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Travel Photography With Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Destination: Nepal | Boudhanath Stupa

If you happened in Kathmandu and you have nothing in your plan for that day, I will suggest a visit to Boudhanath Stupa. The largest stupa in Nepal, ranked no. 3 interesting places to visit in Kathmandu written in Lonely Planet Travel Guide Book.

Located about 7km of east of the downtown Kathmandu, if you from Thamel, Kathmandu’s tourist spot, it cost you about Rs350 (in 2012) per way with a small, cramped sized taxi. It took about 15-20 minutes to reach here. Entrance fees applied at the gate with the cost of Rs150 per person.

Boudhanath Stupa Entrance Ticket

Boudhanath is both an eye of calm within capital’s dusty pandemonium and a sancutary of Tibetan Buddhist culture amid a nation dominated by Nepal Hindus. Throughout its narrow streets, you can see posters of smiling Dalai Lama, Tibetan folk-medicine stores, traditional artisans’ workshops, and restaurants. It has been announced as World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1979. Buddhists walk around the sacred monuments clockwise, the same direction a prayer wheel spins. The monasteries near the stupa have become a global centre of Tibetan Buddhism.

Prayers at Boudhanath Stupa

Boudhanath Stupa With Golden Layer At The Edge Of The Horizon

If you planned to make a visit, I suggest to go here arround 3-5pm. If you come earlier, the you will have all the time for visit all the shops inside, of have a cup of coffee or two at one of the roof top cafe surrounding the big stupa. I’m suggesting to visit at that time so that we are can target for the sunset and the blue hour. Well I don’t really mean that sunset but to have Boudhanath with nice golden layer at the edge of the horizon. During blue hour, when they started to lid the prayer candles and put it around the stupa is something not to be missed too. I didn’t manage to wait until all prayer candles fully completed arranged around the stupa, but for now, that will be in my “must-have” list on my next visit.

Boudhanath Stupa

A Lady Preparing Prayer Candles And Boudhanath Stupa

View From One Of Monastery Around Boudhanath

Prayer Candles getting lined up arround Boudhanath Stupa

Fujifilm X-Pro1 : Thaipusam Festival At Kota Kinabalu

Thaipusam is a key Hindu ceremony that is held each year during the full moon in the tenth month of the Hindu calendar – Thai – falling from mid-January to mid-February in the Gregorian calendar. It is mainly observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community including Malaysia. . It mark as public holiday in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Kedah, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak,  Penang & Selangor.

I’ve been living in Kota Kinabalu for so many years but never heard of this festival being held around here. All this years, I only know this iconic festival attracts over one million devotees and tens of thousands of tourists at Batu Caves. I was looking for some photographic opportunity during Deepavali last year, when I see the note about Thaipusam at Sri Subramaniam Temple (KM22, Penampang-Papar Road in Lok Kawi). My curiosity about it lead me to ask one of the visitor at the temple, I am lucky enough to know that the person I talked to is one of the temple management team. He said it was actually held every year. Yes, every year here in Kota Kinabalu and I have never seen a picture of this festival that was taken from here.

With the information given, I managed to find the location where it being held. It was at Meruntum waterfront near Sabindo Traffic Light. I can’t wait a friend of mine, Rade to arrive when I saw the ceremony is already started. During the ceremony, I’m still curious will be there any piercing like what we used to see at Batu Caves. I decided to stay when the group of devotees carrying a pot of milk walks to Sri Subramaniam Temple. Then I just realise that the piercing ceremony will be held.

Since this was my first time covering Thaipusam Festival, I have no idea how and what to expect. These are some images I took this morning with Fujifilm X-Pro1 + Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4.

Pot of Milk

I can’t stay until the end of ceremony (I wish I could), I have another priority for family & to perform Friday Prayer. I learn a lot about this festival, next year I’ll aim for the eve Thaipusam. It much more interesting in Batu Caves, but I prefer to highlight the festival at Kota Kinabalu.

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Baby Portrait With Fujifilm X-Pro1

X-Pro1 With YungNuo RF603 Triggers & Nikon SB600

X-Pro1 With YungNuo RF603 Triggers & Nikon SB600

Image above taken with Fujifilm X-Pro1 with YungNuo RF603 triggering Nikon SB600. I didn’t plan to do any shooting that night, but I found a Lastolite Ezybox Hot Shoe Plate belong to a friend in my car boot. It was very light & had a hole just in case you want to use umbrella instead of soft box (someone please confirm me about this). So I decided to give it a try with my 24×24 soft box. My triggers flash sync is 1/125, set aperture to F2.8 and adjust my flash manual until it gets the effect I wanted. I was shooting myself at the beginning, and this baby boy just awaken from his sleep. It ended up me shooting him while my wife holding him to make him stay calm for a while.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Review (In My Own Words)

I know this is quite late to write the review on X-Pro1. But I had a lot of enquiries since i owned one. Rather than replying  every time people asking about it, why not i put in my blog so it can benefit everybody.  First of all, I just want you to know that I’m not really into gears. Before having the X-Pro1, I only owned Nikon D60 (new) & D90 (2nd hand) with 18-55mm kitlens & 35mm F1.8. Besides of that, i’m a fan of film camera too, so i had a TLR Yashica 635 and SLR Minolta SRT101 with 58mm Rokkor Lens. 

