New Routine

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So I experienced my first flat tire on my car after around 2.5 years of ownership. It was a rather interesting affair as I normally carry a spare tire around with me and the puncture occurred during the one time I didn’t carry my spare. Talk about bad luck.

First of all, a friend loaned my tire repair kit which consisted of a manual jack and the tools to remove the rim. Thank goodness the lock nut was not stored together with that kit! But because of friends about, I managed to borrow a hydraulic jack (the ones you find at the tire repair shop) which made things very easy. Also I wanted to borrow the pressure gun to loosen up the nuts but they were all in use at the time.

The manual method was fine and within 5 minutes, I got the rim out and inspected the tire. There was an obvious hole in it and I thought I needed to patch it up. Richie was kind enough to drive me to Dengkil to patch up the tire with the risk that no tire shops were opened on a Sunday. Thankfully on the way out, I stopped by and asked CB and he gave me directions to a nearer tire shop.

Within 15 minutes we arrived at the shop and gotten the tire patched but alas, the hole was too big and the patch job which costs RM5 still had a slow leak. I knew I had to change tires anyway for the fronts so I didn’t really think much of it.

3 days after the whole incident, I just realised I had a tire sealant kit in my trunk. Talk about forgetfulness. That would have sealed up the tire without much issues!

And speaking of spare tires, I just started a new habit after my 2 week stint in Australia, that is trying to be a bit healthier. So I started going to the gym and gotten a personal trainer to torture me. It is now day 3 of the torture and I am completely worned out. My arms are completely weak and I have two more sessions this weak.

All this to remove my spare tire around my tummy. At the start of last week, the personal trainer weighed me and the results are……..an appalling 111.7kg. I am definitely in the obese category with body fat at around 34% and muscle mass of 41%. My target, to hit 87-90kg by the end of June. So far it has worked out pretty well, I just weighed myself today and I was already at 107.3kg.

Let’s see how well it goes after the next two sessions. Hopefully I would have dipped below 100kg by the 27th of April where I will be participating in the TimeToAttack Event!

Having covered the event last year, I was drawn in by the atmosphere and fun of the event, so this time, I hope that I can have a bit more fun as a participant.

 

My New Lowepro Stealth Reporter D300 AW

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I finally decided today on a very impulse to replace my existing Lowepro 200 shoulder bag with a new Lowepro Stealth Report D300 AW. After a while of not shooting weddings, I haven’t been using my ThinkTank and have started using my old shoulder bag which I normally take on trips or on shoots during my assignment.

My old Lowepro 200 served me well for around 5 years and I have grown to like it as my go-getter, the first bag I would choose to house my camera gears on a short shoot. But as of late, this bag has been getting a little small for my gears and it gets a little cramped up.

I normally fit in a DSLR body, 3 lenses and a flash into the bag.

I normally fit in a DSLR body, 3 lenses and a flash into the bag.

The problem with this bag was that I just couldn’t fit in my 70-200mm lens and if I were to squeeze it in, it wouldn’t be in a very efficient manner as each time I open the bag, I would have to make sure the 70-200mm lens wouldn’t fall off the bag.

So before I started searching for a new shoulder bag, I was honestly just walking along the streets in Sdyney when I chanced upon Ted’s Camera store. I entered the store with no purpose other than to just browse through the various gears to bring myself up to speed on whats the latest and greatest in the camera world (yes, I have been rather disconnected and yes, I didn’t know that Canon had a 6D).

Whilst I was deciding on whether I should get a Joby Gorillapod for travelling, I saw a large variety of bags on display and picked out the Lowepro Stealth Reporter D300 AW.

My_New_Lowepro_D300_AW_Stealthreporter-03 The first thing I asked the store assistant was whether can I fit in the Canon 70-200mm F2.8 lens into the bag and unfortunately, the store didn’t have that particular lens in store for me to try it out. What I like about here in Australia is the extra service the store assistants offer. She went over and took a couple of long telephoto lenses to let me try putting them into the bag and when she brought the Canon 100-400mm lens and showed me that it fitted in nicely, I was almost immediately sold. She also then went on the mention that the 100-400mm lens was around 1cm shorter compared to the 70-200mm lens but it still had enough space in the D300 AW.

