Some argue that the cameras in modern mobile phones are all you need to take a great shot nowadays, and I agree that when it comes to capturing those particular moments on the go they are ideal. However, as in any other art form, a good photographer needs a high end (yes, that means expensive) camera. I own a humble Canon PowerShot S5 IS 8.0MP digital camera with 12x optical zoom, which was a good model at the time I purchased it way back in 2007, and still fits the bill for my purposes. Most of the photos on this website have been shot using this camera.

In photography, I believe that the most important factors are three: contrast, colour and composition. Volumes have been written and will continue to be written on the subject; however these three factors will always be the main things to consider when shooting a photograph. Get the three right and you stand a fair chance of capturing that unforgettable moment exactly as it happened!

Then, when it fails – and sometimes it will – there comes technology to the rescue! The multitude of photo editing and retouching software available today can save the day. My favourite photo retouching app at the moment is PIXLR online photo editor (www.pixlr.com). It’s excellent and it’s free!

Below are some examples of my photo retouching work. Click on the images to toggle between the original and retouched versions.

You can view many more photos in the Travel section of my Gallery.



Music Writing

While I have a very strong passion for classical music it does not mean that I do not appreciate other musical genres. Classical just in particular, seems to trigger the technical side of my brain. Why? Who knows, it could be due to its somewhat stricter rules in form but as long as it is pleasing to the ear and provides food to my brain, I consider any kind of music to be good.

Instrument wise, my favourite is the organ. Dubbed “the king of instruments” by no one else other than Mozart (1756-1791), the organ provides so much versatility in its registration, timbre and polyphony that it truly feels like having an orchestra at hand.

When it comes to writing music, I firmly believe that it is by far better to fit music to text than the other way round. Thus, I do raise an eyebrow when I hear someone say that s/he wrote lyrics to some beautiful music. In my opinion, it takes considerable skill to fit words to music such that all the syllables fall into place. While some languages are more forgiving than others, both rhythm and pitch have an effect on the way a word is heard when sung. For example, the Latin word “omnium” (“óm-ni-um”, meaning “everything”) fits better to the rhythmic patterns ♩♪♩, ♪♪♩ or ♩♩♩ rather than ♪♩♩. Basically, the accented syllable gets the longest note or a note of equal duration to the rest of the syllables in the word, bar the last syllable. 

I mentioned Latin in particular since a few years back I went through a phase of motet writing, some MP3s of which can be found below. Full PDF scores are available on request to individuals or choirs wishing to perform any of the pieces.

Missa Brevis "Jubilate" (De Angelis)

SATB + organ

01. Kyrie

02. Gloria

03. Sanctus

04. Agnus Dei

Ave Maria

SATB + organ ad lib.

Christus Factus Est

SATB unaccompanied

The Schola Cantorum Jubilate, conducted by Marouska Attard, singing my "Christus Factus Est" at Melk Abbey, Austria, inside the Church dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. Filmed by  Citadel Video Communications.

Ecce Panis Angelorum

SATB + organ

Jubilate Deo

SATB unaccompanied

Nunc Dimittis

SATB unaccompanied

O Magnum Mysterium

TTBB unaccompanied

O Salutaris

SATB + organ

Surrexit Dominus

SATB + organ ad lib.

Tantum Ergo

SATB + organ



Resin and Flow Art

While Resin Art has been dubbed as “accidental art” by some, I am not sure I totally agree with this definition. It does take some skill to understand how to mix colours into the resin and how the resin itself behaves in different environmental conditions. When different coloured resin mixtures of varying densities are then brought together they produce what is called the Siqueiros effect (after artist David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) who first discovered this “accidental painting” technique in the 1930s). For the curious ones among you, you can visit here or here.

Most of my works remain unnamed as in the tradition of most abstract art, whilst others are christened as the resin cures. The emerging, organic patterns and fusion of colours often remind me of some natural form. This is how "Jupiter”, “Heart”, “Conception” and “Collision Course” were born.

