Tag Archives: Nikon

Merapi & Merbabu

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Oh my, I did not even create an entry about my back to back mountain trip in Java recently! That’s how unpopular blogging has become. We were there from 15-21st May 2013. Altogether there were 18 of us. Few were first timer hiking a mountain. However 17 from 18 of us, including your truly never tried hiking two mountains in 3 days. Since it has been a while since the trip, I can’t recall everything pretty clear.

Upon arrival at Merapi basecamp in Selo on the 16th May, we went straight away to Pasar Bubrah. We departed at about 3-3:30PM. Yeah, pretty late already. The group split into 3 different pace. I led the first group of 4 people, the middle group, they said led by Jo (ha ha ha) and the sweeper, led by dR Ali. The first group arrived after about 3-4 hours walking. We hiked for almost 4KM & gained slightly more than 1000m. I think the last group arrived around 11PM.

The very next day the weather is not so good, nevertheless we managed to get good photos of surrounding montains. After shooting sunrise, we summit to the peak. Well, actually only one person really reached the real highest point of Merapi. Me, scared of hight, managed to reach to the brim of the crater….and it was really scary indeed. I made it in 56 minutes. The guide said, they normally need around 30 minutes to reach the peak. I was a 500m distance with 200m vertical. The loose sand really make the hike difficult. However it was nothing compared to what I experienced in Rinjani.

After a quick lunch, we descended to Selo. Then we decided to stay in a nearby guest house. It was a nice time to recapitulate what we endured during Merapi hike. It was also a great moment especially to our friends who attempted the mountain for the first time.

The next day, we went to Merbabu basecamp. I can’t remember the name of the village. The scenery during the journey to the basecamp was already very beautiful. We had nasgor (nasi goreng or fried race) as our breakfast. This was my first time to Merbabu. The guide decided to take tje long route to Merbabu basecamp (Savana II). It was a 5-6KM distance with 1100 metre high. I took me about 4 hours to reach Savanna II, just enough to avoid the heavy rain. Most of our friend was however not lucky enough. They had to climb those steep terrain, especially the one just before Savanna I in a heavy downpour. That day, with wet jacket, pants…and not that great food, the mood was pretty bad. But alhamdulillah, the sunrise on the next day was superb! In fact some managed to photograph great milky way before that. I salute them for their perseverance. I was too lazy to stay outside the tent too long. Cold!

The very morning, after an awful breakfast, we summit to the peak of Merbabu. It as relatively longer ascend compared to Merapi but not that steep. The weather was great. My moving time was 20 minutes, but I stopped many times for photo. It was really a great moment being able to complete the Merapi to Merbabu back to back. It was not really tough for most hardcore hiker, but for us, it was a satisfying accomplishment.

Me & Hafizuddin decended from Savanna II at around 1:30PM. Few friends already descended earlier. This time I was not lucky. It started to rain when we were at the last steep descend. We reached the basecamp at about 6PM. We cleaned & ate the dinner before we rode a bus to Magelang. The adventurous part of the trip was considered over when we reached the hotel. The subsequent day, few friends visited Borobudur, while some of us just waited outside. We then travelled to Solo, stayed another night before going back home.

All in all it was a great EXPAT!

The next one will be Semeru….

My new rugged compact camera

I just bought myself the new Nikon Coolpix AW100, Nikon’s first waterproof (some said underwater) camera.

Plus this one, I already owned 3 waterproof/rugged compacts. The first was Olympus mju1080, then Lumix FT2. Why the new ‘All Whether’ compact? One – it has GPS built in, Two – it’s Nikon! :)

What is my first impression:

  1. Cool paint-job – now if I drop this camera in the jungle, I will face difficult time to find it – deng! he he
  2. The GPS function is pretty decent – quite fast to detect the satellite signal, so it is useful
  3. The compass – is even cooler – not of any really important use to me….but it is cool
  4. The ‘action control’ feature also another cool feature – it should ease the use of camera when wearing super thick glove (a situation I always encounter at the mountain summits)
  5. The HD movie is fantastic, but I am yet to really test it seriously – will do it during my next long bicycle ride

Now I am thinking of getting a helmet mount camera holder…so that I can mount the camera on my cycling helmet. Rather than spending another RM1000 for the GoPro POV camera, better I just mount this shockproof camera from Nikon.

I AM | Nikon Coolpix AW100…oh yeah.

Birding after a hiatus

I have not been shooting birds for ages. The hobby started with Common myna around my house to friendly birds at Fraser’s Hill…and I stopped there. Mainly because, I realized that bird photography require a lot of patience if one want to be serious on it. Birds at Jelai Resort are not enough. These birds are human-friendly. One Long-tailed sibia even perched on my tripod when I was shooting! That’s right…when I was using the camera.

For the real wild bird, I even failed to capture good kingfisher’s picture despite many attempts.

Nevertheless the recent photo outing with friends there at Fraser’s was a blast! We had a lot of fun! The spiders & birds were amazing. However food & the rooms were not good.

These are some photos I capture there.

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What are the gear I used?

I brought the two Nikon camera that I have, D3 & D300s. The best setup was D3 + Nikkor 300mm f2.8 + Nikon Teleconverter 1.7 + SB-800 without flash-extender. Best here mean, able to produce sharper pictures. Even though D300s has the 1.5 crop as the advantage but its AF is inferior compared to D3. The setting depended on the time but I tried to maintain aperture at F6.3-8. Speed circa 1/300s with auto-ISO mode on, set max to 3200 for D3.

I also used my D300s + 70-200 VRI. Quite similar setup but auto-ISO max was set at 1600.

For the tripod, both Feisol + Markins M20 & Fotopro + Photoclamp ballhead performed well! Even Fotopro can handle my D3 + 300mm. However its smaller diameter legs caused me to choose Feisol instead for assumed stability.

I also hooked my Phottix GPS on my D3 & Nikon cable release for the other.

I find the setups I have are OK for bird photographer ‘wannabe’ like me. The ideal should be sturdier tripod complete with gimbal head & flash extension holder and longer lens.