World Press Photo 2016 Exhibition Singapore

The “Oscars” of photojournalism, The World Press Photo exhibition is back in Singapore, presented by The Straits Times and held at the National Museum of Singapore.

The World Press Photo exhibition is currently on a global tour across 100 cities in 45 countries. At this exhibition, visitors can view 145 prize-winning photographs that captured the most powerful, poignant, and sometimes provocative press images from around the world.

The 2016 global contest drew more than 82,000 submissions from 5,775 photographers across 128 countries. Of these, the jury awarded prizes to 41 photographers from 21 countries, including Australia, China and Japan.

There are guided tours every Saturday and Sunday, 10am & 12.30pm. At the World Press Photo Exhibition Singapore, it’s also featuring a partner exhibition by The Straits Times showcasing its best photojournalism work of 2016 which illustrates the richness of life in Singapore.

There will also be a panel discussion and free talks open to the general public by the award-winning and internationally acclaimed photographers from the World Press Photo exhibition and photojournalists from The Straits Times. For more information and details, do visit the Straits Times website.

I visited World Press Photo Exhibitions in Singapore when their exhibitions were here in the years 2014, 2015 and 2016. I encouraged everyone of you to visit the World Press Photo Exhibition in Singapore, it’s not just for photographers, journalists, their photographs show us many different aspects, life and happenings around the world that we may not see or know about it.

World Press Photo Exhibition Singapore information

Date: 3 March 2017 to 26 March 2017

Opening Hours: 10.00am to 7.00pm

Venue: National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897

Website: http://www.straitstimes.com/st-world-press-photo-2016

Price: Free admission

* Information courtesy of Weber Shandwick *

Hokkaido 2016 Photography Adventure Day 6

26th October 2016 – Day 6 Lake Toya -> Sobetsu / Date -> Muroran

A beautiful and gorgeous morning greeted me at Lake Toya when I woke up. The weather was really good, clear blue sky accompanied by fluffy white clouds. A quick takeaway breakfast from the nearby convenience store did the job and I was off for my travel photography adventures in the Lake Toya region.

Lake Toya

Lake Toya View Point – Sobetsu Park

A short drive away from the hotel, Kato san drove up towards a hill top. This was the Lake Toya View Point – Sobetsu Park, the road up towards this location is pretty small and narrow, suitable for cars, not for big vehicles. The bird’s eye view from there is simply amazing, you can pretty see the entire Lake Toya region and surroundings. I am really thankful for the good weather that morning!

Kato san and myself chanced upon a local Japanese who lives nearby, he mentioned to Kato san that he conducts astrophotography tours at this spot and this is an ideal location to photograph the night skyline of Lake Toya.

Camping ground at Lake Toya

After spending approximately 30mins at Lake Toya View Point, Kato san drove down the hill, back to the coastal lake drive route. A short driving journey brought me to a camping ground in Lake Toya. From what I understood chatting with Kato san, Lake Toya is a very popular tourist destination, for both locals and international visitors.

The camping ground is close to the water body of Lake Toya, I went on to do some hopping along the banks and rocks of Lake Toya. A very nice and quiet place for your camping holiday, I can imagine this camping ground packed during the summer holidays! The autumn colours foliage were bright and colourful, red, orange, yellow and green! Lake Toya region autumn foliage season is a bit later in the month of October, the 3rd week is probably their peak period while the central and northern parts of Hokkaido autumn foliage peak earlier in end September and early October.

A location along the banks of Lake Toya

Whenever I travel to different countries overseas, I would love to explore places that are not too touristy and crowded, places that the locals know. That is why if it is possible, I would hire a local guide. Kato san, is a very experienced and knowledgable Hokkaido Photo Guide, I have absolute trust in him and his planning.

At this location along the banks of Lake Toya, a big thanks to my Hokkaido Photo Guide, Kato san, I was able to capture sa few very memorable photographs of Lake Toya, a mirror reflection of the small islands of Lake Toya and the white clouds on the surface of Lake Toya whereby the water was almost “standing still”.

From some of the amazing destinations that I shared over the past few articles, you can see why I chose and highly recommend Kato san, an excellent and very knowledgable Hokkaido Photo Guide.

Sobetsu / Date

Sobetsu Taki waterfall 壮瞥滝

Continuing on after the location along the banks of Lake Toya, it was another short drive nearby, into a residential area. We parked the car along the road outside and took a short walk into the forest inside. Along the forest path, there was a small stream of water flowing down pretty fast too. Trekking further inside, the sounds of the water splashing and flow got even louder.

This short trek was very quiet, peaceful and tranquil, accompanied by the colourful autumn foliage. There were signs of fallen and broken trees along the stream, they were damaged during an earlier typhoon that struck Hokkaido a few months earlier.

Upon reaching the end of the forest path, I was greeted with an amazing view of a small waterfall! As the clear water flowed down gracefully, the sounds of the waterfall can be very therapeutic and soothing at times. I stood there, enjoying the water droplets falling on me, taking photographs of the Sobetsu Taki waterfall before turning around and walking back to the car.

Otaki Niagara Falls 大滝ナイアガラ滝

The next destination that Kato san brought me to, from Sobetsu Taki waterfall, was approximately 20mins drive away, going inland, away from Lake Toya. Crossing a small bridge, the car was parked on an open grass patch outside the entrance of a hiking trail. I quickly took a few photographs of the river before trekking down the forest trail.

I spotted wooden signboards with diagrams and codes, I was curious and asked Kato san about them. Kato san explained that this hiking trail is popular in all seasons, during winter, the locals come to this area and do cross country skiing.

Along the hiking trail, it was really quiet, peaceful and tranquil. However, the sounds of the water flowing got even louder as we were approaching our destination. The view of a few waterfalls together on the river greeted me, I was awed by her presence. The locals named as Otaki Niagara Falls and the Niagara Falls name fitted these waterfalls perfectly!

We spent a bit of time here, trying to find different spots and angles to capture this magnificent waterfall. Getting closer to the waterfall, we need to climb down onto the river banks, it was a bit wet and slippery. The extra efforts and work put in were totally worth it, I got a few nice photography memories from the river banks facing the Otaki Niagara Falls.

