Spread the Love – August 2014

For the early morning bikini photoshoot with Esther and I roped Gilbert in since he was a creative person. He did research over the net to find poses of models and even printed them out. Even though my actual plan was to do a more natural lifestyle shoot instead of model posing (because Esther was completely new to modelling and we did not have a makeup artist involved), Gilbert’s instruction to pose did help a lot. To find a friend who would sacrifice so much time and effort was rare.

I did a couple portrait shoot for Michael and Valerie with fireworks as the background. It was my first time doing this kind of shoot, which was rare but Valerie trusted me. They hosted me well in their home and shared their precious wine with me. Both of them even invited me over for a second time on the actual National Day.

I forget to bring my tripod along for the second shoot with my favourite couple as mentioned above. It was crazy for night shoot would definitely require the stability. Even though I turned up early and my house was a few bus-stops away, it was too rush for me to get home. I called Samuel immediately and he gladly prepared his tripod stand for me. I dashed over a few buildings to collect it from him. He saved my night.

I initially had a photoshoot with a girl who had approached me. She wanted to do it at an indoor location. ET’s dad gladly agreed to lend me his house. Eventually, the girl went missing-in-action as expected.

I had a photoshoot with Claire. The outfit was meant to be more revealing and thus it was definitely sensitive to a girl. For my usual fashion shoot, some of the models would bring along an escort in the name of “a curious friend” who wanted to watch how a photoshoot was done. So far, none of the “assistants” was really helpful. Besides putting pressure on me, it was a great insult to my professionalism. I appreciated the trust from Claire who went alone for such sensitive theme. She was not a bimbo who would not taking precaution – she did research online about me before approaching me. Besides not treating me as a pervert, I was glad that she did not waste my time like many other girls. I was really amazed because the way she chatted with me made me feel she was not that keen in having a shoot. Claire had indirectly enlightened me that I should not be pinning too much hope on girls who approached me with great enthusiasm.

I had a great gathering with the volunteer gang at Nancy’s place. Nancy hosted us well again. Other than this, she had also agreed to lend me her place for photoshoot, even though our available dates did not match.

Spread the Love – July 2014

My younger brother and I were using the same phone – Samsung Note 2. He was an explorer of a few local online shopping sites and when he bought his “unbreakable” screen protector, he got one for me too. It was a selfless act, especially when he did not expect me to pay him back, which I did together with the monthly bills payment.

I started to understand the limitation of my Canon 430 EX-II and thus I knew I had to invest in a better flash unit. When I tried to buy a Canon 600 EX-RT, Stephen, instigated by Samuel, offered to lend me his Canon 580 EX-II. He was such a nice and honest guy who was ready to lend his friends all his equipments.

The flash power of Canon 580 EX-II and Canon 600 EX-RT were almost similar, except that Canon 600 EX-RT had Canon’s radio receiver built-in and the buttons were better designed. If I were to buy a new piece, I would choose Canon 600 EX-RT for its value would stay longer. Whereas for second hand unit, both were fine to me and of course Canon 580 EX-II would be much cheaper. However, I was quite scared of getting bad second hand unit, which I probably would not be able to find out the fault until using it.

My dad’s youngest brother (my uncle) suddenly messaged me in Facebook and asked me if I had received his SMS. At first I thought he was looking for me for some urgent matters. He had actually sent the SMS to my old number, which was not in use since many years ago. Anyway, he was asking me if I had bought my new camera. He promised me to split the cost of a new camera with me during last December when I borrowed his house for a Christmas theme photoshoot. I felt too pampered and thus did not talk to him over it after that day. I had actually forgotten about it after I used my saving to buy my new Canon 6D camera and Canon 24-70mm F2.8 II lens.

