Thursday, 30 August 2007



I am back in KL for a week, soft proofing the 512 odd pages for book. Coincidentally, tomorrow is Merdeka Day, the Malaysian day of Independence from Great Britain. The nation gained its independence from British Colonial Rule in 1957, so tomorrow is the 50th Golden Anniversary. The day will be commemorated with marching bands, cultural shows, and flypasts by fighter jets, with a symbolic re-enactment of the raising of the Malaysian flag, in Kuala Lumpur and the major cities across the nation.

Being an independent publisher with a small budget, I have to be on-hand to proof read and set the layout with my graphic designer. It is mind-numbing to go through each and every page to check for mistakes, make amendments etc. I don't envy the role of the proof reader!

The next step is to go through the digital proofs once more and then sign it off to print. Can't wait..! Now I can put my feet up for a few days and go teh tarik.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Lost in Translation ? Photo City Sagamihara 2007

  • アウトサイド・ルッキング・イン・クアラルンプール



2000年、写真集「Outside Looking in Kuala Lumpur」を発表。躍動的に発展を遂げるクアラルンプールの躍動感とともに、市内の中華街や街なかで繰り広げられる、住民の日常生活を克明に綴った A4版モノクロ写真集。Sympress社出版、Ee Sim Teo Machado共著。



Earlier this year, I received an email out of the blue from the organisers of Photo City Sagamihara, an annual photo festival held by the City of Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo. In it, it said that my work Outside Looking In - Kuala Lumpur (2000) was nominated and awarded the Asian prize in this year's festival to be held in October. I was asked if I could attend the Award presentation ceremony and also display 20 large prints from the series at the festival, in a concurrent photo-exhibition in the City Hall.

Initially, my disbelief took the better of me, and I did some background research into the festival (Wikipedia) and discovered some of the past notable Asian winners were from Vietnam and Thailand.

Well, several emails to and fro later with Kenji my contact from the organising committee, and having received my Visa to Japan in July, I will be off to Sagamihara to collect my first international award in October, and it will also be my first trip to the Land of the Rising Sun! I hope to blog about my trip and the experience later.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Now every one can take great photos!

We have all done point your camera at your loved one standing by a fantastic view, just as you press the shutter, some idiot walks in front of your camera and ruins your picture, or perhaps you were so busy watching the birdie or saying cheese, you failed to notice a telegraph pole sticking out from your subject's head,..and click..there, instant disfigurement, a ruined photo, another wasted opportunity, quick ! press delete or retake the photo, but the decisive moment is lost forever..or has it?

Well, there may be a fix for all these 'bad' photos for those using digital cameras around the corner soon, as the article below from BBC online elucidates. Photo-manipulation for the masses may be a reality, but frankly, unless it is a do-or-die photo, it's easier to re-take. Personally I do not see this as particularly useful for holiday snaps, which I think is what the developers of the program are aiming at.

Photo tool could fix bad images
By Mark Ward
Technology correspondent, BBC News website, San Diego

Stage two
This is the original image with a roof spoiling the view...
Digital photographers could soon be able to erase unwanted elements in photos by using tools that scan for similar images in online libraries.

Research teams have developed an algorithm that uses sites like Flickr to help discover light sources, camera position and composition in a photo.

Using this data the tools then search for objects, such as landscapes or cars, that match the original.

The teams aim to create image libraries that anyone can use to edit snaps.

Stage two
Stage one: The roof is isolated and the algorithm searches for similar scenes

James Hays and Alexei Efros from Carnegie Mellon University have developed an algorithm to help people who want to remove bits of photographs.

The parts being removed could be unsightly lorries in the snaps of the rural idyll where they took a holiday or even an old boyfriend or girlfriend they want to rub out from a photograph.

To find suitable matching elements, the research duo's algorithm looks through a database of 2.3 million images culled from Flickr.

"We search for other scenes that share as closely as possible the same semantic scene data," said Mr Hays, who has been showing off the project at the computer graphics conference Siggraph, in San Diego.

In this sense "semantic" means composition. So a snap of a lake in the foreground, hills in a band in the middle and sunset above has, as far as the algorithm is concerned, very different "semantics" to one of a city with a river running through it.

Stage three
Stage two: It compares photos online to find a matching scene

The broad-based analysis cuts out more than 99.9% of the images in the database, said Mr Hays. The algorithm then picks the closest 200 for further analysis.

Next the algorithm searches the 200 to see if they have elements, such as hillsides or even buildings, the right size and colours for the hole to be filled.

The useful parts of the 20 best scenes are then cropped, added to the image being edited so the best fit can be chosen.

Early tests of the algorithm show that only 30% of the images altered with it could be spotted, said Mr Hays.

The other approach aims to use net-based image libraries to create a clip-art of objects that, once inserted into a photograph, look convincing.

Stage four
Stage three: The finished picture has the roof removed and boats in a bay added

"We want to generate objects of high realism while keeping the ease of use of a clip art library," said Jean-Francois Lalonde of Carnegie Mellon University who led the research.

To generate its clip art for photographs the team has drawn on the net's Label Me library of images which has many objects, such as people, trees and cars, cut out and tagged by its users.

The challenge, said Mr Lalonde, was working out which images in the Label Me database will be useful and convincing when inserted into photographs.

The algorithm developed by Mr Lalonde and his colleagues at Carnegie Mellon and Microsoft Research analyses scenes to find out the orientation of objects and the sources of light in a scene.

"We use the height of the people in the image to estimate the height of the camera used to take the picture," he said.

The light sources in a scene are worked out by looking at the distribution of colour shades within three broad regions, ground, vertical planes and sky, in the image.

With knowledge about the position, pitch and height of the camera and light sources the algorithm then looks for images in the clip art database that were taken from similar positions and with similar pixel heights.

The group has created an interface for the database of photo clipart so people can pick which elements they want to add to a scene.