Damien Hirst: Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

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Aspect of Katie Ishtar ¥o-landi

So holidays are over, and after a one week business trip to Philippines I am back home where I can start processing my pictures. Let me start by saying that I enjoyed very much the Leica Kit that I wrapped in my last post (The summer bag). Sadly the 90mm did not get much use (apart from some marmots)  and my sensor is dusty so every shot with some blue sky needs editing.

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Let me start by a small post about the exhibition “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” the latest work of Damien Hirst at Foundation Pinault both at Palazzo Grassi and at la Punta Della Dogana. This is off the Biennale, but probably the most striking work to be seen in Venice this year.

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Gilded Medusa head

Hirst exhibitions is a colossal collection of the old world wonders as they have been recovered from a wreck in Easter Mediterranean sea. The exhibition boasts the “original” treasures as recovered, some footage of the salvaging, some artifacts redone as new.

This fictional (needless to say) story and the amount (in quantity, variety of materials and size) of the objects in display is mesmerizing, whatever anyone can think of Hirst work. If you still have time don’t hesitate to go.

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Silver Unicorn skull

The ticket covers both exhibitions, but frankly the exhibition at Punta Della Dogana is superior to the Palazzo Grassi, so if you have to chose… The Palazzo offers two major items, a colossal status of three stores high (below) and a piece inspired by the haircut of Yolandi from the band “Die Antwort” and teh bust of the artist girlfriend (so was I said, but I did not have a chance to check).

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You can check  http://www.palazzograssi.it/

Note also that the building at the Punta Della Dogana is a 17th century warehouse refurbished by Tadao Ando, this by itself is worth visiting.

All shots with Leica M262 with Summicron 28mm or 50mm.

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Damien Hirst: Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

The summer bag

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So here are summer holidays and it is time to pack the camera bag. Where to start ? Minimal or not minimal? When will I finally go in the field with one body one lens? Ok, let me cut it short: not today. But to keep of suspense, let me start with the bag. I have been carrying around the Crumpler 5 Mio dollar home since 2010, and it was a wonderful bag, it can carry one M body with an extra lend or two or you can cramped two M bodies with lens attached or even and M and the Hassie. But you cannot add much more: wallet, sunglasses, specs, flying documents cannot really fit. And after all these years, the hip side has a nice hole, and after 3 trips in the washing machine it is a bit shabby. Kudo’s to Crumpler, but they no longer do these inconspicuous bags nor the bit bigger 6Mio dollar home.

The web is a hell when you look for camera bag, I have been there man times. So this time I picked up a Scout Shoulder bag from Wotancraft at the nice Rice Ball photo shop. (https://www.wotancraft.com/product/scout-charcoal-black) made in Taiwan. More expensive than Crumpler, fits both for town and country. Can fit the ideal combination of two Leica M bodies with lens attached and an extra lens or two. Papers, wallet, specs and sunglasses fit as well.

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So I think I betrayed myself, the travel will consist of the Leica M262 and the M6 with my new 50mm Summicron, the 28mm Summicron and the 90mm Elmarit. Some various rolls of films are waiting for me in France for the M6.

BW I’m going to the south of France, both to the sea and the mountain, also to Venice, so I’ll have plenty to shoot. Let me make a guess, the 90mm will get less than 10% usage, the 28mm 40% max, the 50mm will get the rest.

So what is happening to the D700 Kit? I had the pleasure to shoot a couple of events this year and if performed perfectly as usual (of course the high ISO is lacking behind now compared to more modern cameras), and the M262 will not allow me to do this. But frankly I think I am done with it: I no longer carry it for casual street shooting, I did not brought it on holidays for two years now. It is big, bulky, the whole set with my zooms and fixed lenses weight a ton, and frankly nobody will miss the shots that the Leica does not allow me to do. So I think we’ll part our ways, so long my friend, I like your well-worn look and the colors of your sensor, but it is time to move. We traveled Asia together the last 7 years and had a lot of fun.

D700 was introduced in 2008 and the M240 (on which the M262 is built) in 2012; Leica being a bit lagging behind in term of bodies I think they are quite probably comparable; I missed the M10 by a year.

