Category Archives: Photo Essay

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Travel Photography | Destination: Hong Kong

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Photography With Fujifilm X100 | Destination: Nepal | Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur is one of our destination during our recent trip to Nepal with my fellow friends. In 2012, I have spent much time with wide angle lens. Since established shot was not my aim for this trip, I decided to use only 1 lens looking for any chances for portrait.

On our way from Sarangkot down to Bhaktapur, a friend of me, Leanna Chong asking me if I dare exchange our camera. So she will be using my Fujifilm X-Pro1, and I will use Fujifilm X100. I have no hesitate to take that as a challenge.

I struggled for half an hour to understand how X100 works. A lot of guessing within the menus and finally I get the some basic understanding how does it working.Basic means to know simple setting like aperture, exposure, shooting modes, shutter speeds and ISO. I believe X100 provides a lot of features, but I don’t want to spent so much time and perhaps missed any potential shots along the way.

Entrance Ticket

 

Group Photo at Bhaktapur | Fujifilm X-Pro1

Photojournalism Workshop | Shamshahrin Shamsudin

On 28-30 March 2014, I joined Photojournalism Workshop organised by Jebat Photography Club featuring Shamshahrin Shamsudin. The workshop was held at Marina Court Resort Condominium, Kota Kinabalu. There are 9 other participant joined the workshop including 3 from Brunei. This was the second workshop by Shamshahrin organised by Jebat Photography Club. Unlike his first volume, the second workshop emphasis on Documentary Photography which to be presented in Photo Essay.

We were given 1 whole day on the second day to get our own stories with given guideline in his note. As for me, I have several stories in my mind for the assignment. As early as 230am, I was shooting at SAFMA market. Every night starting at 1am, SAFMA market is the busiest place in the city, this is the place where the deep sea fisherman dealing with supplier. After shooting for about 2 hours, I found that I need to be on the boat to get different perspective rather than just a lazy snapshot taken from the jetty itself. But none of the fisherman looks approachable, I was thinking about my own safety too as everybody being curious so see me carrying camera. It can mislead the fact that I was immigration authority because earlier on before entering this market, there are rumours about immigration team is coming. The way they look at you is enough tell that they don’t feel comfortable with you. Or maybe it was just my own issue. So I didn’t manage to complete this story. At 630am, I decided to forget about it and go home for some rest.

After jumping from 1 story to another, I finally decided to shoot about the young fellow with Rock attire. After waiting about an hour at the spot I normally see them hanging around, it was disappointing to know that this fellow normally stay there during Sunday. However I managed to find subject but is not in complete attire, but I decided to do it anyway as there was not much time left.

 

I learnt a lot from this workshop. It has opened my eyes a lot. For the photography enthusiast out there especially around Kota Kinabalu, I highly recommend you to join his workshop when available. You shouldn’t missed it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Photography | Destination: Nepal | Swayambhunath Stupa (The Monkey Temple), Kathmandu

Swayambhunath Stupa (The Monkey Temple)

 

Swayambhunath, is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal. The complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples.  Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. From Thamel, it cost about Rs400 one way with tiny taxi ride. When you ride this kind of taxi, please don’t expect they will use the main road. When we use the taxi back in 2012, I felt like I was playing game which we run away from getting caught and there is an urgency to use your skills to go back side of the building passing local market, shops, residence area, temple, shops, and another temple and then the driver said, “Sir, this is Swayambhunath Stupa”. 

“I think we were scammed, there is no temple here”. But thats before we see a staircase leading to the temple. The entrance is Rs200 per person.

Federation of Swayambhu Management Conservation Ticket

 

Steps to Swayambhunath Temple, the point where you have to buy the conservation ticket & take your long breath. You don’t want to know how far is it from the bottom

 

I found this quote to express the experience climbing these steps:

We were breathless and sweating as we stumbled up the last steep steps and practically fell upon the biggest vajra (thunder-bolt scepter) that I have ever seen.” – Allione, Women Of Wisdom. 

Well this is true enough, one of our member even vomiting just about 5 minutes after reaching to the top.

A monk circling the Stupa

 

 

For the Buddhist Newars in whose mythological history and origin myth as well as day-to-day religious practice, Swayambhunath occupies a central position, it is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it is second only to Boudhanath.

 

Each morning before dawn hundreds of Buddhist (Vajrayana) and Hindu pilgrims ascend the 365 steps from eastern side that lead up the hill

There are carvings of the Panch Buddhas (five Buddhas) on each of the four sides of stupa.

Tibetan Praying Wheels

 

Visitor enjoying spectacular viewing of Kathmandu

Praying Candles

Praying Candles

Praying Candles

A women lost in her own world reading newspaper, neglecting people passing by or even being photographed

Portrait of women at Swayambhunath Stupa

Portrait of women at Swayambhunath Stupa

 

 

These set of images was taken during my first visit in 2012 and my recent 2014.

Thank you for your time viewing this post.

