Friday, December 28, 2012

Blogging Milestone --- 100,000 hits!

Folks, I just realized that my blog just reached 100,000 pageviews today!

This is a huge milestone for a smalltime blogger like me whose posts are sporadically distributed within long periods of time with minor hiatuses in between.

It took about six years of intermittent blogging to get to 100,000 pageviews, and I hope it won't take that long to reach 200,000 --- my next blogging milestone.

Thank you all for stopping by this site and I hope to see more of you here!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Night Panoramic Long Exposure of Putrajaya [Photography]

Last weekend I attended and shot several photos of my cousin at her wedding reception in Putrajaya, and as I was driving home from Putrajaya Lake Club, I decided to stop by at Seri Wawasan Bridge and shoot the cityscape of Putrajaya as seen from the bridge. The result of many 30-second exposure shots stitched together can be seen below.

I had several problems with the panorama that I shot. I wanted to keep the Millennium Monument and the Iron Mosque in the center of the panorama, but as you can see, about half of the panorama is dark and featureless, and so the photo looks imbalanced and heavy on one side.

The original file is about 15Mb large, not appropriate for display on blogs, so I did not upload the original image file here. You can try to see the image at the highest resolution possible on flickr by going here.

Below are some cropped version of the above image, focusing on some parts of the more featured side of the panorama.

Click on the photo for a larger version
The interesting part of this photo are the sparkling lights. You can capture light sparkles like this when you do long exposure at night of stationary light sources. You also must keep your aperture at a small enough opening --- f/11 or f/16 would be good enough to produce the sparkles in your photo. Remember to keep the ISO setting at a minimum (100 or 200) especially when you set your exposure time to be beyond 10 seconds.

Click on the photo for a larger version
This would be one of the motivations for long exposure --- to smooth or soften out the ripples in the lake so that you get a nice reflection of the lights above, especially those illuminating interesting architecture such as the Iron Mosque and the Seri Saujana Bridge. This crop would already be a great photo if the Millennium Monument wasn't exactly in front of the mosque, but from the vantage point of my shot, there was no way I could get the monument to be out of the shot of the mosque. Next time, I am going to focus more on shooting the Iron Mosque, probably from a vantage point on the Seri Saujana Bridge where the view of the mosque would be not be obstructed by any tall structure.

Click on the photo for a larger version
Here's a closer crop on the Seri Wawasan Bridge. Actually the bridge is illuminated by lights that continuously change color, so I half-expected it to come out as white. I think the end result is more bluish because the light colors they use for the bridge are mostly bluish in hue, and the reds and greens have less share of the time.

My next Putrajaya night outing will probably feature the Iron Mosque itself, so be on the lookout for that!

Oh and by the way, comments and criticism on my works are very much welcome and appreciated!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Family Photo --- Kim's Graduation

My little sister Kim graduated MBBS from Universiti Malaya recently, so in conjunction with that we had an official family photo taken.

Standing, L-R: Nur Sakinah (21), Ahmad Jayyid (18), Muhammad Shazni (26), Nurulkamilah (25), Nur Samihah (21), Nurulhusna (28).
Seated, L-R: Muhammad Ihsan (29), Nurul Hakimah (24), Abu Abdullah (9), Rashidah (50), Khairir (53)
Because most of my family members are always away from home either working or studying, getting a photo taken where everyone is together is  never an easy task. The window of opportunity to get this photo taken was so slim that it took everyone's best effort to squeeze in whatever free time they had in order to assemble at the most conveniently located photo studio and spend about 15 - 20 minutes to have this picture taken.

Here's what everyone's doing around the time of this photo:

Sakinah --- studying medicine at Universiti Teknologi Mara, placed at Sungai Buloh Hospital.
Jayyid --- foundation student in accounting at USIM, Nilai.
Shazni --- high school Math teacher at SMK Datuk Muhammad Yusof, Linggi, N Sembilan.
Kamilah --- high school Chemistry teacher at SMK Dato' Shamsuddin Nain, Rantau, N Sembilan.
Samihah --- studying electrical engineering at Universiti Teknologi Mara, Shah Alam.
Husna --- engineer at Fuji Electric Semiconductor, Kulim, Kedah.
Ihsan --- assistant lecturer (Mathematics) at Multimedia University, Cyberjaya.
Hakimah --- doctor (house officer --- orthopedic) at Segamat Hospital, Johor.
Abu --- primary school student at Sri Seremban.
Rashidah --- assistant high school principal at SMA Nilai.
Khairir --- Head of Human Capital at Land Public Transport Commission, Kuala Lumpur.

