Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Pictobrowser - a new slidshow to display your Flickr photos

This new tool is really cool for displaying your photos on your blog or website.
I simply love it!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Project Dullsville

Perth has been labeled by some local and inter states journalists as dull or boring. After having stayed here for 18 years and being a migrant from the ever busy city state of Singapore, I have to disagree with these kind of labellings. Perth may not have huge number of spots for night lives, but it sure has its share of interesting events and entertainments both in the inner city and in popular hang out areas like Northbridge and Fremantle.

In view of supporting the promoting of Perth city, I have decided to do a project on capturing images of the Perth city and the metropolitan area. I hope to showcase a little bit more of Perth through photography. I've named this personal quest as "Project Dullsville". I welcome anyone who is interested in joining me in show casing our great and most livable city we call home.

I will start the project by showing some famous Perth landmarks and will move on to showcasing events that happen in the Perth area and people in the city.

Matilda Bay Boatshed:

Matilda Bay Boatshed at dusk:
Matilda Bay Boatshed

Closeup of the Boatshed's door sign:
Crawley Edge Boatshed 73

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

"Sell the Sizzle and Not the Steak"

I did my first presentation in many years today to my work colleagues. I was asked to present a project I am currently working on as a solution architect. I was supposed to sell a rosy picture about the project - I was to sell the sizzles.

Without going into details about the project, let me share a bit about my experience about doing the presentation (or public speaking). You see, I have never thought myself as a fluent public speaker. I can still remember the many fumbles I made everytime I was asked to do a speech. I still remember my very first presentation to a group of university lecturers and fellow students during my Honours year at University of Western Australia. I recalled being so nerve-wrecked and fumbled along the way throughout the presentation.

Fast-Forward the time-line to today. I did a presentation to my work colleagues and a couple of IT architects about the project I am currently working on. Surprisingly, the outcome is somewhat different from my previous experience. I am much more confident (or maybe just - could be self delusional I think). I used a lot more hand gestures as part of my communication. I ensured that I had eye contacts with my audience and I wasn't murmuring to myself. At least I did what I could to present my material to my audience in the clearest and the most interesting way I could possibly muster at that point in time. Well one down, I have one more presentation of the very same to go tomorrow.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Fourth Wedding shoot for the year

Just came back from a wedding shoot and thought I'll quickly drop a few lines about my experience today.

I believe this will be my last wedding for the year (well, we are already in December and I don't have any more appointments or engagements for the rest of the year). It had been very much a high tempo shoot, a tiring but ultimately enjoyable shoot. My arms and my back ache like crazy right now. This came from shooting with 2 bodies (my trusty Nikon D200 with a 70-200 mm lens and a borrowed D70s with my lovely 17-55mm lens). Carrying both cameras for a few hours was indeed an interesting experience. For the first time, I had the set up I have always wanted for doing wedding shoots. No only I found that I had the range I needed, I had an absolute great fun in trying out different things because of the range in comparison to my previous wedding shoots.

Ah, there was one repeated mistake that I have made again. I have never used a D70S before, and trying to figure out how to set certain functions of a rather "strange" camera on the day of an actual shoot was a big big big mistake. Not only I had to constantly "guess" how to change the functions of the camera quickly during the shoot, I wasn't quite sure how to use a less sophisticated camera then my very own even though both cameras are from Nikon and supposedly to be similar. Well, you see, on a D200, I had the luxury of the 11 points focusing feature. Whereas on a D70s, there are only 3 I think. I wasn't game enough to try and shift the focus point. I had it left dead centre and it dramatically slowed down the speed in which I was able to get a focus lock quickly compared to my D200.

I did, however, learn from many of my other past mistakes from my previous wedding shoots. I felt that this was my best shoot for this year. Well, I can only hope I will keep improving.

A few more tips before I end this post:

  1. It is so important to have a second body. There is absolutely no time for lens swapping during high tempo event photo shoots,

  2. Remember to have sufficient memory cards and batteries,

  3. one last thing.... remember to bring some water. Shooting a wedding is like doing a low impact exercise. The water you bring with you will come very handy

[edited: I've corrected my very bad grammar - caused by fatigue... or whatever bad excuses I can come up with... note to self.... I must proof read my own writings before I post anything up in the future.]

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

To sell or to give away photos - that's a difficult question

Recently I've done a shoot at the Perth's Biggest Office Party, a not for profit event that is run each year in the Perth CBD. Several thousand people turned up for music, fashion and of course beer to help support this years charities Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and The Greater Good Foundation. The highlight of the night was the fashion show showcasing fashion and jewelery from around Perth.

With all these interesting things happening, it was relatively easy to get some really great shots of the event, the models in the fashion parade and as well as the performers.

Two beautiesHunk with spiky hairSparkersBreath taking dancers

Now, here comes the big question... when I am being approached by the subjects who ask me for the photos, do I just give them freely or do I actually charge them a fee? The argument goes both ways. We can argue that I should give them freely as it was actually a non commissioned shoot. I was given a free press pass. Like many photographers there, I had access to many places which allowed me to capture some really amazing shots. As an amateur who is starting to go into freelance photography work, this was like serving my apprenticeship. So naturally, I would love to market myself and my service. Giving out free high resolution photos does seem to make sense.

Then again, I was told by my peers (other photographers, both professional and amateurs) by giving out free hi-res photos, I am actually responsible to help destroy the market. I can also see the logic to this side of the argument.

I really don't know which way I'll end up going, but right now, I feel that I should charge for the hi-res photos even if it mean just charging for a really small and nominal sum.

I will love to hear any comments from you readers about your views and opinion on this subject matter.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

"Sales Notification from RedBubble"

When I opened my inbox today, the above subject quickly caught my attention. Great, great, I made my second ever sales today. Oh, I meant, I sold another of my photograph from the RedBubble website today. The feeling was initial one of extreme excitement. After all, I have been disappointed for a while now that I haven't been making any sales since the first one 3 months ago.

I felt like a teenager who has just received his first pay check from a summer holiday job. Of course, the real difference is, I am a grown up, trying to make some "passive income" from my photography hobby.

My feeling quickly sunk when I read the details of the email. This time round, all I will receive in monetary term is barely enough for me to go get a MacDonald Big Mac Value meal. Well, something is better than nothing right? A big mac, fries and a coke is better than pimping for attention in some photo sharing sites like Flickr and Zooomr right?

