Happened to be there when the “Christmas Wonderland” at the Gardens by the Bay was officially opened on the 27th Nov 2015.
More info? There is an official website.
Happened to be there when the “Christmas Wonderland” at the Gardens by the Bay was officially opened on the 27th Nov 2015.
More info? There is an official website.
The Japanese showed that they were indeed a class-above by beating the Singaporean team 0-3 at the National Stadium.
It began quite well as the home team thwarted multiple advances from the Samurai Blue. But I have to admit, it was mainly the effort by Izwan Mahbud, the goal keeper. He saved many attempts but not enough when Mu Kanazaki headed in the ball at the 20th minute. The flood gates seemed to have been opened finally, and Keisuke Honda and Maya Yoshida netted the 2nd and 3rd goals.
The game was dominated by the Japanese and the Singaporean team only created 1 or 2 chances and they were unfortunately off-target. Samurai Blue’s keeper Shusaku Nishikawa was unchallenged. I think he was rather bored or relaxed, and I even saw him stretching his legs during the second half of the game.
Sidenote: while football wasn’t really promising, Singapore did win something this season — the Singapore National Stadium bagged this year’s Supreme Award for Structural Engineering Excellence! [source]
Santorini consists of a group of islands created by volcanoes in Greece. Fira and Oia are probably the two most well-known towns in these islands. Fira is more like a city, which has multiple roads and access to the port on its eastern-side by cable cars or a steep Z-shaped footpath. Oia, pronounced as “EE-ah”, on the other hand is smaller but more scenic.
This is a late post and having only remember this place being really warm and dry during summer — I will let the photos do the talking.
Since it is the 50th Singapore birthday this weekend, the musical industry also made a tribute concert to 50 years of Singapore music at the National Stadium yesterday, 7-Aug 2015 with thousands of musicians performing to approximately 45,000 people (I am glad to be one of them).
I took some photos from my seat:
I almost didn’t get this photo had I lost the struggle to wake up early one Sunday morning! 😁
Background story: I noticed the sun was pretty well-aligned with the train tracks during my morning commute to work and I thought it might make an interesting photo. But I couldn’t do it but to wait till the weekend.
Besides looking out for such occasions, you could also use an app to tell how the sun is rising/setting on any particular day. Earth rotates at an inclined angle and (I think) this means the sun doesn’t really rise from the same place at all times. In Singapore, it seems to come from the southwest direction in the beginning of the year and slowly shifts to northwest as we approach June/July.
These are the views from the top of the award-winning building which features the world’s two longest sky gardens, on both the 26th and 50th floors. The Pinnacle@Duxton is a re-development of the Duxton Plain. The Duxton Plain was historically significant as the site of the first two ten-storey HDB blocks in the Tanjong Pagar area and they were amongst the oldest built by the HDB in the country.
How to get there:
Totally not in our agenda, but I am glad we stumbled into this when we were exploring the alleys towards the east side of Venice.
Dubbed (or rather claimed) to be “the most beautiful bookshop in the world,” I find it most intriguing or interesting than beautiful. It is in fact a big mess inside with an unused gondola in the middle which holds hundreds of books. There is another room with a bathtub full of books. The mess is not necessarily bad, because it did add a lot of character to place — but I can’t imagine anyone really shopping for books here.
Maybe a postcard?
Should add this to your list, if you’re going to Venice… 🙂
How to get there:
Ephesus was really ancient. Excavations found stuff dated back to the Neolithic Age (6000 B.C.).
It was located on the Aegean coast of present-day Turkey. The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
In 268 AD, the Temple was destroyed in a raid by the Goths. The site is now flooded with water, and only 1 lonely column left of the temple’s pillars. We found a stork bird nest on top of that pillar (that’s the most interesting thing, at least for me…).
I was more awed by the main site of Ephesus where the Library of Celsius, Odeon and the open-air theatre are located. This site had access to the harbour but was slowly silted up by the river which explains why I saw no view of the sea at the end of harbour street. I did a quick check later on Google Maps, and found that the coast is now at least 5 KM away from this ancient site.
Just came back from a wonderful cruise!
One of the ports of call was Dubrovnik, located in the south of Croatia. Some 15 mins away from the port is the Old Town where the location is used for King’s Landing scenes in HBO-series Game of Thrones! I should have known when I saw so many GoT-themed tours being offered upon arrival at the Pile Gate. Alas, I brushed them aside thinking it must have been just a “theme” since the place looked and felt medieval.
So instead of photos of GoT points of interest, my focus was steered towards the mountainous landscape of its surrounding and the beautiful view of the Adriatic Sea.
Malaysia seems to be in tumultuous times.
I really hope Malaysia boleh overcome all these, that the people can stay united and prosper together.
On a positive note, I am looking forward to the proposed high speed rail to Kuala Lumpur!
