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Address changed!!

Although there are many good features in MSN spaces such as photo slide show, easy acess via MSN messager, a statists page tells you how many people have visited your blog and the referring address of these visitors, and the humanistic dashboard, but I just can’t stand this blog with its lack of flexibility any longer. I can’t arrange pictures in an article, can’t put a java script in the way I wanted, can’t even direct a link to a dynamic window using target command in HTML language because somehow the system will overwrite the script.
 

So, I am moving my blog to

http://hanjies.blogspot.com/

 

come and visit, Thanks

部落格已經改到上面的網址,歡迎過來參觀

 

Hanjie

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Photography

How to take a good photo? You can find lots of books discussing this subject, such as the series of secrets to making great pictures by National Geographic; or you can enroll in a course of photography having a professional photographer to guide you. I am not a professional photographer but I am an afficionado and have gathered some information I would like to share. To start with, I would like to talk about equipment and then lighting and exposure,  composition and end with post-editing.

Equipment

The development of films and cameras is moving fast, you can almost have any kind of camera to meet your specific needs. For example, if you are going to shoot the movement of stars or polar bears in the north pole, a mechanical single-lens reflex camera (SLR) is pratical, whereas in a baseball game, SLR with auto focus feature comes in handy. Nowadays, digital cameras have caught the public’s attention, even some professional photograhers who were contemptuous of the new way to shoot are now silent or even more embracing this trend.
 
Digital SRLs are my favorites. Changeable lenses free you from the restriction of focal distance, moreover, characters that different lenses posess give you an opportunity to express your creativity. You don’t have to develop the film to know if you got the picture you wanted and it helps saving money and developing skills of a beginner dramatically. Meanwhile, the outstanding noise reduction ability and an easier and more powerful post editing makes DSLRs increasingly accepted by professional photographers.
 
To purchase a camera with a limited budget isn’t an easy task, so it’s advisable to check the following website before you spend the money.
 
Digital photography review where you’ll find all the reviews of the latest digital cameras and accessories, a digital camera buyers guide, side-by-side comparisons and the most comprehensive database of digital camera features and specifications.
 
Rob Galbraith Digital photography Insights is a professioanl digital photography forum where you can find discussions about professional digital cameras, professional digital equipment, professional digital workflow,and photography.
 
Megapixel is a dual linguistic website, there are English and French you can choose from. Except camera reviews, there are many useful articles about camera basics, photography etc., and a forum you can discuss photography with photographers around the world.
 
Digital image studio, Photosharp, and DC View are traditional Chinese websites where you can find lots of useful information such as test reports of cameras and lenses.

Lighting and exposure

Lighting is a key factor for a sucessful photograph. Different lighting sources or directions give a photo different atmosphere. So how to master lighting to get a stupendous picture? Fordors focus on photography: lighting gives great tips. And the key point is to be able to tell the innate character of the object your are shooting. A few days ago, I went photo shooting with some friends. It was night time and we were shooting in a temple in Tainan City. The guy who took us to the temple turned on the ceiling fluorescent lights to make it easier for us to shoot. However, Paul asked the man to turn them off and used only the candle light in the temple to take pictures. The candle light brought out the characters of the board in golden hue and made it a better picture ( link to picture).
 
Aperture and shutter speed must be coordinated to attain a correct exposure, meaning when the aperture is widened a faster shutter speed must be adjusted corespondly and vise versa. Exposure programs, aperture priority and shutter priority, in the camera are practical. In a baseball game, in order to freeze the ball you might have to set the shutter speed at 1/500 sec.(baseball pic), whereas to get a short depth of field you’ll have to widen the aperture and get close to the object (snail pic). An other example, when shooting a waterfall, a long time exposure makes fall look like silver silk and gives the fall an extraordinary atmosphere, whereas a high shutter speed freezes the water while falling and creates a frozen perception. 

Composition

Centering objects in the frame should be avoided, however, this rule doesn’t apply all the time. A better way of composing is to divide the frame into 3 equal sized fractions with virtual lines both vertically and horizontally, where the lines cross are the interesting points of the picture and that’s where the focus of your object should be arraged. The answer of how to arrage elements in the picture varies from eye to eye. You can acquaint yourself with composition at Fordos focus on photography: composition and then practice and compare to other photographers from time to time. There are some great websites listed below where you might learn someting from the artists. Tom Wang Album, Randomeyeimages, Artists of Pbase.

