DLSR (D850) or Mirrorless (A7R III)?

I finally took the plunge. I dreamt of the day i could ditch my 4 year old Nikon D5300. Don’t get me wrong. Its a great camera in its own right. Considering it’s an APS-C or DX (of which Nikon likes to call it) format, the camera can handle most of my demands except for low-light. Yep, it gets real grainy at around ISO 1250. Other than that, its AF system is quick enough to focus most of my shots. I shoot a lot of portraits so i don’t really need a fast AF system. Oh if you pair it with a very good lens like the 12-24mm and you can get very good images. I personally use a prime lens most of the time with the D5300, specifically the AF-S 35mm f1.8.

Most of the images on my site are shot on a D5300. Some of you camera junkies might think how the hell did I manage to pull off those kind of shots on an APS-C system? Well, the secret lies in composition and post-processing. It doesn’t mean anything at all if you own an expensive camera and your shots turn out really bad i.e blurred/soft images, uneven/unbalanced angles. I’ve seen many who own expensive cameras and they operate only in AUTO mode. Granted, auto mode will let your camera pick the optimal scene settings. However, the camera is not utilized properly enough because the photographer has no idea how to input creative settings in order to compose his image.

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The Nikon D5300. Been using this for 4 years +

If i were to quote my friend “It’s the Singer, not the song”. 

I reflected back and wondered what he meant by that. After pondering for a good whole 5 minutes, i realized that a great picture is composed by the photographer himself, not the camera. Anyone can hold a camera and shoot, but what sets a photo apart is the user himself. Heck it, even a decent mobile phone camera can take great shots, provided that its in the hands of a user with a good eye for taking pictures. So just bear in mind, photographers don’t have it easy, they go through a thought process in order to capture a good image. From vision, to technical competency and artistic approach and lastly post-processing. A good single image alone can take hours to take shape. Oh yeah, we take lots of photos and pick only the good ones.

I have fully maximized the D5300 through and through. It’s got its limitations. I am bounded to its limitations. I needed more juice to feed my demands. That’s where i decided to upgrade my camera. Actually i had that idea about a year ago. I wanted a better gear. I waited for Nikon to come out with a good FX body. I was tempted by the D5. That monster costs about SGD $9k++. Just the body alone. If you were to pair with good glasses. It can reach up to 20k! I’m not ready to fully invest in that. The D500 also caught my eye. However it’s an APS-C system as well. I was looking for a full frame system. Even though the D500 has an excellent AF system, it wasn’t enough to satisfy me.

Along came the D850, now this was everything i needed. A good low-light and fast AF monster. The thing i love most about the D850 is its image quality. The sensor is capable of taking 45.7 megapixels. Plus it has all the bells and whistles of a professional body. I mean it is a professional body. Full-time photographers swear by the D850. The only downside to the D850 is IBIS. It has no in-body stabilization systems on board. The buttons and dials are all on the body itself and i don’t have to trouble myself by going into the menu to make changes. I can make changes on the fly just like that. Oh did i mention the wide selection of good glasses! DSLRs have a good collection of glasses. It also uses a hybrid XQD / SD card system. I bought myself an XQD card to test how fast the image transfers to the XQD, it is blazingly fast. Mind you, one RAW photo is about 100mb. I shoot only in RAW. I do a lot of post-processing.

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The NIKON D850. My current camera

That’s where i looked over to Sony’s A7R III. It has almost the same specs as the D850. It has IBIS and i was already leaning over towards the A7R III. I was ready to make the jump to mirrorless cameras. However there was an important thing i looked back when i used a friend’s mirrorless system, the grip and handling is not to my liking. The mirrorless systems have small builds and it feels weird for me to hold them. My hand aches easily because the weight distribution is uneven. I am accustomed to the weight of a DSLR. It feels great to shoot on a DSLR.

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The SONY A7r III. It sure looks sexy.

That reason alone was enough to convince myself to purchase the D850. I paired it with SIGMA’s ART 35mm f1.8 lens. I love to get into the action, but i also want something wide enough. Hence i settled on that lens. Its super sharp at f2.8 and above but i can get great bokeh if i open it wide at f1.4. I’ve brought around the body and lens for the past 2 weeks and its been exceeding my expectations. I have yet to fully maximise the setup. It might take months to years to maximise its full potential. The recent photos i uploaded here on my website are taken with the camera and lens. You can check out the EXIF metadata to see for yourself.

I bought the body at a very affordable price. Nikon SG has set a RRP of SGD $4999.00. If you want to get the body at a lower price, you can contact me and i will refer you to my friend. 😀 Only in Singapore though!

Here are some of the recent photos taken using the D850 and Sigma 35mm.

Plain White Minimalist

Who would’ve thought that taking a family photo would be easy? Trust me, it isn’t. Out of about 10-20 photos, only one or two will make the cut. Well at least to my standards. Mind you, photos taken (it varies in the hundreds) will go through my very own rigid process of photo-culling.

The past 24 hours have been quite a marathon for my wife and I. Bringing a baby along and everywhere has taken quite a toll on us. It may be tiring but its worth it. We planned and booked a stay-cation at Lloyd’s Inn on the eve of Christmas. I tell you it’s one of my favourite boutique hotel so far. The design and architecture of the hotel echoes minimalism. Its white everywhere! Plus hints of wood and greens, plants what have you blended together to create a seamless sense of zen. It’s even got a bathtub out in the open.