Many things have been written and said about the great man, Lee Kuan Yew, who was Singapore’s founding Prime Minister. He died on March 23 at the age of 91. I have much respect for him — who was the head of the government that transformed this-once a colonial trading post into a modern metropolis which is also a beautiful & safe place to live in.
Here are some notable quotes from him; some hard truths, some witty and some with no doubt stirred much controversies but all classics:
For me, it is a moment of anguish. All my life, my whole adult life, I believed in merger and unity of the two territories. (August 9, 1965)
Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him. Or give it up. This is not a game of cards! This is your life and mine! I’ve spent a whole lifetime building this and as long as I’m in charge, nobody is going to knock it down. (Rally, 1980)
Mah Bow Tan, age 16, took his ‘O’ levels – six distinctions, two credits. Mr Chiam, age 18 – 1953 I think – six credits, one pass. He passed his English language, not bad. The next year, in 1954, he worked harder, he got a credit for his English. So you see, it’s not because he doesn’t know English that he found difficult in expressing himself. It’s what’s inside here *tapping his head*. And you better search your inside here before you cast your votes. Goodbye and good luck. (Speech at Fullerton Square dissing Chiam See tong, 19 December 1984)
I am often accused of interfering in the private lives of citizens. Yes, if I did not, had I not done that, we wouldn’t be here today. And I say without the slightest remorse, that we wouldn’t be here, we would not have made economic progress, if we had not intervened on very personal matters – who your neighbour is, how you live, the noise you make, how you spit, or what language you use. We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think. (Straits Times, 20 April 1987)
You know, the cure for all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government. You get that alternative and you’ll never put Singapore together again: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put together again… my asset values will disappear, my apartments will be worth a fraction of what they were, my ministers’ jobs will be in peril, their security will be at risk and their women will become maids in other people’s countries, foreign workers. I cannot have that! (Straits Times, 5 April 2007)
If Aljunied decides to go that way, well Aljunied has five years to live and repent. (April 30, 2011)
I have spent my life, so much of it, building up this country. There’s nothing more that I need to do. At the end of the day, what have I got? A successful Singapore. What have I given up? My life. (2011)
The Singapore Zoo just got two new addition to its cat family.
I got a chance to view the two-year-old siblings, getting used to their new den. While they were there, Omar the resident white tiger is kept out of sight. Perhaps for safety, but its a pity not to see them all together.
Pasha and Keysa are said to have came from Indonesia’s Maharani Zoo. They were not exactly very active when I was there. It was right after the feeding hour, so I saw them lazing around, licking themselves clean…
These photos were taken during my visit to the night marketing a couple of weeks before the Chinese New Year. Instead of the usual red and yellow colour palette, I would like to show the B&W side of the people here. Although our world is not B&W, I find it true that B&W captures the essence in people and colours may add distractions in our focus e.g. the clothes they wear.
Photos were taken with 85mm FDn lens from Canon paired with the Sony alpha7.
The following photo is deemed “mainstream” – this place has been probably shot to death but I had to do it. I was within the area yesterday for a photo walk (CNY night market) and the light was just perfect.
This is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum standing in contrast among the familiar skyscrapers of Singapore.
To my surprise, this building is not ancient nor even a decade-old. Construction started in 2005 and it took 2 years to complete. It did fool me with its Tang Dynasty-styled architecture. Here is an excerpt of the location write-up from the government tourism site yoursingapore.com.
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum is a Tang-Styled Chinese Buddhist Temple in the heart of Chinatown. The temple features many facets of Buddhist arts and culture of Singapore. It also houses what the Buddhists regard as the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic in a stupa weighing 3.5 tonnes and composed of 320 kg of gold donated by devotees.
The building was conceptualised and designed by the temple’s Chief Abbot Venerable Shi Fa Zhao, aided by a team of local and overseas consultants. Its grand design is based on the elements and history of Tang Dynasty and the Buddhist Mandala, the latter which is a representation of the Buddhist universe. So expect to find lots of references to both aspects. It also houses other sacred relics of the Buddha, such as bone and tongue relics. The temple prides itself on the research done to ensure accuracy and authenticity on the design and architecture found here. Other highlights found in this temple include the Buddhist Culture Museum, Eminent Sangha Museum, Sacred Light Hall, and a Theatre which holds cultural performances, talks and film screening.
How to get there:
Had the opportunity to check this spanking new property designed by Zaha Hadid on the first day of February 2015.
Great architecture and great sun — just nice I had the 24mm lens with me.
How to get there:
December always comes with Christmas trees decorated with lights. Its a great time to make some portraits with bokehlicious background.
The 85mm is my to-go lens for this season, and I got the cheap Canon FDn paired with the alpha 7. Here are some of the other photos besides family portraits.
So I was nominated by a friend in Facebook to do a 5-day B+W photos. This is a challenge where I post for 5 days and with 5 different images and challenge a photographer for each day.
