31 March 2007

D80: A few more photos

With very little to do this morning, feeling lazy, and not having much to do, I decided to learn a bit more about my D80.

A few more shots to share with my 3 imaginary readers ...

My favorite subject: water lilies and lotus. Too bad my lotus and water lily plants don't always bloom at the same time. Anyone know how to make the lotus flower all year long?

I like how the background turns out fuzzy and soft.

The bees keep coming ... question is, where's the beehive ?

And my clothes line ... it's a small front yard ... there isn't a lot to photograph, you know ...

29 March 2007

And now ... to the next goal

March is the month I started to work. About 9 years ago, in late March, I took on my first job.

So many goals, expectations, hopes and wishes all rolled into my working life.

This month, I unexpectedly received some great news. About work.

When I was a young Moz, mum used to tell me that I should study hard. Once I have finished my studies, I would be able to chase my dreams. Make true what I wanted. What do you want, she always asked.

Being a young and naive Moz, I never knew the true meaning of money. Or how hard it is to earn. I just know that we never had enough. We weren't very well to do at all, you see. So, I always gave her the same answer: I want to make lots of money. I will earn so-and-so amount every month.

Ever the patient and loving mother, she would always smile at that answer. I'm not sure now if she was smiling because she thought I was naive, or whether she thought it was impossible.

Well, mum. I made that dream come true. The great news I told you folks earlier, that's me being informed I'm making so-and-so amount every month now.

I've never told anyone this, so I don't know why I'm telling the whole world now - I've never forgotten that goal, that dream. While I didn't mean it when I blurted it out as a child, I did make it a goal when I came out to work.

There wasn't any timelines. There wasn't any pressure. It was always meant to be a goal just beyond reach so that I'd always be chasing something. It keeps me alive that way. It keeps me hungry for more.

Granted, money doesn't buy happiness, but I'm pretty happy I'm here now. I have been so fortunate. I am so fortunate. I wonder why I even blurted out that it sucks to be me. It doesn't. I'm not the wealthiest person in the world, or even in my neighbourhood, but I'm not the poorest either. And even when if one day, all my material possessions are gone, I'd have my family's love. That means I'll never be poor. The love from my family is all that I need.

One other thing I've been taught when I was just a junior Moz: you never stop setting goals. Every mountain you've conquered just means there's another mountain, another valley, another river or ocean you have to conquer after that. Life is meant to be like that. There are no shortcuts.

I'm now setting myself another goal. I need it to keep myself alive and hungry. I hope somewhere in my lifetime, I'll so to it that I can reach this goal, so that I can set another. And this goal has nothing to do with money. It's all about family.

I love you, mum. I love you, dad. Because of both your unwavering support and understanding, it had been possible for me to get here. Now, sit back and enjoy life, while I get about to my next goal.

27 March 2007

Nikon D80: First Impressions

No longer sucks to be me. Happy Moz @ KLCC for photo shoot. Pic taken using D80 by The Girlfriend.

Public announcement: Since there are lots of photos, you may experience some delay in loading of pictures. My absolutely amazing lawyer advises me that you can try to sue me for this, but you are better off complaining to TM about Streamyx. And click on the photos to see a bigger, better version.

For the longest of time, it had been something I was thinking of at the back of my mind: getting a dSLR.

I thought for a long time - to get, or not to get. Being a Nikon fan, it was a choice between the D40 and D80. For those of you who don't know yet, there's the D40X which is coming out in April/May in Malaysia.

Addendum: D40X is a 10 Megapixel version of the D40X. Don't expect it at the same price, in the US, it costs at least USD200 more than the D40.

D80, and the bag. Definately a lot more luggage compared to the Nikon 7900 previously. Picture courtesy of The Girlfriend

At first, I settled for a D40, but when I had the chance to try the D40 and D80 out side by side, it was love at first sight for me. I immediately knew I had to have the D80. The D40 just wasn't going to cut it.

dSLR: To get or not to get?

I'm putting this ahead of my first impressions in response to some questions I've had. Some readers have been asking if a dSLR is a good investment, and wanted me to post pictures to see the quality for themselves.

DSLRs aren't for everyone. Let's face it: if you got something like a D40 for the same reasons Kenny Sia got his, it's all the wrong stuff. You're spending a lot of money for a very capable camera, and you're probably not going to use much of its capabilities. It might be useful when you want to impress girls. But you won't make any good use of it. It's almost like buying a Ferrari to drive on kampung dirt roads.

