Ephesus

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…).

 

Stork bird nest on top of the 1 and only standing pillar of the Temple of Artemis
Stork bird nest on top of the 1 and only standing pillar of the Temple of Artemis

 

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.

 

The open-air theatre with the harbour street on the right corner. How does one watch anything from here?!
The open-air theatre with the harbour street on the right corner. How does one watch anything from here?!
Open-air theatre, craved out from a mountain!
Open-air theatre, craved out from a mountain!
Scores of tourists making their way down to the Library of Celsius
Scores of tourists making their way down to the Library of Celsius
Found a LEGO piece... :-D
Found a LEGO piece… 😀
Shopkeepers selling wares to tourists near the House of the Virgin Mary.
Shopkeepers selling wares to tourists near the House of the Virgin Mary.
Apparently its not so uncommon to find Stork bird nests on tall poles!
Apparently its not so uncommon to find Stork bird nests on tall poles here!
Coast of Kusadasi
Coast of Kusadasi

Pasha and Keysa

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…

 

This could be Pasha
This could be Pasha
This could be Keysa
This could be Keysa
Pasha and Keysa
Pasha and Keysa

December through 85mm

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.

 

Christmas lights
Christmas lights at the airport

 

Yummy treats
Yummy treats

 

Violinist at Westgate. Great smile!
Violinist at Westgate. Great smile!

 

An adult baboon
Portrait of an adult baboon snacking

 

Photo in the lawn
Photo in the lawn at NUS UTown

 

Omar the white tiger
Omar the white tiger trying to take a nap (cropped)

 

Cat on its way home
Cat hesitating to go home

 

Students hogging Starbucks seats
Students slogging it off at Starbucks, but wait — aren’t exams over?

 

Drizzling weather -- hazy insta effect achieved by shoot through my dirty car window
Drizzling weather — hazy insta fade effect achieved by shooting through my dirty car window

 

Singapore Zoo

Spent the recent Sunday at the Singapore Zoo and River Safari with the new lens.

 

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Poor Inuka having to bear the algae growth

 

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Headscarf for the playful orang utan
Has excellent grip even on thin cables
Has excellent grip even on thin cables
Young orang utan, hanging up side down
Young orang utan, hanging up side down
Young orang utan, trying to cross over
Young orang utan, trying to cross over
This one looks bored
This one looks bored

 

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.

 

Lonely white tiger
Lonely white tiger. Left eye looks injured 🙁
White tiger taking a dip
White tiger taking a dip
White tiger after taking a dip in the pond
White tiger after taking a dip in the pond
What is on this cat's mind? Something yummy?
What is on this cat’s mind? Something yummy?

 

The Australian Outback was kind of bare with most of the kangaroos and wallabies hiding at a shaded corner.

 

A joey, munching on food
A joey, munching on food
Bearded dragon under the spotlight
Bearded dragon under the spotlight
Cassowary at rest
Cassowary at rest
Young Hamadryas Baboons
Young Hamadryas Baboons

 

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.

 

Adult Hamadryas Baboon giving me the stare as well.
Adult Hamadryas Baboon giving me the stare as well.

 

Here’s a cropped version, just to give a clearer look of the baboon’s gaze.

 

The gaze
The gaze
Red panda giving me a ferocious stare :S
Red panda giving me a ferocious stare :S
Kai Kai having his lunch
Kai Kai having his lunch
Jia Jia in an awkward position
Jia Jia in an awkward position
Jaguar licking its toes
Jaguar licking its toes
Jaguar eyeing its meal (us).
Jaguar eyeing its meal (us). Scary stare!

 

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.

 

Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction

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.

 

View from the ArtScience Museum
View from the ArtScience Museum
Sweet looking lotus flower -- something irresistible by the bumblebee
Sweet looking lotus flower — something the bumblebee found irresistible

 

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:

  • Herrerasaurus was one of the earliest dinosaurs. Its name means “Herrera’s lizard”, named after Herrera the cowboy who discovered the first specimen.
  • If the species is named after a  female name, it will end with -saura instead of -saurus.
  • There were several versions of the Triceratops
  • My fav: Tyrannosaurus rex can’t run! Due to its weight and the bent knees, it can only walk.

 

Museum Lobby / Exhibit Entrance
Museum Lobby / Exhibit Entrance
Herrerasaurus
Herrerasaurus
Battle scene
Battle scene between a giant Lessemsaurus and a carnivorous Fasolasuchus
T. rex can not run
I am glad to know that T. rex can not run

 
How to get there:

 

The View from East

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!!!

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Sunset over the upcoming National Stadium
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Singapore city skyline with Geylang River in the foreground.
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Construction still ongoing at night to complete the National Stadium in time due in June 2014!!!
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Cat on his throne

Hot Sunny Friday

Hot sunny Friday. Love the photos!

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Cat with “lips”�
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Neighbourhood cat
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Sunbathing at the Fullerton Hotel

Nikkor-N 24mm f/2.8

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].

Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 adapted to the Alpha 7
Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 adapted to the Alpha 7

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:

One North Residences
One North Residences
Lucasfilm Singapore, the Sandcrawler building
Lucasfilm Singapore, the Sandcrawler building
Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit at the River Safari
Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit at the River Safari, at ISO5000
Singapore cityscape
Singapore cityscape
Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands, shot handheld at 0.5s!
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
Underneath the tiered seatings of my church
Underneath the tiered seatings of my church (ISO6400)

Pandas at The River Safari

Went to the River Safari this morning and got some of these shots at the Giant Panda Forest with the Vivitar 200mm.

Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens)

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.

Red Panda
Red Panda
Red Panda
Red Panda
Red Panda
Red Panda

 

Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

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]

Kai Kai
Kai Kai
Kai Kai
Kai Kai
Kai Kai
Kai Kai
Jia Jia
Jia Jia

 
How to get there:

 

Project Light Box

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.

My DIY Light Box / Tent
My DIY Light Box / Tent

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. 🙂

Caterpillar taken in lightbox with the Olmypus OM-D E-M5 and M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm
Luke in lightbox with the Olmypus OM-D E-M5 and M.ZUIKO 12-50mm
Caterpillar taken in lightbox with the Olmypus OM-D E-M5 and M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm
Luke in lightbox with the Olmypus OM-D E-M5 and M.ZUIKO 12-50mm
Caterpillar taken in lightbox with the Olmypus OM-D E-M5 and M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm
Luke in lightbox with the Olmypus OM-D E-M5 and M.ZUIKO 12-50mm
Luke in lightbox with the Olmypus OM-D E-M5 and M.ZUIKO 12-50mm
Luke in lightbox with the Olmypus OM-D E-M5 and M.ZUIKO 12-50mm

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…