Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kuala Lumpur Skyline from Hotel Maya Sky Lounge

Dear friend Jason Lioh was generous enough to invite me over for a stay with him at Hotel Maya, which was situated directly in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, just a stone throw (you will need an extremely strong arm though) away from the KLCC Twin Towers. Of course, the highlight was the city view from the sky lounge, which was on the 13th floor. The Sky Lounge was open for hotel guests from 9pm to 11pm, serving coffee, tea and deserts. The view from the balcony was nothing short of breathtaking. It was not an everyday routine for most of us city dwellers to have such opportunity to climb up a building so high and have a good vantage point to shoot the urban scenery. 

I rushed over to Hotel Maya immediately after work, arriving just in time for sunset shoot. Nonetheless, the sky was being too cruel to us, with ugly patches of clouds everywhere, shrouding the golden sun ray. We did not fret, but continued shooting, even when the light was already dying. I believe this was what the National Geographic photographers would call the Golden Hour, though I did not see anything golden in this. 

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 lens. All shots taken HAND-HELD

1/8sec, F/4, ISO250



1/2sec, F/4, ISO400

1/3sec, F/4, ISO400


1/3sec, F/4, ISO400

The freaking huge room that we stayed in. Crazy huge !! You can put an elephant in the room and the elephant will still have plenty of space to run around. 


Say hi to Jason !! You can see how high the guard rail is, and Jason is standing almost 6 feet tall. 


I brought along my tripod anticipating the need to do long exposure. However, for safety reasons, and probably complying to building and construction standards/guidelines, the guard rail at the balcony was extremely high, and my tripod was not tall enough to overcome the height. Hence, I could not use the tripod at all. What did I decide to do? Of course we would not give up !! I have faith that the Image Stabilization built into the Olympus DSLR E-5 would not fail me, and gathering whatever steady hand-holding techniques I have mastered, sucking the tummy in, resting the camera on top of the rail (dangerous stunt, because it was not a flat surface, it was rounded), and leaning my body onto the guard rail, I went on clicking the camera away with very slow shutter speed. I still found myself constantly struggling to get sharp images, thus I decided to do two things: 1) underexpose the image a little for that extra boost of shutter speed 2) boost up the ISO slightly, from ISO200 to 400, or more, increasing conservatively. While I managed to get away with sharp, blur free images, due to higher ISO shooting at slow shutter, and underexposure, bringing the brightness balance back up in post processing yielded more chroma noise than I originally wanted. Was that a total failure? I would not say so, the priority is still getting as sharp of an image as possible free of any hand shake. 

It was quite an experience. sipping good coffee away, catching up with friends while enjoying the night scenery of Kuala Lumpur skyline, and having the horribly polluted air city air blasting on our faces courtesy of gentle night wind blowing. 

Life is good !!

22 comments:

  1. Nice post Robin. I like hotel balconies. Smoked a cigar on one with Neil Diamond and his crew once! And city air is a bit nicer when you are above the streets.

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    1. Thanks Tom !! Wow Neil Diamond, that must have been a heck of an experience !!

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  3. Excellent KL night scenery :)

    Looks like you don't need the 12mm ;)

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    1. Scott, I love my Olympus Zuiko 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 ehehehhe. Shoot a lot on the street with this beautiful lens too.

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  4. Excellent handheld shot. You made KL look beautiful.

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    1. Thanks Kelvin !! KL is beautiful !

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  5. Donald W Leitzel5/29/2012 11:13:00 PM

    Robin

    I think that photographers today are to hung up on noise free images. I my early film days ISO200 was considered a fast film. If you wanted noise free (or grain free) images you used Kodachrome 25 or 64. The ISO settings on today's digital cameras don't even go that low. We learned to live with the grain and in some cases make it part of the image (especially with black and white). There was no post processing like you have today. You made your image in camera especially with slides. I believe today's photographers are spoiled and would have trouble if they were forced to go back 40 or 50 years.

    Keep up the good work, you have one of the most interesting photo sites on the net.

    Don

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    1. Thanks Don for the kind compliments.

      I would not have complained if my tripod was tall enough, or I could use something flat to put the camera on. Shooting hand-held in such dark condition, was not easy. The only solution was to bump up the ISO.

      Nonetheless, you have a strong point there, high ISO noise seems to be the deciding factor for everything: how good a camera is, how good a photograph is, etc. Photography does not revolve around noise, and there are many other deciding factors that determine a good photograph.

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    2. Donald W Leitzel5/30/2012 05:44:00 AM

      Robin

      Using the rail and proper hand holding was an excellent approach. It is amazing what can be done when you want the shot. It's a matter of knowing your equipment and working with it. The important thing is you got the image. I noticed that your highest ISO was 400, thus proving good technique will get the shot.

      Don

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    3. Hello Don,
      I guess we have got to improvise and find ways to get the shot, even if circumstances are against us, and it depends on how desperate we are to get the shot !!

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  6. Great shots, KL has sure changed since I was last there in1970.

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    1. Thanks Anonymous. Kindly leave a name the next time you comment.

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  7. Robin,

    Scintillating night shots !
    You should be the principal photographer for the Malaysian Tourist Bureau.

    (Re: your remarks on air quality)
    It appears you set the E-5 Anti-Pollution Art Filter to +5 !

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    1. Hello Ben,
      LOL on the Anti Pollution Art Filter !!

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  8. Robin,

    I meant "Scintillating TWILIGHT shots !"

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    1. Well, there was not really a twilight since it was too cloudy. Kinda wishing the sky was clearer and we have layers of different colours in the sky.

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  9. Hello Robin,
    Thank you for sharing those awesome blue hour city skyline. Though I did learn Blue hour and Golden hour photography (sshh!! very lazy to submit my assignment as it's not good enough.) but your images here are really 'wow' for me.
    Thank you for a few photography tips in this blog. (I am always looking for the 'how' as in 'how to fish?'.)
    May you have a peaceful evening.
    John Ari Ragai

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  10. Hello John,
    Oh, there is a blue hour? Did not know of such phrase !! But it does make sense.
    It is always my pleasure to share my images and my thoughts on how I made them happen. After all, I believe in learning from each other, as much as I have put down on this blog, many of my readers also shared their thoughts and many precious opinion in return, so everyone benefits.

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  11. Lovely - makes me want to go on vacation. That's a nice shot of Jason. I also like the way the pure white of that coffee cup draws my eye down to the bottom of the image.

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    1. Thanks Libby, we all need vacation hey !!

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  12. Not bad at all. For those occasions, it's good to have a GorillaPod which you could have used on the railing. Also, in those cases, I use the camera strap to secure the setup so it cannot fall.

    Just a quick note: I like your blog but it renders really shitty on small screens such as the iPhone as the images do not resize to a smaller size there. scrolling past the images is difficult as well without triggering loading the post before or after.

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