Wednesday, December 29, 2010

MCA 1 plate taken in NZ ;)

This morning, I read with amusement this news item from Malaysia:

Melaka RTD to collect RM1.5m for ‘MCA’ licence plates

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 – The tender results for car licence plates bearing registration numbers from MCA 1 to MCA 9999 will be put up for public viewing at the Melaka Road Transport Department (RTD) starting tomorrow.

The Transport Ministry in a statement today, said the results would also be made available at the department’s website at www.jpj.gov.my.

A total of 965 tender applications for the MCA car licence plates were received between November 24 and December 15.

MCA 1 received the highest bid price of RM300,100, followed by MCA 2 at RM101,000 and MCA 8 at RM88,168,” the statement said.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Xmas Turkey, Wellington...

Once a year, Christmas is the time we catch up with close friends and traditionally we always try to roast a turkey :)

Through the years, we discovered if we buy our fresh turkey AFTER Xmas day; we can get a real bargain! The best time would be on the 27th of December.

This year however, since we are having a get together on Boxing Day with Boon & Jackie who came back from Brisbane; we went turkey hunting (no weapons needed, duh!) in the morning.

We found plenty of fresh birds at City New World. The price tags tell us the 6kg bird was $125.00 before Xmas and now, on Boxing Day; $68.00!!

We bought two, one for our gathering on the same night and the other for a dinner the next night.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

♡ My Auto Love Affair ♡

I love ♡♡♡♡♡ my Mitsubishi Lancer!

Fast rewind to 1977, when we were all young and beautiful; it was during that time when the newspaper where we worked, "went national" and I had to packed my bags and took my two loves to Kuala Lumpur.

Those were the tough, exciting; and challenging days. We met them head on and looking back, we love it ;)

My "two loves", my young general (we just got married) and the Lancer EL (1,200); first car that I bought with my hard earned cash, a year before we got transferred to Kuala Lumpur.

I remember fondly those KL days when both of us missed Penang so badly that we drove home every week!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Xmas & a Happy New Year

To all our friends, relatives; readers; enemies...

We had our usual "Secret Santa" at work, just for fun; you do not know who give you the Christmas gift ;)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Canon G12, Best of the G?

Ten long years after Canon launched the G1, the latest ten generation G12 became one of the most advanced fixed lens cameras on the market.

Why is it not the twelve generation? Because Canon missed out the G4 and G8 in their numbering game. Some seems to think the 4 and 8 are taboo to the Japanese, but who know ;)

Compare to other P&S, the G12 is a chunky and weighty camera; some say it is ugly, some like it because "it is built like a tank!" or "It is a MAN's camera!", follow by
Tim Allen's Man Grunt from Home Improvement :)

I suppose it falls into the either you love or hate it category.

The G12 have enough dials, buttons; and wheels to keep any photographer happy. I was told the G series P&S are the favorite "side arm" for pro shooters!
So what kind of features the Canon G12 offer a photographer? Well, only these:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Canon G, Gs; You Came A Long Way!

According to Wikipedia:

The PowerShot products are a line of consumer and prosumer grade digital cameras, launched by Canon in 1995. The PowerShot line has been successful for Canon, and is one of the best-selling digital camera lines worldwide.

The Canon PowerShot G is a series of digital cameras released by Canon. The G series cameras are Canon's flagship models aimed at prosumer photography enthusiasts desiring more flexibility than a point-and-shoot without the bulk of a digital single-lens reflex camera.
The G series offers features such as the use of a lithium-ion battery, a flip-out-and-twist LCD (all models except G7, G9 and G10 which have a fixed screen), Raw image format capture (all models except G7), a lens with a wider maximum aperture than standard PowerShot models, remote capture (except G11), and faster electronics. The range also includes a hot shoe for an external flashgun, including Canon's EX range.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Remembering the Highland Towers Tragedy

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

On December 11, 1993; after 10 continuous days of rainfall, Block 1 of the Highland Towers collapsed.

The Highland Towers were three blocks of 12-story apartment at Ulu Kelang, built in the late 1970s at the western base of a steeply sloped hill, it was later terraced (extensively in the early 1980s) for proposed bungalow developments which were never completed.

Each block was respectively named Block 1 (built first, southern-most), Block 2 (built second, north-northwest of block 1, slightly elevated than the other two, closer in to the hill) and Block 3 (built last, northwest of block 1, west of block 2).

A swimming pool was located between northwest side of Block 2 and northeast rear of Block.

Ten continuous days of rainfall caused the retaining wall at the Tower's car park to fail and this led to a landslide . The landslide swept away the foundation of the building and Block 1 toppled over.

The Highland Towers Tragedy claimed the lives of 48 men, women and children (including an infant).

My involvement...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

These Boots Are Made For...

THROWING!??

