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Friday, October 14, 2011

Sony a900 & Minolta 35mm f1.4 G Test : Is it a Shop? Is its a restaurant? Is it a gallery? No...It's Happened To Be A Closet

The second you step into, you will immediately be wondering where you are. This place definitely has it's own thing going on, but maybe you should have expected this if you had taken a look at it's name, I mean it's not everyday that so see a name like "It's Happened To Be A Closet".

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This...brand...started off as a clothing store/restaurant/hair salon (yes you read that right), all compacted into a rather small space. Even with the clothing store part on it's own this place would still have plenty of character. Selling it's own designs of weird(to me anyways but it is selling extremely well, so well in fact that the store has now got several branches) handmade outfits. Even the store layout and arrangement is somewhat unique as you can probably tell from the pictures. The store is decorated with vintage furniture and antique pieces, and the cloths themselves are...well... different, on top of that there is just so much clothing that there are hugh piles of them everywhere. 

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But it's not for the fashion that I came, I mean a yellow t-shirt is pushing at the limit of my comfort zone, so I don't think there are any outfits here that I would dare wear in public. I came because I have been told by many people that "It's Happened To Be A Closet" serves some very nice Italian food. So today I came to the original branch located in Siam Square (a shopping district where teenagers and hip people hang out) for the authentic experience. I mean I have walked passed other branches and they looked like regular restaurants, not so here. Here...well it's like you are having food serve to you in the middle of a large walk in closet.

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This place must have one powerful ventilation system. I mean with so much clothing everywhere aren't they worried about getting the smell of food and cooking on them? Oh well that's not for me to worry about. I have got more pressing matters to attend to, like eating some delicious food.

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I got to say I love good bread, and the complimentary bread here is amazing. I could  just have them as a meal by themselves.

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Fattening up for the winter here in Thailand...well that's my excuse anyway.

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I have got to say, to all those people who have been recommending this place to me, it did not disappoint. The food was great and so was the unique experience. It's not everyday that you get to eat good food in this kind of setting, well actually it's not everyday that you get to be in this kind of setting at all. So If you happen to be around Siam Square in Bangkok, I suggest you go give this place a visit, it's located in Siam Square Soi 3.

Here's their website if you need more information or directions

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sony a900 & Minolta 35mm f1.4 G Test : People Flooding The Shops In Thailand

The sign reads "SALE", but that's not the reason why everything is sold out

Excuse the pun, but with the recent mass floodings going on throughout Thailand people have been stocking up on supplies. Currently everyone has been talking about how water from the north is heading for Bangkok and it is only a matter of time before we revert back to being "the Venice of the East". Having lived in Bangkok for the last three decades there has never been a flooding situation where people couldn't go out to get food and water, so I was laughing at these crazy people who keeps telling me to stock up for at least a month's worth of supplies. Having been to the supermarket recently however, maybe I'm the crazy one because whole shelves in the food and beverages section were just completly empty. Kind of reminds me of the movie "Contagion" I just saw. Oh well I guess we will find out.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I Wish Bangkok Had More Trees

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I have been to many cities around the world where there were plenty of trees and plants all around. For me it makes such a difference and really bring "life" to the place. It is amazing how walking around surrounded by nature can really calm you down from the busy and stressful city life.

Sony a900 & Minolta 35mm f1.4 G Test : The Dreaded Miss Focused

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You have just managed to capture an image exactly as you wanted it. Your timing was perfect, the composition spot on, the light beautiful. You are smiling with satisfaction as your are checking your image and then.......Noooooo!!! Yes it's the dreaded miss focused. For me it is one of the most annoying thing, because it is like being so close but yet so far and there is nothing you can do to fix it. 

Like the picture of the cat above, "always focus on the eyes", yeah easier said than done when you are shooting a stray cat that can't hold a pose and will run away as soon as it hears the shutter click. (In case you were wondering I miss focused on it's nose instead).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

City Jams

Nope I'm not talking about some new form of music, although we do dance to it's tunes pretty much every working day.'s the dreaded rush hour traffic jams of the city, sometimes it makes me think that there must be a better way of life than this. I mean it's a universal problem that everyone seems to have come to accept that it's the way it is. Couldn't we try something new? Like maybe having slightly different working hours for everyone so that we will be on the road at different times?

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Funky Lighting

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Just saw these funky lamps in a supermarket...hmm...I wonder if they will look good in my house.