I was in Hiroshima, Japan then and I decided to use the photos taken with my phone — and I had more than 5 photos. 🙂
Singapore National Stadium, 29 November 2014 — In this “derby” match, the Malaysian team edged Singapore out. Singapore needed at least a draw but the Malaysians proved hungrier and went for a win to qualify for the quarter finals. The results 1 – 3 placed Malaysia in second in Group B, behind Thailand.
I took all these with SAL70300G lens, and stretching the ISO up to 4000-5600. Some noise reduction was done in post and I think they’re still usable at Web resolution 🙂
We have been indulging ourselves on alternate Sundays to the “trendy” cafes for late morning brunches.
Besides enjoying the cappuccinos and poached eggs, I also enjoy people-watching.
It’s a love-hate relationship with LEGO. It lands me into difficult situations when my child insists in building impossibly long bridges and I have to explain to him how gravity works each time.
That is besides the fact that it is incredibly painful stepping onto one. 🙂
I was in KL to visit my parents in September. Brought the kids out for a trip of playground-hopping within the neighbourhood.
I also took the opportunity to be nostalgic. Here are a couple of photos of the run-down playground which I used to frequent, probably about 30 years ago.
This is Conservation a la KL-style.
Spent the recent Sunday at the Singapore Zoo and River Safari with the new lens.
Found Omar (or maybe its Winnie), one of the two rare Bengali white tigers in the Singapore Zoo. The Zoo has reportedly acquired an orange Bengali tiger but has yet to join in the exhibit. I wonder how will the white tigers react when they being introduced with the new member.
The Australian Outback was kind of bare with most of the kangaroos and wallabies hiding at a shaded corner.
Using the zoom lens (at 300mm) made me realize that these animals were also eyeing me as well. It was almost shocking to me when I was doing post-processing, to find out that they were staring right at me — cautiously and ferociously at times.
Here’s a cropped version, just to give a clearer look of the baboon’s gaze.
I used a telephoto zoom lens from Sony (SAL 70-300mm SSM G) which is not exactly fast since the widest aperture ranges from f/4.5 to 5.6 only. It comes with other weaknesses e.g. having to use an adapter (LA-EA4) in order to use this A-mount on the alpha 7 (E-mount). The adapter limits the focus region in the small centre area and also sacrifices a little bit of light since it uses a mirror for focusing.
The advantages? The 300mm focal length and the price! It is affordable for me, so I relied on higher ISO and noise reduction in post-processing.
How would you celebrate after scoring a goal? Do a cartwheel, of course!
And that needs practice too!
Completed in 1973, the 16-storey Golden Mile Complex is one pioneers of integrating multiple operations into a single mixed-use development in Singapore. The complex’s shopping mall houses numerous Thai clubs, shops and eateries, as well as ticketing agencies for travellers going to Malaysia by bus.
The place is a haven for “street” photography and I will probably be back to get more shots — I may try to include the exterior facade — before it is being redeveloped.
How to get there:
Moon shot at Third Quarter phase (I think), with Sony 70-300mm / a7.
Venue: Top of a multi-storey carpark in Jurong West, Singapore.
The Cloud Forest gave an entirely different experience compared to the Flower Dome. Upon entry, we were greeted by 35-meter man-made waterfalls which made the whole place very moist but still cool (the temperature in this dome is similarly maintained at 23°C to 25°C). Because it was so sunny outside, the water vapor created a mini rainbow where the waterfalls hit the ground — I had to get a little bit wet/moist to check it out but it was well worth it!
The visit continued with a walk along the path around this “mountain” to the lift lobby which later brought us up to level 6. This was followed by a short climb of stairs to the peak of the structure which has a corny name called “Lost World.”
We later descended via two walkways in the barely visible “clouds” for an aerial view of the canopy and various plants which grew very healthily on the structure wall.
Somewhere in the middle of the structure, you will find the “Crystal Mountain Cave” which features some stalactites and stalagmites. I wonder which caves did they come from — my bad, didn’t bother to stop and read — only took some photos. 😉
We spent about 1.5 hours in the Cloud Forest. But since we could re-enter again by getting a stamp, we came back in the evening on the same day to check out the lights. The feeling was different and better looking against the deep blue sky. Unfortunately the “blue hour” in Singapore only lasts ~20 minutes and when the sky turned dark, most of the plants were not really visible.
How to get there:
Spent the holiday (Hari Raya Aidilfitri) checking out the conservatories at the Gardens by the Bay. First stop was the Flower Dome. As the official sites says, it is the world’s largest columnless greenhouse. The glass sits on a steel grid that acts like an eggshell. What I enjoyed the most here? The cool air, definitely! 🙂
Temperature in here is maintained at 23°C to 25°C. It was really a nice place to walk about although the flowers did not really impress me much. Except for the daisies — quite dainty, I like them.