Yup, actual living space and bathing space is divided by a huge glass panel. It’s got that SOHO feel. There’s a second floor to it, but there’s a only a desk or a workstation for workaholics. I personally used that space to do my light editing work. And yes, I brought my little family out to National Gallery to visit the most talked exhibition in town, Minimalism – SPACE. LIGHT OBJECT. Before i go on, here are some photos taken at Lloyds.

 

 

See what i mean. The place has a tremendous taste all things minimal. Lloyds Inn is located at 2 LLOYD ROAD, SINGAPORE 239091. You can call them at +65 6737 7309. If you are tech-savvy, just book a room online like we did. The hotel deserves a thumbs up from me.

Interested? Book a room here!

Back to our topic of minimalism, National Gallery Singapore as well as Artscience Musuem are running an exhibition on that subject matter. I am a fan of simplicity. If you noticed, my website follows that mantra. I don’t like to over-complicate on design.

Initially we decided to visit both musuems to fully immerse ourselves. However, in the interest of time and our growling stomachs, we decided to just head to National Gallery. Its by far my favourite musuem and it has showcased prominent exhibitions such as the likes of Yayoi Kusama.

Why did we choose NGS over Artscience? What caught my eye were the various strong harsh colors in the NGS. I figured it would be far more interesting to visit NGS’s exhibition. I was intrigued by “Mega Death”, a room lit up by hundreds of single digits. All of them emit a blue light. So you can imagine what this space would be like. Its a visual feast for the eyes. I was intrigued by another installation aptly named “Room for one colour”. It did lived up to its name well. The whole room floods your iris with an orange-yellow hue. I had so much fun composing pictures with my wife and daughter in frame. It makes for interesting and unique photos. Planning to head down? Details are located below the gallery.

 

 

Minamlism: Space. Light. Object

Opens daily from 16 NOV 18 – 14 APR 2019.

The gallery opens at 10am-7pm on Saturdays till Thursday and 10am-9pm on Sundays.

Purchase your tickets here

Nur Zahra Aisha

25 September 2018, at exactly 8.52a.m (GMT+8). My wife and I witnessed the birth of our first child! She’s named after our prophet Muhammad ﷺ and wife Khadijah’s daughter. We decided to name her Zahra Aisha as it is such as beautiful and blessed name. We hope that she will be filial to her elders and parents as well as being morally upright. I know these are what every parent want for their child. God-willing she will be guided well.

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Big smile for the camera!

So, on to our little baby. Yes she was born small. Weighing roughly 1.92kg at time of birth. She was put into Special Nursery Care for 4 days where she was fed and taken care by the caring nurses of KK hospital. Mummy had to go through a planned C-sec. The doctors knew of the best choice to deliver our baby. We wanted the best for our baby and decided to go with their advice.

On the day of delivery, mummy had to be wheeled into the operating theater and I had to wait for the operation to be over. I wasn’t allowed to witness the whole process. Nevertheless, i had all the confidence in the world that mummy was brave and strong. She could overcome any odds. She did a skydive when she was totally against it during our honeymoon. I figured she will do just fine delivering our baby.

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Wanna punch those cheeks.

And so she did, the c-sec took about close to half an hour. I expected it to be roughly around 1-2 hours. I was caught off guard when the nurses asked me to see my daughter. Imagine the delight and surprise i had when they asked me that.

It was truly a sight to marvel at my own daughter. She bore resemblance to both of us. She had mummy’s eyes and mouth. A little bit of mine and mummy’s nose. Her smile though, is genuinely similar to mine. Just take a look at those cheeks. I had to rush to take my “wudhu’ (ablution) and perform a small call to prayer to my daughter. I got that done and my next concern was my wife. Thankfully, according to the doctors at that time, she was well and healthy. That was what i needed to hear. Both mummy and daughter safe and sound. The very first moment when i held Zahra was the moment when i became a father. It is nerve-wrecking at the same time exciting to see what the future holds for my little family. Insha Allah, we aim and strive to please our creator and be good members of society.

The whole pregnancy journey was a wild one. There were lots of highs and lows. The anticipation and build-up to 25 September 2018 was worth it. We are truly blessed and thankful for everything we have. Today Nur Zahra Aisha or “Rara” is close to three months old! She’s been smiling alot lately and the whole house is filled with her laughter whenever we change her diapers or play with her in her very own little gym. Trust me, we dedicated about half of our living room just for her. Sacrifices have to be made to make our little one happy and safe at home.

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Hello there.

A special mention has to be made to mummy, where she had been caring for Rara whenever and wherever we are. She has been the most perfect mum so far and i couldn’t be more happier knowing that she is the best mum for our little kid. I am blessed to have her as my wife. Insha Allah she will be rewarded with abundance of “pahala” or good merits from god.

Lastly, i wish all the best to new mummies and daddies out there. Its going to be a tiring, but at the same time all worth it.

Our Home

It’s hard to believe. Even when my wife and I have been staying in our new home for a month, we’re still coming to grips with the fact that we have a place to call home. We are most thankful to have a roof over our heads. We got our house through a resale HDB scheme. To put it simply, its a scheme where we buy over a house from a previous owner. Consider us the most luckiest couple to get a house which was kept in very good condition.

Upon returning from New Zealand, my wife and I weren’t really looking for a home yet. The thought of getting a home is the least of our priorities as we actually waited for our HDB Sales of Balance scheme results to be out. So there came day in the first quarter of 2017, my wife scrolled through her Facebook and saw her friend had put up an advertisement to sell her house.

I scrolled through the pictures and my first instinct was to view the house and immediately offer to purchase the house. Its a high floor, awesome view, 4-room flat. Mind you, my wife and I rushed to the house to seal the deal as fast as possible. If you were to see the pictures of the previous design, you might also be tempted to purchase the house. Luckily I still have the pictures for your viewing.