Low Light Compact Shots

In some situations trying to take your regular photographs are just almost impossible. Being in a bar with low mood lighting is one of them, especially when all you have is a compact camera (in this case I think I had a lumix). Still wanting to have something to remember my night by I tried a few different settings and a few different techniques. I think the technique that worked best was setting the flash to off, this cause the camera to set the exposure to about 5 seconds (there are no manual shutter speed and f stops settings). As I take the photograph I pan the camera across the room for about 2.5 seconds to get some nice light trails, then I hold the camera as still as I can on the subject I want for the remaining 2.5 seconds. Below is one of the resulting shots.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

And I Thought Bangkok Was Crowded

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After my trip to Japan walking around Bangkok feels like a peaceful stroll through the park. The only place I have been so far that I felt more like a sardine in a can was Hong Kong.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sony a55 & Sony 18-250mm f3.5-6.3 Test : Humbling Sea

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It's nice in a funny way, how the sea makes you feel so small. Or maybe it's not so much that the sea makes you feel small, but that it makes you realize how large the world is, and that there is so much more to be seen (and take pictures of).

Emm...shouldn't the driver be looking at where he's going?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How to view DNG thumbnails in Windows XP

It can be really annoying when you are trying to work through or organize your photos that are DNG files and you have to open each one to view which picture is which. So to be able to view the thumbnails simply download this registry file

(right click on the link and select "Save Link As")

Save it to your desktop. Then double click on it to open it and click on "yes" to add the information to the registry. Then restart your computer. Now you should be able to view the thumbnails of your DNG files

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sony a55 & Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 panorama Test : My Mistake Of Always Using Wide Angle Lens

I just wanted to share with you one of my favorite "mistake", as some people would call it, of always using wide angle lens. When I first started taking photos, it was more a by-product of my travels. I mean my main concern was the journey to see new places and experience new things. Whenever I pulled out my camera, I was not trying to capture the best pictures, but  I tried to capturing the moment of being there. For example, if after a two hour trek I find myself standing at the top of a cliff overlooking the vast ocean below with 180 degrees view, I want to capture the feeling of being there, being able to look around to see the whole scenery. As a result of this, I was always using the widest angle to capture the largest field of view possible, whether I was using a compact or a DSLR or whatever I had on me. I don't think the zoom button on my compact cameras were ever pressed, and almost 100% of my shots taken with the Sony a100 kit lens was taken at its widest zoom range.
Obviously this does not result in the best photographs. I think this is because the bigger your field of view, the harder it is to find sceneries that are beautiful all the way through from one edge of the photo to the other. I mean standing there and looking around you might think that the view is perfect, but when you capture it into still photograph form and that is all you have to look at, every single little detail starts showing up.

So the next time you have a beautiful landscape in front of you, don't always automatically reach for that wide angle lens. Try lots of variations, you will be surprise at how well Telephoto lens perform at taking landscape photos. This is because it can "zoom in" on the best parts of the scenery, cropping out the bits that might ruin your composition.

Emm...the photo above wasn't taken with a wide angle lens. I just thought I would add it in because it fits with the "wide" theme :). It was actually taken with the a55 using the panoramic photo mode, where you pan the camera across and it will take several photos and put them together to create a panoramic photo. You might notice the birds in flight in the shot. It was actually just one bird, but as I was panning the camera across the bird just happened to fly into the shot. So when the camera took multiple shots to create the panoramic photo it also took several pictures of the bird at different stages of it's flight.

I Thought It Was Supposed To Be Summer Here In Thailand...BUT

rain rain rain!!!

So right now it's suppose to be Summer here in Thailand, but well...a picture speaks a thousand words. Don't know if you can tell but those white streaks you see in the picture are raindrops. Not sure if the picture can really convey how much and how hard it has been raining here in Bangkok in the past week, but trust me, this is not a good time to wash your car.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sony a900 & Sony 28-75mm f2.8 Test : A Shot In The Dark

I find myself wondering the deserted streets of Bangkok in the dead of night with my tripod on one shoulder and my camera on the other. I wonder how I ended up here, oh I remember, it was the sense of boredom that overwhelmed me one night, urging me to go out for a walk. I thought I might as well take my camera gear in case I come across something interesting.
Within the first few minutes of my walk I began to have second thoughts, of bringing along the heavy gears, and of going on the walk in the first place. Its one thing thinking about going for a walk in my air-conditioned room, and another thing actually doing it in 36 degrees (Celsius) heat and like 120% humidity.

