Bukit Malawati

There was once a fort atop a hill overlooking the Straits of Malacca and the mouth of the Selangor river built by the then Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Ibrahim at the end of 17th century to guard against the Dutch. In spite of the defence, the fort at Bukit Malawati fell to the hands of the Dutch but not for long as in less than a year it was repossessed in a night raid. Later on through the years, there were internal squabbles between factions in the kingdom and when the British came, they ravaged the whole fort to the ground.

There is no fort to be seen now but Bukit Malawati is now a popular tourist attraction. There is a mausoleum for the first three Sultans of Selangor, a museum, a torture well and a lighthouse. The area now is in fact a park atop a hill. Remnants of the canons are displayed, scattered around the area. The area is also a spot where the Silver Leaf Monkeys go searching, or in actual fact wait, for food.  Food from the visitors that is.

Altingsburg lighthouse

Kuala Selangor Museum

Fire extinguisher used in the 50s and early 60s

Torture chamber


Not a popular bench


VOC. Mark of the Dutch East India Company

Silver Leaf Monkeys

Mannn…What a view

Simple Studio Lighting

Simple Studio Lighting

When I was younger, I had to go to the photo studio to have a head and shoulder photograph taken for passport or whatever. Usually three lights were used, they were the main, fill and background lights.

In the early nineties, after I knew photography, I decided to shoot my own self portrait, head and shoulder photograph. I wanted a soft lighting that will cast no hard shadow, no reflection on the glasses and no shadow on the background. With the knowledge that I had, I figured out how to achieve this. I had in hands two umbrellas which I had ordered from an umbrella maker. The material was a very light yellow satin cloth provided by me. I only chose the frame that had a nice parabolic shape from the maker. The reflective side was on the inner side of the umbrella.

In the set-up for the shooting, I made use of only one umbrella held high on a stand, angled downward and slightly to the right of the camera. No reflector. One of the walls in the living room was used as background. The stool where I sat was about one metre away from the wall. The camera was set on the tripod with 135mm lens.  It was cheap, bright, sharp and have a good contrast. Light source was from a flashgun bounced off the inside of the umbrella. The strength of the light was measured at the point where my face was assumed. I had someone stood in place for me so that I can set the focusing and framing. At other times when I was alone, I propped up an empty frame around the location of my face, which I later removed before triggering.

I shot a number of frames and from it chose the one that I like best. A luxury that you don’t get with the studio shot.

The light source.

The chosen frame was then printed 4-up on a 3R paper.

Back then I had a personal web page from my ISP. I had put up my photograph together with the explanation. One of the comments that I remembered till now was from someone who probably knew photography saying, “Nice Technique.”

I used this technique for a couple of years as my makeshift mobile studio taking head and shoulder photographs for an organisation as a service to its members.

Update 9 Jan 2011:

I had inserted two photographs of the setup. Slightly tight because the space is tight. The photo of the light source shows a camera mount flash and not that of a flashgun that had the camera mount on it. I still have the flashgun but this flash unit is quite strong too. I can still get F4 and F5.6 at ASA 100. Furthermore, it sits nicely on the wireless receiver. Ah, the luxury of today, no more cable to concern with. Absolute freedom. To trigger any slave unit, the light sensor triggering unit is still good though. Less of a hassle because it doesn’t consume batteries, very green, only that it needs to be on the striking distance of the main light to be effective. For wireless triggering of slave unit, the transmitter and receiver set claims a distance of 100 metres. A 100 metres headstart that is, for someone to grab the slave set and run away. Anyway, it is still useful though, just bear in mind the safety of the unit and to take appropriate measure.