Thursday, April 29, 2010

Picture of the day...

This was featured on Starmetro's backpage on April 29

The spider having its meal

I am very pleased with this shot

A high quality shot of the ant mimic crab spider striking a pose

The ant mimic crab spider is a fascinating creature.I won't get tired looking for it and capturing it on camera.This shy little creature which is roughly the size of a peanut can be found in garden areas
where there are plenty of flowers.The ant mimic feeds on ants and its a spectacle to watch it hunt.So far, the only place where there is a large population of the ant mimic crab spider is at
Taman Rimba Kiara.To capture the spider, you would need a 1:1 macro lens and an extension tube.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

EOS550D - 'Eye of the Dragon' Edition

Ahhh... Just when I thought I had enough, Canon China came up with their EOS550D 'Jackie Chan' edition.Priced at 10,000 yuan, this kit comes with gold lettering, a camera case and a limited edition strap and about 2,010 sets are ever made.While I may scoff at the booger green coloured strap and camera case, I'd say that the Dragon edition of the 550D is definitely for the collector.source-

EOS550D - 'Eye of the Dragon' Edition

Ahhh... Just when I thought I had enough, Canon China came up with their EOS550D 'Jackie Chan' edition.Priced at 10,000 yuan, this kit comes with gold lettering, a camera case and a limited edition strap and about 2,010 sets are ever made.While I may scoff at the booger green coloured strap and camera case, I'd say that the Dragon edition of the 550D is definitely for the collector.source-

Tale of the longhorned beetle

I received a phone call from a reader by the name of Mr Chan who asked me a sackload of
question about the longhorn beetle shot which was published on the 'Thousand Word' page
on Starmetro (April 19)He was fascinated with the shot and floored me with questions on equipment and focal
length of my lens.I told him that any camera with the right equipment can do the job and that if you join the right
crowd, you would be exposed to such bugs and get the correct pointers on how to shoot it."I have cut out the page so that I could show it to my grand child. Its top quality and has
National Geographic standards..," he said.Well, for a moment in gloom, that lifted the dark clouds over my head.I felt that I have done something right by communicating through that picture and hope to do
more with so many outings in store..

Projek 550D shelved!

I hate to pull the rabbit out of the hat, but since its not too late, I've pulled the plug on getting
a Canon EOS550D and a BG-E8 battery grip for my wife as her wedding anniversary
present.Why? I found out that I nearly got shafted by Canon Marketing Malaysia over the deal.In my previous post, I said they offered a super special deal to the Press with everything
thrown in.That infuriated me and the very moment I saw the price list, my blood went boiling.Since my wife doesn't need a camera that urgently, I shelved the deal by revoking my
camera loan application from the Human Resources department.That said, there won't be anymore Canon cameras for a while.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Now what?

I've just received a purchase offer sheet from my colleague in the photo room and Canon
Marketing Malaysia is offering some cameras for sale at discounted prices.Similary, Nikon Malaysia, now - which entirely on its own, are also offering cameras to the Press at rock bottom prices.I was a Nikon user and had some bad run-ins with the morons who represented the company.Today, they are trying very hard to recapture their lost segment of the market.As for the new pricing and offers, I shall not reveal how much they are giving but the fact that Canon is giving a sackload of freebies with the purchase of their EOS7D camera just pissed me off.I got mine without any, well, not that I am a fucking freeloader or what, the fact that they are throwing in all the carrots and cream pies just rubbed salt in the gaping wound.Spare the cheaper price, the entire package is bundled in with some books, screen protector and large capacity CF card.
Despite some subliminal efforts in promoting their ware through some of my published work, nothing came my way.
I never asked. Well, not even a word of thanks and best of all, I actually sent in a faulty Powershot G-7 for repair
and was slapped with an estimated bill of RM450.So much for customer loyalty.I am forgoing the follies and after my MPE-65 and 400mm F5.6L lens and full-frame project is completed, I might look at other alternatives.
Like Nikon in the past, Canon would be in the same predicament if they don't look after their
prime customers, especially folks from the media who are using nearly 90% of their goods.

The evergreen Canon EF50mm F2.5 compact macro

Ye olde faithful: the EF50mm F2.5 compact macro lens

Most of the dragonfly photos were shot with the 50mm macro lens

Despite its short focal length, the lens was able to capture some vivid details on this dragonfly which was found near my house in Subang Jaya...

