The Alms ceremony – Luang Prabang Laos

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The alms ceremony in Luang Prabang is a unique ritual that makes the charm of this small city. It is a also a well know one and pictures of the monks lining the streets of Luang Prabang at 5am are famous worldwide. I could not attend it the first time I was there 10 years ago, but I made sure to see it this time.

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The little lady above lives on the other side of the street, where I am shooting from. The people on her right on the first picture are tourists (Korean, Thai, Chinese?) renting a stool, and buying alms from the merchants. So this has become a real touristic attraction, many stools are ready for Buddhist tourists or anybody who want to participate, and the non participating are legion.

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I try to keep a safe distance and show respects for the monks but as usual this is not the case for everybody. This is a bit frustrating, but I generally prefer to miss a shot than to fight or be a nuisance. All of this spoils a bit the ceremony for me, but it can be that I am just a tad difficult.

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I may stand corrected but what make it unique is the fact that monks from the 7 or so monasteries in town go out in the street to collect alms in procession, rather that visiting houses of people who will donate food.

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If you are out in the street at 5h30 you can assist roughly to one hour of procession, and i f you follow the rules you can approach the monks up to 3 meters.

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We were sitting on the pavement of the main street and it is quite busy. I think there may be many “spots”, like places  where the procession turns who may offer better photo opportunities, same from the exits of the monasteries of the path along the river.

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Outside of the center you will see random people waiting for monks from place to place, which surely would enable a closer encounter with this local customs.

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Regardless of the crowd it is a great experience.

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We enjoyed very much sitting opposite the lady-from-across-the-street as we regarded her devotion more authentic. But this is quite subjective and I don’t want to be judgmental.

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Flash photography is forbidden or course, so high end DSLR will probably have the upper hand here.

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For this lady renting stools and selling alms this is time to ring the end of the show.

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Color shots taken on Leica M262 with 50mm F2 Summicron v5, Black and white taken with Leica M6 classic and Summicron 28mm F2 Asph on Ultrafine Xtreme 400ISO film.

 

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The Alms ceremony – Luang Prabang Laos

A wet day in chinatown

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A small write up today, and I will avoid the temptation to make another complete roll review (although in fairness I was tempted).

The flea market that use to seat in Sungei Road east of the city center has been closed for building a MRT (the local term for underground). What used to be coined as the “thieves market” has slowly moved to Chinatown in the heard of the city.

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I am not sure what the authorities think of it, but here is another attraction in one of the tourist hubs of the Lion-city. These guys sell mostly old junk, and it’s rare you will find anything you might want to bargain for … actually as odd as it seems I bought for 2$ a record of Industrial Music, and one of the sellers (not sure how to call them) actually has a few interesting cameras.

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You will find old watches and Buddhist artifacts and amulets, and for the rest … you’ll see for yourself.

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Sure this will come a popular spot for street photography.

The 4 shots above were taken in a rainy afternoon,  with Ultrafine Xtreme 400 iso with the Leica IIIc and the Summaron 35mmF3.5, probably 1/60 second and f3.5.

As I am here I also add as a bonus three earlier shots done on the same film with the Leica M4 and teh modern Summicron 50mm v5.

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I hope you enjoyed the visit

A wet day in chinatown

A roll of Kodak Ektar shot with the Leica IIIc

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01. The first shot, in a Hindu temple in little India

Hello, today a little pointless exercise consisting in reviewing the shots of an entire roll. You will see below keepers in a larger size that the dismissed shots.

I loaded the roll during the LUGS (Leica User Group Singapore) outing in Little India last month inside Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. This is always a good place for shooting.

Lesson from the first frame: always skip the first 1 or 2 frames, otherwise in the unlikely event you like the shot, it may be half burned.

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02. Sri Veeramakaliamman temple in little India

 

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03. Hindu temple in little India

It is quite rare that I shoot color films with the IIIc, actually I mostly shot Black and white film anyway, I feel very restricted by color film, I generally prefer to shoot digital for color.

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04. Coconut stall Little India
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05. Coconut stall Little India

So far no shot is great, maybe number 5 is ok, street activity, a bit of the documentary style, probably ok technically. I like the color of the Ektar for “street” photos.

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06. Mural

There are many mural in little India now, this one is in a back alley, it is not so great , or maybe too much. The shot is quite bad, not sure its even in focus.

