Friday, December 19, 2014

Show laser at the Marina Bay Sand Hotel - Singapore

Bellow is a branch of photos I took during the laser show at the Marina Bay Sand Hotel. It is not easy to make this kind of photo unless you have a camera with manual control. It is not easy because the 'object' in this case the light is constantly moving. To capture the background (hotel building) I needed some exposure time since it is completely dark. So, I used manual control, 6 seconds exposure at f/8. See below the results. Of course to shoot at this setting you need a steady tripod. 

If you want to see panoramic views of this place during the day, click here. This place at night is also a perfect setting to shoot portrait photos with bokeh effects, click here to see some examples.
  _DSC0242.jpg 1)There are two shows per night and each one lasts about 15 minutes. In this photo the shows is starting. _DSC0219.jpg 2) The laser show is accompanied by music which makes it a very romantic scene. The night I attended the showed, "what a wonderful world" was played. _DSC0234.jpg _DSC0246.jpg _DSC0239.jpg _DSC0222.jpg _DSC0256.jpg _DSC0261.jpg _DSC0264.jpg

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Wandering around Marina Bay at night

Traveling can be a source of nice and new experience as long as you dare talk to people and do what you normally don't do: hanging out with people you don't know.
On my last trip to Singapore I met by chance a German girl who was traveling alone in Singapore. The morning I checked in, I saw a girl working on her laptop next to the hotel counter. She was alone, so I dared to talk to her.  She told me that she is German and that she grew up in Bremen and that currently she was pursuing her Ph.D in Germany.  She added that she was traveling alone around south east Asia and that this trip was a kind of relax before going to Sidney were was expected to present her research paper in an international conference.
I told her that I lived in Germany some months, and that I traveled a lot there... I uttered some German expressions telling her that I love reading and writing.  As the conversation went on we could find common things between us... Suddenly she suggested something: "I heard about a night show at the Marina Bay Hotel, people comment that it is  a nice show".  I also read about it - I said- however, I didn't go yet to that place.  However, if you are free at night we can go together. She  agreed!!!  Below see some photos of that night.  These photos are specially beautiful owing to -besides the model- the bokeh effect... click here to find out what bokeh is about

That night, although we were still strangers from each other, we talked about different topics, about our dreams, fears, about our nice and sad experiences, I make jocks and she laugh a lot... At the end, after walking some kilometers we came upon a Thai restaurant which is located next to a bridge from where we could see the Marina Bay! So we enjoyed Thai food :)

My photography gear was an AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G lens mounted on a Nikon D9.  The lens is awesome to create bokeh effect.
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 _DSC0293.jpg _DSC0291.jpg _DSC0277.jpg _DSC0275.jpg _DSC0273.jpg MARINA BAY SAND AS BACKGROUND _DSC0214.jpg _DSC0213.jpg _DSC0208.jpg

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Marina Bay Sand hotel & Merlion park (some panoramic views) - Singapore

The following pictures is a compilation of some photos I took during my last two trips to Singapore! Each picture displayed below is composed of several (from 4 to 8) vertical shots. Then using photoshop I aligned and stitched those images together to form a single panoramic image. Yes, vertical images can capture more of the sky and ground as can be seen in the photos; enjoy it!

_DSC0267-Edit.jpg 1. This photo is about 300° panoramic view. As in photo #3, The Marina bay sand hotel is located in front of the Merlion Park, however, in this photo these two structures seem to be located at the side from one another.

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2. Marina Bay Sands hotel and the Arts Science museum taken from the a bridge covered by an DNA-like structure.
 _DSC0266.jpg 3. The Ars Science Museum, the Marina Bay Sands hotel and the merlion statue.
 _DSC0240.jpg 4.The Merlion Park viewed with the Singapore skyline in the background. The merlion statue has a lion's head and a fish's body.
 _DSC0229.jpg 5. A close up of the Marina bay sand hotel and the museum art science !!!
 _DSC0112-Edit.jpg 6. On my walking tour in Singapore I stopped at the Saint Joseph's Church which was built a century ago. From this church I took this photo.
 _DSC0467-Edit.jpg 7. After visiting the Garden by the Bay (upcoming entry), I took the rear side of the Marina bay sand hotel. it can be spotted the Singapore flyer and part of the Garden by the Bay as well.
 _DSC0335.jpg 8. In the middle of this cement jungle, I came upon this beautiful view... do you know the name of this flower? By the way, would you like to try it as a desktop background?? it is quite relaxing... just try it!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Itshukushima Shrine / O-Torii Gate - Miyajima Japan

Itshukushima Shrine which is a world heritage site is located at Miyajima Island.  Miyajima is part of the city of Hatsukaichi and is situated off the coast  of the city in the Seto Inland Sea.  It is said that owing to its geography and dark-color looking, the island has been an object of natural worship for people living nearby.  The island has been one of the three most scenic spots on Japan and is also one of the most famous Japanese island.
  Itshukushima Shinto Shrine is said to have been built at its present site by Saeki Kuramoto who was an influential figure in the Suiko  era (A.D. 593). 
This shire is built of camphor wood and is about 16 meters high.

