Tuesday, December 29, 2009

CLS at the Beach

Last week a few friends of mine from back in college decided to have a small picnic together by the beach in Bagan Lalang.

Of course, for me it's another excuse to take more pictures.

The evening sky that day was not too bright with lots of thick clouds and the sun peering in through random patches of sky. Occasionally some sprinkles of rain came down, no more than mere 5 to 10 minutes of light sprays, and the weather was nice again. Perfect for an evening picnic.

The tide was ebbing that day so there were no waves or deep water for almost half a mile out. Close to sunset we walked out to the water to get our feet wet and take some pics. I was more interested in the silhouette figure I saw standing in the shallow water just looking at people, as if he was guarding something precious in between his feet.

Later when it got a bit darker I set my camera for CLS shots. I took a couple shots of my friends just talking and drinking before Zul asked me to take a picture of him being the 'model' for Seasons' canned soy drink.

Hisham was our guest of the day. He flew back to Malaysia from the States for three weeks just to visit family and friends. It's been a while since we hung out with him so any chance we got to chill out together with him was indeed treasured.

And of course, Hisham was ecstatic to get to see us too!

We decided to do some jumping shots before it got too dark. Being an amateur, it wasn't easy for me to set up the shot with off-camera flash synchronized with ten people jumping at the same time. This shot was taken with the flash not firing, resulting in a very dark underexposed photo. Using Adobe Lightroom, I turned it into a black-and-white photo with grains not removed to get that 'vintage' feel. There are advantages to not delete failed shots. There are certainly ways to salvage them and turn them into something wonderful.

Finally after quite a few tries, the flash fired in-synch, and I was able to capture this photo of everyone having a wonderful time, albeit some shadows falling on some of their faces.

We finally separated and went our own ways after having some ghost stories and lame jokes told around an imaginary (read: non-existant) campfire.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


So many friends and family tying the knot this month. If I were to go to all the weddings I'm invited to, I'd have four or five free buffet lunches every weekend for the whole month.

Just this last week, I went to three out of four friends' weddings, the one I missed was because the reception was too far away and going there meant that I'd have to miss the other three. Sorry Ayu, I know you had a wonderful time anyways!

Speaking of tying the knot, here I'd like to share with you a (not so) recent photo I took of a knot.

Care to guess what that is?

An electrical cord?

A wire cable?

A fishing line?

Actually, it's a strand of hair.

A strand of hair, knotted in the middle.

No it's not my hair, because it's quite long in its entirety. I found it on a white tiled floor, so I used an off-camera flash and reversed my lens to get a closeup shot of the knot on the hair.

It was my first time getting a closeup shot of a strand of hair, so getting it in focus manually wasn't that easy. I had to make sure no wind was blowing so that the hair wouldn't move, so I had to turn the fan off. The room was small and cramped and the windows face east so it was hot without the fan blowing. I only took a few shots until I was satisfied with the results, and then turned the fan on, causing the strand of hair to be blown away and disappear.


On another note, it feels great to be back to blogging again; I haven't been blogging for a week and felt so at unease that I had to resume my regular postings today, even though I still have much to do work-wise.

Are you glad that I'm back blogging? I hope you do. Because I'm looking forward to hearing from you all again!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Wedding Road Trip (Updated with some photos)

This is a quick and short pictureless update.  

Right now I am still feeling tired from yesterday's wedding road trip. 

For one whole day I drove alone to three different weddings in three different districts.  

In the morning, Norbaya and Sharifuddin's solemnization in Segamat, Johor.  

Noon, Zulfadhly and Lily's reception in Sungai Mati, Muar.  

Evening, Lailatul Nadia's reception in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. 

I had to cancel going to Faizal Tahir and Siti Munirah's reception in Batu Pahat, because it was too far away and I would've taken two hours to get there, and another two to get to the next wedding venue.  

Also had to forgo the intention of going to Sarah and Shamin's reception in Bangi because I was too tired.  


