Christmas Wonderland

Happened to be there when the “Christmas Wonderland” at the Gardens by the Bay was officially opened on the 27th Nov 2015.

 

 

It's snowing! Bubbles showering the refulgent Spalliera.
Snowing – bubbles showering the refulgent Spalliera

 

 

Big crowd at the official opening
Big crowd at the official opening

 

Carousel
Carousel operator like a DJ

 

Festive Market
Festive Market

 

More info? There is an official website.

 

 

Sing50

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:

 

a
The turn-out at around 1930h

 

b
The Oddfellows, the indie band from the ’90s.

 

c
MiCappella belting out Xinyao genre

 

d
Tracy Huang

 

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Tracy Huang

 

e
Reuby, WillTay and Ling Kai

 

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Dick Lee

 

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J J Lin

 

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Stephanie Sun

 

i
Finale

 

View from the Pinnacle

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.

 

Sunset over the eastern horizon, overlooking the Everton Park
Sunset over the eastern horizon, overlooking the Everton Park and NUHS

 

Port of Singapore, Brani Terminal. Sentosa Island in the shadows.
Port of Singapore, Brani Terminal. Sentosa Island in the shadows.

 

Romantic place to paktor, I guess? High ISO 6400 used here, but still not fast enough
Romantic place to paktor, I guess? High ISO 6400 used here, but still not fast enough

 

Port of Singapore, Keppel Terminal.
Port of Singapore, Keppel Terminal.

 

How to get there:

 

Chinatown in B+W

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.

Seniors tend to take a break here at the inner side of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum
Seniors tend to take a break here at the inner side of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum
Details of the back door to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum
Details of the back door to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum
Fortune teller
Fortune teller
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Making decisions — to buy or not?
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Soaking in the atmosphere
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Solemnly waiting

 

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 vs. Malaysia in AFF Suzuki Cup 2014

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.

 

Just before the match
Just before the match

 

Physio attending to downed defender Shaiful
Physiotherapist attending to downed defender Shaiful

 

The referee
The referee from Oman, Al Kaf Ahmed

 

Malaysian midfielder Gary Robbat being challenged.
Malaysian midfielder Gary Robbat being challenged

 

Gardening during the half-time break
Gardening during the half-time break

 

Singapore forward Shahfiq trying to advance.
Singapore forward Shahfiq trying to advance

 

Singapore midfielder Faris R.
Singapore midfielder Faris R.

 

Shahfiq again, sprinting forward with the ball.
Shahfiq again, sprinting forward with the ball

 

Can't remember what happened here, but Malaysian defender Shukor  seemed to be very excited.
Can’t remember what happened here, but Malaysian defender Shukor was very excited

 

Gary Robbat tripped over Singapore defender Shakir.
Gary Robbat tripped over Singapore defender Shakir

 

Substitution -- Singapoer midfielder Gabriel Quak called in to add more firepower.
Substitution — Singapoer midfielder Gabriel Quak called in to add more firepower

 

No goal -- Malaysian goalkeeer Khairul Fahmi on top form -- denied Faris' advancement.
No goal — Malaysian goalkeeer Khairul Fahmi on top form — denied Faris’ advancement

 

Shahfiq got the header.
Shahfiq got the header

 

Malaysian midfielder Hafiz challenging counterpart Shahril from Singapore.
Malaysian midfielder Hafiz challenging counterpart Shahril from Singapore…

 

Shahril got away
…but Shahril got away

 

Malaysian keeper Khairul Fahmi again denied an equalizer attempt from Singapore forward, Amri.
Malaysian keeper Khairul Fahmi again denied an equalizer attempt from Singapore forward, Amri

 

Malaysian forward, Norshahrul. Singapore defender Safuwan pleaded not guilty
Malaysian forward, Norshahrul. Singapore defender Safuwan pleaded not guilty

 

Malaysian defender, Muslim proved to be a higher jumper.
Malaysian defender, Muslim proved to be a higher jumper

 

Singapore fan celebrating after the team scored an equalizer.
Singapore fan celebrating after the team scored an equalizer

 

Khairul Fahmi denied yet another shot on target.
Khairul Fahmi denied yet another shot on target

 

Midfielder Safiq Rahim converted a penalty. as goalkeeper Hassan Sunny dived the other direction.
Midfielder Safiq Rahim converted a penalty. as goalkeeper Hassan Sunny dived the other direction

 

Desperate for another equalizer, Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny headed the freekick ball near the opponents' box. The rebound unfortunately gave the Malaysians the third goal.
Desperate for the second equalizer, Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny attempted a header from the freekick ball near the opponents’ box but it was punched away by Khairul Fahmi before Hassan even came close. The rebound unfortunately gave the Malaysians the third goal

 

All's well.
The end, 1-3 but all is well

 

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 🙂

 

Sunday Brunches

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.

