Monthly Archives: December 2008


Another flashback – Xfresh X-Gig, Zouk (the original Mainroom, before the crampnovation), 2nd of August 2008.


They Will Kill Us All.

With the ever energetic vocalist. I think you can tell by his dance move that he sings emo/indie.

However, I can’t tell if he’s counting to 4 or 8 or 6 or 12, for the band named…

Nadia’s Picture Show!

How to win an Xfresh T-shirt.

Alright, fine, so it’s called XFM now, and the deejays made sure to cut off the fresh, though the crowd reflexively added the fresh.


I absolutely loved their set. Reggae, and a whole lotta James Brown hard-hitting funk!

Are you enjoy?

The complex interface that makes the sounds of…


No other band plays such happy, catchy, rockin’ and rollin’ like Couple does.

Hey… she’s not… whatshername? But cool guitar nevertheless!

Pointing my Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye on my Sony A700 to the crowd. I have always loved Zouk lighting!

Bittersweet! He really does look like someone out of a (Datuk) Lat cartoon.

I’ve never seen these guys without glasses. I wonder if I’d recognize them.

Classic sound, classic guitars. Looks like something salvaged out of Peterson’s old guitar repair shop.

Moshpit in Zouk!

Emcee Haniff gets on stage…

…and ends the show.


One evening, after a wedding, I ended up in Bangsar. And then I remembered my Bangsar-hangin’ friend who is now one of the sauciest bloggers around. I called her. “Dey! You in Bangsar aaa?No no I’m in Brickfields, I might head to Bangsar later!

And so I wandered around Bangsar Village II taking a slow walk in what was the former Hankyu Jaya. Ah, what memories of many Transformers pored at there! Toys R Us Express was there. I’ve held off buying Transformers for a relatively long time already and am considering selling some of them, MISBs and all.

I ended up in MPH, and picked up a book with a most enticing cover – wow! I sat cross-legged on the floor until 10pm, reading a most engrossing book.

I normally don’t read, so getting past 188 pages was an accomplishment. 188 out of 344.

Before leaving, I flipped to the end and noted the price. I also saw the book’s category printed on the back – Self Help.

Tadaa, a punchline!

I related this story to another friend.

She-who-recently-turned-24: Does it have a yellow cover?
Me-who-recently-turned-25: Yes it does…
She-who-recently-turned-24: Oooh, my mom got me that for my birthday a few years ago! Never got to read it. But my ex-boyfriend took it and never returned it.

I know the ex, and it certainly doesn’t seem like he read the book. 😉

I guess I’d only read books that are life-changing. Saw Jim Carrey’s latest movie, Yes Man? Life-changing! Of all seriousness, I do believe that there is opportunity out there. You meet all sorts of people who will be relevant and instrumental to your life later. Lawyers. Make-up artists. Painters. Photographers. Event managers. Yo-yo players. Clowns. Emcees. Stand-up comedians. Guitarists. Drummers. Violinists. Bassists. Record-shop owners. Camera-shop employees. Personal trainers. Psychologists. Magicians. Teachers. Editors. Writers. Receptionists. Cooks. Bakers. Waitresses. Security personnel. Dentists. Students.

If you’ve influenced or helped me out in a big way and your occupation is not in the list, comment here!

People Of The World!

Rewind to a common path at the Sarawak Cultural Village!

Wish you were here.

…or maybe she’s interested in someone in the crowd?

This is why Rainforest World Music Festival 2008 was called a mudfest. It was not fun to walk in this gooey mess at all! Nearest to the stage your feet would sink in, and the mud would wrestle your slippers out of your toes (so leave them behind) and you’d sink calf-deep until your feet land on hard rocks and other treasures found in the mud bed.

Enough of that, here’s some clear water!

Su Ann does the “I’m not looking here!” pose.

Liyana (left) and Bianca (right), who claim to be sisters. No shiiit!

Yes, that’s Liyana the cute vocalist from Estrella.

Then I bumped into Ted Adnan and his then newly bought Nikon D3 and his ol’ Nikkor AF-S 300mm F2.8 VR.

This was the first time I’d touched a D3 and a Nikkor AF-S 300mm F2.8 VR. I bumped up ISO, expecting an epiphany – I didn’t get it. It’s not exactly clean but it’s cleaner and has a different noise look. And I swung the 300mm around, sniped some people and got their ears in focus instead despite having approximately aimed at their faces. Operator error, apparently. And I still prefer all my relevant controls to be easily accessible by the right hand alone especially when wielding such an unwieldly lens with my left hand.

David Beckham lookalike spotted!

Obligatory slow-shutter-flash with Kenny Sia and Ing Hui!

This was a much faster way to wash sandals than to line up at the washroom. Yes we sat at a pier and swished our feet in the water.

