Nepal and my Fujifilm X70 part 4 aka iPhone the saviour

Alright, you made it this far so you might as well read this while you're in the loo and finish it off (both the business you're up to and reading this conclusive decisive, most tremendous part of this trip! period!) 

Check out the prequels here. 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

The first day of 2017.

The first day of 2017.

So my X70 died because it was too cold and I should have kept it somewhere much warmer. Then came along the trusty iPhone7 plus, I'm not a big fan using my iPhone for photography even though I should as the camera on this thing is just a pure savage beast but it's way too sharp for me, no good! Everything is just razor sharp especially on the iPhone screen. It makes my eyes bleed. 

Hence why I use VSCO to help soften and dirty it up.

Hence why I use VSCO to help soften and dirty it up.

My work flow goes like this, Snapseed for tuning and cropping then I use VSCO to apply a little bit of character to the image. I don't like a heavy tarnish but rather pick a filter and drag it all the way down to just get a slight hint of whatever that filter tries to emulate then upload it to instagram. 

This one was left untouched but I adjusted it to 16:9 crop.

This one was left untouched but I adjusted it to 16:9 crop.

I will put up a few photos taken with the iPhone down below. Now let's get back to our trip! Once we got out of the mountain, we went back to Pokhara to stay for a night before our departure to another cool town called "Bandipur". At this point, my X70 is back and ready to take some more photos. I didn't want to risk losing my photos on my first SD card so I bought an 8 GB card from a vendor in Pokhara who guarantee that it's the fastest card on Earth (it's not). 

A massive dog in Bandipur.

A massive dog in Bandipur.

After another lengthy car ride we got into the beautiful town of Bandipur which lies in a mid-way pointish between Pokhara and Kathmandu. It situated up in a hill and it used to be a major trading post back in the day.

In case you need a spark in your classroom.

In case you need a spark in your classroom.

OGs

OGs

The salon

The salon

One thing that I noticed is that the lighting has been supremely kind to me during my trip. The angle of the winter sun does help a lot and how the architecture creates a good sharp cookie cutting the light, acting as a natural flag. 

After a day in Bandipur, we are on the road again to check out an old city called "Bhaktapur". 

A ride through misty mountains.

A ride through misty mountains.

We drove through Kathmandu to reach Bhaktapur. The traffic through Kathmandu was quite congested as a protest was being held through out the city. Apparently the bus drivers weren't happy with something so they decided to take a day off and hang out with fully geared riot police, quite a sight, they were just sharing smokes and chat. 

These ladies were really sweet.

These ladies were really sweet.

Once we got to Bhaktapur, we went out to check out a few things. 

We spent our last night in Kathmandu before flying back to Bangkok on the next day. Nepal is a beautiful country and a place worthy of visit. My recommendation is minimize your stay in the cities but do enjoy the architectures and soak it in as much as you can before you get out to the trek. This country nature's will take your breath away and never stop to do so as this place is so bloody high up from sea level. If you want more info regarding this awesome country, flick me a message as I can possibly hook you up with my local contacts. 

Up to this point I had my Fuji X70 for about 3-4 months and I've been carrying it with me wherever I go. Before this camera I've never used a camera without a viewfinder before and I thought that without one I would struggle. I'm more of a 50mm man as I used to roam around with a Leica m3. Before that the widest I used for my everyday camera was a Voigtlander 40mm nokton. The 28mm range was a bit of a challenge as you do have to get super close to your subject to really utilise the 2.8 and get a nice bokeh out of this camera but with how quiet this camera is, getting close to your subject and sneaking a shot in won't be a problem. The autofocus on this camera is exceptionally good, pairing with a good responsive touchscreen is a match made in heaven.

It's a camera for the iPhone generations. We are so used to our touch screens and Fuji understood this. It's a great camera for those who wants to get into photography after they got bored of taking photos with their cellphone or have enough money to afford a actual camera. The bottomline is that if you're looking for a small camera to travel with or you're looking for a fun camera to shoot with, this camera is for you. It has wifi app thing so you can get a reasonably compressed JPEGs from it onto your phone or you can use a SD card dongle to get photos from it. I didn't really utilize the SD dongle as much because the wifi is so easy to use. I then use Snapseed and VSCO for post-processing then post my photos on Instagram. 

Oh! the video function is an after-thought so don't expect much from it. My iPhone is a much better video camera than this thing. 

Lighting is a lot more important than your camera. 

Lighting is a lot more important than your camera. 

How about the iPhone? it's good, really good but I started of my photography with a camera and I am quite a dinosaur when it comes down to photography. I like to have my knobs to adjust this and that. Here below is a collection of photos I took with the iPhone when my X70 died in the mountain. These are raw from the phone, no post-process was done to them. 

Thank you so much for sticking around. My next post I will be covering a trip that I recently came back from. It involves climbing a few volcanoes and a Nikon D810!

Nepal and my Fujifilm X70 part 3

So here we are, part 3, If you haven't read my first and second part, you can do so here with these links 

Part 1

Part 2

So on our second day, our guide/good friend Santos told us that it would be the hardest day out of all. (even though that very same evening he would tell us that the third day would be less steep but harder due to a few descents, and my dear friend Suman told us we could trust him.)

