Friday, 20 July 2012

2012 New York Trip Favourite Shots

Hi. Three days passed after my trip to the east coast of America. After crossing 12 time zones, the jet lag was awesome. I was sleepy and slept in odd hours even during the day for two days. The third day I would say I am perfectly cured. So, during the trip I visited New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Niagara Falls, Boston, and back to New York again before heading home. I haven't posted most of my photos in facebook yet because facebook albums are so mainstream I'm not sure if people would even see it if I uploaded my photos there. Well, the amount of silent photo watchers in facebook is too high. 

So here it is, my favourite photos from my recent trip. My style is travel photography, its never about the colours. It's about embedding memories in a square frame. I don't do much editing (as I don't know much on the know hows of photoshop) so I can guarantee you, these photos are just from a noob DSLR swinging kid.

Flying. This was taken a few minutes after departure at KLIA on a Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 en route to Hong Kong for a transit stop and change flights for a direct flight to JFK.

Sunset above Miyazaki, Japan. Taken hours after transit stop at Hong Kong, this time on a Boeing B777-300ER (yes, the new ultra-long haul A380 competitor, speed vs capacity). The cruising speed was awesome and this is the highest altitude I've been, 38,000 feet above sea level.

Looking out of the window of a Cathay Pacific A330-300. Just my brother looking out. I love the light forming on him so I snapped a photo. I learned that taking exposure at the face and focusing at the eye usually works quite well. 

Statue of Liberty. I'm in New York!

33rd Street New York is near the Empire State building as you can see behind me. There was a constant crowd and the roads were full of taxis, just what like you usually see in a movie.

Times Square, New York. This is where most of the action happens.

Elmo is thirsty! Just before hopping on the bus I saw this street performer doing some shopping in his costume. These moments are priceless. Maybe this is why New York is very famous for street photography.

Bryant Park. This is taken from the Empire State Building. If you see further North, you can see Central Park.

Financial District, New York. This is where Wall Street and the World Trade Center twin towers once stood. Now, another twin towers are replacing them. From here you can see Long Island on the left and New Jersey at the bottom right, separated from Manhattan by the water.

Reflection Pool, Washington DC. I need further reading on these sites before I can say anything. All I know is, these monuments are important to them. So that obelisk there, was build in the ages of the Civil war. Surely so much back in the days of the founding fathers maybe. But look at the crowd.

The White House. With agents crawling around the grounds 24/7 I'm not sure if President Obama is in there or not at this time, all I know is, he stays here. Hey Mr President I am at your gate! That's the closest I can get to the President for the time being, even if he is inside.

Niagara Falls. It comprises of two big waterfalls; American falls, the one closest to me and the Horseshoe falls. Which is the biggest and located in the Canadian side. All of the water came from the same river from Lake Erie and into Lake Ontario after some crazy white water rapids down stream.

Niagara Falls. Lovely sight. You can see more of the Horseshoe Falls back there and directly behind me is the American Falls.

Boston. Home of some independence stuff and great universities, the Harvard and the MIT.

8th Avenue New York. Aaand I'm back to New York for two days before going home. So its not just rows of tall buildings, they do have some open spaces to relieve the claustrophobics.

Greenland. Aaand I'm going home after 7 days. This time instead of flying the usual route, the B777-300ER flies North almost, near the North Pole. In contrary to the previous flight this 16 hour flight was under sunlight for the whole duration of the flight.

Artic Sea. Taken somewhere north off Greenland coast. I remember after this shot, as the aircraft goes further north it is just sea of ice with beautiful textures and large potholes.

Petronas Twin Towers. And it means that I'm home.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

New York - KL via Hong Kong flight home

So. Yep. After eight days spending time around the east coast of the USA here I am in my flight home. Free wi-fi is rare. I rarely got the chance to go online. Right now I am in a flight from New York heading towards Hong Kong departing at 10 am. Same way I came, this is the super long haul.
This is like six hours after departure. Was sleeping quite well in the first few hours of this flight. The cool thing about this flight this time is we are flying North through Canada and above Greenland just now. Greenland looked so beautiful from above. The landscape was filled with large rivers and lakes too. Interestingly the landscape has a kind of straight parallel shapes on them. Perhaps all of those hills and lakes were formed by glaciers.
Now flying over the ocean near an island called Svalbard, but the ocean is just massive ice shelfs here. This is summer at the North pole though. Wow. We are flying just a few kilometers away from the North pole and going to cross above Russia and China before landing in Hong Kong. This is going to be a very long flight of 16 hours.
So the bad part is over. After a tiring trip sure I can get more sleep. That is why I am not writing much this time. After a few hours of waiting at Hong Kong International Airport I am now in a flight to Kuala Lumpur. This is a very short flight. I slept for the first one and half hour straight and now I have another one hour and half to go as we are already flying near Ho Chi Minh City.
I just have no idea of smart things to say. Maybe lets save it for a detailed essay soon. I took more than 2000 photos this time, crazy snapping huh? Lets choose the good ones and post it here! Wait for it! Let me just relax and doze off a bit more before arriving at KLIA...
So here I am at home. Time to shower and sleep!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Back to New York short update

