Magnificent Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien (SOAS) Mosque in Brunei Darussalam

A completely unplanned road trip from Seria to Bandar Seri Begawan I made yesterday led me to the photo of the magnificent and historic Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque, which is quite possibly the most photographed landmark of Brunei Darussalam. Leaving the house, I grabbed the Canon PowerShot G11 from the dry cabinet not realizing then that there wasn’t much battery power left. This photo is one of a series I managed to capture before battery power went out for good.

A view of SOAS Mosque from the Edinburgh Bridge on Jalan Tutong
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Excerpt from The Brunei Times

“POSITIONED majestically on an artificial lagoon near the banks of the Brunei River, the Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien (SOAS) Mosque stands as among the most magnificent mosques ever built in the world.

With its golden dome and soaring white minarets, the mosque is often pictured as an oasis of serenity amidst the hustle and bustle of downtown Bandar Seri Begawan. The celebration of its golden anniversary heralds the mosque’s unique long-standing status as the heart of the capital and the symbol of Brunei’s deeply-rooted Islamic faith.

The mosque also incorporates Italian and Renaissance architectural styles, but with craftsmanship that reflects classical Islamic architecture. This makes the mosque as one of the most unique Islamic places of worship across the world. The mosque took four years to complete, from 4 February 1954 until 26 September 1958. His Highness Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien is remembered as the “Architect of Modern Brunei”. During his reign from 1950 until his abdication in 1967, the Sultan steered Brunei safely through the turbulent years following WWII, establishing the foundation for the nation’s independence and sovereignty. Through his determination and dedication, he had implemented the foundation to build the infrastructure, society and economy of modern Brunei and also ensuring the preservation of an independent Malay Muslim Monarchy in the modern world.”

Adobe Lightroom ‘Parallel Processing’ Speeds Up JPEG Export by 50%

It should be noted that I use Canon Digital Photo Professional as my RAW batch processor. I have dabbled with Lightroom more than once or twice but never found the encouragement to switch especially when I had been computing on under powered hardware that would only make the whole experience excruciatingly painful. To  cut a long story short, I got a new custom-built Windows 7 64-bit PC last December moving up from two generation old 32-bit processing platform — a project that began with me nearly committing to an Alienware Aurora gaming rig but something else much better persuaded me otherwise!

Machine Specs: ASUS Republic of Gamers Maximus V GENE, unlocked Intel Core i7-3770K 4.6GHz liquid cooled by Corsair H80 cooler, Corsair Vengeance™ DDR3 OC Edition 1866MHz 16GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 2GB, Crucial M4 128GB + 256GB SSDs housed in a SilverStone Fortress FT03 chassis.

ASUSROG_STUDIO_FBMy photo-editing studio: Asus Maximus V Gene with dual Dell 27″ and 24″ UltraSharp monitors

Curious and better equipped than ever before I installed a trial copy of Lightroom 4.3 64-bit and imported 1,634 5D Mark II/III RAW files from the 2013 Lexus Golf Classic shoot. I first learnt of Lightroom’s parallel processing capability from ScottKelby.com who got the info from  MacPerformanceGuide.com and that was enough of a push to see how my investment fared. What happened next blew my mind, and I quote from the observation I posted on Facebook. I also shared this post on DPreview.com and Flickr.com

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In the interest of benchmarking, I exported 1,634 Large RAW files to JPEG (Quality: 100) in batches of 400 images per operation in 4 operations (pictured above) and timed how long it would take to complete. Note that this is purely an export with no adjustments made to the images. Estimating the time it took me to separate 4 batches of 400 images each to be 1 minute in total, the entire export processes completed in under 15 minutes – impressive! Batching the same number of images in a single process took twice as long. — Facebook, January 21 2013

ASUSROG_SPECS_FBI ran the tests several times and on one occasion I had Canon Digital Photo Professional export 296 images from the same batch of RAW files with Lightroom this time running  not 4 but 5 parallel processes. The result was nothing short of amazing!

One hot weekend of Lexus Golf Classic shoot, 3 thousand images, several shades darker and 2 itchy sand fly bites later, this morning I decided there’s no better time to push the ASUS ROG 4.7GHz to export Cyril‘s 1600 RAW files in Lightroom and DPP simultaneously. The setup: Lightroom to handle 1600 files in 5 parallel operations and DPP exporting just 296 of the same RAW files (parallel tasking of DPP not tested here). The result is nothing short of mind blowing – my quick CPU tweak to 4.7GHz remained stable, LR finished exporting 1600 RAW to JPEGs in times I’ve never seen before (see top left image “5 operations in progress”. — Facebook, January 21, 2013

Dramatic Sunset Boardroom Photography

I have in recent years photographed great number of corporate offices including hotels and their business centres. An example from 2012 is Radisson Hotel Brunei’s Business Centre and Boardroom. It’s not everyday I get an assignment to photograph a boardroom that features a 180 degree panoramic view of its surrounding and from the first floor. Trouble is, beyond the windows is a landscape of concrete buildings, workshops and general conditions of surrounding that are still under development — not quite the breathtaking views I’d imagined. Instead of the usual brightly lit pictures of the boardroom, I chose and waited for direct light at sunset to pierce through the blinds casting light rays and shadows for a dramatic finish.

Boardroom_2012Click on image to view larger version © Jan Shim Photography