I’m Alive.

Wow, time certainly flies.

I must admit, this blog has been neglected for the better part of the last 2 years now, simply because between juggling my day job at the bank and family time, I haven’t had the chance to really get out there and shoot. Of course, this is how all hobbies die a slow and painful death - when no matter how much that hobby still interests you, you keep putting it off, and slowly but surely, it gets more and more difficult to get back into it.

At the same time, on a more personal level, I felt like I had hit a bit of a creative rut, when I was actually looking at my own pictures and thinking to myself how bored I was with that look I had been so used to for so long. A part of me was telling me to stick to something familiar, yet I wanted to try something different.

And so, in the interest of keeping my hobby alive, I set out to study the pictures of other photographers I loved, and started thinking of what I liked about their images. Pulling up a recent picture of Loch Ard Gorge which I had visited late last year, I then got to work in Adobe Lightroom, and below you will find the updated result. Honestly, I’m definitely liking the revised edit, but who knows, maybe a few months down the road I’ll find myself in the same situation again.

What do you think? Which edit would you choose?

Loch Ard Gorge - Revised edit

Original edit which I had done shortly after returning from the trip. As you can see, it’s not much different from the raw file.

Just for kicks, the original image in its raw, unedited format.

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Sony A7III on Amazon
Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM

Jupiter 9 85mm f2 with the Sony A7R2

Ever since I started venturing into wedding photography, I've realised one thing about the modern lenses of today. They're razor sharp, quick to focus, optically perfect - every pixel-peeper's dream. Sometimes though, I find that their renderings tend to get a little clinical, and the anti-reflective coatings are just so good that, try as I might, I can't get the lens to flare when I want it to. Those of us who've been looking at wedding photography for awhile now will probably notice that a large number of photographers incorporate the use of lens flares to give their image that extra magic touch.

So my search for a not-so-perfect lens began.

Enter the Jupiter-9 85mm f2. Made in the Soviet Union in 1958 (they started production in the 40s though), this lens costs just over a hundred bucks on eBay, but what a gem it is! Testament to its hardy construction, you can still find them in great condition today despite their age.

Jupiter 9 85mm f2 on the Sony A7R2.

Mounting it on my Sony A7R2, the first thing I noticed was how small and lightweight it is. But what really drew me to this lens were of course the images it creates. Feathery, painter-like background blur reminiscent of the lenses of yesteryear, yet sharp in the centre even wide open. Due to its older, less advanced coatings, the lens flares like a beast when shooting into the sun too! It has a click-less aperture ring, making it ideal for video, though stabilising an 85mm focal length may be quite a challenge.

All in all, a cheap and good buy that I'm really happy with!

Check out the images below for a quick test-run I did with the lens in Botanic Gardens!

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If you like what you’re seeing and intend to purchase some of the items, do consider using my affiliate links. Every little contribution matters in helping me create more content for this site. Thank you!
Sony A7R2 on Amazon

Drone Photography With The DJI Mavic!

Most people who have known me long enough will know that I'm pretty much a gadget person. Electric scooters, unicycles, cameras.. I've tried them all. Earlier this year though, I managed to get my grubby hands on the DJI Mavic drone, and this was one entirely different beast. I mean I've played with all sorts of techy stuff, but none that could actually fly!

Fast forward a few months now, and I've learned how to make this drone work for me and am absolutely loving it! I am, however, losing out on my beauty sleep thanks to the desire to head out early in the morning for sunrise shoots. It's really given me a whole new perspective to shoot from, and I must say it's kind of addictive. Well enough talk.. Here's just some of the stuff that you can do with it!

A 360 degree view of the sunrise at Marina Bay.

A boat in the sunset at Marina Bay.

Cape Amarin in Phuket

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If you like what you’re seeing and intend to purchase some of the items, do consider using my affiliate links. Every little contribution matters in helping me create more content for this site. Thank you!
DJI Mavic Pro on Amazon

Gardens by the Bay Walkabout

I actually feel a little embarrassed about it, but I'll admit that tourists probably know the Gardens by the Bay grounds a whole lot better than me, simply because I have never really bothered to walk around it much. The closest I normally get to it is when I cycle along the pathways facing the water when heading from or towards Marina Barrage.

