Tag Archives: Holiday

Welcome to Changi T4 – A sneak preview

One of the most famous and busiest international airports in the world, one of the best airports, if not the best. Voted the World’s Best Airport for the fifth consecutive year at the 2017 World Airport Awards, voted by international air travelers. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Singapore Changi Airport!

Having traveled to different countries around the world, whenever I return back home to Singapore, arriving at Changi Airport always gave me a sense of great pride and homecoming. It’s not just about how fast I can pick up my luggage after clearing immigration, or getting in and around the Changi Airport, the facilities and amenities, the efficiency and speed of Changi Airport as a whole.

One thing that strikes something inside about Changi Airport is that they are always constantly trying to improve on themselves, lifting Changi Airport to the next level and not being complacent in the midst of intense international airports and flying routes competition in the Asia region and around the world. Changi Airport seeks to improve and be better than before, this eventually pave away for Changi Airport to announce major plans a few years back to strengthen itself as a major aviation and travel hub in the world.

The decision to build Changi Airport Terminal 4 was announced in March 2012, taking over the plot of land originally occupied by the Budget Terminal, that was demolished in September 2012, paving the way for the construction of the new Changi Airport Terminal 4. Fast forward a few years to 2017 and Changi Airport Terminal 4 is getting ready to open for operations at the end of this year 2017!

Changi Airport Terminal 4 is getting ready to open for airport operations and they have organised open house for the public to visit (registration is fully booked!) from 7th to 20th August between 9am to 6pm. If you are not able to get the open house time slot, don’t worry, Changi Airport Terminal 4 is scheduled to start airport operations at the end of 2017.

For my traveler friends and readers around the world, who are curious and would like to know more about Changi Airport Terminal 4, and what does Changi Airport Terminal 4 looks like? Let me bring you into Changi Airport Terminal 4, through the photographs that I took recently as part of the Changi Ambassadors group visit.

Changi Airport Terminal 4 represents the future of travel, FAST as they described it, Fast And Seamless Travel for the self-service options for departing passengers. They are able to do their own check-in, collect their boarding pass, print their own luggage tags, tie it to their luggages, drop off the bag themselves, proceed to immigration counters for clearance (with automated immigration gates for Singaporeans, Permanent Residents, Long Term Visit Pass Holders or Visitors registered with Immigration and Checkpoints Authority), followed by centralised security screening.

For the photographers, travelers and Instagrammers, searching for the perfect Instagrammable location inside Terminal 4, there are a number of spots to take your Instagram photos! Let me share with you some of the locations inside Terminal 4!

When you are at Terminal 4, you would be greeted by greenery, the departure façade greenwall and arrival hall greenwall. Inside the transit area, boarding area and arrival hall, keep a lookout for the greenery (trees) too!

Walking around Terminal 4, keep your eyes and look for the sculptures and artworks, Petalclouds, “Hey, Ah Chek” , Travelling Family, Les Oiseaux!

Inside the transit area, you have to visit the Heritage Zone! There is a Heritage Façade inspired by our Peranakan culture and shophouses. Don’t take your eyes off the façade because you are going to catch a heritage theme theatre play titled “Peranakan Love Story”! There is also a heritage themed toilet somewhere there!

The seats inside the Transit area are very interesting, unique in design, of different shapes, sizes and colours. Explore all of them!

For the aviation geeks and plane spotters (I am one of them), the transit / boarding area has a clear view of the Changi Airport runway, time to take your cameras out and photograph your favourite airlines and planes flying off from Singapore Changi Airport!

Do also check out this article prepared by Changi Airport on “10 things not to miss at T4”.

If you are visiting Singapore soon and flying with the following airlines, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, Vietnam Airlines, Air Asia, Cebu Pacific and Spring Airlines, you would be at Changi Airport latest Terminal 4!

As an independent traveler or traveling in small groups, Changi Airport Terminal 4 suits me nicely, I can do my own check-in, drop the luggages off, clear immigration, go inside relax, eat, do plane spotting along the boarding gate corridor before boarding my flight.

There are more things to share, see and do in Terminal 4, I leave it for you to discover when you visit Singapore from overseas or when you drop by Terminal 4 for a visit (for those in Singapore)!

I just want to say, Welcome to Changi Airport Terminal 4!

** I would like to thank Changi Airport Social for organising a visit for the Changi Ambassadors to visit Changi Airport Terminal 4 **


Created with flickr slideshow.

Just Another Day in Western Australia!

A short flight away from Singapore, a popular destination for holidays and fun, ideal for families and their children. Western Australia is home to many gorgeous and extraordinary attractions and experiences. The number of visitors from Singapore for the year ending 2016, an estimated 104,200 visitors visited Western Australia, staying for an estimated 1,509,200 nights and estimated visitor spend $246m. All these figures placed Singapore in third place for the Top 20 international markets to Western Australia year ending December 2016 (ranked by number of visitors).

Western Australia is a destination that I didn’t get to visit during my University undergraduate days (4 years) in Queensland, a holiday that I should have planned and done! Whenever I looked at Western Australia, there were many destinations in the state of Western Australia that I would really like to visit, enjoy, have fun and take many photographs. During a recent Tourism Western Australia event in Singapore, I had a better understanding and know more about the various areas and destinations of Western Australia.

At the evening with Tourism Western Australia event in Singapore, there was a special culinary ambassador appearance by Chef Tony Howell of Western Australia’s Fresh TV and Formerly Head Chef of Cape Lodge and Margaret River Hospitality Group. Chef Howell shared a lot with the guests on Western Australia food and wine, as well as sharing some delicious food from Western Australia with this cooking!

There had been great developments and growth in the tourism, hospitality and travel sectors of Western Australia. At the Tourism Western Australia event, they brought some local and authentic food, drinks and fun from Western Australia to Singapore! For a start, there were informative boards, brochures, guides and information travelers planning to visit Western Australia.

Perth and Surroundings

Let’s start with Australia sunniest capital, Perth, that is also the capital of Western Australia, consistently rated as one of the world’s most liveable cities.

Accommodation

Since 2012, accommodation in and around Perth has expanded with nearly 1,800 new rooms added to the local market, such as COMO at the Treasury, Crown Towers Perth, Peppers Kings Square, Tribe in West Perth, Alex Hotel in Northbridge, Aloft Hotel in Rivervale and Quest Fremantle. In the next four years, more hotels are coming on board with a further 16 new or redeveloped hotels entering the market, varying from boutique, big name and luxury brands, including Ritz-Carlton’s first Australian property in 10 years, The Westin in the eastern CBD and DoubleTree Group has three developments coming up.

Dining and Wining

Western Australia fresh produce and wines can be found in Perth’s new bars, cafes and restaurants in or near the city’s centre, such as the Shadow Bar and Dining Room, Ku De Ta, The Standard. Isle of Voyage and The Reveley. The recently renovated State Buildings precinct, with its high ceilings and grand halls, is home to some of the city’s best bars and restaurants including Petition Kitchen, Long Chim and Wildflower.

