macro

This is what salt looks like when it bounces

“Salt Splash:  This is what salt looks like when it bounces.”

Copyright 2009 Nawfal Johnson Nur

Salt Splash:  This is what Salt Looks Like when it bounces, 2009 by Nawfal Johnson Nur

Salt Splash: This is what Salt Looks Like when it bounces, 2009 by Nawfal Johnson Nur

My Favorite Pen

Pilot V Sign Pen

If I can find this pen again, the V Sign Pilot Pen, I’ll have to buy a box of them.  Awesome and smooth flowing.  And, it has a clear window so you can see the ink level.

As far as the photo goes, it is hand-held 1/15 second, and using Image Stabilization setting 2, from a Panasonic DMC-LZ8 camera.  The only things I did to the original was “despeckle” and auto adjust levels to brighten up the color a little.

OK then….talk with you later.

ps:  I have always had difficulty adding photos directly from the WordPress dashboard.  

Adding photos from Flickr to my blog is VERY EASY.  “Blog This!” Boom!  Done!  Easy!

Working from the ‘Edit Post,’ and ‘Upload/Insert’ photo option, is a pain…IMHO!  

There is nothing that I can see (no instructions) where it says how to add photos into a blog post.  I only found out how to add a photo (today) by accident.  

Adding a photo to my Photo Gallery was easy. However, from that point, things are weird! It would be nice if there is a “?” next to the ‘Upload/Insert’ Photo option, so a popup comes up and explains how to insert a photo into the blog – but there is none.

By accident I found a way to add the photo to the blog entry. I went to the HTML Tab (from the editing page).  I then clicked to the Photo Gallery, accidentally right-clicked on the photo I just uploaded, and only then, did I see an option to copy the photo URL.  I did that, and then exited out of the gallery, and then hit the ‘IMG’ option (from the HTML Tab), entered the photo’s URL into the photo location, and then entered a photo description and clunk, the photo showed up in the blog! The image was finally added to the blog.

Fine. It worked. But was a source of frustration because the “Upload/Insert” Photo option seems a bit misleading. It appears to only UPLOAD photos. At this point, it’s totally up to the user to figure out what to do with the uploaded photos. Like I said, it was only by accident that I discovered that I needed to right-click on the image and copy the photo’s URL, so I could finally paste the image from the HTML Editing Tab, using the “img” command.

DAMN!!!!!!!! ARGH!!!!!!!!

OK, maybe I’ll just stick to adding blog entries from Flickr – less frustration.

Maybe I’m the only one who has “issues” with this. And now that I know how to do it, it won’t be an issue, but while I didn’t know how to do it, it was a very ‘ARGH-Episode!’

DAY-3-IRITIS, EDIT B

Day-3 Iritis, Edit B, btl

This is what Iritis looks like.

This shot was taken on Day-3: Right now, I’m on Day-7, and it’s getting worse I think.

I’m putting this up here because I get a lot of people coming to my photography journal [ right here… ] who are seeking information about Iritis and it helps to see a good photo of what Iritis looks like, and this is it!

IRITIS SYMPTOMS

If your eyeball is having any of these symptoms, or if you have any of these conditions, then take it serious…"Listen" to what your eyeball is telling you (so to speak):
1) Eyeball is Feeling Painful.
2) Eyeball Feels Heavy/Sluggish.
3) If you have Ankylosing Spondylitis (like I have), or another Auto-Immune Disease.
4) If your eye is turning red (like this in the photo).
5) If your eye is VERY SENSITIVE to light.
6) If your eyesight is getting blurry or cloudy.
7) If your eye is feeling scratchy (like a sandpaper type of feeling).
8) If the affected eyeball’s pupil appears smaller than the other eyeball’s pupil.
And,
9) If the affected eyeball is sensitive (painful) to the touch (close eyelid and gently touch around the eye).

IF YOU HAVE ANY or all of these symptoms – YOU BETTER GET YOURSELF TO THE OPHTHALMOLOGIST ASAP!!!

If Iritis is left untreated, it can possibly cause Glaucoma or Blindness.

The Following is the Treatment for Iritis as I Usually Get Treatment (and this will probably vary depending on doctor and severity of Iritis):

Beginning Treatment:
1) Prednisolone Drops (4 times daily) [PRED FORTE – Prednisolone acetate 1% ]
2) Infectoflam (applied at nighttime) [NOVARTISA – FLUOROMETHOLONE 0.1% & Gentamiin 0.3% and other active ingredients ]

IF the pain continues and the Iris gets stuck (the dark pupil stays small even in dark conditions), go back to your doctor for more aggressive measures.

