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

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Zhoujia Qingming

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

Japan Camera Hunter – JCH 400 FILM

During my trip to Melbourne where I discover the FilmNeverDie  shop, I bought a couple of rolls of their SHIROKURO but also one roll of JCH StreetPan 400 film (why only one?)! I am always looking forward to try new or uncommon films, this is part of the magic of chemistry of film photography, to make me expected something new and exciting that does not depend on my technical skills (if I have any) to happen on the roll.

You can find the announcement of the film and read more about it there.

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This does not look to be  a re-branded film as the negs have the mention JCH.

This is not a technical review, I am by noway an expert, I understand that pan chromatic does not mean much other than a reproduction similar to human eye. Not sure what this means for black and white. This film is supposed to have a higher sensibility to red and a low grain.

I loaded the roll in the newly repaired Leica IIIc, and the following shots are done during Chinese new year in Singapore using a Summitar 50mmf2 lens. The Summitar is a bit back focusing so this is probably not a proper set-up to judge the quality of the film, but I have a soft spot for the IIIc.

Exposure is measured with a handheld Sekonic 308s lighmeter.

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Peanut stall

This picture is shot under a red tent and gives for interesting palette of grey, probably due to the sensitivity to red.

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There’s a cow behind the bins

For those who wonder, this was processed by the usual lab used by Ruby photo, no idea what chemical they use.

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Cookie stall
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Fellow film shooter, using a Canon 7s and Summar 50mm (but I saw he has more tricks in his bag)

The grain is actually quite controlled, and the sharpness, if you keep in mind this is shot with a vintage soft lens, is quite good. I am not a big fan of high grain film like the TriX (although I use it a lot), and always preferred the soft TMAX100 or Fuji Acros

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Kueh shop

Actually the contrast is quite smooth, unlike the Rollei Retro 400s I used recently, so for higher contrast scenes it gives  nice gradation of grey.

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The ladies selling newspaper on Keong Saik Road
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Happy fellows
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Night shot in Chinatown, a Bakua shop
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Preparing for Chinese new year

Even this night shot with back-light could be salvaged and give a nice rendering.

All in all this is quite a satisfying experience, if I manage to get more rolls they’l deserve to be shot with a better camera like the M6 or the “never-fail” EOS 1N.

JCH has sold all his stock, so only retailers will have some rolls now, until more are produced. I don’t think anybody has some in Singapore but you can find a list of suppliers on the JCH web-site.

 

 

Japan Camera Hunter – JCH 400 FILM

Tiong Bahru Qi Tian Gong Temple

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The week end of the 17 Sep 2016 was the festival of Qi Tian Gong temple in Tiong Bahru . The temple is dedicated to the monkey god.

Outside the temple a scene for a Chinese Opera was set, they are not he photogs friendly Lao Sai Tao Yuan  but they were nice enough to let me in and have a few shots back stage.

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Nothing much happened for a while them I heard the procession come from afar (while sat in front a beer at Tiong Bahru Club)

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One of the interesting parts of the procession was the Indian band; Hindus also worship the Monkey God and this temple is said to have followers from many backgrounds.

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The lion was also part of the celebrations.

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That was also the opportunity to meet some friends and make some new ones . Thanks so Sylvie for the information on the event.

All shots with Leica M262, Summilux 50mmF1.4 or Summaron 35mmF2.8.

Tiong Bahru Qi Tian Gong Temple

The Fire Dragon – Part 1

“it all started as a riot”

 

I felt very lucky last week when a friend of my wife told us a bout a fire dragon performance organized by a temple in Balestier area in Singapore. In 9 years here I have never seen such a thing and was very thrilled to see one.

The Fu De Gong temple is located in Kim keat lane, very easy to access by bus. I have been told by the friendly member of the temple that this is a taoist temple. I did not see the actual temple as we arrived at night fall and the premises were covered by the tent hosting the celebration.

There was maybe a couple of hundred people attending, on one side of the tent was a stage with a Cantonese opera (or wayang) on the other side a large shrine and in the middle an area for the performances.

When we arrived a very good quality lion dance was in process and we enjoyed for a good half hour until the riot begin. From the end of the road the Dragon was approaching; with music and flames; until it finally enters the tent (but that’s another story)…

The Fire Dragon – Part 1

Lao Sai Tao Yuan – A Chinese Opera – Singapore

Lao Sai Tao Yuan; is said to be the oldest troupe in Singapore performing Teochew  opera or Wayang.

These shows are generally performed for the 7th month or during Chinese thanks giving during the mid autumn festival.

They are particularly friendly and you can go backstage to take pictures while they dress-up and do the make up.

All shots with Nikon D700 and Nikkor 85mm F1.8.

Lao Sai Tao Yuan – A Chinese Opera – Singapore

Around Chinatown for Chinese new year – Singapore

So the last week-end before the start of the year of the goat I went with the family in Chinatown. I brought the Leica IIIc and a couple of lenses actually 3.

Most of the shots below are done with the infamous back focusing Jupiter 8, 50mm f2.

Quite fun anyway.

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Chinatown is very busy around this time. People shop for food, decoration, or just stroll around.waex99-01029

These two guys selling chestnuts are here all year roundwaex99-01031

But other stalls are just temporary,

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Just selling nutswaex99-01019

or fruits in the side of the streetwaex99-01021

Some of the sellers are coming from China just for the event, or so have I been told.waex99-01022
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Sausages and cured meat stall.

This was the first time I use Kentmere 100 ISO film; reasonably cheap, I understand it is manufactured by Ilford now. As I rarely use Ilford product (except fro Pan 50 and Pan 400) I cannot really tel how it compares to FP4 for instance. Nothing to rave about, I’ll probably finish my stock and go back to Tmax or Rollei RPX 100.

Around Chinatown for Chinese new year – Singapore