Classic Negative Film Simulation (Changi Jewel)

I meant to post this weeks ago, but it was only recently that I managed to find time and get around to doing it.

I went to Changi Jewel for a mini photoshoot with a couple of my friends. They have not been to Changi Jewel and they wanted to take some photos of the place. Armed with my new Fujifilm X-Pro 3, I took some photos of this beautiful place, sticking to Classic Negative Film Simulation. Just like with previous photo session with my family and relatives during the Christmas gathering, I stuck with one film simulation and just shoot.

Classic Negative is really beautiful. I can understand why this particular film simulation is great for street photography. It has a certain look to your shots that captures the essence of the scene, without saturating any colours that might potentially pop out in the picture. Although I find that this particular film simulation is weak against greenery and natural foliage (other film simulations can capture green really vividly), Classic Negative is still able to provide a unique look to my photos. Although I have been to Jewel before to take some photos, previously with my Olympus camera, but coming here again and sticking to just Classic Negative provides a totally different look to the shots I took. Here are some samples below.

Changi Jewel, captured at the moment the sky train zips past.
People standing on the glass bridge, offering a magnificent view of the entire Changi Jewel grounds.
Order and balance.
Sun rays providing natural light into the dome.
My friend seeing Jewel for the first time. He is using the Olympus OM-D EM5 Mark II camera, exactly the same camera that I had before I made the switch to Fujifilm.
The lighting was absolutely magical on that day. Coupled with Classic Negative Film Simulation, it makes the shot even more magical.

Goodreads reading challenge 2020 (24 books)

Every year for the past six years, I have participated in the Goodreads reading challenge. It is a challenge of setting yourself a goal; the number of books you would like to read for the year. And throughout the year, you track your progress, marking the books you have read, and selecting the books you are currently reading.

The lowest target I set myself was in 2017 and 2018, where I set myself to read 16 books. This is lower than my usual 24 books for the year, mainly because I was doing my part-time Master’s study at NUS while working at the same time. So I figured that I shouldn’t torture myself and set a goal that was simply unattainable given my workload and the amount of required readings for my Master’s study.

However I managed to reach my reading goals for 2017 with 19 books read, three books more than my original target set at the beginning of the year. But I wavered a little bit in 2018, with two books short of my 16 book target. It was still a decent milestone though and I was quite proud of myself in being able to set aside time to commit myself to reading a book every now and then.

2019 was the year that I set a really lofty target; 30 books. I initially wanted to make up for lost time, now that I had graduated with a Master’s Degree, I should have more time catch up on my reading. I was wrong. I was short by 8 books, reading only 22 books in 2019, 2 books short of my usual 24 books a year goal typically set in earlier years. The fact that I was 8 books short, meant that I was distracted by a lot of other things that was happening in my life.

This year, I am trying to be kinder to myself and set a goal of 24 books to read for 2020. I suppose that after all these years using the Goodreads reading challenge, 24 books seem to be my sweet spot. I have exceeded that goal a few times before, usually by one or two books.

It’s mid January and I have completed reading three books. I am not celebrating just yet, but I am confident that I am off to a great start in reaching my goals of reading 24 books this year. I am currently ahead of schedule (although who knows what is in store for me in 2020 that might ultimately derail my reading plans) and who knows if I might eventually reach 30 books by the end of the year, the highest goal that I have set for myself but fail to eventually reach it. Maybe 2020 is the year where I will smash that 30-book goal set in 2019.

In a market for Bluetooth/multi-room speakers

A few of years ago, my mum bought a Multiroom stereo speaker from Audio Pro, the Audio Pro Addon C5. It was the first Bluetooth and wifi enable speaker that I ever had the chance in using. Though it wasn’t mine, I borrowed it for a couple of weeks to try it out.

I was blown away by the sound quality the speakers were emitting from this humble device. It’s not a big speaker to begin with, but the sound was just so warm, full and clear, so much so, I couldn’t believe that it was coming out from the pair of tweeters and woofer housed in such a small device.

Fast forward today, I have tried many other Bluetooth/multi-room speakers that are currently out on the market. Sonos being one of the more popular brand selling their ecosystem of multi-room speakers for just about every budget and every sized room in the house. Strangely though, despite its popularity, I have never find Sonos speakers reaching that level of fidelity and clarity that Audio Pro generates from their line of speakers. Comparing a similarly priced speaker between Sonos and Audio Pro, Audio Pro takes the cake. Up till today, I still cannot see the attractiveness or the value of ever buying a Sonos despite better sounding speakers for similar prices offered by other brands.

And then there is Marshall and Klipsch, both brands offer a terrific lineup of Bluetooth and multi-room speakers with features that are just almost similar across the board whether we are talking about Sonos, Audio Pro, Klipsch or Marshall. Both look great design wise, even better than Sonos or Audio Pro is some aspects, but again, sound quality is great but still in my personal opinion, lack that extra bit of warmth or clarity that Audio Pro provides.

