Sunday, December 28, 2008

Blackrapid RS-1 camera strap

About a month ago, I attended one of Cathay Photo's organized talks, called "Larry Frank's Wild World Of People, Landscape & Travel Photography" Evidently I was blinded by the word "Wild" to represent Wildlife, so I was quite sad to see next to no wildlife pics presented :P But he did present a few very good tips, and the one that I kept in mind and used the most was how he carried his camera - with a camera strap of course, but carried reversed to what most people on the street carry them. Hence, he'd have his camera and lens pointing in towards the small of his back. This worked a real treat for my usual camera strap (Mine is Paksafe's Carrysafe 100). It was so much easier for walking around crowded areas, and in general, people wouldn't even know I'm carrying a bulky slr since it's hidden behind my back.

Now the problem with that is rapid shooting. Due to the way I prefer to carry it, slung across my body, the camera straps really get in the way when I want to take a quick snap shot. More often than not, I'd just take it off when I find interesting subjects to shoot. So when I saw the R Strap a few days back for sale in Singapore, I thought I'd be nice to pick something up like that for instant shooting. Now I've used it for 2 days, here are the pros and cons:

Works as advertised. As the connection between strap and camera is now made at the tripod socket, when you lift it up to your eye level, the straps dangle loose at your chin, nothing getting in the way.
It also feels more comfortable than my old strap. Doh!

Oddly enough, I'm not very happy with it for use on buses, trains and general walking in crowded areas. Because the connection point features a 360 joint, the camera does tend to swing in all sort of odd directions when adjusted to hang directly behind in the small of my back. If I adjust it to hang by my side, it does tend to stay in position better, but that allows it to be seen by people.
Again, because my connection point is now at the tripod mount of the body, it is not possible to put the camera flat on a table. A tad annoying here.

I'll be using it for the next few weeks and see how it pans out. I'm quite certain that I'll be keeping it, but further use in the field will be the ultimate judge. They've got a few other models with pockets and what not. But I like to keep things light... if only they had a D200 in a D40x form factor :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Update: Skin 75 Pop down

Ok, I've spent two days in the field shooting with this new belt bag, and I like it alot. It fits my 70-300VR with loads of space to spare; I actually use the included divider. I'm sure I could stuff like a snack bar or two to accompany the lens.

As far as sitting down with it, it depends on what you wear. My first day out, my jeans had differently space belt loops compared to the travel cargo pants I wore today. And the jeans worked better :) Perhaps when I'm really bored I'd look into the Think Tank belt.

Overall: I love the fact that it allows me to carry my tele zoom out, and with just my camera slung over one arm. No darned annoying camera bags!

Verdict: Not bad. But probably not for a heavier lens like the 80-400. The 70-300VR was already pushing it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Carry less? Think Tank Skin 75 Pop Down

My first Think Tank product was the Urban Disguise 50. The UD 50 has been an excellent bag for carrying around my laptop + camera gear during flights, or when I'm on a trip, I use the laptop compartment for holding my soft shell. It has served me very well during my 2 weeks touring around Australia, getting on and off buses and what not.

If I'm not shooting wildlife, it's easy; me and my 16-85 for general purpose shooting. I've kinda given up on the 10-20 for now. Actually sold it.

But if I do bring my longer zooms out, I tend to put it in a sling bag. Whilst looking for a more waterproof solution, I came across the TTP Skin 75 pop down. It's designed for 70-200mm pro lenses, which for my dinky consumer 70-300VR is much more than sufficient. The lovely thing is it is big enough to stick in the lens with the hood on, and has a compartment for the lens cap.

