Marina Bay Sands, Singapore – Early Morning Glory

One day in March 2018, don’t know what got into me, I decided to get up early, cycle from home to the Marina Barrage with the complete photo gear AND the  drone to take a few pictures and movies

So, I had the DJI Phantom 3P in the hardcover backpack, a tripod attached to this hard case with a few carabiners, plus a sling bag with the Nikon Df and two heavy zoom lenses over my shoulder. What a stupid idea. I looked and felt like a complete idiot cycling along the Singapore river at 06:30 making my way through other cyclists and dog walkers. The 5 km cycling trip from home to the barrage felt like a 40 km cross-country mountain bike race, I was huffing and puffing upon arrival.

I managed to set up “shop”:

Google Attribution is here

So far so good, but then things went a little off the rail…. I realised that I forgot the ND filter, a fairly crucial accessory when trying to blur the water in the foreground, at home. Secondly, something was wrong with the drone: an error message “gimbal disconnected” kept creeping up. So, my plans of filming myself and the scenery with the drone whilst the Df was auto-clicking via interval timer went south straight-away.

Anyway: with a great mess comes great opportunity. Luckily, I had the polarisation filter with me. With a bit of scrambling I got a few decently looking photographs. Recommendation #1: when taking pictures at dusk or dawn in the tropics, mosquito repellent is worth its weight in gold!!!

Post processing: Colour Efex Pro and Silver EfexPro, a little bit of detail extractor, cropping and some minor adjustments to taste in LR; sharpening and export as jpeg with LR as well.

All done and dusted by 08:00, so I could get myself ready to start working at 08:30. In hindsight: this was very well worth it! Next time WITH the ND-filter.

Here we go. I upload large files for your viewing pleasures:

supertree grove singapore
MBS Singapore
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
and yes: Marina Bay Sands Singapore

pictures are (c) www.jrbc.net 2018; please ask for permission prior to reproduction!

more on: hiking in Hong Kong

Luck had it that I could spend a number of weekends in Hong Kong between Nov 2017 and March 2018. Hong Kong is a hiker’s heaven all year round, but the relatively cool winter months make it a paradise. Once back home, I started thinking how I could possible blog (aka diary-ise) all these beautiful hikes.

Several ideas came to my mind:

  1. describe every hike at great length and detail – probably not… too many details.
  2. just show a few pictures – mehh, not good enough either
  3. pick and choose just one or two, sort of a “best of series” – good idea, but how to choose.
  4. then it hit me: export the GPS file of every hike I did from the Polar website; then upload all those GPS files into a single Google earth window and capture the piece of art with a screen grab. The dark blue “worms” crawling all over Hong Kong in the pic below represent all the hikes I did. Only after completing this drawing I realized that I hiked almost the entire Lord Wilson trail (with the exception of stage 10 and a bit of stage 9… so there we still have a target….)

    Et voila, here we are:

Best of 2017, picture by picture, the 8 black and white

best of 2017, the black and white winners

My thoughts and some technical background information about the eight black and white photographs that survived the “best of 2017” selection process described in an earlier post.

Image 1, image 2 and image 3 were all taken in a similar location, in the north western part of Switzerland. Hand-held with the Nikon J1, all at base ISO of 100 and shutterspeed > 1/360. Subsequently converted to B&W with Silver Efex Pro, then cropped and sharpened in Adobe LR. The entire Nik collection is available for free from Google as of Feb 2018. However, Google sold the software, so the days of a free download might be over soon

Image 1

I like the interlude between the different silouettes in this image, some man-made and others natural, In addition, if you zoom into the image you will notice the sunlight on one person’s face – that just adds to the magic of it. This was an easy choice!

Image 2

Abstracted to two vertical lines which seem to be talking to each other. The little tree carefully taking side with the actor on the right. The slight slope on the left puts one actor into a slightly different position in this discussion. Also an easy choice for me for the final list.

Image 3

First a straight journey towards the horizon, then a left turn and an unkown ending. It is up to your imagination where the path will lead to. The tree on the right as the silent observer of the path’ journey?

Image 4

Nikon J1, handheld at base ISO 100. Livorno in Italy, remnants of a glorious (and sometimes not so glorious) past. Normally, I don’t like pictures with a blown-out sky, but in this case the pure white of the sky contrasts the moldy and murky quay and water very well. I also like how the eye is guided from the left side of the frame to follow the buildings and the water into the distance.

Image 5

iPhone 6+. Walking to a coffee shop for a much needed morning dose of caffeine stimulans, I spotted these tiles. The line of my shadow matches the lines between the tiles well, and the wide gradation of greys adds to the attraction of this picture.

Image 6

The white water terraces in Yunnan, China. I like the white foreground contrasting with the dark trees and the more neutral background. I was struggling for a while whether to include a color or a B&W in my final list, ultimately went for the B&W for the reasons mentioned above.

