So Prime Lens Day (is that something B&H Photo made up?) came and went last week. Seeing B&H tweet about it, makes it hard for me to pass up the chance to wax lyrical about my favorite category of camera lenses. So I thought, why not blog about one of my favorite prime lenses! But before I go into the topic of my favorite prime lens of late, let me digress a bit…
For a long time the biggest reason holding me back from shooting in analog is the cost to maintain the hobby. All the miscellaneous expenditure adds up, starting from cost of the roll of film, followed by the developing, printing and scanning costs of the end product. Of course there are ways to curb the spending, be it by bulk buying of film, developing the film yourself, printing selectively or by pass that entirely, only scanning for digital archiving (DIY again might pinch the cost down).
While surfing Facebook today, I chanced on one of the “On this Day” memories that reminded me of a dilemma I had some good 7 years ago: Should I buy a Minolta X300s or a Nikon FM2. I was tempted by acquaintances around me to dabble in film photography since time immortal (haha ok at least since 2009). Because I’m such a drag whenever I narrate stories of my past, I’ve decided to break up this mother of all grandmother stories (not the first nor last!) into bite size blog entries… Now let me start the story from the beginning…
Once upon a time…
When is the last time you visited a photo finish shop? For me it was more than 4 years ago when I was completing my final project for my college’s social photography class. I have those pictures to remind my mum how great that cupcake from Sweet Tooth in Buffalo looked like, and other fun scenes dining around town. My project’s title was “Food by Foot”. Yup, I traveled around the city by public transport and foot searching for good eats while trying to finish a class project. That’s my idea of having a good time with coursework. 😉 (Alas I’m still trying to shed away the weight I gained from that project, and more.) I’m glad I have those memories on Flickr, my hard drive and heck, those large physical prints. I have most of my pictures taken post 2009… The crux lies with most, and post 2009. What happened before that was a tragedy that I’m sure is too familiar a story we hear happening to people around, and even ourselves…
This topic never grows old. Every digital photographer regardless of mastery has one point or another asked themselves this question, should I shoot in RAW or JPEG? Here’s my take on it…
I bought a surplus of limes and figured it would pair well with a bottle of tequila flavored beer that I’ve been dreading to finish. I topped off with a shot of shikuwasa lime concentrate, dash of raw sugar and approximately 150ml of sparkling water for more fizz factor. This beer is so weak… Kind of reminds me of Corona. Forget about the tequila flavor… There was hardly a hint. I think this is gonna be a one-off purchase. I’m glad I decided to use it in the cocktail though, else I don’t know what other way would help me finish the beer.
(above) Triple Chocolate Mousse
There is nothing to complain about this chocolate cake. It’s a tiny slice but I appreciate its size as I didn’t feel I have much room left in my stomach at the end of my meal at Violet Herb. I adore this restaurant, the food is good, service impeccable… Heck, even the fruit and herbs infused water leaves a positive impression. If you choose to dine here on an ordinary day, the price for such fine dining is actually pretty affordable. However on both occasions I visited the restaurant, it was near empty. It’s pretty odd that this is happening to a dining spot that won best new restaurant of the year on the island… Maybe it’s the recession to blame?
Anyway I took this picture with the iPhone 6s Plus. However this is not SOOC. I had to retouch and do some mandatory post-processing in Photoshop CC 2015 before the picture looked decent to me.
Well technically my Mum’s 5 years to 60 but I think she looks great now than when she was much younger. Haha I’m sure she’s gonna credit this to her strict beauty regiment which I frankly can never match up to. I’m praying my rotund genes and generally round face will keep me looking youthful when I reach her age.
I took this picture of my Mum on her birthday in the middle of an afternoon tea treat on her birthday. I think the natural light was pretty flattering on her face as it shone through the broad British colonial era windows of the E&O hotel. I went with my favorite low-key approach (haha is this gonna be my “style” for portraiture?) in this shot.
It’s interesting how I scarcely ever spend much time post-processing my pictures these days. The major tweaking to this picture is in the color correction; I found the auto white balance a bit too blue for my taste. There wasn’t really a serious need to jazz anything up apart from the usual contrast boost (very subtle and gently added) and then I slapped in the watermark and resized for posting.