Inside the conservatory, there are 7-8 zones or gardens. The have names like “Olive Grove,” “Succulent Garden,” “Australian Garden,” “The Boababs,” etc. In the centre is the an area named Flower Field which is dedicated to thematic displays. And this time, it is about flowers and plants associated to the Persian Garden — which is said to be traditionally created to provide a sanctuary in the desert and was perceived as ‘paradise on earth.’
How to get there:
This place was originally called Telok Ayer Market and has a long history of closures and openings.
To cut the story short, here’s a summary: Telok Ayer Market first opened in 1825, next to the jetties. About 10 years later, it was redesigned by an angmo architect — made it stronger and bigger and also orthogonal. The city state needed more land, so Singapore began to reclaim this side of the sea and had to demolish it. Another angmo architect brought it back to live again some 15 years later and he added the prominent iron cast structures shipped directly from Glasglow, England. In the 1970s, the market was converted into a hawker centre but was soon closed again for construction of MRT. The cast iron structures were kept and used for re-construction in the 1990s and since then the place is officially known as Lau Pa Sat.
How to get there:
The nearby primary school had an open house event recently and I volunteered as one of the photographers. Covering the event was tiring — the compound was large and involved multiple floors/storeys. Having said that, it was fulfilling and I look forward to future opportunities to participate.
Hats off to the other two volunteers in clown suits!
I do not produce much sunset photos. I personally find sunsets difficult because my foreground will turn into dark silhouette with little details if I would expose the photo for the burning sky. Or my sky will be washed out if I exposed it for the foreground. It seemed like techniques such as luminosity masking are the only ways to achieve desired HDR landscapes as seen/observed by our eyes. But not today.
Instead of using HDR techniques, I gave the Sony’s raw file (.ARW) a try in recovering details in the shadows. In the following shot, I exposed for the sky with a little compromise on the foreground. I later adjusted sliders available in LR and the result:
I find this is quite satisfactory and in fact very amazing how much can be recovered from the raw file considering it looked like this…
The blue hour is a much easier time to take landscapes although its not hour long but only lasts less than 15 minutes in Singapore. Blue hour refers to the twilight period when the sun is below the horizon (which occurs in both mornings and evenings – so you have two chances a day ;-). The sky will be predominantly in blue hue and this has something to do with the wavelength of blue light being short than that of the red light.
I believe everyone who grew up in the KL would know the local stretch of beaches at Port Dickson. This place has a little spot in my heart and this is our to-go destination when we are up for a 2D1N retreat. There are several resorts or hotels along Jalan Pantai (translates to Beach Road) but I have my personal favourite. This time however, we went for something different — just to give Thistle at Port Dickson a try (and also slightly cheaper than the favourite).
Some features I like about this resort:
We forgot to bring our underwater P&S (Olympus uTough) as it was a spontaneous decision to come here — so we put my almost-a-year-old Xperia Z1 to a real test. It turned out OK underwater. The capacitive touch screen was good enough to sense my touch when fully submerged. It gave a little detection problem if the screen is half submerged (I guess the touch controller can’t deal with the un-leveled noise floor). The rest of the images were taken by the mobile phone.
I enjoyed our stay overall. But I think I should note that these were not something I appreciate:
How to get there:
This exhibition has been operating at the ArtScience Museum since January 2014 but I only found out about it now that it is the semester break / school holidays. It will end soon in July, so I feel kind of fortunate that we did pay a visit to it. 🙂
The ArtScience Museum is part of the Marina Bay Sands. The lotus-like building is one of my favourites and in my opinion, the only nice looking building among all the Marina Bay Sands properties. Underneath this building is a vast pond filled with beautiful lotus flowers overlooking the Marina Bay. Nice place to relax because the Museum is a big shelter, providing much needed shade from the sun.
Tickets were below $20/pax after discounts for citizen/residents and also NTUC membership — I think the visit is worth the price. We met a group of students having their excursions via a guided tour and so we tagged along; listening in. This is a quite a fruitful trip for me because I learned a few things:
How to get there:
Inspired by a local photographer on his success of capturing the Milky Way in the heavily light-polluted Singapore sky, I joined a group of friends on the night of 31st May to an ex-cemetery now called Bidadari Park. We did not choose this place for the spooks but this place seems darker than other parts of Singapore and has very interesting trees which we thought might be good for foreground.
I followed the ETTR method faithfully and took dozens of overexposed photos, not really knowing if the Milky Way will eventually show in those shots. Even though I took several compositions, all of them had skies looking like this…
All washed out. But after an eternity of post-processing… voilà! 🙂
Now post-processing was not fun; and I don’t think I will do it again… so this will be the only photo, for now. Back to Bidadari, you can imagine how boring it was to point to the sky taking white images. I began to wander and started taking “landscapes” in the dark. The photos turned out to be quite satisfying for me, with some nice effects without any post-processing.