(To be continued)

The summer bag

St Matthew’s Church – Neil Road

Small walk to Neil Road a few weeks back  to check the intriguing architecture of the old abandoned St Matthews Church.

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Most of the information here is taken from Remember Singapore  a great site about things of the past in Singapore.

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The original church was built in the 1890’s as a place of worship for the British sailors.

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It operated though all the first half of the 20th Century, including the Japanese occupation during WWII.

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In the late fifties, St Matthew’s embarked on a re-building plan of its main church building.

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Designed with a distinctive Modern style, the new double-storey building consisted of a prayer hall on top of a large function room. It also possessed an unique vertically protruding roof that looked like a ship’s prow, and a tall concrete bell tower that was erected beside the main chapel.

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The bell was removed sometime in the 2000’s.Flickr-1006999

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Also, after the war, St Matthew’s Church carried out plans to, expand its premises, including the construction of a vicarage and a kindergarten was also built in the early fifties.

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The new kindergarten was designed in simple Art Deco-style; it had a sloping roof laid with terracotta Marseilles tiles and timber windows with louvers.

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Color pictures Leica M262 ; B&W pictures Leica M4 with Kotak TMAX 100.

Wide angle Summicron 28mmF2 Asph ; normal lens Summicron 50mm F2 type V

St Matthew’s Church – Neil Road

A Roll of Rollei ATP 32

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Rollei ATP (Advanced Technical Pan) 1.1 is advertised as an extremely high-resolution black and white fine grain film. This film is characterized by fine grain, high sharpness and variable contrast. It has a nominal sensitivity of ISO 32/16°.

The roll was shot with the Leica M6 and mostly a Summicron 28.

It is a  (super) panchromatic film, ie have a sensibility to all the visible wavelength as opposed to orthochromatic which have a specific sensibility to red.

This is the second roll I shot in 35mm and as you can see from the label is has passed the expiration date by 2 years, but was kept in the fridge. As usual my rolls go to the shop (Ruby photo in Singapore) and do not get any special processing.

Back from the shop it is evident the roll is underexposed, blame the 2 years expiry or the failing batteries on the M6? I cannot say. But all in all a bit under.

The first 3 pictures were taken in the afternoon, on a rather sunny day, in Mac Ritchie reservoir in central Singapore. I really like the metallic rendering of these pictures, particularly the second one. The first one has something special in the richness of the grey tones which is very pleasing.

The picture above is very different, under midday sun a family scene a the skate park. Hard sun, not ideal conditions, but the contrast is not as harsh as with the Rollei 25 RPX. Very pleasing.

Same goes for the above; hard light, wide range of grey.

Above the heritage buildings on Petain Court. And below the Summicron wide open on an overcast day. Very nice definition.

Finally the last picture below, and the revelation of why I liked this roll very much : these negative scans (with the now outdated Epson v500) have a rendering close to a wet print. I think it is done to the total range but also something special in the depth of the blacks.

I checked the results of the first roll that I shot 3 years ago with the defunct NikonF4s. The pictures are showing the same smoothness, high resolution and deep darks, and a bit undeexposed. So, with the Rollei Retro 80s this is a very good choice of film for a change. I will order some Medium format rolls to check with the hassie.

Finally, what can you shoot at 32 ISO? On a sunny day with a F2 lens ? Anything. But when the sun goes out you better have another body at hand. So it can be quite frustrating at times.

Oh and where to get some? No idea where you can buy some in Singapore. In France I order mine from http://www.mx2boutique.com/ , there is also https://www.macodirect.de/en/ in Germany.

A Roll of Rollei ATP 32

Eve of Vesak Day in Brigh Hill temple – Singapore

For Buddhists Vesak Day marks the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. This is my very first time at Bright hill temple ; it is a huge compound in the center of Singapore.

Bright Hill temple also known as Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, is famous for the “3 Steps 1 Bow ceremony” on the eve of Vesak Day.

Above are monks who are opening the procession. The ceremony starts at 5pm and takes 2 and half hours to complete ending with the monks back in the main hall blessing the devotees with water.

Monks are followed by lay people who will queue all evening and a big part of the night. One people I know said he will go at 3am.

Below people queuing at the start of the procession

 

The main halls are also the occasion to pray and give offerings; mostly candles.