Sangai-taki Falls 三階滝公園

Just a short drive away from Otaki Niagara Falls, we reached Sangai-taki Park, where another waterfall awaits me, the Sangai-taki Falls. There are 3 levels of waterfall, surrounded by trees and a hill beside it. This would make an excellent location during spring and autumn season. Some of the autumn foliage had fallen, the trees looked very bare, there were still some autumn foliage likely in their final stage before falling off the branches.

Showa-Shinzan (Mt Usu and Showa Shinzan)

Located at the foot of two mountains, one is very old (Mt Usu) and the other is quite young relative to her neighbour (Showa Shinzan), there is a busy small town that attracts many locals and international visitors. For visitors who want to go up to Mt Usu, this is the location where you board the ropeway to Mt Usu. This location is a nice place to sit down, relax and enjoy the sceneries. I decided not to go up to Mt Usu, therefore, we didn’t stay too long there before driving towards Date City for lunch.

Lunch (Ramen) at Date City

From the photographs of my Japanese food that I had over the past few days, you can spot a trend of Ramen. I am a big fan of Ramen and I would love to try as many different Ramen from different parts of Japan. I had a friend on social media commenting that I am on a Ramen mission in Hokkaido, I think so too!

I am not going to write a food review here, I just want to sayおいしい Oishī !!

Muroran

Road trip from Date to Muroran

For the afternoon segment, after a short discussion with Kato san during our Ramen lunch, we drove down along the coast line towards Muroran, not too far away from Date. The short drive was really scenic and I can imagine how the other parts of Hokkaido coastal route looks like!

I saw the railway tracks along the coast line, the local trains and limited express trains in action! Luck was on my side when I managed to capture a photo of the Limited Express Super Hokuto Model Series 261 at a railway crossing.

Recently, while I was doing some reading and research in my library, I found a book that showcased Japan Railway photographs, sceneries and locations on where to to photograph them. I remembered the scenes along the Hokkaido coast line where the JR trains traveled, the view of the JR train tracks from the mountain pass at Biei, a new adventure is brewing inside me, wanting and planning to return back again, photographing JR trains and their sceneries.

When we were about to reach Muroran, a suspension bridge across the bay, along with its harbour and shipyards, greeted us, this is the Hakucho Bridge. I didn’t manage to take any photographs of the Hakucho Bridge, it mades a pretty awesome view of the bridge, bay, harbour and shipyards.

Takkarisho and Cape Tikiu Lighthouse

Along this scenic coastal drive route of Muroran, there were great views of the Uchiura Bay, tall cliffs standing out facing the sea along with beautiful rock formations. At this location Takkarisho, I was able to see all these views and it would be really nice if the weather was nice and sunny. When I was there, rain was falling down on me, blessed by the cold autumn sea breeze blowing at me. Rain + cold autumn winds (or cold winter winds) are a very powerful combination, I didn’t manage to take many photographs, just took a few of the Takkarisho and Cape Tikiu Lighthouse, and I quickly rushed back to Kato san car to keep myself warm and dry from the rain + cold autumn sea breeze.

After the last 2 locations at Muroran, we drove back to our hotel at Lake Toya for an early rest (to get ready for a sunrise photo shoot at Lake Toya) and to keep ourselves warm at the onsen. This was also my last night in Hokkaido.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016 Day 6


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016


Created with flickr slideshow.

i Light Marina Bay 2017 is back!

Asia’s leading sustainable light art festival, the iconic i Light Marina Bay is back in 2017. They would be starting today on the 3rd of March 2017 to the 26th of March 2017, to be held at various locations around the Marina Bay area. For this edition of i Light Marina Bay, there are 20 sustainable light artworks from nine countries including Singapore, being displayed around Marina Bay. This event has been organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) since 2010, I had been following and covering them since they first started, do check out my i Light Marina Bay collection inside my flickr!

Besides, the artworks, there are also other programmes and dinning options for for all visitors to i Light Marina Bay 2017! Let me highlight some of them, there will be three complementary themed festival hubs for visitors to this event. One of them is the The Fantastical World of eco.me at The Promonotory, they will be showcasing sustainability-themed activities such as recycling and upcycling marketplace, an urban garden, a learning yard, a kinetic energy playground, immersive performances and music from 3rd to 5th March and 9th to 12th March.

The other two hubs are Art-Zoo, an imaginative inflatable play-garden at The Float @ Marina Bay and Gastrobeats, where visitors to this event can sit down, enjoy the food and drinks selection available there and enjoy the music! There is something for everybody for the children to adults, it’s a great and meaningful event to bring your family and children down to Marina Bay and enjoy i Light Marina Bay 2017!

During my preview session on 1st March 2017, I was able to view some of the sustainable light artworks, let me share with you some photographs of the artworks! Come on down to Marina Bay Singapore, from 3rd March to 26th March 2017, explore and have fun at i Light Marina Bay 2017!

Artwork 03 – Social Sparkles

Artwork 05 – Horizontal Interference

Artwork 06 – Home

Artwork 08 – Moonflower

Artwork 12 – You Lookin’ At Me?

Artwork 16 – Kaleidoscopic Monolith

Artwork 19 – The Colourful Garden of Light

Artwork 20 – The Body of the Sea

I would share more photographs into my flickr folder along the way when I revisit I Light Marina Bay 2017 over the next 3 weeks! Do keep a lookout for them inside my flickr collection, Twitter, Instagram and FB page!

For more information on i Light Marina Bay 2017, you can visit their website for more information and details! There is also an app, bilppar, that you can download for your smartphone, to explore and navigate i Light Marina Bay 2017. The bilppar app is free for download from the Apple store or Google Play.

 


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido 2016 Photography Adventure Day 5

25th October 2016 – Day 5 Furano and Biei -> Lake Toya

On day 5, we decided to start a bit early and head towards Torinuma Park, hoping to catch the morning mist across the lake. The weather was really cold for the autumn season, we departed from the hotel at 6am and Kato san drove down towards Torinuma Park.