 

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Travel Photography With Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Destination : Nepal | Doors of Nepal

This post is simply about collection of doors that attracts my interest during our recent travel photography trip. They came with various characteristic. Some with stricking colors, while other with seasoned feature. It can be just a simple doors like what we can see in our hometown. Doors with padlock are common in Nepal especially when visiting Bhaktapur & Patan.

I haven’t done any research about the doors role against local community here in Nepal but I suspect it must be related to Buddhism practice. The way they paint the doors with striking colors, amazingly detailed hand carved woods tells us how important the doors are related into their life. Only the windows and doors are mainly painted or decorated while the other part of the house or building left seasoned.

From photographic viewpoint, it is very easy to photograph the doors or windows. There is no need to deal with people so you don’t think about your life and death of asking people to photograph them. You can do it even with your phone’s camera. No special technique and if you like me, no need to carry any lighting equipment to get this done. Often time when travelling, I will pack as minimal as I could so that I don’t clutter my mind of taking care of my gears in my bag while moving around. The less the better.

These are my collection : Doors of Nepal

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

-Walt Disney-

Travel Photography With Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Destination: Nepal | Boudhanath Stupa

If you happened in Kathmandu and you have nothing in your plan for that day, I will suggest a visit to Boudhanath Stupa. The largest stupa in Nepal, ranked no. 3 interesting places to visit in Kathmandu written in Lonely Planet Travel Guide Book.

Located about 7km of east of the downtown Kathmandu, if you from Thamel, Kathmandu’s tourist spot, it cost you about Rs350 (in 2012) per way with a small, cramped sized taxi. It took about 15-20 minutes to reach here. Entrance fees applied at the gate with the cost of Rs150 per person.

Boudhanath Stupa Entrance Ticket

Boudhanath is both an eye of calm within capital’s dusty pandemonium and a sancutary of Tibetan Buddhist culture amid a nation dominated by Nepal Hindus. Throughout its narrow streets, you can see posters of smiling Dalai Lama, Tibetan folk-medicine stores, traditional artisans’ workshops, and restaurants. It has been announced as World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1979. Buddhists walk around the sacred monuments clockwise, the same direction a prayer wheel spins. The monasteries near the stupa have become a global centre of Tibetan Buddhism.

Prayers at Boudhanath Stupa

Boudhanath Stupa With Golden Layer At The Edge Of The Horizon

If you planned to make a visit, I suggest to go here arround 3-5pm. If you come earlier, the you will have all the time for visit all the shops inside, of have a cup of coffee or two at one of the roof top cafe surrounding the big stupa. I’m suggesting to visit at that time so that we are can target for the sunset and the blue hour. Well I don’t really mean that sunset but to have Boudhanath with nice golden layer at the edge of the horizon. During blue hour, when they started to lid the prayer candles and put it around the stupa is something not to be missed too. I didn’t manage to wait until all prayer candles fully completed arranged around the stupa, but for now, that will be in my “must-have” list on my next visit.

Boudhanath Stupa

A Lady Preparing Prayer Candles And Boudhanath Stupa

View From One Of Monastery Around Boudhanath

Prayer Candles getting lined up arround Boudhanath Stupa

Travel Photography | Destination : Nepal | Bicycle

Education is a continual process, it’s like a bicycle… If you don’t pedal you don’t go forward. – George Wea

The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own. – Susan Sontag


 Life is like riding a bicycle: you don’t fall off unless you stop pedaling. – Claude Pepper
 

Faces Of Nepal

It’s been almost 3 weeks after returning from our travel photography trip at Kathmandu. Back at home, I’d spent most of my time with my beloved family rather than looking or examining all photos taken during the trip. Just taking my time for a quick editing & upload to my flickr account so they will be ready when I’m about to write something in my blog. I’m using lightroom through my entire workflow until the selected photos uploaded in my flickr account with its provided publish service. Maybe I will share some tips about publishing photos to flickr via lightroom in another post.

In November 2012, when I first travel to Nepal, I have already taken what I call “established” photo. With those “established” photo already in hand, I’m now put more effort to get portraits. A portrait with permission, not just a candid. This is where our communication skill get tested, it really pumped up my adrenaline most of the time simply because of just asking a stranger whether it’s okay to take photo of them. For most of you, maybe this is just an easy task but you got to believe me that it really hard on me. Maybe it really hurts me when I get rejected, feeling of upset and stressful moment when you really found someone with the characteristic features you wanted but refused to be photographed. I’m using Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 35mm lens, it means I will shoot just about 3-4 feet away from them just to get their portrait, I know they will feel awkward but this is where “trust” plays its role. When we get trusted, there is a good possibility that they will accept your request.

