Nawfal Nur Photo Journal

MASJID GARDENS, No. 1, Edit B, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque Putrajaya


Title: “MASJID GARDENS, No. 1, Edit B, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque Putrajaya.” Mosque Name: Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque Putrajaya. Series: PUTRAJAYA Interpreted by Nawfal. Photo # in Series: 020. Series Year: 2013. Subject: PUTRAJAYA ARCHITECTURE Photography. Copyright Notice: © 2013 Nawfal Johnson Nur ~ All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized Use of Nawfal Johnson Nur’s Images is NOT Permitted. *A Specific Usage License is REQUIRED for Digital or Print Publishing of any of Nawfal’s Images.* **Exceptions to the License include individual terms of use for selling prints through print-on-demand websites 1); 2); and 3) No one else may make prints, use, or sell Nawfal’s images without a specific usage license. Contact Nawfal for Pricing of Image Usage.**

*** Please Click on the Image to go to my Art Print Sales Page, at ! ***


DROWNING IN THOUGHT:  Kick’en the tires of my new, well, homemade, water-proof flash housing / light enhancer.

Drowning in Thought, Version 1, Crop 1, by Nawfal Johnson Nur, 8 Feb 2012.

Drowning in Thought, Version 1, Crop 1, by Nawfal Johnson Nur, 8 Feb 2012.

Photographs Details:

All Photos are Copyright 2012 Nawfal Johnson Nur.
Subject:  Me – Couldn’t ask anyone else to be my test subject.
Titles:  Versions of “Drowning in Thought.”
Lens:  NIKKOR 35-70mm f/3.3 (set at 70mm) – fully manual lens (now).
Shutter Speed:  1/80 sec.
Aperture:  f/16.
Flash:  One Canon Speedlite 420EX, inside my homemade water-proof housing, that’s also a light modifier.  (It’s not much to look at, but I really like the results; and, I had the flash about 9-inches from me as the water was splashing all over – In the end, the flash was totally dry!)  The housing was getting hit with buckets of water, but my flash on the inside stayed dry – awesome – at least that was a success, “Hur’rah!”

Why “Drowning in Thought”?

My self-portrait photographs are figurative, and also literal:  Sometimes it is easier to make images to express feelings and show emotions.  The image is a semi-representative effort of what is going on in the mind, or so I think it can work in this way with some success.

Well, maybe I’ve just run head-on into a strange phase of life, which is, for lack of a better string of words, “Just Heavy…”  Therefore, I thought the titles of these images, “Drowning in Thought” was pretty appropriate.

Drowning in Thought, Version 2, Crop 1a, NJN665, Copyright 2012 by Nawfal Johnson Nur, 8 Feb 2012.

Drowning in Thought, Version 2, Crop 1a, NJN665, Copyright 2012 by Nawfal Johnson Nur, 8 Feb 2012.

Drowning in Thought, Version 3, Crop 1, NJN665, Copyright 2012 by Nawfal Johnson Nur, 8 Feb 2012.

Drowning in Thought, Version 3, Crop 1, NJN665, Copyright 2012 by Nawfal Johnson Nur, 8 Feb 2012.

My BEST Advice for Nighttime – Low-Light Photography

"My BEST Advice for Nighttime – Low-Light Photography"

ANSON ROAD AT NIGHTTIME, Edit B, 10 Dec 2011, Copyright Nawfal Johnson Nur

"Anson Road at Nighttime, Edit B"
10 Dec 2011
Copyright 2011 Nawfal Johnson Nur

Sometimes, I study the search terms that people use to get to my blog, "Behind the Lens," and then I attempt to write something useful to help out people who are searching for specific bits of advice.  In this particular case, someone had searched for "how to photograph at night".  Thus, I will mention my BEST advice for nighttime / low-light photography:  My advice to anyone wanting to photograph in near dark conditions, with only nighttime lighting (e.g. street lights, vehicle lights, etc.), is to use a tripod.  Nothing will mess with you more than unintentional movement of the camera during long exposures.  By ‘long exposures,’ I mean any shutter speed that is more than 1/15th second.  Maybe I’m not the steadiest shooter in the world, but I know that my heartbeat will certainly move the camera as blood pumps through my arms and hands.  Any movement during extended shutter times will create nice blurry photos.  A good, heavy, sturdy tripod will help create a steady platform for your camera.  So there you have it – Use a tripod is my BEST advice for nighttime and low-light photography.  My second best advice is experiment a lot.  My third best advice is shoot a lot.  My fourth best advice is try NOT to get hit by cars when taking photographs of traffic at nighttime.  I tend to set up shop in the street which has its own hazards. 

