On Assignment: the TBM breakthrough

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Today’s post is about a job I did at the start of January – the world’s premier maker of tunnel-boring machines, Herrenknecht (there are actually quite a surprising number) hired me to document the operation and breakthrough of their first variable-density boring machine*, which happened to be at work underneath Kuala Lumpur as part of the greater Klang Valley subway/ mass transit project. Up til this point, we have a pretty pathetic train system and monorail that doesn’t cover more than 3-4km; we don’t have a unified public transport system which combine with poor traffic management creates legendary jams**.

*Kuala Lumpur has a mix of rock and clay underneath it; you need a special machine to bore through both simultaneously – the machines for rock are too slow with clay and it also clogs the outlet ducting, and the machines for clay simply won’t cut rock.

**In the past, it has taken me up to 2 hours to travel the 1.5km from home to office at the wrong time. If you’re wondering why I didn’t just walk, try doing that in 35 C heat, 80+% humidity and the business suits that you’re expected to wear – not that clothes mean you’re any more or less competent at doing an office job…

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New workshop video: How To See, Ep.3: Penang now available!

It’s been a little while in the making, but we’re pleased to announce that How To See, Episode 3: Penang is now available!

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Photoessay: Borneo seascapes

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Following on from the previous post on my recent acquisition of a medium format digital system, I thought it’d be appropriate to share some of the results from the first serious shoot I used it for a little while back. I found that the system was much more sensitive to camera shake than expected; mirror lockup was an absolute necessity, though the Gitzo GT1542 carbon traveller and Arca-Swiss P0 head both performed very well and offered more than sufficient rigidity. (In hindsight, I should probably have bought the cup feet for the tripod to prevent it sinking into the mud though.) Though you can’t see it at this size, the frames with mirror lockup are distinctly crisper at the pixel level than those without.

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On Assignment: architecture by night

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Sometimes, one is given some pretty sweet assignments. Quite near the top of that list is a commission to photograph beautiful buildings by one of the country’s – arguably the world’s, too – leading architects with the rare thing of a completely open creative brief. This is the position I found myself in a couple of months ago, camera bag in one hand, Mother Of All (somewhat portable) Tripods in the other, and sheaf of permission letters and permits from Hijjas Kasturi Associates tucked away safe inside the camera bag just in case.

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Two new Malaysian workshops: 3 & 4 November 2012

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After the success of the last session in Kuala Lumpur (Making light, and Finding light) I’m pleased to announce another two new workshops for 3 and 4 November 2012:

The streets of Melaka: Saturday, 3 November 2012 (Melaka)
Intermediate street and travel photography techniques; from 10.30am to 7.30pm
All you need is a digital camera. Any camera; even a compact/ point and shoot is fine (bring it if you have one). I’ll show you how to see, how to translate that into an image, and how to make images where the equipment doesn’t matter – you’ll be liberated. The day concludes with an assessment of images and debrief.

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Introduction to Photoshop Workflow for Photographers: Sunday, 4 November 2012 (Kuala Lumpur)
With digital photography, shooting is just half of the story: the other half is in both how you shoot to make the most of the output of your camera to maximize image quality, and how you optimize those images afterwards. Photoshop doesn’t have to be intimidating or slow – I spend less than a minute per image on average, but each one is individually optimized. Bring along your problem/ difficult images or images from the day before. I’ll cover the entire basic desk workflow from assessing/ editing and sorting to adjustments and output. You’ll need a laptop with Photoshop CS3 or higher plus an editing tablet – I like the Wacom Intuos series. Note that you can use the trial version of Photoshop for 30 days before deciding if you want to buy it or not. But, once you see what it can do, it’s not a lot of money to spend when you consider that you use it on every image.

Each session is RM1,000 per person, or book both for RM1,800. Please note that payment is due on confirmation to reserve your place.

Please email mingthein2@gmail.com for bookings or information. Places are strictly limited for both sessions (max. 6 for Melaka, and max. 10 for Intro to Photoshop) in order for me to help you get the most out of the session. MT

Photoessay: In the pit lane at the Super Japan GT

Shot in 2011, from the pits during the Super Japan GT500/GT300 race at Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia. Had to make do with the 28-300 VR – which was extremely challenging for moving vehicles. Since I don’t regularly shoot wildlife or sport, I also don’t have any long fast glass. Still, an interesting experience. MT

Series shot with Nikon D700, D5100 and AFS 28-300/3.5-5.6 VR

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Photoessay: Reflections in glass

This building is one of the more interesting in downtown Kuala Lumpur – mainly because of its highly reflective mirrored glass surface that causes its character to change with the light; it blends into its surrounding environment by reflecting it, yet stands out because it doesn’t look anything like the surrounding windowless concrete shopping plazas. Coincidentally, it also contains the offices of Leica Malaysia. MT

Series shot with a Leica M9-P and Olympus Pen Mini E-PM1.

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Opening night of my joint exhibition with Jaeger Le-Coultre and Leica

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Last night was the grand opening party for my exhibition of fine art watch photography at Starhill Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Pending any unforeseen changes, the images should be up for the next month on the first (Adorn) floor, and were co-sponsored by Jaeger Le-Coultre and Leica. Some images from the launch party follow.

For my KL readers, I’ll also be on radio – a short interview – on Friday, 4th May at 1.45pm on BFM 88.9. For everybody else, there’s a podcast on bfm.my. MT

Sorry, no POTD today – was trying to rush these out for today’s post.

Some images courtesy KH Yeo (D700, 24/1.4) and myself (M9-P, 35/1.4 ASPH FLE).

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