Monday, 23 May 2011

Quick guide to DSLR

A friend of mine just bought a DSLR! Its great when you have more and more friends having the same passion as you. He just bought a brand new Canon EOS Kiss X4 or more known as the 550D.
"Aiman Naim's new Canon EOS Kiss X4" by Adzrin Mansor. Taken with a LG Optimus One
I still remember a friend, Dahlan reprimanded me for using Auto mode when using a DSLR when we were on our way up the Mt. Gwanak. lol. I couldn't agree more. Manual mode really let the user to control what he wants in the photo. To focus on which subject, to let which range of light visible, which colour mood the user want to convey and so on. Many people want to use this technological wonder but are intimidated by the elaborate settings. It's not like that hard to use it. The only hard thing is getting it right and get a beautiful picture. Know your enemy before a fight. This post is dedicated to the new users of DSLR who might still have doubts to use full manual mode. This is for you.

The key to a beautiful photo is a properly exposed photo, accurately focused, framed to tell the story that the user want to convey to viewers of the photo. Firstly, get the exposure right. The first thing is the shutter speed, which is the time duration of the shutter being opened and closed again. Camera is a visual apparatus so they are simply compared to a human eye. Shutter can be said to be like the human eyelids, but imagine your eyelids are always remain closed. Then you want to take a photo, then you open your eyelids for a duration of time, recording the picture and closing it again, simply said. The shutter speed is measured by seconds, ranging from as fast as 1/2000 seconds to as slow as a few minutes. The changes in speed changes the amount of light entering your image sensor so the longer you keep it open, more light enters the light sensor. A slow shutter speed picture looks like this:
"Playing with Light" by Adzrin Mansor
Shutter speed has a close friend aperture. The aperture is something like the pupils in your eyes, its the hole that is located in the centre of the Iris or the coloured part of the human eye. Well our pupils can dilate and contract according to light conditions, making the hole smaller in bright light and bigger in twilight situations. The camera aperture does practically the same. The aperture opening size is measured in f-stop values, for example F1.4, F2.8, and F22.0. The smaller the value, the larger the opening. The large opening means more light enters the image sensor thus we can use higher shutter speeds with a small f-stop value. For DSLRs, the f-stop values are mainly determined by the lens. The problem with some kit lens is it comes with a large f-stop value and the value just gets bigger when you zoom in. This is not much of a problem for normal shooting but it makes super high shutter speed shooting a disaster. When I mean super high shutter speeds, I mean shooting conditions like capturing a photo of Wayne Rooney kicking a ball frozen in mid air. That's why professional photographers would use a full-frame image sensor (which is large!) with a fixed small f-stop lens. Football fans would notice their white striped black telescopes from afar. Mind you, their equipment worth at least two Yamaha 135LC. Not one, TWO! A small f-stop value also gives the effect of background blur which is probably the most attention grabbing result from a DSLR like the following photo:
"Hedirul Amir and Hatta Aspar picnicking" by Adzrin Mansor
There is a third party in this partnership of exposure which is the ISO. It is the measure of the sensitivity of your image sensor. For example, ISO100 and ISO12800. The larger the value, the more light your image sensor gets. Now more cameras are offering larger and larger ISOs. An accurate value offers the user a properly exposed photo. If the value is too small the picture would be dark and if it is too large the picture will look burnt white. The large value of ISO also introduces grain called picture noise, to your picture. Most new DSLRs have more advanced noise reducing image processors. That's why every DSLR has one, and full-frame DSLRs have two of it. In low light conditions, higher ISO values help us to get more light but beware of noise.
"Ralph and The Girls first mini album" by Adzrin Mansor
Shooting in full manual is the most challenging as light conditions change within minutes. This really tests the user to think and act quickly for a properly exposed photo. Well, these three things are already a mind boggling task but there's more things to consider when shooting in full manual. White balance is the colour mood of the photo. The setting is specially imperative when shooting indoors where we have plain white fluorescent bulb to the yellow tungsten bulb. Setting the white balance can correct the colour mood of your photo. But I like to leave it at one setting, 5000-6500K or the sunlight white balance and when it calls for other colour temperatures, I'll just leave it so that it captures the real colour mood for a more honest picture.

