shot

The Sep '12 issue's cover

The sexy fuchsia tripod at its minimum height

It was a pleasant surprise from me, as I opened my e-mail account on a recent Friday afternoon. The subject header said: "Congratulations, your shot has won the Best Shot (50mm) for September in the Digital Camera Mag (DCM). Well, it may not be the exact words used, but I was nonetheless elated, AND suspicious. I've received countless spam e-mails in my inbox - this could just easily be one of the many on a different day.

I then called up the Admin Officer at DCM (Velocity Media) to confirm the e-mail notification: it's true. The single portrait shot of Mr. Subra (the protagonist in my photo story 'The Merchant of Victoria Street') won the shot of the month under said category. I was elated, to say the least. :O)

So here's the 'sexy fuchsia' tripod I received by courier - I've always been seeing the prize advertised in the mag and wondered how it looked like in real. I love the color (really funky pink!) and it's a fun way to probably accessorize some of my photo gears.

Thank you very much to DCM for the chance to win this, and to Mr. Choong of Velocity Media for arranging this shipment. I'm really grateful for the win!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Published! The Merchant of Victoria Street

It's finally here! After several weeks of waiting for the Advanced Images Photography magazine (Issue 62, Aug' 12), I received my copies of the mag, courtesy of the editor just this Monday. It's been a fruitful workshop for me personally (I attended the Advanced Visual Story Telling Workshop by Justin Mott in July) - seeing your work in print makes all the effort worthwhile, I think..

Thanks once again to Advanced Images for the partnership! :0)

Monday, July 23, 2012

'Uncle' Lee, the joss-stick maker

A close-up of the joss-sticks  
 Uncle Lee putting the sandalwood dough through a stick
 as he sits on a stool in front of his shop off Stewart Lane, Penang

A moment to reflect: Uncle Lee's business relies quite a bit on the weather - if the skies
are clear, he'd be able to produce more joss-sticks. If it's cloudy skies, he might have to call it a day,
thus limiting the number of joss-sticks he could produce, and ultimately, affecting his income.

He was rolling the dough when I noticed his hands. 
Wrinkly, these hands have produced hundreds of thousand of joss-sticks
in Uncle Lee's lifetime until now. I decided to take a shot as he sat there, possibly
wondering why would his hands being the focus of my attention :)

One of the final processes of making the joss-sticks: the smoothing process where 
Uncle Lee uses a board to gently roll the sticks to get them into shape.

A humble shop house that has been home to Uncle Lee and his wife for over 70 years.

A quick meal with his wife as Uncle Lee takes a breather in the morning.
Despite the small size, the place is a treasure trove of memories.

It's been awhile since I last went walking around the streets of George Town for photography. So, on last Monday, I did what I've been missing all the time. On a bright Monday morning, I met 'Uncle' Lee at his shop off Stewart Lane in Penang. In fact, the shop is just a stone's throw away from the Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin) temple. 

I started chatting with Uncle Lee after introducing myself; he told me how he has been living at the exact shop house for over 70 years. The house, in fact, does not belong to him. According to him, the house belongs to a local businessman and philanthropist, Yeap Chor Ee. For my fellow Penangites, you might have heard of this gentleman, or even familiar with the road that was named after him. 

From my conversation with Uncle Lee (who is over 80 years old), he is proud of his joss-stick making legacy as his joss-sticks are meticulously handmade using imported Australian sandalwood, a stark contrast from the mass-produced (by machines) joss-sticks that are widely used in Chinese temples. I took a whiff of the joss-sticks, and the smell was really pleasant. 

Well, this is just the beginning of a mini personal photography project I'm embarking on. I spent almost 2 hours with Uncle Lee on that morning but I know, my photographic journey on this has just started. I appreciate him allowing me to take a peep into his life; how he struggles against the commercialized world, how is aged body and eyesight are slowly but surely taking their toll, and how to live in dignity despite hardships. 

He told me sometimes tourists or visitors would hand him several ringgit as a form of donation, but being a proud man, he refused. I can see he wants only to rely on himself, and not wait for hand-outs from others.

I respect his resilience and honesty, and I hope to be back again someday soon to have a chat with him as I watch him roll the sandalwood dough into miniature joss-sticks. And at the same time, I would have my camera ready with me as I document this legacy.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Merchant of Victoria Street

My favorite photo - not because I took it :), but I love the chaos and disorder shown in one photo.
Something kept drawing me to this scene, and the original tilt of the chair makes 
this scene pretty charming to me.

The hero (and owner of the shop) - Mr. Subramaniam

A close-up look of some steel pipes.

Scrap metal, pots and pans, cables broken bicycles: you name it, this shop would most probably have it!

Mr. Subra at work as he tries to separate the copper for recycling.

I was crouching low, and waited for Mr. Subra to come into the frame.

The 'gloved one' at work. :O)

No, it's not an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S3 phone! 
Caught this reflection of Mr. Subra from a mirror that he uses quite a bit in his shop.

This was taken quite early into my photo assignment, and I believe at that time, I have not even seen his actual face yet! In fact, I thought Mr. Subra was one of the workers in the shop! 


The 'moment' that I was looking out for: so glad I caught it!

My journey:

We completed our Advanced Visual Story Telling Workshop with Justin Mott last Saturday morning (14th July) with a simple presentation of our personal project. The past 3 days have been anything but simple actually - for me, getting to know a total stranger and persuading him to allow me to peep into his world for 3 days. Thank you, Mr. Subramaniam! And if you're keen to have a look at the FB posting, do click here.

And oh by the way, the photos are meant to be viewed this way; from the first to the last photo. Just like every photo has its meaning, the sequence in presenting our photos also play an important role. I learnt this from Mr. Justin Mott, our workshop teacher/tutor. Thanks again, Justin.. :)

p/s: Was searching for a suitable name for the project's title..for some funny reason, I had 'Constant Craving' (a song in the early 90s by singer K.D. Lang) and really contemplated to name my album that as I also intended to pay a mini-homage to that song. Anyway, I settled for 'The Merchant of Victoria Street' - a spin from the famous literary classic ('The Merchant of Venice') as I looked through Mr. Subra's biz card again and saw the word 'saudagar' (merchant in Bahasa Malaysia). Haha..I think I found my 'moment' then.. :P

I shot this entirely with:
1) 50mm f/1.8
2) 17-50mm f/2.8

As we were told to 'look for the light', this meant no external flash was used, only ambient lighting.

So, I hope you'll like this as much as I enjoyed my adventure! :O) 

Friday, July 6, 2012

From the heart: Bihzhu's testimonial

In a few blinks, we're already in July. I shot Bihzhu's gig in Hotel Penaga, Penang in March but it seemed like yesterday. Thanks to Bihzhu, here's her testimonial for shutterspeed Photography.

It's always good to do something you like, and having someone appreciate the work and effort you put in, that's easily one of the best feelings in the world!


Friday, April 20, 2012