Post Singapore Modest Collective Event!

First and foremost I want to thank SMFCollective for inviting me to share on tips to taking great pictures. Truth be told, I’m not some great photographer as there are many others out there who takes far better images than I do but I really love taking pictures and sharing them with others gives me a great deal of satisfaction. During the question and answer session (SMFCollective event), I couldn’t really share as much as I wanted to, due to the beautiful pictures showcased by other two renowned photographers; MONOSG and AsyariPhotography. Also, I was trying to be a tad bit sensitive to the time and my purpose there is to learn as much as I can. Lastly, I will be giving away a preset in light to the event so that bloggers and photographers alike can use them in their photo editing.

Tools & Edits

Now I’ll jump straight into the topic of how to capture beautiful images for your blog or portfolio – in 3 simple steps. There are currently 2 simplest way in creating an image. First, by using a camera such as the DSLR (Nikon/Canon) or mirrorless cameras (Olympus/Lumix) etc. Second, you can use the smartphone. Now you will think that with a smartphone, the image quality of your pictures aren’t going to be sharp and clear but to be honest, I’ve seen people selling off their pictures taken by the iPhone and some have been featured and are known to be famous with their pictures taken by the iPhone. I’m not pro-iPhone but if you google on Samsung and the pictures taken, they are even sharper than the iPhone but I won’t be touching on this debate and we’ll save it for another post.

Additionally, with these two tools, there comes the editing of the image. For the cameras be it DSLR or mirrorless, you can use computer based softwares such as Lightroom and Photoshop. Of course there are other softwares which enables you to edit and beautify the image but in general, these 2 softwares are frequently used.

In contrast, ‘applications or apps’ are used for images captured on your smartphones, which includes the Lightroom and Photoshop apps. So in short, the Lightroom and Photoshop softwares can be found in both computers (in a form of software) and in smartphones (in a form of an app). Now, there are a variety of great apps to use but for me, I only limit myself to 2-3 apps if I’m doing editing on the go. The apps that I normally use would be the VSCOcam, Priime and SKRWT.

Edited with iPhone 6


Next up, lighting. In order to capture a great image, you need to obtain great lighting. I’m still a student of light but from my experience, I’m able to edit photos beautifully from photo-shoots that are held between 1630hrs to the golden hour.

The golden hour is where the sun is about 4-6 degrees above horizon and that’s where you get variations of pink and red hues. Sometimes, depending on the weather, you’ll get awesome hues of peony to crepe pink.

Then, wait for a few moments after the sun has set, which is another roughly 4-6 degrees below horizon, you’ll be experiencing the blue hour. Now I’ve experienced ‘bad weather blue hour’ and I call this the “purple hour” (I don’t know if there’s a scientific term for it but as I’ve mentioned, I’m still a student of light). Usually after a bad weather and the sun’s about to set, the hues of pink and blue sort of get into this special twilight mix and the sky will have patches or rays of purplish violet. It’s gorgeous to look at and if you’re able to do a shoot, especially portrait or certain product shoots (which is one of my projects soon), you’ll be able to achieve nice lighting.


Last but not least, story. Every image needs to send some form of message across. A great friend of mine once asks or intends to quote; Are you a picture-taker or a photographer?

To me this quote of his, sets me thinking and I perceive it as some food for thought. In my opinion, a photographer is one who goes through some trouble in weaving concepts through his or her images. A picture-taker is someone who simply, takes pictures. What you see is what he or she will take. A great image doesn’t necessarily has to be controversial (though most awesome images are) but it’ll set a certain kind of mood and thinking. In short, to create an impactful and beautiful image, one needs to incorporate a story in the image. It can come in a form of series or single shots. There are instances whereby a series of one concept or story do “harmonise” the message across as the shots may work into a climax and generate several ideas in one’s head. Whereas single shots are usually close ended, emphasising on a single idea. Hopefully these images that I’ve taken would humbly serve as an inspiration to your next projects!

I hope you find this post useful and if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comment section or email me and I’ll reply as soon as I can. Do drop by the store within the next 48 hours to download your free ‘Portrait Lightroom Preset‘ and have fun beautifying your shots! Here are 3 sample pictures of the preset’s outlook.

3 Simple steps to TRAVEL for free!

Before I share my secrets, let’s go through a quick checklist with me.

  • Have you ever travelled on a budget and feel that you’re not getting your money’s worth?

