YC's Photography Pages

Welcome to my newly revamped photo and travel pages. I realised that its a bit hard to separate the two since quite a lot of my more interesting photographs are taken overseas.

To give credit where credit is due, I've always been impressed by the following websites:

Steve Hoffmann Photography

One thing to note is that their photographs are so good, they don't waste time designing fancy graphical interfaces for their websites as that will only take up precious bandwidth that would otherwise be used for downloading photographs. So here it is, my text based :-

Photography Menu

Photographs of my new cat, Rawls. (New! May '00)

UK'99 photographs


Flowers at the Botannical Gardens 

(circa 1992)


When I first started out, I went to the Botannical Gardens on Sat or Sun evening after the rain to practice on one of my favourite subjects. They basically stay in one place and all you have to do is wait for the wind to stop (and it never seems to).

Picture 1 (134 Kb)
Detail of Picture 1 (32 Kb)
unretouched detail of a 1200dpi photosmart scan for those interested in the technical stuff
Picture 2 (78 Kb)

The lens involved in both these photographs was a Vivitar 105 mm Macro manual focus lens for Pentax and the film is the Ektar 100, no longer available in Singapore, sigh. (Kodak Singapore gets its film from Australia I think)  This goes to show that no matter how bad a manufacturer's zoom lenses are, its really, really hard to make a bad 105mm Macro. (Or maybe people who buy 105mm Macros aren't easily fooled by silly manufacturer claims and so lens manufacturers have to cater to them by actually building goods lenses :))

Thailand 1992

This was less than a year after I got my Pentax Z-10. Went to Thailand right after the army coup. Could see the bullet holes in the walls around town.

Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn (2 pictures, 66Kb and 72Kb)


Orchids at Home (1998)

Ektachrome 400:
Picture 1 (68 Kb)
Picture 2 (69 Kb)
As for this photo, I'm thinking: flying toasters. I get the impression that the orchids are whizzing past from left to right... or maybe I'm just nuts :)

Sensia II:
White Orchid (86 Kb)
White Bougainvillea (105 Kb)
White Orchid 2 (78 Kb)
Ok, who moved that protruding petal into the foreground? :)Yeah, I do like white flowers a lot as you can tell. For some reason, the more photogenic flowers around my house are the white ones. I've always been impressed by Fuji slide film (as opposed to their print film). If you look through a microscope, Fuji's grain appears finer.

White Orchid 2 was a second try with a black background. Taken into the morning after a slight drizzle (hence the water droplets) at f/16 with daylight balanced fill from a softbox (SB-26 with Sto-fen omni bounce attached to a Photoflex Litedome XS)

UK 1993

I spent 29 days 27 nights on a Britrail-pass trip around the UK. This was my first time I went on holiday by myself and after lugging around a 20 kg backpack PLUS camera bag and tripod, I lost 5 kg. Since this was my first time out, I chose a safe english-speaking place like UK I went in May, and the weather was very bad for photography. No blue skies, just a white sky that messes up the exposure. Mix of Fuji and Gold 200 & Ektar 100.

Stained Glass window (left side) (102 Kb)
Stained Glass window (the other side) (109 Kb)
I'm pretty pleased at how this shot turned out.The colour saturation is wonderful (I didn't need to pump it up after scanning)  I just spot metered for the stained glass and shot. Of course, because I'm looking up, the perspective is skewed. I've always been on the lookout for an opportunity to improve on this shot by saying, finding a place where I can shoot stained glass for a higher vantage point, but they don't seem to build Cathedrals with photographers in mind.

Snowy Owl (58 Kb)
Once again, this shows that subject matter is everything. Visitors to my office always notice this photograph.

Loch Lomond (44 Kb)
And by yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes... Want to see what English weather is really like? Taken while on a short cruise round the loch in the afternoon. Cokin ND filter. If I convert this Kodak Gold 200 shot to grayscale... theres not much difference :)

Euro 1996

I went back to the UK again to meet my cousin. She was still having exams, so I visited Old Trafford and watched Germany v Czech Republic, and went back to the Lake District again, but this time, I based myself in Keswick. Film is exclusively Kodak EPP-100.

Elterwater Tarn
I took a short 10 km hike from Hawkshead to Elterwater and it  had to rain. Still, Elterwater Tarn is a really beautiful place and this photo doesn't do justice to it. My excuse was that it was raining, the wind was blowing, and my little tripod was fully extended to clear an annoying fence.

