The U.S. Embassy saw my photographs in The Star ('Passages and Windows'; Star Two, 24 Sept) and invited me to be a guest photographer at the USAF Thunderbirds' flight over KLCC on 1 October.
They said I could bring a friend along, so I asked Doulos.
From the exclusive vantage point of the Traders Hotel, with U.S. Air Force personnel, other officials, and photographers from the European Pressphoto Agency, Bernama, Utusan, Sin Chew and SIPA Press. One other amateur, Rakesh Agrawal, however, failed to show up.
Downstairs in the lobby, Halim Berbar of SIPA Press looked at our cameras and said, "Manual cameras? You must be crazy!"
The Air Force guy carried a Pentax manual SLR; surprise of surprises, for Doulos and I thought we were the only jokers carrying manual cameras up onto the roof!
I overheard him telling another person about his camera, "I've had it for 35 years. These things last forever."
View of KLCC from the rooftop of the Traders Hotel.
We waited quite a while, and unfortunately only two planes took off in the end. They didn't fly as close as we had expected, so none of us managed to get the dramatic shots we'd envisioned.
However, I quite liked the sense of mood and place captured in this one. You can actually see the people in the Twin Towers' skybridge.
As a gesture of compensation, the Embassy invited us to the private practice session at the Subang Air Base the next day, ahead of the air show on the 3rd.
Thunderbirds lined up on the tarmac.
Spot the odd-one-out!
Thunderbirds in flight.
Thunderbirds are go!
Thunderbirds pulling off a stunt.
On that day I learnt a very important lesson. Audrey, once again I'm sorry; may it be the first and last time.
* * *
These are real cameras. So what's the difference between the mighty FM2 and the entry-level Cosina-made FM10?
The FM2 has:
1. A higher maximum shutter speed of 1/4000, vs 1/2000.
2. A higher flash-sync speed of 1/250, vs 1/125.
3. A metal body, vs polycarbonate.
4. Aperture direct readout, which enables the aperture and shutter speed settings to be viewed in the viewfinder.
On 30 September, I accompanied Xiao Lee to purchase her new camera, the Canon Powershot SX120 IS.
This model is arguably the best buy below RM1000 for a camera that has a 10x superzoom, great image stabilisation system and manual control. The only weaknesses is that it doesn't have a very wide angle (35mm, vs the 24mm and 28mm cameras that are all the rage today), is a little bulky and doesn't have quite a robust body.