Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bugis in B & W

I walked along Bugis Street and took some pictures of familiar sights in hope of improving my composition skills.

Eternal Smile!

Oblivious shoppers!

Full album here!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

More Macro on Insects outside my House

New insects spotted on my potted orchid plant outside my house.
Sadly, they left after camping there for a few days.

Should I have little bubble thoughts added into the picture?

It looks like it is in deep thought

I simple adore compound eyes!

After taking the pictures of the fly, I couldn't stop thinking about how can something so small be so detailed and how did it evolve to become the tiny fly it is now. I wonder in awe of how each and every micro-detail of the fly is there for a specific purpose.

Though I am not a believer, I find myself saying that I appreciate "His" creations.

We, humans, can create nanotechnology, produce silicon chips with micron precision... but look at the intricacy of the details of the smallest insects, we know we can never climb the Tower of Babel and be His equal.

Tip :

My preferred aperture for sharper macro shots is at f16. I was using f11 previously as recommended by many experienced macro photographers but the Depth-Of-Field (DOF) was too shallow for me to appreciate.

To prevent underexposure and shutter shadows, I now use a shutter of 1/125 or 1/160 instead of 1/200 and 1/250.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

China Yun Nam trip Day 5 Lijiang 17 Nov 2010

On the 5th day of our trip in Lijiang, we visited a cultural village showcasing the customs and religion of the Nakhi tribe.

The religion the Nakhi tribe practice is the Dongba (东巴)religion, which have its roots from Tibet. According to what the tourguide described, it seemed to be a way of life rather than a religion. It also contains its own set of language (Dongba Script) which has over a thousand glyphs and characters.

After visiting the cultural village, we zoomed to Blue Moon Valley (), it is a water feature and a nice spot to take pictures.. However, the crowd was too much to handle and we didn't get a good picture and worst of all, we had to spend a lot of time queuing for the mini bus ride which had lots of rowdy locals whom had no respect for orderly queuing. We left the valley with a bad aftertaste.

Isabel and Christine at 蓝月谷

Though there were several other places we visited in Lijiang after we left 蓝月谷, they did not leave much impression. The rest of the day was somewhat ruined after our bad experience with the locals at 蓝月谷.. Or perhaps it was due to the tourguide rushing us with the worry of us being late for the cultural show later on.

Our guide practically gave us little time for each tourist attraction on day 5 because we were booked for a 2pm cultural show "IMPRESSION LIJIANG" that was directed by Zhang Yi Mou (张艺谋), aka famous Director of "HERO" and "China Olympics 2008 opening ceremony".

Sitting in the open at high noon was no joke. Lijiang is 2400 meters above sea level and that also means that we are 2400 meters nearer to the sun. The heat was awful due to the strong sun, even in winter. We have to bear the sun to watch the show for about 45mins.

After the show, we can also purchase a copy of the show on DVD.. Fortunately, we did not buy..

I recall visiting the Black Dragon Pool (黑龙潭) after the show. But it's all starting to get hazy now.. I better complete the rest of this travel log asap.

黑龙潭 aka Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang

See the rest of the pics for day 5 here!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

China Yun Nam trip Day 4 Dali & Lijiang 16 Nov 2010

On the morning of our 4th day in China, we were on our last day in Dali and we visited the famous Chongsheng Temple with the historic 3 Pagodas.

In the olden China, Dali was a kingdom (Dali Kingdom) aka the "Nanzhao Dynasty", ruled by for 22 generations by the "Duan's". Buddhism was the state religion and 10 out of its 22 kings had given up their throne during their time to become buddhist monks. And the 3 pagodas were the place where these kings gave up their imperial lifestyle and ordained as monks. Much of the temple were destroyed by wars and natural disasters and only the 3 pagodas were the original buildings that was relatively intact throughout the years.

After visiting Chongsheng Temple, we left Dali and headed to Lijiang.

The first stop at Lijiang was the old town center, where it is now listed as a Unesco World Heritage site. This town center was the distribution site for merchants whom travelled the Ancient Tea Route or literally translated from Mandarin, the "Tea Horse Old Route" (茶马古道). According to history, China merchants travelled far and wide to trade tea with neighbouring countries and Lijiang was one of the prominent stopover place along their trade route. This famous "Tea Horse Old Route" was supposedly to have equal historical importance to the "Silk Road".

The native minority there is known as the Nakhi tribe (納西族). The Nakhi tribe have their origins from the foothils of the Himalayas. They are very musically inclined and we saw our local Nakhi tour guide singing most of the time while describing sights along the way! Again, we are taught how to address the local men and women. We have to address the local ladies as "Fat Golden Sister" () and the local men as "Fat Black Brother" (哥).

