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Photo of the Month - exploring the Story behind the Image...

Downtown City-Scape at Night

Downtown City-Scape at Night

Year: 2012, Month: January

Malaysia > Selangor > Kuala Lumpur

I spent quite a bit of the winter of 2011/12 in Kuala Lumpur, flat-sitting for a relation who was taking a break back in Europe. The period in one place gave me plenty of time to work on my huge backlog of travel photographs that needed careful sorting, selection, identifying, locating, and processing before they could be submitted to the agency that would sell them for me. I was able to borrow a 30 inch flat-screen monitor to plug my laptop into: this made a tremendous difference to my PhotoShop workflow and other aspects of picture processing.

The apartment was a little way out of the centre of Kuala Lumpur, and its location in the area known as Petaling Jaya benefitted me with the more airy aspect of a suburb, and a spendid view back to the downtown diaspora from my eyrie on the 27th floor. As you have probably guessed, this 'Photo of the Month' shows one of these views: the image that I would have at any time of the night simply by opening my eyes and looking out of the big bedroom windows.

I would guess that this particular long-exposure photo was taken fairly early in the evening, evidenced by the red and white streams of the blurred lights from cars, coming or going from the big city centre, though if truth be told, the roads were always busy no matter what the hour of the day or night happened to be: like many a metropolis in South-East Asia, Kuala Lumpur shares the name of the 'city that never sleeps'.

Beyond the highways are the darker skyscrapers of downtown 'KL'. Surprisingly, few are lit up at night, though one particularly tall one with a triangular top, just out of this particular view, uses its sides as a giant screen for projected TV many storeys high, so everyone in the area can catch up on their particular favorites in the world of Malaysian soap opera.

Beyond the office blocks, on the horizon of this photograph, can be seen two tall towers stretching into the night sky. On the left, more needle-like, is the 421m high 'Menara Maybank', a lofty spire that is KL's answer to the Seatle Space Needle or Auckland's Sky Tower. It is currently the world's fourth highest telecommunications tower, and contains a revolving restaurant and an observation deck. To the right of the 'Menara Maybank' in this photograph is one of the iconic Petronas Towers. Opened in 1998, this pair of twin identical towers rise 451.9m above the street level. At the time of their completion they were the tallest buildings in the world - now eclipsed by Taipei and Abu Dhabi. Still, Petronas Towers are well worth a visit, and visitors can go to the 41st-floor Skybridge, which connects the two towers at a modest 170m above street level. In case you were wondering why only one tower and no Skybridge is visible in this image, the answer is that from this particular vantage point, the two towers were exactly in a line with each other, so the nearer one is completely obscuring its brother tower.

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