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.

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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!


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