Monday, December 21, 2009

UrbanScape, KL


I know I am obsessed with street shooting lately. I tried my best to convince myself not to do any more street shooting this recent weekend and try to focus on other things at the time being. There was the Miss Tourism thing happening on Saturday at Sunway Pyramid, and another fashion show for a Wedding Expo at Mid Valley on Sunday. Knowing full well this was a long weekend starting from Friday, I woke up impossibly late on all the days and I could not make it to the events in time. Still itching for some camera action, I have a few other optiions: to do macro, to go street frenzy again, to laze at home and go for anime marathon (I did a bit of this actually) or I can find something new to do.

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Photo Note: I showed a friend and he could not believe I was shooting this with just mere kitty lens. I mean kit lens

I checked the sky and it was looking rather cloudy. Not a good day for outdoor shooting. Then I thought to myself, what the hell, just grab the camera and a few lenses and make a stroll anywhere in the city. I just want to walk. Having trapped in the office for most of my time awake for the entire week did wear me off in more ways than one, and whenever I can I would just walk anywhere. Although I am in this big city with tall sky scrappers, I have done little in documenting the city-scapes. Not that the buildings are that interesting to look at, really, one could get bored of KLCC Twin Towers after seeing it a couple of times. Knowing well the weather was not suited for city-scape shooting, I still wanted to do so, because I felt like doing it. There are times photo quality is not exactly the main concern, you just feel like wanting to make the camera work, this was one of those times.

Ok, so I classify this session as UrbanScape shooting, not street shooting. Though I am on the streets, but the huntings and subjects were focused on the City Scenes, mainly the buildings. Not so much on random stuff I usually find when I do street shooting. Urbanscape this time, it is.

Ordinary, Boring, Unappealing First Attempt

I arrived at Masjid Jamek and helped myself with the super expensive Mecca's Prosperity Burger. After filling up my tummy with fat and sugar, I walked up to the direction of KL Sogo. Just when I started to snap just a few shots, it blardy rained down on me !! I do not know why but it does seem to rain whenever I chose to go out shooting. I hid myself under a nearby shed and spent quite a great deal of time there. I reviewed the few shots I have taken earlier. They were all shots of the buildings, any buildings at all taken at KL City. Somehow having the time to sit down and look back at the images I have taken was a good thing. I realized how boringly mundane and unappealing those shots were !! I never knew KL buildings could look this boring, or was it just me and my non-existent landscape shooting skills. Yes I admit not having an Ultra Wide Angle lens is also one of the reasons, but lets not go there today. My point is, the initial shots were looking nothing out of the ordinary, and I was gravely disappointed. I told myself to try harder and take better shots once the rain has stopped.

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Photo Note: Reflections on Pond, cracked mirror on the ground, window panels and puddle of rain water on the road. I love the KLCC shot !!! And I seldom say I love my own shots, you would know that if you have followed this blog for a while. This is one rare shot I am happy with.

Reflections

One of the possible creative ways to play with otherwise boring shots would be looking for reflections. Shooting the city through the reflections on other items may present the scene itself in quite a different manner. I have found many usable reflecting objects along the way. There were motorcycle side mirrors, building window panels, reflective signboards, ponds, and random puddle of water on the roads. The reflection on water itself gave a very interesting colour cast and the wavering feel of the due to the motion of the wind portrayed a dreamy sense. It was quite a refreshing new outlook, and I know this technique has been used like a million times by other shooters everywhere in the world, but I am relatively new in playing with reflections. So far, I like them very much !! Since it was raining that day, finding puddle of water on Malaysian made low-grade quality roads was not such a trouble at all. Cloudy day means no sun glare, and the lights can be reflected off panels of windows or mirrors in a more even manner. I regretted for not bringing out my circular polarizer (CPL) with me to further improve some of the shots.

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Looking up

Most photography-obsessed people, espcially the technical junkies would kill me for this. I actually love perspective distortion. I know I am weird, since distortion is a big no no in photography. Nonetheless, I beg to differ. Perspective distortion actually gives a sense of depth and space in the photograph. It tells you which part is near, and exagerrates the distance of one subject at one end to the other. This particular expression works best when you have many leading lines in a photo, where you can converge them at a certain location of focus in your frame. Some architecture-oriented photography may emphasized on the need to keep all the lines straight, but in another view, the photos just come out flat, unflattering and bland. I must say this is purely my personal preference, and everyone is entitled to what they want to produce in their images.

One of the best ways to exaggerate the perspective distortion is by shooting from low angle, and looking up. I find some of the shots worked best in this manner.
Brandon Eu has done something similar (but he has that God Damned 7-14 which I failed to steal when he was in Kuching) and it turned out great. Of course, there is only so much I could do with my standard budget kit lens. Even when I bent all the way to the ground and shooting up without looking at the viewfinder, I still find the lack of wide angle coverage a little annoying. Allen, lets buy UWA together gether !!!