According to Wikipedia:

"Gumboot Day is a native celebration of Taihape, New Zealand. It occurs the Tuesday after Easter, and has been a regular event since 1985. It is a celebration of all things to do with gumboots, and includes the famous gumboot throwing contest.
The aim of the festival is to break the world record for the longest gumboot throw. It is a family event, which includes a number of other competitions such as the best-dressed gumboot and ‘shoot the loop’ with gumboots.
Gumboots can also be tossed skyward on any day of the year in the official Gumboot throwing lane located in the 'Outback', just behind Taihape's main shopping center."
On Friday it was gumboot throwing day at my office (NZMS and DI).
Many of my colleagues discovered on Friday that throwing gumboot is not as simple as they imagine!
Just look at the different "styles" of their throw, we all had a really good laugh!


The "High Over The Head Style" that fall short!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Heroes & Friends

Twenty two years ago, in 1988; Mary Andersen was at the Miami airport checking in for a long flight to Norway to be with her husband.

Her happiness was crushed when she was told she will have to pay $103.00 surcharge if she wanted to bring both her suitcases to Norway!

Mary had no money. Her new husband had traveled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.

As Mary stood there, in front of the counter; with tears streaming down her face, a tall man whom she never seen before said; "That's okay, I will pay for her."

That man was Barack Obama.

Mary's hero became the first black President of the United States!

Fast rewind 22 years, 1988; Singapore International Airport, yours truly and family with THIRTEEN pieces of luggage; checking in at economy, Air New Zealand. We are migrating lock stock and barrel, from Penang to Wellington, New Zealand.

Monday, November 22, 2010

NZMS Celebrates 21st

NZMS, the New Zealand Malaysian Society turn 21st last week.

To celebrate the occasion, members were "invited" (after paying $35 / head) to attend the function at the Manor Park Golf Club in Lower Hutt.

Saturday, 5 pm; I thought we head off early, since I volunteered to take some pictures for them. Just my Malaysian luck that the panel beater's courtesy car, a "Honda U.S. Wagon" failed to start!

With a car model named like that, what did I expect?!

Too late to call AA, I was suppose to be there at 6 pm! I ring my neighbor, in a panic; my good neighbor Diana calm me down and said Alex will take us there! A friend in need, indeed!

At 5.15 pm we were whooshing our way to Manor Park in Alex's spaceship like Toyota Prius :) Thank you Alex and Diana!

Now back to the celebration...

Friday, November 19, 2010

RED NOSE Day Is Back!

It has been been 13 years since Kiwis have been spotted with red noses!!

But according to TVNZ:

"Red Nose Day is back today, after a long break to raise $1 million for research into life-threatening childhood diseases.
Cure Kids, once known as the Child Health Research Foundation, said a Red Nose day had not been held for 13 years.
Andrea Birtwistle, from Cure Kids, said that the foundation started 30 years ago and had invested $25m in medical research which had helped save hundreds of young lives and improved the quality of life for thousands, she said.
Red nose paraphernalia was on sale at all Shell service stations, Take Note and Paper Plus shops and a street collection would be held today."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pic Used WITHOUT Permission!

Last night I received a "Needing Your Knowledge" mail from Martin Smith, a colleague and friend:

"Please take a look at this thread from a site from my home town, ( Southport ).
If you could syn up & give your advice, it would be cool!
All to do with a picture placed on the net then being used by a 3rd party without permission.
My name on this site is Smudge1 so you can see what I have said."

It seems a nice action picture of a skier in mid air, taken by Martin's friend (who call himself Greenlander) was the subject of the dispute.

The action picture of a skier shot by Greenlander.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Déjà vu - LOTR Parade

What prompt me to re post "LOTR Parade in Wellington"... a short chat with our daughter this morning...

11:11 Ming-N: hey ya...just wondering, did you do a blog post on the lord of the rings premiere?
11:13 me: I did in the old blog that was attached to Jeff Ooi's ScreenShot, that site was hacked and completely gone! Why?
Ming-N: ahh... shame...Ashley (new guy) is a huge LOTR fan
was going to show him the picsare they online anywhere?
me: May be I should do a deja vu piece :)
11:14 I am sure it will be highly popular :)
11:15 Ming-N: definitely! especially with The Hobbit starting filming next Feb11:16 me: That is a good idea! I will, soon...

So to Ashley who recently moved log stock and barrel from England and all the LOTR fans, here it is again!

Most of the photos below were NOT in the original post, so please enjoy ;)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

WELLY Thru My Eyes!

WELLY, just in case you don't know; is a nickname for the city of Wellington, New Zealand which has been named the "Coolest Little Capital In The World" by traveler's bible Lonely Planet!

Some of my friends in Malaysia has requested that I post more photos of this cool city and area around it, here they are!

