Color

Bane in the Face of Finding Happiness

Metaltocracy by Nawfal Nur

Metaltocracy
by Nawfal Nur
All Rights Reserved

“Conformity and obedience,
Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
Makes slaves of men and of the human frame,
A mechanized automaton.”
{Percy Bysshe Shelley – Source: Queen Mab, 1813}

“Truth is the bane of the Truthful.”
{Anon}

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Getting Dust-Free

Gold Case with Dust

BEFORE SHOT: Gold Case before editing the dust & fluff.

Here is the “dust-free” image (below). Six hours later, of cloning and other tools used, to get rid of the dust and fluff from this product. There are a few more things I would change to get rid of manufacturer defects and even smaller dust spots, but I’ve had enough! Even a “perfectionist” has their limits.

I forgot to mention, that yes, I always use micro-fiber cloth and air blower to get rid of AS MUCH DUST AS POSSIBLE, but dust is a rather evil creation and has the tendency of coming back over and over and over again. Sometimes, you just have no choice than to shoot the image and clean up with some software solution, after the fact.

Estee Lauder Gold Cosmetics Case as

AFTER SHOT: GOLD CASE after editing dust and fluff.

Homemade \

LIGHTING: A single flash setup. METZ 32Z-2 Flash with homemade “Tupperware” diffuser coated with metallic black and silver paint. I also used a single sheet of A4 white paper (80gms weight thickness) to flag-diffuse light in areas where it was blowing out the highlights. I attempt to keep lighting as ‘simple’ as possible, when possible.

Was there any particular reason to paint the diffuser with black and silver metallic paint? No, not really, it is all experimental for sure. The inside of the device is silver metallic and the outside, sides are black metallic.

The goal was to make a translucent light modifier to use with this METZ flash, to get a wider spread at closer distance that gives off a good, softer, dispersed light source. I cannot use the METZ “Winder” Mode with this (not enough power), but I can use the “A”perture settings, and still place the light within 12-inches from the subject. This flash modifier is good for Cat (Pet) Portraiture (see below).  You can see the squarish highlight in Jamilah’s eye – a very nice catch-light.

When it comes to small flashes I’d take METZ over any other type of flash, any day of the week, and TWICE on Sunday.  Someday, I may check out their bigger flash units and Wireless Triggers.  I find METZ to be  über-Dependable!

Jamilah Bee Portrait taken using Homemade Light Diffuser - Modifier.

EGG CONTAINERS, v1, Edit A

EGG CONTAINERS, v1, Edit A, fb, originally uploaded by fine-grain.

Title: “Egg Containers, v.1, Edit A”
Portfolio: “URBAN FRAGMENTS of GEORGETOWN”
Copyright 2008 Nawfal Nur
All Rights Reserved

**Art Photography Prints & Art Cards Available at:**
http://www.redbubble.com/people/nawfalnur

Paint the World….with Truth?

Pigeon on Ledge-IMG 2418, Edit B-np

Yes, wouldn’t the “truth” be nice…

I’m a firm believer in the standard “X-Files” tagline: “The Truth is Out There!” But believe me, fellow brothers and sisters in Art, it is up to you to find it!

Well, as you may already have guessed, this is turning out to be absolutely different from what you thought it would be, at least, according to the “title” of the journal entry.

First, however, let me tell you about this image: It is a pigeon, of course, standing on the ledge of a very old, British Colonial, row house in Penang, more specifically, Georgetown.

These colorful shots of old houses is a new series I’m working on: I’m thinking of calling the series, “Distinctive Georgetown,” or something like that. My file of images is building in this filing cabinet of a photo-series – I better name the Series soon.

This is a macro detail of an old house on the corner of Jalan Irving and Jalan Krian.

As surreal as it sounds to me now, I was interviewed tonight on a local Radio show, and I think what I responded with to this questions, “What is it about a scene that makes you want to take a photograph?” – was pretty spot-on (my ‘approximate’ answer is below).

“For me,” I said, “I think very macroscopically, even when working on this Historic Preservation self-assignment. I look at the details and compose the details, the composition, the context of the image in my heart and mind first. If it seems like a worthwhile scene to work on, then I get my camera out, and I work on the shot I had developed in my mind.”

