Monday, October 5, 2009

Alor Setar, A Picturesque City

For pictures of this entry, kindly click here.

Having been to Alor Setar countleess times in a previous working life, I found out to my dismay, is a wonderful city and one which is quite picturesque too. I used the word 'dismay' as, though I had my camera with me, I was not mentally prepared to take real shots, thinking of quick snaps only as my presence there was more towards Emak's favour rather than myself. It was on the first morning while accompanying Emak and her sisters did I notice what I had never before.

As the ladies went into Pekan Rabu, a red-hued building caught my eye and at once, my thoughts were of the Stadhuys buildings in Melaka. Off course, the one in Alor Setar is not, but it led me to wishing that I had more time for myself as quite like many new cities, AS has a nice mixture of old and new buildings within it.

I have little doubt in mind that many a young people would not give the old buildings such as the one in Jalan Penjara Lama much thought, due to the years of neglect it suffer. However, the fact that it is in a neglected stage and yet still standing strong, is proof of the quality workmanship and materials used, apart from the simple architectural design of buildings from past era; a time when more than half the present population of were not born yet, as the tree still growing beside the building may testify. Very few places may still have such building, with Brickfields in KL coming strong in my mind.

Rivers snake through this city lending a soothing effect to both, inhabitants and passerbys. But off course, only if one is willing to look. And it is here that I found a Chinese Temple on a riverside complete with it's own jetty as well. Also present was a small twin-oar boat which acts as a ferry between the 2 banks there, helmed by a middle-age man who was kind enough to keep his boat steady for me to take pictures. In between anxiety and a left arm still throbbing with a dull pain, I wished I had brought my tripods along as well as ample time to focus my shots. Not to be outdone, the Malay houses within the neighbourhood of Dr Roziah and Encik Johari's house, too caught my attention.

As I was taking shots, the owners of the house came back and thought I was a goverment-sent quantity surveryor, measuring their land for acquisition. However, when I told him that photography is my new found hobby, they were delighted and with pride told me the age of the steps to the small verandah of their house. And within the fenceless ground of their compound, I found a playhouse which was almost hidden by the shrubs there. In Melaka, structures outside the house would be called 'kui', and is meant for keeping gardening equipments beside being a small silo for paddy. Sadly, 'kui' in Melaka has dissapeared not only from the grounds they once were, but also from the minds of many people.

On the 2nd afternoon while the ladies were resting, Encik Johari took me to Gunung Keriang. He mentioned of a Paddy Museum there, and almost at once I was not too excited about it. However, when he mentioned of the mural-like painting which the previous State Goverment commissioned to a group of Korean artist, I became eager.

The museum is a 4storey building with an almost circular top floor where the mural can be viewed. Stepping into the viewing area, one may be reminded of a section of Universal Studios, US, where visitors lean against railing to view a 360 degrees film projection of the US landscape, taken from a flying craft. At the Paddy Museum however, visitors are seated while the floor revolves slowly to allow visitors a supposedly panoramic view from the top of Gunung Keriang. It was while taking shots of the mural that Encik Johari kindly told me that Gunung Keriang, as told by a legend, is the remnants of a large ship, quite like the legend of Tanggang. Another interesting story Encik Johari mentioned was with regards to the mural itself.

Supposedly, while painting the mural which took more than several months to complete, the surrounding areas experienced the loss of many dogs and cats, which several people attribute the loss to the Koreans who are known to include dogs as part of their diet. Dog meat, after all, is a delicacy in South Korea.

Soon as the painting was completed, the Korean noticed a figure of a lady in the mural, one which they insisted were not by by them. Fearing some supernatural powers revenge or whatever, the Koreans gave some money to the villagers there to say prayers (do'a selamat). The outline of the lady can be seen in "The Lady' picture, where the actual site can be seen in 'Actual Image'; a thought to ponder on, eh? Like, why couldn't the former State Goverment commissioned local artist to paint the mural?

Anyway, the Paddi Museum was the only sight where I could take some real shots, though one or 2 may be somewhat blurry due to the revolving floor.

Oh, do take notice of the food and the Mothers' Reunion as well.

The Nasi Daging was very filling and tasty, and I was really looking forward to it. However, on the accounts of the ladies fearing a rise in their Blood Pressure, Makngah had to use chicken instead of meat. Part of the recipe and cooknig of the Nasi Daging, was prepared by Encik Johari who requested yours truly to create a blog for him which he will later fill with recipes. Kindly do visit him when he has done so here.

As for the Mothers' Reunion, well, the ladies were well tired by then and could not even force a smile on their faces.

