Aylwin Lek – my photography mentor messaged me if I can cover a photoshoot for Mediacorp as he can’t do it one Sunday morning. As I’ll be working afternoon that day and the shoot will be in the morning, I agreed.
My skin was burned from the strong sunlight but the photos turned out nice and gave my skills good exposure.
Falling from an ATV ride on your first day and being food poisoned on your last day of stay – two unlucky things you might experience in Phuket. Having experienced these, if you’re going to ask me if I would still want to come back to Phuket. I would probably answer YES. Well, Phuket offers too much of good things to do.
Exploring a place with an ATV ride is definitely one of these. You can rent an ATV or join a tour, rates depend on how long you are going to rent it. One of the nicest places to drive an ATV is on a high hill heading to The Big Buddha – a landmark in Phuket with a good vantage view point of sunset.
The Big Buddha is newly built and the road is in good condition. Driving an ATV up is not that hard unless 1. You are scared of height, there are some steep climbs on this terrain 2. You made your life complicated by taking photos while driving using a DSLR with no strap, you’ll be lucky enough if your ride don’t careen in the cliff part of the hill.
Phuket is an island surrounded by smaller islands with known beautiful beaches; the reason why Island Hopping is a must-try activity. Transport for hopping varies from long tail boat, speedboat, and yacht or by June Bahtra – a traditional Chinese Junk, name it they go it.
The most visited island is the Phi-Phi Island – recognized as one of the best beach in Asia and made famous by the movie ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo Dicaprio. This island is good for snorkelling and diving. When it comes to kayaking and canoeing, Phang Nga bay is the best place to hop in while James Bond Island or Nail Island is good to explore and for picture taking. There are other islands that have good sands and good for spending a relaxing day in the beach. Other islands are mysteriously good for visit during low season.
Phuket also offers a lot of good places for shopping, may it be on streets or malls. Thai products are known for good quality and they don’t rely too much on China made products. Night markets are everywhere, just don’t forget to ask for the lowest price they can give you the product. Malls are with a no. of brand outlets and some Thai brands stores.
Thai food is known for intricacy of flavours and recognized for being one of the best cuisine in the world. Thus, eating Thai food is a must-try. Different cuisines are also available in many restaurants and hotels while street foods are everywhere for those who are adventurer. Just be careful if you have a weak stomach.
As a traveller, I know that I can get into accident or be food poison anywhere. My visit to Phuket just thought me be cautious. Phuket is an amazing place and the experiences I had there are priceless.
It was a hot autumn day when I went to China Town to take some photos illustrating a Chinese Lady. This is for a project I want to do which is to compile photos of different nationalities and illustrating them by means of photography.
China Town is always crowded but the best place to shoot this project of mine because of three things. First, because of the Chinese cultural elements, second because the place if colourful and third is because I love how the chinese lanterns compliments the baroque and Victorian architecture of shophouses.
My search for a Chinese beauty to model for me took years. Good thing I’ve worked with Cherry during Mid-Autumn Festival. She’s funny, very confident and the best part is she loves to have a photo of her.
I am so thankful that she didn’t mind the crowd during the shoot and she tried to do some Chinese dance poses. Her being very cooperative on doing the project made the photo shoot relaxing and very light.
These photos are not beauty shots but simply my demonstration of a Chinese Traditional Chic. I hoping do another one soon.
It’s been weeks since my last blog post! RAW photos from the shoots I did are eating more and more of my SD cards’ physical space and I just don’t have time to touch them since I was so busy for Mid-Autumn festival.
Anyway, I was able to post process one. This is taken during Singapore’s National Day rehearsal. Yes, it was way before I went to Ho Chi Minh. I won’t forget that shoot wherein after a tiring shift, I ran from Marina Bay Sands Hotel to Fullerton Bay to the catch the fireworks display rehearsals. My mentor was trying to do a time-lapse of the fireworks while I was busy standing my antique Nikon D40 on the fences, set the camera timer on and waited for every pop of fireworks.
There is nothing special with the photo, though I consider this as my first decent fireworks shot. I only have one lens which is Tamron 18-270mm which is not a wide angle lens; I have no special filter and like what I mentioned on how I took the photo no tripod.
Here’s the original photo I took.