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Time of Purchase
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After Renovation

So as I’ve said it, we dealt with the seller straight. We agreed that we won’t engage an agent. The fees are atrociously high for something that we can do ourselves. So we saved a good $4K – 5K in agent fees alone. It took some time to learn how to purchase a house on our own. There are online materials for any average Singaporean to learn how to purchase their own house. Your best bet is to learn from HDB itself. I will try my best to explain how to do this in my future posts.

We received the keys from HDB in September. It was a really short wait. Being a minimalist, I love clean and simple looks. I wasn’t a fan of the dark industrial theme. So my wife and I took matters in our hands and engaged a interior designer. I already knew what to do with the house. So i laid out my plans with the interior designer on my needs and wants.

To summarize, our renovation cost only SGD15K. We did

  • Vinyl Flooring
  • Carpentry ( Feature Wall, extra Cabinets in Kitchen, Wardrobe, Study Table)
  • Full repaint
  • Additional electrical makeovers ( Electrical Points etc)

We didn’t touch the toilets. They were amazing as it were.

The killer were the furniture and electronics. I did not keep track of how much we spent but it was probably in the 15-20k range. Thanks to ikea and other miscellaneous items.

We are 95% ready with the house. We are still waiting for our prints to arrive so that we can hang them up in our viewing gallery in our house.

I have sent out invites to closest friends and colleagues for our open house on 11 February.

I will further expand this post with additional content on how to purchase a resale HDB flat without an agent and timeline of our renovation works in the future. Till then, here are some of the before and after pictures of our home.

Before

After

Quick Update

A few updates.

First, there is a major revamp going on and I’m still slowly editing this site.

There are new additions to the portfolio section. Particularly the recent shoots over the past few months. Do check them out below!

Also! Me and my wife are happy to announce that we are indeed staying in our new home! It has been a month since we stepped into our new home. I will do a thorough blog post on it soon!

Do stay tuned!

A State of Infinite Obsession

If you have an Instagram account, chances are you’d come across photos of your friends in a room full of colorful polka-dots. You might be wondering where you can get a piece of the action. Perhaps you have some ideas and concepts in mind about what kind of photos you wanna take, or maybe you just want to breathe in and admire the art that is Yayoi Kusama.

Enter “Life is in the heart of a rainbow”. Yayoi Kusama’s collection of her artistic work, it boasts exhibits such as the “infinity mirror room” and intricate dots, phallic and pumpkin motifs.

Be sure to head down to Singapore’s National Gallery from 9 Jun –  3 Sept 17 to catch her work. For those who want to snap some pictures over there, here are some tips from me.

  1. Go on a weekday, in the morning to avoid large crowds.
  2. If you have a DSLR or an interchangeable lens camera, be sure to get a prime, telephoto and a wide angle lens. The wide angle lens is especially crucial when it comes to taking photos in a corner.
  3. Play around with perspective, there are many ways you can creatively take photos over there. Do not limit yourself to taking against a wall. Move around with your subject to get creative angles. Make use of high, low angles and bokeh. Bokeh does a very good job in singling out your subject amidst the endless polka-dots.
  4. Bring spare batteries. My first battery died out quickly. There were so many opportunities to take photos there. But i chose the best when it comes to post-processing.
  5. The lighting conditions there is not that great or friendly to your camera. After all, it is an indoor exhibit. I bumped up the ISO but not too much. I opened my len’s aperture as wide as it can go and played around with shutter speed to get enough light in. By doing so, i had to ask my wife to stand still while i clicked the shutter to avoid any blurry motion.
  6. Lastly, go get the tickets online. You can avoid long queues if you do this. You can book it here. https://www.nationalgallery.sg/visit/admissions

Here are the some of the shots taken at the exhibit. My wife is the subject/model for the shoot.

I’ve Always Wanted To Fly

I am blessed to live in a time where flying cameras exist.

You may have heard weird whooshing noises coming from the sky. You may have also seen red and green lights flashing against the night sky. For the uninitiated, they may have dismissed it as an army unmanned aerial vehicle or in some extreme case, an unidentified flying object better known as an UFO.

To everyone else who knows what i’m talking about. Yes. Its the drone.

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The Mavic Pro. A nimble yet powerful drone.

I’ve always wanted to fly. I had bold yet unrealistic dreams of being an airforce pilot. Which is undeniably hard to get into. I wanted to be in the cockpit of an F-15 Eagle. Which is also my favourite fighter plane. That dream will never be a reality for me. So i buried those dreams in the pile of my darkest recesses of my unachievable dreams catalog.

The only way to be in the sky back then is to be in a simulated environment i.e video games. So i spent a chunk of my time immersing myself in games where i had the chance to be a pilot. Notable games include the Battlefield and Ace Combat series. The flight controls and physics in those games are universal and it applies the same as you would have pilot a drone. You have the yaw, pitch and roll to account for the control of a plane. I became used to the understanding of these basic principles to generate thrust and maintain flight.

The only way to be in the sky back then is to be in a simulated environment i.e video games.

Then came along the introduction of drones. They never really caught my attention because frankly, the camera quality and gimbal(stabilizer for camera) on those early drones or prototypes didn’t quite appeal to me. One company brought a revolutionary product to the table and they are called DJI (Dà-Jiāng Innovations Science and Technology Co., Ltd) and yes it’s a company from China.

New Zealand Honeymoon Mavic Pro Video
Check out my other videos here.

