Not My First Review, But My First Published On A Magazine

During my blogging career, I have done reviews of various sorts. Like book review requests from the publishers for their online sites. Mobile phone review requests from the PR companies that work with the manufacturers. I have attended movie preview for a local media company that promotes movies and all kinds of products. Miscellaneous write-up on media events. I was used to participate actively on these media events. But nowadays, I am very much retired from that scene, quietly writing stuffs that I enjoy in my website and in Google+.

And then, once in a blue moon, the stars align. All you see is a once in a lifetime opportunity beaming at you from the heaven. It wasn’t something that was handed to me, for sure. It was through persistence with a healthy dose of initiative that got the job done. What am I talking about? Take a look at this.

Marvel Heroes Stuff Review Page 1-2

There is this online game called Marvel Heroes 2015 that I enjoy playing. I would have written a review on my website (in fact I did about a year ago). One day, I was chatting with the editor of Stuff magazine on Whatsapp. He was wondering if I still play Diablo 3 because he has received a game code from Blizzard Asia for a review. That game was fun while it lasted. All of a sudden, an idea has formed.

I have always wanted to see Marvel Heroes featured on a magazine. For some reasons beyond me, I have yet to come across one. Not in Singapore. Not in Tasmania when my wife and I were holidaying there last year. Since my buddy was going to review Diablo 3, why not Marvel Heroes as well? One thing I have learned from my blogging career is that reviewers are best to approach directly to the source. Because I was confident that I could connect the developers with the magazine’s review team, I have suggested that we could do something special that might mutually benefit both parties. Insights make good stories. And the only way to gain insights is through the source.

To cut a long story short, I was asked to write the review instead, as a freelancer. I was delighted for the opportunity of course (stars and heaven, like I have mentioned). Although I have written online reviews for so many years, this is the first time my review goes on print. There was a lot of work behind the scene. A typical game review occupies one page. Because of the insights I have gained through the game developers, I have managed to make it a two-pager. Still, I wanted to give a little extra – for both parties, for me, and for the magazine readers. Why not interview the CEO of the game company Mr. David Brevik, the man behind Diablo 1 & 2 who has revolutionized the action role-playing game genre? And so we did.

Interview with David Brevik on Marvel Heroes 2015

That has pushed the entire article to a three-pager, well exceeds my expectation. The final layout and artwork is beautiful. I see my name on Stuff magazine (local edition). Kind of surreal.

The journey has been rewarding, not without hard work. Writing for myself is easy. Writing for others is hard. I have learned so much through this process. For the entire week, I have written and rewritten the entire piece based on editor’s feedback. The end result is a lot better than my first draft. Who knows? I may write another review for a magazine in the near future.

My Niece Baby Lydia

The ward at the medical center has a similar layout to the one we have visited three years ago, when my niece Bethany was born.  Yesterday – March 30th – my mother, my wife, and I drove to the same center, as we did in 2010.  I was not rushing in, as I did before.  Partly because I had a terrible backache.  Also partly because we knew what to expect.  My sister was admitted to the medical center in a Saturday morning.  Two and a half hours later, Lydia was born.  Lydia did not take as long as Bethany did.  I read somewhere that the second one may come out relatively faster than the first one.  Who knows?  Maybe my sister is getting the hang of childbirth.  Maybe the third one may pop out even faster.

She is Lydia

My first reaction in Chinese when I saw Lydia was: She is made from the same cookie cutter!  Figuratively speaking, this means Lydia looks the same as Bethany as a toddler.  I beat everyone to the usual discussion of which part of the baby resemble to which parent.  Freshly delivered from the womb, Lydia looks the same as Bethany.  Period.  That drew a lot of debates – not unexpectedly so – between Benny the proud father, Lora my beloved sister, my mother, my wife, and soon, the in-law side of the family.  I even took out a picture of Bethany taken when she was very young.  Only time will tell if I am a genius or I am missing the details.

