Thaipusam 2020 – What to expect

2019-05-M6-05-33I am by no means a specialist of Hindu religion, so please forgive any mistakes, I am happy to be corrected. This is a a small guide for fellow shutterbugs on what to expect on next Thaipusan day.

This year Thaipusam falls on 8th of February, it is a Saturday so there is no excuse for not going out and shoot ; and Thaipusam offers many different photo opportunities.

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The Chariot at Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (2013 Nikon D700)

The eve of Thaipusam, on the Friday, the Chariot of the temple will take Lord Murugan for a day’s visit to his brother Lord Vinayagar at Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple on Keong Saik Road. Along the route, he stops at several places, including Sri Mariamman temple on South Bridge Road (Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple), to greet the goddess within, a manifestation of his mother. He then continues on to see his brother.

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On Clemenceau Avenue (2009 Nikon F4)

The Chariot leaves around 6pm and comes back around 9pm ; then it is parked in front of Tank road temple and visited by many devotees. Later in the night starts the Thaipusam procession : devotees start from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple (Serangoon Road aka SSPT) at 11.30pm.

Inside Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (2016 Leica M4 Cinestill 800)

Doors at Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (Tank Road aka STT) will open at 12.01am on 08/02/2020. You can enter the back of the temple and watch the priests opening the inner shrine, and then let the devotees came in and receive their blessings. The activity is quite low around that time but it gets busier around 2am.

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2019 inside STT (Leica M6 Ilford Delta 3200)

Devotees will keep on leaving the Serangoon Garden temple until midnight on Saturday. My usual routine is to reach Serangoon Road temple before 8am. The sun is still very low and and the light inside the temple is dim. The temple and the nearby parking area are used to set-up the kavadis of the devotees and prepare themselves for the procession. Groups are constantly setting up, so no pressure to shoot. All of this happens under canopies to the light can be tricky.

2011 Inside SSPT (Nikon D700)

You can follow one group all the way to Tank Road, or walk a bit faster and move from group to group. Beware, when you reach Clemenceau Avenue, the only way to get inside the temple is to queue with the devotees until you reach the temple. I never did it 10 years, but if you do you will be able to enter the temple by the front door.

2013 Ready to go (Hasselblad 500CM)

If you are not that brave enough, you can walk along the queue of the devotees and arrive at the back of the temple. Where you can see devotees exiting the temple then arriving at the rest are and disassembling the Kavadis. Moments of rest and relief.

2013 After the procession (Nikon F3)

Finally if you go on the path of the procession at night you will see lighted-up kavadis!

I have no idea of what happens at both temples after the last devotee leaves or arrives

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2018 – Leica M262 – 35mm Summicron asph v2 

So plan for a great day : you can shoot from Friday 6pm to Midnight on Saturday.

A few advises:

  • The Chariot procession can be fun, especially if you spot it in town or upon its return to Tank Road. But chasing it may be complicated.
  • The evening when the temple at Tank road open is interesting, I have been two or three time, I may skip it this year
  • During the day I prefer going the morning like getting ready to shoot at 8am for a couple of hours
  • You can spent another hour at the disassembly area

Practical: the places will be busy, many visitors attend all stages of the event, and many buddy photographers, hot (but I never felt the need to bring water), and yo have to leave your shoes outside of the temples (I don’t mind, but you can also bring flip flops and put them in your bag)

Technical stuff: I shot with DSLR (from 17 to 200 mm), SLR, Leica film and digital and the Hasselblad. This is a busy event, so you don’t have much time to fiddle around. Last year I shot only with 35 and 50mm, with a couple of shots on 28. With 28 and 35 you get a lot of “noise”  in the frame, maybe something around 80mm would be nice if you want to shoot portrait or the actual  moment piercings are performed (I am a bit less interested in this now). People are super friendly but I avoid to be too a nuisance and to thrust your camera in people face, show some respect.

For film: I used 400 ISO for B&W in the temple in the morning , for the night events I used 3200 Kodak TMZ or Ilford Delta and Cinestill 800.

For more information you can visit the Hindu Endowments Board website https://heb.org.sg/

You can see some of my past posts on Thaipusam here.

Thaipusam 2020 – What to expect

A night trip to Senoko fishery port

So after the Road Side vegetables market of Toa Payoh we are heading north to Senoko fishery port. There is wholesale fish market providing stock from local fish trawlers, in-shore vessels and fish farms as well as imported sources, and distributes to markets, supermarkets, food courts and restaurants across Singapore

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The market is located at 31 Attap Valley Road, Singapore 759908; east to Woodlands checkpoint. It is lucky hat one of my friends was driving otherwise it would have been  difficult to get there and back.

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Around midnight the market starts to be busy. Individuals come here for cheaper seafood particularly in this time coming up to Chinese new year.L1009668

But the market is also preparing orders for hawkers, wet markets and the restaurants of Singapore.

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The place is busy, the ground slippery, that’s a nice small adventure.