A luxurious cruise ship from Princess Cruises leaving Wellington Harbour after a short visit.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wellington, the COOLEST LITTLE CAPITAL!

Wellington, New Zealand; has been named the "Coolest Little Capital" in the world by traveler's bible Lonely Planet!

This is the first time a New Zealand city has made it into the annual Best in Travel, a publication on world's best trends, destinations, journeys and experiences according to Lonely Planet.

Lonely Planet has named where we are, (yes, we set up home here!) the 4th Best City in which to travel, behind New York, Tangier and Tel Aviv.

Eat yer heart out, London and Singapore ;)

According to Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks...

"To have Lonely Planet – a global brand respected for frank opinions and having its finger on the pulse – come out and refer to Wellington as the `coolest little capital in the world' and among the top 10 cities you must visit for 2011 is quite simply incredible."

Wellington sunset from Mt Victoria lookout.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween @ Karori

Every year at this time, in Karori; our house are invaded by little "monsters"!

To appease them we have little bags of sweets and goodies ready, they are happy; so are we ;)

Halloween is big business in America! Just Google the word return a whopping "About 807,000,000 results"! Horror ;)

According to Reuters, the 10 BEST places to celebrate Halloween are:

1. Salem, Massachusetts
2. Bran, Romania
3. London, England
4. New Orleans, Louisiana
5. New York, New York
6. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
7. Tombstone, Arizona
8. Forks, Washington
9. Orlando, Florida
10.Long Beach, California

New Zealand not even in the radar! Ha ha ha...

Every year the little monsters understood that they get their sweets and I get to take their pictures! Not a bad deal? :)

Happy mums with happy little "monsters" in 2008.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

BRIAN me, that BRAKE was GOOD!

I remember in the mid 60s, my classmates and I were quite rapped on this Kiwi photographer, Brian Brake. I was a Illustrative Photography student at R.M.I.T., Melbourne; Australia then.

There were much to admire about Brian...

"Brian left New Zealand for London in 1953, meeting Ernst Haas, John Morris and Henri Cartier-Bresson, who invited him to become a member of Magnum Photos, of which he remained a member until 1967. He worked as freelance photographer in Europe, Africa and Asia until joining Life in 1958, contributing work to Paris Match."

"He is best known for his coverage of China(where he was allowed an unusual level of access), his photographs of Pablo Picasso at a bullfight,and his series "Monsoon" of photographs taken in India during a sabbatical from Life during 1960." - Wikipedia -

The photography work of Brake that are most remembered are those from "Monsoon".

Saturday, October 16, 2010

JPEG Noise & Artifact

In my previous article "JPEG Hell!" I show you how high JPEG compression in Paint Shop Pro can really damage your image file.

One of my young reader argued that he cannot see much damage when his image is being compressed in Photoshop, even at a very high compression / low quality setting.

He wonder if I can "show" him that JPEG in Photoshop really damage his original file!

Your wish is my command ;)

To do this demonstration I selected this "grab shot" I captured in K.L., 1998.

I was shooting a street market scene in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, this kind Malay family let me used their veranda for an overhead view.

While I was shooting, at the corner of my eyes I saw her with the baby... quick shot with my EOS1n and 80-200 at about 200mm.

What can I say? Just pure innocent.

I was surprise how well the ISO 400 Kodak Ektapress negative film rendered her flawless complexion so well!

The colour negative was scanned with my Nikon Coolscan 4000 ED.

Now, back to our JPEG noise demo...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

JPEG Hell !!

After my THIRD story on the revolutionary compression technology call HIPIX from Human Monitoring, I thought that is the end; or at least the end for a while!

Was I wrong ;)

I received another response from Ira of HM!

Dear C.Y.

I really am sorry for not letting this go by, but I hate thinking that there is even one PSP user thinking we treated PSP wrong.

I have been using PSP at home for many years and it is beautiful. JPEG however has limitations.

Photoshop does not necessarily do a better job, but a more clever one - by putting a limit to the compression.

With PSP you can compress images of 12MP to 200KB getting these topographic maps, which Photoshop will prevent you from getting, but you'll end up with 350KB instead.

So here's a screen capture sequence of my coding session using JASC PSP7 (that's what I have at home).

You can see for yourself, single shot, no editing, resolution, size and all, how we got what we got.

Sorry JASC, COREL, Adobe, it's not you, it's the 8x8 DCT and Huffman with no spatial prediction and many other tools.

Yours truly, Ira.

Hmmm... Ira also gave me a link to download an AVI clip showing the two photos being JPEG-ed by his Paint Shop Pro (PSP).

Monday, October 11, 2010

Human Monitoring Response

There were a few unanswered questions in my second test and story on the new Hipix compression technology pioneered by Human Monitoring (HM), as expected I received a response from them today.

Ira Dvir wrote:

Dear C.Y.Leow,

I am the VP R&D of HM.