My well wishes and congratulations to all my friends who recently tied the knot. May your lives be blessed by Allah always.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Caterpillar Closeup

I am glad that I discovered my interests in photography. Ever since I started picking up the camera, especially so since I got my Nikon D60, I realized that I paid more attention to the oft missed world of the minuscule. Those of you who have been with my blog for a while would know how much I like taking pictures of small creepy crawlies (to the delight and also dismay of some). My hobby has opened my eyes to the almost invisible, mostly ignored, and largely unnoticed minute details in the world around us. Sometimes I feel sad that most of us would miss seeing the beauty in the small things. We can discover a lot from viewing the most mundane things up close. And sometimes, creatures we regard as creepy or ugly can reveal their true beauties when we scale ourselves down to their size and try to see them eye to eye.

I was walking around in my apartment when I almost stepped on this little green caterpillar. It wasn't a big squishy caterpillar that one might find featured as a grub delicacy in some foreign place. It was pretty small, less than an inch long and definitely thinner than a satay stick. I picked it up from the white tile floor and set it on a thin stack of white paper. And of course, I ran over to the trusty ol' camera bag and grabbed my arsenal to shoot this little bug.

The little bugger was hard to photograph. It kept moving and wriggling and turning its head to different directions (probably trying to find its way to the edge of the paper). Because I used the reverse lens technique, the caterpillar's movement meant that it gets out of focus easily, and I had difficulty keeping it in focus. Out of the many, some are pretty decent and shareable. One of them is this side profile of the caterpillar. To tell you the truth, I'm not even sure where the eyes of this caterpillar were. What I noticed is that it's got some strands of hair sticking out from various parts of its body including the head. The hair strands were sparsely distributed, unlike other hairy caterpillars. Maybe this was a youngin', soon it'll grow a full body of hair and closeup fanatics like me would keep away from it for a change.

Here's one where you can see the 'face' of the caterpillar. I still am not sure where its eyes were.

Another perspective on how small this caterpillar was: you can actually see the thin side of the white paper for size reference. The white paper was a normal printing paper. Grab a printing paper and look at its thickness. Now look at the picture. You'll get a rough sense of the size of the caterpillar and how small it was.


I suddenly am reminded of the story where King Solomon's (Sulaymaan A.S.) troops were passing through the Wadi Naml (the valley of the ants, if I'm not mistaken) and how the King made sure his troops would avoid stepping on the small insects. This story tells us to appreciate the lives of Allah's creatures no matter how small. And that collateral deaths, no matter how insignificant the people/creatures killed may seem to be, should be avoided to our best efforts.


Have a wonderful day, everyone! Hope you liked the pics. And sorry to those who don't.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Lone Mushroom

It was a few weeks ago during a family day in Putrajaya that I stumbled upon this peculiar lone mushroom on the ground.

There were no other mushrooms within visual distance.

For a mushroom to be growing here solo, there could be several possibilities: a) One single spore managed to be carried by the wind all the way to this place while the rest were carried elsewhere, b) Neighboring mushrooms were already picked or disposed of, c) The rest of the spores did not manage to grow into a mushroom except this one.

Whatever backstory that the mushroom must have had, it managed to tell me one thing: Life goes on, even when you have to face it all alone.

But, indeed, as a Muslim, I need not fear facing the harsh dealings of this world all alone, for I know when everything else turn their backs on me, I can always turn to Allah for guidance.

I believe in the power of prayers. I have had several answered, both instantly and eventually. And for this I am thankful.

And I believe there are hidden blessings in every thing that most of the time escape our senses and our thoughts.

The lone mushroom did not escape me. It captured me and managed to make me think, and that in itself is another blessing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

CLS Camwhoring

To be very frank, I am not a seasoned camwhorist, nor do I indulge in the narcissistic enjoyment of adoring one's own physical attributes. I usually stray away from having myself photographed, especially by myself; for one reason I do not consider myself physically attractive, for another I most of the time end up being behind the lens than in front of it. A few nights ago, I had the chance of being alone in a hotel room with nothing better to do and a camera with accessories that permit me to capture photos using off-camera flash. There was a mirror in the room and seeing that I wanted to test my newly procured camera accessory (and having the newly-acquired ability to trigger an off-camera flash) and found no other subject of interest beside yours truly, I proceeded to my first official self-in-mirror CLS camwhoring session. 