Short trips from Perth City

At the event, there were informative travel boards that gave the guests more information and details on the areas that they can visit outside of Perth City, that are a short 30mins to 90mins away from Perth City, ideal for day trips to destinations such as Fremantle, Rockingham, Sunset Coast, Swan Valley, Perth Hills, Armadale and Avon Valley.

Travelers can base themselves in Perth City, rent a car and drive out of Perth City to the various destinations nearby for day trips!

Beyond Perth and Surrounds

Having studied in Queensland for my undergraduate studies, I traveled out of the major city and discovered many different parts of Australia. In Western Australia, so vast and diverse, around the size of Western Europe and boasting 20,000km of mainland and island coastline, there are a number of destinations beyond Perth and surrounds. Some of the destinations are really gorgeous and I would love to visit them for my travel photography trips in the future!

There are a lot of destinations to visit beyond Perth and their surroundings, I would like to list some of them below:

Margaret River and the South West

  • Surfing, swimming and snorkelling
  • World-class wine and fresh local produce
  • Culture, arts and history (learn more about the customs and history of the Noongar people)
  • Tall timbers (in the Valley of the Giants, between Denmark and Walpole)
  • Adventure (the bushland Bibbulmun Track, or out to the Porongurup Range’s Granite Skywalk)

Exmouth and The Coral Coast

  • Snorkelling at Ningaloo Reef
  • Swimming with gentle giants (whale sharks)
  • Friendly dolphins at Monkey Mia
  • Wildflowers and pink waters
  • Extraordinary rock formations (at the Pinnacles near the coastal town of Cervantes)

Esperance and the Golden Outback

  • White beaches and pink lakes
  • World’s largest outdoor gallery (the striking salt flats of Lake Ballard)
  • Golden Quest Discovery Trail (965-kilometre journey from Coolgardie to Laverton)
  • Wildflowers and wave walking
  • The unexpected (Corrigin Dog Cemetery)

Broome and The North West Region

  • Camels on Cable Beach
  • Aboriginal experiences
  • Best kept secrets (Karijini National Park and Purnululu National Park)
  • Horizontal Falls (Talbot Bay)
  • Remote luxury resorts (Berkeley River Lodge, Kimberley Coast Camp, El Questro Homestead, Faraway Bay)

Western Australia is huge destination, packed with my beautiful destinations to visit, that’s something for everybody to have fun and enjoy during their travels to Western Australia. This destination is one that I had missed out during my undergraduate days in Queensland that I didn’t get to visit during my studies there, I should have just flew over and visit Western Australia during my semester breaks!

I would love to plan a visit to Western Australia in the future, from Perth, traveling around and out, towards Margaret River, Exmouth and the Coral Coast, as well as Broome and The North West Region.

When I do visit Western Australia, I would shout out, “G’day mate! Just Another Day in Western Australia!”

For more information on Western Australia, visit Tourism Western Australia website!

I would like to thank Tourism Western Australia for the invitation to their An Evening with Tourism Western Australia event in Singapore.

* Information courtesy of Tourism Western Australia and cohn&wolfe *

Children’s Season 2017 @ the National Museum

The June 2017 school holidays have arrived! Many many exciting activities, fun, excitement, exhibitions at Children’s Season Singapore, more than 120 exhibitions and activities by 29 partners, taking place across different museums and festival partners in Singapore.

The Children’s Season Singapore 2017 is big and diverse, jointly organised by the National Heritage Board and Museum Roundtable, there are many cultural and educational experiences that will attract our children, inspiring them, engaging them and educating them in the areas of history, heritage, culture, arts and education during the June 2017 school holidays season. This is a perfect time for family bonding and activities together at some of the various museums in Singapore during this school holidays season!

Before you enter into the world of Children’s Season Singapore, please collect the following Children’s Season kit/brochures before you begin your Children’s Season adventure –

I am going to share about what you and your family can see, look, do and enjoy at Children’s Season @ the National Museum of Singapore!

Bouncy Ride

Every Saturday & Sunday | 10am – 12pm & 4pm – 6pm

Last admission at 530pm

Front Lawn, Level 1

Suitable for ages 7 and up

First and foremost, when you arrive at the main entrance of the National Museum of Singapore, there is something that you cannot miss! The bumboat bouncy ride is an interactive ride and children will love it! This bouncy bumboat will be a good, fun and interactive play to share with the children on the history of bumboats transporting goods along the Singapore River until the 1980s.

The Soft Dome by Atelier YokYok

Saturday 27th May – Sunday 30th July | 10am – 550pm

Last admission at 540pm

Rotunda, Level 1

Suitable for ages 3 and up

When I saw this, I wanted to go in and play but I am not a young child anymore and I have to give priority to the children. Do you ever thought of lying down at the Rotunda and look up above? With this immersive and interactive installation, now the young children can have this amazing and wonderful opportunity!

Inside this installation, the children can lie down, look up above and admire one of National Museum most iconic architecture, the stained glass dome.

Children, for your own safety, please take note of the following

  • Wear comfortable clothing
  • No footwear allowed inside the installation except socks
  • For hygiene purposes, socks are required
  • For safety reasons, only a limited number of visitors are allowed in at each time slot

The Giant by Jean Jullien

Saturday 27th May – Sunday 30th July | 10am – 6pm

Last admission at 530pm

The Canyon, Basement

Suitable for ages 3 and up

The Giant is sleeping soundly and snoring very loudly inside the National Museum of Singapore. Children, now is the time for you, to have fun drawing and doodling on the Giant! Time to unleash your freedom of creative expression, a great family bonding activity time!

Children, do remember, not to wake the Giant up!

Our Favourite Places – Bumboat Trail

Co-developed with School of the Arts (SOTA)

Saturday 27th May – Sunday 30th July | 10am – 6pm

Last admission at 530pm

The Concourse, Level 1

Suitable for ages 3 and up

At this installation, the children can visit and set sail with the bumboats, to learn more about the history, heritage and cultural significance of the bumboats that ply the Singapore River and the also visit the historical sites such as the former Parliament House and Cavenagh Bridge along the Singapore River banks.

Our Favourite Places – Trolley Bus & Trishaw Trails

Co-developed with Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design and Media, Graduate Programme

Saturday 27th May – Sunday 30th July | 10am – 6pm

Last admission at 530pm

Glass Atrium, Level 2

Suitable for ages 5 and up

Children, time to hop on a trolley bus and explore Chinatown, Kampong Glam, Little India and Katong, Singapore’s cultural heritage sites, by using your senses of taste, touch, smell and sight. Remember to stop by and indulge in some art and craft work, you can decorate very own Peranakan tile and more!