Post-Editing

Post-editing of a photograph is a controversial action. Some might consider that as an act of deception, others think differently. In my point of view they all are partly right. When photographers are manipulating the lighting and exposure to attain specific atmosphere, is that considering a deceit? The character of a wide lens gives objects close to the lens the tendency to look bigger than it’s real size. Artists use this character to create a perception different from the way you see it with your own eyes, would that be a fraud? On the other hand, photographers who write critiques for magazine post-editing a photo without specifying what kind of modifications have been implemented is not considered a proper action, even if it was just a slight modification.
 
There are some websites providing some useful information such as Photozone, Photo.net, Johnhendry.Com, Mountain storm fine arts Hyperfocal Distance , and TimGrey.com. You don’t wanna miss these.
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Xenophilic or Xenophobic

The experience working in Vietnam gave me the chance to think this through: are Taiwanese xenophilic or xenophobic? In general, Taiwanese are friendly to foreigners, especially to those Caucasian who have blue eyes, brown hair. How about the Thai or the Philippine laborers in Taiwan? Do Taiwanese show good hospitailty to these people too? The incident of Thai laborers rioting against the inhumane management of recruiter company last year in Kaohsiung may give a hint. 
 
Basically, Canadian, American, British, Thai, Philippino, Vietnamese and Japanese, they all share a common ground: "the outsider". But what makes Taiwanese treat them differently? Is there racial  discrimination in Taiwan? Of course there is racial discrimination in Taiwan, actually, it exists inevitably in all kind of forms. A big part of the foundations of racial discrimination in Taiwan is based on how wealthy the country is then skin color. And the stereotype Taiwanese possess is Caucasian are from wealthy western developed countries, whereas Thais and Philippinos are from poor developing countries. Thus, in general, Taiwanese are xenophilic to Caucasian but xenophobic to other Asians. This is a very interesting phenomenon in Taiwan, and it has expanded the ego of some of the Caucasian outrageously and some of the Taiwanese just can’t do enough for them. Therefore, it’s not surprising to see a Taiwanese flatter a Caucasian but look down on other Asians. Of course, there are always exceptions and exceptions reflect the selfishness of human nature honestly. We show great generosity to countries we can’t even pronounce to seek diplomatic breakthrough. We help Vietnamese to set up a lab for clinical diagnosis in turn we get access to samples collection which can’t be done in Taiwan.
 
Anyhow, why are we xenophilic to foreigners in the first place? By showing good hospitailty we may expect someday in the future these people would return the favor when we become an outsider to them. It’s a good investment and sometimes the reward could be huge. So, be xenophilic to all for your own sake, because you’ll never know if you have just rejected a potential sombody in the future. As for foreigners, vice versa, be "xenophilic" and take all you can get from locals but don’t take it for granted.
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Vietnam–Tourism

Shopping

Ho Chi Minh City is a good location for shopping. Lanterns, embroideries, lacquerwares, and silks from all over the country can be found in the city. Pham Ngu Lao, budget traverller’s zone, sells ethnic souvenirs, T-shirts and DVD etc. You might get a good bargain in this area. Items on Dong Khoi street are more sophisticated, but the prices can be outrageous.  Ben Thanh Market is highly recommended by the guide books where you can almost find any thing there. If you love bargaining and are good at that, this market perhaps is your best bet; otherwise keep away from the crowd!
 
Old quater is the best place for souvenirs shopping in Hanoi. You can find specific items in a few specialised streets such as Pho Hang Gai, the street for silks, embroideries, lacquerwares, paintings and water puppets. Unlike Ho Chi Minh City, bargaining here could be very frustrating.

Accommodation

Given the habit of vietnamese driving, it’s wise to find a hotel that is not in the middle of a bustling street; or at least a room not facing the street. The rampant honking sound could make you toss and turn all night long! Most hotels in the old quater of Hanoi have no elevator and the accommodation rate of higher floors are relatively lower than the ground floor, thus the hotel staff trend to put travellers in the higher floors first. Passports are left at the front desk while accommodating, skeptical but deal with it.

Eating

Pho (feh) is one kind of Vietnamese style noodle, you can almost spot a vender selling pho every street in Ho Chi Minh City. A franchise called Pho 24 serves all kinds of pho such as beef, pork, shrimp etc. 24 hours.  A separated dish of bean sprouts, basil, lime and chili are served with the noodle, it can’t go wrong to put eveything in the soup from that dish. If you want to indulge yourself by having wonderful sea food, Ngoc Suong Saigon is a good choice. (6 Hoang Viet St., Tan Binh Dist. HCMC; 176/7 Le Van Sy st., Phu Nhuan Dist. HCMC). Song & trang (moon & river)(1035 Xo Viet Nghe Tinh street, Binh Thanh district, HCM city) is  one of the lovely restaurants located next to the MeKong river bank. Tables are set in a beautiful courtyard, and the food is delicious.
 