That's generally how I look in the mirror (flip the picture horizontally and you'll see my real self). And that's how I took the photo --- camera towards the mirror, eyes looking at camera in the mirror (to establish proper eye contact with the viewer). You can see where my shadow is at the back --- from the position of the shadow you'll know that the flash was positioned at the lower left side, aimed to the upper right.  


I wanted more shadow contrast on my shirt so I changed to a stronger flash setting.  


Changed pose and angle of the flash. I lost detail in this shot, there was little shadow contrast to communicate shape and depth. 


Harder shadow on the neck. Notice that since I have black hair, the dark background made my hair lose its detail. For this reason, I need a second off-camera flash aimed at the back of my head for backlighting.


Held the flash pointed upwards from below the face. Some harsh shadows communicate shape, but the angle of the flash needs improvement I think.  


My favorite photo of the set. Some shadows on the shirt and face, although the flash direction could be improved. As with previous photos, the hair seems blended into the background, therefore a backlight is needed. For this reason alone, I might consider purchasing a second smaller (cheaper) speedlight.  

Creating the above pictures would not be possible without my latest procured camera accessory, the Phottix Tetra wireless flash remote trigger


Looking forward to more CLS (not necessarily camwhoring) photos with this gadget! 

By the way, which of my camwhoring photos above do you like best?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Abu Silhouettes

This is my youngest brother Abu. He is currently six years old.

It seems that he shares my interest in photography. I remember the day the above photo was taken. It was at a family gathering, and I was happily snapping pictures of the family younglings before I realized that Abu was doing the exact same thing using my sister Kim's camera. I guess we are more alike than I previously thought.

He has his mood swings when it comes to being photographed though. There'd be times when he absolutely refuses to have his picture taken and would make a scene if he discovers that somebody just snapped a picture of him without his consent. Other times he'd be super excited to be photographed and would do funny and interesting poses and demand to see the photos immediately after they were snapped. And during such times I would take the chance of exploring photography with Abu as my subject; the most recent results of which can be see in the following pictures.

It was one fine Sunday morning at the pavilion in Putrajaya Wetlands that I saw Abu climbing up and jumping down some terraces. I noticed that the bright morning sun in the sky has caused my eyes to adjust to the brightness, thus rendering everything into dark silhouettes. I immediately took out my camera and snapped up some silhouette photos of my brother.

He saw that I was taking photos of him and alhamdulillah, he's in the mood for pictures. So I had him jump a few more times...

... and let him strike a few poses of his own.

I love it when he uses his own creativity to pose. It makes the photo more honest and sincere and more reflective of his own identity. When I look at the photos, I would remember his energy and excitement and the innocence of his youth. And it's the sincerity and frankness in these photos that make them all the more memorable and priceless.

I would surely miss moments like these when Abu grows up...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Attempt at Capturing the Leonid Meteor Shower

I am planning to wake up early tomorrow morning (or possibly not go to sleep at all) at around 2.30 - 3.00 am to head outside for my first attempt at astrophotography. The Leonid meteor shower is expected to happen in the night sky above Malaysia around 3.00 am to 4.00 am and I am planning to find a place where the sky is clear with less light pollution to point my camera up towards the constellation of Leo and/or the North Star to try to capture some of the light streaks from the meteor.

I have read some tips online on how to photograph meteor showers and it seems like it's not as simple as I thought it would be. Based on my readings, I'm going to try the following setup:

Setup 1:
Exposure: 30 seconds
ISO: 800

Setup 2:
Exposure: 10 seconds
ISO: 1600

Setup 3:
Exposure: 1 minute or more.
ISO: 400

All the above will be done using my kitlens set at 18mm and f/3.5. I will try at least five consecutive shots using Setup 1 and ten consecutive shots using Setup 2. These will be shot in NEF and possibly be blended together in post-processing.