I am not entirely sure how my sister feels to have another girl.  To me, that is extraordinary.  Two daughters in one go.  Sure, while it is less likely I would be drinking beer with my nieces and watching Formula One on TV, I can relate to girls better.  I can’t wait to bring them out for shopping, with their daddy’s credit cards.

Cynthia was especially curious how the three-year-old Bethany would react when she first met Lydia.  I reckon Bethany must have some level of understanding that a baby once inside her mother’s tummy is now sleeping peacefully by her mother’s bed.  Bethany was calm as her parents made the introduction.  When her grandparents tried to ask her questions, Bethany quieted them with a gesture signaling them that her sister was sleeping.  I was touched by the whole scene.  So young, and she has this sense of responsibility.  We whispered to each other, not wanting to upset Bethany, which is better for Lydia I reckon.  All the while, little Bethany sat on her mother’s bed quietly looking at her sister Lydia.  Given any other days, Bethany would have been running around and making laughter.  This level discipline suddenly struck me as an exhibition of growing up.

I noticed that in the ward, everyone was looking at Lydia, smiling at her.  How would little Bethany feel now that she may no longer be the sole center of attention?  I took out my mother’s tablet and signaled Bethany to come to the far end of the room.  Her father gave his blessing and we were playing her favorite pinball game, which I have installed for this very occasion that I have anticipated.

Avid readers may have followed my observation on Bethany and our pinball game.  New to our previous encounters, Bethany now has this awareness of losing.  A ball going down the drain is no good.  Now she gets it.  She would get all tensed up when she lost, holding fists and getting frustrated.  But when she managed to hit the bell at the top of the machine, she would smile and said slowly: This is … FUN!

Normally, I praise Google’s effort in evolving the Android platform.  In the new Nexus design, there is no physical buttons on the front of the device.  Instead, the three buttons – back, menu, and running applications – have become part of the touchscreen at the bottom.  This has given me tons of headache when Bethany now keeps on hitting those virtual buttons by mistake.  The game would suddenly disappear and she would get a shock every time that happened.  I would need to tell her that it is OK and show her how to return to the game.

And that happened every 20 seconds or so.

I am thinking, would Lydia grow up to like playing pinball and racing games like her sister?  Or would she have a whole new different personality?  Just one day before Bethany was born, my sister was playing racing game on my computer.  Now I wish I had instill some video gaming excitement to Lydia days before she was born.

One Milestone Down: Participate In A Writing Competition

My sister commented last Saturday, “My brother has many milestones [that he wants to achieve]”.  OK.  I don’t have that many.  But participating in a writing competition is certainly one that is high on my list.

I wish I have studied literature, instead of engineering.  Having said that, I am not sure if I would be any good.  Or if I would hate the subject so much so that I would not want anything to do with it.  If I could write novels for a living, that would be ideal.  But I also know that such business has no place for an average writer.  Hence for now, I stick to what makes a living – writing business documents.

Every working evening, I drive from my workplace in the east to pick up Cynthia in town.  In my car, I often listen to the radio.  One evening, while listening to the radio, I chanced upon a writing competition organized by National Arts Council sponsored by Singapore Press Holding.  I checked the deadline and I have two weeks left.  There are two genre categories: Short Story and Poetry.  In the category of Short Story, there is a word limit of 5,000 while for Poetry, there is none.  Immediately, I thought of Iliad and Odyssey.  I don’t think I am good at writing poetry.  If I was to submit one today, it would look something like this.

I saw a plane today
Flying by my office window
I thought about my buddy
Who used to call me Willie

I cannot recall when
My buddy left his job
I sort of miss the days (and I sort of hated too)
When he called me Willie

We used to take a walk
After we’ve filled our stomachs
He would tell me stories
And I would tell him mine

Now that he’s not around
Well, no one calls me Willie
I saw a plane today
In it I thought I saw my buddy

Not very convincing, is it?  So I stick to the Short Story category.  5,000 words is quite doable.  Each blog entry of mine has an average word count of 1,000.  All I need to do is to write 5 entries at one go.  Hence, if you notice, I have not been productive in blogging for the last two weeks.

