Monthly Archives: October 2006

To Be Fair, I Am White

While some of you are in Malacca partying, I took the less tiring route – Halloween night at Zouk, 27th October 2006. It had been a while, since the last time I was there was for the Paris Hilton album launch in August 2006. Was I going to break my paying-entry-to-Zouk-virginity?


People who come dressed up in costumes get in free.

So I went to Ruud‘s (say it aloud, it sounds cooler than Ruums), and Diane worked her magic. YK was in town too.

What’d I do? A sadako ala cheeserlando? (I didn’t have a white robe.)

The before. (YK on the right with intentionally misaligned buttons.)

Awww how sweet.

Behind the scenes. (Click image for bigger version.)

The after.

It looks better in infrared! Thanks to Diane for the idea, and YK for the uh… note.

Rudy Of The Dead’s arm.

Spot the tattoo.

Rush to Zouk! We have a dying man!

Uh. Who took this picture in the parking lot?

Ben crossing the road. He was the only dude looking normal, so we figured we’d all get in a car, speed, and when stopped, say there was a man about to die (while pointing to Ben.)

Zouk’s Dungeon Of Tortures!

Halt! Who goes there?

Be you angels?

Natalie. Fear her, she is in her pajamas.

Left to right: Kel Li is very scary. Natalie looks like a sleepy murderer. I don’t know what Yoke May’s costume is, but I like it anyway. 😉

Kel Li is scary even when not in costume. (She just jumped in the frame when I was taking a picture.)

Zouk mainroom was quite empty at that time, so we adjourned to good ol’ The Loft (upstairs from Zouk) for Twilight Action Girl, those four deejays who got me started on the whole British rock invasion last year. JUICE Magazine declared it electro night. I love electro, but some people find other methods of entertainment.

Back to main room. (Middle picture’s colors were inverted.)

The haze is in here too. ARGH!

Visibility under 10 meters. Death in 10 minutes.

The decks.

Cool props! Some dudes danced with them.

Fire dwarfs.

Thanks Diane! I have never camwhored with so many strangers in my life before! I didn’t take a lot of pictures though.

I walked and heads turned, trying to read what it said. I now knew what it must’ve been like to be some cele-brie-ty.

I had to wash it off in the toilet, as I didn’t want to give a poor cabbie a heart attack. Well, one taxi driver did speed off when he saw Jack Sparrow. (I didn’t have make up remover so yeah.)

Free lighter!

I will get back to scheduled geek programming soon. Yes, I have at least two super macro posts coming up.

Oh, and Happy Halloween! Happy scaring some chick’s panties off.


Here comes a non-macro filler post.

One fine day many many moons ago, I decided that it would be fun to take a picture of something exploding or shattering into pieces.

We had plenty of free expired Vitamin C bottles in the office, and smashpOp and I set out to an abandoned field to capture beautiful shots of destruction.

I wore my safety goggles, and smashpOp hid behind his (then) Panasonic FZ-5, zoomed all the way in, to capture the explosion without getting hit by the shards.

But first, clear out the expired Vitamin C tablets! (Okay, in retrospect, this would’ve been better shot from under my hand.)

Not enough tablets exited the bottle’s neck in one swing, so I poured them into the box. I’m not sure how we got the cloudy effect though.

Now that the bottle was cleared, we had one shot! I practiced by tossing a rock and seeing how far it went, so smashpOp could frame it. (The bottle is about to land on the far right.)

Of course, it didn’t just land. It bounced!

Alas, it did not break, so gravity might bring in more impact!

Mission failed. This was one indestructible Vitamin C bottle. Safety glass. I’ll know where I wanna keep my valuables next time – in such thick, bouncy glass.


Here comes more of that supermacro shiznit.



Dust bunnies. (The next instalment will have something even more gross.)

The Nikon Coolpix 2200 I broke.

High strung.

Okay, so this is with smashpOp‘s old Panasonic FZ-5 at 432mm full zoom.

Infrared version of the first shot.

Wet head.

Whee! (Had to use the flesh-colored flash technique.)

None of these shots were cropped. This ruler shot is to show the scale of how small an area I could capture at full zoom (140mm equivalent).

According to this:

My Canon Powershot A520 sensor should be a bit wider than 5.3mm. 5.3:15 = 1:2.83 macro, technically, not impressive. However, a dSLR with 1.5x crop factor would have a sensor 36/1.5 = 24mm wide. 24:15 = 1.6:1 macro. So, to get 15mm to fill a dSLR frame would need a 1.6:1 macro lens.

And now, for some super macro shots!

140mm film equivalent focal length. In other words, zoomed all the way in on my camera, but using the reverse macro trick I can focus that near.

