When people talk about macro photography, they generally mean taking extreme close-up photos of an object. Typically, macro photography subjects tend to be flora or insects. This is hardly surprising though, because much finer details can be seen on these subjects through macro photography.

Photography purist define true macro photography as capturing an image where the subject is projected onto the camera’s sensor close to its actual size.

I’m not a purist when it comes to macro photography, and generally I define macro photography as extreme close-ups of the subject.

In August’s Digital Camera Magazine (Malaysian Edition), there’s a feature article about macro photography. A section of that article introduces macro photography of things you find in the kitchen.

I find this particular section interesting because I’ve never considered doing macro photography of things you can find indoors, let alone in the kitchen… so I decided to have a go at this!

Kitchen Macro - Gas Hood (by azmeen)

The humble gas hood supplies controlled flame for us to cook our food; be it gourmet dishes or even a packet of instant noodles. It largely remains under-appreciated even though it’s a vital equipment in the kitchen.

Kitchen Macro - Gas Knob (by azmeen)

An important partner to the gas hood is it’s control mechanism: the gas knob. It’s simple design belies the amazing texture on its surface. The finish has been worn through years of service, yet projects an abstract beauty I can’t put into words. Thanks to macro photography, I can now appreciate the years of service this knob has provided my family over that period (and hopefully many more).

Kitchen Macro - Ladle (by azmeen)

What’s the use of even the most modern kitchen equipment without cooking utensils… not much I would say. The most basic of utensils created by mankind to handle boiling hot liquids is the ladle. Its simple engineering belies the beauty of the materials used to construct it.

All of the shots I capture above was taken with my trusty Sony Alpha A200 paired with a Tamron 70-300 Di LD lens. The Tamron has a built in macro switch that allows for closer focusing distance from the 210-300 focal ranges.

As a budget lens (I bought mine for RM400 from a fellow Alphanatics.com forum member), it has produces decent quality images and I must say that it’s a purchase that gives good value for money.

Sometimes when you revisit a place close to your heart, you’ll get overwhelmed with emotions. Surprise and nostalgia are some of the things you’d felt.

A few days ago, I revisited such a place; the first Sekolah Agama (Malay for religious school) I went to. Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah is located within the compounds of Kebun Bunga DiRaja, also known as Istana Gardens.

Along with the two emotions I mentioned earlier… I was also saddened by the state of my alma mater. The school building still stood; but like many buildings in Johor Bahru, it is left decrepit.

The picture below shows what used to be the school canteen. I distinctly remember buying gula tarik (literal Malay translation is pulled candy; made from palm sugar) and kacang sambal (peanuts mixed with hot sauce) from this place.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Canteen (by azmeen)

After taking some photos of the canteen, I turned and faced the main school building itself. I barely contained the tears that began to swell my eyes… composed myself and took a photo of the rear facade.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - School Building (by azmeen)

Although it is technically the rear entrance of the school, it is the most often used by students. This is because it is nearest to the main road. For more than two years, this is the entrance that greeted me every afternoon from Sunday to Thursday.

During my time here, Johor was still observing the Friday to Saturday weekends.

As I stepped inside the unguarded compound, I immediately recalled the fun times I had in this place. It never occurred to me back then that this place is ancient… it was constructed in 1858!

As old as the building is, it’s architecture is simply breathtaking. This made me wonder why the authorities left the building to rot. Surely this place is worthy of being gazetted as a heritage site.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Broken Stairs (by azmeen)

I explored the place further and soon found the class I had studied in. The door has a broken panel but it still clung to its frame by the sturdy hinges.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Class Door (by azmeen)

I peeped inside and was greeted by an unfamiliar sense of emptiness. You see, during my days here this class can pack up to 40 students… it’s large compared to the classrooms of modern school buildings. I can still imagine my friends reading books and reciting Quranic verses in here… whatever happened to them? Do they know the state of our beloved school now?

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - This Used to be My Classroom (by azmeen)

As I continued my trek within the school compound, I wondered how long this building will last. I doubt that it would be demolished as technically, it’s still on royal palace grounds.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Classroom (by azmeen)

I might as well snap as many pictures of the place as I can… at the very least, I can share them with my wife and son. That’s when I decided that I absolutely must write something about Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah and post it on my blog.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah (by azmeen)

The picture below pretty much sums up the desolation of this place. Compare it to the thriving and healthy trees in the background.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah (by azmeen)

As I went full circle around the building, I came to a place that I’m unfamiliar with; the front entrance. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve always used the rear entrance to get to class. I couldn’t recall a time when I actually went to the front entrance. The gate was massive as you can see below:

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Front Gate (by azmeen)

As I wrapped up this visit, I took another picture of the rear section of my formerly glorious school. Just hoping that I can see it restored to its former glory in my lifetime.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Front (by azmeen)

If you love old architecture, you should give Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah a visit when you’re in JB. I have no idea how long the place would last… but looking at its current state, I don’t give it much hope.

It is near the car park entrance of Istana Gardens and is quite a popular spot for wedding photography. Check out Wikimapia for its exact location.

Singapore Zoo is located at Mandai and it is probably the only cageless Zoo in Asia (if not the world). This unique layout means that you get an “in your face” experience when viewing the animals. I visited the zoo last Saturday with my family.

