Monday, May 31, 2010
So much to look forward to. 2 weeks in Alaska and then the move home. However there seems to be two conflicting versions on when I am actually expected back. My future boss tells me that there is no real rush but the MD and HR director says to return after I complete my trip to Alaska. I think it best to heed the instructions of the MD. After all why stay here longer then necessary?
I am disappointed though that I would not be able to travel this region as I wanted to.... Shiraz, Petra, Jerusalem etc. But on the up side, being in Singapore would place me that much closer to places like Bali, Manado, Lembeh and even Ambon to indulge in my main love of scuba diving and underwater photography.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
1. We cannot expect a comfy hotel room and bed after a very long flight.
2. There will be a lack of privacy on the RV.
3. We will all have to share a bathroom/toilet.
4. We will have to eat meals prepared in the RV's kitchen.
5. We will be on the road often.
6. We may not even feel comfortable on the RV.
7. We may not even get along with Bill's friends or daughter.
Just the same we intend to make the best of every situation. It's not everyday one gets to go to Alaska!
Monday, April 19, 2010
Results will be out in July so we shall see what happens.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
But a chance to photograph Alaska is just too good an opportunity to pass up and can only add to my "portfolio".
I have already decided what cameras and lenses to bring.
1. Nikon D700
2. Nikkor 14-42mm f2.8
3. Nikkor 70-200 mm f2.8
4. Nikkor 60mm f2.8 Macro.
5. Leica M8
6. Nokton 35mm f1.2
7. Color Skopar 21mm f4
8. Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8
Heck I can even look forward to renting a car there.
However there are always a few difficulties encountered when shooting underwater that are easily forgotten when reviewing the best of one's photos in the comfort of one's home.
Take these cute little Hippocampus Denise Pygmy Seahorses for example. I was shooting with a 105mm macro lens, had both strobes on and had a huge focus light on. I guess because the subject itself is ridiculously small, the auto focus function of the lens had a heck of a time locking on to the subject, and in this case I wanted the eyes to be the tack sharp. The seahorse kept moving which didn't help and at this point I will stress the importance of a really good dive guide who understands your needs enough to do what is necessary without going so far as to traumatising or injuring any marine organism for the sake of getting the shot.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
So I guess here's how it feeds. It uses it's hind legs to secure itself to some sponge or tunicate in the current.
Back in Singapore there were a number of ways I could seek an outlet. The frequent bouts of good natured jesting in the office certainly was one. Or I could go downstairs for coffee. Lunch times were definitely a great outlet as there were many places to go to within walking distance. And most of all, it was still home.
Over here it's different. Having your boss sit right behind you doesn't help. No large variety of lunch time venues within walking distance and no fun jovial office to joke with. It is mostly all seriousness and when the jokes do come around, it's on another level that I am unaccustomed to.
So hence, I blog.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Most of the above were shot on Fujichrome Velvia 100 with the exception of the guy playing the musical instrument which I believe was done on Kodak Ektachrome E100VS. As you can tell I like high saturation colour slides. Film just has a certain character and quality about it that digital just cannot replicate which will see me along with a lot of other film afficianos using this medium for a long time to come.
God bless film...
Angkor Wat at dawn.
Angkor Wat with Heisham in the distance.
However the main purpose for my wanting to visit Siem Reap a second time around was to visit Beng Melea which is a little farther out from Siem Reap in the opposite direction of Angkor Wat. It was a short trip with a full Thursday spent visiting the Angkor ruins and the good part of Friday morning visiting Beng Melea which was about an hour's drive out of Siem Reap.
As I wanted to be a hero, I decided to travel light this time and shoot entirely on film and on two camera bodies mainly a Leica M6 and MP (I left the Lomo LC-A out at the last minute). Everything went into a Think Tank waist pouch and voila! Travel Photography made light and easy.....somewhat. And I must say I found it such a liberating experience unlike the first time I was here with cumbersome slingbag with DSLR and heavy tripod in tow! The waist pouch camera bag concept is just revolutionary as all that weight is transfered to your hips allowing one to traipse gaily over fallen rocks and boulders without much effort like so..
Beng Mealea was simply breathtaking. It was a damn good thing we got there early before the tour groups arrived because being there alone, amidst the forested ruins, one can't help but feel a sense of awe and adventure.
The toppled entrance to Beng Mealea.
Unlike the rest of the Angkor ruins which are now mostly well kept and manicured, Beng Mealea has been left to the jungle and it's growth has been allowed free rein. This may not be a bad thing as not only does it add to the "lost quiet jungle ruin" atmosphere but it more importantly provides protection and shade from the sun!
The Beng Mealea experience was simply a beautiful and breathtaking one, that is until the noisy Chinese tourist horde arrived with their shrieks and howls. It all then went downhill from there..