I certainly hope that this is the start of a "successful" part time career for me. I really hope to kick start my career as a photographer. In the meantime, you can always support me by buying some of my photos :)

All my photos are for sales. My RedBubble website is:

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Hobby, Passion and Obsession

What can start up as a hobby, can quickly turn into a passion, and passion into obsession (or a career). I am talking about my hobby in photography. I am finding myself eat, sleep, daydream, and breath photography these days. Photography has grown from a "healthy" hobby to a really unhealthy one - literally.... I am obsessed with it. There is no one day that will go by without me thinking if I can just look at some photos, or go out and shoot some. I am sleeping less, all because I stay up late at night till wee hours in the morning to surf the internet browsing photos in Flickr or Zooomr, or reading some photography related blogs.


I think that photography is like a deadly virus. Once it gets into your blood, it controls you, your life and your soul. There is always the best photo out there to capture, there will never be enough shots good enough to satisfy our hunger for more images and thirst for seeing the world with new perspectives. Some may even say, photography is like making love. You just want more of it. You will never get tired of having just one more.

So, I am now going to get just one more, just one more best photo ever from me tonight.

"How to Keep Your Job and Be a Part Time Photographer"

I just came across this blog post by alex. Hmmm, the title caught my attention immediately. What is so interesting is that I found this on Digg... which means that a lot of people have read this and voted this post on Digg.

It seems like the advancement and the affordability of digital cameras (especially SLRs) have helped cause a world wide phenomenal... an sudden huge increase in people taking up photography as a hobby or even doing it professionally.

Photography used to be an expensive hobbies. Only the rich and the determined shutter bugs would bravely take up this expensive hobbies. Since the evolution of the digital age, photography has been made relatively affordable to the mass population. The technology has also starting to come about, giving relatively newbies or noobs the ability to create impressive images.

I for one, have jumped unto the bandwagon and took up digital photography about 2 years ago. Now I am at a stage where I think I would love to do some freelance work in the area of Wedding photography. There is something about wedding photography that I have always loved. Perhaps it is about capturing the magic moments, the laughters, the emotion, the tears and smiles are just so captivating. Or, perhaps I simply like looking at beautiful people and beautiful things :)

Well, the post has just re-enforced my beliefs that it is possible to be a part time photographer. After all, my passion for photography has only just begin and it is slowly growing hotter and more passionate by the moment.

Monday, 19 November 2007

I am jaded!

I've been recently thinking hard about my career so far. I think I've achieved pretty much what I've set out for myself since my teenage year. I've always wanted a career in software development ever since I wrote my very first BASIC program on an Apple IIe in my primary school. I have always taken computer programming subjects at secondary and high school. Progressed to University (or College for our American friends) to do a Bachelor in Computer Science, graduated and found a job with a small IT firm which paid me 'peanuts'. Did a few years of "apprenticeship" of "real world" programming and after a few years of "real world" experience, the "padawan" me graduated into a small development team leader and was responsible for delivering a rather major system for a large enterprise. I was going somewhere. Surely I must be proud that I've achieved what I've set out to do since my early teenage years.

Yeah, maybe for 5 seconds, I think I was on top of the software development world. Maybe I even believed I was ready to take on the next journey and get a job with one of the big global software firms like Microsoft or IBM. I even started an open source project to prove that I'm "good". My career progressed and soon I found myself promoted to the application design team which later became the solution architecture team. I too, became a solution architect.

Then why I am "complaining"? What seems to be the "problem"?

I've been trying to work this out myself as well. I think the problem lies in the area of career path and career choices. I am asking myself, what are the possible paths I have in front of me. I don't think I'll ever want to run an IT shop. I don't think I'm cut out to be some CIO, CTO or chief of whatever. I'm like to create, be creative and immerse myself with creative people. I don't enjoy management, especially at big corporate level where people seem to waste lots of time going to big and meaningless meetings rather than solving real issues; decisions coming out from meetings are often based on flawed or warped information or who shouts the loudest; non-stop fire-fighting seems to be the norm; roadmaps for business are more akin to Alice in wonderland than to reality... oh, here's my favourite one.... the business people always want new cool technology or functionlity - yesterday, and sulk when poor souls like me have to bring them back to Earth from Mars.

This is why I am so...... jaded! I need a break!

Oh well, I've just realised how great it is to be able to "vocalise" my frustration. I'm also finding blogging therapy helps. Well, this is really becoming my very own "Doogie Howser, M.D." Diary. It is great to be able to put my thoughts down and verbalise and visualise them, virtualise my responses before I put them into action.

Well, dear blog diary, I shall see you again tomorrow. I shall attempt to do drop a bit of my thoughts each day.

(please forgive me for my bad grammer and typo.... I'm still not used to proof reading what I type - I certain hope to improve in this area - I know, I know, I am lazy! ;)

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Beware of ID theft for Social Networking Service users

Interesting article from The West Australian that should serve as a warning:

"Facebook users at risk of ID theft: watchdog
24th October 2007, 7:30 WST

Facebook users are putting themselves at serious risk of identity theft, they were warned today.

Posting just a handful of personal details on the website can give fraudsters all the information they need.

Armed with information found on your Facebook page, they can open bank accounts and credit cards in your name.

BBC1 consumer show Watchdog conducted an experiment by setting up a fictional identity on Facebook.

The Watchdog team created a user called “Amba Friend”, accompanied by a cartoon picture of an attractive girl in her 20s.

“Amba” then contacted 100 people at random inviting them to be her friend.

Despite knowing nothing about the person, 35 of those contacted replied immediately - giving “Amba” and the Watchdog team access to any personal details they shared on the site.

One of them was Scott Gould, 23, from Devon.

His Facebook entry contained his date of birth and home town.

The team used these clues to find more information about Scott on other publicly available internet sites.

They were then able to open an online bank account in his name and successfully apply for a credit card.

The scam will be seen in tonight’s episode of the show.

When contacted by Watchdog, a shocked Gould said: “I’m very surprised about what you managed to do. I didn’t think it would be possible and I’ve seen with my own eyes what you’ve done with that little bit of information.”

Internet security expert Tom Ilube helped with the experiment.

