Tag Archives: Huawei P9

Huawei launched 1st Annual NEXT-IMAGE Awards

Smartphone/mobile phone photographers alert! I would like to bring your attention to the first annual NEXT-IMAGE Awards organised by Huawei in partnership with International Center of Photography (ICP). With the launch of the Huawei P9 back in April 2016, Huawei took the smartphone photography market by storm with its Leica dual-lens camera on its Huawei P9, I had the opportunity to review it and I decided to own the Huawei P9 after reviewing it. A few months back, I had the opportunity to review the Huawei P10 Plus and I had a even better experience with the new Huawei P10 Plus! I am really looking to upgrading from Huawei P9 to Huawei P10 Plus if the opportunity arises!

Smartphone technology and devices penetration are growing bigger and faster, that applies to the mobile camera technology too, that is now more advanced, with Huawei leading the way in their Leica powered dual-lens camera smartphones. The expansion and growth of smartphone photography is huge and still growing. With this NEXT-IMAGE Awards, Huawei is stepping up to engage this group of smartphone photography users, with many activities, competitions, exhibitions and collections, as well as photographing and sharing of visual content.

I run a small photography business, I am an avid smartphone photographer, they complement each other perfectly. My smartphone photography with my Instagram account is care free without putting any and/or too many restrictions on how I want to do my photography with my smartphone. It’s not hipster, it’s not curated deliberately to showcase, it’s about me as a carefree photographer.

Personally, I am excited and looking forward to see how Huawei NEXT-IMAGE movement is going to impact, engage and maybe revolutionise smartphone photography. For a start, let’s all take a look at the NEXT-IMAGE Awards!

Let me share with you more information and details of the Huawei first annual NEXT-IMAGE Awards, in partnership with the International Center of Photography (ICP)-

Press Release 9th September 2017

Huawei launched the first annual NEXT-IMAGE Awards today with the International Center of Photography (ICP). The Vice President of Huawei Smartphones, Li Changzhu, and the Executive Director of ICP, Mark Lubell, signed an MoU at the launch ceremony, officially kicking off the NEXT-IMAGE Plan in locations around the world.

“Huawei’s innovation in domains like AI, VR/AR, holographic imaging, and optics are given new forms of physical expression in our smartphones,” Li said at the signing ceremony. “These technologies also give rise to endless new possibilities in visualexpression, making the creative process more enjoyable than ever before.”

Back in April 2016, Huawei released the P9 series with its ground-breaking Leica dual-lens camera. The company later released the Mate 9 series in November of 2016, and the P10 series in February the following year. In September 2017, Huawei announced the release of the Kirin 970, the world’s first smartphone chipset with a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) that supports on-device AI processing. Moving forward, Huawei will redefine visual culture together with hundreds of millions of smartphone users around the world, while continuing to build on its foundation of next-generation visual imaging and optical technology.

As smartphone penetration grows and mobile camera technology becomes more advanced, more people are using their phones to create compelling visual content – content that is far more expansive and diverse than ever before. In effect, smartphone photography is no longer just a form of entertainment, but a new and impactful phenomenon in visual culture. The NEXT-IMAGE Plan is the culmination of Huawei’s efforts to redefine visual expression and culture with more professional and intuitive smartphone cameras. With the right technology and a unique style, Huawei wants to explore the next-generation of visual expression together with smartphone users around the globe.

Together with ICP, Huawei will hold a series of cross-media activities, including competitions, exhibitions and collections, and educational opportunities designed to enrich visual expression based on three core elements: technology, style, and culture. Through NEXT-IMAGE, all Huawei smartphone users will rediscover the joy of creating and sharing visual content.

The annual NEXT-IMAGE Awards are an important component of the overarching NEXT-IMAGE Plan. Starting in 2017, the awards will provide smartphone users from around the world with a gallery where they can showcase their best work.

“The International Center of Photography is the world’s leading institution dedicated to photography and visual culture. I am thrilled that the NEXT-IMAGE awards and future projects with Huawei will scale up ICP’s reach and impact, and allow both ICP and Huawei to find new ways to activate smartphone technology to increase visual literacy globally and across generations. The synergy between ICP and Huawei will inspire and increase our connections to each other through presenting new ways of learning and innovative ways for creating and sharing visual content,” says ICP Executive Director Mark Lubell.