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Honestly if the store assistant didn’t bother asking me how my day was or giving me all that help, I would have probably left the store without buying anything and headed to the nearest Crumpler store and getting a replacement there!

Of course the other features which I thought would be extremely useful is the ability to reach for lenses and gears without opening the flap of the bag! This meant better efficiency! Another feature that was missing in my old bag was the all-weather rain cover. A good feature to have especially when I was caught in the rain during a couple of outdoor shoots.

Old bag versus new bag in terms of size

Old bag versus new bag in terms of size

Finally the only downside I can find is that the bag is larger in size but again the D300 is indeed a model size larger compared to the Nova 200. I did see the D200 AW on sale but it couldn’t fit a long telephoto lens hence I decided against it.

When I use it for my next assignment on the 6th of April, I will probably write a review on the bag.

p.s. Apologies for the quality of the images here. I used my iPhone and had to process them all via the iPhone as I didn’t bring my Mac to edit the images. When I have the time at home, I will probably replace these images later. 

iOS 7.1 Brings Apple CarPlay to Your iPhone

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iOS7.1

Apple has just released iOS 7.1, a patch for your iOS device bringing a list of changes, fixes as well as new features. As the title gives it away, after updating your iPhone to 7.1, you would be able to have access to CarPlay. You can update your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch by going to Settings > General > Software Update.

Here is a list of changes from Apple regarding iOS 7.1

  • CarPlay
    • iOS experience designed for the car
    • Simply connect your iPhone to a CarPlay-enabled vehicle
    • Supports Phone, Music, Maps, Messages and third-party audio apps
    • Control with Siri and the car’s touchscreen, knobs and buttons
  • Siri
    • Manually control when Siri listens by holding down the Home button while you speak and releasing it when you’re done as an alternative to letting Siri automatically notice when you stop talking
    • New, more natural-sounding male and female voices for Mandarin Chinese, UK English, Australian English and Japanese
  • iTunes Radio
    • Search field above Featured Stations to easily create stations based on your favourite artist or song
    • Buy albums with the tap of a button from Now Playing
    • Subscribe to iTunes Match on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to enjoy iTunes Radio ad-free
  • Calendar
    • Option to display events in month view
    • Country-specific holidays automatically added for many countries
  • Accessibility
    • Bold font option now includes the keyboard, calculator and many icon glyphs
    • Reduce Motion option now includes Weather, Messages and multitasking UI animations
    • New options to display button shapes, darken app colours and reduce white point
  • New Camera setting to automatically enable HDR for iPhone 5s
  • iCloud Keychain support in additional countries
  • FaceTime call notifications are automatically cleared when you answer a call on another device
  • Fixes a bug that could occasionally cause a Home screen crash
  • Improves Touch ID fingerprint recognition
  • Improved performance for iPhone 4
  • Fixes display of Mail unread badge for numbers greater than 10,000
  • Continued user interface refinements

So what are you waiting for? Go and update your iOS device now!

 

 

Interior Photography, Definitely not Easy

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Recently I tried taking some interior shots of a restaurant and it was not easy at all. Firstly, I don’t think I have the right equipment for the job and secondly, it was a mixed indoor and outdoor environment. The only way I could do was to just mount my camera on my tripod and just shoot away.

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It was tough getting everything captured and because I didn’t have the right lighting equipment, I had to capture several shots of the same scene but at different exposures.

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Maybe I did it wrongly but hey, it was a real learning experience.

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Most of the time the lighted areas will get overexposed while the rest are under but I tried my best to capture and show what the actual environment is like at the time of capture.

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I think I should attempt another round of shots especially during magic hour where the sky is nice and blue and there is a little bit more ambient lighting.

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The last time I remembered an architectural photographer who specialized in interior shots, he mentioned that normal interior shots involves a lot of external lights where they light up various places to capture it all nicely. I think it will definitely take me a while to get that look.