Drenched in sweat I pushed on hoping to at least find something interesting to such luck. Exhausted, I started heading back, depressed at my total failure.

On the return journey though I spotted this new recently built building in one of the back streets. I see buildings with this sort of design quite often in the newer parts of London, but this is probably the first of its kind I have seen in Bangkok. "Might as well try and salvage something from this trip" I thought to myself.
As I was setting up for the shot across the street from the building I remember thinking "it is awfully dark here". This could pose some problems for the shot. The first that came to mind had nothing to do with taking the shot at all. I wondered what lurked in the shadows around these deserted backstreets. All these equipments are sure to be putting a hugh glowing dollar sign above my head, and I don't think it would be very hard for someone to put a heavy object to my head while I was looking through the viewfinder and concentrating on my shot..."Stop nitpicking" I told myself.

The second problem is how hard it was to compose the shots. It was so dark I could hardly see through the viewfinder, and the perspiration on my face was fogging up the viewfinder making things even worst. The angle of the shots was also set with the camera very close to the ground pointing at an upward angle, since the camera I was using did not have one of those flip out screens I had to almost lie on the ground to look through the viewfinder. "Stop nitpicking" I told myself again, but really it was like taking A Shot In The Dark (excuse the pun).

After several attempts, with each taking a really long time due to long exposure times and having to look around for any potential threats between shots, whether of the normal or paranormal kind. Here are the final results

amazing how a few minutes of exposure can brighten things up


Friday, May 13, 2011

Sony a100 & Minolta 35mm f1.4 G Test : Always The Wrong Lens

So I put on my camouflage gear. Smear my body with mud to cover my scent. Grab a flash and attach my favorite macro lens to the camera. Going out into the garden with the Sun shinning I am today determine to get some macro shots of specimens around the garden, and I find...nothing, not even a single insect. For some reason everything that can move have decided that today is a good day to go on holiday to the beach. Typical, maybe once a year I will feel like doing some macro photography and this happens.

So I am sitting in the garden a few days later, swatting hundreds of mosquitoes mistaking my blood for tropical fruit juice. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eyes I see something. I turn to see a lizard staring right back at me. This reminds me about the failed macro photo session a few days earlier. Luckily I have my camera close by, sadly however, attach to it is a 35mm lens. my luck. I turn back to see the lizard smirking at me, I am sure I see a smile on his face.

Me: "What are you smiling at huh?"
Lizard: No response...
Me: "Oh you think this is funny do you?"
Lizard: No response......
Me: "You think I can't take a picture of you?"
Lizard: No response.........
Me: "Right that's it"

I said angrily grabbing my camera, madly snapping away at the lizard

Who are you smirking at?

The photo you see above is the result from my ensuing rage. I think I will call it a "Fake Macro". The final photo was cropped from the original at almost 100%

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sony a55 & Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 Test : Heartless In Bangkok

I am sure everyone knows the saying "home is where the heart is". So what does this mean for the homeless? Certainly being homeless can make a person loses heart, but not always though I think. While walking through central Bangkok the other day I came across what I felt was a home. It might not have walls but it did have a roof. It was not separated into rooms like a conventional house but it did have space to eat, sleep and relax. It even had a pet dog. 

Home Sweet Home
I am not talking about some new futuristic Eco-house, what I am talking about is the hard concrete floor under an inner city freeway. To some a person living here might be considered homeless, but when I was there I could felt the "homely" feeling emanating from it, it was certainly someone's home. I have been in far bigger and more expensive houses that felt far less like a home.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sony a900 & Minolta 200mm f2.8 APO Test : The proper etiquette when taking photos in Thailand

So maybe you have heard some stories about how in parts of China, or with the older generations in China, people find having their photographs taken offensive (apparently some believe that the camera sucks the soul out of their bodies or something like that). Well I am happy to say that there are no superstitions or traditions like that in Thailand. Nevertheless you should still observe the proper etiquette and behave in good manner when photographing people, as you should anywhere in the world.

So that's a NO then?

Before going up and taking pictures of someone maybe give them a small gesture (no I don't mean giving them money :) ), a smile and a nod will do. Seeing the camera in your hands they should get the idea. If anything most Thais are really friendly towards photographers. They will usually smile or even pose for you. So if you are going for the authentic "Life" or "Street" photo look you might want to use a longer lens and take your photo from further away. It is very unlikely that they will act naturally with you trying to get a close up shot of them with a 24mm lens attached to a full frame DSLR. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

The best time of day to take photos in Thailand

As a holiday destination famous for it's sunshine and year round Summer, you would think that Thailand would be a great place for taking outdoor photographs using natural light...well it is, just not all of the time. Apart from getting lots of sunlight all year round, Thailand is also in the Tropics and this makes the air very humid.