The “NEXT” in NEXT-IMAGE refers to the next generation of photographers using thenext generation of tools to create and spread the next generation of visual content – all with new forms of interaction and feedback. The “IMAGE” part of the name refers to both static images and new forms of dynamic visual expression. The 2017 Awards are broken down into seven different categories:

  • @All
  • Me, Myself & I
  • Hello, Life!
  • Check-In
  • Citizen Witness
  • 3×3
  • Timeline

The Plan will also include an act of collective creation initiated by ICP to be activated during the awards and for the months immediately following aimed to encourage and sustain participation from imagemakers who are utilizing smartphone technology. All in all, the competition takes a fresh approach to traditional contest elements like category design, submission, and judging. Visual creatives from around the world will compete to become NEXT-IMAGE finalists, ultimately contending for best-in-category awards and the grand prize – a cash award for the NEXT-IMAGE creative champion.

Call for entries officially began on September 9, 2017, and winners will be announced on December 19. For more details, please refer to the official award website:http://gallery.consumer.huawei.com

The ceremony was also attended by Erin Barnett, the Director of Exhibitions and Collections at ICP; Christopher Phillips, Curator of the Walther Collection; Jane Cui, President of Leica Asia; and Liu Heung Shing, the Pulitzer prize-winning founder of the Shanghai Center of Photography (SCoP).

* Information and picture courtesy of Huawei and Allison+Partners *

Huawei P10 Plus Dual Lens Camera Review

The Huawei P10 Plus was recently launched in April 2017 for the Singapore market. I was excited to read about the launch of the new Huawei P10 and P10 Plus since I am an existing Huawei P9 user, having done a review last year, I was very impressed with the mobile phone photography quality produced by the Huawei P9 during my review that I went on to get a Huawei P9 smartphone for my own usage.

During the Huawei P10 Plus review period, I had some priceless moments and a great time testing this dual lens smartphone. My 5,000th instagram shot was a double rainbow over the skyline of Marina Bay Sands at Marina Bay Singapore using the Huawei P10 Plus! The other was producing an impromptu video for my friend’s new food outlet – Keith Crackling Roast, shot in 4K video with the Huawei P10 Plus. He’s a Huawei Mate 9 user, thanks to my persuasion and conversion after letting him try out my Huawei P9 smartphone!

The Huawei P10 Plus dual lens camera setup is an improvement from the highly successful Huawei P9 series that set the stage for the dual lens camera smartphone in the Huawei smartphone family. In the later paragraphs, readers can view the number of different functions and capabilities packed inside the Huawei P10 Plus dual lens camera smartphone. On the Huawei P10 Plus, you can find the Leica Summilux-H 1:1.8/27 ASPH lenses driving it, resulting in one of the best dual lens camera smartphone in the market (in my personal humble opinion).

Dual lens camera technical specifications

Main Camera

  • 20 MP Monochrome + 12 MP RGB, F1.8
  • OIS (Optical Image Stablization)
  • Dual-tone Flash
  • PDAF + CAF + Laser + Depth Auto Focus
  • 2x Hybrid Zoom
  • 4K Video Recording

Front Camera

  • 8 MP AF, F1.9

Modes

  • Photo
  • Monochrome
  • Video
  • HDR
  • Panorama
  • Night Shot
  • Light Painting
  • Time-lapse
  • Slow-mo
  • Watermark
  • Audio Note
  • Document scan
  • Good food

Photo Mode

  • Wide aperture
  • Portrait mode with artistic bokeh and beauty level
  • Colours: Standard, Vivid and Smooth
  • Touch & hold shutter icon – burst shot
  • Capture smiles: take photos automatically when smiles are detected
  • Assistive Grid: Fibonacci spiral (left), Fibonacci Spiral (right), Phi grid, Grid, off
  • Resolution: 20M 5120×3840 (4:3), 12M 3968×2976 (4:3), 9M 3968×2240 (16:9), 9M 2976×2976 (1:1), 8M 3264×2448 (4:3), 6M 3264×1840 (16:9)