Maybe in another few years we will get a chance to have another family photo taken, and we'll see how things have changed for everyone from now until then.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Return to Event Photography --- A Malay Solemnization Ceremony

With the revival of my SB-600 speedlight comes my return to taking photos of events, the first of which was my cousin's solemnization ceremony at her home in Petaling Jaya.

The solemnization ceremony was held in her house with a relatively low white ceiling, so it was a really good environment for shooting with the speedlight aimed straight up to get some even, neutral bounced light from above. This way, the subjects were evenly lit and harsh shadows were almost undetectable, except in some photos.

The key event in solemnization is the akad nikah, where the wali, in most cases the father of the bride, gives away the bride to the groom in an exchange of ijabkabul (the acceptance of vows or agreement). As I was not the official photographer for this event, I did not position myself in the best location for capturing this event, therefore the above photo was the best one I could get of the akad nikah ceremony.

Also due to the overwhelming large number of people present and the layout of the house, my cousin the bride was only able to witness the akad nikah through a live video screening. I imagine her having mixed feelings of nervousness and joy as she watched her husband-to-be recite his 'qabul' in response of agreement to her father's 'ijab' on the screen. Once the recital of the ijab and qabul was over, the couple is considered ceremoniously married.

I know at once my cousin was glad the ceremony went on smoothly without a hitch.

After the traditional and religious ceremony was over, the relatively more modern/western influenced exchanging of the rings was done.

The exchanging of the rings were also accompanied by the 'official' kissing of the hand, the Malay version of 'you may now kiss'.

As Malay and Islamic traditions discourage public displays of affection, this kissing of the hand (and sometimes forehead) would be the first intimate moment between the couple that the family and friends may witness.

Close family members are usually dressed in some predetermined theme or color scheme for the occasion, and this rare consistency in outfits is always a good time for a quick and fun family photoshoot.

I know the sisters enjoyed the fun shooting sessions a lot, with all the funny props.

Also, since the bride was prettily prepped for the ceremony, she would take the chance of this rare occasion for some personal portrait shots, along with her husband.

As you can see, since I was not the official photographer, it was difficult for me to get eye contact from the subjects since it was not my photoshoot session, hence the off-camera look of the subjects.

Overall, I was quite happy with how the photos turned out, especially when I was able to work with the environment and the lighting really well. Of course, with any piece of artistic work feedback and comments would very much help in improving my future work, so I would really love to hear from you regarding the shots above, or any of my other photo works in the past.

I have some more events to shoot already lined up this month, so be prepared to see some updates on those!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Colorful Light Painting [Photography]

Another one of my many explorations in photography is light painting. It requires a camera that is able to capture long exposures --- shutter speeds that are slow enough that the exposure is more than a second up to a few hours, maybe even more.

There are many different types of light painting photos --- some incorporate the background or landscape it is set in, others include the person who does the light painting. The type that I experimented with involve a simple dark background, so that the one and only feature in the photo would be the light painting itself.

For the following photos, I used a simple toy with colorful blinking lights that changes color rapidly.

It's a 8-buck toy that I purchased at the Kg Kuantan Fireflies Complex

I prefocused my camera to a certain distance, and set the exposure to either 5, 10 or 20 seconds, depending on how elaborate I wanted my light painting to be. I used minimal ISO (either 100 or 200) so that I don't get noise in the photo due to an underexposed background. The aperture is set to be 3.5 or above so that I don't get any bokeh effects from the lights.

Room was set to almost total darkness, for safety purposes.

Below are some selected light painting photos from my quick experimentation:

If you look carefully you can see that some might contain some bokeh effects, others are a bit overexposed. Of course, I require a lot more practice and experimentation with this technique before I really get the hang of it.

What do you think of my light paintings here? Any comments and suggestions will be very much appreciated!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Shots Using a Crude DIY Mini White Studio

For nearly six months I have been going on without a proper working speedlight as mine was burnt out. Thankfully the speedlight has been fixed and two days ago I went to pick it up at the Nikon service centre, and my SB-600 came back working like new again.

