Archive for September, 2009


Beyond the viewfinder. The reason why I gave my blog this name is because I don’t want this blog to be all about my work, the wedding images I take. I want it show what I do besides photography and perhaps, a little about my life as well.  But don’t worry, I will still be posting up wedding images. Soon ok?

I was swarmed with work right after the Bali trip. It’s the same as how you guys work overtime after taking leave. Emails, admin, edits, delivery, meet ups… you name it. The Hari Raya long weekend was especially long for me, with back to back weddings. The one consolation for the long standing hours are the people that were at the weddings, the couple, relatives, friends and even vendors. Gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling. I may be too engrossed taking pictures that my response might be a little less than warm, but when the dust settled, reminiscing the events are just as great.

My exercise regime took a long break after that 2 weeks of sickness and 2 weeks in Bali. Add another week of crazy workload, that’s more than a month without working out. For someone who can’t keep still, that sucks. So here’s the much needed “break” from work. I remembered a friend once told me, after one wedding, the next day should be “no work” day. That’s one thing I always remember… to make me feel less guilty:)

So Batam was the place to be. We headed out to Batam Cable Park for a full day of riding. Had an awesome time with really good company! I had so much fun I forgot I didn’t sleep much, didn’t eat much and worked my body so hard. All in the name of de-stressing:D

Here are some images from the trip.

EP off the ramp with a stylish bone out.

Andy hanging on the line.  Hang on, don’t come down yet.


Suter’s powerslide. I think this backdrop is so much better than ECP!

Covered in a veil of water droplets.


Lin and Li doing some synchronized ollie-ing. Nicely executed.

Al and Ray by the dockside. So much fun for a day.

Bali – the wrap up

The fifth trip to Bali has officially ended. Easily, my best trip there yet. There was no rush, no pressure, no obligations, no fear that things will turn out wrong. Perhaps because, there were no expectations. I allowed the flow of things to take over. I was overwhelmed by calmness. Sometimes, I wonder how I do it. In the words of the fat-barrel; kan cheong is not an option.

Out of this entire trip, my favourite moment would be the one where I was swimming with the jacks. It’s the first time I have spent such a long time on a subject. The experience was so surreal. I wish I could do more of such dives. When I travel, I always believe in spending enough time at a place to appreciate it. But I have never imagine that to happen underwater as most of times, we will be grouped and it’s a little like guided tours where you touch and go. Finally, I got what I wanted and I will definitely be planning my dives like this. That said, I’m planning more trips soon and very likely, a nitrox course as well. Let’s see how it all pans out once I get my schedule sorted out.

It’s almost exactly 6 years since that dive that broke my eardrum. That was pretty much a turning point in my life. The event that led me to the world of photography. Because of that accident, I picked up my first DSLR and somehow, got started in wedding photography and had never looked back since. The money that was used to buy that DSLR was actually for an underwater camera that I have been saving up for months after I got addicted to underwater world. Being able to do this all over again is like redemption to me. And yes, it was worth the wait.

Here’s a slideshow I put up for the Bali trip.

Click to view slideshow

Bali – Day twelve and thirteen: mola-ed!!

The last two days of my slightly longer than usual work trip. On day twelve, the boys stayed villa-ed, while the girls went diving at Nusa Penida again. I wished I could go, but I have to detox before the flight next day. And that proved to be a bad bad bad (not like I have a choice) decision. After they left, we went to Ubud to have lunch and did some hopeless shopping. I’m not sure about the others, but my head was still spinning like crazy from that horrible ride to Nusa Penida two days ago.

Right after lunch, we received an sms from the girls. They saw a huge school or mantas at Manta Point and are heading for Crystal bay to try their luck on the Molas. Sea condition was bad and they are just going to try anyway. An hour later, we got another message, they found the Molas. Not one, but TWO!!! And the best part, only 2 divers, 1 diveguide and 2 molas. It was unbelievable!! If I hadn’t seen the video after that, I would never have believed it.

This was their story. The details are pretty accurate since they repeated the story the whole night after they came back:P *lol* Right after they made their descent at Crystal Bay, the diveguide signaled them to move down the slope. According to them, they’ve never seen the diveguide so excited. They followed and spotted a baby mola, probably about 2 foot in diameter. The shy baby mola swam away as soon they approached. Wayan, the diveguide, took Michelle’s camera and started video-ing the other big mola. That one is probably 4-5foot in diameter. It was an amazing 4 minute documentary of the mola-mola! And at a depth of 50m!! Too bad I can’t link the video here since it’s not loaded on public site yet.

