Archive for the ‘wide angle photography’ Category

Wandering

Posted: October 5, 2010 in butterflies, Korea, lemmings, wide angle photography
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They say that this is just a fleeting breath on a wide stage of play-acting little worlds.

What was here before, who were you after, and where did you come from and what are you now.

Heels in haste kick up the dust which shrouds the masterpieces which one thought dear.

What is there to keep, who was here in these arms, can nobody remember?

We all lay brick by brick beside the other in glorious testimony to pyramids of meaning much bigger than ourselves.

Never knowing names outside our lot, or whether we were never any different, while miracles all around us light every side.

Did we have really have fates to trade?  Or do we run over cliffs to a calling and Nature bigger than any short-sighted faith can perceive?

My spanking new Lenovo lappie with the hyped solid state drive and core i7 processor has died. 

Silently… in the middle of the night… without so much as a bleep.

So all my photos of those beautiful Korean butterflies are gone.  Because I’d believed in the stability of a solid state drive and didn’t do back up.

The laptop was only 20 days OLD!  To make things worse, I decided it was time to kick in the warranty but when I keyed in the URL (consumersupport.lenovo.com/go/register), there was no such website.  When I keyed in consumersupport.lenovo.com, the website was down!

When the laptop was dropped off, they refused to help with warranty registration and after much clarification and confusion, they finally took the laptop in and will let me know about the status in 6 working days.  That’s almost as old as the computer is.

During the first few days, the ATI Visual driver kept crashing.  After the first 10 days, it started to crash but I thought it might just be a software glitch.  After that, it went to sleep and never woke up again.

Those Korea pics were once in a lifetime.  Who knows when I’ll ever go back there again?  I don’t think I can trust another Lenovo laptop ever again!

Seongsan Sunrise Peak

I just found out that my itinerary in Korea is the same as just about everybody else’s who have gone package deal with the travel agents in Singapore.  

That kinda makes any kind of introduction of the places in Korea somewhat redundant.  But then I bet not many people have photos of these beauties!    

Common butterfly in Korea: The Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) can be found even amongst small strips of green in the city. As long as there are flowers around.

I was whisked away from the talkative tour guide (would you believe it?  He spent almost 25 min hanging around a few straw huts talking non stop and left us 11 min to walk around the huge area… which needless to say, none on tour managed to do so!) by the butterflies in Jeju Village.       

Polygonia c-aureum on purple flowers. Very common butterfly

This butterfly was especially hard to resist, no matter how irritated the tour guide was with my running away.  Purple flowers contrasting against the vibrant orange wings, it was every butterfly lover’s best photographic moment.  This particular Nymphalid is popularly known as the Asian Comma butterfly and is common in South Korea.  It could be easily spotted flitting everywhere from hilltops to amongst roadside flowers and backyards.   

 

Papilio dehaanii

If my travels around South Korea were anything to go by, it almost seems that Korea has more larger species of butterflies than smaller species like the Lycaenidae.  After all the running away from the tour group and grovelling on my hands and knees begging for the bushes to give me some teeny blues, all I got were big Papilios winging around my head.  Not that I mind.  The Papilio dehaani was accompanied by other members of its family such as what looked like the macilentus which never stopped for me (and my blurry posts are too embarassing to post). 

Artogeia melete

This little Pieridae however is a theme park butterfly.  Hanging out on a flower amongst shrieking rollercoasters and hordes of tourists milling around, the butterfly showed no fear of having its personal space invaded repeatedly. Sitting in the Everland park butterfly enclosure, I’m horrified to say that it was the only butterfly I could find behind the chain curtain.  Instead they have information boards hanging around empty host plants showing life cycles of butterflies that are not there.  It was nothing short of ironic.      

Argyronome laodice

Enjoying more freedom than its imprisoned cousin, the laodice was found squatting patiently on a flower just at the entrance to Everland waiting to stick its proboscis out at silly hordes of people jostling to get into the theme park.  Taking this shot earned me an earful from the tour guide who had just had enough of my hyperactivity around butterflies (he was running short on time and I was using that time to snipe away at passing butterflies.  Tsk, he said, anybody who doesn’t listen to me doesn’t get to eat lunch! And I have your lunch coupons!).  I’d only seen this butterfly once during the entire time I was in Korea.     

Argyronome laodice

Ignoring the angry cries from the tour guide, the butterfly also obliged me with an open winged shot.  (I did however grab a lunch coupon from my guide anyway and had lunch. ) 

Zizeria maha: Butterfly found at the tomato farm

On the short-lived excursion to the tomato farm, this small butterfly was found milling in hordes around the tomato plants.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that the tomato plants were its host plant.  So instead of picking cherry tomatoes, I spent the excursion time crawling amongst the plants looking for fat caterpillars.  Before I hit catepillar jackpot however, it was time to go and I shuffled out of the tomato rows into the wild grasslands around the farm incorrigibly shooting away at myraids of excitingly different butterflies and forgetting myself.  Again.  

