Friday, 24 February 2017

In SIngapore: Nasi Padang Breakfast

When in Singapore you really have to try all the different options for eating. 
The first question most Singaporeans will ask you is; 'have you eaten yet?' which indicates how important food is in this tiny equatorial country.
This is an Indonesian Padang breakfast. All pre-cooked. You choose how many inclusions you want to pay for.
From top left: fried fish, fried egg, deep fried tempe, potato cake and fried tofu with veggies and chilli.
With sayur goreng (fried veggies in coconut milk) in the middle. Yum! $4.50

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Shopping in Singapore: A Medication for Every Eventuality

This curious muscle oil caught my eye while I was shopping in a Chinese Emporium near People's Park (shopping centre) in Singapore this morning.
I was intrigued by a product that claimed to be able to "Conquer all demons..."
Amazingly the brand is called Chop Blackie Embrocation, which in many Western cultures would be found to be highly offensive.
According to the packing the recipe has been handed down from "an Indian herbalist from Calcutta" and, according to the splendid paper certificate this came with, "...has proved to be popular in numerous Oriental households and among seamen..." (?) reducing irritation from everything from sciatica to cuts and bruises...

I think this company likes to ride on the success of the famous Haw Par brothers (who invented Tiger Balm).
Tiger Oil (which actually contains no tiger parts at all) claims to fix "rheumatism, insect bites, cuts, wounds and 'bees stings'...."

Shopping at 36,000 feet

Although I never buy anything from the in-flight duty-free shop, I usually find the catalogs for the products a reasonable way to kill 10 minutes while the aircraft is waiting to take off.
Tuesday's flight to Singapore was no different except for the fact that this brochure seemed to outdo itself with a range of products with near-criminal claims to stop the aging process.

From anti-wrinkle products, to eye rejuvenation devices, energy sticks, and even a product that employs something called tillandsia usneodes (Spanish Moss) to add a natural 'moisturising factor' (i.e. 'add water to'...).

You could also order a 3.8kg Le Creuset pan for $400 (presumably not held onboard because of the extreme weight), a very desirable 'extreme passport holder...' as endorsed by Hugh Jackman (Yup, it's a wallet) from Mont Blanc, a travelling display case for your auto winding wristwatch collection, prams, $1,200 suitcases, scan-proof wallets, card safes, a $5,310 rooster statue, and a Hello Kitty doll for $35.

My personal favourite was the rejuvenating socks at $45 a pair which produce "healthier looking skin and nails in just 4 weeks. A great travelling companion too!"   I can't wait...

Sunday, 19 February 2017

February Shipyards Shoot

Here's a small sample of images I shot at the Heritage Shipyards on Feb 18 using an Olympus Pen-F. It's sort of a full circle for me as I used to own a half-frame Pen-F in the 70s - and now I can go fully digital with a camera that looks as if it were designed, well, in the 60s. First impressions is that this is not only a great looker but also a very capable, fast and feature-full mirrorless camera.

All the shots here were processed using Aurora HDR Pro from five bracketed, or single RAW files.

Soft drink recycling. (Five frames processed using Aurora Pro HDR)
Interior of the ferry Kanangra
(Five bracketed frames processed using Aurora Pro HDR)
Kanangra exterior
This was shot with the Olympus Zuiko 12mm f2 lens which shows some barrel distortion
(Five bracketed frames processed using Aurora Pro HDR)
Looking down into the Hopetoun's boiler room(Single RAW file processed using Aurora Pro HDR) 
Pointy end of the ferry Kanangra(Five bracketed frames processed using Aurora Pro HDR)

Because the Olympus fires at up to 10 frames per second it means you can shoot HDR bracketed exposures without a tripod and still get exceptional registration in the HDR process.
Something you can't achieve nearly so easily using a regular DSLR at 3 or 5 frames per second.
(Five bracketed frames processed using Aurora Pro HDR)
Kanangra interior view

John Oxley on the dry dock
(Five bracketed frames processed using Aurora Pro HDR)
Close up of gear transmission
(Single RAW file processed using Aurora Pro HDR)

Toolbox(Five bracketed frames processed using Aurora Pro HDR)

Monday, 6 February 2017

Japan Photo Tour 2017

I now have the final price for this year's Southern Sojourn: Japan Photo Tour, 10-28 November, 2017

Itinerary in brief:
Provisional itinerary
(Please Note: dates, times and locations may change subject to availability, access, flights and local holidays)
Arrival Day
Osaka (Suggestion: Jetstar from Sydney via Cairns. Arr: 19:30
Group met by tour leader and escorted to hotel (via express train) in town.
Overnight Umeda, central Osaka