EGG in White Bowls Study, No1, Edit B

A photographic study of raw eggs in white bowls. Just something I wanted to do for awhile and finally took some time to do it.

Uploaded by Metal Rain on 22 May 10, 8.38PM MYT.

Paul Bader Photography Interview

The Paul Bader Photography Interview:

Paul Bader Photography:  His Photography Story.

*** Because WordPress will not allow the Audio Podcast to be embedded here (e.g., it keeps getting deleted after each “Save Draft”), you will need to go to this SPECIAL PAGE, to Start the Audio Podcast, AND THEN, you can see the photographs below.  Sorry you have to jump around to get the audio interview started; but for now this is the only way I can do this operation. ***

Paul & Rita Bader

Paul & Rita Bader

Paul Bader

Paul Bader

Left Side - Robert & Otto Bader, Vernon Dankenbring, and Paul Bader, 1942

Left Side - Robert & Otto Bader, Vernon Dankenbring, and Paul Bader, 1942

Paul and brother Robert Bader, 1947

Paul and brother Robert Bader, 1947

Paul and brother Otto Bader.

Paul and brother Otto Bader.


Cowboy with Cigarette, by Paul Bader

Cowboy with Cigarette, by Paul Bader

DARK EYES, by Paul Bader.

DARK EYES, by Paul Bader.

Fun with Beer Foam, by Paul Bader.

Fun with Beer Foam, by Paul Bader.

MACHINIST, by Paul Bader.

MACHINIST, by Paul Bader.

Man at the Controls, by Paul Bader.

Man at the Controls, by Paul Bader.

Portrait of Girl with Ball, by Paul Bader.

Portrait of Girl with Ball, by Paul Bader.

BEHIND THE SCENES:  The ‘Elbow Grease’ Behind Getting this Podcast and the Photos Published Here!

Paul Bader is my Great Uncle.  He had a long career as a Professional Photographer, creating wonderful portrait and wedding photography.  He was also an accomplished Pet Portrait Photographer, and I think seeing his Pet Portraits as a kid is where I developed an eye for creating my Cat Portraits.  He is a longtime resident of Valentine, Nebraska, which is where he did much of his work as a Professional Photographer.

Currently, Paul is very active as a musician and singer.  His music style is country, very ‘cowboy’ish’ and folksy.  I hope I did justice in describing his music style.  He and my cousin Rhonda, sing and play music together.  In fact, the first part of this audio-cast is a song sung by Paul and Rhonda, and it is probably very familiar to many:  “Summertime Blues,” by Eddie Cochran.  The version I was most familiar with was by The Who.  Paul and Rhonda have given this popular tune their own special twist and sound – they have ‘made it theirs‘ with this rendition.

I would say that Uncle Paul was probably my first influence in the world of Photography.  Maybe I didn’t fully realize the good influence he was at the time, as a kid.  At my late Grandmother’s house in Lincoln, I would always see, and be amazed at the photographs and portraits my Grandmother had on the walls in her home that Uncle Paul had taken.  The seeds of Photography were probably planted in my brain because of being exposed to Uncle Paul’s Photography.  And in addition, the freedom of artistic expression was reinforced by my late Grandmother, who loved to paint.  Photography and Painting:  What a wonderful combination!

The Process of Getting this “Project” Done:

This whole interview project has been in the-works for some time, and it took quite a bit of effort to put it together.

This project all started because I wanted to document my Great Uncle’s Photography Career.  And, being an avid listener of the Brooks Jensen Podcasts (Founder of LensWork Magazine), I learned from one of Brooks’ podcast episodes about the merits of capturing peoples’ stories with audio recording.  So, thank you Brooks, for the idea.

Keep in mind, the distance between Penang and Valentine is around 9,100 miles, and a lot of the work on this project was done by regular post

What's that?  You know...stamps, envelopes, etc.

