Shutter therapy in Perth, part I

Recently, I was in Perth to shoot portraits for an old friend as well as to take some time off and indulge is some shutter therapy. Perth is not new to me – I spent several years completing my Civil Engineering degree at the University of Western Australia and nearly migrated to Australia permanently. I also picked up photography while I was in Perth, and spent a considerable amount of time shooting around the beautiful city. Back then, I was running around with a compact point and shoot Kodak and DSLRs were starting to gain popularity. When the opportunity to revisit Perth presented itself, I was quick to jump at it.

Since this was also a work trip (mostly outdoor portraits with available light, non-studio), I packed more than my usual kit which prioritizes a small footprint and lighter weight. This time, I brought along the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko lenses 7-14mm PRO, 25mm F1.2 PRO, 45mm F1.2 PRO and 40-150mm F2.8 PRO. However, when out shooting for myself, I left the 40-150mm F2.8 PRO behind. Most of the shots in this article were taken with the 25mm F1.2 PRO lens.

I shot around the CBD area as well as Fremantle which is a little further south of the city. I particularly love the modern urbanscape in the CBD area, with its large steel structures, interesting concrete shapes and building facades with plenty of reflective glass (which works well for a variety of framing options). Since my time in Perth, the city has undergone several face-lifts and upgrades such as the gorgeous open space of Central Park and Raine Square. Walking around and exploring these new locations was a great experience on its own. The weather in Perth has always been sunny and the deep blue sky and over-abundance of sunlight established the location.

While shooting on the streets, I had no pre-determined objective since my holiday was short and I wanted to spend most of it catching up with old friends, eating good food and taking a trip down memory lane. As I did not intend to spend all my time looking through the viewfinder, I made sure to enjoy the breathtaking sunset while indulging in some ice-cream. The photographs shown here are a mix of what I normally shoot on the street: some portraits of strangers, some interesting architectural shots, and playing with shadows and highlights. While the images may not have a specific theme, I find the randomness quite refreshing.

Years ago, as a newcomer to photography living in Perth, I shot almost everyday but never thought I would end up as a full time commercial photographer one day. It was such a carefree and casual hobby when I first picked up the Kodak compact and shot random scenes in Perth. I was seeing through the eyes of a Malaysian boy in a new land, so my images back then were mostly tourist-snapshots and I was not aware of street photography either. Coming back to the same locations now, armed with several years of photographic experience, I can see what I missed out on! I think Perth is a wonderful playground for street photography.

Part of me has always wondered what would have happened if I had stayed in Perth? Would I have continued with photography and still be involved with Olympus? Or would I, instead of street photography, have focused on more landscape or other genres? So many questions and what ifs, but one thing is for sure, my presence in Kuala Lumpur gave my photography a unique setting to show during my camera and lens reviews, which has greatly helped in generating readership. Sometimes, to stand out in photography, you don’t necessarily have to be better than everyone else, just different and interesting.

In addition to street photography, I also did some night sky shooting. The weather during one of the shoots was cloudy, so I could not get a clear Milky Way shot in the sky and decided to do a star trail instead. I think photographers residing in Perth are blessed with so many options for landscape locations that it is almost impossible not to pick up landscape photography. I was able to shoot at two locations: the Crawley Edge Boatshed along Mounts Bay Road and Island Point Reserve in Mandurah. For the star trail shots, I used the Live Composite feature on the Olympus E-M1 Mark II and just let the camera run for 45 minutes. I should have probably brought along beer and chips to keep my friends and I occupied during that time.

I also met up with photographers in Perth at a mini gathering for my blog readers! I have an update about that here. Special thanks to all those who came to the meet up – I apologise for having it on a weekday night. I shall try my best to have future events on the weekends so more people can join in. Maybe shutter therapy with me in the CBD, or Freo?

To be Continued in Part 2

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Images and content copyright Robin Wong 2019 onwards. All rights reserved

Comments

  1. Beautiful. I don’t know how you can find so many extraordinary scenes just casually walking about. The photographic eye and level of skill are in sync, as always. Looking forward to part 2.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks Michael! That is street photography – finding beauty in the ordinary things everywhere, and also finding order in the midst of chaos!

  2. Just wondering Ming why did you ultimately decide not to make the move to Australia

    • You’ll have to ask Robin that as he’s got the soapbox today 😉

      • Robin Wong says:

        Hey Darrell, I moved back to Malaysia in 2008 after the disastrous world economic crisis, lost my employment and the visa that was tied to it. There were many moments that I almost wanted to reapply for a job in Australia but I have then discovered photography. I don’t think I will be returning to my old job anytime soon though!

  3. LanceWex says:

    Love that mannequin shot.

  4. Paul Wilson (@TorpedoWilson) says:

    Some great shots here! You should not do yourself down when comparing yourself to others – you have the gift and use it well.

    As an aside, it appears to me, at least from these, that you are gravitating towards a more neutral colour palette – is that conscious or am I imagining it?

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks Paul, you are too kind. I think the color palette had a lot to do with Perth and Australians in general, they do not dress up in vivid colors (red, yellow, etc) and the background I worked with were mostly bricks, limestone walls, concrete/steel structures with very neutral tones. Thankfully the light was harsh, due to clear skies, else I would have very flat images with dull colors!

      • Paul Wilson says:

        Ah, yes. Makes sense. Where I live in the UK it is difficult to escape dull greens, browns and greys. Much B/W, or vivid processing results!

  5. Very fine work; some of the Perth “personalities” and the Perth night sky nicely captured. Cant quite figure out the personality behind the impressive red shoe though!

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks! The red shoes was unplanned, I saw the lady when she was too near me, so I could only shoot her after she has passed me by. Hence the shot from behind which I seldom did, but I thought why not, since I did not see that many red shoes in the city!

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