I urge you to do the following: go to dreamstime.com and download the following original JPEGs

dreamstime_3608627.jpg (the woman portrait) and dreamstime_8651080.jpg (the Masai portrait).

These are images of 4368x2912 pixels and their original
size is 5.8MB and 5.91MB. Please code these images to JPEG 201KB and 212KB and see for yourself what you get.

There are three possibilities:

1. Your JPEG SW will not allow such a deep compression and you'll end up with bigger files (and perhaps, but not sure) better quality.

2. You'll get worse quality, since we did that using PaintShop pro, which is good)

3.You'll get identical results.

Our claim is simple, and we verified it on thousands of images.

We are no magicians, and our technology is highly detailed in the documents in our site.

Any man, professional in the field of imaging, can understand how we
manage to achieve such higher levels of compression using the tools and the IP we use.

You are invited to download our software from our site and try it
yourself.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cleaner, Better Squeeze! Or JPEG you Beauty!

I got a response within hours after I published "Putting On More Squeeze", a test report on the new compression technology from Human Monitoring (HM).

" I am connected with Human Monitoring. I enjoyed reading your post, and we'll definitely examine your suggestions.

One comment: Please try coding your highest quality picture to Hipix without degrading it first by compressing it to JPEG. Go from 16+MB to (I suggest High, Good or Normal presets) and then examine the result.

Hipix is most effective with images which do not contain noise. If you code an image low size JPEG you insert artifacts, which Hipix treats as data, and the compression is less effective."

What HM spokesperson do not realised was my test file was a Camera Raw file and after ACR, became a 16 bit TIFF file.

I tried the TIFF file with HipixWiz but found it do not support TIFF, 16 or 8 ; so I re-saved the file in JPEG, it then work.

So how do I get around "without degrading it first by compressing it to JPEG"? Catch 22?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Putting On More Squeeze!

I read something very exciting in photographyblog today! It is all about squeezing jpeg file even smaller without loosing detail! Is that possible? ;)

According to the press release:

"Human Monitoring Ltd today announced the global availability of its new hipix™ still image compression technology. hipix™ enables users to send (and store) high resolution images at between 15% and 50% of the size of normal compressed (jpeg) files! hipix™ works on Windows, Linux, Mac and the Android mobile platforms."

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Versatile Point-&-Shoot

While commenting on the impractical of the new 35x zoom Canon PowerShot SX30 IS compact camera, a reader; (hiding behind a name of "TM") have this to say about me :)

"Who really cares if you have been a photojournalist all your working life? I guess that makes you an expert in all types of photography?
For pro wildlife photographers, the Canon 800 f5.6 is a very practical lens that costs over $10,000.

For amateur photographers the 840mm reach on the SX30 will be practical, especially for under $500.



As a know-it-all photojournalist, you should know that large fees have been paid for terrible-quality images used by The National Enquirer, major newspapers, etc. I’m sure the SX30 at 840mm will produce images as good or better than some of those images.

Did you ever see the terrible quality images of the assassination of President Kennedy? Too bad some of those photographers did not have a SX30 at that time.
So maybe you should look up the meaning of “practical”."

WOW! Where was he coming from?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Kit Lens

Many years ago, in the good old days of films; SLR were sold with a standard lens of 50 or 55 mm range. The word "kit lens" was not invented yet :)

Wikipedia defined kit lens as:

"A "starter" lens which can be sold with an interchangeable-lens camera such as a single-lens reflex camera. The kit consists of the camera body, the lens, and various accessories usually necessary to get started in SLR photography. A kit lens can be sold by itself; ie; not in a kit.

It is generally an inexpensive lens priced at the lowest end of the manufacturer's range so as to not add much to a camera kit's price.

Originally kit lenses were of normal focal length; more recently kit lenses tend to be inexpensive zoom lenses that range from medium wide angle to mid telephoto for added versatility. Prime lenses are generally faster (smaller f-number), but the change to zoom lenses has usually means that a slower (higher f-number) lens is used.

This is because in most cases prime lenses are faster than comparably priced zoom lenses. However in most cases the inclusion of an inexpensive zoom lens is to maintain a low entry price and maximize usability for the beginner photographer."

Read that 4th paragraph again ;)

Monday, September 27, 2010

HDR Toning

If you are into photography, you would knew by now that HDR photography is all the rage for a while.

Google Search return a whopping 124,000,000 results on "HDR"!

HDR of course, stand for High Dynamic Range.

According to Wikipedia:

"High dynamic range imaging (HDRI or just HDR) is a set of techniques that allow a greater dynamic range of luminance between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than standard digital imaging techniques or photographic methods. This wider dynamic range allows HDR images to more accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes, ranging from direct sunlight to faint starlight."

