Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My 28mm Journey of Penang 2015 - Part II

During this festive season, I have to go somewhere. Due to budget issue, I choose to go Penang again. I feel comfortable in this city full of heritage, modern and comfort lifestyle. The journey was unexpectedly smooth. By 10 in the morning, I have reached the heart of the city. 

View of the island from ferry
This trip was very much unplanned. Other than booking accommodation upfront, the agenda were pretty much ad-hoc. We walk on the street talking about old times, how we used to take photos here, trying the food there, and who we were travel with. Time flies. 

Rusty door, faded paint
Stood the test of time

Simple composition
Fire hydrant here looks a bit different. It is red rather than yellow, the appearance is unique as well. The city is full of old buildings. I like to see the corrode doors, windows couple with the faded wall. They have stood the test of time. 

ISO 200 | f/5.6 | 1/1100s
The wall painting was somewhat originated from this city before resonate to other reasonably old settlements. Rather than queuing to take the famous wall painting photos which turns up the same like everyone else. I often look for new painting that attracts me.
ISO 200 | f/2 | 1/1000s

Coffee is part of my life. As much as I learn how to love them, the city offer lots of choices for me to discover. They always have something for me to remember, whether is smell of the aroma, or the cozy ambient that makes me reluctant to leave.

Coffee Affairs

I like how they decorate the interior

showing all fingers in portrait
The streets is always a happening place. From market to back lane, my camera will always standby beside my hip. Some of the shot actually turns up quite well despite having to guess the composition and rely on the camera to decide where to focus on. 

Looks like he is going to kill someone!
The old lady vendor was talking happily with her neighbour.

"It's not the destination, but the journey that matters most..." Along the way, there are some beautiful scene that I cant resist to press the shutter. It takes away all your tiredness and keeps you awake so that you can be home safely.
view from the hotel room.
Ferrying across
I'll end the post with a bang. Sunset at Sekinchan.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My 28mm Journey of Penang 2015

It was holiday season, labour day + wesak day replacement. This means we have to travel again. Due to budget constraint, we have chosen Penang again. However, this journey takes 10 agonizing hours on the road in order to arrive on the island. Feel like home again.

After checking in to hotel, first stop we went to a D'Cova Cafe on Lebuh Bishop. The ambient is nice, the food are fairly price, and it taste great!

Caramel Sea Salt Macchiato [RM9.50]

Carbonara DCova [RM16.90]
 Right after the food, I noticed this door opposite the cafe. It's a cliché to fit her within the door! There is another cafe accros the street - Coffee Affairs. Sadly, we don't have a chance to visit. Definitely in our next TO-DO list.

The next day we visited the Penang Hill. We reach the ticket counter around 7++a.m. Not only the ticket price was RM3, we only waited for 30 mins for the ride. However, the sun already high up in the sky. (I was actually planning for a sunrise shot). Gotta wake up earlier next time.

Panorama view obstructed by huge cloud

Even Apek want to take photo with "LOVE"

Tourist attraction

misty look

It's difficult to get sunstar with x100s lens

I use YN560iii for fill flash
 As soon as we come down from the hill, we notice the ticket counter was flooded with people already. We feel so bad for them have to queue so long for the ticket and also for the ride. We then depart to Tanjung Bungah for breakfast. However, we feel disappointed with the over-priced and poor taste of food they have served. Regardless, it remains as one of the highly rated cafe in penang. Perhaps we order the wrong food.
Half the excitement went away with the breakfast served
 At night, we have dessert at Huey & Wah cafe near Bellisa Row, Jalan Burma. We fall in love with the marshmallow cheesecake there.
Cheesecake in a jar...#nothingtohide or #nothingleft
 The next day, we went to Kimberley street for breakfast and I like to shoot street photography at the pasar pagi over there. At here, the 28mm seems a little bit too wide and often you are not close enough to fill the frame.

Chicken Vendor with Cowboy hat?

Finally we went to the Chew Jetty for the first time! It's good to see how this place have become tourist attraction and love the ambient there.

Last attempt to visit the Coffee Affairs and failed! See you next time!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Milky Way Shooting Post Processing

It's been a while since my last post. Here I would like to share my way of post process the milky way RAW. If you want to know how to shoot the milky way at the first place, you can read my previous post here. Since my last attempt, I have been always looking for new location to shoot the milky way. The galaxy looks the same anywhere, but how you compose the foreground to compliment it matters.

Remember the less light pollution the area you shoot, the better the output captured. You can then extract much better detail from the distance stars. You always want to make sure you have record the best possible RAW file to begin with.

I use Lightroom for post processing the RAW file. First is the white balance.
  • White Balance
Often I follow the night sky white balance. I find at Temp 2650, the night sky looks natural. The tint you may adjust to the left (looks greener) or to the right (looks purplish) to suite your taste.
  • Contrast
Increase the contrast to makes the milky way stands out.
  • White & Black
Increase the White and decrease the Black. This will makes the stars pop. You manage your slider intensity just before the sky looks pitch black.
  • Clarity
Increase the clarity for more sharpness
  • Saturation & Vibrance
Increase the saturation and vibrance to bring out the color of the milky way.
  • Tone Curve
Increase the highlights and lights and decrease the shadows.

