PH703 Surfaces & Strategies – re submission

” This is a re-submission of my CRJ for PH703 ” …

I cannot begin this photographic story without mentioning a house located at Armenian Street in Penang. This location is a melting pot for experienced operatic and cultural dance talents rehearse, innovate, perform and to maintain it’s cultural heritage. This is a typical Chinese annual event relating towards the Chinese community who believes in the afterlife and hell – The Seventh Month of the Chinese Hungry Ghost. Exploring further may lead to a greater understanding of the culture, the people and how all these could hold the test of time, as the next generation seems not too keen in picking up this trade.

I will be presenting 3 related images. The first being a shot of puppets hung on the white wall. The puppets were shot with the help of natural light coming through the air well that was reflected off from the dining table. The image is also framed horizontally to draw the eye from left to right, hung on two strips of wood. I considered cropping this in several ways, playing with all the usual suspects in Lightroom. A square crop (A) immediately reveals spaces to both top and bottom, which immediately suggests a swing in other direction toward a 16:9 crop (B). Furthermore, with a 1:1 crop will result in an incomplete showing of the puppets on both left and right, and my intention is too also have it in a tighter crop mode. A lower point of view ( POV ) reflects to the eye that the puppets are being hung at a higher level on the wall. A higher POV, perhaps with the use of a ladder, would set the puppets flat without the expected perspectives. Trying out through digital manipulation within Lightroom (transform), a 4:3 crop is most ideal (B), resulting in a 90 degree angle of view (AOV) giving reasonably good results without the use of a ladder.

Puppets_1.1A. Square (1:1) Crop


Puppets_16.9 B. 16:9 Crop                                                                                                    1/40s f/4 ISO500 32mm


This 2nd image is an image that through some luck, had a ray of diffused light shinning onto an actor’s Valkyrie dress. I took a shot and framed both the air well and the dress. To have the light shinning onto the dress and partially lighting the wooden panels just below the windows, a fast shutter speed was set. I wanted to show just where the light came from and falling onto the dress, keeping the rest of the other areas dark.

To reduce the amount of light from entering the sensor, a fast shutter speed of 1/800s, with an f-stop of 5.6. If it was done any slower, the sensor will probably pick up the ambience lighting , and the surrounding area will be lit up too. This may be felt only by those familiar with the way this aesthetic is created, but to an increasingly technology-aware audience, this awareness of the device is part of how we read images, not unlike the way we now generally respond emotionally to sun flare rather than seeing it as a technical oversight that makes the reader too camera-conscious. Our visual language is evolving – photography is a young art – and as the audience becomes aware of camera techniques, such as double exposures and extremely limited depth of field/selective focus, it allows us an expanded vocabulary. In this case, that awareness creates the ability to read this image as a shorter moment than our usually slower shutter speeds create.

Ray_01_Color                                                                                                                C. 1/800s f/5.6 ISO100 32mm

Ray_01_B&W                                                                                                                             D. Monotone version

The color balance on this image (C) is at 4800, adding to the ethereal feeling created by the ray of light coming through the air well and lighting the dress that was hung on the wall. It was cool and I want my photograph to be more than a record of “ I was here. I saw it “I want them to say, “ I felt this way about this moment, this place “. Although a warmer color temperature might have looked nice too, my intention was to re-create the feeling in my memory and, I hope, to create in the readers of this image and felt you could almost tell me what temperature it was inside.

Given my intention for this image, it never occurred to me to render it in black and white because the color of the wooden panels and the beauty full colors of the hung Valkyrie is a significant part of the subject. A black and white version (D) would strip out the mood and feeling that drew me to this scene in the first place. Besides that, there simply isn’t enough tonal contrast in this image to make it interesting to me as a black and white photograph.

This 3rd image shows June at the dressing table, getting ready to put her makeup on. A lady with many talents, June is going to transform herself into a Teochew Opera actress which will take no less than 45 minutes for a complete makeover. I played with the focal lengths on this image, and from a 45 mm lens, I changed to a 23 mm lens. With this wide angled lens, it allowed me to get the entire shot around 4 feet form her, in a single frame with just about right with some evidence of cosmetics on the table and two ancient Chinese flags ( which she will be using later on ) which leaned against the right side. Earlier images in the sequence that finally led to this one included several POVs. and another from a higher AOV.

In this scene, the reflected images reflected off from the mirror showed traditional masks hanging on the walls. Obviously blurred out due to the shallow depth of field at f/2. I wanted to create a movie-like shot where the subject looks into the mirror with her face fully captured by the reflection, while only revealing one side of her face. The lightings came from a single fluorescent bulb, which gave me no choice but to use a higher ISO. However, to my advantage, this creates light and shadow on her face. This adds some dramatic elements making the image more interesting, intriguing, and in some ways suspenseful. The blue wall tiles with its aged painted walls do create a sense of nostalgia to the entire image. Her eyes looking at herself, in concentration. The contrast between the light and dark areas makes the mirror pop with details. It’s like “ Mirror Mirror on the Wall – Who’s the Fairest of them All ?”

Mirror_Makeup                                                                                                                   E. 1/200s f/2 ISO800 23mm


Future Plans

An exhibition my photos in a local gallery would be considered summer of 2020. Local art galleries offer a wide range of rates, depending on the duration and size of the exhibitions. I am looking into an independent art gallery with a size of about 1200 square feet of space. I am planning to exhibit 15 prints, both large and medium sizes. The rental duration the galleries offer ranges from a week to a month long exhibits, and it also depends on the size of the gallery.



I will print out photos ranging from 8 in by 12 in , right up to 72 in by 48 in. Prices may start from RM800 and above for both printing and mounting. There will also be small prints in the form postcard sizes at very affordable prices. I will be inviting the press, bloggers and v loggers prior to the exhibition for promotional purposes. Leaflets and invitation cards will be circulated through family members, friends and colleagues.

I was now able to comprehend in much detail the handling of different lighting conditions, natural versus artificial lightings, different setup conditions, and much ado towards how to eventually process the images through different editing softwares.

A planned / timeline workflow of my future exhibits are as shown below :








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