I told him I would need a stronger flash unit like Canon 600 EX-RT at the moment and he wanted to get it for me. Even though we were blooded family members, I did not get to meet him often, except during Chinese New Years and I thought I did not deserve such expensive gift from him. I supposed my dad had been “borrowing” money from him long time ago when he was still alive and if that was real, they were definitely bad debts. Lastly, I was also hoping I would be able to earn through photography to purchase the necessary equipments on my own. The struggle within me was torturing. Eventually, I decided to take this “shortcut” by accepting the offer from my uncle. I supposed I would also cherish the new flash unit better if it was a gift.

I thought it was a good chance to meet up with my uncle and auntie to get the new Canon 600 EX-RT flash unit together but they were too busy. To me, it was weird but he offered to do a bank transfer over instead. He got my auntie to do it on the next day and there was even an excess of money, which would help me to get a much needed external harddisk as well.

Spread the Love – June 2014

About a week after Shujuan returned from her OCIP trip, we met up for photoshoot. Actually, I wanted to try playing with different angles of light but she was too exhausted. Eventually, I felt bad for occupying her time when she was already so tired after meeting up with friends daily till late hours.

Max roped me in for an event shoot for PassionArt and he gave me some pointers after the event. He shared many things with me like as if I was a newbie and that really helped because I got to learn quite a couple of new things from him. Learning by myself resulted me in knowing things “here and there” and sometimes not complete. He told me my basic skill required improvement and eventually, I was very frustrated because I was not sure what else I would need to learn other than to practise more.

My light stand’s bag was torn and my mum helped me to fix it. The joints were actually very thick and it was not an easy sewing job. In fact, my mum had always been helping my family to fix and alter things like clothes and bags.

Gilbert tried hard to meet me for a swim at the Amara hotel, which had tied up with Fitness First to share its swimming pool. So far, he had brought me to visit all the swimming pools of Fitness First as he could bring a friend along during weekends. I was speechless with having such good buddy who would only think and sacrifice for me, trying to please me all the while.

Compliment for Canon Staff

More than two years ago, I wrote a compliment letter for a Canon staff but their website was giving problems and thus I didn’t get to submit it.

I called the service hotline at 12 plus just now and was received by a very well-mannered lady with an extremely sweet local voice. I didn’t get her name clearly but it was something like “Lorraine”.

I was actually calling to check if I could get a replacement for “my” camera len’s cover. I was actually doing on behalf of my friend.

When she heard that I had lost my len’s cover, she responded immediately in a natural sympathizing tone. I was very pleased to be received by someone who placed herself in customer’s shoes.

She immediately gave me a solution by re-directing me over to the showroom’s hotline to check for availability of stock.

She, in fact, did not do much during the short conversation; however, her attitude had actually made a big difference.

I think good customer service would make a big difference in my decision to choose the brand when I need a new gadget in future.

Thank you for reading this.

Sick of Being Sick

I had suffered a long and serious illness for the past month. It did not come as a surprise for I had been warned three months before that. During that period, I had sore throat before I slept but I always woke up feeling normal. It happened for quite a number of time and I guessed that I was saved by taking a tiny bit of manuka honey every night. However, there was also an obvious symptom – my scalp was growing acne and it was irritating.

My body had been “heaty” since young and thus I would fall sick often. I was no fan of food but I most preferred western food, fast food and just any fried food. I had been resisting them throughout my life because they made me fall sick very easily.

However, for this year, I was rather rebellious and did not practise self control. Other than taking fast food numerous times, there was a couple of times I took fried food like char kuey teow as my main course meal. My mum had also bought packet roti prata from the NTUC Fairprice for supper, which tasted quite good after frying them and she replenished it quite a few times. My mum’s porridge for lunch was rather healthy but not her dinner, which usually came with food like nuggets. I was very amazed with myself throughout the months before my body failed me.

As usual, it always started with sore throat, followed by cough and flu. I did not take my temperature but I knew I was having fever occasionally. Phlegm, blocked nose and ears were gifts from them and the worst thing was to bring down my energy. I was pretty slow in my work then.

The terrors did not leave me soon. They stayed faithfully with me for over a month. Doctor told me it was not that my body was weak, but I did not have enough rest. I had to agree.