Though worn out from the extremely rough boat ride, the girls were smiling from ear to ear and watching the videos over and over again the entire night till they ran out of energy. I was in dreamland, wondering, why didn’t I extend another day. Damnit, now I have to wait another year to catch them again (if I’m luck enough). I was happy though, that they managed to catch it. At least it’s not a wasted trip.

On the last day, we woke up early and headed for the resort’s private beach. We did some shooting and headed up to the pool for a swim. Had a crazy time before it was time for me to pack up. Damn I wished I could’ve stayed another day. What a fantastic trip, fantastic company. Never a dull moment.

Here are some snippets from that morning’s shoot.

I told James to sit at the rock while the waves were crashing in. It looks pretty mild for awhile…

…then a HUGE one crashed right into him. I manage to avoid it somehow and… laughed my ass off:P That was so funny!!

The travel party at the infinity pool…

…going for the infinity…


Happy people, all around. The photographer too, was happy behind the camera:D

WPN workshop

Bali – Day ten and eleven: intox and detox

The hunt for the molas started early in the morning. The mood was filled with excitement and apprehension. Upon hearing news of molas hiding in deep, dark and cold waters beyond 30m out at sea, we started worrying that we might not even catch a glimpse of them. After collecting our gear from the dive shop, we boarded the dive boat at Sanur.

Once we were out of the safety of the harbour, the horizon seemed to disappear periodically. That was when I realized, our 1 hour rollercoaster ride had begun. The boat captain, trying his best to outmanoeuvre the crashing waves, could only do so much to prevent sea sickness for some of those onboard. When the boat rose to the peak of the waves, we could see the extent of the height of the waves. Looking down, it looked as if we were on top of a small hill. At one point, the waves crashed right into our boat, raining seawater on us for a good 5-10 seconds. It was a relief when we finally reached the dive site.

First dive was more like a check out dive at the north of Nusa Penida. Visibility was incredibly poor. Some divers caught sight of Pygmy seahorses and turtles amidst the drift. We surfaced for lunch before heading for Crystal Bay, the famous sanctuary for the Mola Molas. The choppy waters rocked the boat side to side as we quickly rigged up and jumped into the water before anyone got seasick again. In the cold waters, we drifted effortlessly towards one of the cleaning stations where the Molas were known to visit. Saw some really huge pipefishes and a large school of yellow fishes (I can’t name them again though).

At that point, the guides signalled for us to turn back. I cursed through my mouthpiece as I struggled against the strong current. The needle on my pressure gauge raced towards the red zone in record speed. At that time, I questioned the reasoning to turn back. I was angry. No Molas and a throbbing headache from that workout. When we surfaced, the waves were so high it was difficult to reach the boat. The dive guides made sure all of us were up on the boat before climbing up themselves. Everyone looked dead and no one spoke. I went up to the sundeck and crashed, praying the boat would move out fast.

Once they secured the equipment, the two diveguides went up to the sundeck and crashed as well. As I closed my eyes with a towel over my face (I don’t need a peeling face for the weddings over this weekend), I calmed down and thought about what they did. I guess, water conditions might have been worse if we had drifted out and boarding the boat would then have been an even more impossible task. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

When we thought the worst was over, another piece of drama unfolded just before we reached the harbour. Our boat had slowed down as we were negotiating some waves before entering the harbour. Just then, another boat raced towards us and it didn’t seem like it was slowing down. Moments later, it crashed right into one of the outboard motors and damaged it. Without stopping, the boat then sped away. The lone driver onboard the boat had a rather fierce expression. It was so surreal, almost like a pirate attack! There was some confusion onboard, but the staff looked pretty calm. I have this feeling, they might know one another.

Everyone came back with some story to tell. Seasickness, gigantic waves boat collision, etc. None of Molas actually, there is. But it’s a private joke:P We aborted the next day’s dive as none of us felt like even touching the water. There’s always a better day to dive.

