Monthly Archives: December 2010

Black-and-white Street

Welcome, dear sir, to some street photography!

You know, because the streets of Malaysia can get verrry interesting.

I go through cycles of wide to tele casual shooting. This was with the Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8, not exactly a lens you want to be bringing around this part of town.

And now, for a cycle of black-and-white!

In other areas though, the Sony Alpha NEX-5 and Sony E 16mm F2.8 pancake are discreet enough for close range.

This was shot with the camera held down at the hand, with probably ISO6400 in burst mode.

Another one of those.

Up close in tight spaces.

Up close with cute faces.

Terribly cliche street shot, I know.

George always emphasized on picking the right picture.

Let’s see who remembers where this was!

All these pictures are from my archives – I tend to copy pictures into folders based on category, hence why similiar pictures get posted at the same time.

Ticket to ride.

Train of thought.

Sign of times.

Perhaps I’ll hop on the LRT again and redo this shot, focused on the rail instead, to emphasize the railing and how it’s like a train track.

Another cliche street shot.

Just you and me.

Just… he.

The only thing that is really killing my flow is that I have to bring an umbrella.

The thing that was killing my blogging flow? Weekend weddings and the drudgery of waking up at 5am and reaching the client’s place at 7am.

I appreciated your patience!

A New Long Post

Sorry for the sporadic posts, I’ve been busy, and pretty exhausted.

However, I did grow a year older, and I am at least tall enough to reach a bear’s armpits!

A problem with wanting to blog textually, is that I really have so much to say that I don’t know where to start, and what to leave out, because it is really a big long story!

Anyway, 2010 has been a very interesting year for me – I changed my employer, finally, after 4 years of interning (during college) and 5.5 years of full-time employment. In the interest of self-preservation and continued employment, I will leave certain details out, which can be gotten in person.

Outsourcing is a very interesting phenomenon. In short, my job was made obsolete, and the team I was in was to sit at the vendor’s office and learn the system. Then we were called back, and I quit and joined the vendor instead.

Oh well, 5 years in the same position doesn’t give significant increments, but I absolutely loved the ex-company and its perks (then). Now when I say ex-company – I mean that I had been paid by the same company, never needing to go for another interview, but the stuff I worked on was always changing.

Also I had this fear that I had become unable to learn anything new – ASP.NET was just too much of a pain in the OS to install (Microsoft, please un-f— your Windows Installer system – it’s still broke on my home Windows 7 installation). Hence, I was doing classic ASP 3.0 for pretty much my run of service! We tried to get our foot in ASP.NET, going for courses held by lousy instructors who just tell you to go to Page 3 of Chapter 4 and do the exercise while the instructor sits there and asks if we have any problems retyping the code from the book into the machine.

But then I was thrown into deep water at the vendor’s office, learning XSL (which I quite fancy, since XPath is full of win) and then I soon found myself teaching other colleagues, who were thrown into the water at the same time I was.

I was smart again!

I could learn again!

Several other incidents led me to decide to leave the company, but I was surprised that I made the decision in 2 days!

The domain was registered on the 18th of August 2000, and the team was formed and I started interning on the 18th of December 2000.

Exactly 10 years later, the domain expired.

That was the same day I had the initial sentiment to move on, although I didn’t know the domain expired until a few days later. What a intergalactic coincidence!

And so, I make my first sweepingly public statement – I am no longer just a classic ASP web programmer! I’m doing XSL, a tiny milligram of PHP (but enough to Tweet as an xAuth user, which I’d say is 1337 enough) and the subject many IT students feared – Java.

