A short holiday in Ho Chi Minh City

My partner was very generous to give me a free air ticket to Ho Chi Minh City as my birthday present. Thank you dear!

I haven’t visited Vietnam since 2015 i think. This is the first time we are traveling to this Ho Chi Minh City. Much has changed in the city, the familiar walkway i used to travel is going to be removed soon, the Japanese restaurant i often patronize was gone, many shops were starting to close down, all these are due to the development of underground train.  Is kinda of sad, but the country needs to continue to develop to improve the life of the local.

I bought a DSLR camera and a tilt shift lens with me on the trip, nothing more. I was more interested in the local architecture since i took more interest in architecture after my last VN trip. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t the best throughout the trip, i didn’t bring my camera out most of the time. I only managed to make less than 15 pictures on this entire trip, and only a few pictures barely can make it.

My mindset from the start was the outcome of the picture was least important, i already knew the weather was going to be less friendly. But i want to see the local popular architecture through my camera using a tilt shift lens, i want to have a feel of it in overseas. Other than that, it was mainly bonding time, my partner and i were tasting lots of very delicious local dishes, gosh this is another food heaven country.

Only 4 pictures of architecture from Ho Chi Minh City to share and one night scene from my hotel swimming pool

A very interesting building that is filled with cafe and living space, can be seen along the street of Nguyen Hue

Palace Saigon hotel along the street of Nguyen Hue

The very famous local landmark must visit is Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon

The Myst Dong Khoi is an upscale hotel with a rooftop bar and swimming pool. I love how the building is embracing greenery all over it.

From my hotel, Liberty Central Saigon Centre Hotel. I placed my camera on the ledge to capture this night scene, probably the most difficult thing i ever did because there is no auto focus on my lens, no cable release, no tripod. Extremely hard to compose as the live view from my 5D MK II old camera is spoilt.

There are lots of hotels and budget hotels in Saigon, depending which area you wish to stay. If you are not really on a low budget, want to stay in a mid price but a good hotel. I would like to recommend you to stay at Liberty Central Saigon Centre Hotel. Is only less than a min walk to Ben Thanh Market. Lots of delicious food around the streets, In my opinion, this hotel is very centralized for me as i can head to many places easily. In the past, i was staying in backpacker street and i have to walk a pretty far distance to Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica and so on. This was also my first time swimming in a hotel pool on the roof, the view is really scenic in the night.

If you like this post do support me with a ‘like’, feel free to share my post to people who love taking pictures. Please leave a comment as well as i would love to interact with you. 

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Check out my Ho Chi Minh City travel pictures too.

    

 

 

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Monochrome pictures at Pandan Reservoir

I decided to convert some color pictures into basic monochrome effect (black and white) which i had pre-visualize during my photo walk at Pandan Reservoir in Singapore.

A monochrome photograph is usually seen in an old tradition picture that tells a story of the past. However taking pictures without colors force you to think and see a subject differently.  Black and white scene changes the way you look at lighting and contrast, changes the way how you compose a picture differently, changes the way to portray a story in the picture. Black and white often offer a timeless and classic feeling that evokes emotion.

7 pictures will be shown below

If you like this post do support me with a ‘like’, feel free to share my post to people who love taking pictures. Please leave a comment as well as i would love to interact with you. 

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Stunning Sunset in Singapore

This beautiful blast of sunset happens on 22 Aug 2017.

Is been a while since i make pictures in the evening, i told myself i got to do this once a week. But i was busy with other important matter. Anyway, i went up to one of the high blocks i know of on the 38th storey. I wanted to create more pictures facing south, from the corner of the block before it is covered off by a metal shade to block the specular view of the city. I already knew the sky is heavily cloudy, but this is the last chance to do it and i got to give it a go without having regrets later. Unfortunately, i did not get a single image i like due to the construction of the shade, and also the bad weather. But..