Image 7

Another iPhone 6+ photo taken from a cable car gondola, so I guess it qualifies as an “aerial” photograph. It’s an intersection of two dirt roads. Converted to black and white in Silver Efex Pro, then cropped and added the vignette to emphasise the “white structure”. Maybe I’m reading too much science fiction recently, but the structure clearly inspires space ship designs…

Image 8

Marina Barrage in Singapore, taken with the DJI Phantom 3 Professional (the drone was inside allowed flying zone….);  captured in Adobe DNG, to give me a little more wiggle room for post processing. Lawn, concrete, water. I like the juxtaposition of the different patterns, horizontal waves on the right, the horizontal/vertical in the middle and the apparent chaos of the lawn.



Best of 2017, picture by picture, the colourful 8

best of 2017, the top 8 color photographs

Some thoughts and technical background information about the  eight color photographs that survived the “best of 2017” selection process described in an earlier post.

Image 1 & 2

The first two, very colorful images were taken during a Nikon School workshop. We had the task of capturing the “spirit” of Chinese New Year. The second challenge was to take no more than 50 pictures whilst out and wondering about for two hours. A good idea in the days of digital photography, where “spray and pray” often is just too tempting.

Both pictures taken with the Nikon Df, 85mm f1.8 @ ISO 100, handheld, then adjusted the blacks and whites in LR, sharpened and slightly cropped. In the picture showing the old man, I slightly lightened up his face via a radial mask in LR.

Image 3

Museum of Modern Arts in Brisbane. I liked the structure of the wall and the colors of the floor; decided to give the picture some manual “shake” with the iPhone to make it a bit more interesting.


Image 4

I was on the way to the gym, when this beautiful flower literally landed in front of me. I put it gently into the pool and took the picture with the iPhone.

Some post processing in LR as shown here:

image 5

Initially, this was a “so what” photograph, but the more I look at it, the more I like it. The tilt to the left adds momentum, almost as if something or somebody would enter the picture from the right any moment. Secondly, the path leading out of the frame leaves many questions open. And last but not least, the different hues of green. Nikon J1, handheld, LR post processing.

image 6

Another iPhone 6+. How I wish, I would have had a “real” camera with me for this photograph. I really like the juxtaposition of different structures in this photograph. The apparent chaos in the foreground, the verticals in the corn field, the forest behind, which looks like a whale emerging from the corn sea and last but not least the clouds towering over all of it.

In order to bring out the clouds a little more, I applied a gradient filter with about -1 stop exposure in LR. The grain is really ugly, because of the small iPhone sensor… Never mind, still a really good photograph (IMHO)

image 7

Not the best shot technically, the limitation of the small sensor of the DJI Phantom 3 Professional coming through. But with the clouds (gradient filter in LR to darken the sky somewhat) and the elevated perspective, this frame deserves to be in the final 8.

image 8

OK, for the pixel peepers, the white balance is slightly off, but that’s all I managed to do. A rare inversion weather situation, the solo cross country skier apparently gliding towards the sun – that did it for me. Nikon J1 handheld, some pp in Adobe LR.

Hope you enjoyed it and if all goes well, another “best of” will come in 12 month! Thanks again to Martin Bailey for the inspiration.



 

Best of 2017

my top 16

I took inspiration from Martin Bailey’s annual “top ten” process to go through all my 2017 pictures and choose the best ones. I decided to select a total of 16, eight in black an white and eight in colour.

selection process

I organize all photos and videos in Adobe Lightroom for a number of years already. So it is the easiest was to do this journey in Lightroom.

  1. choose all pictures taken in 2017. Total # of frames 1340. The total count in LR was 1500, the difference is made up by pictures taken by other people that I store with permission (eg a purchase)
  2. exclude all “holiday snap shots”, selfies and the like. This reduced the selection to about 200
  3. remove photos which are “nice to look at” (whatever that means…), but have some other flaws. For instance, disturbing elements that I didn’t want or cannot remove.. This got me down to app 55 frames.These are the 55 chosen ones at step 3:
  4. Then it got difficult. First, I removed either the BW or the Color pictures for those where I kept both in the 55 list above. That got me down to about 30.
  5. Then I removed photos where the initial “yes” turned out to be more of a “wow that was a great filter effect”. Down to about 24.
  6. Then it got really, really difficult. I removed those which I thought just don’t have any “umpf” for me. Down to 18.
  7. Then I asked my two trusted in-house experts for their choice, i.e. they helped me to eliminate two more.
    AND HERE WE ARE – THE FINAL 16

oooofff, that was really, really, really difficult and such a pleasure to do!

I will go through each image in detail in a few separate blog posts, providing some thoughts about each image and some technical considerations (camera, settings, post processing)



 

Sharp Peak, Hong Kong – what a hike!

Chapter 1 – November 2000

Walking and scrambling up Sharp Peak is one of the most beautiful and adventurous hikes in Hong Kong! 