Setup 3 will be used if the sky is really clear with minimal light pollution, but seeing as I will be attempting to make these shots in Putrajaya, Setup 3 might probably be used just for experimental purpose.

If  I can secure a 50mm f/1.8 lens from my friend, then I'm going to try the following setup:

Setup 4:
Exposure: 20 seconds
ISO: 400

Setup 5:
Exposure: 10 seconds
ISO: 800

Setup 6:
Exposure: 5 minutes
ISO: 400

I will try to do at least five consecutive shots using Setup 4 and ten consecutive shots using Setup 5. Setup 6 if the sky is really clear.

I'm really hoping to get some good shots tonight. If I get any I will definitely put them up here.

Wish me luck ok!

(More photos added) The Judicial Affairs Division Building

This is the building for the Judicial Affairs Division, Prime Minister's Department Malaysia in Putrajaya. I went walking about Precinct 3 of Putrajaya on a Sunday afternoon, so there was almost nobody in sight --- Putrajaya is the administrative capital of the country, so all government workers are at home or away for the weekend.

I wanted to go up to the roof of this building, because I feel like the top of this building would provide me with a better view of the Sultan Mizan Mosque right in front of it. But, as with most government buildings, access to non-patron areas of the building are restricted, especially on a non-working day, so I went home disappointed.

EDIT: Here is the picture of the Sultan Mizan Mosque that I managed to take. I am not satisfied with the angle and point of view here. I still am convinced that the best point of view would be from the top of the Judicial Affairs Division building.

EDIT 2: More photos of the Judicial Affairs Division building added.

I like the tree/plant-based motifs on the windows and underneath the arches. I don't know why, but they somehow remind me of Lord of the Rings. Weird, huh?

I do realize that I might need a wider lens for these building shots. I might consider getting a wide converter for starters. That depends on my financial situation, as usual.

Hope you liked the photos!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just a Minor Update

Lots of stuff coming within the next few days and in the coming weeks. So much stuff to handle.

Especially the possibility of working 4 part-time jobs. That'll keep me busy for a while (as if I haven't been busy all this time).

Wish me luck, y'all!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A Sole Lavender - My First Digital Painting

My dear, I dedicate my first ever digital painting to you.

A Sole Lavender


Now and forever.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Heart Photography #1

Today, after a whole dozen hours of driving myself to four different venues for a multitude of tasks that had somehow found itself piled together within one particular day, I decided take a break from the hectic three part-time jobs routine and take a walk down the memory gallery. I visited my long neglected Flickr site.

Ever since I've reached the limit of 200 photos in Flickr, I have ceased to upload any more of my photography works on the site even though I am much in love with the system. This act of cessation has caused me to almost forget that I in fact do have a Flickr site, and that I have put in there a lot of my amateur shots that were made over the past few years - some of them I am quite proud of, some of them just make me go 'bleh'. But they are, regardless of quality and visual impact, are true projections of my artistic vision, which I do admit is either in hiding or in need of serious help.

The ones I am proud of - they convey my honest look at aesthetics, and may represent in essence what I regard as 'beautiful'. I am almost always at lost whenever someone asks me to describe beauty. My lack of vocabulary hampers me from expressing my appreciation of visual aesthetics efficiently; so does my almost dead drawing skills. I find in photography the best way to communicate to the world what I find is beautiful and pleasant to the eyes, and so with that the passion for this hobby was ignited. The flame, luckily, after all this while, has not been extinguished yet, although it has gone to and fro between burning brightly and flickering dimly.

And so, friends, after reminiscing the memories that came with each old photo in my Flickr, I would like to share with you some shots of mine of which I am quite fond of, for it either captures the essence of what I find is beautiful, or it has a wonderful memory attached to it. So here goes, I hope, the first in a series of my sharing the passion I have for photography.