The following day was spent mostly lazing around and having some detox-ing massages in town. My head was floaty most of the time. I was just glad I didn’t have to dive that day. During the massage, waves of memories over the past few days flooded my mind. Vivid, beautifully toned memories. I couldn’t ask for more, really. Rest, rest and more rest. I’ll need the energy for the weddings ahead. Counting down, 2 more days and I’d see sunny Singapore again.

That’s a pretty long breakfast post:) It’s drizzling out there with moments of sunshine bliss. Here are the images:) I’ve not downloaded those taken underwater (not many anyway).

Special thanks to Sharon for that spelling and grammar correction:D haha!:D

On day eleven, we headed to Kudeta to watch the sunset after an excellent 2 hour long massage at Bodyworks (Seminyak). Sunsets in Bali is almost always beautiful. Reflection against the black volcanic sands on the beach of Seminyak.

My favourite flying boat on the beach. This time, with a more dramatic backdrop. I’ve always wondered, how they make that thing fly. It’s just amazing.

As the waves receded, I noticed the black sand had formed the shape of a heart on the beach. I was taking pictures of this when a Japanese girl approached me and asked what I was taking. I showed her the heart and she looked impressed and you might think it sounded like a romantic start. I asked “are you here alone?”, which I thought sounded like a crappy pick up line. And it went downhill from there she didn’t see the waves coming in during the conversation and I ran up the beach leaving her on the beach where the seawater flooded her. Best part I laughed so hard. Then I said, “nice meeting you, enjoy your stay.”.

Kudeta… and the world of colorful lanterns:)

That’s what you’ll see if you had a few more Bintangs. Gotta love Bali:D

Bali – Day seven, eight and nine: infinity sunsets

The pre and post shooting days. I took a day’s break after all that diving before the Pre-Wedding shoot. Checked into a mozzie infested hotel room in Kuta the night before and fond myself slapping myself silly throughout the night. I managed to count four kills. The day was spent sorting out some admin stuff and just lazying around. I met up with the couple after a whirlwind ride to the extremely secluded resort.

Upon reaching the resort, I was so happy to find that there’s FREE WIFI!!! Finally! We set up a “business center” at the dining table. The next few days at the resort were spent either in the infinity pool with a sea “facing” view or the business center. It was funny how we joked about the “Sea view”. True enough, our pool was facing the sea, but the view was kinda blocked by some trees and nice looking villas.

The shoot went well on the 2nd day. It was a really good experience. Did a early morning shoot, break in the afternoon. Managed to get a good rest and dip in the pool before heading out for the evening shoot. Love it. And I love the nasi padang we had for lunch. Cheap and nice! By the end of the day, my energy level was in negative levels. Those chaps still had time to dip in the pool. I am amazed. I was completely knocked out in the living room.

The post-shooting day was spent recuperating. It was nice just to laze around and explore the resort. And we found the private beach freaking awesome. White sandy beach with a killer view. The huge waves crashing against the sandbar during the rising tide. Then we adjourned back to our pool for some bintang by the poolside. Therapeutic.

Not quite satisfied with the view, we went to the main infinity pool at the restaurant. The sunset is pretty damn awesome. I was almost hyperventilating when I saw the changing light. The reflection off the water is absolutely beautiful. I wished I had better time to set up my camera. I hope the sunsets for the next few days will be good as well.

Here are some images from the sunset.


emails not quite working

I’m experiencing some problems accessing my emails in Bali. I am able to download the headers but not see the content. I’m trying to fix that when I get to the other hotel. Please bear with me if the replies are not not as quick. Thank you for your patience and we’ll be in touch really soon. I will be back in Singapore on 16th September.

Bali – Day Five and Six: dances with the jacks

Norman and Amy arrived the night before, just in time for late dinner together. It feels really good having dinner by the sea with the cool breeze and listening to the waves crashing into the rocks. We chatted till late before heading for bed in preparation for a long day ahead.

 The day started slow while we waited for our DM, Kadek, to come from Kuta. Before that, we decided to do some underwater shots at a calmer spot near our resort. It was crazily difficult, both for the models and the photographer. We spent a good 2 hours sorting out problems and trying out stuff. It was fun, but tiring too. I realized not everyone sinks like a rock like me.

As Norman hasn’t dived for years. We took it easy and went down the wreck again while Amy was “watched over us” while snorkeling. This time round, I replaced my macro port with a dome port for the wide angle stuff. There are still plenty of creatures to see, but with a dome port, the photo opportunity is limited for a place known for it’s macro stuff. Still, I love the wide angle for a change.

