Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Riverside Spiders

Walking along the brook in Batang Kali, I couldn't help but notice the spiders that made the wet, splashy riverside environment their home.

This spider lives on a piece of branch that fell from a tree into a river. This tree branch is right in the middle of the river; most of the branch is underwater and the spider made the part of the branch that is above the water its home. I was thinking about why this spider chose such dangerous site for a dwelling, since the water can easily sweep the spider away and drown it should the branch shift position or move due to the raging current or  outside interference by humans or animals.

You can see how risky this location is for the spider; the rushing water is just a few inches away.

This is a very small spider that made its home at the end of a very tall grass reed that grows on the river bank and extends into the middle of the river. It seems that the area above the surface of the river is a good place to catch insects that breed in the river or habitually fly over the river surface (such as damselflies and mosquitoes).


I still have some pictures of other riverside little creatures that I'd like to share, so I hope you enjoyed this installment of spider photos ;)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Insects Mating after Feb 14th

The day after February 14th, we went for a family getaway in Batang Kali, Selangor where my uncle owns a piece of hillside land that includes a brook / river creek and a riverside shack.

Most of the family, after having breakfast, went for a dip in the brook and literally stayed there till evening. I joined them for a bit before grabbing my camera and traversed along the brook looking for small creatures to shoot. And I got a few that I liked.

Dragonflies Mating

I saw a pair of dragonflies flying around, one chasing the other, so I followed them until they stopped and landed on a blade of grass. The dragonfly in front started to attach the tip of its abdomen on the neck of the second dragonfly.

After that, the second dragonfly attached its abdomen tip onto the underside of the first dragonfly...

Hard to say which one's male and which one's female. I'd say the one behind is male. Notice that they form a kind of heart shape in the process. The nymphs are conceived in love!

The Mating Water Striders

Capturing any decent pictures of the water striders was really hard. I had a hard time focusing on any of them due to the small size, the amazingly clear water (made the AF focus on the objects in the water) and their superfast and sudden movements. I spotted an extraordinarily large one which wasn't as fast as the others, and it wasn't until I took a picture that I realized it wasn't a large water strider, it was a pair of water striders mating!

You can kind of see how the weight of the both of them bend the surface tension of the water.

They also dance along the surface of the water while they're at it!


I have more pictures of other brookside insects, but let me save those for another post. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this one as much as I enjoy sharing them with you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ninety Percent of the Way to Thirty

February 16th was my 27th birthday so the family got together for a small celebration.

The chocolate mousse cake that was completely devoured within two minutes. Because the whole family was busy with preparations and other stuff, I went to town and bought the cake myself. Glad I picked this one because usually at the end of the birthday celebration we ended up with a big chunk of uneaten cake, but this time my cake was the first one to be gone from the food table. I have chosen wisely...

The birthday feast was a simple lineup: chocolate mousse cake, mashed potato with mushroom gravy, salad with hard-boiled eggs, tomato and sliced cheese, turmeric fried chicken, and sliced oranges (Happy Chinese New Year of the Tiger, btw!)

Cutting the cake. As always, Abu my brother refuses to smile in the picture. He does this deliberately sometimes. The frown doesn't necessarily mean he's upset, he just wants to make a face in the picture.

This is my excuse for being overweight =). Whenever I'm home, there's such an abundance of wonderfully cooked meals that I find it hard to restrain myself from finishing up leftovers. My family feeds me well =)

Some of the presents. My sisters like to prepare and wrap each present themselves. Plus they always make (and not buy) the birthday card so it has a personal touch that you can never get from a card purchased from the store.

They spelled 'successful' wrong. My sister said it was deliberate. Yeah right =D

The symbolic t-shirt. The absent present (oxymoron!) was represented by the mock t-shirt my sister made. The actual t-shirt was left in our apartment in Seri Kembangan.

Mya gave me a personalized t-shirt with my family nickname on it spelt in Korean. Besan (or Abesan) is a portmanteau of the Kelantanese word 'Abe' (means big brother) and the last part of my name, 'San' (from 'Ihsan').

Milah and Shaz gave me a pair of Crocs. Each half of the pair was individually wrapped in two different presents, which meant that they each gave me half a pair =D. I guess in some ways, it meant that I have to use  both their gifts equally and am not able to prefer one over the other... maybe. I thought that was quite amusing =)

Another personalized birthday card made by my sisters, with a two-layer birthday cake and a pair of candles shaped like the number '27'.

There are presents yet to be received, and those are the ones I am quite excited about!

I am so grateful to my beloved family for the wonderful celebration this year. I have to say this is one of the best that I've had in a long time =)

Thanks for all the presents and the well-wishes. I am ninety percent of the way to being thirty. The past three-cubed years have been a journey, and I'm glad I got to share those years with my family and friends, and you guys, my blogreaders.

Thank you for those who've been there for me, both in body and in spirit. Those that I haven't seen for quite a while, do know that I really miss you and would love to have you around. I've had nothing but wonderful times with everyone and I hope we get to make more wonderful memories in the coming years.

Here's to being three to three-oh.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Conference, Journal, Wedding, Photography, Repairs, Basketball, Life.

Just listing what I'm currently having and will be having in the next few days...