They are known for dishing out quality gimbals for cameras such as the Ronin but later developed drones for professional and consumer use. I am sure you might have heard or seen the Phantom, Inspire and Matrice series. All ranging from consumer to professional and industrial grade of drones. Again, i had a problem with all of them. They were too big to carry around. Although they pack one of the best cameras in the dji drone range.

My first drone was the phantom 3 standard and it was a birthday present from my wife. I had some time with it to practice but it had some problems. First it was too bulky to bring around especially when I’m planning to bring it overseas. Another downside was the range. 1km transmission range simply was not enough to fulfill my vision.

The Mavic Pro was developed last year and it immediately got my attention and money. I was ready to make it rain. Mind you, i had gone through an extensive research on the drone. Be it from user reviews to the critics. But nothing could have swayed me from buying it except for the first hand footages of the drone in flight on Youtube. It is an amazing feat to see something so nimble and portable (reasons which have helped me purchase the drone) fly up high in the skies amidst the strong and unpredictable winds. I was sold. Furthermore, my wife and i had the intentions to film our trip in NZ with a drone. So i had to train and practice before heading to NZ.

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The Mavic Pro Flight Controller

The controls for piloting the Mavic Pro is pretty much the same when i pilot in games such as Battlefield. More so with the helicopter controls. It clicked with me. In no time, i have slowly mastered the art of flying the drone.

Coming from a photography background, some of the concepts of videography are similar. I had to learn everything on youtube. I skipped some of the basic stuff and went right into editing because that’s where it really matters. I’m running on a windows platform and since i’ve been using Lightroom to edit my photos, it was a clear-cut choice for me to get the Premiere Pro. It was daunting to see all the dials and controls when i fired up the program the first time but i got used to it after awhile. Just to make it clear, editing videos is much harder than editing photos.

I’m running on a windows platform and since i’ve been using Lightroom to edit my photos, it was a clear-cut choice for me to get the Premiere Pro.

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Snapshot captured by my drone

I have a long term goal on drone ownership. You must know why you want to buy a drone. For me its simple, i want to take aerial videography for my wife and I when we are travelling overseas as well as help people document their special moments from the air. If you have any queries, you can email me at anuar.tahir@gmail.com.

The trend for drone ownership is rising and with the new DJI spark out, more casuals will try to get their hands on it. The Spark is much more user friendly and caters especially to the casuals. Those who want to try out or are interested in aerial photography/videography can visit these two shops in Singapore. Links can be found here and here.

To all aspiring drone videographers, happy droning!

$48.50 for Geylang Bazaar Food?!

So there were some hyperbolic claims made on the internet recently about Geylang Bazaar. The most bizarre being a stall that sold cat and dog meat satay. That is not at all true by the way. Some guy decided that by spreading that rumour around, the limelight would be on him.

There’s another claim about some stalls not being halal-certified, which is entirely true. Luckily, there are some online halal-food-police/vigilantes who did some detective work and listed down the halal and non-halal food stalls. For those who are unsure about which stalls are halal, you can click the link here. You can thank TheSmartLocal.com for coming up with the comprehensive list.

 

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Teh Tarik with Style

 

For my $50 price tag cum hyperbolic claim, this is entirely true. Lets breakdown the prices for the food my wife and I bought.

  1. Benjo Burger – $4.50
  2. Steam Burger x 2 (at $4.00 ea) – $8.00
  3. Takoyaki x 2 (at $2.50 ea) – $5.00
  4. Katira Drinks bundle of 3 – $10.00
  5. Torchblown Scallop – $4.00
  6. Iced Shaken Hibiscus Drink – $4.00
  7. Fried Banana Fritters – $2.00
  8. Kerepok Lekor – $2.00
  9. Turkish Fizzy Drinks bundle of 3 – $5.00
  10. Thai Milk Tea – $4.00

I may not know your definition of expensive. The price tag for our food hunt in Geylang Bazaar was unexpected. With that money, we could have gotten us a nice dinner at Hei Sushi, Pizza Hut or even Nene Chicken with their popular 50cm hotplate chicken @ only SGD$39.90. I can vouch for the hotplate chicken. It was surprisingly good.

 

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How much burn do you want in your marshmallow?

 

Talking about surprises, I am shocked to see how Geylang has sold itself and cater food for hipsters. i.e those who flock down to the bazaar to not only try out the hipster-ish food but also upload instagrammable food on their instagram accounts. Geylang used to be a simple and quaint mecca for muslims. It was the only place for Muslims to converge on the once-a-year bazaar ramadan for traditional street food and snacks such as kerepok lekors or the famous and messy Ramly Burger (whichever way or sauce you like your Ramly to be)

I personally do not like the way Geylang is turning out to be. If geylang is a person, i would call him a sellout. I expected Raya songs to be played on air as i walk among throngs of perspiring humans. I expect it to be a special place for the malay/muslim community to celebrate what i means to be a malay/muslim in Singapore.

 

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Handsome Burgers

 

On the other hand, i applaud the innovative spirit of our millennials i.e the stall vendors to bring in new and exciting foods to the table. They should be commended for mixing things up such as the new Taco Dendeng and handsome burger. They look absolutely yummy. There’s no doubt about that.

Luckily for these aspiring entrepreneurs, we live in a age where there’s instagram and facebook. Not forgetting the online “influencers”, with their wide reach and influence, do everything in their power to propagate new and exciting stuff to the masses. Which in this case, the Bazaar Geylang food.

 

 

 

We also cannot blame them for making Geylang wildly different from what it was. A recent article mentioned that rental fees in Geylang Bazaar skyrocketed to about SGD $17,000. Article can be found here.

