April, 2012

now browsing by month


Weekends and 35mm – Part 4

I just realized that it’s been a month since I posted up pictures of Hannah using the 35mm! She’s just about a month away to three years old, and we’ve been teaching her to recognize the significance of her coming birthday too (see picture below!). She’s also picked up the birthday cake she wants: it’ll be my favorite too: the Green Tea Mocha cake from BreadTalk. Our angmo bud is definitely very familiar with that cake.=)

We’ve been getting her to count her twenty birthdates too. And it goes something like that: “Hannah is going to be three years old! After that, four years old! After that five years old! … etc… all the way to twenty.”


“Hannah is going to be three years old!”


Shot a couple of stops down from f1.8 – at f2.2. The living room was a little dark with strong lighting in the background too.


A beautiful smile from our girl.=)

The shops here have finally receive substantial stocks of the Olympus EM5. DPReview has given it a solid thumbs-up too. Must… resist… temptation!

Recording Moments

Our friend from our cell-group recently gave birth to her first born. During her months of pregnancy, Ling had lots of sharing about our own experiences of having Hannah as our first born, the equipment and apparel she  used  – I chuckled that she was like a walking infomercial – and for myself, I encouraged the new father to be to take lots of pictures of the maternity, and especially during the birthing days too.

It sort of brings to mind nearly three years ago when Hannah was born, and the crazy things I was doing! Basically, running a minute by minute blog of Hannah’s birth in the ward, and the hundreds of pictures and videos I took.

And speaking of that; I came across a cute cartoon strip about do’s and don’ts when recording births.=)

Source and many more here at this link.=)

Useful Tips for Kitchen & Such – Keeping a Small, Blunt Knife

A blunt knife can be useful too :)

We have a humble collection of kitchen knives for all kinds of mincing, dicing, slicing, chopping and hacking action. There is however one particular knife which I deliberately left it blunt over the years. This knife has found a niche in the kitchen where no other knife can claim its place. Its role is to cut soft foods such as silken tofu and century eggs on my palm.

Yes, on my palm, and with lots of care of course! :) IMO, it is easier to invert silken tofu from its container onto my palm and cut it straight away into small cubes and drop them into soup as compared to cutting it on a chopping board and then risk bruising those delicate cubes during the transfer into the soup. I also like to cut century egg on my palm as I hate having to scrub the sticky black yolk off the chopping board during washing later.

Yeah, I’m pretty proud of my blunt knife. :P

Hannah @ 20mm f1.7 – Part 2

Another weekend with the Lumix 20mm f1.7, and still waiting for demonstration units of the Olympus OMD EM5 to get to Courts for me to try out.=) I think I’ve found the lens’ sweet spot for center sharpness – and it’s at f2.8 for me. The top two were taken yesterday morning just after lunch. She’s drinking from her favorite cup.=)



This picture below was taken a week ago just before we headed out of home on our workday morning. She has that meter long snake toy draped around her neck.=)


Useful Tips for Kitchen & Such – Storing Rice

When we were newly weds, the rate at which Yang and I consumed rice at home was slow. This was partly due to the fact that we didn’t cook frequently at home. Although it might be more economic to buy a pack of 10 kg rice, we always get the 5 kg pack as we prefer not to take a long time to finish up the rice.

If we kept the rice for too long, weevils would start to appear in it. Yang’s cousin shared with us a simple and easy solution to prevent the pest infestation. Just throw a couple of garlic cloves into the rice pack and those devils would never appear! What a nice way to use up those excessive garlic cloves which we tend to have at home too. :)

No more weevils! :D

Useful Tips for Kitchen & Such – Cutting Chillies

Being a novice at cooking and baking, I’m constantly learning how to be efficient, effective and smart in the kitchen. Yang would tell you that I have a long way to go – and it’s true.

When it comes to cutting chillies, do you use a knife or a pair of scissors? I used to chop chillies on a chopping board. What I greatly disliked was the spiciness left on my fingers and the chopping board. It was hard to remove by washing and I often rub my eyes with my fingers after that! Yeah, silly me and imagine the burning sensation my poor eyes were suffering from. And if I cut fruits on the same chopping board within a short period of time, I get fruits laced with chilli flavour. :(

I have since learnt to cut chillies with a pair of scissors instead. Just hold the green stalks while cutting the chillies and none of my fingers will come into contact with the spicy chemicals (i.e. capsaicin) of the cut chillies.

A simple and neat solution! :)

Chilli padi …. ssssSSSS…..AAHHHHHH!!!

Fujifilm X100 – Revisited

I’ve been reading up a lot on the Fujifilm X100, X-Pro 1 and Sony Nex 7, but nothing beats taking the cameras out for the weekend and putting it through the places. Not that I had kakis (that means ‘buddies’ for our ang mo friend) who own Nex 7s and X-Pro1s, but I did have a student who had the X100, which I borrowed for an evening in February this year. So, I loaned it again for this weekend.


The Fujifilm X100 and my Olympus E-PL2.

At the end of three days with it and taking predominantly indoor pictures of Hannah, my feelings of the X100 are still decidedly mixed. The autofocus speed seems to have improved since the latest version 1.21 firmware update. ISO1600 pictures are easily usable, center sharpness is amazing even when wide-open, and this particular unit had no start-up time issues with its class 4 SD card (some users report very slow start-ups). The built-in flash always delivers exactly the right amount of light.