An ascent from Tse Uk over the northern ridge,  that I did in November 2000 (yes, it was in the year 2000!!!!) still is fresh in my memory. A longish, demanding walk, was rewarded with fantastic views over the Sai Kung peninsula and the South China sea, and good food at Ham Tin beach.

Two memories from 2000:

 

Chapter 2 – November 2017

Fast forward to November 2017. I was in Hong Kong for a business trip and nagged “my” hiking gang for a weekend hike. I almost dropped my phone when I read “Sharp Peak” on our WhatsApp group! So Sharp Peak it will be again after 17 years!

We climbed Sharp Peak from Pak Tam Au via the Western ascent – views spectacular and myself elated like a baby once on the peak. A bit of show off time here: no problem whatsoever to ascend Sharp Peak.

The compulsory lunch stop at Ham Tin beach, a quick walk back to Check Keng, from where a fast boat took us to the bus terminus at Wong Shek. Excellent crowd management by the local masters – thank you 🙂

So 17 years later, that’s how I look:

The view from Sharp Peak over Ham Tin beach (yeah,,, its a little over-filtered….)

Thanks to the Hong Kong hiking gang, who made this memory-refresh possible! The fingers point at Sharp Peak, btw..

….and in 2017 we take the selfies with a drone:

some pics courtesy of HC



 

Megrow Consulting is Going for Year 3!

and now… for a little advertisement:

I keep business and pleasure separate on the web and social media. However,  the 2nd birthday of my consulting company, Megrow Pte Ltd, deserves a mention here!

Have a look at the company website by clicking on the company logo:

megrow-logo


achtung – unterbrecherwerbung!

Ich trenne Beruf und Privatleben ziemlich strikt, wenn’s um soziale Medien und Web-Präsenz geht.

Eine Ausnahme: meine Beratungsfirma Megrow Pte Ltd ist zwei Jahre alt geworden!

Ein Klick aufs Logo bringt Dich zur Megrow Homepage:

megrow-logo

 

 

 

 



 

Pisa ohne Pizza

Three days in Tuscany – everything goes, except pizza and insalata caprese! Why that? Those two dishes are omnipresent where we live, so really really no point coming all the way to Italy and then eat that standard fare…

PISA and Luca

The towns are pleasantly small, have plenty of sights and yes, we did that “I hold the leaning tower selfie”.

After visitor’s rush hour, Pisa calms down quite a bit, the streets are not that crowded anymore, one can hear people speaking local dialect and order a tramezzino and a glass of wine and just chill for a moment under the shades of the shopping arcades. And a proper café for one Euro is a constant seduction.

Livorno

..barely 20 mins by train from Pisa, is a different world: the sea, some canals, a lot of strict and straight 60ies and 70ies architecture, the HQ of Italy’s communist party and the even tramezzini have a special local name. And the café @ EUR 1.- remains the constant.

Firenze

Oh dear, but then Florence… Waves of profusely sweaty people make their ways from the train station via the Duomo, the Uffizi to the Ponte Vecchio and back. No reservation for the Dome’s cupola, then you can stare at it from outside! We decide for a work-out and climb the campanile; no surprise the narrow staircase isn’t that crowed and the views from the top are super worth the effort!! I’ll do that again any moment. We continue with the flow, pay respect to the God of selfies, lots of sweat, some snacks (and a café… just in case I haven’t mentioned that before) and a pay visit to the barbiere for a clean, professional shave. I don’t think I heard a single word Italian during the few hours we spent in Florence…

Food Porn

No post is complete without it:



 

adding to the list …. show-off time

A plan is a plan is a plan.

Walked up the highest mountains of two Swiss Kantons (“province”) Basel-Land and Jura in 2016. July 2017 brought an opportunity to scale the highest mountain of Kanton Solothurn.

The “Hasenmatt” (loosely translated as “rabbit’s meadow”) is 1445 meters above sea level at the south eastern ridges of the Jura mountain range.

The hike starts in Gaensbrunnen, a hamlet at 734 meters above sea level, and climbs gently and steadily on a well trotten path. About half of the ascent is through forest, great aircon and shade for a hot day! Early morning, hardly anybody is around, the peace and quietness is interrupted only by the sound of our steps, the chatters and the occasional sound of a cow bell.

Walking at a good, but not rushed pace, it took us 1 hour and 45

minutes to reach the top.

 

On a clear day one should see the Swiss Alps as well, the luck wasn’t ours, though.

Over lush Jura meadows we continued for another hour+ to reach Weissenstein. The closer we got to Weissenstein, the more hikers we encountered. The place is so popular, that if you plan to do a BBQ at one of the official sites, you need to be there very early and occupy a place. Reminds me of traveler’s reports about reserving a spot on the beach with your towel early morning!

The “greens” and “yellows” are simply amazing, so much beauty in nature!

No post is complete without a few eery black and white pictures, so here you go:

 

So, another “tick” on the 26 summits list. A few easy ones remain (Zuerich, Zug, Schaffhausen, Geneva, Sankt Gallen and Zug), afterwards we get into mountaineering territory to complete the list.