Let’s see, where was I…

Oh yes…I drafted a number of interview questions regarding Paul’s photography career for which I was curious about.  I sent the questions by email to my Mom, who forwarded the questions to Uncle Paul.  Uncle Paul recorded his answers to my questions on audio cassette tape.  A set of tapes were mailed to my Mom, and she made tape-to-tape copies.

After she was done making copy-tapes, she mailed the cassette tapes to me…the copy-tapes.  Unfortunately, the quality of the audio is instantly reduced at the copy level.  However, no worries, we can deal with that.

When I received the cassettes, I had the next level of copying technology to deal with:  Grabbing the audio from the analog cassette tapes and transferring that audio to some kind of digital format.

Thus, I bought a Panasonic cassette recorder/player, and also an analog-to-digital cable:  One plug of the cable goes into the Panasonic Player’s earphone jack and the other plug goes into the computer’s microphone jack.

I used Audacity Software to make the first recording.

The resulting file was HUGE:  The saved interview digital file was in the 160MB range.  The new digital file was TOO BIG for a Podcast style file.

I originally wanted to create an mpeg4 movie showing Uncle Paul’s photographs and running the audio interview at the same time, and that was not working well either, because the mpeg4 file size ended up being 260MB.

My luck was getting worse with each rendition of the interview.

I had to put the project on hold for a while to think out the problems I was facing.  I wouldn’t be able to do the mpeg4 movie, that fact was clear.  So, after a couple, maybe three weeks or more, I came back to the project to reconsider other options.

One other audio issue I had to work with was that the sound/quality level of the song is different than the interview file, and two files make up this single Podcast file.  This is due to my novice-talent working with audio files.  But it was a problem I had to deal with.   I attempted to ‘amplify ‘the song part of the file, just a little (by 1.7 dB), and I think it raised the song volume as I anticipated it would.  The interview part has better sound volume, so that is why the song needed the boost.

Besides the audio portion of this project, there is also the photographs portion.  I needed to get photograph samples from Uncle Paul to make the project complete.

Uncle Paul and my cousin Tim worked on taking digital photos of the originals prints, and this, I know, can be a challenging task.  When the digital shots of the original prints were completed, the digital files were sent to me by email.

To bring back some of the luster to the photographs, I worked on several of the photographs using my preferred software program for editing, Paint Shop Pro.

Therefore, the images seen in this blog entry were minimally edited:  I adjusted the Histogram Levels, a bit of adjustment in the Contrast, and I used the Clarify Tool adjustment to give some punch to the edited photographs.  I wanted to revive the prints without changing the interpretation too much.  My goal was to bring out the rich black, and to boost the mid and high tones in the photographs.  I hope my recent digital adjustments come close to the original prints looks from when they were first created in the darkroom.



If you use GOM Player or some other audio playing software with Equalizer Options, then move the 6K and 3K levels way up and that brings out the voice more clearly.  Move the 12K, 16K and 24K levels down near midway, to reduce high level noise.   Sorry for the need to adjust levels, but I’m not an audio expert – I’m just doing the best I can with the know-how I have on audio.

It took quite a little fiddling around, but I finally got the audio file to the size of 34MB (roughly), and I’m not messing with it any more.

The FINAL step before putting this Blog Entry together was finding an archive site online where I could upload my audio podcast file for eternity.  I did this at a site called,

In this audio interview, Paul discusses some important aspects of his career, the learning process of being a Photographer, and the challenges he faced living a ‘Photographic Life.’

Main Interview Topics:

  1. Early Artistic Endeavors – Commercial Art.
  2. Early Photography Training with Hattie Joy.
  3. Drafted into the Service (Marine Corp.) & Photography.
  4. 1952 Married Life and Farming in Kansas – Back into Photography.
  5. First Studio in an Abandoned Cream Station.
  6. Work in North Platte for Photographer, Earl Herana:  Learned how to be efficient – Every movement counted.
  7. Worked in Grand Island for another studio doing mainly darkroom print work.
  8. Photographing babies.
  9. Photographing Portraits, Senior School Photos and Weddings.
  10. Using the 8 x 10 Camera with Flash Bulbs!
  11. Changed to Speedgraphic 4 x 5 Camera.
  12. Conversion to Roll Film and Strobe Lighting for Speed.
  13. Lots of Wedding Work, PLUS, Selling Vacuum Cleaners!
  14. Winning Prizes for Photography.
  15. Pet Photography and “Tricks” to Get Good Shots.
  16. Getting burned out a little on Photography – Trying Life Insurance Sales.
  17. Purchase studio in Valentine, Nebraska.
  18. Push into Color Photography and Experimental Techniques (Double Exposures).
  19. Studio Fire Story.
  20. 1987, decided to sell the studio.
  21. Advice for Photographers:  It’s not a 9-to-5 Job!  Give it your all!
  22. Spends time now making and playing music.