Heart (2017)
Conception (2017)

Other works are planned in a series, usually based on a colour scheme or motif. For instance, “Orange” explores the different tones of red, yellow and earth colours while “Primaries” illustrate the versatility of the colour palette.

Primaries (2017)
Some interesting colour combinations

White - Burnt Umber - Red - Metallic Silver

White - Tutquoise - Magenta - Metallic Copper

White - Purple - Turqoise - Sun Yellow

Orange - Lemon Yellow - Quinacridone Magenta - Black

Red - Orange - Metallic Gold - Black

Cream - Dark Brown - Burnt Sienna - Metallic Turqoise

White - Navy Blue - Turqoise - Metallic Gold

Deep Red - Lemon Yellow - Metallic Copper - Black

White - Majestic Purple - Lavender - Sun Yellow

White - Red - Teal - Raw Umber

You can also download a PDF here, containing more examples.

Quoting from a short personal biography written about my resin art some time ago:

“Generally inspired by the colours and patterns found in the natural world as well as by the works of fellow artists and artisans, Mark’s work takes on a form of its own as he mixes acrylic paints, earth pigments and inks into art resin, together with carefully chosen additives that morph organically into a mesmerizing interfusion of colours and patterns.

Mark's work is a colourful spectacle that is a joy to behold. Movement, flow and intricate details beckon your gaze and never fail to keep your attention.”

For examples of my art, visit the Resin Art and Flow Art sections of the Gallery page.



3D Printing

I first heard about 3D printing at University. At that time it sounded to me like something out of a science fiction movie. However, as a concept, it resonated clearly, considering that a large chunk of engineering theory revolves around calculus. In particular, any complex 3D object can be “sliced” infinitesimally into a series of 2D planes to be analysed.

In reality, 3D printing does exactly that. You start with a design of a solid object, modelled in 3D space. The object is sliced into thin planes and reconstructed, layer on layer inside the 3D printer. This results in the ability to build complex forms in a wide range of materials.

There are two main types of 3D printers on the market: Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) and Stereolitography (SLA). In the former type,  a continuous filament of a thermoplastic material is fed from a reel, through a moving, heated extruder head. Molten material is forced out of the head's nozzle and is deposited on the growing workpiece. The latter is based on photoploymerisation, a process by which light causes chains of molecules to link, forming polymers. These polymers then make up the body of a three-dimensional solid. FFF 3D printers are more easily available due to their affordable investment and running costs. 

It was only recently that I came across an inexpensive FFF Chinese 3D printer on eBay (yes, sometimes I do suffer from compulsive buying... after all, engineers are known to be big spenders!).  Expecting the printer to work flawlessly straight out of the box was, now looking back, a little naïve. However, after investing over 100 hours and carrying out over 30 modifications, I have been able to achieve an output that matches the quality of a 3D printer that sells at 8 to 10 times the original purchase price. It has taken a lot of time and elbow grease to improve and refine, but in the end it was all worth the effort. In such situations, being an engineer can come handy :)

My FFF 3D Printer

Below is a list of the most important modifications I carried out on my 3D printer. They are listed in order of importance (most critical and effective first). All upgrades were designed to retro-fit the printer without the need to modify any part of the original structure. STL files are available to those interested in printing these improvements.

#1 - Extruder upgrade
This modification consists of a new X-axis extruder bracket, an E3D v6 and a silcone sock to fit the heating block. The silicone sock was moulded in pigmented RTV silicone in a 3D printed mould, and helps to maintain a constant temperture in the heating block.

#2 - Software controlled part cooling
This upgrade is in two parts: a 40mm mini PWM cooling fan wired to the mainboard to enable sofware controlled speed regulation and a cooling duct designed to blow air around the part.

#3 - Bowden tube filament feeder
As I gained experience, I wanted to go for this modification. The main advantage of the Bowden setup is the reduction in the weight of the printing head, enabling faster and more accurate motion. Moreover, the filament is pushed into the extruder rather than pulled into it, and somehow this proved to be quite beneficial.

