Thursday, April 21, 2016


I am always mesmerised by sunrise and sunset. As the sun rises from the horizon, slowly illuminating the skies with her light, it signifies a brand new day with new hope and new aspirations. It also signifies another chance, as if were, given by the Great Almighty to us, to live right, to make things right and most importantly, to make that one new day counts.

I particularly enjoyed sitting there in total darkness just waiting for the sun to emerge. In the silence of the night, gazing up towards the heavens, if the skies are clear, the twinkling stars and the darkness of the universe has the effect of drawing you further and further away, deeper and deeper into her grasp. This is especially true if you are staring at the Milky Way which I had the opportunity to see and capture at Aaroki, Mount Cook in New Zealand.

Capturing sunrise by the beach is even mesmerising. In the silence of the night, the sound of the waves splashing against the beach, followed by a split moment of silence as they retreat, only to give way to another roaring splash. It is moments like this that one feels the smallness and fragility of a human soul against the vastness and magnitude of the universe at large, giving us a moment to reflect on what life and our mere existence is all about.

The sight of a very dim orange light at the horizon often invokes that excitement that the long wait is soon going to be over and the arrival of that fiery red sun is imminent.  For a photographer, often times, this is the final moments of tweaking the camera settings and angle and composition to make sure that we are ready for her grand entry.

When I was still in my early days of taking pictures, I often wish for a cloudless sky, hoping to catch only the bright red sun emerging from the horizon. I would often lament even at the slightest form of clouds floating by. However, as I matured in my photography journey, I adore interesting clouds formation just before the sunrise, because the clouds as they rolled by will add drama and interest to an otherwise plain sunrise. Often times, life is as such. The storm clouds which never really stays forever but merely rolls by are there to add spice, interest, drama and colours to our lives and the sun will always without fail follow suit, if only we patiently wait it out.

The excitement that builds up as the light over the horizon brightens, lighting up the skies with different hue of blue, indigo, red, orange and yellow reminds me of the many sunrises that I have painted likewise when I was still in school. The vast canvas before you changes right before your eyes as each second passes by.

And all the anxiety of waiting patiently and the building up of the excitement finally climaxed as that bright red orange sun emerges from the horizon and break through the thin layer of clouds, her yellow orange rays illuminate the sky, overpowering the darkness of the night and shed light over the earth. 

I feel a deep sense of rebirth and renewal. A new day has dawned and with it a new hope and another opportunity to live right. The problems of yesterday might still be there but at least we have been given another shot and opportunity by the grace of the Almighty to resolve, to learn, to overcome and to triumph.

As I packed my gear after each sunrise photoshoot, I often walked off with sense of joy and hope, thrilled that I have been granted the gift of living and witnessing another sunrise.

The following are the shots that I captured as I went through all the feelings above as I sat there, waiting for the sun to emerge over the horizon while holidaying at the Club Med Cherating, Kuantan, Malaysia. It all started with gloomy skies and rolling storm clouds but I walked away with the sun smiling upon me. 

May the sun smiles on you everyday.


I have been Seattle a couple of times before. I have seen pictures of this magnificent waterfall before but hardly had the time or made the time to visit it.

During the recent visit though, we made it a point to drop by and have a look and I was definitely not disappointed. With the winter just over and spring setting in, the warmer weather has started to melt the snow and the ice, bringing along huge torrents of crystal clear water pouring down the waterfall to the rapids below.

This the the Snoqualmie Falls, approximately a 20 minutes drive from Sammamish, a fall of over 82 meters or 268 feet tall, crashing with such awesome power below. Most of the water are diverted into the power plants to generate electricity but when it rains or when the snow and ice melts, the abundance of the water clearly demonstrates the sheer power of it's flow.

Taking a slow walk to the another viewing spot at the bottom of the falls is also another must for it is here that one could see the waterfall from a different perspective nestled among the cliffs and pine trees and the fast flowing rapids.

I must give due credit for these last two shots because it was my wife who pointed out this angle of taking the waterfall between the towering pine trees. It was a difficult shot to take, considering that the sun has already set, light was fading and the brightness of the waterfall in the background totally overshadows the interesting pine trees that frames it. I took a couple of shot. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


I am back but briefly unfortunately. Living in China is great but unfortunately the GREAT FIREWALL of China meant updating blogspot or wordpress such a pain even with paid VPN.

Since I am back in Malaysia for a short one week, I thought I will take some time just to add a post to this blog of mine. I actually missed updating it but unfortunately, I have been having so much problems updating pictures to this blog and since this is a photography blog, it would be rather meaningless to update it without being able to upload any pictures.

For this one entry, I would like to share the one moment of a lifetime I had recently and it had to do with the Great Wall of China.

