Fujinon 35mm f2.0 lens

I saw a pretty good deal on a second-hand lens on Carousell. someone was selling their year-old prime lens, the 35mm f2.0 lens for S$350. It was a good deal. I was in the market for a second prime lens to be part of my budding Fujifilm line of lenses and to pair it with my X-Pro 3 every now and then. However, I wasn’t too keen in shelling out top dollar for a brand new one. I was mulling over the idea that since I prefer sticking to just one lens for most of my photography, having a second lens would add versatility to my shots. I decided on getting the 35mm lens just in case I need it for portrait shoots, or if I am taking portraits of people more often than my usual street shoots. So while I may not use the 35mm extensively, having one just in case would be a good idea. So what better way to just get a second-hand lens, since I will not be using all the time.

And it just so happens that someone was selling their Fujifilm lens, the 35mm f2.0 lens. From the pictures posted by the seller, it still looked pristine. The only major flaw was that the lens hood has significant signifying heavy usage of the lens at one point. It was a cosmetic flaw, but a significant one, as it was very noticeable. I was very hesitant in getting the lens at first (it sells at S$700 retail for a brand new lens), but I rationalized my decision, thinking this is an offer that doesn’t come very often. Apparently the owner is selling his Fujifilm lens because he has become invested Sony’s camera ecosystem. So it makes sense for him to offload and sell whatever Fujifilm gear he might still have. And one of them was the 35mm f2.0 lens which I have been eyeing for quite a while.

I am collecting the lens from him sometime this week. I don’t think testing the lens is necessary. For some reason I trust him that the lens will work as intended. From then on I will have two prime lenses for my X-Pro 3. The 35mm lens will be used primarily for portrait shots. S$350 for used prime lens is great deal, especially when you know you aren’t going to use it extensively, but would like to have it just in case.

Vancouver Adventure 2017 Part 1

Nearly 2 years ago, I embarked on the furthest solo trip ever. To Vancouver and Seattle. A 12,800km journey from home. I can no longer remember what motivated me to go on a solo trip so far away from home. And looking back at my blog, I don’t recall blogging about it, much less posting pictures about my experiences solo trippin’ in Vancouver.

So now I need to make up for my lack of posts regarding my experience solo trippin’ in Vancouver and Seattle.

Food Poisoning!

Two years have passed and I have probably forgotten all the little things that happened while I was there. But one major thing happened prior to my trip that I will never forget. I remembered having food poisoning just a few days before my departure to Vancouver, Canada. It got so bad, that I almost cancelled my trip at the very last minute. Even at the gate, I was on the road to recovery and I was afraid that I might not be able to make it through my 12-hour long flight (via Guangzhou) with dignity (if you know what I mean). But for some odd reason, I persevered and told myself, screw this, I paid so much for this trip and I have been looking forward to this trip for so long. I was not about to let a mere food poisoning derail my plans for an epic holiday alone. I boarded the flight, drowned myself in probiotic pills, in the hopes of jump starting my intestinal microflora while in the air and hope to make a quick recovery upon landing.

Miraculously, I recovered. I was totally fine when I arrived in Vancouver. My body was hydrated, and my stomach felt really calm to the point where I could take in solids again. I ate the food on the plane and nothing bad happened to me. When I landed in Vancouver, it was as if nothing happened in the first place.

Yaletown

At Vancouver International Airport, after I wen through customs, I went looking for the train to the city. It was an easy trip from the airport to downtown, which I really appreciate. After that I remembered transferring to a subway train to Yaletown, where I would be living for the next few days in an Airbnb accommodation. I made a great choice. Yaletown is fantastic. Full of modern skyscrapers of concrete, glass and steel. I booked a room shared with the owner of the condominium in Yaletown and I remembered it was in the upper floors of the building. My window had sweeping views of the Vancouver and the neighbouring skyscrapers nearby. It was truly a sight to behold, day or night. I remembered a couple of times, where I just stayed in my room and just stared out of the window, enjoying the majestic view of the beautiful city.

My first selfie upon arrival in Vancouver. I made my way to Yaletown, reached my accommodation. After settling down and putting my luggage, I headed out and started exploring the place. My first impression of Vancouver: Beautiful.

I remembered having my first meal in Vancouver, and it was sushi that I bought at a nearby grocery store. I was hungry and I wasn’t particularly choosy in deciding anything special to eat. The sushi was probably the first real solid food, aside from the airplane food, that I had after the entire food poisoning episode. The sushi was pretty good. The meal wasn’t heavy and it was just the right amount, especially for someone who is just recovering from food poisoning hours ago. I was so thankful that I was able to hold down solid food and that my stomach didn’t give me any embarrassing problems along the way en route to Vancouver, Canada.

The view from my airbnb. Look at the mountains in the background.

It was a sunny afternoon upon arrival. A great day to walk about the city. I didn’t sleep much while in the plane. I was feeling jet-lagged but energized that the same time, knowing that I have arrived at my destination and I am completely ready to start exploring the city.

Yaletown. Beautiful weather upon arrival.

I remembered exploring Yaletown, trying to get my bearings right, reading the subway maps and where it could take me, and just enjoying the views of the harbour nearby. It truly is a beautiful part of the city. No doubt, the condominium and private apartments would have cost a ton to buy, much less rent.

I can see the stadium from where I stayed. The BC stadium I believe.
It was late spring when I travelled to Vancouver. Cherry blossoms were still in bloom.
The Vancouver Skyline.

Chingay 2020

Chingay is an annual street parade that is celebrated in Singapore and Malaysia. It is in celebration of the various birthdays of the Chinese deities or the procession of the Goddess of Mercy. In recent times, the annual street parade consists of floats and processions from various communities in Singapore and abroad. This year is my first time that I actually attended the parade with a ticket. Previous years, I would usually watch the performance on TV, which is broadcast live.

The Chingay performance was a dazzle of lights, colour and music, with numerous floats representing the various Chinese deities, social groups in Singapore, associations and even foreign delegates from various countries around the world. The performance took place at the F1 pit and I was lucky to be seated relatively close to the action. I brought my camera along to capture some of the action. Despite only owning a 23mm f2.0 lens on my newly acquired Fujifilm X-Pro 3 camera, I still managed to get some great shots of the various floats and performances during the parade.

The parade was better than expected, partly due to the sound and lights that nicely complemented with the performance. Aside from that, there were the occasional fireworks, laser light shows and drone performances. Everything was tightly coordinated. The highlight of the entire parade was the 100 meter long dragon that floated and drifted along the length of the F1 pit. It was truly impressive to see it in person.

Seats filling up just before the parade starts.
The start of the procession. It was truly colourful and lively with great music and light shows that accompanied the entire performance.
They even did some interesting stunt on top of the usual dragon dance routine.
The god of wealth (I think) sitting on a flamingo, distributing wealth.
Lightsaber action!
The various floats on display, this one the famous squirrel of POSB bank.
The float from the People’s Association.
Representatives from Japan even took part in the parade!
Behold the dragon! Making its way along the parade. It’s more than 100 meters in length and the head is supported by a helium balloon and steered by a couple of guys on the ground.
Nodding and starring at us while it makes its away along the parade. It was spectacular!
The dragon blessing everyone with wealth and health before returning to its lair.

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.