Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top of the Rock

Probably the best view you can get of New York is from the top of the Rockefeller Centre building or "Top of the Rock". From here and looking to the south you can get a wonderful view of the Empire State Building and the whole of Manhattan Island which really gives you a great perspective of the city. If you look from the north side of the building you will see a great view of Central Park - look out for a post on this view later.

Monday, May 30, 2011

First Timelapse

Having been persuaded by my wife to assist her in her efforts at her charity group jumble sale event I had to find something to keep my interest up so I decided to use the opportunity to explore the technique of time-lapse photography. I had recently bought a remote control device (Promote Control) to connect to my camera primarily to have better control of my HDR bracketing but it also provided a great intervalometer which provided an ideal setup for time-lapse.

So armed with my 5D, tripod, some fresh batteries, large capacity CF cards and the Promote Control unit I set up at the jumble sale to try and capture the event and condense all the action into a video of 1-2 minutes.

Here is a brief checklist of the setup I did for the time-lapse:

1. Setup 5D on firm and stable tripod
2. Frame the scene as required for the final image needed (I used a 50mm and 16-35mm lenses for 2 separate time-lapses)
3. Ensure a new fresh battery in camera
4. Have a large capacity CF card in camera
5. Setup image capture to high resolution jpeg to allow for large number of images to be captured on the CF card. You can alternatively capture RAW if you want to do some digital zooming in post-processing
6. Focus camera and then turn to manual focus to prevent camera trying to refocus every frame
7. Adjust white balance from auto to manual
8. Take some sample shots to ensure exposure is set correctly and adjust as necessary.
9. Set exposure to manual and set aperture to large value (f/16) to ensure depth of field and shutter speed to approximately half the interval time, in this case shutter speed was around 0.5 secs. This gives a nice blur effect in the video replay and does not result in jaggy movement. ISO was set at 100.
10. Given the activity of the scene I wanted to take images every 2 secs so I set the Promote Control to take images every 2 secs and also set mirror lockup to improve image quality. I set no of images to infinite so I could manually stop after a period of about 20-30 mins. If you are going to be replaying the video at 24 fps and you are taking images every 2 secs then you must consider that you will need to record images over a time of 48 minutes to get a final video time of 1 minute.
11.  I captured two sets of time-lapse images, one set with my 50mm lens (559 RAW images) and one set using my 16-35mm lens (926 high res jpg). So I had a total of 1485 images for the final time-lapse.
12. Once settings are confirmed it's a simple matter of pressing Start on the promote Control and then stand around with your Starbucks coffee looking cool while the camera goes to work.
13. All the captured images on the CF cards were then transferred to Aperture for some basic post-processing. The beauty of Aperture is that you can set up any required edits for one image (e.g. cropping, enhancement, exposure, sharpening, etc) then lift and stamp onto all the images in the sequence.
14. I cropped all the images to video HD size of 1920 x 1080
15. I did some minor adjustment on exposure using the recovery slider
16. I added a minor enhancement to vibrancy
17. I then exported all the images to a folder for upload into QuickTime 7 Pro
18. Load the image sequence into QuickTime 7 Pro
19. Choose a frame rate replay of 15fps. I experimented with 24fps and also slower frame rates but the 15fps seem to fit the scene and the action going on. This also gave me a reasonable final video run time of around 1.5 mins.
20. I then exported the final video as a 720p sized video
21. Import video into iMovie and add titles, music as appropriate.
22. Upload to your favourite website, blog or YouTube

And here is the final product ....... not bad I thought for a first trial.

Meet Me Under The Clock

This is the famous clock that sits above the information booth at Grand Central terminal, New York. The clock has 4 convex faces made from high quality opal and it is estimated the clock is worth between $10 million to $20 million. The small point on top of the clock is actually a compass which is aligned to true north and is 100% accurate. The clock has appeared in many famous movies and has become a classic meeting point.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

High & Dry

This is the small remote village of Toscaig in on the west coast of Scotland on the Applecross peninsula and this bright blue boat stood out having been left high and dry at low tide. This image was post processed in Nik Software's HDR EfexPro 2 and Silver Efex 2 applications.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Psychedelic Dragon at Spuistraat 199

This building in Spuistraat, Amsterdam had a glorious psychedelic, red-spotted green dragon painted on the yellow walls which brightened up the run-down street. I just wonder what type of local stimulant had been used by the artist prior to painting this.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Wee Chippy

The Wee Chippy in Anstruther, Scotland was voted as the Best Place in the World to eat Fish and Chips by Michelin Star chefs Raymond Blanc and Michel Roux in 2009.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Drogisterij in Dutch means pharmacist or chemist shop. This drogisterij in Amsterdam had a creepy looking statue of some turban bearing black man with a large gaping mouth and drug crazed eyes ..... probably not a great advertisement in my view.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Everyone seems to cycle in Amsterdam and it's fun to watch all the different styles of bikes as well at the many styles of cycling. This lady was more intent on her phone than the business of cycling or perhaps she was just lining up the next mp3 playlist to give her inspiration for the ride home.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pretzel Logic

Pretzels are a common street food seen in New York and always reminds me of that famous Steely Dan song and album Pretzel Logic.

