A tour around Taipei

I am cleaning a bit of my backlog, and found on my work-space some remaining pictures of our Taiwan trip back in Feb/March.

The only day we decided to take a tour with our friendly guide was also the only rainy day of the trip so it ends up being a no so great experience.

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We took off from our hotel in Daan and headed to the North West, to visit what I believe is the Wufeng Lin Family Mansion and Garden. A historical house and garden from a rich Taiwanese family.

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This is a very nicely preserved house, a quite interesting visit, not a good as the Lin Family mansion in Banqiao  district but still a nice thing to see.

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We then drove down to see the change of the guard at the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine, but we arrived too late, and the rain started. Continuing further west we stopped in Beitou, a suburb of Taipei known for its hot springs

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The place made its living through mining and hospitality, including bath and spas.

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There is a very nice museum is an old bath house, including the beautiful pool below.

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At this point we headed along the Tamsui River to the fisherman’s wharf for lunch. We did not find anything much exciting, had a sandwich and then a long walk, without rain, before finding our car again.

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The last stop was Tamsui old street, that we reached after visiting the interesting Fort San Domingo, showing an interesting display of the colonial times. By then the weather started to be very.

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We nevertheless spent a good hour walking along the Tamsui River and through the old street with a stop at the beautiful Longshan temple, above and below.

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Finally, after a nice Taiwan beer in a dry place, we happily headed back to the city and our hotel ( probably the rain stopped along the way ).

All shots Leica M262, Summicron 28/50/35, it was another day where the weather was not enticing to pull out the M6 and play with two cameras.

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A tour around Taipei

A rainy afternoon at Barbican Estate – London

L1008013One of the thinks I wanted to visit during my last trip to London was Barbican Center.

The estate is an example of Britsh Brutalist architecture built between the 1960s in an area once devastated by World War II bombings. Opened in 1969 and is now home to around 4,000 people living in 2,014  apartments. The residential estate consists of three tower blocks and 13 terrace blocks. You can read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbican_Estate

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I cant remember having been there in my many trips to London when I was younger, I probably spent most of my time around Camden, Soho and Portobello road.

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I finally reached the place on a rainy afternoon ; weather and timing were no really photography friendly. I did not take any film shots and I think I only used the 35 and 35 summicrons. I regret not having pulled out the M6 loaded with Tri-x from the bag, but it was really feeling cold and wet at the time

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The place is really majestuous in its own way, it has been shot many times and its probably great for on location shots. The brutalist style is characterized by the usage of concrete on the outside parts of the buildings.

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There are a lot of different constructions, passages and angles which can provide a great variety of subjects.

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How to get there? Easy : Barbican is an underground stop on the Circle line, Hammersmith & City line and Metropolitan line.

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A lot of details of the architecture and decoration are surely work a look as the lift lobby above (where does this flare come from?)

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There are plenty of resources online about the estate, even some BBC programs about life in the estate.

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All shots taken with Leica M262 and summicrons 28mm Asph v1 and 35mm Asph v2

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A rainy afternoon at Barbican Estate – London

Taoist ceremony in Dihua old street – Taipei – Taiwan

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I was very lucky last march in Taipei to stumble upon this Taoist ceremony while visiting the Dihua street area with my family and local friends.

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I must admit my ignorance of Taoism, so I will not comment much here. Teh following blog post contains quite interesting information on Taoism in Singapore :

http://weecheng.com/singapore/9eg/index.htm

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Various groups are parading their idols or images of gods around the area of Taipei Xiahai City God Temple.

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Most of the groups as below have musicians, Taoism is noisy and colorful, I learned this a long time ago when I arrived in Singapore.

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This group has gods puppets dance in front of the temple.

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Another group was composed of young people dressed as what looks lie warriors.

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This group traditionally rock the sedan chair when the image of the god is carried, portraying their struggle with the superhuman force possessing the chair once the god has come to posses its image.