Photo Mode (Pro)

  • RAW + JPEG
  • No burst shot
  • No capture smiles
  • Can adjust ISO, Shutter, EV, AF, WB, Metering
  • Assistive Grid: Fibonacci spiral (left), Fibonacci Spiral (right), Phi grid, Grid, off
  • Horizontal Level
  • Resolution: 20M 5120×3840 (4:3), 12M 3968×2976 (4:3), 9M 3968×2240 (16:9), 9M 2976×2976 (1:1), 8M 3264×2448 (4:3), 6M 3264×1840 (16:9)

Monochrome Mode

  • Wide aperture
  • Portrait mode with artistic bokeh and beauty level
  • Colours: Standard, Vivid and Smooth
  • Touch & hold shutter icon – burst shot
  • Capture smiles: take photos automatically when smiles are detected
  • Assistive Grid: Fibonacci spiral (left), Fibonacci Spiral (right), Phi grid, Grid, off
  • Resolution: 20M 5120×3840 (4:3), 12M 3968×2976 (4:3), 9M 3968×2240 (16:9), 9M 2976×2976 (1:1), 8M 3264×2448 (4:3), 6M 3264×1840 (16:9)

Monochrome Mode (Pro)

  • No burst shot
  • No capture smiles
  • Can adjust ISO, Shutter, EV, AF, WB, Metering
  • Assistive Grid: Fibonacci spiral (left), Fibonacci Spiral (right), Phi grid, Grid, off
  • Horizontal Level
  • Resolution: 20M 5120×3840 (4:3), 12M 3968×2976 (4:3), 9M 3968×2240 (16:9), 9M 2976×2976 (1:1), 8M 3264×2448 (4:3), 6M 3264×1840 (16:9)

Video Mode

  • Wide aperture mode
  • Beauty mode
  • Resolution: UHD 4K (16:9 stereo), FHD 1080p (16:9 stereo at 60fps), FHD 1080p (16:9 stereo), HD 720p (16:9 stereo), VGA 640×480 (4:3), QVGA 320×240 (4:3) and MMS (176×144)

Video Mode (Pro)

  • Can adjust EV, AF, WB, Metering
  • Wide aperture mode
  • Beauty mode
  • Resolution: UHD 4K (16:9 stereo), FHD 1080p (16:9 stereo at 60fps), FHD 1080p (16:9 stereo), HD 720p (16:9 stereo), VGA 640×480 (4:3), QVGA 320×240 (4:3) and MMS (176×144)

Light Painting Mode

  • Tail Light Trails
  • Light Graffiti
  • Silky Water
  • Star Track

Night Shot Mode:

  • ISO: Auto or manual from ISO100 – 1600
  • Shutter: Auto or manual from (1/4s – 32s)

Time Lapse Mode

  • HD 720p

Slow-mo Mode

  • FHD 1080p (16:9 stereo 120fps) and FHD 720p (16:9 stereo 120fps)

Huawei P10 Plus versus Samsung Galaxy S8+

In my earlier introductory article when I started with the Huawei P10 Plus review journey, I also have the Samsung Galaxy S8+ together with the Huawei P10 Plus to observe and compare the differences between them.

Pro mode comparisons

Panorama comparisons

Samsung Galaxy S8+
Huawei P10 Plus

4K video comparisons on YouTube

During my review period using the Huawei P10 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S8+, I observed and compared both smartphones on their strengths and weakeness through the photographs and camera user interface.

Some key observations between them are

  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ can do 360 panorama while Huawei P10 Plus is unable to do it, some users like 360 panorama, some users don’t.
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ handles the shadows better than the Huawei P10 Plus (for photographs shot straight out from their respective cameras)
  • Huawei P10 Plus photos are more authentic and accurate than the Samsung Galaxy S8+
  • Huawei P10 Plus camera app user interface has more functions and capabilities (it might seem more complex for some users however, photographers would like it) than the Samsung Galaxy S8+ camera app
  • Both smartphones are able to produce 4K videos, I produced 2 simple test shot videos shot by the Huawei P10 Plus and Samsung S8+. First and foremost, I have to declare that I am not an expert nor trained in videography and I am still learning the basics of videography. From my two simple sample shot videos, my humble and personal view is that they are quite close to each other in terms of 4K performance and output.