That’s a pretty close word-for-word, at least as far as I remember. My wife would probably say, “NONSENSE!” Oh…Not “nonsense” to my interview answer, but to my skills of listening and remembering. I think I have remarkable listening skills. She’s perhaps blinded by her own bias: She says I choose not to listen to her sometimes, and I tell her that it is a skill I’ve developed over the years, called “Selective Listening!” She’s not amused! I think it’s a hell’of’a skill and I’m considering offering it as a Short-Course for husbands of all time zones!

My Photography is not necessarily the “truth” – it is more closely linked to my Painted Version of the Truth! After all, there is only one reality, but for Photographic Artists, we provide the context for which that “truth“, that “reality“, is presented in the frame of a single shot at a particular time.

In my “Distinctive Georgetown” photographs, it is a close representation of “reality” but with my twist on each scene. That is what artists do, right, reveal their own personal vision to the canvas, the rock, the film, the print, or whatever.

In my next journal entry, I may discuss another type of “truth” that ALL Artists need to be on the lookout for and protect themselves against, and that “truth” is the sugar-coated kind, where the people you come across could be your savior, or the devil that stabs you in the back! And sometimes, if you’re not careful, they appear as your savior, then reveal themselves to you as the devil, their real identity.

Like I said, MAYBE, I’ll cover that topic next time. If I can perhaps, save one (or more) artists/photographers, from making mistakes that I’ve made, by telling a simple, if not, hard-learned tale of misery and the agony of deceit and treachery, then, it may be a tale worth telling…or at least I may highlight the finer points of the lesson….Mysterious? Yes… That’s OK…

More later.

A Few Series I’m Working On!

A Few Fine Art Series in the Works!

Ethereal“, “ONE Glass” and “Penang Trees” are fine art photography series, which I have been paying particular attention to over the past several weeks.

Click on the photograph (above), and the link will take you to the Artist Statements for these three series. I thought I would provide a little more information behind the works. If you are interested, please have a look.

Thank You!

 

ONE Glass – Sarong Material-Blues, Edit C

ONE Glass – Sarong Material-Blues, Edit C, originally uploaded by fine-grain.

Series: “ONE Glass”.
Title: “ONE Glass – Sarong Material-Blues”.

This is the third work in my “ONE Glass” Series. This is another ‘high-key’ sample from the collection.

Again, the glass blends into the bright, seamless background; but in this case, the sarong material kind of looks like it has transformed into a solid, thus, making up the rest of the container (as if there is no glass). Only when you see the rim of the wine glass, do you really notice the glass again.

Lots of Details to Consider – Product Shot: ESTEE – Deluxe Pure Color EyeShadow, Frame 77, Edit C-NP

ESTEE – Deluxe Pure Color EyeShadow, Frame 77, Edit C-NP, originally uploaded by fine-grain.

ESTEE – Deluxe Pure Color EyeShadow.
In my humble opinion:  Makeup containers made of lots of different materials are probably some of the toughest subjects to photograph well – and by no means am I saying mine is perfect.

Here’s what makes this type of shot so tough:

1) Lots of Color. EyeShadow colors: The photo MUST match the real thing.
2) A mirrored subject.
3) A subject with Gold (or Silver) Reflective Surface.
4) A subject with translucent glass or plastic.
5) A subject where texture may be important.
6) To retain and “edge” to the glass or plastic when shooting against white seamless.
7) No dust, hair, scratches, deformed makeup or “oddities”.

The Photographer must look out for all of these characteristics & requirements.

Lighting:
1) One Systems Imaging, 600 Watt-Seconds Compact Flash with NO Attachments.
2) One 20 Watt Twister Light.
3) One 30 Watt Twister Light.

I kept part of the shadow to retain a little of the 3-D Feel, and made the background seamless.

It ended up with more of a “artsy / painterly” feel to it; and that’s OK, but I was actually intending to do a straight Product shot.

The 50th Merdeka, Vespa Scooter Convoy from Terengganu: A Photo-Essay of their Stop in Penang.