Which means I can start exploring other types of photography, ones I haven't tried yet.

One of them is white studio.

Of course, I have not the resources to go and rent a white studio for photoshoots, so I constrained the scope into capturing small objects in closeup shots.

And for that purpose, I made myself a DIY mini white studio.

The results of the shots taken in the the mini white studio:

I realize I might need to work out more on how the objects are lit in order to get a consistent infinite white background. For my first ever few shots I think they turned out ok. What do you think?

As for the mini studio, this is how it looks like:

As I said, it is quite crudely made, but it served its purpose.

What do you think of the shots? Any suggestions for improvement are very much appreciated!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

[Wordless Wednesday] Frozen Cherries

Cherry covered in frozen rainwater. Ann Arbor, MI (Winter 2007)

Monday, October 08, 2012

[Mellow Yellow Monday] Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale

Yellow dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Photo taken at Cameron Highlands, Pahang back when I first started taking photos using a DSLR. I think it is obvious how inexperienced I was back then. The focus in this photo is totally off.

Click here for more Mellow Yellow Mondays.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

[Wordless Wednesday] Urbanites Crossing

Urbanites crossing the Tun Sambanthan Road in Kuala Lumpur.

Click here for more Wordless Wednesdays from around the world.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

HDR Photography in Putrajaya

A moment ago I discovered some photos of buildings in Putrajaya of which I used exposure bracketing in order to create HDR (high dynamic range) images out of them. Since I did not seem to have done anything with the photos, I might have forgotten or neglected to process them into HDR and as a result they just sat there as stagnant space-wasters in my external hard drive. A re-exploration led to the discovery of these photos, so I decided to spend some time working on making a HDR image out of one set of these bracketed exposure photos.

A bit of tinkering in Luminance HDR and Adobe Photoshop led to the creation of the image above by merging three different exposures of the same picture. The original unmerged photos are below.

Exposure bracketing and HDR merging allows for details to be shown in more areas of the photos. As you can see from the original photos, underexposing helps bring out the details in the clouds while overexposing  reveals the details of the building in the shade. Since we can't get all these details from a single shot, HDR merging helps us combine these different exposures into a single HDR image.

I am by no means a professional nor an expert on HDR, so I am not sure whether the HDR photo that I created is an example of a good or bad HDR. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Atok Aji, Remarried

May they live happily for the rest of their lives...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Yellow Hot Air Zeppelin [Mellow Yellow Monday]

Photo of a hot air balloon bearing the name Zeppelin and the brand Caterpillar (CAT).
Taken during the Putrajaya International Hot Air Ballon Festival 2009.

I would really love to get a ride in one of these hot air balloons someday. I have at least two reasons for wanting this: one would be so that it would help me face my slight phobia of heights, and also so that I would be able to take amazing birds-eye photos of landscapes and sceneries of urbanscapes and/or nature.

Click here for other Mellow Yellow Monday posts by other bloggers!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pink Wedding [Wordless Wednesday]

Fully dressed in Malay royal regalia as king and queen of the day

Please click here for other Wordless Wednesdays!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dandelion [Mellow Yellow Monday]

Captured this during a bicycle trip in the Botanical Gardens in Shah Alam, Selangor.

I really miss the days when I did a lot of closeup shots, hopefully this won't be the last of them this year.



Friday, February 10, 2012

United Buddy Bears - The Irish Bear

The Irish Bear is also quite straightforward - it is designed to resemble a leprechaun smoking a pipe.

The Irish Bear is all clad in green, the iconic color of Ireland and St. Patrick.

The artist that worked on the bear was Shaun Patrick Dolan (what a super Irish name). I did not manage to find out more about this artist, he probably was not a famous or professional artist; maybe just some Irish bloke who was asked to paint the bear.

On the right side of the leprechaun bear's pants are shamrock motifs, one of the symbols of Ireland. There's also another shamrock on the left side of the bear's chest.

There's a large Celtic Cross on the back of the bear. The Celtic Catholic Cross was introduced to Ireland by either St. Patrick or St. Declan during the time they were converting the pagan Irish.

United Buddy Bears exhibition will continue until the middle of February at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, so be sure to check these bears out if you haven't. Next post I will feature another bear representing another country so stay tuned!

For other posts in this series, check out the following:

United Buddy Bears - The Malaysian Bear
United Buddy Bears - The American Bear

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