Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Momad's Visit to London

This is a quick update, especially for Ikelah and DITH as I don't want them to worry so much. All the pictures here were very quickly Picasa'ed and uploaded.

I have been very busy the past several days since Sunday, hence no updates on the blog or Fotopages. Actually, I have been escorting Ikelah and DITH's son Momad, to an interview at St George's Hospital in London. It's for a five year medical degree course and it was held on Monday the 26th. Here was how everything went.

On the 25th of Feb, Sunday, I went to Heathrow to meet up with Momad. It was only when the passengers were getting out of the arrival's gate that I realised - I didn't know what Momad looked like! I had to text Ikelah many a times to ask about the finer details of his son. It turned out that I had actually seen Momad around three times after he arrived, but I thought he was one of the passengers from China! The only thing that made me realise it was him was the fact that Ikelah said he was wearing a black cap.

Having met Momad safe and sound, we made our way to the Malaysia Hall in Bayswater, pictured above is the entrance.

This was our accommodation at Malaysia hall - it was 10 pounds per night for me, and only around 6.50 for Momad. In comparison, the cheapest hotel around central London would be around 35 pounds per night.

The rooms were very tidy and en-suite as well! We were absolutely satisfied.

That night after dinner, I brought Momad out for a tour of Bayswater. Our destination was Whiteleys. I used to make frequent visits to Whiteleys with someone who used to live in Bayswater during his degree - Orang Kilang and with Kenakelayan too, after they got married.

Malaysia Hall has a canteen where you could buy Malay food - and for breakfast the next day, I had nasi lemak while Momad had mee goreng. This was the morning of his interview.

This is Momad in interview gear on the underground - heading towards St George's hospital - merely 40 minutes away from Malaysia Hall. We went along the central line towards Bond street ...

... Oxford Circus ...

... and whooops, stopped at Tottenham Court Road.

Momad wanted to see Piccadilly Circus, I instead brought him to Leicester Square (which was nearer) ...

... and China Town ...

... still in China Town ...

To Trafalgar Square. Behind Momad is the new, Alison Lapper statue, as well as the National Gallery.

The famous Lion Statues in Trafalgar square.

Using the Underground to travel.

Okay, enough of the excursion - back to the interview.

20 minutes later, we finally made it to St George's Hospital.

The above picture was taken after the interview (notice the "before" and "after"). Momad said the interviewers asked reasonable questions.

A coffee & tea to calm down the nerves after the interview.

Well, hope St George's will accept Momad as one of their medical students, Insya Allah.

Here's the absolutely amazing bit - it turned out that both Uncle and Auntie De work 5 miles away from St George's hospital. At 5 pm, after their work, we arranged for a meet up. We went to a Halal Chinese Restaurant in Croydon.

It turned out that the owner of this restaurant was from Malacca, Malaysia! She was quite friendly and the food was excellent. Thank you so much Uncle and Auntie De for taking us out for the wonderful dinner. It was brilliant.

Above is my only picture with Momad.

After dinner, we headed back towards central London, and made one more small excursion to the Marble Arch. It was pitch black, but using flash I managed to take the above picture - hand held! It's amazing the flash could illuminate such a gigantic structure.

Next day again, which was this morning, Momad seemed alot happier. With the interview out of the way, I took Momad for a whirlwind tour of London, starting with the Tower Bridge.

The tower bridge.

Towards the Tower Bridge.

Artworks lining the pedestrian subways.

Big Ben, Westminster.

Platform 9 and three quarters. Where do we push our trolleys to get to Hogwart's again?

The City Hall and the Tower Bridge

City Hall

London cityscape & the river Thames

and that's it! I hope Momad had fun, it was certainly enjoyable for me shooting all the pictures in London. Unfortunately it rained ever so heavily today and the weather was awful! Even so, I braved taking out the camera and shooting away. I just got back from London around 2 hours ago and here I am posting away to tell Ikelah and DITH.

The photos above are all barely edited because of the lack of time. Insya Allah I will post better looking pictures in subsequent days. My best pictures (errr, more like "less terrible" pictures) would go to my Fotopages site.

We almost got to meet another blog friend, Ayumi, as well as she's on Holiday in Dublin at the moment. It's such a pity due to unforeseen circumstances the meet up had to be cancelled - maybe next time, Insya Allah.

Okay, later everyone -- off to bed for me now -- it's been extremely exhausting lugging heavy bags around London today. Good night, Oyasumi.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cupcake Day

I stole this picture from one Puan Mama Sarah took today when D and family came over for a cupcake making session. I wasn't at home today, so I couldn't fill you guys in on what transpired but I'm sure sooner or later Puan Mama Sarah will be blogging about it.

Above is a picture of D's princess with our little princess Sarah. They're both becoming really good friends as their expressions reveal.

Picture edited using my new found Unsharp Mask techniques - hehehe. Feel free to click the image to see how razor sharp the image is :)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A surprisingly lovely Sunday

Our weekend turned out to be quite surprisingly eventful in the end. Today, although cold, has been deceptively bright sunny and normally on days like this, I would have brought PMS and the two kids out somewhere for a breath of fresh air. However, I was traumatised by our car's recent breakdown and it was cold anyway so we decided to stay indoors.