Quite a mouth full? ;)

To the photographers, HDR photography is simply by taking shots of the same scene with different exposure and with the help of special software; recombining those shots together to form the final image with a WIDE dynamic range.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

World Press Photo in town!

Wellington was bashed by a short storm at noon yesterday and 3,500 house hold lost electricity at the Hutt Valley. But today the sun is out, the wind is still strong and a bit chilly; but that is classic Wellington weather ;)

So where is "the storm, size of Australia"?

I am glad the weather did a reprieve, because World Press Photo is showing at Shed 11! And we are going!

Shed 11 at Jervois Quay, Queens Wharf, Wellington; nice brick facade to test lenses with!

WPP has been exhibited at Shed 11 for a few years now, this time round it will be from 17 September till 10 October. As usual it is organised by NZ Netherlands Foundation.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Apology Not Needed

After my comment on the front page photo of the Sunday Star Times, a reader hiding behind "Anonymous" said...

Hey, just wondering when you're going to apologise to the photographer. It wasn't a jack-up at all ... the girl has been quoted as saying she wanted to "play in the earthquake" and the photographer got lucky. If your gonna dish dirt you shld have the grace to apologise - September 13, 2010 8:12 PM

I did a search and discovered that the Sunday Star Times published a follow-up to the story saying:

"LITTLE MYRO McKee became the face of the Sunday Star-Times earthquake coverage when she featured on the front page last weekend.

The five-year-old was pictured in the rubble by Christchurch photographer Jane Wyles, a shot that prompted some readers to complain it was staged or sensationalised. It was neither."




Monday, September 13, 2010

Wellington Waterfront

The sky did a reprieve on Sunday afternoon and it turn into a glorious sunny Wellington day!

We going to take a walk along the waterfront after our usual Sunday shopping for our weekly groceries, but Mr Murphy decided otherwise and we were stuck at the Kilbirnie Pak'n Save with a flat car battery! AA came to our rescue one hour later but we decided to head home because it is getting dark and cold.

Instead I will show you some pictures of our waterfront that has not been published in this blog before :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Japan Festival!

Half of the population of wellington seems to flock there when there is a Japan Festival in town!

We know the Sunday's spring weather was nasty, getting a park near the town hall venue was impossible; but we went anyway :)

According to Asia:NZ On Line , "Bring all the family to experience a genuine taste of Japan at the Wellington Town Hall. Sample scrumptious sushi while watching mochi in the making. Marvel at the antics of the visiting Chin-Don Ya group of street musicians from Japan.
Great entertainment ranging from high-energy Japanese martial arts to the quiet beauty of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony."

Well, because of other commitment we only saw part of the festival; but it was fun never the less!


Jack Up News Picture

Saturday's devastating earthquake in Christchurch created a "field day" for the photojournalists, hundreds if not thousands of news pictures are being shot and transmitted around the world to record and show the extend of damages in this disaster.

Yet, the Sunday Star Times on their September 5 edition splashed this huge photo on their FRONT PAGE.

A jack-up picture? There are hundreds of good, story telling NEWS PICTURE and the Sunday Star Times had to resort to a POSED picture to lead a earth shaking news event? ;)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hail, the angels sing; not...

My goodness, talk about the weather gone bongos!

We are into the THIRD day of spring,the weather men said it is pouring rain the whole day; yet it was sunshine all the way to 4pm!

Then at 5.30pm we heard the roar, I know immediately it is a big hail storm! It is rather rare in this part of town, Karori; Wellington, New Zealand.

Our deck was all white, as a matter of fact; everywhere around our house are white! Out came my Olympus E-P2 with the Panasonic 7-14 zoom.

The light was fading fast, the photog in me wanting to go to the deck's railing to get a better shot. My General grumbling that it is too slippery for this old bones... I went anyway, making sure I do not skate over ;)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dolly Hoooo!

Friends and colleagues asked me how we spent our weekend, I told them I was busy on Saturday and Sunday testing out my new tripod dolly! And some of them go, "Eh? A tripod what?"

A tripod dolly is a gizmo that you can attach your tripod to and give it wheels! Take a look at the picture below:

That is what I pay NZ$65.00 for :) And why do I need a dolly when I am not Peter Jackson? Ha ha ha...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Is it a Nikon? Is it a Canon? No! It is a SONY SLT!!

Before I go ranting, I assumed all of you understand how a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera work. If you don't, please read it here in Wikipedia.
Cross-section of a SLR camera

1) Front mount lens
2) Reflex mirror, instant return
3) Focal plane shutter
4) Film or digital sensor
5) Focusing screen
6) Fresnel lens
7) Pentaprism
8) Eyepiece

Sunday, August 22, 2010

For Frank...

Frank was my colleague, Frank was Aussie, Frank was my mate.

When we were in London on the 26th April I received a SMS from my boss that ex colleague and good friend Frank has died of a heart attack!