Looking back, I have sort of made a vow to myself to return at a later date and compose my shots better, insyAllah.

Monday, August 10, 2009

August Opening

Huh, what a name for a title! Except for the month's name, there's nothing august at all in my pictures. And as for the 'Opening', it is, ironically, the end. Well, till after Raya, anyway. But then, I might just sneak in one or two. And in all probability, a recap slide for the month of July.

Hey! Don't take me for a serious photographer. Foremost, kindly remember that I am a newbie with very little knowledge and experience. Putting up a thick skin in displaying my photographs is the only way I can better myself (after reading the comments lah!). So, for the moment at least, if one need to categorise this cakapaje dude, then just label him as a nutcase or perhaps, a crazy photographer. That way, perhaps the comments will be a whole lot kinder and encouraging :) Oops!

By the way, I've closed my Picasaweb for public viewing for the moment. Kindly do not misunderstand: It's not that I do not want my friends downloading my photographs, but I am rearranging them - each and everyone of them - with labels. Fact is, I will be printing and framing some of them meant for sale. I will be displaying a few of them at one or two stalls with minimal pricing. Not all, mind you. Just a select few which a Mr Abas Hasan has pointed out. Who is Abas Hasan, you might ask. Well, he is a professional photographer with 20odd years experience and now parting his knowledge and experience to anyone interested. For further details on him, kindly click here (if the link does not work, check out the one in Painting Pictures).

To my friends, please do not view me cruelly for being a mercenary. I am doing this to force myself to become better. Well, that and apart from the fact that the money would come in handy to cover expenses. And especially to aN_archi, Intan, RB, and other blogger friends, once I've labelled the photos' aproper, you are more than welcome to download if without charges. In the meantime, should you fancy any, just email your request and I'll email the pic to you. Believe me, I will be flattered should you do.

And oh, regarding the birds in August Opening, they've been cropped real proper. Do forgive yours truly for not having a real good telephoto lens. Do hope, however, you enjoy this entry.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Even before I ventured into the world of photography - a rather short journey thus far, this date - I've always been fascinated by the pictures of human portraits, especially the candid shots of elderly people and displayed in black and white. Can't explain it, but I've always find those shots rather...mystifying, shall we say?

Since I'm still rather new, I found it quite awkward to take pictures of people, and have this fear that they might just balk on me were I to do so. However, I manage to brave myself and found that I do very much enjoy having a fellow human as my subject in photography. And the best I have come to experience, are those tender moment shots especially involving the affection of a parent towards the children. However, in this entry at Painting Pictures here, I am only uploading the pictures of children without parents. And 4 of those shots, were taken with an Olympus compact as then, I have yet to have this Canon.

As with the distortion of colours, with human subjects, some of the shots look much better either in Black and White, or Sephia, with warmify added in. Not very original, I admit, but I am still in the experimental stage.

InsyAllah, when I have enough collection, I will later upload pictures of adults and especially, the elderly.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Landmark

This entry is linked to the pictures here.

Nothing much to write about this episode, except for my frustration and anger at the security personnel stationed at the college, and the private school there.

I was walking around the private school, looking for shots to build up my portfolio. When I started clicking away, a man dressed in plain clothes approached and told me that I am not allowed to take any pictures. When I replied that I am on public ground - outside the perimeters of the school - the guy still insisted that I need permission from the school's principal to do so. I nearly blew my top as I was never trespassing nor had any intention to invade the privacy. So, I told the guy off and walked away. Off course, by then I already had taken several shots.

Then, at the college, which is the new landmark here in Kota Damansara, I really had the intention to take pictures from inside the grounds and politely asked permission. The first two security personnel said it was OK and I walked back to my car hoping to park inside. But as I reached the entrance gate, another security personnel stopped me and - he was polite and apologetic about it, saying his colleagues were mistaken - well, I had to make a U-turn. But he did said that it was OK for me to shoot from outside, which I did.

Watching the pictures of the college, I would have love to get nearer and shoot some angles which just could not be done from afar. But sigh...never mind, there's always other buildings and sceneries to be found elsewhere. However, when you think about it, why then would this people construct nice structures but would not allow the public to take pictures of them? Speaking of which...