I would love to tour the Southland
In a travelling minstrel show

In a traveling minstrel show
Yes I'm dying to be a star and make them laugh
Sound just like a record on the phonograph
Those days are gone forever
Over a long time ago, oh yeah

I have never met Napoleon
But I plan to find the time
I have never met Napoleon
But I plan to find the time
'Cause he looks so fine upon that hill
They tell me he was lonely, he's lonely still
Those days are gone forever
Over a long time ago, oh yeah

I stepped up on the platform
The man gave me the news
He said, You must be joking son
Where did you get those shoes?
Where did you get those shoes?

Well, I've seen 'em on the TV, the movie show
They say the times are changing but I just don't know
These things are gone forever
Over a long time ago, oh yeah 

Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic by Aural Villains

Monday, May 23, 2011

Canal Boat

This scene, shot on one one of the canals in central Amsterdam, almost looked like an oil painting with the murky canal water, the floating leaves and the run-down boat with the peeling paintwork. The photo comprised of 3-bracketed shots and was post-processed in Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Be Warned - Penalty of Forty Shillings

Walking through the small village of Plockton in north west Scotland I came across a small cottage with this beautiful white picket fence gate and two rather amusing signs. With the little black and white dog peeking through the slats, the final image was captured. I love it when it all comes together like this. It takes patience and an awful lot of luck!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Brooklyn Bridge

The intricate design of the Brooklyn Bridge as seen from below which highlights the details in the girders and the mass of supporting wires.
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. With a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m), it was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903, and the first steel-wire suspension bridge.
Originally referred to as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge and as the East River Bridge, it was dubbed the Brooklyn Bridge in a January 25, 1867 letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and formally so named by the city government in 1915. Since its opening, it has become an iconic part of the New York skyline. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972

Friday, May 20, 2011

Barneys New York

This advertisement on the side of a building really stood out and made a good impact. Barneys is a chain of luxury department stores centred in New York. The chain owns large stores in New York CityBeverly HillsBostonChicagoSan FranciscoDallasLas Vegas, and Scottsdale, and smaller stores in other locations across the United States.

Brands sold include Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Louboutin, The Row, Fendi, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Maison Martin Margiela, Lanvin, Balenciaga, Prada, Jil Sander, Dries van Noten, Diane von Furstenberg, and Burberry Prorsum, as well as Barneys private label merchandise. The New York and Beverly Hills stores also have restaurants that are operated by third parties.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Non HDR Grunge

This image may look a little like an HDR image bit it isn't. This is just the grungy look of this apartment block in New York. Some of the graffiti is very artistic and in some cases can brighten up an otherwise very gloomy building.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dog Plays "Puss in Boots"

I couldn't resist capturing this picture of a rather grumpy looking dog being taken for a walk just close to the Dakota Apartments in New York in a set of colourful dog shoes. The dog's facial expression just says it all ..... "Would someone get these goddam pussy shoes off me now!"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fatality Lives

Some of the buildings and architecture in New York are spectacular and particularly just as the sun is setting when the neon lights are switched on. You can get some beautiful reflections in the glass fronted buildings such as we see here in this building in the Times Square area of Manhattan. The large advertising banners for the film "Mortal Kombat - Fatality Lives" seemed to blend seamlessly with the reflective colours on the building.

Monday, May 16, 2011

No Standing Anytime

This array of signage on a lampost in the Greenwich Village historic district of New York appeared to confuse rather than to inform. I guess the message was Keep Movin' but only One Way!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cherry Blossom

April is a good time to visit New York .... the weather is not too cold and the streets are full of blooming cherry blossom trees. The picture above was taken in the Greenwich Village area and with the colourful springtime flowers also making a show this really made the streets look great. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pluck U

The colourful Pluck U restaurant in the Greenwich Village area of New York stood out from the usual gray buildings. A quick Google search on the restaurant comes up with a wide range of reviews .... from "New York's #1 chicken wings 6 years in a row" to "Do not, I repeat, DO NOT eat Pluck U chicken wings without having a toilet and double-roll of toilet paper nearby." Don't know who to believe here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

New York Mini

This bright red Mini with the distinctive yellow Empire State registration plate and  the raindrops on the paintwork and chrome provided a good opportunity for a close-cropped photo. Driving in New York wasn't as bad as I had imagined as with the grid layout of the streets it is very easy to navigate the city and to be honest if you've driven and survived in KL then New York City should be a breeze!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal in New York is the largest train station in the world by the number of platforms; 44 with 67 tracks along them. It is often incorrectly known as Grand Central Station and sometimes shortened to Grand Central. The station was built by New York Central Railroad in the heyday of long distance train travel.