  • Have you ever got stuck on an itinerary and feel that ‘IF only I got some couch surf friend to show me around?’ Or at least read a worthy TripAdvisor review that points out the best ways around? 

  • Or lastly, have you always dreamt of quitting your job and travel the world but things are just holding you back? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions on the checklist, congratulations! Do continue on reading!

Now all of you know that travelling is somewhat a muse we all choose over most hobbies. And I do know of stories whereby individuals settle on travelling over tying the knot with their partners. Additionally, I know of people who quit their jobs just to travel or at least pride on a profession that provides free travelling. I’m here to share with you that you too can live out the life of a nomad or travel blogger with just a few dollars!

The reason why I’m writing this is because I was stuck. And I still am. I’ve been travelling for the past 3 years, with Hanoi-Vietnam being the epitome of a travel blogging purpose I’d wish it would be. But, with my subsequent travel journeys, a DSLR (EOS 7D), an iPad and a little investment on a simple yet inconvenient bluetooth keyboard, I continued to write and aspire to inspire others to travel.

The Smile

The Partially Submerged

However, it was tough! After each visit on an attraction, you’ll become worn out and all you want to do is to get a goodnight’s rest so that you can abide by your planned itinerary and explore other attractions the next day. I really didn’t have that slightest stint in the world to just sit down and type away. Now you must be wondering, why not a diary? My Midori traveler’s notebook has been my writing companion ever since my watercoloring days. I love this particular notebook as it allows me to customise the papers and writing pads I need for my travels, as you can see in the pictures on my instagram.

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trying out lines..

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I can affix various grades of papers for writing, watercoloring, etc to meet the demands of my travels. A notebook is a great log and sketch tool to clock in information on your travels and hidden gems amidst your explorations however (which I would gladly share in posts to come), it is only as good as the frequency in having the notebook by your side to do the note-taking and of course, time. Time is always the factor because, if you intend to type or write away, you would definitely miss soaking in the experience at hand, be it wherever you are. Furthermore, if the notebook is lugged around in a bag where things are just difficult to remove, the frequency of taking out the notebook to write will be much less than the cost of shawarma at the diners in Montreuil, Paris.

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Elle me prend à la Tour Eiffel..

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The Lady

Thus, I have to emphasize – timing is everything. To travel, you need to invest your time. It’s a well worth investment in exchange for experience along with the appreciation of the array of cultures and landscapes be it nature or urban which brings me to my first point:

Give up.

Yes, give it up. I call this the equivalent exchange. In order for something to be obtained or created, something of equal value must be lost or destroyed. If you want to be “live” in the broadcasting/journalling of your travels, (because as soon as you write things down, you don’t forget) you got to be willing to finance ample time, at least enough to blot a sketchy yet detailed turn of events along the way. Let’s be honest, you can’t have everything. [Unless of course you’re a billionaire that owns a yatch and can hire a bunch of film-makers and photographers to scribe and journal every single step of your luxurious and pomp continental-hops. In addition to that, hire a programmer and designer to design a travel blog and “shift” some algorithms to generate traffic to your site. Again, pay a few advertisers and sponsors to facilitate in broadcasting your travels and produce more audiences and followers to your site.] 

So how do you travel for free based on point number 1? Give it up. Give up your current job and seize a job that provides travelling while working. I have friends who do just that. Their professions enable them to travel and meet new people alongside the sight-seeing of cities and landscapes alike. [Just a piece of advice – Do not quit your job without having any forms of backup or contingencies.] But if you’re still spunned in cogitation and kind of tied down with the intricacies of the material world and corporate ladder-rat-race nonsense, give up on your dreams to travel. You will only be a season traveller. However, you can still be a travel blogger and this brings me to point number 2.


Money talks. Seriously. Just read the [anecdote] above and you’ll understand that money would enable you to do the things you most desire (which includes becoming the travel blogger that you want). I don’t have to go into details on this one (but if you need me to shed some light, I’d be happy to). Personally, I don’t see money as the root of all evil because the only evil ARE your intentions, love and greed towards the money. And as you may know, with money comes discipline. There are various ways to go about utilizing the money (next to discipline) you have to travel for free however, I will cover that in posts to come. For now, I shall bring you to 2 aspects with regards to money. The rich dad and poor dad. No, not the book by Kiyosaki. I’m referring to someone who is rich and one who is not.

The rich daddy who goes on travelling with his employed paparazzi (the designers and photographers), does exciting activities and travels 24/7 to the point where sponsors and organisations approach with freebies in exchange to tapping on his garnered  influx of traffic to his site.

