I've had the iPad 3 since 2012, and it has been helpful to me in my work where I would use it to take meeting notes and to "carry" my presentation materials (mostly PDFs or Powerpoint files). However, it had the following issues:-
- No native pen for note taking; I used an Adonit Jot stylus with the Notability app, and although it was ok, palm rejection wasn't so great, and the ink flow or pen sensitivity was sometimes not smooth.
- Editing of MS-Office documents was poor; It was only later that Microsoft introduced the Office suite, and although it allowed editing, I didn't have a keyboard nor was the iPad 3 fast or big enough to be useful.
Well, out came the iPad Pro in late 2015, which seemed to have solved most of the issues mentioned:-
- The Apple Pencil is incredible - ink flow is super smooth and responsive, it is even pressure-sensitive, and palm rejection is brilliant.
- The Smart Keyboard is great - works like a charm, and hopefully it can help me not depend on my office laptop anymore.
- However, to edit Office documents, I had to subscribe to Office 365; Microsoft insisted that the iPad Pro is a laptop-class device so charges for editing. This will cost me about US$59 per year, and gives you a 1TB OneDrive cloud-based storage.
- Also, the capabilities on the mobile Office suite is not the same as you get on the PC, so Outlook or Word, etc is not as full-featured. At least you get the split screen multitasking on the iPad Pro to help in working with two apps at the same time.
I also bought the Apple SD card and VGA adapter, which worked fine. And to complete the setup, I got the beautiful leather Pad & Quill bag, made specially for the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro slips nicely into the bag, but attached with the Smart Keyboard, it is a very tight fit.
For 2016 and beyond, this shall be my office workhorse. You can view more pictures here.
Over the years, I had acquired many photographic equipment and accessories. So much so, sometimes I think I'm beginning to be more of a camera collector. In fact, what you see here is what I have generally decided to settle in to. From trying out pocket digicams like the Sony RX100 (that took the photo above) to bridge cameras like the Fuji HS10, I've realised that what is important to is to know what type of subjects you like to take, then pick the system that fulfils the purpose. Obvious, but the naive gearhead in me tends to be attracted to all sorts of gimmicks and gloss. Not that I've completely healed from gear addiction, but I am heading in the right direction, I think.
I love to capture people and places. Not really into birds, or racing bikes, or tiny insects. That's why my purchase of the Sigma 150-500mm f5-6.3 telezoom and 150mm f2.8 macro were rarely used for taking pictures of wild animals or bugs. It's not as if I visit the zoo every month or hangout at sports events regularly. I wouldn't say those two lenses bred cobwebs in the closet, as they managed to let me capture nice portraits and candids, but lugging around heavy and obtrusive lenses is not my cup of tea. But if I wanted to use them, it feels way better balanced on the Nikon D700 with battery grip than the D750. Which is why I'm still keeping the D700. Same goes for the Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8. Incredible lens, giving such flexibility and image quality, no wonder it's classed as a pro lens. But again, a beast to lug around, and if you've ever had that large glass pointing at your face, then you'll know what being intimidated feels like. (As the photographer, you hardly realise this, as you are always behind the lens.)
Wanting to try out that super wide-angle look (notice the attraction to effect rather than story), I experimented with the Nikkor 10mm f2.8 fisheye, and later the Samyang 14mm f2.8 manual focus ultra-wide (because I couldn't afford the autofocusing Nikkor 14mm f2.8 or the badass 14-24mm f2.8.) Actually, the fisheye produces that unique distorted look, which I do like, and at the same time, it can be undistorted with the Fisheye-Hemi plugin by Image Trends, so it is like a multi-purpose lens. Only thing, you wouldn't want an entire album of fisheye looking pictures.
