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.