Light to Night Festival 2018

Heard about this from a friend via Facebook. That show how pervasive is Facebook rather than main stream media. Went down to take a look and try out the new Sparks remote shutter release. Didn’t manage to get the IR part to work and silly me didn’t turn on the Bluetooth so couldn’t control it from the phone either. In the end, used it to good old fashion way via the cable. Still quite happy with the outcome considering that it was cloudy with a slight drizzle.

As far as I can see, only 3 buildings in the Civic district were lighted up with moving lights and design. There were other light installations but I didn’t have time to explore those as I spent too much time at the Marina Bay trying to get a good shot of the carnival and which I failed miserably.

These photos are of the Asian Civilisation Museum.

Next to it, the Victoria Concert Hall. Got lazy to move back a bit and didn’t take a fuller picture of it.

Last but not least the former Supreme Court and now the Singapore National Gallery. The most impressive of all.

Unfortunately the same problem with the longish part of it. Too lazy to move further back and the building got cut off not to say kinda distorted. The rapid moving light display didn’t help too.

 

Rental Bike Cyclist the Scourge of the World

I used to think that smokers were the most socially irresponsible and environmentally unfriendly people in the world. Not anymore. Their place has been taken over by the cyclists or more specifically, the rental bike cyclists.

Rental bikes are now the in things all over the world and also the blight of the world judging from news report from all over the world. And Singapore is no exception. In fact there are more rental bikes now than litters if I may say so! 

The original idea for the dockless rental bike is admirable. But I think the bike rental companies probably didn’t reckon on the cyclists being so irresponsible. Beside the reported cases where people throw the bikes from some apartments, or throwing into drains or vandalising them or even selling them, people are just dumping them all over the place. And this is something very perplexing. Why are the rental bikes everywhere? And in all sort of weird places.

I mean, I assume most people will rent a bike to get from point A to point B say from the train station to home. Or for leisure cycling in a park. So why there are so many bikes left in so many weird places. Like these:

At a road junction. Why ride and then alight here? This is a neither here nor there place. What did the cyclist goes to after dismounting that he cannot continue on the bicycle?

Another bike left at a road junction.

In the middle of a park connector. Which just seem weird to me. So the cyclist dismount and ran home? Or decided to walk the rest of the way?

Next to a trash bin. Why here? Why not at say the foot of the nearby flat or the nearby mall? It just doesn’t make any sense to me. And the other thing beside the indiscriminate dumping is the manner in which these cyclists park the bicycle. I have seen bikes right in the middle of a pavement; right outside the lift door; in front of letterbox and coiled around lamp post like these 3 bicycles

Or chained to every railings that is availableAnd occupying shelter walkway meant for pedestrianSeriously I don’t know what goes on in the mind of these cyclists. I am sure they are very nice people if they are not riding but once they get on one, maybe something in the bike send a signal to their brain and they become the scourge of society.

Right now, the number of bikes littering the places is atrocious and the problem is worsen because the bike companies don’t seem to care at all about retrieving the bikes especially those damaged one so much so that one chap who cannot tahan the mess have taken upon it himself to clear them. 

Me think the authorities should really cracked down on the errant cyclists and also compel the bike companies to be more pro-active in retrieving the bicycles. Otherwise one of these days we will end up with one giant heap of rotting bicycles like this one in China.

Photo from http://mashable.com

Jurong Bird Park

Been some time since I been back to Jurong Bird Park. Equipped with a new camera and a new lens, went to the Walk In Aviary and the Wings of Asia Exhibit to try out the gears and get in some practice.

Caribbean Flamingo

Black Crown Night Heron

Some sort of Black Pelican?

The more common Pelican

Blue Eyed Cockatoo

Golden Concure

Black headed Caique

Yellow shouldered Amazon

Masked Lapwing

Bearded Barbet

Golden Weaver

Spoonbill

Bali Mynah

Lineated Barbet

Even though I don’t really like seeing the birds in the caged enclosures, I still enjoy going there to look at the birds that are able to fly more freely. After all, where else can I, with my poor eyesight, get to see so many diverse species in one place!

Nikon D500 + Nikkor 200-500 mm F5.6 Lens

While I always enjoyed taking photographs of birds, I have often been frustrated that the gear I have do not permit me to get a better shot. I enjoyed just looking at the birds but sometime I wish I can have a photo or two to take back as souvenir. Things got even worse after M got her P900 and she was able to shoot away while I just watch. And so after a long long time. of contemplating and seeing that my D7000 was almost ready to go to the great photograph world beyond, I caved in and bought a D500 and subsequently a few weeks later got a used 200 – 500 mm lens to go along.