Very soon the landscape of this piece of land will change into a bustling new town / housing estate. Glad that I am doing my part to document this intermediate stage.
Opened in May 2008, the Henderson Waves Bridge connects Mount Faber Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park. This 274-metre long pedestrian bridge runs across Henderson Road at 36 meter above the road. It is also the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore (2014).
It looks impressive, doesn’t it?
The south-western view from the bridge includes the luxury waterfront residential complex, i.e. Reflections at Keppel Bay which was designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. After taking that shot, I looked behind and found even more residential apartments and the Central Business District at the distance. Nice views!
How to get there:
Xiaomi launched the Redmi in Singapore in February 2014. Since then I have been wanting to get what is known as Hongmi in China which sports a quad-core 1.5Ghz ARM processor that runs a modified version of Android OS’ Jelly Bean i.e. MIUI. The 4.7”-inch 720P IPS display phone comes with a 8MP BSI camera (probably came from Sony, but if it was true — Xiaomi would have mentioned it all over).
The UI in the camera application does not look very different from other Android implementations. In other words, it looks clean and easy to use but there is nothing more to shout about. It offers a choice of simple UI or a slightly more advanced UI with more options selectable (white balancing, more shooting modes, EV setting, etc).
The EXIF data says that the focal length and aperture are fixed at 3.8mm (3.8mm is equivalent to 28mm – source) and f/2.2 respectively. This means the sensor size is approximately 76% that of the Xperia Z1. In the settings, the user can choose “standard” camera frame which fully uses the 8MP resolution i.e. 3264×2448 in a 4:3 form factor. Besides “standard”, there is also the “full screen” mode which comes in 16:9 form factor where the image will be cropped at 3328×1872 or 6MP.
All photos below are taken in “full screen” mode.
From the previous two photos, the camera app chose lower ISO instead of higher shutter speeds which I found odd. This device is predominantly meant for handheld use and as such I would give priority to faster shutter speed instead of lower ISO. I suspect Xiaomi is trying to “hide” sensor noise at higher ISO.
If you have also found the exposure numbers being odd or random or non-standard, me too! And I don’t know why Xiaomi does it this way!
As it is priced very competitively, I can conclude that it is indeed a very good replacement for your point & shoot camera! And its more than just a P&S, its a smart phone! But if you’re expecting to buy a red phone, you will probably be disappointed as Redmi does not come in red (yet)!
This week, we “hiked” east-ward to Kampong Kayu. Like Farrer Park is to Farrer Road, Kampong Kayu is not found anywhere near Jalan Kayu but within the walking distance of the Mountbatten MRT Station (Circle Line).
The residents here appear multi-cultural, and I witnessed them living rather harmoniously and enjoying each others’ company. When I was setting up my tripod, one of them came out to strike a conversation with us. He showed us the photos he took using his Galaxy smart phone – impressive panoramic shot of the view during sunset.
The view is indeed impressive. City skyline in the background with lush greenery and one calm river. I just don’t like the ugly floodlights peeping out of the Marina Bay Golf Course. Just across the river is the new National Stadium due to complete in June 2014. That is less than a month from now. But the roof doesn’t seem to be done yet, so good luck to meeting the due date!!!
Hot sunny Friday. Love the photos!
Not exactly on the Labour Day (1 May 2014), but these photos were taken a day before. Colleague and I got a new vantage point today at Bras Basah; but we stopped on the way to take some photos of lalang. These grass caught my attention lately because they are “blooming” with seeds.
Upon reaching our destination, the sun was setting and it casted a really nice orange hue on the sky. Really spectacular so I didn’t waste much time to set up the tripod — I just shot with high ISO which unfortunately came with higher noise as well. But I guess its better than nothing! After resizing, it looks OK to me lar.
Blue hour did not really materialize due to the cloudy state. So instead of trying to get the skyline, I pointed down mostly and managed to take some photos showing the urban facades in Singapore.
I do believe that the best camera is the one that is always with you.
More than a decade ago, it was my Lomo LC-A because it is compact enough for me to bring it with me to most places. Today (in 2014) it is the Xperia Z1. I am so glad that we now have smartphones which are equipped with high-resolution sensors. The Xperia Z1 camera sensor packs 20.7 megapixels in 1/2.3-inch area. This sensor is among the largest in the smartphones’ market and should promise low noise (but not really…) and better bokeh. The phone also has a dedicated shutter button with half-press ability — something I like very much.
The default operation mode is Superior Auto which means the user just needs to compose and trigger. The Manual mode on the other hand offers a little more flexibility to the user for EV compensation and setting of WB. It does not provide control/access to the shutter speeds and lens aperture (aperture seems to be fixed at f/2 in all the EXIF data I have checked for both Auto and Manual modes). Instead, there is a Scene selection. Also, full resolution 5248 x 3936 (20.7MP, 4:3) is only available in the Manual mode.
