Blue-headed Pitta


Using Canon 5D Mk3, 300mm Lens, ISO5000, f/5.6, 1/80s

Pitta, is the main target bird that we want to photograph for our trip to Danum Valley, which has the highest type of pitta recorded there.  This trip we were lucky to find 2 species of them.  One being this Blue-Headed Pitta, which is an endemic species and not easy to encounter even at the valley.

We spent one whole morning walking on the jungle trail being beaten by leeches. But the price pays off.  After about 3 hours of tracking, our bird guide spotted this lovely colourful bird came out from the brushes and hooping on the trail looking for food.  We were took by the guide that pitta’s main food is leeches.  That’s why were have to pay the price before we could photograph this bird.

About 8 of us line up at the small trail waiting quietly for the guide to make the call to attract the pitta to the open area where we can take a clear short.  We took the shot at a very low light condition, and we need to pump up our ISO to 5000-6400.

Reference from Wikipedia

The Blue-headed Pitta, Pitta baudii, is a species of bird in the pitta family Pittidae. The species is endemic to the island of Borneo, where it occurs in Brunei, Kalimantan (Indonesia), Sarawak and Sabah (Malaysia). Its natural habitat is tropical lowland evergreen forests. While it does occur in disturbed of secondary forests, it is most common in primary forest. It usually occurs below 600 m (2,000 ft),it has been recorded up to 1,200 m (3,900 ft), but this record has not been verified.

The Blue-headed Pitta is a medium-sized pitta, at 17 cm (6.7 in) in length. The plumage of the male is very brightly coloured, with a bright blue crown, black cheeks, white throat, chestnut red back, violet blue tail and belly, and black wings marked with white. The colours of the female are more subdued, with a buff coloured back and head and blue only being found on the tail.

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Danum Valley & The Borneo Rainforest Lodge


Part of the accommodation, standard unit

The Danum Valley, a primary rainforest jungle, is 78KM away from the nearest town called Lahad Datu. The valley is far removed from human habitation. Renowned for its rich variety of both plants and wildlife, Borneo’s mammals include such extremely rare and endangered species as the Sumatran Rhino, Benteng Elephant, Clouded Leopard, Bornean Gibbon, and Leaf Monkey. The Orangutan and Proboscis Monkey are both found only in Borneo. Bird life is equally extensive and varied with over 275 individual species having been recorded, giving Danum Valley a reputation for being one of the best places for viewing Borneo’s wildlife.

The Borneo Rainforest Lodge is a basic and rustic international-standard lodge built beside the Danum River. Unlike mass-market tourist destinations, the lodge accommodates a maximum of 60 people, ensuring each guest a unique and individual jungle experience. The fine facilities with basic comforts make it possible to explore the incredible diversity and complexity of the rainforest and offer a unique opportunity for guests to understand the primeval Borneo Rainforest in today’s conservation realities.

Lodge activities include jungle walks, bird watching with resident nature guides, canopy walkways high above the jungle floor that allow the viewing of the rainforest from the treetops and night safaris with sights and sounds emanating deep from within the rainforest.

3D/2N stay at the Lodge

After much introduction,  here is how we go there from Kota Kinabalu (state capital of Sabah, Malaysia). There were 11 of us in a group. All of us used car as means of transport to Danum Valley, except for 2 friends who flow from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu and catch a ride to the valley.  This is a better way to get to the lodge as for the rest of us,  we spent almost 10 hours on the road in order to get to the lodge.   6 and a half hours to drive from KK to Lahad Datu town. Then another 2-3 hours from Lahad Datu to the lodge.  To tell you the true, it worth the efforts.  It’s totally a different environment once you are at the lodge. It’s like a get away place to be.  You are surrounded by the nature forest, air is so different from that in the city.

We are a group of bird and wildlife photographers, being there made us so excited as we are going to see some rare spices of birds and wildlife. Our main target for this trip is to look for few species of pitta, like the Banded pitta, Giant pitta, blue headed pitta, black headed pitta and there rest….

Being in the forest, and in a valley,  there is always rain, at least once a day. So the area is wet and humid.  Good thing is the lodge provide a good accommodation and good food.  To share some of the pictures taken at the lodge.

The Reception cum Restaurant at the lodge.

Resting area at the restaurant

Interior of the standard unit

At the balcony, a relaxing place to be

Gathering area at the restaurant

Dinning area, overlooking the Danum river

Guest parking area.

Dinawan Island


Last weekend has been very exciting and fruitful for me.  I was invited by the owner as a backup photographer to capture some pictures of his resort at Dinawan Island, off Kinarut, Sabah.   My wife and I checked in to the island on Saturday afternoon with my younger brother and his family. Boat transfer from the mainland only told about 10 minutes.

Dinawan island consists of 2 islands which was separated by a lagoon. The new resort is located at the smaller island on the right from the above picture.  The purpose of this photograph assignment was for the development of resort’s website. In the list, we need to capture an aerial view of the island.

The photographer needs to be lifted to the air by a parachute pulled from a boat.  It was my first in life time riding a parachute and ‘flying’ above water.  This made me very excited and worry if it is safe to ride on it, and whether I will fall into water as this will also damage my camera !!

