Some Pictures of wet Malaysian MotoGP 2012

The rain had stopped but the Malaysian MotoGP 2012 was declared a wet race. After a few laps, it began to rain again and eventually the race  was red flagged after lap thirteen with six more laps to go and never to resume again. My equipment are not weather proof but with some protection for the lens from the lens jacket that I made plus some tissues covering the camera, I did get a few bursts of shots before the rain got heavier.

Here are some of the photographs of the MotoGP that are just about ok in spite of the rain and two layers of perimeter fences. Some though were taken during the morning practice in the uncovered sun. All shots taken just before turn 12.

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Terengganu Bike Week 2012

The Event Stage

Last Friday I travelled for eight hours to Kuala Terengganu to buy an used engine for my old car. The appointment to meet the seller was on late Saturday afternoon. I was free in the morning and decided to drive along Batu Burok beach for photo outing.

Batu Burok Beach food vendors

There was a road block and I could not enter the beach road. I did not know that there was an event of the gathering of one thousand big capacity motorcycles from all over Malaysia (not sure about Sabah and Sarawak) including guests from Singapore and Thailand. It was Terengganu Bike Week 2012. So I parked the vehicle at a nearby food centre and walked in.

The main gathering point

The gathering was held at a small beachside amphitheatre. It was still early and not all the participants had arrived. I did not move around, I just sat at one location observing and recording the happenings. Amongst all the riders two were definitely ladies. One riding a Harley Davidson and the other I think was sport motocross. I cannot vouch if there were others as it was not easy to tell some of them apart with their helmets on. I was wrong a few times.

Honda's Gold Wings

Harley Davidson

The minimalist and the sports

Choppers of other makes

Man looking at the Harley of a lady rider

This one admiring the street sports while in the background musicians rehearsing for the night show

My kind of bike. You don't hear it coming, you just see it leaving and smell its smoke

The Marshals

The Gang

The girls distributing drinks for one of the sponsors

Veteran rider

Official videographer at work

When it was time, the bikers moved in a convoy like manner to Tasik Kenyir (Kenyir Lake) and back to the beach making side trips to an old folks home, Jom Heboh Carnival (held by Malaysia TV3 station at Gong Batu Badak if I am not mistaken) and the Islamic Civilisation Garden along the way. While they were gone, I sat and watched the musicians rehearsing for the night’s dinner show.

Getting ready for the journey

I left the beach at noon. Along the way I missed the opportunity to photograph a very veteran biker with an equally very veteran bike. I think it was a BSA from the glimpse that I had of the writing on the fuel tank. In the fifties and early sixties, there were not many brands in the region. The Japanese makes and Ducatis was considered new at that time. There were the Nortons, Triumphs, BSAs and very few AJSs. There was a pun on the acronym of the AJS motorcycle in Malay. It stood for Asal Jalan Sudah, meaning as long as it moves it’s okay.

Note: Panorama photos stitched by Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor) 64 bit.

F1 2012 Malaysian GP in Pictures

Note: Panorama photos stitched by Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor) 64 bit version.

F1 2012 Malaysian GP

Sepang Circuit Main Entrance

This year I attended the full 3 days event of the F1 2012 Malaysian GP. For two nights I slept in the car and camped in the R&R of the North-South highway. It had all the necessities that I need, food, shower and sanitation 24/7.

Friday’s practices were opened to the public but the public pit-lane walk held after the practice sessions was only for ticket holders. It was nice to be at the grandstand watching the happenings opposite at all the garages. The sound of an F1 car engine at the grandstand was obviously much louder than that heard at the hillstands. Although there were other events on Saturday morning, I just attended the practice 3 and qualifying sessions which were held in the afternoon as I decided to have a rest in the morning.

Caterham F1 Team

Drivers’ autograph signing session was held on Sunday at 11.30 am. I was a little dismayed. The cars that brought the drivers stopped close to the tables, many fans that were far away including me could not get full view of many of the drivers. The cars then parked in the open area, further blocking the view. After the autograph signing session the drivers then had a short walk to the cars, so many fans on the outer perimeter missed to see them. I hope the event organiser will consider this and sort this out next time.

Waiting for the drivers

Nothing to see, move along

Sebastian Vettel waving to fans

Sebastian Vettel, as was in last year, handed out postcards to fans at the perimeter fence but this time he did more, he signed it too…lucky fans. Then another driver surprised me. I saw this driver took photograph of himself and the fans at the tables with a cellphone. I thought it was a request from a fan but then I was wrong. As the car that he was in was pulling out, it suddenly stopped. Out came Fernando Alonso and went straight to a Ferrari fan just an arm length next to me. He then said something about taking photograph which sent me into frantic mode, adjusting my camera setting to capture the event with the camera held up high above since there was someone next to me. Unfortunately the images I managed to capture were frantic too except for one. He then rushed out to the outer perimeter and did the same to the fans there. Obviously the fans were very pleased. What Vettel and Alonso did was good for them. At least it detracted their mind, albeit a short while, from the stress or whatever problems they might be having with their cars. It also paints a good image for their teams and sponsors, a very positive image.