We'd been extremely busy.

Puan Mama Sarah had invited our lovely neighbours - D & family - over for dinner, it'd be the first time D's husband would come over. It was a Japanese themed dinner.

Because the weather was so nice, I did part of the work outdoors. I put a matt on the concrete floor, took out Sarah's small desk, chopping board, vegetables - and happily did the cutting out doors. It was cold, but wonderful.

Meanwhile, Puan Mama Sarah stayed indoors to prepare her dishes.

Don't you love the look of those fresh, succulent king prawns.

Many hours later - the dinner was finally completed, against all odds. The menu was; salmon teriyaki (from scratch),

Tempura vegetables, squid and prawns. To be honest, when Puan Mama Sarah mentioned she wanted to make tempura I couldn't help but stifle a laugh as tempura is extremely difficult to make. I've read that the batter has to be mixed with ice cubes to lower its temperature, then the coated ingredients has to be friend in very high heat. The extreme difference in temperature would cause the batter to superbly crisp. Anyway, the joke was on me as PMS' tempura was actually quite good.

Above is Puan Mama Sarah's yakitori chicken, her grilled chicken on skewers. It was delicious. The picture above was taken by PMS herself.

Much less impressive was sushi, I suppose. I've made it so many times I think it's becoming cliche already. I managed to procure quite nice smoked salmon fillets from Tesco - and they were just luscious. Above picture ALSO taken by Puan Mama Sarah.

Pictured is Puan Mama Sarah's dessert, inspired by a post on Ifos' blog - about her eating sushi and then for dessert she was served with fruit sushi, with chocolate rice and strawberry sauce. Above is our rendition of the same. (We added the strawberry sauce later).

D's children, helping themselves to the food. Above picture also taken by Puan Mama Sarah.

The children's tea party/conference.

I've finally found myself a drinking mate. D's four year old is as almost as much into tea as I am! He managed to drink three cups of tea tonight, about as much as what I managed too. Cayalah. I have to invite him again for tea next time.

Wish you guys were here Rosli, Hila, Aida, Fazuan & families.

Sarah's Portrait by Puan Mama Sarah

PMS took this portrait of Sarah around two days ago. Actually, Puan Mama Sarah has been delving herself into photography lately. She's been taking lots of photos and learning camera settings (all of you beware!). Unlike me, Puan Mama Sarah has extremely steady hands and I notice that her pictures turn out sharp even with relatively slow shutter speeds.

Anyhow, the above is just an experiment in using the Unsharp Mask in Photoshop. I read today that Canon cameras apply anti-aliasing to the images to maximise colour accurise and reduce Moire effects. However, the anti-aliasing gives the photographs the classic Canon's "smooth" effect. I have ALWAYS thought Canon's images are less sharp compared to Nikon's - and now I know why!

Canon's official website recommends sharpening JPEG images in Photoshop starting at the following values:

Amount: 300% (300% is huge !!!!)
Pixels: 0.5
Treshold: 0

However, there's also a video tutorial on their website on how to fine tune sharpening. The above image of Sarah is an example. Notice that although I sharpened Sarah's portrait by 300% there's not much noticeable noise and the texture on her face is relatively smooth. The secret is simple - use a high treshold value (around 5-10).

Link here
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Our family this weekend

This weekend has been a particularly uneventful one so far for me. The snow has finally stopped falling, and whatever's left of the snow has already melted, crushing my hopes of bringing the camera on an outing to capture more winter landscapes.

I have mainly stayed indoors with Amar today - while Sarah and PMS have been busy going out to town. Anyway, I just would like to share some pictures of the family.

Just now, I saw Sarah and Amar playing and joking happily together. They were laughing, poking, rolling and cajoling - it was so funny to see. It's very nice to see the two junior family members getting along so well with each other, I couldn't help but laugh along with them.

Sarah turned this good boy:

Into this:

Just look at the trail of saliva from him laughing so much!

Just would like to share one last picture of the recent snow. What I love about the picture is that the flash highlighted the falling snow drops - further emphasising the fact that it was snowing.

This weekend, the topic of the photography magazine I bought is "Low Light Photography". It's a topic I am most interested in. Anwyay, I have learnt something new - blending flash with ambient light. If you could compare the picture above with the picture below you'd see what I mean. Both pictures were taken using flash, but in the picture above I stand out too much and the flash seems harsh. In the picture below, PMS seems to blend in with the surrounding light. Notice the highlight on top of her hijab from the room's light.

I can't wait to try this technique outdoors - I hope it works!

Above is a picture of Sarah jumping on the bed. To me it's a study of human agility.

Finally, our thoughts and prayers go to a friend ours who is currently recovering from surgery. We hope the surgery was 200% successful and that the recovery is swift and full. Our thoughts also go to his family.

1. Picture above is stolen from someone's Fotopage - sorry! I'll take the picture down should there be any requests - promise.
2. After reading my post up there again, I've just realised how incoherent & inarticulate I have become - sorry readers. I have yet to fully recover from my blogger's block.