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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Len(ii) Portraits with Prime Lens - Requirements and expectations

In Part 1 of our lens selection exercise, Daddy share his newbie motivation for Portraits. From blogwalking, we see beautiful baby pictures, each telling a compelling story.

We dived into realm of DSLR, and you know the rest of the story (or pictures).
As our skills improve, we can expect even nicer photos to come our way, hooray !!

If you are still considering a DSLR, read our post on the benefits of DSLR.

1) Research
Just when Daddy thought he is satisfied with his DSLR toy, he overheard Prime lens. (also called Fast lens, or Portrait lens).
Primes are suitable for Portraits, having a narrow depth-of-field (DOF), you can easily get a blur background (bokeh), and sharpen your “subject”.

Now, it will be nice if we can grab some candids on our four little models :)
In Part 2 of our lens-story, we would like to share our Prime lens-selection journey.

Sample DOF effect. Only subject is sharp, and everything else blur.

As we investigate further, more jargons appear.
- manual/auto focus
-aperture F1.4 or F1.8 , how-many-stops
- DSLR crop-factor (eg x 1.5, or full frame )
- creamy bokeh, edible?

Luckily wiki can help explain most stuffs in layman terms.
Refer to our "Resources" section" below for more links.

Q1 - At the end of the research, ask ourselves. What is our objective and requirement for getting a new lens? (if clueless, it means we do not need a lens now)

2) Shortlist and Simulation
After identifying our objective (Tele,wide,Portrait,Landscape, etc), start shortlisting.
- budget and performance (need to compromise)
- requirements
- special considerations? (maybe usable for future when we upgrade our DSLR?)

Q2 - Should we use one lens for all (eg 18-200, covering 18mm Wide, portrait 50mm , 200mm Tele) or multiple lens for different occasion?
- during outings, do we have time to swap the lens? and risk missing candid moments
- do we want to carry heavier one-for-all lens?
- is performance or convenience more critical for us?

Any lens can do a portrait, but Prime lens are supposed to provide higher quality snapshots, under low light (inhouse).

a) With our kit-lens, we can try to simulate what a prime lens 35 or 50 mm "sees".
DOF - Daddy's bokeh experiment with Nikon 18-55 lens.

b) iso - We can repeat our trials with iso from 100 to 6400
c) shutter - Repeat shots for shutter speed from fast to slow
See how picture turn out differently with various settings.

d) Disable Auto-focus (AF), and try manual-focus (MF). MF can still focus sharply on static objects, look at our pens.

Once we understand ISOs, Apertures, ShutterPriorty.. we are rewarded with beautiful pics. With more understanding, we further Finetune our requirements:

- 35mm or 50mm (35mm for confine space)
- select Nikon, Canon, or third parties (sigma, tamron etc)
- F1.4 or F1.8 (the lower the number, more $$ the lens)
- Auto-focus or Manual-focus ( AutoFocus if you are shooting active children in low light.)
- read lens reviews/feedbacks.
- browse sample galleries of our favourite lens at Flickr.

We are now ready to trial and touch some lens.

3) Shopping Tips
- Be thick skin. Do not be afraid to ask questions.
- We need to ask those silly questions, in order to satisfy our selection criteria, and clear our doubts.
- when you go shopping, it is actually the best time to learn !
- bring your own camera, plug in the new lens, snap away.
- Do not bow to salesman pressure. If unsure, walk away. Try another shop!!

4) Other considerations :
- Choose a shop with good feedback and great customer service.
- should I spend more to get the better lens, is the quality/effect worth the extra $$investment?
- If we cannot tell the picture quality difference, pick the cheaper lens
- bring own camera, go take some photos at shop, review and compare your shots at home (not on the small camera LCD)
- Different users got different expectations.. once we are happy , do not compare anymore :p

5) Hands on, shoot away
Bought your lens? This is only the beginning..
Photography requires dedication.
- Keep shooting, explore new skills and frontiers.
- Expose ourselves to new perspectives
- It is always fun to learn (or copy) from some other gurus or forums

End of the day, the photographer is the crucial factor.
Daddy tries to portray a "Story", even before he snaps away.
Camera, is just a tool for Daddy to create his storyboard.

6) Resources (too many to list)


Video : Nikon 35mm F1.8 -->


This post took longer to conceive.
Daddy was concerned.. "write too much, talk nonsense"... "if write too little, readers might misunderstand lens-selection is straightforward" :p

Daddy tries to write this post from a newbie's perspective.
Objective of this post is to share the challenges a newbie will encounter, when he go lens- shopping. Although we are using Nikon D5000, we believe lens selection criteria and concepts, are likely similar across different brands.

DSLR is not necessary, but nice-to-have.
The photographer is as important as his equipment.
With imagination and composition, a passionate compact-camera can kick a DSLR !

Happy shopping !!

We leave you with this doggie pic from Klara
Now, you do not need to be a dog lover to appreciate this panting dog :)
When can Daddy reach this standard :p

Lens story
part i - our motivation and intro
part ii - requirements and research

Sunday, August 29, 2010


hee hee here, and haha there

Our hall is always lively, with the babies' interactions !

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Studio Sengkang ..along our corridor

Daddy invited us to roll our chairs and tables to the corridor.
He wants us to model for him. Again?

No fancy props.

Just boys

.. with their siblings

.. tons of expressions.

clap clap, our Studio shot is successfull !

..presenting SengkangBabies :)

100% cute keke.

Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD) - Go Away !

HFMD, together with Chicken Pox and H1N1, always send shivers down every parents!
When there is an outbreak, everybody tense up.
We read about increasing cases, new HFMD records, and you start thinking about the "WILL.." and the "WHEN..."!!

