The Empire Hotel & Country Club Beachfront Panorama Revisited

Can’t believe it’s been three years since I ventured out to the rooftop of The Empire Hotel & Country Club for a breathtaking panoramic shot of the hotel’s gorgeous beachfront. I happened to have just finished a photo shoot that day and had some time to kill before the hour long drive home. Directional shadows from the evening sun added an extra dimension to give this beautiful landscape a surreal, high contrast and dramatic finish. But something was amiss — the hotel’s very popular Pantai Restaurant was undergoing a full tear down renovation work at the time so the iconic roof isn’t in the picture.

Three years on, I made arrangement to revisit the rooftop for a fresh shot of the landscape this time with the inclusion of Pantai Restaurant. I coincided this shoot to fall on the morning my cousin and I had planned to hike Bukit Shahbandar. During the entire time I was on the rooftop, the sky remained overcast which explains why the image isn’t nearly as dramatic as the previous one — sun direction and timing makes all the difference. We were pressed for time so I wasn’t going to hang around to wait for a better moment.

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My host Hafiza preferred to stay near the door away from the unnerving edge where I parked the camera mounted on a tripod.

I kept the camera bag in the car and brought along the PowerShot G11 for the shot below taken from the top deck of the observation tower at Bukit Shahbandar. I’ll have to drag my 5D Mark III and EF100-400mm lens up to the tower some day in order to get a better quality view of the Empire rooftops above the forest canopy. I think that would make the distant landscape more interesting when viewed close up.

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A view of The Empire Hotel & Country Club landscape from the top deck of the Bukit Shahbandar observation tower. The white arrow indicates location from where I composed the hotel’s beachfront panorama. Photo: PowerShot G11

Upclose and Personal with Inhabitants of the Seria Shoreline

There’s a time to feast on delicious cooked crabs and there’s a time to just … watch them. The last time I set foot on the beach I had an amazing time watching and photographing crabs local to the Seria shoreline. Hard to believe it’s been 6 years since I took these closeups — a test of patience with a dose of luck and opportunity. The price I paid for being extremely patient was bait for sandfly to feast on. This time, however, I covered myself a lot more than I did before — sunhat, long sleeved top and jeans along with socks and shoes — which somewhat helped except I had left my neck completely uncovered. As a result, I came home with three bite marks (as opposed to more than half a dozen before) that are now swollen and itchy. Still, a small price to pay to be up close and personal with these very interesting creatures, watching them dig holes. Because

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This crab scoops tiny balls of wet sand to create a hole deep enough for it to hide in.

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Walking back to the car with the front of my top and jeans completely wet (I laid on wet sand in order to get a good vantage point) I came across another catch — horseshoe crabs. Before today, I had only seen dead ones that people kept as display items in their house but these were alive and kicking on the very shoreline where the hundreds or thousands of tiny crabs hang out. I was ecstatic that a few hours on the beach had been so productive!

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A fruitful morning for this family of four to have picked up four horseshoe crabs.

Photography Assignment: Luagan Lalak Landscape Revisited

 Two days ago an urgent photography assignment had me scouting a number of locations within the Belait District. Due to its urgency, waiting for a good day with nice blue sky and nice cloud formation wasn’t an option so I was fairly fortunate to have driven the distance to Luagan Lalak Forest Recreational Park and all elements in the scene were looking good. Out of three locations I had visited, Luagan Lalak was the only one picture worthy and promising. The client had a very specific wall measurement where a suitable image was going up to — 7700mm x 600mm (25 x 1.9 feet). Given the rather narrow height, this panorama image had to be cropped without compromising essence of this composition, and uprezzed to exact measurement without losing image quality.

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[This panoramic landscape was the result of stitching 5 TIFF files each measuring 5760x3840 pixels from the EOS 5D Mark III. Stitching was rather effortless for the custom built Core i7-3770K 4.4GHz powered PC but the real crunch that sent processor temps soaring into high 80 degrees Celcius was during the upscaling for printing at 7700mm wide. Heat wasn't much of an issue when it was water cooled but due to problem with the pump, the stock heat sink was refitted while waiting for a replacement cooler.]

Happy with the shoot, I hung around the area a bit more, chat with a guy from Lumut who happened to be fly fishing in one of the huts. There I set up the camera for the image below — one that nicely conforms to the photography Rule of Thirds.
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