Web programming makes you stupid. It’s linear, and when you try to introduce object-oriented and reusable, modular components… you get teammates who don’t get it and write stuff like this:

<select size=1 name=day>
<option value=1 <%if fday=1 then response.write(“selected”)%>>1</option>
<option value=2 <%if fday=2 then response.write(“selected”)%>>2</option>
<option value=3 <%if fday=3 then response.write(“selected”)%>>3</option>
<option value=4 <%if fday=4 then response.write(“selected”)%>>4</option>
<option value=5 <%if fday=5 then response.write(“selected”)%>>5</option>
<option value=6 <%if fday=6 then response.write(“selected”)%>>6</option>
<option value=7 <%if fday=7 then response.write(“selected”)%>>7</option>
<option value=8 <%if fday=8 then response.write(“selected”)%>>8</option>
<option value=9 <%if fday=9 then response.write(“selected”)%>>9</option>
<option value=10 <%if fday=10 then response.write(“selected”)%>>10</option>

What’s worse is when a teammate defends the practice of excessive forking to avoid accidentally corrupting the source. Except, of course, when you need to patch a security hole, you have to find each fork and patch it, because apparently programmers don’t generally know what SQL Injection is! (Or worse, assuming that just because one .NET component is immune, that you don’t have to sanitize your input and output, or worse, applying the input sanitizing filter to the output and vice versa.)

So where was I, besides getting all worked up about some appalling habits I had to bear with back in the day?

Ah, Java. Reason being that having recently adopted an Android phone, I am also now an Android Developer! It’s not out yet, though I have developed my personal Twitter client just to tweet as Glaring Notebook. No, you don’t need to be a programmer to make your own Twitter vanity plate – I leave that to you to Google. 😉

Java is fantastic! Despite having a very steep learning curve, it is also a very, uh, fascinating language.

So how’s “fragmentation”?

Ah, the only 4-syllable word that iPhone fanboys can pronounce. 😀

It’s only a problem if you don’t know how to write your code to be flexible. I remember the people who would complain that this CSS code would not work in IE. Well they were just making it too complex when simpler CSS would do the trick! I’ve never had to use one of those tags which discriminate browsers.

(I am also a supporter of IE’s logical box model. Padding on the inside doesn’t change box dimensions, it only makes sense!)

That said though, it does have some implications – developing on my HTC Desire on Android 2.2, I didn’t know how much was missing in Android 1.5 until we got a HTC Magic running on Android 1.5. No XPATH? The agony! Performance was slower because it didn’t support Just-In-Time compilation, and it was just slower in spawning new asynchronous threads.

So I had to optimize it for 1.5, which is where I should’ve started in the first place.

This would pose a problem for those developers buying Google Nexus S phones, with Android 2.3, which features concurrent garbage collection (for significantly less lag). So it works fine on a 2.3 device, but will be jerky on a 1.5 device.

Oh, and if the application scrolls jerkily and crashes, it is so totally the programmer’s fault, not the phone’s. I’ve seen smooth, responsive applications in 1.5 – and I look at them in awe and respect.

I’d say that fragmentation is much less of an issue for programmers, than it is for customers, since programmers know how to get around it.

I have another confession to make.

I am on stock Android 2.2 with HTC Sense, South-East Asia version, downloaded from over-the-air. I have not rooted my phone.

I can root and underclock/overclock and do other optimizations, but it will not be reflective of the performance of my application on un-rooted phones, which make the majority. And yes, I will keep the HTC Magic torturously caged by 1.5, instead of the 2.2 that it can update to.

Also, rooting allows access of SQLite and private data to other programs who do not own that data. That’s not something I would like, because I know what I could do with it. 😉

Android 1.5/1.6 is to Android 2.1/2.2/2.3 as what Windows Vista is to Windows 7. A far less glamourous, polished product.

I’ve no idea how to end this blog post, but I’m just mentioning my intent to end this blog post so it doesn’t look like I didn’t copy all the text from Notepad. 😀

Street In Squares

All shots were cropped to become squares. It’s fun to find which pictures work better as squares!

Square faced.

You can’t pass, you’ve got a square helmet.

X Pax. X is like the frame of a square.

I have no idea man.

Yeah, you can sing too.

Lean on me.

Friday prayin’.

My hairstyle’s not square enough.

And I was like, BOOM!

He just wants somebody to love.

That move is supposed to deflect photography, somewhat?

Sitting squarely.


And now for prime time – the one lens I intended to buy in 2010!

Meet the Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 SSM ZA.

It’s a lightweight companion to the A900, perfect for street shooting.

Well, okay, maybe the Sony NEX-5 with Sony E 16mm F2.8 pancake is better… I have to admit, I am a lot more comfortable doing thorough street photography with it. I have to get back in tune with street photography using much more noticeable cameras.

