Photography & Gallery


Malaysia offers many opportunities for picture taking. From city lights to the flora and fauna, there are a lot of natural colour and activity to captivate you. Popular temples and mosques are quite used to visitors clicking away but in other instances it is more reassuring if you could ask permission first.


Photography in Malaysia has changed in tandem with the rest of the developed or developing world. Buying digital cameras for first time buyers or replacing their existing cameras is the norm. Only a smaller group is holding back to the method of using film photography.


The photo shops in Malaysia provide full service for printing or downloading pictures from your Digital camera into CDs. It may be more convenient if you bring enough of memory storage for the whole trip and avoid having to download to CDs. An average shooter would probably use no more than 1 GB of memory, but heavy shooter taking more than 3000 shots may need 2GB or more. Some may suggest uploading your pix to an online service but connections are not always reliable or fast.


For film photography, the ideal film speed is ISO100, 200 & 400 as Malaysia enjoys sunshine all year round. During the northeastern monsoon period from early November till end of December, afternoon showers are a frequent occurrences. ISO200 film can be used indoor with flash and if you have a fast lens, to open aperture to f1.4 at 1/30, without flash. All camera shops still stock the popular film brands such as Fuji and Kodak. Popular photo shops like Foto Shangri-La, FotoZoom are located at shopping malls and shops along major roads. You can also buy film from 24 hours convenience shops like 7-Eleven and petrol stations like Shell, Mobil, Petronas, Projet and Esso Petrol Stations. Popular film speed of ISO100, 200 and 400 are widely available at prices between RM10 to RM13. If you intend to use ISO800, 1600, Fuji Reala films, Black & White and slide films, get what you need first as this is only available in selected shops in Malaysia.


Films with ISO400 and below are not affected by hand luggage x-ray scans. For films over ISO600, do ask the guard to hand inspect them. Thus, put them separately for easy identification. Avoid putting film in main luggage as the x-ray machines scanning them are more powerful and may damage film.


Colour film can be developed promptly and costs 0.60 cents per piece with service charge of RM3.00 included. Avoid shops that offer 0.40 cents per piece as this may indicate skimping on chemicals, which mean lower quality prints.


Cameras in Malaysia are Duty Free and offer a fine range of choices.


Tips for Photography


Good Lens

Taking excellent shots technically requires you to purchase a camera body and putting on some very good lens. A very good lens makes all the difference. If you are serious about getting technically excellent pictures, buy a DSLR, (Digital Single Lens Reflex) or 35mm SLR(Single Lens Reflex) film camera body and purchase a zoom or prime lens separately after doing some research. Some DSLR or SLR cameras come with a zoom lens as a package. Normally these lenses are mass produced and may not be very good. Yes, that means sacrificing on convenience of a light weight, compact camera and price for something bulkier and more expensive. The more established camera brands such as Nikon, Canon, Leica and if your bank(or partner) allows it, Hasselblad, have decades of know how of making very good quality lenses and cameras. Very good quality lenses produces pictures that are sharp, contrasty and have excellent colour rendition. Cheap and great lenses from the film era are plentiful in the secondhand market and so are film camera bodies. Realistically, a 5 mega pixel card size digital camera would probably produce only good picture quality when the size of the lens is about 1cm in diameter, even if it is Carl Zeiss!


Hold it Steady

The most basic of basics to getting sharp pictures but many people seem to forget this. Hold your camera very steady with both hands and remain so when pressing the button. If you are able to, support your body by leaning against a wall or support your hands by putting on a ledge or table. If you can afford to, like many professional photographers, put in on a sturdy tripod. This is not a fixed rule as movements and picture blur can create interesting shots. One method is called ‘panning’, that is using your camera to follow a moving subject.


Mix up your shots

It is a common habit to overly take personal photos all the time. Every scene has you or your partner or family in it. To make personal pictures more interesting, take them doing something natural, like reading a road map, walking, laughing, drinking or eating local delicacies. Be creative and candid about your shots.


Break away from personal photos once in a while and focus on the scene in front of you. Concentrate on telling a story that is unfolding. It may be the beautiful building or landscape basking in beautiful light or a dramatic storm or pictures of real people doing real things. The reflection of a shophouse glass or water puddle in the street.  Zoom in to record details of intricate artwork or object and nothing else. Pictures of locals doing their everyday thing like walking, debating, laughing, kissing or shopping make great shots. Every shot is a blank canvas waiting for you to create something interesting or beautiful.


Take them both in colour and black and white(B&W). If you are using film, use B&W and colour film. Alternatively you can also change film in between B&W and Colour rolls midway. Use a film retriever to retrieve the film so that it can be loaded to the camera to be used again. Just remember to write down how many shots you have taken and wind to one shot ahead of that number.


Take pictures in the morning, afternoon and evening as each lighting effect is different. Do take late evening and night shots as well. ISO1600 or even 3200 takes great late evening and night shots.


Print in different sizes

If you are planning to print and stick them in a photo album, vary the print size. The most common print size is 4R. Prints normally look better when they are printed bigger, say a 6R to 10R. Nevertheless, mix up the print size by blowing up pictures that require bigger size and least impressive shots can be maintained at 4R.


Take more shots

With digital cameras, now you have the luxury of taking many shots. Even with film, do not save by taking less. Make every shot count, but take more shots so that you can choose and present the best ones. Delete or throw away bad shots. In 1993 National Geographic magazine professional photographers shot 1,683,000 pictures. Only 1,408 pictures were published.


Read and Research

There are loads of websites, books and magazines which provide information on improving your photography skills. Read and be inspired by beautiful photographs and apply the various techniques provided. Remember that practice makes perfect and like riding a bicycle, many of these skills stay with you for life.


The professional approach

The richness of a picture depends on the ability to see, really see. It is knowing how to dance with subject and light, and anticipate the moment that will flicker before your eyes for a millisecond and vanish.


Popular professional approaches to photography :-

1. Images are a magic to be conjured. Work is contemplative, lyric. A village floating in heavenly mist. Chalk cliffs in glimmering moonlight.


2. Photography is choreography. One tries to sense the ballet of street life, positioning himself at the center of the whirl: a protest in Chile, a disco in Spain.


3. Photography is obsessive. The quest for perfection.


4. Some daydream their pictures, arising out of a series of poetic images that float through the mind. To create photos that has the quality of fantasy.


5. Some envision themselves as a hunter, spending days watching, understanding then getting close enough to get the story.


Technical aspects become the least of it.



homepage > Photography & Gallery