In my earlier introductory article titled “Journey with me along with the Huawei P10 Plus”, I shared my thoughts and views on Huawei P10 Plus versus Samsung S8+. At the end of my review stint, writing this review, my thoughts and views on them were further reinforced through my observations and comparisons between them.

My views are that while Huawei P10 Plus and Samsung S8+ are both very good smartphones in the market. From my review, observations and analysis, the Huawei P10 Plus has stronger camera capabilities and functions over the Samsung S8+, moreover, the authencity and accuracy of the Huawei P10 Plus suits me perfectly, the photographer that I am.

What are some of the key aspects/capabilities/observations from the Huawei P10 Plus dual lens smartphone that stands out for me?

1) Low light photography with Summilux-H 1:1.8/27 ASPH : With a f/1.8 lens, this allows a lot more light to enter thus making it easier for low light/night photography with the Huawei P10 Plus.

2) Sharp and detailed photographs produced with the Summilux-H 1:1.8/27 ASPH: Since I am currently using the Huawei P9, therefore I know first hand on the sharpness and details of the photos produced by the Huawei P series. The Huawei P10 Plus is able to produce sharper and more detailed photos.

3) Monochrome photography: One of the key aspects of the Huawei P10 Plus camera, when I first experienced it with the Huawei P9, I was already blown away by their monochrome photography capabilities.

On the genre of monochrome photography, photographers have different “tastes, preferences, expectations and appreciation” on the blacks, shadows, highlights, contrasts of monochrome photography. Therefore, let me invite you to view my dedicated photo album on monochrome photography shot with the Huawei P10 Plus.

Personally, the Huawei P10 Plus is the perfect smartphone camera for monochrome street photography.

4) High ISO performance: From my observations, the Huawei P10 Plus is able to handle high ISO better than other smartphones available in the market.

5) 4K video: Huawei uses the newer H.265 codec, it creates some challenges for computers/websites that are using the slightly older H.264 codec. In time to come, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue when the market adopts the H.265 codec altogther.

Final thoughts, views and opinions on the Huawei P10 Plus

After finishing reviewing the Huawei P10 Plus and returning it back to the public relations agency. I felt something was missing after returning back to my Huawei P9, it’s still an excellent smartphone and still in good working condition. The quality and improvements of the Huawei P10 Plus are excellent and in my personal opinion, a great upgrade and improvements over the Huawei P9, makes me miss the Huawei P10 Plus and I would love to upgrade from the Huawei P9 to the Huawei P10 Plus if any opportunity arises.

Equipped with 4K video capabilities, the Huawei P10 Plus is now not only a photographer’s smartphone, this feature has helped me explore my amateur videography, applying it for my vlogging, live updates, producing small 4K videos for photography, travel, live events reportage and social media coverage. Do check out some of my videos shot with the Huawei P10 Plus during the review period, on my YouTube channel.

In my personal humble opinion, the Huawei P10 Plus is the smartphone that I highly and strongly recommend to photographers and photography enthusiasts. It is packed with an excellent dual lens setup with the Summilux-H 1:1.8/27 ASPH lens, functions and user interface is what a photographer like me wants, the controls. The quality and output displayed in the photographs, showing it on the laptop or desktop computer, the quality, details and sharpness are superb. Do visit my Flickr collections to view the photographs shot with the Huawei P10 Plus!

Personally, the Huawei P10 Plus is the perfect photographer’s smartphone for the photographer.

I would like to thank Huawei Singapore and Hill+Knowlton Strategies Singapore for the opportunity to review the Huawei P10 Plus.

 


Created with flickr slideshow.

 


Created with flickr slideshow.

Journey with me along with the Huawei P10 Plus

The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus were recently announced a few months back in March/April 2017. This was the smartphone that I was secretly looking forward to, after I saw the Huawei Mate 9 (with the new OS, cameras and build quality) that was launched before the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus announcement. One of the reasons why I was so secretly excited was because I am a Huawei P9 owner, owning it after I had the opportunity to review this smartphone packed with solid and amazing dual lens camera.

