Sunday, January 29, 2012

Solo Trip to Penang (Part 2 : Street Shooting)

This entry is the continuation of the previous one, where I wrote about my journey to Penang Hill recently.

The initial plan was to go to Kek Lok Si temple which is situated near the Penang Hill. But since the time was running out so I had it cancelled and decided to go straight to the town via Rapid Penang. I hopped off the bus at KOMTAR and went inside to pray Zohor and Asar. Since it was still in public holidays, not many shops were opened.

I planned to walk alongside the Penang Road, dropping by the famous Nasi Kandar Line Clear for lunch (although it was a little bit late), and then walking through Lebuh Chulia, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling and finally heading to Esplanade, before walking back to the jetty to go back to Butterworth.

Nasi Kandar Line Clear.

Situated at Penang Road, I don't know why this restaurant (or should I call it a food stalls) is famous across the country. Maybe because its food are tasty, or because I got a lot on a single plate for a reasonable price. The time I came here, there are a lot of people eating here and we have to line up to get our food. The reason why I call it a food stalls is simply because there was a series of stalls in the open area between the building premises.

The signboard of the restaurant.

Waiting for my turn to be served.

A long queue of people.

Less than RM10 for a supersize fried chicken and a drink. Not bad aye?

Street Shooting.

Now to the best part of the trip. This was the first time where I'm practising to shoot within a very close distance. For your information, I used an ultra wide angle lens which is Samyang 14mm f/2.8 UMC. Since this is a manual focus lens, I have to use the hyperfocal distance technique in order to get a sharp image. In my case, I used f/8 most of the time as the images taken are sharp at this aperture and set the focusing distance at 1 meter. According to the DOF table, if the focusing distance is set at 1 meter, the DOF will extend from 0.5 meter to infinity, which is quite comfortable distance of me from the subject. 

Talking about style, it depends on the situation. As a newbie in street shooting, I tend to shoot from my chest level (as I put on the strap on my neck) and did the "hit and run" as to avoid the subject from acknowledging me shooting them. But there are also a situation where I didn't hesitant to shoot the subject while he knows it. The trick is simple, where you need to "blend in" within the scenario. Simply makes them know your presence, and maybe a smile will do the job smoothly. Or in an "expensive" way, go buy their product (if they are hawkers) to gain their trust. But personally I believe that Penangites are not so stingy and they are willingly to pose in front of the camera when we shoot em' as they knew that we are tourists and lotsa tourist scurrying around the island.

A guy went across the road.

I bought samosas from this man.

There's an old women, alone waiting for the bus to come.


Dam Aji.

No Customer? Then It's Better To Sleep
No customer this afternoon, so better to sleep.

Go This Way.


Enjoying the sea breeze at Esplanade.

We want to eat as well.

Historical Buildings And Places.

I am so interested with historical places. Plus the aesthetic aspects of the architecture. But I don't know why, during this trip I don't time to visit these places (as I mentioned before about Kek Lok Si temple). I was actually planning to visit the clan house of Fatt Tze at Lebuh Leight, but unfortunately it was closed so I can only take the picture from outside.

View from outside of Fatt Tza Mansion.

All the way from Lebuh Chulia to Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, there are so many colonial houses which I believe to be preserved as parts of the Penang's heritage. 

Row of trishaws parked at the roadside.

The beginning of Lebuh Chulia, starting from the junction with Penang Road.

Love Lane. I didn't know why, but there are so many Europeans staying or lingering around here.

Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling.

Finally, I reached this road after a long walk alongside Lebuh Chulia. As its name, there is a huge mosque at the roadside named Masjid Kapitan Keling. I stopped there for about half an hour before leaving for the next stop.

View of the mosque from the main gate.

There is also another main attraction alongside this road ; Kuan Yin Ting Temple. Judging from the outside, I reckon that it is a very old temple. Personally, I could have few great pictures if I went inside the temple but to be honest, I dare not to go inside any of the non-Muslim worship places. So I took the pictures from outside. The open area in front of the temple was crowded with the worshipers, tourists, and also a group of pigeons. I cannot stay for long there because I couldn't stand the smoke coming from the piles of joss sticks there that keep my eyes peeled.