Since I only have two weeks to submit my story, I wanted to choose a topic I am comfortable with.  I thought about writing something similar to that “Sea Turtle” post, which is one of my favorites.  I have this idea for a long time.  Instead of sea turtle, it is snail’s turn.  But I got stuck in the research bits.  I reckon it would take ages in order to study how snails behave, how fast or rather slow they move, what they eat, and etc.

The next thing came to my mind was the Dooku series.  Avid readers may recognize this character that is by and large inspired by the things I observe at work.  I renamed the character at the last minute because Cynthia told me that Dooku is a character in Star War.  Writing the story only took a day or two.  Editing it took ages.  Need I say, I feel so relief after I have submitted my manuscript for the Golden Point Award 2011.  At the submission counter, the lady who received my entry was helpful.  She checked through my documents making sure that everything was in order.  When she looked at my application form, she gasped.  Is everything OK, I asked.  Yes, yes, she replied.  She then told me that the title of my work warmed her heart.  How I wish she is one of the judges.

After I have stopped working on my story, I took a look at the quality of work from the winners of past years.  God oh God, the quality is super high!  I am so glad that I wrote without knowing what I was up against.  Since the chance of winning this Golden Point is super slim, I would like to take this opportunity (rather than wait till the result is announced) to thank the few who agreed to provide feedback on the initial draft in such a tight timeline. It is a humbling experience and I have learned a lot out of this.  So you know who you are, thank you, thank you, and thank you.  Even if I don’t win this competition, I have a polished story that I am proud of reading again and again.

Japanese writer Murakami once wrote the following words.

“To put it in the simplest possible terms, I find writing novels a challenge, writing short stories a joy. If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden. The two processes complement each other, creating a complete landscape that I treasure.” – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

I find writing short stories a challenge, writing blog entries a joy.  To extend his analogy, writing blog entries is like taking care of a pot of plant.  It may be tiny, but it has its charm in its rawest form.  Writing blog entries is a joy to me because most of the time, it is write-and-forget.  In writing a short story, I have to think about how the pieces flow to each other, the consistency of the overall plot.  I have to clinically vet through the words to see if improvements can be made, mistakes can be corrected.  It is spontaneity of writing a blog entry versus the meticulous crafting of a short story.  I lose quite a bit of spontaneity when I edit the story too much.  But refining the story does make the final product looks more professional.

One commented that my short story reads differently from my usual blog entries.  My short story does not have the same level of readability and lightheartedness.  It is a valid observation.  Immediately I thought of Madeleine Wickham.  The books written under the name Wickham are not as engaging and entertaining, despite the fact that they appear to have a higher artistic value.  However, the chick lit written under Sophie Kinsella – by the same author, I literally worship them.  Or perhaps I have read Wickham writing as Sophie Kinsella before she writes as Madeleine Wickham.  So I would say, the stuffs written here in this website tend to be lighter and have the elements of entertainment in mind.  When I write a short story, I am often more ambition in tackling some of the tougher topics in life and mask them under the characters of my story.  At least that is my intent.  I suspect there is a fine balance somewhere.  The next story I write, I may be nearer to the bull eye.  Who knows?  If I keep on doing it, I may hit the sweet spot some day.

I am happy to have participated in a writing competition.  And I take suggestions on what I should do next.

On My Birthday We Visited Medan Ikan Bakar at Malacca (Again)

Meda Ikan Bakar

My observation on age as such: besides the age that you can legally have s … ahem … your own driving licence and the one that grants you lots of discount everywhere you go because you are senior, age is just a number that has little significance.  Some achieve more than others at their age; some look better than others at their age; some manage to defy the gravitational pull of music-from-my-good-old-days-sounds-much-better-than-today’s-hits better than others.  As for me, I am so going to watch Lady Gaga’s concert when she comes to Singapore.

