Raise from the East, Set in the West

The weather in Singapore has not been the friendliest for many weeks since mid-Sept 2017. I am dreading to have a good day of blue sky weather. Unfortunately, each morning is almost a full cloudy condition. The afternoon duration was basically showered with light drizzle or thunderstorm for a few hours (At least our reservoir had a good supply of water).  Then came evening, the cloud was moving very slowly, covering a large portion of the skyline. The magic hour seemed less magnificent.

4th Oct 2017

This mark the day of Mid-Autumn Festival, in the lunar calendar, is Aug 15. The moon was in perfect circular shape, the light reflected from the sun is making the moon shining ever so brightly. As time ticks, the moon made its journey to raise from the thick cloud without trouble, it was a gorgeous sight, it seems so near to me – almost touching it, yet knowing how far it can be.

I witness some families bring their kids out to have a walk – kids carrying paper lanterns, father and his kid lighting up the candles to appreciate the light moment. Is nice evening for to nibble on mooncakes or have a sip of tea. Honestly, it was less rowdy and fun as compared to the old days.

I even came across the entrance of a house was beautifully decorated, but no one was at home.

5th Oct 2017

The sky was clearer, some stubborn cloud remains. Is been a more than a week since i made a night scene image. Despite knowing the weather is going to be cloudy. I knew the moon is going to be clear once it raises high above the cloud. I made a gamble to travel up to the northern part of Singapore to take some pictures in the evening. The previous night i already did my scouting and i thought the view was a stunner.

6.25pm

I reached my first location after a quick dinner. Hastily made my way up to the first location. There was no cloudy above my head, but from far there was cloud hovering. I was surprised to see the sunset setting down in the west without any obstructive view. I quickly took out my 70-200mm to make a few frames, then decide to set up the tripod for a more consistent composition.

The sun quickly disappeared into the thick cloud that was caught in-between my framing. I thought, “if only that cloud was not there.” But hey, this situation was expected, not much of disappointment. Well, this is the fun of photography, there is a hiccup in the process – is about trying to make it happen or have a go again. The picture title, “A Dark City” came up to my mind when i was capturing it. The feel was kinda of dark because everything is backlighted. An industrial factory nearby was omitting combustion gases from the industrial chimney, for a moment i felt living in an over-polluted city for a moment. The buildings below is a development from Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

6.45pm

I need to make a decision, should i stay or should i go? Because on the other block i will need time to prepare. The type of nervous moment to make an immediate answer. My final answer is to leave immediately because that sunset view is not my priority.

I quickly wrapped it up. Dashed from one block to another. Popped out of the lift to see this amazing sight, the sun finally emerged from the thick layers of clouds, blended with a mixture of red and orange colors. The mist in the foreground continues to build up in the surrounding.

 

 

 

 

Just so good………..

 

 

 

7pm

I had set up my tripod, this is the first time setting up this position as you see in the picture (right). The purpose is to have the camera extend out a little more than the usual. I was worried that it would drop, is normal to have such feeling. I double check to ensure everything is in the right order – tighten the knob, check the whole set up is very stable before i mounted up the little black digital box.

After the camera is mounted up, i did the necessary micro adjustment for the composition. I was more eager to see how the exposure turned out, this picture (left) was the first image capture.

You can see the moon in the sky is shining so brightly. It seems like the cloud is moving towards the moon’s position. You can try doing a long exposure for a min or two to get the motion effect of the moving cloud, that also depends on how fast the cloud is moving, ND filter is recommended if you want to expose a longer period.

715pm – 725pm

The sky is beginning to turn deep blue as the sun set, i wish the cloud wasn’t a hinder that evening, not complaining as it was expected. As i said earlier i went to this location is because of the full moon. The picture (below) is my selected picture among 10 frames. Honestly, this is not my favorite picture because of the big patch of cloud in the center portion of the framing. But i may never know, this may be the best picture because if i return in future the weather may be even worse.

 Exposure: F/14, ISO400, 30 seconds

730pm

I usually stayed put after the magic hour ended. From my experience, photographers usually started to pack up. There was this once i stayed back longer and i was rewarded with a great picture beyond my expectation.

