Thursday, November 25, 2010

Editing Photos

Editing photos, when done correctly, enhances a visual so that they look gorgeous. Sometimes, we get folks who don’t know when to stop, resulting in garish photos.

However, there’s something that bugs me when I see an edited photo. The autumn leaves are too red, the waters too blue, the grass too healthy a green…

Maybe it’s because I grew up with comments like, “That portrait of her? Heavily Photoshopped to make her skin look flawless lah! FAKE!” so in my brain, I equate editing photos with fakeness.

Then again, in selecting certain modes on my camera like foliage, that’s also editing the colours even though it’s done within the camera, isn’t it? Like this photo when I used this foliage mode, I don’t like it because the colours are too vivid and it hurts to look at.
At what point do you sit back and look at your photo to say “enough”? It’s such a subjective activity which is why I avoid it altogether. Previously, I learned the basics of Photoshop and it was too complicated so I never pursued it. But with digital cameras becoming more common, more and more user-friendly software are popping up. Glancing through a recommended application the other day, I was amazed at how easy it was to brighten up the face of the subject, or make the skies bluer, or the rock surface and crevices more defined!

Now that I’m about to get my new toy (yeah!) which also shoots in RAW, I’m wondering if I should start moving my butt into doing all these editing too. So just curious, do you edit your photos?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


So I am looking for my Canon Powershot S3IS replacement. And it has to be soon since my Perth trip is less than a month away. I've kind of zoomed in on the Canon G11 or G12 since it has the swivel screen bit (oh, that's so technical!).

Anyway, I just checked around and was offered the G12 at an unbeatable price so I am thinking, yeah, this could be IT! I have yet to see it and play with it physically, which I plan to do this coming public holiday. And since I'm so excited about it that I'm willing to eat egg sandwiches every day to save up for it, I thought I'd just Google and see what new reviews have popped up since I started researching since last week.

I came across this site and thought, hey, they have a video review! Now I can just watch instead of read all about it!
However, after watching it, I don't understand 75% of what he's talking. Eeep! I feel like a Point & Shooter but a Prosumer Wannabe! I don't think I'd be using most of the functions of this sophisticated camera! But heck, who has used even 50% of the functions of their phones, computers, gadgets (the only person I guess would is my cousin Kelvin Kang)?

Ok, still gonna test it out this Wednesday. And compare to the Nikon P7000.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Great Alor Setar Flood 2010

Over the past two weeks, we watched in dismay at the flooding in Alor Setar, the town where I grew up. My parents were there for a wedding and had stayed with their friends.

On the day my parents left to return to KL, they noticed the quick swelling of the rivers and drains. Thank God they were traveling back that day because in less than 24 hours, murky waters had started to flood the streets. In the next few days, fields and roads were submerged and I believe about 4 lives were lost as kids were dragged into the currents.
View from the house my parents stayed in Alor Setar.
My parents hosts who remained in good spirits in spite of the situation.
Here they are standing in front of their newly purchased home.
The strange thing was, there wasn’t that much of a torrential rain. The skies were clear as the floodwaters rose. So what was the cause of it? I have gleaned off the net so far is that Haadyai, Thailand released water from their dam. First thought that came into mind is, if Thailand wants to attack Malaysia, all they have to do is open their floodgates and render us helpless?
Deputy Home Minister Dato Chor Chee Heung's home in Alor Setar.
Photos and videos were uploaded on Facebook to show the severity of the situation throughout the disaster. Our friends had to evacuate their homes, roads that were once familiar turned into muddy rivers, the pisang goreng stall we used to buy from was afloat.
The lonely pisang goreng stall in Taman Golf.
The flood has now receded but there has been further talk that Haadyai would release their dam again.

All in all, I’m just glad our friends in Alor Setar are now safely back in their homes, tired they may be from vigorously scrubbing off the filth and grime, the effects of teh tarik waters.
Photos taken by Loh Lee Fun and Josephine Kong and published with permission.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


It’s been only a couple of years since I bought my Canon Powershot S3IS yet it’s already starting to give me problems. Freshly charged batteries will be met with a “low battery” sign and I can barely take one photo before it automatically shuts down.
Frustrated, I brought it to the Canon Service Centre, where it stayed for a couple of weeks. The remedy was apparently quite simple “the contact points are just dirty”. My new Panasonic Lumix DMC-F2 became my temporary companion. While the ease of carrying the Lumix around was obvious, I really don’t like its colours and was longing to have my Canon back.

The Pink Office Boys. Taken with my Lumix. The guys are in different shades of pink but the picture doesn't do justice. Or maybe it's the lighting?
After a few months of getting it back (no inspiration to take photos lah), I tried using it again last night to take some shots. To my dismay, my newly charged batteries AGAIN hardly allowed me to take one photo before automatically shutting off with the same reason, “Change Batteries”.

I have a few trips coming up and have the following choices:
1. Send Canon back to the service centre – although I’ve lost faith in them
2. Use the Lumix – nooOOOooooOOooo!!! The colours seem… either too garish or too weak, like the picture above.
3. Get a new camera *chang* *chang* *chang*

Hmm… this spurred me to start searching again for what’s out there. Nikon or Canon? I liked my Canon because:
1. Swivel screen – I can stand at a different angle and the unsuspecting subject won’t know I’m actually taking a photo of them, or I can avoid craning my neck when I take shots that look up.
2. 12x optical zoom
3. Easily purchased batteries – AA
in that order. So I’ll be looking for these features in my next camera.

