Kuala Lumpur In The Dark

Important Update: I have DISABLED anonymous comments. This is an important step to control spams coming into my comment system, which is running rampant lately. I apologize for the convenience. You may still comment without any of the required accounts, by using the OPEN ID and just type in your name. 

It was Sunday evening, and feeling still deprived of shutter therapy I went to Ampang Lookout Point with a bunch of Sony shooters. I snapped some night city shots. Nothing to write home about really, I was not too impressed with these batch of images, but I thought I'd show them here anyway because this was my first attempt at long exposure shooting with the Sony Alpha A57. 

A few things I noticed when shooting with the Sony. I missed having the slowest shutter speed of 60 seconds before going to bulb mode, as found on default in all my previous Olympus cameras. On the Sony A57, the slowest was 30seconds, which was not sufficient when I do want to stop down the aperture further. Secondly, for shots like these, I usually would employ "anti-shake" on Olympus bodies, which was equivalent to mirror lock-up before the release of the shutter. Obviously the Sony has some sort of fixed mirror mechanism that did not move, but the 2 seconds self-timer did not feel as reassuring as having the mirror lock-up. one out of five attempts came out blurry. In case you need to know, yes I did turn OFF the built in body image stabilization. If it was one out of 10 shots, I would have dismissed it but one out of four or five shots was quite frequent for me to start worrying if something was wrong with the camera. 

50mm F1.8 lens, 2.5s, F1.8, ISO100

18-55mm kit lens: 30seconds, F7.1, ISO100

35mm F1.8 lens, 30sec, F7.1, ISO100

50mm F1.8 lens, 30sec, F7.1, ISO100

70-400mm F4-5.6 G2: 30sec, F9, ISO100, Focal Length 160mm

70-400mm F4-5.6 G2, 30sec, F9, ISO100
Those funny looking "flare" or hazy background could be due to reflections on the filter. Not sure how or what happened. My other lenses looked fine. 

Meng Keat, the owner of the 70-400mm G2 lens!!

Thanks to Meng Keat I have the Sony 70-400mm monster white lens to fit onto my tiny A57, and I can zoom in ALL the way to the two prominent towers (more like three, since the KLCC has a twin). What a HUGE difference it made in comparison to what I could do with 50mm longest only! This proves that long lens is a necessity, and it is versatile in many shooting situations, even for landscapes. And my oh my, that Sony gigantic 70-400mm is quite a lens indeed. Of course I will need more extensive usage with the lens (shooting under better lighting) to make any useful comments on it. But so far, I love what I am seeing coming out of that lens. 

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  1. Very nice, Robin! To my old eyes, that 35mm prime is quite sharp. The 50mm yields nice stareffects on specular highlights.

    As for the "flare" in your last teleshot, I think that's normal atmospheric light "pollution" reflecting back from the sky. If you look closely it is also present in the same area in the 35mm and 50mm shots. In fact the wide shot (kit lens) shows the reflection in the sky even better.

    Lovely work, once again!

    1. Thanks Andre,
      You were right, 35mm is the sharpest amongst all lenses!

  2. This reminds me that I should go out and get some night shots. I haven't done any in a long time. Your shots ar elovely as always. I always like your Petrona shots. Libby.

    1. Libby,
      Take some night photos with those wonderful CCTV lenses of yours! The unique bokeh will surely add some interesting characters to the photos!

  3. For long exposures, you could hold a black card in front of the lens until just after you trip the shutter and get an "anti-shock" effect...

    1. Hey Brad,
      I don't have a remote shutter trigger so I can't do much with the black card method either. I need longer shutter speed (meaning not bright enough) so adding black card would darken the image!

  4. Hi Robin,
    I love night shots but my images are still way down my desired stardard. Thank you for sharing these great night shots and they are surely will inspire me to shoot more at night.
    May you have a great day.
    John Ragai

    1. Hello John,
      Don't worry about desired standards, you cannot do any wrong, because your photos belong to you only, and you shoot what you wanted to shoot, in your own way!

    2. Good morning, Robin.
      Thank you for that 'Don't worry about desired standard' which carried much weight from you. My wife used to say, "Abang, you pressure yourself too much! Relax!" Combined her words with your words, I think there is wisdom in her words.
      Happy shooting and may you have a great day.
      John Ragai

  5. Nice shots - although I agree that they aren't as good as what you usually deliver :)
    Next time you should try shooting with different exposures of the same picture (just use bulb mode and go for maybe 1, 10 and 30 seconds), then process it as HDR. I found that it is extremely difficult to capture the dynamic range of a cityscape at night. HDR is really helpful to extend the dynamic range. Despite HDR often destroys the mood set in a picture, which means that I end up almost always having to edit the pictures to bring back the light situation and mood, I love it as a photographic technique. It is very rewarding, as you have much more control over the picture :)

    Unfortunately I didn't know that much about photography when I was shooting cityscapes last time in KL, so I couldn't make the most of my lens and pictures - plus I only had a few minutes to shoot them.
    That's why it didn't turn out as well as I hoped it to do: http://www.flickr.com/photos/xtj7/8502659271/in/set-72157632662762970 (single shot, a little underexposed - then bringing back some of the detail in the shadows by developing the RAW file. Unfortunately my tiny sensor rewarded this with quite a lot of noise).

    Maybe we end up shooting together some time, then doing a couple of night shots might be interesting as well.
    Keep on shooting :)

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