If splicing, experimenting and making food pleasing to the eyes are ways to earn big bucks, then I cannot see how and why they, the vendors, should not stop doing so. They too have a rental fee to pay up.

It is sad to see the current state of Geylang bazaar. It is quickly losing it’s charm and meaning. Lets hope the next generation of stall vendors will take note and restore our culture back to Geylang Bazaar.

Life As a Newly Wedded Husband

A mini-blog series. I will write new stuff as the days go by.

As of today I am a 2 month old husband and counting.
A husband.
Husband.

I found it hard to believe that I am already someone’s husband. Well I had that feeling in the first month anyways. I am comfortably settling down well with the title now. Though it feels a little weird when anyone address me as a husband now and then. Before I took her hand, I knew that it is a huge undertaking. By that, i mean that the responsibilities as a husband that I have to bear is immense.

I still remember the Tok Kadi’s words (solemnizer) when he preached the duties that i have to perform and uphold when i take on the title of a husband. One of which being a provider for the sustenance of my wife. There are clearly more responsibilities in marriage in Islam that I have to uphold but i shall just mention that one. Those couples intending to marry and know more can learn on their own online but i advise to go for marriage classes. My wife and I went for Art Of Marriage. Link can be found here.  Its an express course; taking just one day to complete, from 9am till 5pm. Class is held at Kaplan City Campus @ Pomo. As the name suggests, it is conveniently located in the heart of town. Classes are arranged in a way where you and your partner will participate in a class full of other couples. Expect some group work though. But trust me, it’s gonna be fun.

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Shopping at Kilang Battery, JB, Malaysia

Well since i got that part about responsibility done, now let’s talk about what is it like being a husband. I’ve been asked this question many times. Which i kinda expect to be asked when i meet my colleagues, friends and family. Frankly, i don’t have a proper, solidified answer to give them because i am new to all of this.

I can only give impressions of how it is as a husband. So these are my impressions of being a husband. Note that i can only give an accurate answer only when i have been through the journey as a husband because i am a staunch believer that it is the journey that matters and not the end result. Impressions can change over time but i would like to keep it as optimistic as possible.

  • It is heartening to see someone I love at home, right after a hard day’s at work. Just looking at my wife brings me immense joy.
  • I love it when she recites the Quran after dusk prayers, it soothes my heart.
  • Having someone to eat breakfast and dinner with me daily has been awesome.
  • Doing the dishes is a combined effort, as much as she holds the title of a wife, i can also do in my power to try to help her. After all, the ladies and wives of today also hold a job. This is not 20 or 30 years ago where women were housewives.
  • I have to throw my bad habits and inculcate good ones in order to co-exist with my wife and new family. One bad habit is that i don’t make my bed. Yes, i know i’m a sloth.
  •  Render as much service and massage each after a bad or tiring day at work because who else is going to do it?
  • When i wake up and the first thing i see is her beside me, i feel like its the best feeling in the world.

My wife has been a dear to me. I was sick recently and had bouts of vomiting in the night. That happened when we had a night’s stay at Royal Plaza on Scotts. We had been looking forward to the staycation ever since we came back from our trip to New Zealand. My stomach had to play the fiddle and I couldn’t eat proper. The whole time I felt nauseous but thanks to my wife, she did everything in her power and love to nurse me back to health. She was selfless and caring. She treated me so well to the point where i worry she didn’t have enough personal time to care and pamper herself. After all, it was meant to be a staycation. I love her for being her and more.

This journey of being a family has just begun. It will be a transitive and evolving journey. I expect the highs and the lows but no matter what, we have to go through it together.

Oh and i cannot contain my excitement. Our HDB resale flat and keys will be ready somewhere in September this year. Shall update you guys in a separate post in the near future!

Why Am I Into Photography?

This may be a surprise to some (especially those who just got to know me) but it really isn’t. In fact I have had a keen interest in all things photography for a very long time. It predates all the way back in middle school(primary school in Singapore’s context). Now let me tell you why it is only now (or rather 4 years ago) that i started to go amateur. I’m not sure how do they categorize they level of professionalism but as far as i know it is up to you to judge my pictures. A word of disclaimer though, I take pictures to express my creativity.

I am one who loves to create. Not physically create something that is tangible but something that is enough to invoke feelings and memories for people. To specify it further, i love to digitally create, alter or modify photographs and videos. I had my humble beginnings at editing pictures which i totally sucked but when i looked back, I can only give myself a pat in the back for taking that first step. And this i want to emphasize, the first step is always the hardest. Always. 

Yana & Azahar’s Post Wedding shoot

Now, i’m not that different from the first day i held the camera. Granted, i have understood the concept of manual controls and the creative aspects of how to take a proper photograph but there is still so much that i have to learn.

I remembered my first camera. It was a present from my dad and i was responsible for taking “official” family portraits.  I didn’t have a single clue on how to operate it. You gotta give me credit though. I was only 10 or 11 years old at that point of time. I took up the challenge and when it was time for it to be printed, most of the photos were in a wide landscape format. Boy, did it cost a whole lot! My dad gave me a whooping when he had to fork out a lot for the pictures. That dampened my mood and slowed down my drive to continue taking pictures.

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Lenny’s Maternity Shoot

Fast forward to secondary school, you know the drill. Everyone has to get the latest phones at that age. The era of handphone cameras was the in-thing and was there to stay for a long time till today. Now handphone cameras sport f2 apertures and monstrous megapixels packed into a small sensor. How far technology has come. That was when i started to pick up photography again but as a hobby. I did some small time video edits but that’s about it. I was more into editing photos in photoshop. I went as far as digitally attaching Gundam propellers to my shoulders. That was one of the proudest and corniest moment of my life. Wish i still have the photo with me though.

