5 weeks ! No much shooting this week. I still go out once a day to keep my sanity, but the repetition kills the creativity (if there was ever any).
The cocks and hens are also wandering in our park (fort Canning), but it seems as if they also feel that something is amiss and retreat in the trees (I learned a few years back in Eater Island that chickens like to fly and rest on trees, I am a city boy, I would have never guessed,…)
Marina Bay Sands viewed from the grounds or our condo displays its love for the country, but the 1 North Bridge Road building hides the middle pillar of MBS and the letter … guess.
We had a nice walk along the river Saturday when the light was going down and the sky and river were beautiful (if it was not for the crowd of joggers and cyclists on the walking path).
My wife noticed that the Fullerton hotel was for once only displaying the national flag, is it national pride or just the lack of foreign customers?
The last two shots in the CDB show how nice the light was on the office buildings and how a lens build around World War II can perform nowadays (even if back focusing).
All shots with Leitz Summitar 50mm F2.0 on Leica M262.
The soft lock down was extended two weeks ago until 1st of June, so all in all that will be 8 week of lock-down.
Conditions are a bit more strict, but all in all I cannot complain. I can work from home, we have plenty of hardware here so we don’t fight over PCs, and we can within reason go out if we wear a mask.
We are allowed to go out for shopping in the neighborhood or for exercise, which is flexible enough and can be used without abuse. We generally walk an hour at the end of the afternoon, go for our food shopping and go home.
The photographic practice is a collateral victim of the lock-down, I am quite busy with work, so I have no leisure to (re) invent a “shoot at home” activity, and while going out, there is not so much happening and we always roam the same aeras.
I have stopped shooting film after the first week : I do not process at home so there is no incentive until the labs open again. I am carrying the Leica M262 Body (Coming to its 4th birthday soon) and some vintage lenses : the Summaron 35mmF3.5 ltm on the first two shots and the Summitar 50mmF2 for the others.
The Summitar is back focusing a bit, but its quite easy to adjust after a couple of shots. Wide open it gets this “swirly” Bokeh, which is funny.
The colors for both lenses are quite nice, but unfortunately the weather is also pretty nasty, it generally rains lightly when I can go out.
What to shoot to show the emptiness and halted activities? Not much really. Although activity is very quiet and the traffic is noticeably smaller, it is rare to be able to picture a usually busy street that is empty.
But surely there are a lot of signs like the public areas where seats are blocked as above.
Or below, bar areas who are wrapped away.
Empty parking places in the city center are definitely a sign that something is going on.
Hairdressers which were ordered to close two week ago, will now reopen before the rest of the businesses.
Finally when reaching the river on the way back home today, there was a very nice light on the buildings of the city center.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
So this was the first day of the holidays; after the long-haul flight from Singapore to Nice and a night or rest, here I am driving up 2 hours from Cannes to Allos in the Parc of Mercantour in the southern french alps, a couple of boys day’s out with my son and my dad.
I had a couple of ideas of things to shoot on the way, including a stop at the railway station in Thorame Haute a stop on the “Train des pignes” that link Nice to Dignes-Les-Bains.
To our amusement, when we stepped out of the car a vintage steam train was parked along the station. It appeared it had to make a stop to let the regular train pass by as there is only one track in this area.
The people attending the train were very nice, happy to have a chat and camera friendly, hell they had 2 hours to kill
This train is kept by a non profit association it travels from May to October on Sundays.
For the last post of the year, I will show you pictures of a small walk I did at Dakota Crescent estate in Singapore.
Like Rochor Centre, Dakota is supposed to be demolished at the end of this year (so pretty soon). The estate belongs to the public housing administration (HDB), it was built in 1959 during the British area.
The blocks have some interesting feature, some inherited form modernist lines. The most well known feature is the “dove” play ground.
The estate is made of 17 blocks, some high rise, some lower rise, located closed between Old Airport Road and the Kaland river. Old airport road s the road that was leading to the airport that was used prior to the opening of Changi in the 1990’s I think.
As this time the buildings are more or less empty, ready to leave way for a new development (I ignore which). There will be more pictures of Dakota as I went there again last week. But that will be for 2017.
Color shots done with Leica M262 and Summaron 35mmF2.8; Back and white with leica M4 with Voightlander Color Skopar 21mmF4 or Summitar 50mmF2 on odak TMY 400 film.
So this is it 3 years after borrowing a M9, 2 years after renting a M240 and deciding it was not for me and I better buy a M6 (Which I did), I just turned 50 and offered myself a beautiful M262 and a Summicron 28mmF2.
On the first day I went out to the Kong Siak road festival and managed to catch the following shots with the Summilux 50mm VII.
A more elaborated review will follow shortly, but it was time to share those.
This is a small follow up of my last post where I related the purchase of the E-PL2. Since the I took the camera out a few times and actually for something “obsolete” is is not so bad.
The 4 shots in this post have been taken with the Canon Serenar 135mm F4. This is a quit ebay piece of kit I got from the web from 80 USD. It is likely to have been built between 1948 and 1952, and mine has a scaler in feet, which means it is an export version.
On the E-PL2, thanks to the crop factor of 2, this becomes a 270mm lens, by far my longest lens.
Despite my short sight focusing with reading glasses and the zoom feature is possible. I wonder is the EVF (Electronic view finder would help).
I still think that looking at full size there is some noise reduction happening and I prefer not to have it. But it may also just be the lens which is not that sharp and a bit hazy.
All shots taken in “auto” mode, the lens is best used at F5.6 or F8, ISO200, speed 1/640 and above
The first place we wanted to visit was Ayutthaya an ancient capital, which also happen to be a very busy industrial city, 90 KM north of Bangkok. We decided to sleep close the the airport (at the Novotel, so actually in the airport), and hire a driver and a guide for the day.
Ayutthaya has many interest, but mostly the Royal Palace and many temples. I have not posted any pictures of the Royal Palace, but actually it is not uninteresting. The vast compound is still supposed to be used today by the Royal Family. Constructions are of varying styles, and if your guide is knowledgeable and chatty as ours this makes for a nice visit.
Now more interesting are the temples; as in many big Thai city there are dozens of them; but due to time constraints we only visited 4; each very different.
After the visit of the Royal Palace, we headed to Wat Phanan Choeng. This is a big temple, famous for its (very) large, statue of sitting Buddha. This is a very busy temple specially on week ends; I am not sure if it is permanent but the day we visited the temple devotees were offering new orange robes for the Buddha. A extraordinary occasion to experience the devotion of Thai people.
Next we headed for lunch but nothing worth mentioning.
Someone at the photo lab tipped me that Saturday that the next day, there will be an alms ceremony at Wat Palelai, a Thai Buddhist Temple located in Bedok, in the east of Singapore.
Devotees stood around the yard of the temple and gave their offerings to the monks who made a procession around the yard.
Later the monks gathered at their dining room.
There was 30 to 50 monks for the ceremony but I think only 5 are permanently staying at the temple. Others are going through a temporary monk-hood.
This day was the fiftieth Singapore National Day, happy birthday Singapore. The ceremony was interrupted by the singing of the national anthem at 9am.
It was very nice to discover this temple and be able to attend this ceremony. I also met two people who always hang around the photo lab, so we could have coffee and chit chat a moment after the ceremony was over.
All black and white pics with Leica M6 and either 35mmF2.8 or 50mmF1.4. Film is Rollei RPX 400ISO. Scanned at home with Epson v500.
Color pics with the old faithful Nikon D700 with either the 85mm F1.8 or the 17-35 F2.8.