Although I prefer having some manual controls in my cameras, I seldom use the Manual mode. I stick to Auto most of the time because:
Besides these two modes, the camera app also accepts add-ons developed by Sony and third parties (e.g. Evernote). I rarely use any of them except for Timeshift burst. They’re downloadable from the Play store.
Below are sample photos, directly from the camera (unedited) but resized, shot in either Superior Auto or Manual and all handheld. You can probably tell which mode is used from the aspect ratio. Resized images often reduce the effect of noise (one conclusion – most phones are fine if you use the photos for web). The lens according to the EXIF data, has 4.9mm focal length. I read this is equivalent to 27mm (FF/35mm).
To conclude, the camera produces sufficiently good images. With some post processing (noise reduction, sharpening, adjustments of shadows & highlights), the resized images should look great for web (or facebook, etc).
While the camera in your smartphone is not going to replace “real” cameras anytime soon — it should still be your best because you have it with you all the time — unless if you have dSLR with you all the time too.
This post is about Canon’s “New” FD or FDn 85mm f/1.8 lens which I got from Japan via eBay. There are not many articles on this lens on the Internet; some stuff I found out: it is constructed with 6 elements in 4 groups. The angles of view are 16° vertical and 24° horizontal. The more popular 85mm Canon lens would be the f/1.2 one which is probably why information is so scarce.
I find colour reproduction of this portrait/telephoto lens very acceptable, perhaps due to lack of ghosting and/or flare. Overall sharpness is also good but I often get slightly blurred images due to my own movements when using maximum aperture — couldn’t always nail sharp focus on the eyes when shooting portraiture at 0.85m distance. Will probably need to work more on this, or I could make use of a monopod.
The following photos are taken with Sony Alpha7.
I love prime lens, and the 50mm focal length is one of my favourites. In my opinion, primes generally offer 3 main advantages — (a) less optical distortion introduced, (b) have wider maximum aperture for those bokehliciuos portraits and finally (c) for the smaller package as compared to zoom lens.
50mm focal length (in full frame) is nifty because you can use it for many types of photography genres. If you’re new, 50mm should be your first prime because it can help you explore these various genres. You’ll be able to find what you like — portraits, street, landscape, etc before investing further in other lenses.
If you’re using a camera with APS-C sensor, you should be looking for focal length of about 35mm. Olympics and Panasonic mirrorless cameras use m4/3 format and the equivalent focal length is 24mm.
All photos below are taken with the manual Minolta MD 50mm f/1.7 with full frame sensor.
More photos this weekend using the Nikkor-N 24mm f/2.8 lens.
The rain after a bout of dry season created a perfect environment for many of the trees here to blossom. I would suggest that the National Parks Board of Singapore dedicate an area in the Gardens by the Bay planted with rows of these Tabebuia Rosea or the Trumpet Trees. This will create our very own version of Sakura Spring/Cherry Blossoms!
Saw these blossoming trees on the way to NUS Utown.
Then again, I do not think these trees are local. They could have been brought over from the Central/South America region about 50 years ago during the greening campaign.
The Marina Barrage is a dam in Singapore built at the confluence of five rivers. By keeping out seawater, the barrage forms Singapore’s 15th reservoir and first reservoir in the city.
The Marina Barrage also acts as a tidal barrier to keep seawater out, helping to alleviate flooding in low lying areas of the city. When it rains heavily during low-tide, the barrage’s crest gates will be lowered to release excess water from the reservoir into the sea. If heavy rain falls during high-tide, the crest gates remain closed and giant drainage pumps are activated to pump excess water out to sea. [source: Wikipedia]
The first 24mm lens designed specifically with a reflex F-mount was introduced in June, 1967. The Nikkor-N 24mm f/2.8 Auto lens has a retrofocus design, it was based on a creative design concept by Nikon optical engineers, combines a super picture angle of 84° and coupled with a fairly fast speed at f/2.8 (fastest lens among the same focal length lenses available during that period) [source: leofoo].
This first version has the “Nippon Kogaku Japan” label but mine was simplified to just “Nikon” — but it is still probably among the older 24mm Nikkor lenses because it has a minimal aperture scale of up to f/16 only (f/22 was later added in 1975). Anyway, I love the design — especially the deep ribbed “scallop” grip for the focusing ring.
Some sample photos:
The red pandas (close relatives of the raccoon and weasel) were very active this morning — showing off much of their tree climbing skills. Their quick movement proved a little difficult to manually focus with the Vivitar telephoto lens (the focus ring is a tad tight). By anticipating their movements and drive mode set to continuous, with some luck, I did manage to capture some reasonably sharp images.
