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# Saturday, 18 April 2009

So, about 11AM this morning I got to the AliCafe near my office.


It's not a place I normally go to, don't particularly like the food there. But there was something special happening today. Seems like someone famous was going to be here.


It was Raymond Lam, popular TVB actor. Normally I wouldn't care about this but seeing that his was coming some place convenient for me I decided to tag along with Kevin who told me about the event. To do a trial run of sort to see how to handle the situation if it was someone I actually cared about.

1st thing we were reminded after standing around for 5 mins was that, just because we were carrying SLRs, people automatically thought we were with the press. And one of these days I'm going to be prepared to answer YES so that I'm given a better shooting spot.

Speaking of shooting spots I took note that there wasn't any place to hide a famous actor in the shop, so I asked Kevin to look for a back entrance which is likely where the guy was going to come in from. Once Kevin confirmed that there was indeed a back entrance, I told him to stay put inside the shop while I went to check out the back.

At which point I noticed a parked car with a lot of people hustling around it.


I confirmed that this was indeed the ops center when a lady approached me and told me to go wait inside the shop to take photos. I acknowledged her but reminded her that this was a public street and she can't just shoo me away, but I told her I wouldn't play paparazzi and start taking shots through the window... besides I didn't have a circular polarizer which meant I couldn't shoot through glass anyway.

It was then I realized that the driver took up position beside me after having a chat with the lady, I put a car between him and myself. I wonder if he realized that I was taking video with my Creative Vado and decided against anything or maybe he just wanted to step into the shade (then again... he was in an air conditioned car)

Then 2 fans who also figured out that Raymond would come from the back door asked me "Where is he?" "Where must he walk from?" I helpfully pointed them to the car.


As expected they were stopped by the crew but it gave them something else to worry about than me. A few minutes later Raymond rushed the stairs and hurried down the corridor.


Darn he dipped his head just as I was taking the shot! As the handler behind walked past me and girl in pink's camera she showed her hand trying to block our cameras. As cool as I fell that I was actually shown the hand for taking pictures, I question her logic since she was walking BEHIND the guy she's attempting to shield from the lens so what good is she doing? Other than giving me something to blog about? :D

I stepped back into the shop to see out stretched arms taking shots.


The lone SLR you see in the shot above is Kevin, who had parked himself close to the tip of the crowd and armed with a tiltable LCD screen of his A300 he could take much better shots of the situation than me at the back. A mirror lining the wall of the shop shows how the crowd looks like with their cameras from one angle.


Armed with my 18250 and the ability to frame shots via the LCD viewfinder it was much easier for him to take closeups like this.


And this.


And this... damn this is turning out to be like some fan blog.


From my position the best I could do was take pictures of people taking pictures.


It's interesting to note that the crowd that gathered to get Raymond's autograph


Took up a whole lot of space in the shop, as well as blocked the main access for food to come out from the kitchen. I wonder if their business actually increased or decreased this morning due to the event?

My main aim of keeping myself at the end of the line was because that's the only exit point to return back to the car, so once Raymond finishes and he rushes off I can just snap pictures when he's heading towards me. At least that was my intention, but then after the autograph session was done he sat down to have some food. At which point we just left since we already got what we came for.

Not to mention learnt a valuable lesson that even now, people still assume that having an SLR means you are with the press.

Saturday, 18 April 2009 18:46:42 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 14 April 2009

As most SLR camera owners will tell you that it's probably best for you to keep your camera in a nice dry container. It could be just an airtight storage box with silica gel in it, or it could be an actual electrical climate controlled dry box. I can't bring myself to buying a dry box, so silica gel it is for me then. So previously I stuck either a pouch of silica gel or one of those thirsty hippo things into the box, and it worked out well except I had to change them after a few weeks.

Today I bought this.


