Month: April 2007

Orion’s Belt & Coconut Tree

Orion’s Belt & Coconut Tree by Nawfal Nur - 2007

 Title: “Orion’s Belt & Coconut Tree”
© 2007 Nawfal Nur
All Rights Reserved
Location: Penang, Malaysia

Wide Field Astrophotography of Orion’s Belt, and a coconut tree.
“ζ Ori (Alnitak), ε Ori (Alnilam) and δ Ori (Mintaka) make up the asterism known as Orion’s Belt: three bright stars in a row; from these alone one can recognize Orion.” [Source: ]

EXPLORER – Another Platinum-Digital Image of a Modern Ship


“EXPLORER” Cruise Ship, taken by Nawfal Nur.

Copyright 2007 by Nawfal Nur
All Right Reserved

This is another of my Platinum-digital images of a modern ship. This is the “Explorer” – a modern cruise ship.

I took this image while crossing from Butterworth to Penang, on the ferry.
Keep in mind that taking pictures from a rough rolling platform, like a ferry, is not an easy task.

There are three things to keep in mind and watch out for if photographing
from a sea-going vessel:

1) If it is a double-decker ferry, move yourself to the top deck to avoid ocean spray. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of time wiping sea water from your lens.

2) Support yourself! Forget about camera shake – worry about photographer shakes! If you can support your elbows on the side of the boat as you take photographs, then do it. You may not have brought a tripod with you, and it may just get in your way in this case. Your elbows become your makeshift tripod.

3) Because the ferry moves up and down with the waves, so do you and your camera. If you have a grid (split into thirds) in your viewfinder, or on your LCD screen, then use it! With my camera, there is an off/on option for the grid screen, and it became very useful in this instance. Use it if you have it! Attempt to keep the horizon along one of the horizontal lines as you take photographs.

Bonus Tip)  Keep the sun to your back!  Glare at sea is a photo-killer.

Good Luck!

Ocean Osprey – Old Looking Print – New Ship

Ocean Osprey, v.6 A digital image of the Oil Product Tanker by Nawfal Nur

This shot was taken a few days ago while crossing the ferry on the Butterworth side of Penang, and attempting crossing over to the island of Penang.

This was the same day when there was such a ruckus on the Penang Bridge. Apparently, a 10-wheeled trucked broke down near mid-bridge, and then, there was a bomb scare also – this all happened on 4 April 2007.

The Penang bridge is one long bridge: 13.5KM (8.4 Miles) long, and it is the only drivable way to reach the island from the mainland. With all the fuss on the 4th, thousands of motorists were stuck in jams going to or from the island.

At one point, it was reported that the jam getting onto the bridge stretched back some 15KM on the highway. I wouldn’t doubt it. I was stuck in the jam getting onto the ferry to cross over to the island.

We crawled along at a snails pace: Only after 3 and a half hours were we able to fight our way the 500-meters it took to get from where we were originally stuck, to where drivers pay the toll to WAIT IN LINE (some more), to board the ferry.

Damn-the-Frustration of Penang Traffic!

There are works going on now to widen the bridge, but that may be too little too late. A second and perhaps third bridge is needed to give Penang traffic some relief, but these things don’t happen quickly. Maybe a Light Rail Transit System would be good too, and that is something that is also being discussed by the relevant departments.

Anyway, I was glad that I had my camera with me on that day. I was able to get some shots of ships as we crossed over on the ferry. This image is a digital-Platinum-stylized photo of some activity at the Penang Port.

The ship at mid-right is the Ocean Osprey:

Country: Singapore.
Ship Type: Oil Products Tanker.
Deadweight Tonnage: 7,624.
DOB: 1996 06

I decided to make this image look a little antique: Thus, I incorporated this image into a Platinum-style layout and look. However, if looking closer at the ship, you know it is not antique, but modern with “SAFETY FIRST” and “NO SMOKING” signs painted in huge print. Also, the modern communication towers and equipment on the ship shows us a modern ship. If that isn’t enough to put a general date to the scene, add to that the modern lifting machines loading containers onto the ship on the left hand side of the photograph.

Well, maybe using digital software to come up with Platinum images is not very “pure” – but at least for photographers who never had the opportunity to work with this printing process, we can see our work similarly, or differently, using digital processes. It’s kind of fun to experiment with many kinds of looks for photographs, and this is just another technology that allows us modern day photographers to do such experimentation – digitally.

Here’s a little history on the Platinum Process by the very interesting and enlightening expert of photography at, Peter Marshall:

“Platinum prints are one of the family of processes based on the light sensitivity of iron(III) (ferric) salts. In the presence of organic material such as oxalate ions, these are reduced using energy from light to give iron(II) compounds. These then react with platinum salts to produce platinum metal. The iron salts are then removed leaving a stable platinum image. Like the other iron processes, platinum printing is slow and requires a UV light source (you can use the sun, but UV flourescent tubes or mercury vapour lamps etc are more repeatable) and large negatives as all exposure is contact printing.

