Friday, July 25, 2008

Flickr Pic#13: [TWS2008] The Provincial Life

[TWS2008] The Provincial Life

[TWS2008] The Provincial Life
Originally uploaded by scion_cho

Japan may be a highly industrialized country; but, it's not all about gadgets and buildings. Living in the suburbs, I get to experience both the Metro and the provincial life here in Japan.

A 1/25 miniature setup.

Taken on April 5, 2008
Location: Tobu World Square, Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

See Flickr post #12 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 8:06 PM |

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Flickr Pic#12: [TWS2008] Asian Pose

 [TWS2008] Asian Pose

[TWS2008] Asian Pose
Originally uploaded by scion_cho

A 'stolen shot' of a Japanese kid being photographed by her mom. Look at how this kid 'automatically' pose with the V-sign.

And quite interestingly, I found this as part of wikipedia's entry about the Asian pose.

In the Philippines, the popularity of the use of the "V" sign in photographs is mostly done as a mockery of its popularity and usage by their Asian neighbors (in particular, of characters in soap operas having their pictures taken). The "V" sign usually stands for "peace" in the Filipino context and is thus a cause for bewilderment and amusement when seen on Asian commercials, soap operas, and other media. When a person uses the "V" sign in the same manner as it is used in photographs by other Asian countries, it is mostly an attempt to be cute or funny in the photograph. When putting the "V" sign on top a person's head, it usually is done to comically "demonize" that person rather than just give that person Bunny ears.

Taken on April 5, 2008
Location: Tobu World Square, Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

See Flickr post #11 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 5:55 PM |

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Flickr Pic #11: [TWS2008] Miniature Sakura Tree

[TWS2008] Miniature Sakura Tree

[[TWS2008] Miniature Sakura Tree
Originally uploaded by scion_cho

On early spring, this is how a Sakura Tree looks like right before it starts to bloom.

Taken on April 5, 2008
Location: Tobu World Square, Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

See Flickr post #10 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 3:31 PM |

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Flickr Pic #10: [TWS2008] Great Wall of China

[TWS2008] Great Wall of China

[TWS2008] Great Wall of China
Originally uploaded by scion_cho

Guess what parts in the photo are real (natural) and unreal?
Scaled down version (1/25) of the Great Wall of China.

Taken on April 5, 2008
Location: Tobu World Square, Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

See Flickr post #9 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 4:14 PM |

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Flickr Pic #9: [TWS2008] Eiffel Tower

[TWS2008] Eiffel Tower

[TWS2008] Eiffel Tower
Originally uploaded by scion_cho

A global icon of France, this is one of the most recognizable structures of the world.

Seen in the pic is the Eiffel Tower miniature and a Japanese onlooker. Other miniatures can be seen on the far background. The Tobu World Square is divided into different zones (Japan, Modern Japan, Asia, Europe, America and the Egypt zone).

posted by ScIoN 6:12 PM |

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Newfound Friend: Sigma AF 50-150mm F2.8 APO EX DC HSM I

Last June during the Migrant Workers' Day at Oji Park, I brought along with me my DSLR kit but got frustrated because I couldn't 'reach' my subjects. As expected on events like this, the place would be filled by a lot of people, each and everyone representing different characters.

The kit lens (18-55mm) having a max focal length at 55mm would be too short to do some candid street shots. Thus, I had been dreaming for a longer lens eversince.

Option 1: All-around lens
For my next lens, my first choice then was the Nikkor 18-200mm VR. It's a very popular Nikon lens because of its versatility (from shooting wide to long), capped with a Vibration Reduction system (for those shaky hands) and the benefit of not having to change lenses making it a perfect travel companion (always ready to take a shot of the scene -- near or far).

The downside: Price, as it sells for 68k-88,200 Yen on major commercial stores (approx: Php28-36k). Also, minimum aperture ranges from f3.5-5.6, so if you are dreaming of some creamy bokeh in the background, better get those prime lenses.

Option 2: Prime Telephoto Lens
I did wanted to have the bokeh effects, and so I realized I should get prime lenses instead. Prime lenses have wider apertures than the zooms, allowing more light to enter; thus, producing beautiful bokeh. However, you'd get stuck with only one focal length (no zoom). Nikkor's available prime telephotos at my desired range was the 105mm and the 135mm. Using a D40x, my choice of lens were limited because only AF-S lenses would autofocus on it.

