Back to the monkey god temple

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Quality Lion dance that afternoon

Birthdays have the habit of coming back every year, so for the third time I think I find myself at the TIONG BAHRU QI TIAN GONG temple in the area of Singapore called Tiong Bahru for the birthday of the temple. One of my friends reminded me of the event and I was super happy it was at a time where I could attend.

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This is a Taoist temple, a popular faith in Singapore among the Chinese population. I still don’t know much about the Taoist faith and practice, so i won’t try to explain it here. The spirits and gods have  a great place in the faith and they are honored through offerings like Chinese Opera, joss paper bonfires, ..

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The celebration involved lions dances, a dragon dance troop, musicians, as above and below. Singaporeans say that Taoist are noisy. I think I have some old shots of the gentleman below.2019-29-m6-18-40

The person that looks to be the man in charge posing with the lions and some banners.2019-29-m6-18-372019-29-m6-18-35

Meanwhile across the street, the porters of the gods sedan chairs are taking some rest.

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I shot 2 rolls of Tri-x (one above, one below this paragraph), one roll or Provia 400H (in between) and hundreds of digital pictures using the magic combo, Leica M6 for film and the M262 for digital; for lenses I brought the 50 cron, mostly on the M6, the 35cron mostly the M262 then. I also brought along the 90mm Elmarit for a few digital portraits.
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At that moment the gods starts to be carried in 3 sedan chairs to the place where the bonfire will be lit.

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Below some of the carriers of the three sedan chairs.2019-30-m6-20-2

I don’t know if they are really heavy but the guys are relaying each others regularly.

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This write up is about the film shots and should be called “You are all my favorites”. It found very difficult to select between the shots. I have included the shots of the two Tri-x rolls, I will do another small article about the Provia roll which has its own story.2019-30-m6-20-9

We now arrived at the field where the bonfire will be lit, a small crowed is gathered. Led the the Taoist priests.2019-30-m6-20-142019-30-m6-20-15

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One of the gods chair with the idol in the middle.

 

(You can read an oldest post here )

 

 

 

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Back to the monkey god temple

STPI Open day and Takashi Murakami: From Superflat to Bubblewrap

This year the STPI in Singapore had its open day during the Takashi Murakami exhibition “From Superflat to Bubblewrap“, this was the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

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No need I think to introduce the iconic Japanese artist who uses manga like practice to depict modern Japan. I only had B&W film that day so I did not took many pictures of the art works.

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Open days at the STPI (Former Singapore Tyler Print Institute) are always enjoyable, if you have young children they can discover and experiment various print practices, that also work it seems for  teenagers and young adults alike.

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For guys (or gals) with a camera, it is a nice opportunity to captures willing models engaged in not so common activities.

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The STPI now positions itself as a gallery, aiming to promote the usage of print and paper mediums.

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Artists shown in the gallery often have a collaboration with the print makers.

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The smiling lady at the printing press has been working there for years, she is now an independent architect ; time flies.

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All shots were done with the Leica M6 and Summicron 50mm on Kodak Tri X, at 400 ISO.  genarally shot between F2 and F4 and 1/60s ro 1/12s. The film was processed by Ruby photo (or rather their usual contractor) and scanned at home on Epson v800 with Silverfast.

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I generally convert the images to grey-scale and remove dust spots in Adobe Elements and adjust the contract and brightness in Lightroom.

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The workshop can also be a treasure where odd objects can be found and pictured for eternity.

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One of the DIY items of the week end was an STPI apron.

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You can see picture of the last workshop I went to 4 years ago STPI at that time pictures were shot with Canon EOS 1N and 1.8 Canon lens.

 

STPI Open day and Takashi Murakami: From Superflat to Bubblewrap

A tour around Taipei

I am cleaning a bit of my backlog, and found on my work-space some remaining pictures of our Taiwan trip back in Feb/March.

The only day we decided to take a tour with our friendly guide was also the only rainy day of the trip so it ends up being a no so great experience.

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We took off from our hotel in Daan and headed to the North West, to visit what I believe is the Wufeng Lin Family Mansion and Garden. A historical house and garden from a rich Taiwanese family.

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This is a very nicely preserved house, a quite interesting visit, not a good as the Lin Family mansion in Banqiao  district but still a nice thing to see.

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We then drove down to see the change of the guard at the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine, but we arrived too late, and the rain started. Continuing further west we stopped in Beitou, a suburb of Taipei known for its hot springs

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The place made its living through mining and hospitality, including bath and spas.

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There is a very nice museum is an old bath house, including the beautiful pool below.

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At this point we headed along the Tamsui River to the fisherman’s wharf for lunch. We did not find anything much exciting, had a sandwich and then a long walk, without rain, before finding our car again.

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The last stop was Tamsui old street, that we reached after visiting the interesting Fort San Domingo, showing an interesting display of the colonial times. By then the weather started to be very.

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We nevertheless spent a good hour walking along the Tamsui River and through the old street with a stop at the beautiful Longshan temple, above and below.

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Finally, after a nice Taiwan beer in a dry place, we happily headed back to the city and our hotel ( probably the rain stopped along the way ).

All shots Leica M262, Summicron 28/50/35, it was another day where the weather was not enticing to pull out the M6 and play with two cameras.

