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2011 Year of the Metal Rabbit

Mac_Dy_9465In the next few days, about 130 billion Chinese will be celebrating the exit of year of the tiger and the emerging year of the rabbit.

The year of the Tiger was a roller coaster of a ride for many-yes me included and it’s bout time we say bye-bye to the roaring past.

We are now entering into the year of the Rabbit and since this year ends with 1 it is in the Yin metal element. If you are one that’s used to the fast pace in life then the year ot the rabbit will be applying the brakes for you. Just relax and don’t push so much. Go on vacation and sit at a beach front on a comfy lounge chair sipping cocktail. Think in terms of peace and stability, the main traits of the rabbit.

The dragon and lion dances are very common throughout Asian communities during the Chinese New Year holidays. Both do an aggressive dance to the tune of loud drum and cymbals to ward off or evict bad, evil spirits or bad luck.

8555_Mac_Dy_2And 2 phrases that’ll always be useful during the new year season are:

恭喜發財 (pinyin: Gōngxǐ fācái), which loosely translates to “Congratulations and be prosperous”. Often mistakenly assumed to be synonymous with “Happy new year”, its usage dates back several centuries.

年年有餘 (pinyin: Niánnián yǒuyú), a wish for surpluses and bountiful harvests every year, plays on the word yú to also refer to 魚 (meaning fish), making it a catch phrase for fish-based Chinese new year dishes and for paintings or graphics of fish that are hung on walls or presented as gifts.

A happy Chinese new year to all. May good health, peace and prosperity be with you.



Week-Ender #72

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The title of this post is a bit misleading but the lens used to shoot the photos from my walk in Chinatown is a tad old (22 years) and the DSLR is new-EOS 7D. The EF 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 II performed way above expectations. The 7D’s iFCL (Focus, Colour and Luminance) Metering Sensor helped to produce stunning photos. They came out sharp, colors beautifully rendered and really surprising that chromatic aberrations were very nicely controlled.

One thing to consider, the 28-70mm on a x1.6 crop sensor of the EOS 7D, 28mm is equivalent to 44.8mm and 70mm to 112mm. The lens just turned into a standard 50mm to a useful zoom. This won’t be such a useful travel lens as the 28mm just isn’t wide enough but for a lens to shoot on a casual day out the weight and range is just perfect.

Another factor to good photos was the great weather. There was a cool breeze and the sun didn’t have the sweaty and sticky qualities associated to walking around in the Binondo/Ongpin area.

All the photos were from RAW files and post processed in Photoshop with a few tweaks. All captured in natural sunlight without any lens filters attached. The slide show is for easier viewing and the gallery below if you would like to see the photos up close.

22 Years Old and Still Counting

Mac_Dy_2470mmNew lens? Old lens? Yes, quite an old lens or vintage-it’s more cool sounding. Got the Canon EF 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 II as a kit lens with my Canon EOS 630 in 1989 around the time the Soviets pulled out of the Soviet-Afghanistan war. Yeah, the Soviets gives up and the Afghans been invaded by others ever since.

Anyway, back to the lens. My old work horse is constructed of 9 groups in 10 elements including an aspherical optical lens making the EF 28-70 II macro capable with a shooting distance of only 15 inches. It’s a great walk about lens that is light (.285 kg or 285 grams), small (at only 3″) and a with metal mount like those of the EF 50mm f/1.8. It also has a focusing distance window making manual focusing easier.

As with old lenses it lacks USM (Ultrasonic Motor) so the lens focuses with a loud whirring sound. The body of the lens does not move in or out during zooming but the front element of the lens does turn, move in and out during focusing (very common with lenses during those days). Thereby attaching any filters useless other than UV’s for protection.

My 28-70 has shot rolls and rolls of negatives-year book photos, family gatherings, small weddings and more than I can count snaps of everyday life of yesteryear.

Since then the USSR has been dissolved to what we know of today as Russia and Afghanistan is still at war. Seems like things don’t change so much. But tomorrow if the weather permits, will be taking this old friend for a walk around the city mounted on the EOS 7D(20th Century Lens & 21st Century DSLR Invades Chinatown).

