A Brief History In KL Time

Mid 19th Century>>
The lure of metal brought the first group of Chinese miners up the Klang river, right up to the confluence with the Gombak river. Interesting to note that of the 87 who embarked on the journey 69 of them perished within a month. But enough tin was found for the Selangor Sultanate to send a second party of miners and thus began the river traffic.

Two Chinese traders built a store that grew into a trading village. Hui Siew the founder was given the title as the first ‘Kapitan Cina’

Selangor civil war amongst the aristocracy. (Sumatran Malays vs the Bugis?) They fought for control on tin export duties the and for the forts in Klang. KL was devastated

Yap Ah Loy (The 3rd Kapitan Cina…and the most famous) rebuild KL from the ruins of the Selangor Civil war. He rehabilitated the shutdown mines and recruited 6000 miners to rework them. Yap Ah Loy built his house in the old market square now called (Medan Pasar Besar). He maintained basic law & order an d provided public services funded by profits from his gambling den and brothels.

Tin boom and the British shifted the state capital from Klang to KL. And began to develop and administer KL with modern infrastructure.

KL made capital of the Federated Malay States. Revenue derived from tin sustained the British administration and enabled them to provide infrastructure and social framework. Yap Ah Loy’s KL was being rebuilt by the British.

Social change in KL. Exposure to European culture, the media, recreational sports and the establishment of clubs and schools. The Malay agricultural settlement scheme was established to educate the children of the Malays to partake in administration and to enable them to reap someo f the prosperity. Kampung Baru was established with 90 hectares set aside – but did not achieve objectives.

Japanese military forces occupied KL. A complete disorganization of KL town’s services and disintegration of local government administration.

KL underwent dramatic changes arising out of the scientific and technological revolution throughout the world.

KL receives the most amazing photo documentary work ever done on its streets. Ha ha ha….


Street Reflections

VISA accepted in a mamak shop – Masjid India

No VISA signs anywhere on a global franchise like this one – Bintang Walk

Busking is a culture that seems to be gaining popularity. No doubt its globalisation at work…and also revealing its dangers…cause where are the Malaysian traditional instruments?

People Ask Me

How do you shoot a story? or how do you find a story to shoot?

Broadly speaking, I feel that stories fall into two distinct categories:

One is the obvious. Something happens, be it tragedy or some cultural celebration. So you arrive and the action unfolds before you. In such cases what you need is a good eye and technical skills to produce good work. Hard work still but its simpler.

The second one is more elusive. It is conceptual and it exists around you, but there is no center of attention, no single drama that allows you to easily focus on. This is where you need to hunt. To be a good hunter you need to equip yourself with several things. Understanding what you are looking for (through research and investigation) and combining that knowledge with what you can sniff out in the field are crucial attributes needed.

Gaining access is another major success factor for any photographer. It relies on your network and people skills. I guess I’ll leave that elaboration for another time…


Lebuh Ampang – The place where Yap Ah Loy first started building KL

Bintang Walk – The place where Tan Sri Francis Yeoh is still building the new KL

For Photographers Part2

The other thing that photographers LOVE to know about their fellow comrades at work:

My camera settings for KLGTU:
ISO>> manual

WB>> around 4200-4500K for outdoor, other situations accordingly


Focusing>>a mix between manual and auto (but the closer I get to my subjects or if the scene becomes complex, the more tendency to use manual)

Metering>>usually spot, occasionally center weighted and matrix

Exposure>>usually manual, occasionally program mode when it’s a quick grab

For Photographers Part1

I guess it would be helpful. Everyone always seems to LOVE knowing what other photographers carry in their bag. Well here is mine:


1>>camera body

1>>17-35mm lens

1 >>50mm lens

1>>note book and pen

3G>>worth of CF cards

And thats all!

Other times:
1>>tripod (when I sort of know I’ll be shooting through dusk and it involves buildings and landscape)

1>>70-200mm (when I feel strong and there is the ‘just in case’ feeling)

I prefer to minimize my luggage, otherwise you attract attention and in addition you become less agile/mobile. How then can you be a comfortable fly on the wall?

Other Challenges

Just wanted to highlight an issue that has been bugging me. In the past whenever I photograph in foreign destinations, being a foreigner has a certain welcoming advantage. I feel that communities open up better to a foreign looking person than a local dude. (I guess that ends at the initial phase, cause once you get past people’s prejudiced minds, it’s your skills of developing that relationship that matters)