Some might credit this to how “perfect” Fujifilm’s Jpegs are… But the thing is I prefer dealing with RAW, especially with Fuji cameras. I admit I’m more particular with color rendering and Apple Aperture’s RAW engine does a better job that fits closer to my vision of the end product. I wonder how long more I can still stick with Aperture, since it’s discontinued. 🙁
Picture taken with the Fujifilm X-T1 and XF 23mm 1.4R lens, slapped with a Zeiss circular polarizer.
It has been quite a while since I’ve last posted here on my blog. Reason for that was both my hectic schedule and working on setting up an Instagram feed and a new website. At the behest of a dear friend, I have finally succumbed and set up an active feed to showcase my works. Why did it take so long for me to join Instagram? Well truth is I first joined the photo-sharing site some 6-7 years ago but it was merely a sleeper account. But this time, things are way different…
I’ll be honest here. I’m looking for means to advertise my photographic services. Yup. I’m all for hire here. Be it for events, weddings, parties, corporate images, and most certainly my niche: F&B images… I’m the photographer for the job. And Instagram is a pretty nifty platform to reach out to a wider audience. An estimated 200 million users worldwide… Well, lets see how far I can reach. Hopefully this experiment is a move in the right direction after revamping my .com site.
But hey, the feed is also all for everyone’s viewing pleasure. Whether or not you’re hiring me for my services, I’m most happy to share images from my daily sightings with you. So go search for @3point2shooter on Instagram and click follow! 😀
Or simply just click this link.
The above is a screengrab from Flow, an Instagram viewing app I use on my iPad. Instagram, till date, has yet release a tablet-friendly app for its users. So I have to contend to using this third-party app. Flow’s clean user-interface makes scrolling thru feeds a breeze. The only downside is that the comment field is a bit buggy, so I go to my iPhone to reply/post comments whenever I need to.
I encountered this scene a short drive from the city of Kurunegala in central Sri Lanka. My family and I were sitting in the van on our journey to Dambulla when we encountered men offloading piles of coconuts, while the ruggedly weathered man nimbly sheds husks off the drupes that surround him.
I found this orange rose neglected at a corner near the exit of the Flower Dome at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. I was there to look at tulips (Tulipmania event from years ago), but was grossly disappointed. The scale of tulips on mass display did not wow me. Perhaps this attributed to frequent travels abroad and visiting the many gardens there. I have seen better glasshouse gardens abroad. People didn’t bother to take a second look at the roses. Aren’t roses the most popular flowers around? It’s fascinating seeing them bloom as nature intended, instead of being “blown wide” manually as is commonly done by florists for bouquets.
A communal activity these pigeons seem to enjoy early in the morning… It does look rather fancy how they each took turns, two at a go, in a pretty civilized queue to rinse their feathers in water at a pond.
Picture taken with the Nikon D800 and Zeiss Makro-Planar 100mm f/2 ZF lens.
I’ve always wondered how do lotuses and water lilies thrive in the murkiest of waters. They are to me a symbol of endurance, grace and purity. Some might say white water lilies look plain, the pink and purple ones look way more visually enthralling. I beg to differ. Look at how spotless the flower is compared to its gunky surrounding. Who would expect a flower of such a pure shade to emerge from swampy waters? Anyway the color of this pond is just horrendous. How did it it end up so dark? Again, this is just a random pond of the many at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The wonders in that garden is not of conventional beauty.
Picture taken with the Fujifilm X-T1 and the Nikkor MF 55mm f/2.8 Micro lens.
How time has past me by! This is my 500th post since I started the blog some 7 years ago. Alas most of my earlier entries are missing the pictures due to the cloud service where I hosted them on going bust. 😐 Oh well, nothing lasts forever in the digital domain. Just hoping this blog lasts much long! Fingers cross…
I guess I’m guilty of indulging in “gear porn” on Instagram. I would lust over old Pentax 67 cameras and other rare camera oddities on the mobile picture sharing site whenever I ran out of magazines to read. That’s exactly where I discovered Artisan Obscura, a company based out of Denver, that handcrafts soft release buttons and hot-shoe covers for cameras. I was attracted to the organic and intricate designs on their wooden soft release buttons. I was already planning to get a soft release button for my X-Pro1, but hung on until I was sure I’ve found the perfect button. I finally did when I chanced on their “Earth” button. I bought that along with a nondescript black hot-shoe cover from Artisan Obscura during their annual Black Friday sale. I think I’m pretty rough with my camera. Paint was peeling on the shutter button and the hot-shoe area of the X-Pro1, but the hot-shoe cover and threaded soft release covers the cosmetic blemishes effectively.