They call it a rechargable dehumidifier. It works just like silica gel, but once it's done it's job instead of throwing it away, you plug it into a wall socket to recharge it and you can use it again. This thing isn't really anything special, it's basically contains silica gel inside, as well as a heating element. Whenever silica gel is full you can in theory just bake it in the sun, microwave it, etc. etc. and it'll be ready to suck moisture again. So with the builtin heating element you can basically do it in an easy manner.

This is NOT the first time I got something like this, a while back I already bought one of these so called rechargable dehumidifiers. It stopped working after 2 months, what's different now? That one looked the part of a chapalang branded product with dubious quality issues. This one looks... errrr... like it'll actually work for a while longer. I highly doubt it'll hit the 5 years it says on the sticker but consider this post a timestamp on how long/well it worked.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009 00:58:09 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [1]  | 
# Monday, 13 April 2009

I was trying to take a photo of a crystal statue to see what results I'd get. A side flash made the details stand out, and well it looked like a cube of glass.


Then I positioned my flash so it shot from the top, and the cube started casting some flares.


Closing the aperture darkened the pic to give it a more errr.. gem like look? And reduced the main glare point. (err... what's the term for it? hotspot? reflection?)


But then again we can cut glare just by taking the shot from another angle.


I'm sure the semi pro wants to say something about the flares, I just found it interesting how the light X'out when it hit the top.


And here's a shot where I try to be make the shot look nicer with some bokeh at the side. And I took it at an angle too!


Then when viewing the pic on the screen I find out I made the same mistake again whenever I take stuff with my macro lens. I forgot to wipe down the thing to remove all the dust trails from it! :P

Monday, 13 April 2009 01:38:41 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Damn.. why don't I bump into cool things like this earlier? Just got pointed to the direction of Microsoft Image Composite Editor which is essentially a FREE panoramic photo stitcher, and it's been out since LAST NOVEMBER! Downloading now to test as I write this.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009 22:46:57 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 08 February 2009

The lenses that I bought for my Sony A350 all have a very specific use which I need them for.

The 50F1.7 portrait lens was the first one which I got, almost immediately after I got my camera.


This was simply because the SemiPro said that I should get one if it was cheap, and not to mention mommy really liked the bokeh effect of portrait pictures. But I don't use this lens a lot, since using a 50mm in doors is kinda hard when WZ keeps running at you.

The next lens I got was the 50F2.8 macro lens.


I got this lens by rushing down to Pudu Plaza the day after the SemiPro told me that a shop had this lens for second hand sale. I knew I wanted to get a macro when getting my camera because I knew I wanted to take product shots. This is the 2nd lens I used the most aside from the kit lens, other than for product shots I use it whenever I need the razor teeth sharpness of the lens.

The last lens which I wanted to get was something to use when I go on trips, something that had a focal range capability. I was planning to get the Sony 18250 lens before I went on my next trip overseas. But... that's changed now.


I decided to get it yesterday because I was afraid there was going to be a price increase on it soon following Sony's dire fiscal year reports. Now that I have it, it shall be used as I originally intended. To replace the 1870 kit lens since it has a further range. But is almost the same size when fully retracted.


When fully extended though, the lens makes the camera feel heavy and off balanced (guess I'll need to train my left arm a bit more!) since it stretches pretty far! Letting my wife hold it made her give out a groaning sigh before passing it back to me... guess she won't be that interested of taking pics of me and WZ with that lens attached :P.

And now... my collection is complete, I have no more desire for any more lenses. So here's my complete non kit lens collection!


Sunday, 08 February 2009 17:46:15 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The other place I took WZ to was the KL Aquaria, once again I went in hoping to take some pics. But when I heard the people at the entrance constantly repeat "Dear visitors with Digital Cameras, please do NOT use your flash, flash photography is not allowed in the venue" Let's just forget the fact that digital cameras are NOT the ONLY source of a xenon flash, This was a problem then, as it would mean I needed to again use my 50mm macro lens as that was the fastest one I had with me. I didn't bring my 50mm F1.7 lens cause, I was going with my family so if I was taking any pictures of WZ and mommy it would mean that mommy would like to have the background in the picture too instead of... well.. a big blue blur. So while it failed for me as a photography outing, here's what I learnt from my trip to KL Aquaria.