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You can find different products types, like crabs, prawns and fish from all types.

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Each company have its own delimited concrete square , with scales and a boss, noting down orders

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The work of others is always a nice show to behold.

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People are quite friendly, I did not really go asked not to take a picture, but the place is very busy so mind not standing in the way.

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Prawns or shrimps arriving and being thrown to the ground. They will be sorted manually later.

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Outside more fish is coming.

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Ice is a big business here.

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All shots Leica M262, Summilux 50mmv2

A night trip to Senoko fishery port

Singapore road side market

L1009624I was a bit surprised when I was invited by my friend KC Eng to a night outing starting in the a “road side wholesale market” in the center of Singapore.

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The market is located in Toa Payoh area which is in the central part of the city, it is open six days a week from around 11pm to 6.30am. It is closed on Sundays.

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From 11pm the stalls are set-up, the vegetables align of tarpaulin.

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… and customers start to gather

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This is supposedly a wholesale market, so you sea the hawkers sorting and preparing big packs of vegies, probably for smaller merchants.

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Sorting bhindies (or okra or lady-fingers) at the light of torch light.

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dreamy green leaves (Summilux wide open)

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More greens.

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Chives for our guide.

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For this challenging light, I picked up the Summilux 50mm V2, not the fasted lens to use, but the widest I own. Combined with Iso set to 2000 on the M262, I can shoot between 1/30 and 1/125.

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Some wide open shots are very soft and the dark areas can show some banding.

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and now its past midnight and time head to the Senoko fisheries port, but this is another story.

Singapore road side market

Christmas in Vietnam (Roll 1)

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I think this one  is a great cover.

So off to Vietnam for Xmas 2019, for a bit of chilling time over Christmas. In the bag, the usual kit, M262, M6, 28,35 and 50 crons and of course a couple of Tri-x rolls.

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Hanoi is a great place to shoot. People are friendly and generally not photo  adverse. There are so many pictures to take, that if you cannot take one, just walk to the next.

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As usual, the M6 is most often mounted with the 50 cron, that ensures a reasonable distance for candid shots.

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Street side food vendors and their patrons are still a great subject.

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I was last in Hanoi 10 years ago and the traffic has not changed, crossing the roads still feels like an adventure and motorcycles are omnipresent.

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We arrived late on Christmas eve, so our first outing was a walk to Saint Joseph Cathedral on Christmas day. The mass was already going on when we reached and people were standing outside of the church. 2019-38-M6-23-12

After the service an orchestra was playing outside.

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A good opportunity for selfies.

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We walked down to the Metropole hotel, where the two Citroen below are standing guard. I stayed there 10 years ago, and at that time  they could be sent to fetch you from the airport in style.2019-38-M6-23-17

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Grab delivery men are ubiquitous through the city

We then walk north in direction of Long Bien bridge, going through the old quarter.2019-38-M6-23-21

Among many, I met these local photographers and we took shots of each others.

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Finally we made it to Long Ben bridge.

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Where I met the two young film photographers below.

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Hey this was a long post. Be reassured the next roll is not as good.

Christmas in Vietnam (Roll 1)

Roll 37 of year 2019 – Hanging around Singapore

This is one of the last rolls of 2019, finished on the 31st December morning.

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Hong San See temple celebration

It is a Kodak Portra 400, shot with the Sumaron 35mm F3.5 lens on the Leica IIIc.

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Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple

As usual I shot the roll over two weeks, I was lucky on the first day to stumble upon a ceremony at Hong San See temple around the corner, where deities coming from China to be worshiped here were sent back home by the lion head lorry. A few moments later I went to Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple in Chinatown for a the temple consecration ceremony after its renovation.

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Rainbow

December is a wet month in Singapore, umbrellas are out (and colorful).

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Focused

Pre-Christmas the Orchard road shopping area was busy.

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Girls in uniform

At the “wings” watering hole in Clark quay I finally managed a decent picture of girls in uniform. I just printed it for them, to give away next time I walk by. This was shot wide open at 1/60 or 1/30.

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Banana
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To the top

The newly opened Funan mall with its climbing wall is just around the famous Peninsula shopping center with its many cameras shop and my fav lab.

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I like the Portra for many reasons, I think it is very good for shots as above with muted colors.

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Orange is the new black

Christmas is also an opportunity to visit churches for office or to watch the Christmas cribs.

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Off to work
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Burning Angel

Finally on the 31st of Dec, I carried the M4 along, to finish the roll. This was to Chinatown again with a group of photographers. Weather was just great.

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I must say I also love the Portra for its saturated colors.

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All shots, Leica IIIC, with the Summaron 35mmF3.5 LTM lens and assorted 35mm Viewfinder. Kodak Portra 400

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Leica IIIc, Summaron 35mmF3.5 with filter, hood and viewfinder

Scanned at home with Epson v800

Dropped for processing at Ruby Photo (not sure who does the actual processing)

Roll 37 of year 2019 – Hanging around Singapore