Blue Skies the next day
The only thing good about rain is that after the rain, for a short period, you actually get blue skies for a few hours, and of course, I wasn't near any of the top scenic spots.

Vienna: Building and foreground flowers (90 Kb)
One thing I learned pretty early is that in any touristy place, most of the people are only day trippers in tour buses and that the place will empty out after 6 pm. Imagine how this photo would have turned out if there were crowds of people around :) Something I learned later is that buildings are really boring by themselves. They exist as part of a larger environment, therefore, some foreground interest, [flowers always preferable :)] should be added. I tried to make a print from this, but the sky went completely white. After scanning and using the magic wand and auto-levels, I restored colour to the picture.

Vienna: Opera House (53 Kb)
Dim slides like this gives the Photosmart a lot of problems as it can't read detail in the dark areas and instead gives you the dreaded 'green-dot-grid'. The only way to correct appears to be to adjust the levels and allow those areas to go to black. By the way, the exposure here was program mode, and the F70 did a good job with the slide.

Germany: View of the Rhine (78 Kb)
If you're driving in Germany, you can't get lost if you follow the river. With this philosophy in mind, I followed the Rhine, the Moselle, and the Neckar :) Also, you have plenty of opportunities to turn out from the road and go up to some old castle and look down on the river. Just look for the brown tourist information signs while driving.

Frankfurt: Tram at Night (66 Kb)
More for rail enthusiasts, but I really like the colour schemes of the Frankfurt trams, not to mention that most of them have pristine paint jobs. The problem with photographing trams is that the urban clutter background is distracting. Solution? Try a night shot, well this was sometime after 8 pm and we had dinner at a very nice beer garden. I left the exposure for this shot entirely to the F70's program mode. The flash was the built in pop-up flash. Handheld. The photosmart has difficulty reading detail in the dark areas and the dreaded green-dots reappear. Solution as usual is to adjust levels to darken them till they disappear.

Swiss Trains


Hi-Fi, computers, photography and now trains. Short intro. In case you didn't know, Switzerland is famous for its many scenic train rides. Mind you, these rail routes were originally built for purely practical reasons, but one can't help but marvel at the beauty of the scenery it passes through and the marvellous bridges and tunnels. The province of Graübünden in the Southeast is home to 2 famous rides, the Bernina and Glacier Expresses.

Glacier Express on the Move (71 Kb)
I'm pretty pleased with this shot. Yes, in Swiss trains you can pull down the window and stick your head out, breathe the fresh Swiss air, and take photographs. I took quite a few shots during the trip, but quite a few, though appearing sharp through a 3x viewer, are slightly blurred due to the movement of the train.

Passing locomotive, detail (83 Kb)
For diehard fans only. The Glacier express is a singletrack line and so if our train stops to allow another to pass, its a photo opportunity. The file is large because I want to show off the detail the Photosmart scanner can capture as well.

Another passing locomotive with Swiss village in background (86 Kb)
As you can see, its probably near noon and the light is unflattering, but I still like the photograph, so there :)

Glacier Express climbing onward to Zermatt (68 Kb)
Before the final ascent, the train picks up an extra locomotive. The Glacier Express is a co-operative effort between different private Swiss railways, since given its length, its route traverses 3 private railways. RHb-BVZ-FO (I think).

Zermatt Station (55 Kb)
Just a view of trains at Zermatt station. Handheld wide open=not much depth of field.

Chür Environs.Chür is the provincial capital and has a very cool rail station. In addition, its also a wonderful little Swiss town.

Station, bus and train (115 Kb)
Yes, I visualised in my mind a shot where I could combine the 2 ubiquitious aspects of Swiss transport: the red trains and yellow buses. Maybe throw in a passenger or two to add human interest to the scheme. Of course, with all these trains, you get lots of catenary poles blocking your view, so this was the best I think of at the time. Of course, I could have tried for a 28 mm close-up sort of shot and I could have waited for a yellow bus...

Bus stations above the train station (137 Kb)
The bus terminal is above the train station. I liked the shadows but I supposed if I focused on just 1 bus it would have greater impact.

Train at Chür station (73 Kb)
Taken in the evening with the low sun shining on the red locomotive, the locomotive positively glows on the slide but it doesn't really translate in the scan. If you notice the large roof over the station, thats the bus station.

