Day 355 : Any Last Words?

The Mayan astronomical long-count calendar that charts the days of a 5,126-year cycle ends tomorrow. That led some early archaeologists and theologians of antiquiry to declare 21.12.2012 as the end of the world!

If Gaia really does get torn apart tomorrow, I wonder what my last word or words will be…

Day 354 : Department Christmas Lunch

Our department had an early Christmas celebration this year to catch everyone before some of us go on leave. Just for fun, we decided on coming to work in red and green today. I wanted to suggest bling as the theme but most of my colleagues, although we are in the creative department, favour functional understatement instead of over-the-top dresscode so two-thirds of a traffic it is.

The year end feasting begins!

Day 353 : Corridor of Shadows

Life is like walking down a HDB corridor at night,

sometimes there is shadow, sometimes there’s light.

My memory is also like this alternating path of shadow and light,

some things I remember, some parts merged with the black, black night.

Day 352 : Dead-End Job?

Another new week to plough through. Is it me or does December feel like it should be an anti-work month? The new year is 2 weeks away and that depressing feeling of under-achievement is coming back from the dead to haunt me again.

Day 351 : Living Rituals

I’ve always found Hindu temples to be somewhat overpowering. If not because of the cacophony of figures on the gopura, then it’s the half-naked temple sages who serve the gods. The temples echanted, but at the same time, intimidated me to go no further than the door.

One of my biggest worries of stepping into a Hindu temple or mosque is that I may upset some rituals or sacred rules. I’m not sure if photography is considered disrepectful except during Thaipusam and if it’s okay to be wandering around the temple halls like a lost soul.

Photographed here is the side wing of Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple along Serangoon Road. As a boy, the giant statue of Hanuman (the monkey god) was the object of my profuse fascination. To this day, whenever I pass by it, the huge green figure continues to be the only thing I see of the temple.

I’ve never once been inside the temple even though I’d pass it by so many times. I hope me and my camera will be welcomed.

Day 350 : Feast on Magic

Attended my colleague’s wedding banquet at M Hotel and it’s one of those very rare occasions where I get to interact with the people I work with 5 days a week outside of the office.

After the dinner, a few of us let loose our lungs at a karaoke session and had a blast of a time! What a night to savour the sweet potion of the Digimagic spirit!

Day 349 : Friend from Taiwan

Whenever I play host to overseas friends, my lack of knowledge about Singapore shows up a little more. Sometimes, my non-local friends bring me to more interesting places on our Little Red Dot than I should have been. With our country being so small and tourist attractions so accessible, it’s embarrassing to admit that all I know about Night Safari, I heard from my non-local friends.

But it’s the same with my vacationing friends. I probably know more about the attractions of Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok than some of the locals. We are all aliens in our own homes… busybodies about what grows in our neighbours’ backyards but too lazy to mow our own lawn. Heh heh.

Tonight, I met up with a friend I made during a trip to Taiwan in August this year and she took me to her hotel. In case your imagination runs wild, I’m here because I’ve not been to Holiday Inn Atrium Hotel and Yuca convinced me it’s worth a look.

She’s right. I was enthralled by the upward tunnel that felt a little dizzying looking down from the top. The circular design has a certain hypnotic draw to it and makes for a geometrically interesting shot. Yuca sure knows how to recommend good stuff!

Bubbly and ever full of life, going on an outing with Yuca is never boring. It’s a pity we didn’t get to spend more time and will have to wait till next time to show her my side feel of Singapore. Hopefully by then, I’ll be a walking encyclopedia of all the interesting places in my homeland!

Day 348 : Disco Mall

Went to see a new sinseh at People’s Park Centre today and popped by the newly renovated Chinatown Point Mall opposite. The rejuvenation is substantial with a major makeover and a stellar line-up of merchants.

But the most captivating of all is the psychedelic domed ceiling. It feels like a discotheque in there now.