The many niggling difficulties I had in February are still there though. For some reason, a very large number of my pictures still come out unfocused even when the camera registers a focus lock. And the exposures – oh my –  can go all over the place when I do a Program-Shift. Even when the camera reports that the picture will be correctly exposed when I dial in f2.8 in Aperture-Priority, it’s not – which necessitates exposure compensation using its dial (the dial’s also pretty loose and a couple of shots had compensations accidentally nocked in without my noticing). And it’s very easy to insert the battery the wrong way.

I’m pretty sure I still don’t know the camera well-enough to be able to easily work with its quirks. From all counts from many others who own the X100, there’s a learning curve for this camera, and once you’ve mastered it, you’re able to produce amazing pictures consistently.

That’s the long and short of it for me. I’m just not certain if I want to be spending that kind of time trying to learn how to work with it. Not when cameras like my D7000 and E-PL2 don’t challenge me this way, leaving me to concentrate on composition and capturing the right moments, assured that images taken on them will always be properly exposed and focused.

Oh well; who knows – I may just end up going for the X-Pro 1 at some point.=)


Hannah with her two submersible toys that she brings with her when swimming. f2, ISO800, 1/60s, flash-fired.


With Mommy.=) f2, ISO1000, 1/60s, flash-fired.


Incredibly, taken at low light and without flash. The camera’s high ISO sensitivity is outstanding. f2, ISO1600, 1/38s.


The picture was over-exposed by one stop that was accidentally dialed in; managed to correct it in post-processing, thankfully. f2, ISO400, 1/120s.

Heading out for our noon-time swim! f5.6, ISO400, 1/300s.


Ling bought our girl a toy xylophone from Kiddy Palace.=) f2, ISO1600, 1/30s, flash-fired.

Bedtime routines! f2, ISO800, 1/30s, flash-fired.


Hannah has been with her nursery school for a full one term of 10 weeks now. The both of us decided it was about time to speak to her teachers and see how she’s been in school. We do get the regular report cards, updates from her Nanny who picks her up after school everyday, but nothing beats talking to her teachers on-site.

We made the decision to drive her to school this very morning, and with the benefit of hindsight now, we might not want to do it again. Hannah bawled when we tried to leave her with her teachers. She normally has no difficulty arriving in school by her bus everyday, so it was just separation anxiety again on her part. Her wore her very swollen eyes from that wailing for the rest of the school morning, up till when we returned to pick her up and speak to both her teachers. From them: Hannah gets along very well with her classmates and seems quite well-adjusted and happy, and loves to sing. Then again, her teacher remarked that when Hannah cries, she takes forever to stop LOL.

I was also taken aside by her Chinese teacher too who’d noticed that Hannah seems rather disinterested when her class watches videos of Chinese songs to learn the language, and asked if we speak Mandarin at home. Whoops – the truth is out now.=(

Pictures. These were all taken after school when we picked her up.


And this was 2 hours after her arrival-in-school wailing. Eyes still real swollen! She’s wearing Crocs too as Fridays are when she has her water activities at school.


Clinging onto Mommy. She barely whimpered her goodbyes to her teacher.


The toy-snake we bought her last weekend couldn’t cheer her up either.


She finally cheered up a little over lunch at Toast Box. Shortly thereafter when we went to a store to look for a toy drum set (she’d been asking for it), she had a, well, bodily function accident.

It was a pretty tough day, if the number of times she bawled is any indication. She bawled in the morning at school, bawled at the store when she had that ‘accident’, bawled when she didn’t want to go to her Nanny’s in the afternoon, and bawled when she was put to bed.


A short video taken over the weekend using the Canon IXUS HS115 + WP-DC310L. I had some difficulty transcoding the original video file onto Flickr, hence the rather weird letterbox around the video below. Might work on it later again.

The camera captured a full 1920×1080 HD video at 24fps, but possibly in part because of the amount of water motion in the pool, the source bit rate was also extremely high. This Dell XPS 16 quadcore notebook struggled mightily to keep up during playback, though the desktop fared much better. Audio was in mono only though, but the case somehow allowed for sound pickups even underwater – nice.=)

Hannah was pretty excited in the pool – she’s going “I’m swimming!!” several times in the clip.

Hannah @ 20mm f1.7

A wrap up of several hundred pictures taken over the long weekend. These ones here were all on the Lumix 20mm f1.7. This prime lens remains fixed on my E-PL2 pretty much all the time, though now that I’ve used this lens for about 9 months now, I get much better results when in average lighting and better. I wonder if the pictures have hit the limit of what the relatively small sensors in the micro four-thirds standards can muster when in low light (the soon to be released Olympus OMD EM-5 supposedly improves on this though).

I’ve been keeping an eye on the Sony NEX 7, the Fujifilm X100 and X-Pro 1, but I’ve got issues with all three of them of one or another; horrendous pricing (X-Pro 1), not the focal length I most shoot at (X100), and lack of affordable fast primes (NEX 7). The funniest thing though is that Ling has already given me the ‘blessing’ to get the X100 after I took some lovely pictures of Hannah a few months ago using a loaned unit from my student. More on that in another post Iater.

In the mean time…


ISO640, f1.7, 1/500s at Hougang Mall’s Fairprice. Weird that the camera chose a higher ISO but faster shutter speed. That hoodie she’s wearing is cute, especially with the hood up.


ISO200, f2, 1/90s and at home with the early morning sun reaching through the living room windows.


ISO200, f2.8, 1/90s at Seletar Kopitiam @ Greenwich. The latter’s apparently inspired by Holland Village, and has become one of our favorite brunch places. Parking is limited and pretty expensive though.


ISO1600, f2.8, 1/45s. She’s got a new habit now – having her weekend afternoon naps on our bed. Ling was afraid that she’d roll off the bed, so we usually surround her with pillows.=)