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Serendipity: Truong Tien Bridge, Hue, Vietnam

August 1st, 2010 6 comments

We kinda bump into this bridge. Hard to imagine this, but we really didn’t know about the existence of this bridge before we literally walked on it – we suck in planning our travels. It was the evening of 17th July 2010, we had the cab dropped us near a supermarket at the imperial city side of the Hue City after our dinner. Afterwards, we decided to walk back to our hotel, which is not that far away based on the simple map that we’ve got from the hotel’s uber-cheerful receptionist Tú.

Truong Tien Bridge, Hue, central Vietnam. Majestic at night when the ever-changing lights give a new lease of life to the cold metal structure.

Then we meet. Us and the Truong Tien Bridge. It is a 2-lane, 6-span metal bridge with narrow pedestrian walkway at both side, over the Huong River (a.k.a. Perfume River). It is painted colorfully by the ever-changing lights, from white to red, green, blue, yellow, all in different hue (no pun intended). The bridge is grand by its own, but with the lights giving it a different color & personality every few seconds, it is just majestic. We were busy taking photos while crossing it and before we reached the other side (< 500m I’d say), Ben’s camera battery ran flat. While he was running back to the hotel to have the battery charged for a short-while and then come back for more, I have the whole bridge for myself. (Well, not really. Like with few hundreds of the locals).

This was the only night that we overnight in Hue. If we didn’t happen to be here now, we are going to miss it like forever.

In life, some great things just come to you without you asking for it. You are so ecstatically happy that you wish the time can freeze at this moment eternally for you to to own it forever. But it is not to be. You let go reluctantly. And look forward for the next serendipity.

More photos after the fold – my futile effort trying to capture the moment as present, but then, it has been past.

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Sometimes, some things are just too hard to swallow…

September 14th, 2009 3 comments

… like this little seahorse to a slightly bigger frogfish.

Location: Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi
Date/Time: 1st Sept 2009, 15:30

This orange brownish juvenile frogfish, measuring less than 5cm in length, has been eyeballing the pity little seahorse for quite some time. It probably ponders whether to go for something prettier for a quick snack – it is teatime now anyway – or just take the black seahorse for a quick chow since it is easy – the seahorse didn’t intend to move out from the frogfish’s stare at all. My dive buddy Bill and myself swam around these 2 little creatures for a while but nothing happened. They kept staring at each other, like stone statues, not moving a muscle, and only few centimeters apart.

Then, in the blink of an eye, the frogfish opens its huge mouth and had the whole of the seahorse’s head and some of its body swallowed. It is kinda bizarre to witness such a killing, though I’d prefer real horse meat over seahorse’s meat anyday.

For the next 3 minutes or so, the below pose maintained:

Frogfish tries to swallow a seahorse

Frogfish tries to swallow a seahorse

But then, probably feeling remorse to kill a seahorse, or maybe the seahorse is just too hard to swallow, the frogfish releases it out from his mouth, and slowly retreated. The seahorse is alive – for now.

erm.. the frogfish didn't really like the horse meat...

erm.. the frogfish didn't really like the horse meat...

Putrajaya’s 1st Hot Air Balloon Fiesta [Mar2009]

March 24th, 2009 No comments
Hot Air Balloons Flying Over Putrajaya

Hot Air Balloons Flying Over Putrajaya

Never heard about this event until some hot air balloon photos showed up in the newspaper on Friday morning. Maybe there are more ‘interesting’ news in the Malaysian political front as well as on the world economic crisis that overshadowed it.

Anyway, I was there on the evening of the last day of the event (22nd March 2009). Reaching Putrajaya Percint 2 at 5:30pm, the traffic is already in really bad jam – I thought I am the only one that haven’t seen a hot air balloon, but apparently not. Took me like 15 minutes to get a parking. The preparation for flying the hot air balloons, of a total about 20 of them, was already underway.

While shooting away with my Canon 400D, I used my Nokia 5800 XpressMusic to capture some photos too – not to prove that the camera feature on it really sucked, but to try on the geotagging. It turns out to be working great, all the photos taken with the phone have registered the correct GPS location, as show here in iPhoto:

Geotagging photo (with Nokia 5800)

Geotagging photo (with Nokia 5800)

Most of the balloons are standard ones, but a few of them are in special shapes like elephant, peacock and clowns. The balloons look great in the clear blue sky. One after another the balloons ascend and fly towards the mosque’s direction, and by 7pm the crowd disappeared as fast – if not faster – as they conjugated a couple of hours ago.

