The Mamak Stall – Celebrating A Malaysian Institution

The roadside mamak stall is such a unique Malaysian institution. A convenience many take for granted until they migrated elsewhere. It can popped up under a tree and it is a great place to find food and drinks in a seeming remote neighbourhood. I was in a strange place behind Jalan Loke Yew with my friend Thiru Nash.

The red leafed iced tea in a scratchy plastic glass. Famous teh tarik or hot pulled tea is another favourite. The characteristic tray with soy sauce and pepper shakers, with another holding toothpicks. It prompts you to order ‘telur setengah masak’ (half boiled eggs) or maybe a roti.

Missing here are the ready packed nasi lemak and bee hoon. I wished there were fallen and dried leaves on the table to add character but the umbrella attached to each table does its job.
There is also another container with spoons and signature cheap forks with crooked or bent prongs. And free tissue papers or serviettes which we will never get at a Chinese coffee shop. And finally, there are other loafers and lepakians too.

I switched to Apeture Priority to include the other loafers at the back. At f22, the focus went from the ice cubes in my iced tea, to all the way to the back. There are technical things to think about at a mamak too.

Panasonic Lumix GM-1, ISO 2000, f22, 1/60 sec.

#roadside #mamak #stall #tea #streetphotography

Rain Or Shine

Rain or shine, Malaysians are all smiles when they see durians. Amazing how a roadside stall can bring traffic to a standstill.

Upon sighting the durians, many motorists made emergency stops, left their cars haphazardly by the roadside and ran hurriedly to the source of the scent.

Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd, I suppose.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 125, f4, 1/400 sec.

The Cheerful Durian Seller

Under the blazing sun and fasting, Norsiah Nordin is trying to eke out a living selling durians harvested from her own trees. I really respect that. Not just for her fortitude and adherence to religious obligations but also for her sunny disposition by the roadside.

Makcik wanted to give me a bunch of durians for taking her pics. When I declined, she wanted to give me cash to go print her pics at the 15-minute ‘instant print’ shop down the road.

Many younger people I photographed are happy to get the url to my website, Facebook or Instagram to look up their pictures later. Senior citizens without surfing skills or internet access do not have the means we take for granted.

I will make a properly-framed picture and surprise her later as I have done with a few others in past trips. Meanwhile, the encounter is another reminder to get a portable printer or a separate instant camera. Young or old, instant gratification brings joy.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f2.8, 1/500 sec.

Laundry Day In Slim River

When I saw this house from across the road, I knew the dark planks will play tricks on the camera’s exposure reading. It will overexpose the picture if there is no manual intervention.

Photography Tip: Make your brain an important part of the exposure metering process with street photography. I anticipated a -1 EV compensation. I was already rolling the EV compensation dial before bringing the camera to eye level.

This is where the high-resolution WYSIWYG electronic viewfinder of the Sony A7R (or any good mirrorless camera) is superior to an optical viewfinder.

You can fine tune the exposure (and white balance) precisely without bracketing, firing several shots or chimping by the roadside.

Judging via the viewfinder alone, I dialed it further down to -1.7 EV. The pre-estimation saved time as the road where I walked was narrow, the traffic busy and therefore dangerous. I must get it right with one take and as quickly as possible.

On the road and without a calibrated monitor, I don’t like to mess around with RAW. As such, it is important the JPEG is spot on and ready for upload from location, without further adjustments.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f9, 1/250 sec.

Malaysiana: The Petai Seller

Roadside stall in Slim River town selling strings of petai or stink beans (Parkia speciosa). From here to Bidor, Tapah and the road to Cameron Highlands, we will see many such stalls. Orang Asli people harvest the crop, sell it themselves or through local traders.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f11, 1/200 sec.