My birthday is my holiday, always.  And I woke up at nine this morning with my head still spinning after a long night of online gaming.  Our team lead of 5 – a good online friend of ours – lightly commented that we were not performing up to our usual standard.  I said the obvious, “It’s three in the morning, ha ha ha.”  Cynthia and I were more or less randomly hitting the buttons like two sleepy zombies.  Game mission accomplished nonetheless, sort of.

Processing my band’s studio jamming materials took much shorter time than anticipated.  Probably because I have already spent much time running through the recording during the week.  At about eleven-thirty, I said to Cynthia, who also took leave because I did, “Let’s have lunch at the Botanic Gardens.  Grab our passports, we may dine in Malacca.”

We love road trips.  Road trip for couples is like golf for business partners.  It is almost like having an undivided attention for each other for hours.  In fact, I think all couples should go through the road trip test amongst other ‘tests’ that I will cover in my new book “Things You Wish You Had Done Before Saying I Do”.

OK.  There’s no such book.  I am pulling your legs.  Below are some of the photos taken today.

Malacca has changed a lot, over the last decade.  It is now inscribed as a World Heritage City, though we have no clue which organization inscribes such a title.  We arrived at Malacca way before dinner time so we road-toured the city.  Now, there is a Malacca Eye by the sea (something like the Singapore Flyer), a few new malls, and we need to buy parking coupons instead of putting coins into the parking meter.  Maybe these changes have been around for years.  We seldom tour the city.  We visit Malacca to have seafood, a location outskirt of Malacca.

We always had difficulties in finding “Medan Ikan Bakar” (translates to Baked Fish Eating House I think).  Each time, we would spend an hour or two trying to find the place.  Each time, we would document the direction in exactitude only to realize in the next trip that the landscape has changed.  Malacca is not small.  And it is easy to get lost.

I can certainly say it with conviction that Nokia Map has changed the way we travel.  The maps are free, the GPS service is free.  Not only do I know exactly where I am, it knows a list of landmarks around the area too.  I don’t need to pay for and install a separate device just for this function.  It comes with the phone.  So, on my birthday, we arrived at the Baked Fish Eating House at ease.

Every morning, fishing boats arrive at the shore and unload some of the seafood to the long stretch of restaurants nearby.  I have seen the days when this area was so popular that it literally took hours to find a parking space.  In our recent visits, there seems to be an increased number of parking lots.  Also, maybe because we often avoid the weekend crowds and we prefer to dine early, we dine in leisure.

We had a sea bass (baked), six gigantic prawns (baked), some squids (sweet source), a vegetable dish, and three portions of rice.  The sea food tasted fresh and the fish was juicy.  The total bill came up to about RM 55 (which is about S$25?).  I thought it was reasonable.  Note: for my future reference, we spent RM 200+ for this brief out-of-town experience.

For those of you who have the Nokia Map installed in your phone, download the Malaysia map and punch in “Pernu Umbai”.  The search result of “Medan Ikan Bakar Pernu Umbai” should appears (186.7km from my home!).  For other map users, try this coordinates: 2° 9′ 21″ N, 102° 20′ 9″ E.  Or if you trust my direction (I have tested it on the way back and it is accurate to the one hundredth meter), click here and scroll all the way to the bottom.

My Sister’s Wedding in Singapore – Thank You For Your Warm Wishes

We wrapped up the night with a group photo

It is amazing how pressure can propel us to do the seemingly impossible.  I woke up this morning barely 8 hours after I shot the last photo of the evening and my parents were already pacing around my living room hinting or rather strongly hinting that they wished to take all the photos I have shot for my sister’s wedding as they are.  As they are?!  It is hard to explain to them why they can do that for point-and-shoot photos and not for the 500 pictures I took with my dSLR camera.  I find it hard to believe that too.  It has got to be my skill, or the lack of it.