He said: “It used to take two to three weeks to get enough information to steal an identity. Now it takes two to three hours.

“The reality is that for three out of 10 people, it would be easy to steal their identity.

“That’s why what we’re seeing is a growing number of fraudsters who specialise in online ID fraud, because it’s that easy to do.

“Starting with the social networking sites they don’t actually need a lot of information to build up your identity.”

Such sites - which also include MySpace and Bebo - are expected to have 230 million members worldwide by the end of the year, according to Watchdog.

It is possible to protect your privacy by adjusting your settings, but many users fail to do this.

A Watchdog spokeswoman said: “A lot of people using Facebook are trying to increase the size of their network and want to have as many friends as possible - to the point where they’ll befriend people they don’t even know.

“The program will show what easy prey they are for identity thieves."

So all ye social networking addicts, beware what you reveal in your profile pages. Don't dish out too many personal details. If you are still not convinced the danger of ID theft, watch the movie "The Net".

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Social Networking or marketing havens?

I have always ignored invites from friends asking me to join some online social networking services like Friendster and LinkedIn. However, recently the publicity surrounding MySpace and Facebook got the better of me and I decided to join both of them to see what they are all about. I didn't really go that far with MySpace after signing up. I was quite disappointed that I wasn't able to find any of my friends in MySpace. It seemed to be glorified personal profile page for many attention seekers or "movie stars wannabes".

I wasn't too interested in Facebook initially, but after hearing a few people at work talking about Facebook, I decided to sign up and check it out to see what is so special about Facebook compared with the other social networking service.

Interesting to my surprise, I was able to find nearly two dozen people I know of immediately after signing up facebook. I have even managed to find a couple of old University friends and 1 high school friend whom I've lost contact with for more than 15 years. Wow, I am surely impressed. To top this, Facebook is not just about finding people and customising your own profile page, it keeps people interested in allowing people to create software applications to allow friends to interact with: games, quizzes, virtual gifts, you name it. There are some hundreds of applications available for you to "play" with.

It seems like Facebook knows its target audience, it knows its consumers. I think it is pretty much targeting the Generation Y & Generation Z consumers. With more than 1 million users, Facebook is a rich and fat ground for marketers. It is not to hard to image that Facebook will be able to data mine user profiles and activities, allowing companies to market their products at specific group of users. Targeted marketing is the name of the game in the world of marketing these days. Demographic segmentation of users by age, gender, preferences, likings such as movies, music, food, etc... is made possible by Facebook's database of really rich personal profile data.

I believe this focus and targeted marketing will be most effective, more so than Google's AdSense which really relies on unreliable guessworks based on internet surfing profiles or scanning of keywords on web pages.

So is social networking simply a lure to gain profiles on consumers? I certainly think so...

My FujiFim S9500 - 14th Months on

I recently wrote a post about my beloved FujiFilm FinePix S9500 digital (bridge) camera on its first anniversary, entitled "My FujiFim S9500 - One year on".

Little would I know that in just over 2 months after I wrote that post, my camera's command-dial broke. Apparently, this is quite a common issue for this camera. I found a number of discussion threads in various photography and camera forums in which owners of this model of camera complained about their broken command-dial. In fact, someone in Flickr even posted photos of the steps he took to fix his camera's command dial. See his photos here.

Anyway, I contacted FujiFilm Australia and stated my case and they kindly offered to fix my camera for free as a gesture of goodwill. Well, FujiFilm is now back in my good books. After all, I have 4 different FujiFilm digital cameras and have at one time considered getting a FujiFilm FinePix S5 Pro body.

Has been quite a while since...

I last wrote on my blog. Wow, nearly 2 months of inactivity. Ok, a quick summary of the major happenings since my last post:

1. went to Sydney and Port Macquarie with my family in October for approximately 2 weeks. Had a great time there. Hope to post some photos here soon,

2. my Good 'o FujiFilm S9500 camera's command dial broke while I was shooting in Sydney. Apparently, this is common fault in this camera model but FujiFilm Australia said otherwise. More soapbox stuff on this topic later.

3. I got another gig to shoot a wedding. This time as an assisting photographer again. I am happy to get this wedding shoot. I love being a wedding photographer. I love shooting beautiful people and beautiful things. I do hope I get more gigs in the very near future as both Simoom and I are really interested in doing weddings.

Well, there you go... the major highlights of my life in the last two months :)

Friday, 14 September 2007

God's mercies are new every morning

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
His mercies never come to an end.
They are new every morning, new every morning,
Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord. Great is Thy faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-24 says "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."

Friday, 31 August 2007

English Siamese twins?

I am not talking about some Siamese twins in the UK or in fact a Conjoined human twins. I am talking about Siamese twins in the English language. The phrase Siamese twins "in the context of the English language refers to a pair or grouping of words that is often used together as an idiomatic expression and usually conjoined by the words andor or."
(quoted from

According to Wikipedia, this term was first used and popularised by H. W. Fowler, a renowned lexicographer.

Recently, I have taken an interest in the English language used in the business community. I have recently written a blog article about some interesting cliché used commonly by business people in both spoken language and in documents. (See my post "Thinking out of the box").
Other than the cliché, I am also finding that some form of the Siamese twins are getting used quite often in the business circles.

So often I will hear people blurb out about "meet and greet" events, teeing up a "chalk and talk" meetings, things that happened in our "hustle and bustle" lives and the "wear and tear" was the reason why our cars broke down in the middle of busy highways.

I use some of these phrases so frequently and without give much thoughts to their origin and realising that the there is a special term called "Siamese twins" to describe them.

Wikipedia has a great article about these Siamese twins and have long list different variations.

Well, I leave you with this thought:
Does the use of Siamese twins from time to time in our daily lives just simply part and parcel or willy-nilly? Does all these phrases "spice up" our conversation or make things sound more interesting, or are they so ingrain in our daily lives by and large that we use them without giving much thoughts and considerations? Perhaps a bit of both?

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

My FujiFim S9500 - One year on

It has just been slightly over a year since I bought my prosumer FujiFilm S9500 camera.

One year on, I wonder how much I have improved as a photographer.