I have come to notice that with each new building or residential area, Malaysia is slowly losing her identity. Take the college in Painting Pictures for example: Not only are the architecture non-Malaysia or even Asia in design (which is arguable to architects, I suppose), but they even had figurines of lions, which is an animal not endemic to Malaysia, or even South East Asia! This, again, maybe arguable to the owners as perhaps, their corporate logo might have a picture of a lion. But still, what about the local features then? If we do not take pride in our own design and tradition, who will? Sadly, many foreigners do.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Change of Format

For the past 3 months or so - in fact, soon after returning from the Desaru trip - I have been nursing a bad shoulder and upper arm. It is quite like a stiff neck, except that there is constant pain in one form or another. Having experienced it twice before, I thought a simple visit to the clinic would help me get over it. But that was not the case this time. The pain, lingers on longer than I had thought it would.

The pains I have been suffering are constant throbbing felt on the bone of the upper arm; sharp searing pain on the top of the shoulder joint; burning sensation on the muscles of the upper arm; lingering tiredness on the elbow; and unexplainable uncomfortable feeling at the shoulder blades. Any sudden movement of the arm would cause any of the above, or a combination of 2, to reach excruciating level, and finding myself writhing in pain and screaming with a voice that is inaudible.

About 2 weeks ago while at a hypermarket, I involuntarily raised my left arm trying to catch Emak's attention. The sudden movement caused a sharp pain rushing to my brain. In reaction to it, I raised the arm further up only to hit the bar of the trolley I was pushing. Double whammy! And I found myself on my knees screaming the pain out with a voice that just would not come out.

It is not that I have not been trying to remedy my mysterious ailment, I have. But it irritates me that whenever I speak of it to someone, they would relate it to coronary. It is not! Otherwise, the doctor at the clinic would have been the first to say so. Further, as I mentioned above, this is the 3rd occurrence. And I have been searching someone trustworthy in the art of massage, fearing a half-baked masseur would only aggravate matter. Alhamdulillah, I found one.

Haji Reduan is an Indian Muslim running his own business of car workshop in Padang Jawa. However, he and is wife seem to be gifted with the healing touch. When seeked by a person in need - normally recommended by those who know Hj Reduan or his wife - they would tend to the patient but only after Isyak prayers, in their house in Kelang. Having been informed of him by an acquaintance, I found myself at his place last Monday night.

Hj Reduan's treatment is simple, but not necessarily painless. Apart from massaging the affected area, he also uses heat treatment in the form of 'tuku', using a heated riverstone. This is a timeless form of treatment and is widely practiced throughout the world. Heat treatment, that is. What is used though, can vary from one place to another. Anyway, alhamdulillah, after the first sesssion, the pain has subsided considerably. Unfortunately though, the 2nd and 3rd session will have to wait till Hj Reduan recovers from a sudden bout of fever. Oh dear! I sincerely hope it was not due to me as my pain, his wife said, is merely flatulence, or 'angin' as we Malays say it.

By now, a mind might begin to wonder why I'm blogging about my pain here instead of My Neverland. Well, it is related in at least one way. Another is that I do not mean to, nor be seen as wearing my heart on my sleeve. Seeking sympathy from friends, is not my intention.

While shooting a new landmark in Kota Damansara last Sunday, I stumbled upon a sight I was searching for, not knowing it lies less than 2km from my house. Within the banks of what was once a stream, and now a monsoon drain - Sungai Damansara - I found the flock of egrets I once shot and uploaded at My Neverland. But I also found out another thing: that my left arm quivers quite a bit leading to shaky handling of the camera, and leading to blurry pictures such as the one below.

Yes, the pain in my left arm is always there. But to let it rule over me would make me a defeatist. Stumped and stymied I may have found myself in the past, but a defeatist? Never. InsyAllah. Anyway, the pain is only at its worst when I find my arm locked in a position for a long duration. Which is why, I seldom make an entry of late at any of my blogs. And which is why I'm taking my time making this.

Back to Hj Reduan, before going to his house, I found myself driving down to Banting and...I wouldn't believe it had I not been me, but I drove straight down to Tanjung Sepat! Well, OK, its only about an hour or so from my place. And though I did have the malicious intent to do so, I had quite forgotten the distance (not to mention the petrol!).

Dissapointed that the so called Birdwatchers paradise could not be found, I wound myself to Morib Beach for some sunset pics. Sadly, the sunset was not at its best that day, as can be seen from the first 5 shots. I did take more but while many are not worthy of uploading or repititive, several more are being held for other purposes. Anyway, it got me thinking that it is time for me to change the format of presentation.

