Monday, August 30, 2010

Durian and Chempedak Dessert

Everyone knows durian but the chempedak is less known, even compared to its close cousin the jackfruit. Chempedak is more restrained in flavour and aroma, but I feel it is more complex and interesting. Hard to find dessert done with this particular fruit as it is rarer and more expensive. Two places that I know is Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Toby's Dessert Asylum.

Here is the Durian and Chocolate fudge concoction aptly named Spike D at Toby's. Unfortunately I do not have a shot of the Chim-A-Duck fudge, which is filled with chunky chempedak mousse. Another day to fatten the tummy.

Ricoh GXR A12

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dynamic Range

After lunch dessert

A little treat after lunch at Coffee Club.

Having stayed away for more than a month, stuff and staff have changed, new sweets are on offer but our old favourite was a disappointment. Quality was off today. Sad.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lightroom and RAW

I talked a little about what professional photographers call workflow, the process of "developing" your photos previously. The most important factor that would allow you to rescue your lousy looking photo is using Raw format. You can recover seemingly lost details, which is clearly seen below where the washed out canopy comes to life. Sometimes it simply cannot work with JPEG.

Lightroom Magic

This is for a friend who asked about Lightroom. You can make your lousy photo look decent.

The 50mm (35mm equivalent view angle) lens of the A12 means I have to crop to get this.

I like to start usually with adjusting the white balance, the dropper tool is good if there is a point of reference, basically anything that is suppose to look white. Otherwise, it depends on your eyes.

Next is the tricky part, lighting. This case I wanted the building to shine, you can use the usual sliders or the curve tools. A good tip I learnt is to use the highlight clipping indicator, as well as the black clipping.

Click on the triangles (circled in red) on the Histogram, any part that is clip will show up red for highlights and blue for blacks. The bright spot in the example above will show up as red, indicating severe clipping, but I don't have to worry about recovering anything here. Once the specular highlights are established, we can go about changing the lighting for the other parts. You can use the Tone sliders or the Tone curves, and importantly experiment! Presently I am simply eyeballing on my uncalibrated machine, which can be fun.

The section marked Presence can help give the extra kick. Vibrance will up hue saturation, but only selectively unlike Saturation is all across the board which can give a nasty posterized look.

In the Tone curve, you can adjust the curve through the sliders or the curve directly. Another interesting way is the area tool (circled red), click it, go to the picture and click-hold at the area you want to change and simply move the mouse up or down to lighten or darken.

Of course you want to next control the noise. Lightroom is very good with that, luminance and colour noise are controlled independently, much details can be preserved well.

When you find some area seem too bright or shaded, you wan to use the Brushes tool, which allows you to "paint" in your desired lighting. To show up the pattern in the under surface of the Sky park in my example, I use the brush to increase contrast just there, there is even an Auto Masking option to help paint within the "lines".

One more thing in my example is the sky, originally it is simply dull and if I simply change the tone, the building would be affected. Now what options do I have? I can brush "paint" the sky, but it will affect everything, the white and the blue of the sky. HDR? Well too difficult for me. The answer here is the HSL option, where I set the Luminance for Blue to a negative value. Only the sky and the blue facade of the building is affected, which in this case worked well. Bear in mind in other complex colour situation you can ruin, say a blue car with a blue sky background.
I had also pumped up the Yellow saturation to give the building a golden look.

Any way, this is just my experience with Lightroom, but I still have a lot to learn. One good way of learning is actually to teach what you know, it really helps with the process.

Friday, August 27, 2010


For lovers of Indonesian food, something new at Parkway Parade Banquet. It is simply called Sundanese. On offering is a variation on Ayam penyet, instead of  fried chicken you can have barbecue chicken, or a dry curry chicken. It is assembled in a wicker basket along with Tempe GorengTauhu Goreng, stir fried cabbage and lined with lettuce. There is a wickedly spicy chilli sauce that you can dip or dunk depending on your tolerance.

If you do find chicken boring (gasp horrors!), you can also have grilled beef ribs, something more unusual. Need your veggies? They have Karedok. Yearning for fried snack? There is Perkedel Kentang and Perkedel Jagung, potato or corn fritter. 

For now a little appetizer, Perkedel Jagung

Ricoh GXR A12 1/90s f/3.2 iso800

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Marina Bay Sands

This huge entertainment complex is still in a state of completion, yet people have been streaming in and out of there. From what little I have seen, the convention center seems rather humble, but this calls for more exploration to determine if my first impression is wrong.

The casino, as viewed from the shopping area, appears to be blocked into the heart of the complex, rather unsurprising since the.. er.. heart of the integrated resort is gambling. This is the result of trying to sanitise the usually seedy world of gambling, but undeniably the crowd is there.

Here is a little of my view of our latest to-be, to-be-at-place.

The double helix bridge is interesting, but can't help wonder if gambling is in our genes? Bad pun I know, but it's just begging for it. Oh Stop!

Ricoh GXR A12
Something round and familiar.

Breakfast for everyone

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so they say, but sometimes it is a luxury to even sit down to eat, much less to enjoy the moment.
Toasted bread, slather on Kaya and butter, lubricated with milk tea or coffee, is simple luxury. The kind doctor on ieatishootipost can tell you where to find the best and cheapest, food hunters head on there.

Back to luxury, this was at Ya Kun. Instead of tea, I opted for their Silkyz (No, I am not having a Ris Low moment) Barley drink. It is jazzed up with tofu skin, which is the reason for the silkiness.

A little something extra, buttery Kaya Butter cookies. Melt in your mouth goodness.