With static subjects, manual focus lenses are fine. However, for people, like in weddings or gatherings, using the Samyang 14mm f2.8 and 85mm f1.4 became tiresome. But these prime lenses, together with the fixed 23mm f2.0 that comes with the Fuji X100, or the 24mm f2.8 on the Sigma DP2, taught me how liberating and purposeful it was to shoot with what initially seemed inflexible tools. As they say, limitation is the springboard of creativity. Which was why when I upgraded to the D750, it became imperative that not only was fast autofocusing a must, compact and lightweight was a major criteria. Hence, the reason for getting what I called the f1.8 series lenses - Nikkor 20mm, 50mm and 85mm all f1.8. Compact, lightweight, fast autofosing, and as a bonus, inexpensive, with excellent image quality thrown in.
The hardest buying decisions has got to be camera bags. I bought the Crumpler 7 Million Dollar shoulder bag first, and later the Kata 3N1-30 sling backpack. The painful lesson here is that the larger the bag, the more you want to stuff it with, and the heavier you need to lug around with. Though both are really good and useful bags, having endured the back aches obtained from hauling tons of gear, I forced myself to get a smaller bag, yet not looking like a camera bag. An ardous search on the Internet finally led me to the Ona Leather Prince Street bag, which although costly, topped the list and even looked good. It holds my D750 and the f1.8s snugly and has space for other goodies like filters, spare batteries and memory cards too.
So there you have it. A brisk run through of my current camera setup, which I'm sure will grow quietly in the future...
I had performed my Hajj pilgrimage in 2010, but two of my brothers had not been to Mecca. So I invited them as well as my other brother and sister to go for the Umrah, including their spouses. So initially, twelve of us was agreeing to go, but due to clashes in exam schedules, two of the kids couldn't make it. Then, we were supposed to leave on 21 December 2013, but due to some logistic problems confronted by our travel agent, our flight was postponed to 26 Dec. This meant that my brother's wife and children couldn't make it, so the group was down to only eight people - four men and four women. This was convenient, as we shared two rooms comfortably. Our Umrah then proceeded nicely, taking off on AirAsia via LCCT (rather than the originally planned Saudi Airlines via KLIA) where we landed in Jeddah then took a bus ride to Madinah, and stayed there for a few days, after which we travelled by bus to Mecca. Unfortunately, due to the postponement, it had affected our hotel bookings - we were promised rooms in the majestic Zam Zam Towers, which is only 50m from the Masjidil-Haram, but ended up almost 500m away in a less prominent but decent hotel. Again, the plan was to return to Malaysia on 5 Jan 2014, but this was delayed until the 10 Jan. The bonus was the extra days we had in Mecca, fully paid for by the travel agent, and that we flew back by Etihad, Emirates premier airlines, rather than AirAsia.
Those were some of the testing challenges we faced, but otherwise, our Umrah itself went smoothly, and most of us managed to do it three times. The weather was colder than I expected, with Madinah dipping below 20deg Celsius. We toured the usual historic spots like Jabal Uhud and Masjid Quba, acquainted ourselves with a date farm and camel ranch, savoured the local Arabic cuisine, and browsed the shopping centres. Overall, it was a successful trip, and made more enjoyable by the company of my siblings!
I was invited to be the official photographer for my cousin's wedding. This was indeed a special occasion, as it was held at Carcosa Seri Negara, my first time attending a wedding at this prestigious luxury hotel, and my first time being a photographer there. Nataskia, or Saskia as she is affectionally called, chose to marry Ivan, a Frenchman, over in Malaysia as most of her relatives are here. Most of Ivan's family members came from Paris and Spain, and a few of Saskia's friends flew in from Australia and Scotland. Together with Saskia's Malaysian relatives, about fifty guests joined to celebrate her wedding. What can I say, it was a most lovely celebration, classic and beautiful. Both sides of the family seemed to be made for each other, and they certainly knew how to enjoy and party right through the night! It was a privilege for me to be a part of this experience, and I'm most grateful that they were happy with the wedding album that I produced for them. May they have an everlasting marriage!
Embrace and be enchanted by more pictures of their wedding!