Children, you can also peddle back in time on a trishaw, into the 1970s and 1980s, visiting popular entertainment venues such as amusement parks and Singapore Zoo. There are interactive sensory stations, remember to stop by and have fun there exploring!

Beside the installations and exhibitions, there are also other programmes, story telling sessions, tours and workshops at the National Museum during the Children’s Season Singapore.

More information can be found on the website www.museums.com.sg/cs17

The National Gallery Singapore is also one of the participating museum for the Children’s Season Singapore, one of the museums of the Museum Roundtable. I visited their Children’s Biennale recently, do drop by my article and check out what you can discover and have a fun family bonding time there! I am planning to visit some of the other participating museums involved in Children’s Season Singapore, I would share my stories and photos if I do visit them!

Parents and adults, the Children’s Season is a perfect time to bring your children/nephews/nieces out to the various museums/galleries in Singapore, visit, participate and have a good family bonding time together! Enjoy and have lots of fun at Children’s Season Singapore!

National Gallery Singapore Children’s Biennale

A Biennale, this word originates from Biennale, an international art exhibition held every two years at Venice, Italy. In today’s context, it is a large art exhibition held biennially. I had visited the past few editions of Singapore Biennale, however, for a children’s biennale, this is something very new, interesting and exciting to me! A large art exhibition for the children, a Children’s Biennale at the National Gallery Singapore. The Gallery’s Children’s Biennale is about dreams and stories.

From 20th May 2017 to 8th October, the children in Singapore has a large art exhibition dedicated to them, to learn, participate and enjoy themselves at the National Gallery Singapore. Since June is the school holidays season, it’s a perfect time for parents to bring their children down to National Gallery Singapore for Children’s Biennale, the first ever Gallery Children’s Biennale!

At the Gallery Children’s Biennale, there are many artworks for the children to learn, enjoy and have fun. For the parents and adults, you can also participate together with the children too! What are the artworks and activities that you can do together with your children at Gallery Children’s Biennale?

Let me share with you my (back to being a child) journey into Children’s Biennale at National Gallery Singapore –

First and foremost, pick up a Gallery Children’s Biennale Art Pack at Level B1 ticketing counter, costing just $5, they are the passport kit set to have fun there, information and tools, consisting of activity cards, kid-sized festival pass, cute rainbow pencil and many more! Once you have the Children’s Biennale Art Pack, it’s time to start the fun rolling with your children!

Open the festival map, you can see that the artworks are spread over 4 levels, Level B1, 1, 2 and 3. You can choose your own adventure flow or you can start from Level B1, followed by Levels 1, 2 and 3. Every artwork tells a story, whereby the child can learn and see the world through the eyes of the artists. Let me start from Level B1

Level B1

Rock & Sphere

Ian Woo | City Hall Wing, Level B1, Auditorium Anteroom | Until 24th September  

What can happen with two objects that can be taken apart and rearranged into something else, new forms, shapes and sizes, based on your own imagination and creativity.

Time to let the children unleash their creativity and imagination!

Homogenizing and Transforming World

teamLab | City Hall, Level B1, The Ngee Ann Kongsi Concourse Gallery

Navigate your way through the maze of glowing orbs that change colour and produce sounds when touched. Probably another one of the visitors favourite artworks of Children’s Biennale!

The Obliteration Room

Yayoi Kusama | Supreme Court Win, Level B1, Concourse Gallery 2

This artwork, in my personal opinion, could be the most popular artwork of Gallery Children’s Biennale. A creative and colourful avenue for the children to paste colourful stickers all over the furniture and walls of this white room.

I can’t wait to see how this room transforms into on the last day of the Gallery Children’s Biennale. I haven’t paste my colourful stickers yet and I want to return back there again.

Firewalk: A Bridge of Embers

Mark Justiniani | Supreme Court Wing, Level B1, Outside Concourse Gallery 2

Take a walk, on this very special bridge. You MUST LOOK DOWN while you walk and do not be afraid! Observe and discover the many different artefacts and items, from the excavations of the former Supreme Court building below.

Level 1

Being Yourself

Chng Seok Tin | Padang Atrium, Level 1

The artist’s woodcuts on the wall tell a few stories. The children can feel, touch and colour out the stories from the woodcuts on a piece of tracing paper. This form of art and craft paperwork brought back memories to me when I was a young student doing such form of art and craft. Somehow, it can be pretty therapeutic art and craft activity.

From Rochor to Kallang

Vincent Leow | City Hall Wing, Level 1, City Hall Foyer

An interesting (and probably a little bit abstract) artwork, inspired by the iconic colourful HDB blocks of Rochor Centre, they had recently relocated to the Kallang area. Listen to the sounds of nature as you explore those wooden towers with interesting items kept inside the bird traps.

Let Your Imagination Take Flight

City Hall Wing, Level 1

Visit the refreshed Keppel Centre for Art Education, explore the spaces and activities that the children would love.

Level 2

A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, Children’s Edition

Robert Zhao | City Hall Wing, Level 2, Social Table

The human race has changed the Earth landscape tremendously over the centuries. What are some of the animals, plants and environments that have been affected by the actions of the human race? Visit this artwork to discover and learn more about them!

Duplet

Lynn Lu | City Hall Wing, Level 2, Singapore Courtyard

This is an interesting artwork. There is a cloud artwork beside the wall, your family can sit down together below the cloud, then everyone of you pop your heads into the cloud, look at the questions posed by the artist and answer them.

This Changed My Life

Lynn Lu | City Hall Wing, Level 2, Singapore Courtyard

This is one of my favourite artworks! We usually pen down our memories, thoughts and feelings on pieces of paper, at this particular artwork station, it’s slightly different. The children (and adults) can pen down a significant memory on a piece of ribbon. Thereafter, bring it into the room and tie it across the room, forming a web of shared memories.

I am wondering how all those web memories would transform into, as more visitors contribute and pen their significant memories?

Level 3

The Sonnet in Blue

Tran Trong Vu | Supreme Court Wing, Level 3, Supreme Court Foyer

This is like a playground, a maze of handmade flowers with poems and stories written on the petals. The children will love to play hide and seek with you at this artwork!

As an adult, I really had a great time at the first Gallery Children’s Biennale! Personally, I think inside every adult, there is a child inside you that is waiting to appear again, enjoying the carefree childhood fun days.

To all parents with children and adults with nephews and nieces, the National Gallery Singapore Children’s Biennale is something magical, fun, experential, interactive and learning. This is an excellent and wonderful family bonding time, the young children can learn about artworks, explore their curiousity and creativity.

If you are an adult (young or old), why not visit Gallery Children’s Biennale, explore the artworks and be a young child again? I am planning to go back and revisit the National Gallery Singapore Children’s Biennale again. There are some artworks that I haven’t fully cover/photograph in detail and I also want to play with the artworks again. Which artworks do you think that I would be going back to?