Its Thursday. After six days on a coach, starting tomorrow we are free to roam the streets on our own. This is the reap deal. What I do best in my past visits.
On the first day we arrived at the airport in the evening we was fetched by a tour company representative to a Ramada hotel in Newark New Jersey. The next day we went around New York and stayed in the same hotel in New Jersey.
Then we headed south to Washington DC and spent a night there. Next we went to Niagara falls and stayed in a hotel near Buffalo. Then the next day we went to Boston and after one night there, here we are, on route back to New York for another two days on our own. I'm planning to go around using the public transport. I'm gonna love this!
So I'm not gonna write a detailed story yet, I will soon. Just a short update this time. I am currently in Walliford maybe, somewhere in Connecticut. Will reach New York again soon. See ya around ya'll. Im gonna end this short update with a picture of my new shoe haha.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Posted from Boston : 8 Smart Packing Tips

1. Bring a small and thin towel
It is logical that all hotels and even American motels provide every room with at least towels for two. To cut weight you need to get hold of the lightest, thinnest and a logically small towel just for backup purposes. It is much easier to use the towels provided by the hotel and leave them behind as you wont have to put your dripping wet towel back into your bag.

2. Bring your own small toiletries kit
Flight regulations are getting tighter these days. Since 2005 a person can only carry maximum a litre of LAGs (Liquids Aerosol Gel) on board in separate bottles of 100ml each. Yeap. 100ml bottles x 10 = one litre. So dont bring your whole big bottle of shampoo. Get a travel pack from Giant or Watsons. They have good 100ml bottles in a transparent zipper bag priced around RM10. Just in case the security officer at the airport wants to see your LAGs you can present the whole transparent bag. Keep in mind soap and shampoo is also just for backup as hotels do provide them. Dont forget your collapsible toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and other important stuff to go in there. Be sure to put them in your hand carry bag as you'll never know if your check in luggage goes to the wrong flight.

3. Bring small bags
For most flights the policy allows the hand carry luggage to weigh not exceeding 7kg and check in luggage will be like 20kg or more depending on how much you pay. But don't bring 27kg of stuff with you for a week of travel. The road will not be so smooth for you to drag it and there is high chance for you to go up and down the stairs. Keep in mind nobody will come and help you to lift your bags. Nobody. Unless they are interested in you for a one night stand. I am not talking this only for the ladies. There are male predators seeking for men too.

For the check in bag, a big bag would fit a lot but too big is just gonna weigh you down. A 22-inch or 24-inch would be allright for travel. About the question of bag material, any bag would be fine as long as their frame is sturdy.

So for the hand carry item, you can bring two items. One is a bag smaller than like maybe 20-inches. Different flights have different sizes so check it at their website or buy the most common hand carry bag of 18-inch. One more item is maybe a laptop bag, camera bag or handbag for the ladies. Keep them light and keep important items in them. Be sure to put one full set of attire in your hand carry luggage just in case your check in luggage goes missing in action.

3. TSA locks
If you're travelling to the USA, American law enforcers will open random bags for security checks after you checked them in. If it is locked with a normal padlock they will break it open. Invest for bags with TSA locks or buy TSA certified padlocks for your check in luggage.

4. Try wearing clothes more than once
I am a clean guy dont worry. I usually go out by sunrise and only coming back to the hotel after the sun is down so I only wear my sleepwear for only a few hours. Instead of having a set of sleepwear for each night, wear then repeatedly for at least two nights. This will cut down lots of space and weight. Sometimes I even throw away my sleepwear after wearing them repeatedly. I need that extra space for souvenirs or other stuff I bought during the trip.

5. Bring plastic bags
Bring your own plastic bags or steal the laundry bags provided by some hotels to store worn clothing. It is important to separate worn clothing with fresh ones.

6. Everything hand carry
For short trips you should try putting everything in hand carry luggage. This saves a lot of time especially at the check in counter and mostly because you wouldn't need to wait for your bag to come out at the luggage carousel. Less waiting time means more time exploring!

7. Universal adapter
That mobile phone and camera is going to be hungry after long usage so you need to feed them. Invest in some small adapters so that you can charge them no matter where you are. Those things only connects your plug to the socket. It doesn't alter the current. Don't worry. Your mobile phone, laptop or most mobile device is usually equipped with travel chargers. Usually they are designed to work in voltage ranging as high as the British 220V to American 110V. Most of them only needs 5V to work.