I was badly disturbed almost every morning by my neighbour’s puppy who barked loudly for a few minutes. It was obvious that I did not sleep early and thus being woke up in the morning was a torture.

Resting during the afternoon was almost impossible with my sticky dog around. I had only two bedrooms and my mum barred Luckie from entering one and my sister-in-law did not like anyone to enter the other bedroom when she and my elder brother were not around. I could not leave Luckie alone in the living room because he would end up crying and barking so loudly that I would end up not able to sleep.

Since I was sharing bedroom with my mum and younger brother and both of them would “die” without switching the air-con on even when the weather was not very bad, I had to bear with it despite I was afraid of the low temperature. Flu was never tolerating.

While I was sick, I still had to continue with my daily administration work. It was not difficult at all but to do the same old time-consuming stuffs for the past few years was really sickening. Those boring work would not make me grow.

One of the most stressful things was to arrange for photoshoot. Things would be better if the parties I had to alias with did not give problems, and eventually, I had actually wasted my time and effort. I was all along very easygoing but some people might be fussier than me. Not everyone was very committed.

I had one of the most challenging tasks on hand, which was to update the website for my “xiao mei”. She had changed her webhost a year ago but did not migrate her files over. Somehow, she was lucky that her old files were still inside the old server and the host did not remove the files. I had to try log into both her new and old webhosts, and of course the latter did not work. In the end, I had to rip the source codes and other files from her own webhost and it included a flash file, which was calling other files. I spent a few days to fix everything for her. It was mind-blowing. In fact, she was not in a rush but I was just too determined and eager to solve her problems.

That week, I had promised to do an interior shoot for my cousin-in-law. During the first day, a Tuesday, he was astonished to see me turn up at the bar. I was wrecked by the full-equipment bags that I had carried all the way to the place when my body was so weak. He checked his phone and realised it was the correct date and time. The problem was that there were many staffs working there to setup the place as they were still in preparation for the opening the week after. Even one of the string of LED light was loosen and hanging around. We agreed to shoot during the next morning but he texted me a couple of hours before the shoot that the bar’s staffs would be there to work and thus we postponed to Friday. I had forced myself to wake up early over nothing. On Friday, I was smart enough to not bring my laptop along, in fact, there was no need to even bring my lighting along to the cramp place. The person holding to the key was not around and I had to wait outside the bar for around half an hour. Then, contractors continued to go in to fix things while the lady staff was cleaning things up. Many items such as fruits were laying around the bar counter and tables. The tables were not even in order. To conclude, it was a disaster for a photographer. I had to move things around by myself and even wiping the surfaces of the tables and it was impossible to even capture the widest shoot using my 24-70mm lens. I had to also wait for the staffs and contractors to move away before I could set the long exposure for my camera. It was one of the most horrible photoshoot I had ever done in my illness and I was not even satisfied with the angles and lighting.

The thing that had worsen my illness was the NUS TevaSUN beach volleyball competition on that Saturday. Each team consisted of five players, including one substitute. Tony, Gin, Bernard and his girlfriend signed up for it but Bernard had confinement at Palau Tekong and thus I was roped in. As the substitute who had to cover for Bernard, I had to be present so that our team would not be disqualified. I finished my TCM medicine (that was prescribed to me right before my illness turned for the worst) and I did not have time to get new medicine due to my interior shoot. Eventually, I took panadol and flu tablets to fight the virus. On the actual day of the competition, I was still very sick. Every time I tried to use my strength, I coughed badly. My head was heavy and I could not concentrate. I disgraced myself in front of all the girls. Right after showering, as I tried to blow to clear my nose, the mucus came out with blood. I knew it was not due to bruises inside my nose because I did not blow my nose hard. The situation was so bad that after I got home and tried to clear my nose again, the mucus dripped continuously for more than five seconds and it was bloody on my basin. I went to see the TCM doctor again and was lectured by her for not resting. For a week, the blood was a loyal companion. My illness took even longer to go away.