I bought my FujiFilm S9500 when I needed something more than a compact digital. I was getting really into digital photography. Work colleague of mine had Canon Digital SLR camera like 350D and 20D. I figured that I didn't know enough about photography to justify spending a few thousand Aussie dollars. I chose a AUD $800 prosumer instead. A pretty decent one I thought at that time. It would last me 2 years before I make the move to the DSLR world.

Now, one year on from my 2 years plan, where am I now? Have I achieved much in my photography skills? Am I ready for the big jump to DSLR world?

In this 1 year that I have my Fuji prosumer, I have shot nearly 5000 shots with this camera. This is by no mean plenty, but nevertheless, it is not too shabby too. I have even shot a wedding with this camera. I have grown to love this camera. Fuji does well with its CCD sensor technology. The photos captured and produced by this camera are usually rich in colours and eyes catching. The camera comes with a 28-300mm (35mm equivalent) zoom lens. It is none detachable, unlike an DSLR, and so I do not have to worry about dust getting unto the CCD sensor nor the lens itself. The camera built like a small DSLR and has all the manual controls. It is almost the perfect camera for an amateur photographer like me.

This camera has all the features I need - almost. Admittedly it has flaws as well. It is not so great at low light situation. Its auto-focus is not fast whilst long exposure shots usually ended up with lots of "hot" pixels. I've learnt to lived with its shortcomings, I've grown to look past its deficiencies, or have I really?

After my first wedding shoot, I figured I needed someone more, something that will help me capture the shots I have missed during my first wedding shoot to redeem myself from all the mistakes I made with my Fuji. I started coveting for a DSLR. This happened some 2 months ago. Finally, another wedding gig, I decided it was time to "abandon" my Fuji and get something more "professional" if I want to take my photography further. I had a choice to make, sticking with my Fuji "aint goin' to cut it"!

I bought my new love, a Nikon DSLR. Nothing too fancy, just something that will get me through the weddings. No more missed shots or so I thought. I was delighted having a spanking new camera, a DSLR. No longer am I an amateur no more. I was going somewhere with my photography...!

However, just 2 weeks ago when I was packing for a business trip across the country, I wanted to bring my spanking Nikon DSLR camera along with me. Alas, the camera is way too big to fit into my travel hand luggage. The slug that huge camera bag of mine through all the airport security and the possibility of sticking the bag in the cramp aircraft overhead luggage compartment didn't appeal too much to me.

My faithful Fuji S9500 came to my rescue. "Take me, take me instead!" it screamed. It was too deafening to ignore. I took my S9500, and I'm glad I did. Neatly packed into the camera bag, the entire bag went into my haversack no problem. Travelling with my Fuji was such an ease. I was glad I took it with me. My trusty FujiFilm, I found my love for you again.

............... **** ...............

Shots I took in 1 year ago (August 2006):

A Midsummer Night's Dream
Purple Daisy
Sydney Opera House @ night

Shots I took 2 weeks ago (August 2007):

Sea Shells on the sea shore
Surfers Paradise

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you put random household items in the microwave? Check out these experiments done:

Warning: Do not try this at home!

Photoshop Extreme Makeover

Thinking of how we can make someone a glamorous supermodel or pin up model... watch this video to see how much effort it takes to do that!

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

More on Wedding Photography - knowing your equipment

Well, after doing 3 wedding shoots, one of the most important lessons I've learnt is the need to know your equipment intimately. At the wedding shoot, there is absolutely no time to muck around your equipment or to start trying out new things. It is important to know every little details how each camera operates, how to set up the functions, how to even switch between functions without taking your eyes off the viewfinder.

I had to learn a few lessons about not knowing my equipment well enough which resulted in missed shots and out-of-focus or incorrectly exposed shots.

Here are some of my past experience to share with everyone and hopefully you won't make the same mistakes.

Wedding #1:
First ever wedding. Lead photographer with no backup except in the church service.

Equipment: A FujiFilm S9500 prosumer camera. No backup camera. A newly bought Nikon SB-600 flash gun.

Lessons learnt: Through-The-Lens(TTL)-Metering interface between the camera and the flash gun is crucial in a high tempo event shoot. It is nearly impossible to use manual settings on the flash gun on such events. As the FujiFilm S9500 camera does not "talk" to the Nikon SB-600 flash gun, I only could contend with the manual mode, which resulted in quite a few under or over exposed shots. I have missed quite a few shots during the church service. The S9500 is a great camera for outdoor shoots, but for indoor, low-light condition, it is simply terrible. The fact that SB-600 flash that I bought specifically for that wedding shoot could not use the TTL mode as the FujiFilm S9500 does not support it meant that all the flash shots I did was based on "guesstimates". I had to guess how much power I had to set the flash to produce for each shots based on the distance I was from the subject I wished to illuminate. This flash is a great flash, don't get me wrong, it is just that the camera wasn't design for TTL with any flash gun in the world, thus, not suitable for wedding shoots. Wrong equipment nearly cost me greatly!

Had the groom not asked his other friends, with flashy Canon 30D and big L lenses to cover the church service as well, it could have been a disaster for me.

Wedding #2:
Second wedding done a few months later.

Equipment: Bought a spanking Nikon DSLR. Now have TTL with the flash gun. Also bought the Gary Fong's lightsphere specifically for indoor low-light shoots.

Lessons learnt: Biggest mistake, got the camera 2 days before the actual wedding shoot. Didn't get to learn how to use the Nikon camera properly. What was I thinking? A DSLR with some 11 points matrix focusing, different type of AE-Lock and AF-Lock function. I was thinking I could simply read the manual and learn which buttons to press and how to set certain functions and I would be all set. How wrong I was!
The biggest problem I had was in getting the focusing correct. The AF-Lock works different from my FujiFilm. The 11 points matrix focusing and metering feature means that I had to be clear where the focus point was set in the view finder. Unlike the FujiFilm, the focus point is never always at the centre. I couldn't simply take it for granted to have the main subject framed in the centre, half-press the shutter, re-frame and press the shutter and capture it. I had to observe where the focusing rectangle was set on the 11 points insider the viewfinder among many other information like my ISO number, my f-Stop, shutter speed, and finally, the "dot" that represents a auto-focus lock.... Ah, not knowing my equipment well enough cost me some shots. I had some blurred shots as the results. The only consolation is that it turned out to be just a relatively few shots. Most shots turned out fine.