The Giant Pandas were easier; Kai Kai was just lazing around at one spot and Jia Jia was moving in and out of her den slowly. She was too shy to stay out at the public exhibit area. The eyes were large but dark — can hardly see if the eye lids are opened or closed without zooming into the picture. These pandas are a sign of the twentieth anniversary of friendly Sino-Singapore relations. They arrived on September 2012, are on a ten year loan from China. [source: Wikipedia]
How to get there:
Taiwan, a sweet-potato-shaped island is once known as Ilha Formosa – Beautiful Island. This is what a group of Portuguese sailors, said to have been the first Westerners to lay eyes on the island, uttered upon seeing Taiwan for the first time.
Taiwan has been chosen as one of the top 10 best countries to visit in 2012 by Lonely Planet. I have been reading a little about Taiwan after the trip and found that there are so simply too much to cover in just 8 days. These photos were taken during a road trip / guided tour around Taiwan in October 2011. The sky during the period was extremely cloudy, and gloomy at times. I brought the Olympus E-PL1 with kit lens for its travel-friendly size; no tripod.
Taroko National Park is one of the seven national parks in Taiwan and was named after the Taroko Gorge, the landmark gorge of the park. The park spans Taichung City, Nantou County, and Hualien County.
The park was originally established as the Tsugitaka-Taroko National Park by the Governor-General of Taiwan on December 12, 1937 when Taiwan was part of the Empire of Japan. After the Empire of Japan’s defeat in World War II, the Republic of China assumed control of Taiwan. The ROC government subsequently abolished the park on August 15, 1945. It was not until November 28, 1986 that the park was reestablished.
The name, Taroko, means “magnificent and beautiful”. Long ago a Truku tribesman saw the beauty of the azure Pacific when he walked out of the gorge. On seeing the magnificent scene, he cried “Taroko!”. [source: Wikipedia]
Aboriginal groups are seeking to preserve their folkways and languages as well as to return to, or remain on, their traditional lands. Eco-tourism, sewing and selling tribal carvings, jewelry and music has become a viable area of economic opportunity. However, tourism-based commercial development, such as the creation of Taiwan Aboriginal Culture Park, is not a panacea. Although these create new jobs, aborigines are seldom given management positions. [source: Wikipedia]
Kaohsiung is the second largest city in Taiwan, with a population around 2.9 million. Also known as the “Harbour Capital” of Taiwan, Kaohsiung has always had a strong link with the ocean and maritime transportation.
The city sits on the southwestern coast of Taiwan facing the Taiwan Strait. The downtown areas are centered around Kaohsiung Harbor with the island of Qijin on the other side of the harbor acting as a natural breakwater. [source: Wikipedia]
Situated in Yuchi, Nantou, the area around the Sun Moon Lake is home to the Thao tribe, one of aboriginal tribes in Taiwan. Sun Moon Lake surrounds a tiny island called Lalu. The east side of the lake resembles a sun while the west side resembles a moon, hence the name. [source: Wikipedia]
Yehliu is a cape in the town of Wanli, New Taipei, Taiwan. The cape, known by geologists as the Yehliu Promontory, forms part of the Daliao Miocene Formation. It stretches approximately 1,700 metres into the ocean and was formed as geological forces pushed Datun Mountain out of the sea.
A distinctive feature of the cape is the hoodoo stones that dot its surface. These shapes can be viewed at the Yehliu Geopark operated by the North Coast and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area administration. A number of rock formations have been given imaginative names based on their shapes. The best known is the “Queen’s Head”, an iconic image in Taiwan and an unofficial emblem for the town of Wanli. Other formations include the “Fairy Shoe,” the “Beehive,” the “Ginger Rocks” and the “Sea Candles.” [source: Wikipedia]
Taipei is the capital of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Situated at the northern tip of Taiwan, Taipei is located on the Tamsui River; it is about 25 km (16 mi) southwest of Keelung, a port city on the Pacific Ocean. It lies in the Taipei Basin, an ancient lakebed bounded by the two relatively narrow valleys of the Keelung and Xindian rivers, which join to form the Tamsui River along the city’s western border. The city proper is home to an estimated 2,618,772 people. Taipei, New Taipei, and Keelung together form the Taipei–Keelung metropolitan area with a population of 6,900,273. [source: Wikipedia]
The morning sun gloriously painted the buildings golden but I was unable to reproduce this straight out of the camera.
I shot this in JPEG and post-processed in Lightroom to add gradient filter (teal corners) to produce this.
Woke up early for this shot. This was taken from one of the south-facing blocks in the Engineering Faculty of the National University Singapore (NUS).
This is the Pasir Panjang Terminal, part of Port of Singapore.