Artogeia rapae

 It took me ages to find any information on Korean butterflies but since I’d found it, I’d like to share the links (however, there is a chance you might not understand anything you read on them): 

http://www.ataxus.com/ (Fantastic photograph checklist of Korean butterflies, complete with life history and videos) 

http://www.nature.go.kr:9001/insect/insect_list.do?param(field)=&param(value)=&param(field2)=&param(value2)=&param(field3)=&param(value3)=&page=4251 (photographic checklist for bugs and butterflies in Korea)

So why exactly are these guys looking between their knees (thanks for pointing that one out, Raymond. LOL!)?

It all starts with this strange phenomenon: when a vehicle is put into free gear, it starts rolling “uphill” like a bus possessed (if that were possible).

Various explanations about for this:

–         Said hill is haunted!!! YAAAA~~!!!

–         There used to be a massacre here and now this hill is haunted!!! YAAAA~~!!!

–         The ghost is pushing the bus! The hill is haunted! YAAAA~!!!

Apparently, all the rumours centre around haunting spirits.

But the answer to this mystery lies in the eye.  No no… not The Eye, your eye!

These guys are actually standing at the bottom of the hill instead of the top.  But the environment around the road makes it look as if we are standing at the top of the hill. But that’s not the fun part. 

The fun part is this apparent collaboration between all the tour guides to wreak happy revenge on us demanding tourists by telling us:

“To overcome the trick of the eye and see that we are at the bottom of the hill, all you need to do is stick your head in between your legs (yes Raymond, that’s what he said too… LOL!) and look at the road from there!”

Apparently that didn’t work as you can see from these exhausted faces.
Anyhoo, enough of those repeated photos.  South Korea has a number of temples.  I’m no Buddhist but the surroundings around the temples are occasionally quite breathtaking.  Maisan Provincial Park in Jeonju is one such area which has the Tapsa Temple nestled in the foot of the mountain.

Korean Buddhists have a belief that they put the fates and well-beings of their loved ones and families in the hands of their god and pray over them by piling little stones one on top of the other, forming a multitude of stone statues all over the area, tucked in the most inconspicuous places. 

We were told that we musn’t touch these stone statues as they were supposed to be sacred.  It was hard to ignore that instruction with the sombre atmosphere.  Nothing felt like it could be touched.

And in case you’re wondering about the name of this Mountain, it’s literally translated as horse-ear-mountain (ma-er-san).  That’s cos the twin peaks of the Mountain look like a pair of horsey ears from far.  I would have shared a pic of the pair of funny looking ears sticking out from the horizon were they not hidden in huge shrouds of rain clouds.

Besides Tapsa Temple, we also visited the Dongwasha Temple which has a 33 metre high Buddha statue.  This particular highlight however, was peculiarly hemmed in by construction when we visited.  The ugly construction aside, the hilly surroundings was ribboned through with pretty gurgling streams eagerly rushing to the foot of the mountain. Dongwasha Temple also has a long flight of steps leading up to the temple which is called “The Steps of Reflection” where Buddhists meditate on their teachings of kind acts and filial piety.  You’re supposed to take a step and reflect on one good act.  But we trundled down the steps and did all of our reflection at one shot looking upwards into the rain.

Next up: Find out who I was chasing feverishly throughout Seongsan Sunrise Peak, Jeju Village and even Dongwasha Temple till I got a massive headache that ruined my outing to the Teddy Bear Museum! All this coming up in a bit!

Serenity

Posted: August 21, 2010 in wide angle photography
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Where does Serenity lie?

Is she in my mind's eye?

Serenity sleeps.

In between tired breaths of unwitting slumber,

In a good dream with messages from loved ones gone past,

In the quiet after the last soldier falls.

 

 

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Manufactured Leisure

Posted: August 8, 2010 in wide angle photography
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With the rain pelting down the last few weekends coupled with the need to keep up with the rat race of work and studies, I was left with the ill-afforded option of the rich man's entertainment during the long weekend.

So I bought a poor man's version of a rich man's wide angle lens and did my best to pretend that my all my rides cost $26 a pop and wing much higher than transit for the masses.

I numb through all crowded morning rides like a resigned prostitute getting jolted, shoved and used by the next customer like toilet paper, looking vacantly at the ceiling wondering if today was gonna be a good day.

And layered deep under my indifference lies a peace-philic magnetic force which automatically forces me to exhibit similar behaviour to bus-diversions during event heavy periods.  Given a choice, I detour along remote, god-forsaken areas at cruising happy speed and can't believe my luck when everybody else has decided to converge at points from which I've diverted expertly.

And this happy $26 ride is neither necessary nor diversion.  Just money wasted on an event which only graced my life twice so far. And like elevator music and the momentarily entertainment screensaver, it supplements the limbo environment between the rains and being with my beloved butterflies.

I wasted my butterfly-less waking hours swinging in the direction of my peace-seeking magnetic force field from cable cars and shopping malls to deserted highways and byways.