“The 50th Merdeka, Vespa Scooter Convoy from Terengganu: A Photo-Essay of their Stop in Penang.”

 

Story & Photos by Nawfal Nur

Copyright 2007

All Rights Reserved

 

———————————–

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 94-BTL

Photo One: Yellow Scooter – Close-up of “vespa”, chrome trim and red light. The yellow paint was fairly dirty, so I took a tissue and wiped it down, and no one seemed to mind.  After all, the group had already traveled several hundred kilometers and a little dirt on the scooters would be natural.

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 79-BTL

Photo Two: Orange Vespa with stormy sky in the background, Malaysian flag hanging down into the frame of this shot.

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 83-BTL

Photo Three: KSK Member sitting on his Vespa and an array of other scooters around him.

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 87-BTL

Photo Four: An elaborate eagle decoration on the front bumper of a Vespa scooter.

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 112-BTL

Photo Five: A decorative hand-stamped chrome visor: The design is of a Vespa scooter.

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 97-BTL

Photo Six: An Abstract shot of a pink Vespa’s front bumper and chrome horn covering.

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 109-BTL

Photo Seven: An intimidating fixture of a Viking Warrior – Maybe it’s Thor!

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 96-BTL

Photo Eight: This is the oldest Vespa in the group: It is a circa., 1964 Vespa scooter, in almost perfect condition.

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 101-BTL

Photo Nine: Just me adding a little “bling” to the shot, by using a ‘lens’ effect to highlight the Malaysian flag. The light falloff was expected; and this shot I took from standing in the first lane of traffic between short pauses in the zooming by of vehicles.

————————————

© 2007 Nawfal Nur, All Rights Reserved

————————————

Little did I know that my wife would be coming home with an interesting photography challenge for me. However, proved to be a much needed break from the monotony of the day, and an educational-cultural experience that I had not expected.

KSK (Kelab Skuter Klasik), from Kuala Terengganu, is a branch of the Classic Vespa Scooter Club, here in Malaysia. This group was on a Vespa Scooter Convoy, in honor of the 50th year of Malaysian Independence (Merdeka).

Their ride started on the 22nd of August and would finish up on the 31st of August. They traveled from Kuala Terengganu to various stops, and ended up in Penang on the 27th of August, I had the opportunity to take some photographs of their classic, Italian Vespas. Their next destination was somewhere in Kedah.

Now, take into consideration that my Penang dialect of the Malay language is kind of atrocious, so I was trying to communicate badly with my Penang dialect, with dudes who were speaking perfectly great Terengganu-Malay dialect – what a fantastic interaction we had!

Here’s how this whole photo-shoot came about: My wife was coming home from work and noticed a group of about 20 guys, milling around a colorful array of vintage Vespa motor scooters. She naturally knew that I would want to photograph their bikes, and get a story out of it – that’s just the way I am!

The group of riders were resting near our home, about a 10-minute walk away. They had all gathered in an empty parking lot, out front of an unscrupulous night club: It gets shut down about every year for violations of various laws – that scummy place is a true ‘Menace To Society!’ However, where there’s scum, there is filth, and the two seem to exist in a symbiosis that benefits both sides, and leaves the neighborhood in disgust, but that’s another story.

My wife arrived home and told me the story of the scooter riders from Terengganu. After hearing her ‘CLIFFS NOTES’ version, I knew I needed to drop what I was doing, grab a camera and race over to the gathering.

It was 7:00PM when I left the house and the light outside was transforming into a light tobacco color. I knew I had little time to take some shots with available light, which is naturally my preference for this type of work. Artificial light coming from the camera, when shooting objects that range in distance from near to far, it tends to wash out the nearby objects and leaves the distant subjects in a fog of darkness. With limited time and no way to gather additional lighting equipment, I had to make due with my camera with a built in flash.

When I approached the riders, they seemed a bit perplexed: I can imagine some were thinking, “Why is this Mat Salleh (White Guy), coming up to us and checking out our rides?

