An Eulogy

It used to be a empty space or open air car park rented out for promotional activities during the F1 season. A distracting white tent would rise from the spot.

I was worried when I saw some construction taking place. After all, the strategic traffic light junction was the last unfettered view of KL’s most iconic landmark. A multi storey car park rose from the spot. It was short-lived as a guard told me recently that the covered car park was going to be demolished to make way for an MRT station. It is now closed.

The rooftop on the fifth floor was perfect as one can get a nice panoramic view of the skyline that included the KL Tower. Only problem with an isolated place in Malaysia was that it attracted many horny couples who came to park and make out in cars. That made the guards nervous and they would close off the floor to subjugate any acts of immorality.

Photographers can still get up by walking the staircase. I went on a lonely, rainy evening by intent. Reflective wet floors were perfect. It was lonely, unnerving and was easy to forget how a silent drizzle can become heavy. Me and camera were soon totally drenched.

On fireworks nights such as NVE or Merdeka, one can almost not find a spot to park the tripod. Every inch on the edge, on every floor, was taken up by one of thousands of photography enthusiasts congregating there. It was madness as it was an ideal location as it was elevated, there was shelter should it rain and the car can be safely parked nearby.

This picture serves an ode to a valued and unheralded vantage point. The venue faced another Malaysian problem while it lasted. Many photographers were selfish, protective or secretive and they hid the location from others.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f5.6, 2 sec.

‪#skyline #‎landscape #cityscape #nightscape #skycrapers #klcc #petronastwintowers #kualalumpur #landmark ‪#rain #‎sonyalpha‬ ‪#‎a7r‬ #zeiss‬ #tbt

Gotham City Is Bluish, Not Black

My intrepid friend Mohamad Amirizzuan Ramli (@amirizzuan on Instagram) was lamenting about how poor a shot he got with his phone. It wasn’t too bad, actually. He was at the Ampang Lookout Point on top of Bukit Ampang. My shot from the same location, on a different night, is shown on the lower half of the pic.

He noted that he wished he carried a spare camera as I do. The problem wasn’t just the limitations of a phone. The phone camera’s auto exposure algo probably saw it as a night scene and kept the blacks black while maintaining the highlights.

Also if you notice carefully, there is camera shake (visible when magnified) that degraded the overall quality of his picture somewhat. Always take note of the shutter speed if it is shown. You may need a tripod or some sort of stabilisation below 1/60th of a second. Hand holding can cause camera shake resulting in blurriness. Try putting your elbows on top of a car with its engine switched off.

The key is manual control and many phones nowadays can now do that. Without understanding the principles and dynamics, a spare or another camera won\t necessarily produce a better picture.

The thing to remember is part of the atmosphere of a night shot is created by the ambience. This can be the city’s light pollution trapped by cloud cover. Avoid a hazy night, though.

Yes, don’t go to the lookout point when it is already pitch black. Go before 9pm or earlier and the camera ought to be able to see lingering light from the earlier sunset. A tripod and manual exposure helps. Play with the white balance setting too.

Mine: Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 50, f6.3, 13 sec.

Amir: Huawei Honor 5X, ISO 3555, f2, 1/15 sec.

#skyline #cityscape #cityview #nightview #gothamcity #gotham #nightphotography #nightscape #landcape #night #hazefree #kualalumpur #bukitampang #lookoutpoint #skyline #sonyalpha #a7r #zeiss #landscape #demo #tvsexample

Macro At The Night Market – Putu Mayam

Outdoor macro is hard enough in the daytime with a close-up lens’ extreme shallow depth-of-field. It requires very precise focus. At night, at the pasar malam, it can be a nightmare.

I not only need to light the subject but also to handle the side effect of a curious crowd attracted to the lights like moths to a flame.

Is a challenge but doable if you can find a stall with tables. The ‘assam laksa’ stall usually has some tables and chairs to dine in. They won’t mind you shooting other food there provided you order from them, and explain what you are going to do.

Putu Mayam is the popular Indian vermicelli dessert made from rice flour, steamed with coconut milk and fragrant pandan (screwpine) flavoring. The string hoppers are eaten with grated coconut and golden (gula melaka) coconut palm sugar.

Because the ingredients are nicely textured, the aim was to light it in such a way to create dimension while highlighting the textures of the coconut shavings and golden sugar crystals.

Two Litepanels units were deployed.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f9, 1/60 sec.

Conjunction of Jupiter And Venus – Part 3

If you were looking out for the conjunction tonight, you may have thought the two planets moved so close together that they merged into a single object. It didn’t happen here, as viewed from very near the equator. Maybe higher in the northern hemisphere or elsewhere they appeared closer.

Due to the haze in the Klang Valley today, it was hard to see both as clearly as last night. I can still see Venus shining bright though. Jupiter is the higher of the two and more faint. The separation is distinct and both were visible for a brief period.

Panasonic Lumix GM-1, ISO 3200, f3.5, 1/40 sec.