I was very impressed with the quality, colours and details of the Huawei P9 dual lens camera smartphone. After finishing my Huawei P9 review, I wrote two review articles (a tech enthusiast review and the other article is on the Huawei P9 dual lens camera review), along with two photographs collection on my Flickr (One album for monochrome photos shot with the Huawei P9 only and the album for all photos with the Huawei P9).

A few days back, I finally got a golden and wonderful opportunity to get hold of the Huawei P10 Plus and review it! Upon unboxing and switching it on, there was a very familiar feel to it, partly because I am used to the Huawei smartphone OS and its dual lens camera. At the back of my mind, I am able to quickly identify the key differences and improvements between my Huawei P9 and Huawei P10 Plus. The Leica Summilux-H 1:1.8/27 ASPH dual lens on the Huawei P10 Plus, makes it standout from the rest of the smartphone competitors, the sharpness, clarity and colours.

I also managed to get hold of another smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S8+, for my own comparison with the Huawei P10 Plus, I might add in other smartphones inside too for comparison in my review article. While testing out the capabilities of the Huawei P10 Plus along with the Samsung Galaxy S8+, I had some initial and immediate views on them. I have also noted that the P10 Plus has dual lens versus Galaxy S8+ has single lens and I would be mindful of this point in my review article.

Take a look at some of the photos shot with Huawei P10 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S8+:

Both smartphones process their photographs differently, personally for me, I prefer the Huawei P10 Plus because of its colours, authenticity and accuracy to the the scenes/subjects that I shot. The photos shot with the Huawei P10 Plus are closer to my DSLR photography and I can closely relate to the set of photos taken.

Take a look at the photos shot in the night, in very dim lighting conditions:

With particular reference to the photos shot in the night, comparing the photos side by side, the Galaxy S8+ photo looks very nice, bright and colourful, while the P10 Plus doesn’t look as “nice”. Both photos are straight off from the smartphone cameras with no further editing anywhere else. The truth is that the Huawei P10 Plus camera processing and output is authentic and original, as close to the actual scene, as a photographer would say “WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get”. For the Galaxy S8+, the processing is a a little bit “strong” and “powerful” for my liking and how I conduct my photography.

There will be users in the market that prefers the output from the Galaxy S8+, there will also be users who prefer the authenticity and accuracy of the Huawei P10 Plus.

Personally, I prefer the the authenticity and accuracy of the Huawei P10 Plus, not just because I own a Huawei P9, it’s also how I approach my photography on a leisure and commercial basis. I am not a supporter of heavy editing in photography that goes against the truth and authenticity of the scenes and surroundings. I only do the necessary light touch editing (and sometimes suitable film filters) to my photographs that I shoot. That is also probably why I am not a hipster and fanciful Instagrammer.

Although I am reviewing the Huawei P10 Plus (and, yes, I own a Huawei P9) and doing my own comparisons with other smartphones, this does not mean that they are lousy smartphones, it’s just that based on my style, photography workflow and preferences, the Huawei P10 Plus is more suitable (and I really like it) for me.

In the coming weeks, I am going to share and upload my photographs on Instagram and Facebook Page shot with the Huawei P10 Plus, do keep a look out for my stories, photos, exploration and journeys with the Huawei P10 Plus.

Monochrome architecture photos shot with the Huawei P10 Plus, are something that I am looking forward to. I am also some planning some special themes to go along with this Huawei P10 Plus review – P10 Plus monochrome portraits, daily commute on public transport, abstract monochrome compositions. This is a prelude to my review articles and photographs that I would be sharing at the end of the Huawei P10 Plus review.

mon

For the next few weeks, walk with me, through my eyes, thoughts, views and journeys with the Huawei P10 Plus.

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

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.

Travelers Notebook for the Travel Wanderlust

A travel wanderlust I am, even though I haven’t travel to as many countries around the world as I would love to. Technology, information technology gadgets, internet and social media has helped travelers in many ways to research, plan, connect and communicate with travelers and destinations. There are times whereby a traveler sometimes just want to be less connected to technology and social media, we travelers just want to immerse and enjoy the joys and wonders of traveling.