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07. Working Class Hero

Probably an Indian actor, the first good shot, nice color. Taken bottom up with the 35mm, the vertical line are of course not straight, but that’s the name of the game.

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08. Working class hera take two.

Not as good.

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09. Cardboard Man

Ok you get that it it about the plight of people making a leaving from urban scraps. Not such an uncommon sight in Singapore. Informative, but not necessarily a great pic.

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10.Elephant Park

I would find that picture quite uninteresting, but technically ok; color-wise it is another chance for the Ektar to rock.

Leaving Chinatown and moving toward city center, two visions of hotel 81 in Jalan Besar.

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11. Hotel 81 in Jalan Besar
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12. Hotel 81 in Jalan Besar

Second shot is better exposed an less traffic in the middle. Roughly ok, The Art Deco building is attractive, but not overwhelming.

In the street with a camera in hand it is tempting to catch passers by, in particular if they are charming.

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12. Female passer-by 1

Too far, would you even have noticed her?

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13. Female passer-by 2

Motion blur, Out of focus, bad framing.

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14. Female passer-by 3

So what?

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15. Colorful

Maybe yes, maybe not, that was just a try.

The same afternoon I walked into Chinatown

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16. Ceno2 new mural

Quite a bad pic, maybe OOF ? Shame. I thinks it’s also not Ceno2’s best mural.

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17. South Bridge Road commercial building
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18. South Bridge Road commercial building

The two commercial buildings are quite ok, I would be happy to show the second one, the colors and details are good to my taste, and the composition not so bad.

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19. Strangers with brolly

 

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20. Strangers with brolly

Second version is probably an ok street shot, movement, color and overall an umbrella.

 

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21. Buddha tooth relic temple

Buddha tooth relic temple, one random shot

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22. The mosque on new bridge road

I tough the light was great and worth capturing

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23. Mural in “Amoy Alley”

I quite like this one, unusual.

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24. Satay club

Another random shot, not great angle, too far, not showing much.

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25. MBS reflection

Ok ok we can try.

Next great spot is the Merlion Park, it is always endless fun shooting people taking selfies there.

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26. The lady in cheamseong

It would have work with better light, the subject here is a bit lost in the background.

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27. Posing

This one is really random.

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28. Uncle shooting a relative (or friend)

Something was going on, but it was not the right moment yet.

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29. The same uncle in action

I think that one is ok, just average but ok. Nice light, funny pause and all.

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30. hijacking the shot

Nothing easier to ask somebody who pause if you can also take a shot. Too contrasty but probably OK.

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31. The three good fairies

These three Muslim ladies remind me of the good fairies in Walt Disney’s Cinderella. They were very happy to oblige. I like he colorful bags, maybe a second closer shot without the bags would have been a nice complement.

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32. Beach Road

The new building on Beach Road in the evening light. Nice tourist shot.

 

Finally the next 5 shots were taken during the next LUGS outing in Tiong Bahru, on my birthday.

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33. a fish stall

Ok I think I took enough fish stalls so far not to call this one a keeper.

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34. Another fish stall

I would keep this one, framing is nicer, action is clear. technically I think it’s ok, may need to be overexposed a little bit.

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35. Fruit Stall

Obviously random

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36. Fruit Stall (again)

The lens was attracted by the lady in the center, but one week later it does not look like it is enough.

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37. Tiong Bahru street scene

 

So where am I a the end of the exercise? I managed to shot 36 and half frames on this roll, all exposed properly and focused reasonably well (two are debatable), the only thing you can take from this is that my IIIC works reasonably well and, probably, produces a comparable result to a modern camera. One picture out of three,  I will probably share on one of the Facebook groups I partake in. Real keepers (going on Flickr), will be  “Working Class Hero“, “Strangers with brolly“, “the three good fairies“, maybe the “Other fish stall“.

At this point in time he Leica IIIc is my favorite 35mm film camera : it is small and sexy and over the time it get slightly improved : by the addition of the a 35mm Summaron (f3.5), then by the one of a 35mm finder. I always dismissed the 35 finders as being not useful, but in the end this accessory  proved very good for composition. Over the years I had the curtain changed, there is still a a small defect when shooting at fast speeds, the right side exposure is a bit under exposed, but it looks like using it more often, at least one roll a  month, it seems to be less obvious.