Day 347 : Weird Bug

Today is the last time that the day. month and year shares the same number. On this special day, I saw a very unique bug that I haven’t seen at my place before. Is it the start of an invasion?

Day 346 : Bliszard

After the storm, a lizard hung itself out to dry on a fence that I pass by daily to and from work. It held this position blissfully for quite a long time even though its limbs were so thin. Nature is so amazing.

Day 345 : Get Wet Yet?

Lately, when it comes time to feed myself during lunch, nature pours forth sustenance for its green coat as well. Lunchtime has become a contest to stay dry at the office.

Day 344 : Doorbell or Hard Knocks?

Pray anywhere.

Saw a man praying not inside, but outside Jama-ath Mosque’s front courtyard. He was either very spiritual, or desperate. Catching him in his intimate moment of devotion through the closed side gate, I thought about the times I knocked on God’s door but it remained locked.

Prayers are like doorbells. Faith is the batteries that power it so that the chime can sound and call to the Master of the house to open the door. Without batteries, we could still knock, but knocking hurts the hand.

When faith is absent in a prayer, our soul get bruised with all that knocking but receive no answer. I should learn to activate the doorbell.

Day 343 : Dead Cockroach

The only cockroaches I like are dead ones.

Day 342 : Casio Exilim EX-ZR1000 Review

‘C’ is also for ‘Celebrate’… and I have good reasons to coz the kind people at Casio Exilim Singapore gave me their latest compact camera, the EX-ZR1000 to test drive. I get to keep the camera after reviewing so it’s like an early Christmas present from them. Thanks!

The camera is definitely worth getting nuts over with its many ground-cracking functions and features. I foresee a beary good time with it!

The camera comes in white, black and red. I chose rad because it’s so boomz! An innovative feature of the camera is the twist-ring circling the lens that can be programed to control zoom, focus, ISO setting, etc. Although the feature allows for quick access to vital shooting configurations, I’ve yet to find meaningful use of it.

The Ferrari of Compact Cameras

Casio has always been forerunning with their digital watches and calculators but it seems that the maverick of  personal electronic gadgets is carving out a substantial share of the compact camera market with its recent line up of impressive shooters.

Initially, I had my doubts about Casio as a worthy contender of the big boys but having used the EX-ZR100 and EX-ZR200, I was impressed by the photos quality, cam features, ease of use and speed. About 80% of photos taken in my FUNicating 2012 daily shots were the work of either camera.

With Casio EX-ZR1000, the company has brought their compact cameras to another level. This camera is not an enhancement of EX-ZR200 but in a different class because it comes with a flip-up screen, twistable front ring, RAW imaging, and a bevy of features that had me wondering how can so many functions be packed into such a small camera?

To satisfy my curiosity, I went on a shoot of this year’s Christmas decor and lights along Orchard Road to see if the cam is naughty or nice. It was a very brief shoot so I didn’t explore every function or covered all the malls but I think the photos give a pretty good glimpse into what the camera can do and the festive colours electrifying downtown this yuletide…

Shot with ART (HDR Art) Mode. This mode is one of my favourites. It was available in both the EX-ZR100 and 200 models too but ZR1000 took it up a notch with 5 levels of ‘artifying’ your shots. This was taken with level 3 of the HDR Art setting,

The photo on the left is taken under normal auto mode while the one on the right is taken with HDR Art (Ex 1) setting. Compared to the level 3 setting used in the photo above, Ex 1 produces more natural colourations. When shooting in HDR or HDR Art modes, the camera takes 2 photos at once so that you have the option to use the normal auto version or the HDR version.

Lovers under the mistletoe at Mandarin Gallery shot with Casio EX-ZR1000’s P Mode. The photos in this post (except the first 2 shots taken with Instagram) have not been Photoshopped except to resize for quicker uploading.

One of the shooting modes new to Casio compact cams is Light Tone filter that adds a soft glow at the photo edges for a dreamy effect that draws focus to the subject. The filter comes in 3 colours – Yellow, Cyan, and Magenta. This is shot in Cyan.

