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Monday, March 23, 2009

Cactus Flower Wallpaper

While resizing the pictures of the cactus flower, I've accidentally turned one of them into my desktop wallpaper. At first I wanted to revert back to my previous wallpaper (Oddball's picture) but later found the cactus flower quite artistic. So I've left it as it is and created a few other sizes for anyone who is interested to download and use it as their desktop image. To save the image, right click the link below and select "Save Link As". Enjoy!

Cactus Flower Wallpaper - 1680x1050Image Size 1080 x 1050
Image Size 1440 x x900
Image Size 1280 x 800
Image Size 1024 x 640
Image Size 800 x 600

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Macro Photography

Macro Photography or close up photography is one of my favorite part in taking photographs. The macro function on a standard camera is seen as flower symbol. Before I go into further details, it's best I mention what camera I'm currently using.
Brand & Model : Panasonic DMC-TZ1
Resolution : 5.0 Mega pixels
Lens : 10x zoom on LEICA-branded lens
ISO : 80-1600
Shutter : 60-1/2000

Berry fruitWhen taking pictures using the macro function, set the focus on the desired object. This will make the image of the object very clear while everything else is a little fuzzy. For example the berry image above taken from my garden. Using the macro function, I set the ISO settings to 200. The ripe fruit (which was later eaten by yours truly) is the focus of the image, thus being clear while the other half ripe fruits are slightly blurred. Or another example is the cactus bud in my previous post. The bud is the focus of the object while the brick wall in the background is blurred.
Night photography however, is a different game all together. The following two images are taken by my hubby (he's got steady hands). The camera is set using macro mode, ISO100, exposure compensation at +3 (I'll talk explain about exposure compensation another time) and with flash (using a cardboard to disperse the light). I used the LED light on my handphone (Sony Ericsson W810i) and shine on the flower. So this gives the impression of a spot light shining directly on the flower. The reason why we used the LED light on my hand phone is because the light created is white. Some LED lights are slightly bluish or yellowish making white objects either bluish or yellowish.
Cactus flower - night bloomThe second image below is taken using the zoom function. All the original pictures are sized at 2560 x 1920 and all those on this blog has been resized for easy loading.
Cactus flower - night bloomerSo the picture of the filament below is a crop from the original picture above.
Cactus flower filamentTo create the similar effect in a closed environment, just place an object in a dark room (turn off the lights and close the curtains). Then place a small light source (white LED lights are best) focused on the object. Usually the flash from the camera will over expose the object and if you don't use flash, the image may come out too dark. So try other options like placing a thick piece of paper in front of the camera's flash to disperse the light. Or use a brighter light source. Playing around with every function available gave me an idea of what each function can do to the particular object. So I know how to take pictures that looks like the picture is taken from an SLR camera.

Anyway, I've also learned that taking pictures of flowers requires patience. And at nights it's easy for us to fall prey to those blood sucking mosquitoes. So I take this opportunity to thank my hubby for sacrificing a few drops of blood and hours of continuous itching just to help me take pictures!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Flowering Cactus

The pass month has been the flowering season and almost every plant here in Nibong Tebal seems to be flowering. Even the 6 feet tall cactus right outside our door step is in full bloom. Like the Aloe Vera flower, the cactus is a night bloomer. So in the mornings we only see closed buds.
Cactus FlowerLast night, we waited patiently until around midnight when it was full bloom.
Cactus FlowerThe flower is quite amazing. It's lotus like flower opens without any smell. I'm not sure what kind of late night creature will pollinate the cactus flower (I was too tired to find out and my bed was more inviting than standing on a stool outside the house staring at flowers)
Cactus FlowerUnlike the previous Aloe Vera Picture, this time we took without an SE camera phone light shining. The camera is set on Macro mode and stood about one feet away from the plant and used the zoom function instead. The ISO is set to 80 and the focus point of the camera is small. When the focus point is small, it'll create the effect of sharp image on the focused object while everything behind the object is blurred. Just like the image below. The image below is set using a higher ISO (ISO200) because at night, high ISO image creates 'noise' or in lay-man's terms- fuzzy image.
Cactus Flower And since night image is harder to capture than day-light image, a steady pair of hands or tri-pod is highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Are you 30% or 70%? An 18sx question