I hope you enjoyed seeing the family photos of Paul Bader (and Brothers); as well as, seeing some of his prize-winning photography; and hearing his music & his story about being a Professional Photographer.

The Paul Bader Audio Interview – Just CLICK HERE!


Back on 21 May 2007, I had mentioned that the best camera is the one that is with you…and now I’m saying it again. 

Here’s the link to the Article where I mentioned "The Best Camera is the one with you!"  This post recalls the time I hopped out of my car and got the photo of the very tall, interesting bike, and I took the shot with my carry around camera (a Canon Powershot).

I may have mentioned this back in 2007, but I was reminded about carrying around a camera all the time, from a Brooks Jensen podcast.  And, I’m sure this bit of advice has gone around, many, many times prior, by Photographers through the ages. 

Before that, I’m pretty sure that cave people were saying:

“Ugh!  The best wall carving tool is the one I have with me!  So where the hell did I put it?  I just saw an awesome takedown by a Saber Tooth, and I need to record it before I forget the details!”

Chase Jarvis recently came out with a book about THE BEST CAMERA philosophy, and he does a lot of work with the iPhone.

My carry around all the time camera is my SAMSUNG Phone.  It may only be 2MP, but it is sure better to take inspiring scenes with my Camera Phone than just making the “CLICK” SOUND with my mouth and have nothing to show for it:  Am I right or what!

I just wanted to finally put some of the photos I’ve taken with my SAMSUNG Phone Camera:


ABSTRACT #11-2009nnp ABSTRACT #1-2009nnp ABSTRACT #2-2009nnp ABSTRACT #3-2009nnp ABSTRACT #4-2009nnp ABSTRACT #6-2009nnp ABSTRACT #7-2009nnp ABSTRACT #8-2009nnp ABSTRACT #9-2009nnp ABSTRACT #10-2009nnp



GREEN #3-2009BWnnp GREEN #1-2009nnp



NO ENTRY - TREE, 2009nnp METAL #1-2009, B&WNNP Metal Railing #1-2009NNP



Ship Chain, No2 , NNP AT THE DOCK, #1, NNP CLOUDS, #1, NNP P, UNDAN, #2, NNP P, UNDAN, #3, NNP P, UNDAN, NNP



RAIN #1-2009nnp


That’s all for now.  I see “photographs” (in my mind’s eye) all around me: It is a blessing when I have a camera with me, but it is a curse when I don’t.  However, now, I always have a camera with me, and it doesn’t matter that it is just my 2.1MP Phone Camera. 

To Specialize or Not to Specialize

‘To Specialize or Not to Specialize’, ah, that is the question. Well, it really isn’t the question, but it is something to ponder…I guess.

National Geographic photographer, James Stanfield said: “Early in my career I made up my mind not to specialize in any particular kind of photography. Some assignments were more appealing than others.” I really like Stanfield’s work, and he is skilled enough to be able to be flexible and shoot many types of subjects with excellence.

I like the idea of being the photographer of “Blah” (you can fill in the specific subject in place of “Blah”). However, when I look through my personal photo archives, I see that I’m not really a “photographer of ‘Blah'”, but rather, a photographer of many subjects…but not all subjects.

Is this good? Is this bad? Is it hard to pinpoint what you do when you DON’T just shoot “Blah”? Could be.

If someone asks you: “Do you shoot X and Y?” You know you shoot Y pretty good, but you don’t have a history of shooting X. Will this damage your chances of getting work when this happens? Or, do you just say “Hell-ya! I shoot X and Y!”; and then, hope for the best. Or, do you say, “I shoot Y, but X…we can experiment!”

For me, that seems, well, not quite right, but it could work.