I noticed that there were more scooters than riders, so some people were missing from their group of some 20 bikes. Maybe some had already gone for a bite to eat. Nevertheless, about 12 members had stayed behind with their rides.

I started by giving the group, the traditional Muslim “Salaam”, and no matter where you go, no matter what your ethnicity, or color of skin, a Muslim can break the ice with another Muslim by giving a heart-felt “Assalaam’mualaikum!” (Meaning: “Peace Be Upon You!”)

After that, I began the conversation with “Apa Khabar?” (How are you?), and then things went from there. I ran into some bumps and hills along the conversational journey, but I was generally making “heads & tails” of what was being said.

I asked them if I could take some photographs, and they were obliging. It didn’t appear that they had made any announcements to the Press, or had any Public Relations Plan for their trip. I assumed their long trip from Kuala Terengganu to Penang, and then Kedah, was simply out of patriotism for Malaysia’s special 50th birthday celebration, and for comradery with other Vespa club members.

The club members comprised of a mixture of seasoned, older riders, and very enthusiastic younger men; I would estimate their ages from 25 to 60 years old. Not that “fine lines” or “deep crevices” in the facial skin is a major concern of most men, you can still get a general estimate of a man’s age by their degree of “face linage.”

The younger club members were riding their father’s motor scooters. And, I imagine, the fathers had made similar trips for previous Merdeka Day celebrations. The scooters they were riding, were from the years 1964 to 1979. I’m sure that some of the club members were considerably younger than the older Vespas in their convoy.

Each bike had some elaborate decoration on it, along with one or more Malaysian flags (Jalur Gemilang), and were fastened somewhere on the handlebars or the back ends of the scooters. Each scooter, I noticed, was equipped with a spare tire, a few tools, bottles of water and odds & ends that may be necessary for a long trip.

By the time the chit-chat was over, and I had received their permission to take the shots, the sun was dropping behind the hills and it was already 7:10PM. I knew I was dangerously close to running out of usable ambient light, and I had to quickly pick a theme for this photo-essay, and then shoot as many shots as possible to cover the theme. If that wasn’t enough, to do it all in less than 30-minutes was a chore, but a pleasant one.

I chose to concentrate on the details of the antique Vespa scooters. And, coming from a Fine Art background and preferring that style, I decided to shoot this story in that way. Daylight was burning away fast and I didn’t want to depend too much on the flash in my camera, a very trusty and dependable Canon A620, that works fantastically in the studio for my Fine Art work, but not ideal for photojournalism. Nevertheless, it was the camera I had in my hands, and I was adjusting and adapting as I lost light.

The bikes were parked haphazardly in the parking lot, so I weaved in and out of the bikes looking for outstanding examples of Vespa craftsmanship, and handmade scooter accessories. There was a decorative eagle gracing the front bumper of one bike. A metal viking decoration on the front plate of another, and a hand stamped chrome visor with an outline of a scooter gracing the headlamp of another bike. It was a treasure trove of photographic goodies.

It wasn’t the most organized photo shoot I’ve been involved in, I have to admit that. All that I knew was that I had about 20 minutes to photograph. Plus, these guys weren’t paid models, so I didn’t want to take too much of their time; they were tired after a long, hot day’s ride and were still looking for a hotel where they could rest for the night.

Before it was time to “call the game due to darkness,” (See Note 1, below), I thought it may be nice to get a group shot of a few of the members with their scooters. The only suitable spot to line them up was on the sidewalk. That also meant that the only suitable spot to take photographs was from the middle of a very busy metropolitan roadway! It wasn’t the safest spot to plant myself for taking photographs, but I’m a bit crazy, and thought…”Why Not!

By this time, my wife had come back to observe the shoot: So, I put her to work!

She became the translator for me, to explain what I wanted from the members, and where to place the bikes. She also helped with the art direction: She’s multi-talented!

Yeah, OK! Technically, at this point, I should have been setting up some extra lighting: I’m a disgrace to “Strobists” everywhere! (See Note 2, below).