Brunch
People watching during one of the Sunday brunches

 

 

Building Blocks

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.

 

Seth with his LEGO
Shell LEGO

 

That is besides the fact that it is incredibly painful stepping onto one. 🙂

 

 

Cartwheel Celebration

How would you celebrate after scoring a goal? Do a cartwheel, of course!

And that needs practice too!

 

Cartwheel  (a7 with Minolta MD 50mm)

Golden Mile Complex

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.

 

Below ground car park
Below ground car park (a7 + Minolta MD 50mm)
Happy chatting
Happy chatting (a7 + Minolta MD 50mm)
Offices here?
Offices here? (a7 + Minolta MD 50mm)
I can totally imagine how grand this entrance was
I can totally imagine how grand this side entrance was (a7 + Nikkor-N 24mm)
Thai sweets
Thai sweets (a7 + Minolta MD 50mm)
The tomyam soup which brought us to this place
The tomyam soup which brought us to this place. Yummy! 🙂 (a7 + Minolta MD 50mm)

How to get there:

 

Cloud Forest

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.”

 

Waterfalls greeting all visitors
Waterfalls greeting all visitors
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The mini rainbow
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Looking up
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Looking through
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Pitcher plants with reflections at the peak of the mountain

 

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. 😉

 

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Looking down
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The Cloud Walk from a distance. Cloudless to me, no?
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Surface details of stalactite / stalagmite on display
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Another view, this time from the Secret Garden below
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Small falls along the “river” in the Secret Garden

 

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.

 

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Exterior view at around 715pm
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The waterfalls again, at around 730pm
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Looking up again, the Cloud Walk, during blue hour
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Sky got darker now. A couple spotted admiring the view from the Cloud Walk.

 
How to get there:

 

Flower Dome

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! 🙂

Inside of the Flower Dome
Inside of the Flower Dome. It was sunny but this place is air conditioned! Also in the photo is the “flower field” which is featuring the “Persian Garden” theme this time.

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.

Daisies are thriving here
Daisies are thriving here

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.’

Found in the South African Garden
Found in the South African Garden
Caught a man taking a shot of a woman taking a selfie
Caught a man taking a shot of a woman taking a selfie in the Californian Garden
Found in the Californian Garden
The flowers which attract much selfies … in the Californian Garden
Now I realized I should have taken some notes...
Can’t remember… I realized I should have taken some notes…
From the Persian Garden Floral Display
From the Persian Garden Floral Display

Exterior in the evening
Exterior in the evening

 
How to get there:

 

Lau Pa Sat (Old Market)

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.

 

Nestled within the Central Business District
Nestled within the Central Business District
Inside, man checking out a yong tau foo stall.
Inside, man checking out a yong tau foo stall.
Inside, right in the middle of the structure
Inside, right in the middle of the structure
Cast iron structure, added in the 1890s.
Cast iron structure, added in the 1890s.
Inside, man getting ready to dig in
Inside, man getting ready to dig in
Now, with good amount of sunlight.
Now, with good amount of sunlight.
The octagonal market
The octagonal market
More of the roof and clock tower
More of the roof and clock tower

 
How to get there:

 

Volunteering

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!

 

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Volunteers in clown suits
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Welcoming guests
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Entertaining a potential pupil

 

 

 

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

Xperia Z1

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.

 

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Scene seletion in “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:

  • Noise at full resolution or 20.7MP is more pronounced
  • Smaller file obviously, with Superior Auto which locks max resolution at 8MP
  • 16:9 in Superior Auto crops out the soft corners reported
  • The phone doesn’t remember the mode which I last used! Each time I start the camera app, it goes to Superior Auto!

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.

 

Modes and add-ons
Modes and add-ons

 

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).