Platinum printing was patented by W. Willis in 1873 (with later improvements) and materials were available commercially for many years. Increases in the price of platinum around 1910-20 led to a rapid reduction in their availability and use, although production did not finally cease in the UK until 1941. A few photographers continued to print in platinum, making their own papers, but most used other materials. A revival of interest, using hand coated papers began in the 1970s, and at least one platinum paper was commercially produced from 1998 until around 2000.” [SOURCE: ]

IRITIS: Part Deux

Eyeball with Iritis - by Nawfal Nur of Nawfal’s own eyeball.

IRITIS: Part Deux

Well Folks, I’m going to write this fast because I can’t sit here long at the computer, and soon you will find out why.

I’ve noticed that a number of people come to my Photo-Blog from the Search Engines after they do a search for “Iritis.” I wrote my first entry on iritis a little over a year ago; and almost like clockwork, I’m getting iritis once again. In this post I want to give you more specifics about this eye condition, things to look for, and also, the big eye photograph is my eye with iritis. The eyeball will get redder as the condition gets worse; but as a general warning, I wouldn’t recommend you take a photograph of your eye if suffering from iritis – the studio lights are a killer for the eyeball when having this condition.

This is a very painful and debilitating eye condition. Here is my definition of this condition:

1) It’s a very painful eye condition where in the late stages of development, the iris sticks to the lens. The eyeball becomes very sensitive to touch, light and vision becomes blurry. “When the iris is inflammed, white blood cells (leukocytes) are shed into the anterior chamber of the eye…these cells can accumulate and cause adhesion between the iris and the lens.” [Source: ]

2) Here’s a more detailed medical definition from the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center:

”Uveitis means “inflammation of the uvea”, or the middle layer of the eye. The uvea consists of three structures: the iris, the ciliary body, and the choroid. The iris is the colored structure surrounding the pupil, visible in the front of the eye. The ciliary body is a structure containing muscle and is located behind the iris which focuses the lens. The choroid is a layer containing blood vessels that line the back of the eye and is located between the inner visually sensitive layer, called the retina, and the outer white eye wall, called the sclera. Inflammation occurring in any of these three structures is termed “uveitis”.

Inflammation in uveitis may involve any but not necessarily all of these three structures. Depending upon which structures are inflamed, uveitis may be further subcategorized into one of three main diagnoses, these include:

· iritis or anterior uveitis,

· iridocyclitis or intermediate uveitis, and

· choroiditis or posterior uveitis.

Uveitis may develop following eye trauma or surgery, in association with diseases which affect other organs in the body, or may be a condition isolated to the eye itself. Severe and permanent visual loss can result from uveitis. In addition, uveitis can lead to other ocular complications, which may produce vision loss, including glaucoma, cataracts, or retinal damage. Early detection and treatment is necessary to reduce the risk of permanent vision loss.

Depending on which part of the eye is inflamed in uveitis different combinations of these symptoms may be present.

· Redness

· Light sensitivity

· Floaters

· Blurry vision

· Pain

These symptoms may come on suddenly, and you may not experience any pain. The symptoms described above may not necessarily mean that you have uveitis. However, if you experience one or more of these symptoms, contact your eye doctor for a complete exam.

Treatment may include steroid eyedrops, injections, or pills, as well as eyedrops to dilate the pupil and reduce pain. More severe cases of uveitis may even require treatment with chemotherapeutic agents to suppress the immune system.” [ SOURCE:


I would not totally agree that symptoms come on “suddenly”, but conditions may vary per person. I’ve been getting gentle warning signals now for days that this was going to happen. And, it is somewhat amazing to me, that I’ll get iritis in the left eye one year and then just to be fair (it would seem), the next year it happens to the right eye.

I’ll give you the symptoms as I get them, then you can compare notes to what you may be feeling in your eyeball. However, please keep in mind, depending on the type of uveitis you have, the symptoms, of course, may differ.

a) If you have any disease that makes you more susceptible to iritis. (i.e. I suffer from Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). One of the problems many AS patients also endure is recurring outbreaks of Iritis.)

[ankylosing spondylitis

Arthritis of the spine, resembling rheumatoid arthritis and leading to lipping or fusion of the vertebrae. Also called Strümpell-Marie disease, Marie-Strümpell disease, rheumatoid spondylitis, Strümpell-Marie disease.

The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.]

b) A few days before iritis kicks into top gear, my eyeball feels sluggish and heavy.

My Ophthalmologist tells (warns) me that staring at something, like a computer screen, for long periods are quite hazardous for anyone prone to iritis. Why? Because your eyes are constantly focusing at that set distance – arms length – for long periods. Therefore, if you have the same type of work habits as me, then maybe, you should get up and move around more often. In other words, get away from the computer and give your eyes more breaks.