THE Canon EF50mm F2.5 compact macro lens is one of the oldest close up lens in
Canon's EF lenses line-up.Its also one of the oldest around, surviving nearly two decades of existance. The 50mm has a 1:2 or 0.5x magnification quality which made it the shortest macro lens
around.Since its old technology, the EF50mm compact macro is clumsy and noisy when you flick in
its autofocus features.This is a lens meant for full-frame Canon film cameras that survived the digital age and with
a crop factor of 1.6x in APS-C sensor D-SLRs, the EF50mm has a focal length of 80mm,
but this doesn't yield enough if you expect to shoot bugs below 10mm in size.Ironically, the EF50mm macro lens was also my first Canon close-up lens and is still in use
for large objects.I won't put my money on this glass as a portraiture lens because its a first rate close-up tool.In the beginning, I've had much difficulty getting good close-up shots. I've even deployed a macro adaptor on the 50mm, but its just not good enough.To resolve the issue, I purchased a set of Kenko extension tubes (the best there is) to get
1.2x magnification.This is because the 50mm macro lens has an EF lifesize converter (very pricey piece of
accessory) that gives it a 1:1 magnification ratio.With the tubes, I shot some dragonflies and the results were simply stunning.Even at an extended focal length (close-up only), the 50mm was able to produce some vivid
details of the dragonfly's compound eyes.This cannot be achieved with the 1:2 ratio on the lens.Much of my learning experience on macro photography was made through the 50mm macro
and the results are shown on my work that focused specifically on dragonflies.I will not retire the EF50mm F2.5 compact macro because it will be very useful in capturing
products and this will the later phase in my pursuit in digital photography.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Canon EF100mm F2.8L IS

My work, published in Starmetro's 'A thousand words' on April 20
The EF100mm F2.8L IS

Canon's EF100mm F2.8L IS macro lens is by far -- one of the most versatile close-up lenses ever to hit the shelves.But with a higher price tag compared to its predecessor the EF100mm F2.8 USM, it may not be far reaching to macro photography enthusiasts.This new lens features Image Stabilization at telefocal length, giving it a secondary function as a portraiture tool.But its primarily a macro lens with 1:1 magnification capability.And with a fast aperture of F2.8, the 100mmL is able to capture images in demanding situations.For me, this is now my primary close-up lens and I am enjoying it a lot.It gives clear and sharp images and having tried it numerous times with my Canon 430EXII flashgun, I've decided to pair it with the MR14EX ring flash.This is the 100mmL's perfect companion and its been producing some really cool shots.Like what my mentor has mentioned earlier, I need to master the MR14EX to produce even better shot.As it is, some of my work with the 100mmL has been published and I am very satisfied with the results.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Canon MR14EX ring flash

Not the best example, but you can see the ring flash catch light on the spider's eyes..

The Canon MR14EX is an affordable solution for close-up shots..

When it comes to the crunch, very few flashguns can perform especially for close-up shots.Either you modify a regular flash and use a flash bracket to get the proximity (lots of
diffusion work and mostly DIY innovation involved) or invest in a proper illumination tool.And that brings us to the subject of the Canon MR14EX ring flash.This baby can yield results and you can say goodbye to all those clumsy snoot diffuser and
brackets.Best of all, it weighs pretty decently which allows you to lug it into the jungle without much
hassle.I found that the ring flash that attaches onto the front end of the lens is more agile compared
to a flashgun with a snoot mounted.This allows you to work in tight spaces and get some really good results.All you need to learn, is the proper diffusion technique and understand the ring flash and
what it can do for you in terms of getting an evenly-lit shot.This is of course -- control and skill with the flash output.When I first toyed with it three weeks ago, I found that my shots are getting much better. Then, its a matter of getting the right diffusion and proper focal plane to get a better depth of
field.With the flash directly in front of the lens, there is no issue about weak lighting.Even the lighting ratio can be controlled to your desired effect.Frankly speaking, I still have plenty to learn about this close-up flash device and seeing as it
is, the only way is to go out and practise my lighting control techniques.
To sum it all up, the MR14EX is a good start if you demand a decent shot with Canon's range of macro lenses. The shiznit, if of course the MT24EX twin flash for macro photography..

Rumble in da Jungle!