Our alarm clock was giving us a weird look.

Our alarm clock was giving us a weird look.

Some were not so keen on the climb that day. 

Some were not so keen on the climb that day. 

We did manage to climb up steadily and take a few breaks in between. The point is not to rush and just take it easy but being a stupid man, I just wanted to get there as quick as possible therefore I was pretty knackered by lunch time. 

take a break in style. 

take a break in style. 

Up to this point my X70 has been performing superbly, no glitch, no hiccup but I did notice that due to the cold weather my battery doesn't last as long as it was in a warmer climate which was to be expected. I was stupid enough to travel with one battery and one SD card as I thought to myself I would be clever about how I shoot and I was confident enough that I could definitely go through the whole trip with this set up, so far so good. 

finishing the "first hill"

finishing the "first hill"

After a massive meal and a few snicker bars later we made our way through a few "Nepali Flats" which took us through a nice little forest walk before we got to Ghorepani 

A view from our dining hall.

A view from our dining hall.

On the next day we climbed from Ghorepani in the dark up to Poooooonnnn hill to catch the sun rise. If you want to get a good spot for your camera, do get up about 30 mins before what the guide suggested as the way up does get super congested. The view was breathtaking, literally. 

The red glow only last for so long so bring your high speed continuous burst camera. 

The red glow only last for so long so bring your high speed continuous burst camera. 

After enjoying a good amount of Poon......hill, we then had a quick breakfast back at our ice block lodge before setting off for more walking. At this point after much charging and possibly too much Poon, my camera decided to die, well not dead dead kinda dead but it stopped itself from reading of the card and I wasn't really sure whether it was writing or not so I didn't want to risk losing all my photos, queue the iPhone 7 plus.

one of a few last photos it managed to take before it died. 

one of a few last photos it managed to take before it died. 

For the next part, I will cover the rest of my trip and a little review of my iPhone 7 plus and how it saved me in the mountain. 

Nepal and my Fujifilm X70 part 2

So I assume you have read part 1 and you came back for more. If not then you're quite a rebel but not to the level of rogue one kinda level which is alright, we can't be Jyn Erso but we all can embrace our inner Jar Jar Binks. Anyhow enough ranting and let's carry on with our little trip/camera review. 

Pokhara lake can be quite a spot for thrill seekers. For an additional thrill, don't wear a life vest when you're on a boat.

Pokhara lake can be quite a spot for thrill seekers. For an additional thrill, don't wear a life vest when you're on a boat.

We took a bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara on a tourist bus which is full of tourists. It was a comfortable ride that consisted of 2-3 stops which is good for our bladders. The passage prior to our first stop was the most mundane part of the bus ride as we had to get out of Kathmandu which can be quite a headache as the road in and out of Kathmandu can be heavily congested. We decided to go with the bus as it was suggested to us that the scenery is amazing and "It'll be worth it". I would suggest that if you have enough cash to fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara you should do it as you won't miss much. After a few hours and many naps, we got to Pokhara. 

no 10 bath coins needed for laundry.

no 10 bath coins needed for laundry.

We took a little cab from the bus depot to our hotel on the main strip by the lake but due to the 18th Pokhara street festival our cab couldn't get into the main strip therefore if you have data on your phone and your luggage isn't that heavy, just walk. I was quite excited about the festival as it promised to be "the festival" to go to so we put our bags away in our room and hit the street right away. This was my third time out with this little camera at night and it does very well in low light, I shot at iso1600+ the whole night and the raw files are super good, even at 6400 it's still usable. A great little traveling camera indeed!

street fooooodddddddd

street fooooodddddddd

The next day will be our first day on the trek which starts in Nayapul, about an hour drive from Pokhara. Once we got there we had to check in at TIMS (Trekkers information management system) and show our passes to the Annapurna national park officers before we head off on our trek. 

Our porter, because we are too weak to carry our own luggage.

Our porter, because we are too weak to carry our own luggage.

School kids have to trek up to their school everyday. 

School kids have to trek up to their school everyday. 

Our first day was the easiest as it consisted of a few small ascents on dirt road up to our first stop in Tikhedhunga. Once we got there, we found a little path which lead us to a waterfall. It was a bit too cold for a dip but we hung around by the river to enjoy the warmth of the sun, the very last bit of warmth before we hike up to the cold. 

Next part will be consisted of how my X70 gave up on me in the mountain. 

Nepal and my Fujifilm X70 part 1.

During the end of last year, I went to Nepal to do a little trek in Annapurna region. I have always been fascinated by the mountains and apparently Nepal has quite a fair few famous one. Before the trip I could name one and that's the Everest but after trip I can name two so that's a progress. 

Due to my ignorance and having zero knowledge on Nepal, I decided to ask my facebook friends if any of them traveled there before. Among many that replied, one of them was Suman, a friend from my uni years. He told me that he's now running a travel company there and would love to help me out. He suggested that I should try the Poon hill (which I told him I have had quite a few though out my teenager years up till now but not too many that might come across as a disgrace) which I agreed to. 