While it is possible to take some shots without flash.


You have to realize that underwater creatures swim pretty fast. And they're not inclined to pose for you.


Although there are some things in the place that DO sit still.


But even if they do sit still you have another thing that literally stands in your way


These are living breathing creatures behind a glass case, so the clarity of the case, or the reflection of the glass will throw off your auto focus. But of course, there's a chance to get a nice pic if you're lucky.


Another thing to remember when you go to places like this is that. If you only bring a fixed range lens.


Take note that you might not have a lot of space to back up and frame your subject.

Hmm... so I've tried to go to the butterfly park to take pictures and failed, tried Aquaria and failed cause my equipment doesn't allow me to take nice pictures in dark places.

I guess that leaves me with the Bird Park, and the Zoo. Hmmm... I guess I'll put that on my todo list.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008 22:07:12 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

I took a few days off to take WZ around town and also to well... actually take some days off. So the first place we went was the KL Butterfly Park, so WZ can finally see some butterflies actually flying around for real.

First thing first.. WHY THE HECK DO YOU STILL WANT TO CHARGE PEOPLE FOR BRINGING CAMERAS? What an ancient and barbaric practice when nearly everyone has something that can take pictures. Next thing was that, it's actually kinda hard to snap pictures of butterflies flying around. But I guess it's because I had a kid and a wife tagging along so I didn't exactly have the luxury of time to try and setup anything.

But switching the A300 to full auto mode and passing the camera to mommy meant I get to have some pictures taken with WZ.


They had a fish pond in the place which the fish was all too eager to come close to you... once you toss them some feed.


One good thing about the butterfly park is that it has ample sunlight, so there's ample light to take pictures of things.


The person at the counter told us that the feed was for both fishes and turtles. But we couldn't find the turtles, and threw the bag of feed for the fish.. which was sad but let's face it between colorful gold fish in a crystal clear pond, and this...


Which would you rather feed? It's sad that the turtles get no love.. they didn't even put any signs up (or maybe they were destroyed) to indicate that Look turtles HERE!.

WZ tried to see the turtles from the perch.


But the angle just wasn't right.


Thus he walked away disappointed. I think the turtles were disappointed too! They must have been hoping to get something to eat!


I did manage to get a shot of a butterfly close up


It was just constantly sucking on the ground trying to eat something and didn't care too much that there was a big ass black tube pointed at it. (I only have a 50mm Macro lens, to get this picture the tip of the lens was right NEXT to the butterfly) And then there was this... thing.


This ant like praying mantis was in the shade so the end results were a bit blurry cause of the slower shutter speed and I couldn't hold the camera steady.


Hmm.. did whatever ate the leaf, ate the butterfly as well?


They also had some other animals in the place. They had some rabbits in a well... rabbit smelling cage.


They had a python? boa? in a glass case which looked like it had coiled up and died, I didn't even had the heart to take a photo it. The had a chameleon lizard thing, but the plastic screen the cage was made of was clouded and hard to see through.

Overall, while there WERE definitely butterflies in the place and if I had more time to actually find my shots I think I would have gotten some more shots of stuff. I think if you wanted to take pictures of nature you have other better choices than paying RM18 (entrance fee) + RM1 (camera fee) to enter the KL Butterfly Garden.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008 21:42:39 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Here comes a NEW CHALLENGER!


So with the purchase of the Revoltech Chun Li I can safely say I'm done buying figures for the next few months. Note again how they choose to make left and right parts non symmetrical so it looks natural. Still feels weird to me!


Short posing stand once again limits off the ground moves.