Lately I’ve been going to church on an almost daily basis after probably a 2-year break. I find it almost ironic that someone I know, who isn’t Catholic, is more eager to attend church than me. She probably loves this church more than I’ll ever do. Hmmm… I appreciate the Neo-Byzantine architecture but can’t help but feel the style exemplified here is pretty watered down, if you compare it with the Sacré-Cœur which the church’s design was originally inspired from. But it still looks way better than most of the other Catholic churches in Singapore. Interesting fact: This church was gazetted by the National Heritage Board as a national monument back in 2009.
Picture taken with the Fujifilm X-T1 and the XF 23mm f/1.4R attached with the Zeiss circular polarizer filter.
It’s annoying to be caught in the rain while photographing outdoors. But as I review my shots taken after that terrible downpour on that faithful day, I can’t help but admire the glittery raindrops that roll off the petals of the orchids. The raindrops just make the flowers come alive, probably serving as a lifesaver amid the humid weather.
Picture taken with the Nikon D800 and the Zeiss Makro-Planar 100mm f/2.
I wasn’t expecting to see ginger flowers blooming in the National Orchid Garden. Most people just walk past them, without bothering a second look. When you think of gingers, you usually think of the brownish dirt-covered rhizome root. In today’s modern times, not many of us get the chance to see the entire plant itself, least even its flower. We get them neatly arranged, root only, on shelves in the wet market or supermarkets. And that’s what I like about my visits to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. There is always something new to spot, to learn and grow in my understanding of nature.
Picture taken with my Nikon D800 and the Zeiss Makro-Planar 100mm f/2.
So I was down at the Botanic Garden, which just recently got its UNESCO world heritage site status (yawn.), and the place was filled with orchids. Literally bursting with one single family of flowers, no exaggeration. Well I was there shortly after Singapore’s National Day so no surprise how the place was decked out to celebrate both occasions, the overrated UNESCO status and the island’s golden jubilee. Because National Parks has so kindly graced local residents with free admission to what is usually the paid section of the gardens, the place was packed with people.
This mural seems pretty new, probably done to commemorate SG50. I’m unable to get any pings online on this mural or the artist(s) responsible for it. The mural depicts scenes of the past in Jalan Besar, which includes New World Amusement Park, heritage shophouses and transportation mode of yesteryears. The mural extends to merge with imagery associated with Singapore’s national day parade, with a strong focus on depicting a strong army.
To me this mural is blatant propaganda, but it’s still nice to see something decorated on the walls of public housing, withstanding the content (Yup, I am partial to graffiti. If it looks good, why not?). Considering the mural is located near the offices of the ruling political party and its partisan grassroots organization, I am not surprised at all at the staunchly nationalistic content in the mural. It’s fascinating how if you were to look at the mural from left to right, what starts off innocently as a reflection of the past heritage of the neighborhood ends up an heroic ode to national solidarity. I’m not sure what sort of genre within propaganda art this mural falls under since it’s such a mishmash of ideas and intent. Regardless I am not surprised if a new genre will be created one day to describe the sort of government sanctioned art seen here. I guess there’s some validity to the tourism slogan “Uniquely Singapore”.
Picture taken with the Fujifilm X-T1 and the XF 23mm f/1.4R.
“Children on a Bicycle” is one of Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic’s iconic street art in Penang, and is really popular with tourists. There was a group of Chinese national tourists hogging the mixed media graffiti for their numerous selfies when all of a sudden an old man speeds down the road nonchalantly at top speed, sending the tourists to the safety of the dessert shop conveniently located opposite the mural. I nailed my shot and proceeded to cool off by ordering a bowl of chendol, but was told they were swiped clean by that same group of tourists. 🙁
Picture taken with the Fujifilm X-T1 and the XF 23mm f/1.4R lens.