Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Landscape Photography


Once upon a time, I was a clueless photographer. Means I just grab my gears and went on shooting stuff. From portrait to macro and sometimes underwater photography. After taking millions of shots, I realised that I am not into all those shots I've taken. Be it candid or planned, I never thought of it. Just snap and go. I've also ventured into the world of Sony, Canon and Nikon. Currently I'm with Nikon. Regardless of brands, creativity is much more important that that.

Enough bullshit for today. Rather than bragging about myself for the next twenty posts, let's get down to business. Here I would like to share on landscaping. Or landscape photography.

Landscape photography basically means taking shots of the world around us. Be it with or without people in it. I'm not going to share about any sure-fire or any easy way tips to a great landscape shots but just sharing some requirement for it. Just basic requirement within my boundaries of knowledge.

1. Get a camera
Any would do. Even a compact or mobile phone. In my case, I'm on a DSLR. Just don't kill yourself over a 10k camera. Even a basic one will do.

2. Get a tripod
If you're on a compact or smaller size camera, get a cheap tripod as it would not wobble much since your camera is not too heavy. Compared to a DSLR or other big-cam, you should get a sturdier and muscular tripod. So your camera would not shake too much to the point of you yourself tossing it in the river. On top of that, landscaping might require you to use slow shutter rather than normal shutter.

3. Push the aperture
You would want everything to be in focus. Thus smaller aperture such as f/8 and below, will be a necessity. That is why I recommend you having a tripod so it will help you with your framing and shooting.

4. Wide-angle Lens for DSLR (if possible)
Landscaping is not about getting everything in the frame but its about getting the most out of the environment. For DSLR users, it is very convenient to use a wide-angle lens to be able to get the most out of the environment. Even a kitlens would be great (if you know how) for landscaping due to its 18mm wide. Its not like you can't use a telephoto lens such as the 70-200 for landscaping but the opening is very small and not much stuff can enter the frame. But it doesn't mean you can't. Its just difficult.

5. Cloud
If the cloud is super beautiful on that day, don't hesitate.

6. Subject
Get a subject in your shot. Its essential as it will provide as a rest area for the eyes. Without any subject, the eyes will wander around the shot without knowing where to rest. Its also tiring for the viewers.

Here is some shot from my landscape collection.

I'm just stating some tips here. Your creativity would be vital in getting better shots. Get out there and have fun with your camera.


Monday, 21 January 2013

Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX Review


Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX

I have been using this lens for a few months and I really feel like writing down a review on it. Based on my experience of using it for most of my shots. I would basically categorised this lens as a creative wide-angle lens. I used the word 'creative' here to let everyone know that this is not like any other wide-angle lens produced by Nikon or Canon.

This lens is more like a mortar launcher than it is as a lens. The feel of the lens when you have it in your hands is like having Modern Warfare hallucination. Yes. It does feel secure. Its gonna make you feel safe. Since most of it is metal, including the mount, you won't be having problem banging it against someone. But please stay away from doing that. Due to the sheer presence of metal, it also weighs a lot. Yes. So much until you're gonna keep wondering if you are really carrying a camera. The weight is just too much to be used on my D7000. Except when you're using tripod, its gonna be your hell of the day. The focusing system uses shotgun-clutch type rather than normal switch system. No wonder this bastard is cheap. The zooming ring is very well constructed. Its tight and able to keep your framing precise. The focusing ring is quite loose while on Manual Mode. This lens does not have rear gasket to keep it dust free but since there's no moving parts while using the lens (zoom or focus) basically, no or very little air will be able to enter it.

On Nikon bodies without built-in motor, you won't be having AF. Only D90, D7000 and above would be having AF since it is using conventional AF screw for AF. However, the latest version would have built-in motor that enables AF even on older bodies such as the D3000. Canon and others won't suffer from such. Focusing speed is quite fast but not as fast as a Nikon lens. Due to its wide angle opening, you should be using it at f/5.6 and below. Using it at f/2.8 won't be a problem but it will be quite soft. Also, mind you that the focusing plane is not straight due to its distortion. Hunting is not a problem. Because I've never experienced it before. Everything is well focused but it has to be at small apertures to maintain focus.

Sharpness is not an issue if you go for smaller aperture. Large aperture really pose as a problem. Since the focusing plane is not really straight, you will lose sharpness in most subject. I mainly use this lens for landscaping rather than portraiture. For portrait, I use 35mm f/1.8 DX. It's not worth using this lens for portraiture. For group photos, its fine. Real world sharpness can differ according to the situation. Mine for example, loses a little sharpness even after stopping up to f/8. This is due to the reason that my environment is very damp and moisture level is very high (nearly 90% at all times).

This lens have a bit of a fish-eye effect due to the presence of barrel distortion. While it is not much, it does give you the fish-eye idea after you view your shots on your computer. You will be able to correct it with Adobe Photoshop. The distortion is not that bad and easily corrected.