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Taipei Xiahai City God Temple

All shots with Leica M262 and Summicron 50v4 or 35Asphv2

 

Taoist ceremony in Dihua old street – Taipei – Taiwan

Toa Payoh Markets

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Saturday Low Che Ng, the man behind the facebook group “Lets shoot Film SG” organized an outing in Toa Payoh area in central Singapore ; mostly visiting two markets (apparently there are more around there)

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I packed a bit too much gear, but mostly for this post, I shot two rolls of Cinestill 800 with the Hasselblad 500cm and 80mmF2.8. The films were processed in express by one of the labs we still have here : Konota. They were scanned at home on the Epson v800 and Silverfast, using the Portra 400 VC 6×6 profile.

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I never really managed to get perfect exposure with the 800T, but generally I shoot them at 640 and process at box speed, giving it a bit of over exposure. The markets were very nicely lit and indoor and shots were generally done at 1/125 F4.

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The Jackfruit man

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The first market has a first floor hosting a few stalls and giving a nice view of the ground level.

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The reluctant model (I will print and bring her the picture in order to appease her)

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For outdoors shot I did not use any filters. Just a bit of post processing in Lightroom ; it looks like the color rendering is quite OK.

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These two rolls are dating back from the kick-starter project of the Cinetstill 120 format, it appears they survived nicely in the fridge (there are 3 more there).

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The second market (Toa Payoh Lor 7 Market I think)  is a bit smaller in term of food but the hawker center was quite busy and nobody seemed too bothered by six photographer hanging around.

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The amount of detail in the shots is amazing despite of the grain, in the shot above at full size, you can see the cigarette butt glowing.

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A lot of sitting and waiting it seems.

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And playing with phones

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At the back was a small shrine attended by the lady with the green hat.

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And finally a stall selling the king of fruits : Durian.

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As for every activity in Singapore we have a fodd break, tasting an amazing carrot cake at xin ji fried carrot cake (for non Singaporeans you have to google to check what this is, and come around to try it) .

I also did two half rolls of B&W in 35mm so maybe you will hear more about the Toa Payoh markets soon.

Toa Payoh Markets

London on Film

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I spent a week in London recently with my family and brought the usual travel kit (Leica M, M262 and the Summicrons 28mm Asp, 35 Asph v2 and 50mmv5), I brought a nice set of films but in the end I did not shoot much, only a roll of TriX and half a roll of Portra  400. And on digital as we are here I took a mere 300 shots.

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Looking at the TriX shots I am quite pleased; as usually they have been dropped for processing at Ruby photo in Singapore and scanned at home ; but when I was there I was a bit puzzled about what or who to shoot.

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On one hand I am so used to travel in Asia that I am a bit lost in European cities, I am not sure about people reactions to the camera (I like candid shots), but also I think the whole way the big city works need so getting used to. So a bit of frustration. Maybe also my expectations were a bit too high, who knows.

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London as changed a lot since I was last there 14 years ago. The south bank area is so lively now, also packed with tourists and street performers.

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Asian tourists selfy-ing themselves are everywhere, but that’s the same all over the planet. Here at the Borough Market, a place that I never saw before, this is definitely a good area to shoot.

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There are many food stalls there.

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Some attractions on South Bank are using old lorries that are worth a shot imo. I only realized today that the London eye was reflecting on the bonnet of the lorry, I would have framed it better if I have known.

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A morning stroll in SOHO, is also a nice opportunity for people shooting.2019-22-M6-15-22

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Or just window shopping.2019-22-M6-15-27

In the places I never visited before was Ealing Broadway, home of the Ealing Studios who produce(s/d) cinema and television shows.

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Finally another happy discovery was Old Spitalfields Market that I visited the day of the vintage records market.

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A couple more Portra shots below:

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London on Film

You can’t hurry love (About the VC Color Skopar 21mm F4)

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A few weeks back I was in Riceball Photography shop where our friend Leon tempted me with the new Voigtlander 21mmF3.5. This is a beautiful lens, particularly with the metal hood attached. I had a try on my M262 in the corridor of the mall (below) and also a week later on the M6 (above).

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I was very enthusiast about the test shots, very sharp, no distortion to my eyes, no color shift on the digital sensor, unlike the test I did of the old Super Angulon F4 a couple weeks before (see below).

