Saturday, 28 November 2009

Make a Guess

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What's wrong with this photo?  And why is that?

This is Sunday.  Ask someone you love a tricky question and have fun.

Answer: The hairy body part under her armpits.  Why?  The mysterious hairs are of my tights!

"Resawar"

R0012265 (Medium)^Highland Reservoir, the biggest of its kind in Hong Kong 

What is the difference between a restaurant and a reservoir?  To most Hongkongers, the difference may not be a conscious one but definitely an obvious one.  It is in the pronunciation.  Cantonese, the mother tongue of Hongkongers and the Southern Chinese, doesn't have  the "r" or "v" consonant sounds.  Worse still, Chinese (including Cantonese) is monosyllabic with, interestingly, one exception*.   Saying aloud the multisyllabic English words doesn't come naturally to a Cantonese speaker.

R0012222 (Medium)^There are two hiking trails snaking to the east and north along the reservoir.   Taking the one to the north leads you to at least a four-hour trekking over the mountains and on the beautiful beaches (DON'T swim there cos the undercurrent has killed a dozen of swimmers including the uncle of my friend).  This is almost the splitting point.

* The exception is the trisyllabic "圕", pronounced as Tushuguan in Putonghua.

R0012227 (Medium)^I took the east route which is 8 km long.  This route is a good balance of a leisurely 3-hour walk and great scenery.

So speaking English without making an effort to pronounce and differentiate  the two sounds, a misunderstanding can take place:

After a big lunch, a young man drove his native-English speaking Israeli friend to the countryside.  Hoping to give the lady a bit of a surprise, he hadn't told her about the destination until the lady could not conceal her uneasiness of not knowing what they were going on, much like an itch at the very middle of the back which she could not tickle it herself however long her arms stretch, and asked about it.

R0012240 (Medium)^Along the route, you will probably meet some people practising for the yearly marathon of the city to take place in February every year. 

"Now that you've asked, we're going to a big resawar," the man, looking straight ahead of the car onto the road as it was moving along a narrow countryside single carriage, replied in sort of a mute way with some reluctance.

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R0012229 (Medium)^This vast expense of water looks like a lake but actually is the Highland  Reservoir.

The best guess the Israeli lady could make was apparently, as Hong Kong is renowned for its gastronomic delights, that they were going to yet another restaurant.  That made her sick.  After much ado about straightening out the pronunciation, she understood that the destination was a reservoir.

I was sitting at the back seat when the conversation went on.

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R0012242 (Medium)^On the other side of the track are the densely vegetated mountains, which  conjured up my fancy to touch them.

Since Hong Kong has no natural lakes, river or substantial underground water sources, it is not self-contained for water supply even though it has seventeen reservoirs, most of which are scenic enough to warrant a special visit.  Almost 70% to 80% of the daily water consumption is met by supply from the Guangdong Province of southern China.  The arrangement was made between the British Hong Kong Government and the Chinese Government back in the colonial days of Hong Kong.

R0012260 (Medium)^The route is not a dirt road but paved.  The Chinese characters say SLOW.  The best part of taking this route is that if you're too exhausted to walk for another three hours back once reaching the end point, you can hire the on-call taxi service.  Mind the on-call taxi service phone number written on some slope nearer to the end point.

When you come to Hong Kong, you'll be advised not to drink from the tap.  My brave, defiant OZ friend learned it the hard way by drinking from the tap.

"It tastes of swimming pool water!" she grumbled.

R0012273 (Medium)^The catch-water tower of the reservoir is the only concrete structure of its magnitude along the three hour route. 

The official explanation is that the water was chloridised (chlorides added) for the benefit of dental health.  Very heavy-handed so indeed.

R0012329 (Medium)^The track goes up to the ridge after some two hours of walking, starting to take a little bit more out of your stamina.

R0012332 (Medium)^Luckily, you'll be arriving at the end point in another hour.  Beyond the dyke and the headland is the South China Sea.  I recommend you to walk down the long ramp from the end point to the dyke to feel the blowing of the sea winds and listen to the splashing of the oceanic waves.

Friday, 27 November 2009

The Bottled Paradox

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^It was the aqua-blue colour of the plastic bottles which catched my eyes. I stood there shooting for five minutes and was glad to be ignored by the passers-by, thanks to the unassuming appearance of the GX200, affording me the following paragraphs.

