Mat Zain Abdullah

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Zain Abdullah is a self-taught photographer and has about 20 years of experience as a serious amateur photographer. His photographic works have been published by local publications namely Spirit of Malaysia coffee table book, Advanced Images magazine, Senses of Malaysia magazine, KL The Guide as well as international publications such as Islamica magazine, Fah Thai (in-flight magazine of Bangkok Airways), Woodmanstern UK and National Geographic magazine under Your Shot section.

Besides his passion in photography he is also equally interested in architectural heritage. He once gave a talk to a group of heritage buffs entitled “The influence of Islamic Architecture on Colonial Buildings in Malaysia”. The slide can still be accessed at He was interviewed by the New Straits Times on his passion for architectural photography especially of heritage buildings. The interview was published in the New Straits Times dated 6 February 2017 in conjunction with the Federal Territory Day on 1 February. For his passion in architectural heritage he once served as a volunteer photographer for Badan Warisan Malaysia for 2 years (from 2014 to 2016).

He has been one of the judges for the photo contest organized by Perdana Leadership Foundation for the third times including the latest Merdeka Photo Contest with the theme of Malaysia United.

Judge’s Tips:

– Shape with light
Never shoot with the sun directly behind you. It creates boring, flat light on the subject. If you shoot with the light source to the side or behind the subject, you are able to shape with the light, creating a more interesting photo. Contrasting scene also accentuates the three-dimensionality of the subject.

– Framing
This is a technique to use when you want to draw attention to something in your photograph. By framing a scene or a subject, say with a window or an archway, you lead the viewer’s eye to the primary focal point.

– The Golden hour / The Magic Hour
Shoot portraits, architecture and landscapes at the golden hours — the light is softer and the colours are more vibrant. The golden hours are generally one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset, provided the weather is clear.

– Shutter speed
Being aware of your shutter speed means the difference between taking a blurry photo and a sharp photo. It all depends on what you are after. If you are shooting a sporting event or children running around in the backyard, you probably want your subjects to be in focus. To capture fast action, you will have to use a shutter speed over 1/500th of a second, if not 1/1000th to 1/2000th. On the opposite end of the scale, you might want to capture the long streaks of a car’s tail lights running through your shot. Therefore, you would change your camera’s shutter speed to a long exposure. This could be one second, ten seconds, or even longer.

– Keep it simple / Less is more
Don’t try to pack too many elements into your image; it will just end up looking messy. If you just include one or two points of interest, your audience won’t be confused at where they should be looking or what they should be looking at.