For more information and details of the Children’s Biennale and other programmes, visit their website – www.childrensbiennale.com. If you are sharing your Children’s Biennale adventure photos on social media platforms, do hashtag #childrensbiennale !


Created with flickr slideshow.

Canon EOS 1DX Mark II Review

The Canon EOS 1 series, the flagship Canon DSLR camera, the most powerful and fastest Canon DSLR camera, a must have workhorse lens for journalists, sports and wildlife photographers. Once you used the EOS 1 series, that’s no turning back.

My love affair with the EOS 1 series started when I playing with my friends Canon EOS 1D Mark I and Mark IIN, I was totally awed by its high frames per second and the sound of the high speed shutter. In time to come, I found myself owning a used Canon EOS 1D Mark III that I faithfully used for a few years before I upgraded to another EOS 1 series, the Canon EOS 1DX, also a used camera when the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II was announced and the price of a used EOS 1DX started to drop.

During a media event in February 2016, I got my hands on experience with the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II and inside my heart said, “I know you want it, buy it!”. However, my brain said, “It’s out of your current budget at the moment, even though you have a use for it on a professional basis” Therefore, I opted for a used Canon EOS 1DX, that I still love it and it’s now my current workhorse DSLR camera, as much as I badly wanted the EOS 1DX Mark II.

I did have an opportunity to review the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II recently, I was very excited because I am a huge fan of the EOS 1 series, not just on and from a professional basis, also from a photography enthusiast perspective.

During the review period, I had the opportunities to test the EOS 1DX Mark II over different situations, themes and events, from Singapore Motorshow 2017, Chinatown Heritage Walking Trail CNY 2017, River Hongbao 2017, Battle for Singapore Tour media preview, Chinese New Year gathering, Jaybird Freedom Wireless earphones product theme shoot and walking around Marina Bay area in the blue hour and night sceneries walkabout shoot. The experiences were really good and I was secretly lusting for a Canon EOS 1DX Mark II for my professional photography work along with a Canon EOS 1DX as a back up / second camera setup!

Through the various types of photographs that I took with the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II, I have the following observations, views and opinions of this powerful and awesome Canon flagship DSLR camera, written down in this review article.

However, before I begin, first and foremost, let me highlight the key differences between the technical specifications between the Canon EOS 1DX and EOS 1DX Mark II, the information that I extracted from Canon Singapore website by comparing these two Canon DSLR cameras side by side –

DSLR Specifications Canon EOS 1DX Canon EOS 1DX Mark II
Continuous Shooting Speed (shots per sec) (Up to) 14 16
Custom Functions (Total) 31 34
Dimensions (Excl. Protrusions) (mm) (Approximately) 158 x 163.6 x 82.7 158 x 167.6 x 82.6
Effective ISO 50 to 20,4800 (expandable to L (ISO50), H1 (ISO 102,400), H2 (ISO 204,800) 100 to 51,200 (expandable to L (ISO50), H1 (ISO 102,400), H2 (ISO 204,800), H3 (ISO 409,600)
Effective Pixels (Megapixels) (Approximately) 18.1 20.2
File numbering Consecutive numbering, Auto reset, Manual reset Continuous, Auto reset, Manual reset
Image Resolution 5184 x 3456 (L)
4608 x 3072 (M1)
3456 x 2304 (M2)
2592 x 1728 (S)
5184 x 3456 (RAW)
3888 x 2592 (M-RAW)
2592 x 1728 (S-RAW) 
5472 x 3648 (L)
4368 x 2912 (M1)
3648 x 2432 (M2)
2736 x 1824 (S)
5472 x 3648 (RAW)
4104 x 2736 (M-RAW)
2736 x 1824 (S-RAW) 
LCD Monitor Resolutions (dots) 1,040,000 Approx 1,620,000
Max. Resolution (Pixel) (Still images) 5184 x 3156 5472 x 3648
Memory Card Type CF Card (Type I or II) CF cards (Type 1, UDMA 7 supported)

Cfast card (Cfast 2.0 supported)

Metering Mode 252-zone TTL Evaluative, Partial Spot, Centre-weighted Approx. 360,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor and 216-zone TTL open-aperture metering, EOS iSA (Intelligent Subject Analysis) system, Evaluative metering, Partial metering, Spot metering, Center-weighted average metering

 

Metering Range (Measured at at 23°C or 73°F with EF50mm f1.4 USM lens, ISO 100)

 

EV 0 – 20 EV 0 – 20
Mirror Quick-return half mirror Quick-return type
Movie Format MOV MOV, MP4
Peripheral Connections Hi-Speed USB, Video Output, HDMI, LAN SuperSpeed USB, Video Output, HDMI, LAN
Playback Zoom (Approximately) 1.5x – 10x 1.5 – 10x
Processor Type Dual DIGIC 5+ Dual Digic 6+
Red Eye Reduction Yes
Standard Power Supply Battery Pack LP-E4N Battery Pack LP-E19 / LP-E4N / LP-E4
Video Resolution (HD) (Pixel) (Approximately) 1280 x 720
Video Resolution (SD) (Pixel) (Approximately) 640 x 480
Viewfinder Information AF information, metering and exposure information, flash information, white balance correction, JPEG Type / RAW Type recording, maximum burst, number of shots remaining, battery check, recording media information, highlight tone priority (D+), composition information, grid, electronic level

 

Image type: JPEG/RAW, Shooting mode, Metering mode, White balance, Drive mode, AF operation, Flicker detection, Warning ! indicator, AF operation indicator

 

White Balance Auto, daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten light, white fluorescent light, flash, custom, colour temperature setting, personal white balance (Total 5 settings)

 

Auto (Ambience priority), Auto (White priority), Preset (Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten light, White fluorescent light, Flash), Custom (5 settings), Color temperature setting (approx. 2500-10000 K), Personal white balance (5 settings)

 

Based on the comparisons of technical specifications only, the key differences may not seem by many users as a big jump from the EOS 1DX to EOS 1DX Mark II. From my sharing of my Canon EOS 1DX Mark II review, I would share some of the key improvements that makes professional photographers to make their upgrade from EOS 1DX to EOS 1DX Mark II.

Colours

The Dual Digic 6+ processors inside the EOS 1DX Mark II make a key difference and impact to the quality and output of the photographs. They were richer and more accurate in colours, making it even easier and faster for jpeg photographs straight out from the EOS 1DX Mark II to be used quickly for your work requirements.

Dynamic Range

From my observations of the photographs shot with the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II review camera, on various subjects and themes during the review period, the dynamic range of the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II has improved. Therefore, the EOS 1DX Mark II is able to capture and retain more details and information. With this significant improvement, the shadows/dark tone areas of the photograph are lifted.

Anti-Flicker Technology

The Anti-Flicker technology that was first introduced to the Canon EOS 7D Mark II is now available inside the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II. The flickering of the indoor lights always pose an issue to photographers and they can give some photographers many problems/challenges to handle when shooting indoors. With the Anti-Flicker technology, indoor sports or events photography with the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II is so much more easier and pleasant, without the hassles of the flickering lights.

