My First Time Visiting Cotwolds & Bath / Day 2 of 2019 UK Holiday

There are many good reasons to let Cynthia organizes our holiday. While she would take into consideration the destinations I requested – more for down the memory lane if you get my drift – more often than not, she would pick somewhere that I have not visited before. Like Cotwolds and Bath.

Click here to view the photo album with captions. The pictures are shot with Nikon Z6 and 35mm Z lens.

Bath is rather near to Oxford. like less than two hours’ drive. I wonder why in the past, it has not crossed my mind that I should visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bath is beautiful. And so are some of the towns in Cotwolds. Such as a medieval town called Burford as well as Chedworth Roman Villa. This day could well be the highlight of our UK holiday. We have tried the Bath buns for dinner. They are giant buns. I wish there was a wholegrain version (which may not be too traditional, I guess). We must have spent more than four hours in Bath. Since the sun sets late in the summer, we could afford to take our time and enjoy the dinner before heading back to Oxford.

24 Years Later I re-visited Oxford / Day 1 of 2019 UK Holiday

I studied O-level and A-level in the UK. After graduating from Oxford University in 1995 I have moved to Singapore and started working. It is hard to pinpoint why for more than two decades I have not made a return to the UK. Partly because I have lived there for six years. Whenever I have a chance to travel, my wife and I would pick somewhere new. Deep inside, I have this notion that memories – fond or not – are like whiskey. It takes time to age. Perspective changes as I encounter new experience in life. I don’t need to remember every bit of it. Only those that survive the test of time are worth the reminiscence.

Click here to view the photo album with captions. The pictures are shot with Nikon Z6 35mm Z lens and SB900 flash unit.

Wadham College was our first stop. I collected my Alumni Card at the Porter’s Lodge on a Sunday. There are parts of Wadham that stay the same. And there are new structures are built within the campus. My wife Cynthia asked what the differences between the colleges are. A short answer would be that in my time, group lectures are held at the department whereby one-to-one or small group tutorials are held at the college conducted by the resident fellows. Hence, some colleges are more famous than others when certain subjects are concerned.

In reality though, most prospective students including myself back then just picked the college we like the most during field visits to apply for.

Board Street and the town center, by and large, look very much the same as before. Backwell’s Bookstore is still there, still full of books. In the era whereby bookstores are closing down one after another here in Singapore (thanks to eBook format and perhaps Netflix), it is quite amazing to see people still prefer physical books in the UK. Selected books are being featured with a short review posted at the shelf below them. Some are printed and others are handwritten.

Boots got bigger but Virgin megastore has gone (I guess while physical books survive in the UK, CDs don’t). There is a huge mall called Westgate at the far end of Oxford and it is very un-Oxford-like. Nevertheless, it is a very nice mall with a shop that sells … Rolex. A rather posh mall shall I say?

The very friendly porter at Wadham College mentioned that in our next visit, we could stay in one of the rooms and relive the student life for a hundred pound a night. We could do that. Or we could stay in an Airbnb as we did that comes with a full family of peacocks (no kidding).

Tiong Bahru / Nikon Z6 / Nikkor Z 35mm f1.8 S / SB900 / DXO Products

Previously I have done some testing with my new Nikon Z6. Today, I have tried out pairing the new camera with my old SB900 flash unit. I am also trying out the DXO products as a substitute of Capture NX-2 with Color Efex Pro plug-in. Click here to see the photo album.

  • SB900 works with Nikon Z6 though it is not fully integrated with the camera. Settings need to be done on the flash unit (such as exposure and mode).
  • Flash lock works well. Picking the right flash exposure is very important or else, the picture may be over-exposed as a flash filler.
  • In as much as I wish to, when shooting portraits, I can’t get rid of the flash unit.
  • DXO PhotoLab 2 with Nik Collection 2 is a very good product. It does almost everything as my old Capture NX-2 with Color Efex Pro. I can’t apply Nikon picture control in DXO, which is annoying. I don’t seem to be able to add descriptions to my raw photos – which is also annoying. Lastly, a TIFF file is created so that the filter can be applied. It makes photo export slightly more tedious (as there is a need to pick a set of NEF and TIFF mixed photos) and I can’t re-edit a TIFF file (i.e. have to reapply the filters all over again should I need to). Having said that, I am pretty much at home with DXO products.
A picture of my wife taken in our condo.

