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Saturday 13 October 2007

Nikon Celebrates its 90th Anniversary

This is a big year for Nikon Corporation as it is her 90th year in the optical and photography equipment industry. This is also the year that Nikon announces the technological breakthrough in digital photography with the D3 and D300 models.

Nikon devotees have been waiting for a full-frame DSLR and Nikon answered with the D3. Sports photograhers crave for high ISO performance, and Nikon gives them D3.

Starving artists and students hunger for a low-cost, high-performance DSLR, and Nikon granted us the D300.

I guess this is not only the year for Nikon, it is also the year for the Nikon fans. Kudos and long live Nikon!

Walking Around the Main Bazaar in Kuching

My Jedi Derbe wanted a photography outing to shoot some street activities, so she suggested to have shooting session at a wet market. I thought all wet markets around Kuching are open only in the morning, but the wet market at the Main Bazaar is open until nightfall. So, that is the market that we roamed around last night.

The stalls around the wet market are all colourful enough to be made good photography subject.

The merchandises are all arranged in a neat manner that any photography enthusiast will find it a good subject.

I took this shot to demonstrate to my Jedis Derbe and Gordon about composition of the round shapes and the diagonal lines out of a heap of fiery red tomatoes.

And this is how Jedi #1 Derbe did it. Impressive!

The tomatoes are sometimes sold in a bundle at a fixed price.

The cabbages are sorted by size that each one carries a different price tag.

Gingers are common spices used in the Malay, Chinese or Indian cooking.

These are the local fruit called 'la kia kioh' in the Chinese dialect of Hokkien. That means the 'native tomato' literally. They cannot be eaten raw. They are mostly used to cook soup of sourly taste. I like the 'la kia kioh' soup very much!

I took a close-up shot of the 'la kia kioh' to show Derbe and Gordon about the composition of 'the odd one out.'

Derbe immediately emulated that and came out with this. Very good job especially when she uses only a Coolpix P&S!

This is a very good take by Jedi #002 Gordon.

Piles of lemon grass.

Derbe's close-up of the lemon grass, including my good friends, the flies, as according to Derbe, as I took macro shots of flies quite often. HA HA!

Another demonstration of 'the odd one out' of a heap of pumpkins.

And again, emulated by Jedi #001 Derbe!

Gordon's shot is very similar to mine except that it is more cropped at the bottom. But, still a good composition.

These are the white pumpkins, not green pumpkins as they are named after the colour of the flesh.

Derbe's take. A foreigner couple came up to ask the stall keeper about these fruit and Derbe helped to explain to them, in detail!

Last but not least, the imported grapes at the fruit stall.

And again, Jedi #001 Derbe emulated it very well. I think the colours look even better. My camera ran out of battery and I couldn't get another shot of these. Well done, Derbe!

Jedi #002 Gordon's emulation was also very well executed.

It has been another wonderful evening out with Jedi #001 Derbe and Jedi #002 Gordon. They are really the best 'students' that I can find on earth, if not in the universe! You can see more photos by Jedi #002 Gordon here. I have Jedis #003~005 lining up already, I wonder who will be my Jedi #007?

Friday 12 October 2007

Athens – The Homeland of the Gods: Neoclassical Trilogy

As much as the Star Wars has its trilogy, Athens has it too, but it is the neoclassical trilogy of buildings, not the futuristic warfare. The three buildings contributing to the trilogy are the the Academy of Arts, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and the Vallianios National Library.

This trilogy is not to be missed if you are having a day walking around downtown of Athens. The buildings are located in between two of the three Metro interchange stations, Syntagma and Omonia, so they are right in the heart of the city.

The Athens Academy of Arts was designed by Theophile Hansen and completed in 1885.

Plato is watching over you, so don't worry. Whatever you do, he can put it in a philosophical way for you.

Socrates is in a deep thought. I wonder what philosophy is he coming out with next.

The fresco of the entrance hall of the Athens Academy of Arts features Zeus at the centre flanked by Athena on his right.

The guardian of Athens, Athena. In fact the local name of Athens is Athina. I wonder why it became Athens in English. I think Athina sounds much nicer. Athena is the goddess of wisdom, weaving and also the more disciplined side of war. Athena never had a consort or lover, and thus was also known as Athena Parthenos which literally means 'Virgin Athena.' The Parthenon in Acropolis takes its name from this title. Oh! I love Athena!

Apollo, archer-god of medicine and healing, light, truth, archery and also a bringer of death-dealing plague. He is also the god of music and poetry. Oh my goodness! He's taking care of so many things! On top of that, he still had time to chase after Daphne and had an affair with Princess Leucothea. Apart from those two, he had other lovers: Marpessa, Castalia, Cyrene, Hecuba, Cassandra, Coronis and Acantha. Holy cow! I wanna be like Apollo as well!

The giant columns at the entrance hall mimics the entrance to the Erechtheion at the Acropolis.

I think this is an archaeological studies student having her practical session on restoration. What do you think?