8. Adapt
Pack your clothing and luggage so that you can adapt overseas. Your clothing should not be strikingly screaming you're not a local. Instead, google what the locals wear. But the next is much more IMPORTANT. For travellers with laptops or DSLR cameras, find bags that can act as a camouflage your precious electronics. I purposely bought a grey coloured messenger bag that looks like a kid's bag for school to hide my camera. It is my first purchase worth more than a grand I aint losing it!

Contact me through facebook or comment for more info or even helping me to add more tips. Thanks!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Hong Kong to JFK New York Flight

So while I am writing this I am flying on a Cathay Pacific Boeing B777-300ER from Hong Kong International to John F Kennedy in New York. Currently I am flying above the Pacific and five hours passed since takeoff.
We were kinda late to check in online so the available seats were scattered across the cabin. Asians. They do things fast dont they? So I am sitting with a chinese boy named like O something, some greek number. I forgot. Not a big fan of the greek okay. I will ask his email address soon before disembarking.
He is travelling for a like school trip with 20 classmates to Boston, home of MIT and HARVARD!! They are going to stay at the summer house and like party rocking maybe for three weeks. He is 16 though. Well. I would love to have a friend from China. I hope hes active on facebook.
Sitting beside him is a pretty girl which is one of his schoolmates in the flight. Judging from the games they played, these are the elite kids I'd say. Its not about economic status, its the social status in school. I enjoyed that status thanks to the flock of kids who opted for government boarding schools. Simply, kings and queens of high school. Come on kids this is Asia. The smarter you are, the cooler you'd be.
So the funny part today was this. The stewardess came and asked if we would like to have some drinks. I clearly said "plain water" with a slight tinge of British accent picked up from my English teacher at school. And the stewardess understood it as "ping guo zher" or something like that. So she gave me a glass of apple juice.
How cool is that! Okay me sitting beside kids from China, and plus with my single-eyelid Asian face and maybe lightly tanned yellow skin, I do look like a Chinese do I?
Whoa. Well.. I like it. Hoorah. My best friend is a Chinese girl, maybe I can be like a spy in DAP meetings someday LOLZ. Someday...
Someday I will want to visit Beijing and maybe Tokyo. I am flying above Tokyo now. Someday... I gotta collect funds from now. I want to add Japan into my collection of 21 countries visited. Although Hong Kong is considered a part of China, I want to know how it felt like in Beijing. The people up north. Psst, all those Kpop girls you saw in TV, well, China has their own beauties too. I still remember a woman member of the Malaysian parliament strongly disagrees with the thought of bringing maid workforce from mainland China. I see what you did there.
Well there are beautiful women in every part of the world. Dont forget the ones back home in Malaysia too. I just turned 20 this year, no longer a teenager omg. Why not we set up some doppler radar for candidates dont we? In facebook lots of girls are posting about marriage and stuff. They already casting out signals with their transmitters obviously.
Its 11 hours into flight. We are above Alaska, flying into Canadian territories. Its summer but I can see snow in the mountaintops. Just Canada maybe. I have like 5 hours more to go before landing. I couldn't sleep well. It was like on and off like that. Told you I can sleep sitting. Throw me anywhere. I can sleep with noise and light around, but not if I'm not lying down. Prepare for major jet lag. I will be arriving in JFK at 7.45pm. Hope I can quickly get to a hotel and sleep like really, sleep.
14 hours into flight. Now flying over the great lakes in Canadian airspace. Interestingly the terrain is largely flat, and then a sudden drop forming a water body. Big ones. Two hours to go. I slept quite well just now.
So after arriving we went to Ramada Newark Airport and spent the night there. A new day today! Jalan!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Flight to New York 7th July 2012

