Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Frontyard Renovation of the Home

No, not the physical abode that I currently reside in, because that can neither be called 'home' nor can it undergo any frontyard renovation for it does not have any.

I'm talking about the home page of this blog.

Some of you might've noticed that I changed the header from a ridiculously tall 900x500 with large link buttons to a 900x100 without any.

I've wanted to do this for a while. For one thing, I don't think the link buttons were doing any substantial thing in this blog other than direct people to searches for post with certain labels. Therefore, to my reckoning, the buttons do not deserve their prominent placement at the top of the page, so they have been voted off the island (only one vote was required).

Another thing is I want the header to be a bit beefier and to contain less negative space, so I chose a full-bodied, inorganic looking font (Arial Black) and filled the whole header with it.

This would be the first of some of the planned changes that you will see in this blog as I struggle to find time to work on renovating the overall look of this site.

So to the elite few who actually read this blog: What do you think of the new header? Is it an improvement or a downgrade? Do you like the old one or this new one better? Any suggestions that you may have for me in terms of the design of this blog? Do you think I need a shave and lose some weight?

Oops, I went off tangent* again.


* see Chapter 8, Mathematics Form 4.

p/s: I would really like to get to climb up Mt Kinabalu on Independence Dawn, even if I was fasting!

p/p/s: I need to go to the gym tomorrow for a proper workout.

p/p/p/s: I didn't make a snapshot of the blog with the old header, so if this is your first time on this site and would like to see the old header, do tell.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Acting My Own Age... NOT

I probably just don't.

Most people guess my age wrong. They usually blurt out too large or too small a number. Which is weird, because that just means that at different times, I may look older or younger than I really am. Which is ridiculous because obviously my look and my face do not change that drastically and certainly not that arbitrarily.

But most of the time, they guess a younger age.

So what makes me seem younger than I really am?

Probably the kid inside me.

When I am around people who are much younger than my age, I most often turn into a younger version of myself - less serious, less mature, and with bigger mouth (see pic above). I will be much more excitable and energetic, run and jump around, talk nonsense (and loudly too, sometimes) and poke people for no reason.

I make it a mission to be happy whilst among people I am comfortable with. One way I do this is to approach and accept everything with a keen young heart (like an innocent little kid) and the excitement can be addictive. I let go of my inhibitions (sort of) and pretend I am a young boy, eager to learn about everything around him, and easily excited by even the simplest things.

I find that I am happy with being ignorant of the reality of this world and what I am supposed to face each day as I go out there trying to make an honest living. I let the feeling of wonder and awe of how beautiful the creations around us overwhelm the bombardments that life keeps throwing at me. It might sound like escapism (probably is, actually), but I'd rather be elated by the pettiest of things than be bogged down all the time by everything else.

Life punches you in the face sometimes. Make a joke out of it. Laugh. Most stand up comedians make a living out of telling their personal downs in life, not the ups. Listening to other people's miseries are not fun, but listening to them joke about it lightens the heart. It's because we know that they are no longer burdened by the sad memory of it all. Even more so if we have the same bad experience in the past; by knowing that someone went through the same ordeal and turned out all right, we feel assured that we can turn out all right as well. And instead of frowning at the recollection of every bad memory, we smile as we reminisce our failings and fallings, knowing that we've left them all behind, and that with every day there's a new moment to seize and make the best out of.

A frown is not as addictive as a smile. Ever see a person frown and feeling like frowning too?

The most addictive smile to me, is a baby's smile, sprinkled with awesomely cute baby giggles. I am super sure a lot of people would agree with me.

I am happier being young, ignorant and reckless, even if it's just inside. Outside, I am me, a much older person who arrives late to every phase in his life. A person with a mostly technical mind that thinks (and talks) too much and reads too much Wikipedia entries. Who knows nothing of what's going on in the local entertainment scene because he's too preoccupied with channels 551, 553, 554, and 555 whenever he has the chance to watch TV on Astro.

Ok so I don't act my age. And I probably didn't look my age as well. They say I look too young for my age. So what did I do to make myself look older?

The only thing I can think of: wear a side-parted hairstyle and grow facial hair.

Now can you accurately guess my age? Bragging rights to those who can guess correctly. People who already personally know me are disqualified.

I feel like going off on another tangent here, so before that happens, I'll just end it here.



p/s: the last picture of me is courtesy of Baharin of Yenphotos.

p/p/s: do ask if you don't know what channels 551, 553, 554 and 555 are on Astro.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Shooting Student Singing Sensations

Some shots shot during students' singing sessions on stage.

All of these were shot using my Nikon D60 without using the flash. I used manual control so that I can practice changing settings on the fly. Most of these were shot at ISO 200, aperture f/1.8 and shutter speed 1/80 seconds.

I really like the lighting setup on the stage. For some of the shots I was able to find composition angles that would include both the singer's facial expression and the rimlight effect contributed by the stage lights behind the subject.

Apart from the colorful lighting effects, I also tried to include diagonal lines and light bokeh into the photos.

Composition is important, but so is moment and expression. The facial expression of the singer is what I like best about the photos above and below.

I also like the clean rimlight around the singer's arm in the above photo. Too bad that in order to compose the shot to achieve this effect, one person in the background had to be covered by the mic stand. I think the photo would be better if the person were shown unobstructed, or if he was out of view completely.

One thing I have yet to achieve is capturing the energy of the live performance on stage. By opting to not use the flash at all I had to slow down the shutter speed so that I would get enough exposure for the photo. This would make it almost impossible to freeze energetic moments on stage, and most of them turned out blurry and uninteresting. Using the flash bleaches out all the colorful lighting on stage, plus the direct flash also takes away the rimlight and the lighting effects on the subject. I think for events like this in the future, with preparation, I'd probably do a CLS setting with colored gels to freeze and capture the energetic moments of the live stage performance.

If you are a professional photographer, or someone with experience shooting live performance events like this, please do provide me with critique on the above shots as well as my shooting techniques.

Comments are also welcome from anyone who happen to stumble upon this post. As a photographer hobbyist, feedback is very valuable so that I can continue to learn from my mistakes and improve my photographic works. Since I have no formal training in this hobby, trial-and-error and viewer feedback are mostly what I can rely on for self-improvement.

For more photos of the event, you can check out the Facebook albums here and here.
Thanks in advance for your comments and feedback :)


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