Nakafurano

Along the way at Nakafurano, we caught the sunrise shining through from the mountain range. Even though it was pretty cloudy, we can spot the gorgeous morning sun rays punching through the horizon and skyline. Kato san stopped his car at the side of the road, ensuring that his car was not obstructing any traffic. We quickly took our camera gears out and started shooting away!

We didn’t spend too much taking photographs of the sunrise on that particular morning, once the sunrise moved up further into the sky, it was immediately engulfed by the thick clouds over the horizon during that morning. Nevertheless, we did enjoy and managed to a few photographs of the sunrise, she was spectacular at certain time!

Furano

Torinuma Park

From the spot where we took the sunrise photographs at Nakafurano, it was about 10 – 15 mins drive to reach Torinuma Park. When we alighted from the car and walked towards the lake, there wasn’t any morning mist across the lake that we had hoped for. We were not disappointed because we knew that such scenes were never guaranteed, a bit of luck is needed too! Therefore we stayed back for a short time, taking photographs of Torinuma Park again.

We drove and returned back to our hotel at Nakafurano, went into the onsen to warm ourselves up from the cold early morning drive out, packed our bags and continued with Day 5 of my Hokkaido photography adventure.

Kamifurano

Miyama Toge (near to Woodylife)

After checking out from the hotel, Kato san drove up north towards Kamifurano and Biei. In just a short drive away, the autumn season turned into winter season. This is one of the amazing natural beauty of Hokkaido, getting autumn and winter seasons together in just a short distance away.

At this particular location in Kamifurano, it’s pretty well known as a lookout point since this is a toge, a mountain pass and overlooking the farms, the Furano railway tracks and the mountain range of Daisetsuzan National Park. The weather was covered with thick clouds close to the mountain range area, the farms were visible and not were not covered by the clouds or mist.

There was a golden moment when the sun light rays punched through the clouds onto the fields of Kamifurano and Biei. During my two trips to Hokkaido, I am always on the lookout for all these golden moment, when the sun light rays shined through the clouds. By describing the golden moment sun light rays shining scenes as awesome, breathe taking, unbelievable, I just simply ran out of adjectives to describe them. I would just snap as many photographs as possible before the sun light rays disappeared.

Biei

The next phase of my photography adventure is an early Christmas present from Hokkaido, experiencing winter season in the autumn season of Hokkaido! Biei was covered with beautiful white snow and the weather turned out perfect after a cloudy start in the morning.

The list of destinations that I would be sharing on my trip around the Biei region were some of the most popular landmarks and icons of Biei and also Hokkaido, they are very pooular with photographers and tourists visiting Biei. Having visited them, I was very excited and very happy, to photograph the various landmarks and icons in such a great weather.

A Gentle Reminder to ALL photographers, travelers and tourists

Before I start writing away on all those gorgeous landscapes, trees and landscape sceneries, I would like to give all photographers, travelers and tourists a very gentle reminder that we MUST/HAVE TO respect the local farmers in Biei, their farmland areas whereby their hard work are displayed on their farms, the different types of crops and vegetables. That farms surround all those locations that you see in my write up below, let’s protect the farmers hard work, we are also protecting all those beautiful landscapes that would allow other photographers, travelers and tourists to visit, enjoy and take many photographs for beautiful memories.

Please take your photographs from the viewing spot behind the rope/line! Do NOT cross the rope/line!

Christmas Tree

A lone tree, another of those one tree hill scenes added to my collection, this was also my Christmas gift from Hokkaido because this was the Christmas Tree of Biei, covered with snow!

Mild Seven Hill

Does the word Mild Seven strikes a bell in you? The name Mild Seven is tobacco brand and this beautiful hill that you see here was used in a famous advertisement for Mild Seven tobacco.

From my viewing point, I finally understand why this location was chosen for the advertisement. After taking a few photographs, I stood there and soaked in this pretty landscape scenery of snow powder on the farm land, the Japanese larch trees accompanied by the clear blue sky behind.

My Hokkaido 2016 autumn trip had been nothing short of phenomenal, spectacular and unique. Although the first few days were cold, wet and windy weather, there were a number of omens that made my trip very special and unique. While we were taking photographs of the Mild Seven Hill, Kato san and myself heard a distinct call from our backs, above in the sky. We quickly turned our backs and started observing, to our absolute delight, there was a flight of swans flying towards us and across the Mild Seven Hill! I finally managed to capture birds in flight while in Hokkaido!

This flight of swans was very unique, to put in a shameless plug for myself, the swans flew above Biei, welcoming me to Hokkaido! However, according to my Hokkaido Photo Guide, Kato san, it’s rare for swans to fly above Biei at this time and this was the first time he had seen them flying above Biei! Those pretty white swans gave me another priceless moment to remember from my Hokkaido 2016 autumn adventure!

Hill top observation point

This location is very special, it gives you the top of the world feeling, a bird’s eye view that show how vast, wide and far the Hokkaido landscape can be. There is no landmark to indicate this hill top observation point and during the winter season, it is not accessible by car.

This is a very amazing location, it’s an ideal location to experience and view how special it would be during the four different seasons. Kato san also mentioned that this spot is great for taking sunset scenes and I would love to come back again to this spot because I love taking sunset sceneries!

I am able to visit and take photographs from this hill top observation point because of my very experienced Hokkaido Photo Guide, Kato san. He knows the area, the locations, that we photographers would like to go and take photographs.

Parent and Child Trees

The parents will always love and look after their own children, just like the small oak tree that is standing in between two larger oak trees. From where I stood, watching them across the vast farmland filled with snow, this was filled with warmth, love and sunshine in a cold Hokkaido autumn season.

Farm House with row of trees

Continuing our journey in the area, Kato san stopped along the side of the road and showed me another scenic spot that photographers like to visit and take photographs, a farm house with a row of trees. While there wasn’t an official tourism marker build for this beautiful sight, visitors and photographers can observe it from the side of the road without stepping into the farmers land.

Blue Pond

The Blue Pond is probably one of the icons of Biei and Hokkaido, it’s a destination packed with tourists, travelers and photographers. I heard about this destination previously and wanted to visit this place since I am in the area. Therefore, I requested Kato san to plan in this location during my photography schedule for Biei.

