Sunday, November 29, 2009

Re-visiting Shepreth Wildlife Park

The itchy trigger finger needed some medicine, so I thought I'd drop down to Shepreth Wildlife Park again to get some much needed healing time. Went with some photogs this time, and did NOT just bring my 70-300VR :P

I think Winter is a fairly tough time to go shooting critters. Not only is the weather always threatening to pour, it is *cold*. Light in broad daylight is also pretty dim, most of the day I was averaging 1600 iso, wide open on my 300/4, though with the 70-200, I could drop down to about 800-1000, but still the conditions there weren't always conducive to shooting with the shorter lens. Come on Nikon, 300/2.8VR DX please.....

For most of the day, I was actually staying with the tigers. It's tough to get a nice environment shot free of the fencing, so I focused more on abstracts and portraits.

This full face shot above has some technical issues - mainly shooting through the fencing at close range caused some horrible loss of contrast. Much tweaking to get a color version was to no avil, but a B&W conversion seemed to work.

This is a crop (maybe 30%) into the frame; the female was lying around by a set of two fences, so anything shot with a shorter lens will be all fencing. The 300/4 + 1.4xTC and some luck allowed a shot through both sets of fences, but I still captured some of it, hence the crop.

There is a new meerkat exhibit (good lord why are meerkats in almost every zoo?!) - but what's even better is the new food/play area - lots of space, and more choices of food :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sometimes, one needs to look at a subject from different viewpoints

Caught this series today when I went out for lunch. I'd brought my d200 with me the last two days, as I knew I'd be staying late and would love an old friend to keep me company :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Personality type?

I'm not even sure why I'm blogging this. It makes no sense, but I just want to write about it. Perhaps just as a memory, to see how I've progressed over time.

More than half a decade ago, I graduated from uni, and begun my job hunt. For some reason lost and forgotten, I happened to pick up work versus personality types. I had identified myself back then as an INFP. No surprise for those that have worked with me - appearing at the pub on friday night would be some what rare.

Two days ago, I was hunting through my blog for an old picture and went over this old post, about passion. (Side note, is this syncronicity or what, but I was recently discussing about passion just last week with an animator friend of mine who would refuses a job at lucas, simply because the project does not interest him. I countered that, whatever pays the bills mate. Perhaps because in visual effects, we still get to do the cool stuff (tm) no matter the show, and animating clones would be boring?).

What is passion? (Oh yeah, watch as I derail the post). Is it the love of doing something? What drives you in the dark when the lights are out and there is no more milk left in the fridge for your tea? Is this passion? I don't know now. All I can say is, I love my job, won't switch it for another.

But if given another life, who knows. Heck, I'd love to be a vet. A wolf vet. Yeah. What I am not interested to be - you may be surprised - is to be a photographer. Nope. Not as a job.

While I enjoy photography *intensely*. It is simply an outlet for my creative juices (if there are) - after all, at work, while it is very challenging and I always have to figure out creative ways to get things to work (sub frame particle trailing today, for example), the clients and my supervisors are number one. Not me. While I do try to inject some ideas (e.g. I bugged one of my old bosses to put a gundam in the commercial and they actually allowed a mecha to be put in :P ), I am a firm believer that my job is to help my bosses achieve their vision through the kickass use of Houdini ;-)

So back to that passion page. This is a link to topic #40 at Sloperama, and I somehow reached #7. There was that personality thing and yeah, I thought it'd be fun to try it out again, after so many years.

This time, I came in as an INFJ. Surprisingly, the general flow of thought about my characteristics were quite on the ball. But so what. No big deal there.

Some googling turned up this page, which not only made for an interesting read, but also some personal development suggestions.

Here's some food for thoughts:
  • May find their ideas overlooked and underestimated - every time I use a flash outdoor in bright sunlight, people look at me funny. Grow up people. If the light sucks, we can create our own light.
  • May not be forthright with criticism - especially flickr. That is NOT a great macro shot people. Its crap. Wake up, and stop the mutual loving.
  • May be reluctant to intrude upon others and thus keep too much to themselves - this may be the reason why I am useless, utterly useless at real street photography.
  • May operate with single-minded concentration, thereby ignored other tasks that need to be done - obviously true, as I blew my flash, ignoring the warning signs to stop shooting and bloody put on the weather shield :P
Some other interesting reads: <- hey look! Artist, Musician, Photographer!

