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Street

shadow

A new way of seeing

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I think my photography go through phases and my personal photography style, choice of subject matter and post processing technique all seems to evolve as I go through the different phases in life.

I recently acquired a new camera which has been a joy to use and it’s like seeing the world in a new light again every time I go with the camera. I guess that whats makes photography so enjoyable and a hobby that never seems to fade away. There always so much to learn, to explore and to find new images that I can create.

 

Orchard Road

Optimising the website

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Transiting to a new website usually take a while for everything to settle in, but have previous experience and better knowledge helps in making the transition less painful.

Hopefully the site is more robust now and I have optimised other aspects such as SEO, page load speed so overall I hope the new site will give a better viewing experience.

While I’m still considering what I can make available for sale under “Store” to help cover the costs of maintaining the website, I hope to be able to announce something concrete soon.

It’s coming to two years now since this site was born (yes renewal bill is coming soon), so proud of this special place and hope to keep shooting and sharing over here.

thaipusam film

Why Film?

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I was suppose to finish this post before I left for Hanoi but I got caught up with all the packing and last minute preparation work. I’m back from Hanoi and it was yet another amazing and challenging trip. Look out for the photographs soon!

I saw a friend on facebook asking why film and I thought I should write about my own reasons for shooting film. I wrote an article on travel photography for ubersnap.com (launching soon) recently and surprisingly 2 out of the 3 key photographs that I chose were taken on film.

Why film?

The choice of digital/film medium, large/medium/35mm format, camera and lenses are merely tools a photographer uses to create his images. My reluctance to give up film is simply because I cannot replicate what I get from film with digital in terms of the colours and the 3D effect. A film image is distinctively different from a digital image and hopefully someday digital technology can replicate what I can get on film before film dies out.

Another key reason for shooting film is the deeper appreciation for each image as compared to digital. From the process of loading the film, making the exposure and finally developing the film, there are many areas where it can go wrong resulting in the loss of the image. Everytime I receive the negatives back from the lab or seeing them for the first time out of the developing tank, there is a great sense of appreciation of how much has gone through in order to create that particular image.

For those who love film, do check out this great article by Nelson at Why I (Still) Love Shooting Film

best camera

The Best Camera

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I think Chase Jarvis is the most vocal proponent of the phrase “The best camera is the one that’s with you ” and more often than not, I wished I bring my DSLR out more often. With all the new technology and cameras coming out this year, posting about this acts as reminder to myself that the best camera is truly the one that’s with you and not the one that I wish to have/buy.

This image was taken on the first day of chinese new year which I considered as an auspicious sign for my photography. I was out with my family and as we had some spare time before our family lunch at my uncle house, we decided to roam around the toa payoh area first. I was admiring this particular block of flats and I wanted to take a reference picture so that I could return and take it with my DSLR. I took a few different frames (such as horizontal vs vertical) as my sketch images and finally I decided on this composition. The first shot I took, the framing was slightly off as I tilted slightly while taking the photo. So I decided to retake the photo again. At the moment I pressed the shutter, a bird flew into the frame from the left and the shutter lag resulted in the image that you see above. Henri Cartier-Bresson talks about the decisive moment and this was perhaps my only “decisive moment” shot. In a way, I was really lucky. Right place, right time with a camera in hand. This image was taken with my Nokia C6-01 handphone camera.

Lastly I will like to share this video interview of Mary Ellen Mark. It was my first time seeing her works and hearing about her thoughts about photography. In under 4 minutes, I felt that she has succinctly summarised her key thoughts with regards to photography. Highly inspirational. Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsMVrZh6ewU

 

 

motherandchild

Moments

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I submitted this photo for NUSSU travel competition and I realised that I have not shared this photo on my facebook with friends. This is a deeply personal photo for me and everytime I look at this I am reminded of how I felt and how my feelings were changed after I took this photo. I remember reaching Lukla with great joy as it signaled the end of my arduous  trek and I was looking forward to flying back to Kathmandu in the same afternoon. Unfortunately for me, there was no afternoon flights out on that day despite the fact that I was told that I could fly out. I was not in the best of mood and mind at that point in time and I decided that I should make the best of what I got and took out my film camera, wandering the streets of Lukla to clear my mind.

I took it slow and just tried to blend myself in with the local, sitting by the streets and observing the locals. It was a rather quiet day as it was off peak season and trekkers would have reached and left Lukla in the morning. I saw this mother and child coming along the side of the street and the child was just playing around with the mother both a watchful guardian and participant. I raised my camera, framed it and waited for the right moment and took a single shot. After taking the shot, they became aware of my presence and I smiled to them and got a smile back in return and they left. Having shot it on film, I didnt knew how it will turn out but I was really happy at witnessing that intimate mother and child moment and I was a happy man once again, realising that there are so much beauty out there and here I was being negative in my thoughts just because I couldnt fly back to Kathmandu.

Was a SOAP seminar yesterday and it really struck home to me what Russel Wong mentioned about creating things that are timeless. I look at National Geographic and indeed all the covers were timeless photographs and i realised that this is one of  my reasons for shooting film,  to get that timeless feeling from a film image and hoping that someday, i’ll make a single timeless photograph to be on the cover of National Geographic.