Day 01
AM: Osaka castle visit (escorted, via subway)
PM: Walking tour of Shinsekai suburb in afternoon/evening (Shin-Imamiya JR stop)
Overnight Umeda, central Osaka

Day 02
AM: Morning local express train to Kyoto. Leave luggage at hotel (check-in in Japan is normally 2pm)
Visit Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Temple
PM: Lunch at Kyoto station, then take a local train to Fushimi Inari, the Fox shrine (local train) stopping off at Tofuku-ji shrine (if there’s time).
Overnight central Kyoto

Day 03 
AM: Taxi to Kiyomizu temple + then walk downhill through the old suburbs of Higashiyama and Gion.
PM: Lunch at Shijo-dori, a popular shopping street, then local bus to Shisen-do, a samurai house
PM: Return (taxi/bus) for evening photo shoot in the Shirakawa-minami dori area
Dinner in town
Overnight central Kyoto

Day 04
AM: North west to Arashiyama and World Heritage Sagano bamboo forest returning with a stop at Tenru-ji zen temple (local train)
Dinner in Kyoto
Overnight central Kyoto

Day 05
AM/PM: Visit the old capital of Nara and its parks and shrines, including the impressive Kasuga Shrine (full day, JR local train)
Dinner in Kyoto
Overnight central Kyoto

Day 06
AM/PM: Full day trip to Kanazawa, including a walking tour of the Omi-cho markets, World Heritage Kenroku-en gardens, and the old Higashi Chaya geisha district (on the Thunderbird express train)
Overnight central Kyoto

Day 07
Early train to visit the most perfect castle in Japan, Himeji.  Lunch in Himeji, then afternoon free in Kyoto.
Overnight central Kyoto
Day 08
AM: Early Shinkansen train to Hakata (approx. 185 mins). Check into hotel.
Rest of day free, evening visit sumo tournament
Late dinner.
Overnight central Hakata
Day 09
AM/PM: Full day trip north to Hiroshima, Visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum then on to the magical island of Miyajima. (Shinkansen 80 mins one way, then tram, local train, JR ferry)
Dinner in Hakata
Overnight central Hakata

Day 10
Full day trip to visit the Tenmangu shrine in Dazaifu then on for a cruise around the canal city of Yanagawa (local trains).
Dinner in Hakata
Overnight central Hakata

Day 11
AM: Long train trip to Kagoshima (approx. 240 mins)
PM: Check into hotel than take an escorted trip to visit the famous Edo period ‘borrowed view’ Sengan-en gardens
Izakaya dinner in city
Overnight Kagoshima

Day 12
AM: Local bus tour to visit the Chiran Kamikaze museum and beautiful samurai gardens nearby
PM: Ferry to the volcanic island of Sakurajima. We take a taxi tour around Sakurajima island then back to another ferry point for a trip back into the city.
Dinner in the city
Overnight Kagoshima

Day 13

AM: Early express train to Nagasaki (140 mins)
Visit to the Nagasaki Peace Museum, lunch then take the tram and cablecar to the summit of Mt Inasa for a magnificent view across the city
Dinner in town
Overnight Nagasaki

Day 14
AM: Morning ferry trip to visit Gunkanjima island, return to Nagasaki for lunch then a walking trip to visit the Dutch Slope/Glover Gardens area, finally arriving in the Megane bridge part of downtown and Chinatown
Dinner in Chinatown area.
Overnight Nagasaki

Day 15
AM: Morning flight to Naha, capital of Okinawa prefecture.
PM: Check into our accommodation then visit Shuri castle and museum in Naha, as well as Fukushu-en gardens and the historically significant Naval underground HQ, one of the few remaining monuments to the island’s tragic WWII history
Dinner in an izakaya restaurant
Overnight Okinawa

Day 16
AM/PM: Today we take a full day boat trip for scenic tour out of Naha to see some of the best beaches in this Pacific paradise.
Dinner along the main street: Kokusai-dori (TBA)
Overnight Okinawa

Day 17
AM: Flight back to Osaka
Optional: Stay Osaka, flights onward, or return home
Tour price - $7,945 (double occupancy - add $500 for single room), $500 deposit, places strictly limited to a maximum of 11 people.

Price includes: 
17 nights Western style accommodation with breakfast (Japanese and Western style)
14 day standard JR rail pass
Domestic flights from Nagasaki to Naha
Domestic flight from Naha to Osaka
Boat trip in Okinawa
Chartered coach and guide to visit Chiran
Welcome dinner
Farewell dinner
Kaiseki dinner (Kyoto)
Standard sumodrome tickets
Kameoka boat ride tickets
All museum and garden entrance fees
Some taxi transportation
All bus/train and subway rides before and after the JR pass expires

(for information and bookings, call Robin on 0426 748 652 or email )