I knew that I should have a couple remote speedlights to get a decent group shot. But Hey! I was just trying to time traffic properly, to “safely” jump into the middle of the speedway for a few seconds; grab a shot, and then leap out of the way before getting run over by lunatic drivers. Attempting to set up strobes in the middle of the road seemed like lunacy to me, so I ditched that idea and just took a few shots with the tiny internal flash, and hoping for the best.

By 7:40PM, the sun had dropped out of sight behind the hills and the shooting was over.

We said our goodbyes to the members and wished them luck and safe journey for the rest of their convoy around North Malaysia. At that point, my wife and I were about to head home. It was sort of funny, as we were about to leave, one of the guys asked my wife, who I am in relationship to her. She explained that I was her husband. I guess, I just assumed they knew she was married to the crazy white-dude!

I spent the remainder of the evening getting the shots reviewed, edited, and then re-edited. I drafted a letter to a local newspaper, believing that this story would be a good Merdeka, local interest item. Links to the images were provided in the email to the Editor, so it would be easy for them to view the shots online, and at their leisure. I made it clear that if they did not reply to my correspondence, then I would be publishing the story and photographs to my Photography Journals (“Behind the Lens“). Sad to say….I didn’t hear anything from the Newspaper.

Well, their loss, I guess. I suppose if another newspaper or magazine wants to pick up this story, then that would be great – just contact me with details.

Otherwise, I’m just happy to know that I fulfilled what I felt was a “mission” to get this dedicated group of Vespa Club Members, some exposure about their historic, 50th Merdeka celebration, scooter convoy.

Note 1: An old Baseball ruling [started around 1930’s], where during doubleheaders, a daylight game could be stopped by the Umpire due to darkness, because the stadium lights weren’t allowed to be turned on during the daylight game. In the 1950’s, this ruling was relaxed.

Note 2: “Strobist” is a photography blog on professional lighting with Speedlites and other small flash units.

Photography Details:
Camera
: Canon A620
Place: Penang
Time: I only had about an half hour with them, from 7:10PM to 7:40PM. It started getting quite dark, so shooting conditions were NOT ideal. I had to use higher ISO settings and weak flash caused some problems (ARGH! ) However, under the circumstances, I did my best!
Software: Some retouching (reduce digital noise ) with Noiseware, and Lighting/Contrast adjustments with PhotoImpact 10.

“BLUE” Photographic Series

The “BLUE” Photographic Series - Images for Sale by Nawfal Nur

 

Hi All! I just wanted to mention that I now have my “BLUE” Photography Series on-line, and the photographs in this collection are for sale as prints and posters. Also, Royalty Free Licenses for these images can be purchased as hi-res digital files.

Please have a look: If you want to purchase a print or poster of a different size, one that is not listed, then please let me know and I’ll make it available for you. Click on the photo above, or here, to go to the “BLUE” Series Gallery to see the entire group of photographs. Thank You!

New High-Key Floral

Honolulu Creeper, v9July07-wp

“Honolulu Creeper, 9 July 07”

Actually, I don’t have much to say today; however, I thought I should put up a new work so that you know that I have not fallen off the face of the planet – still here!

Live long and prosper!”

 

The Heavy Machines Portfolio

My best work is often almost unconscious and occurs ahead of my ability to understand it.” -Sam Abell, “Stay This Moment : The Photographs of Sam Abell” by Sam Abell (Photographer), Robert E. Gilka

Heavy Crane with Rainbow, v1-HDR, Edit B, Photography by Nawfal Nur

“Heavy Crane with Rainbow, v.1”
© 2007 Nawfal Nur
All Rights Reserved

These are images from my “Heavy Machines” Portfolio: I guess, in a short Artist’s Statement, I would say ‘The Heavy Machines images comprise thoughtful, visual statements about typically ugly, cold steel machines, and transformed into beautiful, warm-toned, soft compositions.’ Often, I will take the images first, and then the transformation occurs, step-by-step, without really knowing what the final image will look like: I just work on it until I believe it is complete, and thus, transformed.