Kuan Yin Ting Temple.

Esplanade and Going Back to Butterworth.

Finally I reached the Esplanade. That was a very fine evening and a lot of people come to walk around the seashore enjoying the sea breeze. I didn't spend much time there, just enough to recover from the tiredness of walking. 

Few peoples ready for fishing on the rocks nearby the Esplanade.

Cranes dominates the view of the straits. 

It's almost 7pm and I started to walk back to the ferry terminal. I left the island for mainland around 7.30pm and reached safely. 


Georgetown Skyline.
Georgetown Skyline.

I left Butterworth at 8.30pm and reached home safely. This was a very enjoyable trip for me, and I wish to repeat it someday at the different places.

Thanks guys for reading this lengthy entry :)

Solo Trip to Penang (Part 1: Penang Hill)

Last Wednesday I had a chance to go on foot travelling around Penang, alone. It was my intention to go alone as I want to get a "feel" as a traveller, and at the same time to improve my skills on travel and street photography. I left my hometown, Taiping in a express coach in the morning and went back later on at night on the same day.

Penang Ferry.

I was planning to go across the strait via ferry for both go and return journey. Actually, the jetty and Penang Sentral bus terminal are not so far, so this give a convenience to those who arrived in Butterworth via buses and want to go to Georgetown. The fare for pedestrian passenger is RM1.20 for single trip, while for car is RM7.70. The journey from Georgetown to Butterworth is free of charge.

It was a coincidence for my trip that day with the Chinese New Year holidays, so there were so many people who went across to Georgetown. Most of them are foreigner who works here (from Bangladesh, Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia). The journey takes time around 15 minutes from Butterworth to Georgetown.

Pangkalan Jeti Butterworth

Looking Out.

Looking Out.

Penang Ferry.

The Long Journey.


The plan that day was to go to Bukit Bendera (Penang Hill) as I have never been there since born. To go there, I use RapidPenang public bus. We can choose to board bus number 204 that will bring us directly to the Penang Hill's train station. Or in case if you want to walk around the small township of Pekan Air Hitam (known for its Kek Lok Si temple), then we can go there with bus number 203. The fare is RM2 for a single journey from the Jetty or from KOMTAR, and it took me around half an hour to reach the destination (depends on the traffic)




Penang Hill's Train.

When I arrived, there were too many visitors as that day was the holiday. We have to line up long at the ticket counter. The fare to go up the hill is RM8 for Malaysian adult (need to show IC), and RM4 for children. While for foreign tourists, the fare is RM30. 


After major renovation and upgrading works which made the train service being halted for almost 2 years ago, the service is way much better. The trains used are brand new, much bigger and equipped with air-conditioner inside. The journey is also fast and smooth (while not killing mood of the passengers to enjoy the view outside the train). 





On The Hilltop.

The top of the hill is around 800 meter from sea level. From there, we can view almost the whole parts of Penang, including Georgetown and Balik Pulau. But I was unfortunate since I was arrived around noon, which is not really the best time to shoot landscape plus it was hazy that day which limiting the view.

View on the hill.

Penang Bridge can be seen from here, although haze limits the view.

Apart from the breathtaking view of the island, there are not so many other attractions on the hilltop, except few buildings like the Penang Hill Mosque, Sri Murugan Temple, a playground and few other colonial styled private houses. If you wish to tour around the hilltop, there is a buggy service that will bring you around. 



Domes of Penang Hill Mosque.



The cleaner cleaning up rubbish on the stairway that going up to the children's playground in front of the Sri Murugan Temple.

I spent around an hour above before went down. Same as the time to board the train up, I have to line up long to board the train down.

Sleeping beauty.

The next plan after went down from the hill was that I'm going for street shooting around the Georgetown before going back to Butterworth. I'll write this in the next entry.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Samyang 14mm f/2.8 AE IF ED UMC Aspherical

I bought this lens last week from YL Camera Pudu Plaza for RM1.3k++ . This is ultra wide angle lens produced by Samyang, a Korean based company. If it fitted on a DX / APS-C camera, the effective focal length will be around 21mm. This is also a prime lens, which means that it cannot zoom. 