Below are portrait series of Nepal (Kathmandu – Nagarkot – Bhaktapur – Pokhara)

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Sarangkot – Pokhara | Fujifilm X-Pro1

Portrait of lady above was taken when we about to leave from Sarangkot after spending 3-4 hours for the sunrise viewing. We were the last group leaving Sarangkot that morning. While waiting for our friends at our meeting point, I see this lady inside her shop. So i made some contact with her, investing few rupee for a bottle of Coke. I can’t deny the lighting that moment, and I said to myself, the worst thing I could get is just a rejection. Suddenly I speak before my mind even made decision yet, can I photograph you? She nodded.

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Bhaktapur | Fujifilm X100

The Smoking man is Mr. Bhubanashur, 60 years old and a Newari Hindu. We met at Bhaktapur while I’m waiting for my phone sim to get activated, I don’t expect the activation of new number will cost such amount of time. This guy, his is selling CDs of Nepal Traditional Music. He looks approachable to me, so I made my move to start a conversation. We talked about 5 minutes and he started to light up his cigarette and you know whats next.

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Bhaktapur | Fujifilm X-Pro1

A guy with nice blue fleece. The are about 3 mens were talking when we passed by, then one of the member asking where we come from, knowing that we all come from Malaysia, he spoke Malay with us and sharing some of his work experiences in Malaysia not long ago. My eyes actually fixed to his friend with blue fleece. I told him how good looking he was with that fleece and made a request for taking his portrait.

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Tibetan Refugee Camp – Pokhara | Fujifilm X-Pro1

61 years old Tibetan Lady at Tashi Palkhiel. She is one of the villager selling tibetan handicraft near the Tibetan Refugee Camp. I bought few pieces of “friendship bracelet” and ask for a quick portrait shoot before leaving. 

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Nagarkot | Fujifilm X-Pro1

This beautiful girl above is Ms. Barsha, a 17 years old Tamang living at Nagarkot. She study in a boarding school somewhere in Kathmandu. That day, is a special day for Tamang which Lhosar Festival was celebrated. Actually, this shooting location is not in our list of destination that day, but as we passed by the village, I asked our driver to stop after seeing so many village gathering like having some kind of celebration. I have never regret of stopping by this village.

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Swayambhunath – Kathmandu

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Swayambhunath – Kathmandu | Fujifim X-Pro1

I took these two ladies photo at Swayambhunath Stupa or also known as The Monkey Temple. There were about 5-6 ladies in the same spot, when I was following my friend Wazari Wazir. I’m grateful he made his move communicating with them, a short warming up session and I took this opportunity to photograph some of them.

As he wrote in his blog:

“I simply could not resist photographing them, the light was so wonderful. I’m sure, I  will be haunted by this moment if I didn’t get the shot, well, at least I should try to ask them. Photographing strangers, isn’t easy, nobody ever said it was” – Wazari Wazir (read more here)

He did mention too about his experience being rejected after asking permission to take someone’s portrait, getting “NO” is not the real big thing but thats what keeping us to explore more and take it as challenge to make a portrait of a stranger. Follow your heart, your instinct are telling you something. You need to trust yourself first to be trusted.

“A photograph is both a pseudo-presence and a token of absence. Like a wood fire in a room, photographs – especially those of people, of distant landscapes and faraway cities, of the vanished past – are incitements to reverie.” – Susan Sontag

Fujifilm X-Pro1 : Thaipusam Festival At Kota Kinabalu

Thaipusam is a key Hindu ceremony that is held each year during the full moon in the tenth month of the Hindu calendar – Thai – falling from mid-January to mid-February in the Gregorian calendar. It is mainly observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community including Malaysia. . It mark as public holiday in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Kedah, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak,  Penang & Selangor.

I’ve been living in Kota Kinabalu for so many years but never heard of this festival being held around here. All this years, I only know this iconic festival attracts over one million devotees and tens of thousands of tourists at Batu Caves. I was looking for some photographic opportunity during Deepavali last year, when I see the note about Thaipusam at Sri Subramaniam Temple (KM22, Penampang-Papar Road in Lok Kawi). My curiosity about it lead me to ask one of the visitor at the temple, I am lucky enough to know that the person I talked to is one of the temple management team. He said it was actually held every year. Yes, every year here in Kota Kinabalu and I have never seen a picture of this festival that was taken from here.

With the information given, I managed to find the location where it being held. It was at Meruntum waterfront near Sabindo Traffic Light. I can’t wait a friend of mine, Rade to arrive when I saw the ceremony is already started. During the ceremony, I’m still curious will be there any piercing like what we used to see at Batu Caves. I decided to stay when the group of devotees carrying a pot of milk walks to Sri Subramaniam Temple. Then I just realise that the piercing ceremony will be held.

Since this was my first time covering Thaipusam Festival, I have no idea how and what to expect. These are some images I took this morning with Fujifilm X-Pro1 + Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4.

Pot of Milk

I can’t stay until the end of ceremony (I wish I could), I have another priority for family & to perform Friday Prayer. I learn a lot about this festival, next year I’ll aim for the eve Thaipusam. It much more interesting in Batu Caves, but I prefer to highlight the festival at Kota Kinabalu.

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