On Having Fun Doing Street Photography


Ever since I got my NEX 7 I have been doing a lot of street photography. The camera is small, thus easy to carry around. The angled viewfinder screen also allows me to take candid photos without the subjects barely noticing. Kind of hard to do when you have a huge dSLR aimed at them.

And the picture quality is just excellent.

One area in particular where I like to do street photography is in Singapore’s Chinatown area. The place is teeming with so many photo opportunities it’s dizzying. For example, there’s the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple with its frequent ceremonies and relic showcases. Behind the temple you will find a spot frequented by senior gentlemen with colorful personalities who like to play a form of Chinese chess. Nearby from these spots a colorful Hindu temple called the Sri Mariamman Temple can be found. And there are the alleyways. Plenty of alleyways with their own unique characters. And from the 2-3 times I visited the place I believe that I’m only scratching the surface in terms of all the photo opportunities the area offers.

I must confess that until recently I rarely do street photography, which at times would require one to warm up to your subjects. My naturally shy bearing, coupled with language barrier (people here mostly speak Hokkien which I know zilch about) would get in the way of my confidence in taking close ups of people. But I tried my best to blend in the background, not draw attention to myself, and take candid shots (have I mentioned how I love the angled screen viewfinder?). If any of the subjects notice I’d try putting on a smile, hoping that they were not too annoyed with my taking photos of them. We’ll see if a few more visits can embolden me further to interact with them.

Even though most of the time I tried to keep to myself, in almost all of my visits to Chinatown photographers would strike a conversation with me. All of them ang mo (this is the Singaporean’s term for caucasians). Then a lengthy discussions would ensue, mostly regarding the gears we have and great places to visit for photography in Singapore. I just find this kind of funny that instead of having conversations with my subjects I instead have conversations with fellow photographers.

I do, however, enjoy them.

As soon as I have a newer laptop I’ll be posting the photos I got (lame excuse, I know, but 24 MP is huge and my 2007 MacBook just couldn’t cut it anymore). In the mean time, I’ll still be visiting Chinatown often.

Sakura Roll

Take a look at this blog, and now tell me that is not the prettiest swiss roll that you’ve ever seen.

That’s why i immediately searched for online vendor to buy the picked sakura and sakura essence. Both vendors are located in Japan, so it only takes 1 week for me to get all the important stuff that i need for this beautiful recipe.

Now, since this is my first trial on making swiss roll, you have to forgive me on the not so smooth surface of the cake .

I use the sponge recipe from this site since this sponge cake is so soft and smooth in your mouth (I’ve tried to use this before for my mousse cake base)

Sponge Cake Recipe (makes 36 cm x 26 cm cake)

Things you need:

  • 4 eggs
  • 80 gr self raising flour
  • 100 gr sugar
  • 2 pinch of salt
  • 40 gr whipping cream (warm )
  • 1/2 tbs Sakura essence

Thing you need to do:

Preheat oven to 180 C. Line your pan with grease proof baking paper (put it nicely and fitted to the pan – if not you will get wrinkly result like mine :p).

Sift the flour and salt together ( i use self raising flour here since i want to avoid failure result due to over mixing).

Whisk the eggs till lighten, then add the sugar gradually. Whisk them till it forms thick fluffy ribbon.

Sprinkle the flour over the eggs and fold to combine. Take 1/2 cup of the mixture and mix it with the warm whipping cream and sakura essence.  Pour the batter back and fold it to combine.

Baked for 10-12 mins.

Note: Do not over mix the batter, you need to fold it gently :).


Things you need:

  • 80g unsalted butter, softened
  • 30g egg yolks
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 15g cake flour
  • 160ml milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean pod, seeds scraped
  • 15 gr picked cherry blossom
  • 15 gr cherry puree
  • 60g shiro-an (the recipe source is the same blog as this recipe, she has many great recipes 😉 )

Things you need to do:

Rinse off the salt on the pickled cherry blossoms, soak them in water for 3 hrs and pat dry with paper towels. place them on 1/2 side of the baking tray lined with baking paper.