I decided to wait for the moon to surface out from the cloud again. My patience yield result. I was greeted by an even brighter moon in the sky. The surrounding clouds were very soft, many areas of the night sky were visible. I love the good balance between the foreground and background from my exposure. This was the picture (below) that i like!

The entire photo shoot ended after 830pm. Landscape/cityscape photography can be rather busy because of the fun finding a good balance of exposure and micro adjustment, the 2 hours may seem like a very long time, but it was a whizzed to me.

7th Oct 2017

The sun never seems to shine lately. If i did not wake up at 4.30am for an intense workout. I may not have seen this glorious view.

Morning light passing through the foliage, if not for the low temperature and the dew in the air, this would have never been seen.

You can check out my Instagram account too! Drop me a comment or say Hi. I don’t bite at all.

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Creating water reflection in Photoshop CS6

I was having a bit of fun in my Photoshop CS6, aside the usual work. Was working on a picture of me standing with my hands up, against the magnificient buildings structure. Was checking out the Filter functions and an idea struck me, bang!!

It dawn on me, realize how photographers capture beautiful reflection from the sea water, lake or pond. All along i know is half fake because the reflection is not suppose to be sharp and clear. Hence, i never pay too much attention how it was created, although i did had an idea how to put it together, but i never once attempt. Until i just discovered a way to make it realistic.

It ain’t that difficult actually. Hence am going to share with you a 10-easy-steps tutorial to achieve this result without water in the picture.

1) Have 2 same files opened up in photoshop. Make sure the file names are different from the same folder.

2) Select 1 file, proceed to Image -> Canvas Size. A canvas window will appear. In the New Size column, i change to pixel (for my easy reading). Current Size column will automatically change to Pixels format

3) Adjust the Anchor as seen in the sample below, set the Height similar to the Current Size pixels

4) Click OK in the Canvas Size box to duplicate a canvas below.

5) Proceed to the other file, go to Image -> Image Rotation of 180 degree -> Flip Canvas Horizontal

6) Copy and paste the image into the other image with canvas created earlier, adjust the image to fit in properly using the Move Tool

7) Here is the fun part, proceed to Filter->Distort->Ripple
A Ripple box appear. Move the slider left and right to your liking and have a feel how it looks like for your ‘water reflection’. I set it at 100%, Size is set in medium

8) This is the ripple result i wanted. There is a line of ‘chipped off’ at the bottom of the image, that is because the picture was altered during the previous process. You can clone or crop it away, if you decided to stop at this stage. If not proceed to step 9

9) Ideally for me to make it even more realistic. In the same layer, go to Filter->Blur->Motion Blur. Set the Angle to 90 degree. I reduce the Distance to around 10-15 pixels to achieve Motion Blur effect

10) Flatten the layers, and you got yourself a beautiful water reflection picture.

I hope you loved my photoshop tutorial, if there is anything unclear do drop me an email. Writing this tutorial is really no easy matter. I truly appreciate those free tutorials i had seen online. Those people that put in the many hours of effort to share their knowledge with the world, kudos to all of them!

Hand work of a final image

With millions of images displayed on the web each day. Scrolling through the never ending digital data (images), leaving some good images in the dust, or waiting to be discovered like a hidden diamond buried deep in the cyber world. With so many images uploaded online daily. I wonder which picture have the potential to tell an unheard story.

Am sure many have not thought about the journey behind an intriguing photograph? For example in an exhibition, is normal for people to admire a very beautiful picture and move on to the next, and next until the last photograph. During this process, some may have studied the interesting details, observing the vibrant colors, thinking what is the story in it, or some simply couldn’t understand, because it could be too abstract, or unrelated to the person’s feeling in that moment. Whether the picture is worth it value? This depends on the individual perspective towards it.

However, viewers should have another viewpoint as well, the amount of hard work put in behind the final image. Regardless on the genre in photography.

Most people only get to see the beautiful side of things in life.