  • Noise Reduction
Often we need to shoot at high ISO level (i.e. 1600 - 6400) that will introduce noise. Drag the Luminance level from 0 to about 10-20. You cannot eliminate all the noise wihout sacrificing the details. There should be a balance there.
  • Adjustment Brush
Lastly, we need to use the adjustment brush to enhance the milky way. Select the milky way path using the adjustment brush and then increase the contrast, highlight, saturation, clarity, sharpness and reduce only the shadow.

With this few simple tweak, here I would like to show you the before and after post processing photos.



Hopefully this can be helpful to you all. Happy shooting and editing!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My 28mm Journey of Taiwan

Recently, I rewarded myself with a trip to Taiwan – a land full of nice scenery, food, and people. There is nothing better than travelling with your love one. 

The Gears

First I would like to talk a little bit about my gears. For those who only interested with the photos, you may skip this section. In summary to my setup, all my videos and photos were 28mm!
That's all I bring to the trip. + Fuji Instax as well!
I would like to carry my DSLR with couple lenses together with my tripod because I have plan to capture long exposure landscapes, portraits and some nice street photography. However, all these gears for me to bring would weight me down, like a lot! So, by just bringing the X100S is the answer? Yes and No. The last time I was in Bangkok I’m travelling with the same setup. Although it gave me great images, but at a certain point I wish it was wider. You don’t always have few more step backwards flexibility. As a result, the composition only consist of the person face, without the background to tell the place.

Long before the trip I was researching on the X100 series add-on, the WCL-X100 wide angle converter. It convert the X100s 35mm field of view to 28mm. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but in practice, it really matter. I get a used unit for about RM600 and now it is permanently on my X100S body.
However, here come the new problem. The on-camera flash would get obscure due to the additional section of the wide angle converter in front of it. I could have get the Fuji flash for ttl and better looks but they are too expensive, and less powerful too. So, I just bring along my YongNuo 560 flash that works well with X100S (but only in manual mode). Although it looks funny and the weight ratio is top heavy, but I don’t really have a choice for some fill-flash scenario. I only pop the flash on when only necessary.

Next is extra batteries and memory cards. All of it! I shoot only jpeg because I’m lazy to process the photos and I can fill more photos in each card compared to just RAW. Oh, the bag fits one Fuji Instax as well!

The Trip

Once we arrived at the airport, we get the sim pack from their service centre. Only at here, you get the bonus NT100 credits! Then we depart to TaiChung, via their high speed train. The train ride only takes about 40 minutes! Then our adventure begins~
Departing from Taoyuan to Taichung

逢甲夜市 (Feng Jia Night Market)
The happening night market (even in weekdays) is flooded with foods and people. Even though it is difficult to find rubbish bin, the streets are free from it. The cars and motorbikes will gives priority to pedestrian crossing.
The street is busy even on weekdays
Another culture I notice is their passion to keep dogs as pet. You can see many dogs accompany their master to the streets.
Nicely groom dog accompany the owner to the street

彩虹眷村 (The Rainbow Village)
This place used to be an army residence that were meant to be demolished. There was one man, also known as 彩虹爷爷 – 93 years old, decided to paint the whole village with colorful paintings in order to raise awareness for historical site preservation and prevent the government from demolish the place.
The whole village was hand painted by one man
Drawing such as artists, politician, and even sportsman are all over the walls on the surviving house which is still lives by 12 families.  Obviously, this strategy works. Right now, he wakes up 3am every morning to maintain the paintings and it has become one of the must visit place around Tai Chung area.
The rainbow grandpa - 93 years old
There are still 12 families live in the village
Besides selling some merchandise such as postcards, key chain, t-shirt, there are also one man with Iron-Man mask distributing postcards for free and you are allowed to take photos with him! “Don’t give up your dream!” He said that after taking photo together with me.
"I got the power..."
The walls always have to be repainted, all done alone by the old man
From the entrance
The view is simply stunning...
The garden is planting different flowers according to season. Right now, the garden is full of red tulip. Colorful flower combine with nice decoration offer plenty of photo opportunity. I was never been so overwhelmed by flowers before. Being there is simply breath taking.
Red tulips blooming
Immersed in a sea of flowers
Close Up
薰衣草森林 (Lavender Garden)
Lavender fields
Taking photos in front of a giant mirror while having lavender ice-cream
The place is hidden away from the city, you should hired a driver to get there. The place is nicely decorated, equipped with restaurant, café and even market that sells lavender related products such as soups, aroma therapy essence and even lavender ice cream. It has a carousel even adult can ride to bring back your childhood memories. At the end, we wrote a postcard which was the entrance ticket and they will post it back to us.
They post the postcard for free
Carousal in action... 
The colorful wonderland
The child is curious about the giant color pencils!