Next thing is manual focus. Leave the lever beside the lens to MF! No AF! I love the AF or auto-focus as it is a great tool to save time focusing but it is a headache when it cant see my subject and focuses on the glass window I am sitting behind or focuses on the background instead of the subject! So while looking into the viewfinder, try to twist the focusing ring on the end of your lens to get the correct focus. A properly exposed, properly focused photo is a good photo. But it needs the judgement and the artistic perspective of a photography enthusiast to get a superb photo. Some would like a photo with art but as a travel photography enthusiast, I want to tell stories with my photos. This is where framing plays it role. I told about it in my previous post I'm Innocent! I Have Been Framed!
and I will put more now. A properly framed photo tells a thousand words. I have succeed if you can understand the situation in the photo without me telling you. These are photos taken during my latest trip to Jeju Island.
"Ucop and Jamilah" by Adzrin Mansor
"Man vs Machine" by Adzrin Mansor
"Ralph = Jason Mraz" by Adzrin Mansor
"Ijan by the beach" by Adzrin Mansor
"Our New Photographer" by Adzrin Mansor
"Seafood" by Adzrin Mansor
"Glass Museum" by Adzrin Mansor
"Waiting to board" by Adzrin Mansor
"Ke Laut" by Adzrin Mansor
"Luqman by the Sea" by Adzrin Mansor
"K-Pop Nasyid Group" by Adzrin Mansor
"Small Bang" by someone I forgot. Sorry mate lol.
"Luqman nak balik" by Adzrin Mansor
For more photos find me in facebook. I hope you can learn a lot from this freak fat kid's post. Have a good time with your DSLRs!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

12th May Appendix Day

The 12th of May left us more than a couple of days ago. I didn't have the chance to write this post on the day itself because I was in the middle of an exam. I decided to write about this day is because there is an event that changed my life forever occurred on the date. It was on the 12th of March I got hospitalised. I will concede it today. WARNING! THIS POST MAY CONTAIN DISTURBING IMAGES. PARENTAL DISCRETION ADVISED. LOL. For my friends who are taking medicine course now, these are the frank confessions of a patient...

The story started on the 11th of May where I was awakened in the middle of the night by a stomach ache. I treated it as a normal stomach ache and continued sleeping. I was waken up by a strange sensation of pain around the abdomen. I felt a slight pain at the region between the navel and the chest bone. The pain was not so severe but it was constant and also develops with time. I went about my daily routines, thinking the pain is in control and bearable without knowing it is one of the signs of a fatal inflammation. After a few hours it felt like some chemical is chemically corroding my stomach from the inside trying to get out. I couldn't even eat anything. The pain gradually rises its intensity until I found myself coiled up on bed, trying to forget the pain by sleeping. But the ever intensifying pain prevented me from sleeping. Two old friends, Nazarul and Syazwan dropped by for a while and their presence became a pleasant distraction over the pain. They witnessed my agony first-hand. While the sun was getting ready to wrap up the day, my parents prepared me for a visit to the doctor at a nearby clinic. The long wait for the doctor was long and excruciating. The doctor's words is somewhat like this, "Ni gastik ni. Risau pasal apa ni? Risau nak pergi UIAM atau Korea? Mommy's Boy lah ni..."

The doctor gave me an injection that is usually given to severe gastritis patients and gave me a bag full of gastritis medicine. At night the pain continues its torment on my already weakened body. It was the longest night I had to endure in 18 years. The next day the pain moved to another region, which is the right side of my lower abdomen. It was in that evening suddenly I felt a sharp pain at the area and the pain just wont go away. I just sat on the carpet bearing the pain while by body turned hot and I was sweating as if I had just ran a quarter mile. My parents rushed me to PUSRAWI in Kuala Lumpur and I was quickly ushered into the 'Emergency' department with a wheelchair as walking straight intensifies the pain. Exactly at 7.30pm I found myself lying on a bed pushed by three nurses. I smiled as I watched the lights went past above, it felt just like the movies. The moment I entered the operating theatre, I was greeted by a man asking about allergies and asked me to do some prayers. With a syringe he plunged a clear fluid into my Intravenous tube. I felt a burning sensation climbing from my arms. The moment it reaches my shoulders everything went black.