The wheels stopped turning and the spark is gone. To get this lighting, I had to use flash, and bounce it towards the subject by putting my left hand over it like an umbrella. It gives it a nice warm tone anyway. 😀


Pointing a supermacro setup at spotlights make for interesting bokeh.

Transformers Cybertron Downshift, also using hand as a flash reflector.

Three lost screws from the Nikon Coolpix 2200 I disassembled.

This eye has probably seen more trashcans than I have. (I’ve tried with a tripod but focusing it is very hard. So hard, I have not succeeded.)

Hair looms. (This was the only picture that was cropped; the rest were really shot at that magnification.)

Guess what this is.

…and you might get this.

Also, check out Paul’s macro shots which he took using my Fujinon 50mm F1.4 lens, attached to his Nikkor 50mm F1.8D on his Nikon D80. I’m pretty sure I took that picture of the fly as he had trouble focusing on it. 😛

While at it, check out Paul’s Railwayday shots for some excellent moods in photos. And there he was, looking as uninspired as I was when I said I didn’t feel inspired to shoot anything at the KL Sentral KTM station.

DIY Super Macro!

This post is way backdated (June), but will be one of the biggest geek posts I had. Beware the geek attack, get your inhalers ready!

Ever wondered how photographers got shots like these?

1/100s, F8, ISO50, 85mm film equivalent

They either bought a SLR and put a macro lens on, or they used the cheap reverse macro trick. There are a few ways to do this:

1) Take out the lens of an SLR/dSLR and turn it backwards. Yeah, make it look like you’re putting it on… the wrong way. Of course, this is not safe because dust will get in, and you’d have to guess your exposure, and focusing is by moving closer or further from the subject.
2) Same as step 1, but buy an expensive reverse mount adapter.
3) Reverse an SLR lens and attach it to the front of your camera. Your camera’s lens needs to have a screw thread (most prosumers do) or a lens adapter that has a screw thread (Canon Powershots and some Sony point-and-shoots have it). Of course, if you are using a SLR/dSLR, your lens will almost always have a screw thread.

The problem with 3), of course, is that when you reverse an SLR lens, both sides are female! One lens has to screw onto the camera’s screw thread.

Therefore, you could buy an expensive (and hard to get) reversing ring (which has male screw threads on both sides) and screw the lenses together.

Or… you could go my DIY budget way, which is even cooler.

I visited my favorite camera shop in Ampang Park, Leos Com Trading, to ask if he knew about this reverse macro thing which I’d read about.

Oh yeah! You mean this?

He took out a Fujinon EBC 50mm F1.4 lens, which had been stripped of its casing and wrapped with cellotape. Its screw thread diameter was 49mm. He donated it to me, knowing my experimental efforts in cameras.

I could see why it was junked; it had 6 aperture blades, and when the aperture was closed, it made a teardrop shape instead of a circle. This would mean that it had lousy bokeh. Its screw thread was also dented, so you could not put a UV filter on it. Finally, Fujifilm’s digital SLRs use Nikon mounts… so this lens was homeless.

The lens could be further disassembled, but I didn’t dare do it just to count the number of glass elements in it.

He also had some dirty secondhand UV filters, and donated a 52mm Vanguard Skylight filter. 😀

I wrapped the filter in A4 paper, gave it an impactful hit (no glass cutter needed for this one!) It was then superglued to the outside of the Fujinon lens. (I could not screw any filters in because it was dented!)

I could finally screw it on to my Canon Powershot A520! The black tube is the lens adapter, which allowed me to attach 52mm-diameter converter lenses and filters on. (I need to zoom in a bit or shoot through a circular window because the end of the lens is smaller.)

I could also put filters before the lens and keep them that way.

Because the Fujinon lens now had a 52mm-diameter male screw thread, it could fit on any lens with a 52mm diameter screw thread, like the cheap and well found Nikkor 50mm F1.8D lens. (Paul makes the Nikon D80 look tiny!)

smashpOp seen here with a Nikon (gasp!) Okay, so it’s Rames‘ Nikon D50 with the Nikkor 50mm F1.8D lens as well. smashpOp is parodying Rames and every other person who buys an SLR, and the very first picture they take, is of the lens cap.

Pinkfrog need only put a 55mm to 52mm step-down ring to attach the Fujinon lens to his Panasonic DMC FZ-5.

So what about SLR lenses that have bigger sizes?

Pinkfrog has a Tamron AF 70-300mm F4-5.6 lens (from his Nikon F90) which has a 62mm diameter screw thread. He also recently got a Nikon D80 with that Nikkor 50mm F1.8 lens. It was my job to marry them. How? The 70-200mm was fitted with a second-hand 62mm Sakure UV filter (also had its glass broken) and the Nikkor 50mm F1.8 lens was fitted with a 52-58mm step up ring.

We then superglued the rings together!

On top is the silver 52-58mm step up ring, superglued to the female side of the 62mm UV filter. Yeah, you could say that they were lesbian.

