Category Archives: Panoramas

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2007

The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur are the tallest twin towers in the world, and they were the tallest building in the world from 1988 to 2004.  The towers designed by Argentinian architect Caesar Pelli are in my opinion, one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen anywhere.

The towers sit in the grounds of KLCC park designed by the Brazilian landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx.  The KLCC park is an excellent example of intelligently designed public space.  The park is not only a lushly green and calm place to walk, it also has several children’s playgrounds and a large public aquarium.


Below the towers themselves is the Suria department store (one of the largest in Malaysia).


The Petronas Tower’s external metal surfaces gleam in the sunlight of the day and they sparkle like elaborate crystals at night. 


They are truly spectacular examples of beautiful architecture.


PS. I’ve started to put watermarks on my photos because those scumbags with “scraper sites” were using my pictures without authorisation or compensation.

Olympic Park Mangroves. Homebush, Sydney, NSW, Australia

I’ve just come home from cycling in Olympic Park in Homebush, with my friend Paul.

What a beautiful winter’s day!  It was 14°C (57°F), which is a good temperature to go cycling in.  Not too cold, not too hot, but just right.  On days like today, I can’t help but think about when I used to live in Canada, and how long and cold winters were there.  In comparison, what we have here in Sydney can hardly be called winter at all.

I love cycling around Olympic Park (it’s where many of the Olympic events were held in the year 2000), as there are 35kms (just under 22 miles) cycle paths in a reasonably natural setting considering its history.  Homebush Bay used to be a centre of heavy industry, and before the Olympics, it was nothing more than a toxic waste dump ground, set in a salt marsh.

Fortunately, the area was cleaned up, to make way for the Olympics.  Luckily, a lot of the land has been returned to its natural state.  It’s quite amazing to see scenes like the one below, so close to the city.

Mangroves at Olympic Park Sydney

Sydney Harbour at dusk. NSW, Australia

It’s quite easy when you live in Sydney to forget about how beautiful our harbour is and take it for granted. The greater metropolitan area of Sydney is a pretty big place covering 12,144 square kms (about 4,688 square miles) with a population of 4,254,900 and believe it or not, most of us don’t have harbor views from our homes. For many of us, going downtown is a time consuming drag that we tend to avoid in our leisure. The weather has been getting much cooler lately as winter approaches, which means there are far less tourists than usual around the Circular Quay area. So on the way to the theatre last night I took the opportunity to take these shots of Sydney Harbour.  It was enjoyable to walk around the waterfront without the summer crowds.

Circular Quay

The Sydney Opera still delights me every time I see it. It’s an amazing structure and it’s even more amazing that it was ever built when one considers how conservative Australia is at times. The large building to the right of the Opera House, known as, “The Toaster” is a testament to greed and poor taste combined with political short sightedness. How the Toaster was ever approved, when it was so universally denounced by the public, I’ll never know, but it seems such a bloody minded decision that I can’t help but feel that it has the stink of corruption about it.

Opera House and Toaster

And of course there is the Sydney Harbour Bridge, our beloved “coat hanger”.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Cycling at Olympic Park. Homebush Bay, Sydney, Australia

I went cycling with my friend Paul and his trusty birdy at Olympic park in Homebush last Thursday. 

 The beautiful thing about cycling at Homebush is that there are not only 35kms (just under 22 miles) of very nice cycle paths and restaurants; there is the spectacle of the stadium itself.

 Due to an advertising deal Stadium Australia has acquired the name “Telstra Stadium”.

 Most people I know here in Sydney just call it the Olympic Stadium.

During the Olympics two local comedians (Roy and HG) ran an hilarious TV show called “The Dream” at the end of the day, commenting on the day’s events. Roy and HG with the help of cartoonist Paul Newell had come up with an alternative to the “official Olympic Games mascots”, called “Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat”.


 Fatso was much more popular with most Sydney-siders than the bland official mascots and there is a likeness of him on top of a pole near the stadium.