This is the building of the University of Athens designed by Christian Hansen and was completed in 1864. It is still serving as the university administrative office, though the main campus has been moved.

The National Library, completed in 1902.

The neoclassical trilogy can be visited after you have seen the evzones at the parliament building. Just stroll north (to the left if you are facing the parliament building) along the main road in front of the parliament building. When you arrive at a Y junction, take the main road of Panepistimlou (El Venizelou). These buildings are just a few blocks away along this main road.

If you would like to read more of my travelogues on Greece, here are the links:-

1. Athens – The Homeland of the Gods

2. The White Dream in Mykonos

3. Santorini – Almost Heaven

4. Miscellaneous

Thursday 11 October 2007

Athens – The Homeland of the Gods: Exposé at the Parliament Building

If you travel around Athens by Metro, you won't miss the busiest of the three interchange stations called Syntagma. Right above this station is the Plateia Syntagmatos (Syntagma Square) where protests and rallies are regularly held.

When you look east from Syntagma Square, you'll see a palace-like building, and that is the parliament building of Greece in Athens, which is formerly the royal palace. The building itself is not much of an interest, but what lies in front of the palace is really an eye opener! I bet you haven't seen anything like what I'm showing you here!

I already told you that the parliament building is nothing fancy.

Look at that handsome guard! Nothing fancy too, right?

But if you point you vision down to what the guard is wearing on his feet, you'll probably laugh your @$$ off! Aren't these the pom-pom shoes that should only be worn by the pom-pom girls? Tee hee hee!

And if you look at his uniform below the waist with the special exposé during the movement time, you'll definitely roll on the floor laughing your @$$ off! Who says tight pants and skirts are only for women? WA HA HA HA!

Beware! If he's mad at you, he may just kick your butt!

Alright, humour aside, this guard is called an 'evzone.' 'Evzones' are guards traditionally from the village of Evzoni in Macedonia. He is wearing the traditional uniform that was worn by the 'klephts,' the mountain fighters who fought in the War of Independence.

Some may agree that it takes two hands to clap, but the 'evzones' take two feet to clap, because their hands are too engaged in the rock, paper, scissors game.

I thought I can only see this kind of movement in a pom-pom girl show, but I've just witnessed men pom-pom girls wannabe, right in front of the parliament building of Greece. Tee hee hee!

If I were to clap feet and play rock, paper, scissors with both of them, then I gotta rest my butt on the floor, but I'm already ROFLMAO! Let me tell you a secret, if you wanna win in the games, just roll out paper everytime, because they only roll out rocks! WA HA HA HA!

Sometimes they just stomp on the ground when they feel offensive of all your laughter, so beware!

I told you! They only roll out rocks in the game!

O.K. Since they rest their legs and hands, I rest my case too.

The evzones perform the movement every half and full hour, everyday, probably just to relax their muscles for their full day of standing still. They perform the full changing-of-the-guard ritual on every Sunday at 11 a.m.

If you would like to read more of my travelogues on Greece, here are the links:-

1. Athens – The Homeland of the Gods

2. The White Dream in Mykonos

3. Santorini – Almost Heaven

4. Miscellaneous

Wednesday 10 October 2007

Athens – The Homeland of the Gods: National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is one of the world's greatest museums. It houses the collection of finds from all over the country, and all the most important finds are displayed here. The following photos show only the highlights of this museum as there are about forty rooms to explore in this museum!

'Kouros' in Ancient Greek words means a male youth. This is a giant 'kouros' from Thebes dating back to the Archaic Period of Greek sculpture (about 650 BC to about 500 BC).

This is the most celebrated piece of the Mycenaen masks: the Mask of Agamemnon. There are several others but not as popular as this one.

The Warrior Krater (mixing bowl) or the Warrior Vase, dating back to 12th century BC. The men figures are warriors leaving for war and there is a woman weaving them goodbye.

This is another piece of art regarded as one of the finest examples of the Mycenaen art. It is called a Vaphio gold cup with the scene of men taming wild bulls.

This fresco depicting two boxers is among the spectacular collection of the Minoan frescoes from Ancient Thira of Santorini.

Some jars among the finds from Ancient Thira.

Do they look familiar? These are the figurines of the Cycladic collection that inspired Picasso. Do they make an impression to you now?

This is the Poseidon of Artemision (450 BC) uncovered off the shore of Cape Artemision in 1928.

The Horse and Jockey of Artemision (2nd century AD) is another celebrated bronze statue of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

The worried face of the jockey makes the Horse and Jockey of Artemision come to life.

This is the statue of Athena Varvakeion (200 BC). It is a miniature copy of the statue of Athena Polias that once occupied the Parthenon.

The statue of Aphrodite dating back to 2nd century AD.

The National Archaeological Museum is considered one of the must visit sights in Athens. You will definitely be fascinated by the vast collection of the most important finds that were hauled from all over Greece.

If you would like to read more of my travelogues on Greece, here are the links:-

1. Athens – The Homeland of the Gods

2. The White Dream in Mykonos

3. Santorini – Almost Heaven

4. Miscellaneous

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