Sample photos taken just moments ago.


Part of my desk-EOS 7D, EF 28-70mm@70mm, f/4, 1/40, ISO 400


2:30pm outside-EOS 7D, EF 28-70mm@28mm, f/6.3, 1/1600, ISO 125

Resorts World, Philippines











All photos captured in jpeg with a Canon Powershot G7 point and shoot at 10 mega pix and processed in Photoshop for upload.

Learning Photography From the Past

During the film days of photography, adjustments had to be done manually with dials before a photo was taken. Then a frame can only be checked for flaws after it has been developed into a negative or on photo paper. Photos from a bygone era can be bought in books and viewed conveniently on the net. Whats more important is studying why a photograph made it into a magazine.

Life magazine is now online and have some of the most comprehensive photographs on display-on the net, of course. My favorite section is Photo Timelines where most of the 20th century is divided into convenient years. My favorite is the 1920’s- History of the camera created by katetaylor808.

Study and learn. The best way to figure out a photograph is to stare at it and think like a photographer in those trying days of dialing in aperture, shutter speed, ISO and film type.

From click image to go to page

Another source that I re-read every few years or so is ‘Slightly Out of Focus’, by Robert Capa. Capa’s photographs can also be found in Life’s pages.

Here’s an excerpt from ‘Slightly Out of Focus’:

“Seven days later, I learned that the pictures I had taken on “Easy Red” were the best of the invasion. But the excited darkroom assistant, while dryin the negatives, had turnind on too much heat and the emulsions had melted and run down before the eyes of the London office. Out of one hundred and six pictures in all, only eight were salvaged. The captions under the heat-blurred pictures read that Capa’s hands were badly shaking.” -p.152, Chapter IX Summer 1944.

It’s a great read on Capa’s adventures throughout WWII in the European front. Not only do we get a glimpse of hardships of life in war but even better was how hard it was through a photographers eyes.

Here’s a link to the photographs in the book from Magnum Photos. Enjoy the links and when shooting on location always bring a spare CF card or back up on a portable drive. Wouldn’t want anyone to relive Mr. Capa’s emotions after finding out what had happened to the photos that were captured on the first hours D-Day. The photographs would possibly have been one of the most iconic sets of images had they survived.

On Boracay Island

Still have much photos to edit and post process. In the meantime, this is the full HDR version of my welcome photo (right sidebar).

Station 1 of White Beach on Boracay Island- Boracay is an island of the Philippines located approximately 315 km (200 miles) south of Manila and 2 km off the northwest tip of Panay Island in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. In 1990, it was voted by the BMW Tropical Beach Handbook as one of the best beaches in the world and again in 1996 by British publication TV Quick as the world’s number one tropical beach.– Thank you, Wikipedia

Captured in May of o-ten. Shot in RAW, converted to tif in Canon’s DPP and further enhanced in Photoshop. HDR was achieved through CS5 HDR adjustment tool from 1 exposure. Canon EOS 50D, 17mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1/60 sec with circular polarizer (CPL) filter attached.

Notice the shadows-this was shot during high noon. It was perfect hot beach weather without any wind. Without the CPL the fine white sand of White Beach would have been overly over exposed. The CPL filter acts like sunglasses for the lens, darkens the blues and evens out the whole scene. As much as possible keep one in the gear bag. Without further ado- the before and after.


Original straight from camera shot.


Click for larger HDR version



I first heard about the GigaPan EPIC around 2007/08 during my very social flickr days. Back then, I was already using my Canon Powershot G7 point and shoot. An online buddy pointed out that there was a new machine capable of shooting panorama’s in huge mega pixels without the photographer doing much work. I paid due attention to this awesome little fellow but never got around to buying one. Fast forward to 2011 and many photographers have taken the GigaPan and done wonders with it.

The GigaPan EPIC is a unique robotic camera mount that empowers most small digital cameras with the ability to capture gigapixel images. It is easy to use and remarkably efficient. Simply set the corners of the panorama you want to capture using the LCD interface. The built in software works out how many photos your camera will need to take, hundreds or even thousands. Then the EPIC begins snapping the photos, automatically organizing them in overlapping rows and columns.