"The Appendix 1" by Dr Razipah, taken with an iPhone 3GS during my operation

"The Appendix 2" by Dr Razipah, taken with an iPhone 3GS during my operation
The best picture ever? You can say that again. The appendix should be a small projection on our large intestine. In my case, fate determined that a small and hard piece of faeces entered the appendix and blocking it. It then develops into an infection thus causing it to become inflamed. That was the culprit behind the 'corrosive chemical' feeling. In the second photo there is a region of the appendix coloured black, that is the point where the balloon like inflamed appendix wall bursts and caused the sharp pain.
I woke up at around 9pm with an oxygen mask carefully tied to my face, helping me to breathe. The nurse who was taking care of me found me awake and removed the oxygen mask. I tried to breathe independently in spite of feeling tired and drowsy at that moment. The anesthesia still holds its grip on me, I was gasping for air but I felt my ribcage was as heavy as if there is a bear sitting on my chest. A machine that monitors my vital signs rang a noisy alarm and I fell into unconsciousness again.
"Appendix in a Jar at the Recovery Room" by Azahar Mansor, taken with a Sony Ericsson K770i
I woke up again feeling much better and the nurse showed me my inflamed appendix in a plastic jar, swimming in an unknown solution. Then the staff pushed my bed to my ward where I spent four long days recovering from the operation. 12th May 2011 is my first anniversary of going about my daily lives without an appendix. I could still remember the doctor's words after the operation, "Appendicitis can be fatal you know. If you'd come a few hours later than you did, the infected pus will spread and you may even not be alive anymore"~

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Bandana

Ah... Its another post that gets in the way of SIngapore-lah Part 2. I'm still working on the post, trying to make it as interesting as possible. For now, I'm going to talk about a transition of a person. The Bandana, a thin cotton piece of army camouflage pattern fabric, stitched together intricately to form a cylindrical shape. Something that is worn like a scarf, and can be found at Daiso at 1000won. It compliments a normal shirt and jeans, making girls head turn around to look at the wearer, while the wearer gives a small smile to appreciate her gesture.

What the hell is this guy is talking about? haha. Well now I began to understand why women loves to dress up, to look at her best for others even though it requires hours of elaborate colouring and painting in front of the mirror. It is the smallest gesture of an eye contact and a smile from the opposite sex is enough to make a person's day. These are some pictures snapped today using my LG Optimus One...
"Bandana Self Capture" by Adzrin Mansor
"Me With Miss Student Rep" by Hatta Aspar
"Me With Mr Student Rep" by Hatta Aspar
"뻑이가요" by Hatta Aspar
Some asked me, what would triggered such a drastic change? From a nerd to a K-pop fashion lover? Well, I would have to keep that information in a locked safe. Easy to be said, I have found my new love. Haha. Perhaps, I would say I picked up fashion advice from this guy:
"Korean Baby" by Adzrin Mansor

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Malam muda-mudi

Every 5th of May is the Children's Day in Korea, where parents can pause from doing their work to spend some time with their families. For me, it is a day off to unwind, loosen up our muscles a bit. I was at home with fellow housemate, Fikri Ahmad. Too lazy to cook for ourselves, we went out for dinner at Pizza School, where we ate the 5000 won cheese pizza. My stomach was growling for food so we ordered one pan per person. A whole pan of pizza to fill a stomach! The first bites were cheesy heaven but when it comes to the last bites, it was torture. We stuffed our mouths with the pizza and gorged them down before our stomach explodes.
"도와 주세요!" by Adzrin Mansor
After successfully finishing the pizza, we headed home, which is on the other side of the road. We crossed the busy road using a pedestrian bridge and the view from up there was amazing. I couldn't let this photo opportunity to go away so I set up my camera on a tripod and snapped a few photos. This following photo is mostly inspired by the work of Mohamad Haris from
"Pizza School" by Adzrin Mansor
Then we started to be involuntary models for a photoshoot with a bottle of Chilsung Cider.
"Dalam Mulut Ada Pizza" by Adzrin Mansor
"Dalam Mulut Ada Pizza 2" by Adzrin Mansor
"Dalam Mulut Ada Pizza 3" by Fikri Ahmad
"Prop Cider" by Fikri Ahmad
"Prop Cider 1" by Adzrin Mansor 
"Prop Cider 2" by Adzrin Mansor
I would save the best picture of myself for the last... Haha what a lovely picture...
"Prop Cider 3" by Fikri Ahmad

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Singapore-lah Part 1

My eldest and only brother finished his Degree in Architecture at IIUM recently. He is going to be a real architect soon! Talking about architecture, it reminds me of my trip to Singapore last November. It’s a good coincidence for my brother to have a leave on the same week that I have my holidays. So, this chance was taken by my family to get out together before I fly my way to Korea.

DSC00767 by Azahar Mansor (Sony NEX-3)

It was a chilly 18th November morning, my family and I woke up early in the morning before the sun rises on the horizon and got prepared. In the cold morning air as early as 8.00 am we arrived at Corus Hotel Kuala Lumpur to catch an Aeroline bus straight from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. The bus was a yellow double decker bus, built by the world renowned Swedish manufacturer, Scania. Their buses and trucks are recognized to be one of the best in the world, thus I was expecting a smooth 4 hour ride ahead. A few moments before 9.00 am we threw our luggage into the belly of the Scandinavian beast and boarded the bus. There was a lanky, dark skinned male 'steward' welcomed us on board and checked our tickets as we climbed our way onto the second floor. The first floor of the bus looks like a lounge, complete with sofas and a coffee table. The atmosphere was luxurious as the cabin was decorated with lavish grain wood finishing and the sofas are wrapped elaborately with beige leather.

