Showing posts from 2012

Christmas 2012 at The Curve Mall

In the month of December Ikea is running some one-day special Christmas offer of 2 items per day everyday till December 24. We were attracted or rather distracted by one of the items on offer that day but felt it more of a want than a need.

Physically checking  out the item might help but Ikea is quite a distance from our place. If the item turned out to be something not what we really want,  it would be a wasted day out.  Then I remembered the Christmas decoration at The Curve so I said to my wife at least we can shoot some photos to make it worth the while.

We arrived at Ikea around lunch time and had lunch at the Oriental Court area at The Curve Mall. After that we moved on to the Curve's Centre Court area to check out their Christmas decorations as our first stop.

The Curve's theme for the 2012 Christmas was called The Whimsie Forest with a sprinkle of fairy dust. A forest wonderland theme decorated with colourful flowers, Christmas trees, tree house and towering toadstool…

Bedazzling Christmas at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

Before we knew it Santa is back singing out loud " HoHoHo I am Back"! Christmas 2012 is just days away and many shopping Malls already decorated with beautiful Christmas theme to draw shoppers and visitors in. A week ago we saw the almost completed Christmas decoration at The Curve mall but we had no photos because it was not lighted yet at that time.

We were at the Bukit Bintang area running some chores and decided to drop by the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur for lunch. The Pavilon Mall 2012 Christmas decoration looked more vibrant and upbeat than what we remembered last December. The theme for 2012 is Bedazzling Christmas.

A Bedazzling Christmas means lots of sparkles, blinking lights, things that impress, shine and blind you. That is exactly what you can expect with blinking Christmas trees, lots of lightings and a giant chandelier. You will find something more than that as well. There are lots of crystals - thanks to Swarovski Crystal Co., the key player behind this year's B…

Easy Manual Exposure Blending with The Gimp

We talked about a simplified and easy 2 layers exposure blending in the last article and so here it comes. In most scenes the dynamic range of the scenes are just slightly out of range of the image sensors' dynamic range.  Therefore, we only need to extend the highlight or shadow area by about 2  to 3 stops and the 2 layers blending method can handle that easily.

In this 2 layers method we use the +1 EV and the -1 EV photos from the three bracketed images. The 0 EV or "normal exposed" image from the camera is not required here. The +1 EV overexposed image has enough details to cover most of the scenes from the very dark to the mid-tone area. The high light details can be easily blended in from the -1 EV underexposure photo.

We use layer mask to hide or display areas where we want the image to be hidden or displayed. A black mask will display what is from the bottom layer and a white mask shows what is on the current layer that is connected to the mask. With that in mind …

Manual Exposure Blending

We saw a nice scene where the sun was shining brightly in deep blue sky and colourful flowers in the foreground contrasting beautifully with the buildings in the background. We took a shot and what we got was a well exposed building with overly dark flowers in deep shadows and a pale featureless white sky. A total letdown!  The beautiful high contrast scene was not represented on the photo we took so we became frustrated and disappointed with our camera. The problem is the tonal and contrast range of the scene is too large for the imaging sensor in the camera to capture.

We had the same situation when we were at the Western Courtyard of The Curve mall.  In the center we had natural sunlight streaming in from the top of the open courtyard surrounded by a darkened but clearly visible dining area, leading towards the courtyard were rows of hanging incandescent lamps in beautiful orange glow. However it was all lost with the photo we took - only the beautiful pillars in the courtyard look…

Macro Photography and Macro Converter

Close-up and Macro Photography is a popular category with many photographers. Some of the reasons being macro photographers don't need to look for the right models with well equipped studio, or travel to exotic far away places. However that was always the dream and aspiration of many photographers. Macro photographers are also unlikely to land themselves into some sticky controversy spot with the authority. Several renowned photographers had mentioned in interviews and talks that they find serenity and contentment within themselves when they are engrossed with macro and nature photography.

It is easy to get started with Macro Photography - all it takes is a camera with close focusing features. Most modern point-and-shoot digital camera has surprisingly good close-up focusing capabilities. Even if the close focusing on the said camera is not close enough an inexpensive close-up converter lens is readily available from the camera makers as an add-on.

System cameras such as DSLR and …

Olympus MCON-P01 Macro Converter date with the Damselfly

The Olympus MCON-P01 Macro Converter is an add-on close-up lens designed to pair with the standard kit zoom M.Zuiko digital 14-42 F/3.5-5.6 II and also the newer kit zoom with (R) designation. However better results are obtained with this macro converter when paired with either the M.Zuiko digital 40-150 ED F/4.0-5.6 telephoto zoom or the M.Zuiko Digital 14-150 ED F/4.0-5.6 wide-angle to telephoto zoom as the master lenses.

The MCON-P01 is a very light weight macro converter at just 23 grams and is fully made of plastic. The feather weight of the MCON-P01 macro converter means there will be no load issue when mounting on the equally light weight M.Zuiko zoom lens. Certainly no stress to the master lens' micro focusing motor and the light-weight mechanism.

Some may question the durability of the MCON-P01 Macro Converter because of the weight and being totally made of plastic. However the MCON-P01 is less than 1/12 the cost of a Macro Lens so it is an inexpensive way to get on with …

An exercise with OM Zuiko 135mm F/2.8 on Pen E-P1

After taking some photos around noon in the open I decided to take shelter from the blazing sun. Sitting at a shaded corner taking a break and drinking some water to cool myself down,  I started checking out the images taken on the Olympus Pen E-P1.  It was then that I remembered the OM Zuiko 135mm F/2.8 lens was in my camera bag.