Hope you enjoyed the reading and viewing, to later

 

A roll of Kodak Ektar shot with the Leica IIIc

KEBUN BARU BIRDSINGING CLUB (The Leica M4 SHOTS)

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A follow up of the last post , I showed pictured made with the Hassie 500 CM on Cinestill 50D, but that was the Leica User Group Singapore outing after all, so I carried along a Leica M4 for film shots (here) and a M262 for Digital.

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On the recommendation of fellow members of the group I brought my longer lenses, the 90mm Elmarit and a Canon Serenar 135mmF4  (the bad version). I did not use the Serenar on the M4, it is too unpredictable no use to throw away valuable shots.

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It is easy to see here what shots are taken with the 90mm and whose with the 50mm.

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Shooting with the 90mm is very unusual for me, specially on film. The Elmarit often comes with me on holidays but only for a couple of digital shots. The results are quite pleasing, it offers very different point of view.

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The film is another roll of my bulk Ultrafine Extreme 400 hand-rolled. The processing from the lab was a bit below the usual quality, that’s life.

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You see mostly men in these pictures, but there were many women as well, they just did not come on the frame at the right time.

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KEBUN BARU BIRDSINGING CLUB (The Leica M4 SHOTS)

ZHOUJIA QINGMING – Part 2

A small follow up to y last post about this celebration

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Above is mister Lee Kum Yuen, he is the current master and son of the master who brought this Kung Fu / Lion Dance style in Singapore. There is a very interesting video here https://youtu.be/kZq6iGxfWUo.

I shot a couple of rolls with the Leica M4 and either the Summaron 35mm F2.8 (the one with Goggles) or a Summicron 50mm v5.

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Above is the typical Lion Dance troupe transport, a lorry used the rest of the week for hardware work.

Below the troupes gathering before climbing up the slope to the part of the temple where the celebration takes place. (Did I mention if the other post the temple is massive?)

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The slope is tough, the sun is hot, and yes they drum up-hill

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Below starts the celebration directed by a monk,

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below the final parade and one minute drumming of all the troops together.

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The color shots are Kodak Portra 400, the black and white are Ultrafine Extreme 400, hand-rolled.

Oh yes if you want to see more, come back soon, I also did  a certain number of digital shots as well.

ZHOUJIA QINGMING – Part 2

Zhoujia Qingming

The Lion dance troupes from the Zhoujia style go each year to Bright Hill temple for Qingming celebration to honor their founder. The Zhoujia is a special form of Lion Dance, which is very energetic, founded in Singapore, there are very interesting videos on the history of this martial art, coming from the south China King-Fu. Mister Li, in his 80’s is he current master and the son (or grand son) of the founder

The Qingming or Ching Ming festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day in English (sometimes also called Chinese Memorial Day or Ancestors’ Day).

The troupes gather at the bottom of the slope getting up to one of the temple courtyards (for those who do not know Bright Hill temple, it is a massive compound), they run up one by one up the steep slope (and very sunny last week).

The lion dancers perform around the yard at the sound of drums and pray as different shrines before ending before a table laid with offerings. They then move aside and align waiting for the other troupes to parade as well. A total of 6 groups were present this day.

 

Afterwards there will be some common praying to the ancestor, Kung-Fu demonstration , a full minute of full strength drumming and a final tour.

Not very easy to shoot action with the Hassie.

Hasselblad 500CM+80mmF2.8
Cinestill 50D

Zhoujia Qingming

Kebun Baru Birdsinging Club (The Hasselblad shots)

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2018-19-Hassie-010082018-19-Hassie-01007The Leica User Group Singapore (LUGS) organized an outing last week (7 April 2008) to the Kebun Baru Birdsinging Club.

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The Hassie came to the party loaded with a roll of Cinestill 50D. Here is the result. The Kebun Baru Birdsinging Club is  place in Amg Mo Kio, central Singapore, where bird lovers have their pets compete. In both singing and look competition.

It is a beutiful places with both shadow areas with low hanging bird cages but also a wide open space with high poles were cages are hoisted by a pulley system.

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(The above rectangular shot is due to an issue with the Hassie back frame spacing)

On competition days judges are walking between the birds and give notes.

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Read more at https://kebunbarubirdsingingclub.weebly.com/about-us.html

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Also a nice opportunity for people watching.

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Kebun Baru Birdsinging Club (The Hasselblad shots)