Then came a long hiatus. Polytechnic and on to NS. I was more focused on attaining good grades in Poly as well as ORD-ing as soon as possible. I had lots of free time right after NS and i needed to pick up a hobby because (explained in para 2). I merely thought of getting myself my own DSLR and shoot pictures out of pure hobby. Luckily for me, Instagram was there at that time for me to upload my shots. I just wanted a platform to express and showcase my work so people can comment and critique my pictures. My endgame was to keep on improving. It is a never ending cycle.

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Port Dickson Trip

Now comes the interesting part. As i’ve mentioned, my intentions were to express my creativity and have a collection of photos that i can call mine. My work needs no any salary or payoffs that can motivate me from doing what i love doing. Hence, that is why it is a hobby. Things took a turn when some of my followers on Instagram enquired me whether i can take photos for them. I had my own doubts whether i can perform up to task because now there were expectations set for me.

Like I said, the first step is always the hardest. This was a bold new step for me to take. I knew that if i took on this challenge, i would have to have to up my game. So in preparation for the first official shoot, i looked up online on how to do up my own contract between client and vendor. There were many but my wife helped me to narrow down the simplest and easiest to understand. Once that was settled, I watched tutorials online on how to take proper wedding photos. Generally, good lighting is needed to take quality photos. The creative aspect is the hardest. So i drew inspiration from local and international photographers on how they take photos. Each of them had their own style and preference. In general, its called photo composition. Across the board, they all had good lighting. So I just prayed hard that the sun will be out on that day.

Luckily, the sun was out for both days. So i took as many photos and angles as i could. At the end of the event, i was satisfied. Another aspect of photography is that i takes editing to bring a photo to life.

With Lightroom, I was able to envision what i want in each individual photo. Maintaining colour balance was of utmost importance to me. It depicts the best representation of what really happened on the day. Once I’m happy with that, I have to bolster the mood and atmosphere of each photo.

In essence, all of these aspects help make a good photo. I wouldn’t say i mastered it. I have a long journey ahead of me to be good at what i’m in. There are always people who are way better than me. I respect the craft and the artist behind every photo. Taking a photo isn’t just point and shoot, there has to be careful consideration on how your master photo should look like. Don’t be afraid to take many shots of a single scene. In the end you have cull and edit the best of the lot. It takes guts, patience and skill to make it all work.

To all aspiring photographers, start it out as a hobby and not as something you want to gain something from it. Trust me, you’ll love it even more that way.

NZ CAMPERVAN TRIP

Sharing my Roadtrip itinerary with you guys!

Date: 20 March – 1 April 2017

8 Days Roadtrip by Campervan + 4 Days Airbnb & SUV

After much discussion with fiancée’ (now wife), we decided to go for a 12 days adventurous and laidback trip for our honeymoon. Where else than to experience kiwi (better known as New Zealand) life, up close and personal by campervan (equipped with queen bed, shower, a television, cooking utensils and stove) for 8 days and live a laidback life by living among the locals in an AIRBNB apartment for the last four days?

In hindsight, we know our first leg of the trip would be risky as we would have to drive hundreds and thousands of kilometers. But trust me, the trade-off is well worth it. Stunning landscapes and vistas are just two of many things that you can experience while driving. I’ll post pics along the way to show just how beautiful NZ is.

1. GETTING TO NZ

1.1 Singapore (SIA flight) > Sydney (ANZ transit flight) > Queenstown, NZ

2. GENERAL TIPS

2.1. Get a SIM card. I recommend SPARK NZ. They have the best coverage according to locals and from my experience. A 3 GB data plan cost around NZD 50. It is more than sufficient unless you are planning to upload videos on Instagram. Option to top up data is also available.

2.3 Download and use campermate app. It gives you information on the nearest camp sites, diners and eateries as well as dumping stations.

3. TRIP BREAKDOWN

3.1 Queenstown > Twizel > Glentanner > Mount Cook > Lake Tekapo > Lake Wanaka > Queenstown > Kingston > Te Anau > Milford Sound > Queenstown

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Walked through one of Milford Sound’s National Park

4. CAMPERVAN & DRIVING THERE

4.1 We booked a Campervan via an online platform called MightyCamper. (we did some research on trustworthy campervan companies before booking) We booked the campervan for a week as we had plans for a laidback segment for the last 4 days of our trip.

4.2 Our campervan is called Mighty Deuce. The campervan is equipped with a stove, cooking utensils, toilet and shower and a comfy bed cum dining area.

4.3 Coming from SG, our driving licence is internationally recognized and there was no problem for MightyCamper to process the rental agreement and I drove off as soon as it was approved. They have an in-built GPS with tutorials on how to operate the kitchen, electrical appliances and the shower. It is crucial to learn these as you will definitely use them on your roadtrip.

4.4. The roads are fairly easy to drive. If you are opting for a campervan, be sure to drive safely and defensively. The road limit is 100km/h. It might seem fast but in reality, its quite slow as the roads are long and winding. The winds are strong and you must have a strong grip on the steering wheel. Don’t be surprised if you see sheeps crossing, be sure to whip out your cameras to document that special moment. Oh and the roads are two way, so if you need to overtake, you have to cut through the opposing lane. And be sure to slow down when others are trying to overtake you.

