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Archive for December, 2009

It Was All Crap

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Have you ever written or blogged about something, spent a lot of time checking the grammar and expressions, taken an effort to pepper it with photos and other multimedia contents, but at the end of it all you re-read everything you have written a couple of times and decided that it was all crap and thrashed the whole thing?

Well, it just happened to me. 😛

I shall try to write a more-proper post soon!

Categories: Blog, Random Tags:

Fly… High… Up In The Sky…

December 27, 2009 2 comments

I remember my very first flight, although I don’t remember the exact details of it. It was a flight from Jakarta to the South Sumatran city of Palembang, back in the early or mid-1990s. I can’t recall which airline it was, nor can I remember the aircraft type.

In fact my knowledge about flying was so limited that I thought runways end with a jump ramp, just like the ones that motorcycle jumping daredevils use, where the aircraft will finally take off and travel in a straight line before it (hopefully) lands at the other airport.

Motorcycle Jumping

Motorcycle Jumping, taken from BigLorryBlog. Check out BigLorryBlog if you’re into big lorries, the blog itself looks pretty awesome!

Of course, now I know enough that airplanes don’t take off that way, and that it relies on a set of navigational systems and aids in order to reach their destinations safely.

In fact, my interest in flying only took off (pun fully intended) when I started playing Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 on my crappy Compaq Evo N800v. I remember sitting inside the virtual Cessna 172 Skyhawk, listening to instructions from the virtual instructor Rod Machado, as he guided me through the basics of flight controls, which I duly followed using my laptop keyboard–hardly realistic at all.

And I thought it was cool.

And cool it was, until I had the privilege of finally realising the experience on a Cessna 152 as part of the flight training with the company earlier this year.

No doubt that over the years, I’ve improved on my virtual flying skills so much that I no longer land a 747 on the taxiway instead of the runway, and that I’ve made the virtual experience as real as possible by buying a flight yoke and rudder system, but nothing beats cruising in a real airplane at 6,000 feet in the air over Sembawang airbase, looking out into the distance at Bukit Timah hill and trying to answer the instructor’s question of where the boundaries of Area B of the Light Aircraft Training Area is.

Or the thrill of taking off and landing the airplane on my own, with the instructor only taking over when he deems that it is unsafe for me to do so.

Or the adrenaline rush as the instructor conducts a “fan stop”, a simulated engine failure procedure just after take off, where the throttle of the aircraft is closed fully, and I had to quickly establish the aircraft on a glide attitude, choose a landing spot, simulate cutting off the fuel flow into the engines, adjust flaps, and simulate opening the door and cutting electrical supplies as the club house and the trees in the neighbouring golf course looms closer.

The best thing that I had experienced must have been the solo flight, where over the 10 minutes I was on my own in the aircraft, with no instructor next to me. I had to communicate with the air traffic controller, taxi the aircraft, take off, make a round in the airport’s circuit pattern, and then land and taxi back to the parking spot, all on my own.

It was 19 October 2009, and it was the second last time that I had touched an aircraft’s controls. My last flight was the following day, when I finally reached the quota for flights here in Singapore. My next flight will be in Australia next year.

It’s been 68 days since then, and I’ve started to miss flying already. I still “fly” from time to time on the flight simulator, but nothing beats the real thing. But with my time being taken up by the exam preparation, I suppose that too will have to take a back seat for now.

Leonardo da Vinci once said: “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”

He’s absolutely right.

Before I end this post, check out this video that I found on YouTube. I remember watching it as a kid, and the song kind of got stuck in my head until now.

Goofy’s Glider

Merry Christmas

December 26, 2009 2 comments

Just a quick note to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

I’m not exactly in a celebratory mood this time due to work and all, so I spent Christmas eve taking night photos using my newly-bought DSLR, and spent Christmas tidying up (however slightly) my house.

Speaking of which, I finally got myself a Nikon D90, and I love it! I’ve read the manual from cover to cover, and realised that it’s so much more than I had expected when I was doing my research. I hope to develop my photography hobby further, especially now that I’m no longer tied to the limitations of film.

Nikon D90

Nikon D90, taken from Nikon Singapore

And speaking of photography, have a look at the photos I took at Little Guilin the other day.

Little Guilin

Little Guilin

Also in the first part of the reel of film (something which I can do without from now on) were some shots I took at Orchard Road a while back.

ION Orchard by night

ION Orchard by night

KenRockwell.com

December 13, 2009 6 comments

Whilst I was searching for a nice DSLR to get, I came across a website by a guy named Ken Rockwell. What is amazing is his reviews on Nikon cameras and lenses. He even has old Nikon equipments that he reviews.

I would take this as just another review site, but there are other goodies that he provides in the website. The website is almost like an encyclopaedia of cameras and lenses!

He has, for example, explanations on the DX format, something which is new for digital SLRs. But the most useful pages I’ve seen must have been the Nikon system compatibility page and the lens compatibility chart, which is almost like a short history lesson on Nikon lenses. Now I know that if I were to get the D5000 I was eyeing for, I won’t be able to autofocus using my current AF lenses. I love his example of pairing a 1969 Nikon F with current 17-35mm AF-S lens.