Auto Focus

The Canon EOS 1DX Mark II is the current flagship DSLR camera, it’s a monster machine as I always love (and usually) call it. Their Auto Focus system has improved significantly over the past few models since I started off (still owning it at this current juncture) with the EOS 1D Mark III and I am currrently using the EOS 1DX.

What make this Canon flagship DSLR camera so powerful, highly trusted and widely adopted by professionals around the world, from photojournalists, sports and wildlife photographers, are the AF technology packed inside this camera.

The technical specifications on paper shows how good and powerful this Canon EOS 1DX Mark II is. I recommend photographers who are keen in this camera to try it out and have a go at this flagship DSLR camera, you will then know why it is so highly trusted and widely adopted by the professioanls in photojournalism, sports and wildlife.

Here are the key improvements that are built inside the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II

  • 170 RAW images with CFast 2.0 card
  • Live View RAW – 16fps
  • New AF algorithm and AI Servo AF III+
  • EOS iTR
  • Large Zone AF
  • Newly developed 61-point AF sensor
  • AF shooting is possible on most lenses using all AF points with a maximum aperture value of f/8
  • Intelligent viewfinder II

During my review and research that I done previously for the Canon EOS 1DX, I discovered Canon USA produced a guide book on Canon EOS 1DX AF Setting Guidebook for users to fully utilise and customise the full AF capabilites. This book is now helping me to fine tune my AF settings in my EOS 1DX.

For this review article, I went back to Canon USA website and discovered that they have produced a new book titled Canon EOS 1DX Mark II AF Setting Guidebook. I strongly encourage photographers (whether professionals or serious enthusiasts) to download this handy guide book for their Canon EOS 1DX Mark II DSLR camera. This is a very handy and useful guide book to have for the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II.

Thoughts and views

The Canon EOS 1DX Mark II is the flagship Canon DSLR camera, this camera is highly regarded and used by professional photographers in the fields of journalism, sports and wildlife.

Owning a EOS 1DX is a huge upfront investment, the cost is pretty substantial. Therefore, this camera model is not something that all photographers would choose to purchase, considering their shooting requirements and budget. Moreover, Canon has a series of different professional DSLR camera models for professional as well as photography enthusiasts to choose from, such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, EOS 5DS, EOS 5DS R and not to forget the semi-professional camera models such as the EOS 7D Mark II, EOS 6D, EOS 80D etc.

Key factors that make photographers upgrade from EOS 1DX to 1DX Mark II

While the differences between the EOS 1DX and EOS 1DX Mark II may not be that big of a difference on paper, professional photographers who view the photos and read about the key differences in performances, they would choose to let go of their EOS 1DX and go for the EOS 1DX Mark II.

During the period when I reviewed the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II, these key factors (in my personal opinion) are why some photographers are letting go of their Canon EOS 1DX for the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II

  • Improved dynamic range
  • Shadows/Dark tone areas improvements
  • Anti-flickr shooting capabilities
  • Smarter and faster auto focusing with the new AF algorithm and AI Servo AF III+
  • 170 RAW images with CFast 2.0 card

On a personal note, I would really love to own the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II when my budget and finances allow. The Canon EOS 1DX is still a very capable camera, that is still doing its job well for me. Therefore when the opportunity arises, I hope that I can upgrade to the EOS 1DX Mark II in the near future.

I would like to thank Canon Singapore and Ogilvy Public Relations for the opportunity to review the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II.


Created with flickr slideshow.

Canon EOS 5DS R Review

The Canon EOS 5DS R was launched in February 2015, together with the Canon EOS 5DS. Both were pretty similar in technical specifications, with the EOS 5DS R having the optical low pass filter (LPF) cancellation feature inside them, a feature that makes it stand out from the rest of the other Canon EOS DSLR family.

I reviewed the Canon EOS 5DS camera previously in the month of November 2015. My overall experience was good, the EOS 5DS was an excellent camera with the capabilities of their 50.6 megapixels sensor along with their dual Digic 6 processors. Ever since I completed my EOS 5DS review, I wanted to review her sister camera that was launched together, the Canon EOS 5DS R. While there was a bit of time lag between these 2 reviews, I was thankful and grateful that I was able to obtain a review unit for my travel photography trip to Hokkaido in October 2016.

Before I proceed on further, let me recap on the techinical specifications of the Canon EOS 5DS R –

Dimensions: Approx. 152 x 116.4 x 76.4mm

Weight: Approx. 845g (body only)

Image sensor: 50.6 megapixel CMOS sensor

Imaging processor: Dual DIGIC 6

ISO speed: 100-6400 (expandable to 50 and 12 800)

Continuous shooting speed: 5 fps

Maximum video format: Full HD 30p

AF: 61-points Phase Difference AF with iTR AF

LCD: Wide 3.2-inch (1.04 million dots) 

Prior to this review, I did had a hands on experience with the Canon EOS 5DS R during a heritage outing with Canon Singapore and National Heritage Board in July 2015, visiting places of worship in Singapore. I requested to try out the EOS 5DS R for this outing and I got the chance! Check out the url links for the photographs that I took with the EOS 5DS R and my heritage tour article!

Therefore, in that short half day heritage tour, I had seen first hand for myself the capabilities of the EOS 5DS R. The photographs had great vivid colours, that would be ideal for landscape photography whereby this would stand out during spring and autumn seasons. In the later part of my article, I would be writing about my Hokkaido autumn travel photography and you would be able to view for yourself, not just the vivid colours, also the sharpness and details.

During my trip to Hokkaido in October 2016, I brought the Canon EOS 5DS R with two lenses, EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM and EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM. I have uploaded my Hokkaido autumn 2016 photographs into a collection on my Flickr account, do visit and take a look at the photographs that I took in Hokkaido!

Sharpness and details

When I was traveling in Hokkaido with the Canon EOS 5DS R, I was amazed by the quality of the photographs, the sharpness and details can be seen a lot more in the photographs that I shot with.

The big image sensor size and quality of the EOS 5DS R, requires high quality lenses to be paired with it, such as the Canon L family of lenses. During my trip to Hokkaido, I had the opportunity to test out one of the latest L lens, the EF 16-35mm f/4 L USM and an older EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM lens.

Using the EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM lens, I was able to achieve consistent, sharp and detailed photographs for my landscapes and walkabout travel photography. While for the slightly older L lens, there were times whereby I was able to capture excellent, sharp and detailed photographs, there were also a number of times whereby the photographs were not sharp and detailed, especially in the longer focal length of the lens.

This is not to state that the EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM lens is not a good lens, I have been faithfully using this lens for years (and still using it), another of my workhorse lens and I love it for its lightweight, capabilities and optics.