Mount Kinabalu | Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fujinon XF 14mm

Brief History

In January 2012, Fujifilm has launched X-Pro1 together with 3 prime lens (35mm F1.4, 18mm F2 & 60mm F2.4). This news however didn’t effect much other than hearing new model has been lunched by Fujifilm. The X100 model in that time was already 2 years in the market, i heard a lot of good feedback about it but never comes in my mind to own it. The were friends of mine having the X100 and they quite satisfied, the retro design added this model more interesting. My first hands-on X100 was during Saiful Nang Photography Seminar in Kota Kinabalu where we went to Kiulu for shooting, he handed me the X100 and i had about 2-3 minutes to handle it. Maybe it was that short time that X100 has failed to impressed me other than its retro look. 

Months after the launching of the X-Pro1, I’m quite surprised that this model has actually impressed by many professional photographer. I read about it in Zack Arias’s blog, Matt Brandon’s Digital Trekkers blog, and tonnes to positive reviews all over the internet. Zack Arias & Matt Brandon has mentioned that they has spent less time with DSLR since their first love with the X-Pro1. Besides of that, this X-virus has spreading all over Malaysia. Amri Ginang, Yaman Ibrahim, Muslianshah Masrie are the earliest person that “I know” has put their trust over this camera. With endless positive feedback and more professional photographer has own it, it is the good sign that this camera can be trusted. This has grown my own interest over the Fujifilm X-Pro1.

You can continue read more about this camera “in depth” in Digital Photography Review (Fujifilm X-Pro1). They did all the mathematics for you.

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Love At First Sight

On a wedding assignment with 48th Studio last May or June, I have my first opportunity to actually hands-on the X-Pro1 belong to my friend, Fahad Nasir (48th Studio Founder). The X-Pro1 was coupled with Fujinon 35mm F1.4. The body is quite big from what i aspected. The weight is very light that i don’t even bother to carry it all the time. Large viewfinder with selectable OVF (Optical View Finder) and EVF (Electronic View Finder). During that time, the one that really impressed me is the ring aperture on the lens & its EVF. The EVF is actually viewing almost accurate exposure, when you adjust the EV dial, it will show the effect “live”. This feature is new to me. The camera has once again impressed me with its Auto White Balance (WB) and its capability on high ISO without loosing so much details. So that was my love at first sight with X-Pro1.

Just few months after our first met, I owned myself the X-Pro1 with 35mm F1.4. It was exactly the same camera that i tried during the wedding assignment. I have some amount of savings which i have planned to buy a full frame camera (D700 or 5DMII) when I was informed that X-Pro1 is open for sale.

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The Design

Simple & Elegant. I can’t really describe in words but enough to let you know that i love it. Black body, leather bodygrip, large view finder at the top corner, EV dial, i love all of these.

Portrait Of Pak Indan during Yaman Ibrahim Hyper Portrait Workshop | Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fujinon XF 35mm

Handling

When it comes about the handling, one thing i notice is it is easy to get blurred image. Maybe the camera is too light when 35mm XF lens attached to the body. I need about 1/125 shutter to get sharp images handheld. Of cause we still can get it sharp when the shutter is lower than that, the chance is 50%. But this issue is no longer a “problemo” once i get used to it. I can now shoot as low as 1/30 shutter speed and get sharp images.

Performance

Auto Focus (AF) is the main issue when dealing with X-Pro1. The focus is really slow, that you can’t get it right when focusing moving objects. If they do, it wasn’t that fast. This weakness is okay for me as my type of photography is more on daily use, portrait & travel, which fast focusing is not so crucial. Being operating manual film camera before, i found that i should be thankful that we don’t have to face that kind for manual focusing everyday. On recent firmware updates (Ver 3.01) has actually let to better AF performance and Fujifilm really hear the voices to make the “peak focusing” comes into reality. This has given me more confidence to do manual focus.

Image quality is awesome. Yes of cause we can shoot RAW. One good thing is we can select choices of film emulation, Astia is the one i liked the most. Video modes is available too but very minimal option. I been using AWB from the first day I owned it. ISO1600-ISO3200 is acceptable, higher is good for 4R prints with unnoticeable noise. I had tried one picture of my daughter with ISO 25000 in 4R prints. I tried Nikon SB600 speed light on X-Pro1, can’t TTL but works with manual mode. I tried with YungNuo RF603 trigger and it work fiercely.

By this moment, i had only 2 lenses. XF 35mm F1.4 & XF 14mm F2.8. I really love the aperture ring on the lens, like my Rokkor lens. They also produces very sharp images.

Firmware Updates

Been using D60 & D90 for years but never had any firmware updates. I felt much intimate with Fujifilm because they do care about Fuji users with Firmware updates. They (Fujilfilm) hear our voices out here. They still working on firmware updates even though the X100, X-Pro1 has already in the market for more than 2 years (almost 2 years for Fujifilm X-Pro1).  While writing this post, i go to Fujifilm website of to see the firmware version (3.01), I’m surprised that on 28th November 2013, Fuji has announced another firmware update (Ver. 3.10), this firmware update will be released on 5th December 2013. This is truly amazing, i was about to point in my additional suggestion about minimum shutter speed while using aperture priority mode, we can now set it! Thanks a lot Fuji.