And because it breaks my heart to see my parents fly back to Hong Kong disappointed, not only have I done the necessary photo shortlisting and touch up in record time, but also have them published online with a less than 24 hours turnaround time.  I am happy with the results.  Some of the shots I really like.  I suppose Benny and Lora may have passed this blog entry to you for viewing.  Maybe you were there, maybe you couldn’t make it.  As a proud brother of Lora and a good old friend of Benny, I thank you for your warm wishes to the wedding couple.  I am pretty sure in time to come Benny and Lora will share the professionally done up photos of the event with you.  Meanwhile, here are some of the candid shots I have taken to complement the event, arranged chronologically in three albums.

PS. Stay tuned for a little write-up on how the day went.  Thank you for viewing the pictures and as always, feedback is welcome.

River Hongbao 2009 Opening Ceremony – A Media Coverage

A sample of photos taken during the River Hongbao 2009 Opening Ceremony

I am honored to be invited as part of the media crew to cover the River Hongbao Opening Ceremony.  Having no prior experience to cover event of such scale and significance, I followed closely to EastCoastLife, the president of our Association of Bloggers (Singapore), listening to her advice on who is who, what to anticipate, and the general tips to cover events and etc.

In this blog entry, I am going to share two photo albums with you. 

  1. Click here (or onto the image above) to view my personal favorite collection created using Nikon Capture NX2
  2. Scroll down to view the event collection created using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.2

On the Event

From now till Feb 1, there are many reasons to visit the Floating Platform just off Marina Square.  First, you get to walk around the platform built originally as a temporary location for the National Day Parade.  The last time I visited the same location was during the National Day Parade Preview back in 2007.  One fine piece of work built by the Singapore Armed Force, MINDEF, and DSTA.

Second, there are lots of photography opportunities.  Beautiful light with lots of color.  At the center of the Floating Platform is a performance stage.  Check out the show schedule here.  Lots of talents.  EastCoastLife and I enjoyed the cultural performance thoroughly.

Third, admission is free.  The venue is well organized and secured.  Tripods are allowed so bring your family and friends and take some memorable shots!  If you drop a link of your photo album here, I will gladly take a look.  Let’s learn from each other.

A Media Crew’s Journal

It was the first time I stepped into a Press Conference.  We were side by side with the traditional media.  And I am happy that my camera is of an industrial standard as compares to what the pros are using.  We are all Nikonians, we are friends immediately without the need to exchange words.

Peggy Chen, our friendly media point of contact, walked us through the program in Mandarin.  I tried very hard to understand what she said (I am a Cantonese) because she did give out useful information on what to expect, where to take your best photo shots.  I think I understood about 70% of what she said.  When she repeated the information a second time in English, I was in tears of joy.

The professional photographers move very fast.  We were dashing ahead, turning around to take some killer shots, and dashed out again – as our VVIP (very-very important people) walked amongst the crowd.  Over 800 shots were made on that evening and I am amazed on how Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Wong Kan Seng managed to smile in almost every photo I took throughout the entire event.

I was told that firecrackers were banned in Singapore and now recently lifted.  When EastCoastLife asked the security guards if we could get up close to the firecrackers and they were shocked, politely said no.  After seeing how explosive those firecrackers were, I personally am glad that I was nowhere close.

As you can see in the photos here, the performance was beautiful, professionally done.  Apparently, EastCoastLife has seen the preview and was tipping me on what shots to take.  Neat!  My personal favorite of the entire collection – besides the picture of a very pretty Chinese girl on stage – is the 6 men stacking up in the form of a totem

Sharing of Photography Experience

I have many photography mentors to help me with this learning journey.  So, I wish to thank Ken for the wonderful tip on: bring more than one lens for the event and change on the spot.  Because of this tip, I brought along my telephoto zoom lens as well.  I am so glad that I did.  I would have missed quite a number of shots that turn out to contain some of my favorites.

