PH704 Sustainable Prospects : DISTORTED REALISM – Work In Progress


The concept of time itself consists of seconds, minutes, day and years. Time passes without stopping, and cannot be studied with a microscope or do an experiment with it. The passing of time is indeed closely related to the concept of space itself. “The theory of relativity, the concept of time begins with the Big Bang, the same way as parallels of latitude begins at the North Pole. You cannot go further north than the North Pole,” says Karl Enqvist, Professor of Cosmology.


My memories of my culture looking out into the sea and sky, with only me standing on the beach. There’s always thought of the past, the present and what the future holds, each passing waves coming onto the shore and backing out, doing it again and again. I’ll make a confession here.
When I was young I used to be glad that I’m an only child. It meant I had everything to myself. No sharing. I can’t help but wish I had an older sibling. A brother or a sister…Someone to pamper …Someone to have pillow-fights with …Someone to bug…Coming to loneliness, I’ve had 50 odd years to get used to it. It no longer even feels like loneliness. It’s life as it always has been.


The light gust of the wind blowing in my hair brings emotions, reminding me about my fore-fathers and mothers…my family…, what it held and how it will hold for me now and the future. Mom died from depression and cancer 5 years ago , and Dad passed early this year from high blood pressure. That leaves only me, my wife, one son. Never will I let my son live a day like me. He is creative, kind and light-hearted., and I’ve learnt not to treat my son how my dad treated me.


On this clear day, I can see as far as the eye can see. There’s no land and there’s no building on the horizon. It’s just the blue sky and the sea. Simplifying it a little further, I’ve kept it all in black and white. I get drawn into looking at the sea and the sky, and it’s a feeling of how simple nature can be, and what mysteries they hold. However, just like the weather, there’s always an up or down days one encounters through life and it is good to reflect and to learn from the outcomes once in a while. Selfie1005

Looking out into the sea, flashes of past war movies developed, and questions of the second world war flashes through. The Japanese invaders coming to shore to attack Penang, people suffered and die, and may well be sunken ships still lying in the deepest waters off the beach.

Simplicity….Black & WhiteThink_924

The perpetual cadence of the vast sea
Stirs a restless desire that engulfs me.
Like an infinite force I dare not impede,
Briefly rushing in – only to then recede.
Beckoning me to leave life’s safe shore,
Into deep waters of mystery and lore.

The seagulls’ cries seem to taunt me,
To follow them over the endless sea,
Where I’d be free to spread my wings
And discover the new life the sea brings.
Yet, fear holds me fast to a familiar place,
Away from the unknown trials I may face.

Even the ocean’s waves seem to conspire,
Relentlessly calling to stoke curiosity’s fire,
As they rumble ashore with impatient haste,
Swirling about my feet with purpose chaste,
Urging me to follow as they return to the sea,
Leaving a luring trail of life or its relics for me.

Shall I boldly explore the sea’s possibilities,
Or allow imagined worries to be liabilities?
Although I cannot foretell all the sea offers,
The strong desire to enrich my mind’s coffers
Begs me to obey the sea’s enticing siren song
And let its wandering currents carry me along.

As the day slowly wanes on the sea’s horizon,
I ponder the sea’s glittering trail to the sun,
Inviting me to watch its vibrant dying light,
Before the day’s life gives way to the night.
Still, I lingered a while after it faded away,
Wondering about the promises of a new day.







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 :








Week 3 Activity: Making Zines

Zine making is real fun. A collaboration with myself, Theresa Bradley and Joanna Kurowski.  The title of the zine is ” Colour Me Red

For this activity, you are asked to work in teams to crowdsource and produce a zine (digital or paper) from personal networks and / or within the university:

Step One: Using the comments box below, organise yourselves into six teams and make them official. Consider using digital tools that will speed up communication. I would recommend Slack (Links to an external site.) or you may wish to use Whatsapp or another application.

Step Two: Establish a team leader. This is not everyone’s ideal role but it may be a useful experience for some. 

Step Three: Establish a theme for the zine and create a call for participants: a one-sentence objective you would like people to carry out. Keep in mind your respondents may not have much time to participate, so instructions should be clear and achievable

Step Four: Share the call for participation and collect contributions.

Step Five: Collate images and arrange into a zine. There are no restrictions as to size, style or format for the zine. You may wish to use free versions of online tools (eg Issuu (Links to an external site.) or Madmagz (Links to an external site.)) or go low-fi and make it by hand. You might also wish to produce variations of your zine, if that is appropriate to the concept. When finished, post details of the zine in the comments below. 


Colour Me Red

A Personal Exhibition on Chinese Traditions & Cultures in 3D

3D Modeling on My Exhibition Gallery

I’ve always wanted to do a personal exhibition, which I had done 3 times within 10 years of my photographic journey. Two of which the charity collections were fully given to the Adventist Hospital in Penang, and another a collaborative effort of 4 wonderful friends coming together to exhibit photos around Asia. We called it ” The Forty 5 Exhibits” – 40 photos , 5 exhibitors . . .

This time, with a little imagination and with the help of 3D softwares, I am now able to “visualize” how it would eventually be staged and exhibited in a Gallery. Here’s how I achieved it – animating the entire process of an exhibition walk through.

An computer model sketch of a photo exhibition gallery relating to ” Chinese Traditions and Cultures ” in Asia.

A)    Model sketch was first done in Keynote  . . .


B)    Gallery modelling ideas and layouts were then put into Google SketchUp 3D Design software to achieve an overall 3 dimensional mock up. Final touch up was performed to realism. This process took around 45 minutes.

C)    It was then exported to Lumion 8 software where additional objects were animated in a walk-through. The objects include the following :

i) Lighting  , ii) People  , iii) Furniture  , iv) Animations

D)    Composed appropriate soothing Chinese Music with the use of Logic Pro X in my iMac, using only 2 Chinese instruments, the Erhu and Gucheng.

E)    The result of combining all these elements took around 5 hours to complete. It was achieved with the Apple Keynote software.