#1  ---  Jumping monkey

Jumping monkey

This picture was taken with a borrowed camera (a Fujifilm FinePix F10) a few years ago during a family day picnic at Morib Beach. I remember having so much fun with dear friends that day, and with that borrowed camera I have managed to bring home with me wonderful memories of friends who are now living so far away. Joining in the fun was a troop of monkeys, macaques in particular, who sneaked around the site scavenging for leftovers or unattended food. While most people chase away these primates, I instead hounded them for photos, like a paparazzo of monkeys of sorts, while these 'celebrity simians' try to find ways to elude my amateurish snaps.

It was during one of these chases that, late in the day, I finally got this one silhouette shot of a monkey jumping from the roof of a gazebo to a tree. It was a moment forever etched in my memory, for I remember watching in awe the macaques' agility and grace when they jumped from tree to gazebo to tree. I knew instantly that this was worth immortalizing in a photo, and so I waited for the right moment to shoot this picture, which you can see, has managed to a certain extent capture the skills of the monkey in jumping from one high point to another.

I am proud of this shot. The silhouette, the colors, the monkey jumping, all of it. Shots like this, though taken with an amateur eye and an amateur camera, make me say to myself:

"I heart photography."

I hope you like the photo as much as I enjoyed shooting it. ;)


P/S: I am making this into a series, so this is just part one of I don't know how many!

P/P/S: Finally a non-invisible postscript!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009 --- Climate Change

Greetings, dwellers of Earth, third rock from the Sun and so far the only known celestial mass to successfully harbor a great diversity of sentient and nonsentient life.

pic from csa.org

Yes, change is inevitable. What defines change? Any difference in defined state, be it infinitesimal or astronomical, from the previous state, relative or nonrelative, can be called a change. Be it a different pair of clothes after a day out in the beach, or that fistful of coins you get after paying the hotdog man with a 5 dollar bill.

pic from freephotosbank.com

Change can be good, and change can be bad (for lack of better words). In fact, the 'goodness' and 'badness' of change can only be defined from the impact the change has on the things change affects. For example, one can say that winning a billion-dollar-jackpot in a lottery may improve one's quality of life, but some may also think that such sudden increase in personal wealth and earthly belongings may corrupt the soul. Or using corn-derived ethanol for powering consumer automobiles may decrease dependence on fossil fuels, but it may increase the global price (and decrease the affordability and availability) of corn-based food, which is actually staple in some developing and undeveloped countries.It is high time for us, as willing or unwilling permanent residents of this planet, to open our eyes and see before us the change that has affected, in good and many bad ways, quintillions of interdependent organisms.

image from askehbl.wordpress.com

Of all the changes that has happened on the face of this planet, none has been as meticulously observed, recorded, and experienced, as the ones that were made by the hands of Earth's dominant sentient species: human beings. It is very hard to deny that most of the change we see in this world was made by sweat, blood and brainwaves of the upright-walking homo sapiens sapiens. While most species adapt to the environment they live in, we humans adapt the environment to suit our personal needs. We change the landscape in milliseconds while the same amount change can only be done by nature in thousands or millions of years. We make sure our way of life is preserved yet the natural way of life of other creatures, or maybe even entire ecosystems, are sacrificed.

By now, even though I have barely scratched the membrane on the surface of climate change, I most probably have bored you enough with my annoyingly everchanging tone and I may seem to have never driven you to the point I'm probably trying to make. Well it's time for a change then. I'll go straight to the point, and let others who are more qualified to illuminate you instead of myself.

With that said, here are some links I would like to suggest you to visit and have the contents digested for today:

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec 7-18 2009.

Climate Change in Google Earth. With an introductory tour video featuring the Academy Award winning Nobel Laureate Al Gore.

Explore the Climate Orb with tcktcktck.org.

Kids versus Global Warming, a non-profit organisation founded by 14-year-old Alec Loorz.

Climate Change 101: Understanding and Responding to Global Climate Change. A series of brief reports with facts and figures by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The 15 Best Carbon Calculators, by Mother Nature Network. Understand the concept of 'carbon footprints' before you analyze the mark you made on the ecosystem.