It is still hard to believe that Frank, who played golf everyday and 100 times fitter that me just went like that! It is so unfair!

Frank has been a very caring friend, during our house got flooded, he called constantly to make sure we are alright! Same when my wife and me had our ops. Frank was that type of friend that is indeed rare and hard to find!

All this time we are suppose to meet up with Frank's wife, Serena but the weather has been really mean most weekend; we were on the phone but never get round to meet up!

Then this morning the sun is actually shinning, the weather man was way off his radar :) I called Serena, we are at her place at 12.30 noon; after got lost at a few junctions ;)

Frank and Serena live in Titahi Bay, a 35 minutes drive from where we are. We had nice long lunch at a newly found Chinese restaurant, Top Taste in Porirua. There are a lot of catching up to do!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sharper Image

This article got nothing to do with The Sharper Image even though it is about sharper image ;)

Especially sharper digital images.

By its nature, digital images from every digital cameras are slightly blurry. This is because virtually all digital camera have an anti aliasing filter in front of the sensor, such a filter involves a trade-off among sharpness. Why do we need this filter? Read about it here.

The anti aliasing filter is also known as an optical low-pass filter.

Some cameras like certain Canon models used TWO low-pass filters!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

BIGGER not BETTER

You just came home with your super duper DSLR that you deprived yourself months of fish n chips to get, put on your super duper thousand dollar zoom lens; snapping away... expecting super sharp results than your humble point & shoot and was promptly disappointed ;) What gives?

Not far off from the above scenario, I took some shots of our neighbor; Gully's son Jerico a while back when I got my Canon 30D camera; the lens was a rather pricey EF80-200 f2.8L. The camera and lens combined cost a whopping NZ$4,200.00!!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Let there be Rules!

Last week I talk about the Rules of Thirds, an imaginary two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines that assists your composition.

You also learned that finally even Adobe recognise the importance of The Rule of Third in photography. The crop tool in their latest Photoshop CS5 Extended will superimpose a "Third Rules" over your to be crop image, hopefully guiding you to a better composed crop.

The only problem I find about those very fine overlay lines, they are a bit hard to see; wouldn't it be nice if we can have easy to see white lines and we are able to overlay them to our image anytime we want?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rule of Thirds

Every photographers serious about their composition would understand the importance of "The Rule Of Thirds".

If you don't, listen up ;)

So what is this "Rule"?

Wikipedia described this powerful technique to make your photos more interesting as:

"The rule of thirds is a compositional rule of thumb in visual arts such as painting, photography and design.

[1] The rule states that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.

[2] Proponents of the technique claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject would."

Confused? Take a look at the diagram below...


Put it simply, the rule of thirds says that your picture is most interesting when its subject is composed along imaginary lines that divide the photo into thirds, vertically and horizontally.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Homesick Blues

It is winter like this that you miss your old hometown, it is the bitterly cold wind; the never ending drizzles; the gloomy 5 pm dark... it is time like this that you miss Penang :(

You missed the beach, the warmth of the setting sun; even the hot humid breeze!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

SD Card Disaster!

After weeks of rain, freezing Southerlies; we were given a sunny Saturday! Le general and I decided to soak in the late afternoon sun along our Overseas Terminal.

After a nice cup of Flat White and banana-white-chocolate muffin, we took a stroll along the marina... I was attracted by the hundreds of sea gulls along the shore. I had my Olympus E-P2 with me, I took some shots.

Back home I plug the 8 gig SDHC card into the card reader and open this shot in Photoshop.

Shot with E-P2 and a Leica Elmarit 28mm f2.8 lens.

And before I can say "gull", the SDHC card crash! I was "told" the card has not been ejected properly and all that rubbish and it promptly disappear from the desktop! Arrrrrrr!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Remembering Tun Omar Ong

This news hit me in my face when I launch The Star Online a few minutes ago! My memory open like a floodgate...

I remember on that Saturday, April 20, 1974; The Star Managing Editor, K.S.Choong asked me (rookie Photo Editor) and rookie reporter Alex Choong (no relation) to go up Penang Hill and find Tan Sri Omar Yoke Lin who is enjoying a quite honeymoon with his pretty bride, Dr.Aisyah S.P.Chan.

Choong told us it is an EXCLUSIVE story and we got all excited!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Noise Control

In the good old days of film, we worried about "grain"; film grain! We demand "fine grain" film, we processed our black and white film in fine grain developer to achieve finer grain!

Came digital and instead of grain, we are face with "noise"; digital noise or image noise.

Unlike film grain which can usually make your picture look sharper and create more impact in black and white photos, digital noise make picture look awful!

