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General Photography Landscapes

The Different Times of Today

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10:49 AM. It’s a beautiful morning, made more so because it’s a public holiday. I saw these gorgeous-looking clouds and quickly grabbed my Canon 6D and my 24-105mm f/4L lens. I saturated the skies by using a Hoya polarizer and slightly underexposing by –1/3 stop.

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5:45 PM. Had some heavy rain this afternoon, but it cleared towards the evening and became very calm. I saw this reflection in the river and my first instinct was to reach for my polarizer. That, however, obliterated most of the reflection and made the scene less interesting. So I took it off and shot—the 6D gave a perfect exposure. No exposure compensation was necessary.

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7:33 PM. After dinner I decided to go for a walk, although the weather had clouded up quite a bit and light rain was falling. I saw the full moon and shot this, underexposing by 1 2/3 stops to bring out the blue. At first, I didn’t like the birds in the picture and took another shot without them. However, after uploading the pictures to my computer I liked this shot better—it added something extra to the picture.

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7:34 PM. This was taken facing the west. I used a Tiffen neutral density graduated filter to enhance the somberness of these dark menacing clouds. The rain was continuing while darkness began to creep in. I decided to call it a day.

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General Photography Landscapes

My Zen of Photography

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30 years ago I bought my first SLR—a Canon T50 film camera, and I’ve never looked back. Although it was a very basic camera consisting of only Program mode and a self-timer it got me hooked. It was the first 35mm camera I owned and I was so proud of it. Now, 30 years later, the 35mm format is still alive and kicking in the digital world (although it’s called full-frame now) and I’ve gone through seven Canon cameras. I’ve always loved the brand, and I’m presently using the very excellent EOS 6D. So this marriage has lasted a long time, although there were years when I put it in the proverbial closet.

I’m happy to say that this old flame of mine has returned, and with a vengeance. I feel so comforted when I hold my Canon 6D in my hand; it becomes like an extension of my sight, my vision. I am learning and beginning to see the world with a new pair of eyes, literally. I would say that my skills have improved with age…perhaps evolving along with my persona. I’ve slowed down…no more whipping out the camera and just clicking like a damn tourist…ugh, I hate that. And since I take pictures alone I can afford to pause, to reflect, to see the way the leaves catch the early morning light, for instance. I have to say that photography goes along very well with my introverted personality—I like doing my captures alone. No photographic groupies for me, thank you.

I’ve learnt to see things in a different way, looking at them like a curious child. For the photograph above, I pass by this area regularly on my way to the local Botanical Gardens for my morning walks. On this particular morning however, I stopped…and gasped at the incredible light that was piercing through the trees. Of course, the first rule of photography is to bring along your camera with you, and fortunately that’s what I did. I know my 6D well enough to expose the picture I way I want it…still, I took a few shots, just to be sure. I’m not bragging here…not saying I’m a pro or shit like that. But there’s a very instinctive feeling when I click the shutter and know that I’ve got the shot the way I wanted it.

At the same time I’ve become more critical of the pictures I take. A little fuzzy? Delete. Horizon a little crooked? Delete. Exposure not quite to my liking? Delete. Thank goodness for digital. In the film days I’d be tearing up photographs after getting them back from the photo store.

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As a photographer I believe in light, or the way light behaves when it reaches us on Earth. It’s ever changing, minute by minute, hour by hour. Sometimes I happen to be at the right place at the right time, and magic happens. I think one needs a lot of patience and tenacity when creating pictures. Because I’m a stubborn purist and I never, ever do Photoshop or post-processing. So it has to be right when I take the shot.

Although I like taking people portraits, opportunities to do so have been few and far between. But when a willing subject comes along, what can I say…it’s pure magic. The photo below was shot using a Canon 70-200mm f/4L with a Nikon soft filter. Jesslyn is an old friend and ex-student of mine. She was super cooperative during the shoot. I’d have used a little flash but fortunately I had the help of the existing daylight to get those wonderful catchlights in her eyes. And that hint of a smile is priceless.

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Finally, I’ve been taking more sunrise pictures. I really like the light during the blue hour, just before the sun rises. Of course, I need to drag myself out of my cozy bed but what the hell, I can sleep later during the day. This picture was taken one January morning at 7:15. I used my Canon 24-105mm f/4L and a Tiffen ND (Neutral Density) filter, that was it. No post processing.

