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!

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Blooming in Green (Macro Photography)

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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)

The View Outside

It was a sunny Friday, and I was glad that the gloomy, mostly-rainy week was over. I headed back home after office hour was over. It was still bright outside and as I was about to go in my flat I saw the cloud overhead. I thought that it would make for a dramatic panorama so I whisked out my iPhone, opened AutoStitch and started taking pictures. This is the result after some editing in Camera+ (the ever magical ‘Clarity’ filter) and Snapseed (the usual tweaks: additional contrast, ambiance, saturation, dramatic filter and a bit of sharpening).

I’ve taken a similar photo back in January with my iPhone, with the same exact workflow. The sky was different back then as it was only late afternoon (unlike the above photo, which was taken early evening). The clouds were also different back then. The result was, of course, quite different.

Anyways, it’s weekend! Time to let go of all the stress and have fun. Hope you all have a blast!

Singapore Quarry

It was a blistering hot Sunday morning when we visited the quarry around last year’s April. My wife and I, along with some friends, were hiking Bukit Timah Nature Reserve that day before we got to the quarry. It was my first visit ever to the place and as it turned out there would be many more to come, as we often visited the place for a bit of a workout.

Somewhere along the hiking trail in the nature reserve there is a split in the path that allows you to go to Dairy Farm. From there, if you continue on towards the southwest you will get to the quarry, which was what we did that Sunday. It was late morning, and the sun was already high in the sky.

The former quarry is now a wetland, with a viewing platform for visitors to observe the local flora and fauna. They are not allowed to feed the fish though. Below the platform is a small lake, and in front of it stands a cliff where people probably used to mine minerals from. Various plants now grow on top and in the face of the cliff.

The Singapore Quarry. Click the photo above for a bigger version

While we were there to rest our legs and enjoy the view, I went out to the platform’s railing and decided to take a panorama photo. I took it using ‘Pano’, an iPhone panorama app that I often used before I found out about AutoStitch. The original photo looked a bit washed-out and the sky was over-exposed (it was a very sunny day). I used Camera+ to try and make the photo look better. I added ‘Clarity’ and applied the ‘Emo’ filter. The ‘Clarity’ scene option added sharpness and brought out the, err, clarity of the photo; while the ‘Emo’ filter added saturation to the green color in the photo. The sky was overblown, but the blooming effect is actually quite pleasant, at least for me.

After a year or so of living here in Singapore I’ve only visited the Quarry twice. The walk there can be tiring, not only because it is quite far from Dairy Farm, but also because the trail was out in the open with little protection from the scorching heat. There’s nothing much to see there, but at least I’ve managed to take this photo as a token of my visit there.

New Blog Header

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“Change it, please. It doesn’t look nice.”

That’s what the cook told me when she saw our blog’s header when I told her to check the latest post entry that I made regarding my trip to Batanes.

I agreed. It does look so-so. Actually, I’d been meaning to change it for quite awhile. It’s just that somehow I didn’t get around to it. So I asked her what photo should I use and she said, “Anything, as long as it’s not this one. Maybe the one you took when you were at the Helix?”

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The Helix bridge is a pedestrian bridge located between the Marina Bay Sands and the Marina Bay Floating Platform. Its shape was inspired by the shape of a DNA strain. I took it on a fine Sunday evening a few months back when I was feeling like going on a photo hunt.

I took quite a number of photos that night, but I personally like this one best.

For those of you who are into photography and would like to take a photo like this, these are a few pointers that will hopefully help you:

  1. Bring a tripod. Period. You have just got to use a tripod for long exposure photography like this.
  2. Set the ISO to a low setting, perhaps 100, so that your photo is squeaky clean (this one was taken at ISO 200).
  3. If you own a dSLR, bring a remote shutter release. This is to prevent camera shake that could happen when you press the shutter release button. If you don’t have a remote shutter release, use the timer function. Again, the idea is to prevent your hand accidentally shaking your camera when you press the shutter release button.
  4. Set a long exposure time (this photo was taken at 30 seconds). If you have a remote shutter release you can even set it to bulb (this is a setting where the shutter remains open as long as you keep the shutter button pressed). If you’re on a fully-featured point-and-shoot camera, I’m pretty sure it has a setting where you can set the shutter speed manually. The longer the shutter remains open, the brighter your photo will turn out to be.
  5. Set the aperture according to your need. f/8 should be fine (the Helix photo here was taken at f/11). If you want the ‘star’ shape of the light source (a lamp, for example) in the photo to have longer ‘hands’, open up the aperture a bit more. Just remember that opening up the aperture more might result in overexposure in some parts of the picture, especially where the light sources are. Try not to open up the aperture more than f/8.
  6. Try to experiment and find a good combination of aperture and shutter speed setting, especially if you find that the photo result is a bit too dark/too bright.

These are just the basics that I know, and to tell the truth I still don’t know much. However, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to take long exposure night photography. An entry-level dSLR (or maybe a fully-featured point-and-shooter), a tripod, and a decent wide-angle dSLR lens are enough for this. A bit of patience definitely helps as well.

I’m quite sure that even though you’re only beginning, as long as you follow these basics you’d be able to come up with a photo like the one above. So for those of you into photography, keep shooting.

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Anyways, there you are. A new header. Yay.

The cook even said that she liked it a lot better. Double yay.

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(P.S. I’ve changed the header for quite some time actually, but I decided to make a post just to, ummm, celebrate the occasion. And I want to get the ‘star’. What star, you ask? Well, you see, WordPress promised me to give another ‘star’ on my 20th post and this post is in a way just an excuse to get myself closer to that milestone 😀 Anyways, I sincerely hope the photography tips are useful so that this won’t just be ‘post number 18’)