When I was working with the papers, Kodak Tri-X was my "standard" all round B&W film. I shot all type of subjects with just one film type and often exposed at ISO 400 to 1,600 without worrying about graininess of my images!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Travel Cameras

After seeing what I shot on our recent Europe trip, I was asked what are the best cameras for travel.

The trouble with such question is that everyone have different requirement and travel destination! So let me just tell you what made me bring for my last trip.

In 2010 a good travel camera will have the following quality:

1) It must be relatively light weight.
2) Take interchangeable lens.
3) Digital, with video.
4) Larger sensor than a point & shoot.
5) Able to shoot RAW.

Well, all my film cameras; including my Leicas are OUT!

My trusted Nikon D300 failed 1) and  3)!

Point 1) is very important because we had been warned by May-N that there will be A LOT of walking! Last thing you want is to lug a heavy DSLR and lenses while you try to break the 200,000 steps per day record in London!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

London Catch Up...

When we were in London my wife and I caught up with two special person that we have not seen for years!

Sim Hock Neoh is Le General's big brother, the last time we saw him and his wife Carol was in 1994 in Singapore!

At his web site which Lamont Moon designed, you will learn that Sim Hock, "grew up in Penang, Malaysia and began his artistic education from an early age, strongly influenced by his beautiful and inspiring tropical surroundings.

He moved to England in 1965 to further his studies and enrolled on a Fine Art course at Sir John Cass College of Art in London. After completing this he travelled extensively in Europe and the US, continuing to paint. He also taught and lectured on traditional Chinese art."


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Good Bye London...

With only a day left in London we asked our self what we want to see, we decided; HARRODS! I know it is a departmental store, but a London icon no less!

Take a look at what Wikipedia said about this store!

"Harrods is a luxury department store located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea , London, UK. The Harrods brand also applies to other enterprises undertaken by the Harrods group of companies including Harrods Bank, Harrods Estates, Harrods Aviation and Air Harrods, and Harrods Buenos Aires.

The store occupies a 4.5-acre (18,000 m2) site and has over one million square feet (90,000 m2) of selling space in over 330 departments. The UK's second-biggest shop, Oxford Street's Selfridges, is a little over half the size with 540,000-square-foot (50,000 m2) of selling space.

The Harrods motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique—All Things for All People, Everywhere. Several of its departments, including the seasonal Christmas department and the Food Hall, are world famous.
Throughout its history, the store has changed hands several times. Most recently, on 8 May 2010, Mohamed Al-Fayed sold the store to Qatar Holdings for a sum of £1.5 billion."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Back in London...

After two hours of stress free train ride we are back in London! If you wanna travel between London and Paris, this is the way to go!
 
The next morning May-N is taking me to meet the Imaging Manager of the British Museum, he is going to show me how they digitise their heritage objects! Oh.. May-N work as a I.T. Team Leader at the same museum :)

Wikipedia told me that:

"The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginning to the present."

It was a nice walk from the Russell Square tube station to the museum. It was a clear, cool sunny day; we pass the imposing Hotel Russell.

The Hotel Russell was built in 1898 by the architect, C. Fitzroy Doll. The hotel's restaurant, which is named after the architect is said to be almost identical to the RMS Titanic`s dining room which he also designed. - Wikipedia -

Russell Square is opposite the hotel, and I finally got to see the famous pigeon's fountain bath in the park! Duh!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Au Revoir Paris!

On a cool clear afternoon we left Denfert-Rochereau in a taxi for Gare du Nord terminal. We are leaving Paris on the Eurostar.

Eurostar is a high-speed passenger rail service connecting London with Paris and Brussels. All its trains cross under the English Channel via the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France, owned and operated separately by Eurotunnel. - Wikipedia

The taxis in France obviously are allowed to use bus lanes, our cab whizz in and out of bus lanes; bypassing the traffic jams and got us to the Paris North terminal in less than 30 minutes! Merveilleux!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I ♥ Paris (7)...

One day left for us in Paris! We only have time to see one last attraction; it will be Notre Dame!

Actually using the name Notre Dame for where we are going is not all correct, according to Wikipedia; Notre Dame (Our Lady) is a term referring to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It might also refer to other churches of the same name in other countries!

Where we are heading is correctly known as Notre Dam de Paris which Wikipedia gave a really detail account of this famous church:

"Notre Dame de Paris (French for Our Lady of Paris), also known as Notre Dame Cathedral, is a Gothic, Roman Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. It is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Paris: that is, it is the church that contains the cathedra (official chair), of the Archbishop of Paris, currently André Vingt-Trois. Notre Dame de Paris is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in France and in Europe. It was restored and saved from destruction by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, one of France's most famous architects. The name Notre Dame means "Our Lady" in French, and is frequently used in the names of Catholic church buildings in Francophone countries. Notre Dame de Paris was one of the first Gothic cathedrals, and its construction spanned the Gothic period. Its sculptures and stained glass show the heavy influence of naturalism, unlike that of earlier Romanesque architecture."

