Author: Chai

I just finished my degree in Architecture. I'm always very curious about photography, so i took Photography as one of my elective subject during my degree in Architecture, and ever since then, I felt in love with photography, the more I learnt the more I liked it. Although that class only teaches me the very basic of photography, I try to gather and learn as much about photography through the all-mighty internet. Now after I graduated from my Architecture degree, did my internship, and some volunteering architectural work in some rural places, I felt that even when I'm doing architectural stuff but most of the time I was thinking about photography. So now after some time of thinking and deciding, my plan for now is to create a portfolio and try to apply for courses in photography.

The most unexpected northern light sighting.

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During our way back to Stockholm, we stopped by Sunsvall for a night. Sunsvall is further from the arctic circle compared to the Kiruna, Abisko, and Lofoten so we didn’t expect to be able to see the northern lights there.

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But we are wrong! After we checked in, we decided to go to the city center for our dinner, but when we got into our car, I saw the sky glowing green right above our heads.Then I realized it was the northern lights!

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We are all pumped up! we quickly googled a better location with less light pollution compared to our hotel,  we found a lake nearby and we drove there as fast as we could.

CMY_PHOTOGRAPHY-3The lake was frozen and surrounded by threes, it was a great location! When we got there the Northern light gets really intense and it was incredible to be able to see it up close, it was right above us, it was an epic experience for us! but after few minutes of northern light shooting, clouds started to came by and block our view. We are unprepared for the cold night and we headed back to our hotel.

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Our hotel is on top of a mountain, the view there is spectacular. It was quite late, all of my friends are going to bed, but I didn’t give up, I went outside and tried my luck on the northern lights. I was lucky, the sky cleared up and the aurora light show appears again, the weather and the strenght of the northern light was so great, I can see the light even on top of the city, where the light pollution is very high.

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After realizing how lucky I am, I quickly found a spot and point my camera straight up and started to take photos. When the northern lights are right above you, it is a lot more beautiful then looking at them in a distance, it was surreal!

CMY_PHOTOGRAPHY-6And this is where I got  my favorite northern light photos, the Angel.

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My first Northern Lights Encounter!

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This is the first aurora photographs I took during my trip to Sweden and Norway last December. This is some where near Kiruna, Sweden. Kiruna is well snowed for their northern lights , but we worried about the light pollution there thus we found a place close enough for us to drive to Kiruna easily. So for few days we stayed on an Island in a big frozen river, Arctic Island Camp. During our first night there, even though we are very tired, we still went out to try our luck for the auroras. When we reach the frozen river, we saw some green light on the far horizon to our north, we quickly set up our tripod and camera to take a test shot, and we got it. The photographs above is shot with a Samyang 14mm f2.8 lens  at, ISO2000, F2.8 and 25second exposure. We are so happy and exited, we quickly ran out more into the frozen river as our view of the aurora is blocked by the threes on our left.

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We arrived at a open area to shoot the northern lights. The sky is very clear that time, its around 5pm then. You can see the Big Dipper  clearly above the long streak of northern lights. Although the northern lights are usually shot with a wide angle lens, I decided to change to a longer lens for it, because its so far away.

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The ‘R’, I got this shot with my canon 70-200 f4 L IS , normally it is better to shoot the northern lights with a faster shutter speed for detailed light streaks, but since my lens’s biggest aperture is F4, and my ISO is already at 2500, i still need a 10second exposure for this.

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After that, the northern lights grew bigger, and I changed back to my wide angle lens. You can see the Big Dipper on this photo too. 🙂

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After almost an our on the frozen river taking photographs, my toes are hurting very badly due do the cold. Big groups of clouds are also coming in blocking the lights. So we decided to call it a day and head back to get warm, but before that, we still did the all-time-cliche with long exposure – Light writings. 😛

 

Although the pain from my toes are immense, but it is all worth it!

 

Lofoten’s December

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During our visit to the Lofoten Islands last December, it was gloomy weather for the whole three days while we are there. In December, the islands are very quite, we hardly saw any other tourists. Although there are many activity you can’t do during the winter there, I still love the place, it is so beautiful! I just love how the winter turn everything into black and white.

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These panoramas are taken around Reine, one of the fishing village there. Reine is one of the bigger towns there, where you can find a patrol stations and some restaurant. (but during our visit there, all the restaurant are not open, and we have to eat at the patrol station most of the time.)

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It’s an incredible feeling taking photographs there, especially when its so peaceful and quite.

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The best advantage of a self-driving trip is that you can stop whenever you want, not only taking photographs at remote places, but you can also take a bathroom break whenever where-ever. 😛

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All these photographs are combination of several images. So they are actually very big, but due to the practicality of this blog i resized them, so it takes less storage capacity and easier to load for the viewers. Viewing the photos at these size don’t do them justice, i will definitely print them out big someday. 😀

Ice Hotel, Sweden.

During my recent trip to Sweden, I visited the famous Ice Hotel. The hotel is made out entirely with natural ice and snow. Since we are on a tight budget, we didn’t stay at the hotel, we went there and joined the guided tour.