The OM Zuiko 135mm F/2.8 lens was one of the lens in my collection that I rarely used during my OM 35mm film days. I tended to reach for the Tamron SP 90MM F/2.5 for portrait or the OM 200mm F/4 for telephoto usage. The OM 135mm F/2.8 lens happened to be somewhere in between the other two lenses.

After reading some positive on-line user experience on the OM 135mm lens I decided to try it out on my Pen E-P1 camera. A 135mm focal length lens on a Micro Four Thirds camera is equivalent to a 270mm lens on the OM camera or 35mm format camera. 270mm EFL (Equivalent Focal Length) is not an easy focal length to handhold or to manual focus nevertheless this is what I…

Japanese Koi and Russian Industar 61L/Z 50mm F/2.8 lens

Koi is the Japanese word for carp fish. However in English the word Koi normally refers to "nishikigoi" the domesticated colourful ornamental carp fish that originated from Japan. Nishikigoi (錦鯉) literally means brocaded carp fish.

Koi fish is a very popular decorative fish especially in the Far East. To the Japanese Koi fish symbolises perseverance, endurance and the strength to overcome difficulties in life. The word Koi also pronounced the same as another Japanese word meaning love and friendship.

The Chinese character for fish is pronounced the same as the word for 'surplus' or 'abundance' and symbolises profit, gain and good fortune. Carp fish is a popular theme in Chinese paintings. Colourful or red carp fish in Chinese painting is considered an auspicious sign. It comes as no surprise why many homes and businesses in the Far East love to keep ornamental fish and especially the colourful Nishikigoi (錦鯉) fish in their premises.

Koi or  Nishikigoi (錦鯉) fi…

Three Wise Monkeys

I have some photos of Nikko Tosho-gu Shrine a UNESCO world heritage site located in Nikko, Japan. This is the shrine with the three Mizaru, Kikazaru, Iwazaru -- the orignal Sanzaru wood carving on the top of the stable building. That is the wood carving of the  "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" monkeys -- the famous Three Wise Monkeys. There are around eight panels with wood carving of monkeys in various pose around the stable building but these three monkeys are the most talked about and everybody knows them.

The photo of the three wise monkeys or sanzaru was taken almost 20 years ago during a one day tour to Nikko on a Saturday. The weather was really bad on that day. All traffic and tour buses going to the Nikko Toshogu Shrine were stopped by the traffic police for almost 2 hours due to heavy fogs and low visibility. When we arrived at the Nikko Toshogu shrine our tour leader was in a haste to make up for the lost time on the road. The weather was still misty and…

Panorama with Autostitch

Panorama photo is nothing new to us. In fact we were making panorama shots since the film day. That was rather primitive back then.  What we did was we pan the camera as we took several photos of a scene each with a different angle. When the film is processed and printed we stack and line up the prints to form a panorama of the scene.

When 35mm film scanner became affordable we made a scan of the panorama images from our 35mm negative.  After that we stitched the panorama photos together from the scan images manually with a free software suit called Panorama Tools. The process was time consuming and slow but nevertheless we had fun and enjoyed taking and stitching panorama photos.

Today all modern digital cameras have built-in panorama mode and some of the cameras even stitch them in-camera. But we still enjoy doing it the old fashion way. We had tried many panorama stitching softwares over the years and many were free software. Some of the free panorama software actually stitched bet…

Viva Home Shopping Mall Dragon Year Decoration

We were on the way home after one of our Chinese new year visiting when my wife suggested dropping by Viva Home Shopping Mall.

Viva Mall, previously known as Plaza UE3, is situated along Jalan Loke Yew.  Despite Plaza UE3 Mall's location on such a busy highway within the vicinity of Kuala Lumpur, for years this plaza had never really flourished as a shopping mall. Not many people knew about Plaza UE3 then and probably few could even remember such a shopping mall now.

Kha Seng Group took over Plaza UE3 a few years back and gave it a new makeover and re-branded it as Viva Home Shopping Mall. It was reopen on April 2011 after almost one year of renovation.  Our first visit to this "new"  Viva Home Mall was around May last year and had not stepped foot there since.

Today we decided to spend our afternoon at Viva Home Shopping Mall .  As its name says, Viva Home Mall wants to re-brand itself as a one-stop shopping centre for the home owners with products ranging from househo…

Pavilion Kuala Lumpur New Year Dragon Revisited

It has been a month since our last visit to the Pavilion Mall Kuala Lumpur. The magnificent Pavilion Mall dragon was still there inviting shutterbugs to take more photographs. We added some new photos of the Pavilion Dragon from this visit here. In a few more days will be February 6 2012 i.e. chap goh mei which marks the close of the fifteen days Chinese New Year celebration. The Pavilion dragon together with all the Chinese New Year decorations will most likely be taken down after that day.

When we first photographed this Pavilion dragon a month ago it was just completed and a "work in progress" sign was still posted on the ground floor. Since then more new year decorations had been added with the finale being the dragon chasing a flaming golden red pearl ball. The flaming pearl ball is believed to be a symbol of wisdom while the dragon represents authority and power. Illuminating spot lights were also carefully positioned to shine on the Pavilion dragon making it looked ev…