After I came back from Hokkaido, I met with a few photographer friends and had a chat with them on my observation. Having such a big image sensor size does have its own challenges, not all the lenses can bring out the best of the quality and capabilities of the EOS 5DS R. The Canon EF L lenses have the capabilities and abilities to bring the best out of the EOS 5DS R, and in my personal humble opinion, I would recommend that the latest L lenses would be more suitable and capable to do so.

Flexibility of dual card slots – SD + CF

The dual card slots is really ideal for photographers, for example, landscape photographers can choose to shoot both in RAW and JPEG format, separately into each designated storage card.

This would allow the photographer to have both types of files to work on, depending on their workflow or requirements. Some photographers may choose to work on the JPEG files and store the RAW files aside for future usage, as and when it is required.

File size

The 50.6 megapixel EOS 5DS R produces a huge file size for JPEG and even much bigger file size for RAW files. The huge file sizes on both JPEG and RAW would take up a lot of resources on your computer as well as your storage space.

For future owners of the EOS 5DS R or the EOS 5DS, a more powerful computer would really be ideal (highly recommended) and you would also need more disk storage space (external, internal or cloud)

EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM review

Canon has an excellent line up of constant aperture wide angle zoom lens such as the EF 17-40mm f/4 L and EF 16-35 f/2.8 L lenses. I personally own the EF 17-40mm f/4 L lens and I am not just a huge fan of this lens, this was also my workhorse lens. I can’t bear to let go of the EF 17-40mm f/4 L for another Canon wide angle lens. However, if I ever going to upgrade, I would choose the EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM lens, over the f/2.8 counterparts.

I reviewed the EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens a number of times and I started to love this lens. This is an excellent lens, lightweight with image stabilisation (IS), you can also use it for recording videos. Optics is really excellent, coupled with a big image sensor such as the EOS 5DS R 50.6 megapixel CMOS sensor, you have an excellent camera and lens combination. This combination of EOS 5DS R and EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM is highly suitable for landscape photographers, event photographers and travel photographers.

Final thoughts on Canon EOS 5DS R

This would be an excellent camera for landscape photographers, who like/are comfortable with the 35mm format. Match it with Canon’s latest wide angle lenses or their latest L lenses and you have an ideal and powerful camera and lens combination. With the 50.6 megapixels sensor, photographers would be able to have high quality images with a lot more details and sharpness.

While I am still predominantly a sports/events photographer with my Canon EOS 1DX, I do have a portfolio on travel photography. Photographers do (always) face the dilemma of wanting a few camera bodies yet it takes up space and they can be a hefty investment cost. For my future travel photography assignments, whether it is commissioned or personal travel, I would look into renting the EOS 5DS R to fulfil the job.

The EOS 5DS R is not just confined to landscape/travel photographers, other photography fields can also consider them too, probably just as good for product shoot photography! Portraiture photography would be a lot more sharp and having more details, this might be very good or too sharp with too many details for your liking, depending on your job requirements!

This is a “monster” DSLR camera, it can be a very powerful camera and it is able to give medium format a run for its money (although it would not be a very fair comparison between 35mm and medium format). In order to bring out the best of the EOS 5DS R, pair it with the latest Canon L lenses such as the EF 11-24mm f/4 L USM, EF 16-35 f/2.8L III USM and EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM, EF 24-70mm f/4 L IS USM, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS II USM and EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM.

I would like to thank Canon Singapore and Ogilvy Public Relations for the Canon EOS 5DS R review opportunity.


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido 2016 Photography Adventure Day 7

27th October 2016 – Day 7 Lake Toya -> Usu -> Noboribetsu -> Shiraoi -> New Chitose Airport

Today is the last day of my Hokkaido travel photography adventure, my whole trip till date had been awesome, enjoying the autumn and winter seasons in this trip along with wet, cold and bright sunny autumn weather.

Lake Toya

Sunrise shoot (near to carpark beside The Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa)

I wasn’t able to get a nice sunset (I did manage to get a nice sunrise at Biei) during this Hokkaido trip and on Day 6 evening, Kato san suggested to get a sunrise shoot on my last day of my trip. Why not? I set the alarm clock to wake up early and go for a sunrise shoot, keeping my fingers crossed for good weather and not too cloudy sky!

Even though it was autumn, I felt really cold on the 27th October 2016 morning, my autumn wear wasn’t warm and thick enough. Luckily, Kato san loaned me an outdoor overall suit with a pair of rubber boots. That kept me warm for this morning sunrise shoot.

Kato san drove to this hill top, where a luxury hotel is located, the Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa. There was a carpark beside the hotel and it was the spot where we waited for the Hokkaido sunrise above Lake Toya. As the day started to break, we saw a thick cloud cover across Lake Toya. Initially, I was worried that there would be no sunrise with such thick cloud cover. Yet, Hokkaido again decided to bless me with a gorgeous sunset, rising above the mountain range, her rays punching through the clouds as she rose up to warm us up from a cold October autumn morning.

The next thing was to return back to our hotel, warm ourselves up in the onsen. This would be my last onsen and I wanted to enjoy it before returning back to Singapore. The onsen is the most suitable method to warm ourselves up from a cold autumn morning!

Scenic lake drive around Lake Toya

While the early morning sunrise was cloudy, the morning weather at Lake Toya was really good! I saw clear blue sky with thick fluffy white clouds. Kato san drove me around the other loop of Lake Toya. This was a very pretty scenic drive, I found a spot great for car photography shoot (driving on the road with Lake Toya and mountains in the background), we also spotted a pair of swans that swam to us on the shoreline, thinking that both Kato san and myself have some food to feed them!

Ice cream at Lake Hill Farm

When you visit Lake Toya, Hokkaido, this is one of the place that you MUST visit! I heard about this ice cream, it’s really famous, the ice cream is smooth, fresh and very delicious!! There were a lot of flavours and I couldn’t possibly try all of them, I wish I could though!

Lake Hill Farm has a very beautiful garden, with a bird’s eye view of the nearby mountain range! The green garden open space is ideal for the children to play and have fun while enjoying the ice cream!

Check out their website here – Lake Hill Farm!

Usu

Zenko-ji Temple (有珠善光寺)

Japan has many Shinto and Buddhist temples across the whole country. I always love to visit them whenever I get to visit Japan. When I visited Tokyo in 2004, I still remembered my visits to Meiji-Jingu shrine and Sensoji temple, I was in awe by their history, tradition and beauty of the holy places.

On Day 6 evening, when we on the way back from Muroran to Lake Toya, we drove past the coastal area and we spotted a Buddhist temple in the Usu area. Since it was already dark, we decided to drive there and take a look in the late morning.

Upon parking the car, we walked into the temple grounds. Nothing prepared me for this visit, I have entered into a very old Buddhist temple in Japan that is still relatively unknown to the world. This temple is listed on the local tourism body website and there are signages showing the location of the Zenko-ji Temple. However, beyond that, I am not too sure if this temple is even known to the rest of Japan and the world.