Sebastian signing before giving it away

Fernando Alonso setting the cellphone camera

Can't believe her luck

Obviously they were very delighted

Fans are the most important aspect in F1. Without the fans, there will be no sponsors and without the fans and sponsors, F1 is just another club race. Some travel long distances, stand in queue or close to the perimeter fence for more than an hour just to see their idols and other drivers up close. The drivers just need to look around, smile and wave, that’s all but what Vettel and Alonso did was better. F1 needs to take note on this.

For this year’s race, I was at the C3 hillstand and it was my first wet race. I did not mind being wet but the camera and the lens must stay dry. Though it was cloudy since Friday, there was no rain at the track until just after the race had started. When the race was stopped for safety reason, a few of the fans did left the circuit. I only left the hillstand for the comfort of the car where I had a thermos full of hot coffee. I rejoined the crowd when the race had restarted.

C3 Hillstand view and the weather

Click here for more pictures.

Day 3 of 2nd MotoGP Pre-Season Test 2012 at Sepang

I thought I had more acceptable images than the day before because I spent more hours on the last test day at the circuit. I was wrong. Many of the images were blurred. On hindsight, I was too casual and probably also because I did not had lunch. Initially I thought that I just made it half a day and then set off home but I arrived at the circuit at about 11.00am and decided to stay till the end of the session. I had with me a thermos full of milk coffee only. Should had brought some snacks along.

One other aspect was a mistake that I now realised. I was blasting away continuously at the riders speeding up towards me, the autofocus just could not cope with the speed. Anyroad, here are the rest of the images and once again thanks for the wheelies.

As with the previous images, reduce the height to 1080 pixels for full HD resolution. Come race day I will not be at the grandstand but I shall be at the hillstand instead. Yayy! I had booked the ticket for the race in Sepang.

Note: To copy the desired image, right click on it and click open in a new tab in the menu. In the new tab just click on the image to enlarge it. Save the large image.

2nd MotoGP Pre-Season Test 2012 at Sepang

Day 2 of Test

This time I attended the test for 2 days…well almost. I left for Sepang in the morning of the second day of the test and reach the circuit by late afternoon. It was raining but by the time I was at the grandstand it had almost stopped.

The circuit was wet so not many riders did the test during that time till the session ended. Still, I managed to get plenty of shots.  Here are the selected images from day 2 which each of them is capable of full HD resolution but you need to crop the height to 1080 pixels though.

Images from the last day of test will come up next. There are a lot of images to sieve through, choose and edit.

Note: To copy the desired image, right click on it and click open in a new tab in the menu. In the new tab just click on the image to enlarge it. Save the large image.

MotoGP Pre-season Test at Sepang International Circuit 2012

Road to Sepang Town

I came to know that the 2012 MotoGP pre-season test at Sepang International Circuit on the 31 January to 2 February 2012 is open for fans to watch it for free at the main grandstand. Without much hesitation I pack up my gear and drive 240 kilometres up to Sepang on the last day of the first test session at Sepang. The second test is scheduled at the end of February 2012.

Sepang is a small town

The grandstand is very close to the track so I need to get up to speed with the riders. It takes me awhile till I got the shots that are worthwhile to keep.

Trust me it was Valentino Rossi.....I think

Defending Champion. The phrase Satu HATI at the bottom of the fairing in Malay means One Heart meaning UNITED (in everything)

I am lucky to meet a guy who is a very passionate fan of motor sports. He tells me that the other end of the grandstand (hard braking and cornering) is a good place for shooting photographs. Thanks to  him I got a few good close shots of the riders taking on the corner.

These pictures are big enough as a wallpaper for a full HD resolution monitor (need to crop the height though).

Valentino Rossi

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Finally, a wheelie by Valentino Rossi just before the session ends.

Thanks for the wheelie

Images of Pre-season Test 2 is here and here.

DIY Protective Jacket For Sigma 150-500mm Telezoom Lens

Simple protection against light knocks, abrasion and light rain

The soft casing of this Sigma lens is big and takes a lot of space in the bag. I need another form of protection from all those knockings and jostling that are inevitable while the lens is in the bag during handling. I need to take care of it even from scratches so I decided to make a protective jacket for the lens.

