It’s semester break for the students at my institution, though not really so for faculty. Still, it does make available small periods in which I can clear the huge bunch of Annual Leave I’ve accumulated. It’s harder to get Hannah to smile naturally for the camera these days. Not impossible – we just find ourselves having to work a lot harder than before! I suspect it’s to do with the fact that she’s wised up to my antics when she sees a camera pointing in her general direction. In fact, she understands this whole concept of picture-taking now, what with Ling lending her her Sony camera to try taking pictures of us.:)
The first group of pictures here below were taken across two weeks; last weekend and this couple of days.
Dinner @ Qiji. She’s still decorating her seat with toys.
Yesterday evening at home and during daddy-daughter play-time.
As before, she’s at her most chirpy just after her evening shower and during these bonding sessions.
These are bounced flash shots using a Metz digital flashgun with the E-M5. Lighting’s a bit harsh. I can never get the same kind of natural lighting with this Metz/E-M5 as I can with the SB600/D7000.
This morning just before we headed out of home.
Still with her favorite sheep.
All smiles, but trust me when I say she’s developed ‘moods’!
These two below were with the D7000 + 35mm f1.8 while we were out at Serangoon Nex for weekend brunch @ Swensens. I’ve picked up a Bosstrap – similar to our Ang Mo bud’s one – a couple of weeks ago and have it semi-permanently tethered to the D7000 now, though bringing a D7000 with a gunsling-styled strap out to a very public shopping center still makes me feel a tad conspicuous!
Playing with Mommy’s Neo Xperia V handphone.
Pretty OK bokeh at f2; though nothing as nice as what you’d get at this aperture with a full-frame. Center sharpness is nothing shot of amazing too.
The Sigma 70-20mm f2.8 has been getting neglected, so it was time to take it out for a spin over the weekend. The amazing bokeh that Matt’s 1.8mm lenses on his full-frame D800 was still clear in my memory. A crop-sensor body like the D7000 is disadvantaged in the depth of field immediately achievable, so the compensating factor here is a lens with longer focal length. The pictures here were taken at home, and at a short visit to the Lorong Halus wetland (somewhat underwhelming). All at between 70-120mm, and excepting the pond shot, at f2.8.
Just woke up from her afternoon nap, and still feeling quite lethargic.
Funny story. Hannah had just learned how to sing the National Anthem.
Me: “Gaah. She’s growing up so fast. We don’t have much time before she brings home her first boyfriend!”
Ling snorted in derision: “What makes you think she’ll bring him home to see us?”
North-Eastern Riverine Loop on a hot and humid Sunday late afternoon.
A pond at the Wetlands. Didn’t quite have the right lens for macro shots though.
We’re lucky Hannah didn’t insist on getting carried. That 2 hour hike carrying her up to the waterfall at Telunas still lingers in our minds.=)
One of Hannah’s favorite evening routines is to do sticker book exercises with us. Ling first bought her one such book at the start of the year, and it contained several hundred stickers spread out over 36 pages. That book lasted Hannah a good month or so, after which she asked us for more. Since January then, I’ve gone on to buy seven more such books; about half from Amazon.UK, and the other half from Book Depository – both stores have different discount policies, pricing and availability. I’ve mostly assumed sticker book time from Ling for the last several months now. It’s become a routine that Hannah looks forward to every night, and will even raise a ruckus if either of us even shows a moment’s delay for this activity time with her. And after this activity, we’ll usually close off with another 10 minutes of play time with her toys, usually involving me throwing her big duck up high and letting her catch it!
The funny thing though is that Hannah doesn’t always want to peel and paste stickers into the book herself. She seems quite contend to get us to read the page’s descriptive text to her, and for her then to select which stickers to peel/paste first. Starting this week, I’ve been trying to diversify these evening activities and include wholly reading activities back instead. It’s working well so far, as long as I give her plenty of advance notice that “we’ll be reading books tonight” rather than “doing sticker books”.
Couple of pictures from one evening ago. This was after our sticker book activity; I got her to hang around a bit longer for me to snap these.
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!
We last visited the Jurong Bird Park in Oct 2009, and that was largely an inspired reaction to the amazing sights we saw at the Bali Bird Park. That was shortly after Hannah joined our family, so she didn’t join us as a newborn on that trip. We did the SIngapore Zoo family outing last June, so this holiday today, it was the Bird Park’s turn again.
The trip didn’t turn out very well though. Weather was all bad from mid-morning onwards, starting with a fierce overcast, then drizzles, and finally lightning warnings and park announcements asking for visitors to vacate the children’s park areas. Hannah was a little grouchy too (she was suffering from a slightly blocked nose); so we ended up just visiting a few attractions, the Lory Loft, and the Birds of Prey show.