DSLRs are for people who tweak shutter speed and aperture, who understand what what is exposure compensation. It's for people who want to take a lot of control in how their picture turn out. I'll be honest - even I don't know what I'm supposed to do half the time. But I'm committed to learning it, and I've been doing a great deal of reading and research.

You can do this with your compact digital too.

If you think that having a DSLR would help you take better pictures, or that you will instantly become a great photographer, don't buy one. I have taken absolutely stunning pictures on my Nikon 7900 I'm not sure I can reproduce on this dSLR. Pictures are simply pictures - unless you know how to tease a good picture out of the dSLR, just owning the camera does you no good.

It's heavy. You need to buy lenses. Cleaning kits. Filters. Speedlights. Rings. It's a life long hobby that require a commitment to investment, both in material and in time. Just buying a D40 or D80 without adding lenses will do you no good. The macro shots I use to be able to do on my older Nikon 7900, will require a new macro lens. If you plan to have a decent set of lens and other gears while on the D80, count of spending at least RM 8000-9000 in total.

But are you able to also do this with that camera, and easily? Whenever you want? It's this level of control that separates compact digitals and dSLRs.

I have this colleague who uses a film camera without any special functions. And he takes the bestest ever black and white pictures. Goes to show what pictures you take has nothing to do with what camera you use.

And in case some people don't know yet - most dSLRs, including D40 and D80, don't allow you to compose a picture on the LCD - you use the viewfinder.

D80: First Impressions

I'll be clear here: I'm not a pro. I'm a beginner, a newbie to the world of dSLRs. I just figured out what aperture means. And I'm just getting the hang of changing shutter speeds to suit the light conditions.

Decorations in CoChine, Asia Heritage Row. f/5.6, 1/1.3 seconds. No flash.

As a result of that, I'm not using the word review in the title of this post. I'll call it my first impressions instead, because I don't think I have sufficient knowledge to do a review that'll do justice to the camera. And consistent with the newbie theme, my impressions are based on what a newbie would look out for, and not technical in nature.

How I use the camera
While I'm a newbie to the D80 and dSLR generally, I have decided I will only use the PASM modes (Program-Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority and Manual) for my photo shoots from now on.

Like most Chinese dinners in hotel, the first course is usually brought out to a dark room. f/5, 1/8 s

I use the kit lens, without external flash, and for the night shots, a tripod, because I have very unsteady hands. I believe an investment in a VR lens will be good for someone with hands as unsteady as mine.

D80 is a great, responsive, camera. It fits well in my hands, and all the buttons and dials appear to be placed well. By comparison against the Sony and the Canon DSLRS I have also tried, the handgrip appears to be the best.

Pretending to look like pro. You can't even imagine how tiring it can be to use this camera for a whole day ! Picture courtesy of The Girlfriend.

If you're used to a cute little compact digital camera, this one will shock you. But in overall terms, I think for a dSLR, it has a very good, compact size.

In terms of weight, with the kit lense (Nikkor ED 18-135/f3.5-5.6), the camera weighs around 600+ grams. It's heavy. My girlfriend held the camera to review the photos for just around 10 minutes, and she felt the strain. Those graduating from convenient compact digital cameras should note this. As for me, it weighed comfortably heavy - I wasn't quite strained, but I did notice the camera is there !

Delicious Nasi Lemak @ Madam Kwan's taken without any flash under pretty dim lighting. f/7.1, 1/25 s

There's a clear difference here between the D80 and the Nikon 7900 - responsiveness. With my old Nikon, I used to have moments when I pressed the shutter release, and it took almost a second or two to capture the shot.

The Girlfriend @ KLCC Park. f/5.6, 1/250 s

In this shot, I switched on the camera there and then, and just snapped while trying to keep the boy in the focus. The whole shooting, from the brain saying I need to take this pic, to the time I snapped the pic, probably lasted a good 1 second only. And no flash, although it was getting dark (notice lights in the background had been turned on already).

f/5.6, 1/30 s

D80 is ready to shot in less than 1 second. By the time I turned it on, I'm ready to take pictures before I can even put my eyes to the viewfinder. And when I click, it snaps. Instant - no delay, no feedback. Same with the autofocus - it's instant !

Low Light Conditions
Here's a picture I took at KLCC Park. No flash used, no lighting available except the bit from the picture itself. I took 5 different pictures with 5 different shutter speed settings. This one turned out best, and it's all great.