Samyang 14mm f/2.8.

I have decided to buy this lens after reading a lot of reviews regarding the performance of this lens. In general, Samyang is known for making cheap lenses with par-to-par performance with the lenses manufactured by well known company like Nikon, Canon and Carl Zeiss. How do they offer that price? Maybe they cut off the cost by not including the auto focus mechanism in the lenses. As a comparison, the same lens produced by Nikon will costs around RM6000.

Below are my findings and verdicts on this lens, after using it for a week :
1) Very-very wide angle of view. 14mm is so wide on a full frame camera like mine. If we used DX cameras, we need at least 10mm to achieve the same FOV (perhaps with different perspective).

2) Manual focusing. To some of us who are used with auto focusing lenses, then it's time to practice. But it's not really a problem though with this lens, as the depth of field is so big that it can be focused precisely to get a sharp image. This is where I practiced the focusing technique called hyperfocal distance focusing. Simply remember a formula, or a table that relates the aperture used and focusing distance, then set it up. 

As an example, I set the aperture at f/8, and according to the table/formula, the hyperfocal distance is 1 meter. So, I set the marking distance on the lens at 1 meter, then freely shoot anything within that distance. The result is that the half of that distance (0.5 meter to infinity) will be in focus. Simple isn't it? 

Get the table HERE.

3) Auto Exposure (AE). My version of lens is equipped with CPU chips which make the process whole lot easier. I can use the metering in camera to get the right exposure, focusing confirmation dot in the viewfinder, get the EXIF data, using other modes like S, A and P, and also use my flash's TTL features. So far from what I know, only the Nikon version was equipped with CPU contact, while other version of Canon, Sony etc. don't (it is sold separately).

4) Heavy vignetting at wide open and only denounced at the optimum aperture of f/8 to f/11. This might be the drawback of this lens. But not really a problem though if it used for nightscape or to add the dramatic feeling to the picture. It can be corrected though during post processing. 

5) Sharpness. The same case with number 4, as it is sharp at f/8 to f/11. But still acceptable though at wide open. Even it is way much sharper than Canon and Nikon's 14mm (from some reviews).

6) Distortion. It is unavoidable for an ultra wide angle lenses. But for this lens, there is also another kind of problem, which is called as moustache distortion where suddenly at the middle of the picture got a "fisheye" kind of effect. This is obvious if the lens was used to shoot architecture or straight lines and patterns, but almost unnoticeable for landscape shooting.

Samyang itself also had produced a lens profile for this lens so that it can be corrected in Adobe Photoshop CS or Adobe Lightroom.

7) Design and outer finish. Looks pretty tough and solid. Just the issue that need to be highlighted is that it is a rectilinear lens which got a convex front element. With this nature, no protection or UV filter that can be fitted, so need to be careful with that. The only thing that makes relieved a bit is that it got a fixed lens hood (plastic) that at least can protect the front element from being damaged if something unwanted happened. 

Landscape shooters may feel uneasy a bit as it cannot fit any creative filters so they have to find other alternatives to imitate the effect of it (What I got in mind for slow shutter is to use black card technique). Or some creative fellas can try to design something to be fitted in the rear element of the lens (Try at your own risk).

Below are the pictures that I took with this lens so far :

DSC_0267_8_9_tonemapped - Copy_blended_fused
I have it corrected using Adobe Photoshop Lens Correction.

That piles of sandals and polysterin box are just less than a meter from my legs.

Stesen Bas Taiping.
Taiping Bus Station.

Pekan Taiping.
Taiping in town.

Times Square, KL.

Suatu Petang di Tepi Jalan..
HDR - Truck.

Times Square Musolla.

Crossing Bridge, Pudu
Crossing Bridge, Pudu. This is one of the very first pictures I captured using this lens.

Conclusion? I gotta love this lens, and might using it much for my Skyscapes shooting this year. And also sometimes for street cityscape photography. If you guys are looking for a budget ultra wide angle lens with good image quality and you have a fullframe camera, then this lens is the best choice.

Thanks for your time.