Pie Chart - 30 Happy 70 Sad
Not too long ago, a local Chinese Daily (unfortunately I forgot which paper) reported that in a recent survey among women, 70% of their respondent is not satisfied with their male partners in the bedroom. My friend who was with us for lunch at that time asked me boldly "is your hubby satisfying you?" I took a sneak peek at the article in her hand and answered "no worries, I'm 30%". We both burst out laughing at each other for being on the same side of the pie chart. Subsequently my conversations with a few other close friends have one way or another touched on this survey topic and I've come to find that ALL those whom I've talked to about such survey happened to be the same side of the pie chart as I. Then I realized, if those friends of mine and I are all in the 30% then who else could ever be in the 70%?
I bought up this topic with my hubby only to find out that this survey is trying to tell those 70% unhappy women out there that happiness isn't just about "I love you, and you love me. I spread my legs, while you undress me"! It shows that these 70% lack the communication power compared to the 30%. My hubby then asked me why did I only ask some friends and not ALL the friends I know? Is it because these few friends that you've asked are known to be your honest friends and can speak about everything and anything under the sun without the slightest bit of embarrassment? After some thoughts, I've realized the common traits among us ladies in question - speaking the truth. We not only know and dare to speak the truth among us friends abut also to our spouses. We know how to express our thoughts and learn to understand one another. The key power to a better relationship - communication and understanding.
Perhaps I should ask my friends out there - are you 30% or 70%? If you are 30%, then congratulations and go celebrate. If you are 70%, it's time to have a little chat with your spouse and let him know what's on your mind...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Segari - The Unknown Part of Malaysia

Last week, my husband's customer came all the way from Lekir, off Setiawan (a coastal village about 2 hours drive south of Penang) just to personally invite us to attend his sister's wedding. Since he took the time to drive all the way to invite us, it was hard for my hubby to say no. So yesterday, we packed up to attend a Malay wedding. It wasn't our first Malay wedding, so we knew more or less about their bersanding customs. The journey back home took us 6 hours instead. Previously, I've blogged about our one day trip at Pangkor Island. Setiawan is just south of Lumut (a port town and military base) with the only ferry jetty available to Pangkor Island. So from Setiawan, we drove back to Lumut in search of a quiet beach and the turtle hatchery which we saw its' signboard previously but could not locate the place.
When we were passing by Lumut, we saw a pretty signboard saying "Taman Paya Bakau" or in English Mangrove Park. Since entrance is FREE (people just love free things), we parked our car at the designated car park and took a walk on the man-made path with plenty of benches and spacious observation deck. Somewhere along the middle there was a hanging bridge which many kids having fun running up and down like there's no tomorrow ... and not to forget the tailing mothers shrieking in fear!
Mangrove Park The local council has indeed done quite a nice job when constructing this park. They not only provide rubbish bins, but also information points about animals we are expected to see at a mangrove forest. But since it was high tide, creatures like mud skipper, king fishers and occasionally stork and the only creatures we saw was some mangrove crabs and some monkeys.