A beautiful destination, no doubt about that, it’s just packed with tourist buses and cars though. Kato san highlighted that it gets even more packed and busy during the summer season! It might be a bit difficult to capture the photographs that you wanted when you are visiting the Blue Pond in Biei.

I enjoyed my short visit to the Blue Pond, captured down on my photographs before we left for our next destination. 

Shirahige Waterfall

Kato san drove into this area occupied by a few stylish hotels, some commanding a pretty awesome view, fitted with stylish furnishings and designs, with their own private onsen in some of the hotels. The room rate is therefore pretty expensive too! If I have the budget, I would love to stay in one of those stylish Shirogane Onsen Resorts near the Shirahige Waterfall.

My initial thoughts were, another waterfall, ok, let’s see what it’s going to be like! When I crossed the bridge and looked up and down the ravine, the Blue River, Shirahige Waterfall and the range of mountain peaks covered with snow, I just stood there, blown away and mesmerised by the natural beauty and surroundings.

Photographers will love this destination, imagine all the different types of sceneries, colours and landscapes during the four different seasons of Hokkaido, I would love to return again to this spot in my future trips to Hokkaido. Bring your lover/partner along when you visit Shirogane Waterfall, it’s a romantic destination and walk for both of you to enjoy the time, moment and gorgeous sceneries.

Mt Tokachi Observation Deck

I had a few key highlights from my Hokkaido autumn trip in October 2016 that I remembered deeply inside my heart and soul. The next location after Shirogane Waterfall was one of them and this might be the best of my best travel highlights during my Hokkaido autumn trip.

A drive up to the mountains, luckily for me, the road had not been closed yet. Kato san mentioned that this road up to the mountain would not be open during the winter season. From the drive up, I can totally understand why, Hokkaido winter is going to fill up this mountain road, making it very difficult to clear the snow filled road, moreover, driving in icy winter road conditions can be very dangerous too.

Upon reaching Mt. Tokachi Observation Deck, I stood there, outside Kato san’s car, did a 360 degrees observation of this destination. This was why I wanted to return back to Hokkaido after my first trip in November 2014.

It was a trip to the top of the world feeling, surrounded by a clear blue sky without too much clouds covering the mountain range peaks, powder snow fields and I was welcomed by a natural phenomena known as 22 degrees halo and possibly a rare 46 degrees halo too! The halo was like a gateway to a whole new world out there, it’s a Stargate!

You will know the feelings and emotions when you just have no words to describe and to even say it out. I stood there, completely blown away after taking a number of photographs of Mt Tokachi Observation Deck.

Before we made our descend to the observation hut and back to the car, I sincerely thank my Hokkaido Photo Guide Kato san, for bringing me to this destination. When I was at the Mt Tokachi Observation Deck, this was the magical moment whereby all my troubles, stress and pressure seem so far far away from me.

KamiFurano

Hinode Park

On the way down towards our lunch location suggested by Kato san, I had the opportunity to witness 2 seasons (winter and autumn) together, a beauty of Hokkaido that I enjoyed a lot from my 2 trips to Hokkaido (2014 and 2016). At Hinode Park, we made a short pit stop, the evergreen on the fields in the foreground, with the white snow covered mountain range in the background. An amazing and unforgettable view of 2 distinctive seasons coming together in 1 scene, a view that I will never forget.

Lunch – Kamifurano

When you have a very experienced local photo / travel guide like Kato san, he knows where are the best and most delicious local Japanese food. Kato san brought me to this charcoal grilled food house, a small family run food business. This would be one of my best authentic local Japanese food experiences that I had! There wasn’t any english menu and I really had to thank Kato san for selecting and ordering all the delicious food on my behalf!

Charcoal grilled pork, dipped with their own family secret sauce, it’s really unforgettable, very delicious. The charcoal fumes and cooked pork meat aroma would stay on your clothes, a smell that I would gladly accept!

Lookout point

After our delicious charcoal grilled lunch, we started a long road trip from Kamifurano towards Lake Toya. Kato san made a quick pit stop at one of the lookout points on the route down and I snapped a few photographs before the long road trip down.

Long car ride to Lake Toya

The distance between Kamifurano and Lake Toya was approximately 300km (based on the route that Kato san drove). It was quite a long drive and we reached Lake Toya at night, had a quick rest and onsen to relax from a whole exciting day of exploring, walking and driving.

End of my Day 5 travel photography adventure in Hokkaido, now to get ready for Day 6!

Hokkaido Autumn 2016 Day 5


Created with flickr slideshow.

 

Hokkaido Autumn 2016


Created with flickr slideshow.

100 Days

9 photographs for a monumental 99 tribute

Remembrance – A 99 year old matriarch of 5 generations

100 Days

Lomography announced Color Negative F²/400 35mm film

Photographers! Film is not dead!

The Color Negative F²/400 35mm film is making a comeback with Lomography and this would be good news for analogue lovers and those who are going into analogue photography for the first time.

Let me share with you more information and details of the Lomography Color Negative F²/400 35mm film from the press release information below –

BRINGING BACK A LONG-LOST FILM

Lomography is all about being different — about ignoring the rules, trying something new, and going with the wackier option. In 2010, illustrious Italian manufacturers announced that they were going to stop producing film. But what initially appeared to be another victim of the digital age caught Lomography’s eye as a fantastic creative opportunity. Lomography jumped at it, snapping up the last ever master roll of 400 ASA film. Seven years later, having worked diligently to keep the fire of analogue photography burning, Lomography is excited to blow the dust off its one-of-a-kind hidden film gem and present it to you in 35mm format!

CAREFULLY STORED AS A MASTER ROLL

By storing FÇ/400 as one big roll instead of slicing it up into 35mm strips, the quality of the film remained well protected. Stowed away in the Czech Republic for seven years, this film has developed a totally distinctive look. Lomography is thrilled to offer analogue photographers everywhere a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get their hands on a film unlike any other. Since it’s taken from the very last roll of 400 ASA, stock is very much limited! Snap up a 35mm roll from Lomography Gallery Stores worldwide for as little as 5.90 EUR/USD/GBP or make some great savings when buying packs of five or ten from the Lomography Online Shop.