I thought he was asleep. He was actually taking a picture.

I am beginning to like this house already!

Kid was not posed. Street!

Yummy! Fresh from the uh… furnace.

Yep, they still make them handmade.

Kids love balloons, even ones they can’t reach.

Yep, they dumped more sand into the mud pit. Supposedly, this helped…

And that concludes the series of pictures from Rainforest World Music Festival 2008 that has people in it.

Rain For Us

Time to rewind, to the 13th of July 2008, in sunny Kuching…

…taking the bus down to Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong…

…for the Rainforest World Music Festival 2008!

This is the biggest music fest we get down in South East Asia. So I finally got to see what the big hooha was about on this 11th year running. Big props to Waifon for getting the plane tickets (and other unmentionable, or perhaps too many to be remembered) settled!

First act – Kan’id from Sarawak. Holy shit that’s Emir of Throne Away, shredding away! I never knew!

I didn’t notice it was him until I bumped into him at the beach the next day.

Emir: Hey man, did you get any pictures of me performing?
Me: Uh, when?
Emir: We were the first band.
Me: Uhhh… no? I don’t remember seeing you.

Later I went through the pictures and realized it was him up there!

Sape kata tak boleh rock?

Hiroshi Motofuji in a quieter session in one of the big houses.

We plonked ourselves in the longhouses listening to world music.

New Rope String Quartet, a visceral music/comedy act.

Baby’s got a glow stick!

It gets hot in here sometimes.

Oikyataan from India.

Ross Daly Quartet from Greece.

They alternated between two stages – the big one and small one, plus more small performances in the different houses.

Kasai Masai tore the house down (well, not literally…)

Sheldon Blackman & The Love Circle from Trinidad and Tobago.

Probably due to my metal inclinations and short attention span for percussion-based music, world music really does not speak to me. (Of course, it might’ve helped if tuak, a popular local alcoholic drink, was more easily available in the venue as I heard it was in previous years…) So, Beltaine from Poland, with their Celtic progressive sounds, really wiped my feet. (Ironically, feet-wiping was what everybody needed in the crazy mudfest that was the venue.)

Honestly though, would I pay how much I did to go to another Rainforest World Music Festival? Not really… I could get a similiar eclectic feeling out of hearing international bands at the good ol’ Sunrise Mont Kiara Jazz Fest. Plus we wouldn’t all have to huddle and queue for hours for a bus to take us out on the only route out of the Sarawak Cultural Village to Kuching town. With the Sunrise Mont Kiara Jazz Fest I could just cross the road and head to Burger King or the various mamaks in Desa Sri Hartamas!

Of course, the experience of sunny Kuching and the Sarawak Cultural Village is another thing altogether. And that’s a story for another blog entry!

11 12

Moonshine: A Homemade Music Show, 11th December 2008, at Laundry Bar KL. This is Deb Fung!

And this is Alarice. Very niiice!

Some originals, some covers, well done.

So what’s up with the different color? The lights, that’s what – they were a bright purple (LED lights made of Blue and Magenta, to be exact.) The only way I could correct this was to get a Custom WB reading off their faces, where it would read 9900 Kelvin, Green +9. Even then it would say “Error” (though I could still proceed and save this WB setting.) 9900 K warms up the colors (to counter the strong Blue) while Green is the opposite of Magenta.

If I set the Kelvin WB to 9900 Kelvin, Green +9, I would get a different color altogether – that meant that when it said “Error” it was really beyond 9900K G9 on the camera.

Other technical details – Minolta 50mm F1.4 at F2.0.

This duo came down from Australia!

For the record, I didn’t intentionally change the second picture to a black-and-white shot; I was fiddling around with the color settings.

Then, it was Emmett! Yes, Emmett of Butterfingers!

So this is what 9900K G9 looks like. Not so pronounced, and you can see the purple lights wreaking havoc on the skintones. But I like the color in the rest of this picture so I’ll let it pass.

Greg Henderson, famous producer! He also shreds and plays licks. More of him rocking out to be seen at Rock The World 8, as he filled in for Loque.

Dax on acoustic bass.

Fans from Singapore?

For who else but Jack

…and Rai! These guys from Singapore rock out in a electrocoustic way. They even had a song about that Singaporean model chick on TV whatshername uh…

I think he really, really looks like Paul McCartney here.

I told Emmett earlier, “I hate the lights“. He went “ha-ha.” I don’t think he knew what I meant – those darn LED lights!


Then, it was time for L-Mo from the UK to blow my mind. He was making bird noises when I took this picture.

He also does fingerstyle with plenty of guitar-tapping and popping. He was also beatboxing!

Normally when I hear somebody beatbox, they would do so with a delay loop pedal, where they’d make a beat, record it, overlay it with more vocals, add that to the mix, add guitar, mix it, then sing… live.