The Top 100 Effects of Global Warming by the Center for American Progress. Contents of this site apply mostly to residents of the United States and their way of life, but since American culture significantly influences  the way of life in other parts of the world as well, I'd still recommend you give this site a visit even if you are from the The Gambia or even Norway.

350.org is organizing the International Day of Climate Action on October 24 2009. Find out what people all around the world are going to do on this day to take a stand on the safety of climate future.

Hopenhagen.org, a site where you can sign a petition of hope for the world. This site is made in with reference to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, hence the name Hopenhagen (thanks to Mae for pointing me to this one).

Oh, and also to join on this bandwagon, go to BlogActionDay.org today (October 15) and be united with other bloggers all around the world in sparking international discussion on global climate change. Most of the links I provided above was suggested to me after I registered my blog on the site.

With that said, please do join me in the discussion in the comments section below!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Children's Eyes

They are pure, untainted, and clear. And if we look carefully, we can actually see ourselves in their eyes. We see what they see. And maybe if we learn to look at ourselves through children's eyes, life wouldn't be as complicated as it has been.

I wish I have a child's pure and untainted eyes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Introducing... the family

Just scanned this family photo a few minutes ago, thought it'd be nice to be able to show everyone my wonderful family, finally united in one picture. For the past few years, my sisters and I have been away in the U.S., Japan and England for our studies so a full family photo is something that we look forward to every time there's a chance to get everyone together. This photo is the only one in existence that has every single one of us together, including our housekeeper.

(Click on the picture to view full size)

Top, from left: Tina, Karmini (housekeeper), Ihsan (me), Jayyid, Mya, Husna, Kim.

Sitting, from left: Shazni, Dr. Khairir / 'Ayah' (Dad), Abu, Rashidah / 'Emak' (Mom), Milah.

P/S: Hoping that soon, another person would be added to future family photos...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

MATLAB Geekness

Am I a MATLAB geek? Let's look at the list and see...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Opinions Requested: Which is a Good Look for Me?

Lately, I realized (and I'm pretty sure some of my friends did as well) that I've been wearing the same kind of wardrobe and the same kind of hairstyle and the same kind of look everywhere. And it bores me. I look at myself in the mirror every morning and ask myself 'how should I look today?' and end up wearing that same black t-shirt and combing my hair that same side parting I wear almost every day. It's not fun, not exciting, and not random. It feels mundane, and not the normal kind of mundane, but the repetitive cycle of the same thing over and over again like a sine wave kind of mundane. And I feel like I should get a change going on.

So here's me putting myself in the line of fire, parading horrendous profiles of myself over the last few years, and asking you this question: Which is a good look for me?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Now and Forever

by Richard Marx

Whenever I'm weary from the battles that rage in my head
You make sense of madness when my sanity hangs by a thread
I lose my way but still you seem to understand
Now and forever I will be your man.

Sometimes I just hold you
Too caught up in me to see
I'm holding a fortune that heaven has given to me
I'll try to show you each and every way I can
Now and forever I will be your man

Now I can rest my worries and always be sure
That I won't be alone anymore
If I'd only known you were there all the time
All this time

Until the day the ocean doesn't touch the sand
Now and forever I will be your man
Now and forever I will be your man


To the only person to whom I have sung this song before, I dedicate this song for you.

.:: Happy 15 months, dear! ::.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


The other day I went out with a few students of mine for a photoshoot around Kuala Lumpur when we happen to stumble upon the iconic yellow National Geographic box frame.

Naturally, we went crazy with the discovered prop.

Below are some of the photos taken with the National Geographic yellow box as the frame.

I wished that there was a more attractive background other than the mall escalator, but we didn't have time for relocating the heavy frame, plus we weren't sure if we're allowed to do so anyways.

I can only dream of becoming a photographer for National Geographic, since I am in no measure a competent enough photographer to be able to capture images at NatGeo's high standards. My pictures are not good enough for NatGeo magazine. For now, just this yellow box will do.

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