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Monthly Archives

February 2012

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




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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 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.