This is the high life, I thought. Then I proceeded to the second floor, the seats were normal bus seats but they were large. The large chairs are arranged according to a 1-2 seat arrangement, which means that every row has only 3 seats. The atmosphere was as lavish as the first floor, and the comfort level of the seats defeats the ones in Airbuses and Boeings. Probably the RM180 round trip fare would be worth the price. Precisely at 9.00 am the bus driver fired up the engine and we hit the road on Ampang Avenue towards the North-South Highway. IT WAS A NIGHTMARE! The engine noise reverberates throughout the cabin, giving passengers a 9.9 Richter scale tremor and I could see small tsunamis forming in my 500ml mineral water bottle. The tremors and aftershocks was dampened for a while when we stopped over somewhere north of Johor for a toilet stop. One hour later we crossed the Johor Strait using the Second Link Bridge and then went through customs checks through a Customs and Immigrations Checkpoint on Singaporean soil.

We disembarked at Vivo City, which is a shopping mall located near to Sentosa Island. Then we head straight to our hotel near Mustafa Centre. Mustafa Centre is famous for its rows of Indian food restaurants. So practically sitting here eating roti canai felt the same as how it would felt in Malaysia. Since it is still early we decided to take a close look at the state-of-the-art Marina Bay Sands. The building is an iconic skyscraper built to be the new icon for Singapore. It is actually three skyscrapers linked with a skybridge on the top, making the design a memorable statement of art and an amazing feat of engineering. Moshe Safdie, a Palestinian born architect designed the building to look like a ship, appreciating Singapore as one of the world’s major ports. Malaysia had an icon that combines a pagoda with an Islamic geometrical design which is once the world’s tallest building and still the tallest twin towers, which is the Petronas Twin Towers. It put Malaysia in the attention of the globe. Well, Singapore couldn’t afford to be left behind. The Marina Bay Sands is a complex of luxury hotels, shopping mall, and a casino. The interior design is not very far to what we see in Pavilion KL, where the atmosphere is for people hanging Gucci handbags on their arms, flamboyantly swaying around their credit cards, buying stuff unimaginable for people like us, in boutiques as shiny and cleverly crafted as a Mont Blanc fountain pen.

"Marina Bay Sands" by Adzrin Mansor

An exaggerated hyperbola isn’t it? It’s fun to write though. Continuing into the story, we also had the chance to hop on the Singapore Flyer which is one of the best ways to enjoy the view of the harbour at an elevated perspective. It boasts as the world’s largest Ferris wheel and it is seriously tall. The view from the cylindrical air-conditioned capsule was magnificent as we can see the city from its best point of view. There was also an amphibian vehicle ride called the Harbour Duck Tours where passengers are taken on a scenic route around the downtown enjoying the British Colonial history of the city. Then it plunges into the smelly green waters of the harbour, taking a detour near the Merlion while enjoying the views of the Marina Bay Sands.

South East Asians are united because they hail one king, the durian. The Esplanade is something like the Sydney Opera House, a place where people from the performing arts industry, well, performs their arts. The building is designed by a pure Singaporean together with a London based architect firm, and it takes the shape of the durian shell. The ground where it stands is a ‘crow’s nest’ for photographers taking pictures of the Singaporean cityscape. I am not a photographer with an exquisite DSLR camera but still the view is not to be missed. I mounted my camera on a tripod, with a F2.8 aperture and shutter speed of 4 seconds, I took the following photos.

"Singaporean Skyline" by Adzrin Mansor
"Marina Bay Sands Night View" by Adzrin Mansor

We also visited Sentosa Island which is a favourite family holiday spot for locals. There was a newly opened Universal Studios theme park but the rides are still limited so we decided to just take a look around. The small island was a little hilly and there was a downhill cart ride, a ski lift and theme parks. I also got the chance to try my skills on a Segway which was a bit tricky to conquer. There were also groups of small Malay teenagers, probably around 14 years of age I thought. The boys were dragging cans of alcohol around while the girls wear scantily. Come on guys, you’re still too young for that stuff. It gives an impression of it’s the Malays who seemed to rule the low life in Singapore.

-Part 2 available, click here-
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