Here it is, on the Sony SLT-A55. Because its SSM in-lens focusing motor is silent, it makes for great normal video in low light.

So what is the point of it being just F2.0 when Canon and Nikon have 24mm F1.4 lenses?

Optical quality. Zeiss makes very little compromise on contrast and detail. The lens is already great wide open – stopping down just increases depth of field. The lens is not less contrasty wide open, like my Minolta 50mm F1.4!

Oh, and of course, one very cool thing – being a F2.0 design, it is much more affordable compared to the Canon/Nikon counterparts, and it can focus a lot closer.

This is 19cm away from the sensor! (Shot with the SLT-A55, as per the setup above.)

This is pretty darn close, too. Note that it is a wide-angle macro!

It is nicely paired with the SLT-A55 because it gives the angle of view of 36mm on full-frame – which is the same as your phone’s camera angle of view! This makes it a very handy focal length.

I know, I used to say I hated this focal length because it was so common, but it is indeed practical.

Anyway, here are some other primes I saw at Sony Style KLCC.

From left to right: Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 SSM ZA, Opteka 85mm F1.4, Sony 35mm F1.8 DT SAM, Sony 85mm F2.8 SAM, Minolta 50mm F1.4 (Original), Sony LA-EA1 A-mount to E-mount adapter.

This is the Sony 35mm F1.8 DT SAM on the A55. Very, very nice focal length, and very detailed wide open. This lens made a far better impression than the online samples I’ve seen of plain stuffed toys and doorknobs and bottles and batteries that people have been using this lens to take pictures of!

Meanwhile, here is the A900 with the Sony 85mm F2.8 SAM. Pretty portraity, I’d say, while retaining that detail.

What about the Sony 35mm F1.8 DT SAM on full-frame? I pressed the lens release button on the A900 to disable the lens checking, so it would not automatically switch to APS-C mode. When focused at infinity, you can see vignetting.

So I went home and took a family picture.

Left to right, back row: Minolta 50mm F1.4 (Original), Sigma 70-210mm F4-5.6, Minolta 70-210mm F4 “beercan”, Cosina 70-210mm F2.8-4 1:2.5x Macro, Opteka 85mm F1.4, Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA, Tamron 200-400mm F5.6.

Left to right, middle row: Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye in M42 mount with A-mount adapter, Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG, Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX, Sony 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 DT (gear-stripped and disassembled donation to science), Vivitar 24mm F2.0 adapted to A-mount, Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 SSM ZA, Minolta 24-50mm F4 (Original), Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D).

Left to right, front row: Sony LA-EA1 A-mount to E-mount lens adapter, Teleplus MC4 1.5x teleconverter, Teleplus MC4 2.0x teleconverter.

And now, just the primes.

Left to right, back row: Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 SSM ZA, Opteka 85mm F1.4, Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA.

Left to right, middle row: Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye in M42 mount with A-mount adapter, Minolta 50mm F1.4 (Original), Vivitar 24mm F2.0 adapted to A-mount.

Left to right, front row: Sony LA-EA1 A-mount to E-mount lens adapter, Teleplus MC4 1.5x teleconverter, Teleplus MC4 2.0x teleconverter.

Moving on…

Yes I did take pictures. The close focus really helped with this shot.

It also makes a cool toy-shooting lens.

Of course, I did go out with this lens…

Here’s geekster! The lens goes much closer but I’ll leave those shots out.

And so I went to the Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show 2010 at Putra World Trade Center.

Shot with the A55 and Zeiss 24mm F2.0. Great for the grab shot.

Shot with the A900 and Zeiss 24mm F2.0. All shots from this one onwards were with this combo, at F2.0.

I love how this lens makes you get close, and they pose differently as a result.

It’s like they know – aha! Portrait orientation! Turn to the side!

She didn’t get that memo, but it’s okay, because she looks good.

You do get an exaggerated perspective sometimes. DxO Optics Pro had not come out with the Zeiss 24mm F2.0 lens correction module yet unfortunately (though, I can’t spot barrel distortion, if any, to be honest.)

And that is all for today.

Alright, maybe a 50% crop. (100% crop, resized down to 50%.)