So yesterday when I was feeling a little more free, I decided to drop by the gardens for a stroll and to recce some potential shooting locations. Turns out, it's not too shabby a place. There's plenty of spaces to take a few good shots, and there are some really private locales for times when you don't want too many people in the background of your pictures. Need to remind myself to bring the insect repellent in future though. The bugs there do come out in force after dark, as I discovered while waiting for the sun to set to take the few shots below.

In any case, a fruitful trip, with some new locations added for a wedding shoot if I so decide to head there!

Dragonfly Lake at Gardens by the Bay

Another angle of Dragonfly Lake. The Supertrees!

Of old lenses and retro film vibes.

Happy days! I finally managed to get my hands on an adapter (albeit borrowed) to fit my old Nikon lenses on my Sony A7RII and oh, how it has breathed new life into them.

There's just something about the older glass. Their lack of razor sharp details, that busy background blur, the bloom and fringing, but somehow all those little imperfections come together to give that lens a character.. a soul. 

So that very same day, I was out and about with my Nikon 35mm f2D mounted, and wow it was all retro vibes. It's not exactly the oldest lens, but it's got plenty of character! Looks like I'm going to be spending quite a bit of time with this combo!

Stranger stranger.

The sunset was really magical that day. Couldn't help but process the pics with a warm, vintage film vibe!

One of my favourite spots for a sunset shoot. The lotus pond at the MBS Art Science Museum.

Strangers are just friends that you have never met.

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If you like what you’re seeing and intend to purchase some of the items, do consider using my affiliate links. Every little contribution matters in helping me create more content for this site. Thank you!
Sony A7R2 on Amazon
Nikon 35mm f2 AF:D on Amazon

Rainy Days and Milky Ways

So the skies decided to open up this morning after the long weekend, almost as if it had heard the collective groan of the workforce as they dragged themselves out of bed for work. It's days like these that most of us would rather be at home just lazing away, but unfortunately, I wasn't one of those lucky ones, so I ended up in the office like everyone else... (I work in the financial industry by the way.. I would never groan if getting out of bed meant taking pictures!)

I did make it a point, however, to revisit some of my old photos when I got back, and I found myself back at the album of one of my favourite trips where I visited New Zealand's South Island right between winter and spring in 2015.

The Mackenzie region in the South Island is one of very few gold-rated international dark sky reserves, and rightly so. The skies there are so dark and free of light pollution that one can easily see the Milky Way with the naked eye on a clear night. Being someone who loves astrophotography, I definitely made it a point to grab as many shots as I could of the skies, spending many a night out in freezing conditions just to get a few shots.

Here's a few pictures from that trip!

Milky Way at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo

Milky Way at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo

The galactic centre of the Milky Way setting behind the mountains at Mount Cook Village

The galactic centre of the Milky Way setting behind the mountains at Mount Cook Village

Milky Way at the beach in Kaikoura

Milky Way at the beach in Kaikoura

I can't write... But I can take a picture.

It's been a long time since I last maintained a blog, and I must admit that my writing skills definitely aren't as good as they used to be when I was diving into book after book during my academic days. Come to think of it, I used to score A's and distinctions for English back in school...

Anyway, while I've lost touch with my writing and vocabulary, I think I've at least gotten better at taking pictures, and you know how they say pictures speak a thousand words. Definitely a much better way of telling a story than trying to churn out words to meet that minimum word count for an essay.

It's only been a few days since the launch of Magic Dust Pictures, and I've already begun receiving some positive feedback from friends and even from the awesome website analytics that Squarespace provides. Slowly but surely, this space will grow, and once I sort out some other stuff, maybe even a Prints section will come up where I will be putting up various types of pictures for sale.

Sunset at Marina Bay Sands - 22 June 2017

In the meantime, here's a picture of the awesome sunset at Marina Bay Sands Singapore while I was on the way home yesterday. Stay tuned for more updates!

A New Beginning

Magic Dust Pictures is live! It has been a long time coming, and I can't describe how excited I am to finally be taking this step forward.

The website is mostly done save for a few little details, and the Instagram and Facebook pages are still works in progress. However, I am available for bookings if you decide to let me have the privilege of working with you!