Rich people get rich because they work extremely hard to earn money. Fashion models look great in the magazine because they have a strict diet regime. A muscular man looks fit and hardy because they eat the right food, work out twice the amount than any other normal people. As for photographer in my opinion. Repetitive journey and time are used to get that one good picture.

Below is an architecture image of condos at Tanjong Rhu. An upscale residential area. Am going to share how this final image came about.

I love exploring around urban areas in Singapore. Especially tall buildings that built as high as 40th levels, it offers me a good vantage point of the environment surrounding. I have been doing this for the past 12 months since 2015, whenever i have the time. It was never a deliberate attempt to shoot anything in particular, but the curiosity to explore, search and wander around drives such passion. Along the way i discovered new scene, made attempt to get the picture i have in mind.

For this scene at Tanjong Rhu, i wanted to do an architecture shot. I had made least 3 attempts on different dates and weather condition. What attracts me back is because of the layers in the scene. I divide the composition into 5 segments. First, the foreground consists of the abundance trees and river. The second layer is the clutter condo, where it’s unique feature i observes have a roof design on top of each building, with bright orange color on it, presenting a very distinct identity in the area. The third layer can be divided into 2 sections, on the left is condos under expose, on the right side, are trees, or undevelop area for now. The fourth layer is the sea where many large vessels and oil tankers ship queuing to go port. And the fifth layer is the sky where there is a plane happen to be on the top right, aviate towards Changi airport direction. So, this various observation of the elements entices me, giving me a pre visulation of the final image.

I equip myself with a Canon 5D Mark III and a 70-200mm lens. It is perfect for me to capture everything in a frame without having to crop. Even though is a daylight, with sufficient shutter speed and small aperture, i set up my tripod to mount my equipment. This will comfortably allow me to observe the changes in the scene and click to my liking without losing the composition. My persistence pays off on this 3rd trip, the light was perfect, it was shinning on my main subject (condos). While the rest behind was underexposed by at least 1 stop. I was glad there were no clouds hovering on top, am able to get some blue hue which was way too perfect! It seems magical in that moment, i made a few exposures before the scene changes, i wonder when will such a sight appear again, it will be a long wait or even more return attempts!

The rest was history, upload it onto the computer, spend some time to do the editing, keywording and description. Share it with the rest of the world.

In past weeks, i had discovered an upcoming camera technology company, Light. A pocket size camera design which offers a high quality of a DSLR. Do check it out their wonderful product!

Singapore-Cityscape


I discovered this site while doing a ground recce in Jan 2015. As you can see this area was flooded with still water reflecting the central business district buildings. Usually, January is a rainy season, hence, result in this scene. Next day I returned with my tripod and camera to capture this amazing scene. Which I included the lone tree on the right to be part of the composition. Is a personal preference as I love nature and architecture to have a sense of cohesion.

Environment changes very quickly in Singapore. One year, later on, Feb 2016, the foreground in this picture that was once filled with rainwater, is covered with grasses to prevent water from accumulating. At least it won’t become a mosquito breeding ground. The pavement i used to stand on to take the picture in 2015 was demolished by a construction company, leaving piles of rocks waiting to be cleared. Perhaps this plot of land is making way for new development? The lone tree is still out there looking healthy, hopefully as well in future. The tower crane you saw is constructing Marina One, still in progress. The night was cooling, strong wind kept blowing patches of cloud across the sky to dramatize a little more.

Michael Kenna is coming to Singapore!

I was escalated to learn from Ricebowl Photography Bookstore that Michael Kenna will be in Singapore for a Lecture, Q&A and book signing on 16th May 2015. In case you guys got no idea who is this man. He is a photographer who is well-known for his intense black and white landscape photography. He had held many exhibitions in many countries and constantly update on his Facebook page

I was talking to the staff in the book shop to find out more. I heard it was MK first trip to Southeast Asia and i was surprised to hear that, i mean he is such a well travelled person and he has yet been to this region. He must have dedicated much of his time in many other places he wish to focus on, because landscape photography is a very long period commitment to get the best picture.