I was naive at times but at least I kept my words to everyone. I did my best but my best was far from even the level that I could accept for myself.

Spread the Love – May 2014

May 2014 was filled with loves from many people.

Kexin and I met up for a photoshoot. She was trying to help me with a jogging theme that I wanted to do since a year ago, however, she forgot to bring a top that we had discussed. She was also tired after her school and thus we decided to do a better one during her holidays. I felt I had made a few mistakes while the sunset was not as good as I had seen the past few times at Labrador Park. I was very touched by her objective, which was to help me.

My health was bad for the entire month and almost fell sick many times. There was once when I was a little down, I posted a status in my Facebook before going for my beach volleyball game. Christine called me immediately to ask me to visit the doctor. She had also messaged me a few times through Whatsapp to help me with my photography. I felt very blessed to have an ex colleague who was so concern about me.

During my dinner with my beach volleyball gang, which Shuwen happened to join us, she helped me to log into her Facebook account on my phone and helped me to invite her friends to LIKE my Facebook photography page. It was very nice of her to have helped me. Not everyone was comfortable to log into their accounts on other people’s phone.

My sister-in-law found a new job finally. She took the initiative to treat my family to a dinner at a new restaurant at Chinatown Point owned by chef Daniel. She needed not go to the expense but it was very sweet of her.

I initially had a sexy theme photoshoot with a model and thus I asked Shujuan to accompany me to become my “bodyguard”. However, the model postponed the shoot. Eventually, Shujuan met up with me on the actual day for a photoshoot at IKEA Alexandra, which I wanted to do since long ago. She was very creative and natural, and thus managed to help me get many nice photos despite the bad lighting since I could not set up my equipments without getting permission. She was also a very intelligent and good listener who managed to hold good conversations with me, making it a fantastic day for me.

Weitat organised two gatherings, helping me to meet-up with Mingfa and our favourite uncle and auntie, and also with our ex colleagues. Without him, it was difficult for me to get to see the wonderful people because I was too lazy and busy to organise any meet-up. For the first dinner, he had probably forked out quite a sum of money as well just to give the elderly a treat.

Tony initially formed a team with Gin, Bernard and Poh Hian to take part in the NUS beach volleyball competition. However, Bernard could not make it since he was in BMT and it happened to be his confinement week. Therefore, Tony roped me in. Unfortunately, I felt very sick. Tony went to buy mineral water for us before we went into Sentosa. It started pouring at the end of our game and he went to collect the goodie bags with Gin, asking Poh Hian and I to go to the shower rooms immediately to avoid the rain. Anyway, I played like shit during the game and disgraced myself in front of many girls.

Spread the Love – April 2014

Jiayu returned to Singapore for a few days and we had a small dinner gathering. Her dad passed her some money and instructed her to give us a treat before he left the restaurant. It was very kind of her dad for the expensive dinner treat. Her entire family had also supported and helped us in our voluntary work.

Weitat continued to be the hero to fetch and send many of us to and back from our Sunday volleyball sessions. Ever since we bought our own beach volleyball net, he had been taking care of them including the transportation, together with the two water bottles.

It was my mum’s birthday month and we were preparing to have a dinner with her. My sister-in-law surprised her by buying her a boutique of flowers. This kept my mum happy for a few days and she even dried the flowers up in order to keep them longer.

Spread the Love – March 2014

I had three sessions of food photography with the team of ChefatWork. Edwin didn’t fail to give the entire team a good treat at the end of the day. I felt guilty because I was not used to eat good food and could not really appreciate them. He was too generous.

Tze Khit started joining us for Sunday beach volleyball again. Each time, he came over to the NTUC at my place to buy bottles of isotonic drinks for everyone. It was very thoughtful of him.

My team of volunteers had a gathering at Nancy’s place again. She took the trouble to prepare all the food by herself and presented them in a classy manner on the table. She hosted us well. Her effort was stunning.