This guy operated without one!

He just played guitar and beatboxed at the same time.

Then he did the amazing vocal trumpet – something I’d only have seen live from Raul Midon. Madness! I would put his quirky level up there with Dave Matthews Band… but with a barrel of coffee.

Oh and Happy Belated Birthday Level 9 Wrapper! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the rest of you!

22 11

Moonshine: A Homemade Acoustic Show, The Apartment Downtown, Suria KLCC, 22nd November 2008.

Saxy time…

…with Ezam, who basically played his stuff from his band, Stoned Revivals.

I brought my Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5. What a surprisingly contrasty lens wide open!

And then there was Zalila Lee with the infectious funk guitar chops!

In the audience was a member of 98 Degrees. Don’t you think so?

Melina William, who basically played her stuff from her band, Tempered Mental.

I usually don’t do this“, she said. As in, play all the riffs and progressions and fills and everything that makes her progressive uh… band kick ass.

Oh and I was trying out various levels of Dynamic Range Optimizer. To some extent it worked… previously the signboards and lights would’ve been blown out into whiteness!

You can see some uncontrasty artifacts like on the dude on the bottom-left of the picture, who obviously has been pulled out of the shadows by the DRO engine.

Then, Mia Palencia performed, with some guest appearances by Reza Salleh and beatbox man Darren Ashley.

Interestingly I could use a positive exposure compensation to ‘unflatten’ the DRO-ed shadows, at the slight expense of highlights. Of course, it would look much worse without it turned on.

D-Ash the multi-talented! He’s always seen in white, which I guess helped with the metering of this shot.

Sweet duo!

Mia then called Reza to the front to just… stand there while the lights turned off.

I wonder if people ever really, really get surprised on their birthday.

Well I guess I did, at work, when my colleagues brought a cake… I knew we always celebrated birthdays at the office at exactly 5pm, and I made a mental note of it, tried to finish my work before 5pm, but I still went, “whoa it’s here!

Then, Melina, Mia and Zalila did a kickass medley of Reza’s songs! Their vocal harmonies were magical. Of course, Melina also plays in the electric incarnation of Reza Salleh (er, I mean, Reza Salleh in a band named Reza Salleh…)

A “This is going to go on Youtube” moment. Ooo, somebody in this picture has her birthday coming reaaal soon!

I would have to say that it was the highlight of the night, getting your song covered by an impromptu girl band! (I take it that Sheen Tse and Aidil don’t have cameraphones.)

Of course, Reza was asked to perform. Which he foresaw, seeing that he brought his guitar.

Izzy provides percussions from the back of the crowd (surround sound!)

Then the D-Ash pumps some beats.

What the hell just happened I’m not really sure.

Quarter-century Crisis and the Zeiss 135mm F1.8

Happy Birthday to myself! And so I got myself a Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA to match my Sony Alpha 900.

Handsome tapering lens this is, especially with the solid metal hood. The hood is so solid I could use it for a cowbell!

Its minimum focusing distance is 72cm; it uses internal focus, which is why despite focusing closer than the Minolta/Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus (which gets 87cm close) it shares the same 1:4 maximum magnification – internal focus causes the lens angle to widen when focusing closer.

72cm need I remind you is an amazing close-focusing distance beaten only by true macro lenses and superzooms that start wide – the Sony 55-200mm F4-5.6 DT focuses to 95cm close which is a record for a tele zoom in itself.

With a 2x teleconverter and 1.5x teleconverter, this makes it a 405mm F5.0 lens. This also makes the maximum magnification a staggering 1:1.33x!

Yes, 1:1.33x. This is with the APS-C mode of the A900. 405mm F8 1/400s ISO1600 in APS-C mode.

405mm F6.3 1/400s ISO1600 in APS-C mode. I focused first, got approximate focus, snapped 2 shots in case the bird would fly to another branch, then half-pressed again to refocus accurately. Focusing through 2 teleconverters made the lens a lot slower to focus and inaccurate.

I’m happy though that the Zeiss survives 2 teleconverters – it loses its shark bite and a smudge of contrast, and becomes a regular lens. But this still beats my Tamron 200-400mm F5.6 flat!

405mm F5 1/400s ISO200, 100% crop.

405mm F3.5 1/200s ISO500. Great shot, yes? Well, much greater if the white butterfly with red yellow and black spots was still on it. 🙁 The teleconverters really kill the insane focusing speed of the Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8.

That’s just prime. Left to right: Peleng 8mm F3.5 M42-mount circular fisheye, Vivitar 24mm F2.0 DIY tilt-shift, Minolta 28mm F2.8 Crossed-XX, Minolta 50mm F1.4 Original, Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8

And a top view, this time with the 2 teleconverters.