We spent the later part of the afternoon perfecting some underwater shots of Norman and Amy. My head was swirling from the underwater surges. I have to say they were as eager to get the shots as I do. But the level of difficulty in doing things underwater is nowhere close to what we do on the surface. We kept trying till our bodies decided, it’s time to rest. Had an extremely heavy dinner and for the first time in more than a week, I had 7 hours of sleep.

We did exactly the same dives as the previously 2 days. Liberty -> Drop Off -> Liberty (dawn) -> Seraya. This is what I love about staying at a place for a long time when I travel. Same place, different time, different things.

The dawn dive was especially rewarding. We managed to set off before 7am, which was an extremely good move as we didn’t see many divers there. Before the dive, I told Kadek that I would love to photograph the school of jacks, which I’ve always seen from a distance. 5 mins into the dive, she pointed them out to me and I signaled to her that I will be up there for the rest of the dive. Depth, 3-5m. I spent an hour swimming with the jacks with minimal visual on other divers. Even if they passed, they didn’t seem interested with the jacks. To me, one jack is nothing, a school of them makes them interesting. That was one of my favourite dive. We all surfaced happy with the dives. Norman got to see the Pygmy seahorsea among other stuff. I hope my dives in future will be like this, spending more time with the animals, so I can watch them rather than “touch and go” or “shoot and go”.

2nd dive at Seraya was equally good to complete a day of fantastic diving. Before the dive, a couple from Hongkong spotted the elusive and prized Harlequin Shrimp and told us a rough location. And that was good enough. After about 20mins of searching, an excited Kadek signaled that she found something. I knew it’s going to be something good as she rarely got that excited. As I approach, I kept telling myself, go slow and not kick up a storm. And there it was, the beautiful Harlequin shrimp. It was tiny, about a centimeter or less. I spent a good 10mins photographing it. And that’s when I realized, why people take underwater photographs. With your naked eyes, you can hardly make out the details on these beautiful but tiny creatures. When we surfaced, Kadek told me it’s the first time she saw a Harlequin shrimp, which explains why she was so excited. I guess, everyone got something out of that dive.

We packed up and left tulamben. That’s where I realized I haven’t booked a hotel for the night’s stay in town. Luckily the dive center helped me booked one that’s right in the middle of Kuta. I said, “internet availability” is utmost priority. The dive is over, at least the shore dives. Looking forward to the shoot and then diving with the Mola Molas and Mantas again. May the luck be with us, like it has always been.

 Enough talking, here are the images.



 A shot of Norman during our dive at Drop Off. I like this because it seems the bubbles were from him and it’s moving down instead of up.



 Couple fish. I’d have missed it if it were any deeper. But at shallow depths, the shadow makes it a little more interesting.



Harlequin shrimp. A crazy idea to convert the colourful creature into black and white. Totally different feeling.



School of yellow tails (I assumed… by visual translation). Just reminds me of the wonderful sashimi we had in Hongkong. Might be a different spieces though.



A well camouflaged stonefish. It opened it’s mouth twice… both which I missed. Waited for another 5mins and it refused to open it’s mouth. Maybe there’s gold in it.



The colored version of the beautiful Harlequin shrimp. It’s so tiny and hidden under some rocks. But it’s bright colors gave it away.



A cleaner wrasse working on the black bat fish. Not commonly seen, at least for me.



The school of jacks forming up near the USS Liberty wreck. Partially blocking the sun, it created beautiful beams of rays on the wreck.



From below, the school of jacks formed up. It’s hard to get in to get a shot, because the bubbles I create will break up the formation.



One of the many times the jacks formed up. The lighting created a surreal image underwater. It almost feels like some UFO approaching.



One of the many “performances” put up by the school. It was amazing feeling to just sit there to watch and photograph them.



Like a well orchestrated dance, they move around in tight formation. Once they circle a particular area where food source seems to be, some of them will dive down to grab them.



A close up on the jacks near the surface of the water. On the beach, one can see their location by looking at the waters. Areas where the waters are disturbed.



The rocky bottoms of Tulamben. The beach is covered with pebbles, making the walk to dive sites a chore. It’s like having foot reflexology, just more painful.