Poster shot using my Sony Z3
DSC_0260

A banner was put up outside Ricebowl bookstore at Funan Centre.
DSC_0263

Price
Early Bird: $250
Usual: $280

Initially i thought the price was a little bit steep. Thoughts of meeting the person in real life, flipping pages after pages of his photo books for many years. I think is worth the “investment” to meet the man and hope to learn some insights about his photography’s journey.

What i like about Michael Kenna images is it brings me the feeling of peace and surreality due to his long exposure techniques. He is shooting in film on a hasselblad camera, nowadays high and low end digital cameras is flooding the market each year. He truly appreciate the value of photography by sticking to his belief and creation.

Drafting pictures of Gardens by the Bay

My goal is to capture beautiful cityscape picture of Gardens by the Bay. Is not aim to take part in future photo competition or show everyone how good i am. Is more important to share my image experience of what i see. Is also very important to polish my visionary, pushing my creative level.

Landscape photography require a lot of time and patience. Am not an utmost expert in this field. Anyone can easily shoot a decent landscape picture if the weather is welcoming. But the respect must be given to photographer who spend an enormous amount of time to capture that final captivating image. So i put myself in the shoe of a landscape photographer, visiting the place several times, or years to get that final shot. Patience and passion plays a big part of success.

Below is a series of images i capture over several days during evening time. I particularly choose this timing is because i wanted to capture the magic hour moment, where the transformation is almost magical and amazing. It only happens for a few minutes, hence, such moment is very precious.

The above images are some of my favorite, but is not the final picture representation.

For more pictures you can check out my Facebook page to see more.

Hope you like it.

Foggy Hong Kong

The trip to Hong Kong in May 2013 was quite a surreal experience. With the fog clouding in the city, hardly able to admire the cityscape with wonder. It was a different experience from the usual trip. Since most of the places i visited were foggy. Pondering how to turn this disadvantage situation into a winning situation for me. New idea pounce in quickly, i started to capture a series of foggy images which portrays a surreal feeling. A situation where the local people are inhabitable to the surrounding.


Mount Austin Road. I’ll followed the local expats all the way up to Victoria Peak Garden in a foggy walk.


Ngong Ping Village. Two nuns were standing in the fog having a quiet conversation.


Lantau Island. Despite the sheer size of The Big Buddha. I could not see the Buddha at foot of it venue, until i climbed the steps up to have a better sight of it.


Hong Kong Island. The tall vertical commercial buildings engulfed in the fog.

One of the biggest challenge of a travel photographer is working on a bad weather condition. Cruel to be true, but one have to turn crisis into a opportunity in order to keep myself motivated to capture interesting images. You can check out the rest of the Foggy Hong Kong .

Air pollution in Beijing

We have been reading news of Beijing suffering from air pollutions in recent years. Latest report indicate that there is a drop of China’s tourism since the smog takes toll. China has seen sharply fewer tourists in 2013 due to the worsening of air pollution, partly to blame for themselves.

Water and air pollution from factories and cars is the outcome of successful economic development. It is difficult to control because it is different or politically infeasible to identify responsible parties. Excuses?

I visited Beijing back in 2009 during Oct period. It was good a year after the 2008 summer Olympics. The air was clean, the sky was blue most of the time, simply beautiful. Admired at various sightseeing location to capture many wonderful Beijing travel photography images. Below am going to share the beautiful outdoor scenery i came across with unforgettable memory.

I wouldn’t mind going back to Beijing for further visit in future, but judging from the current condition and very little effort by the people to curb the pollution situation. I guess the smog is going to hover on the sky for a very long time.

Hello 01102012 – Hello Beijing 2009

A really fresh Monday on the first day of Oct 2012, first blog of the month. Earlier on i was browsing through the Facebook newsfeed and saw a nice image of trees with reddish leaves against the beautiful blue sky, indicating a sign of Autumn is here. The image immediately stirs thoughts of my Beijing travel photography journey in 2009. The fallen essence of time brings back an unforgettable memory.