And that leads me to my final point; I am now a huge fan of Audio Pro speakers. In a few years time, when I get my own apartment, I will definitely, without question, get a few of these speakers and place them all around my house for a solid multi-room set up. I have always wanted to have such a system in my house when I own one, and Audio Pro is definitely at the top of the list.

I have yet to definitively test the more higher end brands like Bang and Olufsen, Bose, and Kef. However given the price premium on their products just because they have reached luxury brand status, doesn’t mean that their audio quality are far superior than any of the Bluetooth or multi-room speakers current out there on the market at much cheaper prices.

Fujifilm Eterna Film Simulation

On Christmas week, my extended family had a gathering in one of my cousin’s place and I had the opportunity to put my new Fujifilm camera through its paces. Specifically, I wanted to shoot and take pictures of my family members at the gathering using only one particular film simulation.

As you know, the new X-Pro 3 has a range of film simulations that Fujifilm developed to mimic the look and feel of their traditional film counterparts. However, as a photographer using Fujifilm camera systems for the first time, I am still largely unfamiliar with the different film simulations and how they are best applied. So rather than worrying about what film simulation I should use for the Christmas gathering, I randomly chose one and stuck with it throughout my shoot. Overall, at the end of the day after reviewing those photos and tweaking them a little in Lightroom, it turned out really great.

I used the Eterna film simulation and surprisingly it worked well for portraits. Skin tones are beautiful and while the colours are more subdued, it has that movie film quality to the pictures I took. The pictures are less punchy, but portraits stood out really well. Just look at some of the samples below.

I must have been really lucky to have chosen a suitable film simulation for these kinds of shots. I am extremely excited to try out the other film simulation modes Fujifilm has to offer built into my camera.

Apple Watch S5: Some thoughts

It’s been a couple of weeks wearing my new Apple Watch Series 5 and I have some thoughts about it.

Performance

First off, the performance on this watch is a pretty big upgrade from the series 3. While there was nothing to complain about in terms of overall performance, the series 5 is a much snappier watch. Apps load much faster, you see less of the spinning dots denoting that the app is loading or fetching data, and switching from one watch face to another resulted in less lag overall. You just don’t realise how much faster the series 5 watch is until you compared it against the series 3.

Same size, bigger screen, gorgeous new watch faces.

The series 5 watch has a bigger screen, but retaining the same size overall. This resulted in narrower bezels. The amount of usable screen now almost touches the edge of the watch. With a bigger screen, everything else is larger and more prominent. Typing my passcode to unlock my phone is much more accurate and the digital buttons are much bigger. With a bigger screen, you get a whole range of new watch faces that a series 3 user just isn’t able to enjoy. The new watch faces can now cram in more information then ever before. Now, you can have a really crowded watch face showing all sorts of information and data or you can have a simple but stunning watch face that really draws you in, thanks to the bigger screen.

Slightly thinner profile, more glass on the back.

The back of the watch which contains the sensors for detecting your hear rate now has a bigger glass surface. Because of that, the back of the watch feels more premium. It is also slightly flatter than the series 3, making a larger contact to your wrist. Overall the watch has a slightly thinner profile that the series 3, which is much appreciated.

Superb battery life (if you switch off the Always-On-Display)

The battery life on the series 5 is superb, much better than the series 3, which in itself is already great based on my usage. Wearing the series 3 watch from 9am to 9pm, I can easily get it down to 65 to 70% battery life. Plenty of room to spare. With the series 5, I can get it slightly better, 70% to 75% battery life left after wearing the whole day.

However it comes with a caveat. Based on my experience, if you want to have the best battery life you can possibly get out of the watch, then you should turn off the always-on-display feature. While the option to have a display that is switched on permanently is nice, I find that after a week, this feature is kinda overrated and that I would prefer having a longer battery life than the ability to have my watch’s display to be always switched on. Eventually, I switch off the AOD so that I don’t have battery anxiety on my watch, especially when I am about to wear it from dawn till dusk, while squeezing in an hour of workout at the end of the day.

Noticeably louder speakers

The speakers in this tiny little package is a noticeable upgrade to the series 3 watch. The volume emitted by the series 5 watch is much louder and more solid. Using Siri on the watch, I noticed the voice to be louder and words to be more clearly enunciated.

Overall a better experience

Overall, I am glad to make the upgrade. I was afraid that the new features that comes with the series 5 will not bring up meaningful upgrades for someone who already owned a series 3 watch. However, I underestimated how much I enjoyed using the new watch faces, cramming more info in it and looking at it every now and then. The AOD feature is overrated in my opinion but I can see its usefulness in certain situations and it is good to have the option whenever you need it. I have yet to use the ECG feature and the noise alert feature extensively so I can’t really make a comment on those two features yet.