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But unfortunately, we are there before the completion of the 2016 Ice Hotel, as they rebuild the hotel each year with different design submitted from designers around the world. The Ice Bar, Ice Church and some of the rooms are not yet ready. We are slightly late for the tour and we need to chase up the tour at the area where they carve all the ice. After that the guided brought us to the rooms and since the tour are too big, we are ask to walk around the room ourself and if a we had any question we can ask the guide ourself.

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The rooms are smaller then I expected, maybe its unfinished, but some of the design are really amazing. It is quite challenging trying to take photographs of all the rooms and there are large amount of tourist during my visit and getting a clean shot of the room means I need to be either faster then the other or wait until the crowed goes to the other room.

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Another challenging factor is the lightning condition in the rooms. I don’t have my tripod with my during the guided tour, and I need a smaller aperture to get everything in the room sharp. I used all kind of methods to be as steady as possible.

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The above design is one of my favorite! I am sorry I forget to note down the designer’s name for the rooms. I think you can get more info from their official website.

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The Snice (a combination of ice and snow) ice to build the hotel has a higher density than snow and therefore is a better insulated and it melts slower. No matter what is the temperature outside, the rooms are always between -3degree to -5degree. ( well thats still very cold ! )

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The idea of getting room designs from all around the world is very interesting! (Maybe I could submit a design next time. 😛 )

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I was very impressed by the cool rooms, but It’s a bit sad that I don’t get the chance to see the famous Ice bar and Ice Church.

 

 

 

Capitol Complex, Chandigarh, India.

Le Corbusier is one of the most celebrated architect of the 20th century. If you are working or studying in field related to architecture, you have definitely heard of his name. Now I am at his biggest creation of his life, Chandigarh – The City Beautiful, doing my final photographic project in commemoration of his 50th death anniversary. Le Corbusier designed the master plan for the new city of Chandigarh with his team back in 1951. He designed the Capitol Complex himself, the complex consist of three main buildings witch are the High Court, the Secretariat Buildings, and the Palace of Assembly. The Open Hand Monument and the Tower of Shadow are also within the complex.

Because of the sensitivity of those buildings, you will need to obtain the permissions to visit from the tourist information center just outside of the complex. The new Capitol Complex Walk program started on the 13th of April 2015, is a free guided tour for the buildings inside the Capitol Complex. From what I have gathered, there are almost no other way to attain permission to visit the Capitol Complex other then following the guided tour system. There are three time slot for the free tour which are at 10am, 12am, and 3pm. Please be there at least 5 minute before the tour start as they will need to make a photocopy of your IDs (bring your passport). You can also apply for the permission online, and you there can also see the rules and regulations for the tour. Here are some information and photos about my tour at the Capitol Complex (3pm time slot) .

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The first building the guide will bring you to is the High Court, which consist of the main Chief Justice Court and 8 other smaller courts that are named numerically. I was lucky enough to be allowed to enter the Chief Justice Court while there is a hearing, inside the court you can see the giant woolen tapestry designed by Le Corbusier.

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Then you will go through the 3 brightly colored vertical piers to the ramp.

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While you are walking up the ramp, you can see the Palace of Assembly from afar. In this photo you can see how small human are compared to the gigantic 60 feet tall piers.

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You will reach a small roof-like place after walking up the ramp. Here you can see the wear and tears the building suffered from aging.

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After that they will bring you down using the stairs and will head towards the Palace of Assembly.

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Few days before I saw lots of furniture piling up on the roof of the High Court, they are all in bad shape. But this time I saw theme moving them out, I asked the guide about this and he says that they are sending them to be repaired. I really hope they are really doing that and not just disposing them, it would be a waste.

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Normally the guide will bring you to the Open Hand Monument, but because the group spent too much time at the High Court we don’t have enough time to go there as the other buildings closes at 5. The Open Hand monument is a huge metal sculpture of the open hand symbol designed by Le Corbusier, the meaning of the symbol is ‘Open to give and open to receive.’

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There are a lot of renovation work going on during my visit. When you are walking from the high court to the Palace of Assembly, we will see the the Tower of Shadow and a couple more monumental symbols.

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This is the Palace of Assembly and here you can really feel the effect of the evaporative cooling by the huge water feature.

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You are allowed to visit the interior of the Palace of Assembly, but you will need to leave your cameras, phone, and bags at the entrance/reception. The architecture features inside the assembly building are really interesting, you can see how the light shine through the openings in beautiful ways designed by Le Corbusier. The most epic space in the building is the Punjab assembly hall, which situated inside the giant power-plant-cooling-tower inspired structure. There are no photography allowed inside the assembly building but I am still trying to get a permission for that. 😛

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After the visit to the Palace of Assembly, the guide will lead you to the last building of the tour, the Secretariat. The Secretariat building is the largest and the tallest of the three edifice in the Capitol Complex.

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The rectangular shape building are attached with a huge external concrete ramp at both of longer side. You can take photos around the buildings and on top of the building, the guide will take you up and you are not allowed to take photos inside the building.