I also wish to thank Mathew to convince me that there are industrial strength battery chargers out there and with the right batteries, my camera can perform as though it is on steroid.  And just the day before, I invested S$200 for a charger and countless batteries (12 high capacity ones and 8 free not too high capacity batteries that come with the charger).  That makes my already heavy camera even heavier.  But that is no big deal, just need to do more weightlifting.  With all the quality batteries, my camera was shooting at 8 frames per second with the flash gun to match.

Two awesome tips!

Besides the two lenses – wide angle and telephoto – I brought my tripod and shutter release cable as well.  That night was also the first evening I tried the MUP (mirror up) function to minimize the mechanical vibration caused by the movement of the mirror inside the camera.  MUP only makes sense if you have a shutter release cable.

I have nearly underestimated the number of photos I would shoot especially with high speed shooting mode.  My 8GB Extreme IV memory card was barely enough (for over 800 shots taken).  I have completely depleted the 8 AA rechargeable batteries on the grip.  And I reckon my flash gun would need new batteries really soon.  Hence, lessons learned are:

  • Always anticipate where the VVIP will be heading.  And keep dashing forward (without knocking anyone down!).
  • Observe where the professional photographers stand (great tip from EastCoastLife).
  • If you can’t afford an extra camera body (like me), bring extra lenses for the event.
  • And if you are using one of the entry level dSLR cameras, do yourself a favor and get the 18-200mm lens (for my D700, I use the 24-70mm and 70-200mm, both at f/2.8).  It costs S$1,000 but you can almost shoot anything from any distance especially with the flash gun mounted.  Not large enough aperture is seldom an issue with flash.
  • Bring extra memory cards and batteries.  Even if you may not need to use them, they offer a good peace of mind.
  • Bring along an assistance to help you with your gears.  Better still, bring a pretty one so that he or she can be your subject if need to too.

Afterthoughts

As a blogger who participate in the New Media movement, I can certainly see the benefit of being part of a legal entity that complies to the Singapore Societies Act.  Much like how bloggers – myself included – get into company events through the PR companies, an association for the bloggers get us in touch with the events of national significance. 

Being bounded by the Societies Act does have its restriction, especially in the areas that touch onto Singapore politics.  But the upside is that not only the government, but also other established associations acknowledge our existence.  More doors will be open for us to “promote, protect, and educate” our members.  And inevitably, our key stakeholder list will expand beyond the Blogosphere – for the better I reckon.

At times I wonder how many active societies are there in Singapore.  I think in time to come, there will be more and more associations for the different groups of bloggers to cater for different special needs.  Is there a one size fits all?  Probably not, in my personal humble opinion.

Related Link: Personal Photo Collection – River Hongboa Opening Ceremony (A Highlight)

Featured in My Paper – Behind the Scene

My Paper

This must be the first time I see my Chinese name (黃健暉) printed on a local newspaper.  I think my parents in Hong Kong would be happy if they read that.  The first time I saw my English name printed on newspaper was back in the Project Eyeball era.  How I miss Project Eyeball.  The good old days.  Had it been published free of charge like My Paper and TODAY and let the advertisement funds the operation, I think it would survive.  I still believe that the 80-cent Project Eyeball was ahead of its time.

After numerous long email exchange, MSN exchange, and short message exchange with the friendly My Paper journalist Koh Soo May (who has a lovely Chinese name that unfortunately I don’t know how to type it out here) over the weekend, I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into my favorite Coffee Bean at the Republic Plaza looking at the pile of My Paper at the counter.  You know what it is like when you interact with a journalist.  There is this element of uncertainty on what he or she is ultimately going to write, whether you will be in a positive or a not so positive light.

I tried to keep my cool but couldn’t contain my excitement.  I flipped opened the bilingual paper.  Front page (the Chinese side), I saw my site.  Gosh!  And on the third page as well.  I am much impressed by the level of details on the coverage of the topic: Bloggers – Power to the Commercial World (something like that in English).  Journalist Soo May has managed to interview the Companies, the PR firms, and the bloggers covering the areas of social media, product and service reviews and endorsement, and the trend within and outside Singapore.  Bravo!