To sum up, it is very crucial to know your equipment very well. Buying new equipment 2 days before a big wedding shoot does not cut it. I've learnt my lessons. I was able to do my 3rd wedding with less equipment related problem and focus more on the shooting. I hope that you will not encounter similar problems like what I had.

Gazing at the bouquet

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Blogging from TechEd 2007!

I can't believe this. I am blogging while attending a "Bloggers' Lunch" at Microsoft TechEd 2007 conference. How cool is that. I bet many of you will think that I am just too much a geek. Blogging at a "Bloggers'Lunch" at TechEd. Well, this is Frank Arrigo's idea. There is a panel of 5. They are:

  • Phil Sim - Founder MediaConnect, blogger "Squash"

  • Michael Platt - Director, Web App Architecture, Microsoft US

  • Darren Neimke - Development Centre Manager, Readify. Author of ASP.Net 2.0 Web Parts in Action

  • Jane O'Connell - Product and Network Manager, ninemsn

  • Des Walsh - Business coaching for a Web 2.0 world

We are now discussing things about blogging, from the social aspect, censorship, time management to technology about Web 2.0.

And a bit about Microsoft TechEd 2007... this year it is held in the Gold Coast, Queensland.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Lead Me By The Lavender

Lead Me By The Lavender - Copyright ©2003 Garrett Earl Johnson

Lead me by the lavender, beside the fields of green.
Lead me where you'd have me go, to places never seen.
Lead me beside the stillest waters where all your blessings flow.
Lead me precious Father, lead me where you'd have me go.
Lead me with your precious hands, marred by sins, not your own.
Lead me on before you Father lead me on before your throne.
Lead me with love divine and let my heart be thine.
Lead me on forever Lord let your love be mine.
Lead me ever constant, lead me ever kind.
Lead me on forever, ever gentle on my mind.
Lead me on to places never seen, to fields of evergreen.
Lead me on precious Father, ever bowed upon my knees.

Purple delight (by autumn_leaf)

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

My first Wedding Shoot: Lessons learnt

Shooting any event is always a challenge, none so more than shooting a wedding.

Well, I really haven't shot any other types of event other than a Police Pay Rally by the police union outside the Parliament house sometime back last year, so I might be wrong here.

Wedding shoots are usually a whole day, high pace affairs. I haven't heard or experienced a really easy wedding shoot yet. I have only done 3 wedding shoots so far, and thus, I am still pretty much a newbie at wedding photography. However, I think it will be fun reflecting on what happened to all my shoots and I will share my experience with you, the readers.

My first wedding shoot... it was fun, exciting, and a few oops and "oh dears". It all started when a good friend of mine whom I know for quite a number of years told me that he was getting married one fine day. Suffice to say, I jumped at the opportunity and asked if he had already found a wedding photographer. In Perth, Western Australia, good and cheap wedding photographers are limited commodity. Usually, Wedding couples have to pre-book photographers a year in advance to have any chance of securing a photographer on their big day. Therefore, there was really very little chance that my friend could have found any photographer willing to do his wedding unless he was willing to pay a real premium for the shoot.

Well, I got the gig. My friend asked me to shoot his wedding. Having told him that I was pretty much an amateur photographer and had never done any wedding prior to that shoot, he was fine with it. I was told that his brother-in-law will be shooting as well. The setup was perfect. His brother-in-law can be the main photographer and I will be the secondary, or an assistance. I grabbed the opportunity. My very first wedding shoot, and hopefully, the first of many more to come. I was on my way to become a part-time wedding photographer! How exciting. My wish came true!

Two days before the actual wedding day, the bride and groom had a rehearsal of the service. I went to the rehearsal and met my friend's brother-in-law only to realise that he was actually going to use a point and shoot compact digital. I, too, was also rather under equipped, having only own a FujiFilm S9500 prosumer/bridge camera and a newly bought Nikon SB600 flash gun. That would have to do with for this wedding. I suddenly found myself being thrusted to take the role as the lead photographer for the wedding. Oh dear, I suddenly felt the weight of responsibility on my shoulder.

Lesson 1: Always ensure we set the expectation right. As I was only an amateur photographer and have never done a wedding shoot before, it was most important to ensure my friend understood the risk involved in getting me to do their wedding as the lead photographer. He had no backup plan. If I or my equipment failed, he would have no photos for his wedding. I was fortunate that he was happy to go along with the risk, thinking that there would be lots of guest with their compact cameras. I also later found out that he did in fact ask another friend to cover the church service. However, I was the only photographer doing all the family and group portraitsm and all the outdoor shoots.

Lesson 2: Do lots of research. Refer to lots of wedding photos, what to do and what not to do, how people pose the shots, what to take, how to make the bridal couple look really good in the shots. One source that I use quite a lot is the Flickr website. It has groups for photographers to post their shots and discussion forums whereby I was able to get some really valuable information and last minute "free" lessons and "tutorials" on wedding photography. Use these resources.

On the actual day, most of the shoot went ok. I was able to shoot pretty much what I had in mind. Thanks to the many wedding photos people post in Flickr. I was able to grab some idea of what to shoot and how to shoot the couple. The biggest "oops" and disappointment I had was the shoot during the service. I found the auto-focus of my camera rather slow for such high pace event. I missed too many shots simply because I wasn't able to focus quick enough. The flash worked as a treat though. However, the caveat was that I could only use it with my FujiFilm S9500 in manual modes, no TTL (or Through-The-Lens) metering mode. Every shot was pretty much a "hit or miss" :P God was kind with me that day. I believe I had far more hits than misses.

Lesson 3: Equipment is very very important in events like this. A good tradesman can never do a good job without the right tools. A good wedding photographer will need to be equipped with the right cameras, lenses and lighting equipment.

Lesson 4: It is almost necessary to have a backup or "fail-over" strategy. That means a backup photographer, a backup camera, extra batteries, etc. Needless to say that weddings are usually once in a life-time, not to be repeated affair. A photographer can not afford to miss too many shots or completely muck up the entire shoot. In the most unfortunate circumstances where an entire wedding shoot fails, I believe it is a quick exit door to this wedding photography industry :)

I'm sure there are many more lessons that I've not covered. This post is starting to look too long and I will wrap up pretty much now.

