Quarterly Best Pics (October-December 2016)

Singapore Skyline from Esplanade
Singapore Skyline from SkyPark
Singapore Skyline from Esplanade (Panorama)

From top to bottom: Singapore Skyline from Esplanade, Singapore Skyline from SkyPark, Singapore Skyline from Esplanade (Panorama).

All my best pics for this quarter once again come from those photographed locally. I’m especially happy with the second one from SkyPark, the rooftop of Marina Bay Sands. It has taken me a number of (paid) visits, but I’ve finally captured a satisfactorily sharp shot, thanks to my recently-purchased clamp tripod (Manfrotto 035 Super Clamp with Manfrotto 208HEX 3/8-Inch Camera Mounting Platform Adapter ).

Previously, all my photos from SkyPark were shot with Gorillapod (mini tripod that supports 5kg) as a full size tripod isn’t allowed to bring in, but the photos tended to be a little “soft” probably because Gorillapod couldn’t sustain the camera weight too well, especially for long exposure shots. This rock solid Super Clamp has proved to be the answer I’ve been looking for, and has made all the difference. ;) Happy shooting!

2017 Plans and Hopes

2017 Plans and Hopes

Happy New Year to you all! I’m already feeling excited about numerous local photography outings here in Singapore and a few overseas trips that are ahead of me in the next 12 months. I always have this itch to work hard on my hobby and try to get as much done as possible! As with last year, let me list my plans this year to hold myself accountable.

NO. 1: Expand my current eBooks on Long Exposure Photography and/or Singapore Cityscape Photography Guide, or release a new eBook (probably about Brunei mosque photography)
NO. 2: Sell prints and digital downloads of my photos on this website
NO. 3: Continue to share my experience and add value to those who are interested in cityscape photography at twilight and dusk
NO. 4: Post 50 satisfactory photos on my Tumblr
NO. 5: Improve PHP coding skills

As for NO. 2, every few years I get obsessed with this idea of selling prints and downloads online even though I’m utterly aware that there is no such demand! That said, it’s also true that selling prints and downloads is no harm unless it becomes too much a hassle to manage the online store. I’ll see how it goes, but want to give a shot at it this year.

NO. 3 is more like a long term goal, something I’m committed to achieving by writing good contents. I always believe in organic growth, i.e. if I write good contents, people will share them because people are intrinsically wired to share value with others. In 2017, I’m hoping to reach more people, and I’ll try to do it by adding real value to the contents of this little space online. ;)

As always, feel free to Contact Me for any feedback or questions. Wishing you all the best in 2017!

Looking Back 2016: Slow but Steady Progress

Looking Back 2016: Slow but Steady Progress

It’s so fast that 2016 is ending soon! I know I’m saying this every year! This is my most favourite time of the year as the whole world slows down and lets me have a bit of break from my 9-to-5 work. Well, I hope it does…

As with last year, let me revisit the goals I set out at the start of the year.

NO. 1: Complete writing all chapters for twilight and dusk photography tutorials and create an eBook out of it
NO. 2: Create an eBook on Singapore cityscape photography guide (i.e. where to shoot from)
NO. 3: Make my website retina display compatible
NO. 4: Post 50 satisfactory photos on my Tumblr
NO. 5: Start learning PHP coding skills

NO. 1: Half-done. I’ve finished posting all 8 chapters online (start from Chapter 1: What Is Twilight and Dusk Photography if you’re interested), but haven’t been able to create an eBook yet. I’m still keen on this idea, but considering my perfectionist nature, it’ll probably take another year to complete.

NO. 2: Done! Back in August, I released a free 6 page eBook (PDF) titled Singapore Cityscape Photography Guide that includes top 3 spots to take stunning Singapore skyline photos and detailed info on how to get to these top photography spots. Thank you for those who opted in and downloaded! Interested? Find more details and grab your copy here.

NO. 3: Done!! This is probably the most self-satisfying achievement in 2016. I simply resaved all my images as 2x by default and resize them to the original size for both non-retina and retina devices. If you’re interested, there’s a good reading about this topic: A guide for creating a better retina web .

NO. 4: I narrowly missed on this. I’ve posted a total of 45 photos on Tumblr this year. This is much more than 35 photos posted in 2015, so I’m fairly satisfied although I missed the target. ;)

NO. 5: I’ve started but found the learning curve from HTML & CSS (which I’m comfortable with) to PHP very steep. Quite honestly, I have no clue what I’m doing…! Well, I won’t give up just yet, though.

Doing My Best with Whatever Little Free Time

Looking back, 2016 has been a year of slow but steady progress. I guess I’ve done my best with whatever little free time I was left with to go take photos and create contents for this website. I wish I could’ve spent much more time on my passion, but real life comes first (I guess this is same for everyone).

Still, hobbies are a big part of my life, something I can’t live without. I’d work around other commitments in life and continue to share my experience and knowledge with fellow aspiring photographers on this little space online where the heart of my passion lies!

Happy holidays to all and I’ll be back very soon!

What’s in My Camera Bag

What's in My Camera Bag

Recently I was asked this particular question, so here I’m creating my version of “what’s in my bag” post (as of December 2016, my current bag is Transit BP 350 AW Camera Backpack from Lowepro ). Although I have a dedicated page for gear guide (6 Gear for Long Exposure Photography), this post serves as more of a complete version.