This time I took my shots by using a large white colored piece of EVA foam as a backdrop, then I mounted my flash on the tripod and setup for Wireless High Speed Sync flash on my camera so at least there's a background to the photo instead of the dark void you see the last time I tried doing this. Still not perfect, so I guess the next thing is to built on actual light box or a diffuser for my flash.


And of course would a Chun Li shot be complete WITHOUT a spinning bird kick?

Tuesday, 16 December 2008 00:34:53 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 08 December 2008

Since this is Christmas season now, shopping malls are now filled with the usual elaborate showpieces like this one in One Utama.


It's well.. a nice white christmas kind of decoration. So obviously mommy wants to take a pic with WZ of the thing.


But.. because of the the camera compensating for the Flash's tint the white balance is now making the background look orange instead of the white. If we use a simple autofix tool like Windows Live Photo Gallery we can make the background look white but...

DSC05477 (2)

The true color of the camera's flash is revealed. So in these situations you need some way of selectively correcting the color temperature, that's when you need to use more advanced tools like Photoshop or well... use a piece of colored gel to tint your Flash so you can balance out the colors later.

Need to ask the Semi Pro how that's done properly.

Monday, 08 December 2008 16:16:49 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [1]  | 
# Sunday, 07 December 2008

The moment you get a spanking new Digital SLR is that you're going to take a LOT of pictures. Then you're going to have to sort it out and do your editing and tweaking, and then of course you're gonna want to put those pictures online. Here I just like to share how I go about with my photography workflow.

The first thing I did was to organize how pictures go into my memory card. I didn't want all the pictures I take to disappear into a single 100MSDCF folder, luckily my Sony A350 had the option of creating new folders for EACH DAY of shooting.


Not sure if this is standard among all SLRs though, but even on my point & shoot I could create multiple folders on the memory card. Anyway the setting means that my card looks like this after a trip.


So each day's photos is automatically put into it's own folder by the camera. This is a real time saver when you're on a multiday trip away from a computer.

After taking photos I come back, plug my CF card into the reader and copy the files to my PC. Instead of just opening 2 Explorer Windows and copy and pasting between them. I use Microsoft's SyncToy application, it's actually more of a tool for synchronizing files between 2 storage devices. But because you can set it up so that whatever files that are in your storage card but aren't in the master storage (ie The folder on your hard disk where you put everything) are automatically pushed to the hard disk with one simple click of a button, I choose to use it for the process of dumping images to my hard disk.


Specifically the SyncToy options that I use are to put my CF card reader as the Left folder, my hard disk pic folder as the Right folder, and set the sync mode to Contribute.

Next I use Window Live Photo Gallery to look through my pictures and perform touch ups on the pictures which I want to put online. It's no Photoshop of course, but it gets the job done for simple things like correcting white balance, and some other minor tweaks.


It's not like I need too remove a zit from someone's face! If I wanted to I can also choose to tag and catalog my photos with Windows Live Photo Gallery, but I'm not the cataloging type of person.

If I had a Windows Live Spaces or Flickr account (or any other service that provides the plugin for Live Photo Gallery) I could directly upload the picture from Live Photo Gallery itself. You might also want to check out the spanking new Windows Live Photos which gives you 25GB of storage for your pictures. But I'm not a photo album kind of person. I'm more of a blog person so I use Windows Live Writer to get my pictures up at my blog instead.


Windows Live Writer allows me to have a great editing experience for creating my blog posts, I can compose my posts offline, I have pretty much WYSIWYG results, and it supports various blog engines. But one of the things that definetly saves me time is the fact that when I insert an image in Live Writer. Not only is it able to automatically frame the picture to give it that slick look, it'll also automatically resize it to a thumbnail version, and it'll then create a link to a bigger more clearer version so your viewers can see the detailed one. This saves a lot of time for me to do it manually!

And that's it! That's the process of how my photos go from my camera to my blog.

Sunday, 07 December 2008 00:11:18 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
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