Good read it is, I was so excited and delighted that I told one of the staff in Coffee Bean quietly behind the counter that I was on My Paper.  That was, by the way, after she asked me for a career advise if she should study Medical Science or Nursing (I love the staff of Coffee Bean at the Republic Plaza, very friendly people always with a smile).  She too was so excited that she grabbed one of the papers.  And then I realized that she cannot read Chinese, and I realized that quite a number of my good friends cannot either.

Oh well, for those who can read Chinese, click here to view the first page and here to view the subsequent one.

I guess most of us read the paper or any publication without really given much thoughts on what’s behind the scene.  After briefly worked with Soo May observing how much time she put into the articles in the middle of the night and over the weekend while busy reaching out to the network, I think I now read the newspaper with a better appreciation.  I always thought that my few hours spent per blog entry is hard work.  I certainly wouldn’t wish to write for a newspaper agency for now.

And so, this blog entry is dedicated to all the hard working journalists who face all sorts of challenges to deliver us stories, stories that don’t usually have a long lifetime and before they are even published, these journalists need to work on the next topic, and the next.

External Site: MyPaper.sg

PS. There is this one person from TEXT100 I would like to thank for all the wonderful opportunities and you know who you are.  Thank you!

Captured Moments of My Sister’s Wedding in Hong Kong (2008.12.28)

A Sample from My Personal Collection of My Sister's Wedding

Fortunately I was not the main wedding photographer.  What hard work it was!  With no control over light quality, background, and where everybody stands, I did the best I could.  And I did the best I could with my first dSLR camera that was less than 2 months old and my non-existing knowledge of Photoshop.  At times I am amused by the faith my little sister has in me.  I love my little sis.  I have been practicing hard, for this very moment.

Can’t wait to see the result?  Click here but please do come back.

I have been resisting to ‘photoshop’ my pictures for a long time until now.  Simply because I’d like to show the world what I can possibly do with my camera and my camera only.  Here is an analogy for you.  Showing you what could have done with my camera (to the point of no cropping) is like performing my music live to you.  The artwork is not perfect, it has its flaws, but (I hope) it has its charm, a sense of genuineness.

Most professionals do some forms of post production work on their photos.  Competitions allow that too.  Hence to me, admiring a moderately or heavily ‘photoshopped’ picture is like listening to a music album.  Perfectly finished and generally accepted.  Some cross the line and they have become more like a digital art to me.  No disrespect to those who are skilled in post production work, I personally enjoy playing my music live.  I.e. my photos as they are being shot (or could have been shot).  Having said that, after ‘photoshopped’ this little photo collection of mine, I do enjoy admiring the end result of this twenty odd pictures, out of 500.

It is surreal to think that my little sister is now married.  It seems like yesterday when I changed her diapers, when I was 4.  Now, here are the rest of my photo collection.

Related Link: Personal Photo Collection of My Sister’s Wedding (HK), What a Fruitful Year that Ends with a Bang: My Sister’s Wedding

What a Fruitful Year that Ends with a Bang: My Sister’s Wedding

My Happy Face at my Sister's Tea Ceremony

Out of over 7,000 photos taken with my barely 2 months old camera, if I could pick one picture as my Nikon moment, this is it.  Friends of mine perhaps rarely see this look of mine that is ecstatically happy.  And indeed I was and more, overwhelmed with emotion.  I passed my camera to my dad during the Tea Ceremony – a Chinese tradition to formally accept the wedding couple into the family – and after Cynthia and I have drank the long awaited, most expensive cups of tea offered by Lora and Benny, I was pointing at our wedding gift that I just put onto Lora’s wrist and asked the crowd if the diamond filled bracelet was beautiful.  Together with my mom and dad’s wedding gifts and more – each of them gave my sister a one carat diamond ring – an interesting comment was that our bride wore more diamond than gold on her wedding day.  If there is one thing Lora and I are in common, that would be our quest for quality and perfection.  You can imagine the unspoken minimum requirement of the color of the diamonds.  Note: From right to left: Benny, Lora, my mom, me, and the bridesmaid.