And Putrajaya reverted back to its original form by 8pm – grand, expensive, quiet, deserted, and probably unnecessary. At least the hot air balloon fiesta stirs some liveliness into the city built on oil, even if it is a short-lived one.

More photos from Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in the Photo Album page, or direct link here: http://travelgaia.com/gallery/HotAirBalloonFiesta2009/

Categories: Events, Photo Journal Tags:

Kitaro Still Going Strong – Love and Peace Planet Music Tour 2009 Live @ Genting

March 14th, 2009 2 comments

7 March 2009, 8pm at Genting Highland’s Arean of Stars, Kitaro starts his 2009 “Love and Peace Planet Music Tour 2009”. It was a drizzling night.

This is my first time listening live to Kitaro after start following his music many years ago, and it sure did not disappoint. Our seats are at Price Scale 3 (PS3), in the middle of the hall but 3rd row from the last, so it was about 25-30m to the stage. I’d prefer front seats but it was not a big issue – the music is just as sweet over here.


Kitaro Live @ Genting 2009

Kitaro Live @ Genting 2009 - my best effort using 100mm F2.8 from way back

Kitaro @ Genting2009 - Official Poster

Kitaro @ Genting2009 - Official Poster

The 2 1/2-hour show has some new musics that Kitaro said hasn’t been recorded yet, coupled with total light-out with just 2 screens showing sun, moon, nature and planetary objects. This is Kitaro’s message to us on Save The Earth. The music is good but it is a bit too long for me, it probably runs about 45mins or more.

The classic ones received the most applause from the audience, like Silk Road, Oasis, Heaven and Earth, and of course, one of my very favorites, Matsuri.

Kitaro also displays his well-verse in musical instrument through the show, where he not only creates magical tunes by finger-dancing on the keyboard, but also jams bass guitar with the guitarist, plays the big horn, flute, harmonica, 太鼓 (the big drum), and a few other that I can’t name. He is really an amazing musician!

There are total 6 of them: 2 keyboards, 1 electrical guitarist, 1 violinist, a drummer, and Kitaro, but the music that they play sounds like from an orchestra. Seats are about 90% full, indicates Kitaro’s popularity among Malaysians.

The last 2 songs, “The Light of the Spirit” and “Free Flight” ended the live performance. I particularly like the former one. What a way to end the show.

Kitaro looked aged for 56, but the performance is marvelous. The bass from the his big drum hits the bottom chord of the heart every time. Let’s hope Kitaro will continue to create great music that intrigues us as well as convey the message of Love and Peace to the world for a long long time to come!

Categories: Events, Photo Journal Tags: ,

Love Is In The Air

March 4th, 2009 3 comments
Romance

Romance

Date: Late Dec 2008

Location: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Bangkok

My third time visiting Bangkok’s famous floating market. Was walking alone having lost both of my travel buddies in this busy place. The hoards of wooden boats were causing a really bad traffic jam on the canal.

I was just going to capture a few more boat photos at the sidewalk while a pair of Caucasian couple strolled in front of me and slowed down. Holding hands, he turned around, whispered to her, and touched his nose to her face, like forever. Right here at the busy floating market.

Love is in the air.

Angkor Wat… At Last!

February 28th, 2009 No comments
Leading To Angkor Wat

Leading To Angkor Wat

Date: 24th Feb, 2005, 7:45am

Location: Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Finally! After 3 weeks’ tiring travel linking us from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, to Chiang Mai, to Huai Xuey, Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Pakse, Veun Kham, Phnom Penh, we reached the climax of the trip – at Angkor Wat.

This is my favorite photo of the Angkor trip. Not one of those must-have-sunrise-over-Angkor Wat photos – I have those too, but to me, the photo above has something special that I can’t describe. At least it is not one of those.

We made it, finally. Save the best for last.