Portfolio Web Pages…these are good indicators of what a photographer shoots. A potential client can look at your work, see what you have a history of shooting, and then have a good idea of what you photograph. In this case, if a viewer sees that you have pages of Animal and Wildlife subjects, then why bother asking you, “Do you shoot weddings?” Does this method of showing work by way of web portfolios seem logical? I’m guessing that it does, but I could be wrong. There are still times when photographers get “interesting” / “odd” / “ridiculous” questions anyway, even when we attempt to be as clear about things as possible.

Anyway, I have set up a photography journal here at wordpress, entitled ‘photographist’, and this is where I am publishing more specific subject groups of what I have photographed the most. If nothing else, maybe this effort will help me stay focused and organized regarding my work.


Cherry Red Nail Lacquer,v4

Recently, I heard a photographer, one that I respect quite considerably, say that when he takes a photograph, he approaches the task as a “story teller”.

That got me thinking about how I approach taking photographs.

I know that I am NOT a “story teller” – that is something I can be quite certain of.

What is my definition of a “Photographer Story Teller”? This is a Photographer who can see a scene, and then through the visual art of Still Photography, translate onto film (or digital file) what is happening, or what had happened in that scene.

Some Photographers are expert at this story telling skill. Recently, I read an article about Chargesheimer (aka, Karl Heinz Hargesheimer), who was a Street Photographer / Social Documentary Photographer after the Second World War. His photographs show life in urban Germany in the 1950’s and 60’s. I think People, Place and Time captured in one frame, when done skillfully by the Photographer, then an observer can pretty quickly see what the environment and atmosphere are in that place. When the necessary elements are put into place in the photographic frame, when the image is captured at that decisive moment, then that makes a “story telling photograph”…A good story telling photograph.

I think that I’m an “interpreter-alchemist”.

I do not go into a photographic session hoping to tell a story. If I were photographing people in a social environment, then yes, I would hope to capture their story. But I shoot “things” usually. Small subjects.

I look at an item, the subject. I eyeball it for a time…sometimes for a long time and I see how it looks, the form, the design, the texture and color. And then, I ask myself, “How do I want to make this look? How should I interpret this subject?” “How can I change this subject to look the way I want (or need) it to look?”

I am of the opinion that my small subjects don’t have stories. What is important to me is to interpret and change (the “alchemist” part) the subjects as I see them in my minds eye. Therefore, when I look at one of my photographs I can say: “This is how I view this subject…This is how I wanted people to see this ‘thing’. My photographs may be total misrepresentations of the real makeup of the subject. I may change the color, the hue, the physical features, or make it so that the item defies gravity, marks time, or any other number of features that will help me change the subject to my visual interpretation.

Well…maybe you have a different way of approaching your photography, and that is good. We all can’t be the same, and differences make us human and creative beings.

Have fun!

High Key & High Contrast People, Edit B

High Key & High Contrast People, Edit B

High Key & High Contrast People, Edit B
High Key & High Contrast, B&W People Photography.

How to…

Well, I have added this two-photo frame to my Photostream (@ Flickr) because I was asked, recently, how I did my high key & high contrast people photos. I’m OK with sharing knowledge.

IF you are interested in this type of “High-K-C” photography, then you can always begin with using my method as your initial point and then find your style…that’s always best.

My Process:

Start out with a good color photograph.  Then, convert it anyway you wish to, to B&W.  I use PhotoImpact X3, implementing any native or 3rd Party filter (plugin) to convert to B&W.  I like OptikverveLabs Filters – such as “Satin Steel” (under PRESETS – B&W), to convert to a B&W image.  You will have many ways to adjust the Presets to get the look you want.

Go Here to get the Package (FREE):

** Using the various levers to control Contrast, Brightness…choice to use Red, Blue, or Green filters brightness, Softness (increases brightness), and a number of secondary filters (the EFFECTS box), allows you a good range of ways to get that High Key and High Contrast Look. **

After the conversion – effects step, I usually adjust the high-mid-low tones in PhotoImpact to get the look I want from a “High K-C” Photo.

My final steps may be working with the Dodge & Soften Tools to clean up any “sharp” edges (where the tone transitions are not very gradual).

