Kuala Lumpur Dataran Merdeka Skyline

Those following this blog for a while now will note I have been experimenting and posting panorama photos more since Lightroom 6 came up with panorama support. For landscapes, I have encountered many occasions where a panorama capture is just perfect to do the scene justice, and I accomplish it with the camera’s in-built panorama function. Results are great, but I just wasn’t quite satisfied they were only in jpegs and the dynamics and resolution of the images rather limiting if you want to work more with the images. This discouraged me from experimenting with the panorama format in earnest. The arrival of Lightroom 6 panorama stitching support changed all that for me, as with it I can now shoot multiple RAW images, select the sequence of images to be stitched with just a few mouse clicks and get rewarded with a RAW panorama file if all goes well – it’s really that simple! There is not much ‘panorama parameters’ to configure or can be configured, except for the ‘projection’ and ‘autocrop’ options, all else is automated. I have stitched 6-7 frames of 16 megapixels RAW files without problems, although the processing takes longer and longer as the number of frames go up.

Kuala Lumpur Dataran Merdeka Skyline

Now onto the photo … a view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline in the north east direction from Dataran Merdeka (Merdeka Square). The immediate foreground is the Dataran Merdeka, where the Union Jack flag was lowered and the Malayan flag hoisted for the first time at midnight on 31 August 1957. It was originally the cricket green of the Selangor Club (now Royal Selangor Club). Since then, Dataran Merdeka has been the usual venue for the annual Merdeka Parade (National Day Parade). Further afield is the prominent and well-known historical Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad, its “Mahomaten” architecture and facade is simply resplendent.  Completed in 1897, it was the center of governance and housed the entire Federated Malay States (FMS) administration then. In the backdrop of the Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad are a mix of highrise buildings constructed in the 70s and recent developments, from left to right are the Menara UAB (CIMB Bank signage), Menara OCBC, KL Tower, Menara Lee Rubber, Quill 6 (large HSBC signage), Bangunan HSBC, Wisma Hamzah Kwong Hing and just behind it, Menara Maybank (yellow Maybank signage). All of them nicely spaced to give a balanced backdrop to the Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad. Lovely!

It’s the Ramadan fasting month and the Tourism and Culture Ministry in collaboration with Kuala Lumpur City Hall has organised the Iftar@KL 2015 event over four weekends at the Dataran Merdeka. At last Sunday’s final event, I guesstimate there were thousands participating from the size of the crowd. While setting up for the shoot, I was thinking to myself how to care for the crowd’s movement while I shoot multiple frames and expect Lightroom to stitch them without problems. My plan was to minimise the quick movements as much as possible by lowering the shutter speed with an ND filter. I need not worry, for when the iftar prayer commenced at about 7.30pm, all activities came to a standstill with only the sound of prayer pervading the air. I took two sequence of shots, one during the prayer, the other right after, when folks started to help themselves to food and drink. I prefer the second sequence of shots as the sky turned bluer within the 10mins or so after the first sequence, and is the photo I have posted here. It is stitched from 5 frames shot with the Fujifilm X-E2 and XF 35mm lens. Not much movement captured, except for the little boy running about in the lower left foreground. The pelita (oil lamps on sticks in the foreground) is a traditional Malay culture, installed and lit around the house compound to signify the arrival of Hari Raya and to welcome home family members, relatives, friends and guests.

Subject permitting, I like shooting with the XF 35mm for panorama shots as it has very low lens distortion and is incredibly sharp, making it easier on the panorama stitching software. Important points to note are allowing sufficient image overlap between frames (typically 25% is sufficient for most cases) and maintaining a ‘fixed’ horizon across the frames while panning. A proper panorama panning kit consisting of a leveling base, panorama panning head and nodal slide plates would be ideal and make the task a lot easier, rather than fiddling and leveling the tripod ball head as you pan across, which is how I am doing it at present until I put my money down on a proper kit.

(merdeka = independence, bangunan = building, menara = tower, wisma = building)

Photo: Fujifilm X-E2 with XF 35mm panorama

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14 thoughts on “Kuala Lumpur Dataran Merdeka Skyline

  1. Wow! A beautiful photo and with such fine detail. I like the color and the crispness. You live such an interesting place and its nice to see the scenery thought your eyes (via your camera, of course). Ming Thein is from that same area, but I never get a sense of the KL from his images, as great as they are. A connection to the photographer’s world as seen through his/her photographs counts for so much more, in my opinion, than technical exactness. Good work!

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