That much written, I think that the INFJ while is closest to what I can identify with, is not a 100% catch all for me (or for anyone). I also indentify closely with the INTJ type, which I think applies very much when I'm at work, versus INFJ when I'm out of work and able to follow my own creative endevours.

So much to think about, so little time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Exploring Highgate

Bike in La Bruschetta

I was looking for someplace near London to explore (read: cheap) and my deputy Head of 2d recommended me to take a nice walk from Highgate down to Hamstead Heath. It's a really nice place to visit around. Didn't take much pictures of the town itself though :P

Quite surprised to see a bee this time of year.

Clock tower in Archway

A short walk downhill gets me to Archway. My plan was to visit the cemetary, then explore Hamstead Heath. A very good plan, but one that was doomed to fail in winter.

Even at 2pm, I was at iso 1600 (!!!), wide open on my 16-85vr. And it was raining.

That's not a problem since I'm not exactly going to be printing those - at websizes no one can tell!

hi-1 (boosted) - can you see the noise?

Inside the cemetary, 1600 and very slow shutter speeds, and up to the boosted hi-1 were used.


Had a great time shooting panos there. I had about 10 panos taken, but only these 3 came out with compositions I liked.

Till next time!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Houdini 10 @ Canadian High Commission

Here's Janet and Jeff at the end of the presentation. 
  Yes, I suck at indoor color balancing/grading so I'll just go the easy route with HP4 B&W sims :P

Jacob Clark presents some of Framestore CFC's work on Prince of Persia

Jeff Wagner extolling proceduralism during the meet and greet session 
(No, I don't know what he was saying.)

Random grab shot of Janet 
(I won't subject Janet to horrible, lame quotes :P)


Brick Lane part 2

Side Effects is in town to do some Houdini demo work, so I decided to take a day of to go cheer 'em on as well as just well... spend some of my leave.

In between the noon and evening sessions, I went back to explore brick lane a little more thoroughly.

Wanted to take this shot when I was there last, but there were people very close by... 
and as usual my brain stalls when that happens.

 Wanted the road sign in the pic, as well as a human element.

Still pretty busy for the time I was there (about half 3 to 4pm). The light was georgeous at 3.30, didn't get any shots then though.

The dead boring bokeh of the 16-85VR Nikkor. Bleh.

And here's a little surprise, a panorama! Haven't shot many since I was in London, I should shoot a fair few more. Click for the higher res version!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Walking around London

Some random lock thing I found interesting

Following the crowd I came to this bazaar area thing. Many photogs seem to be hanging around there. At the corner of the bazaar, was this neat bus converted into a dining area thingy.

Randomly shot from chest height

Leaving the area, I found myself back in the midst of the city

It's not good to have your office on the first floor... people can see how messy it gets :P

No idea, just thought it looked cool.

Erm, documenting some cigarettes falling from containment?

GW :)

Hamerton Zoo Park in the rain

Rain is annoying. I'd woken up to a grey sky with few clouds, but after I'd washed up, the sky was fully overcast. Stepping outside, I was hit by a shower. Not good. Perhaps I'd get some Cleland magic, and get the weather to clear up? :)

Half way on the train, the sky did indeed clear up :) Woo! Upon arrival at the Huntingdon train station, the sky was blue, and the cab driver said I was pretty lucky to get the skies clear :)

Waiting for the rain

This time round, I didn't do the "tour the zoo first before shooting" - well I did kinda, but I quickly had my kit out before the first few corners. One thing about this place is the size - it's pretty big. Not london zoo big, but many of the enclosures themselves are pretty big by my standards. For most of the day, the 300/4 AF-S and 1.4x teleconverter were welded to my D300.

I want hugs! (Boa Constrictor)

Just about an hour into the shoot, the skies turned grey again and the rain started to pelt. GAH! It only let up for a few minutes at a time, else it was a constant pitter patter. This time round, I was wiser and had the rain sleeve on for the day.