Since moving to China, I have been very impressed with this magnificent structure and has went to different parts of the wall to photograph it, from summer, spring and winter with the snow. The one season that I had not been there was autumn when the leaves turned yellow and orange and I heard that it would be nice.

Hence, during the last autumn last year, I waited till it was rather late in autumn making sure that there would be some orange leaves to make my trip. I wanted to hike the wild sections of the wall and I called my trusted guide, Aaron to arrange for a short hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu, a 2 hours hike along the wall. 

The morning came and when I woke up, Beijing was snowing!!! Snowing in Beijing is rather rare considering that Beijing is dry. It can get bitterly cold but without water moisture, there were hardly any snow in the past 3 years. Not only was it snowing, we are officially still in autumn and it was snowing hard and it was cold! I was apprehensive and was considering cancelling the trip because I was afraid that it would be too cold to hike the wall with snow. Concerned friends advised me to cancel the trip as it would be dangerous, all the more that I would be hiking the wild unrestored walls. Some called me 'crazy.

However, I was thinking that this would be a chance of a lifetime, to not only photograph the Great Wall with all the autumn leaves but also to photograph the wall with fresh snow in autumn.  I called Aaron and asked if he has any concern of safety. Aaron being Aaron is always super confident and said that it would be perfectly safe on the stretches we intend to hike that day. Taking his advice, we pushed on.

It was snowing throughout the 2 hours car journey to the section at Jiankou from Beijing. As we near the wall, I can see from afar, how thick the snow has covered some parts of the wall and she looked absolutely enchanting. The drive along the slippery road to the drop off point was far from easy. There were times, when the car could barely get a grip on the slippery road considering that the snow was so fresh and the driver was not prepare to drive that morning in the snow. 

What a view the trip turned out to be. It was still snowing and since this is the first snow of the season and we were probably the one people out there on the wall, there were literally no footprints on the wall but ours. I had both my wishes fulfilled in one morning, photographing the Great Wall of China in autumn with the autumn leaves and fresh snow of winter. This is definitely a chance of a lifetime and I was there.

What a trip it turned out to be. I was mesmerised with the breathtaking view of this magnificent structure in all her majesty covered with that white blanket of snow dotted with yellow, orange and red leaves of autumn.

I have finally seen the wall in all her four seasons and more.

Friday, August 7, 2015

I am still Around .. (Tanjung Jara Resort)

A rare Double Rainbow caught over the horizon as the sun sets.
It has been quite awhile now since I updated this blog and the main reason is that I have been having problems loading pictures to this blog via a VPN since blogspot is being blocked in China. What is a photography blog without pictures. 

Since I am currently back in Malaysia for a short holiday, I thought I give this blog a try to see if I could load a picture and viola, here I am.

Since my last update here, I have already traded in my trusty Nikon D90 and most of the lenses with my current Nikon D610 and have even got myself my dream lens, the Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 VRII. From a passion, I am now working as a free lance photographer in Beijing, shooting for several hotels on a regular basis besides fulfilling one of my dreams and wish which was to use my skills for Charity.  In my 2.5 years now in Beijing, I have helped some Malaysia students in their charity work in Xian, an Malaysian cultural event held by the Malaysian students studying in Beijing as well helping to photograph the beautiful progress of a special dance project known as the Inspiring Dance Project, also initiated by a fellow Malaysian aimed at bringing dancing as a mean of expression, motivation and inspiration to children (especially to the less fortunate) around Beijing.

So, as you can see, I am still very much alive and kicking and love to continue to update this blog as much as I possibly can.

Back to what I do best, photography. My family and I revisited Tanjung Jara Resort in Dungun, Terengganu recently while we are back in Malaysia for a 6 nights getaway. It was awesome as usual with good service, cosy and comfortable room and plenty of space for the children to run around. The last time I was here, I barely got my D90 with only one kit lens which was the Nikkor 18-105mm. I did managed to capture some pretty amazing shots then but I was determined to see if my skills have improved over the years and if I could capture a different side of this resort or the sunrise.

Of the six nights that we were there, I was a little too lazy to get up for the early morning sunrise, of the three mornings that I did, one particular morning was simply spectacular. I have done some survey of the beach when I arrive to pick up some interesting place to photograph the sunrise, hence, when I went down to the beach, I knew exactly where I wanted to go.

I have always been interested to photograph the golden hours of photography especially by the beaches and the waves but during my early years of photography, I hardly knew how. I had a little practice when I was in Hawaii and New Zealand and I was determined to try that out again here at Tanjung Jara. These are some of the shots ....

Using long exposure to capture the flowing and splashing waves around the rocks.

Sunrise over the horizon at Tanjung Jara Resort, Dungun, Terengganu.