REFINED GRAIN WITH AN X-PRO FEEL

FÇ/400 is one-of-a-kind Color Negative. Having spent seven years aging like fine wine in oak casks, FÇ/400 has retained all of its refined colors and beautifully unique tone. What’s more, it has developed hints of the characteristic X-Pro aesthetic and beautiful blueish tones in certain shooting conditions, making it unlike any other Color Negative film on the market. Your shots will be drenched in distinctive effects, making FÇ/400 the perfect film for experimenting and trying something new. Load up a variety of different cameras, switch between high and low ISO, and shoot in a range of conditions. Your images will stand out from the crowd!

Where to buy Lomography films –

Check the full line of Lomography films: https://shop.lomography.com/films/lomography-film

Lomography Color Negative F²/400 35mm Price –

  • Single Roll – 9 SGD
  • 5 Roll Bundle – 40.50 SGD
  • 10 Roll Bundle – 76.50 SGD

* Information and pictures courtesy of Lomography *

Hokkaido 2016 Photography Adventure Day 4

24th October 2016 – Day 4 Otaru -> Mikasa -> Ashibetsu -> Furano -> Biei

Day 4 marks the start of another new photography adventure in Hokkaido! I am on a photography tour planned for the next 4 days by my friend, Tsuyoshi Kato, who is also a Hokkaido Photo Guide. I first knew Kato san in November 2014 during my first visit to Hokkaido as part of the Central/Eastern Hokkaido familiarisation trip. Kato san is very knowledgable and experienced in planning for photographers who want to visit locations around Hokkaido for an unforgettable photography experience. I decided to engage Kato-san’s professional photography tour services for the next four days as I would love to explore different locations around Hokkaido whereby photographers love to visit.

Departing from my hotel Dormy Premium Inn Otaru, Kato-san’s plan for today was to visit the Furano and Biei region and we started the drive from Otaru towards Furano and Biei, making stops along Mikasa and Ashibetsu for some pretty interesting sceneries and landscapes!

Mikasa

On the car journey from Otaru to Biei, we passed by Mikasa City, this used to be a thriving and prosperous area with the coal mining industry pushing the local economy. Today, the coal mining industry is no longer in operation and this area had been quiet since then.

The Old Pombetsu Coal Mine

Kato-san made a quick stop to show me the Old Pombetsu Coal Mine. The former coal mining buildings and structures are still standing there and it is now closed to the public. There is a informative signboard that had maps, old photos and a short write up of the history on the Old Pombetsu Coal Mine.

Lake Katsurazawa

We continued our journey towards Furano, driving through roads that showcased distinct weather and climate of Hokkaido. In some areas, that would be snow falling on the forest/trees and they really made a very beautiful scenery with the autumn leaves on the branches that had not fallen yet. Another 20-30 minutes drive down the road, the sceneries and landscape might change into autumn only, no snow at all. This is a beauty of Hokkaido that I will always remember, the season can change in just some distance away.

Kato-san stopped at Lake Katsurazawa, it’s a beautiful location surrounded by forests, quiet and tranquil. The colourful autumn leaves can be seen in full foliage around the lake, making it a good spot for photographing the autumn season in Hokkaido. However, the water is brownish and unlike some of the other beautiful clear blue lakes in Hokkaido. The water is not free flowing because it is a large artificial lake created by the Katsurazawa Dam. Even though the water may not look as beautiful like some of her other counterparts in other areas of Hokkaido, the beautiful forests surrounding it would make it a place to visit during the other seasons.

Ashibetsu

Sandandaki Waterfall /三段滝(Google Map location: https://goo.gl/maps/CByHFsf3Jnz)

Leaving Mikasa, entered into Ashibetsu first before reaching Furano. That was a location in Ashibetsu that Kato-san brought me to. It’s a waterfall with 3 sections thus the name Sandandaki Waterfall /三段滝.

A gorgeous location, while the weather was a bit overcast, we were able to spot the colourful trees surrounding both sides of the river, the 3 sections of the waterfall and the downstream after that. The path to the lookout point/hut that can get you close to the waterfall and the downward stream was a bit wet and slippery due to the wet weather.

When we finished photographing and about to leave, snow fell from the sky with a bit of gusty cold wind blowing. The weather in Hokkaido can change pretty quickly in the blink of an eye sometimes.

Furano

Continuing our journey, we drove into Furano. My first impression was a flat and wide valley ground, surrounded by 2 mountain ranges on the sides, Mt Yubari, Mt Ashibetsu and Mt Furano-Nishi on one side and Mt Furano, Mt Tokachi, Mt Tomuraushi, Mt Chubetsu, Mt Hiragatake (Daisetuzan National Park side).

Living at the bottom of a valley can get really really cold during winter, from my experiences when I went skiiing in New South Wales, Australia, many years ago. Mt Kosciuszko (Perisher Blue) wasn’t too cold at the top when I was skiing yet when I reached Canberra, I was kind of freezing (in the night).

Furano had many farms growing different kind of crops. This area is a very popular destination during spring and summer, I can understand why. The entire area in summer season would be packed with crops ready for harvesting. For those growing flowers, the colourful and beautiful flowers would brighten up the whole place. I would love to visit Furano during the summer season and hope to do it some day in the future!

Torinuma Park  

Our first destination in Furano is Torinuma Park. Upon arrival, I was greeted by good weather, I saw clear blue sky, sunshine with cloud cover! This good weather made me very excited, I had overcast sky, snow, rain and chilly winds for my first four days in Hokkaido. The beautiful sunlight cast the colourful autumn leaves on the leaves into something magical, green, yellow, red and orange colour leaves against the beautiful clear blue sky. I was ecstatic and blown away, this was the autumn that I had been seeking when I arrived in Hokkaido.

We explored the forest surrounding the lake at Torinuma Park. There were some great places to take photographs from different spots with different perspectives, when the strong winds blew across, the leaves dropped and fell onto the lake, providing the lake with a pretty layer of colourful leaves on its water.