I got to Singapore Zoo via a feeder van service set up just outside Ang Mo Kio MRT station. I think there’s no transport charges, you just pay for the tickets. You can view the rates here.

Alternatively, you can take a taxi ride from Woodlands Checkpoint to the zoo and it’ll cost you roughly S$7.00 (just under RM17).

Please continue reading this post to see pictures I’ve taken during this trip.

Singapore Zoo has the largest number of orang utans in captivity anywhere in the world. The most famous of which is Ah Meng, who unfortunately died last year (8 February 2008) aged just under 48 years old. Ah Meng’s memory is however kept very much alive throughout the zoo. There’s even a restaurant named after her.

Senior Orang Utan (by azmeen)

Orang Utans Huddling (by azmeen)

Young Orang Utan (by azmeen)

I particularly enjoyed observing the Proboscis Monkeys at the zoo. This is the best close up picture I got of one. The dark area at the top left corner is unfortunate, but I’m too lazy to edit it out 😛

Proboscis Monkey (by azmeen)

I saw this lemur hanging out near a holding rail being virtually free to roam as he please. This guy is right in front of my eyes and I could even touch him if not for the fact that I’m unsure if this is legal (Singapore being a fine country and all that). I then did the next best thing and took a photo instead.

Black & White Ruffed Lemur (by azmeen)

There was also a cute marmoset close by. Doesn’t he look adorable?

Marmoset (by azmeen)

There were also some dangerous animals that I would never dream of being close to let alone touch! This Komodo Dragon is one of those creatures.

Komodo Dragon (by azmeen)

We also saw some amazing cats on display. One particular shot I’m quite proud of is this portrait of a leopard.

Leopard (by azmeen)

There were also various shows put up by the zoo which adds to the enjoyment of the visit. One show that we got to watch in its entirety was the Rainforest Show. This photo was taken right after the show. My son totally enjoyed the chance to handle the snake!

My Family & The Rainforest Show Crew (by azmeen)

Singapore Zoo is a massive place to visit. We spent almost an entire day there and still felt like we spent way too little time to really absorb the place.

I’ve always enjoyed visiting zoos and this experience is definitely one of the better ones. If you do make a trip to Singapore, do not miss visiting Singapore Zoo! It is definitely worth the trip!

If you wish to see more photos during my trip, please check out this Flickr set of mine.

For the recent Chinese New Year holidays, I took a trip to KL (as usual whenever there’s a long break). Spent some time at KL Butterfly Park and took night trips to Putrajaya and KLCC.

Why am I mentioning this? Of course there’s an ulterior motive; I want to share some of the photos I took 🙂

On the first day of my arrival there, I hooked up with an Alphanatics forum member. It’s for business… I bought a Tamron 70-300 lens from him. It’s virtually unused, so I think I got a great deal for it.

The next day, I visited KL Butterfly Park. My last visit there was at least 20 years ago. The park is small but still a very good location to snap pictures of beautiful butterflies.

Blue Glassy Tiger

This is a Blue Glassy Tiger, sitting on a pretty much chomped up leaf.

Nymphalid Butterfly

A close-up of a Nymphalid butterfly on a hibiscus.

Unknown Butterfly Species (ID Appreciated!)

Two unknown butterfly species.

Unknown Insect Species (ID Appreciated!)

Yet another unknown butterfly perched on a leaf.

If you happen to know the names of the butterflies in the last two pictures above, please let me know.

All of the pictures above are taken with my new Tamron 70-300 Di LD; handheld! I did bring along my cheapo RM50 tripod but didn’t have the time to set it up to photograph the ever-moving butterflies.

Later that night, I took a trip to Putrajaya just to capture some night scenes. It was pretty disappointing as it rained not long after I parked my camera. The only picture worth showing from that night is the one below:

Putrajaya Bridge

The Wawasan Bridge at Night.

Since I was staying at my mom-in-law’s place in Cheras, a return to Putrajaya doesn’t seem worthwhile (tolls and all… how do you KL people survive?!). So two nights later, I decided to head down to KLCC and do some night photography of the twin towers.

Petronas Twin Towers @ KLCC

Petronas Twin Towers @ KLCC

Petronas Twin Towers @ KLCC

I’m quite pleased with how the pictures turned out. It makes me feel that the RM2k plus investment on my α200 is beginning to show results 😉

What do you think of the pictures? Comments and critiques always welcome.


My Brother’s Wedding

On Sunday, our family held a kenduri kahwin (wedding reception/banquet) for my brother, Azlan and my sister in law Fadila (yes they own blogs too… way too many if you ask me!).

Sensing the opportunity to get some hands on wedding photography experience, I got the green light from my parents to be the photographer for the event.

Bride and Groom Arrival

Bride and Groom Heading to Reception

The bride and groom arrives along with escorting entourage.

All smiles!

Smiling Bride and Groom

It’s smiles all around from Azlan and Fadila.

Flying flower petals: In your face!

Flower Petals Thrown at Bride and Groom

My grandma literally throwing flower petals at my brother and sister in law!

Time for food

Wedding Lunch

Also known as makan berdamai in Malay.

The happy couple

Bride, Groom and Flowers

Close up photo of Azlan and Fadila. This photo is taken after the event is almost over.

The happy couple (2)

Bride and Groom Posing at Garden

Full length photo of Azlan and Fadila.

What do you think of the pictures? Would you hire me to take your wedding photos?