Friday, February 12, 2016

Amer Fort of Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan, and it was where our real tour into the "wildness" of Rajasthan started.  We arrived at at Jaipur on 2/4 and visited the famous Amer Fort in the morning of 2/5 but really do not have enough time to go into the Fort.  It was not until 2/11 that we returned to Jaipur again and entered the Amer Fort in the morning of 2/12, the last day of our tour.


I have been wanting to photograph the elephant troop making a grand entry into the front gate of the Fort.  By the time we arrived at the location, in the early morning, we were basically shooting directly into the sun.  With some help from Lightroom, I eventually got a good shot.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Princess of Angkor Ruins at Beng Mealea

It was the last day of our trip.  Nathan Horton, our photographic guide/teacher took us to Beng Mealea located outside of the major Angkor temple complex.  He took us through some real Indiana Jones experience by climbing through windows, doors and boulders inside the temple.  As we came out, we saw a local girl lying on a piece of sandstone block.

The light was perfect, I tried to photograph her as an Angkor princess rising from the ancient ruins.

Grace took a different approach, photographed her with her brother both with that lost and helpless expression, a reflection of the ruins surrounding them.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Nikon Df First Hand Impression


Got my Nikon Df today, not by reservation, but by just walked into the local camera store.  My major reason of getting the Df is not for its retro look but as a backup camera for D4.  Neither my D800 nor my wife's D600 serves the purpose well.  Df, by using the same D4 sensor and same MP, it becomes a perfect choice.  It is almost like the relationship between D700 and D3.

I shoot most of the time in RAW at aperture priority, thus the excitement of the retro-looking knobs does not really useful for me except for the look.  When I first pick up the camera, what shock me is how do I adjust the aperture!  Took me a while to realize, if I am using the G lens, I can use the knob in front of the camera to adjust it.  The coolest thing is, if I am using the D lens, now I can use the aperture ring of the lens to adjust the aperture.  Now, that is cool.  When was the last time I used the aperture ring on the lens?  Zillion years ago!

I did not go so far as to switch from AF to M.  However with the prime lens on Df, to change the focusing mode is really easy (AF-S/AF-C; single point, AUTO).  To change focusing mode on D4 with heavy profession lens mounted is an almost impossible task.  I almost have to put the camera down to change the focusing mode when I have my D4 mounted with 3000/2.8 lens.

Now I am getting all my old D lens out for the Df.  It should be really fun.  For  my professional lenses, they will stay with D4.  They are too front heavy for the Df.  But just if ever my D4 failed, now I will have my Df as back up!

Does the picture looks a little bit out of focus?  I used the 135mm DC lens with the camera and focus right in the middle of the lens, thus everything behind it is bit out focus.  Df with the 135mm DC lens really feels good and looks good.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The night market of Burqin (布爾津)

The night market is famous for grilled fish from Irtysh River (額爾齊斯河).






五彩灘,布爾津。Rainbow Beach, Burqin, Xinjiang.

Xianjiang has many area with is type of scenery, this is probably the smallest, but I am glade that we saw it.  We flied to Altay then took a 3-hour drive to Burqin to check in the hotel then went to the Rainbow Beach in time for the sunset.  It is on the bank of Irtysh River (額爾齊斯河) which is the only river flowing toward west in China.























新疆抓飯, Urumqi

The tour guide took us to this small roadside restaurant just outside of the airport for lunch before flying out to Altay (阿勒泰).  She claims that it has the best local Uyghyr (維吾爾) food.  We had some dishes to go with noodle, which tasted like Japanese Undo noodle.  But the real highlight is the rice dish that they were cooking.  We finally had a plate of it, it was good, better than many of the same dishes that we had latter on during the trip.




解放廣場,烏魯木齊,新疆。Liberation Square, Urumqi, Xinjiang, China

The square is right outside of Hoi Tak Hotel (海德酒店) that we stayed for the first day at Urumqi.  It is in memory of the communist army victory over Nationalist army in 1949.  At that time, my parents already established in Taiwan, away from the turmoil as Nationalist army of Republic of China was defeated by Mao's army all over China.  It is now a peaceful square where local citizen come to exercise every morning. 





Monday, August 19, 2013

Trip to Northwest of China

It is a 12-day trip that covers Northern Xinjiang (), Dunhuang () and Xian () with my sister's family.  I brought with me photographic equipments which include Nikon D4, 27-300mm VR, 16-35mm VR and Coolpix A.  It is a much lighter weight traveling pack, in some occasions I may hope that I have better lens but overall, the set up does its duty.

Many times, I carry only Coolpix A which is a 27mm, DX format pocket camera.  It does its duty but Nikon 1 can do almost the same with same picture quality.

For this trip, I did not use a backpack, but a shoulder bag.  A few times I hope that I have the backpack, but most of the time the shoulder bag is alright.

Coolpix A at Taoyuan Airport

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lion Kill

It was in the morning of July 31, 2013 at 10:51am.  At 41 second all seems still peaceful, 7 seconds later all hell loose.

