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)

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

Fuji Superia 800 galore

One of the members of the Lugs (Leica user group Singapore) and prominent film shooter has ordered a bulk of Fuji Superia 800 and offered to share them. So even if I’m not a Fuji guy myself I picked up the occasion and snapped 12 rolls of 24 shots a 5 SGD a piece.

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We met last week with his gang at Brawn & Brains café and had a nice meet up session, discussing gear, film and shooting stories.

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I brought along the Leica M6 with the Summaron 35mmF2.8, the fool proof combo I bought last year. A couple of nice camera were on the table, some Olympus, Minolta, Nikon and Leica of course.

Heading back home I met junior at the skate park and had him pause.

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The 24 shots were quickly finished in the afternoon, my dad use to favor them over 36 as you could finish them quicker, but also that in a time where you had to pay for the prints  doing extra useless shots was not an obvious choice.

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One friend said yesterday that he dreaded two things in Singapore, the haze and the formula one. Well we may skip the haze this year but formula one is upon us.

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I must say I am quire disappointed wit this shot. Not only did the big baboon insisted to be next to miss formula one, but the light is poor and the color is so so, making me remind that I don’t like Fuji colors.

I must say the colors for these indoor shots are quite nice, and those of the skate park are ok as well (a bit less nice). The pictures are quite grainy, is it the film or an effect of the exposure I do not know. Well I have 11 rolls left so I can load them in many different cameras over the coming weeks and see what I get.

 

 

Fuji Superia 800 galore

A roll of Rollei RPX 25

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I had high hopes for my holidays in the alps, so I brought some slides and low speed B&W film, but alas, the weather was, how can I put it politely, not so great.

And over the week I did not took out the film body.

When I hit the french riviera I was still quiet excited, but I could not really convince myself that this was the time for shooting this last roll of Velvia.

Not your average glass

Anyway so I loaded the M6 with a roll of Rollei 25, I used a mix of 50 Summiilux V2, the 35 Summaron 2.8 and the newly acquired Summicron 28mm.

Needless to say I still find the M6 is a joy to use with any of these lenses.

In my ignorance, I though that a low speed film would be better used in bright daylight on a great sunny day. Actually this is a  very contrasty film and in bright light you end up with very high contrasts. You may like it or not, I am so so.

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In subdued light like on the next picture taken on the beach on a cloudy day, the grays are nicer.

On a practical point of view, the film is very flat when coming back from the lab so it’s fairly easy to scan.

The Fig Tree

There is a very thorough review of this film (and many more) here:

http://photo-analogue.blogspot.sg/2014/03/rollei-rpx-25.html

Clearly it is a bit childish to play with these “special” films and bring them to a commercial lab. It looks like their “specialness” need to be handled with care when processing the film, and the character can be managed one way or the other.

Note that I did not use any filters for these pictures

A roll of Rollei RPX 25

The year of shooting with Leica(s) – Part 1

 

I bought my first Leica in 2009; it was a very nice M4 paired with a Summilux 50mm version2; both from 1967 as close as I could to by date of birth (I was a bit worried at the time about getting involved in the double stroke or single stroke on the M3).  In 2009 I was already back into film for 2 years, I was lusting for a Leica. After much considerations I splurged the equivalent of 2500 USD on the above combo.

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If was not love at first sight with the Leica. First I was back to the shop (actually another) to invest in a light meter (Sekonic 380s). Then I brought it in  couple of trips, but with mixed feelings.

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I enjoyed using the little fellow, but really the results were no all great and also I have a trouble bringing the Leica on travel : I though the 35mm was redundant with my DSLR; at least in term of format.

The following years I bought a few other film cameras and got distracted, so indeed the love story with the M4 was not going the right way.

In 2013 I invested in a small LeicaIIIc and a Summitar 50mmF2; this fellow had a couple of problems, but I quite liked it for shooting around.
The Leica IIIc

I got a couple on third party lens in various stage of in-usability to pair him with (a back focusing Jupiter 35mm, a non-focusing Canon 135F4, not mentioning  the Industar of the Zorki 1) , but all in all we had good fun. Around this time I also invested in a 21mmF4 Color Skopar, that I always found difficult to use. And I made my first Leica trip only to Taiwan.

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Leica M4 Taiwan 2013

Last year finally when Lee Kwan Yew passed away I shot a lot of the funerals with the M4 and my interest was aroused again by the Leica M, so finally for a similar amount of the M4 kit, I bought a minty M6 Classic (Back) and a Summaron 35mmF2 (The version with the goggles).

And so started the year of shooting with Leica(s) (to be followed)

The year of shooting with Leica(s) – Part 1