Uh-huh.  But Lora looked lovely on her wedding with the blink-blink.  That’s all that matters.

I am happy that my beloved little sister has found a good man, although by saying that I have found her a good man – as I know Benny before Lora does and partially because of me, they met – is not entirely untrue.  Either way, as a big brother, I am happy that my sister’s future is well taken care of, 24×7.  That is just lovely and I couldn’t be happier.

A Fruitful Year – A Reflection

It started with a small revelation of mine that I have shared with a few friends of mine.  I look back 10 years ago when I was younger and full of energy, how I wish I could have done much more.  Hence, I have decided that I don’t want to look back to where I am today, 10 years from now, and say the same thing.  I am a true believer of New Year Resolutions though I brand it more positively and call it a New Theme for the New Year.  The theme for year 2008 is “Do It” and not only have I not shy away from new opportunities, I have also proactively sourced for new things to do.

My band has finally performed live at The Hereen.  Having my music played in public is a dream came true, enough of talking about it for years.  My passion for writing has been elevated to a higher ground, with the advent of the Internet era that transforms my old hobby into something called blogging.  This year, I have reviewed a few books for McGraw-Hill, attended a few events from my favorite brands such as Nokia, HBO, and Intel, and I have participated the first ever blogger challenge by BRANDS (and Singapore team has won!).  Even without all these memorable blogger events and blessed opportunities, I would have continued to write the way I have always been.  Simply because writing has been my passion since young.

I have picked up a few new passions as well.  I reckon hobbies take 12 years to mature so I better start now.  I have picked up Spanish and with luck, I shall pass the exam and move onto level 3 next year.  And I have become serious on photography after pointing and shooting for decades.

I don’t usually talk about work here because it is simply, work.  Blogging is my hobby and these two seldom mix.  Personally satisfied with my career in the year of 2008, I look forward to season 2 of the game of survivor.  I have counted: more than 10,000 email messages I have received and sent in 2008.  My role as an electronic postman has surpassed my role as a coffee boy.  That much I can share.  And God knows how many emails will be in my mailbox when I am back from my 3 weeks compliance leave.

My Sister’s Wedding

So I was the direct wedding family member, Benny’s backup Best Man, and the backup wedding photographer.  One moment I was playing the role of a big brother at the Tea Ceremony, another moment I was chasing behind the bride on every step she took taking photographs; one moment I was the ring bearer and accompanied Benny to crash the gate, another moment I walked into the Church right behind Benny and as the service drew to an end, I quickly grabbed my camera from my Uncle and resumed my photographer’s hat.

The official wedding photographer took over 600 pictures that evening, I took close to 500, and we both took different things.  He used a Nikon D3 and since we both are Nikonians, we have immediately become good friends swapping cameras.  He shared some of the valuable tips and I put them to use immediately.  These tips, they work wonder.  And surprise, surprise, the videographer is from the old film days and my dad as an awarding winning photographer 4 decades ago, both of them conversed in names that I could only imagine as legends.  Maybe my dad was a legend too, I wouldn’t have known.  He seldom talks about the past.

I have not seen my dad in suit and tie and black shoes in my entire life before my sister’s wedding; I have seldom seen my parents so proud and happy as they mingled from tables to tables during the wedding dinner.  Now I truly believe that wedding dinner is indeed for the parents.  It has been a long time since I am moved to tears, as I did so at the Church.  My eyes went watery when I saw my sister in white wedding gown with my dad by her side.  Both sides of the parents broke into tears inside the Church including the wedding couple.  I could only deduce that when love is so strong, it moves those who connect.

What a joyful wedding, what a lovely way to end year 2008 with a bang.

A Happy New Year to my readers and thank you for your support over the years.  I will strive to write better in the year 2009 to come.  May your dreams come true too.

Related Entry: Captured Moments of My Sister’s Wedding in Hong Kong (2008.12.28)