I folded a camping mat around the lens and did some markings. Then I laid it flat and drew the outline for the jacket and cut it. A piece of black cotton cloth was then glued and covered all the surface area and lastly I sewn Velcro® straps on three locations. Since there was empty space at the mount side of the jacket with the lens inside and to prevent the jacket from caving in, I cut out strips from the camping mat and made a circular filler for the space.

The finished jacket

Filler to plug in the cavity on the mount side

Filler in action

In retrospect if I were to do it again, I shall glue on one side with cloth of the same exact size and on the other side with cloth of bigger size and then just fold it over.

During one of my outings, I found another use for this jacket. Since the lens is not weatherproof, I found it quite adequate to use as a protection against the weather when it drizzle slightly.

Update 27 January 2012:

It can also be used as a backup lens hood. Tried and tested recently when I forgot to bring along the hood.

Sigma 150-500mm – Getting The Hang of It

Juvenile White-Bellied Sea Eagle

My initial feeling of this lens was that it was a little heavy. But, after a few outings, the weightiness is now less of a concern. Either my hands have become stronger or that I am now more accustomed to it that it is out of my mind. In fact, during outings my mind is more on the job and to get it right. When there is no bird in sight I just put it aside.

Autofocus is quite fast if the subject is near the focus point during the initial framing and from then onwards locking on is a breeze. Otherwise the focusing mechanism will go hunting high and low. This is not good for shooting birds in flight. Almost impossible to get a lock on focus. I know that I can easily get a good and sharp pictures of birds by just visiting the aviary but somehow I just don’t like the idea. I prefer to shoot wild and free birds. It is more challenging and I get to learn more about them. I am now more interested in birds, so when I know a place where the not so common birds often seen, I shall keep note of it and will go for an outing to that place when I have the time and will to do it. If a place that I will be visiting, there are chances of eagles sighting, I shall bring along my Sigma telezoom lens.

Precision

My outings with the Sigma telezoom lens are still few, but I am now more than comfortable with it. Lugging it around for short distances with the camera attached, I just grip the tripod collar with my left hand. When I want to shoot, I lift it to eye level simultaneously lifting my right hand to grip the camera. As a precaution, the camera strap is wound around my wrist. With the weight of lens and camera resting on my left hand palm and four fingers gripping the tripod collar, the thumb is free to rotate the focusing ring. If during the initial framing the focus is totally out, I shall pull the focusing ring down (to infinity focus point) and then up clockwise. When the view is almost in focus, the shutter is then pressed halfway to let autofocus kicks in. The focusing method for BIF that I am experimenting now is continuous focus coupled with continuous frame exposure. Occasionally, I do have a hard time getting the bird almost into focus manually before letting the autofocus takes over and lock on. When this happened, I quickly swing the camera to focus elsewhere which is approximately about the same distance as the bird and then get back to the bird.

Heron at Lido Beach, Johor, Malaysia

All said, I have yet to get a good and sharp picture. I am still learning. After going through all of the pictures, I found that most of it were below 1/2000th shutter speed unless it had higher ISO. In fact many were below 1/1000th. I try not to use high ISO because I do not want the picture to be too noisy as I am not doing any serious post processing at the moment, just a little bit here and there. Now that my stock is growing and whether I like it or not, it has to be soon. One of the reasons I am not getting good and sharp pictures of the bird is probably that I was too excited as the case with the eagle seen here. I was on my way back to Tanjung Batu from an island in Riau, Indonesia. As I was waiting for the ferry at the pier, I saw two White-bellied Sea Eagles flying and at times very near just above my head that it filled the whole frame in the viewfinder. On checking the exif, some were at 150mm and few others at F11.

Egret at Lido Beach

One thing I want to mention about the Sigma 150-500mm telezoom lens is that the hood is not tightly fit. Just recently on my way from Penyalai to Tanjung Batu in Kepulauan Riau, Indonesia, I noticed a group of birds flying behind and following the ferry. I grabbed the camera, attached the Sigma telezoom lens and started shooting. Through the lens I saw the birds were looking down and occasionally dived down to the water. There was probably food for them found at the still water that sloped down just after the turbulence caused by the propeller. After indulging myself shooting the birds, I lowered the camera. I felt something hit my right foot. I looked and saw the hood bounced, landed at the edge of the deck and rolled into the sea. There goes my sigma lens hood. Is it just my Sigma lens hood that is not tight-fitting or all of the others too? On closer inspection of the mount system on the lens, there is a small mount near the edge of the groove slot probably for locking. I guess it needs more force turning the hood when attaching it. Anyway the hood itself is quite fragile. It is made of plastic, large and thin. If it is expensive, I shall go for metal from the independent accessories maker.