Other really nice features include the weather cover, and a velcro sound protection. If you need to use the bag in quiet areas, the velcro area can be covered up. I really, really dislike the sound of velcro going off in quiet areas, guys and gals with Crumplers should know what I mean :)

I don't use a harness system (YET!), so I just slip it onto my regular belts. I've only run it today with my 28mm lens (duh), it actually gets in the way when sitting down, so I'll need to figure out a way of working with this new toy. Overall, I'm loving it. Will fit that 80-400 I'm drooling for at the moment :)

Other brands I've checked out include Saffroto which I really nearly bought as I love the soft feel of their material, and Lowepro's competiting range.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Endured a few days of massive sick. And back online. Been using firefox 3 for awhile on my linux system and it's slower than FF2. Kinda bored and still not up to kicks yet so I installed Opera. Seems a tad faster, though took me a few minutes of forum reading to figure out how to install flash :) Let's see how this goes. There is now a nice red "O" on my top gnome bar :)

Damn feel so weak.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

SESI @ Siggraph Asia 08

Nothing too interesting to warrant serious pano-ing, but I had to take some pics of the SESI booth!

Didn't do too much at Siggraph; just helped give a short presentation about Houdini on the 12th, and also got a plaque for for helping out sesi before and during Siggraph =) OMG I was so embarrassed!

Ok enough photo playing around. I recently bought Andrew Lowell's Book On Houdini's CHOPs, finally will have the time to sit down and really go through it. CHOPs is one area I've used but only to a small extent, and I look forward to pushing it to the level of the other Houdini contexts =)

D200 @ ISO1600

I've rarely printed my digital files so far; even when I shot my B&W films, I usually got a contact print and then printed out those (few) shots I want to keep.

I recently had the chance to shoot at the Esplande Outdoor Theatre for Nightsound. I was toting along my rental 70-200/2.8VR, and I think because of that plus my really nice dress & siggraph pass, no one stopped me :P

Lighting was really bad; I was shooting wide open @ 2.8, and even at ISO 1600 was getting shutter speeds as slow as 1/15s. Still, I managed to get a smattering of shots for my friend playing on stage (NB there was an official photog, I was just playing around.)

I processed the photos as per normal using Bibble, and settled for a portra-isk kind of look. Now on screen, the 100% view was pretty bad. But I was sure printing to 4R would be fine, but what about larger?

I decided to try one shot of my friend @ S8R size, which is 8x12 inches. Surprisingly, the picture came out quite well! Even the detail down to the straps of his guitar could be seen. If a bad 100% crop on screen is able to print out at that kinda size and still maintain the detail, I would think that if I had my iso100-200 shots, which are generally very clean, they would be able to be printed at ridiculous sizes.

Printing Panos... I'm addicted.

After acquiring Hugin, the software triad is complete - Bibble for RAW processing, Hugin for Pano stitching, and GIMP for misc pixel editing. I really would love to acquire Auto Pano Pro, but I'm just a n00b playing around with photography.

Next step, printing! I found a thread at Club Snap indicating that there was a pretty good place at Bukit Batok, which is about 20 mins on foot from my place. One of the gents working was readily helping me out with my pano images, and got a few tests done on SS6R size, which is 6 x 18 inches. See the image above :) The smaller white photo is a 4R size, which is 4x6 inches. Wowza.

That said, the subject matter in question, even printed at this size (it's the widest I'm told the frontier can print at; the gent told me the largest they can print is 12x18in) is just not enough. I'm actually looking around for a place that can print at 24x36in at a reasonable price - I've got the resolution for a 300DPI print at that size. It would be either a poster print, which may or may not use archival inks, or I may look into printing on canvas.

While it's nice to pixel peep on screen, I think seeing a large artwork on display is much more magnificent. There was also an article I read a while back between field of view of a photo versus the viewing size, unfortunately I can't seem to find it again.

PS: Impossible to see, but the last pano print was at a wedding, about 220+ degrees field of view :) It was during the "Yam Seng" section where honoured guests get up on stage and shout "Yam Seng" 3 times. People were moving all over, but Hugin, amazingly blended all the shots near perfectly.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

tong ya | panoramic

Tong Ya | panoramic

This afternoon heading home from the city. So many shots of this place, but this is my first serious panoramic of it. Estimated field of view was 198 degrees before cropping, using equirectangular mapping.