I was lucky enough to couch in 2 different friend’s house in my entire duration. I can’t be grateful enough to them to host a city boy from Singapore. Been able to witness and directly experience the local culture atmospheric. The best way to blend in as local is to hang out with the Beijinger. This is my personal style of self-environmental adaption in a new city.

It’s been exactly 3 years now. As i planned on an affordable and good comfort tickets price. I was transiting from Hong Kong to Beijing. In all about 7-8 hrs in total. Upon landing, due to the engine heat from the plane. It wasn’t that cold once i step foot on the airport runway. I was quickly ushered into a lengthy bus, which will ferry passengers to the immigration counter. The rest was history.

I took the designated bus out from Beijing capital international airport. Following the direction instructed by my friend previously, taking the bus in overseas was no easy experience for most first time visitors. Luckily the bus had an electronic signboard to inform passenger what is the name of the next bus-stop, this makes my life easier and relax.

Alighted at the designated stop. I was welcomed by a chill of coldness. The weather in Oct was ranging from 5-15 degree Celsius, it was relatively a very comfortable temperature. Minutes later, i realized i was in middle of nowhere at all! The traffic kept flowing along the road, the long and narrow shelter bus stop was too cramped for me to squeeze in. I pulled my luggage to walk for a short 10 meter to get myself orientated in this city. It was about 8 pm, the sky was dark. I quickly called my host am here, she did not pick up. Unzipped my luggage to take out my jacket to keep me warm. Coldness and loneliness quickly creep in, my host’s mobile phone was able to get through. I looked at my paper map, thinking that if my host did not show up, i would head to the nearest hotel to check in. About 20 mins of waiting, it seems like an hour. My host finally appears, with a welcome arm and big smile, i knew the trip has just begun.

Here are some highlights of the places i visited.


A Chinese military police standing guard in Tian An Man Square with a big portrait of Mao Zedong behind him.


An art installation of a man standing on a small jeep in Beijing 798 art zone


Local tourist taking inside Temple of Heaven at Danbi Bridge


An architecture image of the National Centre for the Performing Arts during sunset.


Beautiful architecture of Bird Nest stadium in Beijing


A local visitor observing the panda sleeping on the tall tree.


The original state of Great Wall of China. Simply historical.

Lastly, i would like to wish everyone enjoy this season autumn. Stay warm and cool. *winks*

SingaporeScape – My thought of Singapore landscape

This year am working on another project named SingaporeScape. Is a series of Singapore landscape images around the country. Been a really tiny nation on the world map. My country exposure in term of landscape platform is not so overwhelming as other bigger countries. Millions of tourists flew in each year, taking wonderful images. Due to the growth of digital camera, images were much more than the past. Similar images are also seen constantly due to certain position that provides fantastic view.

The constant challenge been a photographer is shooting a unique picture of your own. Most hobbits photographer can easily spot a beautiful landscape image here in Singapore, went back to the location to practice shooting it. Space and positioning can be a limitation for certain angle one’s needed. But for the creative part there are thousands ways and more to shoot it.

The common question i received from most people is been a tiny, boring urban country, is kinda of hard to take really good landscape pictures, as compared to the great landscape photographers such as Ansel Adam, Michael Kenna etc. Is boil down to individual creative imaginary department and the type of mood wanted for the image. Everyone has their UNIQUE style of shooting and processing their final presenting image. The sky been the limit apply in this tiny nation. Is a fact i do get tired to see the same landscape over again. The challenge is ultimately to be as different as possible.

Here is a picture of a SingaporeScape i took, the world tallest Ferris wheel. With a height of 164m tall. Opened since 2008, plenty of tourists took the ride, enjoy the view of our cityscape. Taking pictures as a memorial of ‘i’ve been here’. Here are a series of Singapore Flyer images i search from Google.

Anyway, i always wanted to capture a long exposure of the Ferris wheel turning in motion. Without doing any research of the type of images capture and shown on Google. Purely out of my own idea, it may not be the best to you, but the effort to wait for the magic hour during sunset and a long exposure of the wheel in motion is well worth my time.