With a varied mixture of pictures and no longer merely flowers and insects, I thought I ought to just upload something like 10 to 15 per entry and then at month end, recap all in a slideshow. Apart from headache of naming each entry, it would give me ample time to build up on the stocks. Well, not that I spend a lot of time snapping like a mad fella just out of an asylum, mind you. But yes, I would be able to pace myself especially in view of my still hurting arm. Anyway, 'kemaruk' is just another word for mad or crazy, is it not? (smile)

ps. As in the picture 'Need Better Timing', insyAllah, I will stalk the egret flock for a better shoot. The scene where something like 40 or 50 white birds flying low and heading directly towards you, is an awesome sight to behold. MasyAllah! And I do want to share that experience with my friends.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Few New Angles

After the last pictures posted at Painting Pictures, there was a comment which when I interpreted, was a dare for other kind of pictures, namely scenes or landscape. Apart from admitting that I am yet good at those shots (or any for the matter), I do face another drawback or two.

Strange as it might sound, I seldom venture out for photo-shoots on the street. Not for any reason, but I do find going about it by car a great hassle. Tried it once I did, and did not like it one least bit. In my opinion, having a bicycle would be the idle ride for this purpose. Sadly - rather ashamedly, I have to admit - I cannot afford one yet.

The other, this camera having been a heavy investment, I do have the fear that some thugs might find it a good item to be hawked on the streets. Looking at some photographers who go out in groups of at least 2 or 3, I do not think I am being paranoid. And honestly, I have tried contacting one photographer in hope of joining his group, but have not received any response. But I fret it none as this has been the history of my life - finding myself alone in my undertakings.

Anyway, for several months now when the moon is full, I have been taking pictures of it from just outside my house. Realising that my camera is not equipped to take a real good picture of a full moon (with some of the landscape thrown in), I found, quite by accident, another perspective which I think few others have: I shoot the moon when there are clouds around it. The result? Forgive me if I sound vain, but I think they are quite awesome! Here, I keep reminding myself that I am merely a photographer who was able to capture scenes created by Allah s.w.t., and am very happy to have been able to do so.

In this near future, insyAllah, I will embark on a lone photo-shoot of more scenes, which include of people, a subject I like best. In fact, I have been slowly compiling several(about 20 now), using the Olympus (returned to owner now) as well as the Canon EOS 1000D.

And oh! The blue light near the moon in Moonlit Clouds: Legend of Moon-eating Dragon? Well, its just a reflection from a lamp at my rear. This picture was one of the first I took of the moon. As such, I was pretty much inexperience...and a dum dum. Afraid, viewers can expect a few more later.

For pics on this entry, kindly click here.

ps. I had a strange dream last night. Honestly, I am in two minds about it here. But since very few do hap upon this blog:
I dreamt that I disclosed my bank account number here in hope that anyone who do find my picture blog entertaining, wouldn't mind slipping a few notes into it. Something like basking. It would really help actually, seeing that my financial side is not doing too well now. But, as the saying goes: Let me sleep on it first.

Monday, June 1, 2009

New Blog - Emi's Garden, Revamped

This is, yet, another blog I'm putting up. Frankly, I would not like to, but find the necessity to do so as documentation of my experience in the world of photography; it will be more of a diary of sorts, where I can later reflect on later to further improve myself. Working alone, is never easy. Many things you tend to forget. Things which otherwise, a partner could help by pointing out. Anyway, this first entry would be about a photo-shoot I did at Emi's garden quite recently.

Initially, I thought Emi had wanted some pictures of his garden for his new brochure - he is in the landscaping business - I approached it with a serious outlook, which is, when I reflect back, was wrong. Being serious meant that I unwittingly put needless pressure upon myself and this somewhat curtail any creative view and authority I should exude for the 2days there. Still, since it was the first time I was called upon, this perhaps could be forgiven.

To be honest, I am not too happy with the outcome of the shoot, especially on the first day: As Emi wanted the effects of the light of a setting sun to reflect on the garden and hence, the pictures, there was something like a mere 2 hours to work on. Perhaps for a seasoned or learned photographer, the time may have been more than sufficient. But for a greenhorn like yours truly? Let the pictures speak for my inexperience.

Further, without the confidence and authority, I found some undesirables such as the rubber hose used for watering the garden, as well as a water bottle carelessly left on one of those big earthen jars, included in some of the pictures. The two are, not exactly what one would expect for a picturesque view.

As those large jars occupy the front and center of the garden, I had intended to use them as the main theme. Can't say I succeeded well there.

Also, as the garden was sandwiched between two blocks of houses, I had set the ISO at 800 to offset and dark spot which may occur, while using minus 1 apprature to bring out the best in colour. I cannot say whether this is the correct thing to do, but by putting the pictures up here and allowing some learned people to look and comment, I would be able to learn more.

Should anyone stumble upon this blog, then the pictures I mentioned can be found at my Painting Pictures blog (click here).