For this trip, I was thinking about taking my film camera but I decided against it and opted for my little compact Fuji x70 instead. I also brought along my Lee filter big stopper, a crappy soft grad 2 stops, a remote for bulb mode action and my trusty Manfrotto be free tripod. 

I got in on the 26th of December and spent two days in Thamel, Kathmandu which was really nice but a little too dusty for my liking. At first I thought it was from all the ongoing constructions from the earthquake damage but Suman told me that Kathmandu has always been like this.  

Massage mister.

Massage mister.

Lady in red

Lady in red

After a quiet day one, we got up early to try to go to all the touristy places in one day. We jumped on a cab outside our place and we hit up Swayambhunath which isn't that far from our place. 

A lady touching her forehead in Swayabhunath.

A lady touching her forehead in Swayabhunath.

This lady was kicking up so much dust and the sun was at the perfect position while monkeys just being monkeys

This lady was kicking up so much dust and the sun was at the perfect position while monkeys just being monkeys

Next place on the list was Kathmandu Durbur square, a beautiful place but the damage from the quake can be clear see. 

Quite a fair few pigeons here, get here early to capture some epicness and some respiratory diseases. 

Quite a fair few pigeons here, get here early to capture some epicness and some respiratory diseases. 

A lady looking up

A lady looking up

And then we went to Bouddhanath Temple which was cool but we got there during mid day so it wasn't photogenic plus all the surrounding buildings got some sort of a Disneyland renovation to them. We hopped on another cab after a nice afternoon tea and got to Pashupatinath Temple, which is a Hindu temple therefore we couldn't go in because we are believe in Jesus Christ, his dad and his holy spirit mates so we took a little walk around the temple instead. 

Beautiful dogs.

Beautiful dogs.

A shadow figure

A shadow figure

Hello

Hello

After a whole day of traveling around the bustling town of Kathmandu and many shots after, the x70 was still alive and well. I am super happy with the battery life and the 35mm equivalent 28mm lens allowed me to get up super close to my subject while being wide enough to let me capture the background. The colour is super nice and created great raw files that I can work with in post, a great little camera indeed.  

Sri Lanka

My mum is quite religious and every year, she would go on a buddhist pilgrimage trip with her friends and for the past seven years she's been to India six times and last year she went to Bhutan. This year I decided to go and it was well worth it. Sri Lanka is an amazing country to visit. 

Once we arrived at the hotel, we had a little time to kill so I decided to go for a little wander around. I came across a construction and I was drawn to it, I met the site manager who invited me in to have a look around. One thing I noticed straight away was how friendly Sri Lankans are, I turned on the camera and started to take a few photos of the workers. Right there and then I decided to give myself a portrait photography assignment for the whole duration of the trip. 

I was using the Sony a7s ii and a single lens which was the super takumar 50mm f1.4 for the whole trip as I was lazy and wanted to get to know this lens a little more. A few things I notice was that after starting to shoot at f4-5.6, life has become much easier, especially with the ridiculous amount of ISO I can push with this low light beast and the stabilizer that helped me a lot with my shaky hands. This lens does flare a lot and I didn't mind it at all, sometime it does become somewhat annoying but overall it's pretty good. I love it most when the light sources add the horizontal streaks into my picture, if the light source is a bit toppy in the corner then you'd get this 45 degree streak right in the corner, a little too much and you won't be able to see anything. With old lenses that have swirly bokeh, they tend to be highly unusable wide open unless the subject is right in the middle but this lens is more forgiving and only exhibit the typical soft wide open characteristic which isn't that bad, just buttery smooth goodness if you're in a mood for it. 

There were a few times that I wish I have brought a wider lens with me, I did miss my 35mm and I did miss some shots because I had to back up a little bit more. 

If you have time and don't know where to go for your next trip, go to Sri Lanka.

Here are few sample photos from the trip.

Drone is rather fun

I wanted a drone a few years back, a mate of mine was building a custom one and I saw how much trouble he had to go through to make one flying while another mate of mine was flying a phantom 2 with quite a fair bit of work, trying to defish-eye GoPro footage. 

Back then I felt like it wasn't the right time to put my money into it. They complained but they loved it. They told me how awesome it was to own one and fly around, capture things that weren't possible a few years back unless you own a helicopter. 

So now, 2016, I recently quit my job and decided to pursue my own thing. I have a project coming which I thought that aerial videography would rather be complimentary to it. So after a few weeks of thinking, I went to a shop and bought a drone, no it's not the new DJI Phantom 4 but instead a Phantom 3 pro which at this discounted price is a steal. 

I took her out to Khao yai national park and flew her around. I still have a lot to learn and my hands do still shake every time she goes up in the sky. 

Here's a littler video of my first drone outing. 

 

 

 

New Zealand

a beautiful place I used to call home

A little two weeks trip down to this part of the world, went to Lake Tekapo for some timelapse videos. 

Two test shots from this gorgeous place, the second night I had a better luck with the stars as the super moon that was interrupted my first outing came into the sky a bit later on. 

I shall post the time lapse video of the second night when it's done. 

sunset
The church of the good shepherd

The church of the good shepherd