You might find that Little Hanoi and 69 bar-restaurant in the old quater of Hanoi are in almost all kinds of guide books. Well, the food is ok, but for the same price I will chose Au Lac (57 Pho Ly Thai To). It’s a comfy courtyard of a french villa. Au Lac serves French cuisine and Vietnamese delicacies at cheap prices while compared to Little Hanoi which charges you the same amount for a bacon baguette. Baguette & Chocolat (11 Pho Cha Ca) is famous for it’s cheap cakes and the role of the restaurant itself: a bakery school. Eveything you eat there is made by the protege. You can have an afternoon set, one small cafe and a cake, for 18000d (around US$ 1.13); but the quality control remains to be met. I was upset by the delay in service and the dried up cherry on the cake.

Scam

Do not always believe what your driver tells you, especially in Hanoi. If you have booked a hotel or a specific hotel you would like to stay at but it’s not on the list of commissioned hotels of your driver, he might claim that the hotel is dirty, unsafe or overbooked. Double check the name and the address of the hotel to insure that your driver does take you to the hotel you requested. The role applies to any specific travel agency or restaurant.
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Vietnam Experiences

Hospitality

Chinese are famous for their hospitality. If you’ve ever been invited to a chinese family for dinner, you would see how hard they try to make you feel being treated well, just feel free as being at home as they might say to you. That’s very warm but also could be very annoying as well. Vietnamese are the same way or even more. From day one to the last day of our stay in Ho Chi Minh City, we were treated like VIP. For example, a hospital car picked us up every morning from hotel, even though the hospital is only 2 blocks away; lunch banquets were served in our office and we were taken out to the most delicious restaurants in town every night. 
 
But how much is too much for someone to give and the other to receive? The definition of good hospitality varies from person to person; that’s why it happens all the time that hosts try their best to please guests and guests on the other hand try their best not to be VIPs, Very Impolite Persons.

Sad City

The first time I heard someone use this term to describe a cemetery was from doctors from Vietnam. It fits the atmosphere in a graveyard perfectly also it applies to the City itself. We took an ambulance to work every morning. To be more specific, it’s just a mini van with a hot-wired alarm, not equipped with any other life support systems. The function of this van is multiple though the business part overweighs the life saving part.
 
Many doctors leave the hospital at 16:00 promptly, not because they have a perfect system in handing over  to the next shift, but because their wages are too low to make a comfortable life. The contrast of the crowding in the morning and in the afternoon at the hospital are overwhelming. When doctors are preparing to leave the hospital and go to their private clinics in the afternoon, patients disapear automatically.
 
There is lots of help given to the hospital by many international groups but once the funds dry up, all the efforts disappear as well.  The only thing proving the existence of these organizations are dusty machines left over in the lab. How did that happen? Is it because of a shortage of financial support or lack of well-trained personnel? I couldn’t get the answer from the hospital.

Elegant or arrogant

Cooperation between departments are rare here in the hospital. Sometimes a cardiac echo is needed by a doctor from infecious department to confirm a diagnosis, but it just isn’t done. There seems to be little or no communication between departments.
 
To set up a lab for clinical diagnosis, we are going to ship machines to the hospital and I was shocked to hear that the hospital only accepts brand-new machines. They even have engineers to check the machines to make sure they are not second-hand! New machines don’t promise good results but are the symbol of prosperity, I guess.
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Packing procrastinator

I admit that I am a packing procrastinator. A few hour from now I’ll have to go to the airport but I still haven’t pack my bag yet. It has become a cliche that I pack at the last minute before my departure.
 
Traveling light is the highest principle for backpacking, but I usually end up with my bag overloaded. How so? Well, except for the airplane tickets, passport, visa and local currency those kinds of items, camera and tripod are essential. Also, a good guide book, stuff for shower, and clothing are the items that play an important role to meet the satisfication of my journey. I am not willing to spend time on laundry and there is no guarantee that shampoo and shower gel are provided in the accommondation, thus preparing everything I need overshadows traveling light. Of course, if I am going to a developed country it will be another story.
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