Category Archives: Street Photography

Just a journey to the edge of Yishun

It was like century ages since I last posted. Work and family simply doesn’t allow some quiet moments to myself. Today however, I managed to sneak out for an hour to do whatever I want – and that = photography quickie.

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As I was near Yishun town, I decided to take a walk to the edge or rather the entrance of the town as there is a spot which have always arouses my curiosity for a photoshoot. The spot is near the intersection of Yishun and the Central Expressway and it features a short river of sorts which seems pretty serene.

The walk was long…almost 4 or 5 km in total to and fro. I took my trusty Nikon V1 and a tripod along in case I need a long exposure. The road leading to the spot is along the tracks of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). The massive structures of the rail tracks are good subjects for some frames, and so I took some. Then you get the regular train passings which again got me instinctively lifting up the V1 for some shots.

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Though it might just be a 1″ sensor with a 10mm lens, the V1 gave some extraordinary sharp photos and colour rendering. The pop in the colour was quite exceptional and this really increases my desire for the Sony A7R or any other miniature-sized full frame cameras that might be out. Imagine how the  quality of the photos will be like if I have one in my hand 🙂

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By the time I got near to the spot, I got around 30 frames. Then misery struck! For there is no road leading to the spot from where I was walking. The spot was located within the satellite stations that could only be accessed from another area, and with security checks too. And so I had to retract my steps and forget about ever taking this spot.

But I did take another number of photos on my way back and I felt better.

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I like this picture best as there’s motion to the photo. Taken at f/8, the speed of the autofocus and nailing the shot was relatively easy.

 

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These creepers was all over the under-bottom of the rail tracks and is really nature’s art form .

 

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The only issue that I have with the V1 and the 10mm is that the short focal length simply decreases bokeh to a minimal. You have to depend pretty much on lines to get the perspective effect.

 

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More than halfway back, I realised that it could be a blessing in disguise as the skies suddenly darken and a thunderstorm was apparently brewing. If I have somehow gotten to the spot, I would be trapped in this heavy storm. Thank heavens!

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Just outstanding – the Nikon V1

I confessed that my gear itch syndrome was acting up again. It’s an incurable sickness that I have no intention to find a cure to. The only problem is I didn’t have much cash on hand to ease the itch away. I so wanted to try the Sony RX100 MKII and the RX1R, or even the GX7 which has yet to reach our shores. But these are expensive gear. Just the RX100 MKII will set me back by about US$700, and that’s a compact camera without a viewfinder…The electronic viewfinder itself will cost nearly another US$500! I wanted an affordable set of new gear that has a viewfinder, bigger sensor than my current Fuji X20, and greater ISO capabilities. Thank heaven that I found that in a Nikon V1.

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The Nikon V1 wasn’t exactly new. In fact, it’s about two years old. But this “old” camera happens to amaze many good photographers around the world with its speed and colour reproduction. I knew that the price for a V1 kit set has dropped to about US$400 or so – well within my budget, and was hence quite interested to get one to play with. So I went to Qoo10.com, the site that sells almost anything, and did a quick search. It was then that I realised that miracles exist. There’s actually a seller who sells the V1 kit with 10mm lens for less than US$300…to be exact, it’s only US$250! If that’s not cheap, I don’t know what is! I wasted no time in keying in my credit card details, clicked the “submit” button, and tadah! I got my new toy three days later (or yesterday).

I think I will be bringing this cam out a lot (had to say sorry to my X20) as I simply had to check out the extent of its capabilities. Just a short day with it and I am won over by the prowess that lies within its small frame. Though it doesn’t give the Fuji look which I loved so much, it delivers the fabled Nikon dynamic range which is pure wonder for something that only has a small 1″ sensor.  To see how rich the colours can be, just look at the cow below.

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I also managed to take some shoots at night, bumping the ISO to 800. True to the reviews/feedback, the V1’s autofocus and WB are really spot on and is worthy of a thumb-up. The ISO noise and sharpness control also deserved a compliment. Will test it more in the days to come 🙂 Stay tuned.

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Just another trip to laid-back Perth

It has been donkey-months since I last posted..and for legitimate reasons – that my PC is being kept within one of the 60+ boxes packed nicely in a storage place quite some distance from where I am staying right now.