For me, the next step FOR TREATMENT will probably be…

1) Steroid Pills. These can and usually cause Gastritis (the rolling around on the ground in pain type of Gastritis). You may have to take something to protect your stomach when taking Steroid Pills.

2) The scariest treatment I’ve had FOR IRITIS, is a SHOT of Steroids directly into the eyeball. This is usually the quickest way that I know to start the curing process for Iritis, but it is also the most severe measure as well (that I am aware of).

Note of Caution – This is only an informational write-up on Iritis, IF you even suspect Iritis as a cause of your eyeball pain – GET TO THE DOCTOR TO SEEK OUT THE CAUSE AND GET A TREATMENT BASED ON YOUR SEVERITY OF IRITIS!

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IF YOU HAVE IRITIS:

1) GO to your doctor right away! Don’t wait if you suspect Iritis!
2) Take your meds on time.
3) MUCH REST!!! Don’t use the computer (like I’m doing right now, but this is important to me also, to share info…I’ll rest soon).
4) Follow up with your doctor IF the eyeball continues to cause you pain. You may need another plan of treatment.

Hope this helps anyone who suspects Iritis as causing your eyeball pain:  I have two other entries on Iritis here at Behind the Lens – if you do a search in my blog, you should find them.   For me, this is a recurring condition, WHICH I DO NOT ENJOY!

Good Luck!

“THE 44” – A new Photography Collection with a Purpose…AND a TIGHT Timeline!

Well, March 2nd was one of those landmark days for me, it was my 44th Birthday. Yeap…double 4’s!

I was wondering what exciting idea I could come up with on this day, and at about 11AM, I thought, “Ah Ha!” One of those “Ah Ha” moments: I’ll put together a new photograph collection, but it had to follow rules.

1: All Images MUST be made on the 2nd of March.
2: All images MUST be edited and ready to be published on-line, by Midnight.
3: All images MUST be good – not just snapshots.
4: All images MUST be macro, and also still life / table-top photography.

This proved to be more taxing and difficult than I thought, but I decided to do it, so I HAD TO do it!

Any other “Spondies” out there? Well, you will certainly understand the next statement…

By 1PM, I was already ready for 100mg of Celebrex (or Tramadol, or Diclofenac, or…you fill in the blank with your favorite pain killer!) But ‘bring on the pain‘ – I told myself that I was going to do this: I only turn 44 once, and this was a project that I must complete on time.

Over all, work on the photos ran quite smoothly, from subject to subject. I started out with water-splash-cosmetics photographs of several ESTEE LAUDER Nail Lacquer containers. I then moved on to rock salt; and then sugar, and then an egg, and then the worst thing for a Photographer to run into, came head-on and hit me…I was stuck!  The BIG BLACK HOLE of ‘No Ideas!’  A ‘Mind-Meld’ with an earthworm!  The Hypercane of Nothingness!  Shall I go on…I had nothing in mind.

However, I needed 44 images, and they must follow certain stipulations…

Well, what I discovered was that it was not as easy as I thought it would be; in fact, it was quite challenging because my ‘idea-train’ got derailed.

By 6PM, I was running out of ideas, and I still had 8 photographs to fill the 44-photo prescription for this, “THE 44” collection.  What’s a Photographer supposed to do when this happens?

Instead of dwelling on what I could not think of, I went onto the second task, “minor editing” and resizing. Why “minor editing”?  Because I could not spend the time that I normally spend on a single image.  I had 44 images to view, scrutinize and then edit all before midnight.  Thus, I went into the next task knowing that each image would get only “minor editing” with minimal time spent on each image.

Rule are rules!

By 10PM, the editing of the images I had, was completed. The resizing was also completed. However, I was still stuck! I was still short of 8 photographs.

But then I got very lucky: My youngest daughter was pondering my predicament and had an idea. My mind was cloudy but she was thinking clearly: She suggested that I just go around the house and find “things” to shoot. And that was all I needed to get going again. The solution was easy, but when your mind is cloudy, sometimes the solution that sits right in front of you remains hidden until someone helps you find “a way!”

“Thanks Jenan!!!” ;^ )

Within a matter of 20 minutes I had at least 10 decent photographs in the “can”! I even had a few moments (in between shooting), to watch some of the “Samurai” special on the HISTORY Channel! Awesome!

By 10:30PM I had the final images uploaded to the computer and the editing and resizing began.

Finally, by 11:55 (maybe 57), I had 46 images completed for “THE 44” Photography Collection. COOL! 44 and 2 to spare.