Put softened butter in a bowl. In another bowl whisk together egg yolks, sugar, cake flour, milk and vanilla bean then whisk in the shiro-an.

Cook mixture on stove until thick then leave to cool over an ice water bath. Whisk butter until smooth then add in the above mixture in 2-3 additions.

Lastly add in the cherry puree into the mixture.

Note: originally i wanted to put cherry to top the filling but ended up putting the cherry puree all together which turn out just fine :D.

Putting it all together:

Spread a layer of filling onto cake, make it even with spatula then roll cake up starting from the end (without the sakura) using a sheet of parchment paper as a guide. Keep the cake rolled up and wrap it with parchment paper (tuck the sides of the paper in). Refrigerate cake for 30-60 mins until firm.

Wrinkly but still pretty

Travel Recollection: Kiyomizudera Temple, Kyoto

I had a slight mishap on the second day of our honeymoon/adventure in Kyoto. We were thinking of going around Tokyo by bicycle. The problem is, I only learned how to ride one recently. I was a nervous wreck, and after 10 minutes of trying to recall how to maintain my balance (and failing miserably), we cancelled our bike rentals and went on by bus instead. I guess it was not wise of me to insist on trying even though knowing that I was not comfortable enough.

Anyways, the morning’s mishap fortunately didn’t hamper our excitement one bit. Our trip to Fushimi Inari shrine on our first day in Kyoto has emboldened us to find more interesting places in Kyoto and maintained our excitement level very high for the entire duration of our stay (read: we were acting like chipmunks on caffeine most of the time). After a very short bus ride we arrived near an alleyway that led us to the entrance of one of Kyoto’s famous temple: Kiyomizudera.

The alleyway leading up to Kiyomizudera entrance

Common among many tourist attractions anywhere in the world, we saw a lot of souvenir shops along the sides of the alleyway leading up to the front gate of the temple complex. This area was actually quite lively and we actually spent quite some time window-shopping as there were a lot of interesting things like snacks, little trinkets, etc. Before wasting too much of the morning hours we reminded ourselves that our main destination for the morning was the temple and moved along. But of course we’d be revisiting the area again after we finished our temple sight-seeing. After all, shopping IS part of traveling, right? 🙂

The wooden stage

As soon as we entered the complex we arrived at a large wooden stage that jutted right out of its main hall. This particular place was quite the tourist flocking area. A lot of the visitors could be found here. Some were busy taking photos, and a lot of them were found sitting down on the steps between the main hall and the wooden stage. The massive stage seemed to be one of the temple’s main attraction. According to Wikipedia, it was a common practice during the Edo period to jump off from the stage 13 meters down to the ground under it. Apparently there was a saying that if a person survives the jump, he/she would have his/her wish granted. Well, I say that if their wishes were cracked skulls and broken bones I’m sure they got what they wanted. Such practice is, of course, prohibited nowadays.

Can you imagine how beautiful this place will look like during cherry blossom or in autumn?

Looking around at the foliage surrounding the temple the cook and I can only imagine how beautiful it would be during autumn, where the leaves would turn brown-red. If only we planned our honeymoon at least two weeks later… The place would probably look very beautiful as well during the spring cherry blossom season. A good excuse to visit the city again next time. Preferably with better timing.

Water from Otowa falls channeled by three bamboos with tourists taking a sip from any one of them. They say doing so will grant whatever wishes they have.

There was another main attraction of the temple complex right under where the wooden stage was located. It was a small waterfall which runs off from a nearby hill. This waterfall is from which the name of the temple was derived from (Kiyomizu = pure water). The waterfall itself is named ‘Otowa’. A lot of people lined up to drink the fall’s water (chanelled through 3 bamboo pipes). Legend said that drinking the water would grant the drinker his or her wishes. This is definitely safer than jumping off 13 meters down from a wooden stage. I sure am seeing a pattern here. Also, a lot of the people lining up for a drink were teenagers. Go figure.