The number of species there is frankly quite surprising. Either that or I'm just not visiting enough zoos. There were two species of wallaby on hand (Parma and Bennett's), casowarries and I am pretty sure, a pair of cape barren geese. Oz, anyone? :) All they need are dingoes and I'll be there every fortnight or so. Other interesting furballs include porcupine, cheetahs (!!!), corsac foxes (reason I was there), wattled cranes, griffon vultures and loads of monkies.

Favourite shot of the day! Yet another fox in wind!

I was told there were 8 (!!!) Corsac foxes about. I spent at least 2 hours waiting at their enclosure (in the rain) and saw at most, maybe 3. And out of the two hours I only saw them for at most 5 minutes. Probably due to the rain, they all were hanging around inside their wooden houses. Due to their distance, even my longest combo wasn't long enough for me :( Oh well.

I like wet.

Cheetahs were just side by side with the foxes, so I would pop over occasionally to see what the fuzballs were doing. I think they had shelter, but didn't want to use it, preferring to relish in the wet. The cheetah enclosure is pretty big, and the zoo seems to be setting up several such enclosures for a breeding program.

Black Backed Jackal

Feeding time seems to be quite late, almost at closing time! I was wandering around the park at half 3, and got most of my favourites then.

Wattled Crane

Ruppell's Griffon Vulture

Cape Barren Goose Macro (620mm fov at 1.5 meters :P)

Bonus pic! Me in full wet weather setup!


I hate computers so much

So. Last night, I had 9.04 working just enough to get some stuff done. But today was no fix-my-darned-computer day, I took time to visit the Hamerton Zoo Park in Huntingdon. Great day, shooting in the rain for 4 bloody hours. It's not too bad, just that my fingers tips were hurting in the cold weather.

Got home, got 9.10 installed and.... the mouse doesn't work. DUH!? Everything works great with the 9.10 live cd, but installed, no mouse. Seems like this is an issue with some dells, well let's add the precision 6400 to that list too! Gah! Back on 9.04 for the moment - I don't need the latest and shiniest stuff - though I must admit 9.10's live cd seems very... osx-like. I.e. bling. I love it.

Just got the darned quadro drivers installed, so I'm back to my full res screen. Next up, getting the rest of the apps (houdini, bibble, imagemagick etc) installed. Sigh. Gonna be a very, very long night. Thankfully, work will begin late tomorrow, as my sims will take a fair amount of time to run :)


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sometimes, I hate computers

Writing this post on a "fresh" install of Ubuntu 9.04 - grub mysteriously gave up on me today with an Error 17 (!?). Attempted to fix it via live cd for about 3 hours with no results, I just re-installed it.

Going to be such a big waste of time :( On the plus side, I will be setting up my system with 9.10 tomorrow to see how that runs. But argh, this really is annoying.

Thankfully my key data (raws, emails) remain intact, it's just the time needed to restore the system up (install houdini, bibble, apps) that bugs me.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some pictures from Kingussie

I'm having a crick in my neck today, not sure why. Pretty sure I woke up fine in the morning. Thankfully no crisises at work :)

Here's a few pictures I took in Kingussie, when I was up in Scotland at the Highland Wildlife Park last month. The train was to arrive at half past ten (I think?), and I arrived in town before sundown. Decided to explore a bit, get some grub (The fish and chips place in Kingussie is currently number 2 on my best F&C to eat list)

Just besides the train station.

Somewhere in the middle of town

The cemetary

The high street

Later at night I was waiting at the train station. Got bored and decided to play strobist. There was a little niche in the station, put the 70-200 there, put the SB600 off shoe hidden - so as to allow the outline of the lens show through, and then I had the on-shoe flash provide some fill, diffused by the plastic zip lock of my flash extender.

Yes, I was bored.

Here's where the niche was :P


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Taking 2 to the power of 10!

Work was killer this week, so this weekend I thought I'd take it cool and just relax. Was walking through St Paul's Tube when I caught this signage:

The bottom of the sign states: 1024 injuries in the last year.... Wow... coincidence with that to 1mb of ram? :P