Wednesday, December 27, 2006
A Quiet Night

Another macro shot taken in Fraser's Hill with my reverse mounted lens and post processed with a digitised version of the Orton Slide Sandwich technique (detailed below)..

It's the day after Christmas

and i'm in the laziest mood ever...

I'm sitting here, in my new La Senza Ultra Soft bathrobe lulling away at the soft jazz in the background just relishing the lovely lazy feeling of not wanting to do anything in particular. After the mad rush leading up to Christmas, it seems as if it was but for a moment. It came and passed all too soon and left me still breathing deep in the scent of its memory. Feeling a tad mushy all over for some reason. Maybe it's the reality kicking in that in about a month's time i'll probably be missing home like crazy or perhaps i've just been so caught up in things that when it suddenly mellows out, i'm still in a daze. Whatever it is, it's driven me to want to do nothing more than sit back, cuddle in my bathrobe with a warm drink, and muse about life in general..

I found this song on Sonific that perfectly describes how i'm feeling right now. It's called "Quiet Night" by Donna Burke.. listen and float away with me on this cosy cloud of reverie..


A lil bit on some photography - i recently joined this site called Photography Corner and came across this ahort tutorial on a technique called the Orton Slide Sandwich. It sounded yummy so i gave it a shot digitally with the macro photo at the top of this post. Basically this technique produces rather saturated and dreamy looking pictures perfect for reflecting lazy hazy moods or for creating a bit of a watercolour wash effect with a slight colour halo around the main subjects. Either way, how can you resist a photog technique with the word "sandwich" in it? *stomach growls* Anyways, here's a 5-step explanation of how to get it done in Photoshop (sorry Mac-cers but i'm only putting in the windows shortcuts here):

  1. Open any image you want - try to opt for colour portraits with little background distractions, landscapes or sweeping macro shots for best results (i tried some on b/w photos but it just came out yucky..)
  2. Select the background layer and press [Ctrl + J] to duplicate the layer.
  3. Select the copied layer in the layers tab and change the layer blend mode to "Screen".
  4. Press [Ctrl + J] again to duplicate the "screen" layer. Go to "Filter">"Blur">"Gaussian Blur" and select a radius of about 10 - 25 depending on your file size - generally, the bigger the file, the higher the radius number.
  5. Select the blurred layer and change its layer blend mode from "screen" to "multiply". You will now have a highly saturated image with a slighty dreamy effect.
  • To tweak it further, you can play with the opacity of the blurred layer (bring it down to about 65% if the image is too blurred and too dark) or duplicate a second "screen" layer under the blurred layer and lower it's opacity to about 45% to brighten up the photo without loosing any of the watercolour-wash effect.
  • Another tip when using this technique on portrait shots - if you think that the effect makes the eyes in the shot look too fuzzy, select the blurred layer in the layer palette and use a lasso tool with a feather of about 1 - 2 px to select all the eye area. Right click on the photo then select "Layer via cut". You can now lower the opacity of the blurred layer over the eyes without affecting the opacity of the blurred layer over the whole picture.
Try it yourself and let me know how it turns out!

I'll take this advantage to camwhore and show you another example of what this technique does to a photo (click on the photo to download a larger image):

Without the Orton Slide Sandwich, you can see the fugly little bumps of texture on my face. The shot is also a tad harsh looking with a slight grey-ish tint to the whole photo.

With the Orton Slide Sandwich (yeah, i just like saying that phrase), it gives a softish glow to the shot and brightens up the skin tones. It also makes the skin tones less dull looking - a generally kinder effect for human portraits..
Saturday, December 23, 2006
All I Want for Christmas...

My first reverse macro shot *dances happily* Bzzzzzz....

I’ve speed walked, climbed stairs, did crunches and lifted weights all day and I still managed to go home smiling about it..
Shopping is the most amazing workout ever.

So I thought I was done with my Christmas shopping but I STILL had to be dragged out of bed to go shopping again today cause my mom had tons of presents on her list to get. I’ve become something of a Christmas Consultant in my house *blek*.

Anyways, we were almost done except for this one person for whom we couldn’t, for the life of us, figure out what to get for Christmas. After my mind turned up blank for the 100th time, I suggested the one thing Ms. Etiquette on condemned to the depths of gift etiquette hell – “Why don’t we get her a gift card?”