This was also the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8’s second outing, and I’m pretty happy with the lens. Saw a lot of persons with Canon L and Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 lenses, so no I didn’t feel very special.=)
All with the D7000 + Sigma 70-200mm, excepting the last family picture. Hannah struggled with her smile in this one.=)
The Sigma 24-60mm f2.8 saw a lot of use when Hannah was a year old, but hasn’t been anymore of late since I picked up the 35mm and did micro-AF tuning of the 50mm. I picked up the full-frame lens for a terrific bargain at SGD385 in 2008, and that price only because it was getting replaced by a newer and much more expensive model. The lens initially had some back-focus issues with the old D300, but after calibration at the Sigma Service Center, it has become the sharpest all-rounded lens I’ve got, alongside the 35mm.
Here’s a bunch of pictures taken casually this evening just before Hannah went to bed. I was fooling around with the flash unit’s wireless mode, basically haphazardly tossing it onto our dressing table – and not noticing that the table’s half-height mirror was right beside it, sending light all over the room and casting nasty shadows about.
Lesson learnt of course. Hannah’s poses were, as always, priceless though.=)
The 35mm f1.8D was taken out for a spin last weekend. This weekend, it was the 50mm f1.8D’s turn. I shot a whole bunch of pictures of Hannah wide-open, and as before, at f1.8 pictures were a little soft. Sigh. When stopped down to f2.8, things improved quite a bit, though wide-open my 50mm just can’t match the 35mm in center sharpness.
At our family home in Lentor. Hannah can bite off an apple now - a new achievement that Ling observed on Saturday. Shot at ISO800, f1.8, 1/160s. The picture was a little soft at this aperture.
Back at home, and at ISO1600, f2.8, 1/125s. Much better image sharpness.
Ling getting Hannah to show the number two, and at ISO400, f2.8, 1/160s.
Our girl is just about 2 months away from turning three. We’ve just finally taught her to say out loud how old we each are at home; i.e. “Hannah is two and a half years old. Daddy is 40 years old. Mommy is 37 years old!” Just a month ago, she was saying “Mommy is 70 years old” – and Ling would turn white at it.=)
I’m torn between the two f1.8 primes for the D7000 – the 35mm and 50mm! After the in-body micro AF adjustments, the 35mm is sharp now in the image center now, and the 50mm slightly less so. The 35mm seems to give better color reproduction than the 50mm, but on the other hand, the latter seems to focus just a very small bit faster. The bunch of pictures below were taken on the 35mm this time, and at our weekly Sunday brunch with parents.=)
She's been chewing on her lips a little - it's a little swollen on the lower lip.
Her luggage this morning was a couple of books, one of which was a Mandarin book she wanted granddad to read to her.
Hoping her double-chin goes away when she grows older!
Getting fed egg tarts. Just prior to this she gobbled up roti pratas. The girl eats everything!
Getting tutored in Mandarin by granddad.=)
The more pictures I take of Hannah, the more I’m convinced it’s incredibly hard to take pictures of children! Specifically; they don’t pose on demand, and they’re constantly on the move. Out of say every one hundred pictures I take of Hannah, roughly about three quarters would be usable (as in in-focus + correctly exposed + acceptable composition with cropping), and of that number, perhaps just a quarter of them would be memorable.
The biggest challenge I face now is subject motion – Hannah will not remain still. So the only thing left for me to do is to ramp up the shuttle-release speed to 1/250s or faster when possible , and it’s not always so unless there’s reasonably good light. Shooting wide open at f1.8 isn’t always viable either, with the shallow depth-of-field I have to deal with as I typically take pictures of Hannah up-close.
In any case; pictures taken today on Sunday, and just before we headed out for dad’s birthday lunch at Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant.=)
At Greenwich's kopitiam. Hannah was moving about, so some sharpening was necessary in post-processing.
Getting fed french-toast for her breakfast.=)
She wasn't really dressed to play in the water feature area of the compound, so we'll return here on another date for more pictures.
The sunflowers at Lentor were in full-bloom. There's a bee collecting nectar which you can just about spot in the lower-left flower.=)
Shot with the very non-macro 35mm, and as far as minimum focusing distance allowed me to!
Hannah learning from Daddy.=)
Lucky moments like these where I can get a picture which captures our girl in a memorable moment.=)
Using the 35mm, and at ISO800 f1.8. Hannah's often at her most cheerful self right after her evening bath, and here she is playing with her hair accessory tube.=)