Double-headed Bernina Express Climbing (103 Kb)
The Bernina Express is famous for going round and round and round in order to gain or lose height. A true engineering marvel, especially the tunnel which consists of multiple loops. The large size file size is due mainly to all the rocks in the background. The train lettering is all sharp in the scan, but with the file size as it is...

Bernina Express Passing (82 Kb)
Like the Glacier, the Bernina Express is singletrack, so you get opportunities to take photos of passing trains. In this case, my train was moving, hence, a slight lack of sharpness.

Mountain, valley, and town (77 Kb)
The Bernina Bahn actually makes some stops at station that appear to be in the middle of nowhere. Anyway, its a good opportunity to get off, stretch a bit (actually, the train is so spacious, you can walk around and stretch all you want), and take photographs. Eschewing Swiss punctuality, the train stopped over at this station for longer than scheduled as the passengers were all walking about and enjoying the view.

California 1998

More of a relaxation trip, apart from Yosemite I didn't really take that many photographs. There was a heatwave and it was certainly really sunny. This time I took along only negative film - Ektacolor 160 & PJ100. I'm quite satisfied with them, but yes, next trip, will be using slide film :)

White flowers at Seaworld (100 Kb)
I'm sure you don't reallty want to see Seaworld photographs, so instead, here's a shot of some white flowers at Seaworld near the place where they give out free Budweiser.

White flowers -detail. (12 Kb)
 This is a 2400 dpi photosmart scan. Looks pretty reasonable. But the flowers were definitely moving a tiny bit... I had to wait some time for the wind to die down and snapped the shot the moment the wind seemed to stop. Sigma 105 mm at f22 + PJ100.

Winding path, Curry Village, Yosemite (62 Kb)
The print looks far better. Taken in the evening, the rock is a nice warm brown, the meadow is a blazing yellowish-orange, and the path has good saturation while the treeline remains green. Maybe I'm not good at tweaking, but I think I tried everything but I can't do it. The scan isn't sharp cos' I put it on a low quality .jpg setting (since it didn't turn out that well).

Vernal Falls (128 Kb)
Everyone who visits Yosemite probably visits Vernal Falls. Its a short 1 hour hike from the bus stop up to falls which is a spectacular sight. Its not the size (its relatively small), but the huge amount of spray from the falls that creates loads of rainbows. The spray depends on wind shift, so you wait for the right moment, take off the lens cap, and shoot...

View from Glacier Point (128 Kb)
Taken near noon, the lighting is hardly flattering, but given the long, winding, and hair-raising drive (you can very easily drive off a cliff), if you set off in the morning, you'll get there near noon, and if you wait for evening, halfway driving back, it'll turn dark and I just don't have the guts to drive in the dark on this kind of road :)

Bluey, a 75% Siamese

(sadly, passed away at age 15 in April 2000)

Intense Concentration (63 Kb)
Bluey's a really old Siamese whose hobbies consist of sleeping, eating, and sleeping some more. Sometimes, when something catches her eye, she has a look of genuine curiousity, and then she gets bored and walks away :) Don't you just love the attitude?

Big Eyes (55 Kb)
Because a Siamese has a basically very dark brown face, care must be taken that it is properly lit or you will lose all detail in it. I used a Litedome XS to the left and a ceiling bounced flash to the right. Her eyes are adorably large because its just after sunset :)

Big Eyes Detail (271 Kb!)
This is purely for those who want to buy a Photosmart scanner and want to see what it can do. I scanned this photo at 1200 dpi and this extract is at 1200 dpi resolution. The scan was very sharp, but I ran unsharp mask at a very low value just for kicks.

Sleeping (58 Kb)
One sleepy Sunday morning, I snuck up on her. I bounced the flash off the ceiling. If I wanted to be better, I would need a reflector or secondary fill to light her face.



More Bluey Pictures

(May '99)

The pictures here are a slight notch above in quality mainly because I'm using my excess Provia 100 after my UK trip. Provia has better colour and is also designed for better scanning, whereas Sensia and other consumer chromes are designed for projection and negatives are designed for printing.

I'm too lazy to put an intermediate html page, so I'll just link direct to the picture, so sorry if the picture isn't nicely centred and doesn't have a background :)

2 pics (total 83Kb)

2 pics (total 91Kb)

2 pics (total 84Kb)

2 pics (total 110Kb)


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