Stiching done, of course using Hugin. Gimp and Bibble used for the frame and color treatment.

Was going to do a multi-row but I ran out of space on my cf card :P

NB: It seems that hugin has an easier time dealing with the stitch if I correct the lens distortions in bibble first; I have a feeling this will affect the image quality but I think the high stich res should be good for an 8R print.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Hugin - It straightens! It does!

MWAHAHAHA Got Hugin to straighten out this shot taken using the MK1 Digitus Secundus panoramic head. The tutorials section at the Hugin site were a huge help. I only used 3 control points, for the left, middle and right of the image.... kinda surprised it was able to verticalize so much of the image.

It seems that using the hyperfocus distance on my 16-85 @ 16mm gives my subjects in focus from about 2 meters away till infinity. That's setting the lens to focus @ 1.5m, at F8. I've only tried this 3 times, all panos came out easily assembled. Wish I'd figured that out earlier :P


Hugin - OSS Panoramic tool

North Terrace Panorama, my first week in Adelaide.

Discovered Hugin many days ago, and finally, on my 3rd try, managed to get it installed and running! I followed this link - helped me alot when I was trying to install the autopano-sift-C application. if not the rest of it was pretty straightforward linux install stuff. Cmake kinda threw me off though...

In anycase, I've been using Hugin for about 5 mins, and the trial version of Autopano Pro for days. Been meaning to buy it but I've been putting it off. A few things to note is that I like the preview of the panorama in Hugin better; it's higher resolution and seems to update very much faster. Hugin also has a whole different slew of projections, like Mercator, Fisheye, Equilinear. Not that I have any idea what they really mean :P Still haven't figured out how to straighten horizons like Autopano Pro. I'm going to be giving this baby a whiz right now. The above pano was rendered about 8k wide, and the blending seems to be excellent.

Think I'm going to lay off Houdini for a bit and play with Hugin :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Grampians

3 weeks worth of travel and more than 8 month of Adelaide shots =~ 200GB of raws! It is an awesomely tedium experience to go through all the shots, but all of them, even the bad ones bring back such lovely memories. I'm really glad I actually bothered to shoot so much.

That said, this is the start of day 3 of photo choosing for printing (I have not yet started actual processing).... I am not sure how I'm going to print them all lol.

Anyways, just fiddling around with the photos (Bibble 5! Please be out soon!) and restarting my Houdini vibe again. Got at least 2 ideas I'm working on in H :) Very simple projects but just wanna engage my engines before they rust.

Oh, the above shot is from the Grampians national park in Victoria (the state that Melbourne is in). It's around the 8-ish to 9ish mark, still not yet to the half way point.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Mow From Sengkang

Yesterday I was at Sengkang being a brother to a hia di. ARGH! Co-ordination duty does not include "suffering" in order for the groom to pick up the bride lol! :P

Anyways this was at the couple's new SengKang flat, when I was waiting for the lift. Only managed 2 shots b4 it ran off. Evidently someone's pet.

GAH. Why aren't there wolves running around Singapore? Only cats? ****

**** the question, is rhetoric of course.



More Mow!

Little furball I met today while walking around Marsling. Only 3 shots before it ran away. (It probably has something to do with how close I was :P )

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Road Train

We saw many of these vehicles hauling containers along the road. I managed to catch this one pulling out of one of our rest stops. I've also seen one carrying a small boat. Perhaps the owner was shipping it from Darwin to SA?

King's Canyon Random

Slowly going through photos of Australia. Been testing out Autopano for my panos, and it seems to do a pretty good job. I'll be buying that pretty soon. However, since I shoot all my pano shots bracketed, I still haven't figured out how to combine all of that in AP.

Sigh. Pano Head or Extension Tubes next?

