Jakarta by night

I visited Jakarta a few weeks ago on business. I didn't really get to do any sightseeing but a colleague of mine did take me to a place to buy some souvenirs. I stayed in Hotel Mulia Senayan while I was there. It's indeed a very nice hotel and I would gladly recommend it. Here are some of my favourite photos taken during my visit.

(1st) A view of Jakarta from my room. I used a rather small aperture (f11) and long exposure time (about 30 seconds). A closer look at the street reveals the light beams created by head and tail lamps.

(2nd) Bedside notepad. I had just gotten my Nikkor AF-S 35mm f1.8 lens a few days before and wanted to experiment with the Bokeh effect as much as possible. I found this to be quite attractive compositionally as well with the pen serving as a leading line into the picture (and Bokeh).

(3rd) Nothing like unwinding to a cold beer at the end of a long day. This was taken at a bar in the Jakarta International Airport.

(4th) I spent the weekend with my family in Malaysia. I flew with Air Asia. This shot was taken from inside the plane. I used a pretty large aperture of about f3.5 as I needed to get the shutter sheet high enough for my camera to be handheld. Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised with the depth-of-field in this one.

All photos were taken with my Nikon D60 and Nikkor AF-S 35mm f1.8.


Walchensee, a beautiful lake close to Munich

In my last post, I shared some of my favorite photos of Kochelsee (Lake Kochel). There is another lake very close to Kochelsee called Walchensee (Lake Walchen). As beautiful as Kochelsee was, I have to say that Walchensee was even better.

Walchensee is located at about 800m above sea level and is further into the Alps than Kochelsee. It has its bustling spots but is rather quiet in general, which is what we loved about it. The drive from Kochelsee to Walchensee only took about 15 minutes although we spent quite a bit of time finding the best spot for some R&R. There is a passage on one side of the lake that requires an entrance fee. This stretch was much quieter and more pleasant than the others. We found a nice spot, unpacked, took a dip and while the others napped, I went to take some photos.

(Above) This panorama was created from a set of four shots that I took with a tripod. I was amazed how easy it is to generate panoramas automatically from a set of photos with Photoshop. I had to edit the photo a little after Photoshop did its magic but that wasn't too difficult. Panoramas are definitely something I would consider taking to add variety to my collection.

(Above) I guess it's quite typical to place boats in the foreground when taking shot of lakes, rivers, beaches and so forth. Nonetheless, it works well. I had to boost saturation and fill light quite a bit in post-processing to accentuate the colors of the boats.

(Above) I took this on the way back from Walchensee. I got as close to the water as I could and used the rocks as the foreground for this shot. The water there is extremely clean. You could drink it - I did.


Kochelsee, Kochel am See, close to Munich

If you're a fan of nature, Munich won't disappoint you. It's only about an hour's drive away to the Alps, the River Isar flows through the city and there are many beautiful lakes in and around Munich. I haven't visited them all but have definitely seen quite a bit of Munich.

This photo blog is about Kochelsee (Lake Kochel). About a month ago, I visited Kochelsee with my wife and parents-in-law. It's only about 40 km south-east from where we live but we had to endure some traffic jam to get there. Nonetheless, it was worth every bit of it. The lake it very close to the foot of the Alps and the view was fabulous. The sight of stone meeting water has always been something that fascinates me - you'd notice that from my shots below. A little further south from Kochelsee is another lake called Walchensee (Lake Walchen). Walchensee is beautiful too, if not more so than Kochelsee and there is a famous hydroelectric plant between the two lakes - for more information (in German), click here. Anyway, I'll leave Walchensee for the next post.