Heavy Crane & Rainbow, v55, Edit B, Photography by Nawfal Nur

“Heavy Crane with Rainbow, v.5”
© 2007 Nawfal Nur
All Rights Reserved

 

Heavy Crane with Rainbow, v3, Edit D, Photography by Nawfal Nur

“Heavy Crane with Rainbow, v.3”
© 2007 Nawfal Nur
All Rights Reserved

 

Gloriosa – My Favorite Flower (At this Time…)

GLORIOSA LILY-Orig01-Edit B-WPz

I don’t actually have much to say regarding this photo-journal entry, but I wanted to show you some of my studio flower work.

This is definitely one of those times where I’ll just let my pictures say a few words.

I do, however, want to tell you how lucky I feel that this beautiful species grows wild on the other side of my fence, among weeds, and piles of bricks long forgotten by some building contractor, some time, long ago.

The Gloriosa Lily is a remarkable flower that is very well suited to tropical life, in the wild, and it doesn’t need anyone to take care of it. The “technical books” say it likes rich soil and the roots need shade. But I’ll tell ya, it grows just wonderfully without help, and where it’s growing must be its perfect spot.

So, with that little bit said, here is my Studio Collection of the Gloriosa Lily, my favorite flower…at this time. Hope you enjoy seeing my interpretations of this wonderful flower.

GLORIOSA LILY-Orig15, Edit B-wpz

GLORIOSA LILY-Orig17, Edit B-wpz

GLORIOSA LILY-Orig19, Edit B-wpz

GLORIOSA LILY-Orig25, Edit B-wpz

GLORIOSA LILY-Orig213, Edit B-wpz

GLORIOSA LILY-Orig285, Edit B-wpz

GLORIOSA LILY-Orig271, Edit C-wpz

GLORIOSA LILY-Orig249, Edit B-wpz

GLORIOSA LILY-Orig237, Edit B-wpz

GLORIOSA LILY-Orig233, Edit D-wpz

GLORIOSA LILY-Orig229, Edit B-wpz

GLORIOSA LILY-Orig221, Edit B-wpz

*** Thanks for taking a look! ***

 

Double Decker Bike Rider in Penang

 

Double Decker Bike Rider in Penang, by Nawfal Nur

Today proved that the “best camera” you have is the one that you remembered to bring with you!

I had just picked up my kids from school and was on my way back to Tg. Tokong, looking for Nasi Kandar – not the best thing to do around 3pm (the food is not as hot or fresh at that time – IMHO), but we looked around anyway. Then, out of nowhere came two people riding these double decker bikes with all sorts of odds-and-ends strapped in the front, the rear and the sides.

They passed me by once and I thought, “Man, I got my camera…I need to get a shot of one of them,” but traffic was bad and they were headed in the opposite direction.

We didn’t find any nasi kandar open near Hillside at that time of day, but we did see a Malay food stall in operation near the reclamation project. So, we turned the car around and headed back.

Low and behold, there were the two bikers and they were headed in the same direction I was going. I sped up a little observing all traffic safety rules and regulations, of course, and overtook the two bikers, and pulled off to the side of the road about 50 meters ahead of them.

As I was getting my camera out of my Crumpler, one of the bikers blew right by me, but the girl biker was a little behind, so I had one chance, at least, to get a photo.

I quickly set my camera on Aperture Priority (I wanted good depth-of-field) and checked the shutter speed. It was a nice bright, yet overcast afternoon; nevertheless, I was able to manage a 1/250 second shutter speed – enough for this situation.

BLAMO!” Well, my camera doesn’t actually speak, but I pushed the shutter button and got one shot.

I think she was totally oblivious to me taking her picture as she rode by: She was listening to music as she peddled head & shoulders above everyone on that very high bike.

What this pair appeared to have done was to weld another bike frame to one with wheels. They peddle using the peddle from the top bike so the chain goes vertical down to the bottom frame. The steering mechanism is attached from the top frame to the bottom frame.

I’m just wondering how they started out their ride. I would suspect, they have to use a chair or ladder to get on and then never stop until they get to where they want to go and make sure they time the traffic lights; or that is, blaze on right through the red lights like so many of the Penang motorbike riders do, ignoring most traffic laws…but that’s another issue.

Yes, indeed, the best camera in your stable of cameras is the one that you have with you!