 

My son's collectibles (1/32s, ISO125)
My son’s collectibles (1/32s, ISO125)
Drink stall operator (probably also owner of) Blanco Court Prawn Mee (1/100s, ISO100)
Drink stall operator (probably also owner of) Blanco Court Prawn Mee (1/100s, ISO100)
iEat Burger by Aston's (1/64s, ISO64)
iEat Burger by Aston’s (1/64s, ISO64)
Blue hour at the Boon Lay MRT station (1/5s, ISO64)
Blue hour at the Boon Lay MRT station (1/5s, ISO64)
Café Swiss interior (1/50s, ISO500)
Café Swiss interior (1/50s, ISO500)
Rooftop of a carpark along Upper Cross St (1/2500s, ISO64)
Rooftop of a carpark along Upper Cross St (1/2500s, ISO64)
Two (1/125s, ISO160)
Two (1/125s, ISO160)
Hong Kong's cloudy skyline from the Peak (1/320s, ISO50)
Hong Kong’s cloudy skyline from the Peak (1/320s, ISO50)
Unimpressive low-light shot at a Lion King show (1/32s, ISO320)
Unimpressive low-light shot at a Lion King show (1/32s, ISO320)
Interior of the Fullerton Hotel (1/125s, ISO320)
Interior of the Fullerton Hotel (1/125s, ISO320)
Light trails at Clementi using Manual mode -- one of those scene selected with "long" exposure. My shaky hands are very visible. (1/2s, ISO50)
Light trails at Clementi using Manual mode — one of those scene selected with “long” exposure. My shaky hands are very visible. (1/2s, ISO50)
HK-style pastries at a hawker center in Whampoa (1/100s, ISO200)
HK-style pastries at a hawker center in Whampoa (1/100s, ISO200)
Hardworking hawker at Chinatown -- serves one of the best mee pok (I call it the local ramen) (1/50s, ISO200)
Hardworking hawker at Chinatown — serves one of the best mee pok (I call it the local ramen) (1/50s, ISO200)
The local ramen, dry variant. (1/50s, ISO800)
The local ramen, dry variant. (1/50s, ISO800)
Another unimpressive but decent low-light shot -- subjects, context maintained (1/20s, ISO1600)
Another unimpressive but decent low-light shot — subjects, context maintained (1/20s, ISO1600)
One of the 60 shots taken by the Timeshift Burst mode (EXIF n/a)
One of the 60 shots taken by the Timeshift Burst mode (EXIF n/a)
Panorama mode (EXIF n/a)
Panorama mode (EXIF n/a)
Blue hour at the Marina Bay -- noise very apparent (1/8s, ISO400)
Blue hour at the Marina Bay — noise very apparent (1/8s, ISO400)
Waiting at a bus stop (1/64s, ISO1600)
Waiting at a bus stop (1/64s, ISO1600)
Dawn at Boon Lay MRT (1/500s, ISO50)
Dawn at Boon Lay MRT (1/500s, ISO50)
Finally a late night shot in Auto.
Finally a late night shot in Auto.
On the way (1/50s, ISO320)
On the way (1/50s, ISO320)

 

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.

Canon FDn 85mm f/1.8

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.

Canon FDn 85mm f/1.8
Canon FDn 85mm f/1.8

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.

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Children warming up before their swim lesson
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Portrait done with shallow depth of focus
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Too bored; took photos of essential oils with lush greenery as the back drop. Love the bokeh.
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Splash
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Let’s jump!
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Knocking off on a Friday evening at One Raffles Quay
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Making a call or surfing Facebook?
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Sculpture
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One Marina Boulevard
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Facades of the Chronos and Helios buildings at Biopolis
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Facade of the Chronos building at Biopolis. This is my current desktop wallpaper 🙂

 

Taiwan

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.

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Beautiful Taipei in the morning. That’s the Taipei 101 tower at the background.
Taken with Nikon P&S (S6000) from a moving bus.

Taroko National Park

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]

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“Bridge of 100 Lions” at the Taroko National Park in Hualien.
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Flowers, Taroko National Park
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This is the view from the mountainside coffee house of “Eternal Spring Shrine” which is situated over the waterfall. Taroko National Park.
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Clam farm in Hualien

The Aborigines

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]

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Performance at the Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Culture Park, Pingtung.
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Performance at the Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Culture Park, Pingtung.

