Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Spider eats spider

In my quest for shots of spiders and its prey, I came across a beautiful jumper in Hutan
Lipur Lintang in Pahang.It was eating a smaller spider and my immediate reaction was to snip off a piece of leaf
where it was devouring its prey and took countless of shots of it on my camera.The results were satisfying and I am still not happy with the high magnification shot as the
subject was taken handheld.There's some minor adjustments to be made on my tent diffuser and the twin flash that I
am using so that I don't lose too much light.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


The bumblebeetle

And the bumblespider

I came across at least two bugs that shared the same exoskeleton colours.One was a beetle and the other - a jumping spider.Pretty cool critters considering the fact that they are really small and the blend of black and yellow really made them stand out.

Saturday's macrothon

A black ant mimic jumping spider photographed at Klang Gates

Beautiful large lynx spider from Hutan Lipur Lintang, Pahang

Fooling around with the gear: High magnificatin lenses from Canon

Saturday was one hell of a day!I joined my macro photography team to check out Hutan Lipur Lintang in Pahang the
results were'nt encouraging.As a follow-up we did Janda Baik which was within striking distance.That too had turned out to be a white wash.Later, we headed out to the Klang Gates Dam and met another photography enthusiast
there.With a string of disappointment, we left the scene and ended it with a tea session in
Taman Melawati.My main focus was spiders and I did land some decent shots.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Into the wild

You've got to hand it to Hollywood when it comes to dramatizing a true life and death story.Last night, I caught 'Into the wild' on Astro's movie channel.There's been a few write-up about this movie on 'Outside' and the 'Backpacker'.And the guy who wrote the book is no other than Jon Krakauer of the 'into thin air' fame. The author had chronicled the life and death of Christopher McCandeless in the 90s.McCandless remains was found in bus by a group of Moose hunters. This dude survived alone in the harsh Alaskan wilderness for 112 days. When his body was discovered, he weighed about 30kgs.The lead guy in this flick was played by Emile Hirsch. There's good acting and cinematography and well, for a film that ends in tragedy, its a
story that is well told.People would forget Chris McCandless for what ever reason and its the film that preserved
his memories.I urge you to catch this film if you really love drama and nature.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


A longhorned beetle
A green beetle

Another variant of the beetle

Beetles are simply the coolest creatures ever.
The large ones are easy to photograph while a few species are really skittish.
I managed to capture a few during my visit to Awana Resort in Genting Highland and the results were really satisfying.

Mission: A new Scout Den

My old patrol with KF Chia and BK Yap

The Scout Den, before it was razed in a fire..
I received an email from an old friend.We were in the same troop back in secondary school and the clarion call was to assemble
a team to raise funds for construction of a new Scout Den at Victoria Institution.The facility was burned down some years back. Some of the best years in my life was spent in this place and as a former pupil of Victoria
Institution and a ex-Scout of the 2nd KL troop, I felt obliged to help.The issue had also brought a few old friends together where most of them are now
professionals. Our target is to raise a targeted sum and place it as contribution to the construction of a
new facility for the kids.Its good to know that some of these guys still care.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mr long nose

The Myrmarachne plataleoides is a fascinating creature.Called the ant mimic jumping spider, the arachnid has the likeness of an ant except that it
preys on the ant - blending perfectly into its natural environment.I managed to capture a male ant mimic on Friday while I was testing my new diffuser for
my Canon MR14EX ring flash.Since it has a long snout the only details I could highlight was its eyes which is green in colour.

End of a week-long break..

A walk on the beach
The beach trail to Cherating's Club Med

Mrs Samo and Queenie

It's a wrap!
My week-long annual leave had drawn to an end and its time to get back to the crunch.
Tomorrow's school reopening is not going to help much with the traffic conditions that is
expected to get from bad to worse.
I had a great time with my wife and kidz in Cherating - chilling out on the beach and enjoying the laid back lifestyle.
Two nights was the most we could afford in terms of time and the length of days away with our dogs.
Its never been an easy task getting the Huskies organised and managed on such a long haul.
Nevertheless, we survived it and have plenty of pictures taken to preserve the memories.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Return of the dark one

The spider in its lair

This little fellah measures no more than 1mm in length

The mother guarding its spiderlings

After a few nights of disappointment, I finally found a subject for my close-up shot.It was a black faced crab spider with its spiderlings.This was an interesting find and I wasted no time rigging up my foldable table and some
clamps to get a shot of the spider family.The lighting aspect was challenging because the spider was lying low under the cover of a
pandan leaf nest.I managed to score a few decent shots of the spiders and its young ones (measuring no
more than 1mm).It took me more than an hour to set up the shot and after I was done, the spider and its
spiderlings were returned to where it was found.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Female ant mimic crab spider with prey

The female ant mimic crab spider in its full glory

Having its meal

Ant mimic crab spiders are little creatures that I will never get tired of shooting.They are the most expressive spiders around and the greatest challenge is to capture it
with a prey.Well, speaking of which, my luck was really great when I found a female ant mimic crabbie
with her prey.Best of all, I managed to record the lil spider in its full glory.The crabbie gave me just a few seconds to capture it before it dropped its prey. For me, this is my holy grail find in capturing ant mimic crab spiders.

My first lizard

The Green crested lizard

Brown shrub lizard

I've never shot a lizard up close and last week, I had the opportunity to do so. One was found perching on a twig and I wasted no time in capturing the facial feature of
the reptile.I later learned that it was a brown shrub lizard (Aphaniotis fucsa) and these scaly creatures can be found in large
numbers at the Sg Tua State Forest Park.Later, I found a crested green lizard (Bronchocela cristalletta) and managed to cap off a few shots on my Canon EF
MPE-65 macro lens.Well, I guess I'll have much more luck working with this critter on my Canon EF100mm
F2.8L IS macro lens for a full body shot and facial close-ups.

