Mostly nature and photojournalism of amateur standard.

By: Amir Ridhwan

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Tuesday, 18-Dec-2007 16:54 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Nephila antipodiana

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It's been a while since I last updated this page. Now the street demo heat has settled down, I'm going back to nature macro. For the past few weeks I have been disturbed by the the fact that E-3 has finally hit the market. The group of E-3 users grows by the week and most of them have the 12-60mm SWD lens attached. Now, this is one power-packed dslr body. It is the ultimate nature macro dslr- articulating LV, in-body IS, low noise, 2x crop factor and can trigger remote flash. Macro will never be the same again. I am saving every penny I can spare so one day I can get my hands on this.

OK, here are some shots of Nephila antipodiana, one of the giant orb-weavers. Also known as the Batik orb-weaver, this 8-legged behemoth has a range from China to New Zealand. I have encountered them in Janda Baik and Bukit Tinggi while ikelah found one during his recent trip to Pulau Pinang.

The genus Nephila belongs to the family Tetraganthidae- the large jaw spiders. This family has some of the most colorful spiders in the animal kingdom, especially those from genera Nephila, Opadometa and Leucauge. The most distinguish feature of this family is the large jaw and small clustered eyes.

Nephilas are the largest of orb-weaving spiders. The females can have a body up to 2 inches long with legs that span up to 6 inches. The male however are much smaller, usually about 1/3 inch in body length. The N. antipodiana female is distinguished from other species of Nephila by the yellow spotted abdomen. Similar to N. pilipes, the web is large and has some slight golden stain.

Mating involveds the pedipalp which is the frontmost limb. It can be noted that the end of the limb is black and shaped like a boxing glove. The sperm is injected from the genital and collected by pedipalp before being transmitted to the female's genital which is at her bottom part, akin to most animals. Here is a sequence of N. antipodiana mating.

Sunday, 25-Nov-2007 15:33 Email | Share | | Bookmark
HINDRAF Rally 25 Nov 2007

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Oh yeah, another take at photojournalism! I was not as excited to go to this rally as I was with the BERSIH one. Actually I had no intention to go. But Boogey keep on calling me to tag along with him hence I agreed.

I arrived at about 930 and parked near the Petronas new hospital (?) at Jalan Tun Razak. I joined a crowd of Indians who parked there as well and walked with them toward the Tabung Haji building. During the walk I tried to have a chat with this one uncle but he seemed to be very reserved, probably thinking I am an SB. Well, can't blame him coz my gears were still in my bag.


The initial Tabung Haji crowd

At the Tabung Haji building there was a crowd of about a thousand, blocked by a few police officers. I took some shots and moved to the Ampang Park intersection where a more massive crowd gathered. At first it seems like there will not going to be much action and the FRU were put to a relatively relaxed state. Suddenly the crown uproared and marched towards the police barricade. FRU shields werre up. Action begins.

After about half an hour, some commotion started to rise. I suppose the crowd leader arrived and that inspired them. Action started when the crowd was making its was towards the British embassy where the path was blocked with FRU lines. As the crowd approach the line, FRU opened fire with water cannons and tear gas. The crowd retreated and somehow managed to throw a tear gas canister back to the FRU line.


Action started in front of Yow Chuan Plaza








Update: I submitted 3 photos from this series to reuters You Witness. Thank you to avercine who kindly informed me that they were showcased in the weekly selection.

Tuesday, 20-Nov-2007 14:04 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Amir and the King

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It seems that the BERSIH rally entry was a major blockbuster and received responses way more than my spider entries. Well, I am mostly a nature photographer yet I still enjoy other challenges such as shooting a public events, especially when FRUs are involved. Those who have been frequenting my site knows what I mean .

Ikelah said that I am too narrow scoped. It's about me focusing too much on macrophotography that I tend to neglect other areas such as street, landscape, events etc. Taking his advice on a positive note, I joined several walkabouts and photo outings which helped me a lot in improving my non-macro shots. Such positive outcomes are evident from my previous postings on human and events.

OK, I know that my babbling has gone a bit astray. Actually I want to share the shots taken at the open house of Cikgu Wan Fauzi recently where the King was the guest of honor. I was invited to become the official photographer representing the silat group in which the host is the de facto leader.

I have photographed the King before but has never been this close to him. Here are some shots I took during the event. It's late at night and I'm kind lazy to write further. Perhaps I'll add a bit of story later.

Saturday, 10-Nov-2007 14:53 Email | Share | | Bookmark
BERSIH mass gathering 10 November 2007

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I have been preparing for days for this event. This was one shooting outing that I am very excited about as I will get the chance at trying a bit on photojournalism. With some coaxing, I managed to bring Boogey along.

I got to know about this rally just a few days before it happen. This is what the rally is all about: a show of how Malaysians wants a fair election. That's it. So the idea was to mass at Dataran Merdeka at 3pm and march together to the palace to hand a memorandum to the King. But then, some other people got a different idea.

It was raining heavily at noon. I was caught in the rain and could not get close to the square. When I finally arrived at jalan TAR, I heard commotion coming from jalan Raja Laut. Apparently the FRU has already shot tear gas to disperse the crowd. Now, why would they do that? I rushed to the action area and took a spot at the foyer of one building (don't know what it was). It was still raining so I can only shoot under the foyer roof. A small crowd in yellow stood still at one street while the police force insisted that they disperse. The most they did was chanting something like, "Daulat Tuanku, Hidup Rakyat!"

