Environmental Portraits: In Touch With Nature

It’s so easy to get caught up with the daily grind of office work and school work, term exams, projects and what not that we lose touch with the exhilarating beauty of nature right in our own backyards. We make it a point to alternate between badminton, swimming at the club, running at OGDC, PE at school and trekking at Sungai Liang — to keep the body and mind healthy.

Check out the number of Likes this photo has received on Facebook

I usually bring along my PowerShot G11 coz you just never know what photo opportunity presents itself. This morning, I was inspired to take this environmental portrait of the family — spur of the moment stuff brought on by the fresh morning air.
On a foot trail inside the Sungai Liang forest with cousin Daniel with my kids Jewel and Jamie.

Butterfly Sanctuary at the Palmetum Garden Sungai Liang | More Ray of Light Moments Captured at Wasai Kadir in Labi | Photographing Somboi-Somboi Pitcher Plants in the Sungai Liang Rainforest

In order to at least freeze a few of the termites, I shot this hand-held at 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO6400 with the EF100mm Hybrid IS given the lack of usable available light. Click on photo for more info.
Bokeh is the blur or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image. If you're wondering how I got this shot, click on image to visit blog post for more info.
Capturing ethereal moments like this makes bringing along my Powershot G11 more than worthwhile.

I JUMP. DO YOU ?

Badminton is the only sports I play well and I try to squeeze in at least a 3-4 games per week (usually in one session) which my partners and I normally manage just once a week. It’s hard enough to coordinate several people’s time on a sacred weekend to meet in court, it’s even harder to congregate outside of court for coffee. And this has been a busy week for me having woken up really early (4.30am) for the BEDB 4th Invitational Golf Tournament shoot at the Empire Hotel followed up a whole day of aerial photography from BSB to KB to BSB and to top things off, my amah (“domestic helper”) leaves for her month long vacation this evening. So I try to make the most of my time as humanly and as practically possible.

So, yesterday (technically, last weekend) it was another routine badminton session with the usual fellas with the addition of Alan whom you may remember from an outing with Gavin etc. Instead of another outing elsewhere, I thought it would be really cool to demonstrate the capability of the 5D Mark II’s AI Servo that I’ve recently come to discover—its ability to continuously track high and low contrast moving objects with such amazing accuracy itself became an object of fascination for me so I’m now on the quest to discover how much more (of challenging lighting conditions) I can push the technology. So here are shots of me captured by Alan on his 5DII, 24-105 f/4 IS between 1/125-1/160s at ISO 5000. I could have chosen ISO 6400 to get a slightly quicker shutter speed or had him use my 24-70 f/2.8 but no. One should practice with the equipment (however limited an inventory) one owns.

jumpsmash-jan-2a

jumpsmash-jan-1

One of the most exciting and dramatic moments to watch in any badminton game is the jump smash and since none of my partners habitually jump it would be extremely unnatural for them to do so for the camera so once again I volunteered myself and set Alan’s 5DII for the shot. What this means for me is having seen the exposure capabilities of this camera even with an f/4 lens and a low light venue, a future assignment such a national tournament would fare better results providing the venue has better lighting. Speaking of which, I am keen to run a couple of Speedlites and put the Pocket Wizards to good use someday.

jumpsmash-jan-31

Considering the varying low light conditions of the BSRC badminton hall I am extremely pleased with the results and the amount of grain at ISO 5000 (even ISO 6400) is no big deal—easily reduced or even completely removed but at the expense of losing details. I converted these to a toned and tweaked black and white to remove the  unpleasing combination of green walls and brown floors.

So, are you a jumper?

YOUR 2009 FORECAST BY JU XIAN GUAN

It’s frightening how even in the last week of 2008 I wasn’t spared from failure to heed my 2008 forecast. While holidaying in KK, I tried keeping up with my in-laws’ penchant for food indulgence only to succumb to the effects of over eating that left me puking my guts out on the last night of our stay.

Health is good but do not over indulge in food. Take note of food hygiene and avoid eating uncooked food. (Pg 23 of Geomancy Hut 2008 zodiac PDF)

I have a history of being adversely affected by excessive eating so I have to watch my intake. While writing this post, I looked back at an excerpt I had left for myself (above) as a reminder—The Rat Race Comes Full Circle—how inconveniently spooky! Lessons learned: Self-respect and not to take warnings lightly.