During the day itself, ritual is generally the bathing of the Buddha.

Most shots done with Leica M262 and Summicron 28mm, close ups with Elmarit 90mmF2.8.

Some film shots (with black border) done with Leica M6 on Fuji Xtra 800ISO with same lenses.

How to get there: Bright Hill is quite central  (like in the middle of the island) but may take some time to reach. You can get a bus there (check gothere.sg) which will take close to one hour from CDB or take a cab (more of less 15 SGD).

Devotees and temple staff are quite photo friendly, so as long as you are decently dressed and don’t go in the middle of ceremony you feel welcome to shoot. There is actually a small crowd of photographers.

Eve of Vesak Day in Brigh Hill temple – Singapore

A morning in Myanmar

During our trip to Chiang Rai one of the most exciting activities available is to walk into Burma, for a few hours only. Driving one hour from our resort in Chiang Saen (already one hour north of Chiang Rai), we arrive in the Mae Sai checkpoint where it is possible to cross the border and enter Myanmar at Tachileik.

This in the Shan State; Tachileik boasts 50000 inhabitants.

Crossing the border is allowed provided that you leave your passport at the border and pay a nominal fee. Overnight stay is not permitted and I read that guesthouses in the border areas of Myanmar are not allowed to host foreign tourists.

The area close to the checkpoint has a busy market where Thai and Chinese tourists like to shop, for cheap counterweight of handbags, watches and so on. We rode a tuck tuck outside of this area in a more rural side of the city with its food market.

Aside from the usual colorful street life, a nearby covered market, shows more food stalls.

But also some fashion shops; tailors, housewares,…

A few streets from there, a Buddhist monastery, hosts young and old monks who were having their lunch when we arrived. There we could witness the ceremonial of meals, who its first, who last who eats what is not eaten by the others.

The main attraction in Tachileik may well be the replica of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Situated on a small hill. There are a few tourist / devotee stalls outside and food stalls on the parking.

One of the food stalls around the pagoda.

I tried one of these sweet pancakes, delicious. Grilled for you on the spot on the ground of the parking.

Our guide was very knowledgeable or the area and spoke fluent Burmese which made the experience very enjoyable.

3 hours in Myanmar, a new Stamp on our passports, time to head back in Thailand.

All shots with Leica M262 and Summicron 28mmF2.

A morning in Myanmar

Chiang Saen – Thailand

So I finally shot the roll of Velvia 50 that has been sitting in the fridge for nearly two years. As around 20 SGD from the shop plus 13 for processing, this does not come cheap so I was waiting for an occasion to put it at good use. It made the trip to Chamonix last year but flew back to the fridge due to terrible weather in french alps.

I finally used it during the recent trip in Sunny Thailand. I used a Leica M6 classic and most of the pictures here are done with the Summicron 28mm. The film was shot at box speed.

Scanning the slides does probably not give them justice, I think that slides are better projected or printed in Cibachrome (who remembers this?) Here they look like nice digital shots, what they are at the end of the day. Scanned on the Epson v500, they look very close to what I can get out of the M262.

For people my age (50+), shooting travel on slides, reminds or the time where our dad or uncle keen on photography was bringing tons or slides from exotics places he visited and embark us for then boring evenings or projections (including oddly synched soundtracks)

Nowadays I the slides are shoot are mostly Rollei; they are more affordable. Both Rollei and Fuji have color casts one scanned, Fuji in the pink , Rollei on the yellow. On this set of late afternoon pictures in Chiang Saen, the cast is quite pleasant and I did not try to correct it too much.

The meter of the M6 (with new batteries) is doing a good job as only one slide of the roll was badly exposed. Counter-intuitively, slides who are notorious for being picky with exposure are better shot under exposed, the opposite to print film which likes to be a little over.

Chiang Sen, is situated in the most northern part f Thailand inside the Golden Triangle notorious for opium trafficking and more. Situated 1 hour from Chiang Rai and 5 hours drive from Chiang Mai, it is  nice city along the mekong where the 3 countries (Laos, Myanmar and Thailand) meet.

I read once that in the 21st Century, slides are the only serious reason to still shoot film. This may not be totally true, but it is probably the type of film which competes the best with commonplace high end digital image.

Chiang Saen – Thailand