Kato san had a chat with the locals outside the Zenko-ji Temple, I couldn’t speak Japanese therefore Kato san did the translation for me, explaining the history behind this temple. We were also given permission to enter and visit the temple, along with permission to take photographs of the main prayer hall. Some temples can be strict on photography, therefore I am honoured and happy that permission was granted. They had a gorgeous Japanese garden inside the temple grounds, very rich history and heritage items inside the temple. This had been a real eye opener for me to photograph and share some of photographs of Zenko-ji Temple.

We went exploring behind the temple up onto the small hill, the walk was like entering into an enchanted forest full of mystery. The autumn foliage was in full bloom, making this temple ground even more magical with its bright autumn colours.

Through my photographs and few paragraphs of sharing, I hope this would give this Buddhist temple more publicity and awareness. If you are visiting Hokkaido, the regions of Lake Toya and Noboribetsu, do consider visiitng the Zenko-ji Temple in Usu.

Address from Google Maps: 124 Usuchō, Date-shi, Hokkaidō 059-0151, Japan

Website: http://www13.plala.or.jp/zenkouji/

Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/datekanko

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/f.akatsuka

Noboribetsu

Lake Kuttara

Leaving Usu, Kato san started driving towards Noboribetsu region, a very popular tourist destination, very famous for its onsen and they have some nice locations for autumn colours foliage too. First stop was Lake Kuttara, along the route u to the next few destinations that I am sharing in the later paragraphs.

Hiyoriyama Observation Deck日和山展望台

Driving uphill from Lake Kuttara, a short drive away, we arrived at the top of the hill, Kato san parked his car and we walked towards the Hiyoriyama Observation Deck. The smell was strong and pungent with sulphur fumes in the air, it was unbearable at times for me since I am not used to sulphur smell in the air. I was also able to spot the hot steam vents from the observation deck. I enjoyed the sceneries around it; this was indeed a good place for autumn colours foliage photography. However, I was struggling with the pungent fumes, just not used to it!

At the foot of the hill lies, Oyunuma Pond, where we headed to next after a short time spent at this observation deck.

Oyunuma Pond

At the foot of the hill, we arrived at Oyunuma Pond, it’s surrounded by forest and trees. The strong pungent sulphur smell was very distinctive and powerful, visitors would be learn more about the physical geography of Noboribetsu, that makes this region very famous for their minerals and volcanic grounds.

I reckon this area makes a good spot for autumn colours foliage photography especially when it reaches the peak season.

Jigokudani (Hell Valley)

Just round the corner from Oyunuma Pond, we arrived at a very famous tourist destination in Hokkaido. Welcome to Jigokudani, also known as Hell Valley, this is a very popular tourist destination with both local and international visitors. A short walking distance away is the town of Noboribetsu Onsen and the onsen in this region is very popular due to the proximity of the sulphur and minerals from the Hell Valley region. Kato san shared that the onsen in Noboribetsu Onsen town has different types of onsen baths for the visitors, I might try it one day in the future if I ever get the opportunity to visit Noboribetsu region again.

When I walked into the valley of hell, I wasn’t afraid of the place, Jigokudani is beautiful during the autumn foliage season! I am just not used to the strong pungent smell of sulphur fumes coming out from the grounds of Hell Valley!

Shiraoi

My Last (and very delicious) Lunch in Hokkaido

Kato san asked me what I would like for lunch before he drove me to New Chitose Airport for my evening flight home back to Singapore. I wasn’t sure of the food options and I listened attentively to his suggestion. He showed me some photos of this beefsteak at this nice little wooden hut restaurant, I saw the price and it was really reasonable for its excellent quality and standards (when I returned back to Singapore, eating a similar beef steak here would cost 3-4 times more)

Soon, we left Noboribetsu onsen town and head towards Shiraoi along the expressway. A short car ride of approximately 45 minutes, I entered into a farm, stopping in front of a nice little wooden hut restaurant. I am thankful and grateful to Kato san for helping me with the ordering and translation.

Two hot and sizzling pan soon arrived at our table, I was so excited! Once I took my first bite, I was like in food heaven! The beef tasted really delicious, soft, tender and juicy beef.

After finishing my super delicious beef steak, I was so happy with my last lunch! I reckon that they are one of the best beef producers around in Hokkaido (if not the best).

Website: http://wagyu-oukoku.com

New Chitose Airport

This was the final leg of my Hokkaido autumn travel photography adventure 2016, the road trip journey from Shiraoi to New Chitose Airport. I made the decision to go there early, have a rest and coffee with my friend, Hokkaido Photo Guide, Kato san.

Reflecting back on my Hokkaido autumn travel photography adventure 2016, I had so much fun traveling solo and with my Hokkaido Photo Guide Kato san. If you are a photographer and would love a customised travel photography plan, I highly recommend my Hokkaido Photo Guide, Kato san, drop him an email on his website or Facebook page!

Goodbye Hokkaido, I am sure I will be back again! Maybe I might lead a group of photographers next time, or maybe I might come back to continue exploring the other regions of Hokkaido that I haven’t visited yet!

Hokkaido Autumn 2016 Day 7


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016


Created with flickr slideshow.

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.

Hokkaido 2016 Photography Adventure Day 2

22nd October 2016 – Day 2

It’s the weekend in Hokkaido, my plan today was to travel inside Sapporo using their subway lines. The weather was still cold, wet and chilly with the winds blowing, the sky was overcast and it did posed some challenges when I was taking photographs in Sapporo. I boarded the morning local train from JR Otaru to Sapporo and began my Day 2 of my Hokkaido photography adventure.

In Sapporo, taking the subway is an excellent form of public transport to explore different parts of Sapporo. There is a one day unlimited rides subway pass known as Donichika ticket (520 yen is the discounted price for Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays) can be purchased from the subway station ticketing machine. I was initially worried that I might faced some challenges buying the Donichika ticket from the ticketing machine, however, it wasn’t too difficult once I found the English language segment on the ticketing machine!

The subway system in Sapporo is not too complicated as compared to Tokyo! It’s very easy to navigate and ride, with only two stations to do your transfer between Subway Tozai Line, Subway Namboku Line and Subway Toho Line at Sapporo and Odori subway stations. I took the Subway Namboku Line and my first stop on my Day 2 adventure is Nakajima Park!

Nakajima Park

Once I came out of the Nakajima Koen Subway Station, the sceneries immediately dawned upon me on why Nakajima Park is a popular tourist destination for visitors and locals in Sapporo. The autumn colours were bright and colourful in the midst of an overcast sky, highlighted by the reflections on the pond. While there were more places to explore at Nakajima Park, I strolled along the Shobu Pond, making a loop to the point where I first started.