The image shown here is the Main Concourse which is cavernous and usually bustling with crowds of people. The large American flag seen at the left was hung in the station shortly after the September 11th attack on the World Trade Centre.

The classic meeting spot is at the central information booth with the four-faced clock which is the most recognisable feature of the station.

I was blown away by this station in terms of its architecture and the beautiful condition of all the fixtures. Not many train stations around the world can claim this.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Flatiron Building

Another iconic building in New York is the Flatiron Building which at it's time of completion in 1902, was one of the the tallest building in New York and is regarded as one of the groundbreaking skyscrapers. It is situated on a triangular block at the intersection of 5th Avenue, Broadway and East 22nd Street. The building is a functional office building although I believe there are still some individual units being utilised as apartments. The building is also known popularly as being depicted as the headquarters for the Daily Bugle where Peter Parker worked as a freelance photographer in the popular Spiderman movies.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Empire Strikes back

The Empire State Building in New York was the tallest Building in the World for over 40 years from 1932, when it was completed, until 1972 when the North Tower of the World Trade Centre was finished. Ironically after the destruction of the World Trade Centre in 2001 the Empire State Building is now once again the tallest building in New York City although it is now the 15th tallest building in the world as many other taller buildings have now been completed.

The Empire State Building is a 102-story building at the intersection of 5th Avenue and West 34th Street and has been named by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

One thing that certainly struck me about this building and most of the other buildings in New York was the beautiful architecture and excellent condition they exhibited. Considering the time at which many were constructed the majority of the key buildings I saw in the city look great and have obviously been immaculately maintained and renovated.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Times Square - Crossroads of the World

Times Square is probably one of the most recognised and iconic city centres in the World. Situated in Manhattan at the junction of Broadway and 7th Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets this commercial area has an incredible concentration of neon advertising with gigantic Jumbotron video screens now taking up much of the real estate creating a dynamic and colourful vista on all the tall buildings.

This larger area around Times Square from 6th to 8th Avenue and from 40th to 53rd Street is known as the Theatre District where most of the Broadway theatres are located as well as many other theatres, movie theatres, music halls, restaurants, hotels and other entertainment outlets. This whole area just buzzes with peope and happenings and at night with all the neon lights on can be quite spectacular.

Our hotel was situated on West 49th street so we were right in the heart of this area and Times Square was a short 2-3 minute walk away.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

New York, New York

Recently I visited New York for the first time. This is a city I have been wanting to visit for a long time so with only 6 days it is difficult to decide what to do as there is so much to see and do in this city. Over the next week or so I will be showing some of my images captured during the visit.

This view is taken from the Manhattan Bridge and shows the Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground with the distinctive skyline of the Financial District of Manhattan Island in the background.

New York City has a population of over 8 million, the most populous city in USA, and comprises of five boroughs; Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Both New York state and New York City were named for the 17th Century Duke of York, James Stuart, the future James II and VII of England and Scotland.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Moorish Architecture of KL

This building is part of the administration headquarters of KTM Berhad next to the main KL railway station. The architecture exhibits classic moorish design.

Moorish architecture is the western term used to describe the articulated Islamic architecture of North Africa and Al-Andalus.  Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of theIberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims (given the generic name of Moors), at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries underwent constant with constant attacks from the Christian Kingdoms.

Friday, May 06, 2011


This bright and vivid yellow splash of colour seen in many of the fields in Scotland at this time of year is rapeseed which is grown for the production of canola oil.