Looking forward, the 2009 Forecast by Ju Xian Guan is an interesting crystal ball to give you an idea of your ups and downs for the year. Now, I know the concept of fortune telling has made many of us skeptics especially when scams had somewhat overwhelmed 2008 but my take on luck is a matter of personal belief. Good positive things happen when you believe. Many know about The Secret but very few are believers. Before you take a plunge, read the disclaimer (Metaphysics: the branch of philosophy concerned with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being and knowing).

I thought the following excerpts are interesting to note (and maybe even a chuckle or two):

RAT—Born in 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008
This year is also a good year to invest in properties but remember to manage your financial properly. You must guard against petty people especially when it relates to wealth matters. Also you need to guard yourself against sexual traps. As such, control your alcohol intake. Take care yourself this year as you might get hurt easily. For relationship, you need to exercise more tolerance and understanding.

OX—Born in 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997
Proper income is stable. Scrutinize all documents before you sign. Those born in 1937 can be in deep trouble if invest wrongly. You need to be extra careful this year. Accidents will happen easily.

TIGER—Born in 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998
You need to differentiate who is there to help you and who is there to ruin you. You need to guard yourself against sexual traps and control your alcohol intake. There are people out there to rob you, so be careful when handling money matters. Avoid risky investment and take care of your health. Those already married should steer clear from sexual temptation to avoid getting into trouble. No major issue with health but you have to control yourself against sexual traps and alcohol intake.

RABBIT—Born in 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999
You need to be extra careful this year. Accidents will happen easily. Do not be greedy for windfall luck – there is no such thing as easy money. People will take the opportunity to cheat you. Therefore, do not be too trusting when dealing with investment. Always do your due diligence.

DRAGON—Born in 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000
For those who plan to get married, this year will be a good year to do so. There is offspring luck this year. For man, do show more care to your wife, especially when she is pregnant. Wealth luck is excellent and beneficial for both normal income and windfall luck. You may attempt different type of investment after careful analysis. Business transaction and dealing will be smooth. Since you are in luck, be on your guard against sexual temptation and alcohol to avoid getting into trouble. Don’t be too stress over your new opportunity and busy schedule. Take extra precaution of your digestive systems.

SNAKE—Born in 1929(81), 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001
Do not get involve in gossip as it might back fired and harm you. Treat everybody with upmost respect. Due to bad star influence, this year you will see blood. Take extra precaution when handling matters. If you have sickness, seek treatment immediately. Go for gum cleaning or donate blood. Avoid dangerous games and activities.

HORSE—Born in 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002
Do not be mistaken by the appearance of others. Be on your guard against sexual temptation and alcohol to avoid getting into trouble. Be careful of sexual trap as you might loose money from it. Save for raining day and be thriftier in your spending.

GOAT—Born in 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003
Review all documents carefully before you sign. You hit rock bottom this year on your wealth luck. If can, stop all risky investment this year. Be conservative in managing your wealth. Do not be guarantor and also need to curb your gambling.

MONKEY—Born in 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004
News on promotion or new assignment might be coming your way. Be careful of petty people as people might be jealous with your achievement. Wealth luck is extremely good but don’t show off. Couples should guard against third party.

ROOSTER—Born in 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005
You will have good wealth luck this year. There are a lot of lucky star this year but there is also unlucky star. Be prudent and don’t be too aggressive. Perform your best and your superior will notice. Smooth business deal and good business relationship. There are chances of promotion and overseas assignments.

DOG—Born in 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006
Be mindful of the way you communicate as you might offend the other party without you knowing it. However, be faithful and be careful with sexual trap. Couples will enjoy the company of each other but be careful of third party trying to break the relationship. Those that are unattached will find love this year. Cut down on drinking and sexual activity. There is danger caused by lust.

PIG—Born in 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007
There is constant conflict and argument this year. Be more tolerant, forgiving and understanding. You might lose wealth this year. Be conservative in your expenses. Relationship luck is not good and as such, you will constantly burn out. When outdoor, take extra precaution as you are prone to accident.

Download the full document (PDF ~800KB)
2009 FORECAST BY JU XIAN GUAN