The poor dad on the other hand quits his current job and decides to work on a cruise ship.

Vịnh Hạ Long


You can be the seasonal traveller (accumulate some generous amount of dough) that most people are and slowly  work hard, smart and with a little glint of luck, you will live the life of the rich daddy. But like I’ve said, it takes a lot of discipline and to some point, it becomes a strict money-making routine which in turn may jeopardise your attraction-soaking experience.

For my last point:

Audience building.

Yes. You need to build an audience. There are various ways to go about in building an audience (which I will talk about in posts to come). But for now, to help you on that journey to travel for free, what you need to focus on is building the audience. One particular person that comes to mind is Matt Harding.

He build an audience based on an idea of travelling to various countries doing a simple yet viral dance. Also, as a form of interaction (the slow transition to reveal the countries), he gets the audience to guess the countries and exhibited the multitude of activities he underwent (for instance, swimming with the beige jellyfishes in Palau). With the generated views he gathered from his 2006 video, people started to participate in discourse whether the video was green-screened or that Matt really did travelled. With the positive boost in popularity, eventually sponsors rushed to provide free travels for subsequent travel videos and of course the famous VISA dance also came to fruition.

Consequently, with the intention of solely trying to build on ‘audience relationship’ or viewership, AND with a little bit of luck (because luck or blessings from God Himself plays a HUGE role), you can travel for free. I’m sure Matt had to first give up some of his time to spend his money by making the very first video, which eventually builds his audience.

I end my post here with a simple idea. Why does a bird with wings that enable it to fly anywhere in the world,  flies back to the same tree everyday? 

As paradoxical as it may sound, in order to travel for free, you got to work for it. I hope you do keep that innate traveller’s spirit alive and see you in my next post!

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gadgets for the upcoming trip..

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Here’s another week for another sharing. I got to know that one of the pictures I’ve posted on Picfair got selected 5th place in this week’s theme; Afloat. Tried to achieve a clean edit on this one and guess it paid off. Alhamdullilah~ (all praises and thanks be to Allah).

Afloat – 5th

On a side note, here is this week’s instagram posts. Do click on the link and check them out. Give ’em likes if you think they’re awesome!

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What you do today will improve on your tomorrow.

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🎶 TAEYEON 태연_ I (feat. Verbal Jint)

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Before I begin to share, let me just wish to all the Muslims in the world a very blessed Ramadhan! And may Allah shower His blessings and baraqah onto the whole Ummah and may our sins be washed away in this purifying month! Aameen~

Morning everyone! I’m here to publicise a piece of wonderful news (at least for me that is) that one of my pictures entitled The Rhine had gotten 5th in Picfair’s June weekly picks – A Sense of Scale. Do click on the link below and have a look!


The Rhine by Ad1 – A Sense of Scale

The Rhine by Ad1

Follow their twitter for other beautiful weekly and monthly picks!

Also, check out my chosen picture for their June 2015 Drifting Away theme.

Chinatown by Ad1 – Drifting Away

Latest pictures on instagram!

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February Urban Exploration

with Outfit Of The Day (OOTD) for the weekend.

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged and have been on hiatus for close to a year. Well things have been pretty busy with side projects and stuffs but I shall do my best to update from now on. I will be doing a monthly urban exploration series, featuring of some casual fashion coverage just in case you’re interested in some of the outfits. If you’re interested in showcasing some of your unique and fashionable attire, do drop me an email and I’ll be glad to have a photo shoot session with you.


Yesterday’s Friday’s urban exploration initially started out as a photo shoot “reconnaissance” or recce as some may call it, which slowly evolved to be a photo shoot itself alongside with some outfit of the day out-takes. We decided to check out the Golden Mile Complex rooftop and also Golden Mile Tower. Now don’t be confused with these two buildings as they are of separate places, however just next to each other. We started out at the Golden Mile Complex, heading towards the office lifts, then all the way to the 9th floor. We were amazed at the complementary colors used; blue and yellow and how the ceiling has got some weird inception motives going on; upside down stairs. IMG_7368-Edit-Edit-2-Edit-3-Edit

The right side of the building is where the residents of Golden Mile Complex live and unfortunately, this place is banned. If you want to get good captures of this place, you have to move swiftly. My estimation is that you’d have a solid 2 minutes before the security guard approaches (pssst, he’ll be coming from the other end) and chase you away. He was quite polite when he escorted us out to the lift. And yes, he did wait till we got on the lift and really made sure we don’t come back.

