Posts Tagged ‘Stephanie Lua’

I don’t exactly know where to classify this place as. Some call it the Toowoomba Sunflower Field, some call it the Cambooya Sunflower patch, Either one is fine by me. Technically, we (as in Steph and I) found the sunflower field in a little place called Nobby, which is further down the road from Cambooya. There used to be loads in Cambooya but I was told by a friend who has to travel via that area to go to work that they didn’t plant them this year.

Bummer.

No fret, we just thought we’d take a drive and see what else we could find…we thought of turning back over five times but God must’ve been driving because I just followed the road until we got to a railway crossing. Across the road way up in the countryside was something yellow.

“It couldn’t be”, I thought…”Let’s check it out anyway!”. Steph also didn’t think that it could’ve been a sunflower field. We turned the car around and tried to find a way in that direction. We hit a couple of dead ends but eventually we were greeted with a huge sunflower field!

I’m talking BIG. It extends all the way to the horizon. Here’s a couple of pictures to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

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That not enough for you? hmm..OK, imagine this: You are now seeing the image above in reality. Now turn 90 degrees to your left and you’re looking down the field from an elevated position…and this is what you see:

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Yup. Thats a heck of a lot of sunflowers. Just as I was getting my gear out of the car the owner of the field happened to walk by with his dog. I greeted him and he let me go crazy so I had myself a photo-frenzy. I didn’t have my camera out yet so I didn’t get a shot of him. Next time I’ll be sure to bring the polaroid so I can give him a little something for his generosity.

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Oh, by the way, be prepared to have your screen blasted with all sorts of shades of yellow. I love composing shots by colour. However, something funny happened while I was taking pictures of the sunflowers. Check out the image below and tell me whether or not its edited…

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Am I seeing things or does it look like an HDR image? (for the noobs out there who do not know HDR is High Dynamic Range. What is it? Google is your friend). It looked the same way on the camera screen which I thought was weird. This is actually straight from camera. No post processing, no photoshop, no nothing! Even looking at it now I can’t help but think how “edited” it looks…am I right?

Also, this wasn’t a one off thing. Check out the following six images which were all taken straight from camera with no post processing whatsoever. Only adjustments made (if any) are to crop and/or straighten the horizon.

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Is that weird or what? Those of you who follow me know that I like to get the shot right in camera but even I’m amazed at this! In the interest of full disclosure I will share some of my settings with those who are interested. Camera on variable aperture/shutter speeds depending on the shot (Duh!). All shot on “more vivid” picture mode, cloudy WB, and with a 0.9 (3x) Graduated Neutral Density filter (cheapo Tian Ya brand but works great!). Obviously a wide angle was used – in this case a Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 mostly at 10mm. Any explaination people?!

Moving on, we also brought along our little guinea pig, Shybrow who kind of got high from all that fresh vegetation.

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Shybrow is no little piggie, shes a big fat piggie and shes still growing but at around six months old and almost too big to hold her comfortable in one hand, shes no match for the sheer monstrosity that is a sunflower. I mean that thing could literally eat her up!

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Man, I could almost see this shot advertising for something…for example:

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How’s that? haha…fortunately that not the extent of my graphic design abilities but thats all I could think of in two minutes. Ideally, the sky would be a gorgeous deep blue but I’ll have to go back again in the near future to get that shot. More about revisiting this place at the end of the post.

Heres a shot that was inspired by another photo I saw somewhere on the internet but I can’t remember where. If I find it I’ll credit it.

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Sunflowers are one of the few “photogenic” flowers. I say so because of their beautiful texture. Not to say that other flowers aren’t great but a macro lens and a sunflower would really produce some amazing results. I didn’t bring one along as it was a cloudy day and I knew it would be too windy to take macro shots (maybe next time I can steal a flower and photograph it at home?) For now, the crappy Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 will have to do.