A few months back, through a Facebook post by my senior from Dragon Scout Group family, he showed a photo of this nice looking leather notebook with all their beautifully designed travel writing accessories at Narita Airport. I was amazed by all of them and started researching on them. That was the time when I got to know about Travelers Factory from Japan.

When I visited Hokkaido in October 2016, I was planning to buy the Travelers Notebook in Sapporo. However, I didn’t master the Japanese language and I wasn’t able to navigate my way around Tokyu Hands Sapporo to find it. Moreover, I was in a bit of rush during my Hokkaido travel trip, thus I didn’t manage to buy it when I was in Japan.

I came back home to Singapore and went around searching for the Travelers Notebook at various bookstores and stationery shops on Travelers Factory list. Finally, I got hold of my Travelers Notebook from Tokyu Hands Singapore! I was impressed with Tokyu Hands Singapore customer service, they took a few more days than usual to reply my enquiry email (I was asking them if they have the Travelers Factory stamps that I really like), they went all the way out to check with the supplier in Japan before replying to my email that they were not able to bring it in here to Singapore. Nevertheless, I am appreciative and thankful for what they did.

The Travelers Notebook is of good quality leather cover, workmanship and good quality paper. I really love it and this is like an encouragement to me, to fulfil my travel wanderlust. This Travelers Notebook is still raw and waiting for her maiden entry. Somehow or another, the omens were strong that I have to visit Japan again. I placed my amulets (from Tokyo and Sapporo) inside the notebook to see if they would make a good bookmark when I travel, there was a little box there and they fit it very nicely! Recently, I went to the library and found a book on Japan Railways travel photographs and locations whereby travelers can go to and photograph those gorgeous Japan Railway scenic locations with the JR trains running!

Now, is it time to plan for my next Japan trip in 2017? I think it just might be!

The Travelers Notebook is truly indeed a notebook for the Travel Wanderlust.

End of N.E.mation! 11 Top 10 Production Phase

The N.E.mation! 11 Top 10 production phase that took place over a period of three weeks was recently concluded on 9th December 2016. I was with them over a period of two weeks since I wasn’t able to visit the Top 10 production phase during the first week due to urgent family matters when I visited them on the 29th November, 2nd December and 6th December.

On my first visit to the N.E.mation! 11 Top 10 production phase, I was introduced to the five teams there were under my care. The 5 teams were

On my first visit to the Top 10 production phase on 29th November, it was an ice breaker for me since this was my first visit to my five teams under my care. I had a chat with each team to know more about them, the theme and what would their animation clip was all about. I introduced each team in an individual article post, giving my readers a sneak peak of the animation clip that they were going to produce.

In my next two visits on 2nd December and 6th December, I continued to have a chat with them on their progress and how they have been doing. During those two days, it was a delicate balance chatting with them, learning about their progress, encouraging them as well as not imposing too much time on them or interference on their production phase. I observed the five teams under me were very hardworking, putting in lots of effort and time, in getting their animation clip completed.

On 6th December 2016, the Top 10 teams played host to different groups of visitors from partners, vendors, teachers and their families. I followed and tagged along when the guests visited each of the five teams that I am covering for, listening to the girls presenting and sharing their theme, production and a peak into their digital animation progress. These group of young secondary school students showed maturity and confidence when presenting to the adult visitors. Being the ambassador for the five teams, I am really happy and proud of what they have completed during the production phase time frame, the maturity, confidence, public speaking and presentation were highly commendable for these group of young secondary school students.

On my last visit to the Top 10 production phase on 6th December 2016, I was able to catch a glimpse of their digital animation clips from the five teams, they had pretty much wrapped up three weeks of intense digital animation production hard work, getting ready for post production to combine all their individual hard work together into their final digital animation video clip that would be announced and showcase in early January 2017.

I would like to congratulate all Top 10 teams on a job well done! Good luck and all the best in the next phase of the N.E.mation! 11 competition!

There was a wrap up party for the Top 10 teams to celebrate after an intense and hardworking three weeks of digital animation production. I joined them for a short time over dinner and watched their first few fun games from the sidelines. They deserved their fun and enjoyment after putting in so much effort and time during these three weeks of digital animation production work.