I have experienced this a lot. Yes. A lot. Not circles of green but a straight line of lights. Basically occurring in the worst possible angle where the sun rays meet your lens' front element. And while landscaping, I'll always be there and also the ghost.

Pricing at the time of writing is at RM1,899. Some would charge more as this is a very difficult lens to get hold on to. Same like the Tokina 100 Macro. It's cheaper and sturdier compared to the Nikon and Canon.

This is a very good wide-angle lens. The price, the built and the optics are excellent. No wonder many photographers prefer to have this in their arsenal. However, right now many were tying to sell away their's. This maybe due to the reason that its zoom range is so little, it feels like you're not not zooming at all. From 11 to 16, even I feel that it is too wide. Unlike others where it gives 10 to 22/24, the large range gave those lenses versatility. But for this lens, you need creativity. Get this lens and never gave up on it.


Daily Photo #138


This is my school. Yes. This is MY SCHOOL!


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Listen, Listen, Listen


Listen. Listen. Listen.

| You've done nothing special except boasting about yourself to your close friends and yet you wanted everyone to call yourself a superstar |

| You've done nothing but wait for others to carry out their duty and yet you tried to take advantage of the situation |

| You've done nothing but talking about good stuff and yet you did all those fucked up behaviour |

| You've never study and yet you said examination is super difficult |

I got all the quotations above from various blogs. It's not my word. It's just that I feel I need to put this up

We tend to overlook these things. We want things to be perfect but it won't be happening if we still have such retarded mentality.


Friday, 18 January 2013

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Tokina AT-X Pro 100 f/2.8 D Macro Review


Here is my review on Tokina AT-X Pro 100 f/2.8 D Macro lens.

Tokina AT-X Pro 100mm Macro f/2.8

After using this lens for quite a while, I realised that there is a need for a review on this lens. Aside from the amazing Nikkor 105mm Macro f/2.8 VR, this lens can be considered as one of the best macro lens in the photography world. I will review this lens based on various aspects such as the body, image quality and others.

The body of this lens is sturdier than Tamron 90mm Macro SP. It doesn't feel cheap at all. The focusing ring feels smooth and you can just flick it with a finger. Some would prefer the focusing ring to be tighter as it would avoid you from losing your focus. However, with smoother focusing ring, it would enable you to find your focus faster. Its lighter compared to the Nikkor and it is definitely a great plus for the user as it won't pose much of a burden for them. Besides, shooting macro might require you to focus with your own body rather than using the focusing ring.

Focusing up to 1:1 will extend the lens to about its whole body size. Unlike Nikon or Canon which doesn't extend, it might as well pose a problem for you as the extension will disturb your subject. In my case, it does occur in 2 out of 10 shots. Also, going to 1:1 will drop the aperture to f/5.6. However, if you're using it as a short-tele, it will stay 2.8. Auto focus is fast on my D7000. However, its not that fast compared to Nikon 35 f/1.8 but it is still fast for a short-tele. 


I will not say much about sharpness. This is a macro lens. Of course its super-sharp. It is sharp across the frame. Especially the centre where sharpness maxed out. At 2.8, its sharp but a little soft at corners. Stop it at f/5.6 and it is hell sharp. Some reviews mentioned that it maxed out at f/16 where diffraction started to occur. However, mine is still sharp up until f/18 and sometimes at f/20. My results are based on real world results rather than lab results.

There is a little distortion which you may not realise at all. I put it to test and found that just a bit of distortion occurs at corners. Other than that, none at all.

I never come across ghosting while shooting macro but if you use it as a short-tele, you will get some. I got it while shooting my students playing football and my colleagues playing badminton. But it is a rare occasion as it depends on the angle of the source of light. There's just a few circles that would fill maybe 1/10 of the frame towards the corners.

I got mine for RM1,499 which is more than a half cheaper than the Nikon 105 Macro VR. It's always out of stock so you might have to order it. Photographers have been after it as it performs nearly the same or better than the Nikon for a tad cheaper price. 

In the nutshell or coconut shell or even seashell, this is one of the best option for a macro photographers looking for a dedicated macro lens. Since it can provide a 1:1 magnification, you can even reach 3:1 in certain occasion with an extension tube or macro converter. I managed to reach 4:1 magnification with full stack of extension tube. Get this one if you can't get hold of the expensive brand such as Nikon, Canon or Sony. If budget is not a problem for you, get a Nikon or Canon.


Daily Photo #136


Since dragonfly doesn't like me, I shoot them. With my camera.


Monday, 14 January 2013

Daily Photo #135


I went to the office at night and found this guy on the porch. Didn't waste much. Grab my gears, take the shot.

D7000, Tokina 100 Macro+Full Extension Tube, f/16, 1/200s, ISO200, YN560+Custom Diffuser

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Daily Photo #134


A landscape shot of Masjid Zahir in Alor Star, Kedah. 10 images were stacked to create this HDR image.

Masjid Zahir, Alor Star, Kedah


Friday, 11 January 2013

Daily Photo #133


After a year or so without any good shots from me, here's one from my school.