Compact enough to fit into a small camera bag and weighing only 3.5 lbs the EPIC is versatile and travels well. You may attach a tripod for stability using the 1/4″ tripod mount and level with the onboard bubble level.

15374-484x200 President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address by David Bergman

President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address by David Bergman (2009)

The most popular GigaPan pano would be the Obama inauguration shot in 2009. Click on the photo to see it in large and check out the details.

Shanghai Skyline - Stitched From 12,000 Pictures - 上海风景线 - 由12000张图片拼成 By:Alfred Zhao (May 25, 2010)

On May 25, 2010, Alfred Zhao, used a Canon EOS 7D and a Canon EF 400mm F5.6 with 2X tele-converter and cannoned Shanghai. The pano above was stitched from 12,000 images at 18 mega-pixels per image. The 12,000 images topped off to 1.24 TB which is more than the capacity of many of my external hard drives. Ouch, imagine the time it took to process the images. Click on the image for a larger detailed view.

On the roof of 12492-400x200 The Cathedral Duomo di Milano By: (gigapanbot) on November 16, 2008

On the roof of The Cathedral Duomo di Milano By (gigapanbot) November 16, 2008

Now head on over to the GigaPan site to check out the other awesome panoramas.

Looking Back at September 2010

Various storm clouds captured with the most complicated setup being a sturdy tripod, DSLR, wide-angle lens and remote shutter. The DSLR was either an EOS 50D or EOS 7D (whatever was on hand) and lens used was mostly an EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 kit lens. The landscape were all captured in RAW then initially converted to workable file in Digital Photo Professional (Canon’s native software). All images were then put through various adjustments in Photoshop CS5 to get the final versions posted. Some of the photos were slightly HDR’ed to even out the scene. Can you guess which ones?

Some past post on storm clouds here, here, here and some lightning here.

Here’s a tip: the real secret to getting a good sunset/storm/night sky is not an expensive DSLR (here’s lightning from a Canon G7 point and shoot) used but the post processing work done (RAW+Photoshop). For starters do a search on a good screw on CPL filters (B+W) or for shooters with some extra moolah- Cokin or Lee drop in filters.


Sept. 5, 2010, EOS 7D, 17mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/10 sec.


Sept. 12, 2010, EOS 7D, 17mm, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/200 sec. Originally shot in color but it was very muted and it was decided to convert to b&w. Always shoot in color and convert in post.


Aug. 24, 2010, EOS 50D, 70mm, ISO 100, f/8.0, 36 secs, this frame was part of a series of lightning shoots that night.


Sept. 12, 2010, EOS 7D, 17mm, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/200 sec


Sept. 21, 2010, EOS 50D, 17mm, ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/13 sec. This photos has a sunset(left), lightning glow(upper center), rain storm(directly below lightning glow) and an almost twilight scene(right). No elements of this photo was edited in PS. Captured as is.


Sept. 6, 2010, EOS 7D, 17mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/15 sec. A dramatic sunset right after heavy monsoon rains with the clouds reflecting whats left of the suns glow. This was captured right after the sun has just gone below the horizon.


Sept. 19, 2010, EOS 7D, 85mm, ISO 100, f/14, 1/50 sec. Smog and the rainy atmosphere brings a dramatic dimension to the photo. The brighness of the sun is actually filtered by the thick pollution in Manila skies.

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Featured Posts From the Past:

Total Lunar Eclipse: June 16, 2011

Total Lunar Eclipse: June 16, 2011

20th Century Lens & 21st Century DSLR Invades Chinatown

20th Century Lens & 21st Century DSLR Invades Chinatown

Kenko PRO1 Digital S Circular PL Filter

Kenko PRO1 Digital S Circular PL Filter

A Maze of People, Buildings and Public Transportation

A Maze of People, Buildings and Public Transportation






Mac_3482x Mt Pinatubo Crater Lake


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