Jishu Shrine

There were also smaller temple/shrine buildings surrounding the Kiyomizudera. One of them is called Jishu Shrine. A pair of so-called ‘love stones’ can be found within this shrine. The stones were placed about 6 meters apart. A lone visitor may try to walk from one stone to another with his or her eyes closed. If he or she could reach the other stone with eyes closed, it is said that they will find love, or true love. Try guessing from which age demographic most of the shrine’s visitors were that day.

Someone behind me?

In case you’re wondering, the temple also sells a lot of trinkets, souvenirs, and other wish-granting objects.

Kiyomizudera with Kyoto in the background

Exploring the whole temple complex did not take us long. Soon enough we found ourselves traversing the alley from where we came earlier (the alley’s called Matsubara-Dori). We discovered that the area leading to Kiyomizudera has a lot of other interconnected alleyways and lanes and it was famously known as the Higashiyama district. The district lies on the lower slope of Kyoto’s eastern mountains. We could see that it has some historic significance as almost all of the shops and buildings lining the alleyways were of traditional Japanese designs and were also decorated in a traditional manners. We also found many smaller shrines and temples in the district. This place sure invoked a certain nostalgic feel to it, and it’s highly recommended to visit this area if you happen to be traveling to Kyoto. Anyways, if you’re traveling to Kyoto then you know you’re looking for these things as Kyoto is a city well-known for its combination of the old and new Japan.

For more information on Kiyomizudera (and various interesting places all over Japan), go to Japan Guide’s website. They have tons of very useful information there. This is one of my go-to site when the wife and I were researching our trip to Kyoto.

Enjoy the photo gallery. Hope it will inspire you to visit Kyoto 🙂

Taking the Monday Off from Work


Personally, the best kind of holiday is the one where you’re the only one having it. And that’s exactly what I had yesterday. After dropping my wife off at the airport early in the morning (she’s on a week-long business trip to Tokyo, Japan… lucky her) and putting an ‘Out of Office’ notice in my Outlook, I decided to go out to Chinatown area and test drive my recently-acquired Sony NEX-7.

You probably heard that I managed to sell my Nikon D300. I used the extra cash to get myself this wonderful mirrorless camera from Sony. For those of you who don’t know what an insanely great this camera is, try reading reviews from sites such as dpreview.com and photographyblog.com. Unfortunately, Sony’s NEX series camera system suffers from meager selection of available native E-mount lenses (E-mount is Sony’s NEX lens system). It’s a great camera, however, if you have a collection of legacy lenses. I’m planning to get a Nikon lens adapter so that I could use my Nikon lenses on this camera.

The test drive was fun. It was easy to get myself used to shooting photos using this camera. The Tri-Navi system works wonderfully. After roughly 4 hours of street photography I came away generally impressed with the easy handling and great results. I was not that happy with the AF, but maybe that’s just because I got used to being pampered with my Nikon D3 lightning-fast AF.

I should just create a separate blog entry for the impression before I got carried away talking about this camera.

Anyways, I had a great time enjoying my Monday off from work. Aside from filling my SD card to the brim with photos I also got myself another Transformers figure (Generation Wheeljack, a classic character!) in one of the shops in Chinatown Square Center. Yeah, I just geeked out there.

That’s all for this aside. For now. I’m planning to post my impression of the Sony NEX-7 in a later blog. Here’s hoping that all of you are having a great start of the week so far!

The Sweet Bun

The Sweet Bun

It’s been a while from the last recipe posts, the busy office schedule and some cake orders took most of my time.

But here we go again, trying the latest stumbling result.

So I’ve been stumbling around to seek for more entremets recipes, but then I saw this recipe from one of my favorite blog: http://dailydelicious.blogspot.com/2008/05/sweet-blanc-sweet-bun-with-cream-cheese.html

I instantly fell in love with the pretty picture in the web and decided to make it right away.