PS: This pile of rocks was stacked up by some tourist before us; don't disturb the natural zen-ness please!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Friday, November 07, 2008

Nikon 80-400 Day 3: Singapore Zoological Gardens

Third day out. It was raining on my way to the Zoo, but happily when I arrived, it stopped, and only clouds remain. I'd try to get to the White Tigers exhibit before 10, as I *thought* the website said the feeding was at 10am (I was planning to leave the zoo by noon), unfortunately a plaque there stated it was at 2.20pm. Oh well. I did my lens testing on the various denizens, went out for lunch, then went back in.

I think by now I'm already getting used to the heft of the lens, and getting acquainted with the tight zoom ring. I went directly to the White Tiger exhibit and probably shot off 200 shots in under half and hour lol. I have *alot* of very similar white tiger shots; since I was having relatively low light levels in the morning (I was so jealous of the dude with the huge Canon lens + monopod + flash extender lol), I took many shots, hoping that some would be sharp. That paid off!

AF performance, is slow as always, but again, it generally held the lock pretty well. There were only a few times it had to focus all over the place (mainly in really dark areas, like the wolf's den area. )

Anyways for the last day, I'll show you some 100% crops of my shots. GASP! It's pixel peeping time folks! I would like to caution that the lighting today for the Komodo Dragon and Otter ain't optimal; in fact I think due to the reflections, I think perhaps there is some flare in the otter shot. Ah well doesn't bother me. Let's go:

White Tigers... So... Cuddly...

100% Crop, 330mm, 1/250 - Not as sharp as I like, but given the conditions, I think it's pretty good! There was waist level rail that I used as support.

Komodo Dragon. Somehow, I think it's not THAT cuddly.

100% Crop, 400mm, 1/400, fully handheld. I think if I had support I'd probably get a sharper image. I also have _alot_ of komodo shots, but I just wanted a quick random example of how the lens performs at the extremities.

Otter, however using the 70-300VR. While cuddly, they are also damp :(

100% Crop. 300mm, 1/250. I think I was bracing against some support..

Ah well. I returned the lens after this shoot. I'm gonna miss the extra range, but not the handling... Sob! I think the bokeh is pretty delicious for a zoom, but for example the twin tiger shot above, I wish I had the ability to really stop down to get both of the furballs in focus. Sigh.

Oh, btw. Was using the 70-300 today, and it felt... really cheap :P Guess that is what happens when you pit a pro level lens versus a consumer zoom! I'm just glad that for nikon glass, the image quality is still pretty good on the consumer stuff.

Nikon 80-400 Day 2: Jurong Bird Park

Weather during my visit was miserable. It was the usual overcast in clouds, which really puts a crimp on high shutter speeds. Thankfully, there were a few breaks in the clouds, allowing me at times to shoot at 5.6/1000 @ ISO 280.

Autofocusing this baby today was a huge surprise. I'm not sure what's up, but I only remembered a few times that it actually lost focus. It's still slow to focus, don't get me wrong, but generally when it's locked on, it stayed locked.

I was able to track a Pelican - granted, a very big furball - through its landing pattern, a nice crescent around its living area. I was really surprised that the AF was able to lock on, and I managed to track/zoom it till it landed, then switched to another pelican taking off. Whew.

That said, I won't use this lens to track faster birds like the owls and eagles. In the morning, the Bird Park has a Birds Of Prey show, and using both the 80-400 and 70-300VR yielded only a few shots where the bird, flying towards the camera, was usable. None from the 80-400 actually :P And a few were from the 70-300 VR were actually in focus with the bird heading nearly head on.

Unfortunately, lighting was a bit low in the morining, so I was managing with shutters of about 250, not enough to stop motion.

There is a gripe with the lens handling though. I've noticed that the zoom ring was very tight to zoom from 80 to 400, but the other way round, it's pretty loose (perhaps it's my copy of the lens). Also, I am unable to zoom from 80-400 in one swift motion, I actually need to crank it 2 or even 3 times. By then, my framing is all over the place and the action is mostly over. Sigh.

