Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Adventure Singapore: Tampines Bike Trail

I thought I’d try to write something to introduce some of the adventure playgrounds in Singapore. In case you are not familiar with Singapore, it is a tiny island nation, which is home to 4.5 million people. It is crowded, and one of our challenges is how to share land use.

The Tampines Mountain Biking Trail is a newly created Mountain Biking Park is located in the heart of Tampines, just 1km from Tampines Mall. The entrance to the park and parking lot are located along Tampines Avenue 9 at the junction of Tampines Avenue 7. The basic trail is only 5.5km long although parts of this trail are currently under repair from the last rainy season.

Typical of other man-made bike parks, the trails are designed to maximize the use of space within the confines of the park. There is also a free ride area, built by volunteers, but otherwise, the trails offer relatively risk-free riding, and are ideal for a quick ride before or after work.

The park is still being developed, and only 30% of the trails are complete. We can look forward to more trails being progressively opened up over the next 2 years. Best of all, entry and parking are FREE!

Photos:
Top: The Tamipines Mountain Biking Trail:
Middle: Fixing a Broken Chain;
Bottom: Crossing a Primitive Bridge;
All photos taken with a Pentax Optio 43WR

Edited the title on 27Oct07

Monday, July 16, 2007

I Love Moscow

I was in Moscow recently for work, and first of all, I have to say that I was really impressed by the city. I love the new and old buildings, the funky subway stations and the eclectic mix of people. Quite frankly, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and as a result, was hesitant about bring my camera out. I needn’t have worried. I felt safer on the streets of Moscow than on the streets of San Francisco, and definitely safer on the Moscow metro than on the subway in Milan (probably due to the ever present military and police like the guys in the top photo).

I also brought my Nikon D200 up to have some fun and I learned 2 things: 1) Always have your camera with you and; 2) The shoulder bag doesn’t work for carrying heavy gear around all day.

I missed shots like this bottom photo because I didn’t have my D200 with me. I didn’t want to have my shoulder bag because I felt it was too easy a target for a grab and run theft. Other than worrying about having the bag ripped off, carrying the bag over one shoulder all day is a bit of a pain.

I had been thinking of getting camera backpack for a while but resisting because access to the gear is slower. This trip showed me not only would a backpack be useful in the outdoors, it would also solve 2 of my problems in cities: 1) It is not easily identifiable as a camera bag and not easy to grab since it is pretty much wrapped around you; and 2) My D200, 2 lenses and a flash are quite heavy and a backpack is much more comfortable to carry around all day. Better to have slow access to your camera than not have your camera with you at all. I ordered a Dakine Sequence photo backpack and should be getting it later this week.

Photos:
Top: Russian Soldiers Outside The Kremlin. Taken with a Nikon D200, 12-24mm
Middle: Train Whizzes By Stain Glass of Novoslobodskaya station. Taken with a Canon IXUS 850 IS
Bottom: Paris Hilton Sighted Outside St. Basil's Cathedral. Taken with a Canon IXUS 850 IS by Laura Koh.

Friday, July 13, 2007

RAW Rules!


It’s been about 3 months since I started shooting RAW, 6 weeks since I started using Abobe Lightroom. I’m now convinced that RAW is the way to go. Lightroom 1.1 has been instrumental in my conversion to RAW. It is a simple, powerful application that allows me to do almost everything I want – crop and straighten, adjust saturation, tones, curves, highlight and shadow recovery, noise reduction and sharpening. Best of all, it doesn’t harm the original RAW files, meaning it is non-destructive. It reminds me a lot of Apple’s brilliantly simple iPhoto, only it can do more, do it faster, and uses less memory. If you are not shooting RAW because it is too complicated, you should give Lightroom a try.

Top Photo: Don't You Just Love Golden Retreivers?
Taken with a Nikon D200, Sigma 50-150mm, shot in RAW and processed solely with Adobe Lightroom 1.1