And dragging an arsenal of lenses across highways at 4a.m. at night, amongst lovers laid out on the bare cement next to the water coloured in lights, all of us drunk from our own illusions of grandeur. 

The drummer boys at Vivo City toe the line and drum in consistency to the theme while I pretend that I am safe behind my lens.

 

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Kota Kinabalu.. a land so mountainous that there is only so much you can do when it comes to tracing that elusive critter through the bushes… before you began free-falling down the beautiful mountainside.

The birds know this so they brazenly come close during breakfast, fearlessness and bravery written in their little angled white brows, winging in close at the moths who have stayed too long at their late night parties.  Their ragged wings lay limply against the dewy wooden floor, with their myraid comrades, paying the price of a late night with more than a hangover.

Note on photo: This White Throated Fantail lived up to its name, flashing its angry little white brows and swinging its tail like a pendulum, spreading it out and staring down at cameras inquisitively.

This adorable little bird is strictly montane and occurs in forest between 900 and 2600 metres so it wasn't surprising to see it at breakfast up the mountain.

These hard-shelled stationary denizens of the undergrowth of the montane forest, magnetically attractive in their own right at the other end from pretty, were cooperative.  But the butterflies flutter thick in the speckling of light in the forests and seduce the obsessed photographer onto an empty chase, getting nothing but glimpses of hope and the odd bush brown lurking compensatingly at the feet. 

After trekking around Poring Forest and getting a bite from one enthusiastic Tiger Leech, and an entourage of more brown fans slinkying over for an autograph of blood, I retreated into the Poring Butterfly Park and stole myself a few moments of gratification with the poor captive butterflies wandering aimlessly within their small enclosure.

Note: It was difficult to photograph the butterflies in a perfectly natural setting due to the size of the enclosure and the understandable sttraction of the butterflies to the edges of the enclosure, clinging onto the green fencing as if looking out of their imprisonment into the great outdoors longingly.  Thankfully, the Great Orange Tip and the Leaf Butterfly were more interested in captive feed.

 

 

 

Even though the forest didn't yield much, the blood debt to the leeches paid off at one point, however, when we encountered the tristis hanging around next to a cheerily bubbling bust in a long pipe running alongside the stream in the open forest.  As soon as it opened its wings, we descended generously to the waiting leeches on the forest floor, knees and elbows on the ground, prone and ready for our brown and striped slinky friends to come on board (and they did). 

The Malayan species of this genus is purportedly rare. This coupled with the fact that the flat-like butterfly sidled up its wings for a rare underside shot makes the long trek all worthwhile. 

Note on photos: The "probable" amnosia decora behaves very much like The Purple Duke butterfly, ducking under leaves like a moth the moment it lands.  The skittish butterfly only allowed us to approach when it was poised high and safe up on a steep hill side (we scurried up clumsily).   

The lack of activity might be attributed more due to a lack of sleep and consequent inability to be as responsive to movements in the forest as I'd like.  The trip was birthed from the notion that the less sleep one had, the more fun one could have with the time that could have been used for sleeping, as espoused by my fellow photographers. 

Note on Colour Sergeant: Shot in Kipandi Butterfly Park.

The notion proved truer for me because I couldn't drive and slept rigorously and immediately through every single leg of the journey the moment the back of my head touched the headrest of the carseat.  While everybody else drove at (through fleeting peeks) breakneck speeds on unlit roads in the dark of night without so much as a wink of sleep.

Note on Delias above:  This free ranging butterfly came down to grace the small flowers at the entrance to Kipandi Butterfly Park.  But refused to venture within the park itself.  The butterfly is apparently a frequent visitor as it was also sighted by the other photographers on their previous trip to Kipandi butterfly park.

The notion was of course also conditional on the outcome that none of us died from driving over the edge of the mountain roads or sleeping at the wheel.  Which didn't happen. O_O.  

Note on Eurema above: This strikingly different Eurema butterfly caught my eye while circling flowering pagoda flowers.  As it turned out, I really had never encountered this butterfly before.   So it was a good thing I decided to invest some time circling the pagoda flowers together with the butterfly.

We did the bak kut teh-crawl (pub-crawl equivalent of eating bak kut teh at different stalls one after another just to taste the difference), crawled adventurously through forests, photographed people carrying on with their lives, shot star trails while gazing philosophically (and sleepily) at the star-spangled sky, peed in the weirdest and wildest of places in the strangest of hours, irritated shot-gun carrying people up in the mountains when attempting to navigate to a good spot for clear skies and deprived them and their dogs of sleep when they persisted in baying at us for hours until we left.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't have fun

Note on photo above: A rare encounter of the Magpie Crow sunning open winged on the edge of a leaf, glistening beautifully in the sunlight.

Note on Judy:  Kipandi Butterfly Park is home to quite a number of Riodininae, hopping prettily in the shadey forest cover. 

 

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