Mom: *silence* Huh?
Me: A gift card you know like gift vouchers only nicer la.. shiny *hee*

That sort of made me think about this whole gift giving thing during Christmas. Seems to me that the whole point of gift giving these days has been more or less reduced to fulfilling social obligation – which is sad since the gift giving tradition was meant to show the other person that you really did take the time to think about giving them something that would make them happy. That is precisely why the gift card is seen by some as the ultimate evil in gift giving – it reduces the “I thought you might like this” to “Here, think about what you like yourself”.

Here’s the irony though.. even though gift cards tend to sayI don’t know you well enough to know what you like”, I actually, honestly, still like them.

Seems too many ghastly novelty santa mugs and other horrendously misfitting presents have decensitised me a bit to the sentimental notions of the Art of Giving and lead me to the path of “Please just let me choose what I want”terrible. Ah well, at least we only had to get a gift card for the last person on the list.. *consoles self*


Grace's bimcbo shopping psychology #001:
Buying things for other people makes you happy but buying things for yourself while shopping for other people makes you happier.

Been surfing the net and checking out stuff I need/want for Christmas. Planning on spoiling myself a bit or at least convincing someone (Pa, if you’re reading, this is a HUGE hint..) to spoil me with something nice.

Was browsing for HP laptops and stuff when I came across this interesting post entitled “Get Ted's HP Gear!”. Turns out “Ted” just got a shipment of ten awesome new 6 megapixel digital cameras and photo printers from his “friends at HP”. You can check out some of these cool stuff here.

”Ted”, it seems, is giving away some HP photo gear to 5 people who can tell him a smashing sob story about why they want a new 6mp HP camera and HP photo printer.

FINALLY, someone’s openly invited me to whine about why I need more photo gear – and he’s willing to give it to me if I whine really well too! *coolness* haha...

Here goes:

Dear (Santa) Ted,

I really really really really REALLY need (read: want) a new HP 6mp camera and HP photo printer because I’ve been a really good girl this year. I’ve done countless freelance (read:literally, free) digital camera assignments for friends and family members and my current gear has got real worn out real quick. A brand new HP camera would really save me from having to squint at terribly scratched up screen of my current compact camera. Besides, my current compact digital camera is only a measly 3.1mp!! There are webcams with higher mp than that.

Please Ted (read: Santa), give me a new 6mp HP camera so the other kids won’t laugh at me and I won’t have to become a recluse and hide under a rock. Some others may say that I already have a dslr camera but Ted (read: Santa), please don’t be fooled by them. I still need (read: want) a HP camera because you just can’t lug a dslr around in your handbag everywhere, everyday. A huge dslr isn’t exactly a fashion statement either. After all Ted (read: Santa), a slim and sexy new cam would really complete my outfit this Christmas *smiles innocently*.

As for the photo printer, that’s a no brainer – my current printer is clogged so until and unless I get a new one, it’s no more printing photos for me. Think about how disappointed my sweet old grandma will be when she expects me to print sharp, vivid family photos for her this Christmas in a jiffy with my amazing new HP photo printer (yes Ted, I am sucking up..) and I have to tell her that I don’t have one… Oh, the horror.. *pretends to faint in horror* Think about it this way Ted (read: Santa), if you give me a HP photo printer, it would go so well with the HP laptop I’m planning to get soon (yes, I’m sucking up again).

Anyways, I think that that’s about enough of whining to get my main intentions across. I just want to spread warm happy feelings around by using new HP photo gear to help friends and family and make the world a happier place (read: I just want cool new HP gadgets to show off to everyone so I’m sucking up big time to you and your “friends at HP” in order to possibly get it).

Love (not really),


P/s: This post was brought to you by HP.

digital camera


On the topic of gadgets, Albert recently made some reverse mount lens rings for me but I haven’t been able to play with them properly until I went to Fraser’s Hill for the Youth camp.

It’s so much fun to go poking at stuff with this weird looking hybrid lens. I think I get something like a 1:2 scale image with it. Aside from the irritating black ring around the shot and the fact that control over my d.o.f. is more or less non-existant, it’s works really well for something that cost only about RM30 - RM40 (can’t remember exact figure). Scroll up and check out the alien looking bug i shot on a flower. I used my 18-75mm kit lens and a reverse mounted my 50mm lens on the end to shoot it.. I thought he looked so cool with the three dots on his head.. like something out of star wars *heee...*

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Shopping with a Vengence

My very own father Christmas in front of our tree last year...