The Sage spider

A brown Lynx found in Taman Rimba Bukit Nenas - I was struggling with the high-magnification focus o this critter. The result was only so-so

The Sage Lynx - I just love the name!

Lynx spiders are interesting creatures.I've captured a few and have lately discovered one that is very expressive.It has the looks of a wise old man and T.S. Ching, my macro kaki had called it the 'Sage'
spider.This critter was really small. It measures about 5mm in length and to get the most out of it, 2.5x magnification is
needed.When I saw it on screen, only a few shots are noteworthy and with the Canon DPP
software, I pushed the colour saturation a bit and managed to get a nice shade and tone
on the spider's body.The Sage lynx is by far, one of the most interesting find in the Taman Rimba Kiara.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Predator and prey

2.5x close-up shot of the jumper with prey

Another angle focusing on its eyes

1x shot of the jumper with prey

Predator and prey shots are the holy grail quest for any nature photographer.In my case, that'll be spiders and frankly, I haven't gotten much since I've started taking
photos of spiders in various shapes and sizes.The quest for higher magnification had led me to procure the Canon EF MPE-65 macro
lens which is capable of giving 5x magnification.This the one lens that can do it all if you are shooting small objects.Jumping spiders falls into that category of bugs measuring 10mm and below.There are larger species that can fill up the whole frame, but majority of the jumpers are
small.I managed to cap off a few shots at Sg Tua and the results are satisfying!

Sg Tua revisited

An interesting crab spider

This is a very handsome weevil

Close-up of a stick insect

Sg Tua in Hulu Yam, Selangor, is a place that fascinated me right from the beginning.Some of the largest jumping spider specie are found here and they are thriving.Nothing excites me more than discovering spiders and this is a fertile hunting ground for
any insect photographer.Last Saturday, I rigged up a trip with my regular macro photography kakis T.S. Ching and
newcomer Omar who had equipped himself with a Canon EF100mm F2.8L IS macro lens.This was Omar's second outing with the group.We've hooked up with Master Kurt and Master Caveman on the trail and as usual, the first
few hours of the day was rather boring.Things started to pick up by noon and to my surprise, there were some interesting find by
my enthusiastic friends.We photographed a really handsome weevil and my find of the day, was a jumping spider
with prey.

Exposure to poisonous plants..

Before the itch: with the Macromaniacs at Sg Tua

Poison ivy leaves, I don't think these are found in Malaysia at all..

I can't believe my luck!Last week, while I was jungle bashing at the Selangor State forest park in Sungai Tua, I
explored parts of the jungle that was previously uncharted.We found nothing much and headed back to the common area there.And while I was ploughing through the foliage, the skin area on my legs and elbows were
contaminated with plant toxin.I developed rashes on my limbs, it became so bad, the itch had made my skin inflamed.So, naturally, my delayed reaction was to pay a visit to my doctor near the office.Dr Nasir who examined me said: "Ah, this is the effects of poison ivy.."My reaction was: "Huh? Got such thing ah?"The good doctor said he had seen similar cases and the first thing he asked was: "Did you
go into the jungle?".That ruled out my suspicion on eczema and other chronic skin diseases.The only time I developed rashes after a trek in the jungle was in Kelantan, which was
nearly seven years ago.I developed similar symptoms, but the itching was not as bad as what I had experienced
over the weekend.My doctor had prescribed me with some ointment and oral medication for the itch and
exposure to toxic plant.Hopefully, I will be up and about by the end of the week.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Diffuser work for the MPE65 and MT24EX

A stinkbug shot with the twin flash diffuser - still plenty of work to get the flash setting correct..

I've been working a bit to improvise my lighting for my close-up photography.
To get a softer shade, I turn to macro photographer Kurt G who perfected his twin flash diffuser.
Its a simple D.I.Y. job with recyclable materials that you can find easily.
For the diffuser material, I managed to source for some foam sheets used to pack flat screen monitors from the IT department.
Now, I have a sackload of these and the challenge I face now, is to find some time to fabricate my diffuser.
I use a section from a mineral water bottle to produce a visor frame for the twin flash diffuser which is mounted on the lens adapter.
Cutting it was no easy task.
I realised that I only need a quarter from the diameter of the bottle and lined it up with two layers of foam sheets.
The visor length is shorter to provide a rigid, yet flexible frame for the diffuser foam.
Part of the foam protrudes and can be folded upwards to get past obstructions.
I tried it out and the results are encouraging.
Now, I need to work on a few of these and get it tested over the weekend.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Big Six!

The last day of May was also our sixth marriage anniversary.Michelle and I had a simple dinner at the Empire Gallery in SS14, Subang Jaya.It was a simple affair with steaks and beef ribs as we raised our beer mugs to
commemorate our anniversary.Although it may sound simple, marriage is a committment with plenty of give and take on
our plates.All I can say is: So far so good!

Robberfly with prey

The Robberfly's catch - a common housefly

Another angle

Face to face

Its easy to spot a robberfly if you know exactly what to look for.And one of the prized shot for a macro photographer is a picture of the bug with its prey.I don't get to see much of this and when it comes to timing, its essential to know when
exactly to fire off the shutter before the fly gets spooked.That said, I was very lucky to get a shot of the robberfly with its catch - a common housefly.Hopefully, there will be more interesting shots of the robber with its prey.