Final Lesson: Ensure that you make a checklist of what to shoot. That may include things like the bride's bouquet, the bride's shoes, the different sets of group photos of the bride and groom and their families and relatives, etc. I cannot stress enough that wedding is a fast pace event and good planning is required to ensure the success of the shoot.

All the best to the first timer. Happy shooting.


Friday, 13 July 2007

Becoming a Wedding Photographer?

Lately, I have been so busy doing post processing of photographs I shot recently in two weddings. Both weddings were for colleagues of mine at work. Well, I am still officially an IT guy, not a true blue wedding photographer yet.

Wedding photography is not as easy as I thought initially. Other than the pressure of getting the "money shot" during the big days, there is also the post processing and presentation to be done after the actual shoot.

For the last couple of weeks, I have done nothing but post processing the wedding shots that me and my buddy photographers have captured, sort the photos and arrange them for slide shows and finally burn the photos into DVDs for the wedding couples - 2 to be exact.

I think for the next couple of blog posts, I will share my experience in different aspect about wedding photography. I hope sharing this experience may prompt many to think about doing wedding shoots and how to get prepared for a shoot.

If you are interested to see some of the shots I took, you can find them in the following Flickr address:

Viewing Sunset

Saturday, 19 May 2007

A Lighthouse Unto Thy Feet

Jesus is a Lighthouse
A Tower in the dark
The One who holds the lantern
A great enduring Spark.

Like a flame that burns eternal
He’s a Torch, forever true
The One who holds the answers
When I don’t know what to do.

He’s the One who holds the candle
Over angry waves so steep
He’s the lifeline that doth save me
In a raging sea, so deep.

He’s a strong and steady Pilot
An answer to my plea
The One who throws the anchor
When I’m drifting out to sea

He’s a brightly shining Beacon
Always steady like a rock
A Fortress when I’m weary
A Harbor on life’s dock.

Jesus is a Lighthouse
In Him, I will abide
A Hand when I am weary
A never-ending Tide.

Author/Written By:
Marilyn Ferguson

Vintage LighthouseVintage Lighthouse Hosted on Zooomr

Friday, 18 May 2007

Poem "An Autumn Leaf"

An Autumn Leaf
by Frank Maguire

A leaf once green, a vibrant green
Laced with a silken gown
Now hangs it's head, a weary head
The leaf has turned to brown

A rushing wind, a bracing wind
That blows incessantly
The leaf is weak, so very weak
As it falls down from the tree

A spiral path, a weary path
Is woven without a sound
The sun it sleeps, a deepening sleep
As the leaf falls to the ground

A thought of life, a fragile life
Now hanging by a thread
A thought of death, a seasonal death
As the leaf will soon be dead

A bed of leaves, a grave of leaves
Lie motionless today
The summertime, has had it's time
Now Autumn is on it's way

This poem was found here:

Autumn leaf (by autumn_leaf)

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Thinking out of the box?

A colleague of mine today said something about "thinking outside the box"... and I replied that was just so cliché. That little episode also set me thinking. We seem to be in a culture where we unknowingly bring all these business clichés into our daily conversation.

Robert Trigaux of the Times Business Columnist wrote this his article "Cliche cachet":
Business-speak is full of jargon, buzzwords, meaningless phrases pretending to be English and cliches.

Business clichés are proliferating, despite growing attempts to speak and write plain English. Part of the problem is the technology boom, which not only has multiplied tech jargon but allowed it to spread to the general business arena.

Interesting thoughts. In other words, we are bringing all these business clichés into our daily lives and we can blame that to the advancement of technology.... How's that for "being in the loop" of technological advancement in human history, or are we to find the excuse of simply "joining the party" because everyone's using clichés like "Nobody's business"?

The question that springs to my mind immediately is how do phrases like "Thinking out of the box" come about? What's thinking outside the box got to do with creativity? What box? Who put us into one? Is the box square, triangular or round? I certainly don't have the answer.

Ok, lets do a quick "brain dump" and lets see how many common business clichés we can come up with, and perhaps some of you can "fill in the gaps":

  1. At the end of the day . . .(it's when I go to sleep)

  2. it's not rocket science (then what is it? computer science?)

  3. ballpark figures (would that be baseball or football park figures?)

  4. touch base

  5. 24/7 (that's 3.4285714285714285714285714285714 or 168?)

  6. Taking it to the next level (Are we playing games?)

  7. socializing the idea (I rather socialise with real people)

  8. caught between a rock and a hard place (a rock is a hard place!)

  9. singing from the same hymn book (now are we good Christians?)

  10. at this moment in time (what happen if there is a time warp?)

  11. moving the goal-posts (obviously you haven't seen AFL)

  12. the fact of the matter is... (a matter contains an atom, electrons, neutrons and protons)

  13. put all in one basket(are we off to the market now?)

  14. the bottom line (is where we put our footer information like the page number)

  15. blue-sky figures (are there red, orange, purple, silver skies figures too?)

  16. a problem raises its ugly head (are we dealing with an ogre now?)

I'm sure there are many more interesting ones. I just can't think anymore at the moment because I am working with "limited capacity". Too jaded "at the close of business" day to make my brain work "effectively, efficiently and productively".

The fact of the matter is that at the end of the day there is nothing, like, value-added about using cliches 24/7 -- with all due respect, it's not just awesome, but it is at the moment in time, a fad, a fashion statement. The bottome line is that utilising and socialising with these mumbo-jumbo terms in your daily business dealings is like making you intelligent or something, and making you sound like you know what you are talking about.

I "bet my ass off" that you will be able to "dig out a few more" good ones too. Remember, just think outside the box! You can always try some "brain storming"!

Friday, 23 March 2007

Learning how to shoot people

I haven't been blogging for a while, attributing mainly to two major events that happened recently:

  1. I have been caught up moving my Dotnet Commons Open Source project from GotDot net host site to the new Microsoft Open Source hosting site called Codeplex.

  2. I am doing (and will do) a couple of shoots for some of my friends

Recently, I have just done a photoshoot for a friend in her graduation gown. It has been an interesting shoot. You see, I am not quite a portrait photographer yet. I have been shooting landscape for a while, and have only recently venture into portraiture photography.