Arr...the dreaded haze

As a result during most of the day (except maybe a few weeks during the Winter time) there will be a kind of "haze" in the air. This "haze" is especially bad around Bangkok and the other major cities in Thailand, because the high level of dust and pollution further compounds the problem. This can be really annoying when you are trying to take landscape photographs, or when you are taking photos outdoor using high levels of magnification. I recently really felt the difference when on a trip to Japan where the air was crystal clear all day long. So should you abandon trying to take landscape photos in Thailand altogether? Not quite. There are times during the day when this "haze" affect is at a minimum. 

The first is early in the morning, just after sunrise till about 9 to 10 am, before the Sun has the chance to vaporize every last drop of moisture into water vapor. The second is in the evening, from about 4.30 pm onwards until sunset, when the day is cooler and less humid. There are also some other times when the "haze" is lessen like just after it has rained, or some days during the Winter when the days are cooler (cooler meaning about 27 degrees C).

So if you are planning a photo trip and you want the best chance possible of getting a good light for your shots, then you might want to take these factors into consideration.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sony a900 & Sony 28-75mm f2.8 Test : Suwannabhumi Airport The Gateway to Thailand

The control tower...apparently was the tallest in the world at one point

I have always found the atmosphere inside airports to be...comforting, there is just something unique about it. I guess everywhere else in the world there are always two groups of people, locals (those that belongs there) and outsiders (tourists for example). Inside an airport though everyone are tourists, no one belongs and no one standout. There is also an air of excitement that surrounds the place. People are looking forward to either embarking on a journey or returning home.

Whatever happened to the tourist dress code of T-shirts and sandals?

So the other day when some friends asked (begged) me to pick them up from the airport I thought I might as well take along a camera so I would have something to do while waiting for their plane to land. That's another thing I like about airports. I am usually really shy about doing "street" type photography, especially when using a large camera like a DSLR. It always makes me feel very self-conscious like everybody is looking at me. In an airport  full of tourists though, people walking around taking photos wouldn't get a second glance.

Now THIS is a Tourist

So after disguising myself as a tourist I managed to take a few photos in what little time I had before having to go act as a taxi driver for my friends. Taking photos, and looking back at them, really made me realize the wide range of emotions different people were experiencing at the same time in the same place.

Dreaming of a flatbed

I wish the lighting in the airport was a bit brighter though, so I could use a lower ISO and a faster shutter speed, a lot of times I felt I was really straining at the limit of usability.

Looks like he is ready for the next flight out of here

A tip for anyone arriving at Suwannabhumi airport for the first time and are looking to get to their accommodation in town. Apart from getting a free ride from your friend, your best bet is to take the local taxis. There should be signs guiding you to the local taxi rank just outside the terminal where there are always plenty of taxis waiting. Not only is it the most convenient way but it is also probably the cheapest way, even during rush hour the journey into town should cost no more than 200 Bath (about $6.50). Just ignore people trying to offer you limousine services or private taxis. Also unless the accommodation you booked specifically say that it is next to the underground or skytrain, do not take the Airport link (the airport train service that links to the underground and skytrain), since you will probably need to take a taxi anyway from the nearest station to your accommodation.

A familiar sight at airports around the world

Sony a100 & Minolta 35mm f1.4 G Test : Just Chilling in Thailand's Rainforest

Snail's Pace...just a bit faster than this blog

Just thought I would start off the blog with a fitting representation. Considering it took me three days after setting up the blog just to put up the first entry, snail's pace is exactly the pace this blog is going.

Anyway let's talk a little about our handsome specimen before he starts sulking (at least I assume it's a he). Was just strolling along in the rainforest one day (as you do here in Thailand) when I caught this guy crawling up a large tree towards the canopy. Being under the rainforest the lighting was pretty poor and seeing that my Sony A100 DSLR was basically useless at high ISO, I had to shoot with the lens wide open. As you can probably tell the plane of focus is very thin and some parts of the photos that should have been in focus are not, still better having loads of noise everywhere I suppose and I didn't want to use the popup flash either.

Let's give him some color

Having processed the photo though I still couldn't decide whether I like the more vibrant colors of his shell, or the more "raw" look.