As to why the locals address each other as fat and dark is because in Lijiang, it is not easy to find a rotound local because of the tough environment and climate. And in Lijiang, big is beautiful.

No wonder I get all kinds of sheepish stares from the local ladies... hehe..

Back to the Nakhi tribe, during the days of the tea trading times, most of the goods were carried by horses by the merchants and the Nakhi tribe, being in the center of this ancient route, were the couriers and forwarders of the merchants. Since they are well known for their toughness and stamina, there were the horsemen for the merchants and they form their own horse gangs () to ensure that they are kept safe from mountain bandits by travelling together.

Our tour guide in Dali, Ms 芳, whom is also of the Bai tribe but in modern attire

Mrs Neo and Isabel Neo with a local Bai tribe lady in Dali

3 Pagodas in Chongsheng Temple, Dali

Local Nakhi Tribe dressed as the Horse Gang from olden days in Lijiang

Did I mention that Yak is as popular as Beef in Lijiang?

From See the rest of the pictures from Day 4 in China here!

Monday, November 22, 2010

China Yun Nam trip Day 3 Dali 15 Nov 2010

On the 3rd day of our Yun Nam China trip, we were enroute to Dali and we visited a dinosaur remains extraction site where it was converted into a museum.

Once we reached Dali, we were greeted by another warm and friendly tour guide whom belonged to the local tribe aka Bai Tribe (白族). Their tribal dresses reminds us of the HongKong martial arts drama serials we watched many years ago. Most of these dramas were based on works from the author "Jin Yong" (金庸). And it's a fact that most of his literary works are based on the cultures of many lesser tribes of the Yun Nam province. So visiting Dali was like entering the olden towns of the pugilistic world of Jin Yong.

Again, it was advised that we address the local ladies appropriately. And this time, we have to call them "Golden Flower" in Mandarin. ()

Here we go again. However, the complications of each and every tribal locals way of addressing their males and females does indeed reflect the complexity of its languages and how their culture is intricate and their customs kept till this day.

I should probably say "our" language since me and my family should be classified under the "Han People" (汉族). Now we know that we, the Han People, are of the largest population/race in the world!. Cheers to that!

Though notably, the Han People had been conquered by the lesser tribes such as the "Man People" (满族) and resulted in the Qing Dynasty.

Enough of China's history and here are some of the pictures!

Click here to see the rest of the pics from day 3!

China Yun Nam trip Day 2 Kun Ming 14 Nov 2010

On the 2nd day, we visited a local tourist shopping site which retails jade and Chinese medicinal herbs aka "7 colours of Yun Nam". Nothing spectacular there except for.. well.. making you spend the tourist dollars.

After we left the 7 colours of Yun Nam, we were brought to DaGuan Park (大观公园). At this park, there is a stream that leads to Lake Dian (滇池), which is a very large lake and is of strategic battle location during the warring period. The special attraction here was the 2-storeyed pavilion that was built in the 17th century. And on the entrance of the pavilion was a couplet verse written by a famous poet, Sun Rangweng, whom crafted one of the longest couplets ever written. According to our tour guide, the couplet first verse mentions of the nice scenery and magnificent structure of the pavilion and the complimentary second verse speaks of how sorrowful it is to know that many have battled and died here and their names lost in history.

I know I won't be lost in history as long as Google and Blogger continues to host my blogs and pictures for free!!

We had dinner that came with a show.. In my opinion, it sucks and the food is dreadfully minimal in its portions.





See the rest of the pictures of day 2 here!

China Yun Nam trip Day 1 Kunming 13 Nov 2010

Christine, Isabel and myself went on a trip to the southern part of China in "Yun Nam" for a holiday.

The trip includes the tour of Kunming, Lijiang, Dali and Shangri-La.

These are the pictures from Day 1 in Kunming.

We visited the caves and gorges of Jiuxiang.

Next, the tour guide brought us to the Stone Forest (石林).

It was an geological wonder and it is aptly named. You could literally get lost in the heaps of giant stones. The place owes its creation from the tectonic plates movements which resulted in huge undersea rocks and corals were raised above the sea level and form the "stone forest" of today. Some of the larger and taller rocks have clear horizontal cracks on it which according to the guide, was caused by the erosion of the surface of the sea when it was still submerged.

A wee bit about the local customs and culture..

We learnt that Yun Nam have many tribes, the one most prominent in Kunming is the Yi Tribe ( )

In Kunming, it is rude to address the local ladies as "姐" because the term is commonly used to associate with KTV hostesses and prostitutes in China. To address a young "YI" woman proper in Kunming, we have to call them "Ashima" so as to get their attention.