4.5 Parking the campervan is quite hard in big towns such as Queenstown. There are pay & display parking areas where you pay a fee to park your campervan. Just display the receipt on your dashboard and you are good to go. I remembered paying NZD 2.50 for whole day parking. Oh and remember there are certain places where you can’t park the campervan as it is huge. Plus there are parking areas with 30, 60, 120 and 240mins free parking.

4.6. Parking the campervan in the open roadsides in the countryside is permissible. Be sure not to block the traffic. Just prep your camera or drones (if you have) to take scenic pictures and videos!

4.8 You are also responsible for basic upkeep of the vehicle. If you shower or use the toilet in the vehicle, the excess water and waste will have to go somewhere. Fortunately, the campervan has a good sanitation outlet. Once in every few days, it is recommended for you to remove excess waste by dumping it in a dumping station. Use campermate app to find the nearest dumping station.

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Took a breather from the roadtrip to capture this moment!

5. FOOD & BEVERAGE

5.1 Food is aplenty and I heard their beef steaks are to die for. As a Muslim, I cannot eat them unless they are halal. To satisfy our hunger we only ate fish(Salmon especially) and kebabs. At least they are halal!

5.2 Visit supermarkets such as Four Square and New World often to top up your groceries. If you are into Asian food, try out Asian Food Mart. You can cook them in your campervan!

5.3 You have to definitely try Patagonia Chocolates. Best of its kind!

6. AIRBNB

6.1 We booked an Airbnb apartment in Kingston, about 30 mins drive away from Queenstown. We booked it months before our trip and we fell in love with the décor of the house. The hosts were warm and friendly and gave us a head’s up compendium of what to do i.e outdoor activities. Nothing much special about this 2nd leg of the honeymoon. The adventure was the campervan trip.

7. ACTIVITIES

7.1 We booked our activities via a travel agent/consultant in Queenstown. We booked from Freedom Travel, located in the heart of Queenstown. Our agent, Sabine was nice enough to recommend us the best activities to do in Queenstown. She gave us a hardcopy scheduler to take note of our booked activities. We just have to make sure to be at location on time. The campervan/car really helped a lot in getting us around.

7.2 Here are the activities we booked during our honeymoon

• Glacier Explorer booked @ Mount Cook Activity Centre
• Skydive Wanaka
• Skippers JetBoat @ Queenstown
• Scenic Helicopter Ride @ Queenstown
• Skyline Gondola & Luge + Restaurant at Stratosfare @ Queenstown
• Puzzling World @ Wanaka
• Milford Sound Cruise @ Milford Sound

7.3 These are paid activities, the real gem came from the roadtrip itself. I will tell you more about the roadtrip in point 8.

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On a heli trip up a mountain!

8. ROADTRIP

8.1 The roadtrip started off in Queenstown on the first day and we headed off to buy and stock up our groceries at New World supermarket. We also bought our sim cards at Queenstown centre. Do take note to buy SPARK NZ sim cards. Vodafone’s signal strength was dodgy. Once we are done with admin stuff, we headed of to 12 Mile Delta near the Queenstown Centre. We overnighted there.

8.2 The next day we booked our activities through our travel agent at Queenstown Centre and paid cash upfront for all the activities. The activities will be done during the 2nd leg of our honeymoon. Once we booked the activities, we headed straight to Mount Cook.

8.3 The journey to Mount Cook was a very long one. Approx 4 hour + drive. We made sure there was enough diesel for the journey. We made a pitstop at Twizel to have dinner at Jasmine Thai Restaurant before continuing our journey.

8.4 From Twizel to Mount Cook highway was a short one if im not wrong. About 1 -2 hour drive left. Before my wife and I continued our final drive to Mount Cook, we booked two nights stay at Glentanner Holiday Park. About 25 NZD per pax for a night. They have a kitchen, shower facilities and a powered site for your campervan. Before setting off to our next destination, we emptied our waste tanks and topped up our water and diesel.

8.5 The next two days were spent at Mount Cook. We opted for a glacier explorer activity where both of us were in for a cold treat. We had to mini-hike our way to Tasman Glacier lake and a boat was waiting for us. The guide was knowledgeable and taught us a thing or two about icebergs and glaciers. The next day at Mount Cook had us photo-taking at the scenic sights in and around Mount Cook. The drive was the best over there. You can never go wrong with that.

8.6 Once we were done with Mount Cook, we headed to Lake Tekapo. It is one of the best sites for stargazing. It is even awarded the honorary title of being a “International Dark Sky Reserve”. Trust me I saw the milky way and literally thousands of stars painted the sky. The night never looked so beautiful. The next day had us having breakfast at the Lake Tekapo Village. Before setting off to our next destination, we emptied our waste tanks and topped up our water and diesel.

8.7 We headed off to Lake Wanaka on the same day and it was approximately a 2hr+ drive back towards Queenstown. That’s where we had our Skydiving Activity. My wife was against it even before our honeymoon but somehow, I managed to persuade her to jump along with me! Kudos to her! You wanna try skydiving, try skydive Wanaka. The aerial view is to die for!

8.8 We overnight at Wanaka Holiday park for another two days to explore the area and we made sure to visit the lonely tree @ lake Wanaka. It is also known as being the most photographed tree in the world. Such a surreal experience. Before setting off to our next destination, we emptied our waste tanks and topped up our water and diesel.