Camera Body and Lenses

1. Nikon D610 : Full frame DSLR I’ve been using since January 2014.
2. Nikon 18-35mm (f/3.5-4.5) : My trusty main lens that I use more than 90% of the time.
3. Nikon 14mm (f/2.8) : My only other lens I own for situations where 18mm isn’t quite wide enough.

Tripods

4. Manfrotto MT190CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod : Sturdy tripod that supports up to 7kg (strictly speaking, this tripod isn’t in my bag, I hand carry it).
5. SIRUI K-20X Ballhead : Tripod head that supports whopping 25kg.
6. Gorillapod : Mini tripod that supports up to 5kg. Used for occasions that my regular tripod isn’t allowed to bring in.
7. Manfrotto 035 Super Clamp without Stud (used with 8. Manfrotto 208HEX 3/8-Inch Camera Mounting Platform Adapter attached): Extremely handy and rock solid clamp tripod. Supports 15kg.

All Photography Gear in My Camera Bag

These are all my photography gear packed in Transit BP 350 AW Camera Backpack from Lowepro .

Filters

9. B+W UV Filter : Protective filter always attached to my trusty Nikon 18-35mm.
10. B+W CP Filter : Circular polarizer filter used to eliminate reflections when shooting through glass window.
11. B+W 6 Stop ND Filter and 12. B+W 3 Stop ND Filter : These neutral density filters are the ones making my long exposure photography possible.

Other Accessories

13. Phottix IR-Nikon : Wireless remote shutter release that lets me take photos without touching the camera.
14. Ninja Ref : Odd shaped tool that shades the front element of a lens and blocks reflections when shooting through glass window.
15. Manfrotto 037 Reversible Short Stud : Smaller and cheaper alternative to aforementioned Manfrotto 208HEX 3/8-Inch Camera Mounting Platform Adapter.
16. LensPen Lens Cleaner : Handy cleaning tool for lenses and filters.
17. Camera Cleaning Brushes: Nikon’s complimentary gift that I’ve been using for years.
18. Cloth: To wipe glass window (when shooting through it).

That’s all I have in my camera bag. Is it a lot, or not so many? For me, I feel I have everything I need to pursue my passion of shooting cityscape photography at twilight and dusk, and I have no desire to own anything anymore. As always, feel free to Contact Me if you have any questions. ;)

Disclosure: Please be noted that most links on this page are affiliate links, meaning that if you choose to purchase using my links, I may receive a small percentage of that sale for the referral. Rest assured that this referral fee is never added on top of the price. I recommend these photography gear because I have personally used and liked, not because of the small commission that I may receive.

Using Manfrotto Super Clamp Tripod for Twilight and Dusk Photography

Using Manfrotto Super Clamp Tripod for Twilight and Dusk Photography

Places like observation decks sometimes don’t allow tripods to be brought in. There are also places that have no suitable space to set up a regular tripod. In such cases, I’ve often used Gorillapod (mini tripod), but to be honest, I’m not fully convinced with this option. Although its load capacity says 5kg (I’m using “Focus”, their top end model), the setup is a bit shaky and can’t seem to sustain the camera weight too well, especially when shutter speed is extended to minutes, ending up with somewhat “soft” (i.e. not sharp enough) photos.

Super Clamp Tripod Helps You Take Very Sharp Photos

This is where a clamp tripod comes in handy. I own Manfrotto 035 Super Clamp without Stud which supports up to 15kg and plug separately-sold Manfrotto 208HEX 3/8-Inch Camera Mounting Platform Adapter into a Super Clamp socket in order to firmly mount a tripod head and DSLR on it, then clamp the whole setup on handrails, road railings, etc.

How to Mount a DSLR on Manfrotto Super Clamp

This explains how to mount a DSLR on Manfrotto Super Clamp by using a camera mounting platform adapter.
1. Plug a camera mounting platform adapter into a Super Clamp socket and secure it with a double lock system.
2. Mount a tripod head with DSLR on the mounting platform adapter, just like you do with your regular tripod.

FYI, Manfrotto also has the same Super Clamp that comes with so-called Standard Stud (Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp with 2908 Standard Stud ), but we photographers would better avoid it cos Standard Stud is a bit too long and a tripod head will sit about an inch out of the clamp, making the setup vulnerable for heavier camera/lens combo.

Instead, we should get the aforementioned Manfrotto 208HEX 3/8-Inch Camera Mounting Platform Adapter or Manfrotto 037 Reversible Short Stud (cheaper alternative) separately. Both allow a tripod head to sit flush with Super Clamp surface and yield a very stable platform to mount a tripod head and DSLR.

Manfrotto Super Clamp in Use

1. Clamping onto thick tempered glass (clamping from the top). Be extra careful when using clamp tripod high up.
2. Clamping onto road railing. This setup is rock solid.

Hope this info helps. This clamp tripod is indeed rock solid and like a game changer for us cityscape photographers aiming to take very sharp twilight and dusk photos even at a place where a regular tripod can’t be used. Although last, not least, be extra vigilant and tighten wherever must be tightened when using clamp tripod somewhere high up. If the camera or any part is dropped, it could seriously injure people.

Feel free to Contact Me if you have any questions. ;)

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