Kaohsiung

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]

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Kaohsiung at night (taken handheld). Stitched panorama from the 62nd floor of The Splendour hotel.
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Local delicacy found in Liuhe Night Market, Kaohsiung
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On the way to Tsingtao Brewery (a thirst-quenching stop before Kaohsiung)

Sun Moon Lake

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]

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The Sun Moon Lake which is located 748 m (2,454 ft) above sea level. This is a stitched panorama.
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We were playing with bubbles at the compounds of Wen Wu Temple (文武廟) located next to the Sun Moon Lake.
Supplies Delivery at FengChia Nightmarket (Xitun District, Taichung City)
Supplies Delivery at FengChia Nightmarket (Xitun District, Taichung City)
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Found this cozy place selling beef noodles near our hotel in Hsinchu. Had this for supper.

Yehliu

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]

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Yehliu Geopark
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Close-up of amazing rock formations at the Yehliu Geopark
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Ship wreck off Yeliu

Taipei

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]

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The Martyr’s Shrine, built in 1969.
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Plane in Cloudy Taipei
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A Street Junction in Taipei
Taipei Streets in Grainy B&W
Taipei Streets in Grainy B&W (E-PL1 built-in “Art” filter)

Pre-CNY Photowalk Chinatown (2)

Continuation from Part 1.

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CNY-theme pin wheel
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Makeshift stage in the middle of the roads, by Mediacorp
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Besides the Horse, money is always in favour.
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Visitors keep coming!
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Selfie
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I think this man with the two dogs come every year
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Cosplay for dogs
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The fish that got away
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More decors
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Getting ready to bless
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13.08.08
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Zoned out
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Great bonding
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Waiting for free sample
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Amused by the promoter
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Towers of goodies
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Balloons have customers afterall
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Other photog spotted
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Passing for a photo. They look happy
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Attempting long exposure (with 28-70mm kit lens)

Pre-CNY Photowalk Chinatown (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.

2014 is The Year of the Horse
2014 is The Year of the Horse
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Cute bags for your ang bao collection?
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“Will I get ripped off?” she must have wondered
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Air humidifiers
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Taiwanese jelly candies, free sampling
So so crowded
Promoter for Taiwanese Jelly
Freshness in a bag
Basket-full of goodies
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Undecided
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Willows
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Not so much biz for these traditional snacks
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Shot this behind a hanging ornament. Love the outcome.
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Singtel selling their services
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Do you wonder who will buy balloons?
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Traditional paper cut outs as CNY decor
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Off with their loot

First Weekend with the Minolta MD 50mm f/1.7

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.

Alpha7 with Minolta MD 50mm
Alpha7 with Minolta MD 50mm

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. 🙂

Girl Getting Ready for a Swim (50mm, f/1.7, 1/2000s)
Girl Getting Ready for a Swim (50mm, f/1.7, 1/2000s)
Pre-swim Shower (50mm, f/1.7, 1/1600s)
Pre-swim Shower (50mm, f/1.7, 1/1600s)
Umbrella (50mm, f/1.7, 1/400s)
Umbrella (50mm, f/1.7, 1/400s)
Texture (50mm, f/1.7, 1/400s)
Texture (50mm, f/1.7, 1/400s)
Planks (50mm, f/1.7, 1/1250s)
Planks (50mm, f/1.7, 1/1250s)
Penchai (50mm, f/1.7, 1/60s)
Penchai (50mm, f/1.7, 1/60s)
Cheers! (50mm, f/1.7, 1/60s)
Cheers! (50mm, f/1.7, 1/60s)
Construction along River Valley Road (50mm, f/1.7, 1/1000s)
Construction along River Valley Road (50mm, f/1.7, 1/1000s)
Passerby's (50mm, f/1.7, 1/1600s)
Passerby’s (50mm, f/1.7, 1/1600s)
Alighting (50mm, f/1.7, 1/800s)
Alighting (50mm, f/1.7, 1/800s)
Taking a Break (50mm, f/1.7, 1/5000s)
Taking a Break (50mm, f/1.7, 1/5000s)
Making Sure the Kids Finish Their Homework (50mm, f/1.7, 1/200s)
Making Sure the Kids Finish Their Homework (50mm, f/1.7, 1/200s)

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! 🙂