Over the years, I have also noticed that by having someone in a picture lends a more interesting story to the picture. I have an old picture of Tanjung Jara when I first came here 5 years ago of a lone fisherman walking along the beach. This time around, I have a lone fisherman walking and fishing on some rocks out in the sea which I find interesting.

However, the best moment of the entire trip was something totally unexpected and that probably is why photography is so mesmerising. As we were playing on the beach and walking back to our rooms on the very last evening before we are due to leave, my daughter noticed a rainbow over the horizon at sunset. Everyone was so excited. Luckily I had my camera with me and my lens had the CPL filter on. I captured several shots before the rainbow quickly disappeared. To my surprise, what we have witness, when I was processing the pictures, was not one single rainbow but a double rainbow captured over the horizon during the golden hours. I was a happy man and this will probably be my only opportunity to capture this rare moment for many years to come. 

Till then, I will try to update this blog as I possibly can. Rest be assured, even if this blog is not updated as often as I would like to be, I am still around and clicking away.....Cheers.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Wuzhen at the Breaking of Dawn

"You should catch the sunrise here tomorrow morning from one of our bigger bridges." the restaurant owner said. "It is beautiful and much better than sunset." he added.

"What time does the sun rises nowadays?" I asked.

"Around 6 to 6:30 am." he replied.

With that information, I told my son to set the alarm at 6 am the next morning and went to bed, hoping for a spectacular sunrise over the ancient water town of Wuzhen.

It was cold when the alarm went off at 6 am. What do you expect since it is right in the middle of winter. My son rolled over after switching off the alarm. He is definitely not an early riser and no amount of sunrise is going to get him off that warm bed. I was struggling too and almost dozed off when my wife reminded me that it was already 6:30 am and I better get my ass off the bed if I ever wanted to catch the sunrise.

I picked up my gear, put on my winter jacket and ventured out into the cold misty morning. Any hope of getting that perfect sunrise was dashed when I walked onto slippery wet walking paths as it has been raining the night before apparently. The sky was gloomy and downcast and more rain was forecast for the day. I was somewhat disappointed but as I stood on one of the stone bridges looking towards the two rows of houses lining the water canal and a mist covering the rest some distance away, I realized that I was presented with a different perspective of this ancient water town in the morning. One that is cold and damn, sleepy, quiet and tranquil, and that was exactly what I was feeling right that moment, standing on the bridge.

The wind has not picked up and the water was calm. At 6:45 am, before the harsh sunlight breaks through, I could still get decent long exposure shot without using any big stoppers to cut down the light.

I did not manage to get a lot of shots during the day when we first arrived the day before with two little toddlers tagging along, although I did managed to capture what I wanted to see at night. Being alone now, with just my camera and my gear and without having to rush through every shot, I could go about checking each shot through different angles and settings.

The town was practically deserted at this hour. Most of the overnight visitors were still in their warm bed. I guessed none was as crazy as I am, braving the chill and the freezing temperatures just hoping to get some good pictures. Many, I guessed, just as I was, initially, thought that there were no opportunities to catch a good sunrise with the gloomy weather and hence gave up the idea. Whatever their reasons were, I was glad as I get to have the entire town almost to myself.

As I took shot after shot, from this bridge to the next, I began to realize that these are scenes and atmosphere that I wanted to capture of an ancient water town. Not just the bright lights and their reflections on the water, but the dreamy feel of a sleepy ancient water town, without the commercialisation, in all her serenity and tranquility, allowing your imagination to go back hundreds of years.

The "Bridge In Bridge" during the day with both bridges in view as well as their clear reflections on the calm waters.....

As day brightened, this sleepy town started to wake up with some residents getting their shops ready for the day. Workers started to arrive, bringing along their breakfast for yet another busy day, hoping that the crowd would be larger since it is a weekend.

As the day brightens, I caught this little boat starting his round to start off another day down the river .....

By 8 a.m. the rain had started to drizzle, signalling me that it is time to head back to the hotel. As I walked back, I saw more tourists now, coming out from the hotels, taking a walk among the wet walking paths, taking pictures here and there. I had my fair share and I would like to believe the better parts too.

By the time, we walked over for our breakfast around 9:30 a.m., the slight drizzle has got heavier and so has the crowd, both from those staying overnight and those arriving for the day, all decked in raincoats or umbrellas, jostling around the narrow alleys and bridges for their pictures.

I walked past them with a grin and a smile on my face, knowing deep inside, I am a contended man and having had the best moments of a misty dreamy Wuzhen, an ancient water town of over 1200 years history at the breaking of dawn.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wuzhen at Night

Sunrise and sunset are termed as the golden hours for any landscape photographers because the light is not direct and harsh and the often times, the multi color skies added with some dramatic clouds formation, sometimes accompanied by a round red or orange sun captured made almost a postcard like picture.