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At a price of about 800USD, even when adding the hood (100USD) and the finder (200 USD for 21-25 metal finder), this is a steal for a bout a third of the price of the next Leica lens.

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VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

At this point I came back to my senses and remembered that I bought a 21mmF4 Color Skopar back in 2013, to fit the Leica IIIc. This lens did not get a lot of love for the following reasons : the plastic finder is shait and was replaced once and repaired twice, the color banding on the digital bodies is awful, more subjectively I have a bit of difficulty with the 21mm : I always end up with skewed perspectives that I don’t like very much and also, yes, 21mm is very wide.

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Street shot : VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder : 21mm is wide but gives very dynamic shots

So the reasoning was that, as I have a 21mm already, why not try to address the finder issue first and if I still don’t love the 21mm then there is no point getting a new one. Of course that does not address the digital issue, but everything in its own time.

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Vertical framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

So lets hunt for a 21mm finder. There is a bit of  choice on the market : the plastic VC, the metal 21-25 VC, the old Leica in plastic or metal version, the Leica Universal Wide Finder. Ken Rockwell vouches for the plastic version of the Leica, but I ended up with the VC metal version that Riceball provided me in two weeks.

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More vertical framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

The VC metal finder is a nice piece of kit. It feels very good in the hand, (it better for about 200 USD), fits the cameras (IIIc, M6 and M262) and provide a nice view. I immediately tried it on the digital body and on two rolls of film. and I must say I am pleased with the results.

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Horizontal framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder
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More Horizontal framing ( VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder)
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More vertical and back light( VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder)

So now what about the 21mm? Well I will probably have to shoot more before I decide, but already I think going back to my VC 21F4 by buying a new finder was a smart move : shall I love the 21mm and get the new lens, I already have a finder, shall I want to sell it I have a full kit now, or maybe I can just stick with the 21F4 for a  while.

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The 21 is very (very very) wide, the three street shots in this page were taken at about 2 to 3 meters from the subjects and they feel like I was miles away, so I will really need to step very close for my candid shots.

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I generally shoot 28, 35 and 50 Summicrons, so I must say that F4 is not mindblowing, but this is minor. On another hand the 21F4 is very tiny and pleasant to use, so I feel very comfortable when walking around that I look inconspicuous.

On a final note about the color shifting on digital bodies, some of the Leica profiles help correct it, I think one the 28mm F2.8 profile provides better results that others, have try.

  • Film color shots done on Kodak Portra 160NC with Leica M6 Classic
  • B&W shots done on Kodak TriX with Leica M6 Classic
You can’t hurry love (About the VC Color Skopar 21mm F4)

MCPHERSON “LEGO”BUILDINGS on slide

This is the second roll shot with the Hasselblad during the outing to Mc Pherson area. The Lego buildings at this point were behind us, so not too many shots of the “Mondrian” colorful pattern here.

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Shots are done with the faithful Hasselblad 500cm, with 80mmF2.8 and I used a more than 2 years expired roll of Rollei CR200 .

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When I collected the slides from the shop I watched them on light box there and they really looked brilliant. Once scanned I must say I am a bit disappointed, maybe not trying hard enough.

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I  think the high contrast of the slides make it difficult to scan.

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Also the weather started to turn a bit more cloudy and the colors less saturated.

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This type of shots may benefit from using a tripos as well.

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2019-18-Hassie-6-9  Being a slow shooter I did not finished the film that day so I carried the Hassie in Lavender area the following week and walked from there to my fav lab t bring the roll

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Tibetan Buddhist  temple in Beaty lane

I love this area, I used to hang around there weekly until two years ago, it goes under a slow gentrification, but still very interesting with its workshops, warehouses, small shops, bars, coffee shops…

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One of the commercial buildings along Lavender road
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On Jalan Besar a shrine in front of a Feng Shui consultant

I don’t like the rendering of the next two shots, but sure they look vintage enough.

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Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple on Waterloo street
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Waterloo street life

All in all a nice set, but not as nice as the Portra roll of McPherson “Lego”buildings . It does not seem the film has suffered from being expired, but it was kept in the fridge most of the time.

MCPHERSON “LEGO”BUILDINGS on slide