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Next after interior shots, I probably got to learn how to take food photos. That would be another challenge indeed!

Checking out the Streets of Malacca with my lens

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Over last weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in an event organized by my firm’s Photography Group (PSIG) together with the Singapore Office’s photography club, Aperture in Malacca. The idea was to have a street photography competition between the two clubs and the winner will get some prizes.

Everyone’s mind was filled with thoughts about eating actually and by the time we arrived in Malacca, it was really true! First order of the day was lunch at Equitorial Hotel and surprisingly the nonya food there was really good. All the dishes were delicious and the only downside was that the egg “cincalok” didn’t have enough “cincalok“.

By the time we were done with lunch, the group headed out to Jonker Walk and started firing away.

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Luckily enough there were some events going on at the street itself which gave all participants plenty of things to shoot. I started out with a theme in mind and I wanted to capture the workers at Jonker Street. Trust me, it wasn’t easy to capture all of them and I have to really give it to both Fazli and Johan for being able to go up to people and start shooting them in their faces.

It took me a cup of iced coffee, a cup of iced “mata kuching”, two bottles of mineral water and a bottle of 100plus before I got completely worned out. That was because I decided to walk through Jonker Walk twice to capture what I thought would be interesting.

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After that, I decided to take a break along the Malacca River. That was when I truly enjoyed the breeze and also the view of many tourist boats. Whilst I was dangling off a small wooden jetty, directly behind the new Hard Rock Cafe, I took the opportunity to shoot the area.

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As the clouds grew darker, it looked like it would rain and I decided to head back towards the hotel. I took the long route back, walking along the Malacca river towards the mouth where it joins with the Straits of Malacca.

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After a quick 5 minute walk, I arrived at “Menara Taming Sari” where for the first time in my life, I took a ride up the tower. The view from the top was amazing! Absolutely mind blowing.

From the top of the tower I was able to capture the video above and the image below.

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After the short ride, I walked about the main museum area located next to A-Famosa and took the following shots.

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Being the blur fella that I am, I thought dinner was nearby the hotel but instead it was located at Jonker Walk. After walking all the way back to the hotel, I then proceeded back towards Jonker Walk during magic hour.

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Dinner was at a place called restaurant Kucik if I am not mistaken. It was located at the street parallel to Jonker Walk. The food there was not too bad but I preferred the food during lunch. But I did save my stomach space for some street food which I was drooling over whilst I was walking along Jonker Walk.

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After dinner we went about for another walk, to me it was more of an eating walk instead.

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After walking through the streets, a bunch of us decided that it was a wrap and headed to Hard Rock Cafe. Over there we realised that chocolate milkshakes together with beer towers as well as the durian puffs I had prior to stopping at Hard Rock do not go well together.

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The walk back to the hotel wasn’t easy especially after a long day and after all that consumption. But as part of the competition rules, we needed to choose our best 3 photos, and submit them. I submitted the following images.

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The next morning, everyone gathered together to vote our favourite images. It was a simple system but it worked. Everyone rushed to submit their photos and also every tried to access the site to vote due to limited internet connections.

At the end of the day, I am glad to say that I won first place for the image below.

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But out of the top 11, Malaysia lost as Singapore got 8 out of the top 11 spots. We tried our best!

We learned that in order to get great images, we needed a tripod and to also wake up at 5.30am in order to catch the sunrise. As for me, it took me a 70-200mm lens to capture the image and also around 20 minutes of waiting about. Initially I wanted to capture this exact scene when I saw an old man with a yellow shirt sitting on the edge of his motorcycle smoking but by the time I was in place, he went off. After attempting to shoot a couple of other subjects, I saw a guy in a pink shirt cycling towards the wall and I just positioned myself there.

Honestly, it has been a very long time since I last went on a photowalk let alone street photography and this definitely was a fun trip that everyone wanted to plan one in Penang next. I definitely can’t wait for that.

To check out more of my photos from the trip, check out my Flickr set below.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/markleo/sets/72157641446830064/

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