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Heres a great little pano I shot:

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Altogether we were there for over an hour. Brandon called me and said that it was raining in Toowoomba so we packed up and left. Looking up there was a flock of birds. I had my telephoto lens on so I took a couple of shots of them. Nothing impressive but I sort of like this picture:

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Would have loved to stay til sunset…but that was hours away. Perhaps next time. For now I can only imagine…

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As I previously mentioned, I will be going back there to get some shots with blue sky instead of a cloudy one. If you don’t already know, this area has been in a 6 year drought and having clouds is a rarity so I took the opportunity to make the most of it. I will be going back on a nice clear summer day to get some different perspectives. I’ll probably go down again in a week or so. Anyone interested in joining me? let me know in the comments!

Til next time, good bye and God bless!

As previously promised, I am flooding my blog with posts. This is for all you “Jiaren, you never update your blog” people. However, I’ll probably write some draft posts and leave this one headlining for a while just because this is what I should be doing more and I really like the results.

So anyway, this story began a long time ago…but that not important. Whats important is that it ended just a little while ago. Last Monday to be exact. Thats the day Jun left to go back to Malaysia. The day before that, Jun asked if I would be able to photograph our group at our university’s own Japanese Garden.

Of course I could!

We arranged to meet at the gardens at 4.30pm so obviously I made it a point to be  there by 5.30pm…

which I did…

…barely.

Good news is we all got there eventually and almost everyone obeyed the “all black” dress code.

We started off at the far side of the garden where there was a couple nice sheltered benches which would be suitable for a large group portrait. We tried a couple of shots but the sun was way too glaring so we swapped around and shot into the Sun. I set up two lights on both sides of the camera to makes sure everyone was evenly lit while I pull down the background exposure. Here are the results:

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JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9541I took over a hundred shots but I’ve weeded them to these few to keep from boring you, my dearest readers. After 20 minutes of positioning the lights, posing everybody, and getting the shot right without people blinking, we got some really good shots before moving onto the big red door. I like this door.By the way, have you guessed which one is Jun yet?

JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9559See the smartie pants that didn’t conform to the dress code? *Ahem* *ahem* Will and Jun (Not the Jun thats leaving, we have two Juns in our group). Let me introduce you to the group.

From Left to Right: Will, Ted, Sabrina, Wilson, Stephanie, Neo, Jun, Ben, Edna, Shin Yong, Jun.

Next up is our group of lovely ladies in black.

JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9567I like the above shot except for the cross shadows which make the girls look flashed straight on and defeats the purpose of strobing. (Phototip: The lights are meant to “look” natural and inconspicuous).

JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9573Now with two flashguns shooting camera left at full zoom we can bring the background down to exposure without loosing the foreground. Remember shadows are our friends and almost this entire series was shot with the flash on full power or close to it.

Next we did some creative shots and laughed the whole way through.

This next shot is the “Eww, Yuck, its Jun” shot:

JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9577This next one is the “PHeeewWWWIIiTTtTTT, Hubba hubba, it’s gorgeous Jun!!!”:

JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9581This next one is just…well…I like the composition.JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9583So have you guessed which one is Jun yet? Now we come to our hero, “Neo, the ladies man”:

JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9588…or would you prefer, “Neo, you disgust me!” look?:

JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9593Okay, enough of that…lets move on to more group shots ya?! Moving not more than 30 meters away is the Zen garden. The little pebbles on the ground were beautifully carved when we got there. It looked like crap when we were done, haha!

JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9608In retrospect these pics remind me of the Friends series opening sequence…

JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9610Don’t you love how it looks in black and white…when everybody conforms to the dress code? Will and Jun had already left by this time because they had other stuff to do.

JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9611Every good Japanese garden has a red bridge so it wouldn’t feel complete if we didn’t take a shot there:

JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9622Theres actually four bridges at our Japanese garden. This is one of the smaller ones. In the middle of the garden is a small island which I’ve found to be a great spot for photographs! By now we were quickly loosing light and were about to wrap up so we quickly had to get it over with. Once the lights were set up I was ready to go. Check out the reflections!

JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9633Sort of has a “The Bold and the Beautiful” theme going on, hey? Heres another:

JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9636You can see the flash in the picture which I felt would pass as a lamp post or something. I tried to clone it out but preferred it like this. At this point we were exhausted and ready to pack up. Jun had other plans. She wanted one last shot with Ben, Edna, and Neo so with plenty of people around I used them as assistants to finally get some use out of the umbrellas which I’d been lugging around all day without using for fear of them being blown by the wind. Its happened once and broke the flash that way. I had just got it too!

JunsFarewellByJiarenLau-9640Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom! If you enjoyed what you saw please leave me a comment! Send me feedback, what I should or should not be doing! critic! We all learn from our mistakes. Let me leave by saying I appreciate criticism a lot more than flattery so don’t hesitate if there was something bothering you that you thought would look better only if…(I’ll leave the rest to you)

Take care and God bless,

Jiaren

About a month ago, we headed off to Sydney for the Hillsong Conference. Altogether there were about 20 of us which was pretty cool…unfortunately, we didn’t all travel together (nor did we all stay together). I headed a group of 11, nine of which were gonna fly to and from Brisbane together, while one of them took the flight before and the other came from Singapore! Here’s our group of 9 after we disembarked from the plane:

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Okay, that creepy non-Asian white guy in the back is a advert poster…Will isn’t in the shot coz we were on the horizontal escalator where as he wasn’t…of course I was behind the camera…
After countless hours (yes, literally HOURS) or arguing which would be the best transport to get to our accommodation we finally decided on a big shuttle bus which brought us on a 40 minute drive to Parramatta, which is located to the West of Sydney. We happily unpacked our bags and was out the door! We took the train down to the city where we were just in time for dinner before heading toward the Harbour to meet up with Christoph.

Meet Christoph:

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Christoph was our housemate back in Toowoomba for a year. He’s currently somewhere between Thailand and Singapore on his holiday before heading back to Germany where he comes from. He moved out by this time and happened to be in Sydney that night so we planned to meet up…being Asians, we had to take a lot of group pics…

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How many people can you spot? One of us had relatives in Sydney so he didn’t join us…thats why there’s only 10 ppl. *EDIT* Actually theres less coz I cropped Edna out of the frame…Sorry Edna! I didn’t have my tripod and so I had to improvise…this next shot is heavily cropped so the lamp post I used wouldn’t get in the picture of the Eye of Sydney.

I think its funny how every major city now has an “Eye”…

We walked along the harbour past the Sydney Aquarium and other attractions which were almost closing as it was rather late by this time…We checked the schedule for the ferry and saw that we would be able to make the last one so while we waited for the ferry we walked back to the Sydney Aquarium where they had a nice backlit billboard of Spongebob Squarepants. I noticed it on the way to the ferry and went back for one purpose and one purpose only: to get this shot:

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That’s my friend Patrick (which also happens to be from Miri). This picture is titled, “Patrick & Patrick”.

Anyway, we then headed to a place called the Rocks to have some sort of famous pancake. Indeed it was a pancake house franchise which had been sort of springing up all over the place. We went in for dessert. Now, let me make it clear that I do NOT take pictures of the food I eat…its sooooooooooooooooooooo cliche doncha think? …but they insisted so I took a happy snap of my chocolate strawberry pancake…YUM!

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Hmm…I’m really sorry but my timeline of the events that occured after this pitstop seems to have screwed itself up in my brain so I can’t remember what we did when we did…All I remember is that along the… (this crossed out paragraph corresponds to the “Patrick & Patrick” picture and the paragraph above it…)

Although I took a bunch of pics after that I’m not going to share anymore simply because I still have a lot to cover…by the way, the current time now is exactly 5.13am. I don’t plan to sleep and I want to finish by dawn-ish so we can go to the Sunday Market before church Who’s “we” you ask? That’s me and Steph…I’m not sleeping tonight because I slept this arvo…what’s “arvo” you ask? its Aussie for “afternoon”. What’s “Aussie”? It’s short for “Australia”. What’s “Australia” you ask? A big island surrounded with water which has a severe water problem. Go figure.