Whirlwind of a day..
while Christmas shopping with a vengence.

I got round to making my Christmas list today after teaching my last class for 2007 (freedom!!). Then, i proceeded to do an intensive shopping spree in the afternoon and managed to shop for 85% of my Christmas list-ees in 3 hours. So proud of myself *pats self on back*. T'was quite fun running around the mall with tons and tons of shopping bags. I had flashbacks of girlie movie shopping scenes where the female (blonde) lead tosses her head back, laughs giddily, holds up tons and tons of bags and says "I LOVE SHOPPING!! *strikes pose with arms raised, hips cocked to one side and one leg coyly bent in front of the other* ...

Now comes the sorting and wrapping *hehe*. I say that with equal amounts of excitement and agony cause it's a love hate thing for me when it comes to wrapping. On the one hand i LOVE wrapping presents and making them look pretty and all. On the other hand, i always wish i had more time.

Right now by bed is piled high with shopping bags and wrappers.. i wonder where i'll sleep tonight.

Ooooh, haha i thought i'd Christmas-fy my blog and decorate my header with some Christmas deco.. scroll up and check it out! tra la la...

Some holiday fun - found this on Youtube and thought it was cute :D


Only Cause It's Christmas..

Say hi to Rafael, the most hyperactively adorable kid at VBS 2006.

God has a wicked sense of humour..
..and sometimes, that's what makes life all the more fun

Just got back from Youth Camp on Sunday - had a blast doing stupid things that grace always does (like convincing my sis and another friend to creep down 5 flights of open stairways at 5a.m. in the mist and rain in Fraser's Hill, under a brown blanket which renders your line of vision to the space between your two feet (think "lion dance" kinda under-blanket-ploodding), in order to totter down a hill, through a shed, up a drain and over some otherwise unidentifiable black objects in the darkness and cold, to break into the resort hall, climb through a window and rescue my beloved camera bag from spending the night alone in a quiet, lonely hall) *hee*...


Been staring away at my comp screen since then finishing up some poster designs for "The Breakfast Club". Will make a post on more details of the show soon - for now, i've just sent out the last of the promo designs for printing and i'm a tad bit sick of looking at them *blek*

On a happy-happy-joy-joy note though, the postcards just came in today *yays!* (although pay hasn't yet *bleurgh*) It's kinda surreal to see your work in print.. they turned out a tad bit blue-er than i wanted them to but oh well. Gotta get my screen calibrated *argh*

Anyone knows how to calibrate LCD flat screen monitors? Or can they even be calibrated?


Speaking of Fraser's Hill and the cold there,
i had a sad, sorry revelation today..

I'll most prob get real fat when i go to Sydney next year


The cold weather just made me want to eat and eat and eat for no apparent reason other than the fact that i wanted to.. die la.

But since i'm on the subject of eating, going to continue posting a few shots from the Kid's VBS that i blogged about earlier. Shot these while they were eating *yum!*

Munch.. munch.. munch... growing boys need to eat :D

..So do girls..

I call this one "Happy Cakes". I loved them to bits!! This kid celebrated his birthday at the VBS and instead of getting him a cake to cut (which would have been messy and generally a fuss when you have masses of eager children to feed), she got these lil decorated cupcakes from CeliCakes in Hartamas instead!! They spelt out HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEN HAN in bright colours with rows of other equally adorable cupcakes around the wordings. I thought it was a really really interesting idea! Just sing a song, blow the candles and grab a cup cake.. no knives, no mess and NO extra plates.. Besides how can you resist smiling around something that looks this happy?? *cheers*


Christmas is coming!!

It just sneaked up on me this time..

Haven't done up the tree yet or even made out my Christmas list.. not to forget Christmas shopping!!! *does a happy dance*

It's about the 7th day of Christmas already. This time of year always fills me with heady feelings and a generally constant sense of warm fuzzies.

Christmas dinners are starting tomorrow.. it's gonna be dinners every night till after Christmas from now on.. more eating! hehe..

While i may not have done my Christmas list yet, i decided to make a list of all the things i love about Christmas..

