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

Warorot Market in Color

Toy stall

Same day different camera in Warorot Market in Chiang Mai, the Leica M262 and the Summilux 50mmv2.

Outside the market the watch repair stall

I do not have a lot to say since the last post of film pictures on the same subject, I think I still prefer the film shots. But the flexibility of the M262 in term of ISO is much appreciated. Can go high and low on demand, it looks so obvious, but not really for a film shooter.

It is also here that I realized the Summilux is seriously back focusing and that maybe I

should get a proper 50mm.

 

This family was rolling some kind of cigarettes.

Serious negotiation (above) about dry goods, looks like everybody was happy in the end.

The coffee shop around the corner, is quite busy and like all the upper section of the market has decent light.

This man is manually making some religious artifacts used as offerings in temples. Below one of the flower stalls doing offerings as well. There are many flower shops  there, some are doing offerings some looks to be casual flower shops.

Warorot Market in Color

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

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