A very handsome spider - the huntsman


Me, at the park today..

I received a short message from my buddy Derrick who informed me about an outing to Taman Bukit Cahaya in Shah Alam.
Managed to get clearance from the boss and took a 20-minute drive there after bathing the dogs this morning.
Its been years since I last visited this place.
I was there some years back when the state agricultural park was encroached by development.
At that time, photographing insects was not even a thing of fancy to me.
So, today, I took a hike around the park, covering an estimated distance of 5 kilometres and found some really interesting inhabitants at the park.
I came face-to-face with a huntsman spider after spotting it on a leaf.
It was as still as a stone to evade and avoid detection.
When I placed it on a tree stump, I managed to squeeze at least half a-dozen shot and was very satisfied with the results.
Since this park is huge, a follow-up trip in the future is in order.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Black faced jumper

I shot a black faced jumper again and this time, with more vivid colours and a better expression.
Its larger than the one I found in Bukit Tinggi and the capture was also very evenly lit compared to my earlier shots.
The MR-14EX ring flash is also doing its job well as my shots have improved since the snoot diffuser project was shelved.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My first Portia

The Portia is one of the most amazing spiders from the jumping spider genus that I've ever come across.
I found one in the Sungai Tua state park yesterday and spent some time capturing it on my EOS7D camera with the 100mmL IS macro lens.
With all the angles covered, I am very pleased with the results and I must say that the discovery of the Portia had motivated me to find more of such spiders in the wild.

Sungai Tua

I drove past this place countless of times without realizing the fact that its a treasure cove for large jumping spiders and portias.
What I learned was the fact that after a heavy downpour, insects are generally sluggish.
So, to photograph them in their full glory, patience is a virtue.
I was lucky enough to join my macro photography kaki Derrick @ MJ, who organised the trip and Master Kurt G, who lent his expertise in lighting control.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Enter the weevil..

A mossy weevil

This is a cute weevil

Look at the nose!

A fungus weevil

I've had little regards for the little weevil .
As far as I could remember, these tiny critters used to crawl in my rice bowl.
And if left alone, they will turn rice grain into powder and spawn a couple of generations before the damaged rice is thrown away.
That little insect is called the rice weevil.
Now, little did I know, there are other species of weevils in the wild that are five times bigger than the rice weevil.
These guys are actually cute and relatively harmless.
They feed mainly on plants and in a world that is threatened ecologically, the weevil has its role to play.
Today, I don't see them as pests, but indicator species to how polluted our world has become.
The more I see them, the more I appreciate them. Especially from a macro photographer's point of view...

Attention needed..

You can never mix profit with passion.
I found this out the hard way through years and years of slogging it out in the field.
Speaking of earning some extra cash, I had some offers to write on a freelance basis.
Basically, advertorials and the basis for doing this is my hobbies and some extra cash.
But then, who the fuck am I kidding.
I am just fucking myself with more work and some unecessary stress.
Its bad enough I have to endure my 12-hour/day work and take instructions.
Financially, I making my end's meet.
So, the fantasy part is always being 'wanted' to partake in some projects and getting paid.
Looking back, I've always enjoyed my privacy, hobbies and anonymity.
I am not an attention-seeking whore and don't see any reason why I should do so.
That said, I tried the alternative way of earning some extra cash, but meeting up with even higher expectations for a pittance just don't cut it.
If there's anyone who needs to whore for fame and get paid for it, they can have all my share.

Beetles! Oh yeah...

Long horned beetle

Up close and personal - a beetle's head shot with my MR14EX ring flash

My mentor Master Kurt, Me, Derrick and Master Wee at the Japanese tea house in Bukit tinggi recently..

My break is drawing to an end and so far, its been a fruitful week.
Went up to Bukit Tinggi on Friday with Master Kurt, braddah Derrick and Master Wee whom we hooked up with later near the location.
I was told that the bukit tinggi area is a favourite haunt for birders and macro photography enthusiasts.
Didn't know what the guys were talking about till I saw it for myself and it was totally awesome.
Spent the whole day there photographing bugs and was about done during mid-day.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A beautiful female jumping spider

I shot a beautiful female jumping spider last week at the kiara forest park.The lighting has improved and I plan to improve it further with the construction of a new
diffuser snoot.