Using a longer shutter speed, and the biggest aperture I could get out of the lens. f/4, 1/10 s

I'd say the D80 is excellent under low light.

I noticed the D80 tends to underexpose pictures a bit, which is quite the contrary to what I discovered from Ken Rockwell. Maybe he and I have different opinions with regards to this. Anyways, the D80 is very customizable, and I use Vivid color settings, and boost the hue by 3 degrees. I leave exposure compensation to the default 0.

But just look at the details this camera can capture ! It's incredible - at the telephoto end, you definately need a tripod, but I doubt any compact digital camera would be able to create this image with ease ...

f/7.1, 2.5 s

Sample Pictures
Here are some other sample pictures from my photo trip to KLCC.

I like how the sky and the details in the foreground was captured.
f/3.5, 1/100 s

f/3.8, 1/100 s

Most digital cameras would get this shot wrong - and would end up overexposing. I don't think this level of detail and control is possible. I had to try a few different shutter speed combination before getting this right.
f/4, 1s

24 March 2007

No longer sucks to be me ...

A week ago, it sucks to be me.

Now, it no longer sucks to be me. I'm so thankful for the support, and words of encouragement from both friends and bloggers alike. It makes me feel that I would never have to face a challenge alone.

Apologies to friends who hasn't heard from me, and bloggers whom I have neglected to leave comments at their blogs. This has been one of the most 'action packed' weeks I've gone through.

A week seems so short, but so many things can happen in that little span of time ...

I have so many things I want to blog, but I just don't have the energy and alertness. So, here's a real quick update:

  • Nikon D80. I have one now. =)
  • Car kena scratch in parking. Dunno who did it, but it's a white car. =(
  • Was in a 2hr 45min commute from home to KL. Someone, tell me KL isn't Bangkok. Yet.
  • Regional Conference for my company was in KL. Became a host, and had a generally great time. But damn busy, and tiring, doing a day job, and looking after other participants.
  • Got a great pay increment.
  • Former neighbour died ini car accident
  • Did first photo shoot with D80. Damn happy. But lots to learn.
  • In Sri Lanka next week ...

I'll blog more about some of these when I find the time. You could probably see from the list why my feelings are mixed right now.

But I'd like to just say this about my former neighbour who passed on:

I know we haven't been close for a long time now, but I still grieve your passing. All souls have a home. It's a place called heaven. And all souls in heaven have a place in hearts of people whom they have touched.

18 March 2007

Sux to be me ...

It sucks to be me.

12 March 2007

Streamyx lagi down

If it ain't down, it ain't Streamyx.

This is the second Streamyx downtime in less than a month. Patience is running thin.

Internet related leisure activities have been suspended pending resumption of proper Internet access from home. This means no blog hopping, no commenting, no blog reading, no new entries.

It sucks to be me.

And if Streamyx doesn't get fixed soon, it'll suck to be the TMNet Customer Service person answering my phone call.

07 March 2007

Proudly carbon Malaysian

This article raised a few questions in me ...

It says the in the article "We (Malaysia) rank 55 out of 56 nations assessed for efforts to mitigate global warming."

This is based on an index released by released by non-governmental groups Germanwatch and Climate Action Network-Europe, is based on data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and assessments by national experts and funded by Germany’s Economic Co-operation and Development Ministry.

I haven't read the index, and don't understand the mechanics of how the index was set up.

However, I predict denials by the authorities.

I'm sure they will question the index, and how the information is not accurate, or is not wholesome, or uses metrics that do not favor Malaysia. I'm sure that they will say that we're all ok, and the environment in Malaysia is great. I'm sure that they will tell us all we have lots of forests, and that everything is ok.

I guess I'll be pleasantly surprise if our leaders would actually say that they understand what the report says, and while they may not totally agree with where we stand in the index, they will work to improve our standing, because the environment is important, is worth protecting, regardless of where we end up in some index.

Sometimes, I'm not sure if the authorities see the point.

Malaysia has a part to play in mitigating climate change. We may have forests millions of years old, but we're really not helping the cause of the global effort in slowing, and hopefully, reversing climate change by continuing to do what we do. Having lots of forests doesn't give us the right to do environmentally damaging things.

The policies with regards to environment in Malaysia is unclear at best. Commercial interests continue to take top priority, relagating environmental concerns to the sidelines. It appears that the authorities view environmental protection as an irritation, more like a hurdle they need to clear instead of useful guidelines to adhere to in order to preserve our fragile environment.