That said, I was able to capture a few nice memories. Here's a few:

Malaysian Fish Owl

Egyptian Vulture

... Dang forgot what bird this is :(

Cormorant - I think this is the species of Cormorant that I find very handsome when they're drying after a dive. Pretty cuddly, no?

Shoebill. NOTE: This was shot using the 70-300VR

All images above, if cropped, have their top and bottom removed to change the aspect ratio to 16:9 - I try my best to not crop into the images. Processed from .NEF using Bibble 4.10 om Ubuntu 7. Resized in GIMP. Note, I DID NOT run any unsharp masking on them. You may wish to run some USM on the high res pics to evaluate these lenses - most of them are at their max zoom.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Just some fun updates! Nikon 80-400VR thoughts

I've been spending time away from Houdini and work in general, spending most of it out in the field taking pictures of Singapore before I head away to my next assignment. I also have 200gbs of RAWs to go through slowly in Bibble! It's amazing what exposure bracketing can do on a 2 week holiday :P I'm not only just selecting my images, I'm also spending time re-tweaking the raws again and again, and oh, also trying to figure out which photobook provider to print my stuff from.

My current kit is a Nikon D200, Sigma 10-20 for my ultra wide, Nikon 16-85 for my normal use lens, and the Nikon 70-300VR as my tele/wildlife toy. 300mm for wildlife isn't enough for me imo, even with the crop factor giving about 450mm equivalent. So yesterday, I rented out the 80-400 for a test drive! I thought if the lens checked out fine I'd get a copy for my use and sell off the 70-300.

This is day 1 of 3 of my rent, and at the moment, I'm already leaning on just using my 70-300. Why?

Two things, first is the handling and autofocus on my D200

First, the lens itself is quite balanced with my D200. The focusing ring though, is located closer to the lens mount, and is quite stiff, at least the copy I rented. MF simply needs to slide a ring from AF to MF (and unlock the ring, if you locked it before). Tripod mount was in the way, so took it off even before I left for my shooting "expedition". Perhaps I'm just used to the 16-85 and 70-300's arrangements for the focus/zoom rings, so I can't adapt yet for the 80-400.

But enough of the handling, what's troubled me most was the AF on my D200 body. Apart from it being slow, I think I could get used to the AF speed, was the AF on the outer sensors were hit and miss. Alot of times I shoot in Continuous AF mode, and use my 11 AF points to help my framing. Subjects with low contrast were particularly prone to focus hunting. I rarely use Single Shot mode nowadays for focus lock -> recompose as sometimes the subject is moving, and Single Shot doesn't work very well for me. I've also yet to use the AF-On technique.... one day...

Using the center sensor, it generally works very well, but in low light conditions (e.g. ISO 800, F5.6 1/60 kind of exposure levels), even the center sensor hunts. While my 70-300VR also will annoyingly hunt at 300mm (exactly like the kit 55-200), the AFS speed kind of makes up for it, plus, you won't hear it grind through the AF range.

Many forums report the D300 plus the 80-400 makes an excellent combo, no surprise with the many, many cross sensors on the D300. I think for now, since this is the only lens in my budget (no 3rd party lenses for me, at least for now...), I'll just stick with my 70-300 and rent like the 200-400 if I really need it.

I leave you here now, with some pics from the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve. Note: All pics shot using the 80-400 are shot at full aperture from 4.5 to 5.6...

I think this reserve is the favorite haunt of many bird lovers, unfortunately, I do not have the skill to take much bird photos. So I'll lead with... a Monitor Lizard! Which there are tons wading about. I was unable to shift to a different location to frame it without the grass in front of its snout; it had moved on by then :(

No bird, but a Mud Skipper is up next lol!

Here starts a few bird shots!


More little furballs...

Panning shot. It's not so bad as long as the sensor latches on. If it does that hunting thing then yeah, pain in the ass.

