If there is one thing more uncertain than predicting the weather before a hike, it is coming up with a blog title that differentiates one from the other. We hiked the 9 Pondok trail on the first day of the new year and three days later we’re back hiking the same trails. Another day, another adventure through the forest and rocky terrains except with fewer company than our last hike. Also, Jong (red tee) a Miri resident who trained exclusively on these hills for his successful 2014 Mount Kinabalu climb joined us for the first time this year. Our morning began with a drizzle as we left our house in Seria that quickly escalated to a heavy rainfall by the time we reached the Seria By-pass. There was turning back or changing of mind because of bad weather — we remained positive, optimistically hopeful that the weather would clear up by the time we’re near Jerudong — it did, to everyone’s delight :)
see MapMyHike for trail map and workout stats of this hike.
I couldn’t think of anything better to ring in the new year than a group hiking activity with like minded enthusiasts. So a few days ago I sent out casual invites to friends on Whatsapp, followed by a quick Facebook post on the eve. At the same time I was worried about bad weather ruining the plan (we’ve had good sunny weather in between). Came Dec 31st, my family and I had Thai cuisine for lunch, wife and I squeezed in a 4.75 km hike in Sungai Liang (Jewel had weekly track training while Jamie was at the cinema watching Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb with a friend) before we all got ready for for dinner at Kaizen Sushi (deviating from our regular haunt, Excapade Sushi)
Excited about the hike, I slept early only to be woken up by looping sounds of relentless rain. Half dazed, I went back to sleep with great hopes that rain would stop by dawn — it never did. In fact it had rained non-stop since midnight and I was pretty sure the trails would be soaked, muddy and expectedly slippery by now. I was close to calling the whole thing off but Eric was going ahead with the hike with his staff from various Mr Baker’s Bakeshop outlets I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity especially when rain had finally stopped. Woke everybody up, grabbed breakfast and made a beeline to Bukit Shahbandar despite the persistent gray weather.
If you own a Canon Powershot G series that features a tilt and swivel LCD screen, you already have a camera that takes phenomenally better selfies than your latest smartphone — that is, if image quality matters to you. I was never drawn to taking selfies because smartphone front cameras are largely still supremely inferior when compared to a 5 year old battle-scarred G11. Also, you may have read about RAW support in Android 5.0 Lollipop, I am shooting RAW+JPEG with the G11. Only slight drawback with this camera is its rather narrow 28mm field of view (newer compacts feature 24mm). Regardless, I would take distortion free any day except in rare circumstances where fish eye would be more desired.
So yesterday, I put the rig to the test (without the remote shutter cable solely relying on 10 seconds timer for each shot) at our 4 km Bukit Pak Natu hike in Sungai Liang. These pictures were taken between 3.30pm and 4.45pm on an extremely sunny afternoon and what’s the first thing that springs to mind when shooting under such conditions? Yes, harsh shadows, strong contrasts and if you’re taking pictures using a smartphone, front or back camera, you would most probably end up with pictures of dark faces or blown out background, not to mention images with no discernible background detail.
The following images were taken at various scenic spots throughout our hike — no forest canopy here just full on direct sunlight leaving subjects with dark faces especially when hats are worn. Here’s the thing with this setup: the G11 has DSLR-like controls so it’s extremely useful to have FEC dial to balance flash power when shooting under such extreme conditions. Conditions that overwhelm even the mightiest of smartphones (their tiny LED flash do not stand a chance). I shot RAW+JPEG and each of these images are good for A3 prints.