It has been an interesting experience for me, trying to get the right lighting, and posture in portraiture shots. I constantly had to pay lots of attention on the lighting on the subject (my friend). She, having really fair complexion also made taking light metering challenging. Getting the right postures for the shot was also the major challenge in portraiture shoots. I constantly had to remind myself... I must make the subject looks the best possible in my shots.

Frequently having to make mental notes such as ensuring that the background behind the subject, my friend, does not having things "sticking out" of her head or make her look awkward while trying to work out all the different angles and perspective I could take as I moved around her to find all the best position angles to capture.

Here are some of the photos I took of her:
The Graduate in Red (by autumn_leaf)

The Graduate (by autumn_leaf)

I guess, I am starting to really enjoy shooting people. This is definitely one area in which I hope to make significant inroads in terms of my skills and capability.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

More photos from the beautiful Williams Bay, Denmark.

This place is so beautiful and I couldn't help taking heaps of photos of the place. Trust me, I haven't done justice to this place.

These 2 photos are taken at section of the bay called the Elephant Cove, also known by Elephant Rocks (The rocks looked like elephants from high elevation).

Perhistoric Earth?Perhistoric Earth? Hosted on Zooomr

Elephant Cove @ Sunset (by autumn_leaf)

I took these 2 shots during sunset. It was a cloudy day and was drizzling a little.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

My photo has been digged!

I was surprised too see a comment left on one of my photos in Flickr this morning. My photo has been digged by a photography blog called Fotodirt. More surprising was the kind comments left in the blog about this particular photo:
Boats and Yachts

This shot was actually taken in colour. I adjusted the contrast, added vignetting and converted the photo into black and white. And the result is as such.

The colour version of this shot is as follow:

Boats and Yachts by ~The-autumn-leaf on deviantART

The blog is actually quite an interesting site. It contains some great topics and discussion about photography. I believe any amateur photogs, photography buffs or aspiring to be professional can definitely learn heaps from the blog site.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Landscape Photography of Denmark

I haven't been blogging much lately, and that is because I was away for a couple of days for a short trip to a wonderful South West coastal town called Denmark. Denmark has a population of approximately 5,000 and is located on the south coast of Western Australia approximately 50 kms west of Albany and 400 kms south of Perth.

Here are some photos of Denmark that I took to share with everyone.

Elephant Cove at Williams Bay:
Jurassic or Prehistoric Earth? (by autumn_leaf)

Denmark River:
Bridge over riverBridge over river Hosted on Zooomr

River & BoatRiver & Boat Hosted on Zooomr

Wilson Inlet:
A Lonely tree (by autumn_leaf)

Sun setting over a hillSun setting over a hill Hosted on Zooomr

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Are you a digital migrant or a native?

I first came across these 2 terms when I attended the Microsoft TechEd 2006 in August last year. Someone has coined these terms and I was eager to figure out what they mean. A quick search in google landed me these definitions:

The term 'digital native' expresses a useful concept in clarifying the aims of learning technology development. It signifies both the technological and cultural challenges that we face. A specification of what it means to be 'digitally native' provides a clear cut measure for us to assess progress, and at the same time helps to explain why being digitally native is a good thing.

Basically a digital native is someone born after 1985, where computers are mainstream. On the other hand, a digital migrant was born earlier than 1985 and has had to ‘migrate’ to the notion of digital in their life. Some have fully integrated whilst others are still going through the migration process.

Definition of Digital Migrant / Immigrant (
Someone who grew up before the Digital age and is fairly new to ICTs (specifically the internet) and communicating with digital media. Basically anyone over the age of 28.

According to all these definitions, a Digital Native is someone who is born after 1985. I was born in the 70s where colour TV only started to become the "norm" in an average home. However, having been introduced to my first Apple 2E computer in my primary school years, I am as "digital native" as most of the born after 1985 kiddies. I chat with my siblings overseas using Instant Messaging (IM), we even use Yahoo! Messenger VoIP Telephony to hold lengthy conversation. I maintain at least 1 pesudo profile online. Joined many online community, keep in touch with the latest gadgets and toys, get feed information online (I don't buy no more newspapers), listen to podcasts, and heck, I even blog (like what I am doing right now).

I believe that being a digital migrant or native is not so much based on your physical age, but more on the fact of how "native" or "natural" you are with the digital world. An older person may well be fully immersed in the digital world whereas a teenager may be totally ignorant to ICT.

You may call me a geek or a nerd, but I know I am a digital Native. What about you? ;)

V for Vendetta and the Number 5

There are numerous references throughout V for Vendetta to the number 5 and letter V, which is itself "5" in Roman numerals:

  1. The character V is seen reading and quoting from Thomas Pynchon's novel, V., and listening to Beethoven's fifth symphony (the first four notes of which can be represented as the letter V in Morse code and were used as a call sign by the BBC during World War II). Beethoven himself also referred to those opening notes as 'Fate knocking on the door'. 'Fate' of course is the name of the supercomputer belonging to the Leader, Adam Susan in the novel.
  2. V introduces himself to Evey with a five-syllable phrase: "You may call me V." A large part of V's speech is in iambic pentameter, which is comprised of five iambs.
  3. The phrase "Remember, remember, the fifth of November" is referenced. This is the first line of a nursery rhyme detailing the exploits of Guy Fawkes.
  4. Evey's name—"Evey" —is actually composed of "E" (the fifth letter of the alphabet), "V" (5 in Roman numerals, and the fifth letter from the end of the alphabet), and "Y" (25th letter of the alphabet, or 5 squared).
  5. V is eventually identified as the prisoner from Room 5 at Larkhill Internment Camp. The five doors are labeled with Roman numerals, so Room 5 is emblazoned with a "V".
  6. In numerous apartment scenes, V is filmed stationary with his arms slightly apart from his body, forming an inverted V
  7. "5" converted to binary numerals is "101", so "Room 5" is "Room 101". This is an allusion to the infamous torture chamber in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  8. V's hideout is accessed from the closed Victoria Park tube station, the damaged sign of which resembles a sideways V when Finch locates it.
  9. V's personal motto consists of the Latin phrase Vi Veri Universum Vivus Vici (By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe), which in turn consists of five words that begin with the letter V ("U" is written as "V" in Latin). In the comic, and consequently in the movie, it was wrongly spelled "Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici"
  10. "V for Vendetta" has 5 syllables.
  11. November is the only month in the Gregorian calendar with the letter V in it.
  12. The woman who dies in the cell next to that of V at Larkhill is named Valerie Page. The word "Valerie" begins with the letter V.
  13. As Evey appears to give her speech to the public after she has assumed the identity of V, the visual angle of the frame causes a V to be formed between the edges of the building she is standing on and the building behind her.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

I've been busy coding

It has been 10 days since I last posted a new blog entry. I've been busy. I was not spending lots of time taking photowalking nor was I spending my time surfing on the internet, checking the latest photos in Flickr or Zooomr. I was spending my after hours doing development work for my Open Source project called Dotnet Commons 2.0.

