Thursday, May 31, 2007

Vesak 2551 Float Parade & Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum Soft Opening

Happy Vesak Day to all Buddishts and beings of the world,
today is Vesak 2551.

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Last weekend, I a visited the Vesak 2551: Harmony in Action even at Takashimaya. Read more about it here. Yesterday, I went for my first Event & Reportage photoshoot. It was very crowded when I reached the front of the temple around 6.30pm. I managed to station myself beside the gallery area, immediately opposite the temple. It was warm an everyone was squeezing to the front. At times when I was loosing my cool, I told myself to restrain myself as this is all a Buddhist event and I must treat everyone with a compassionate heart, thus I have never liked crowds. However, this significant religious event is one that I have anticipated for weeks, the Soft Opening of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum link along South Bridge Road (opposite Maxwell Market). The guest-of-honour for the evening was our President Nathan. In conjunction with the soft opening of the temple, there was also a celebration on the eve with a float parade. Displays from around Asia participated in this meaningful event. My dad participated in the event as well. He was driving the float display called 'Dharma'. I did not know that the 'Dharma' was his float until after event back at home. I thought that it was the best display of the evening, the theme and sound gave me a very peaceful and spiritual sensation. At the end of the hour-long parade, there was a short 5-minutes fireworks display fired from the temple itself followed by the opening ceremony. The temple will be officially open to public from 11pm onwards until dawn.

Click on thumbnails above to learn more about the parade details.

Armed with my D200 and SB-600 with SureBounce MK.I, I burnt 271 films (shutter counts) for this event, but most of the shots did not turn out good, due to the lack of night event experience and also my poor location, as I was blocked by many standing guards and official photographers. I regretted that I had not asked my dad to get me an Official pass. I had a hard time trying to capture shots of the performances, over peoples' shoulders, since I was using 50mm (the longest I have) and most of the shots turned out blurry at full resolution. It was hard cropping away shoulders, keeping around 30-40% of the blurry images, which also meant that I had to resize them small to make them sharp. This might just be the last of my event & reportage shoots, as I find the shots not worthy, unless I am an Official and had shooting privilege.
Nevertheless, here are the pictures from the event.



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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

mbb-LightTube ver.1 Trial II

In response to feedback from the earlier first trial with mbb-LightTube ver.1, I decided to take up a second trial.

Subject: SOC SPEC XS-01: EVA-01
Venue: Home studio
Date: 29th May 2007
  • D200 set at matrix metering, 50mm at f11 for correct DOF and ISO 400 to get sufficient exposure from the diffused flash.
  • SB-600 mounted on hotshoe, set at TTL Balanced Fill-In Flash mode with Flash compensation set at +2.0.
  • All settings on D200 and SB-600 were set as a constant through-out the trial.
  • D200 and SB-600 are set to sync at iTTL.
  • The levels of all below images are NOT adjusted.

DIFFUSED FLASH WITH mbb-LightTube ver.1
Left: Flash head (with LTv.1) pointing up
Middle: Flash head (with LTv.1) pointing 45 degrees forward
Right: Flash head (with LTv.1) pointing forward

Left: Flash head (with white paper as bounce card) pointing up
Right: Flash head (with white paper as bounce card) pointing 45 degrees forward
Right: Flash head (with LTv.1) pointing forward

Flash head (naked) pointing forward

Best results were seen with the mbb-LightTube ver.1 flash diffuser, especially when there is a tilt of the flash head. Lesser harsh shadows are generated compared to direct flash. Another alternative to not being to bounce flash off a ceiling (eg. outdoors) is to attach a bounce card on the back of the flash head to deflect the light beam forwards. I did this with a rather big (190mm x 105mm) and thick white paper attached using an elastic band. The results from the bounce flash is less appealing to that of the diffuser. One issue with bounce flash and diffused flash is that the D200 is set to sync with SB-600 at iTT, hence the SB-600 tends to fire an intensity of flash as if the flash head is not bounced or diffused. The SB-600 then indicates an underexposure of -3.0 warning. I manually override the iTTL mode with a flash expousre compensation of +2.0. I also need to boost up the sensitivity of the D200 to ISO 400 in order to get the right exposure. I was able to get the right exposure for the diffused flash setup. To show the differences with and without the mbb-LightTube ver.1, I have kept the parameters (settings on SB-600 and D200) constant. With direct flash, there is a severe overexposure.