Closeup on a monitor lizard leg! It was raining quite heavily when I spotted this guy probably about 20 metres away. I inched bit by bit under the pouring rain. Ended up having a whole series from far to near. (NB: This is using the Nikon 16-85! The 80-400 doesn't have a gasket around the mount; I wouldn't try that lens in the rain. Plus, the 16-85 + D200 combo has been though a few thunderstorms with me, protected only with a lens cap :P So I know it can take it.)

"Portrait" of the lizard about a meter away. These guys don't seem to be bothered when you inch up to them crouched; walk up to them standing upright and they bolt.

My plan will be to do the Singapore Bird Park, followed by the Singapore Zoological Gardens with the 80-400 to further gauge it in different shooting conditions, before I make up my final, final mind (I'm already complaining to my kakis online about the lens, you know who you are ;) )

Last I went to the Bird Park, was using a Contax G1 and 45mm lens, and I was able to take some reasonable shots; which makes me wonder how annoying it will be to try to maneuver a lens with a 2 meter plus minimum focusing range :(

Tech Note: All photos processed with Bibble 4.10 on Ubuntu. Resized for web in Gimp. I generally tend to crop from 3:2 to 16:9 by removing the top and bottom, rarely the sides. If you take a look carefully, you will see the sides of some of the images will have some black lines. These are the lines that appear in bibble after lens distortion is corrected. I usually do not bother to crop them out. Finally, vignetting. I vignette all my stuff in bibble! The lenses are great! Don't worry!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

So I'm back but....

I lost a bag, Dang, Which means, no handphone, ZERO chargers, my hard drives, paper work for AU/US.... so. Apologies if you don't hear from me ;)


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Be home soon...

Been away for a short holiday, but heading back home to Singapore in 2 days. Gonna miss Adelaide and RSP... :(

Friday, September 12, 2008

Spring is coming?

Weather here in Adelaide borders between semi-awesome and uber awesome. It's not freezing cold when I walk back late, and the afternoons are very sunny; easting lunch out in the park under a mellow shade is so relaxing. There's a few late night showers here and there, but I'm looking forward to out looking at some more sights of Adelaide.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Zeiss Ercona I Pictures!!!!

Finally brought the folder home to have some pics taken :) It's been a very good companion at work, something to fiddle with when baking stuff out.

It's actually not too big. Fully folded out is roughly comparable to the D40x with the kit lens, perhaps heavier. Side note: 28mm/2.8 roxxor! And this was tweaked in bibble; was called back to the office so did the rest in a rush.

The lens on my baby is a 105/3.5 Carl Zeiss lens, with a Tessar formula. Woo! (Actually I'm not sure what that is. All I care is I got a CZ on the lens haha :))

The film back opened.... it's pretty spacious since it's designed for 6x9. There is also a cutout available for 6x6, but I didn't bother to acquire it. 6x9 is where I wanna be :)

I did not manage to take a picture, but the viewfinder has a metal mask built in to switch between 6x9 and 6x6. A very very nice feature. Unfortunately, the viewfinder SUCKS ROYALLY if you wear glasses (like me.) - I can barely see the edge of the 6x9. In actual practice, yes, it does suck. But very much sufficient to take pictures.

This is it collasped.... a very amazingly small package for a MF camera! Now this little bugger does not have a rangefinder, so focusing is by guestimation of the distance. So far in my tests, I'm just setting it to the hyperfocal distance mark, and setting the shutter speed to 1/125, and altering the exposure only through the aperture.

While this is not optimum, I personally feel that the 105mm lens will need much care to avoid handshake; a faster shutter speed will help that since I am not going to be tripoding this baby - cause its tripod mount is some wierd type! Given I'm shooting a far away targets only, I hope the hyperfocal marking will be sufficient. From my random test roll (below) - it seems to work well.