Spread the Love – February 2014

I had a couple shoot with Derrick and Peisee. ET, my younger brother and mum tagged along since we had a gathering over Derrick’s place at night. Together we managed to create some nice photos. Derrick had the steamboat dinner prepared with the help of his family and he refused when we offered to share the cost of the food. He and his dad drove and sent all of us home at night from the West to Central of Singapore. I felt the love from everyone who had spent their time with me on that day.

I was still trying hard to upgrade my camera gears and finally decided to go all the way for it. As there was a daily limit in withdrawing money from the ATM, I was short of cash. Gilbert didn’t hesitate to loan a thousand bucks to me immediately. I appreciated his trust in me.

Spread the Love – January 2014

In the process of upgrading my photography equipments to do better photography, I was kind of being conned to buy a super over-priced second hand lens by a very good (in skill) salesman who took advantage of my softness. This guy simply played hard with words and rushed me to buy his old lens without detailed checking. He kept asking me to take photos and look at the result through the small LCD screen at the back of my camera instead of checking the quality of lens. The greatest trick of his was to arrive late and behave like as if he was in a bad rush.

Eventually I went to my favourite camera shop at Funan Centre – John 3:16. Samuel and Steven helped me to look at the lens, which I felt so uncomfortable purchasing and they verified that the lens had been badly abused before. Samuel gave it a 4/10 rating and Steven said 5/10, while the joker earlier mentioned 9/10. They showed me a second hand same model lens and I was devastated. At the rate my tuition agency was going, I would need more than a month to earn the money back.

There was a black particle, which was much larger than normal dust, inside the glasses that was not very easy to be seen without being guided by experienced users. Apart from that, there was dust inside. There were countless tiny scratch marks on the front of the lens, which could be caused by wrong wiping tool. At the back of the lens where it was supposed to be connected to the camera body, there was fungus. The turning of the zoom ring was unusually rough at certain focus distance. The external body was quite badly scratched as well – I didn’t mind the ugliness but I recalled that he told me the condition was 9/10, which made me feel very cheated (I was too soft at first). Anyway, he told me he had just sent the lens to Malaysia’s Canon for servicing and thus there should not be any problem with the dark particle, dust and especially fungus. Unfortunately, the result (photo) due to these problems would not be seen easily, unless by professional or being put under a test with the exact same model of lens.

To put it simple, the lens that was sold to me at $1180 could probably worth $600 or less. It required servicing from the manufacturer – Canon. The front glass with countless of tiny scratches would cost hundreds of dollars to be replaced. Overall, the scratches on the external part made the lens unappealing and it would definitely cost more than a hundred dollars to replace it. The lifespan of the lens was definitely going to be shorter than others’.

After being persuaded by the two heroes, I tried hard to refund the lens. I spoke to the joker professionally and told him that I looked up to him as an honest seller and I had bought the lens in a rush all because of him. Eventually, I took the pain to go to his place and had to meet him up again on the next day to get back my money. If he had not returned me my money, I would have made him famous online. There were many reasons to believe he had made numerous lies during the entire process and I would write a detailed story about it in my photography website’s Tips on Buying Second Hand Camera and Equipment in Singapore page to “save” others.

I did my first ever couple shoot with David and Michelle. They didn’t mind being my “guinea pigs”. Apart from gaining the experience of shooting couple, I tried a different style of shooting. David was an observer and Michelle was a happy-go-lucky kind girl, and it was really great to use them as models to try my first shoot with less pressure. Apart from having limitation with my equipments – lack of sharpness and wrong auto focusing – the quality was quite decent. We had a fun day together and they insisted to treat me to dinner.

Right before Chinese New Year, Meifeng took time out to have a cheongsam shoot with me. She had been working overtime for almost every weekday and had her church commitment during weekends. Thus, she took great effort to spend the day with me. Unfortunately, renovation work, new year decoration and early campers spoiled my planned shoot at Chinatown. I could have recce the location a few days before the shoot. Nevertheless, I had a great day out with her.