And below is the one I post processed in Photoshop. There is no much difference between the two photos but when you stare at them properly you can sense that they’re giving a different feel and it’s all because of the color. In below edited photo, you can see that the only thing with color is the fireworks while everything else is in dark tone of Sepia.
So how did I do this? This is with the use of Color Range feature in Photoshop and you can follow below steps:
Open the photo in Photoshop, click on Select menu and choose Color Range.
You will see a Select drop down box. Since the firework is not specifically red in color, just pick Sample Colors. By doing so, range of color red will be selected.Make the fuzziness value higher to include more similar tones of color.
Since I only want the firework to be the one with color, tick on the invert check box then press OK.
To turn everything to Sepia, I add an adjustment layer of Hue/Saturation and choose Sepia from Hue and Saturation drop down box. Voila!
Well, this is just a simple one since I don’t do too much of post processing. Until my next blog post.
After postponing my travel to Ho Chi Minh for several times, I was able to have a very quick vacation to visit Jane.
It’s my second time in Ho Chi Minh city and this travel is very different from the first one; simply because It’s experiencing a Vietnamese life for two days. From Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Jane fetched me, we left my stuff in her house and met her family then went for breakfast.
As planned, we tour the city by means of motorbike – the most common transportation IN Vietnam. We started the day with a lovely breakfast at Nam Son Beefsteak. This restaurant is known for traditional Australian beefsteak dishes in Asian flavour. Their food is a fusion of Vietnamese and Australian gastronomy. We ordered the Vietnamese beefsteak combined with sunny side up which is only 55,000đ. I love the steak, the taste is more into western side but is served with lettuce and tomato, carrot and cucumber in vinegar and Vietnamese baguette on the side.
After breakfast, we started touring around, we went to Reunification Palace. It is known before as Independence Palace and is the main landmark in Ho Chi Minh City. From the name itself, you can tell that this place is very historic. It is the home of President of South Vietnam during Vietnam War and was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon. There are tour guides available wearing Ao Dai – vietnam’s national dress for woman. They also have media/visual rooms in allocated for different languages wherein you can watch the history of Vietnam.
Next stop was Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. I’ve been here before but was not able to capture a photo of this church with no people in the background and the second time around was the same story. Tourists are everywhere, unlucky me.
Adjacent to the Basilica is the Saigon Post Office; both establishments were built when Vietnam was part of French Indochina during 20th century. I like the Post Office’s neoclassical style of architecture and how the structure complements the surroundings. It is one of the known tourist places in the city, the reason why there’s a lot of souvenir shops inside the building as there are vendors outside. I bought these 3D greeting cards from a street vendor for only 50,000d.
We went back to Jane’s place after for a late lunch. Her sister cooked some Vietnamese food. Vietnamese cuisine is one of the healthiest cuisine in the world. I remember how amazed I was on my first visit seeing that even rice with viand sold in the streets are served with star shaped carrots, cucumber or other vegetables on the side.
After late lunch, we went to visit Jane’s friend who owns a salon. Wellness in Vietnam is cheap, the quality of services is good and they use products that are natural. I went for a manicure and pedicure. They don’t use cuticle remover – nail softening substance on my nails, instead they just soaked my fingers in water. Jane also convinced me to straighten my hair and do a treatment which I don’t know what is called as they can’t explain it in English. I was so scared because I’ve been doing nothing to my hair to make the scalp healthy again. I am not a fan of unnaturally straight hair but it’s done, I paid 350,000d for the whole services. It couldn’t be that cheap if they were not Jane’s friends.
Anyway, the thing that I enjoyed while my hair is being treated is the treat of Vietnamese Ice Coffee. It’s the best coffee, even coffee in the streets are awesome. Jane also made me try a taho like snack, Vietnam’s version is with ginger.
At night, Jane tagged me along to her friend’s birthday party. It was in Cafe Hoa Hồng, they have big rooms with videoke to accommodate birthday parties. Vietnamese people also love to sing. Though there are a few songs in English in their videoke machine, these songs are not updated in the song book.
When Cafe Hoa Hồngclosed, everyone drove their motorbikes to Cây Đề 155. A place smaller than Cafe Hoa Hồng ; also with rooms equipped with long tables for group of people who want to drink or dine privately. It was interesting to see some traditional Vietnamese food like lẩu măng vịt (duck hotpot), gỏi cá sặc (dry fish salad), bánh tráng (rice paper), and pigeon pod rice. I tried the dry fish salad and rice paper, not bad.
