Brunei Darussalam


The idiomatic phrase Familiarity Breeds Contempt which means that “the more you know something or someone, the more you start to find faults and dislike things about it or them.” My neighbourhood falls squarely into this category. When I moved here circa 5 years ago, the neighbourhood wasn’t as populated as it is today, it was serene being next to the forest (before that began to disappear too!) and a distance from the main road and commuters. Today, that forest is disappearing fast and one could even spot my house from the Seria by-pass where the dense trees used to wall us in quite good. But all this progressively loss of privacy isn’t nearly as bad as the number of dogs (once affectionately called ‘man’s best friend’ for reasons I cannot comprehend today) that had appeared proportionately as the number of families who had moved here.

© Jan Shim Photography

Clearly, the owners of their pets having gotten used the endless barking that not on the odd occasion but rather on a daily basis and as a resident here, I should too but it continues to drive me and my family up the wall with their barking. And we get them in cinematic surround too literally being in the middle of a neighbourhood of canine loving families—one bark sets of a chain reaction!

Fortunately, the barks do not scare off the hornbills and if anything, I suspect the barks from the puppies that sound so familiar to the cries of the hornbills draw them into this neighbourhood. It’s uncanny. But even before that, Kampong Sungai Bera has been somewhat of a hornbill hotspot and I appreciate every waking moment of them choosing to transit at that haunting dead tree across from my kitchen balcony.

© Jan Shim Photography

So I titled this post Familiarity Breeds Art as that’s how I feel towards how little is left of the trees, vegetation that form a familiar landscape each morning as the strong sunlight casts an equally familiar silhouette. It has inspired me to create a composite from two photographs taken approximately two weeks apart into the above picture. I managed to capture the fast moving low clouds one morning and the effect you see in that picture isn’t manipulated (exception being the addition of the hornbills). Hope you enjoy this!


  1. Oh and I was learning how to create the paper tear edge effect and needed a photo to work with. One thing led to another and I spent half the morning having already mastered the method in my own way (thanks to a number of Corel PSP9 Forum members for their help) and thinking out loud that the picture was missing something—the hornbills!


  2. Thanks Husini and while you’re in that frame of thought, picture me hand-holding an EF 800mm lens in one of my many failed attempts to get a super close shot just to see if the hornbills wink 😉 I cannot picture myself having deep enough pockets to own one either so I’ll continue to dream.


  3. toboss

    Thank you. I don’t know where to even begin to explain how I got those pictures but you should know that the original picture minus the birds are shot just like you see above and cropped to focus on the dead tree. Very little post processing was made to the picture though. The unique colour of the sunrise at the time was short-lived and as you can see from today’s sunrise, you wouldn’t believe how much the mood varies from day to day.


  4. First photo is like a foretelling of what’s to come, or I should say, what’s happening. As the population grows so does the need for space to put them. Weighing the balance, which is more important, the humans who need this space or the trees that were always there providing oxygen, shade, homes for birds and whatever else, and a privacy veil? Can there be a balance?

    Going green can become and I guess sometimes is a fashionable statement. People need jobs and places to live, and if trees have to be cut down to provide them, is that wrong? Once again, can there be a balance?

    Yesterday seagulls flew over talking loudly amongst themselves.


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