Postcards: My quiet hometown, Kuching

I was born and raised in Kuching, the City of Cats situated in Borneo. Kuching is a small city and drastically different from Kuala Lumpur – where I am based currently. There are no extensive highways, skyscrapers or excessive concrete structures. The air is cleaner, the sky is always blue and people there are generally friendlier as well. Many photographer friends are willing to pay good money to travel far to see and shoot different places and cultures. While I always encourage them to travel, I also remind them to slow down and look at what they have around them. I love my hometown, I grew up there and I know it well. Knowing your subject is critical in improving your photography. What place would you know better than your own roots?

The recent trip home to Kuching was during the Chinese New Year celebration. Most places were closed for the festive season but having incredibly itchy fingers and some time to kill in the mornings, I went out with some friends and indulged in quick, spontaneous shutter therapy sessions. A quiet town with most of the shops closed may be a turn-off for most street photographers, but sometimes we just have to go out and shoot. Keep an open mind, and opportunities will follow! I roamed the usual street hunting areas in Gambir Street, Carpenter Street and along the Main Bazaar. I also walked along the Padungan area, before stopping for coffee and lunch.

Since I was not planning on any adventurous shoots during Chinese New Year, I brought home a simple and easy setup in the Olympus PEN E-P5 and M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens only. One camera and one lens to do it all. I had so much fun shooting around Kuching, though my time was limited. The best way to end a shutter therapy session in Kuching is with a bowl of Sarawak Laksa or Kolo Mee.

Sarawak Kolo Mee

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8 lens is available from B&H

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Images and content copyright Robin Wong 2018 onwards. All rights reserved

Comments

  1. These colors look more pleasant than in the previous Sigma review. Could this be because of the weather conditions?

  2. It is a pleasant set to view, Robin. It seemed as if some of them may be among your best. Very nice, and thank you for sharing them with us.

  3. I noticed that you dismissed the native 4/3 aspect ratio and cropped your shots to 2:3?? Accidental or do you simply like 2:3 better?

    • Robin Wong says:

      That is an interesting observation. MT has most of his images in 3:2 as well, so my images were cropped to 3:2 subconsciously for consistency sake (MT did not ask me to). I compose with 4:3 aspect ratio in mind, but I always leave a bit of space just in case.

  4. Noticed you recently used Capture One, just curious, this is one is from olympus viewer or C1 btw?

    • Robin Wong says:

      This was Capture One. I did everything in Capture One these days, unless there are newer Olympus products that are not supported yet, hence defaulted to Olympus Viewer 3 for full RAW compatibility. I prefer Olympus Viewer 3’s output, but it is just painfully too slow for anything productive.

  5. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Hmm – you say “Knowing your subject is critical in improving your photography. What place would you know better than your own roots?” The question you pose can be a difficult one. My family migrated from one side of the world to the other, and an elusive question for me is just exactly where ARE my roots? I was born and grew up here, and I have travelled reasonably extensively – but the only place I have ever been to, where I sensed a feeling of “being at home”, was in France, where my father’s family came from. Where I am sitting right now IS my home – but something isn’t quite right, something is missing.
    Translating it into the framework of how does home affect photography – yes, I can see that familiarity can open your eyes, to opportunities that may not be obvious or apparent to strangers. In my own case, there are several shots I have planned, that fall into that category.
    One, I intend to finalise this coming week. Another, I had to wait nearly 6 months to capture, because the light would only be “right” twice a year and by the time I spotted what I wanted, I’d missed the last pass of the sun, so I had to wait till 2 or 3 days ago to capture it. One has been destroyed by insensitive and inappropriate alterations to a heritage building, authorised and directed by the buffoon who was Premier of this State until recently. One is something where I am have to wait until winter approaches and the seaweed returns to the beaches – along with less tame & placid waves. And another is likely to become a series of shots, taken after dinner, using available light. There are others of course, but all presenting similar logistical problems outside my control, requiring patience and “being there” when all the relevant factors fall into place.
    So yes, you are quite correct – knowing your subject IS critical, in improving my photography. But it can be a bit of a curse, as well as a blessing!

  6. Very beautiful, wonderfully done images.

  7. Lovely images as always. The E-P5 and 25mm f1.8 remain a favourite combination for my photography.

  8. Hi Robin your pics are beautiful and stunning as always. I have the same equipment you used for these pics and how you get those colors is beyond my comprehensive. Unbelievable!!!!

    • Robin Wong says:

      Hi Seby,
      Thanks so much for the kind words! The key to getting great colors in images is the light. Pay more attention to the quality and direction of light. I work with morning sun and also side light for most of my shots.

  9. Terry B says:

    Robin, your images prove it is the photographer, not so much his equipment. Limited to your very basic rig, no zoom, probably forced you to look at your potential subjects in a different way. Did it feel to you that you were? Love the criss-cross pattern of the spice box and the guy on the motor bike.

    I checked out what Sarawak Laksa or Kolo Mee are and found two recipes. Given the ingredients of the Laksa I was surprised at the suggested cooking time of 2 hours (misprint?) and the amount of preparation time and cooking that goes into the Kolo Mee. They better taste good after all this! :D)

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks for the kind words! Indeed having one lens to work will open up more possibilities. Eliminating the focal length variation encourages more creative way to see things.

      I don’t think Kolo mee and laksa take 2 hours to prepare, but they are not that easy to make either. Outside of Sarawak it is hard to find similar dishes.

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