Well, there it is…I’ve told you one of the tools I use, sometimes, that I like for good effects.  I won’t tell you the exact settings I use because you should not carbon copy styles…this is where you challenge yourself to develop your own style, and simply what your eye tells you is cool.


Uploaded by BEHIND the LENS with Nawfal Nur on 15 Jan 09, 2.05PM MYT.


SUPER HOT RED M&M, v1, Edit J-btl3

TITLE: “Super Red HOT M&M!”

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: A single, red MINI M&M (about 50% smaller than normal M&M’s), sitting atop a tablespoon full of VERY, VERY, VERY BURNING HOT Vietnamese Chilies. You can see how small they are, but so very potent. The good thing about these chilies is that you can eat them raw like this and they don’t have very many seeds! ;^) HOWEVER, they will make your teeth melt!!! LOLOL!!! I like to put these in Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice).


SUPPORT: bogen 3001 Professional Tripod, bogen 3025 Head, and MANFROTTO #352 Ball & Socket Head.


PHOTO NOTES: I wanted to create an image with extreme subjects: The chilies are SUPER HOT; and, the Single M&M is SUPER SWEET. And, I wanted to get in really close to show how small these tiny chilies are. Also, I wanted to capture a still life with complementary color matching: Shades of green and red.

Side Note: MINI M&M’s taste NO DIFFERENT than regular sized M&M’s! Hahahahahahaha!!!!

Maysa’, 7-wks Old, 28Aug08

This is Maysa’ [Sounds like Mice-Ah].

She is about 7-weeks old. She walked into my life about two weeks ago. I feel she wandered into our yard for two reasons: 1) Because of a loss I had recently; and 2) To be a slightly older sister to my youngest kitten, Averroes, who I’ve been raising since he was 2-Days Old…He will be 5-Weeks old tomorrow.

She was ready for a Kitten Portrait. He, unfortunately, is very NOT ready for sitting still for a portrait (‘sitting still’ is the key here).

The kittens have not allowed me to sleep much over the last 5-weeks because they eat about every 3 (or thereabouts) hours. I’m usually up by 2am and awake until 7am, and do my work around a really strange schedule.

Maybe when they are ready for dry cat food, I can have a normal sleep schedule – I HOPE!!!

I added a Ghostbones Texture for a little added illustrative look. Thanks Ghostbones.

I’m going to add some photograph details. I think that a lot of photographers believe there is some proprietary knowledge they can NOT share about their photo techniques and tricks, and this is fine. I also have a few tricks up my sleeve that I don’t like to share because they are techniques that I developed over a long time, and for no other reason than the competitive nature of photography, especially, nowadays, I’d keep the trick(s) to myself.

However, there are times that it is very useful to share knowledge with others. It gives me satisfaction to teach others about photography, as I also feel a great amount of gratitude when someone else teaches me something about photography.

There is also a certain amount of responsibility a person has to share knowledge with others, and that is partially what my blog, “Behind the Lens”, is all about.

If it helps clarify what was done to produce a photo, or guides someone to work out their own style or techniques, by answering some questions about what I did, then I’m happy with that.

With that said, here are some Photograph Details:

Camera: Canon Powershot A620
Lighting: One remotely fired METZ 32 Z-2, SET ON “A” [at the f/1.4 setting], and opened to 28mm wide. This was fired through a translucent [white], hard plastic cutting board. This worked well as a diffuser to soften the METZ flash. You change the intensity of the light by moving the flash closer or further away from the diffuser material.
Shutter Speed: 1/100 sec.
Aperture: f/4.1

Kittens are very, VERY, very active. To get a decent shot, it is good to attempt a portrait AFTER they have eaten and are satisfied. Then, they tend to try cleaning themselves, or are a bit lethargic and not wiggling around as much.

However, that does not work all the time!.

Sometimes, you just have to be persistent with a kitten by sitting them on the mark, by letting go really quickly, and then hopefully moving your hand out of the frame when you trip the shutter button.

This photograph took about 20-attempts because she was on super-speedy mode and wanted to escape faster than I could coordinate things. Nevertheless, I managed to get a couple good shots frozen “in the can” before Maysa’ couldn’t take it any more! Or, maybe it was me who couldn’t take it any more, LOLOL!

Good Luck with your SPEEDY kittens!

Photographed by Nawfal Nur