So, we made a trip to the other side. The dark side. And I mean literally the dark side. Mostly due to the dark clouds and how covered the rooftop car-park was at Golden Mile Tower. To get here, you need to take the office lifts all the way to the 5th floor. The car-park is simply there once you walk out of the lift. For further explorations, you may want to take the lift nearest to the bar up to the 22nd floor for a good city view. Here are some of the shots:

If you walk towards the bar or cafe, you will have a city view alongside the Concourse building.

More shots around the car-park aka rooftop:

Some shots taken from the 22nd floor (Office Tower).

You might want to bring a telephoto lens when you’re up here for some good detailed close-ups. For these shots, I used the Canon 100mm F2.8 L lens.


After the whole rooftop adventure, we decided to walk down to Rochor Centre for another session of “rooftop” exploration. It took us about 20-30 minutes of leisurely walk to Rochor Centre. Upon reaching our destination, it was by great chance that we stumbled upon a group of Polytechnic students, who’ve shot their color-themed project whereby they had thrown lots of colored paints all over the floor. Whatever their project was, I’m pretty sure they did a great job as the colors were vibrant and they had used some cool HD camera to record the whole process. My guess is that they made a project to commemorate a colorful tribute to the Rochor Centre landmark itself, since it’s due for some tear down. So here are some of my shots of the Rochor Centre “rooftop”:

Rochor Centre is vibrant and colorful however it’s such a loss that it’s nearing it’s abolition. Do drop by and have a few captures of the scenic and old school place before it’s all gone. IMG_7602

Now for today’s yesterday’s urban exploration, I went to explore the People’s Park Complex in Chinatown. To get there, you can alight at Chinatown MRT station and head out towards Exit C. From the 7-Eleven store, just enter the complex itself and take the cargo lift. The residential lifts or normal lifts are only permitted to residents. Furthermore, you need a card to ride them. SO just proceed straight to the cargo lifts and head to the 5th storey. From the 5th floor, simply walk towards the car-park.

The space is quite open and options for a good backdrop is diverse so move around and pick the perfect spot in accordance to your focal length. Here are some of my shots with model, Max.

The cityscape offers clean great shots for those who are looking out to shoot a great professional portfolio. Some views from the top:

It can be crowded in the complex during the weekends, however once you’ve reached the top, it’s spaciously desolated. It can get quite windy and you definitely need an umbrella for bad weather due to the absence of proper shelter. For those with camera gears, trust me on this one – umbrella. I’ll end my post here with other random shots and hope to see you on my next adventure!



Foodies Paradise! An excerpt from the Muslim Quarter, Xi’an 1

The Muslim Quarter in Xi’an, China, is an amazingly huge food hub! Lot’s of tantalising meat, fresh fruits and whimsical tidbits all ready to be served and feast upon. Upon our arrival in Xi’an, my buddy and I stopped overnight at the airport (which I will cover in the next post) and cabbed down a distance of about 30km to Alley Youth Hostel the very next morning. Now I have to emphasise that we made this trip in December and it was exorbitantly cold. It was my first winter experience and typically having to blow out smoke from the mouth was our frequent gesture in Xi’an. All I could think of while we were in the cab was, the itinerary planned for the days ahead and how thrilling the winter cold can be.

Now Alley Youth Hostel is placed at a district with great atmosphere, whereby considerable walks can be taken to visit the famous Xi’an Mosque, various subway stations, the Xi’an Bell Tower, alluring cafes, and many other incredible sights and sounds for the taking. The first thing we had to do was eat and breakfast was a LARGE piece of handmade bread, served alongside a steaming hot spicy beef soup! It was HEAVENLY~

Another version of Xi’an’s famous bread. However, the one we had for breakfast was fluffier~

Xi'an bread

The bread was tasteless and powdery on its own but as I observe how the locals eat it, they tear that brown fluff into pieces and throw it into the soup. We did just that and that’s where it hits the sweet spot in your tongue! So, here’s a traveller’s tip: Be perceptive and willing to engage in (what seems to be an) unorthodox savoir-faire – as long as it doesn’t go against your religious practices or own set of beliefs.  Because from where I come from, we do eat bread with soup by dipping or swabbing but never throw it all into pieces at once down the hot broth. Resultantly, due to our brave “endeavour” the bread soaked up all the flavours and seasonings to blend with the existent handmade flour which induces an elated satiation to the tummies of two famished travellers.