I came to view the autumn colours and the bright autumn colours of Nakajima Park blew me away. There were many different colours canopies of different trees around the Shobu Pond. Both the locals and tourists were enjoying themselves, reading books, drawing/painting, strolling, viewing and taking photographs. Nakajima Park is so beautiful in autumn, I would love to view it during spring, summer and winter seasons too if I have the opportunity again!

While the weather was chilly and cold winds blowing, I enjoyed myself thoroughly at Nakajima Park. I made the best out of the overcast weather, spotting and taking photographs of the different types of colourful leaves, tree canopies and fallen leaves on the ground, like a golden field.

Lunch time in Sapporo

I took the subway back to Sapporo for a lunch. Lucky for me, I was able to find a shop inside one of the underground shopping mall nearby JR Sapporo that has an easy to use and order machine with English language to buy my Japanese meal! Upon choosing my meal, payment was made and I was issued a small ticket (just like the train ticket). I entered into the shop, found myself a seat, sat down and a friendly staff soon came over to take my ticket, instructed the kitchen on my food order. They were pretty fast with their cooking and in a few minutes, I had a hot and delicious pork katsudon!

Hokkaido Shrine

With a nice and delicious lunch inside me, it’s time to continue my photography adventure, next destination was Maruyama Park and Hokkaido Shrine. I took the Subway Namboku Line, from Sapporo Subway Station to Odori Subway Station, making a transfer to Subway Tozai Line to Maruyama Koen Station. Looking for the signboard to the correct exit to Maruyama Park, I started walking towards Maruyama Park.

The weather in the early afternoon changed, started raining with chilly winds blowing. My initial plan was to climb Mt Maruyama, visit Maruyama Park and Hokkaido Shrine. Observing the weather and time availability during that afternoon, I made a decision not to climb Mt Maruyama and chose to visit Hokkaido Shrine and Maruyama Park.

Trekking my way into Hokkaido Shrine, it’s like a journey into a mystery forest with an aura of peace and tranquility covered with magical powers. The tall trees that towered into the sky, the lush greenery and colourful autumn canopies.

Soon after, I found myself arriving at the grand Hokkaido Shrine. This was mesmerising, I haven’t visited a shrine/temple in Japan for quite some time (last visit was to Senso-ji Temple and Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo during 2004). Prior to entering the Hokkaido Shrine compound, I went to the Temizuya, cleanse and purify myself before entering.

At the main entrance, I was awed by the Hokkaido Shrine presence and stature. I bowed in respect and took a step inside. This was a big shrine with an open compound, surrounded by tall trees. I walked towards the main hall, offered my prayer in silence with my heart and soul speaking to the deities of Hokkaido Shrine, seeking peace and blessings for the things that happened to me in the earlier part of 2016 and to seek blessings for my future endeavours.

Before departing from Hokkaido Shrine, I went to look for an amulet, a particular amulet – Prosperity in Business. However, I wasn’t fated to find that particular amulet (probably sold out) and I searched for another amulet. There was a unique amulet that caught my eye, without much hesitation, I bought it. That amulet is “Victory” amulet. This is an omen, a blessing from Hokkaido Shrine, Victory in my future endeavours/challenges/obstacles that I will be facing.

Maruyama Park

Upon leaving Hokkaido Shrine, I trekked down and back into Maruyama Park. While the weather conditions were not getting any better and sky turning dark soon, I still managed to discover gorgeous and quiet spots in Maruyama Park, the benches inside the park underneath the canopies of the tall trees.

How I wished the weather that day wasn’t that cold, wet and chilly winds blowing that afternoon, I would love to sit on a bench, view the autumn colours above me and immerse into the colourful autumn season.

The weather wasn’t getting any better and I made my way back to Maruyama Koen Subway Station for my subway train ride back to Sapporo Subway Station, thereafter, getting on the rapid express JR train from Hokkaido back to Otaru.

Arriving back at JR Otaru station, it was raining and the winds were chilly. I decided that I would go back to my hotel and rest for the night, no more night photography exploration for Saturday 22nd October. I was looking forward to the heartwarming and hot bowl of Yonaki Soba again, the night singing noodles always cheer me up on a chilly autumn night. This was then followed by a visit to the onsen, it’s a must for me, very relaxing and soothing for me after that.

A gloomy Saturday, wet, cold and chilly day overall. Nevertheless, filled with fun, inner fulfilment and enjoyment.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido 2016 Photography Adventure Day 0

20th October 2016 – Day 0

My Hokkaido 2016 photography adventure began in the early morning of Thursday 20th October. I was taking Scoot TZ 216 to Sapporo (Hokkaido) New Chitose via Taipei, departure at 0615hrs. Scoot currently fly to Sapporo (Hokkaido) three times a week with their Dreamliner 787. This is an travel route worth considering for those who wish to fly to Hokkaido on a budget.

The Scoot flight schedule was as follows

TZ 216

0615hrs – 1045hrs Taipei (Taoyuan International Airport)

1155hrs – 1700hrs Sapporo, Hokkaido (New Chitose Airport)

During my flight from Singapore to Taipei, the flight encountered some gusty cross winds and a bit of heavy air traffic at Taoyuan, causing the plane to be slightly delayed in their arrival timing. The transit procedure wasn’t too difficult, just like any other transit procedure at international airports. After another round of hand carry baggage security check, I was back at the departure gate to board my next leg of flight from Taipei to Sapporo.

Overall, the flight from Singapore to Sapporo via Taipei was pretty smooth with the usual turbulence along the flight route. I did manage to capture the sunset at Hokkaido from my seat prior to the plane landing at New Chitose Airport.

Upon landing at New Chitose Airport, night time has arrived in Hokkaido. After clearing immigration, my friend, Kato san, who is also my Hokkaido Photo Guide for Days 4 to 7, picked me from the airport and gave me a lift to Otaru where I based myself for the next 4 nights

While driving along the highway from New Chitose Airport to Otaru, snow rain fell on the highway, winter season kind of arrived early for Hokkaido and my friend Kato san said, “The snow welcomes you back to Hokkaido!” This is really awesome but I am not prepared for early Hokkaido winter! The snow rain was pretty heavy at some stage and Kato san had to drive more slowly and carefully!

Upon reaching Otaru, we went for dinner together and I chose ramen for a cold chilly autumn night. My first Hokkaido meal, was simply amazing, authentic ramen in Japan! I had a good chat and catch up with Kato san, he also passed me some brochures and tourism information for the areas that I wanted to explore on my own during my first 3 days in Hokkaido.

My hotel was Dormy Inn Premium Otaru, right in front of JR Otaru station, very ideal location, they have onsen too! After checking in and settling down, I immediately head towards the onsen! I missed the onsen experience in Hokkaido, it was really amazing, soothing and relaxing, allowing me to have a good sleep on my first night in Hokkaido!

Hokkaido Autumn 2016 Day 0


Created with flickr slideshow.



Hokkaido Autumn 2016


Created with flickr slideshow.