Lunch – Shinasoba ramen by Shinatora

One of my favourite Japanese food is Ramen and during that afternoon, I was brought to this local ramen shop in Furano, the name of the ramen shop is Shinatora, their shop speciality is a soup base mix of pork and fish! When I had my first taste of the Shinasoba ramen, I was in heaven!! This special and unique ramen is really oishii!! Ramen is an absolute delight during the cold autumn/winter seasons, hot and heartwarming.

Rokugo Viewing Platform / Kyohsai Farm (Furano Jam Garden)

With such a delicious and hot ramen lunch inside us, Kato-san brought me to the area near the foot of the Mt Tokachi / Mt Furano mountain range where the famous Kyohsai Farm / Furano Jam Garden was located, they had some many different types of jam for sale, along with a nice café to have coffee while resting at the same time. Although I didn’t buy any jam, I would love to come back during summer and visit this place again! Kato-san said this place is very popular during summer season!

Behind Furano Jam Garden, there was a small dirt road leading up towards a small hill, suitable for cars to drive up the small dirt road. On the road upwards, there was a famous lone tree that stood out from the row of forests beside the road. From the ground up perspective, the lone tree looked like it’s “floating”!

On top of the hill, there were farm lands, we visitors must be careful and considerate, not to trespass and trample onto the farm lands because we might destroy the crops and hurt the farmers livelihood and hard work.

There was an open area with a nice hut on the top of the hill, known as Rokugo Viewing Platform. The view up there was breathtaking, a great panoramic view of Furano. The cold autumn winds were blowing hard at us and I was freezing again when the cold winds hitted me! However, I was greeted by another iconic scene of Hokkaido, the light rays shining through the clouds onto the land.

There was another monologue tree nearby the Rokugo Viewing Platform, used by television company for some of their drama productions! It’s a very famous and iconic tree!

Mizusawa, Biei

The sky was turning dark as Kato-san drove up towards in the direction of Biei. A tale of two seasons in Hokkaido, separated by maybe 30km, from autumn into winter season. It was close to sunset timing when we arrived at this spot in Biei, snow was falling and it was cold around -1° (it’s not the coldest yet for Biei, Hokkaido).

There was a small farm house up on the hill, standing alone in the midst of the snow covered fields. While the small house stands alone in the open, it’s not alone at all, the role and significance cannot be underestimated. Somehow, I am always able to relate to lone/single objects e.g. lone tree, lone house etc etc … We might be monologue / single at times, however we are not alone because we attract the things around us to come to us.

Driving down a short distance from the small farm house, Kato san made a stop beside an open field between two forests. There were two trees that stood out in between the two forests. I stood there, enjoying the sceneries, peace, quiet and tranquility. It was really cold for me because I wasn’t really suited for winter season. After taking a few photographs, I stood there and enjoyed the moment while I am freezing myself out there (due to the chilly wind and rain).

The sun had set for the day, we also made our way to our hotel in Nakafurano, had our dinner, enjoyed the onsen and had a good night sleep.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016 Day 4 


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016


Created with flickr slideshow.

N.E.mation! 11 Awards Ceremony – 19th February 2017

On 19th February 2017, the top 10 teams of N.E.mation! 11 all came together again, for the announcement of the winner for N.E.mation! 11. They had worked really hard during the three weeks production phase from November to December. Watching their digital animation video clips that they produced, let’s congratulate all these young and talented students on job well done!

I was invited to the N.E.mation! 11 Awards Ceremony as their social media ambassador during this campaign. When I was inside the Ngee Ann Kongsi auditorium at National Gallery Singapore, I was probably just as anxious and excited, like the top 10 teams there. Watching their digital animation video clips, they all produced excellent quality digital animation video clips, giving judges and voters a good headache to have, in terms of casting for their favourite digital animation video clips.

The guest of honour was Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State for Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Education. He gave a very heart warming and encouraging speech to all the top 10 teams, with some great sharing of experiences on the importance of total defence, training and education. I am sure the students would take heed from Dr Janil Puthucheary wisdom and sharing in their future endeavours.

After the speech, the top 10 teams were individually introduced to the audience with their digital animation video being played on the main screen prior to their entry on the stage. Soon, the awards ceremony began and the winner of N.E.mation! 11 was Team MADEit!

I also want to say thank you and congrats to all the top 10 teams of N.E.mation! 11, while there can only be one overall winner among the top 10 teams, in my heart, everyone of you is already a winner, not just in terms of producing digital animation video clips, the life lessons such as marketing, public relations, public speaking, determination, hard work, time management, project management, teamwork, friendship, bonding, all these life skills and experiences will come in very handy and useful, in your studies and career down the road.

To the five teams under my care, Team Doughnuts & Donuts, Team Finding Sanity, Team Geekstrux, Team MADEit and Team N.E. HEH HEH. I want to congratulate everyone of you on a job well done! It’s been a pleasure and honour meeting everyone of you during this N.E.mation! 11 journey.

Congrats to Team MADEit, yes, you have MADE IT, the overall winner of N.E.mation! 11 !! Good luck and all the best in your future endeavours!! Have a fun trip to U.S.A!!

With this note, I will also conclude and wrap up my N.Emation! 11 journey here!

Hokkaido 2016 Photography Adventure Day 3

23rd October 2016 – Day 3

It’s Sunday in Hokkaido, another cold and chilly autumn morning with the cold wind blowing. My plan for the morning was to make a pilgrimage to a whiskey that I really like a lot, Nikka whiskey. The birth place of Nikka whiskey is in this place called Yoichi, just three JR stations away from Otaru. I checked the local JR train timetable heading towards Yoichi the night before, planned the time to wake up, head towards onsen, buy my breakfast from the JR Otaru station convenience store before boarding the local JR train to Yoichi.

The local JR train ride was fun and I always love my traveling experiences there. Although it was only three stations away, the distance between them were quite far apart. I loved the views from my short JR train ride, I saw the colourful trees, the sea, coast line, hills and houses. My train ride was quite busy, not too packed, there were a number of people on the same train ride too. I spotted some elderly Japanese folks drinking beer in the morning while traveling on the train!

