Monday, 22 September 2008

Taking you to the Edge.....

This is one inspiring video I came across...sit back and enjoy...

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Road Trip : A Week in The Provence

I am currently on a road trip in Southern France, spending a week driving around the picturesque countryside, visiting the pretty hill towns and hamlets of the Verdons valley, the numerous vineyards of the fertile Provencal land and encountering the occasional rain shower in the late Summer. The mistral was blowing the day we arrived but luckily it didn't last, and the days are now pleasantly warm and sunny.

Today, I visited the historic city of Marseille, France's second largest city after Paris. Its pretty much like a shabby Paris-by-the-sea, and has the grandness of a great city with raw vibe and energy that Paris somehow lacks. Due I think to its Mediterranean heritage, being crossroads for traders from Africa and Asia for over 1,000 years, the city exudes a warm friendliness from its inhabitants which I hadn't expected (unlike Paris).

I always make head way for the street markets whenever I come to a new city or town. Markets are great meeting points where ordinary folk gather, meet and shop, eat and drink, and are great for street photography.

I particularly posted these black and white images I photographed in the less affluent Arabic quarter, in the midst of Ramadhan. The narrow streets of east of the city, a stone's throw from the slick Vieux Port lined with million dollar racing catamarans and luxury yachts is a contradiction.

These streets feel more human to me than the exclusive designer shops just around the corner on Cours Saint.

Litter-strewn, graffitied walls, packed with local Muslims in Arabic garb, the young and old, men and women, shopping in open-air souks, buying all manner of sweet deserts, cakes, bread, fresh Halal butchers and fishmongers, grocery-stores stocking coloured soft drinks from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

I only spent 3 hours or so drifting in and out of Marseille's back streets to realise how the French have accepted and integrated within their own diversity in race and religion much more than some other multi-racial nations. After all, their history goes back hundreds of years.

Yes, poverty exists in pockets amongst the ethnic communities in general, but the French identity within these communities prove strong. I have no doubt that racial discrimination is also subtlety practiced, but class and the hierarchical structure of society does not enter into the equation. 'Liberty, Egality and Fraternity' is endorsed and practiced with a open mind more so, compared to say Britain or Germany.

A few days ago, I met Mr and Mrs Nguyen, who operated a mobile stall selling fried Vietnamese spring rolls and crab claws at a traveling market, up in the pretty hill town of Cotignac. I conversed with him in broken French, and he asked me where I was from? I told him that I was Malaysian, and he exclaimed that Malaysia is a very nice country, we've got the tall towers.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Micro FourThirds : A New Standard in camera design

Once in a while, a new camera announcement catches my eye to make it worthy of a mention here. Photokina 2008 is around the corner, and manufacturers are releasing 'teasers' to photography websites and interested parties including the tech press of their latest and greatest. Usually, new releases are merely upgrades of what is existing,..higher pixel count, new functions, new colour schemes, throw in some slightly better performance and a few new lenses. Like cars, a brand new model seldom comes around, and most new models are just improved and face-lifted old ones.

However, recently, Panasonic announced their joint venture with Olympus to produce and commit to a 'new' standard of camera design, based around the FourThirds sensor which currently drives their DSLRs like the Lumix L10, Olympus E3, E420 and E520, and also the Leica Digilux 3.

Lumix announced the released of their new G1 digital camera with a FourThirds sensor and interchangeable lens. So what's fancy about this, you may ask.

Firstly, it is NOT a DSLR in terms. From the outside it looks like a compact DSLR. It shares the same size sensor as their FourThird counterparts, and has 12.1 MPs and is the first Electronic Viewfinder interchangeable lens digital camera. Unlike a DSLR, it does not have a viewfinder prism and therefore, does not have a mirror assembly unit between the lens and the sensor plane. This shaves a cool 20mm of the thickness of the body unit, and hence, smaller camera, voila!

A smaller camera means smaller lenses, and a lighter and smaller system, without sacrificing DSLR-like quality of a large sensor.

Regular FourThirds lenses can also be used on the G1 with an adaptor. For more information, visit the Panasonic website here. Best of all, it also comes in Red and Blue. Now that is cool..

Photos courtesy :

Tuesday, 2 September 2008