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The free tour ends with a great view of the Capitol Complex and the city. The whole tour takes around 1 and a half hour to 2 hours, it was a very informative tour, be sure to leave a review back at the tourist information center (where you can cool off after the tour too). This is definitely a must-do if you are visiting Chandigarh!

Delft, a beautiful town.

Delft located between The Hague and Rotterdam. I visited Delft during my trip to the Netherlands. I was at Amsterdam at first with a couple of friends, then I planned to travel to Rotterdam on my own. I then found out that there is a nice second hand camera shop that recently move to Delft from Rotterdam, thus I decide to visit Delft and it is very convenient for me as you will pass by Delft if you travel to Rotterdam from Amsterdam by train.

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The small town is really beautiful, I was planning just to visit the camera shop, but ended up touring the place for the whole afternoon. 😀 I climbed up to the top of the New Church ( Nieuwe Kerk) to have a better look at the place. It was a though climb, I spent maybe 20minute climbing up a narrow spiral staircase with little openings. If I am any size bigger I would be sucked at many part of the tower. But it was totally worth the effort, the view from on top was amazing.

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There a market going on there, and I was lucky enough to have tried the famous Dutch delicacy- Raw Hearing sandwich. It is much better then I thought, as it was not a good sight when you see how they cut and prepare the fish. The taste and texture of the fish are bearable if you are a sashimi (japanese raw fish) eater, instead of wasabi the raw hearing was accompanied by diced inions.

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I was very happy that i visited the little beautiful town of Delft, and also I have gotten my hand on a couple of vintage camera gear from the nice camera shop there. 😀 if you are anywhere near The Hague or Rotterdam , do visit Delft. 😛

Wrapping up! My Iceland Journey.

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It has been some time since my journey in Iceland. I am always been a forgetful person, I always argue with my parents that they didn’t bring me to anywhere when I was younger but the reality is that they did but I have forgotten everything. It’s lucky that I got in touch with photography, it allows me to go back to the time I took the photo whenever I am looking at the photographs. And this is also why I like to write about my journey, it’s a very enjoyable to reassemble those fragments of memories from all my photographs.

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Iceland is a place that can be easily found in anyone’s to-go list. It’s beauty already spreader throughout the globe, but I went there prepared for disappointments.  As I have visited many place that let me down from the high expectations that got built up during the planning stage. This time I went there without any research on where I wanted to visit.

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A road trip with no idea what I will encounter next is just too awesome, furthermore it’s Iceland. One moment we are driving through a green lush canyon, next we are on our way up a dense foggy mountain with ice all around us. It was an epic experience to have a road trip like that, traveling easily through different terrains and weather condition.

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One of the epic place to visit in Iceland is the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Huge blocks of ice constantly break off the glacier, Breiðamerkurjökull, and large icebergs float on the lagoon. It’s amazing to see those massive peaces of ice clashing among each other near the exit of the lagoon. The color of the ice are also a beautiful bright teal even in a bad weather. It was raining during my visit, but me and my brother both agreed that the weather is perfect for that place, it created a more dramatic atmosphere.

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Another unique place to visit is the geothermal plant.The Kafla Power Station, you will pass through this power station if you are heading to the Kafla volcanic area, and everyone will drive through this pipe gate. The area around the power station are filled with pipes and giant golfball-like structures with steam coming out from them. We visited the tourist information centre in the power station, there they showed the process of how a geothermal power station work. It’s interesting information but the centre it’s very small, but do feel free to drop by for the free coffee inside. 😛

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Before we leave Iceland, we visited the famous Blue Lagoon. The main lagoon where people goes in are packed with tourist, and you will need to book the ticket online prior to your visit. Don’t book the ticket at the last moment as it might be fully booked, as everybody visit Iceland will basically go there. When we are there, it was very crowded, huge tour busses are constantly coming in with more people. After I experience chilling in the relaxing warm lagoon, I decided to get out before my brother to take some photo of the surrounding environment. I saw some smaller blue color lakes during our drive to the carpark, so I decide to do some exploration. Weirdly but fortunately there was just a few people there, the place was just outside of the main lagoon, but nobody seems to realize it. The landscape there are truly unique, weird alien rock formation with nothing but moss accompanied by weird blue lakes with white edges. If you ever go to the blue lagoon don’t forget to check out the surrounding, it’s a nice walk after a relaxing hot bath.

 

Here a short series of my photographs taken in Iceland. It will be in better quality in my website very soon. 😀 Do check them out with all my other work there.

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Blue Lagoon, Iceland.

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No that is not a Pterodactyl! Its  not a flying dinosaur in an alien landscape, it’s a pair of birds nesting in Iceland’s blue lagoon.

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After enjoying the warm bath in the blue lagoon, I came out fist to take some photos of the surroundings landscape. The environment there is truly unique, it is the weirdest place I have visited in my life.

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Me and my brother took a selfie with my camera on a tripod and using the 10second self timer. The different kind of landscapes you can see in Iceland is truly amazing, ranging from ice cap mountains, black sand desert, awesome cliffs and waterfalls to the blue lagoon, I don’t think you can see such variety in other part of the world. I really enjoyed the trip a lot.