Earlier on as i was preparing my tripod, the western part of Singapore caught my eye from a limited sight of view. The sky, seems to be in burning in flame. It was an absolute stunner (reminds me of Stone Cold Steve Austin). The sky hue is deeply saturated as the sunset was in progress. I knew i can get a full view of the sunset on the other block down the road. but that would be another 8-10 mins walk and preparation, that magical moment would be long gone by then. I know i can’t take that risk to rush out and head to another block. I think hard what can i do? I recalled the corner of this block i may see more of the landscape. I quickly charged down to the other end, pushed opened the door, double steps down the stairs and set up everything in a fumble.

*Click*

Quick chimp

Adjust composition

*Click*

And so on…

I think i got the most stunning view of the sunset in Singapore. 

I thought, “while the Americans were thrilled over the recent eclipse. I am in another part of the world to witness another miracle.” I still wish i was on the other block, but i can’t complain. It is meant to happen this way.


This was the spot i placed my tripod, the block in the center of the picture was the better location, but i can’t risk it because i am sure i won’t be able to make it in time. Unless i am a Spider-man.

Coincidentally 22nd Aug 2017 marks the beginning of the seventh month in the lunar calendar. In Chinese tradition, the beginning of the Ghost Festival for a month, the hell gate is open, ghosts or spirits came out from the lower realm to visit the living. This is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival held in Asian countries.

If you like this post do support me with a ‘like’, feel free to share my post to people who love taking pictures. Please leave a comment as well as i would love to interact with you. 

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Check out my other sunset posts and pictures as well

 

Travel Photography of Cats in Melaka

I went on a Melaka trip with a good buddy a couple of years back. It was my first time exploring in this artistically UNESCO historical city of Malaysia – the city has numbers of beautiful wall murals, good contrast of colors, the morning light was extremely beautiful. Of course being me who likes to explore around, adventuring around a city truly excites me.

Travel photography is perhaps one of the most difficult subjects to do in all photography. Travel photographer needs to have a very good eye to see the environment differently.  My goal in travel photography is always to do my best to capture the best view i can in general, within the given time frame i had. Not forgetting to savor many delicious local foods and visiting popular attractions.

There are so many beautiful and captivating pictures to share about Melaka city, and to share it all at one go might not be too digestible to you. I have decided to break it down into portions for your to enjoy what i had captured on camera.

If you are similar to me, that like cats. This is the perfect blog post to read on for travel photography tips.

Cat photography is one of the most fun subjects to photograph. There are so many different ways to take really amazing cat pictures. From what i have generally observed, most people would take pictures of cat from a top down angle, or squat down to make the picture. Some will use the zoom in function to do a close-up shot of the cat.

I am going to share some cat pictures in Melaka that i have captured. Further sharing with you about some cat photography tips – the method or thinking process when capturing these fluffy little cats.

I was roaming in the street and was surprised to come across these group of cats behind a gate. All of them were looking at one direction with their head in parallel with their body position. I simply got no clue what they were staring at, hope is not something scary that i can’t see. Anyway, the gate grill opening was suitable for most of my lenses to poke through. I quickly changed to a fixed focal length of 50mm lenses. I made a gentle squishy noise to get their attention, four of these cats turned their head around and i quickly made many frames from it. Their expression seems to have the same serious look, maybe annoyed because i had disturbed their focus on “something”. I love how that ginger cat hiding behind the gray cat with it head peeping up to glimpse at me. The background wasn’t too messy which is a bonus. The environmental colors were a bit flat because of the lighting condition, but this makes the group of cat stand out really great in this picture.

St. Paul’s Church is another sightseeing venue in Melaka, i was surprised to see many cats “station” up on the knoll. This picture is the church ruin interior. I saw this cat was sitting on the ground looking around, not be too concern about the flow of the crowd. Instead of doing close up, i did an interior picture with the cat relaxing in the foreground, to showcase the height of the place and how small the size of the cat was. Maybe i shall title it as “Cat relaxing in St. Paule’s Church”.

