29 April 2007

No more macro shots for a while ... I promise !

This is seriously turning more and more into a photoblog, which I don't mind. However, I know the current macro craze I'm in is probably getting tiresome.

I'm still trying to get a macro of the hibiscus while keeping the entire flower sharp. And not have the red become too overpowering as well !

So, this is the last macro post for a while. I'll turn to posting these photos in forums instead for some comments and critiques, which I appreciate from my small readership ! (Pelf & Angel -> note there's not going to be any inferences to imaginary readers as well !)

The flower appears to glow?

As usual, the haunt is my humble garden, and the ocassion - simply a beautiful morning.

Closeup details of a cactus.

The Tamron 90mm is turning into a really great investment !

This fly is about 5mm. But I can't get a good picture closer ... although it didn't move away when I approached, but the built in flash casts a shadow when the Tamron lens is fully extended at 1:1

Now, the next thing I'll need is probably an external speedlight ... perhaps the SB 600 ?

This was taken handheld, without any flash. I can't believe it turned out so well. The bee's about 5mm big.

Or maybe I need some closeup filters instead ?

26 April 2007

How far is 1 day?

I'm now back in the comfort of home, KL, after nearly 2 weeks on the road.

On Tuesday morning, along the drive from my hotel in Hanoi to the airport, while passing thru what must be one of the largest open air, on the highway market in the world, I thought to myself: "How far is 1 day?"

See, in the 24 hours from me leaving the comfortable Hanoi Opera Hilton, I would have been in 4 cities in 3 different countries, in 2 time zones. I would have seen Ho Chih Minh City, stopped over for a night of sleep in Kuala Lumpur, and dashed like mad to make a flight to Singapore.

So, how far is 1 day?

I have been blessed with a charmed life. I have a job which afford me travels, which had opened my eyes to a world I never imagined. My horizon is times what my parents could have imagined. This life has made it possible for my day to be 4 cities, 3 countries and 2 time zones far.

Yet, images of the market in Hanoi continue to replay in my mind. For those of you who've travelled to Hanoi before, there is a 4 lane road / highway which runs a short distance just outside the Old Quarters. If you travel along it during the daytime, it's just like any 4 lane road.

In the morning, just as day starts, it's a massive market. Vegetables, fruits and flowers trade hands as they are loaded from the river running in parallel to the road. The entire road is so congested, it was hard to see how vehicles like my taxi could pass through it.

These people, the ones who trade here, the ones who buy from this market, their day is not as far as my day. I imagine them toiling the land. I imagine the vendors to break their back peddling the goods in the Old Quarters. I imagine growers worry about the weather the next week, anxious to have their produce make the market. And I see them repeating the cycle. Again. And again. And again.

It's the same day we all have. It's just different how we spend that day.

I'm so glad I days like Tuesday to spend, tiring as it is.

22 April 2007

Thru a macro lens ...

One reason why I've bought a DSLR was that I've always wanted to do real macro shots. Some of my imaginary readers think I take good pictures of flowers, but honestly, they're more flukes.

Now, I'm not putting down the point and shoots, the normal digital cameras. I still hang on to my Nikon 7900, and for the price you pay, it does a lot. For most people, all the extra $$$ to get some of these pictures is just too much $$$, and I'd agree too.

A few years ago, a DSLR was more like a luxury item, not a camera Moz should be having.

However, after seeing the world through a macro lens on my D80, I'm not going back. It's a very different world you see through a macro lens. Even a little ant looks so much more different ...

Here's the first test shots using the Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 1:1 Macro lens on my D80. In the little confine I call my garden, I've had such a lot to photograph, it's amazing !

See that green circle? There are 3 tiny flowers there ... which looks like this under 1:1 magnification.

You just can't help but be amazed by what beauty even tiny flowers are.

And that seemingly insignificant weed?

Looks really good under 1:1 magnification, no?

I still am not very good at taking insects, etc. There's so much more to learn, and I'm sure the macro shots will get better with time.

I still get my exposures wrong all the time. The girlfriend, who's seen the rest of the pictures will agree. I go from totally overexposed to totally underexposed and a few more shots before getting it right. Good thing flowers don't complaint about posing for me !

19 April 2007

Pampering Moz

I don't often buy things on my travel. Although I pass through duty free all the time, and pass by shopping havens like Singapore or Bangkok often, I never really developed a habit of buying things.

However, I've recently developed what shutterbugs call NAS. No, it's not a disease lar ... also not a virus. It's Nikon Acquisition Syndrome.

For those you of who think your purchase is done after you get that expensive DSLR, think again. The 18-135 kit lens I got with the D80 is great, but it doesn't do macro. And you need a good bag. And a VR lens. And a speedlight. And circular polarising filters. And more memory. And cleaning kit. You get the idea now. It's an expensive hobby you can get into ...

Anyways, here I am in Singapore, and I finally took the opportunity to buy something here ...

The bags and lenses are generally cheaper in Singapore. So, you can guess what I bought, couldn't you?

The Lowepro Mikro Trekker 100 and the Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP 1:1 Macro lens.

One is a bag that costs more than double as much in KL. It's a Lowepro Mikro Trekker 100 - a camera bag small enough to travel light, and yet big enough to carry the D80 and a few lenses.

One's called the poor man's macro lens - the Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP 1:1 Macro . Forget the long, superflous name. It really means it's a medium focal length lens that's designed to work with Digital SLRs for Macro. 1:1 means it has a 1 time magnification ratio.