Hornet making its nest beside my house. This shot was taken upside down.

New Things

7th January 2013

"Sejenis buah mata kucing". Locals called it "buah isau"
Waiting for our ride in the middle of the jungle

Yesterday, on our way to school, one of the hilux's types were punctured. we had to fix it before continuing our journey to school. We were delayed for two hours due to the incident.
Back to school, the first day was hazy. I'm not sure what to do. So I got the textbooks for my year 6 and carried out my lesson according to the timetable given. There's 4 students in my year 6; Juna, Sara, Jeshua and Linsa. Also, in my year 5 there's Geloria, John, Sabrina, Eliana & Gebrella. Gebrella is a new girl in SKOT. Last time she was in SK Lepong Gaat. After my first encounter with her, i find her to be quite good in English compared to the others in her class. Well, that's a good sign. I hope for the best.

Mr. Irwan fixing the wheel
p/s: Its one in the morning and I couldn't sleep! Damn! Nescafe and afternoon nap might be the cause for this! However, being unable to sleep, I tried to be productive by typing out my lesson plan. And yeah. I've made a macro diffuser for my flash so I will be able to take macro shots easier.

8th January

My macro diffuser was put into test in the morning. I never would have thought that it would work great. I thought my custom made diffuser was as shitty as hell. But since I've made it based on my Tokina 100 macro length, it carried out its job perfectly. Class? My macro session was done after my class of 0820-0920. I got another one (1040-1140) and a little photoshoot won't hurt. Got some great shots of several bugs around the school. There's also a ginormous spider under one of the houses here but I wouldn't dare going near it. A bite would kill. It was quite gloomy here during the day. Nearly the same as London but not as cold. There's also a lot of keringit (blood-sucking insect) in the afternoon. Its hot and humid so i guess those little guys really enjoy my blood as their lunch.

My macro setup. D7000, Tokina 100 Macro, YN560
After using Tokina 100 Macro, I realised that there are some issue concerning it. Some lens such as the Nikon 50mm 1.8D were quite able to maintain its sharpness even while using an extension tube to achieve greater magnification. However, the Tokina 100 Macro doesn't. The sharpness decreases after using extension tube which also hampers the user's vision. Therefore, I have to use the lens without any help of the extension tube. The results were quite amazing. Maybe I can try applying Raynox DCR-250 on Tokina 100 Macro and see if greater magnification can be achieve.

While taking macro shots around the school, I came across several dangerous types of spiders. According to one of the teachers here, the one that has a yellow butt is poisonous. But according to National Geographic, if the spider is big, it can kill.

10th January

My school got a new batch of table for teachers and its really big (I mean it). Everyone get the table into place and poof! A meeting up next. Got a meeting up today. I'm currently a year 6 teacher and in charge of the SBOA (School Based Oral Assessment). I'm not sure about the other stuff but these 2 are my mains concerns right now. Done with the documents regarding the curriculum and now waiting for the subjects' files.

Tomorrow I'm going out to get all the stuff needed for my school. And yeah. Its going to be the day I post this blog as well.

p/s: Now I'm stuck in Kapit. Missed the boat to Sibu.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Something Different

 I decided to do something different for my blog starting this year. Since I will only be getting out once a week/month, I would spend my time writing about whats happening around me in the extreme environment.

2nd day at school - (3rd Jan 2013) - 1259
I woke up late today. Everything seems boring a usual. Thought of going for some shooting but realised that i got tonnes of work up my sleeves. Yes. I'm the year 6 homeroom teacher. I guess i was assign to this as some might find me annoying. Last year i got a lot of chance to get out of school for stuff like PSKPP, courses and much more. Maybe some envy me and try to keep me in school. I don't mind being a homeroom teacher. Feels like i'm having my own kid. Got up cleared everything and getting the timetable done. Realised that i'm missing so many groceries especially foodstuff. Gonna get them next week because i'm not going out this week. currently, i'm watching Yakitate Japan! for the...i dont know how many times. There's no students in my school except for a few. Thierry, Sabrina, Jeshua and Geloria are some that made it. There's no sign of others. Maybe they'll reach here next week. I printed a lot of pictures . Just to ensure that my printer in is good working conditions. The ink is still 3/4 so i guess it will last for a while. I'm a homeroom teacher so I hope that my students will behave or I'll smash their heads again (just kidding :p). There's nothing to be done here except formal duties. However, being a homeroom teacher will be tiresome. Well, i'm in my second year of teaching. I guess there's no turning back. It will be a year before i head back to my hometown. Wish me luck.

Update at 2245:
I realised that at one time while waiting at KRV Inn in Kapit, i was stung by something at the near end of my spine. But when i check everything in my shirt, there was exactly nothing. The pain is nearly the same as a bee sting but i really can't be sure of anything (i hope its not one of those black magic shit). Up until now, that part is swelling up and the pain is still there. I've been stung by most of the insect and i can differentiate each of them  based on the pain it delivered. But i couldn't identify this one. Its still a mystery and horrific experience for me..