There were quite a few kittens been very playful. Judging from the size it must have been a few months old in this world. Been curious about their new environment and flexing their agile nature is these little creature’s innate. Is very rare for me to see kitten climbing up a tree in Singapore. But here, the cats were truly a Kampong cat – chasing and pawing each other. It was a wonderful sight to witness these little creatures in their most natural behavior. For the photography part, i will observe the habit of this cat before taking pictures. I need to understand their movement, then pre visualize what to do before i spring into action. In this case, the cat were moving quite fast. I need to have a faster shutter speed to get a sharp frame. I saw this kitten loves climbing up the old wooden pillar, it went up and jumped down, then went up again. Such a playful little one. So i position myself and hope for the kitten to make its next jump, and it did! I quickly capture many frames and different compositions. For this picture, i love the depth behind which showcase the stone slabs in the background. I like the overall  balance of  shadow and lighting. The raw bricks on the left frame were probably smeared with a layer of concrete, showing much age of this 15th-century church. The color were rather brownish which is very balance. I feel a large print of this picture would truly justify the quality of this cat in action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing the cats and kittens running around with such great mood. This cat went into the shallow drainage for a little adventure. I quickly went forward, get down really low to make some pictures. Surprisingly this curious cat suddenly popped its body out of the drain, standing on the hind legs looking at the camera. I would be disappointed if i miss such a rare moment. Look at this, the cat was making an eye contact with the camera for a moment. Its right paw was resting on the surface maybe to balance itself. Maybe i can title this “Portrait of a Melaka cat”

The last one was this fluffy small kitten flushing its body parallel with the ground. It seems scared. I used a telephoto lens, standing further away not to scare the little creature. I put my camera between the drain, switching on the live view function to get this shot. I was in a very awkward position to take a picture, luckily no one was around to see my silly position. I love this shallow depth of field. The focus is on the kitten’s face. Sadly the cat looks either too scare or was hungry, it has this death stare.

I hope you like the story and my very own cat photography tips of these amazing animal.

Check out my travel photography website gallery for more of Melaka stock/travel images.

If you like this post do support me with a “like”, share my post to people who love taking pictures of cats. Feel free to leave a comment below as well. I would love to interact with you. Or ya subscribe to my post too!

Travel Collection – 5 in Vietnam

Four weeks in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam back in 2011.

Was visiting a local famous temple for prayer. The art director wanted some pictures of the locals selling prayer items. So been a non Vietnamese, i can’t speak their native language. The art director spoke to them to get them agree for pictures. Vietnamese always love to have their picture taken, i wonder why, something that still mystify me till today.

I’ve composed in a way to capture more of the background environment in what they are selling, rather than focus just their close up portrait. It depends what story you wish to tell. As this was done indoor, i turned the subject around to the available natural light source. No flash was require to capture the 2 different scenes.

I liked the pictures because both ladies were very pleasant and i like the various details in the background of their work place.

I can see their life is not easy, but their smile showed hope and calmness in life.


Feel free to check out other of my travel collection articles
1 in Beijing
2 in Bangkok
3 in Sri Racha
4 in Nepal

Travel Collection – 3 in Sri Racha

How i learnt about Sri Racha was back in 2007, i was still learning the rope of the photography industry, more interested in the commercial aspect. I was asked to assist a photographer who is going to have an assignment in Thailand. It was my first time going to Thailand, was very excited about it at that point of time. Later i learnt we were going to Sri Racha to work for a few days. Where the hell is that??? That was then my first intro to the subdistrict town in the eastern part of the country.

Many years later, back in 2011 (has it been so long already). I travelled back to the less crowded town to pay a visit to my local friend. I took the opportunity to wander around as a tourist, more chill not too focus on making pictures. I did later transformed into a photographer mode and start my ‘hunt’.

Portrait of a local kid

Portrait of a local boy

Portrait of a young girl

Even thought my three subjects are children, i still treat them with respectful manner, more funky approach as well. Bear in mind good manner will influence others to be courteous and polite as well.

I approached each of them with a friendly smile, and with my fascinating broken Thai language, hand gesture was more universal at that point of time. Trying to engage with the kid for a while before i try to take pictures. I usually visualise how i want the picture to turn out, rather than pondering about how to compose the picture. Because i am not in a controlled environment, i never know what is going to happen next, the kid can suddenly dash off , or the parent calling for them. Is better for me to do it asap than been draggy, if the child still hang around, i can continue to take more pictures.