A tour around Taipei

A rainy afternoon at Barbican Estate – London

L1008013One of the thinks I wanted to visit during my last trip to London was Barbican Center.

The estate is an example of Britsh Brutalist architecture built between the 1960s in an area once devastated by World War II bombings. Opened in 1969 and is now home to around 4,000 people living in 2,014  apartments. The residential estate consists of three tower blocks and 13 terrace blocks. You can read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbican_Estate

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I cant remember having been there in my many trips to London when I was younger, I probably spent most of my time around Camden, Soho and Portobello road.

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I finally reached the place on a rainy afternoon ; weather and timing were no really photography friendly. I did not take any film shots and I think I only used the 35 and 35 summicrons. I regret not having pulled out the M6 loaded with Tri-x from the bag, but it was really feeling cold and wet at the time

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The place is really majestuous in its own way, it has been shot many times and its probably great for on location shots. The brutalist style is characterized by the usage of concrete on the outside parts of the buildings.

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There are a lot of different constructions, passages and angles which can provide a great variety of subjects.

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How to get there? Easy : Barbican is an underground stop on the Circle line, Hammersmith & City line and Metropolitan line.

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A lot of details of the architecture and decoration are surely work a look as the lift lobby above (where does this flare come from?)

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There are plenty of resources online about the estate, even some BBC programs about life in the estate.

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All shots taken with Leica M262 and summicrons 28mm Asph v1 and 35mm Asph v2

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A rainy afternoon at Barbican Estate – London

London on Film

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I spent a week in London recently with my family and brought the usual travel kit (Leica M, M262 and the Summicrons 28mm Asp, 35 Asph v2 and 50mmv5), I brought a nice set of films but in the end I did not shoot much, only a roll of TriX and half a roll of Portra  400. And on digital as we are here I took a mere 300 shots.

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Looking at the TriX shots I am quite pleased; as usually they have been dropped for processing at Ruby photo in Singapore and scanned at home ; but when I was there I was a bit puzzled about what or who to shoot.

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On one hand I am so used to travel in Asia that I am a bit lost in European cities, I am not sure about people reactions to the camera (I like candid shots), but also I think the whole way the big city works need so getting used to. So a bit of frustration. Maybe also my expectations were a bit too high, who knows.

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London as changed a lot since I was last there 14 years ago. The south bank area is so lively now, also packed with tourists and street performers.

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Asian tourists selfy-ing themselves are everywhere, but that’s the same all over the planet. Here at the Borough Market, a place that I never saw before, this is definitely a good area to shoot.

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There are many food stalls there.

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Some attractions on South Bank are using old lorries that are worth a shot imo. I only realized today that the London eye was reflecting on the bonnet of the lorry, I would have framed it better if I have known.

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A morning stroll in SOHO, is also a nice opportunity for people shooting.2019-22-M6-15-22

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Or just window shopping.2019-22-M6-15-27

In the places I never visited before was Ealing Broadway, home of the Ealing Studios who produce(s/d) cinema and television shows.

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Finally another happy discovery was Old Spitalfields Market that I visited the day of the vintage records market.

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A couple more Portra shots below:

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London on Film

You can’t hurry love (About the VC Color Skopar 21mm F4)

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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).

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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).

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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.

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VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

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.

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Street shot : VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder : 21mm is wide but gives very dynamic shots

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.

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Vertical framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

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.

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More vertical framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

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.

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Horizontal framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder
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More Horizontal framing ( VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder)
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More vertical and back light( VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder)

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.

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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.

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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
You can’t hurry love (About the VC Color Skopar 21mm F4)

Not shooting much in Naoshima

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Kusama Iconic Pumpkin in Naoshima

Naoshima is an island town in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea, it has been a long time project to go there, as it hosts several arts museum built by Tadao Ando as well as a famous hotel made by the same architect.

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This year we finally made the trip to Osaka and on the way to Hiroshima we stopped at Naoshima. Getting there seems difficult at first, but in the end it is quite easy, you take the train either to Takamatsu or to Tamano and ferry to the island.

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The Benese house hotel is full 6 months in advance so we had no chance to stay there. We then decided to sleep in Takamatsu and take a ferry for a day trip in Naoshima. Takamatsu is a secondary town, with a big hotel “JR Clement” (a bit expensive for what you get) and a few restaurants where you can manage in english. It also hosts the garden-museum of Isam Nogushi which is well worth the visit.

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A day is Naoshima is probably enough, the Chichu museum hosts some art pieces made to measure and the Benese house museum has an awesome collection of modern and contemporary art. The Lee Ufan museum is also worth the visit, although less well know if you are not into minimalist art. We took a bus to the Chichu Museum with is the furthest palace from the ferry and walked our way back from there.

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The subtle architecture of Tadao Ando is beautiful and invite to meditation. All the buildings are no photo, so you will see here no photos of the them. And I must say I did not miss being surrounded by people taking selfies, not that the place is packed though.

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The rest of the island contains minor exhibitions in some traditional houses and some outdoors installations.

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We spent a nicely filled 10 hours there and probably enjoyed most of it. Time to take the ferry back to Takamatsu

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Pictures shot with Leica M262 and Summicron 28/35 or 50.

Not shooting much in Naoshima