La Cuesta Encantada (Hearst Castle) San Simeon, California, USA

La Cuesta Encantada, also nick-named “Hearst Castle” is an easy target of scorn. It’s a monument to the bowerbird tastes of the latter day carpetbagger, William Randolph Hearst. A cashed-up Hearst swept through a devastated cash strapped Europe after both world wars buying up decorative arts that caught his eye without much of a coherent plan of what to do with it all when he got back home. His only aim seemed to be to decorate his dream house, which was designed and being built (it was never finished) by the very capable Julia Morgan. Most of La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill) is of the “Mediterranean Revival” style with various other styles thrown in for good luck.


 It’s a sort of rich man’s pastiche of Disneyland meets Hollywood. The main building looks like a cross between a Mediterranean church and a Tyrolean Berghaus. The plethora of religious decoration on display almost leads one to think that Hearst was a devout man of Catholic faith. Apparently the only Catholic thing about Hearst was his taste. All the religious subject of the “art” was basically a manifestation of the fact that the church was the major arts patron in Europe for the last thousand years. All the great medieval and renaissance European artists did most of their work for the church, so as a consequence; most well made decoration of that time was religious in nature.


Part of me (the part that ignores the way Hearst behaved politically) can sympathize with Hearst and how he led his life. Why not build a dream house and decorate it to your own taste? Why not have huge dinners every night with the most interesting people of your age? What could be better than a good food and good company in salubrious surroundings?


 Hearst paid well and provided a lot of employment to the area around San Simeon. If I had the kind of money that Hearst did, I’d probably live in a similar way with the exception that I’d give a major chunk of the money away to charities like the Malambo Women’s Club and the Fred Hollows Foundation. I’d also commission new works by living artists rather that collect art from dead artists. It’s better in my mind to feed a living artist than a living art dealer.

If you are going to the west coast of the US, I recommend going to Hearst Castle just to see his swimming pools!


The Roman pool was used in the 1960 Kubrik movie Spartacus and it is the setting of the famous deleted “eating oysters” and “eating snails” scene which was used by Lawrence Olivier’s character Crassus as code for, sexual preference is a matter of taste rather than morality. It’s an amazing scene for it’s day and all the more bizzare for the fact that Tony Curtis delivers his lines with a Bronx accent.


The indoor pool under the main building is an Art Deco tour de force in gold and lapis lazuli cloured tiles.


The Brickpit Ring Walk. Homebush Bay, Sydney, Australia

Before the Sydney Olympics (best Olympics ever, don’tcha know?) in 2000, the Homebush Bay area was basically a toxic dump marshland that had been polluted for the past 100 years by various heavy industries.  Much of the site had to have the topsoil removed and it was going to be completely built over. Near the centre of the Olympic site is an old unused brick pit that had been used as a location for the third “Mad Max” movie “Beyond Thunderdome“. It turns out that the water filled brick pit was the habitat of an endangered species of frog, known as the Green and Golden Bell Frog (Litoria aurea). The presence of the rare frog led to the brick pit being preserved as a habitat for the frogs.  Now the brickpit isn’t the prettiest thing to have in the middle of an Olympic park so some money was thrown it’s way and an amazing ring walk was built in the middle of it.


The ring walk, designed by Durbach Block Architects,  is 550m (1800ft) in circumference and 18.5m (60ft) above the ground. The Ring Walk is truly a fantastic solution to preserving habitat whilst still allowing people to enjoy public space. It’s nice to see that our government is starting to realize that cities need to be “livable”. The whole Homebush Bay area is covered with cycling paths and I go cycling at there quite often with my wife, and friend Paul. The brickpit is one my favourite places in the whole of the Olympic park.


 My friend Paul is an aficionadao of technology (otherwise known as “shiny kit syndrome”) and as such he has the latest bright and shiny things, such as a beautifully made folding German bicycle called a “Birdy”.  Everytime I struggle to get my and my wife’s bike in and out of our car I’m jealous of how easily Paul assembles and disassembles his. All very civilised.