SUCCESS! I was able to follow all my self-imposed rules and complete the project with a couple minutes to spare.

Today (March 3rd), I was busy in the morning and early afternoon with a funeral, a close family friend passed away. And now, at 5PM, I’m about ready to add the 44 photographs of the project, to this journal entry.

Remember that there is no one subject in this Collection. The main focus of this, “THE 44” Collection was to stick to the rules I imposed on it, and also, to complete the project on time. And perhaps most of all, to do something meaningful for myself on my birthday.

I hope you enjoy seeing these photographs.

Photo Nomenclature: “Collection Name + Photograph Number out of 44”
Photo Descriptions are found below each image.

THE 44 - 1 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 1 of 44”
Photo Subject: Suit jacket.

THE 44 - 2 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 2 of 44”
Photo Subject: Yellow belt fabric.

THE 44 - 3 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 3 of 44”
Photo Subject: Various scarf material.

THE 44 - 4 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 4 of 44”
Photo Subject: Various scarf material.

THE 44 - 5 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 5 of 44”
Photo Subject: Wood.

THE 44 - 6 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 6 of 44”
Photo Subject: MAYSA’ – my cat!

THE 44 - 7 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 7 of 44”
Photo Subject: Cat fur.

THE 44 - 8 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 8 of 44”
Photo Subject: Curtain fabric.

THE 44 - 9 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 9 of 44”
Photo Subject: ESTEE LAUDER Eye Shadow.

THE 44 - 10 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 10 of 44”
Photo Subject: ESTEE LAUDER Eye Shadow.

THE 44 - 11 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 11 of 44”
Photo Subject: Egg on CUTCO Fork.

Note: This is one of the last images I did before
I started getting stuck, and I guess, in the process
started to get a little “demented” – I was thinking:
What if I stabbed a AAA-Sized Egg with a very
sharp object – what would that look like
?”
LOLOL!!!
Actually, this was one of the toughest images
to photograph. Silver, metallic objects are so
fantastically difficult to photograph, but this is
essentially how it should look – with no reflections,
and the silver will really look “whitish”.
Cutlery is very cool!

THE 44 - 12 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 12 of 44”
Photo Subject: Cup of hot, black tea with steam,
and salt grains. Salt looks better than sugar, but
can be substituted in photos.

Side Note: LMAO!!! Right before the “tea shots”
I took some salt shots. I poured the salt
into this cup. I then poured the salt back
into the container. However, some salt remained
inside the cup. I quickly forgot about the salted cup
and poured the tea in it for this shot.
After the tea shots, I put the hot tea in the freezer
to cool down. Of course, I wanted to drink the tea!
Nevertheless, I had forgotten that the tea now
was wonderfully salt flavored!
BLAH!!!
I don’t recommend salt flavored tea to anyone.

THE 44 - 13 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 13 of 44”
Photo Subject: Hot tea being poured into a cup.

THE 44 - 14 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 14 of 44”
Photo Subject: This is what it looks like when salt
is sucked into a vacuum nozzle at 1/500th of a second.

THE 44 - 15 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 15 of 44”
Photo Subject: ESTEE LAUDER NAIL LACQUER and Salt
Crystals.

THE 44 - 16 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 16 of 44”
Photo Subject: Bouncing Salt.

THE 44 - 17 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 17 of 44”
Photo Subject: Bouncing Salt.

THE 44 - 18 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 18 of 44”
Photo Subject: Salt Still Life on Black.

THE 44 - 19 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 19 of 44”
Photo Subject: ESTEE LAUDER NAIL LACQUER (ELNL) on and in
the water.
Note: This subject is what I spent the most time
working on, the ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 20 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 20 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 21 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 21 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 22 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 22 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 23 of 44, OpB

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 23 of 44 OpB”
Photo Subject: Spiral Notebooks.

THE 44 - 24 of 44, Edit B

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 24 of 44, Edit B”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 25 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 25 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 26 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 26 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 27 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 27 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 28 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 28 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 29 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 29 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 30 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 30 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 31 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 31 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 32 of 44, Edit B

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 32 of 44, Edit B”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 33 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 33 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 34 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 34 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 35 of 44, Option B

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 35 of 44, OpB”
Photo Subject: Scarf material.

THE 44 - 36 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 36 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 37 of 44, Edit B

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 37 of 44, Edit B”
Photo Subject: ELNL Splash Photography.

THE 44 - 38 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 38 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL, Pure Color in B&W.

THE 44 - 39 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 39 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL, Pure Color in Color.

THE 44 - 40 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 40 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL, Pure Color in Color.