New Camera Hunt mode is now ON. Despite being a Nikon fan, to meet my criteria above, I'm eyeing this one for the moment:
But being held back because it’s not something I’d like to spend on right now, right after our renovations and furnishings. But it’s essential, right? RIGHT? *grass in diet plan coming up*

Friday, November 05, 2010

So Malu

Recently, I spoke to one of the youths in church and KS told me likes to bake. I thought to perhaps invite her over to have a baking session one day when I stumbled upon her blog.

Oh. My. Gosh. This savvy 19 year old has a business selling her cupcakes, holds classes on cupcake decorating. Her creations are so cute! They’re beautifully and meticulously done! My colleague’s friend had her wedding cupcakes done by her! KS’s ex-colleague attended one of her classes!

When I compare my amateur attempts at baking, I want to die of shame. I’ve been posting up photos of my baking, even simple pancakes! For me, stepping into the kitchen besides taking water and cooking the occasional instant noodles is already an adventure. Hence my excitement in sharing photos of my attempts in this blog.

Anyway, I reckoned this is my journey and this is how I am progressing in my baking, albeit slowly though (it’s taken me more than 5 years to now move on from butter cakes to trying different recipes now). Hence, I shall continue to post up pictures whenever I see fit, although the frequency would be very much less from now unless I graduate to something different soon.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Unconventional Wedding

When my friend Zac announced he was getting married, we sort of expected everything typical of a wedding would not happen, him being such an untypical person. The wedding invite already was different, with a short story on how they met. And not a single trace of red on the card. :)

Then, the location was also one of a kind, the Maritime Centre in Putrajaya. At first I thought it was a hotel but was later told it was outdoors beside a lake. We arrived late because, well, because we forgot to factor in Lost-in-Putrajaya time, which most of the guests who arrived on time did.

See that little anchor to the bottom right of the circle of buildings? That's where they said their vows facing the lake.
Apparently he was supposed to arrive at the alter with his bike but it broke down despite him spending hours fixing it up. Thank God for fine weather in the midst of this rainy season!

I regreted not bringing my camera so the next few photos are courtesy of my phone camera, hence the blurness and inability to zoom in.

Zac, being a Kelabit (read about them here and here), has extremely talented relatives who are all very close knit. His cousins went up on stage to sing, all his uncles and aunts went up to sing a traditional poem called Tutuq udan napera (Rain, referring to blessings, will fall in torrents) customized by his mother for his wedding and sung in their native language. Seen here are his aunts who wore traditional clothes and performed their traditional Flight of the Hornbill dance. 

And there's his brother, David, who performed the Kelabit warrior dance. He was a major attraction as many wanted to take photos with him, as seen here. Our photo was taken by another friend but I think I'll have to wait till kingdom come before I actually get a copy of it.

At the end of the wedding, the family made the couple do their first dance. Again, this ain't no waltz. Zac had to do the warriors dance complete with shouts while Jean had to do the Hornbill Dance. They were so sporting!

Also, their wedding favours were different. At first glance, many mistook the one wrapped in green as pulut. This is Bario salt and cinnamon. Bario salt is harvested from natural springs, the water boiled off over fires stoked over days. It is then stuffed into bamboo lined with leaves and further dried. The bamboo is then cracked open and the salt chopped into smaller pieces. Their ancestors used to use this as their currency, bartering for goods from other tribes. It is supposed to be very fragrant. Salt (God called us to be the salt of the world) + cinnamon = spices, to wish guests everything nice.

All in all, the warmth exuded by this family, the pride of their culture left a heartfelt tingle as we made our way home that night.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

After 18 Years

I seriously think it has been18 years since I last picked up a badminton racquet. I think it was during an interschool tournament when I played doubles and was walloped nicely by the Chinese school. I remember telling myself I would never touch a badminton racquet ever again if we didn’t score a single point after getting a zero for the first game. We got 5 points in the next game but I somehow never did play after that.

So when my colleagues started playing weekly at a nearby court, they sounded like they were having fun and were trying to encourage more people to join them. And since it so happened KS was having a conference call at night and my parents are still in Alor Setar, I didn’t have anyone to eat with for dinner. Yes, I find it absolutely miserable to eat on my own and would resort to eating biscuits or chocolate (you can tell my fridge isn’t very well stocked). Here's an example of what I had the other night when I had to eat alone, ice cream on bread.

Rummaging through my winter clothes for my track pants, I managed to find one that still fit, although somewhat snugly, I headed to the court. I reckoned it would be like riding a bicycle, just naturally knowing how to play all over again. This was proven very wrong within the first few minutes of warming up. I couldn’t gauge where the shuttlecock was going to fall (I blame it on the glaring lights which were badly positioned) and the handle of my racquet kept digging into my wrist with every other stroke resulting in a painful blue-black now. My poor colleagues endured defeats for the night when they partnered me.

Still, it WAS fun and I somehow feel a bit more energized. Will this become a weekly thing now? I dare not say but I would like it to be.

Now, to ease my aching and creaking body into bed. Good night!