This is me again typing away time on my android. Currently I am on a Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 on my way to Hong Kong International, their whiskey hotel.
20 minutes after takeoff now I am above the South China Sea, after flying over Selangor and Pahang. The sky is much cleaner here than above land. There is a greyish tint in the sky on land. Currently we are travelling at 831kmh at 34,000 feet or 10210m above sea level. It is sunny outside but at this altitude the temperature is -37°C. Normal for an Airbus A330. Oh you just cant get these real time infos on board Air Asia. That's suckishly boring.
This flight duration is 3 hours and 50 minutes. Much tolerable than KUL to ICN long haul that lasts like 6 hours. But 6 hour is nothing to what I will be doing next.
Hong Kong to New York. Crossing 12 time zones on a Boeing B777-300ER. The dreamliner I guess. My first super long haul jet ride. Yup. I never travelled this far on a single flight before because in the last three visits this far, I always continue with domestic flights. But crossing 12 time zones are not new to me . So to the people in Malaysia, say its 1pm there. It will be 1am in New York. Just 180° degrees behind ya.
Just got some roasted peanuts with some apple juice. Come on dont expect luxury when you're with me. Here sitting with some Hongkis and a group of Arabic people on their way to Hong Kong. Oh there are parents bringing small children flying too. Kids. You know they scream and cry some times. Malaysian Airlines no child policy kinda maked sense now. And parents, small children still cant cope with the low air pressure inside the cabin. I can imagine how painful the feeling of puffed ears and babies dont know hoe to deal with it. So they cry, a lot. Parents, wait until they're big enough like 7 or something before flying please.
There will be nothing but open sea below along this flight to Hong Kong except after making landfall at Hong Kong. So hmm I am flying eastwards. Lets minimize jet lag by getting as much sleep as we can okay?
50 minutes to destination. Having done three hours of flight time. This is boring. Cant wait to actually arrive there. Just another 16 hours of flight time left before I arrive in New York. Its gonna be allright. Lets pray for Allah's protection and blessings for this trip. The aircraft is starting to turn around. Maybe Hong Kong is near.
So I am at HKIA now. Proceeding to my gate. After this I will be on the super long haul crossing 12 time zones. See ya around. Will be posting stuff live as they happen. If I have wifi.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

My Own Camera Company

I dreamt of owning my own camera company a few days ago. I don't know how it came into my mind but I think it all came after I was playing with my mum's 23 year old Yashica FX-3 Super 2000 film SLR camera. To know fully understand how old it is to me, that camera is three years older than me.
Using that full frame goodness, lightweight stuff is so refreshing. The bright and big viewfinder is superb thanks to a real pentaprism inside it. Without a battery I can still press the shutter button and it mechanically raises the mirror, exposing the film.
On top of it is a shutter speed dial, ranging from bulb to 1/1000s. Then the lens has triple rings on it. First is the iris, or aperture. Second is the zoom ring. Third is the focusing ring.
The 1/125s has some colour on it. In the days of old they had no built in light metering, so they used a constant shutter speed of 1/125s and they changed the iris on the lens to match the lighting. ISO? Back in the days they were using film rolls with constant ISO 200. Yeah. The amount of exposure mistakes would be so high back then. Film is not that cheap to buy and process too.
But the large bright viewfinder, the mechanics in lifting the mirror without electric motor, the compactness of the lenses, it all makes sense now on how it is done the old way. Things are much crude and simpler back then. I finally know why digital lenses are too heavy. Its their focusing motor. Back then lenses are only groups of glass encased in a plastic cylinder.
Well I was thinking, what if, we can go back to the days of film but still be digital. What if we strip down all electronics on a full frame camera, like a 5D Mark II. Then put a simpler, smaller mirror flip mechanism triggered by the shutter button. So that the burst speed is defined by, simply how fast your fingers are. Probably that can cut weight and size.
Then we would leave a small light metering sensor somewhere integrated near the pentaprism, where it gets to evaluate light reflected by the mirror. Its job is to evaluate the light coming from the sensor and give info to the user whether the exposure settings he set is making photos overexposed or underexposed.
I would leave a large three inch screen on the back and I will put a focus peaking function, like Sony cameras do it. Highlighting the areas in focus with bright colours. Probably I will have a button on it to activate the function. This is important as I will not include any electronics on the lens.
I love primes. Small in size but fast aperture lenses. Love them. I will make them all with good glass, but polycarbonate bodies. It will be light and be as cheap as the economy would let it be. With no machinery like focusing motor or stabilizers on it I probably can make them cheaply. With a large 35mm sensor, the dreamy bokeh effect once achieveable only on old lenses will be possible again. Imagine an afforable 50mm f0.95?
In shooting, one must choose the desired ISO in the camera menu. Probably I would have four axis button and a middle button on it for navigating the menus. After setting the ISO then the shutter speed would be set on a dial on top, just like a film camera would. Maybe I can set them to have them ranging from Bulb to 1/4000s. Then the aperture is changed by rotating the iris ring on the lens.
The lens range would have to be useful, maybe like some wide angle primes such as a 17mm f2.8, 35mm f1.8, 50mm f1.4 and more. Zooms will be fast too. All are manually focused and have iris rings on them. A full HD movie recording function are also welcomed. So there must be a processing engine on board hidden on the motherboard. Li-ion batteries and SD Card will also be hidden in the hand grip.
I will make the camera body from polycarbonate too. And I want to boast it as the world's smallest and lightest 35mm CMOS sensor camera in the world. If I can, the cheapest with also reasonably priced manual focus lenses.
It is just a dream. We will see if I am bold enough to start a business like that or not. Maybe. We'll see in the future. I don't think my idea would trigger an uproar in today's gadget collector crowd who camps in front of Apple stores, but photo enthusiasts with thin wallets like me maybe will need something like these.

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