Monday, November 14, 2011


I was on my way home when I saw thick black smoke coming from this new hospital under construction.

                   Fire hydrant is a few hundred metres away. Thick smoke from the burning building can
                   be seen at the top left hand corner of the photo. 

                  Passersby taking photo with camera phone.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Eid Al Adha

                   Pilgrims climbing up Jabal Rahmah at Arafah.

Wishing all Muslims happy Eid Al Adha.

                  Pilgrims on the way to Mecca from Mina.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nelson's column, London

Nelson's column as seen from the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square in London.

In this photo, relying on the camera's exposure system can be a problem. What I don't want is a wash out sky and I don't care about the shadow detail on the National Gallery column. There is plenty of time for manual exposure -  Admiral Nelson is not going to walk away! I use spot meter to read off the blue sky and add 1 stop. Then I read off  the white cloud to make sure that it is not more than 2 stops over exposed. The exposure was 1/1000 sec, f/8, ISO 200.

That is equivalent to 1/250 sec, f/16, ISO 200 - sunny 16 exposure. What is sunny 16? In those olden days when we use film, the rule of thumb for exposure in bright sunlight is to set aperture at f/16 and shutter speed is the reciprocal of film speed. In this case should be 1/200 sec. The nearest available shutter speed at that time was 1/250 sec. Adjustment for shutter speed was on the top dial and only at 1 stop increment. What worked before still apply today. After all the advanced evaluative/matrix/RGB metering system, I could just set the exposure at sunny 16 and get perfect exposure.

I prefer the size of the Nelson's column to appear slightly bigger relative to the Nationaly Gallery column. To do that I have to walk away further and use longer focal length (go figure!). But my back is already against a wall.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sky Bridge in Langkawi

The Sky Bridge at Mt. Mat Cincang in Langkawi is a unique single support bridge. It is a curved pedestrian bridge and only accesible by cable car.

I was there in 2007. Did not know it exist even while going up the cable car. The view from the cable cable car was spectacular. Then I saw the bridge. It was a very pleasant surprise.  Surprise that it exist that is. One of my photos of the brige was published in a German National newspaper and another featured in a travel website. In some small way, this will help the amazing bridge be more well known.

For more amazing bridges follow this link -

                     View from the cable car.

                     Aerial view of the bridge.

                              This photo was published in a German National Newspaper (Jan 2008)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shooting from the side window on a moving vehicle.

                   There are not many road junctions in the Syrian Desert . Vehicles are far in between. 
                   Here I managed to capture a road junction with a solitary car making a turn in a barren 
                  desert far away from civilisation. Less than two seconds to compose and shoot.

If you insist on taking a carefully composed landscape photo on a tripod with cable release, base ISO and aperture at f/8 or smaller - this is your nightmare. I am talking about taking photos on a moving vehicle through the side window. Maybe at 80 kmph or faster. Aperture almost wide open. At any ISO to maintain a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec or faster. Through tinted perspex screen with dust spots and reflections. Vibrations and shakes from vehicle. And worst of all you got less than two seconds to take your picture! Hesitate and you miss it. No second chance.

Considering the condition is far from ideal, image quality can be surprising good. All photos shown here are good enough for prints up to A3 size.

                  Innsbruck, Austria. This scene is more than 5 seconds. Enough to take several shots.
                  But have to shoot in between the trees while going downhill.

                   Medieval window and church at sunset in Heidelberg, Germany. I only got two seconds
                   to compose and shoot. It is only later that I noticed the top tip of the balcony is cutoff.
                   No second chance.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pillbox near Kota Tinggi, Johore.

On the highway between Kota Tinggi and Mersing, you can find several pillboxes along both side of the road. From what I gather, it was built by the British for defence against Japanese attack. It appear to be neglected. My hope is it will be preserved as part of our history.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kuala Rompin in 2007

                                         A lone cyclist at Kuala Rompin in Johore, Malaysia.

                                          Closed shops and abandoned buildings. Emptiness.

I was in Kuala Rompin in 2007. Most shops are closed and its residents has moved to a town nearer the highway. For some reason, it was largely abandoned. Almost a ghost town. Back in 1973 when I was passing through  this town, it was a lively fishing village. In those days, there was no petrol station between Pekan and Rompin. If you were on a Honda Cup motorcycle, you must bring extra petrol in a can to reach Rompin. At that time I was on a Triumph Tiger T90 motorcycle on the way to Johore Bahru from Kuala Terengganu. This is a must stop for refueling. But it was a welcomed stop after a long ride. There was only one Shell petrol station near the highway.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lightning strike in Kuala Lumpur

                                Canon 7D ISO 100, f/16, 30seconds

Lightning is supposed to strike at the highest point. This lightning bolt appears to emerge directly above Petronas Twin Tower. Then it curves away from it and miss all the tall buildings to strike at a lower ground while making small zaps at the surrounding building. Hmm..????

                               Closer look at the strike.

What you need to take lightning photo.
1) A tripod
2) Remote control or 2 to 10 secs self timer depending on how stable is you tripod.
3) Camera with full manual exposure control.
4) Manual focus
5) If DSLR, mirror lockup or live view to reduce vibration due to mirror slap.
6) Lens focal length equivalent to 28 to 70 mm on a 35mm full frame. If you are using 1.5x to 1.6x crop sensor, it is around 16 to 40mm. Most compacts (point and shoot) are within that range.
7) An electrical storm at night! The meaner the better. But make sure you are at a save distance.
8) Lots of luck

Camera setup:
1) ISO 100
2) Switch the camera to manual exposure and on a DSLR, set aperture to f/16 and shutter speed at 30 sec for a cityscape like above. If you are using a compact, set aperture to f/8 and shutter speed at 8 seconds. Anything smaller than f/8 will be too soft.

After setting the camera on a tripod, point it to the general area where lightning strikes is most active. Focus manually at far object near the lightning strike. In the case above, the Petronas Twin Tower building. Recompose. Wait for about five seconds to eliminate any camera movement or vibration. Now all you have to do is press the remote switch and hope for a strike within the 30 seconds. If there is a strike, you must wait out the the remaining 30 seconds before you press the remote switch again. There might be no strike at all for many frames. All you can do is hope for the best. You may have to recompose if the lightning area shift.

About manual focusing:
The best way is to focus using live view with 10x magnification. If it is not available, some camera shows confirmation green dot when focus is achieved. If that is also not available, use normal auto focus, after achieving focus, switch focus mode to manual on the lens or the body (depending on camera make). After that, don't touch any control on the lens. If you use zoom lens and change focal length, you must refocus.