Perth Adventures + Snapshots From Smartphone Camera

I had a portrait shoot for an old friend last week, hence I was in Perth, Western Australia and after the shoot, I extended my stay to do some shutter therapy. During my time there, I have visited quite a few places from walking the streets within the CBD to the ports and beaches in Fremantle. I did quite a bit of shutter therapy but I also spent a bulk of my time catching up with old friends, eating amazingly Delicious food and basically just enjoying myself, eg watching the sunset by the beach while eating an ice-cream. I did spend quite a bit of time here in Perth many years ago, during my university days. I graduated with a Civil Engineering degree from University of Western Australia, hence Perth holds some precious memories for me. I took the opportunity to revisit some old places and relive nostalgic moments, walking down memory lane.

The images from my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II will be shared on Ming Thein’s site soon, so do keep an eye out for that. Perth is such a wonderful place for street photography! At the meantime, I am sharing snapshots from my still newly acquired smartphone, the Realme 2 Pro.

With each image I shared here, I shall accompany them with short anecdotes from my past and the significance of the location to me. An interesting note: ALL photographs here were shared live on my Instagram stories during my trip in Perth, so please follow me on Instagram @shutter.therapy

Perth CBD sykyline as seen near the War Memorial, Kings Park. When I purchased my first compact camera, a Kodak Point and Shoot, I hiked up to the peak or Kings Park (about an hour walk, uphill) from UWA. It was at night, and the trail leading to the peak was almost pitch dark with no street lights. When I got to the top, I planted the tripod and did my first ever long exposure night photography, shooting the city landscape during the night. I remember the camera settings perfectly – 4 seconds, F3.5 (fixed) and ISO100. I still remember the euphoric sensation I felt when the shot came out beautifully. That was one of the huge turning moments in my life when I knew photography was in the future of my life. 

Matilda Bay has always been special to me. Located within the UWA grounds, just by the Swan River, it was the perfect location for picnics or a stroll during sunset to clear the mind off uni stress before dinner. I have seen a school of dolphins swimming in the river during sunset. I even co-organized a surprise birthday party that ended by having the birthday boy being thrown into the river. That birthday event of my friend was also my first ever blog entry, but of course I have taken down most of my earlier blog posts. Matilda Bay had open BBQ pits, you can just bring your own food and grill them here (electric BBQ). 

School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering, UWA. Nothing special about the building, but I did spend a lot of time here for lectures and also studying in the library inside the building. Graduated from a Civil Engineering Degree here, and made some truly awesome friends. University was not an easy phase in my life, I did have some struggles but that also revealed some of my truest friends who have stayed loyal with me all this time. A big part of me came from my university days, that have shaped me into the photographer I am today. 

While I was walking around university grounds, I just had to find this statue at the entrance to the Physics Building. The statue was still standing proudly, greeting students entering the building. I have taken photograph of this and blogged about it here about 12-13 years ago. It is funny how this image reappeared again so many years later. Speaking of blogging, my blog did not start out as a photography blog, it was an online journal, documenting my daily adventures and also penning down my thoughts and feelings, going through uni life in Perth. I was not quite sure how it mutated into a photography blog, but it must have happened so gradually over time that I never took noticed or bothered about the change. 

Took the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II with me for street shooting in Perth. Many photographs were taken and will be shared on Ming Thein’s site soon. Stay tuned!

The CBD has changed a little bit, with some new buildings and also new areas such as Central Park and Raine Square, or at least those two were new to me. I particularly love the modern urban structures, having mixture of steel framework, concrete and glass structures all coming together to form interesting geometry and stunningly beautiful city appearance. I could not stop pointing my cameras to many possible angles. 

The harsh sun of perfectly clear blue sky created dramatic light, casting deep heavy shadows everywhere. Shadows in the right places add definition and depth within the frame, and was just what I needed to add that “ooomph” in my images. 

It was quite interesting that I started to pick up photography when I was in Perth in 2004. Back then, I was merely getting my feet wet and had to self-learn everything. I admit I was a slow learner, it took me some time to get better, and I was not even aware of what street photography was back then. Why am I bringing this up? Because I was using a digital compact camera, and now coming back here, I was also shooting extensively using my smartphone’s camera. The smartphone has outperformed the aged digital camera in nearly all aspects. It was not a surprise that smartphone has killed off digital compacts. I wonder how far can smartphone cameras evolve, now with AI and deep learning technologies getting more advanced, and how long can dedicated cameras stay relevant. The smartphone revolution is an unpredictable creature!

I remember clearly the Kodak compacts that I have used were not as wide (maybe something like 35mm widest focal length, remember it was a time when the more zoom means better camera), and I have struggled most with dynamic range since Perth’s sun was blindingly bright. The harshness in the shot also resulted in blown highlights and black shadows, with no possibility of recovery. I was blown away by how effortlessly the smartphone managed to balance the extreme exposures and still produce a pleasant looking image. Mind you, the Realme 2 Pro that I am using now is a budget smartphone (below RM1k) and all reviews out there (not even one done by a photographer, all reviewed by gadget/tech experts) unanimously claimed that the camera on this smartphone is poor. Really?

Perth has many street art popping out everywhere now, and has become more vibrant with interesting graphic graffiti. However, I find most of these wall graffiti to be unsettling with a consistent “death” theme. I am not sure if this is the reflection of what the society is thinking about in general, but I would want to see happier paintings on the walls. The one pictured above was one of the less disturbing art around, and these are few and far in between. 

I just cannot help myself. 

Checked out an on-going photography exhibition in Fremantle, the photography project was about memorial sites. I should spend more time exploring the photography culture here and get to know the local community better. 

My hosts when I was in Perth, Charmaine and Chris. both amazingly beautiful humans who took care of all my needs and I could not have asked for my stay to be better. Do follow them on Instagram: @charmaine_hon and @the.industrious.kwokka
Fun fact – they are both passionate photographers, and Charmaine is now an Olympus enthusiast. 

Kaylee, the furry little creature that I stayed with for the past week, I miss her already!

Sunset in Perth! One of my favourite things to do when I was here was to just walk along the beach and wait till the sun drops into the ocean. There is just something therapeutic about the beach and the ocean, and the amazing thing about Perth is the easy access to the beach, and the beaches are so freaking clean, with white soft sand, deep blue waters and FREE for the public!

Oh yes I did some night shooting too. Can’t wait to share the results with you guys soon!

This was me at Hay Street Mall, Perth, on my last day, doing one last round of shutter therapy before flying back to Kuala Lumpur in the same evening. 
Also shout out to Sarah Chen, another old friend of mine who allowed me to shoot her portraits, as well as hosting me during my first night, and taking me to shop! 
I had too much fun perhaps, reliving past memories in Perth. At the same time, I also realized that I was no longer in Perth, having moved on and forward in Kuala Lumpur. Everything seemed so distant now, and as much as I loved this place, I have to put it behind me and just continue to walk on. I am lying to myself if I said I never had a second thought, or thinking about what ifs, especially the different kind of path in my life should I have stayed on in Western Australia. These lingering scenarios are dangerous and best kept suppressed. I found joy in my current path, and I do have a wonderful life in Kuala Lumpur, surrounded by many beautiful friends who walk the same path as I do. Looking back now, maybe Perth was not meant to be, but hey, that does not mean I cannot just fly to this city of unlimited blue skies and have a sip of their impossibly aromatic coffee from time to time. 
This is not the end, I have more posts to share about my Perth adventures. 

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