Rapeseed (Brassica napus), also known as rape, oilseed rape, rapa, rappi, rapaseed (and in the case of one particular group of cultivars, canola) is a bright yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family). The name derives from the Latin for turnip, rāpa or rāpum, and is first recorded in English at the end of the 14th century. Older writers usually distinguished the turnip and rape by the adjectives round and long(-rooted) respectively. See also Brassica napobrassica, which may be considered a variety of Brassica napus. Some botanists include the closely related Brassica campestris within B. napus. Rapeseed was the third leading source of vegetable oil in the world in 2000.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Koninginnedag (Queen's Day), Amsterdam

I was in Amsterdam last week on 30th April and experienced the extraordinary, crazy and bizarre party atmosphere of the Queen's Day celebration. The streets in central Amsterdam are all blocked off to traffic, that means no cars, no taxis, no trams and also no canal ferries. The streets are lined with stalls selling all manner of junk as well as a large variety of food and drink. The Dutch seem to focus very much on the latter activity and start drinking seriously from the early hours of the morning all through the day and into the evening. There are many small concerts and discos pumping out music all over adding to the party atmosphere. All in all it makes the Mardi Gras look like a children's tea party!
This video I took of some local musicians gives a small taste of the day's activities. I have other photos and video from some of the real crazy boat parties which I will post at a later date. I would love to find out who this duo are as the music they played was excellent .... anyone know who they are?
Koninginnedag or Queen's Day is a national holiday in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Celebrated on 30 April (or on the 29th if the 30th is a Sunday), Koninginnedag is the official birthday of Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands. Queen Beatrix's actual birthday is 31 January; 30 April was the birthday of her mother and predecessor, Juliana. The holiday remains as an April observance in honor of Juliana and in hopes of better weather than would be encountered in January. 
In recent years, Koninginnedag has become more and more of an open-air party, with many concerts and special events in public spaces, particularly in Amsterdam, with expected crowds of up to 800,000. A major concert is held on the Museumplein in Amsterdam. To aid visitors in returning home by train after the major events, outdoor events must end by 20.00 and the Museumplein show by 21.00.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Kalsang Friend's Corner

This small restaurant in Mussoorie, North India specialised in Tibetan, Chinese and Thai cuisine .... an interesting mix to say the least and have to admit I did not have the opportunity to try the delights of the restauarant. This part of India has many Tibetans and in hill towns such as Mussoorie you see them working as labourers or porters.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

New York Easter Parade

I was in New York recently and my final day was Easter Sunday where I was lucky enough to witness the annual Easter Parade along 5th Avenue. It was a wonderful spectacle of easter bonnets, some bizarre costumes and essentially a fun day out for everyone. A slideshow of the event can be seen here.

The Easter parade is an American cultural event consisting of a festive strolling procession on Easter Sunday. Typically, it is a somewhat informal and unorganized event, with or without religious significance. Persons participating in an Easter parade traditionally dress in new and fashionable clothing, particularly ladies' hats, and strive to impress others with their finery. The Easter parade is most closely associated with Fifth Avenue in New York City, but Easter parades are held in many other cities. Starting as a spontaneous event in the 1870s, the New York parade became increasingly popular into the mid-20th century—in 1947, it was estimated to draw over a million people. Its popularity has declined significantly, drawing only 30,000 in 2008.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Stupas of Borobudur

Following up from my previous post here is another view of the magnificent Borobudur complex close to Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia. These large bell-shape structures are known as stupas and some of them contain a statue of Buddha. A stupa is a mound-like structure containing relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship.

Borobudur is built as a single large stupa, and when viewed from above takes the form of a giant tantric Buddhist mandala, simultaneously representing the Buddhist cosmology and the nature of mind. The foundation is a square, approximately 118 meters (387 ft) on each side. It has nine platforms, of which the lower six are square and the upper three are circular. The upper platform features seventy-two small stupas surrounding one large central stupa. Each stupa is bell-shaped and pierced by numerous decorative openings. Statues of the Buddha sit inside the pierced enclosures.

Sunday, May 01, 2011


This buddha statue is situated at the Sri Sambuddhaloka Vihara temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Buddhism in Sri Lanka is primarily of the Theravada school, and constitutes the religious faith of about 70% of the population. According to traditional Sri Lankan chronicles (such as the Dipavamsa), Buddhism was introduced into Sri Lanka in the 2nd century BCE by Venerable Mahinda, the son of the Emperor Ashoka, during the reign of Sri Lanka's King Devanampiya Tissa. During this time, a sapling of the Bodhi Tree was brought to Sri Lanka and the first monasteries were established under the sponsorship of the Sri Lankan king. The Pali Canon, having previously been preserved as an oral tradition, was first committed to writing in Sri Lanka around 30 BCE.
Sri Lanka has the longest continuous history of Buddhism of any Buddhist nation, with the Sangha having existed in a largely unbroken lineage since its introduction in the 2nd century. During periods of decline, the Sri Lankan monastic lineage was revived through contact with Myanmar and Thailand. Periods of Mahayana influence, as well as official neglect under colonial rule, created great challenges for Theravada Buddhist institutions in Sri Lanka, but repeated revivals and resurgences - most recently in the 19th century CE - have kept the Theravada tradition alive for over 2,000 years.