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 that’s 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

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 5760×3840 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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View of Brunei LNG and Brunei Methanol Plant from Top of Sungai Liang Hill

It’s been three weeks since I last driven to Bandar Seri Begawan. That also means it’s been the longest time I’ve stayed away from my favourite hills — Bukit Shahbandar. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working out. In fact, this week alone I exceeded my cardio workout with a record 13 sets of badminton and a few runs in the Sungai Liang forest. Yesterday afternoon, I returned to the Sungai Liang hills this time with my wife and we covered five hills to reach the peak that overlooks both Brunei LNG and Brunei Methanol Company plants. Previously I had only my S3 and images lacked details so this time I brought the G11 along this time, maybe 5D Mark III and a tele lens next time just to add some weight to the workout.

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3.6 kilometers is a good stretch to run several times a week to build and maintain stamina. The time recorded below reflects our slow hike stopping occasionally to admire the views and also a short chat with four mountain bikers we met on the same trail.

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