Shot in ART (HDR Art) mode at level Ex 2. Compared to Ex 1, 2 looks even more natural while hyperising the colours.

More HDR Art mode (Ex 2). Simply love it!

Another in-built camera filter also found in the ART mode is Toy Camera. Again, there are 3 colour modes to choose from and what it does is that it changes the tone and temperature of the shot. This is taken in chrome colour.

Another shot taken in Toy Camera mode. It seems that the filter will turn out different effects depending on the light metering. Compared to the above photo, this shot looks more muted in colour. This is taken with a blue coloured filter.

Also taken in Toy Camera (Green) mode. This colour kinda turned the whole Christmas mood around to Halloween!

The Casio EX-ZR1000 comes with a Manual and Shutter Priority shooting modes that are really useful for long exposure photography.

Tunnel of light at Orchard Central. Experimented with long exposure (2 secs) while riding up the escalator in this shot. God knows how many times I got on and off the escalator to get this shot! To shoot this, I placed the cam on a mini Gorillapod and set it on the escalator. With a conventional compact cam, I would not be able to frame my shot but with EX-ZR1000’s flip screen, I could see what I am shooting. It gives me the flexibility to shoot from weird angles!

Another photo made possible by the flip screen which allowed me to frame myself. I placed the camera on the escalator, set it on Manual and self-timer, and posed as we rode the moving stairs down the tunnel of light. There are so many ways to have fun with the camera!

Wave goodbye to bad self-portraits. Casio Exilim ZR1000 comes with a revoluntionary motion sensing technology for self and group shots. This photo was taken by placing the camera on a platform, framing the scene, walking into it and adjust my position by looking at the flip-up screen till I’m satisfied. Then I simply waved at the camera for the shot to be taken. So cool!

Orchard Central’s wintry forest decor won this year’s Best Dressed Building along Orchard Road for Christmas 2012. I wish the white reindeer was facing the camera though.

When the surrounding is too messy, use the EX-ZR1000’s ART (Miniature) mode to blur out the distracting elements while keeping a sharp focus on the subject.

There are a few positions to select where the focus can be placed in horizontal or vertical framing. The above photo was taken with the in-focus strip placed to cam right and this was taken with the strip placed in the middle.

Get dizzy this Christmas with a kaleidoscope of you! This pop-up photo booth added a touch of crystal magic outside Wisma Atria. shot in P Mode.

A starry, starry night. This is a shot inside the gigantic walk-in Christmas tree at ION Orchard. For this shot, I set the camera to self-timer mode, placed it on the floor and framed the photo with the flip-up screen. No longer do I have to approximate my framing when placing my cam on the ground for such wide angle shots. Nice!

As I mentioned, this test-drive session was very short but I’m very satisfied with the results, especially since the photos were taken at night. Night photography is one of the best way to test how good a compact camera is because many struggle to capture well-exposed pictures without the graininess of high ISO settings. From the photos here, you can see that they are blemish-free.

On top of the impressive store of in-camera shooting modes, what makes the Casio EX-ZR1000 truly outstanding is its speed. It is built with dual-core processors which translates to amazing speed. The camera has a very fast sleep-to-shoot startup time and its incredible ability to take sharp images under any condition is the result of its high speed capabilities. Casio EX-ZR1000 is definitely the Ferrari of compact cams and it pretty affordable at only S$599!

Will be taking the camera out for more photography escapades so do check back for more shots taken with it on this blog. 🙂

Day 341 : Daydreaming

This is the scene I see in front of my office desk. Sometimes I look really hard to try and see inside the condo units. One day, an older gentleman sat at his balcony for a long time staring at my direction. I wonder if he was looking at the row of pre-war shophouses that my office is located in and dreaming of owning one.

I dream about the dream he is living and the dream he could be dreaming.

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