I attempted 2 flight in air to photograph the island.  Saturday afternoon was not successful due to cloudy weather. But, on Sunday, it was sunny day until late afternoon.  The above picture was taken closed to noon time. Even the light was strong, I still need to set my ISO at 1000, and F/11 with a CIR-polarizing filter, at aperture priority.

Below is another picture on the lagoon view.

Using Canon 5D MkII, 17-40mm Lens, ISO1000, F/11, 1/800s

Portrait


One of the shopper at Tamu

Today is a fruitful day for me as I have explored a new area of photography, i.e. street photography and portrait.  My first location is at the Tamu (Sunday open market) at Kota Belud, about 110KM from Kota Kinabalu. At the Tamu, you can find all sorts of people, young and old, arriving here to do their ‘shopping’ and find a meal or snake at this open market.

After trying out photographing wildlife, bird and landscape for sometime, it’s exciting to pick up a new area, which I personally feel not easy to master.  upon arriving at the open market, my worry is how do I interact with the people I want to photograph and will not be rejected by them.

To avoid close contact, I choose my Canon 5D Mk II with 100-400mm Lens thinking that I can take pictures from a distance of the subject. I followed my 3 other friends who have a lot of experience in this area and watch how do they do it. I soon put my worries behind my head as the people there are friendly, some even don’t mind asking their children to post for you.

Following are some of the tips I gathered during this trip:

1) Look for older people as most of them have deep wrinkles which add to their facial expression;

2) Get a friend to talk to the store keeper, pretending to buy something from them, so that the store keeper with not pay attention on you take their picture and this will make them looks more natural;

3) If need be, buy something from the store keeper and they will be happy to let you take their photos;

4) Approach and ask nicely if they allow you to take a picture;

5) Look for people making their conversation;

6) Don’t forget things that are on sale…etc.

During this trip, my focus is on portrait, and have overlook on things that are on sale. Anyway, following are some of the photos which I feel nice…

 

I have also converted some photos to black & white

Countryside at Kinabalu Park


Using Canon 5D MkII, ISO320, f/4.0, 1/1600

I have been to this place few times, it’s at the East side of the Mt. Kinabalu.  You can see vegetable farming on every plot of lands available here. During Chinese New Year, with my family members, we drove here again. This time, I have my camera with me, and have taken some shots for records.

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The country road is narrow and give a lonely feeling.  I like this  shot as it give that kind of feeling for myself.

At both sides of the road are lands used for growing various kind of vegetables.  One thing, the farmer uses animal waste such as chicken dropping as fertilizer.  Also seen them spreading pesticide. Let’s hope they don’t apply too excessively as its harmful to our body.

This is one of the main vegetable producing area at west Sabah and there produces will be distributed to many areas on wholesales basis.

You can find the products being market just at Kundasang at reasonable price.

Here are some photos of the farm (Please click on the photos to enlarge)

Imbak Canyon Waterfall


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Human figure at the waterfall
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Imbak Canyon Waterfall Full view
Taken from the side
Another angle of the waterfall
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View of the outfall of water from waterfall

5-7AUG2011, My first job as a driver after leaving the banking industry in Jul2011, to send the photographing production crew from Kuala Lumpur to shoot an advertisment series at Imbak Canyon waterfall.

I joined 9 other team members driving from KK to Telupid to pick up the big crew for a 2 days 1 night filming at the conserved jungle which is about 4 hours drive from Telupid.

Trail at the reserve centre
Suspension bridge at the Imbak Canyon area
Drivers in Action, crossing the river

After the filming, the team sent the crew back to Telupid.  By the town reaching the town, it was about 8pm, so the team of drivers drove to Mesilau and spent a night camping there.  The next day, after having our own cook lunch at Mesilau,  part of our members followed the crew to Kota Belud river where they filmed another scene.  We were early, so, we took a dip at the river. Actually, taking a bath at the river (as we didn’t have our bath at Mesilau the night earlier, weather was cool up there)…

This was an exciting outing as the income was RM700 + Petrol claim (RM150), plus the chance to meet some of the crew members and get to know them.  Also watched them filming some of the scene/clip.  One clip which they want the film a frog swimming across the camera shooting from beneath, the clip is about 2 seconds of the whole scene, but the crew has spent 2 hours or more from preparation to complete the shooting, interesting…

Managed to photograph some birds at the Mesilau….  here you go…

Sunrise at Mt. Emei


Using Canon 5D Mk II, 24-105mm Lens, ISO1600, f11, 1/500

This beautiful sunrise was taken at Mt. Emei, SiChuan province, China in March 2010.  This lovely sunrise was shot at around 6.10am at about 3000m above sea level.  Following were more shots taken there after.