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Panorama Experiment Resumes

LIke usual, to work my ways around the limited wide angle on my kit lens, I push the limit through a more tedious but quite usable approach, panorama. I am still at my experimenting stage, I have not exactly shot a panorama photo which I can say I am truly happy with. So far, the photos come out alright, but the oomph factor is just not there yet. I am in no rush, it takes a lot of patience, and plenty of trial and errors to get it right. Hence there is a need to keep on trying and not give up so easily though the results are not so good now.

My current panorama settings and tips I used are as follows:
1) Full manual exposure, setting same shutter speed, aperture and ISO for a batch of photos to be stitched.
2) Shot at hand held, hence a few trials are necessary. I decided not to bring the tripod, because it would be troublesome to set up and it hinders my mobility which I do not plan to sacrifice.
3) I shoot at 18mm (widest on my lens is 14mm) and I allow for approximately 20-30% overlap in every direction.
4) I usually shoot 6 to 9 photos to be stitched. Occasionally I would go up to as many as 12 or 15 photos, but limit myself there because the processing time to stitch more photos beyond that can be a bit troublesome.
5) I stitch my photos using the freeware Hugin. It works great for me. Google it up, it is svailable free for download.

So far, I find the above settings worked the best for me. I am still open for adjustments there and here, and wish to improve the method in a way that I can call up the technique easily and produce good results as the need arises. Having a wider view of the field I want to capture can be advantageous in some cases.

Single Frame from 14mm vs Panorama 6 Frames Stitched

Single Frame

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Panorama

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Unfavourable Sky

Like I have mentioned before, it was actually raining, and I had to make a stop from place to place. The sky was completely white and uninteresting. I can complain on and on but I still decided to go on shooting though I know my shots would come out nothing but mediocre, or even less. However, I have discovered another advantage shooting under such rainy weather. The rain washed away the haze, which usually blanketed the city with an ugly greyish white cast, preventing a tack sharp photos of the buildings shooting from a afar !! Since it was raining, my shots of the city buildings were quite sharp. I guess this does not really fully make up for the undramatic sky, but it is definitely better than blurry city shots.

16th Storey High

I found an apartment (should be low cost) somewhere along my directionless stroll, and I took the lift up to the highest floor (16th storey) for my final few shots in this entry. It was scary because some of the shots were actually made while standing on the fire escape, which was constructed of thin steel structure. The structure was rusting away already, and it made creaky sounds when I stepped on it. It may ne perfectly fine on normal occasions, but hearing the creaky sounds at 16th storey high above the ground, with powerful wind (raining, remember?) blowing you in every direction was elevating my fears of height to a whole new level. I did not stay for long, and I was already feeling weak in the stomach as I made a few panorama shots.


So there it was, after being in KL for so long, I finally took photos of the buildings. I do think they are not so great looking, but still I try my best to present them in a more interesting manner. Whether that worked or not, is open to individual perceotion. I know there is still plenty to work on in terms of composition, but there is always the next attempt, which I will do better.

I really, really do miss Perth CBD. They do not have the Twin Towers, but the buildings look more "canggih" there.

Oh, and the blue, blue skies, that I cannot stop looking at.

18 comments:

  1. Nice kitty and reflections of the buildings. U've certainly done much justice with them ;)

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  2. and u forget im already back in KL... cissss

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  3. Hey brandon,
    thanks! Was hoping for nicer weather but i should stop complaining

    hey Lkm,
    Raining lah! You sure you want meh?

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  4. WOW.. even without a wide angle. loving your building shots man. damn.

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  5. Hey evan chua,
    thanks! But i want an ultra wide angle!

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  6. canggih?? your language getting increasingly hard for me to understand!

    -Marcus

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  7. hey marcus,
    OOOpps.. I must have been in Malaysia for too long.
    It means out of the ordinary ahahaah

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  8. either that or u have been away from perth far too long!

    -Marcus

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  9. hey marcus,
    must have been both !! LOL

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  10. love the KLCC reflection! Nice!

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  11. i've learned alot by reading this entry. thanks man.

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  12. hey chong,
    thanks !! I know you are obsessed with anything KLCC ahahah

    hey cyril,
    thanks !! Feel free to share your thoughts too.

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  13. its a nice site ... also pictures i like it so much


    Term papers

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  14. That's because they remind me of corns. *slurp* :P

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  15. hey termpapers,
    thanks.

    Hey chong,
    LOL !! Now you are making me hungry, even without a picture !!

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  16. The reflections are awesome. At first glance I was thinking what on earth did you do in postprocessing until I read your caption.

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  17. hey sam,
    thanks !! ahahaha my PP skills are very noob one !!

    hey allen,
    come come buy together !!

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