Grace's Top 30 Christmas Time Favourites
  1. Warm fuzzy feelings
  2. Heady happy feelings that make me stare off into space and smile like an idiot to myself for no apparent reason
  3. Christmas lights & Christmas colours
  4. Holidays
  5. Quiet nights just sitting by the tree in the dark, watching the lights twinkle with my dad, just talking
  6. Noisy family dinners
  7. Snowflakes, though i've never actually seen a real one :(
  9. Dinner parties
  10. Wrapping presents and decorating them
  11. Turkey and stuffing.. lots of it
  12. Sugar Plum Fairies
  13. Laughing
  14. Making a mess in the kitchen
  15. Making a mess in the hall putting up the tree
  16. Designing and putting up the tree
  17. Shopping for everyone on my list
  18. Festive sms-es from friends i don't hear from otherwise
  19. REAL Christmas cards that i get in the mail (including the beautiful handmade cards i get from my Aunt Liz every year)
  20. Shops playing christmas songs
  21. Christmas deco everywhere!!
  22. Christmas Cake
  23. Christmas Pudding
  24. Popping crackers
  25. The kid's play at church
  26. Carolling
  27. Singing like a crazy person with my sis
  28. Dancing in my room
  29. Hugs
  30. Christmas JAZZ!!
Christmas Jazz always puts me in that lazy, mildly sentimental mood.

Putting in some for you to listen to here while reading.. enjoy..
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Back from Blogging Oblivion

Edward being Edward..

The common peculiarities and peculiar commonality in each day make them the same in a unique way..

Just a random thought buzzing round my head. Been encountering lot's of weird things (and people) recently.. but if weirdness is normal then is it still weird? Or is it then normal?


Anyways, i'm back from blogging oblivion once again. After christening my new blog template and subsequently disappearing for some time, i've decided to update my blog again... before i disappear for yet another week!! *hehe*


Went to Singapore again last week, this time with my mom and sis too. Spent 2 days carrying my camera bag around Singapore and i DIDN'T SHOOT ANYTHING!!! Why? Cause all they wanted to do was shop *argh*

Three years ago and i would probably have not wanted to do anything but shop. This time, i was so bored. Fail la my shopping skills.. didn't get anything but a boring shirt and (for lack of better terminology) a fish stick (really.. it's a stick with a fish at the end.. hehehe).



JustinBear tagged me *blek*.. Here it goes:

Four things many don't know:
1) When i was young, i used to dig my nose and wipe the boogers on other people's pants.
2) I believe that i was swapped at birth and i'm really royalty.
3) I don't really like chocolate that much (although there are exceptions of really really good ones - Godiva anyone? :) )
4) I will deny this vehemently if you ask me, but i secretly dream of becoming a popstar.

Four movies i can watch over and over:
1) Life is Beautiful
2) Love Actually
3) Life is Beautiful
4) Love Actually (.. what you said over and over wert ;p )

Four places i have lived:
1) Taman Mayang
2) Taman Tun Dr. Ismail
3) Bandar Utama
4) ???

Four TV shows i love:
1) Prison Break
2) America's Next Top Model (it's a love hate relationship with this one)
3) Nip/Tuck
4) Desperate Housewives

Four places i have been on vacation:
1) Bali
2) London
3) Paris
4) America

Four places i'd rather be:
1) In Venice at night, floating down the canals in a beautiful 18th-19th c. dress, gorgeous Venician guy at my side, soft music playing in the air, the smell of water and night air mixing with the rustic smells of an old and poetic place.. and little lights flickering in the windows above, each telling of a different story beyond the windows and light curtains through which they glow.
2) In a ski lodge in front of a warm fire, cuddled on a big fluffy couch with a blanket, cuppa hot chocolate and someone to share it with.
3) Watching a movie.
4) In my bed, sleeping.

Four of my favourite foods:
1) Famous Amos cookies
2) Ice cream!!
3) Raw meats - shashimi, steak tartar, fresh oysters.. you get the idea.
4) (*This space intentionally left blank in representation of the everchanging food moods of grace)

Four songs i love:
1) Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What a Wonderful World, Israel Kamakawiwo O'le
2) I'll Be, Edwin McCain Band
3) You Belong To Me, Jason Wade
4) Whenever, Whatever, Wherever, Maxwell

Four other people who will be tagged:
1) Albert aka. the Camera Porn-ster
2) Hui Wen the smartest self-declared bimbo i know (hey that rhymes! :D )
3) Yi Khai the "Matt-nificent" (cause i know he's too busy to do this.. )
4) RayRay aka. Yellowmonsta (i don't care if he's already been tagged)

Done!! *phew*

Till next week - Adieu..