Here is a sample of the photos taken using these combo. The first 3 photos show the sensor capabilities of the D500. All the photos are taken in JPEG and handheld so there is noticeable motion blur.  No post editing has been applied as well just to show the original quality of the camera.

This photo is taken with ISO at 6400 with aperture of F5.6 a combination almost unimaginable with the D7000 where anything above ISO 1600 and the noise will be so bad that the photo will not be usable.

D500 + 200 – 500 MM F5.6 210mm ISO 6400 F5.6 1/80

This next photo is taken at an even higher ISO of 12800 and the noise level is still acceptable. And I was able to use a fast speed of 1/640 for this. How about that!

230mm ISO 12800 F5.6 1/640

Another photo taken at ISO 12800 with a slightly brighter background. 

D500 + 200 – 500 MM F5.6 230mm ISO 12800 F5.6 1/640

So more or less I am confident that I solve the low light problems that more often than not, force me to give the bird a miss. On to the next big bug bear. Reach…

Previously using the 70-200 mm with a 1.4 converter, I was only able to get a reach of 340 mm on the D7000. Now with the D500 + the 200 – 500 mm, the maximum reach has extended to an effective 750 mm and that is without using the teleconverter! OF course in most cases, the reach is still not enough especially for smaller birds but with the sensor capability of the D500, I can happily crop away to get fairly good close up. Here are 3 images taken at 500 mm and cropped to 100% or more. Again all are handheld with no post editing so not as sharp as I like but the details of the feathers are still visible in the closed up photos.

D500 + 200 – 500 MM F5.6 500mm

Cropped

500mm ISO 800 F5.6 1/500

Cropped

500mm ISO 560 F5.6 1/400

Cropped

So I solved the low light and the reach problem. Now how to get the photo sharp? Guess I have to start looking around for a good sturdy tripod soon…….

Cafe 69 @ E!Hub

Downtown East is always a bustling place especially during weekends and school holidays. With the recent revamp of the main foyer and conversion to the E!Avenue, there is even more food options. Places like Aston, Swensen’s, Eighteen Chefs are always crowded so it was a pleasant surprise for us to find this quiet little place Cafe 69 at one corner of E!Hub. Probably due to its location right at the end of a dead end corridor, it was quiet on a busy Saturday night and only 2 tables were occupied.

We stopped to look at the menu and the owner quickly came up to us. After listening to his pitch, we decided to give it a try. We decided to follow his recommendation and ordered the beer battered fish and chips; the chicken taco and the Parmesan Crusted Salmon.

The fish and chip came first. What was interesting was the fried banana or goreng pisang and a slice of pineapple. A very interesting combination but it all went so well together with the fish and chips.

 

The Chicken Taco is supposed to be a starter but it could just as well be a full course since the serving was fairly generous.  This is my favourite item of the 3 that we have.

Last item we had was the Parmesan Crusted Salmon. Serving wasn’t really that generous but fortunately I have the Chicken Taco to supplement so it was fine.

Beside the so called “Western food”, it has some local food like fried rice, curry. In addition, they also serve pizza and pasta. Prices of the food are fairly reasonable around the range of $7.00 to $20.00.

But the best thing about the place is not the food but the ambience. There is the giant teddy, every guest favourite and I guess this is a Kodak moment for everyone who goes into this place. 

And just in case you wondering about the very suggestive name of the cafe, no it is not what you think as this sign explained it:

And the place also has some beautiful cakes displayed in its glass cases. Too good looking to be eaten I swear. Just look at these:

And on its website, there are some mean looking desserts. Look like I will have to go back again…

Wildlife in our Heartland – Choa Chu Kang

One of the symbol of Christmas is the White Dove. We don’t have a white dove here in Singapore but recently a flock of Pied Imperial Pigeon have chosen to make a small corner of Singapore their home for the holiday season.

It seems that every evening a large flock of this Pied Imperial Pigeon will fly to a particular tree in Choa Chu Kang housing estate to roost for the night. While there on Saturday evening, I counted at least more than 20 of them flying in from the Tengah area. Perhaps they have been displaced by the redevelopment there?

Anyway it is good that wildlife has been able to adapt and survive in built up Singapore. Hopefully other than birds and otters, we will be able to see more native animals like the mousedeer and Sambar Deer thriving and being common sights all over Singapore.

Merry Christmas everyone!