The rings must be differently sized, but close in diameter. It might not stick properly otherwise. Common sizes are 49, 52, 55, 58, 62, 67, 72 and 77mm. I suppose that the difference in diameters must not exceed 5mm so that there would be enough contact surface.

If you don’t mind not having a lens cap, you could leave the DIY lens reverser on.

It’s a step up so there’s no vignetting.


How close can you get? Safely under 5cm. Of course, this was on the 300mm (450mm film equivalent) side, so it became a very long magnifying glass. Through this setup, I could see the texture of the keys… and I had to move the lens about to look at the arrow he was pointing at. Yep, half the arrow filled up the frame! (The more observant of you would notice that the camera was off because he ran out of battery power.)

Aperture was controlled by the camera (on the 70-300 lens) or on the reversed lens (which fortunately had an aperture ring.)

One could also swap the lenses’ positions. Of course, this is a dummy shot, because:
1) The camera is off.
2) The lens hood is pointless in macro, as it will block out well-needed light, and perhaps scare off insects.
3) The lens hood only fits when the protective cap on the SLR side is on.

Anyway, on to a teaser shot.

Even at dark apertures like F8, this flower still had a very shallow depth of field.

Do not use auto-focus! The lens that is reversed is heavy, and you might wear out your camera’s auto-focus motor by making it spin that. I’d go for manual focus. Focus on infinity to shoot further from the subject. On cameras without manual focus, half-press the shutter (it probably will not be able to focus anyway) and then move nearer or further from the subject to get it in focus. A darker aperture would help to get more of it in focus.

Oh, right. How much was it? The 52-58mm step ring was RM25. The 62mm UV filter was junk and was free. 😀 The superglue was RM0.60. So yes, you get a reverse macro adapter for RM25.60!

More shots… later.

Underexposured Subjects

…or at least dark places.

Hard Rock Cafe.

Flowery lights.

A spider hangs from a roof…

…so I flash it.

This was after somebody saw a figure as we were walking in a group back to his house. I walked faster, seeing if I could get a sorta panning shot by chasing him. (The somebody, not the figure!)

No head, but it’s green to go down there.

Stopping for air.

Golden shower.

Long exposure, with camera on ground.

Brick-walled road.

15 Seconds Of Exposure

What can you do in 15 seconds?

Use a flourescent table lamp as a lightsaber, that’s what.


I used two lights for this; the lower lamp has a switch, and I turn it on and off with my toe. The flourescent lamp also has a switch.

  1. Turn on the lower lamp (tungsten lamps are instant).
  2. Run to camera on tripod.
  3. Turn on 10-second-timer.
  4. Press the shutter.
  5. Run back to lamps.
  6. Pick up flourescent lamp.
  7. Turn off tungsten lamp with toe.
  8. Turn on flourescent lamp and wait for it to start.
  9. Swing the flourescent lamp like a light saber (after the camera has opened its shutter).
  10. Turn off the flourescent lamp when you reach the end.
  11. Turn on the tungsten lamp with your toe (for about a second) and then turn it off.

The tungsten lamp should be pointed at your face.

Alternatively, if your camera has second-curtain flash/rear-sync flash (which means that the camera flashes after the 15 second exposure) you don’t need the tungsten lamp.

Swinging the flourescent lamp while it is starting has an interesting effect, too.

In other random linkage, there’s this awesome mash-up, where The Silence Xperiment has mixed 50 Cent‘s rapping with Queen songs. I’ve never been a fan of 50 Cent, but having Brian May shred in the background while 50 Cent raps has never sounded better. You get to download the entire album here:


Do check out the label covers too, they’re hilarious!

Spin Doctors

Take a good look at the image and guess what I’m about to talk about here.

(No, the Japanese bento meal I had earlier had nothing to do with the choice of colors or shapes in this illustration.)

If the geniuses in you haven’t figured it out already, I am talking about the party game called Spin The Bottle.

Spin The Bottle is usually played with a bottle.

The bottle is usually spun.

Players sit in a circle but do not spin.

The bottle is spun by a player, and the spinning player player who spins the bottle will have to kiss the player who the bottle is pointing at. This player then has to spin the bottle.


Now, on to less exciting matters. Statistics.

Ideally, everyone should sit in a perfect circle, perfectly spaced apart, to give everyone the same random chance of getting pointed at by the bottle. The further away from the circle, the lesser your sector is. Hence, those sitting in the corners of a room are less likely to be infected with cooties!

I am a self-proclaimed champion of fairness and justice, and I believe that everyone should have a fair chance. I plead all of you who organize parties and play such games to ensure the perfectness of the circle.

Spin Doctors

Then, there is also another lesser-known way of turning the chances to/against your favor; spinning the bottle such that it would stop off the center of the circle.