It was the second day after we arrived at Masai Mara and our fourth day in Kenya.  Our driver had been a bit slow, we were somewhat concerned of were we seeing as much as we should.  We had been on the game drive for almost 5 hours that morning and was in the midst of a herd of several thousands of wildebeests.  There was a bit commotion around and some wildebeests were streaming past us.  Our driver was on alert.  Then suddenly, he put the 4x4 in gear and we were flying in the herd, which was then in stamped.  I had my camera aiming towards the dust clouds in the distance, in 15 seconds we were on the scene and all was over. 

video

The lioness killed the wildebeest by bear-hug the animal and bit into the soft tissue of the nose and mouth.  The victim was killed by suffocation.  The whole process took just several minutes

video

The kill was actually carried out by three lions, the lioness and her two cubs.  Our team members in another 4x4 saw them earlier stalking the wildebeest herd.  The mother sent the two cubs around to generate confusion in the herd when the mother was ready for the kill.


After the kill, they came back to the scene to join their mother.  One of them eventually pull the carcass into the bush, a painful view.

video





Sunday, July 7, 2013

Kertha Gosa Pavilion, Klungkung, Bali


We arrived at the gate at 5 pm, the time that the compound closed.  I got just a glimpse of the building and took 5 bracketed shots for HDR.  We can just about seeing the famous ceiling painting that depict Bhima Swarga Saga.

Puputan Badung, The Battle to the Death


The Puputan Klungkung Monument at Klungkung, Bali.


The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, September 26 2002
It all started when the merchant ship Sri Komala ran aground on Sanur beach on May 27, 1904. The owner of the ship, a Chinese trader, accused the Sanur people of looting the ship, and later reported the incident to the Dutch colonial government in Batavia (Jakarta).
The Dutch colonial government admonished Badung King Cokorde Made for the incident and demanded he pay 3,000 ringgit in compensation to the trader. The king vehemently refused to do so, stressing that the people of Sanur had been wrongfully accused. He highlighted the fact that the people of Sanur had, under oath, stated their innocence.
A sea blockade by Dutch warships aimed at economically crippling the kingdom failed to intimidate the young king and he refused to change his mind.
On July 17, 1906, the Dutch Governor General in Batavia (Jakarta), Van Heutz, sent another letter to Cokorde Made. In the letter, Van Heutz once again reminded the king of his government's demand, increased the demanded compensation to 5,173 ringgit, and warned the king of possible military action if the he failed to meet all the demands by Sept. 1, 1906.
On Sept. 12, 1906 the Dutch fleet of 16 warships with 2,312 soldiers on board arrived at Sanur. Major General Rost Van Toningen was the commanding officer of the fleet and troops. He sent an ultimatum to the king, in which Toningen gave the king 24 hours to surrender. Cokorde Made flatly refused the ultimatum on Sept. 13.
The Dutch battalions made their first move on Sept. 14 by occupying Sanur beach. The first major clash between the Dutch and the royal troops of Badung took place the next day. The royal troops of Badung were led by I Gusti Ngurah Gede Kesiman of the House of Kesiman.
On the three days of Sept. 16, 17, and 18, the Dutch battalions under the protection of their warships' heavy artillery inflicted heavy losses on the royal troops of Badung. Sanur, Intaran, Tanjung Bungkak, and Panjer fell to the Dutch, and I Gusti Ngurah Gede Kesiman was killed. On Sept. 18, the Dutch intensified it's shelling of Puri (palace) Denpasar and Puri Pemecutan. It's cannons fired at least 216 shells that day.
At 15:30 pm on Sept. 19 the Dutch battalions captured Puri Kesiman. One kilometer to the west, at Puri Denpasar, the royal family was holding a Palebon (cremation) ceremony for the king's deceased older brother I Gusti Gde Ngurah Denpasar, and a Mepandes (tooth filling) ceremony for the king himself.
Early in the morning of Sept. 20, 1906, Dutch shells fell on Puri Denpasar with such intensity that 60 shells severely damaged the puri, once so majestic and beautiful that the poet Ida Bagus Made Sidemen composed the Kakawin Cayadijaya to praise it. By 9 a.m., the Dutch soldiers had managed to penetrate the royal troops' defenses in Sumerta and Kayumas and thus entered Denpasar.
Cokorde Made gathered his relatives and what was left of his royal troops before ordering them to burn Puri Denpasar to the ground. The King's entourage, comprised of around 500 people -- men, women, children -- dressed in the ceremonial white costume and carried various weapons, then moved to the north of the puri to meet the enemy.
All of them had agreed to join their king in staging a puputan, a battle to the death, and each of them had been sprinkled with Tirta Pangentas, holy water usually reserved only for the dead.
At high noon, the king led the charge against the enemy only to be cut down by the Dutch's superior weaponry. Those who were wounded dragged themselves to the spot, where the dead body of Cokorde Made, their king, lied, before stabbing themselves to death. Those, who were not able to lift their weapons, were stabbed by their friends. A pile of dead bodies soon formed around the body of Cokorde Made.
The second royal entourage, led by the 12-year-old crown prince Cokorde Alit Ngurah -- the step-brother of Cokorde Made -- was also being mowed down by the Dutch.
By 13:30 p.m. the Dutch captured Puri Denpasar. Four and a half hour later, Puri Pemecutan, the last bastion of the Badung kingdom, fell into the hand of the invading troops. Prior to that, the aged I Gusti Gde Ngurah Pemecutan of the House of Pemecutan and his relatives were killed when staging a similar puputan battle.


This monument is at the major cross-road of Klungkung.  I have no idea of what the ceremony the local people dressed in white was holding during our visit.  The Metha Gosa Pavilion is at one side of the monument and the Puputan Klungkung Monument is on the other side.  All I can see from the story is all the bodies piled around the last king of the last Balinese Kingdom were all dress in white.

A Typical Lunch at Countryside in Bali









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