Ignoring the horrible white balance... should have used a flash :P Yes, that is how LARGE a 6x9 negative is! Lovely size ain't it? Unfortunately I do not have a loupe handy, so I can't really tell how blurry the images are. But with a naked eye. They are razor sharp. Most are only stopped down to F5.6 (overcast), so I'm actually very impressed by this.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

6x9 slides are HUGE

Just collected my first test roll today (woot! sunny 16 rule still works in oz! :P )

Granted, I've shot 6x6 before, but 6x9 is another thing. I'll post pics soon... I hope :)


Dragonball Z - Uber Westernized or "Hey! Let's Ignore The Fans!?"

Granted, I'm not the most hardcore DBZ fan, but I've read the main manga series and watched loads of the movies, played the games since the very first DBZ rpg on the 8 bit ENS, but the live action move has to be the most uber piece of horror this year. I mean, come on! DBZ has decades of design and look. Let's not throw it out the window?!

Presenting link:

Observe the first frame. Is that Piccolo (woo! first time using that word... since rarely in SG do we use the english version - we go by the hongkong translated names for the most part) or the borg queen? Seriously. It looks more like something out of a Trek film, not DBZ.

2nd pic - well that has to be wukong. No offense to the casting director or actor himself but.... WHAT?! Wukong was definitely NOT american. Ignoring all the other pictures (is that Mr Welcome To Singapore playing the GuiSian?), the last shot should be that of a dragon ball. Or I do hope it's something else. Because seriously, it reminds me more of the Zodiac Stonse in Final Fantasy Tactics than a dragon ball.

PLEASE. A dragon ball is a bloody transparent sphere with a number of starts in it. That's it. There is no need to uber redesign it.

Now maybe, maybe it may end up like transformers where I would bitch that Megatron wasn't a gun or tank. But the movie did change my mind, and I think the vision of Transformers was good. But in the case of DBZ, it's going to be a wait and see thing. I can't for now accept that radical a change till I watch the film. And going by those jpegs, looks uber low budget.

Bitch bitch bitch.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Morialta - again!

Went to Morialta falls again to do the 3 Waterfalls Grand Hike. This time only had a few very light showers, and the weather conditions were totally different.

The trek took us about 4.5 hrs, and that was with stopping here and there for photos. In terms of difficulty, the main trail was pretty easy going, the gradient was gentle for the most part.

Loads of rocky vistas!

If you are in the area, drop by!


Nikon 16-85 in da house!

Just got the lens in yesterday; can't wait to bring it out in the field. This is probably considered a prosumer lens model, but it feels so damned good. It's actually quite compact at 16mm; the pictures do not do it justice. It does telescope quite a bit when zoomed into 85mm. It's also quite hefty; about half a kilo. It just reeks of quality. Zoom ring is on the stiffer side, and well damped. Lens hood is also included.

I only did some back/front focusing tests; all came out pretty well. I need to do a field test to confirm. I can see this baby being on my camera 95% of the time. I also noticed that at low shutter speeds, the pictures actually do seem sharper. Could this be the VRII in action?

In other news, my Zeiss Ercona I also arrived at work today (WOOT!) - medium format 6x9s! can't wait. Since my new Nikkor doesn't have a protective filter installed, I may not bring it out too far from the nest, and just bring along the MF folder for this weekend's hike. Can't wait!


Monday, August 25, 2008

FF: Crisis Core

Finished running a quick straight through run of Crisis Core, somehow I can't get the same excitement compared to the original FF7. I'm probably just getting old.

Love the fight sequences. They remind me of Tales of Phantasia, hands on battle not menu pushing. It does add quite a bit of excitement and keeps you on your toes.
FMV: Advent Children Quality. I think those alone would be worth the purchase of the PSP and game.
Story: Pretty much tells the tale of what happens to Cloud and Zack, and the surprising history of the Buster Sword.
So many allusions to FF7. We get to see kid Yuffie, a hint of someone sleeping in a coffin in Shinra manor (LOL!) and meet someone who possibly built 7th Heaven.
Aerith! Woo!

Final Boss fights were not too long or annoying. Unlike some idiot casting supernova and making me really, really bored. Then again, the difficulty level (I was playing normal) was generally pretty good.
One character?! Well the focus is on Zack: SOLDIER 1st Class. Maybe he's that superhuman, who knows. I do miss having companions though.

