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

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

Warorot Market – Chiang Mai – Thailand

Last holidays trip was in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. This is my second trip there and I love place. This is the second time I travel with a Leica kit both Film and Digital. I have two bodies a M6 and a M262, a 28 Summicron, a 35 Summaron F2.8, an old Summilux 50 v2 and an Elmarit 90F2.8.

2 Bodies, 4 lens that sounds a lot and actually I packed the big Crumpler 8 Mio dollar bag. It is a bit over-sized, but then I have room for papers, wallet, reading and sun glasses and on the flight I can pack in a book, you can probably pack a tablet as well. I am proud I resisted the urge to buy a new bag.

I shot 4 rolls of film and a few hundred (but less than 1K) digital frames; this first set was done inside the Warorot market with the M6 and mainly the Summilux; film is the Kodak TMY 400.

I like the TMY400 for its low grain and slightly lower contrast that the Tri-x. I think all in all these shots turn out to be quite pleasant.

The Summilux is suffering from back focusing on the M262 but that does not show at all on the film shots.

People in the market are quite friendly, actually it is quite a touristic spot so the view of a tourist with a camera is not news.

I try to follow the advice of pro photographer Bobby Lee : let people know you are here, that you want to take a picture of them or their activity, but once they agree (or ignore you) don’t just snap and run away; as they don’t bother the least you can do is hang around until you have a good shot.

All scanned with the now antique Epson v500

 

Warorot Market – Chiang Mai – Thailand

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

The Kiev IV is still alive

The end of 2016 was fast approaching and looking at the treasure chest (and my spreadsheet of films shots during the year), I looked at camera who had not went to the field.

The Kiev IV is one of them, and I felt the next trip to Dakota was a good opportunity to take it for a spin. I loaded a roll of Tri-X and pocketed (so to speak) the body, the 50F2 and the 35F2.8.

My Kiev now has a new skin (no more mummy look), and no more light leaks (fingers crossed). So it does not look to shabby anymore and is quite a usable device.

The light-meter on mine is dead, or maybe is it too complicated to use. I find the speed control very difficult to use, and difficult to read with my poor eyesight at close range. The rangefinder with its lighting window below the shutter is not great as I always have a tendency to obscure it with a finger or the other.

I always like the images that the Kiev produces, my two lenses are very sharp, the rangefinder when not blocked, is very accurate. The speeds on my copy are quite on as well. But this fellow stays in the cupboard (actually a giant Tupperware) because of its not so friendly controls (speed change, shutter button, lens change, winding, loading of film). I think it even compares negatively to the Leica III.

This says I love the pics, I may get rid of my set this year, it may be a cheap entry  level rangefinder for someone else, who knows.

About Dakota Crescent estate, you can read more on other posts, around mid-December the place is quite empty now.

This is a roll shot with the Kiev IV Camera, Jupiter 35 or 50 lens on Kodak TRI-X.

Scanned at home on Epson v500.

The Kiev IV is still alive

Bye Bye Dakota

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For the last post of the year, I will show you pictures of a small walk I did at Dakota Crescent estate in Singapore.

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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.

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The blocks have some interesting feature, some inherited form modernist lines. The most well known feature is the “dove” play ground.

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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.

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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.

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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.flickr-013flickr-014flickr-019flickr-026flickr-027flickr-028flickr-030flickr-031flickr-1003444flickr-1003463flickr-1003489flickr-1003484flickr-1003486flickr-1003488flickr-1003493flickr-1003500flickr-1003491

 

Bye Bye Dakota

FilmNeverDie.com – Shirokuro 400 film

Give me a hand – Wide Open, a bit OOF, quite smooth

One of the pleasures of shooting film is trying different films when you come across some. When I was last in Melbourne, I stumbled by complete chance upon the shop / gallery of FilmNeverDie.com.

Thai Smile – very grainy probably under exposed

These are die shard film fans, with a collection of vintage cams on display, a fridge well stocked with various emulsions but I was also told by Gary, who looks to be the guy in charge, that they will soon launch their own film. Soon being very soon, Gary sold me two rolls and here are the results of the first one. I also bough a JapanCameraHunter JCH StreetPan roll, that will be for another day.

Sungei Road Golden hour

 

Apart from the label saying C41 and the indication “made in Belgium” the label of the lab and myself were not able to decipher what film it is. I am not aware of C41 films made by Agfa, the only Belgium factory, so this is news for me. But I am just an amateur so who knows.

Stacking up – Sungei Road

The film turns out quite grainy and the negatives show low contrast (I mean there are no white areas, the lighter areas being 30% grey), the scans are looking quite ok though and maybe the exposition was not so great. I used the Nikon F with one of my prisms that does not meter and an old Goosen meter. I will shot my second film more carefully.

Standard Ti Shaw
Trishaw handle bar close up. Grainy but quite pleasing

The result is quite interesting and will probably appeal to the crowd of street photographers that  like grain and “gritty” look.

IAmCeno2 mural on Funan destruction site. Nice rendering to my taste

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Shirokuro 400 – Black and White chromogenic film c-41 process 35mm 27 exposure film

FilmneverDie.com: 2/640 Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD, 3000

FilmNeverDie.com – Shirokuro 400 film