One tips to get their smile, is  to show the children their pictures on the LCD screen, they love it, their smile will appear if they did not smile initially. This method never goes wrong for me so far. Once that smile break open, quickly capture more pictures while they are smiling from the heart. You got yourself some great pictures.

Feel free to check out other of my travel collection articles.

1 in Beijing

2 in Bangkok

Travel Collection – 2 in Bangkok

Not sure had you read my Travel Collection – 1 in BeijingTravel Collection – 1 in Beijing

Now here goes another one of my picture story telling of why do i make this particular image and how do i approach towards the subject during travel in other countries.

As many of the pictures were taken years back. I may not remember all the small details anymore, but the scene still linger in my mind.

Portrait of a Monk

I was like a street hunter, with an eagle’s eye looking for picture opportunities in Bangkok. I can’t remember which temple i was at, there are so many temples everywhere in busy Bangkok. A Buddhism’s country that much devoted to the belief.

I wandered into this temple where i can see a row of golden Buddhas in line. I took the opportunity to rest myself from the heat of wave. While i was cooling down under the shelter, my eyes was scanning for my ‘prey’, not many visitors at that moment, kids were running around, a few monks making their way to the exit.  I capture some still life street photograph and that was about it. Something was lacking. But i don’t know what is that hollow point at that moment.

Often when i search hard for picture opportunity, that situation never appear. The moment i stopped seeking, the chance is presented and is up to you to grab it. Why do i say this? Is because much patience had already dry up while waiting or expecting for something to happen. If nothing occur as you visualise,  you may end up being frustrated, disappointed and even a waste of time.

What is the disparity between Waiting and Expecting?

Waiting – Not knowing what is going to happen next, unable to control the situation. (negative)

Expecting –  A desire to see a situation that is going to unfold. (positive)

Back to the temple. As i as was about to leave, i noticed a monk by himself standing in-front of the Buddha statue. Somehow that particular moment caught my attention. I  boosted up my confident, approached the religion man. Is a do or die moment, i don’t want to moan later why i did not even asked about it and regret for the rest of my life.

I can’t speak Thai, except for the basic “Sawadee kap”, palm together. I spoke in the most simplistic English and hand gesture to ask for a picture. Hoping he will understand. I was not nervous, but neither will i be disappointed if he rejects me.

The monk smiled, nob his head *throw fist on air*

I recalled having some difficulty in the composition, whether should he be standing at the side or the centre. I quickly made a few frames and concluded that standing in the centre would be better. Everything is all centralised from the background to the key subject. Is the the student being humble in-front of the Buddha’s teaching.

He did not smiled throughout, neither i want to control his expression. For street/environmental portrait. I decided to let the monk to be himself, and be respectful to him is important.

Personally i like this picture so much that i printed out 12 x 8 inch and hang it up on the wall.

Hope you enjoy this article, drop me a comment if you like it or how to further improve it.

The Southern Ridges

According to Npark. The Southern Ridges have a length of 10 km of green, open spaces that connect Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve.

Is been two to three years since i had explored The South Ridges. I started from Alexandra Arch towards the peak of Mount Faber. Bringing a camera attached with telephoto of 70-200mm. I also took this opportunity to polish my photography. Similar to world class pianist, if you don’t practice daily, the skill will get rusty no matter how good you are. In my mind i told myself this is an opportunity to build up my fitness for future trekking trip in Hong Kong.

I started off the walk close to mid afternoon sun. Perhaps not the best time to do outdoor photography, most people might be at home chilling out or hang out in the mall to enjoy the air con. However i embraced the hot weather, and but am sure there are pictures opportunity in the recent monsoon weather season. Make sure to apply lots of sunblock lotion on your face and neck to protect yourself.

Took me a total of 2hrs to slowly admire the scenery it has to offer.

Below are some of the pictures that i liked.