Nevetheless we got the hell outta there...
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I picked Aileen up this evening from the budget terminal. Although I was glad to see her I could see her sadness at having to leave her children (age 6 and 4) behind and not see them again for the next 2 years.
Anyways Aileen was sweet enough to buy us stuff from the Philippines. She got Norman and me Bermudas and she even knew what size to get us!
After having had to play maid to my father for the last 2 weeks, I have developed a healthy respect for what she has to go through. I am glad though that she has her sister and friends here to come back to so it won't be all that bad. Just like how I always looked forward to going back to Dubai because of my mates.
However this time around, it will not be the same anymore. sigh.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
The bits I like- the main room and bathroom was nice and spacious. And I really mean nice and spacious! Short stays here just do not do it justice.
However it is their camera room that really takes the cake. Nice and spacious with individual workstations with two multipin power sockets for charging batteries and stuff. With the huge group the "Night Safari" experienced, it was still pretty roomy and no one really got into each other's way.
However on my second stay, another diver and myself were the ONLY ones to use the camera room. And I could hardly even see the guy's stuff giving me the impression that I was the only user of the room.
Each workstation had a small laminated numbered card with a clip that you attach to your housing so that when the staff return your kit to the camera room (after rinsing in freshwater) they will return your kit ato your workstation according to it's number. Neat eh?
The infinity pool for you to spend your surface intervals at. Oh the green is not algae but the colour of the tiles. I checked.
The view of the inviting water as you walk out onto the jetty to the dive boat.
Add in great company and there you have it... :)
However I did see a great number of juveniles hanging around which must surely be a good thing for they are the "future".
This baby frogfish is so tiny than it's smaller than a pea! I was really lucky in spotting this one. I was poking around a ball of old fishing net at Jahir when I noticed this minuscule movement of something that resembled a micro mini frogfish. True enough it was a micro mini frogfish! I only managed to get two shots of it before it disappeared back among the bottom debris for which Lembeh is so fabulously famous for.
This juvenile scorpionfish tried "yawning" in a vain attempt to get me to scoot off. It didn't work of course.
This juvenile flamboyant cuttlefish was just the cutest thing ever. It trotted along the seabird on two tentacles to a sort of cadence. It was so darn cute that if one could, one would cuddle it.
The following shots while not taken during the "Night Safari" event are also of juveniles.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
1. No expectations of thanks or reward.
2. The carrying out of tasks without grudge or complaints.
3. The putting aside of pride and scrounging up of every common sense I can muster.
However whenever I feel myself faltering in these areas I just recall that wonderful feeling of jumping into that cool Lembeh water and descending to a black sandy oasis full of photographic anticipation and excitement....
I guess I've had my fun...and now it's time to "pay".
Monday, March 15, 2010
In a funny sort of way I did warn myself that my own expectations may not be met on this trip and I guess in a way, my foreboding was all not for naught. However.. I am indeed glad to have met folks whose company I enjoyed tremendously and ended up having a blast....like bitchin' that the fishing boat with lights that did jack shit for us, sharing whiskey and talking crap until the whiskey ran out so the trip was not a total loss on the relationship front. Well I guess we can't have everything in life and it's all about managing one's expectations.
However I for one am GLAD to be going back to Kasawari Lembeh this Wednesday for a another quick trip before I pack up my dive kit for good until next year. I have decided to put off diving in the UAE for good. With Heisham gone it just seems pointless to drive 2 hours to the east coast for mediocre diving and then have to lug everything back to Singapore all over again if I plan another trip to Lembeh next year. Nosiree all my dive gear and U/W photography kit will be left at home this time. As such this week's dive trip will be my last for a very long while so I intend to make every full use of it.
I will make no secret that I am a fan of Tony Wu's underwater photography so I consider myself lucky to have come across this opportunity to obtain a similar shot of his from his book "Silent Symphony" (with William Tan) of a porcelain crab residing in the anus of a sea cucumber!
Oh how I love to regale to anyone who would listen how I managed to obtain such a shot! The time and patience required staring at the wrong end of a sand gobbler observing the pulsating opening and closing of it's anal opening awaiting the right moment for the little crab to show itself... :)
Although I did not get to capture on camera the sort of critter behaviour I was hoping to capture ie: mating, hunting, I did managed to get some pretty cool shots of fish lying in wait for dinner to swim by.
"Hello...Nice to Eat You" because I imagine a small little fishy ambling along the dark bottom of the substrate in search of food only to come across a pair of eyes shining in the dark looking intently at it and in a split second dash...nothing but darkness as the little fishy contemplates it's new role as nutrient giving food to it's sinister lie in wait predator. Burp.