THE 44 - 41 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 41 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL, Pure Color in Color.
Red drop of NL and its shadow.

THE 44 - 42 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 42 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL, Pure Color in Color.

THE 44 - 43 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 43 of 44”
Photo Subject: Soap Bubbles.

THE 44 - 44 of 44

Photo Title: “THE 44 – 44 of 44”
Photo Subject: ELNL, Pure Color in Color.
Note: This may be titled “44”, but it is
the first image I took for this collection.

COLLECTION NOTE: A word about my lighting for anyone interested in gear. I attempted to use the same light source for all of the 44 images: I almost did that. I used my FAVORITE “Lighting Tool” – an 11-Year Old, 600 WATT, SYSTEMS IMAGING Studio Light with BOWENS Snoot. I think these lights were built to last forever! For the final 8 images, I needed some quick mobility, so I used my VIVITAR THYRISTER 2800 Strobe with a DIY Light Reflector.

REALLY RED ROSE, NO.1

STUDIO FLORA PHOTOGRAPHY

STUDIO FLORA PHOTOGRAPHY

“Life will bring you pain all by itself.  Your responsibility is to create joy.”
 – Milton Erickson, M.D.

Light in Hand, v.2, Edit C

 

    

Light in Hand, v.2, Edit C, originally uploaded by Nawfal Nur.

Special Effects, Creative Tabletop Photography.

This type of photography takes considerable patience. You have to take several photographs of a scene, some with light and some without, and hope that the main components “play well” together in the end.

In the most basic terms, all the photographs that make up this shot, in this case, only two were used, need to be aligned precisely; and also, the layers need to be strategically worked with to get the proper amount of opacity in the correct places.

The following video clip is a track from one of my Favorite Metal Bands, SHADOWS FALL, a performance at DownLoad Festival 2007. The song is called, “The Light That Blinds,” and I thought it was kind of appropriate to accompany my photograph, with also a “Light” subject.

 

Alrighty Then…Enjoy…Photograph…Metal-Out…and Go F’en Crazy!!!   It’s definitely, a weird day in Mr. Nawfal’s Neighborhood!   LMAOBMFT!!!

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.

Eye with Colored Contact, Edit G (But in B&W)

Eye with Colored Contact, Edit G, originally uploaded by fine-grain.

Eye with a colored contact lens (& textured design).

Thanks to my model, Zuhairah, I owe her 2-Panadol for asking her to stand in direct sunlight, and looking in its general direction.

Notes about this Image:

This was a spur-of-the-moment shot. I was with my model and noticed she had her contacts in and asked her to go stand out in the sun, and she obliged – very kind heart!

The interesting thing is that the original looked nothing like this. I cropped, adjusted, and re-adjusted many times, using several different editions until I got the look I needed to get.

I think the total time it took to get this look was about 6-hours of Paint Shop Pro and Photo Impact work.

I had a general idea of what I wanted, but again, it wasn’t until I saw it, that I knew the look I was going for and needed.

And then, I said, enough is enough, I like this.

Getting in Close

Cat’s Eye, Edit B

Our eye must constantly measure, evaluate. We alter our perspective by a slight bending of the knees; we convey the chance meeting of lines by a simple shifting of our heads a thousandth of an inch…. We compose almost at the same time we press the shutter, and in placing the camera closer or farther from the subject, we shape the details – taming or being tamed by them.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson – on composition. “American Photo”, September/October 1997, page: 76

Another way of getting a very close view of your subject, as in this shot, is to crop the image to include the ‘main subject’ AND DISCARD the rest.

The cropping method is also a safer way of photographing when your subject is an ‘eye’, which is highly sensitive to light (don’t want to damage anyone’s eye by being careless). I backed up the light considerably on this macro shot, and then positioned the light at a slight angle (the light is off-camera). In the final image (shown here), the main subject remains, and the rest was cropped. You can see the ring-flash makes a cool catch light in the eye.

The freedom to liberally crop brings up an important point in favor of high megapixel cameras: A high-MP camera (12 or 16 megapixels for example) is beneficial, because there is plenty of room for cropping…the original image will give you more leeway for tight cropping than a camera with less megapixels, naturally.

This image was shot with a Canon G2 (4.1MP), so the original image was not very large; thus, the initial image needed to be very accurate and the main subject positioned to take up more space in the frame. Therefore, less cropping was necessary. It would have been nice, however, to have the “freedom to liberally crop.”

Over all, when shooting for detail, move in close; and if that is not possible (or safe), then considering cropping the image to get to the main subject.

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.

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.

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! ***