Test Drive My Nikon Z6 with 35mm Z Lens at Marina Bay – First Impression

For years, I have been taking photographs using my Nikon D700. These days, mirrorless full-frame cameras seem to be the trend. Unable to resist my curiosity – and mainly drawn towards the lightweight build – I have bought a Nikon Z6 with little or no expectation. Here are my quick observations.

Click here to view the full album. There is no Photoshop. Just cropping and fine-tuning via Capture NX-D software. That is to say, what you see is what you can get straight from the camera.

Marina Bay Sands at Sunset
  1. I am impressed by the photo quality. Superb ISO range. Starting to fall in love with the 35mm f/1.8 Z mount lens. The camera body is made in Japan. But the lens is made in China.
  2. Lightweight. I can even take pictures with one hand!
  3. Lesser physical buttons compared to D700. Hence, need to get used to the in-camera menu and touchscreen LCD.
  4. I use the electronic viewfinder and immediately feel at home. My wife prefers LCD (that can be pulled out for food shots!).
  5. Able to wirelessly transfer the photos into my wired computer. No cable is required.
  6. Z6 photos cannot be exported through Capture NX-2, which is a shame. Because I have the Color Efex Pro plug-in.
  7. Capture NX-D is a nightmare to use.
  8. Lightroom is an option (gosh, I hate Adobe’s hard sell for monthly or yearly subscription … and no, I don’t need your cloud). But I still prefer Capture NX-D.
  9. Battery life is pretty poor, which is expected. There is a heavy reliance on the LCD so as to navigate the various menu options.
  10. So far, no regret. I have also purchased the FTZ mount. I shall test out the Z6 with my legacy F mount lenses.
Merlion at night.

Spent My Holiday in Sentosa Island

I took leave on a Friday and the following Monday was a public holiday. Naturally, with a four days long break, people would think that I have taken the opportunity to visit overseas. When I replied that I planned to visit Sentosa Island on Friday on my own, they thought I was joking.

I wasn’t.

The merlion looks a bit old.

Most of the time my wife and I take leave together. We would likely end up chilling in our new home. Since my wife had to work on Friday and the weather was nice – not too sunny and no rain – I have decided to take public transport and visit Sentosa Island.

I always end up having a meal and a drink in this bar next to the beach.

Two train stations from my home and I have reached Harbourfront. Directly above the train exit and on the third floor of Vivocity is the monorail station to the island.

I thought of doing Bungee. Maybe next time when my stomach is not so full.

The difference between driving to the island and taking public transport is that when we drive, we tend to visit the area not too far away from where we park (and there ain’t that many parking facilities in the island). Since I was taking a monorail train, I had the opportunity to explore the island.

Those are the stairs I did not take. Instead, I took a lift to the rooftop.
Up at the rooftop is a view around the island.
A lovely bridge that is quite similar to one of those in Mount Faber Park.
The island is full of cannons!
I am not sure if you could call this wildlife. But this one is not shy around people. We were really close to each other!
I wonder if this one is real.

There is an exhibition at the Siloso Breach. A history of Singapore back in the WWII era. The exhibition is well above my expectation. A strong recommendation for those who visit Singapore. The indoor exhibition ‘Surrender Chamber’ is amazing.

In the outdoor, these are engine wreckage from the Japanese warplanes.
There is a tunnel to the gun post.
Yet another cannon.

Leaving Siloso area was a nice walk by the beach followed by a short hike to the Sentosa Imbiah trail.

The cable cars that shuttle people between Harbourfront and Sentosa Island.
There are mozzies in the trail. It is good to bring insect repellants.
Nice artwork.
Did you see a … dragon?

I could have taken a monorail train from Imbiah Station back to Vivocity. Instead, I walked towards the Resort World and took the monorail from Waterfront Station. That concludes my visit.

Those must be hotel rooms.
And I was looking for a bar to quench my thirst.
A bird flew by as I took this picture.
From a distance, there is the Merlion.
Happy Hour at Hardrock Cafe!
What a contrast to other parts of the island, this area was full of visitors.
I had fun. Looking forward to bringing my wife back to Sentosa in the near future!