Feel free to check out the rest on my Facebook page

Recovery in Nepal

My thoughts suddenly flow in about the devastating earthquake that took place on 25th April 2015. Mother nature needs to be respected and nothing less. Buildings and roads that were build can be easily wipe out in a few minutes. Lives are lost, the passing of love one will never be return. Life move on to rebuild the future.

I visited Nepal in Nov 2012. I would say it was a memorable trip for my life. To witness how life is there makes me appreciate my life here in Singapore. Of course i never took for granted. But is good to self-reflect of what we have here.

I hope people i had met in my Nepal’s journey are holding well and fine, bless the country to be able to quickly stand feet and attract the tourist back soonest. Personally i would love to visit the country again if opportunity arise.

Below are some of the beautiful pictures i capture on my trip.


I self assume this is the Himalayas from far, such a majestic sight spotted. Advantage of sitting beside the window plane rockz!


Aerial shot of a province. I don’t even know where is it. I like how the road leads to the mountain in the background.


One of my first few picture on land. A chopped up wild boar i presume.


Sunrise from the guesthouse rooftop, it still felt like yesterday.


Life without smart phone or tablet. I felt am back to my days of childhood.


My favourite picture! Seeing these kids hanging out on a weekday makes me wonder do they have the opportunity to have an education. One of my To-Do-List is to assist kids in Nepal who wants to have an education.

If you like to see more do check out my Kathmandu and Kirtipur galleries.

Afro Asia Building in Singapore

Wandering in Central Business District during the weekend prove to be the most effective way for me to do architecture photography exploration. The area is almost free from human and traffic interruption, allowing me to be focus on capturing pictures. Is also a good idea to bring my not-so-light-tripod and set it up anywhere without hindrance and getting weird stares.

In Sept 2014 i came across Afro Asia Building, a commercial building in Raffles Place district. It has this old MPH bookstore on the ground floor, there ain’t many of it in left in Singapore as compare to more than 10 years back. The building gives me a feeling of struggling against the resistance of time against all the steep cost modernised building as the nation progress. Afro Asia building gives me a disciplinary design identity. It is also prominent and hard to miss for the first timer’s visit.

I went back a few more times throughout the months to capture the building in it most presentable moment,hopefully. If possible i want the light to be as beautiful when light reflected on the building with minimum traffic distraction. As is this a personal work, i can afford to choose the best time and day to return, or when am available for the day. Funny to say it never happen to have the best light, let’s say out of 10 trips, 9 doesn’t work. I started to study why it was so difficult to get it. Because the building is surrounded by tall buildings in a circle. Light is blocked from the east and the west. The only decent light is only from mid afternoon to about 2pm. I was extremely lucky to encounter a great shot in this time slot.

A beautiful ray of light shined right in the middle of the road, in the centre of the building. A yellow taxi came in to give a contrast to the almost dull color of the building. Lights were reflected from the opposite building to offer glittering effect. That was my first and last best light ever.

1 May 2015 i went back to check it out. The sky was cloudy as usual, i thought it was another unsuccessful attempt. As i was at the junction waiting for the red man to turn green. I took a step back into the shelter and looked diagonally across, tilted my head up to discovered these huge buildings behind Afro Asia Building. I changed my perspective of viewing it in landscape and adjusted it to portrait format. I looked into my viewfinder and was excited by the scene took place. I quickly set up my tripod to get the job done. As you can see below is the result.

I always enjoy going back to a particular area many times to search and explore, over the months i get familiar with the place and i get to see and learn more things, this process will result the fruit of labour.

Commercially doing architecture photography for client, doing a detail ground survey before the shoot is very important. Architecture photographer need to see for himself to understand/feel the building and it’s surrounding, where can he place his tripod, is there any possible high ground for an even better perspective, taking note of the light shifting, which particular spot is going to cause reflection/glare from the window at this particular point of time-is it possible to rescue in post-process, is this a decent season to photograph depending on the country season, checking the weather forecast for the next day. As all said, sometimes time is limited and i got to do whatever the time is given and budget to produce the best result.