  There are several ways to go to this place from Hiroshima. I opted the cheapest one: train. I took the train at Hiroshima downtown and got off  at "Hiroden-Miyayima-Guchi" (last train station).
  From Hiroden-Miyayima-Guchi station, I took a ferry.  It takes about 15-20 minutes to be at the Itshukushima Shrine.  The shrine is visible even from the Hiroden-Miyayima-Guchi station station. There is a restaurant on-board providing a variety of food from local to European dishes.   Wines and beers is also available. I took there a Japanese beer while staring the shrine from the boat :)
First snapshots from the boat. By the way, I went there in March, so the temperature during this month is still very cold, so as in the photo of the ferry people prefer to remain inside where there is heater. 
On Miyajima Island -it is said- there are about 23 shrines in total including those located along approx. 31 km shoreline of the island which some of them can be seen from the boat. On this trip I saw only this one :(
The shrine was designated as a world cultural heritage site and recognize as fulfilling the standards by UNESCO in 1996.
  The origin of the 'torii' is said to be that when 'Amaterasu-oh-mikami or the Sun Goodness (the most powerful God in Japanese mythology) hid herself in the cave of heaven, 8 millions gods had chickens cry.  After a while one of the chickens fled and perched on a tree, which could be literally described as 'tori' (meaning chicken) was 'i(ru)' (meaning to be) on the tree.  There are of course another explanations many of them adapted from foreign countries.
  aaaaaaaaaaa The most frequently question among tourist I heard that day was: What is the "torii' gate for? The 'Torii" gate usually standing on the boundary of the sacred and non-sacred land, symbolizes a shrine.  Inside the 'Torii' gate goods live and outside of it no gods live.  Even when there are no buildings, a 'Torii' gate is built to express that some gods are residing in the areas.
Building materials for 'Torii' gates are wood (Japanese cypress, Japanese cedar, etc.), stone or copper-covered wood, and lately even iron pipes or ferroconcrete.
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hiroshima - Japan

The A-Bomb Dome, a Word Heritage Site
The A-Bomb Dome was initially built as the Hiroshima Prefecture Commercial Exhibition Hall in 1915. The building was standing within the immediate vicinity of the "ground zero". As can be seeing, the structure was severely damaged by the atomic explosion on the 6th of August 1945.
The structure reminds us of the unprecedented horror and destructive power of nuclear bombs.
  The Hiroshima Prefecture Commercial Exhibition Hall before and after the atomic bomb explosion.  it is one of the very few buildings that remained 'stand up' that day.  The atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m., on August 6th, 1945 the final year of the Second World War, by the U.S. Army.  It was the first dropping of its kind in the world history during combat, and killed about 140.000 of the city population, then estimated at 350,000 people.

The bomb dropped in Hiroshima was approximately three meters long and weighed four tons.  Because  the final bomb was shorter than the initial design, it was dubbed "Little Boy".  It is said that the bomb carried about 50 kilograms of uranium 235, but the instantaneous fission of less than 1 kilogram released the energy equivalent of 16,000 tons of high-performance explosive.  The A-Bomb dome remains as a living witness of such tragic day.


Hypocenter
The nuclear weapon "Little Boy" dropped on the city of Hiroshima  exploded about 600 meters above this spot.  It killed about 150,000 people in Hiroshima by the end of 1945 with roughly half of those deaths occurring  on the day of the bombing.  Among these victims -it is said- 15-20% died from injuries or the combined effects of flash burns, trauma, and radiation burns, compounded by illness, malnutrition and radiation sickness.
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At the instant of the detonation, the temperature at the center exceeded a million degrees Celcius, generating an enormous fireball. Within 1 sec of detonation, it had extended to its maximum diameter of 280 meters.



THE PEACE FLAME
The peace flame is another monument dedicated to the victims of the bomb with an additional symbolic purpose to console the spirits of the A-bomb victims.  The flame has been continuously burning since was lit in 1964.  It is said that will remain so until all nuclear weapons on earth are abolished  and the planet is free from the threat of nuclear annihilation. 


The Peace Flame


The Memorial Cenotaph
At the moment of the explosion, an extremely high pressure of several hundred thousand atmospheres was created.  The surrounding air was thrust violently outwards and produced an intensely strong blast.  the blast pressure 500 meters from the hypocenter  was an enormous 19 tons per square meter.  Buildings were crushed and people were blown through the air.  One of the structures that remain stand up was the Hiroshima Prefecture Commercial Exhibition  known now as the A-bomb dome.
 
The A-bomb Dome seen through the cenotaph and the peace flame.  The cenotaph carries the epitaph in Japanese meaning: "please rest in peace, for [we/they] shall not repeat the error." 


The Memorial Cenotaph, the peace flame and at the end the A-bomb dome (above).