Nikka Distillery

Upon arriving at JR Yoichi station, there were a lot of people that were riding together on the train also alighted along with me. It dawned upon me pretty quickly that we were all heading towards a common destination, the Nikka distillery! A short walk away from JR Yoichi station, I arrived at the entrance to Nikka distillery, I am awed and excited because I made a pilgrimage to my favourite whiskey!

Visiting and walking inside Nikka distillery wasn’t too difficult, you can choose to join a guided tour (in Japanese though) or you can choose to walk around and explore on your own. I chose to walk around and explore myself. There were many information at various locations on the history, significance and things related to Nikka whiskey. The most interesting segments for me were the whiskey museum and Nikka Kaikan (guest hall, tasting room). My most eagerly anticipated segment of visiting Nikka distillery was the free whiskey tastings! There were 3 types of whiskey available for tasting inside the Nikka Kaikan, there were some rules to follow for visitors, no drinking for those visitors driving and each visitor is only allowed to taste 1 glass of whiskey from each type of whiskey available for tasting.

Whiskey is supposed to be enjoyed slowly, shaking and stirring the aroma up from the whiskey, slowly sipping, enjoying the after taste before continuing to slowly sip up the rest of the whiskey. In the midst of my excitement and over enthusiasm, I drank two of the three whiskey in kind of double quick time. Although I really loved the taste and feeling, my head started to spin because I drank too fast and furious! I had to quickly grab some ice water to drink and settle myself down!

There was a place known as Distillery Shop “Northland”, a gift shop to buy gifts and Nikka whiskey. Initially, I thought of buying Nikka whiskey back home to Singapore, however, they were not able to do the duty free procedure therefore I decided not to buy it back. Instead, I bought an ice ball maker and a box of Nikka Distillery chocolates.

I checked the return trip JR train time table when I first entered into the JR Yoichi station, therefore, I had a bit of time to walk around Yoichi and have a quick look before making my way to JR Yoichi station. Japanese trains were very efficient, reliable and punctual. The station masters opened up the doors for the passengers to walk out to the platform about 10 mins before the scheduled arrival time of the JR train. The visitors queued up in rows, waiting in line for the train to arrive. The JR train arrived exactly at the scheduled time as printed on the boards inside the train station.

Reaching JR Otaru station, there was a short time transition for passengers to switch and hop on to the another JR train heading towards Sapporo. This was how great, detailed and thoughtful the Japanese placed in service delivery standards.

When I reached Sapporo, I wanted to look for the Travelers notebook by the Traveler’s Company. However, I wasn’t able to find my way around the shopping centre and I didn’t manage to buy it during my trip to Hokkaido. I went back to the same lunch place yesterday, ordered a curry beef rice, enjoyed my lunch and took the next available train back to Otaru, for my late afternoon to night view of Otaru from Mt Tenguyama.

Mt Tenguyama, Otaru

Mt. Tenguyama, is a famous and well known tourism destination in Otaru, as well as in Hokkaido. On top of Mt Tenguyama, it has one of the best views of Hokkaido, highly rated and recommended by both locals and international visitors. I took a bus from Otaru bus terminal in front of JR Otaru station towards the foot of Mt Tenguyama where the ropeway station was located. I took the ropeway up and it was a great view of Otaru, the port and the sea!

Mt Tenguyama indeed had some gorgeous views up at the top, there were a few observation points that allowed visitors to take photographs of Otaru and her surroundings from different observation points. The weather was a bit overcast and pretty cloudy when I was up on top of Mt Tenguyama. I explored around the top of Mt Tenguyama, it’s really peaceful and beautiful. There were gusty chilly winds blowing on that evening, making it very challenging for me to stay long outside in the open to take photographs (I was kind of freezing up there on Mt Tenguyama).

Waiting for the sun to set and night to arrive, I finally caught a good glimpse of the night landscape scenery of Otaru. I didn’t bring my tripod up to Mt Tenguyama therefore I made the best out of everything in a very cold autumn night with gusty winds blowing at the top of Mt Tenguyama.

Taking the ropeway ride down, enjoying the nights sceneries of Otaru. I took the bus back to Otaru city centre, went to JR Otaru station and bought a half deep fried chicken for dinner back to my hotel room whereby I was able to keep myself warm from another cold chilly autumn night.

On my last night in Otaru at Dormy Inn Premium, I went down for my night singing noodles, the hot and heartwarming Yonaki Soba, my last time to enjoy this wonderful noodles, I am not too sure when I would have the chance again. Upon finishing the delicious Yonaki Soba, I went back to my room, packed my luggage while resting before coming down to relax and enjoy at the onsen before my sleep time.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016 Day 3


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016


Created with flickr slideshow.

Canon announced EOS M6

Canon recently announced a new mirrorless camera to their line up, the Canon EOS M6. The slightly earlier Canon mirrorless camera model was the EOS M5 that was announced around September 2016 and I shared about it here. The time gap between the EOS M5 and M6 is around 5-6 months, therefore, both the EOS M5 and M6 have some similar technical specifications and also some distinct differences.

The key differences between the EOS M5 and M6 are

(1)  the built-in view finder on the EOS M5 while the EOS M6 does not have it and they do have the optional EVF DC-2 that can be purchased separately and attached to the hot-shoe.

(2) Rear LCD screen – EOS M5 rear LCD screen tilts downwards at an angle of 85 degrees up and while the EOS M6 rear LCD screen tilts 180 degrees upwards and 45 degrees downwards.

In my personal humble opinion, the Canon EOS M6 is the next mirrorless camera model after the EOS M10 yet it sits below the EOS M5. The EOS M6 is catered for a different group of customers, probably more of those who prefer the fun and ease of handling without the demands/needs of the built-in viewfinder. A purist photographer would probably choose the EOS M5 because they have the built-in viewfinder that they can use when they are shooting. Personally, I prefer to have a built-in viewfinder for my choice of mirrorless camera.

I am currently testing and reviewing the Canon EOS M5 and I would share my review article at a later time (and update here accordingly when it is ready). If the opportunity arises, I would test and review the Canon EOS M6 too.