Not so good:
The game progression felt very linear, it just brings you from mission to mission. Even most of the areas encountered are just straight paths. You get to do loads of side quests but you don't need to travel to do them; just access them from your menus.
Load time perhaps? Given that I've had a DS for a while, the load time does get annoying.

Now that I've done the game through once, I'm going to do it one more time following a FAQ to pick up all the items and summons. I barely had 5 summons, and those are rare. Speaking of which, there must be a Kamen Rider fan somewhere in the production. Because the Chocobo Summon is definitely a Rida Kick!


Friday, August 22, 2008

I think I'm getting old ;)

Previously, I'd play my new games non-stop (nearly) till I complete it. I remember playing FF7 for 19hrs straight, not stopping except for food and bio breaks. I only have two games right now, God Of War and of course, FF: Crisis Core. Somehow, I don't feel the *must play game urge*. Don't get me wrong, both are spectacular games, just that somehow I feel more draw to playing eve-online (offline - since i have no net access...) than either of them. In anycase, I think i should be nearing the end of FF:CC (I'm in Nibelheim, omg, it looks so much better than the original PS1) - can't wait to replay the whole thing with a full guide and do all the side quests.

My 16-85 is arrived in oz, currently in Sydney, so probably I'll get it on Monday or Tuesday. Once that checks out, I'm going to be selling off my D40x outfit. Sob sob. Will miss the little bugger.

Also acquired a 28mm/2.8 - for "low light" (F2.8? Yeah right) and walkaround use. 28*1.5=42mm should be nice. Still awaiting expectantly for my MF folder camera. Gosh I've been on a buying spree lately. Gah.


Saturday, August 16, 2008


Yes, I'm bloody outdated. But I heard just today that FF: Crisis Core is available on the PSP. And being a fan.... time to bite the bullet and buy yet another mini console ;)


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Adelaide Weekend Day Trips: Morialta Falls

Morialta Falls is a surprising change in landscape that is only a 20 minute bus ride from the city (check the schedules here: - it is host to a few waterfalls and amazing tree covered rock terrain.

The first waterfall is very accessible; there are two car parks, one inner carpark that is about 15-20 minutes from the first waterfall. It is best to visit in the wintertime (when it's rainy) to see the waterfalls. In summer, it's bone dry. Once you are bored of the first waterfall (believe me, it's nice up close, but you want to explore more of the park....), take one of the trails and travel a few hundred metres up......


At magic hour, you get some of the most amazing colors. You have to be there to experience it.

Remember that this is a trail, so bring along proper clothing, water and a small amount of food. You have to be out of the park to catch the 6pm bus, else you will have to wait till 7 for the next one (as we found out. Brr.... cold...)

Adelaide Weekend Day Trips: Hallett Cove

This is a start of a few blog posts about what to do in Adelaide on the weekend for a day tour. As some of you know, I can't drive to save my butt (except 10th scale r/c, where I may be able to put up a fight. Anyways...)

Hallett Cove is a very quiet conservation park located about 40minutes from the Adelaide Railway Station. Buy a Day pass, and jump aboard the Norlunga train (below the Casino)o. Alight at the Hallet Cove station (there is also a Hallet Cove Beach Station, you can do that too, but there are more signs at the earlier Hallett Cove Station). Trains seem to move at half hour intervals, but later in the day they start to move at 1hr intervals, so plan ahead! The train station has alot of time schedules so pick one up.

I spent at least 4 hours there slowly walking the various paths and taking in the sights. The highlights there would probably be the Sugarloaf:

Walking down to the beach (make sure u wear proper shoes - a good part of the beach is solid rock, not sand...) to check out the very interesting rock formations:

And enjoying the view in general. I've loads more, but I haven't yet decided on their final look. These are the few I've printed out that look reasonably good.

The terrain there is very easy going, but not suitable for wheelchair access.