This is not the end of N.E.mation! 11 season, the Top 10 teams videos are now in the post production phase. Once the videos are ready for viewing, I would be sharing more news and information on their digital animation works, stay tuned and keep a lookout for my updates! That would also be a downtown picnic event whereby the Top 10 teams would be showcasing their videos, introducing themselves and rallying for the public support in January 2017! Do keep a lookout for my update, more information coming soon!

Party Up With UE at Bugis Junction – 10th December 2016

Do you love to organise outings, gatherings, events and parties at your home or outdoors? Would you like to have portable speakers that give you a pretty good surround sound system and playing the music together at the same time (more than two, even more than 50 speakers together)? Imagine having a number of UE portable bluetooth speakers (where no other big music speakers can go) inside your home or outside, providing surrounding music for your parties and gatherings!

The Ultimate Ears waterproof (IPX7) and bluetooth speakers such as the UE BOOM, UE BOOM 2 and UE MEGABOOM speakers allow you to wirelessly connect them together with the use of their new app PartyUp. I have reviewed the UE speakers before and do check out my reviews on the UE MEGABOOM and UE BOOM that I wrote and shared previously!

Last weekend, I went down to Bugis Junction to catch the UE Party Up and I had a first hand view of many UE portable bluetooth players in action, playing music and accompanying the athletes exercising along with the music.

Party Up with UE would head into their final weekend at ION Orchard on Friday 16th December and Saturday 17th December. If you like to see, hear and feel how the UE portable bluetooth speakers combine and connect together to Party Up, head on down this coming weekend! If you are keen to own any of the UE portable bluetooth music players, they have some attractive promotions that are only available there during the Party Up with UE event! More information is available on their Ultimate Ears Facebook Page and Logitech Singapore Facebook Page!

Party Up With UE @ ION Orchard

Dates and Time

  • Friday 16th December 2016 from 3:30pm to 5:30pm
  • Saturday 17th December 2016 from 12:30pm to 2:30pm

Come on down this weekend and have a fun party time with Party Up With UE!

Counting down to the end of Rochor Centre

The time is finally catching up with the iconic Rochor Centre in Singapore. You can’t miss the 4 colours red, blue, green and yellow HDB blocks in the area, the colourful blocks stood out for years and they are easily identifiable. I started photographing Rochor Centre a few years ago, using her void deck as one of the examples for an article that I wrote “Void Deck – Our Cultural Communal Space” in 2012.

As the countdown timer started ticking in 2011 when the news to aquire the land was announced with 2016 being the year whereby they would have to move out and relocate to another HDB estate. In 2016, the residents of Rochor Centre slowly started to move away into their new home, the retail and commercial units below the Rochor Centre HDB blocks also started to find alternative locations for their businesses.

IMG_1767

I returned to Rochor Centre a few times for another article on Canon EOS World Singapore whereby I shared on photographing and documenting old places in Singapore that face “extinction”. In the Canon EOS World Singapore article titled “Exploring Singapore Heritage“, I covered Rochor Centre and Dakota Crescent areas. For the Dakota Crescent area, I would be writing another article on them soon.

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During early July, I went to photograph Rochor Centre with my Canon EOS M10 review unit for a site recce on photographing Rochor Centre from the outside areas before going down with my Canon EOS 1DX for my Canon EOS World Singapore article.

A few days ago on 12th November 2016, I had a quick walk around Rochor Centre, most of the residents, retail and commercial units had relocated to somewhere else. The rubbish and junk were piling up, there were a few different group of people exploring and taking photographs of Rochor Centre.

The NTUC Fairprice outlet at Rochor Centre put up a notice informing their customers that their last day of operation in that location will be 1st December 2016. This is an indicator on when would be the last days of Rochor Centre whereby everybody living/working there will move away, out from Rochor Centre. Once the curtain comes down, Rochor Centre will be boarded up before demolition begins, when exactly, I do not know yet at this time.

I would just continue to add more photographs to my Flickr collection on Rochor Centre, they will be memories for us very soon.

Counting down to the end of Rochor Centre, the end of an era.


Created with flickr slideshow.