First Ray of Light on Mt. Kinabalu

February 25th, 2009 1 comment
First Light on Mt. Kinabalu

First Ray of Light on St. John's Peak, Mt. Kinabalu

Date: Mid Oct 2005, 5:57am

Location: Summit of Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

The Story: 2nd time is much easier. I was not the first ones to reach the Summit of Mt. Kinabalu that day, but at least I have enough time to capture the moment of the ray of light hits the mountain. A few climbers already sitting down, chilling out (literally). The sun gets out from the thick clouds, paints the left side of St. John’s Peak with orange color. The magic moment is short-lived, though – the sky turns bright soon and before long, the orange color is gone, replaced by blinding glare.

Accidental Srinagar

February 23rd, 2009 1 comment
Dusk at Dal Lake, Srinagar, Kashmir.

Dusk at Dal Lake, Srinagar, Kashmir.

Date: Oct 2005

Location: From the boat house, the view of Dal Lake at Srinagar.

The sun has just set. Late autumn evening is getting colder by the minute. Dal Lake is as calm as it can be, but can’t say the same to Srinagar, the Summer Capital of Kashmir – the disputed state that has multiple blasts that killed and injured many, before and after my visit. Srinagar is so beautiful at this time, it must be amazing during the Spring time when the flowers blossom. I wish I would have chance to revisit the place again, in Spring. I hope.

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Great Barracuda!

February 21st, 2009 No comments
Great Barracuda, length of 1.5m or so

Great Barracuda, length of 1.5m or so

Date: 11th August, 2008; ~1pm

Location: one of Kapalai’s dive sites

Equipment: Canon Powershot A620 in Canon WP-DC90 waterproof housing, Inon Z240 single strobe

It was almost 50 minutes into our 2nd dive of the day, at Kapalai (near Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia). 6 of us together with our dive master ascended to ~7m, getting ready to do the safety stop and call it an end to another great dive. Thus far, the dive is excellent – among other sightings, I saw my first ribbon eels – 2 adults in blue and yellow colors, and one pitch black juvenile. I spent quite some time with one of the adult ribbon eels, trying to get a good shot of it but not really successful. My buddy Bill was not helping at all in that regard, but that is another story.

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Vivaciously Red [12~13th May 2007 @ The Curve Damansara]

May 18th, 2007 No comments

Yet another fashion show in mall, this time around at The Curve, themed 'Vivaciously Red'. It is kind of the 'in' thing to do now for the malls in town to have fashion show featuring the latest outfits from the tenants. To match the theme of the show, the walkway and some decoration rectangular window frames are in red colors. I was there for one show on Saturday (12th May), and stayed whole day on Sunday (13th May).

The shows include brand names like Uluwatu (didn't even know this has presence in Malaysia, saw tons of this shop in Bali), Elements, Key Ng, Calvin Klein Jeans, Schwarzkopf (hair salon) and some others that I can't recall. Most of the shows are quite short in duration, probably about 10mins only. The Fashion On 1 felt more classy than Vivaciously Red, but the Vivaciously Red allowed a close up photos on the models (at least on Saturday; Sunday was crowded and security chain was in place). Model wise, V.Red mostly were having locals while the Fashion On 1 has mostly non-locals. And this is my favorite model, she just has something that works for me: —>

 

Another revelation is actually the Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro. I switched from 70-200mm F4L to 100mm F2.8 on one instance and the photos came out from the 100mm, even at max aperture of F2.8, are really sharp — probably too sharp for portraits, but it is really a pleasant surprise. Furthermore, I was able to use ISO400 while using the 100mm lens whereas the 70-200mm F4 required ISO800 to be bright enough.

More photos here: http://travelgaia.com/gallery/V/content/index.html

 

 

 

 

Categories: Fashion Shows Tags:

Fashion On 1 [14,15th Apr 2007] @ 1-Utama Shopping Complex, Damansara Utama

April 16th, 2007 No comments

 

Well this is my first fashion show photos, and it happened at One Utama Shopping Complex New Wing. MS told me about this event few days back and I was thinking whether to go take some photos, but decided against it initially as I hated the always-packed car park during the weekend. While I was driving back home after the Saturday morning workout at Fitness First (The Curve), Tiew called and said he was at One Utama and asked me to join him. OK OK… so I made a U Turn at Taman Megah and zoomed back to OneU, and I am glad that I brought my camera gear along (it is almost always in my car!). I am happy that I went to there as I got another chance to practise the indoor shooting and to get familiar with the photographers crowd. In fact it was so fun that I went back again on the next day (Sunday).