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So there you have it. Perhaps I’ll talk more about the way I work in my next post.

Categories
General Photography Landscapes

It’s all in the clouds

Yup, I know. For some time now my photography has shifted towards two subjects—food and the sky. On a fine Tuesday afternoon I was outside on my balcony and saw some interesting cloud formations developing. I instinctively knew that I would get better shots at the Straits Quay area, so I grabbed my Canon EOS 550D with 10-22mm ultra wide angle lens, popped on a Hoya HD polarizer, and took off for the mall. Here are some of my favorite shots.

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(Above) Straits Quay taken from the car park. I shot this at the widest end of my Canon 10-22mm lens. I love the way the foliage borders the top and bottom of this picture. The Hoya HD polarizer is simply amazing—it’s literally make-up for the sky.

(Below) I went out to the promenade and was met with this awesome sight—I’d never seen such a wonderful spectacle before. I quickly fired off several shots.

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(Above) I crouched down and played with the distortion and perspective that made me love the Canon 10-22mm in the first place. The railings lead our eyes toward the far distance.

(Below) The lighthouse becomes a leaning tower. The polarizer not only made the sky bluer, it also cut down the reflections on the sea surface.

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(Above) That phenomenal cloud formation again. This time I used the rocks on the shore as added interest. I did my best to keep the horizon straight; guess I should have brought my tripod along.

(Below) A view of the marina, shot at the widest end. I like the way the foreground boat (Minnie) points us towards the distance.

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Categories
General Photography Landscapes

Tropical Spice Garden

Today I decided to make a beeline for a place I’ve never been before—the Tropical Spice Garden. Set over 8 acres of secondary jungle one can get close to over 500 species of tropical flora and fauna. Since the terrain is hilly, one also gets a good workout (as I was soon to discover). The afternoon was cloudy with an imminent threat of rain, but I ventured on, armed with my usual Canon DSLR and lenses. I was too lazy to bring along my tripod, so I improvised.

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(Above) You can’t miss it. The entrance fee is approximately $4.50 USD for adults.

(Below) There’s lush greenery everywhere, including miniature waterfalls. Since it was a weekday it was pretty quiet, which made me a happy camper.

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(Above) Self-portrait of myself sitting on the giant swing. I held my Canon EOS 550D as steady as I could and set the self-timer to 2 seconds.

(Below) The view from the giant swing is quite breathtaking. I could sit here all day and just switch off.

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(Above pictures) Lush greenery abounds as far as the eye can see. It’s indeed a very peaceful place (as long as you go during off-peak times) and if the temperature could be 10° cooler I’d stay here all day.

(Below) The ferns are huge and magnificent.

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(Above) Some giant water lilies in a pond. The boat with its red interior makes this picture for me.

(Below) I recharged with a jolt of Italian coffee at the Tree Monkey restaurant. Note the unusually designed spoon (I managed to drop it, of course). This was one of the few shots where I used my Canon Speedlite 320EX in bounce flash mode.

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(Above) Some beautiful flowers captured with my Canon 55-250mm IS zoom lens.

(Below two pictures) A Tsunami Memorial immortalized in this large chunk of driftwood.

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(Above) I can’t place it, but somehow I find this shot very appealing to my eye.

(Below) The Teluk Bahang beach is virtually deserted. I could sit here all day but unfortunately it started to rain. So I went home. Perhaps another day.

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Landscapes

An early morning walk

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I’ve just discovered another place where I can go for some nice morning walks—the promenade area along Straits Quay. There isn’t as much shade here as the Botanical Gardens, so one has to do this early, otherwise the sun’s heat can get quite uncomfortable. I brought my Canon DSLR along, together with just my Canon 18-135mm IS zoom lens fitted with a polarizing filter. Unlike the Botanical Gardens the promenade had few other walkers or joggers, and that suited me just fine. The picture above shows the sun trying to poke itself out of the clouds. The picture below shows part of the promenade—I estimate the distance to be approximately 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from one end to the other.

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(Above) The beach area isn’t meant for swimming, with all the rocks and boulders. I thought it was quite picturesque though, and found the gentle sound of waves lapping on the shore soothing to my soul.

(Below) An invigorating walk makes me hungry so I’m glad the Coffee Bean outlet at Straits Quay was open. Here’s my breakfast of a scrumptious scone with raisins and a large cup of java. Wish there was a Cracker Barrel here.

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