Paul and birdy

On a technical note the photos were taken with another of Paul’s shiny things, an I-mate JAMin telephone. Whilst the telephone doesn’t take as good photos as my camera, it had the advantage of being with us, as opposed to my camera, which was sitting at home.

Moraine Lake, Alberta, Canada

On the highways of Canada you will see rental camper vans with a picture similar to the one in this post, stuck to their rear ends as an advertisement. When I first saw these images I thought they were fake. I went to Moraine Lake and while I was parking in the parking lot, I had the opportunity to compare the rental camper van ads with the real thing. The ads were true to reality and the water is actually the same colour as in the photo.


Garden of the Gods and Royal Gorge, Colorado, USA 2006

Colorado has always conjured up grand vistas of natural beauty in my mind for as long as I can remember. So when my wife (Engogirl) was invited to speak at a computational fluid dynamics conference in Denver last year I jumped at the chance to go with her.

Once the conference was over we set off early in the morning and headed south to see the “Garden of the Gods” and Royal Gorge. Because of Engogirl’s profession as engineer we often go out of our way to look at large man made structures like dams and bridges. Royal Gorge caught our attention because it is billed as the “the highest suspension bridge in the world”. We had seen the Navajo bridge in Arizona the year before and that was spectacular so we thought we “must” see Royal Gorge near Cañon City.

 The “Garden of the Gods” lived up to its billing and we spent several pleasant hours walking among the unusual formations until about midday. Royal Gorge is about another fifty miles away (down Interstate 25 turning west along highway 50) from Colorado Springs.   We felt we were getting a little off the beaten track, as we turned down highway 50, the landscape flattened, becoming less interesting, less populated as the tourist traps turned cheesier and grew more numerous.

By the time we got to Royal Gorge we were really looking forward to seeing some spectacular scenery to make up for all the garish billboards that were the harbingers of the eyesores that we had passed by. When arrived at Royal Gorge we were confronted by a massive car park with what looked like a theme park at the end. We were a bit confused; we’d come to see a bridge, not some cheesy “family entertainment”.

We walked down the hill towards the entrance of the park and enquired as to where the bridge was. We were told it was inside of the park and to see it we would have to pay $23 each. I’d heard of “bait and switch” before but this was “bait and gouge”!  We just wanted to see the bridge.  The last thing we both wanted, was to go into a money extracting blender in the guise of an up market carnival. I used to work in the carnival and I’m so over, going on rides, like twenty years ago. The park and high ugly fencing obscured the view of the bridge in a calculated way. It was one of the most cynical and rapacious things that I’d ever come across. I would’ve been happy to pay $5 or $10 to walk across the bridge but I really resented being lured out into the middle of nowhere to be confronted by such avarice just to see a bridge. I was so furious I went up to the ticket box and told them how I felt and stormed off. As we were walking back up the hill we noticed a few people walking off to the right through some bushes on an empty lot. So we checked it out and sure enough there was a stone barrier and you could lean over it and crane your neck to see the bridge. Of course there were no signs indicating this vantage point.

Royal Gorge is as spectacular as the attached park is inappropriate.

Unreal clouds

I do a bit of design work for the web and one of the people I’ve done work for is an old friend John Chilton of Camel design

and Scenic Oasis

in Vancouver Canada. Part of John’s business is the renting out of painted back drops for the movie and advertising industry. There is always a concern that clouds in the backdrops look realistic. The funny thing is that quite often natural clouds can look very unnatural like the photo below.

The image is a composite of about four images that have been “stitched” together with Canon’s PhotoStitch. The photos were taken from my bedroom balcony in Febuary this year at sunset

Japanese housing design, preconception versus reality. Kyoto, Japan

Japan is often portrayed as a rich country that is obsessed with design. Some people would even have us believe that many Japanese live in beautifully designed houses set in Zen gardens.


Sure there is the very small minority who can afford to do so, but for vast majority in Japan, economic expediency causes them to live in very different surrounds.