I was hoping for the same, as I hurriedly walked about Wuzhen to find a right spot where I could spot the sun going down, checking the direction constantly with my iPhone compass. However, the downcast skies during the day and the clouds obscure any chance whatsoever to see a dramatic sunset for the day. I was lucky that at least, it was not raining as the day before or the day we left Wuzhen. But sunset is not all about dramatic colorful skies or bright perfect orange sun, as I found out here in Wuzhen. As dusk approached where the sun had already set, this ancient water town was cloaked in a shade of yellowish orange light and a slight mist in a distance, with almost perfect reflection of the houses on still and calm waters adds a dreamy feel to this historic town.

Dusk falling upon this ancient water town of Wuzhen ..

Calmness and tranquility at dusk ...

But the real beauty of Wuzhen is when the lights come on at night. That was the whole reason we ended up in Wuzhen. We were supposed to visit another ancient water town somewhere else, nearer to Suzhou but when I specifically told my guide that I wanted to take night photography, he recommended Wuzhen instead and insisted that we must stayed a night. His recommendation was spot on.

As the night approaches, the lights began to come on, one after another, and the entire place takes on a totally different feel. In fact, it comes alive ...

As the night sets in, the lights came on and the entire town takes on a different perspective, feel and atmosphere. It comes alive. The crowd began to swell, bearing in mind that it was winter with temperature in low single digit and it was a weekday. 

I just got my D610, my new Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 lens and my new tripod just before I made this trip and I was eager to try them out for the long exposure shots.

Wuzhen is a string of islands all connected with stone or wooden bridges, some small and some magnificent ones like the one below. Capturing them with their reflection on the water below was something that I was hoping to do when I first decided to visit an ancient water town.

An almost symmetrical reflection of the bridge and building on the water below ....

If you are visiting Wuzhen, I would highly recommend that you insist on staying for a night. There are many day tours who might include this into one of the places you might visit from Hangzhou but to truly appreciate the beauty of this place and to experience her tranquility and atmosphere, an overnight stay would allow you to walk among the narrow streets and alleys and admire the beauty of the reflections of these ancient structures on the water. If you an early riser, you might even catch the sunrise the following morning before the rest of the crowd wakes up. (More of that in my next post ..)

This is the famous Bridge in Bridge where at a certain angle, one could see another bridge through the arch of the first. Here, you can catch a bit of the second bridge on the left hand side of the picture. This two bridges are the Tongji and the Renji Bridge which apparently has been rebuilt 5 times over the years....

The beauty of night photography of an ancient water town lies in the mesmerizing reflections on the water such as the ones below :-

Every corner offers a different feel and look at night ....
Located near the Bridge in Bridge, is a street lined with pubs, cafes and bars where one could sit down to listen to some life music while enjoying your favorite beer or drink.

Wuzhen offers more than just reflections of the lights on water. Walking along the narrow streets and alleys, lined by old wooden souvenir shops, guest houses, cafes and shops that offered local delicacies that are delicious is an experience by itself.

The streets themselves offered delightful opportunities for night photography especially if you have a tripod set on longer exposure. Deeper into the night, when the crowd thins, you might find yourself alone along a lonely stretch of narrow alley, lined with old wooden shops that have closed. There is a eerie sense of quietness surrounding you and your ears suddenly becoming ultra sensitive to any `funny' noises as you go about taking that one picture that you hope is worth all efforts.

A view of a shop opposite the other side of the river, captured here, between two walls with creepers ....

A window in one of the dead end walls with overgrown creepers ....eerie ....

The almost abandoned streets ....

Besides the streets and the river, there are also other interesting historical sites that literally glow in the dark such as those below :-

The old post office .....

By the time I finished the above pictures, it was closed to 9pm and we have not had our dinner. Most restaurants have close by now and the only shops that remained opened are the pubs and bars. We gave the owner of the shop we had our lunch earlier a call and asked if his is still opened. 

"I was waiting for you guys to return" he said "..and I was surprised that you didn't turn up till now ..."

"Well..we are coming right now .." we told him. We have little choice as there are no restaurants that were still opened by this time.

There were no regrets. We ordered a few other dishes, and they were just too eager to serve us. The food was delicious and hot. As we attacked the food with vengeance, the owner's wife was there chatting with us and sharing about their lifestyle and how the restaurant were being run. The bill came to RMB156. 

With our stomach filled, we made our way back to our hotel and settled in for the night. Both my 5 years old boy and my 2 years old daughter was fast asleep by this time.

Tired but satisfied, the alarm was set at 6 the next morning as I was eager to go out early in the morning, hoping to catch the sunrise over the ancient stone bridges, reflected on the clear calm waters....

....but that was not to be .......more in my next post ...