Friday, May 28, 2010

I ♥ Paris (6)...

Travelling to different tourist's attractions in Paris, our transport of choice is the Metro. In this instance, Metro is a rapid transit rail system, also known as a subway or underground.

The Paris Metro are very efficient, you get a train every 5 to 10 minutes. During peak hour the train can be really packed though! I mean REALLY, really packed; like sardines in a can ;)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I ♥ Paris (5)...

No, the photo below is NOT a French palace but a departmental store

Galeries Lafayette in Paris is a 10-storey department store, there are two buildings connected by a sky bridge. If you look at the building exteriors, you will never realise what's inside!



Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I ♥ Paris (4)...

Weather forecast predicted a fine day! May-N suggested that we go to another gallery, me? Had just about enough of galleries and art, but follow the leader we did and just as well because where we went is really breath taking beautiful!

According to Wikipedia, Jardin des Tuileries is:

"The Tuileries Garden (Fr. Jardin des Tuileries) is a public garden located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Created by Marie de Medicis as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, it was first opened to the public in 1667, and became a public park after the French Revolution. In the 19th and 20th century, it was the place where Parisians celebrated, met, promenaded, and relaxed."


Monday, May 24, 2010

I ♥ Paris (3)...

The next day we went to the Louvre, according to Wikipedia:

"The Musée du Louvre (French pronunciation: [myze dy luvʁ]), or officially the Grand Louvre — in English, the Louvre Museum or Great Louvre, or simply the Louvre — is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited museum in the world, and a historic monument. It is a central landmark of Paris, France and is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (district). Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet)."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I ♥ Paris (2)...

Champs-Élysées, a name that few of us pronounced correctly, unless of course if you speak French :) It is pronounce as "shahn-zay-lee-ZAY".

Wikipedia has this to say about this famous 2 Km avenue in Paris:

"The Avenue des Champs-Élysées (French pronunciation: [avəny de ʃɑ̃zelize] ( listen)) is a prestigious avenue in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets in the world, and with rents as high as €1.1 million (USD1.5 million) annually per 1,100 square feet (92.9 square metres) of space, it remains the most expensive strip of real estate in Europe.[1][2] The name is French for Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed dead in Greek mythology. The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is known in France as La plus belle avenue du monde ("The most beautiful avenue in the world").[3] The arrival of global chain stores in recent years has slightly changed its character, and in a first effort to stem these changes, the City of Paris (which has called this trend "banalisation") decided in 2007 to ban the Swedish clothing chain H&M from opening a store on the avenue.[2] In 2008, however, American clothing chain Abercrombie & Fitch was given permission to open a store."


Friday, May 21, 2010

I ♥ Paris...

We took a cab from our apartment in Rome to Airport Ciampino in the afternoon and we arrived in France a few hours later. Now there are four of us, Lamont has to go back to London to work.

We took the airport bus which took us to Denfert Rochereau, a very nice residential suburb.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

When In Rome (5)...

After five exciting days, it is time to say goodbye to Rome! I will miss her classical old buildings...


When In Rome (4)...

After our tough workout at the St Peter Basilica, May-N decided we should go somewhere special for dinner. We, the oldies has no clue where we are heading; we just follow the leader ;)

A short bus ride, more probing with the handheld GPS; more walking on the dreaded cobblestones; this charming square suddenly appeared in front of us!

Click on the picture to see the charming square!

A sign board told me that the church at the square is the Basilica of St. Mary and the square in front constitute the heart of the district of Trastevere.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When In Rome (3)...

The Papal Basillica of Saint Peter, commonly known as St. Peter's Basilica is next door to the Vatican Museums.

According to Wikipedia:

"St. Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, holding 60,000 people.[1] It is regarded as one of the holiest Christian sites. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world"[2] and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom".

Religion aside, I was impressed. This I gotta see!

Waiting for the Pope! He is going to talk to this massive crowd in front of the Basilica.

Monday, May 17, 2010

When In Rome (2)...

The Collosseum took away a day of our Rome stay, the next day we got up at 7 am to visit the Vatican Museums
 
The weather was not as kind as yesterday, it was spitting down very lightly;
at 7.30 am scores of tourists are already lining up outside the gate!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

When In Rome...

We (I, Le General, Ming-N, May-N and Lamont) woke up at 3 am to catch a "taxi van" at 4 to London Gatwick airport. Gatwick has the world's busiest single-use runway and this is where no frills EasyJet will take us to Rome.

Our plane landed at Rome Fiumicino at 9 am, according to Wikipedia; "Fiumicino is a town and comune in the province of Rome, Lazio, central Italy. It is famous for the presence of the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport, the busiest airport in Italy and the fifth busiest in Europe." But where are the crowd? ;)