I started the original Dotnet Commons project back in 2004 after seeing that there wasn't a similar Open Source project like the Jakarta Commons for the .Net framework. I've benefited from the Jakarta Commons projects as they really do help in speeding up software development. There are tons of literatures and articles about Jakarta Commons. A quick google search will land you many and I am not going to tell you how great Jakarta Commons is.

Initially there was some momentum in creating a similar Commons library for the .Net world called the .Net Commons, but the enthusiasm seemed to have died down pretty quick. Unlike Jakarta which has IBM's backing, the lack of a major sponsor seemed to have contributed to the lack of speed and enthusiasm in pushing the .Net Commons project much further than the initial project proposal stage. Perhaps Microsoft's constant push for the adoption of the Enterprise Library has something to do with it as well... Software developers working with the Microsoft products (.Net Framework) simply do not display the same enthusiasm for Open Source unlike the Java development community. The Java guys seem to adopt and even embrace Open Source naturally. As much as I have to admit that I have switch from being a Java developer to now a .Net/C# developer, I just think that the Microsoft development community are filled with mainly code monkeys who simply await Microsoft to tell them how to do things "correctly". Whatever Microsoft says or suggests becomes the "industry best practices". I see this at work place and I see this in newsgroups and forums. Most of the stuff in the Microsoft patterns & practices website are things that the Java community would have done yons ago. Yet, many of the Microsoft developers think that the "goodies" in the website are the best things since sliced bread.

Why am I doing this Open source project then? My motivation stems from 2 aspect. Firstly, I like to think that, no matter how small my contribution to the Open Source community, I would like to do promote the Open Source to the .Net world and to the .Net development community. I have benefitted much from the use of Open Source softwares and I will gladly "payback" by contributing some of my time to Open Source projects. Secondly, the functionalities in the Dotnet Commons project (and sub projects) are useful collection of utilities that most developers will be writing in every systems, applications or projects. Why re-invent the wheel all the time.

"The goal of Dotnet Commons 2.0 project is to become an extension of the .NET Framework 2.0 Base Class Library (BCL) that provides support for the generally useful low-level features that are missing from the BCL."

Well, I believe my time has been well spent. And I hope I will be able to convince more people to take up the challenge to help in Open Source projects. The tasks are not done yet. I will spend more time adding new things into the Dotnet Commons project. In the meantime, stay tune... and I should soon go back to do more photography and hopefully be able to post some more interesting photos.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Taking photos in a cemetery

Some people reckon I'm nuts to accept a friend's suggestion to go to a cemetery to photowalk (walking about and taking photos). Actually, the idea came about when Thomas Hawk recently released a series of photos he took at Mountain View Cemetery. We were inspired by his latest work so we have decided to try this ourselves.

After attempting to ask one or 2 other friends to join, and failing so, I started wonder what was so "scary" or "taboo" about going to a cemetery. I had a chance to have a brief chat with one of the friends we invited to join us. I come to the conclusion that Cemetery represents a reminder about death, about the spiritual realm and to some, it could mean about being afraid to see 'unclean' spirits. I can understand why.

Upon reflecting about all these feelings and thoughts, I am quite amazed that I have no longer fear or phobia of going to a Cemetery (in the daytime), well, I have never thought of going to such places at night anyway and won't want to put myself to such a test. I guess a lot of these fears and phobias came about from watching too many TV shows or from hearsays. However, I also believe that there might be some truth in certain hearsays.

I have been a born again Christian for quite a number of years now, and I truly believe that the Lord and His Holy Spirit will always be with us. I have no fear of the evil spirits as long as I dwell in the Lord's presence. Furthermore, having understood about life through the Bible, I do not hold the view about "lost" human spirits. I believe that to be absence from the body is to be with the Lord for all the believers.

The photowalking session was interesting. We started our session at the Perth War Cemetery which is adjacent to the Garden of Remembrance (for the war dead). Here are some of the photos I took there:

Perth War Cemetery:
Remember the many SacrificesRemember the many Sacrifices Hosted on Zooomr

Garden of Remembrance:
Their Name Liveth For Evermore

Remembering Lt. KeoghRemembering Lt. Keogh Hosted on Zooomr

It was a very sobering and reflecting moment for me. Looking at the inscription on the tombstones and the plaques of the fallen soldiers, it reminded me of the ultimate sacrifices that they have made for the country, for the countrymen and for freedom. Generations of Australian are indebted to their brave deeds.

After spending quite a while there, my friend and I proceeded to the Karrakatta Cemetery, which was adjoining to the War Cemetery. We walked about and took some photos of interesting things we see, from flowers at the tombstones, to statues and carvings.

Here are some of the photos I took there:
Guardian angelGuardian angel Hosted on Zooomr

Lady of Mercy

I would say it was quite an experience to photowalk in a cemetery. My friend and I talked about anything under the sun other than Photography and especially his new Canon 50mm f1.2 macro lens. We talked about life, and about death and even where we think if we wanted to be buried or cremated... funny isn't it.

To end this post, I would like to challenge all the readers. I know where I am going when I die. I am just a traveller on this earth. To be absence from my body is to be with my Lord. Do you know where you will go when you die?

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

What did you do on New Year's Day?

I celebrated the new year's day by spending time with my loved ones. We drove along the Perth coast, and popped by one of Perth's most beautiful beach called Trigg Beach. Here are some photos I took there:

Keep Out - Rocks and Waves are dangerousKeep Out - Rocks and Waves are dangerous Hosted on Zooomr

Incoming waveIncoming wave Hosted on Zooomr