Travelling with an UWA


I normally bring only one lens for my travel and my go-to lens for travel is the trusty 24-105 mm f/4 IS. It covers all the useful focal length and the short telephoto allows me to capture far away actions when the need arise.  While going through my recent portfolios, I noticed that I tend to shoot more at the wide angle range and sometimes, I wish I could go wider. So in my recent trip to Penang, I decided to switch to the 16 – 35 mm f/4 IS to see how it would be like to do travel photography with just an ultra wide angle zoom. I was not disappointed.

35mm, f/5.0


One of the advantage I found was that with a wide angle, you can approach the subject as close as possible and avoid the clutter that are in front of it. It is great for narrow streets and indoor shot.

The 16mm allows me to avoid the motor cycle which was parked right in front of the wall.



“Love Me Like Your Fortune Cat” along Gat Lebuh Armenian (16 mm, f/5.0, 1/1600 sec,)

You may have get up real close to human subjects to fill the frame. One way to do so is to move in really close and take a few shots and wait until they are comfortable with you in standing that close. Take a few shots first and you may be  able capture a candid moment once they have gotten use to you standing there.

Apom Chooi, Burmah Road (16mm, f/7.1, 1/50 sec,)

Shooting at a more ‘normal’ focal length of 35 mm gives less distortion as seen in the photo below. Here’s the cook frying a batch of Char Kway Teow over charcoal fire. This stall is located in Siam Road. Be ready for a long wait. We were there at the peak and has to wait for more than an hour! The queue in this photo were take-away customers. The bulk of the eat-in customers were waiting in a coffee shop across the road shown in the following photo.

35mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec
16mm, f/5.6, 1/50 sec

Wide angle lens are perfectly suitable for landscape. Just make sure there are some foreground object to give a sense of scale to the scene.

I will let the photos do the talking in the following images of Penang.

Cheong Fatt Tze mansion aka Blue Mansion, Jalan Cheong Fatt Tze.

16mm, f/7.1, 1/320

Padang Brown Hawker Centre – you can get excellent popiah here.

16mm, f/8.0, 1/320 sec

Lane leading to Khoo Kongsi Building, Lebuh Cannon

16mm, f/5.0,  1/320 sec

Chew Jetty, Pengkalan Weld

16mm, f/9.0

Fishing boats on Sungei Pulau Betung, Balik Pulau

16 mm, f/7.1, 1/40 sec

I found that the UWA did not limit me very much in the photos I captured.  I just need to put more thought into the composition. Anyway, the primary objective of this trip was not photography. It was sampling the food treats. The first photo in this article is a pananorama of the Air Itam Dam. I will leave you with a scenary taken form the dam with George town in the background.

35mm, f/13, 1/100