Monday, April 19, 2010

Scuba Diver Australasia Photo Competition

Back in mid April, I finally got around to submitting some of my photos for an underwater photography competition with Scuba Diver Australasia. Half the challenge was actually learning how to tag metadata to a photo and copyrighting it. I think it would be too much to expect my photos to get anywhere within the competition but hey, if one of them gets published as part of a collection of of submitted entries, then it'll be good enough for me! If one gets nominated for an honourable mention then I'll be over the friggin' moon.

Results will be out in July so we shall see what happens.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Alaska in June?

So my mom's wedding will be in June in Alaska and my brothers are going. There is really nothing major stopping me from going... the 32 hour travel time there is really off putting and the travel time back may even be a whoppin' 43 hours! And there are a total of two layovers involved each way.
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.

Shooting Underwater

One thing that is pretty evident from looking at underwater photos is how easy it must all seem. I must admit that if creative intent was not an issue, all one has to do was just ensure one's camera and strobes are set up correctly and then fire away.

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.
I mention the "best" because for every one decent photo taken, there are probably five out of focus, disjointed, crap looking ones that accompanies it.
Some of the difficulties I personally have encountered are as follows,
1. Strobes not strong enough (Diffusers left on)
2. Auto Focusing cannot lock on even with bright focus light especially when shooting at a 105mm focal length.
3. Subject keeps moving.
4. Underwater camera rig getting heavier and heavier causing arm to ache.

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.
And all this while my rig kept getting heavier and heavier and my arm muscles felt close to breaking point!
Hence after careful review of what transpired, I realised that for the really small stuff, one really needs to go manual on the focusing. Secondly having buoyant strobe arms are an absolute must.
These are lessons I hope to build upon as I plan for next year's trip to Bali and Lembeh.
As for the subject itself, I was thrilled to have been able to photography these guys and if diving physiological concerns were not an issue, I could have stayed on for hours.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blogger Font styles - all seven.

Arial - I am great
Courier - I am great
Georgia - I am great
Lucida Grande - I am great
Times - I am great
Trebuchet - I am great
Verdanas - I am great

I wonder how many font styles does wordpress have?

A test session on Blogger.. see how I can be a little more creative with my photo displacement

Monday, April 12, 2010

Orangutan Crab

One interesting critter commonly found in Bunaken or Lembeh is the Orangutan Crab (Achaeus japonicus) probably named so because it has red hair covering it's body like the jungle primate. I never really had much interest in this crab until my last trip in Lembeh when I came across this crab and doing what appears to be picking stuff off it's hairy filaments and eating them...much like picking one's nose and..... oh nevermind.

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.

It lets passing debri or stuff get caught in it's red hairy filaments....

It proceeds to pick the stuff out..

and more picking...

Then it feeds on it...yum yum!

For a clearer view of it's red hairy strands here's a shot of it on some sponge coral.

I guess this one wasn't hungry.

An Outlet for my Mind..

I think I understand now why I blog more frequently when I'm in the office. It is the only outlet for my mind.
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

Photo taking in Angkor and Beng Mealea

When we started off to Siem Reap, I had in mind what I wanted to achieve. I felt that on my last trip, I was content on photographing the ruins and it's beautiful carvings which I guess is a natural thing to do. This time around however, I wanted to photograph the life around the ruins. The people for whom the ruins mean a religious calling, a means of livelihood or simply just a place to play. These are some of what I got...

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...

Return to Siem Reap

On the 10th of March, Heisham and I went to Siem Reap to visit the Angkor ruins it being a second trip for me. Siem Reap is just the place for taking pictures if you're into travel and photography and I was glad to have a good friend along for the trip.

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

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

Last Night at Home

So this it. The last night at home. I guess I had a pretty darn good time at home. Who can complain with over a month spent at home with the first 3 weeks doing what one loves, mainly scuba diving and traveling. I've also managed to get my hands on some much longed for camera bodies such as a Leica MP and while not exactly an M9, an M8. I've had my fair doses of Mos Burger, Thai Express, Sushi Tei, Mee Rebus, Mee Siam and Nasi Padang. I've took in my fill of Orchard Road, took on more of our excellent public transportation and carried out my filial duties to my father while Aileen was back home for her own vacation.
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.