So how about some daytime separation? 135mm F1.8 without teleconverters. Superb!

KJ does a Barack Obama smile. Shot at F1.8.

Eddy Han at F1.8 1/13s ISO1600. I was sitting in the rear left side of his car and he was in the driver seat (not driving when he looked back, fortunately.) The minimum focus distance of this lens continues to astound!

KJ and Rames‘ Domo-kun. Good match!


This, or rather a careful crop of this, is now Rames’ profile picture. Note how nearby people are smudged into a blurry mess while the out-of-focus highlights pop out. That’s a Zeiss for you.

F1.8 really helps on the street.

Shelley Leong holds amazingly still. 135mm F1.8 1/5s ISO6400, to be exact! I shot this handheld through some bars.

Oh, and I got myself an A900 Type-M user-serviceable focusing screen – it’s a Super Spherical Acute Matte. The default Type-G is a Spherical Acute Matte. The product code for this is FDA-FM1AM and it is vital if you want to manually focus F1.4 lenses and see the true depth-of-field in the viewfinder.

One thing I really like is how simple the whole operation is – use the tweezers to disengage the screen’s clip; the clip will then fold out like a tray, allowing the specially shaped tweezers to grab onto the existing screen. You then put it in the placeholder slot in the box, and take the replacement screen and install it, using the same tweezers to clip it back in. Finally, move the original screen from the placeholder slot, and let it sit in its place.

Alright, so here’s one from the Minolta 28mm F2.8. 28mm F11 20s ISO200, white balance set to 6200K to give it that richness.

Anyway, back to my birthday. This time around, there will be no surprises as I’ve already planned something. The best surprise was in 2006 when everybody wished me and asked if I was having a nice dinner with my friends. Funny, nobody actually invited, they all presumed I already had plans! So I ate at a mamak by myself.

Midnight Cowboy

This is what happens when you wake up past the stop you’re supposed to get off at, on the last bus of the night.

No entry sir, but that does not stop a creature of the night.

Interesting device.

Still there is space for truckin’.

All with the Sony A700 and Minolta 50mm F1.4.

Flash Connect

Some Sony Alpha owners have reported loose flash problems, where the flash is on, but the camera does not detect it, causing it to fire at full power or not fire at all. How can this problem be solved quickly?

The problem has two reasons – firstly, the metal pins on top tend to oxidize if exposed, especially in humid Malaysia. The oxidized layer is scratched away by the flash’s pins, leaving small tracks where there is contact.

The second reason is that the plastic on the flash mount and the body’s mount is looser to allow for quick mounting and dismounting of the flash. The slight play and wobble is fine but the problem happens because the wobble makes the pins move onto the oxidized area, off the clean tracks.

So, you will need to clean the metal pins on top – you could use a key which you carry, in emergencies, but if you want to be gentle, you can use an ink eraser.

Yes, I am advocating the use of rubber.

Or, in the worse case scenario, you can rub it with your fingernails! This is perfectly fine; it will not electrocute you (the circuit to be shorted is on the flash itself.)

So now, mount the flash – it works! Wobble it about and it’s still fine.

Finally, test it by turning it sideways. Some HVL-F58AM flash owners have reported that the flash might not be detected in portrait orientation before cleaning, so test it in this position as well.

If the wobble still bothers you, you could apply some white tape to the insides of the hotshoe so it will look like this hotshoe. That should tighten it up a lot. You must clean the oxidization regardless – if not, it will just be a tight, undetected flash.

Happy flashing!


Moonshine: A Homemade Music Show, 13th November 2008, at Laundry Bar. This also happened to be the 3rd Anniversary of Moonshine, so more bright colorful lights were turned on!

This is Rendra Zanawi (featuring Alda the long-time-no-see-band-slut hehe.)

And this is Stephanie who played in 2 bands that night. Gotta love the translucent orange snare drum (and how it projects orange onto the carpet!)

Adil Johan saxing.

I’ll play my part, and you’ll play yours.

But really, this was an awesome, awesome battle between the sax and guitar.

Then it was Reza Salleh.

I love it whenever I catch the rare triangular light on cheekbones.

Melina also played for Tempered Mental, who was heavier than ever! Jack was let loose and yet sounded very composed ripping away metal solos.

At gigs I always bring my Minolta 50mm F1.4; the other lens is often a quandary. That night I picked the Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX and I love how it scales and distorts. This is a crop from my Sony A900!

Jimmy, who is probably the only drummer who is not a band slut around. Jack and Melina each play in other bands.

Why so serious?

Yeah, this was a severely underexposed F1.4 ISO6400 image which I attempted to pull up. It’s a severe crop, too.

And then the trumpets blared and the saxophones returned on stage – big ska band 40 Winks was on!

He’s not Adlin Rosli, he claims.