Bakun, Tioman marina, Logging in Royal Belum, Development attempts in Sipadan, Over development in Redang, Over development in Cameron Highlands, Wetlands clearing in Sabah, Logging in Sabah and Sarawak. There are many examples.

Point in case is the constant sacrifice of forests for mega projects, housing, transportation infrastructure and plantations.

Adopting greener methods will push costs up. But these are monetary costs we are talking about. The environmental costs goes down. There are land clearing methods which are more environmentally friendly, for example, that can be adopted.

And as for transportation, we continue to keep building more and more roads instead of encouraging better public transportation. We are a nation that proudly churns out lots of National cars, but do we strictly ensure the National cars meet emission standards, for example?

We continue to develop without real regards or thought on the impact to the environment. Many large, mega projects continue to dominate the mind of the leaders. Do they really have the interest of the environment in their heart?

Even in terms of energy, we continue to rely on a lot of carbon fuel to supply our energy needs in Malaysia. Are we actively encouraging and pursuing renewable alternatives?

Climate change is global, but you don't need to travel to the Artic to feel the impact. Closer to home, our cities are already like mega heat traps. I'm sure no one calls Putrajaya a cool city to live in, literally. It's largely devoid of trees and greeneries that can cool the environment. When I first took my mum for a visit ... she commented that Putrajaya looked more like a desert town.

Even KL is getting hotter all the time.

But enough with the authorities. What about Malaysians at large? Are we actively playing a part in preserving our environment, or are we indirectly culpable?

By not making the environment a key concern, we are really, condoning the authorities' actions, aren't we? We let them off the hook. We allow them to get away without considering the environment.

I believe we have to make it clear that it is an important priority. While development must go on, while the country needs to forge ahead to remain competitive, we must believe we can do so without sacrificing our precious environmental treasures. We must ensure our leaders actively make the environment an important consideration in their decision making process.

And we can also make concious decisions to reduce carbon emissions in our daily lifes. Little things like using more efficient electrical appliances, switching off the lights when not required, using public transportation where possible and refraining from open burning.

Recently, the Australian government announced a decision to phase out incandescent filament bulbs, replacing them with energy saving light bulbs by 2010. If this can be implemented, it will potentially reduce carbon emissions by up to 4 million tonnes by 2012. Imagine a simple policy like this can save us all money and reduce environmental damage.

While alone, you and I have little power, together, as Malaysians, we each make a difference. Let's all start doing our own little bit to reduce environment damage.

After all, we don't own the world. We are just taking care of it for our children and their children.

05 March 2007

Tag: Six Things About Moz On The Move

My tag tormentor pal tagged me, and not for the first time too. Must be the lame post I did. Or is it?

This assignment is considerably easier than the previous, 70 question marathon. Don't give me that. Evar. Now, back to the tag ... I'm supposed to list 6 things about me that most people don't know of. I'm supposed to be good at making lists, and should have no problem completing this tag, says the tagger.

Let's give it a shot and see how this works out ... it's getting harder and harder to reveal things about myself and yet not reveal things about myself.

So, to make it easier for me to make this list, I'm giving it a theme: Moz on the move. I travel a bit for my work, and so, I guess it's easier for me to list things you don't know about me when I'm travelling. Or not.

  • I make a very unique drink everyday for myself when I'm in the office in KL. I mix Milo with a strong expresso brew, and then top it with low fat milk. No water added to keep the mix strong and smooth. I call it the Mozzichino. It's good !
  • I only sit on window seats for flights longer than 2 hours. Why? Because I like to look out at the sky. I actually go to the extent of making sure my travel agent reserves a window seat. And I always choose the side which is away from the sunshine, so I won't have to close the window, if I can help it.
  • I also love to photograph clouds when I'm flying. (see picture above)
  • Whenever I'm staying in hotels, I sleep without fully drawing the curtain. Time zone differences and long working hours, plus less than reliable wake up calls means it's a lot easier to just let the sun wake you up. Well, except when it rains. And it happened a few times before ... =(
  • Because I dislike packing and unpacking, I actually have 2 travel kits (1 for each suitcase) with a full set of toiletteries, over the counter medications and sewing kit, always placed in my travel suitcases. And each suitcase is also packed with a full business suit as well. I hate to pack and unpack mah ...

So ... there you go. Hope you've learnt something about me ...

I'm tagging applegal and infectioner. I want to know 6 things about the both of you that most people don't know of.