Ricoh Rumour

It seems like the photo-engineers at Ricoh are busy with something, well they should be, people are waiting for new lens modules! So what is with a patent for a 33mm lens, f/1.8 that has more lens element than the current A12 module?

Speculation it is a new lens module, which would piss off a few users (me included) if they did release it. Or it could simply be a component in a copier machine. What would please a lot of users is if it was a lens for a mount module. It would be paired with a APS-C sensor I believe as the image circle is about 28 mm. Still one can't help wonder why they seem to be stuck on a 50mm equivalent macro lens. Ricoh please work on your other strength, wide angle, even better a ultra wide angle.

Friday, August 20, 2010

HCM Red Yeast Rice

Red Yeast Rice is very good for helping people with high blood cholesterol, also good eats. Foods take on a beautiful crimson tint, in this case Chicken Soup. A little spirit, brandy, red wine or here glutinous rice wine gives it a little sweet punch. A comfort food that is light on the stomach.

Ricoh GXR A12 1/90s f/2.8 iso 400

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ricoh CX4

Clock work production. Ricoh has released their next point and shoot CX4 unfortunately overshadowed by the announcements of the usual giants releasing their multitudes.

What is new? Night scene multishot, first seen I believe in Sony's NEX, basically de-blurring and de-noise by combining multiple shots. Gotta see to believe.
Subject tracking AF is also interesting, could it bring focusing performance close to DSLR? Doubt it, but good try.

Danish Ice Cream

What is there to say? Just dig in.

Ricoh GXR A12 1/130s f/2.8 iso200

Food Court Food

Most of the time, shopping mall food court food is basically functional, you fill your tummy and get out, on occasion you get gems. Today is not quite that day.

Straits Times' Foodie expert Ong Sor Fen gushed about this particular eats in 2009, mainly about their barbecue pork or Char Siew. It is really tender, without being overly greasy, the result of using pork belly, rather than shoulder butt or tenderloin.
But sometimes a big star cannot save a movie if the rest are sub-par.

Ricoh GXR A12 1/80s f/2.5 iso1600

This is a typical Wanton Mee served in Singapore and Malaysia, noodles are prepared dry, bathed in a sauce, accompanied with vegetables and dumplings. The saving grace in today's dish is the Char Siew and noodles, Pontian noodles to be precise. If you like noodles al dente, Pontian noodles are that a bit more "toothy" or "q". I love "q".
What disappoints is the undercooked vegetables and worse the Wanton.
I general dislike the local version of wanton, the meat dumpling has stuffing measured with a micro pipette and wrapped in thick flour blanket, dunked in soup it is like eating weird tasting mushy marshmallow. They were "generous" by giving the fried version together with the soup version, but more of something blah just reinforces how disappointing it is.

Char Siew and Pontian noodles are just fine with the sauce. Dump the dumplings.

What the Duck

Every photographer would know this edutainment series. Calling it cartoon is too clinical and totally inadequate.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Breakfast and Lunch

Dome Club sandwich, good for breakfast or lunch.

Ricoh GXR A12 1/100s f/2.5 iso800

Ricoh GXR A12 1/80s f/2.8 iso1600

Lunch at The Asian Kitchen Teahouse.
Recommended is their Roast Duck, which also can be partnered with a herbal sauce, plum sauce or a fiery Sichuan 麻辣 sauce. Today was with a sweet tangy plum sauce.

Ricoh GXR A12 1/50s f/2.5 iso800


Familiar buildings but different moods when the backdrop changes. I love clouds, very whimsical and transient they can tease or threaten. While seemingly monochromatic, they can make or break landscape scenes.

Ricoh GXR A12

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ikea Fried Chicken

Who would have thought of going to a furniture shop to get good fried chicken wings? Of course this is no simple home decor shop, Ikea is home furnishing, playground, part time day care, meeting place and restaurant all rolled into one. In Singapore where a place for eating is a requirement, Ikea evolved from a small cafe to its current sprawl to handle any holiday lunch crowd of a couple hundreds.
Swedish meat balls are a must on any Ikea menu, here on our sunny island however, chicken wings really fly off the counter.  I think it originated as part of a Nasi Lemak offering, but realising how popular it is, the bit part rose to be a star.

Ricoh GXR A12 1/35s f/3.2 iso200

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

All Spicy

Life while all nice and safe here in Singapore, could do with a little spice. Being a person of routine and familiarity, variety would mean choosing a different stall in the usual eating place. I am sure everyone reading this blog would know not to expect unexpected food finds, but hey, sometimes it is just good to remember we have plenty of good food around.

Be grateful and don't waste food.

Now a little spice without the vice.

Ricoh GXR A12 1/220s f/3.2 iso200

Monday, August 09, 2010


This is the new extension to the Carlton Hotel, pretty striking facade when you stand at the corner of Bras Basah Road and North Bridge Road.

Ricoh GXR A12

Infra Red

Attempting infra red photography hand held.  Pushed the sensitivity to iso 3200 and tried to steady everything.
Processed it differently in Lightroom, fascinating program, a lot of control.

Ricoh GXR A12 1/20s f/2.5 iso 3200

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Paradise Revisited

Lunch again at Paradise Inn

Nai Bai Cabbage with Ling Zhi Mushroom.

Deep Fried Cod fish with fermented bean curd batter

Ricoh GXR A12

HCM Sayur Asam

Indonesian sour vegetable soup. It's a little like Sayur Lodeh, but a tart version, works well as an appetizer or a main dish.

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