More ways to address a woman in different parts of Yun Nam later.

Franklin, Christine & Isabel at Shilin, Stone Forest in Kunming, China

Many apologies for pics not well taken due to new camera.
Also, the short timing for each tourist site means I gotta learn the trust the metering instead of taking the time for trial and error.

Click here to see the rest of the album for Day 1.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

More campers outside my house 31 Oct 2010

Was leaving the house when I saw this critter taking a rest on a large leaf of my potted plant aka "树".

It didn't take me long to set up my camera and flash with my DIY diffuser and started snapping.

The results of my DIY diffuser was very satisfactory!

This could arguably be one of the better macro shoots I had taken (with the lighting that I am happy with).

Click each picture to enlarge and scrutinize the shot!

This one was slightly out of focus as I was starting to warm up

Better focus in this shot

Another shot taken parallel to the focal plane of the insect's body

A failed top view shot with focusing off [ focus was on wings instead of eyes ]

A first satisfactory shot

This shot showed off the compound eye a little bit
as the compound eyes reflected the light from the flash


Another shot I was happy with


Last shot of the night

If you like the effect of my DIY diffuser, do send me an email to find out more!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Illegal camper outside my house

I discovered an illegal camper outside my house.

Before the camper escaped I quickly took some photos as evidence.
Lucky for me, the illegal overstayer was oblivious to my camera equipment and did not shun me. It was also brave enough to see me in the eye and tell me that its not leaving this place for now.

This is the hairy resident whom is staying illegally outside my house in a pot of curry plant that Auntie Jaey gave us. For 2 nights in a row, it was still in the same pot of plant...

I am staying....

Now look me in the eye, I am not kidding!

This 3rd shot is actually a revised version of the 2nd shot, cropping and rotation with some colour/brightness adjustments and minimal sharpening with Gimp's "unsharp mask". Thanks to criticism and suggesions from Clubsnap's Macro Gods.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Maxwell Red Dot Museum 16 Oct 2010

It was the Friday night and my weekend begins after midnight...
Years ago, I'd be with friends partying all night, drowning myself in alcohol.

Now I appreciate the time I have to pursue my hobby.

The place : Maxwell Road
The subject : Red Dot Museum
The time : Wee hours




Thursday, October 14, 2010

East Coast Park Fort Road Macro 13 Oct 2010

Went to East Coast Park to try my luck on finding some insects.

I drove along the East Coast Park Service Road and was near the Fort Road exit when I saw a nice spot with accessible undergrowth.

Though I didn't get near many insects, I managed to catch 2 of them.
The second one almost resembles at dead leaf until I blew some air on it and saw it wiggle.

Very well camouflaged

Spider got many eyes! Did you know that?

Well camouflaged slug

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Helix Bridge and MBS 10 Oct 2010

This could probably be the closest I could ever get to the casino without actually entering it.
And thus, saving the entire family fortune from being donated to the evil arms of gambling.

The pictures I took serves a reminder to myself that everything outside the casino is beautiful.
From the faces of those gamblers I saw leaving the casino, I doubt they can appreciate the beauty anymore....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

ECP Rochor Exit 06 Oct 2010

It was not easy to reach the Benjamin Sheares Bridge on ECP by foot.

I had to climb 10 flight of stairs , or probably more, because at the 10th flight, I was almost disorientated due to lack of breath..

I used my Canon 10-22mm wide angle and Tamron 17-50mm and my favourite zoom lens Sigma 70-300mm APO.

The following pictures are my perspective view from ECP Rochor exit.












Being at the top of the Benjamin Sheares Bridge along ECP is quite exciting...

Every time a heavy vehicle goes by, the tremors it caused makes me feels like the bridge is fall apart! If you need a cheap thrill, do not head towards Sentosa's Universal Studios. Just have a walk along Benjamin Sheares Bridge.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Boon Keng, Toa Payoh, Bras Basah Niteshoot 02 Oct 2010

Another late night shoot.

Some close mates are envious of the spare time I have the luxury of owning.
Well, if you restrict the hours of sleep to less than 4 hours each day, you'd probably have the same extra of personal time as me.

In this exercise of chasing the extra time, it'd probably reduce my lifespan due to the irregular sleeping habit so I use it on capturing as much beautiful scenes that my eyes see. A trade off probably.

Most of the pictures below are captured using the Canon EF-S 10-22mm wide angle lens.







This last picture was digitally enhanced with GIMP by using its "unsharp mask" to sharpen the photo..
A bit too excessive, what do you think?