Once iritis has really started kicking in, there are several additional warning signs to keep in mind:

c) The eyeball gives a burning/achy pain.

d) Blood vessels crop up in the whites of the eye and the white part starts turning red (bloodshot).

e) Throbbing in the eyeball.

f) Put your hand out and move it toward the affected eye, the closer you move your hand to your eye, and as your eye tries to focus on your hand, there will be an almost instant shooting pain in your eyeball.

g) Blurriness of vision.

h) Photophobic (high sensitivity to light).

i) Close your eyelid, and then lightly touch the affected eyeball, especially just on the outside of the colored portion of eye. If there is pain in a spot or two, that is a possible sign.

j) One last thing, if when you change lighting conditions in a room and the pupil of the affected eye does not change size, then that’s big trouble – at that point you better be heading off to see your Ophthalmologist.

If you have any of these more serious symptoms, you may want to have your eye checked out. Iritis is no fun and it is very dangerous. It can lead to all sorts of nasty sight problems, including blindness.

Now the Disclaimer: I’m not a physician – I’m a Photographer who suffers from Iritis. If this blog entry can be of any help to even a single person, then I am glad I spent the time on this. Take care of your eyes and see an eye doctor if you have any questions about your eyes and eye pain. Last but not least, be grateful for everything you don’t have to suffer from. But, if you learn a lesson from suffering, I guess that is something to be grateful for also. Wish me luck!

Saltie in the Spotlight!

Salticidae - TR

“Salticidae – TR”
© 2007 Nawfal Nur
All Rights Reserved
Subject: Jumping Spider
Family: Salticidae
Size: Approx. 6mm
Location: Malaysia, taken indoors.
Style: Macro Insect Stage-Glam Photography

This tiny Jumping Spider was photographed on the side of a shampoo bottle. These are fascinating creatures, much more entertaining than the typical, boring web weaving type of spider, who waits until something flies into their web before taking action. These guys are always on the go – totally proactive – looking for something to do, to eat, or curious about, well, almost anything. Salticidae is the largest spider family with more than 5,000 species worldwide. The name of the spider comes from the Latin, Salto, meaning to dance with pantomimic gestures, or to leap and jump. Sometimes, these spiders are called, “Salties“.

Apparently, Saltie males must prove themselves to any female Saltie they wish to hook-up with. They do this by doing a wild dance for the female spider and the female supposedly watches the male spider like a judge at the “So You Think You Can Dance” competition – the pressure is on for sure! First there was the US version of SYTYCD, and now there is one in Malaysia that just started. There are probably more franchises of this show airing around the globe. I think the Salties should have one too – maybe they are better dancers than their human counterparts, LMAO!

Their huge eyes help pinpoint food, which they are excellent at catching. Sometimes, I watch them stalk flies or ants and their kill rate is nearly 100% – they are perhaps what one may term, “natural born killers” – but they kill for food!

Jumping Spiders seem curious about anything that gets in their line-of-sight. This one, toward the end of the photo-shoot, actually got a little aggressive, and like a bolt, it quickly swung over a couple of inches off the shampoo bottle and tried attacking the spider it probably saw reflecting in the glass of the camera lens. What a silly spider!

These spiders use a fine silk thread like a safety line. This thread helps support them as they do acrobatic-jumping-insanity. If they miss their target, which wouldn’t be very often, they can pull themselves to safety by the thread. They are considered the bungee jumpers of the spider world.

As far as I understand, Salties have a special kind of natural hydralic system built into their bodies that give them their incredible jumping powers. “Their well developed internal hydralic system extends their limbs by altering the pressure of body fluid (blood) within them….Unlike almost all other spiders, they can quite easily climb on glass. This is because of the minute hairs and claws found on their feet, which grip imperfections in the glass.” [ Source: ]

Over all, an amazing family of spiders.

This was actually a trickier photo to take than it looks. These creatures don’t stick around for you to take their portraits all day long: They have things to do.

The goal was to put the spider in a spotlight, as if on stage. To do this, and being an avid believer in alternative “Available Lighting” – in my definition – that means, any “available light” that is at hand for me to use. At hand was my Mini Maglite®, which produces a wonderfully bright adjustable spot.

So, in one hand I had the Mini Maglite®, in the other hand, I had my camera. As the Saltie moved cautiously around the bottle to avoid the HUGE camera in its face, I also had to keep turning the bottle around, that is, until something caught its attention and he stopped (maybe a she, don’t know). Putting the shutter on Continuous Mode, and supporting my hand on a box to steady the camera hand, I hoped to capture some interesting, non-blurry shots. The EXIF data below shows the specs., for this shot. The distance between lens to subject was approximately less than 1-inch.

Shooting Data for Salticidae Photograph by Nawfal Nur.