In the event of an outbreak, teachers and parents must work together to clamp down, and break the germ's cycle. Looking at the pictures below , maybe we can guess why this disease is called HFMD?

However, Daddy suspect the weakest link is always We parents.
..complacent, ignorant or even bochap (nonchalant).

Some misconception about HFMD
- I got it before, so there will be resistance
- adult cannot get it, or transmits the germs to children
- if my kids do not attend childcare, we are safe ( parents forget common playgrounds)

Please visit these sites for the facts and latest updates :

Yet when we ask the parents, everybody know about HFMD's symptoms!
..yes, the usual fevers, rashes, blisters, ulcers.
Hey, we even know how the germs are tranmitted via fluids, and close contacts!!

..but Parents fail to follow up with medical consultation, when they suspect their kid is unwell. They will risk putting their sick child in childcare,
potentially triggering a second wave of HFMD cycles!

Personal hygiene should be practised, with or without any disease outbreaks.
Video : wash our hands (thoroughly)

Do we really need our kids to teach us about basic hygiene?
Read how Learning-Vision and Singapore-OK 洗洗手.

Boys.Girl, go and wash your hands now !!

Credit..images above are taken from


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ai Tong Primary, 爱同 Alumni

Thirty years.. we still manage to keep in touch.
Yup, Daddy is talking about his old school buddies, from Ai Tong Primary.

A few Sats back, we gather together for a BBQ reunion, catch up on gossips :p

Hey hey, even our little brood make new friends and start playing together..

BBQ chicken is ready, tuck in .

Video : Smile, you are on Candid camera

Children play like no tomorrow, police-catch-thief, 老鹰抓小鸡 , Badminton, even musical chairs.
Video : how much Fun they had!

There are new friends, good food, nice weather, and sponsored jelly water.
We enjoy ourselves !

Everybody is busy, but thanks to Facebook, we are keeping in touch :)
Ah Xin, 30 years later, will you remember your Kindergarten friends?

Video : Can anyone recall this song? Is this what we sang 30 years ago?

Video from CuteMarshMellow

Monday, August 23, 2010

Singapore Zoo, Animal Friends Show is back !

Are you an Animal Lover? Then you would be happy with Animal Friends show @ the Singapore zoo. Our kiddos were squealing with delight whenever a pet cat dog, and even mice appear !!

Cheryl from IconInternational has invited our family to review the new Animal Friends :)
(they know Sengkangbabies like the zoo)

Xin saw the crocodile, and clung onto Mummy like a Koala

The famous Matriarch of Singapore Zoo, she was our Zoo Mascot.
Ah Meng has endear generations of kids to the zoo.

This time round, we ride the Tram first, rather then wait till the end.
We are very happy that Kara and Jolie (cousins) can join us at the Zoo ..

Video : Tram ride is cool

It was a good decision. Look how happy we are, smiling and singing along the way :)
If we had taken the Tram at the end of our day, we would have been too tired to appreciate the sceneries :0

Alight at Splash station, and we went to disturb the penguins.

Then we hunted for MouseDeer, and watch the Crocodile stalk us !

Video : Squirrels, kids very excited

Video : Stroll towards Kidz

Restpoint. We recharge, fill our hunger, before we storm KidzWorld.

No kids could resist touching the pony (fake)rides.

Animal Friends show will only start at 1230, we are early.
Everybody is waiting eagerly, and charged with anticipation.

Look at the kids running round and round the compound.
They already love this place, even before we see the "owners" :p

Video : Knock knock, any doggy home?

Who is cuter? Mushroom or girl

Video : 3,2,1 here come our Animal Friends !

Is that Kang whistling? This German shepard is named Baby-Boy.
and he easily stands taller than Mummy 1.5m !!

Our friendly cast let us pet them at the end of the show.
Wen Yi is apprehensive, so he just touch and go .

Video: Hop

He is more interested in the bubbles :)

Weather is hot and humid, luckily our WET wonderland is just next to us.
Hurry up, let us change, and dip into some refreshing rainwater :p
(Daddy told the boys Rainforest is not Rain-in-forest)

Video : Wen Xin made to go through fountain

Someone ran and fell. Someone else giggled "serves you right" haha

Daddy task Wen Wei to look after Wen Yi, who is always trying to hide from us !!
We need to pay full attention to No 3, in case he is up to some mischief.

The Big brother, Wen Wei

Video : Hold my hand

Quick, why is it so difficult to grab everybody to sit down together?
This scene was very comical for photographer Daddy.

Video: cameo

We always have Fun at Wet Play, and this trip was no exception.
Can you feel our Energy ?

Ok, adults and kids are all tired, we shall take a slow stroll back..
We saw the tram again, and since we bought the ticket, board the ride home.

Portraits, finally Daddy appear in at least one photos :0

**warning .. do not bring your beloved DSLR camera or iPhone4 into the pool.
All the kids will be aiming their water gun at the nearest Adult !!


Yog Fire Tornado at Marina Bay... and teletubbies spotted

Daddy brought us to Olympic Park this evening. We had wanted to
see the burning "fire". As it was raining, rain coats were issued.

This is the nearest we got to the "Fire" :(
Apparently, there are some rehearsals going on for YOG closing.
(we do not have a tele lens yet)

Since we are here, we can dance around Olympic park.

Now, Daddy need to buy one more Red and Yellow raincoats, and you will see Teletubbies running around in Singapore !!

Some more shots of iconic Marina new Downtown, and YOG symbols.

Video : Making of Fire Tornado (got this link from HP)

For more Flame and Yog coverage, do pop by Hpility (
This chap, Hong Peng, is everywhere :)
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