Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Celebrating Chinese New Year in Toronto

For 8 years, I have lived eagerly anticipating for the Chinese New Year. In Singapore, this is the major celebration of the year. If Philippines has Christmas, Singapore has the Chinese New Year. It's the time of year when bonuses are given, parties are celebrated, Stores are on Sale. It is just the most wonderful time of the year!

This year however, I will be missing the grand celebration of welcoming the Lunar New Year, the fireworks, elaborate Chinese Lanterns on the streets, the festivities, Lion Dances, etc. 

I had to celebrate. For the life of me, I cannot not celebrate. So yesterday-Sunday, my family headed to Toronto's Chinatown to celebrate it in a simple way. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How To Photograph Children

Photographing kids is always a challenge. One thing that you must have is, PATIENCE. Remember, children will always be in playful mode. So be prepared to run around yourself and never expect them to pose for you like adults can.

Before any shoot, you must plan on how you want it, without disregarding their age. Yes, that matters! 1 yr old kids generally are easier to photograph as they don't run like 2 yr old or 3 yr old kids. You can put them in one corner, dress them up and start shooting. I always get down to their eye level to get a nice front view. But this depends on how you want it. Be artistic. You can shoot them from the top, or any angle you wish. There are no strict rules to it. So get it on, and experiment.

Before I tell you the tips and tricks on photographing toddlers, let me tell you the settings I always use.  I am an Aperture photographer. Basically, that would be the setting for my camera, unless I shoot landscape which is totally a different story altogether.

When shooting toddlers, I like to use my 85mm 1.4 or 70-200 2.8. I normally use the widest aperture. I like those depth of field in my pictures. Make sure that you focus on the eyes, the rule for photographing portraits. Now, if you don't have those fixed lenses, always zoom out to get the best results for your depth of field. Let's say, you have 18-200 or 70-200 attached to your camera - make sure you zoom in to 200.

For my ISO, I would turn it to ISO-AUTO. Why? Because I will constantly be on the move. Unless of course I am shooting with a slave flash.

So now, let's talk about tricks on how to get them to smile for you or at least stand at the location where you want them to. Remember: You have to be very fast, as kids will be out of that location in a second. Believe me.

It is always best to get somebody help you out to bring out the natural emotion from the kids. I normally would ask my husband to stand behind me, so he could try to make him laugh and get a nice natural smile or laugh.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's at Spring Sushi

This is the time of year when couples go out and celebrate their love for each other. Flowers, chocolates and gifts are the most common women would receive on this hearts day. While some men go the extra mile by surprising their girlfriend, or their wife, some opt to celebrate it in a simple dinner at home.

Valentine's Day has evolved and is no longer confined to just your partner. It has become a family affair. It's celebrating with the people that you love. Your parents, your siblings, your friends. 

Last night, my husband and I together with our son, celebrated our pre-Valentine Dinner at Spring Sushi at Toronto Downtown along Dundas Street East with our couple friends. Coming from Asia, Japanese Cuisine is something we enjoy.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hongkong Travel Experience

My trip to Hongkong with my sister Fiona way back in 2007 was one of my most memorable travel experiences.

When my sister, who was working in Bermuda then, went home for a vacation after a long stint abroad, we decided to take a short trip for a bonding occasion, having missed each other from the long distance. 

She flew in from Manila and I from Singapore, marking the beginning of a set of unforeseen events that made our experiences so much more interesting.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Basilan: The Hidden Gem of the Philippines

There are 7107 islands in the Philippines, all of which boast natural treasures worthy of a fun adventure. Most famous are Palawan, voted World's Top Island based on a survey by renown Conde Nest Traveler; Boracay, a popular beach destination for both international and local tourists; Albay, home to Mount Mayon, a beauty of a volcano admired for its perfect conical and symmetrical shape; Bohol, esteemed for its delectable Chocolate Hills; Ifugao, domicile of the majestic Banaue Rice Terraces; and Tagaytay, an elevated observation deck that provides a nice vantage view of the diminutive Mt Taal, a unique volcano within a lake within an island.

There is, however, a little known gem hidden in the Southern most region of Mindanao. In Basilan, the Malamawi and Lampinigan islands remain treasures that have yet to be discovered. 

Here are lovely photos of the two beaches courtesy of my cousin, Mr Conan Dans. 

 Malamawi's White Beach. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

How to Prepare for your US Tourist Visa

Back in 1990, my siblings and I were granted an HB-1 Visa when my mother got accepted as a Hubert Humphrey scholar at the University of Texas. Those visas were left unused however but since then, I have had the desire to visit the land of milk and honey, not to mention, Hollywood!

Last year, after getting our immigration papers in Canada, my family of 3 applied for a US Visa so we could finally fulfill that long-desired visit. We were all fortunate to have been granted 10-year multiple entry visa.

For those who aspire for the US Non-Immigrant (Tourist) visa but are not in the know-how of things, here are a few things I can share regarding the experience.

Toronto's Winterlicious - Grab it before it's too late

Since 2003, the City of Toronto has been promoting restaurants during the low season.  Dubbed as Winterlicious, this year's event starts from January 30 to February 12, 2015. With few days left on the calendar, be sure to make the trip and don't forget to make your reservation.  Seats tend to be full especially for dinner. 

Currently the prices are $18, $23 or $28 for lunch and $25, $35 or $45 for dinner, with drinks and gratuity extra.

My favorite so far has been the lobster menu at Toula Restaurant and Bar at  Westin Harbour Castle right in the heart of downtown Toronto. Nothing beats a sumptuous meal with a nice view.

Check out the list here participating restaurants. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My First Ski Trip

When I first came to Canada, one of the things I wanted to cross off my to-do bucket list was the chance to go on a Ski Trip. Coming from a tropical country, I would always wonder what it would be like to glide off cold snowy mountains. It seems so much fun!

So a month after my family and I arrived in Ontario, my sister's in-laws invited us to go on a Skiing Trip. We initially wanted to go to Blue Mountain Ski Resort, the most famous and largest Ski Amusement Park in Ontario. We settled for Snow Valley in Barrie however because they offered more affordable rates.

A First Time package includes rental equipment plus an hour of beginners lesson. The instructors are highly experienced, very kind and incredibly patient. I had too many falls on my first try but I took everything in stride, injured pride and all. Even the awkward tumbles were fun!

I really wonder how professional skiers do it. They make it look so easy on television and in the movies, but this is a sport that is extremely difficult to master. For one, the boots are huge and they weigh a ton. Finding your balance, as you move left and right, also takes rigorous practice. I had to remove my jacket as I was sweating profusely. Yes, in that snow.

That was such a fun experience though my body got tired too easily I couldn't even finish my lesson. My butt had enough of the abuse from my all too frequent falls.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Toronto in Black and White

"To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul." - Andri Cauldwell
Yesterday, I went out to brave the snow storm in Downtown Toronto. I had two sets, one taken in color (please click here) and one in black and white.

I walked on slippery snow filled walkways, covering my face from the snow and wind chill but always on the lookout on the beauty that the condition projects.

After staying in Asia for so long and getting used to Typhoons, i am now faced with another set of challenges. Snow Storm! What better way to experience and photograph something that is entirely new to me.

Alone in the Cold 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Winter Storm, Downtown Toronto

Photos of the Day:

Here are some of my photos taken this morning at Downtown Toronto.