The birthday party ended after a few song games and drinks, finally we were able to meet her other group of friends. We went to Pham Ngu Lao Street, a place very familiar to me as the hotel where I and my friends stayed before is somewhere nearby. There are a lot of foreigners in this place as this is the backpacker district of Saigon. Indoor and outdoor markets are everywhere selling DVDs, clothes and souvenirs. Bars and cafes in this district are conveniently located near central of the city.
Before the bar closed and when her friends called it a day, Điệp asked me ‘Do you want to go to club?’ ‘They play Viet House music’, Mập added.’ I believe its after midnight already and it was just the start of the night for Jane and two other friends. Viet House music sounds interesting. ‘Why not?’, I answered. So we went to Club 35, people do drink and drive here like in Philippines by the way.
Club 35 is crowded; well it’s Saturday passed midnight. I can tell Jane and friends are regular guests here because they still have a bottle of VSOP Cognac and there’s a reserved VIP table for us. We had bottled waters for chaser and a fruit platter to eat along with our Cognac. And I was surprised to see that fruit platter is the common food here to go with liquors. A small stage is in the centre of VIP tables where a DJ plays Viet House Music. Not bad, their music is danceable.
We left as soon as we finished the Cognac. I can’t believe I’m still awake or half-awake, I also didn’t sleep much the night before the flight. I told them that we should take a cab because I won’t ride a motorbike going to Jane’s house with their condition, hehehe. So we took a cab and all along I thought we are finally going home until Jane told the cab driver to drop us off at the nearby café in her place.
The café’s name is Bado. It’s a usual Vietnames café style wherein low tables and chairs are outside. I was so sleepy! I had a hard time staying up, ahehehe. I just took a few sips of my beer but when I tried the Stir fried bee hoon that they ordered it made me awake enough to eat some more. It’s the best Vietname food I’ve ever tried; it’s almost the same as Pansit Bihon in Philippines but better.
My eyes are closing and Điệp was feeling awful that they decided to finally go home. Yey! I didn’t bring my phone so I really have no idea what time it was then but I swear the sky is getting bright already from Jane’s window.
Harry, Jane’s ultimately cute 8 month old nephew woke me up in the morning but I still was able to sleep until afternoon. We had a quick traditional Vietnamese lunch at Quan Bin which is just opposite Jane’s place. The food is good; the serving is a bit big. I had a stir fried Vietnamese noodles, wherein I think there are more vegetables than the noodles while Jane ate seafood spaghetti. They also serve fresh fruit shake with hair strand; exotic drink? Big No!
This time around I was able to buy a Northface backpack for only 550,000d. A Vietnameseinstant coffee, a kilo of ground coffee and some French drip filters for 650,000d and a shirt saying ‘iPho’ to wear.
My quick vacation won’t be complete if we didn’t go for massage. We went to Quynh Nhu foot massage salon at 137 and 115 Ham Nghi Street, district 1 for a whole body massage. It is just a few walk away from Ben Than Market. The session lasts for 90 mins, complete with facial and scalp massage, herbal foot soak and wash, facial mask, hand/arm, shoulder, back/bottom massage, pressure points (reflexology), walk on the back and ends with a serving of dried ginger in sugar and hot tea which is awesome.
It was already 7pm when the massage was finished. We hurriedly went back to her place for a quick shower then fetch a cab to catch my flight at 9:45pm. No time for dinner so I just ate in the plane. It was indeed a very short visit but is something different from my usual travels. And if I have would have the chance to visit Jane again, I surely will.
As I’ve mentioned before, I do portraits sometimes when time permitted me and the model to do so. Portrait for me is preserving the beauty and boldness of a model. With this, I came up with a project named ‘Faces’, wherein the theme focuses on model’s expression as the subject of composition.
The latest I’ve done is with Che’s cousin Maria. My trigger didn’t work on the moment of shooting so we just use natural light with the help of reflector.
Before that I also did for Delvina. It was hard to choose which frames to include in the photo since most of the frames are good. Thanks Aylwin for the studio.
The first one is a test shoot. I got good photos and I’ve learned a lot about lighting the subject in a studio setting. But as we used different light settings I only got these 6 frames to compile into one photo. Thanks Liv for your patience and time.