Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A decent day for Smallies...

Follow that lil' bird..

Been working the whole morning to clean the house.
This is the only opportunity we get to mow the lawn, get rid of weeds at our yard.
I also vacuumed the carpet and mopped the floor as the standard clean-up ops.
While checking my emails on my Google Nexus 7 tablet, I saw a sparrow hopping on the yard.
We cut the grass, so, there's lots of green waste lying around.
I observed the little sparrow as it hopped around and worked on getting a shot of it with my Canon EOS7D and the trusty EF400mm F5.6L.
Its been a while since I shot any birds around the neighbourhood.

Sparrows are common lawn birds that you see everyday. 
But, capturing them in their element is another thing.
I guess I'll have plenty of time to shoot and catalog them next year...

The Olive Backed Sunbird

I went on a walkabout with my camera.
It was rigged to shoot 'smallies' (as birders would refer them) up close.
While scouring the plants at my neighbour's house, I noticed a very familiar 'chirp'.
Its a very small bird, no more than 20cm in length.
The bird has a long and sharp beak and its olive-yellow coloured.
Its also a very loud bird as it tweets non-stop.
I managed to get one in frame and fired away.
My camera's pixel sensitivity was set on auto, so, to compensate motion-blurring, the shutter speed as set at 1/1000sec with an aperture of F8.0.
This is the setting I get by mounting a 1.4x teleconverter on the EF400mm F5.6L lens.
On a cropped sensor body like the EOS7D, the total magnification is 896mm.
The wide-open aperture is reduced by one stop to F8.0 and this means that in order to get a decently exposed frame, the ISO sensitivity was sacrificed.
Even when the shot is sharp, the details are 'grainy'.
Another down-side to this is that the camera is unable to record the full exif data. 
Since a teleconverter is added, focussing has to be done manually. 
Here, I am training to shoot bigger birds..

Decent results...

Well, I must say that I am pleased with the capture I made with the rig.
There is always room for improvement and with the weak ambient light, I made good with the shots that were taken mostly hand-held.

Monday, December 24, 2012

2012: The Year in Review - Part 2

July: Training, training, training..

We've booked ourselves for the Campaign for a lane series 04 ride in Penang and began to train on building our strength and stamina. 
So, throughout the three months that we've trained, the effort had paid off!

Charging up 'Dead man's climb'

Forward to the Hulu Langat Dam

With the foldie gang in Genting Peras
 Organising my first workshop..

For the benefit of the newcomers, I organised a basic folding bike recovery workshop. The topic we delved into was how to patch a punctured tire and change the inner tube. The response was really good. But we could surely use a better venue...

Addressing the newbies...

Fixing the rear tire
Ko Samui adventure..

Michelle and I had planned for a trip outside Malaysia and we've decided on Ko Samui in Thailand as our destination.
The biggest hurdle in this trip was to get a bag large enough to transport our Dahon Speed P8 and Speed TR.
One thing I can say is this: Ko Samui was awesome!

At a lookout point in the island

The kickass round-island ride

Ko Samui's large Buddha statue is in the background
 Exploring Kampar, Perak...

Once more, we took on an invitation by master bikepacker TT Siang and joined him to explore the tin-mining routes of Kampar in Perak.
Although we didn't reach the Kinta Nature Park as planned, this was an eye-opening ride that a handful of people really get to enjoy..

Team Jetstream in Kampar, Perak
 August: The month of expedition and adventures..

Karak - Bentong recce ride - We linked up with our old friend Ah Pan and Farmer Wong to explore Sertik, Mempaga and Lurah Bilut in Pahang. It was an interesting ride as doors opened to more challenging routes in the district.

This scenic route made our day..

The gang nearing the final stage of the ride..
September: 'Tiru macam Samo..'