Yes, I am in the midst of moving house. Though I am handicapped by the lack of a computing device, my photo-capturing tool stayed close to me as I shifted my place. But the hectic schedule between planning the move and working doesn’t permit much photography to be done. Within these sterile months, I was glad that I was able to go for an overseas conference which would provide me with the opportunities to take some frames.

The last time I went to Perth and Fremantle was about four years ago, and during then I was wielding my first DSLR. Actually it’s a m4/3 – the Olympus EP2. It was the newest m4/3 then. This time round, I “downgraded” and took along my Fuji X20, a compact that’s less than 1/2 the size of the the m4/3. But I love Fuji and I have absolute trust in the camera…and the user 🙂

The streets of Perth are interesting – a melting pot of nationalities and races, of culture and the arts. The Fuji excels in its film-like colors and its B&W.

In the right conditions, the Fuji X20 is able to capture amazing details and colors that rivals its bigger-sensor counterparts. It works well especially with structures, and Perth provides some of the nicest structures that we can find in this region.

And who can ever go to Australia without taking some photos of the native animals! I was glad that my choice of camera was the X20 as there is no need for me to change my lens. Zooming in and out was a breeze, and especially useful in capturing the unpredictable subjects. The only pitfall was that the X20 doesn’t fare well in low-light and the metering was not accurate enough. In dim places, it was quite a challenging task to get some good shots.

I had some other shots that I was quite happy with. I have inserted them below for sharing. Enjoy.

 

 

Just a salute to the men in blue – Singapore Navy Open House 2013

Visited the Naval Base yesterday for the 2013 Singapore Navy Open House. Every year, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will host a public event to keep us civilians abreast of the developments in their mission and to allow us to sleep peacefully during the night knowing that our forces are on 24/7 protecting the nation. While we may not be the strongest eagle in the sky, or the biggest elephant on the land , or the largest whale beneath the ocean, we sure pack one of the meanest hornet sting that promise to make anyone regret they ever threaten our sovereignty. That being said, we are a peaceful group of people because we love photography 🙂

The X20 is a wonderful companion to bring along to the event as it is light-weight and has a zoom of 28-112mm. Hence I could just swing the camera up and start shooting without much consideration for weight or lens changing. I shot the day using two modes – B&W and the Negative-Hi. Loved the latter as it gave a stern blue tone to the images, befitting the well-trained naval forces.

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The even started with a showcase of the naval might. This involved a real-time demonstration of the naval capabilities in their reaction to terrorist attacks at sea. The X20’s fast auto-focus came well in play here.

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There were quite a number of equipment displays available for visitors to try on or explore. Frigates were aplenty too and these were awe-inspiring given its futuristic looking stealth exteriors.

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I could not resist doing colors as the stern colors of the frigates went perfectly with the sky and the emerald sea.

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I loved the submarine best. The X20 rendered the image very well despite the dark colors of the sub.

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Besides the equipment, there were tons of people around. Had to take some shots of the men in blue as a simple tribute to them and their hard work.

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Even the K9 unit came and the kids just loved them.

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One of the sights that melted my heart was the presence of the underprivileged and handicap group. They were invited by the naval forces to join in the show and have a good time. Kudos!

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Kids from other schools were invited as well.

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If you are in Singapore, do drop by the naval open house over the weekend!  I will just leave you with more photos of the equipment, and a preview of what you can expect at the event 🙂 Enjoy!

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Just another beautiful sunset

This has been a lovely week as it was one of the rare times that I managed to get my wife to approve a few hours for me to take my trusty X20 out for a walk 🙂

I decided to go to the nearby Upper Seletar Reservoir to take some shoots of the sunset. I must say that though I have been there a couple times, it was mostly in realms of the dark nights and mostly long exposures shots. It was kinda embarrassing to say that taking sunset at Upper Seletar Reservoir was a first for me, even though I lived there for more than 4 years.

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Anyway as shown in my previous posts, the X20 was quite capable of taking sunset, in full glorious colors. The sunset at Upper Seletar Reservoir was slightly different as the direction and view was largely blocked by rail tracks and trees. But then, its a reservoir and the water masses made up for it with the beautiful reflections.

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As nightfall, it became a stretch for the X20 again as it struggles to take long exposure. For example in the below image, it has obvious slight grains, but acceptable. (by the way, the streak of light is the train passing by). One thing that got me a bit impatient though was the long processing time when taking long exposures. I managed to play a few rounds of Candy Crush and Injustice while waiting. Perhaps Fujifilm can do something about it as a firmware upgrade.