Work Related To-Dos
Finish writing up the first draft of the paper for FEOFS 2010 conference (deadline tonight)
Prepare for pre-viva presentation (deadline Friday 12 January, 3pm postponed to March)
Search for local experts on genetic algorithm (deadline end of February)
Prepare a journal manuscript for a high-impact applied mathematics journal (deadline end of February)
Prepare a preliminary draft of Master's thesis (deadline end of February)
Perform more analysis on fatigue data recently acquired (by end of February)
Prepare slides for the paper to be presented at the conference in Cambridge, UK (by this weekend)

Other To-Dos
Attend wedding of Baizurah and Solehuddin (Saturday 13 February)
Photography assignment with Fahmi and Syazwani (Sunday 14 February)
Pay electricity bill at TNB Subang Jaya (Thursday or next week)
Deliver Wacom Intuos3 to Mailal (Friday night 12 February)

Air-conditioner repair, power steering and engine maintenance for the Waja (cost: RM1600)
Replace burnt out lightbulbs in the Waja (cost: RM40)
Integrate a population diversity analysis function into the GA clustering method (cost: a headache)
Prepare slides for GUP research progress report

Life's hectic, but I guess it's less mundane that way. Still, I need more spice in my life, in my opinion. Maybe a return to playing basketball? It's been quite a while since I last went shooting hoops. I miss it terribly sometimes.

Monday, February 08, 2010

My Birthday Wish-item

If I can only get one birthday present this year, it would be this:

Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8G

(A short snippet by Peter Tan here)

Seeing as lots of others got their birthday wishes this year, I wonder if I deserve to get mine this time...


And someone deserves my apology. It seems that I have been quite a nuisance to her. Every essence of my presence seems to have struck her like an unbearable stench. I will stay away now. I'm sorry for having been too much of a bother to your life. Please forgive me for being a thorn in your side all this time.

Monday, February 01, 2010

I Heart Photography #2 - My history of photography

One thing I can tell you is that I never thought I'd be so interested in photography. I didn't know way back then that of all the hobbies I've tried - stamp and/or sticker collecting, model making, buffet eating, etc. - photography would be the most enjoyable and fulfilling. I didn't have the passion for this hobby until recently. It used to be that I like having pictures taken, then it evolved into enjoying taking other people's pictures, and consequently just random stuff around that people tend not to notice (which paved the way to my increasing interest in closeup, macro and still life).

I procured my first camera when I was 16, in 1999. I won the camera in the National Space Science Quiz competition held at the National Planetarium, Kuala Lumpur. It was an APS film camera, the Minolta Vectis GX-2.

photo taken from flickr

It was touted to be splashproof and durable, and I used it several times for my family excursions to the beach. The APS film format was supposedly next-gen towards the end of the nineties, but by early 2000s the format slowly dies out; phased out by the emerging market of digital photography.

The first camera that I bought by myself using my own money was a Sony Cybershot DSC-P71. It was large, heavy, noisy, and consumes battery power like a thirsty camel. I bought it sometime summer  2003, a few months after I got to the States for college.

photo credit: dpreview.com

For a 3.2 megapixel camera with limited features, it served me well for all my 4.5 years in the United States. Most of the pictures I took while I was in Michigan came from this trusty old camera. In fact, I used to be the pseudo-official photographer for the Muslim Students Association in the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, and all of the photos were from this camera. You can see the photos I took by going to this site:


Go to About MSA > Gallery and it will take you to a Picasa web album site. The lower 50% of all the albums on the site (basically oldest photos on the site) were taken by me, between 2005 - 2006, using the clunky old P71.

Some of the pics I took back then. Photo credits: ihsankhairir

Alas, the old camera served me for a full five years before it died its slow death, finally one day refusing to turn on even after I served it with a set of fully charged double-As. The day it died, I felt a small pang of sadness, for I have had and made tons of memories with this camera, and the fact that I may never use it again for taking photos brought an end to a very meaningful and fulfilling run.

The death of the Sony DSC-P71 came shortly after I procured from a friend the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX12.

I took quite a number of pictures using this very compact and easy to use camera. I used it especially to explore my growing interest in closeup and macrophotography (of bugs, especially), as evidenced by the photos below.

photo credits: ihsankhairir

The Lumix was stolen at a McDonald's restaurant in Shah Alam, which to me was a devastating blow. During its short service it had helped me explore and produce some of my favorite closeups of bugs and insects, of which are all amateur-ish but passable in my book. Losing the camera meant I was without my shooting gear for a few months, until I procured my latest camera.

photo credit: kenrockwell.com

The Nikon D60. My first and only DSLR. I bought it a few days before leaving for a family vacation to Sabah in December 2008. For those who have been around my site, you have seen most of the photos I took using this camera, so there's no need to provide sample photos here. You know where to look. Most of the latest photos, in fact, most of my posts here feature at least one photo taken using this camera.

I guess that's a brief history of my involvement in photography as a hobby. It's a short insight into all the cameras I used to own and use and maybe a little bit of what I used to shoot back in the days before the D60.

For all my posts concerning photography, you can go here or click the label 'photography' found in the sidebar.

Before I go, I'd like to invite you, especially the photography hobbyists / amateurs / professionals, to give us an insight into your history of photography. I'm sure it would be enjoyable to share and learn each other's passions and inspirations as well as journey in preserving memories onto film / digital images.

"I heart photography!"

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