ISO1600, f11, 1/500 at 6:12am

at 6:16am, ISO640, f10, 1/400

at 6:19am, ISO800, f14, 1/400

at 6:23am, ISO1600, f8, 1/640, using ND fliter

Following are 2 shots of the buildings at top of Mt Emei. (Please click on image to enlarge)

ISO640, f10, 1/50

ISO640, f10, 1/50

 

Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center


The giant pandas are Chinese national treasure and also beloved by people coming from over the world. They are found only in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. In total there are said to be fewer than 1000, of which 80% are distributed within the territory of Sichuan province. Therefore, when visiting Chengdu, Sichuan Province, you should not missed the opportunity to see the giant pandas for themselves.

The nearest place to see the giant pandas not other than the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center. Its located just 10km (6miles) away from downtown Chengdu. You can just hire a taxi from town and it will cost approximately Rmb50 to reach the center.

The center has been created and imitated the pandas’ natural habitat in order that they might have the best possible environment for rearing and breeding. The Center cares also for other rare and endangered wild animals like the Red Panda. The Research Center covers an area of 560 mus (92 acres), 96% of which is verdure. Giant pandas, lesser pandas, black-necked cranes, white storks as well as over 20 species of rare animals are fed and bred there throughout the year. Verdant bamboo, bright flowers, fresh air, a natural hill scene and a beautiful artificial view are merged ingeniously at the base.

The necessary facilities for giant pandas have been completed and include a fodder room, sleeping quarters and a medical station. Additionally there is a Giant Panda Museum together with research laboratories and a training center. A great number of plants and as many as ten thousand clumps of bamboos and bushes have been cultivated to provide for the giant pandas’ diet and habitat.

Above are 3.5 years panda having their morning meal at about 9:00am

 

About are 2 months old baby panda being taken out by the care taker for a morning sun bath and enjoying the morning breeze.

 

Matured panda.  over 10 years old.

Beside watching the panda, there is also a swan lake next to the center.  There you can have the opportunity to feed the fish in the pond and observe the various birds frequenting the ponds.

JZG Day 1 – 26Oct2011


It was a cloudy morning and raining, good thing that I bought an extra umbrella the night before at one of the grocery shop) At about 7:45am, we packed our luggage and put them with the hotel reception. We head to a store at nearby to have our breakfast, the usual stuff, noodle and dumpling.  Later, we called a taxi to take us to the park (as it’s still drizzling, and thinking to save some strength in walking)…Rmb10 anyway, taxi fare is standard for a small place…

When we reach the park, there were already thousands of visitors waiting at the entrance waiting to enter the park.  Tour guides’ flag can be seen everywhere.  Without delay, we went to the ticketing counter to purchase the admission ticket (Y220) and Eco-tour bus ticket (Y90), these are daily fare.  To stay in the park, we can save 1 day admission. But we will have to pay for the bus ticket again inside the park.

Joined the queue to get in a bus, there are easily 300 buses operating in the park daily to cover the area (14+18+17km) in the park.  Our first stop is Long Lake (長海) on the left side of the “Y”, about 3500m above sea level.  Then walk down to the Five-Coloured Pool (五彩池). This will avoid the crowd.

Long Lake (長海)

Five-coloured Pool (五彩池)

It’s about 11:00am, we start to worry about our accommodation in the park as we were unable to find any public phone that accept cash (only those accept IC card) to call the owner.  We head down to the Nuorilang Bus station (at the “Y” meeting place).  On arrival, we walked to the village adjacent to the station hoping the local people will approach us and ask if we need accommodation. As it’s still drizzling, we found a restaurant to take a break (tried the local (青稞) bun and butter milk tea, sweet and salty taste, the sweet one taste better to us) and made a call to the owner (from the number we obtained in Songpan).  Great, someone answered, and said that his house is further down at ShuZheng (樹正寨) village.

          

After a ‘quick tour’ at the bus station, which has stores selling cup instant noodle (Y15),  souvenir shop, the restaurant and toilet, we take a bus down to the Shuzheng bus station to Shuzheng village to find house owner.

           

It was another tourist site, getting off the bus, we saw this traditional local people’s village, ShuZheng Village.  Called the house owner again, and Mr. Yu (the owner) is not far from where we stand, come forward to greet us and show us to his house.

It’s a relatively new house, Mr Yu advised that it was built 3 years ago and cost him Rmb500K+ There is a very traditional dinning area. The room was also very clean and new (except there is no attached toilet). They served 4 dishes and a vegetable soup for dinner. Breakfast was simple plain porridge, Mantou (饅頭) and 2 dishes. See for yourself.

            

We later take a walk at the village, and find some food to eat…ended up in a small stall selling instant noodle and other drinks…

Since we are at the ShuZheng station,  we decided to cover the lower “Y” area of the park by food…from ShuZheng Lake(樹正群海), we walk to Crouching Dragon Lake (臥龍海), Sparkling Lake(火花海), Double Dragon Lake(雙龍海)…

          

Weather was good to us in the afternoon, rain stopped and even though cloudy, but occasionally, sun appears for a while. Good thing we are not on a hurry to exit the park at the end of the day. (Park open at 8:00am and close at 6:00pm)… We saw visitors hurrying themselves down the way to the gate…while we can take our sweet time to enjoy the scenery until late afternoon…we walked back to the guesthouse and it’s 6:30pm just nice to have our dinner (prepared by the owner).

To be continue …