Despite our government's good thoughts of building a public park and educate the people about the significance and importance of the mangrove ecology, the people doesn't know the basics of cleanliness or even the use of rubbish bins. Or perhaps it was because of those monkeys who are 'learned' enough till they even know how to pick rubbish from rubbish bins. After all, those monkeys at my alma mater are so good they even know how to find their way into the girls dorm (specifically) just to get some food thrown at them!Rubbish in Mangrove Park It was 4pm and the sun was scorching hot but the place was quite cooling. The light that pierce through the mangrove make the place a nice scene for some photos. However the only disadvantage was the swarms of mosquitoes circling my husband who was wearing dark colors forcing us to forget about taking pictures and just walk, FAST! Mangrove ParkA walk though the park took us less than 30 minutes and then we were back on the road heading back north towards Penang. This time we decided to drive a little slower in hopes to spot this -
Signboard to Turtle Hatchery Center, Segari, Perak The only sign that let us know that there is a turtle hatchery center along the way. The weird thing is that if we were to come to this place from the north (like this morning) there is no signboard at all! It's only drivers from the south that would be able to see this sign board and the next sign is not visible until some 20km down the road! What's worse, our friend at Lekir didn't even know of it's existence!
Anyway by the time we arrived, the turtle hatchery center was closed. According to it's signboard, its operating hours is everyday from 10am-5pm.
Turtle Management CenterAnd right next to the hatchery, we found 'paradise'. True that the sea water is not very clean nor crystal clear but we finally found a stretch of sandy beach. To get to this little beach with very little people was really difficult! We had to pass by plantations and chicken farms and rarely any signboards indicating there is such beauty hidden in the middle of nowhere.
Pasir Panjang Beach,Segari,PerakWhen we were at the Mangrove park, I can put the rubbish blame on those street-smart monkeys. But here on the beach, there we no monkeys in sight - so the blame is obviously on the humans. If that's not bad enough, the rubbish on this beach is specifically 2 main items - medication bottles and whiskey bottles! It's obvious that whoever is here on a regular basis is definitely up to no good. Individuals who are on substance abuse and obvious alcoholics are nothing more but the trash of society. At least when we were there, these addicts were no where to be seen so other visitors may not feel so offended. On the beach, there was only a few families and we were the only couple around. So we took a nice slow walk along the beach while trying to cover those crab holes. Along the way, we noticed (other than rubbish) there were plenty of empty shells lying around - most were small but I picked up 4 large ones. I guess it is possible to find a coral reef not too far from this beach. After walking for a few meters we began to realize that this stretch of beach is actually quite long. A check on Google Earth shows this beach stretch for a few kilometers long. So Dan suggested that we return again next time, perhaps a picnic or some form of planned activities with friends. We went there empty handed but returned home with a whiskey bottle full of sand.
Pasir Panjang in a whiskey bottle
Our expenses for this one day trip -
Diesel - MYR100 (with a balance of MYR20 worth of diesel upon return home)
Toll - MYR20 (round up figure)
Breakfast - MYR10 (luncheon meat and bread for 2 persons)
Lunch - Free (Wedding lunch by the Bride and Groom)
Dinner - MYR70 (dinner at Sushi King... we could have settled for something cheaper but it's been a long time since we had sushi)
Total spent MYR200 or approx USD54

Getting to Segari Turtle Hatchery and Pasir Panjang Beach- If you are from Setiawan, head northwards towards Lumut town. Before entering Lumut town, there will be a cross junction with a giant man-made sea shell on the left side of the road. Going straight will lead you to Lumut town. Turning right will lead you to Ipoh - you take this route. Head straight for about 25km (go pass the intersection to Swiss Garden Resort Damai Laut). Along the way you'll only see 4 (yes only four) signboards that points to the Hatchery. After driving northwards for 25km, you'll see a sign on the left that points to some electrical plant (Logi Penjanakuasa Electrik) - turn left. Go straight for another 10km before you come to another (final) hatchery signboard that calls you to turn left. It's an off beaten track (like Kampung roads) and you'll see the hatchery at the end of the road.
However if you are from the north (Ipoh/Penang), the only signboard you'll see is the electrical plant signboard on the right hand side of the road junction. For those coming from Penang, take the Changkat Jering Exit at the toll plaza and turn right towards Terong. From Terong, follow the signboard to Lumut and you won't go wrong. But do look out for the Electrical Plant signboard when you are approximately 25km from Lumut - check the stone markers as reference.