The Elephant Sanctuary Ride. Soon after the Mempaga ride, I followed-up with a recce ride to Lanchang. This is the famous Elephant Sanctuary operated by the Department of Wildlife.
After I blogged about this place and had put up some pictures of the ride, an internet celebrity began to organize the same ride. But they departed from Mempaga instead. Its funny when people are competitive to the extent of being a copycat. But the saying goes: "Imitation is a form of flattery.." We staged the Lanchang ride from the Sim Poh Farm in Karak and I must say that this is one of the most memorable events so far..

The awesome ride from Sertik
Some serious off-roading
The rolling hills

Langsat, an orphaned pachyderm
Our second CFAL ride..

We were very surprised to see the overwhelming response to Penang's Campaign For A Lane ride. This is their fourth year in running and was a well-organised ride. Even so, there were two fatal accidents along the way..

The awesome view from Titi Kerawang

Another medal for our keeps!
Second workshop: Basic Bicycle Touring...

I conducted another series of workshop for folding bike owners who want to use their bicycles for touring. 
Atmosphere Outfitter's boss Mr Edmund Foo had generously offered his premise to conduct this session and the turnout was really decent...

With Edmund from Atmosphere Outfitters

Sharing with the participants

Introduction to touring with a folding bike
 Pre-Car Free Day ride

It's amazing that of the 4,500-odd employees in my company, only one guy had agreed to ride on the Pre-Car Free Day on Sept 21.
I rode to work and had organised another ride for the masses on the actual Car-Free Day.

Car-Free Day!

Another ride to the office, with a Tern Verge X10
 Giving without question..

It takes all sorts and sometimes, you can't please everybody!
I organised a ride from Kuala Lumpur - Klang on the World Car Free Day that falls on Sept 22. The turnout was really decent. Spare the soggy road, the only incident that marred the event was a selfish bugger and his stupid antics..

 My bikepacking buddy Roger in Klang
 October: No signs of slowing...

Sungkai Bikepacking Adventure - Its strange that so many newbies had wanted to ride, but when I actually called for a bikepacking trip, none had turned up. 
So, it was back to the basics riding with Roger Teoh, one of my regular touring and bikepacking kakis. We set out from Slim River - Sungkai - Tg Malim covering quite a distance..

Absolute Kick-ass!
The Rogue Rider returns...

Once a while, I needed some time to myself.
I had always dreamed of cycling in Taiping and with a few days to spare, I actually took a train to this town and rode around the historical areas in this district. I also took a ride to Port Weld, which is one of the most awesome sights in Perak...

My first solo-recce ride in a long time..
At the famous Port Weld

A Charcoal factory near Kuala Sepetang
 November: Raub- Full Circle!

 The one ride that I've been looking forward to was the Kayuhan Raub 2012.
This year, the organizers had added 36 more kilometers to cover a longer distance.
Michelle and I made it to the finish line with the help of Pak Din Misai. This was a sort of a reunion with Sungai Koyan's most awesome veteran rider! 

With the Legendary Pak Din
 One final lap: The Book Launch

I am very proud with the fact that all the hard work I've put in on my column has been compiled into a book.
It was launched by Toursim Minister Dato Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen on Nov 27.

Signing autographs for officials from the Tourism Ministry
 December: Throttling down.. 

Michelle and I took a road trip to Sabak Bernam on a Food Trail.
We took a pose on the roadsign that made us famous as a 'Bogus' couple as claimed by a certain cycling Super Master Guru.. Hahahah!

The 'infamous' Samo bogus shot!
One for the road: Journey to meet Perak Man...

The only fitting ride to end the year was a touring ride from Ipoh - Lenggong (230km).
I planned this with my regular kakis Roger Teoh and Patric Yee.
Both were committed men who are passionate about bicycle touring and I am just honored to be able to complete the ride with them..

Great company made this ride memorable..
 Other hits and misses.. 