Bottled water gives a false impression of cleanliness, or at least they are touted as such by the ads.

R0014102 (Medium)^As if you don't know, a notion in the west has it that turning the shutter speed to 1/30s can freeze the motion of a person walking at a norm pace past the lens. Now, by the photos here, you get an idea of how fast a pace people in a frenzy big city like Hong Kong move along the street.

Paradoxically, the soft drink manufacturers most likely get the water out of a place to finally have it bottled and sold to another place, with the cost of the plastic materials be borne by the buyers and the environment.

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This is the least thing we can call clear.

This Australian town which bans bottled water pioneers an exemplary act which the whole world should follow. What you and I can and should do is to consume less bottled water, and better never. Always bring your own bottle of water. R0014097 (Medium) R0014100 (Medium) R0014101 (Medium)^I like the motion feeling in the images with the bottles looked like observing the moving world in stillness. In fact, to me, it speaks figuratively of the people's burial into oblivion of the obvious truth that these bottles are to pollute our environment in the end.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

In the Bags of Old-hand Photojournalists

This documentary (13'51") recounts newspaper photojournalists in Queensland, portraying a selection of classic photographs and the men and women who shot them. Some specially education recordings are

6'25" Brief demonstration on using the grandpa-class camera.

9'17" The importance of patience and luck: "I stayed in the rain…."

12'08" An inspirational talk of experience: "I don't shoot until I see the photography"

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Does anyone Know What This is?

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Did I miss something other than Ricoh GXR?  This is as surprising as when this morning I bumped into a teenage boy coming in the lift car with an expensive Leica M9 hanging around his neck in an ostentatiously casual way.

Any idea?

Source: mono-log

So Let's Tickle Our Curiosity

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There are two sides to every argument.  So no matter how well Nevin put it yesterday about not to pixel-peep just to tickle our curiosity, we all have curiosity integrated to us to be tickled every now and then, especially when a new camera sees the light of the day.

Today's treat is a peeper-friendly site, dkamera.  It is a German site but you don't need to know the language for its highlight which is shown in the first photo above.

Go here and you'll land on the bildqualitaet (visual quality) page, where there are two pull-down menus for choosing the cameras to be compared for the image quality.

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Underneath the pull-down menu, there are three selection buttons, namely, day-shot (tag), nigh-shot (nacht) and flash-shot (blitz).  The pull-down windows for ISO and image format are self-explanatory.

So peepers will wind up with various combination of 100% crops below the camera mugshot for peeping.  Clicking on the crops will bring you to the full-sized photo for browsing more freely.

The cameras in the database range from full-frame DSLRs to small sensor compacts.

Sometimes, killing time, tickling curiosity and being counter-productive can be fun.  This is simply comparable to taking junk food.  We can die bored and young without junk food, can't we?

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

One Reason to Pixel-Peep (many others not to)

R0010196 (Medium)^The kids are peeping in an oil lamp in which a bug has gone. 

Just because something is good, doesn't mean that it has to be invented or used.  MS PowerPoint is one (boring for your viewers, painstaking to prepare for your boss), pixel peeping is another.

With due respect to the testers contributing their time to analyse the pixel peeping results with meticulosity, I again wonder what we are driving at with the comparison result after the latest online encounter with another tester doing the same for Canon S90 and Ricoh GRD III.

R0010745 (Medium) Comparing shots taken by different cameras is one thing, but comparing them through pixel peeping is quite another.

Do we look at a winning photo and say, inter alia, "Oh, this is a great photo for I have just pixel-peeped how crisp and clear the fifth tile counting from the bottom of the wall of the second last building perching on the highest hill in the background where the palm trees are, thanks to pixel peeping, suffering from bug infestation" ?

Do we think a photo weak because of a negative pixel peeping result?

Do we look at a camera and say, "Hey, this is good for producing good pixel peeping results" ?

If not, what is the point of doing it?

We can as well ask a computer geek to test the two CPUs of different brands and tell us which CPU in how many nanoseconds does a space science arithmetic slower, so that we can decide which CPU to buy for word processing.  This is as absurd as factoring in the pixel peeping results to judge a camera for general shooting purpose.