Here’s my buddy after breakfast.

Traveller in Xi'an

We were greeted by a cat named Chunlou or Chunliu (at least that’s what the lady at the reception says – the cat was named after some famous mountain in China) at Alley Youth Hostel, and the whole interior was pleasingly warm and welcoming as they furnished a book cafe right next to a pool table, which is just beside a bar and has got a mini internet surfing spot by the entrance window.

I call this shot ‘Chunlou by the Windou’. She was observing some birds on a tree by the way.

Chunlou by the WindouChunlou by the WindouChunlou by the WindouIMG_9257

A Rotterdam Backstory 2

As we got lost along our retraced steps back to Rotterdam Central Station from Spido B.V., we stumbled across a tube mall known as Markthal Rotterdam aka Market Hall Rotterdam. As you’ve seen in the first post, a simple Scandinavian pushcart selling cheeseys makes the whole surrounding less intimidating and more patronising. The overall look of the mall is also cosy with a variety of products to choose from. You name it, they have it!


Well the one on the right is a blue cheese but isn’t the Blue Cheese.

I’m extremely fascinated with the cheese shops over there. They looked irresistibly delicious and exotic. There’s something about the pushcart’s aesthetics. Now, Dutch people are friendly by nature. In fact, throughout our whole entire journey in the Netherlands, people have been helping us out with directions and halal food hunt even to the point of using their own GPS to pinpoint locations and provide instructions for easier navigations. I really want to thank them so much for the kind hospitality and warm gestures given.

However, in the mall, we wanted to purchase a few items but had a large 500Euro note and apparently, none were willing to accept it. Almost all vendors scrutinised at the note and decided not to accept our purchase. Of course, till we came to a pushcart selling figs and dates. An Egyptian (I think, or could be Moroccan) bald man roughly in his 40s decided to accept our intentions of breaking the note to smaller change and the need to taste his mouthwatering figs (no pun intended). We were delighted. It was as if God has embraced us with His Mercy (which He really did) and made our detour worthwhile. Due to this incident, I deduced that Europeans find it hard to accept huge notes for a few reasons. 1) Fake touristy notes are rampant. Many scammers pretend to be tourists and go around in a ‘fake note exchange’ spree. 2) The bald man had to inspect our note under the light multiple times, to affirm that we had given genuine cash. This goes to show that for some itsy bitsy small microscopic reason, discerning between the real and fake notes may have been unclear either because the real ones are arduously distinguishable or pirates or counterfeiters producing counterfeits are exceedingly professional. 3) or simply that Europeans don’t hold much change to accommodate to such big notes. 1 point to VISA!  But all these points are just my assumptions and I guess there’s no real reason to this as everyone has their own belief in not wanting to accept big notes.

So traveller’s tip: Don’t carry huge notes. Break them down at the airport or secured establishments such as money changers or banks, especially in European countries. Of course VISA provides the convenience but most street markets don’t cater such services. In addition, such establishments offer a sense of security in a sense that you know what you’re getting and where you’re getting it from. There is no way you’ll receive a counterfeit from a public or main bank for instance. So, break your cash up once you’ve touched down from the plane. It’ll benefit you in terms of time and energy.

Here’s the interior outlook of the mall from a 2nd storey halal Mediterranean restaurant.


I really love it’s elaborated designs and comprehensive architecture. It’s really a nice “steal” coming from being lost and to stumble upon an unplanned location from our travel itinerary. I’m really glad we got lost. As the saying goes, ‘it feels good to be lost in the right direction’ and it truly is! Here’s a few more pictures to sum up Markthal Rotterdam, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this post~


A Rotterdam Backstory

Cheesey Cheese

How we chanced upon this mall is by accident or should I say luck? We were kind of lost getting our way back to the Rotterdam Central Station from Spido Boat Tours. We just ferried our way back from Kinderdijk and while tracing our steps back to the Central train station, we kind of detoured and came across this tube-like mall. It was huge and I must say it was extremely aesthetically technical looking. The mall was filled with loads of hipster pushcarts and there were tons of branded merchandises that were seemingly Marc & Spencer-ish looking. I will definitely share more in time to come because there were tons of photos taken around the area.

Anyway, just finished my routined workout – the spartan arms and will also touch on what I’ve learnt so far, at least for the past 29 days of working out and eating clean. As the name of this blog goes, its a “mad hatter’s” world here in my head and things I cover in this blog may or may not make sense but it’s how things flow and how I keep my sanity.