#4 - Print bed upgrade
The print bed is surely one of the most critical components of a 3D printer, especially with respect to the first print layer. The photograph on the left shows, from top to bottom: a 5mm glass sheet, the heating PCB (turned upside down to have the heating track on top), a 2mm cork sheet and a 6mm aluminium plate. The bed is mounted on springs secured with Allen screws, adjustable from the top. Note also the stiffening strip on the front (there is also one at the back).

#5 - Z-axis upgrade
The low cost of the printer meant that several components were not of the best quality or design.. The Z-axis moved on threaded rods and I soon came to know about Z-banding. The modification is made up of two 4-start lead screws, shaft couplings and a specially designed part which decouples the Z-axis from the X-axis. The Z-axis guide rails and bearings were also stiffened to reduce unwanted play.

#6 - Y-axis upgrade
The printer structure frame is made out of plywood which buckles easily under tension. The idler pulley of the Y-axis toothed belt is mounted to the centre of the front plate while the Y-axis stepper motor is mounted to the rear plate. The tension in the belt (which needs to be considerably high) was crippling the structure, the belt losing tension in the process. Two 10mm stiffeners were thus design to improve the rigidity of the front and rear fixing plates.

#7 - X-axis belt tensioning system
Following proper tensioning of the X-axis toothed belt and after a couple of trial prints, I noticed that the X-axis idler pulley bracket was cracked. Therefore, I needed to re-design to bracket to withstand the increased tension. The photograph on the left also shows the X-axis idler carriage resting on the Z-axis anti-wobble coupling , effectively decoupling the X-axis from the Z-axis.

#8 - PCB cooling fan
A couple of days after starting to print in ABS with the heated bed set at a temperature of 100°C, the heated bed stopped heating. On close examination of the mainboard, I realised that the surface mounted, heated bed 15 Amp fuse was blown. I desoldered the burnt fuse and retrofitted a larger, 13 Amp fuse. The problem was solved and the printer kept going for around two months until one fine day the same area of the mainboard caught fire! Therefore, in order to have a permanent solution, I designed a bracket to hold a 40mm cooling fan constantly blowing air on the area prone to heating. Since then, I never encountered any issues and the mainboard runs cool.

#9 - Relocation of LCD screen
Following the installation of the Bowden tube filament feeder, it was necessary to move the LCD screen forward to create space for the Bowden tube to pass behind the screen. The new brackets were made to fit the Z-axis top fixing plates.

#10 - Installation of LED strip light
Sometimes, print times can take really long and the printer is made to work on night shift :) The LED strip light enables the user to see what's going on without switching on the lights of the room. A future project could incorporate a motion sensor on top of the light strip such that the light is switched on when the user approaches the printer.

#11 - Filament reel holder
The printer out of the box came with a stand-alone reel holder. The original spindle was used in conjunction with a newly designed bracket to clip onto the structure behind the power supply. This improvement reduces the overall printer footprint and ensures a constant distance to the Bowden motor.




3D printing has really opened a lot of opportunities for me with respect to the ability to create various artistic and functional designs. The possibilities are really endless.

Lithophanes have been around since around the later part of the 1820's and were first produced nearly at the same time in France, Germany, Prussia, and England. They were etched or molded in very thin translucent porcelain such that they can only be seen clearly when back lit with a light source.

3D printed lithophanes have been around for quite some time now and there are numerous sites on the internet that explain how these are designed and printed. Not very long ago, I had a go at the process and I must say that I was very happy with the end result. In my opinion, it is best to print lithophanes vertically (the plane of the lithophane needs to be perpendicular to the printing bed) such that the areas of varying thickness are not built by overlapping layers but rather by a profile. This process is slower than printing parallel to the printing bed, but the results are much better.

Moon Night Lamp Lithophane
Valletta Skyline Night Lamp Lithophane



Moulding and Casting

This was a painful – literally, physically painful – experience, but an excellent learning experience!