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The saving grace of pixel peeping is that you may know the optical performance of the lenses.  But I still wonder how the result is really definitive for digital cameras because, unlike the film era, the final image is a combined product of the lens and the imaging sensor.

At least, a test to tell the optical performance of a lens has to be done in a lab with the right software and hardware for some objective statistical signs like here, not by pixel-peeing casual shots.

So, surely, pixel-peeping at a casually shot photo does not afford the viewers much possibility to differentiate where represents the optical performance of a lens and where represents tampering by the imaging sensor.  Surely, the exceptions are pincushion and barrel distortions of a lens which will tell in any photo of some uniformly square subjects.

A mind-boggling thing is some pixel-peeping testers tell of the contrast performance of the lens basing on the peeping results.  Photozone, which is the linked site above, says this very well:

"The most important aspect that cannot be tested at the moment is contrast. Subjectively a lens with great contrast but rather mediocre resolution looks more snappy."

If there is one legitimate reason to continue doing pixel peeping, it should be for tackling your curiosity.

R0014103 (Medium) Otherwise, if you need to know the optical performance of a lens, read a lab test result.

If you need to compare the characters of the images by different cameras, just compare the images at maybe full screen size.  Make your own subjective conclusions because this is primarily a matter of taste.  You don't really have to listen to what most other people say.

If you need to decide which camera to buy, pixel-peeping doesn't help.  Rather, how a camera conforms to your photographic style matters much.  So, read something about a camera's material aspects like ergonomics, flash performance, focusing performance, white balance correctness, RAW writing speed and the pricing.

Better still, go and try it out before you make your final decision.  Once you've bought one, practise your photographer's eye as often as you can.

If the name of photo is the bare Godiva, pixel-peeping is an act which Peeping Tom regrets having done.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Blog Note: 2356 Days 469 Posts

Today is more than the day which marks the first anniversary of this blog because we've been some weeks past it. Having watched the above intriguing video (He shot himself a photo everyday for 2356 days), I was inspired to reflect on the past year of blogging here.

I started out with a humble hope of writing occasionally and getting maybe ten readers for each post. The first month passed, and the scenario was very different. The hit rate was like 200 to 300 a day, which fuelled me to write more regularly, i.e. daily.

It was still the first month when posts started to be done daily. I questioned myself in the head, "Will there be enough topics to carry on for a month?" Now, this is more than 12 months.

Since 31 October 2008 the total hit rate is some 80700 or 6200 per month (as of today), with readers ranging from Taiwan to Tunisia. Sometimes, we've got visitors from unknown origin but the tracker suggested probably a ship (I was keen to think it a submarine) on the open seas.

The highest number of visitors in a day is 2356 during the week of the discussion of the GF-1.

R0011536 (Large) ^It's almost Christmas again, the best time for a photography trip to Hong Kong with all the fantastic Christmas decorations. Almost the same time last year GX GARNERINGS was started.

This is not an easy task for I'm far from retirement and actually leading a rather hectic life (who don't in a big city like HK). Apart from the posts contributed by the co-editor and a number of guest writers, the majority of the 469 posts so far have been written by me. Quite a number of posts were written by way of staying up late or getting up early.

But I was, and still are, really honoured to be able to share what I have learnt about photography and cameras.

So far I have ended up with having learned more about photography from the commenters, less the occasional slanderers here and there, the contributors and the bloggers I've got in contact with. These solo flyers are also doing their blogs to share experiences in photography. This is such a vibrate community. And I salute to them for their efforts.

Looking forward, we would certainly love to continue doing reviews of new serious compacts as long as I manage to get one. The reviews will basically lean on giving an user's impressions without repeating the technical bits which some big sites are already doing so well. I may also reflect if writing daily is actually fitting.

So, thank all of you readers visiting, commenting and photographers contributing to GX GARNERINGS. For those who have sent in email asking questions about your frustration in buying new cameras, I hope that you've got a good choice and starting using it every day.

Practise your photographer's eye every day. Good light!

And… have fun:

To pay tribute to Noah, Homer took pictures of himself every day for 36 years.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Car Parked

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"Let me take a breather," says his belly button.

Have a restful Sunday.