Option 3: 3rd Party lens (Sigma)
Nikon is an optics company and has been producing great lenses eversince (one can notice how expensive their lenses are); thus, I had some sort of bias against 3rd party lens makers (Tamron, Sigma, Tokina). However, having some time searching for my next lens, I came across Sigma's 50-150mm DC and quite became interested with it due to its rave reviews. Eventually, it had been my choice in the end.

What I liked about this Lens:
Fixed maximum aperture width at f2.8 (from all zoom levels 50mm-150mm). - This would satisfy my bokeh cravings, one thing that my kit lens couldn't do except at the wide end (18mm @ f3.5).
Focal Range: It's just quite enough for what I need, perhaps for event/street photography. I didn't want it to be too long.
Internal Focusing: Zooming from 50-150 wouldn't increase/decrease the length of the lens. Unlike the 18-200mm VR where it goes longer and longer till it reaches 200mm.
Weight: This is considered a lightweight in terms of its capability (fixed wide aperture zoom lens)
Sigma EX: It's an EX lens, somewhat being one of the 'elite' Sigma lenses. Much like Canon's L version of lenses. Of course it's not just labeling, it's more of the build quality that makes it an EX.
HSM - HyperSonic Motor... Sigma's way of telling that it autofocuses with my D40x and it's fast and silent.

I only wish it has VR, but hey it would just ramp up the price anyway. Lowest price one could get (bnew) would be 82k Yen. Since I don't want to shell out that much money, I opted for the practical route: buy 2nd hand. Japan's Used Camera market is great, that one can find used gear at a relatively low price, most of which are still in near mint condition.

I know, this hobby proves to be costly but at least I made it at 6 months with my kit. Some people I met here would buy new gear almost every month. I'd still be using my kit once in a while when I would be needing a wider lens (close range shots). I guess I should have added that to my why I like this lens list.

Sample shots, check out the Pictures Section. (Kasukabe Natsu Matsuri Day 2)

posted by ScIoN 4:23 PM |

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Flickr Pic #8: [TWS2008] St. Peters Basilica detail

This is the 2nd pic coming from my Tobu World Square visit.

Another 1/25 scaled down version, this time of the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The mountain in the background might fool you as part of the miniature scene, but is actually part of the natural mountains in Tochigi, Japan.

See Flickr post #6 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 9:02 AM |

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Flickr Pic #7: [TWS2008]The 3 Great Pyramids in Egypt scene

Nope, I have never been to Egypt yet.

Looks like a random shot, but I chose this angle to make a realistic scene out of the exhibit. This is actually just a 1/25 miniature version of the pyramids of Egypt, a scaled down version of the real thing.

Tobu World Square, located in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan has numerous displays of different cultural landmarks from all over the world; most of which were declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Taken on April 5, 2008
Location: Tobu World Square, Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

See Flickr post #6 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 10:31 PM |

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Flickr Pic#6: Seniors' Hanami Fun

Seniors' Hanami Fun
Originally uploaded by scion_cho
A group of Japanese senior citizens, our hanami picnic site neighbors, circled around to sing and dance. Eventually, we were invited by one of the grannies to join them and have some fun.

Taken on March 29, 2008
Location: Sakuragaoka-koen (park), Tokyo City

See Flickr post #5 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 11:39 PM |

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Flickr Pic #5: Hanami @ Sakuragaoka Park

Hanami @ Sakuragaoka Park
Originally uploaded by scion_cho
Hanami literally means 'flower viewing'. The cherry blossoms (sakura) are believed to exemplify the transient nature of life because of their short blooming times. It takes about a week or 2 , to see the flowers in bloom. Japan actually even gives forecasts when and where sakuras are to be in bloom.

During hanami period, the Japanese go to parks, lay down their mats and drink sake under the sakura trees.

Location: Sakuragaoka-koen (park), Tokyo City

See Flickr post #4 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 9:30 PM |

My Photo
Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

ScIoN is a former Systems Engineer in Japan who specialized in industrial imaging and digital hardware design. He is now back in the Philippines pursuing graduate studies in Finance at the University of the Philippines - Diliman.



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