And suddenly the FRU truck came showering the crowd with chemical water. That the heck? The crowd did nothing close to provoking the police. I have never seen a crowd as peaceful as this one. No one brought any weapon, political banner or even poster. They were more well-behaved than the NUBE picketing guys. These are simply a bunch of people wearing yellow shirts to follow some dudes handing a memorandom to the King. Yup, they were disrupting the traffic but so did the UMNO Youth when giving memorandum to the US embassy, and the Aman Malaysia rally led by Hishamuddin. And these BN-linked rallies has nothing to do with securing our own freedom. By the way, I think the UMNO general election is giving the KL folks quite a traffic congestion for several days. No one shot them with water canon or tear gas. Frankly speaking, I think the FRU just went overreacted. If KL traffic flow is so precious, we should have the FRU spraying on the Le Tour de Langkawi cyclists who cause nationwide jam every year.

Before I go any further, I would like to state that I am not a member of any political party. My personal ideology is so twisted that it fits with no existing party in Malaysia. I was there to witness the event and to document it. Basically I am trying to get a job as a photographer and hope this might help in my portfolio. So, I hope no one gets any funny idea about my involvement.

I was affected by the tear gas residue at Jalan Raja Laut. My eyes were irritated and I felt a slight nausea. I used my drinking water to clean my eyes and an elderly guy offered some salt to rub on my irritated skin so the tear gas effect wane away. After the crowd retreated, I moved to Dataran Merdeka when I rendezvoused with Boogey. There was no exciting activity there and we were wandering where the crowd went to. Then Boogey noted that there was a file of yellow shirts walking solemnly in the direction of Masjid Negara. We joined them and learned that they are going to the palace to witness the handing of the memorandum to the King.

It was a long walk in the rain but I really admire the will of the yellow shirt supporters. Thousands of them marching peacefully under the drizzling rain with no one making a havoc. Anyone witnessing this would have awed at their committment. Frankly I think the police force should feel shameful for harming them in a pre-emptive manner earlier. There were also a bunch of maroon shirts acting as marshalls to guide the crowd and control the traffic. I have to give a thumb up to this guys as they were very efficient in making sure that the march did as little inconviniece to the city traffic. It was very clear that the massive traffic congestion was due to the road block by the police, not chaos from the rally participants. See the photos on how the they coordinate the march.

Near the palace you can see people coming in from several directions to regroup near the palace gate. FRU trucks were already there with files of FRU units forming a blockade. Again, the crowd showed their integrity and behaved well until the delegation who handed the memorandum reappear from the palace gates. At this point, the rain had water droplets on my lens filter which I did not realize until much later.

Media reported that the crowd was at 40,000 strong. To take that 40,000 die hard supporter for fair election to turn up in the rain should be a good sign for a cleaner democracy in Malaysia. Although it is a small percentage of Malaysian population but taking in consideration the repeated threatening by the government through the mass media (which I don't read or watch. I got Astro) and the blockade done everywhere to stop people in yellow to enter KL, this is something everyone should take note. A sleeping giant is stirring in his cradle. Malaysia's political theatre is about to change.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim pleaded to the cop to be allowed to address the crowd. Cop said no. Anwar walked away. So, who said that the mass went against the police? Must be the news editors of some local media who sit on armchairs without being at the scene.

Today is Sunday and most of last night I have been thinking about the rally. What was I doing walking so far in the rain from Pertama Complex to Istana Negara (taking the long way, to avoid FRU blockade)? I risked my camera and hurt my right thigh. Well, I don't mind all those. To me, I feel honored to walk with thousands of people who risked their well-being in order to support the voice of democracy. It was truly a historical moment nonetheless, known only to those who was there to witness it.

I took a newspaper this morning and was furious at what was being reported. All the mainstream newspaper put the impression that the rally caused chaos and traffic congestion in the city. Mind you, it was the unnecessary police road blocks that caused the jam. Even hours after the crowd dispersed, the police still block the roads, perhaps in an attempt to put blame on the rally. If that was the case, the force should be shameful of employing such a cheap trick. Otherwise, we can easily judge their IQ level in making decisions.

Photos taken using Olympus E-500 with Zuiko 14-45mm f3.5-5.6 and Zuiko 40-150mm f3.5-4.5 kit lenses.

Here are Al-Jazeera interview clips with KJ, minister Nazri and a human rights lawyer. Must see these:

Tuesday, 30-Oct-2007 14:43 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Hari Raya Aidilfitri

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Though Raya was a couple of weeks back, it is still Syawal and I hope it's not too late to post shots taken during the celebration. I spent the Raya this year at my in-law's place in Batu Pahat. Since the leave is so short, I did not have the opportunity to go back to Kuantan to visit my father. I hope he's OK with that.

I arrived at Batu Pahat only the night before raya, taking the 9pm bus. After leaving office I went to buka puasa with 2 of my colleagues in a briyani shack some where along some hidden alleys in Bukit Bintang. Sorry, no photo of the briyani shack. Note: last week I went there to have another briyani shot but the shack was burned down.

The 1st day of Raya was quite tiring. I was exhausted from the journey and the long week at work. However I managed to get some time to go to Hutan Lipur Soga and hunt down some spiders.

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