On the road to the Lac D’Allos

One of the exciting bits of our small outing in France southern alps was going to the Lac d’Allos, a place I did not visit in more than 20 years. Allos is a ski resort 2 hours drive from the sea, situated at 1500 meters of altitude with highest slopes around 2500.

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The side of the valley of Verdon opposite the resort is part of the Mercantour natural reserve and its highest pic, Mont Pelat is 3050m.

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One of the popular walks is to go up to Lac d’Allos. This lake situated at 2300m is the largest natural high altitude lake in Europe. It covers 60 hectares and has a depth of 50 m.

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Flickr-1007537From the last parking place, the walk is an easy 45 minutes uphill until the majesty of the lac and surrounding mountains appears.

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When reaching the lake there is a high altitude refuge, providing food and drinks during the day and shelter for the night.

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From the refuge, a lot of path are available, with various distances and difficulties, I walked a few of the in my teens. If you pass by the area and like hiking, this is worth your time.

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The lake and the “Towers” in the background

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You can have another hour of pleasant walk around the lake, admiring the scenery, flowers, drift wood, or marmottes (marmot in english).

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A marmot, the furry local

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Up the refuge is a small chapel.Flickr-1007636

The weather even in early July can be treacherous and we had some rain that day, forcing us to retreat in the refuge. Remember that as easy as this walk is, this start to be the realm of high altitude.

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Inside the refuge you can always hope to make some nice encounters and engage in interesting exchanges. Here Gilles from Lille, was walking the mountains for a week. He likes to play music and use it to exchange with people he meets.

 

All shots Leica M262 + Summicron 28 asph or Summicron 50 or Elmarit 90mm F2.8

 

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On the road to the Lac D’Allos

Train des Pignes à Vapeur (France)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The people attending the train were very nice, happy to have a chat and camera friendly, hell they had 2 hours to kill

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This train is kept by a non profit association it travels from May to October on Sundays.

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You can see their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/TrainDesPignesAVapeur/

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Shots with Leica M262 and M6+Cinestill 50, with Summicron 28 and 50.

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Train des Pignes à Vapeur (France)

Damien Hirst: Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

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Aspect of Katie Ishtar ¥o-landi

So holidays are over, and after a one week business trip to Philippines I am back home where I can start processing my pictures. Let me start by saying that I enjoyed very much the Leica Kit that I wrapped in my last post (The summer bag). Sadly the 90mm did not get much use (apart from some marmots)  and my sensor is dusty so every shot with some blue sky needs editing.

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Let me start by a small post about the exhibition “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” the latest work of Damien Hirst at Foundation Pinault both at Palazzo Grassi and at la Punta Della Dogana. This is off the Biennale, but probably the most striking work to be seen in Venice this year.

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Gilded Medusa head

Hirst exhibitions is a colossal collection of the old world wonders as they have been recovered from a wreck in Easter Mediterranean sea. The exhibition boasts the “original” treasures as recovered, some footage of the salvaging, some artifacts redone as new.

This fictional (needless to say) story and the amount (in quantity, variety of materials and size) of the objects in display is mesmerizing, whatever anyone can think of Hirst work. If you still have time don’t hesitate to go.

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Silver Unicorn skull

The ticket covers both exhibitions, but frankly the exhibition at Punta Della Dogana is superior to the Palazzo Grassi, so if you have to chose… The Palazzo offers two major items, a colossal status of three stores high (below) and a piece inspired by the haircut of Yolandi from the band “Die Antwort” and teh bust of the artist girlfriend (so was I said, but I did not have a chance to check).

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You can check  http://www.palazzograssi.it/

Note also that the building at the Punta Della Dogana is a 17th century warehouse refurbished by Tadao Ando, this by itself is worth visiting.

All shots with Leica M262 with Summicron 28mm or 50mm.

Damien Hirst: Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

St Matthew’s Church – Neil Road

Small walk to Neil Road a few weeks back  to check the intriguing architecture of the old abandoned St Matthews Church.

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Most of the information here is taken from Remember Singapore  a great site about things of the past in Singapore.

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The original church was built in the 1890’s as a place of worship for the British sailors.

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It operated though all the first half of the 20th Century, including the Japanese occupation during WWII.

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In the late fifties, St Matthew’s embarked on a re-building plan of its main church building.

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Designed with a distinctive Modern style, the new double-storey building consisted of a prayer hall on top of a large function room. It also possessed an unique vertically protruding roof that looked like a ship’s prow, and a tall concrete bell tower that was erected beside the main chapel.

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The bell was removed sometime in the 2000’s.Flickr-1006999

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Also, after the war, St Matthew’s Church carried out plans to, expand its premises, including the construction of a vicarage and a kindergarten was also built in the early fifties.

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The new kindergarten was designed in simple Art Deco-style; it had a sloping roof laid with terracotta Marseilles tiles and timber windows with louvers.

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Color pictures Leica M262 ; B&W pictures Leica M4 with Kotak TMAX 100.

Wide angle Summicron 28mmF2 Asph ; normal lens Summicron 50mm F2 type V

St Matthew’s Church – Neil Road

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

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