I was flipping through the pages of a daily newspaper and found a weekly column by some
dude who was literally whoring for an apple ipad.Who the fuck cares about the ipad?Anyways, the guy was raving about Steve Job's latest innovation and showered praises on
the ipad.Again, its a shameless plug.I have never even heard of the columnist and constantly see his photo byline on the paper.He may be the editor's buddy or simply some retard who is paid to fill up the pages with
whatever that comes across his mind.Its bad enough that a full-time writer there had this really retarded column on gadgets and is
allowed to whore for apple.Way I see it, its okay to do it if the the colour of your skin is right. That's their set up and with
a declining circulation and readership profile, I am not entirely surprised that they are now in
the gutter.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Another colourful jumping spider

This is one of the cutest and most beautiful jumpers I've come across..

Its an active bug and getting a shot of it was never an easy task...

A week ago, I posted up some notes about a colourful ant mimic jumper.I saw this spider around my house and since then, it kinda disappeared from the face of the
earth.Thanks to my observant friend Stanley Tan, I managed to get a shot of this spider again and
with various angles given, it was one of my best effort in the day.The colour on this spider's back was simply amazing!It has a metallic-coloured body and constantly raises its pincers and that was a really good

Kiara Macro III

Black and Red ant mimic jumper

Perfection in mimicry: the Red ant mimic spider

My half-day outing at Taman Rimba Kiara was a well-spent affair.This time, I hooked up with Macro photography master Kurt G and old friend Derrick and
was introduced to three other new people in the ever growing peer group.I tested my new diffuser design and found that there were obvious flaws on it.Nevertheless, it produced some really cool shots of jumping spiders, ant mimic spiders and
some random bugs.Since my focal point was on spiders, I did find a black and red ant mimic at the Rimba Kiara
park.The best find was a red ant mimic with limbs of an ant mimic crab spider. This was the first time I've ever seen such a creature.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

They own the night...

A very handsome beetle

This guy is featureless. Its the most boring bug I've come across..

I've tested my Samo Frankenfuser mark IV last night with some promising results.It takes a little effort to walk out to a small wooded area near the housing estate's fencing
and the bugs are all there for the taking.While most of the beetles are similar in appearance, I found one that is roughly about 9mm
in length which turned out to be the bug superstar of the night.Apart from beetles, I also found two huntsman spider lurking on a bunch of pandan leaves.And when it comes to predators, these are on top of the food chain and they literally own the
night.Well, there still tonight at the patch of shrubs and I hope to find more interesting creatures that are lurking in the dark.

Rediscovering photography

Hobbies are fun.And I am rediscovering photography as a hobby rather than a profession.Seventeen years ago, I lug about 15kgs of equipment to make a living out of photography.My career started in The Star and ended in a subsidiary company of Utusan Malaysia.All in, I pursued a career as a professional photographer for five years.And during that period in my life, I have captured images of events and people across the
country.I never gloat about the past or try to get attention through my published work and little did I
realised that the images that was recorded through my lens were chronicles in time
communicated with pictures.The job scope of a local Press photographer is limited to the coverage of its publication.Anything beyond that would be a stint in the wire service.Now, based on experience, those who entered the wire service in Malaysia are mostly highly
referred with the exception of a few individuals who gained access through their connection,
which is a corrupt practise when viewed from the moral prospective.I left the scene after five years knowing that it would be as far as I would take it.Now, most of the guys whom I had worked with are at the height of their career.I am very happy for them and their achievements.A handful had switched from photography to full time writing.And an ex-colleague of mine in Terengganu was the shining example.I won't touch on writing because that is a different realm.Back to photography, I am finding time again to learn the ropes.Getting in touch with reality, I know for a fact that hobbies should not be a profit-driven
pursuit.I am not looking at making tonnes of money from showing my work.To me, its personal satisfaction and a good use of my time.The least I can say is that I still possess the skills and I know how to use the tools and with
my bare hands, I create a visual treat for people and in a certain way, motivate others
because it takes a little effort to see things work.

The snail..

Here's the low-down; I noticed that snails are very active in the morning.
After the beetles are done with their job devouring leaves and literally anything that is green along their path, the snails take on the morning shift.
I have some garden snails in my garden and they have been thriving there very well.
Well, my dogs too had fun killing them and using some as their toy.
Anyways, the small ones are the most fun to capture on camera.