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Next time, I will take some sunset in B&W – which is where the X20’s true strength lies. Would love to see the results 🙂

Just plain beautiful sunset

I didn’t have the discipline nor opportunity to take sunsets for a long time. Was delighted to get wife’s nod to go out for a short 45 mins in the evening to “walk” my X20. Decided to go to Pierce Reservoir which is nearby and has one of the few nicer view of sunset in the northern region.

The X20 is a marvelous camera that consistently deliver beyond expectations and beyond its pitiful sensor 2/3 size. But taking sunset in all its glory proves to be a challenge for it. With a f/11 limit, no bulb control, and no ND filter, there’s just that much the X20 can do. That being said, the X20’s color controls are fantastic and the images that came out of the camera rivals some of its higher-end and bigger sensor counterparts in the market.

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Did a panaroma using the X20 built-in function. It gives you a choice of 120 degrees, 180 degrees or 360 degrees. I stood by the 120 degrees as it is sufficient to show the horizon beautifully.

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Invisible Singapore [03] Keep North – Yishun 义顺

Sometimes it’s amazing how a small island like Singapore could pack in so many things. i have been living in the northern side of the island ever since I know how to mumble my abc. Till today, i have yet to even explore a quarter of this segment in detail. Yishun is one of the towns in the northern side, alongside Sembawang and Woodlands, and nearby to Ang Mo Kio as well as the new towns of Sengkang and Punggol. It is also along the Upper Thomson Road which offers a myriad of scenic and gastronomic experiences.  Yishun used to be a sleepy old town that houses reserviors and natural lushes of greens. With the explosion in population,  the laid back style was replaced by more concrete landscaping. Yes, it’s harder to find natural formations to shoot but if we try, there are still some spots that offered an opportunity.

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located at the entrance to Yishun is the Bottle Tree Park – a place for relaxation and for corporates to host cohesion or team building activities.  The owners tried to replicate a rural landscape witnin their premise which comes with a fishing pond, a RC car racing track, a handicraft area, a vegetation growing area and even a heritage area. while most of the things are man-made,  thee are still some nice scenic stuffs worth shooting. I shoot largely in base ISO 100 in the bright sunlight which the X20 performs very well.

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Black and White houses

Nearer to Sembawang, there exists a stretch of land where many colonial black and white houses stand. These are bound by roads with very foreign names such as Pakistan Road and Queens Road. Apparently, the houses are still inhabited but could still be felt as quite secluded from civilisation. The X20 is able to output a good level of contrast for the structures and highlight the beautiful tones of the b&w buildings.

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Pierce Reservoir

It is advisable to go with a partner, at least, if you intend to visit Pierce Reservoir.  Even at broad daylight, walking the covered tracks is an eerie experience. I decided against venturing in alone amidst the thick vegetation into the reservoir.  I was glad that I stood with that as the sky soon turned dark with threatening roars of thunder. Though I missed the landscape shots, I managed to take some shots of the monkeys that are abundant along the reservoir road. These rascals are totally unafraid of us humans and wanders into close proximity of my car. One stood just outside my car window allowing me to shoot it while it got drenched in rain. I was impressed by the capability of the X20 that despite its small sensor, it was able to deliver a high degree of sharpness and dynamic range that breathed character into the images. Great job Fuji!

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There are many more nice places in Yishun and the rest of the northern regions. Hopefully I will have the chance to cover more of them in the next few weeks.

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Just another Sunday

To be frank, I don’t like Sundays as much as I love Saturdays…as Sundays signal the end of the weekends. Moreover, Sundays in Singapore are often used for last minute preparations or to prepare for the hectic week ahead, so that literally means the end of rest time for most of us. But amongst all these work and much, some of us will still try to squeeze out time to do what they like. For me, I will use my errands or grocery/marketing to sneak some frames.

Near to Yishun where I lived is the Upper Seletar Reservoir Park. According to official records, the place was built in 1920 and was opened by Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra in 1969! It was later renamed as Upper Seletar Reservoir. Besides being a water catchment area, the Park is also surrounded by nature reserves. It is a nice place to laze and just stare at the blue waters or greenery, and a lot of causal fishing take place here too. Since I was out buying some teabreak for my wife and kids, I popped by the place to take a few shots – in pure B&W 🙂

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