Let me share with you more information and details of the Canon EOS M6 from the press release information below –

Canon announced the launch of the EOS M6, the latest addition to its mirrorless range of cameras designed as a modern all-rounder reflecting the best balance of convenient portability and easy functionality. Equipped with advanced technologies which are adopted from the professional EOS range cameras, the compact-size EOS M6 weighs approximately 390 grams (including the body, battery and card) and achieves high speed and a sharply precise AF that is capable of capturing fast moving subjects in still or videos. Available in sophisticated black graphite and vintage silver and black combination, the EOS M6 packs a punch with the new APS-C sensor and DIGIC 7 image processor to deliver high image clarity with low noise levels.

“The compact-sized EOS M6 excels in having a good balance of imaging power and convenience, making it a desirable camera of choice for users who relish the versatility of mirrorless photography. With Canon’s dual pixel CMOS AF technology, significant enhancements in AF speed and precision tracking enables users to capture superb quality pictures and videos without the associated bulk.” said Edwin Teoh, Head of Marketing, Singapore Operations, Canon Singapore. “Coupled with a comprehensive line-up of interchangeable lenses, users will now have more avenues to flex their creative muscles and develop their artistic flair.” 

Rapid and precise AF performance with Dual Pixel CMOS AF

Equipped with 24.2-Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 7 image processor, the EOS M6 delivers crisp image quality with low noise. Powered by Dual Pixel CMOS AF with approximately 24.2 million phase-difference sensors, AF is possible on approximately an 80% x 80% area of the focal plane’s entire surface. This enables fast and accurate tracking when shooting stills and videos, even when the subject is positioned at the edges of the frame. The touch AF further facilitates efficiency when conducting focus adjustments especially during macro and portrait shoots. Additionally, minute adjustments of the AF frame can also be done effortlessly through the controller wheel in the magnified view for accurate and precise focus.

The improved noise reduction performance as enabled by the DIGIC 7 image processor expands the normal ISO speed range from 100 to 25600. This notable improvement ensures sharp and crisp image quality even when shooting in low-light conditions.

Movie shooting

Full HD at 60p is supported, allowing the EOS M6 to capture smooth and beautiful footage. With the combination of Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology and STM lens, the EOS M6 allow users to achieve fast and accurate tracking during video shooting to achieve cinematographic effects without introducing mechanical noises generated by the lens motor during auto-focusing.

The EOS M6 also features Combination IS with in-camera 5-axis image stabilization through a compatible lens. Combination IS leverages optical IS and in-camera digital IS to help create seamless videos. Additionally, the DIGIC 7 image processor makes the 5-axis image stabilization possible even with lenses that do not contain IS due to the independent in-camera image stabilization that reduces camera shake during video shoots.

Intuitive user experience with improved ergonomics

With a 3.0” touch panel LCD screen that tilts 180 degrees upwards and 45 degrees downwards, users have the flexibility of taking photos from different angles with ease. The quick dial controls also simplify adjustments even while on foot as settings can be switched around quickly without needing to toggle back to the menu screen. This provides a significant improvement to the levels of comfort and freedom for users, especially when shooting in manual mode.

With a screen size of 0.39” and approximately 2.36 million dots OLED panel, the optional electronic viewfinder (EVF-DC2) is comparably smaller and lighter than the conventional EVFs. For the user, the EVF reflects a highly accurate image representation of what is seen by the camera sensor without interference from glare. The EVF-DC2 is compatible with selected Canon camera models such as PowerShot G1 X Mark II, PowerShot G3 X and EOS M3.

Seamless with Bluetooth Low Energy technology

With Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, users can transfer images and videos from the camera to the smart devices and upload them onto the Canon Image Gateway, social media platforms and cloud storage. And by using the Canon Camera Connect app, users have real-time control of camera settings such as shutter speed, focus selection and self-timer and more.

In addition, EOS M6 features Bluetooth low energy technology which maintains constant connection to a compatible smart device at a low power consumption. With this constant connection, users can view images, start remote capture from the camera, even when the camera is in Auto Power Off mode. Smart devices with Bluetooth can wake the camera up, and switch to wi-fi for browsing and viewing images or perform remote capture (with Live View). Users can also use Bluetooth to perform basic remote capture (no Live View), control image playback and slide show when the camera is connected to a TV or projector via smart devices.

Easy switch of lenses for changing your perspectives

The EOS M6 is available in 2 kit options: EF-M18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM kit and EF-M15-45mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM kit.

For existing EOS DSLR users, the Mount Adapter EF-EOS M (sold separately) allows full compatibility with over 70 EF/EF-S lenses. This offers users a wider range of creative options and shooting perspectives all without compromising on image quality and capabilities.

Pricing and Availability

Pricing and availability of the EOS M6 and EVF-DC2 will be advised at a later date.

Product specifications

EOS M6

Image sensor:                         24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor

Imaging processor:                 DIGIC 7

Focal plane AF:                       Dual Pixel CMOS AF

Max frame rate:                       9.0 fps (AF fixed), 7.0 fps (AF tracking)

Max standard ISO speed:       ISO 25,600

Monitor:                                   3.0-inch touch panel (tilt upwards approx.180° and                                              downwards approx. 45°), approx. 1.04 million dots

Movie:                                     Full HD 60 fps

Connectivity:                           Wi-Fi / NFC / Bluetooth Low Energy technology

EVF:                                        External (Optional)

Dimensions:                             Approx. 112.0 x 68.0 x 44.5mm

Weight:                                    Approx. 390g

EVF-DC2

Effective dots:                         Approx. 2,360,000 dots

Format:                                   Organic EL

Screen size:                           0.39-type

Aspect ratio:                          4:3

Coverage:                              Approx. 100%

Brightness adjustment:          Yes

Eyepoint:                                Approx. 22mm

Dioptric adjustment range:     Approx. -3 to +1 m-1 (dpt)

Size:                                      31.4 x 36.2 x 45.7mm

Weight:                                   Approx. 29g

Supported models:                  EOS M6/EOS M3/PowerShot G1 X Mark II/PowerShot G3 X

* Information and pictures courtesy of Canon Singapore and Ogilvy Public Relations *

Photojournalist in Travel, Events and Sports Photography