A 1969 Nikon F with current 17-35mm AF-S lens

A 1969 Nikon F with current 17-35mm AF-S lens, from KenRockwell.com

On another note, after looking through a lot of websites, I’m really thinking of getting the Nikon D90 soon. It seems to be getting good reviews, and the fact that I can use my current lenses (I have a 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 G AF and a 70-300mm f/4-5.6 G AF, both of which apparently have been rated as two of the best cheapest Nikon lenses) is a bonus, although the combination will probably look Frankenstein-ish as the camera body is black and my current lenses are silver.

Categories: Photography Tags: , , ,

Frustrated

December 12, 2009 Leave a comment

After some tiring weekends of dealing with people, I planned to have some well-deserved me-time this weekend. The plan was to go to the nearby park and take photos of the Little Guilin, and then have it developed by tomorrow. After reading up on the golden hour, I was itching to apply it in practise.

Bangkok during the golden hour

Bangkok during the golden hour, by Diliff

What happened was that I woke up at 4.30 pm, which was fine, not too late. After quickly washing up and chatting with some friends online, I set off for the park, reaching by 5.30 pm.

Little Guilin

Little Guilin, by mailer_diablo

I’ve been using the film Nikon F55 for a couple of years now, and so far it has not given me any problems whatsoever. Today was no different, everything went well, except that the sky wasn’t as nice as I wanted it to be, but well, noone can control the weather, isn’t it?

I had no intention on switching to a DSLR, as the frequency of my taking photos is not high enough so as to warrant the necessity of upgrading. Anyway, there’s a conveniently nearby photo lab that can process my film within 24 hours.

I finished the roll of the Fujifilm 200 by 7 pm, and left for Botak Jones for a medium ribeye steak dinner that I’ve been craving for. I also added the shit mushroom garlic sautéed shiitake mushroom, which was not too bad.

That was the end of the better part of the day. I went to Singapore Colour Centre in West Mall to get my film developed. I’ve been patronizing this shop for more than a year now, and everytime I just need to say “develop, scan to CD” and they’ll reply with “Ok, come back tomorrow afternoon!”.

But today, the reply was “come back in 3 working days”. I was puzzled and asked for clarification. It turned out that they don’t have the processing machine anymore, and have to send the film to their processing centre to get it developed. The thing is that I won’t even be at home on the weekdays, so I would have to practically wait for a full week before seeing my photos. I cancelled the development and instead went out on a search for a photo lab that can still do film development.

What added to the frustration were a couple of things…

First I decided to drop a message on Plurk and Facebook to ask if anyone knows of a decent photo lab in the area. Plurk’s mobile interface has changed a lot and it doesn’t work well on my mobile phone. It was a matter of guesswork to decide whether the link I’m clicking is for mute or view responses. In any case, noone seemed to know one.

I then went to gothere.sg on my mobile phone, and soon realised that the mobile version doesn’t support searching for places around an area. So I went ahead and used my iPod touch to check the full version of gothere.sg. To my horror, it now automatically redirects to sneak.gothere.sg, which doesn’t support the iPod touch’s Safari browser.

I then called and messaged a couple of friends, and they either don’t reply or pick up the call, are outside, are using another unsupported browser, or report an error when using gothere.sg.

I spent a good one hour walking aimlessly around the area, not even finding a photo lab at all. It seems like it’s gonna be the end of film era really soon…

So here I am at the end of the day, having a bunch of photographs locked in the roll of Fujifilm 200. I only hope that some shop somewhere near Jalan Kayu (where I’m based on weekdays) can process the film, otherwise I’m really going to have to wait for a week before seeing my photos.

***

The incident got me thinking though. I’ve been holding off buying a DSLR for a little while now. The reasons are manifold.

First, like I said earlier, I don’t take photos frequently enough to warrant an upgrade to a DSLR. Therefore the break-even point for buying a DSLR is going to be reached only after a pretty long time, which may not be a worthy investment.

Secondly, also related to money, DSLR do not come cheap. With my current monthly income being sub-1k, and rent and food using up the majority share of that income, I only have my meagre one-year-of-work savings to fall back on. In fact, my monthly cash flow since I started in this line has been negative. I would rather save what is left of my savings for rainy days.

Thirdly, so far it has been convenient to develop my film shots, having a photo lab near my house. Obviously, this is not the case from now on.

But what happened today changed a couple of those.

Firstly, I’ll be leaving for Australia soon (within the next 3 months) for flight training, and no doubt there’ll be times when I’ll be travelling around the area. It’ll be nice to have a DSLR that I can use to take some photos with.

Secondly, while I’m not sure of the actual case, my spending in Australia might be lower, with no rent to deal with. That should leave me with a bit more time before my savings are all used up.

Thirdly… Film seems to be dying, with less and less photo labs offering development of film.

All these got me thinking, is it time for me to get a DSLR after all? What’s a good value-for-money DSLR to start with, taking into account that I’ve been shooting using a film SLR for a while now?

Any inputs will be appreciated!

Frustrated,
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