The show starts hourly for about 10-15mins from 1pm (up to 8pm I think), showcasing fashions from different shops in 1U (Padini, Elle, Phemomenal, Island Shop etc), as well as eye wears (Better Vision, Focus Point).

Much more photos for the event: http://travelgaia.com/gallery/FashionOn1/

All of the photos taken were using Canon 70-200mm F4L in M mode, handheld, 1/200s, with 430EX and mostly ISO800 (only a few taken at ISO400 and they were a bit underexposed). F-stop ranging from F4-7.1, but mainly F5.6 and F6.3. I was tempted to use F4.0 more but last week's bad experience (i.e. relatively unsharp photos at F4.0) at Sepang F1 track made me think twice. Well to be fair to the lens (and to me), I have a couple of fashion show photos that are tack sharp at F4.

The event continues to next weekend actually, so for those of you that want to see the fashion show, head to 1U on 21st and 22nd Apr'07!

Categories: Fashion Shows Tags:

One Wedding, and Some Thoughts

March 13th, 2007 No comments

Not my wedding, not yet. Attended a colik's wedding progression last Saturday (10th Mar 2007), which involved going to the bride's family house and have the 'take the bride' ceremony, and then all went to the groom's daddy's house (which is like 70km away), then drove another 25km to another bigger town for lunch, then went back to the daddy's house. I left my home 7:30am in the morning and after all these happenings, arriving back home at 7pm — it is a weekend that more like a hard day at work.

 

 

(I will upload some photos of the bride & groom only after getting their permission) 

 

  

I was the 'appointed' cameraman for the event, probably due to all the gears that I have. I am glad to have another opportunity to practise my skills anyway. I brought 2 lens, the Sigma 17-70mm and Canon 70-200mm L, along with 430EX flash. I knew that I am not going to use the 70-200mm much at these kind of event, and true enough, the white lens just sleeps in the Crumpler 7 Million Dolalr Home throughout.

 

I am still new to the external flash photography and most photos turn out having the harsh flash look on the objects' face, even though I have been using the bounce flash (mostly to the ceiling at different angles). Probably it is time to source a softener. I was using M mode (underexposed) with the external flash (to compensate) for indoor shoots, but forgot to change the Av/Tv settings when moving to outdoor initially and almost totally blown a few important shots Yell… Most photos taken were ISO400 or 800 but the noise level is still acceptable.

So lessons learnt:

  • get a softener for flash, bounce seems just not good enough
  • check M settings when moving from indoor to outdoor shots
  • convert blown shots to Sepia – I tried and was able to salvage a few badly overexposed shots

Last but not least, I am truly happy for the groom and bride. 祝你地白头偕老 永结同心!

 

 

Categories: Weddings Tags:

Canon 100mm F2.8 Butterfly Macros

March 9th, 2007 No comments

Have not been using the 100mm F2.8 Macro for quite a while since bought it last November, finally decided to bring it to the Butterfly Park at Lake Garde, Kuala Lumpur to justify my purchase decision Tongue out. It was an overcast day and it was surprisingly crowded in the Park, with mostly foreigners.

Tripod is not allowed into the Park so I was using all handheld. Have to bump the ISO up to 800 in order to be using F8 and above (for wider depth of field). Even with F8 or F11, the depth of field when doing macro is still so short, coupled with the fact that the branches/insects were moving slightly, that most of the photos taken were having the main object out of focus. But this lens is really fun to use, and when I was able to battle the focus issue for some shots, the photos turn up to be so sharp even when view in 1:1 mode without any post processing sharpening.

Tips: The listed entrance fee to the Park is RM15. Additional RM1 will be charged if bring alone camera. There is no mention of discounts for Malaysians, but locals will only need to pay RM5 when showing the MyKad to the reception. I wonder why this is not display clearly in the pricing board.

More photos here at http://travelgaia.com/gallery/ButterflyPark/

Destination Guide: The Butterfly Park is located in the Lake Garden, which is the Lung of Kuala Lumpur. The Lake Garden is only 10-15 minutes walk from the historical Merdeka Square.

Categories: Photography Tags: ,