A Modern Day Kampung By The Water – Kampung Pendas Baru

In my early childhood, I lived in a wooden stilt house on a river bank of a branch of Kallang River, Singapore. It was attached to my maternal grandparents house. There was a bridge behind our house that linked our house to our grandparents house. It was here that we clean ourselves. Then there was another that stretched out into the river and at the end of it there was a hut where we disposed off our organic waste.   I remember very well the sound made when it hit the water or mud, it seemed to reverberate vividly in the closed compartment.  Those were the days.

I was delighted when I saw a new kampung by the water at Tanjung Kupang, on the southwestern end of Johor, Malaysia. A modern kampung of stilt houses built of bricks. Yeah, sadly with the dwindling forest, woods had became scarce and expensive. Besides, wood is combustible, easily incinerated and thus reduced to ash, so it’s for the better.

It is a modern kampung because other than brick houses on stilts there are no more hut for organic waste removal to be seen. Classic and yet modern. The folks were relocated here from their old domicile of Kampung Pendas not far away. I waited for the day when the tide is high to go there for photo outing. It was last Wednesday and here are the images.

Bought a Tamrom 17-50mm F2.8 XR Di II Lens

Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 XR Di II

…….

In the days of film photography, there are two factors in getting a sharp picture. The main one is the nut that holds the camera. The other is the lens (disregard the ISO). Now, in the age of digital photography, there are two more variables to be considered. The camera sensor and the demosaicing algorithm that manipulates the data captured by the sensor into an image. There are a few of these algorithms to choose from, each with its pros and cons. Then again, it all come back to square one. It is still the same main factor, that is the nut that holds the camera and probably the same nut that holds the mouse.

This nut is so much impressed with the reviews by some of the reviewers and users, many say it is sharp, that he decided to throw away some money to get hold of this lens to replace his Canon EF-S 17-85mm F4-5.6 IS USM lens. The downside is shorter range (not much of a problem) and no IS which this nut can lives without. On the upside, the maximum aperture is fixed at f2.8 throughout the zoom range and it can be attached to a Kenko 1.4x extender that this nut had, unlike the Canon EF-S lens where the mount protruded a little extra.

It is not the intention of this nut to do a review of this lens. Generally this nut does not scrutinise all over an image with a magnifying glass looking at the minutest detail  unless it is an image of the opposite gender in birthday suit. Usually this nut just go with the feeling. If an image is good, it definitely looks good.

With this new lens, this nut went out to capture some images of a modern kampung by the water in Southern Johor. Images of the kampung taken with this lens will soon be posted here and hopefully it will be better than the other lens.

Note: This nut was thinking too much on how to make this world a better place to live that he forgot to bring along the old lens so that he can make a comparison.

/nut mode off

Eclipse of The Moon 10 December 2011

The pictures are hot, straight off the camera and from the location less than 3 hours ago. Here in Malaysia it was estimated that the penumbra would touch the moon at 7.30 pm  and the umbra at 8.45 pm. Full on at 10.05 to 10.57 pm. I decided to shoot the phenomenon at Lido Beach, Johor Bahru which was some 45km away from my home. At about 9.30pm I reached Lido Beach and quickly set-up the camera. The moon by then had been covered almost entirely. Here are the selected pics;

9.59 pm

10.10 pm

10.27 pm

10.35 pm

10.47 pm

11.02 pm

11.05 pm

11.15 pm

11.23 pm

11.43 pm

11.53 pm

00.24 am

Back to its full glory at about 00.32 am

Photo Outing at Singapore Botanic Garden

I had been there previously with my Canon 60D together with the EF 75-300mm 4-5.6 III and EF 50mm 1.8 AF lenses. The 50mm 1.8 was good, the problem with the 75-300mm was the CA, its terrible. Now that I had the Sigma 150-500mm, I made a return trip to rectify the mistakes I did previously and also to try the 50mm 1.8 with the Kenko 1.4X Teleplus Pro 300 DGX teleconverter.

My mind was set on the two pairs of White Swans and the orchids. Surprisingly, I did managed to shoot at other birds in close range on the ground with the 50mm plus the 1.4X teleconverter attached. It seemed that they were not afraid of people, probably they were used to being fed by some people who frequent the garden. As for the birds that fly high and perched only on branches, it’s the usual story.

Bought A Sigma 150-500mm Telezoom Lens

Sigma 150-500mm APO DG OS HSM

The name in full as Sigma put it is APO 150-500mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM. That’s a mouthfull of acronyms. It is the most expensive lens I had bought so far, even more than the body that I had. But considered cheap if it were to be compared to the more expensive lenses in roughly the same focal range. So why the plunged?

I have a liking for sharp beautiful pictures of birds especially eagles but I never did once seriously went out primarily just to shoot birds. On my recent trip to Daik in Pulau Lingga, Riau, Indonesia, I saw a lot of eagles flying, circling around and occasionally dive down to the river in an attempt to catch whatever that it saw fit to consume. I had never shoot wild birds and was only equipped with a Canon EF 75-300mm lens plus a Kenko 1.4X Teleplus Pro 300 DG AF teleconverter for distance shooting. No Image Stabiliser but AF was working. None of the images were sharp.

Bird on pole

It’s not easy to shoot wild and free birds unless it is given to you on a palette like the one shown here of a small bird which I found perched on a pole when I looked out over the parapet wall of the hotel in Daik. Birds were very wary of my approach and ultimately took flight before I could raised my camera. A case why many birds photographers use hides and free meals to attract their subjects. I am not going that road at the moment.

I also found that the eagles were also wary at me even though they were flying above. Many of the shots show the eagles looking towards me including shots that were taken from inside the hotel room and the camera was not out of the window. I need a little distance and image stabiliser. Auto focus not so necessary because I think manual focus might just do the trick or pre-focus at a distance plus lots of shots (continuous) and a little bit of luck. It will all be in Jpeg as RAW will be slow in writing the data into the memory because it’s file size is very big compared to Jpeg.

Bird on antenna

The lens weighs about 1.9 kg and it is quite heavy to lug it around for some times. It came with a padded rectangular soft box, a hood, tripod stand and a lens strap that had it strapping point on the tripod stand. Filter size is huge, 86mm. Attaching it to the Kenko 1.4x teleconverter had it working fine. No issue whatsoever. At least for now and hopefully none in the future.

Having had the baby in hand, I set off to test it on some birds. Birds that are easy to approach, chicken that is. Well…it was like waiting for the bus, I could not find any hen or a cock behind the house but did found a bird perched on a TV antenna at the neighbour’s house. Not a good result shooting hand-held anyway still decent.

As for the non-flying birds, I will post the pictures as soon as I had it.

Update 18 February 2011:

Here are the pictures.

All shots captured at 500mm

Verdict:

Pictures are sharp especially at  about 5 metres. At distance more than 10 metres, you need a tripod for stability regardless of the image stabiliser if shooting for an extended period. At 1.9 kg excluding the camera soon your hand will turn soft. The tiredness coupled with unstationary subject are not a good recipe for a sharp image at 500mm focal length. It is okay to shoot hand-held for a short while. Also, this is not the lens to hold on while you are waiting for your subject.

More here:

Sigma 150-500mm – Getting The Hang of It