8.9 Once we were done with Lake Wanaka, we headed back to Queenstown to return our campervan (it was a sad day for us because we have been so used to being in the campervan) We booked a simple SUV as a replacement for our campervan because hey, we need a transport for getting to places! We had our scenic helicopter ride on the same day and checked in to our Airbnb apartment at Kingston (a 30-min drive from Queenstown)

8.9.1 The next few days was spent at our Airbnb and we had our remaining activities lined up for us. Mainly the jetboat, gondola ride and lunch at Stratosfare and Milford Sound. Fired up my Google Maps and we drove to the desired locations via SUV. Our Airbnb hosts were so friendly and warm! They even made popcorn and muffins for us! Wont dwell to much on this as the highlight was the roadtrip.

9. FINAL THOUGHTS

9.1 New Zealand is teeming with life and character. The life there is laidback and slow-pace. When driving, all you can see is endless plains and mountains and lakes. Life is meant to be lived in that environment, where nature is king and humans leave minimal carbon footprint behind. I can say I am truly impressed with the culture. Where everyone smiled at us and even greeted us saying how was our day. Such a stark difference from being here in SG. New Zealand has this aura where it unlocks your creativity and has an uplifting atmosphere that brings you to high spirits. I can truly appreciate god’s creation and wonders by admiring his work in nature.

You have to definitely visit NZ once in your life. Immerse yourself in the Kiwi life. Immerse yourself with nature.

Check out more pictures here and my drone video here!

What Happened After All These Years + Marriage Prep!

My blog was in a very long hiatus.

This space has been kept in the dark close to 4 years. Right after I lost all motivation to write. There were many significant distractions or should i say goals at that point of time; finding a proper job to fund my marriage, finding my own identity and reshuffling my priorities. There wasn’t just much time to sit back and write.

But all is about to change. I managed to strike a balance between giving time for myself, my job, my hobby in digital arts(photography/videography) and the people around me especially now that I’m married. I have lots to write about how i got into photography and videography but i’ll leave all that in another blog post in the future.

Talking about marriage, I’m finally someone’s husband! I got married recently. I tied the knot on 19 March 2017. Approximately at 8.10pm, i officially pronounced my marriage with Nur Aqidah Bte Latif. At that exact moment in time, i managed to heave a sigh of relief, mainly because the buildup and anticipation of getting married is stressful. Since i didn’t opt for a wedding planner, my wife and I had to properly choose the vendors for our big day. Safe to say, the event went smoothly and I was grateful to those who came to grace the event.

The real heroes of the day were the vendors, my groomsmen and my family members. Without them to coordinate the event, it would have not been gone to plan. To those wondering which vendors i engaged, here is a list of them. Quick review to all of them as well.

  • NAFimages (Photographer) – Nuruddyn knows his stuff, i have been following his works on instagram. Wont leave you disappointed. You can check out at @nafimages on instagram.
  • REDTAPE(Videographer) – A high profile video and editing company. They shot for Suria before. Highly recommended for wedding shoots. Check them out at @redtapeprojects on instagram.
  • COMEL & MOLEK (Wedding Caterer and Decor) – Exceeded my expectations in every way. They blew me away with their designs. They made my void deck feel like a hotel ballroom. Check them out at @comelmolekwedding on instagram.
  • CHERRIESMITTEN (BMW Rental Car) – Car was in tip-top condition. Driver knows his roads and drove very smoothly throughout the event. On the expensive side though. There are cheaper alternatives.
  • THE WEDDING BROCADE (Bridal) – I need not say more. Im sure this came up in your list if you are planning your wedding. One of the best in Singapore when it comes to malay weddings.
  • AKRAB (Kompang & DJ) – Their energy and gusto in their performances is second to none. I thoroughly enjoyed their performance. They make your wedding 10x better. The crowd was highly impressed as well.
  • LYDIA’s OVEN (Pulut Wedding Cake) – Recommended by my cousin. Yummy is all i can say! Very fast and efficient when they set up the cake!

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As you may have noticed, most of them are top-tier vendors and they are the best in the field. With such high-profile vendors, one would expect to pay much. That is the price i have to pay. I had to save up close to 1.8k monthly in order to reach my goals. I had to sacrifice my time with friends and give up a lavish life of buying the things i want. It was all for a good cause and i had no regrets of doing so. Of course there were dates with my wife(fiancee at that point of time) but it was a rare occasion and we limit it to about once a week. Lucky for us, our jobs tire us after work and we will mostly rest up at home and message each other. Our jobs occupied our lives so we wont feel empty. We had a simple endgame in mind; being together at the end of the road.

We got together on 12 October 2013. We got engaged on the 11th of October 2015. Married on the 19 March 2017. From the day we were engaged to our big day, we had a year and a half to prepare. The time allocated was more than sufficient for us.  We just have to keep track of our savings. Just a few tips for those who are saving:

  1. Don’t spend more than what you need. Tempting yes, i have been seduced a lot of times but my wife prevented me from buying what i want. 
  2. Buy things that you only need. Necessary things such as food and drinks to keep on surviving.
  3. Do OT if your organization or company provides the facility to do so. I’m not a fan of doing OT but i’ve seen my colleagues save up faster because of it.
  4. Limit your dates. This is a killer if you date often because if often involves lots of money for transport, food, and or movie.
  5. Stay at home often. This is a no-brainer.
  6. Pick up a simple, no-frills hobby to fill your free time. Recommended and provided if your hobby does not require you to empty your pocket.

Last but not least definitely, there will be challenges headed your way from the time you are engaged till the day both you and your partner exchange vows. They will come in many forms. I found the challenge of saving up for marriage the most hardest because there are just so many distractions. Especially so considering im a techie and a videographer. So many things to upgrade and purchase. If you are reading this and finding a challenge to save, just wait a little bit longer till the day comes. After with every hardship, ease will come.

All the best to all who are planning to get married!