Gaya Street Sunday Market | Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Fujinon XF 14mm

If I could change a thing on X-Pro1, What is it?

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Personally, I would like to change the front lever to its original function in film camera as timer. The switching between EVF & OVF can be programmed in LCD/Eye sensor button. The mechanical timer is good (do you remember the sound of the mechanical timer?, thats “retro” if you could understand me) , but not really reliable for long time run (my minolta has this kind of timer, it still working after about 30 years in the market). However, digital timer will do just fine too. But I’m sure people will love the long forgotten “mechanical timer”.

Of all the point i mentioned above, I can say that I am very satisfied over X-Pro1. Really obsessed & crazy about it.I been shooting exclusively with X-Pro1 for straight 3 months. I love it so much. It produced “Kick Ass” quality images.

*All images (X-Pro1 detailed body images) are taken from Digital Photography Review Website. I will replace with my own very soon. 

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Kota Kinabalu Night Market

After having coffee session with friends on one night, i took a short visit at Kota Kinabalu Night Market which located just in front of Le Meridien Hotel. This Night Market normally operates from 5pm to midnight. It was about 1130pm when i reach here. Nothing much happening other on this time except the hawkers busy cleaning their stall which then “transformed” into a cubical cabinet.

With very minimal lighting available, I was looking for any photographic opportunity. Besides, this is the time where the high ISO capability to be tested. These set of images were taken with Fujifim X-Pro1 with Fujinon 14mm XF lens. I am quite impressed by its performance.

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Gaya Street Sunday Market

Gaya Street is one the tourist attraction in Kota Kinabalu. For many years, it held local market start from 0530hrs to 1300hrs every Sunday. You can find almost everything here, live plants, pets, tortoises, antiques, fruits, drinks, various local food and local cookies.

During the World War II, most of the building are bombed by the Allies. Only 2 building survived after the war. Upon reaching the end off Gaya Street Market, just about 1-2 minute walk from Jesselton Hotel toward Oldtown White Coffee is “Sabah Tourism Building”. It is one the survived building. Located just in front of the building, there is Plague of “Zero KM” marker.  Start from Jesselton Hotel towards “The Party Play is actually one of the earliest post-war building which appointed to a Hong Kong contractor by British.

This morning, I made a visit at Gaya Street SUnday Market looking for any photographic opportunity. I do not want to get distracted to have another lens in hands and keep on my focus on making a photograph, so i just have 1 lens with me. Furthermore, I can always come again and use another lens. I always bear in my mind that having so much gear sometimes distracts us to think about which gear to use rather than how to make the photograph.

Last night, i was thinking what kind of moment I want to photograph. Being common to this place made me really hard to think what was it to make this market  so interesting. There are plenty of photography opportunity like candids, portrait, etc. It also best presented in colours to show people how vibrant of this market could be.

While on my way to Gaya Street this morning, I decided to go back to basic and just play with light & shadow which to be presented in B&W. Here some images i took this morning. All images are taken using Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon XF 14mm 2.8.

Understanding Zone Focusing | Depth Of Field Indicator

After spending few weeks with Fujinon XF14mm 2.8. I am very satisfied with its both sharpness & its ability to shoot during low light. There are some marking on the lens which i’m not paying attention to when I use this lens until recently my curiosity has brought me to find the actual purpose of the marking.

For those who used manual lens or film camera, these marking are nothing new to them. I’ve seen several zoom lenses has these marking with its lines connecting to the focusing distance. These marking is known as “Depth Of Field (DOF) Indicator”. Here are some example (google images) of the marking i talked about:

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Image 1: Zoom Lens with Depth Of Field Indicator

DOF-indicator

Image 2: Lens with Depth Of Field Indicator

DOF indicator is used to guide which aperture will provides “acceptable” sharpness nearer and further from the actual focus distance. These technique is known as “Zone Focusing”. I’m not going to explain it scientifically about this. But lets learn how to use it.

Lets use “Image 2” as an example.

  • From the top, we can see the focus distance in feet(ft) followed by meter (m). On the focusing mark, it has aperture value on both its left and right side. Starting with 4, 8, 11, 16, 22.
  • Lets say that our subject are now in focus at 4ft. When we decide to use f8, both marking on the focusing marking shows us 3ft and 6ft. These indicate us that anything between 3ft to 6ft will be in “acceptable” sharpness. Any subject beyond the zone, will begin to blur, or out of focus.
  • I’m pretty sure you get the point now. I’ll let you to do further understanding by actually try it yourself.

Unfortunately, many of modern lenses nowadays doesn’t have these indicator due to Auto Focus technology has been improved way better for year to year. Welldone Fujifilm for their genius effort on putting the Depth Of Field Indicator on its Fujinon XF14mm lens to keep us aware of this features and be thankful for the advance of our AF technology nowadays.

 

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