Now, someone tell me please, are there are good spots for me to peddle DVDs and start making some $$$ back?

Next stop: Vietnam and Singapore next week. I think I'll be seeing KLIA a lot ...

15 April 2007

On To Singapore

Flight delayed in KLIA.

Nice songs with some frozen coffee helps lift the mood.

Free Internet and chat with my sunshine lifts the mood even further !

Before I get whacked for these pics ... I have to say they're not taken with the D80.

11 April 2007

More Pics to Feast On

Place: Eye On Malaysia, Lake Titiwangsa, Malaysia
Time: Evening, last Sunday
Partner in Crime: The Girlfriend.

Equipment: Nikon D80 with 18-135 kit lens and tripod.

Click on the images to see a bigger picture.

It was really unplanned, and last minute, but I liked it anyways because it gave me the chance to work the long exposures and also to learn about the telephoto capabilities of the Nikon kit lens. Not too bad, I must say.

There's so much to learn ! I'm so new to the world of DSLR, and I'm still trying to understand the camera and be "one" with it.

Let me know what you guys think, ya ?

There was a crowd there, but I didn't feel like climbing into the Eye for some reason.

From here, it's more like a table fan instead.

The big wheels are hitting KLCC soon !!!! Run !!!

When they switched off the lights, the eye no longer looked like a table fan.

Nice view from here. Too bad there's like a few billion mosquitos that forced us away !

07 April 2007

Land of Serendipity and Tuk Tuks

Question: Where does the word Serendipity originate from?
Answer: Serendib, the ancient Persian name of Sri Lanka.

I'll bet you didn't know that. I'm quoting from the In Flight magazine of Sri Lankan Airways, Serendib.

I made a shortish visit to Sri Lanka, being there to meet some people and do a little bit of work. I'll be honest - there are initial jitters and worry, non more because of the security situation in that country. Go read up about LTTE or the Tamil Tigers if it interests you, but there's basically an internal terror organization that's fighting for a separate state in the north of Sri Lanka. And the fight between the government forces and the LTTE has flared up again recently, causing quite a bit of strive and suffering.

And you'd think the recent tsunami will teach people to make peace and be friendly to each other.

Due to work commitments as well as company advisory, I was sticking strictly between hotel and meetings, and didn't venture out on my own. I'd say this though: after what I saw there, I will venture out the next time.

So, what's Sri Lanka like, you ask me?

First of all there are just all these tuk-tuks. Yes ! I finally found another place with tuk-tuks that are called tuk-tuks (other than Bangkok). But the roads, while congested in the city, are much cleaner and quieter than in India. I remember telling myself on the way from the airport that it's just like visiting India, but without everyone honking at the same time. But they do drive like crazy people all the same. In my 3 days and 2 nights there, there are at least 5 heart stopping, brake busting moments, and 1 minor accident. It's hard not to notice the driving !

And next, there's all these low key, but obvious military presence. I'll be honest here - I didn't feel unsafe at all. However, if you're a Malaysian, and you're not used to a lot of soldiers behind sandbags with machine guns aimed and ready to engage, you could feel a little apprehensive. But I really didn't mind. Life goes on anyways ... and I'm back in one piece !

And then, there's the food. Sri Lankan food is non-vegetarian, and it's spicy. Take it from me, it's spicy. I had with me 3 other Indians and a native Sri Lankan most of the time when I was there. It's spicy for them as well. Take chili padi, and multiply spiciness by factor of 3 or 4. It's that spicy. But it's good for you when the weather is all hot.

What else ?

The people are friendly, and almost everyone speaks a degree or two of English, so you won't get all lost.

Tea is really nice, like they tell you it should be.

Clothes are really cheap if you want to shop (6 women tops, 5 men's shirts, 10 little girl's dresses - good quality material and make - for around RM100. Go beat that. One of my Indian colleagues did some shopping)

Weather is hot and humid, just like Malaysia. But Colombo is right next to the sea, so you get a sea breeze once in a while to help you out.

Currency is Rupee. Exchange rate is around 100 Rupees - RM 3.3

Malaysians don't require visas for tourism. Business visitors require a visa.

I saw Marina Mahathir in the hotel I was staying in !

I've had a very positive impression of Sri Lanka from this visit, and I'm sure if I get to visit again, I'll take some time off to explore Colombo and other parts of the country more.

02 April 2007

Off to Sri Lanka

Following the lull in travel that followed since Chinese New Year, some friends of mine got the impression that either I've switched to a non-travelling job, or the there's no more travelling required anymore.

Now, that's quite untrue.

I'm kicking off what appears to be quite a lot of travelling starting tomorrow: Sri Lanka.

I'm hoping fervently that Colombo will be a peaceful trip. I personally don't mind the trip, but I know loved ones who've voiced concerns about making this trip. As a result, it's a lot like a pit stop - in-and-out.

I'll go in, do the necessary, and get out. Until I know better, no sightseeing, and no detour. It'll be strictly between the hotel and the meetings.

Don't get me wrong though: I'm excited to be in Sri Lanka, and look forward to broadening my horizons. I always travel with an open mind. And even though this is a business trip, it doesn't remove the excitement one bit. I look forward to it, and for the sake of my loved ones, look forward to my return as well.

And further in the year, if things unfold the way it's meant to, there will be trips all around the region. Looks like the travel's gearing up again !

It's such an exciting time !!!