So... I was researching mould design and mould making on the internet when I stumbled across lifecasting. Basically, it’s the same thing as those tiny little kits available at art and craft shops to take an impression of your new baby’s little foot or palm. However, the casts I was presented with were by far more complex and more spectacular. For instance, you can produce personalised face casts, perfect-fitting prosthetic masks as used for theatrical performances and in the movies. The more I researched, the more I got intrigued, so guess what... I wanted to try!

I said to myself, why not try to cast a copy of my face? After reading a tiny bit about plaster of Paris online, I decided to mix myself a batch and get right to it. Seconds later I had smothered the plaster all over my face, making sure to include my goatee of course... After a few minutes the mix started to set and I quickly realised that things were not going to end well. I probably should have been a little more thorough with my research. First of all, the plaster mixture gets extremely hot (exothermic reaction) while setting. Secondly, it sticks to hair like crazy!!! My day ended with me scrapping and pulling the pieces of hardened plaster off my goatee. Ouch!

How to mix Plaster of Paris

The ideal ratio for a Plaster of Paris mixture is 2 parts Plaster of Paris powder to 1 part water.

1. Measure out the water in a mixing container. Cold water gives you a longer working time.

2. Sift the Plaster of Paris in another container.

3. Sprinkle the Plaster of Paris slowly into the water. Let it soak and hydrate for 1 minute.

4. Tap the sides of your mixing container to remove any air bubbles.

5. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute before pouring it into your mold.

So for my second attempt I went for a cast of my left hand. I used plaster on plaster (plaster mould, plaster cast) and the result came out really well. I still lost a few hairs in the process, but overall it was well worth the pain! :)

Mould of top of hand
Mould of bottom of hand
Halves strapped together
Top of thumb to close mould
Mould strapped and filled with liquid plaster
The finished project




Around the year 2000, whilst I sang in the choir at St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta, the face of an angel carved in stone used to capture my attention. Sunday upon Sunday, during the lengthy sermons of the 09:15 Solemn Mass, I sought solace in his facial features. So, one fine Sunday, I took a rough sketch of the face and later that afternoon embarked on a sculpting and model-making mission. Clay, plaster, craft knife, wooden sticks and wire loops all came together in an attempt to bring the angel to life. I had never tried my hand at modelling and sculpting before. After a lot of painstaking but rewarding effort, his face finally emerged! Although not a perfect copy of the original, it now reminds me of the first time I saw the original face those many years ago.

I revisited the project some 5 years later to provide a flat surface and a hanging point at the back. I then cast it in
silicone to make a mold so in theory I can now build an army of angels!

Lo-res photo of the original
Rough digitised sketch
Spray painted master copy
Silicone mould in support shell
The finished project



The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone is a black basalt stone, unearthed in 1799 by a soldier in Napoleon’s army. It is inscribed with three versions of a decree issued at Memphis, Egypt in 196 BC during the Ptolemaic dynasty on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The top and middle texts are in Ancient Egyptian using hieroglyphic script and Demotic script respectively, while the bottom is in Ancient Greek. As the decree has only minor differences between the three versions, the Rosetta Stone proved to be the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs. (source: Wikipedia). The stone was named after the small city of Rashid (previously Rosetta), just outside Alexandria, where it was found.

I had first heard about the Rosetta Stone during one of my History lessons at school. It was whilst I visited the British Museum in London around 1996 that I saw the actual stone and another weekend project came to mind. I shot several photographs of the three sections of text inscribed on the stone, turned them into negative, printed them on plastic cellulose sheets and made three silkscreen printing trays out of each of them. Then, I cast a large slab of plaster in the shape of the stone (obviously scaled down) and printed the three sections of the stone onto the slab. I finished it off with a thin layer of clear acrylic varnish which gives it a slightly shiny patina as it appears on the original.

Middle Section - Monochrome, high contrast
Middle Section - Monochrome, inverted for exposure on screen
Adding a thin layer of clear varnish for a polished effect
Detail of printed upper and middle sections (hieroglyphs and Demotic script)
The finished project