Here are some of my favourite photos of Kochelsee. All shots in this photo blog were taken with my Nikon D60 and Nikkor AF-S 18-105 mm VR lens.

kochelsee, kochel am see, photo blog(Above) A house on stilts typically used to store boats. I guess you could have a little "beach party" in there too. I got down very low to take this shot - my camera was only a few inches above the platform. I used the platform as a leading line into the picture. I boosted saturation a little to enhance that gold-ish tone just below the roof.

kochelsee, kochel am see, photo blog(Above) This shot is similar to the one above. It's a different house though and I used the rail as a leading line instead.

kochelsee, kochel am see, photo blog(Above) Kochelsee with the Alps in the background. I got as close to the water as possible and composed the shot with some rocks in the foreground to add more depth to it. I increased saturation in post-processing to make the elements stand out more (it was pretty flat before that).

kochelsee, kochel am see, photo blog(Above) On the way up to Walchensee, there was a small rest spot with an excellent view of Kochelsee. We decided to get down and take some shots. Kochelsee is about 600m above sea level whereas Walchensee is about 800m. This is one of the two shots I took.

Hope you liked them. Let me know what you think.


Nikon 35mm lens

I went back to Malaysia for a weekend some weeks ago. I was in Jakarta on business for a couple of weeks and decided to fly over to Malaysia for the weekend. It was a short but pleasant trip. I had the chance to see my family, play with and photograph my adorable nephews, enjoy some local food and... guess what? I got myself a Nikon AF-S 35mm f1.8 lens! Well actually, my parents got it for me as a birthday present. Boy, oh boy am I pleased with it.

I haven't used a prime (fixed focal length) lens for some time now. Some people often herald the benefits of prime lenses over more conventional zoom lenses. Ok, zoom lenses used to be a rarity but it has been the norm for some time now. Old 35mm cameras such as the Yashica FX-3 SLR that I had, came with prime lenses - usually 50mm. 50mm lenses (35mm equivalent) are often called normal lenses because they generate images that generally look natural to an observer under normal viewing conditions. By the way, that's the Wikipedia description.

The Nikon or should I say Nikkor AF-S 35mm f1.8 lens is a normal lens when paired with a Nikon DSLR with an APS-C sensor (non full-frame sensor). Nikon DSLRs such as my D60 have a cropping factor of 1.5. So, a 35mm lens on these cameras is equivalent to ~50mm (i.e. 35mm x 1.5 = 52.5mm) on a 35mm / full-frame camera.

I decided on this lens for three reasons. First and foremost, I wanted a fast lens for low light photography. A fast lens is one with a large aperture (small f-stop number). There is a good article on Digital Photography School about fast lenses if you'd like to know more - click here. I've tried photographing kids indoor with my zoom lens and unless I use a flash or really bump up the ISO (which results in noisy pictures) the images usually turn out soft because the shutter is too slow. With a large aperture, I figured that I'd be able to use a faster shutter speed and avoid soft images. While I have found this to be true, the large aperture also results in a very narrow depth of field and you have to be careful when focusing to ensure sharp images.

I have found this lens to be a little soft and blurry when used at its maximum aperture of f1.8. I recommend stopping it down to at least f2.0 to get the best shots. The picture below, which was taken at f1.8 is rather soft.

Secondly, I wanted a fast lens to get the bokeh effect in my shots, especially portraits. Bokeh refers to the part of an image that is rendered out of focus on purpose by using a narrow depth of field (large aperture, small f-stop). This is often done to isolate the subject from a distracting background and / or foreground. There's a good article about bokeh on Wikipedia - click here.

Finally, I wanted a prime lens. Prime lenses typically produce better photos than equivalently priced zoom lenses. However, you sacrifice some flexibility and convenience since you have to "zoom" with your feet. I find that with this lens the color reproduction is better and my shots are sharper than with my AF-s 18-105 VR zoom lens.

All the shots in this post were taken with my D60 and Nikkor AF-S 35mm f1.8 lens - judge for yourselves. Overall, I'm very pleased with this lens and would gladly recommend it.


Web album on Marienplatz, Munich

I hope you enjoyed my 3-part photo blog series on Marienplatz, Kaufingerstrasse and Karlsplatz. I realize that this has been a long time coming, but here's a slideshow of my web album from the photo shooting session that I had.

You can also visit my public gallery via this link.