The black lines cut off sectors, and as you can see, there is a 50% chance that the four players to the top of the graphic will be pointed at. Players who spin may intentionally spin it such to/against his/her favor.

I thus ask gamemasters to ensure that the bottle is spun on the center, and stays in the center. Punishment to players who intend to put a spin on things would be, perhaps, to get kissed by the gamemaster. Ideally, the gamemaster should have bad breath, braces and be unattractive. All the more incentive for the gamemaster to spot spin doctors and corner huggers!


Once again, pictures from the 12th October 2006 edition of Moonshine.

Tan Sei Hon, acoustic singer-songwriter.

Lightcraft, indie pop darlings.

Guess which band this is!

Yep, it’s Rhapsody, now with a funky soloing guitarist, funky-basslining-bassist, and Jimmy of Tempered Mental (not in picture).

Tragicomedy, singing songs from his album, Songs That Won’t Sell… which is ironically, (credible) pop rock songs that will sell.

My attempts to replicate the distortion of a wide 27mm lens, by doing the angle bit of it. (You can brag that your kit-lens-wearing Nikon d70s/Canon 350D does 18mm… but sir/maam, it’s 27mm after throwing in the crop factor.)

Stoned Revivals from Singapore plays funky jazz rock. Somewhat progressive, with very interesting chord progressions.

…though technically, he’s from Men Under Zero Effort, a Malaysian band, and he plays octave/fifth-ful basslines on guitar.

…so is this drummer, also from Men Under Zero Effort.

We (I always fail to identify who I went to a gig with but is it relevant?) were sitting inside, and were chased out at 2am as Laundry Bar was closing. Outside, we found this on a table. Seems like some people couldn’t wait. In case anyone wonders, it is not the prophylactic itself; it is a ring that clips on and vibrates for 20 minutes, with a sealed battery inside.

Just as soon as I thought I finished posting all the gig pictures, here comes another event:

What: Project Bazooka
Where: Laundry Bar, The Curve
Who: Dragon Red (my favorite Malaysian nu-metal band), Edge Of Fire (channels falsetto hard rock), Seven (funk/jazz fusion with saxophone)
When: 9:30pm, 19th October 2006
How Much: FREE ENTRY! Just buy me a drink. 😀

More details here.

Yes I’m going; I’ve never truly headbanged at Laundry Bar because there wasn’t anything really intense to mosh to, but Dragon Red is hard enough. *cracks neck*

How to make compressed HDR images in Adobe Photoshop 7.0/CS

Ever taken night scenes, only to be frustrated how the pictures turned out? If the buildings were dark, you’d increase the EV setting to make it brighter… but the lights would become too bright. If you decreased the EV setting to show the beautiful lamps, the buildings would disappear into blackness!

Fortunately, there is a way around it, by shooting the same scene, with different EV settings, and combining the best of those pictures. This trick is commonly known as HDR (though it isn’t technically correct.)

Photoshop CS2 already has a HDR function built in, but CS2 seems to be quite the memory hog, so I kept to Photoshop CS. Still, it is doable with a little effort.

First off, get a tripod.

Pick a nice dark place with lots of highlights and shadows.

Put camera on tripod, on self-timer, on a long exposure. Remember not to move the camera or risk screwing up your shot like so!

If a scene needs 2 seconds to expose properly, shoot one at 4 times its length (8 seconds) and one shot 1/4th of its length (0.5 seconds). If your camera does not have an adjustable shutter speed, just shoot one shot normally, one shot with the EV at +2, and one shot with the EV at -2.

Load all the pictures in Photoshop.

Click on the second brightest image. Ctrl-A (Select All) and then Ctrl-C (Copy) it. Click on the brightest image. Press Ctrl-V (Paste). In the Layers bar, choose Difference, so you can align the image over it. Once done, change the blending mode back to Normal. Ctrl-A (Select All) and then Ctrl-Shift-C (Copy Merged) on the top-most layer.

Click on Add vector mask to add a vector mask.

Hold down the Alt key while clicking inside the white box (the vector mask). Press Ctrl-V (Paste).

Do the same for the next darker image until all of them are on one image.

If you’re more experienced with Photoshop, adjust the Levels of the vector mask (right after pasting the vector mask). This allows greater control over how much of the lights seep through.

You can also copy any image with lots of shadows and highlights, and do the same method onto itself, to decrease the difference between highlights and shadows.

Finished product, with a bit of tweaking. Remember to crop off the edges where the pictures do not align!

Another example, by the pool.

Masjid Jamek (gotta work on the saturation a bit.)

Click on the image for a bigger version.

Of course, you could camp around for the right time when the lights turn on, but the building is still lit by sky light.

Asia’s largest high court.

Giant leaves.

A pathway to the balcony. All pictures (except Masjid Jamek) shot at Hartamas Regency.