Second thing I learnt was really about the business side. Reading about Pentax Ricoh Planning Group Manager interview and their philosophy of only creating a new product if it addresses a gap in the market (i.e the new K-01) and together with the emergence of SOAP (to cater to people who wants to turn professional), I realised that this strategy is something that I need to adopt if I ever decide to start my own business.

Lastly, the glimpse of a professional photographer’s life, thoughts and their amazing works has been a great inspiration and once again i’m inspired to keep pursuing my craft. I shall end this with one of my favourite reply to a photography related question: Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow. – Imogen Cunningham

thaipusam

Thaipusam 2012

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I was at Srinivasa Perumal Temple at 4am for the Thaipusam festival for the first time. I saw photos from last year and they were so full of emotions and impact but they could not be compared to the feeling of being there in person. It was gut wrenching and intense especially when the mouth piercings are being put through. I could feel that uneasy feeling in my stomach as I watch them receive the piercings. It was as if at that particular moment, I shared a tiny fraction of their pain. The dedication of the devotees were amazing and the things that they go through is probably something that I will never be able to do.

Besides observing the rituals, , it was interesting to observe the dynamics between photographers and the kavadi bearers. Many photographers were eager to get the best shot and to some photographers it meant getting as close as possible. I knew I stood out like a sore thumb inside the temple due to both my race and camera, yet at the same time I feel like I was invisible. The devotees went about their practices without giving much concern to any of the photographers that were there. It was as if I was a silent and invisible observer given an open invitation into a glimpse of their world. I’m thankful for that and I tried to be as non intrusive as possible. Using a 77mm lens I kept a good distance away from the Kavadi bearers and make sure I stood out of their way. Occasionally those who made eye contact with me and I took a photo of them afterwards, I silently nod my head in acknowledge and receiving a nod in return.

Lastly, I did realised it was not easy to shoot inside the temple as the low amount of light meant that my iso was at 3200 most of the time and I had to shoot at close to wide open resulting in a shallow depth of field. I also turned off my focus assist lamp so as not to cause a nuisance and auto focusing was not reliable under such conditions. I actually had a hard time deciding on which photo to feature over here as I feel I did not have any good shots. As a street photographer, one of the things I try to capture all the time is that fleeting moment where the subject gaze towards my camera lens, making eye contact for that split second. At the Thaipusam festival, I feel that I did not manage to capture such moments. I finally chose this photograph as I feel the light and shadow play gives it a good mood and contrast.

half frame

1111

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It has been a while since I posted over here. There were so many other things that have kept me preoccupied and I need a short break before the exams so I have come back to this place where I can pen down my thoughts and clear my mind.

Shot an event commercially after quite a long time and I was once again reminded of how challenging it is. It’s always is. I always tell potential clients that I’m putting my reputation on the line every single time I take up a job offer. Talking about potential clients, I have started to view potential deals as pure potential until confirmation. Been in too many potential deals only to see them back out, break contact even when we were already in the final stage of negotiations. I’m  just grateful for all the offers that come in and I hope they will continue to come in. Finally submitted my work for the January issue of The Read and thankfully the editor was gracious enough to tolerate my way past deadline submission. Hope it gets published (not counting my eggs before they hatched).

I been spending quite some time experimenting and learning film in the past 2 months (after about 1.5 years without shooting film)  and enjoying the process so far, to go from making the exposure in camera to developing the negative and finally scanning the negative to obtain the final image (where you see it for the first time). It allows me to truly appreciate the amount of effort it takes to produce a single image. I choose this image because this really shows why film is sometimes so rewarding yet so cruel. This was my last shot of the roll and after shooting this, I thought I had the shot. After developing the roll, I realised that the last frame in the roll was only a half frame and the other half frame has already been exposed under sunlight (it was a self rolled film).  This reminds me a quote from Steve Mccurry: “Unlike the writer, once I pack my bags, there is no chance for another draft – either I have the shot or I don’t. This is what drives and haunts the professional photographer, the gnawing sense that ‘this is it’.”

Digital has changed that but for those still shooting film like myself, this is perhaps what we draw satisfaction from.

Image00001

Creativity

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I was out for Canon Photomarathon on 10 Sep, the day didnt start off very well, with me oversleeping and having to cab down, reaching at about 6.55am only to see that the sunrise was not going to happen. The past few times that I have been out sunrise hunting, I have not seen a decent sunrise at all and perhaps that is why sunrise are so treasured so much.

Canon Photomarathon with NUSPS people was a great experience in terms of training my creative process and also shooting with limitations. Really glad to have gone in the end, took away much learning experience and I was glad to see that NUSPS had a total of 3 shortlisted entries (that I know of). The quality of all the shots were very good and it was inspiring to see and learn from the ideas of others.

My entry got shortlisted for the theme “Eat” but I still have mixed feelings about this shot. There are many imperfections in this shot regarding composition and the elements in the frame, even thou it is a street photo, I prefer to present it in a cleaner composition. Having said that thou, I find it hard for this shot to fit into the theme. I wanted the old lady to eat something but for the whole time she was sitting at the table, she only had drinks. I’m glad that it still got shortlisted in the end, it’s comforting to know that this image stood out from the other thousands of images. 🙂