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 !!