日月潭 (Sun Moon Lake)

The fishing net boat
Sun Moon Lake is a fresh water lake that is more than 2,000 ft. from sea level. The weather here is windy and cooling throughout the season. The 2 main town around the lake are 水社 and 伊達邵. There are plenty of home stay around the area. We only managed to go for the boat tour.
Town of Shueishe
The taiwanese sausage is a common street food
There are cable cars connecting the lake with Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village theme park area. The view here is nice but is more for relax area as the place is quiet after dark.
The street went quiet as the sun goes down
Trying the "pigs blood cake"
小瑞士花园 (Swiss Garden)
Overall view on the Swiss Garden
High up in the mountain, the garden also offer plenty of decorations for photo opportunity. However, the garden is quite small, and going once is more than enough.
nice ambient
wooden giraffe
Into the woods
清境农场(CingJing Veterans Farm)
The show begin
This place is so overrated and can be considered as one of the most visited place in Taiwan. Since we are in winter season, the farm grass is not green and the place is pack with tourist. The sheep show is talking more than the sheep itself. At the end, we don’t bother to went to the Horse/cowboy show. Regardless, I can imagine how the place used to be beautiful and peaceful serenity.
The blossom plant is everywhere
wooden windmill

合欢山 (武嶺)
panoramic view
While on our way to Hualien, we pass by the peak know as 合欢山 (武嶺). 3275 ft. above sea level, if you are lucky you can see snow at this area. We only can see icicle there. Temperature there is 4 degree Celsius and it was seriously cold as we are under-dress.
icicle sword
It's really cold for me and the x100s too I guess

太鲁阁国家公园 (Taruko National Park)
The iconic tourist shot
After that, we slowly descend to the Taruko National Park area which consists of several spot such as 燕子口, 白陽, 宁安桥 and others.
huge bedrock
The bridge over the Tianxiang town
While this place is famous for the beach (七星潭), we could not have chance to be there. First the weather is against us. We start experiencing rain during our trip. As we no longer hired driver for the rest of our trip, it make sense that we stay near the train station where we will travel to Taipei the next morning. The homestay do provide the bicycles for us but the seats were not comfortable. Since the beach is 6km away from the homestay, we only manage to hang around the town and the night market there for dinner. The next morning, we pack and leave for Taipei, a 2 hours journey on their fastest train – The Puyuma Train type.
The streets of Hualien
queueing for the famous bun
The Puyuma train type
十分 (ShiFen)
Shifen train station
This place become popular after the movie 那些年 (You are the apple of my eye). It’s the place where you write you wishes on KongMing Lantern and let it fly to the sky. There is a waterfall about 25-30 mins walking distance from the train station. After the tiring walk, the view of the waterfall is magnificent. We were there after the rain, so the waterfall flow vigorously. The sky is raining lightly and the water vapor from the waterfall constantly covered my camera and I have to wipe and cover it while shooting and holding umbrella at the same time! I would say this is the best landscape shot I have made on this trip.
Heavily decorated signboard
1,2,3, and let it go~
posing on the railway
The famous Shifen waterfall
Thigh streets and nice decor
This place is high up on the hill overseeing the Shenao Port. The streets around there are narrow and full of tourist. Not to mention the rain is getting heavier and navigating through the streets has become an issue. At this very moment, I get to know from the TV that TransAsia airplane has crashed. The vendors around that area start having discussion while watching the news.
Having a hot dessert in rainy weather
The iconic street view

The mighty 101
As the capitol of the country, it is nothing other than any place. The city is very organize and clean. They have very complete public transport infrastructure for metro and buses for instance. We get to places such as 九份 and 十分easily. The iconic building of the city is the Taipei 101. Being the second tallest building now, it’s the cliché that you cannot missed.
blossom close-up
After the trip ...

I have to point out few things about the camera equipment that I have brought with me. The lightweight X100S did not weight me down. However, the camera has its limitation. First, the autofocus is not consistent. Most of the time during backlit situation, where you just have to give up. Next, with the absence of optical low pass filter, I do see moiré in some of the images, but more on the video. The rolling shutter effect is even worst. However, this is not a do-it-all camera. I did not expect it to perform on the video aspect. Just point it out for those who considering this to be a perfect camera. The rewarding part of it is I don’t have to think about changing lens, focal length, setting up tripod, or choosing ISO (I use auto-iso quite often). You just need to focus more on composition, lighting that all matters. Being in the trip, the worst thing you can have is to fiddling too much on the camera where you should have been enjoying the moments. Sometime, you just have to hide the camera side of you.

The most important part is I enjoyed every bit of the moment there. The purpose of travelling is to being there, to learn and experience their culture and ambient. Lastly, enjoy a simple montage that I have prepared. Thank you for reading.