Fast forward through the night and early the next morning…

Yours truly together with his team of intrepid explorers, Patrick and Stephanie, went to pit their strength against the wrath of the mighty Blue Mountains.

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The Blue Mountains is one of Australia’s biggest tourist destination. It is a collection of mountains that expand across the landscape that when looked at appear to be blue in colour. Its blue haze is of a different hue and deeper than anywhere else in the world. This is caused primarily by Eucalyptus trees emitting oil vapour into the atmosphere which along with fine dust particles and droplets of water vapour scatter the blue light (blue light is short wave light) more than any other colour in the spectrum. (That last sentence was taken from the guide book. If you’re interested, look for it on wikipedia.)

Also the home to the Three Sisters, a natural rock formation which is sort of difficult to explain so I’ll show you a picture:

You can see the Blue Mountains in the background. I’ve already warmed up the tones to make the Three Sisters more prominent in the frame of this picture and even so the mountains appear so blue so you can imagine how blue it actually was!

We took the ExplorerBus to Scenic World, home to the steepest railway which has a maximum gradient of 52 degrees!  It feels like its almost 90 degrees!

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See how the trees are straight? If I left my bag on the empty seat im front it would’ve ended up right at the front! When we got to the bottom Partrick helped me take a picture of me and Steph and the three sisters…thx Pat!

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We continued by foot through the forest to the bottom where we would take one cablecar up to the main platform and another back to the place the bus dropped us. We managed to sneek in a strobist shot while walking through the forest. After a few attempts we got it right…credit to Steph for taking the picture and Patrick for holding the flash:

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Heres Steph in the cable car enjoying herself on one of the cablecar rides:

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Oh, by the way, this is our ExplorerBus…the hop-on hop-off tour bus we used to get between places…the bus driver was kind enough to let us take a picture before he zoomed off to the next stop:

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The driver was very friendly. There are actually two busses but this one seemed to always be the next one up! We walked through the cold forest to Leura Cascades. Its a beautiful stream of water falling all the way to the bottom. Be warned that I LOVE LOVE LOOOOOOOVVVEEE waterfalls. If I see a waterfall I MUST take a picture of it…that means I have to take out my ND filters and spend a good 15 minutes taking the fall from almost every conceivable angle. These are my three favourite shots:

How convenient the series is actually in order of how I shot them and its going from top down so you can actually sort of visualize the waterfall as it slowly cascades down to the bottom where you can see the pool in the last pic…

After this we continued our jungle trek for another hour or so until we finally reached the end and waited for the bus to pick us up. These were the last few shots I took during the day because I was too tired by the time we were out of the forest.

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A view from one of the many many lookout points.

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Patrick at the bus pick up point to head back to the main town.

The rest of the group actually asked us to go back to the Sydney CBD after our trip to the Blue Mountains but we were just too tired to bother…otherwise we could have met up with Rachel who lives there… By the time we got back to the accommodation (which is 2hr + away from the Blue Mountains) it was about 9pm and I couldn’t wait to sleep!

Fast forward through the night and early the next morning…

Today we had big plans. Places to go, things to see, and stuff to do…unfortunately, we were late.

…sooooooooooooooooo we ended up going to see the Sydney Opera House and then went to some small town for lunch before we did some other things which I can’t remember…crap this is the second time in this post! Well, that doesn’t matter because I only want to share my pics of the Opera House and ask you a question.

This is a rather famous bridge. The Sydney Harbour Bridge. Now for the question. Which of the following two photos do you think is better? They are both the same picture just differently cropped.

Personally, I like the second one. That’s all I got. The day after this was the conference so I’ll get working on it right away! Til then, thanks for reading!