The Port of Singapore includes terminals located at Tanjong Pagar, Keppel, Brani, Pasir Panjang, Sembawang and Jurong. They can accommodate all types of vessels, including container ships, bulk carries, ro-ro ships, cargo freighters, coasters and lighters. The Pasir Panjang Terminal (PPT) handles mega container vessels of 13,000 TEUs or more with quay cranes that can reach across 22 rows of containers. Remote controlled bridge cranes allow each operator to handle up to six cranes. [Source: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore]
I made this DIY light box last year in 2013. Mine was similar to the countless instructables which can be found on the Internet (try it, its fun!). All parts except for the obvious lamps, were from paper products.
The idea of having this was to help my wife take some product photos. I decided to give the box a trial-run with a caterpillar instead.
Meet Luke. 🙂
We fed him well and it soon morphed into a beautiful butterfly!
Meanwhile the fragile light box sustained multiple punctures in the subsequent weeks and ended up in the recycling bin…
Had the opportunity in 2013 to visit Vancouver in the British Columbia, Canada. It offers among the best quality of life for urbanites, according to the 2013 Liveability report by the Economist Intelligence Unit. From my 3-day stay there, it feels so. In fact it was much better than the feeling I experienced when I was in Melbourne (touted 1st in the same list). My perception was nevertheless not significant because of the many factors considered e.g. public healthcare or the threat of military conflict which are intangible for a visitor/tourist like me.
I love the water bodies, the yachts, and the picturesque mountains in the background. Simply stunning. My short visit was way too short and certainly wish to return for a longer stay.
All photos taken using Olympus E-PL1 with 14-42mm kit lens.
Subsequent photos were stitched for a wider view.
This solid all-metal prime lens has the longest focal length in my collection today. Think it was made in the 70’s. It is super sturdy and heavy; this handsomely-built lens should easily last another 40 years or more.
I was worried that it may be too heavy for the alpha7’s E-mount adapter, but I’m glad it came with a tripod mount. It has minimum aperture of f/22 and provides adequate sharpness at wide open. I find focusing a challenge because the focusing ring is stiff. Turning the ring will shake the lens and that’s not helpful when seeing through the EVF at such long focal length.
However for the price I acquired it, the outcome makes it a real steal. Although it’s quite sensitive to stray light which causes overcast images when the lens points to bright areas, this is quite fixable by minor curves adjustment in post- processing.
Spotted this vantage point on my way to work, when the bus passed by Jalan Sultan. This area offers an unique view of the Singapore cityscape which is not so commonly seen in photos.
One landmark which is worth to take note is the Rochor Center which was built and completed in 1977. The building with colourful towers will be demolished to make way for the construction of an expressway by 2016.
I love skyscrapers. Some obvious ones: the Parkroyal, Gateway, Parkview Square and the Marina Bay Sands (in the left corner, photo below). Also visible is the construction site for the upcoming DUO. In the foreground, you’ll find the restored shophouses of Kampong Glam.
How to get there:
Continuation from Part 1.
Normally I wouldn’t even consider going to the Chinese New Year (CNY) Market at Chinatown. But the night’s temperature was probably hovering around 23-25°C (yes, weird for Singapore) and the humidity lower than the usual figure — the walk quite enjoyable although the place was packed with people.
One of the anchor products this season seems to be jelly candies form Taiwan. The profit margin must be high that they were able to let customers sample them freely. And competition was not really a challenge — there were at least 10 large stalls selling these candies.
There were also florists who offered refreshing sights & scent. Other stalls offered Chinese New Year decorations like banners, buntings, ornaments, scrolls, greeting cards and also red packets.
All of these photos were shot using 50mm Minolta MD at fully opened aperture (f/1.7), manual focus. Minimal post processing done, if not none.
Bought this lens off eBay. It has a minimum aperture lock, so according to a Wikipedia entry, it should be a post-1981 lens. I’m using it as a manual lens on the Sony Alpha 7 body.
The Alpha 7 has a couple of features which help manual focusing i.e. focus peaking which highlights the in-focus edges in red, yellow or white, and magnification which blows up a small area to fill the whole EVF or rear LCD (I prefer looking through the EVF). Having said this, I had some time struggling to shoot at f/1.7 — nailing the focus probably only 70% of the time during the first weekend. Hopefully my hit rate will improve.
I found it nevertheless fun. 🙂
I’m looking forward to more weekends with this 50mm prime lens. Meanwhile, I have also managed to snatch a 200mm off eBay and now waiting for it to be delivered! 🙂
It was sometime in late 90’s when I first “blogged”. It was all manual and tiresome because there were no LifeJournal nor Blogger. It was also more like a tweet, because I don’t have much to say. Having to deal with all the HTML tags and photo uploading via FTP, it didn’t take long for me to stop.
Now I just want to be a regular user. Also because WordPress had gotten so friendly and at the same time so complex for me to hack. Installation is a breeze now that my webhost (referral) just requires a mouse click from me.
I’m going to start with this photo, taken during the Christmas-NY break weeks ago. It was moments before dawn, and among the first few shots taken once I’ve my tripod set up.