Look what I have bought today?

Look what I have bought today?

Gundam Fix Figuration #0034 RX-78GPO3S STAMEN & WEAPON SYSTEM

Transformers TITANIUM series RODIMUS PRIME
on behalf of Shaun Ow

Monday, May 28, 2007

mbb-LightTube ver.1

There are times when bouncing the flash is impossible, such as high ceilings, coloured walls and outdoors. Photographers will then have to rely on a flash diffuser to diffuse the flash. The purpose of a flash diffuser, as the name suggests, is to diffuse or scatter the flash light in multiple angles, hence giving an overall illumination effect. Such an effect suppresses harsh shadows cast by a much more directed flash light. The Nikon SB-800 comes with a standard silicon flash diffuser, similar to that of the aftermarket Stofen Omnibounce. Another famous and well-received flash diffuser used by many professionals, is the Lightsphere by Gary Fong. There are many imitations of the real products, but even if they live up to the original's functionality, the price is still one important consideration. A China-made replica of the Lightsphere can cost around S$60.

I decided to make my own DIY version of a flash strobe diffuser. mimicking the famous Gary Fong's Lightsphere CLOUD. I found any empty squeeze bottle, commonly used in the laboratory or hair salons to dispense chemicals. The one I got was rather translucent which I felt would be ideal as a diffuser. The material is soft and can be easily handled. Here, I give a step-by-step work-in-progress account of making the mbb-LightTube ver.1.

1. Prepare the raw material.
2. Mark out the dimensions of the SB-600 flash head on a piece of paper.
3. Cut out the template and make sure it is the correct dimension.
4. Plan and decide where is the right place to cut the opening to slot in the flash head.
I have decided on cutting at the neck where the hole is smaller than the template.
5. Carefully cut the neck of the bottle with a hobby knife or mini saw.
6. Compare the template with the opening. Mark out the outline of the template and trim to the shape of the template. Fine trimming was done until the opening fits snugly onto the flash head.
7. The LightTube is now complete and its sits snugly and firmly on the flash head.

Subject: Revoltech No.025 MEGATRON
Venue: Home studio
SB600 and D200 are set to sync at iTTL.
The levels of all below images are not adjusted.

Left: Direct Flash (Tilt: 0 degree, Rotation: 0 degree)
Right: With Bounce from ceiling (Tilt: 90 degrees, Rotation: 0 degree)

Left: With mbb-LightTube ver.1 flash diffuser pointing at an angle from the right
(Tilt: 0 degree, Rotation: 90 degress right)
Right: With mbb-LightTube ver.1 flash diffuser pointing skywards
(Tilt: 90 degress, Rotation: 0 degree)

The mbb-LightTube ver.1 (quite a mouthful, so I will refer it as LTv.1) fits well on the flash head and does not slide down the flash head when tilted at 90 degrees (upright). Direct flash gives very harsh shadows. With bounce flash from the ceilings, the face of Megatron is hidden in the shadows. With the LTv.1, the shadows are more prominent than with bounce flash, but significantly softer compared to direct flash. Tilting and rotating the flash head (with LTv.1) at various configuations, different outcomes can be achieved. It definitely works here, but I will need to bring it outdoors to test it on a human subject before I can pass a firmer verdict.
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Vesak 2551: Harmony In Action

A friend of mine, Cedric, invited me to take a trip of spirituality in understanding more about Buddhism, during this Vesak Day. The Harmony In Action event was held in conjunction with the upcoming Vesak 2551 (31st May 2007) celebration, at Takashimaya Square. It was an inter-religious event where all racial groups comes into celebration with modern entertainment, games, vegetarian food fair and of course spiritual blessing ceremonies.

The first stop is one that Cedric was singing praises of, a replica of the Borobudur temple In Java, Indonesia.

Next is the bathing of Prince Siddhartha. It is a blessing for oneself to shower Buddha with water and flowers. One thing I learnt, that is use both hands and shower the Buddha from his right.

Another highlight is four statues depicting the life of Prince Siddhartha attaining nirvana (as depicted by the last scene, the reclining Buddha or passing of Buddha), becoming what we know as Buddha.

The main attraction of the event is definitely the giant Buddha statue sitting admist a platform of lovely flowers offered by devotees.

One of the goal of this event is to achieve a million paper lotus, made by devotees.

The finale of the two-day event ended with a blessing ceremony from all religious leaders.


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