The bun is sweet, soft and so delicate; I think this is one of my favorite bun recipes so far.

Things you need:


Ingredients A:

  • 210 g Bread Flour
  • 40 g Cake Flour
  • 6 g Instant Dried Yeast
  • 4 g Salt
  • 30 g Sugar

Ingredients B:

  • 63 g Plain Yogurt à I use vanilla yogurt instead (I think it is makes the bun sweeter)
  • 1 Egg
  • 13 g Condense Milk
  • 8 g Honey
  • 50cc  Water
  • 30 g Butter (soft)

Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp water

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 230 g Cream Cheese
  • 50 g Sugar
  • 80 g Plain Yogurt  (Vanilla yogurt)
  • 30 g Whipping Cream
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice
Things you need to do:

Make the filling

1. Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy in a bowl.

2. Pour the yoghurt into cream cheese mixture, beat to combine.

3. Pour the whipping cream and lemon juice into the mixture, mix well

4. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate until use.

Make the dough

Mix the (B) ingredients together.

Put the (A) ingredients in a bowl, whisk to combine, pour the (B) mixture into the bowl, and use large spoon or pastry scraper to mix everything together. When all the ingredients come together, put the butter in the bowl and rub until all butter is distributed, and kneads briefly to bring all the ingredients together

Take the dough out of the bowl and knead, until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic about 20 – 25 minutes (using hand).

Put the dough into a light buttered bowl. Let the dough rise in a warm place until double in size about 1 hour.

Gently press down the dough, then put the dough back into a light buttered bowl. Let the dough rise again in a warm place for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C, and butter the muffin pan. Take the dough out of the bowl. Gently press down the dough and cut the dough into 10 pieces (about 50 g/ piece). Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a circle, about 8 cm. then gently presses down the dough into the muffin pan to form a cup.

Cover the shaped dough; let rise until almost doubled in volume, about 30-40 minutes. Before baking, brush the dough with egg wash and pour the filling in.

Bake for 12 minutes.

When cool, place the strawberry on top and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Hello World! (And yeah, it’s been awhile)

Hello world!

It’s been awhile since I last put down a post here in this blog. Things have been pretty hectic for me at the office that I had to bring work home. Physically and mentally. Not a good thing, but something that I just have to deal with for the time being. Hopefully not for long period of time.

Still, not a good excuse for not updating the blog.

Anyways, managed to sell off my D300. It was the first dSLR I ever owned. I still have my D3 with me but I think I won’t be lugging that around like I used to anymore, especially when I want to travel. A tourist lugging a full-frame pro body camera sticks out like a sore thumb.

I’m planning to get a smaller but capable camera like the Sony NEX 7 with the money I got from selling the D300. But alas, all the stores in Singapore currently don’t have any stock left. Hopefully this situation changes soon. In the mean time, I’d like to also consider whether or not Olympus OM-D E-M5 (quite a mouthful!) is a worthy alternative.

But there’s a good news! The cook has started taking orders for some of the cake she made. And it made her really happy. The money isn’t much but I would think that it’s an acknowledgement that people (well, her office friends at least) like her cakes.

Anyways, enough about me and this sort-of-filler blog. I’ll put down some REAL post within this week (I hope!). In the mean time, enjoy another flower macro photo I took in Singapore’s Botanic Garden some time back. Have any comments/critiques? Just drop them at the comments section. I’ve only started doing macro photography recently, so I have a long ways to go. It’s definitely fun!

Blooming in Green (Macro Photography)


A macro photo that I took in Singapore Botanical Garden. I was in the Orchid Garden but ended up with this photo of a little white flower as the best of the bunch.

Some technical details regarding this shot:

Exposure: shot at f/8 with shutter speed of 1/60s and at ISO 200

Camera: Nikon D3

Lens: Nikkor Micro 105mm

Speedlight: SB-900 (on-camera)