Well, I must say that 2012 has been very kind to me. Got my EOS5DmkIII, G1X, EF50mm F1.4L, the 8-15mm F4.L Fisheye lens.
Apart from the toys, I also made a lot of friends through cycling.
One challenging moment was when a bike shop owner had threatened to sue me for RM1million. 
The good thing was this: I had some friends who are fellow cyclists that gave some valuable advice. The matter was resolved with an apology letter drafted by the guy who wanted to teach me a lesson. For this, I have Mr Vincent Choo to thank!
On collecting knives, things were a bit slow. But, I managed to score my Wenger Ranger Swiss Army knife.

The Dahon Speed P8 and the Ortlieb Trunk Bag

My Garmin Fenix

The absolutely Kick-ass Casio Protrek PRG-250T
 I scored two watches this year. One was the awesome titanium Casio Protrek PRG-250T and the late-comer was my fabulous Garmin Fenix GPS watch.
I've also upgraded my Android phone from the LG Optimus 2X to the HTC One X+.
Well, all good things said and done, I am very thankful to have a very understanding wife, two kickass Siberian Huskies and also the new Samo-mobile MkII! 
I can look forward to 2013 as it is going to be an awesome year for bicycle touring...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

2012: The Year in Review - Part 1

January: A smooth start..

We didn't end the year 2011 with a ride in Putrajaya.
Instead, it was a family-affair with our home guests at Michelle's parent's place.
Then, we took a trip up to Penang to celebrate Michelle's God-Daughter's birthday.

Artistic blur shot taken at the Hard Rock Hotel in Penang

The long solo-ride

I celebrated my 43rd birthday which is a normal affair with my beloved wife and attempted  my first 200-km solo-ride from USJ26 - Bagan Lalang. 
It fell short of 6km to round off at 200. Nevertheless, I wasn't disappointed. 
That's where I discovered that my 2011 Dahon Jetstream had experienced some issues on its hydraulic brakes. And so begins the story of the Rogue Rider..

Longest ride solo: Bagan Lalang
Practically, still my record ride on a folding bike
Journey to Land's End..

Michell and I had planned to ride during the Chinese New Year. 
Since everybody was away, we pushed for a ride from Muar to Tanjung Piai, Asia's Land's End. It was a successful ride, however, I paid a dear price for falling sick with a bad chest infection.

Solid touring: At Pontian, Johor, with Michelle
Land's End
May: The great offroad bikepacking adventure..

Its not easy to be in the inner-circle of a master bikepacker. We are proud to be in the midst of it and really enjoyed the great company of Master TT Siang and his wife Angela. In May, we did a ride from Rawang - Sekinchan, covering a distance of 150km. It was awesome beyond words!

Foldies on the trail: The Sekinchan advenure

The gang!

I had a run-in with the K2 Asia people in late 2011. After six months of non-activity, I finally received an email from Tern Bicycles to collaborate on a review. My first test-ride was the Eclipse S11i. We worked out our differences with the K2 Asia people and moved on.. It was the beginning of a fruitful relationship between me and Tern.

The awesome Tern Eclipse S11i
Testing the bilke to the fullest: On the Eclipse S11i
 June: Good just got better!

I continued with my Macro photography work. Just so that I won't lose touch. And it was like riding a bicycle. The same month, we did plenty of short, middle and long distance rides. The most memorable trip was to Tg Sepat where we did an overnight tour using a new route from Puchong to Jenjarom...

A lovely jumping spider shot in Putrajaya's Botanical park

Bee, feeding on sweat droplets on my arm
Wrong turn: The ride to Tg Sepat
With my wife, an amazing person!

My most memorable shot of Tg Sepat

And here comes the awesome Canon EF400mm F5.6L!

I toyed with the idea of bird photography. It would add variety to my Macro shots and as a nature photographer, I truly enjoyed the combination of the Canon EOS7D and the EF400mm F5.6L as it is an excellent beginner's birding lens!

Spotting for birds in Kuala Selangor

A smallie captured by the 400mm lens

Yellow-crested bul-bul

A mating pair
 Continues in part 2...