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Children Peace Monument
 It is a statue that was based on the true story of Sasaki Sadako and is dedicated to her memory.  Sasaki Sadako was a junior high school girl who died as a result of the radioactive aftereffects of the atomic bombing.  She believed that if she folded 1,000 paper cranes, she would get well.  The statue depicts a girl with outstretched arms and a folded paper crane rising above her.  To this day, people from all over the wold either bring many folded paper cranes to the statue or send ones to the city to replenish the statue.
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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Friday, September 20, 2013

Oisin, Niam and the Land of Youth

I now try to narrate an ancient Celtic tradition: Oisin, Niam and the Land of Youth.  Literature says that Oisín was a brave warrior, and a wise poet as well.  He was a member of the Fianna, a band of heroes who used not only to fight in the service of the kings of Ireland but to protect farmers and villagers from bandits and wild beasts as well.  Even today there are stories about them in various regions of Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland.   The version I am telling now is the one I heard in Germany when I was a visiting student at Boon University.     Oisín was the son of Finn Mac Cumhaill, the head of the Fianna clan. This is the story of Oisín  Niam and the Tir na nÓg kingdom or land of Youth: the fairy realm, a place where its inhabitants remain immortal and who do not perceive the passage of time, at least not as we simple human mortals do.

There are several version on how Oisín went to the Tir na nOg kingdom.  One version said that the Fianna were skilful hunters, one day they were following the footprints of a mysterious deer that used to  hide itself behind the stones of  the shores of Loch Lena.  After two nights tracking the deer, Oisín suddently spotted the animal which was perched on a rock. The hero tracked the deer stealthily, in doing so walked into the jungle and suddenly he came upon the magic door of Tir na nÓg. Poets and pipers claim that the threshold to Tir na nÓg is everywhere, and that anybody can come upon a gateway to the kingdom.  They say that anyone who stays in that land can spend a thousand years feeling that only a few weeks have passed. Poets also say that in the kindong of Tir na nÓg nothing is missing, in its hills and under its sky no one can get older and that - according to Galway - "all good things are there."

Other version says that when Finn and Oisín with many companions were hunting on the shores of Loch Lena they saw coming towards them a maiden, beautiful exceedingly, riding on a snow-white steed. She wore the garb of a queen; a crown of gold was on her head, and a dark-brown mantle of silk, set with stars of red gold, fell around her and trailed on the ground. Silver shoes were on her horse's hoofs, and a crest of gold nodded on his head. When she came near she said to Finn: “From very far away I have come, and now at last I have found you, Finn son of Cumhal.”
Then Finn said: “What is your land and race, maiden, and what do you seek from me?”
“My name,” she said, “is Niam of the Golden Hair. I am the daughter of the King of the Land of Youth, and that which has brought me here is the love of your son Oisín.” Then she turned to Oisín, and she spoke to him in the voice of one who has never asked anything but it was granted to her.
“Will you go with me, Oisín, to my father's land?”  And Oisín said: “Yes, I will go with you to the world's end”; for the fairy spell had so wrought upon his heart that he cared no more for any earthly thing but to have the love of Niam of the Head of Gold.

Then the maiden spoke of the Land Oversea to which she had summoned her lover.  And what she said seemed sweeter and more wonderful as she spoke it than anything they could afterwards remember to have heard.  Then, Oisín mount the fairy steed and hold the maiden in his arms, and before they could stir or speak she turned her horse's head and shook the ringing bridle, and down the forest glade they fled.  Never did the Fianna behold Oisín the son of Finn on earth again.

Both version converge on how Oisín met with various adventures in the Land of Youth.  But after a weeks in the Tir na nÓg  kindom - actually hundreds of years in human’s time but only a few weeks to Oisín perspective – the hero felt nostalgia for his companions in arms, his clan, the hazards and the glory anybody experiences in a battle and he wanted to come back. In Tir na nÓg he was told that hundreds of years had actually passed and that in the wake of time his brothers had already died and that the world is not the same anymore to the one he had known. But these words did not persuade the stubborn heart of the hero.  So, he decided to visit for some days the world he used to live in.  To do so, Niram lent him a very fast horse, and charged him that when he had reached his land again he must never alight from its back nor touch the soil of the earthly world with his foot, or the way of return to the Land of Youth would be barred to him for ever. That is, he would die instantly. Finally, Oisín took up his journey to Ireland.

Once there, Oisín could not find the Fianna clan.  He could not see his village either.  He saw ruins only. He could’n heard the ancient songs of his clan. Instead, he found strange buildings, and realized - with great perplexity - that humans had become smaller and slimer. It had been passed almost a thousand years, and the time of heroes was over. The warrior glanced amid the rubble that once used to be his village, a mountain spring and wanted to refresh himself. He -forgetting Niam's warming- dismounted.  No sooner his foot touched the mortal earth, than the hundreds of years that had been elusive in the fairy kingdom destroyed his body and Oisín died.