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.

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A tour around Taipei

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

2018 – The year I still shot one roll of film a week.

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Camera n.1: Leica M6 with Rollei Vario

Happy  new year everybody, happy film shooting to all the film photogs. If I looks around me in Singapore it looks like more and more people are shooting film. I see young kids buying film at the shop and carrying around some analog point and shoots, SLRs or rangefinders. I met fellow film shooters in Japan, Laos and Thailand this year and at the big dismay of my family I (nearly) always go and talk to them, and take their picture sometime.

In my own opinion 2018 has been less exciting that 2017 in term of the film industry : Cinestill is now part of the landscape, Kodak Ektachrome is said to be available but I have not tried it yet, Film Ferania is still nowhere near the shelves. The only new film I tried is the Rollei variochrome positive film, which is quite gimmicky.

Camera N.2 : Leica IIIC with Kodak TMAX 100

 

Below is a breakdown of my film rolls:

Film Rolls
Ultrafine 400 17
Cinestill 50D 3
Rollei Retro 80s 3
Bergger Pancro400 3
Kodak Tmax 400 2
Rollei CR 200 2
Polypan PF50 2
Cinestill 800 2
Fuji Reala 800 2
Kodak Gold 200 2
Rollei Superpan 200 2
Kodak Colorplus 2
Kodak Portra 400 2
Kodak Ektar 100 1
Rollei Vario 1
Kodak Tmax 100 1
Kentmere 400 1
Ilford hp5 1
Kodak Portra 160 1
Kodak TMZ 3200 1
Agfa APX 400 1
Grand Total 52

And by Brand

Brand Rolls
Ultrafine 17
Kodak 12
Rollei 8
Cinestill 5
Bergger 3
Fuji 2
Polypan 2
Agfa 1
Ilford 1
Kentmere 1
Grand Total 52
A tough one
Camera n.3: Leica M4 with Kentmere 400

The first thing to notice is that I shot a bit less that last year (I did 63 rolls then), I think I also shot less digital, I spend some time in a couple other projects. But still I am holding the one roll per week rate.

I shot 17 rolls of Ultrafine that I hand-rolled myself : this is a first for me. This is a quite good film : I told the lab it is Kentmere 400 and had no problem. I liked the experience of hand rolling shorter rolls, but as I don’t process myself there is a balance to reach between the cost of processing and not having to throw away the last shots of a roll (or shoot meaningless pics with them).

Kodak is a mix bag of black and white and the cheap color films like Colorplus and Gold 200. I tried the new TMZ 3200 once again this year and I think a good performer.  I am a Kodak fanboy.

An angel on the wall
Camera N.4 : Hasselblad 500CM with Cinestill 50D

 

On the disappointment side are the Bergger Panchro and the Rollei Superpan, they lack contrast and have too much grain to my taste (or maybe I lack the skills to make them shine). I cannot make them out of my fridge fast enough, so I will still have some to shoot this year. I finally finished my two years expired Fuji reala 800, both shot with the Leica IIIc, I don’t really like this film (but it was so cheap) and also I have problem measuring for 800 Iso in daylight, so results were not great.

Finally the Rollei Vario ( you can read the full review here ) : it is very gimmicky so one roll is enough. I think if you are a pro and shoot a wedding, you can have a nice couple of pictures with a very different look, but apart from this the tint makes its usage very limited.

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Camera N.5 : Agfa Isolette with Bergger Panchro 400

Now let’s look at the gear.

Camera Rolls
Leica M6 21
Leica IIIc 11
Leica M4 10
Hasselblad 500CM 4
Agfa Isolette III 2
EOS 1N 2
Kodak Autographic Jr 1
Minolta Himatic 7s 1
Grand Total 52

Once again Leica’s are on top of the ladder, I am still investing in my Leica Kit, so the M system is set to shine for a while. My travel kit now is the M262, the M6 and 3 or 4 lenses in the shoulder bag.

The Leica IIIc paired with the 35mm F3.5 Summaron is my walk around camera, as a consequence the M4 lags a bit behind.

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Camera N.6 : Canon EOS 1N Kodak Portra 160

I only shot 7 rolls of medium format, the Hasselblad has a problem now and only takes 11 shots per roll, and stays at home during holidays; the Agfa still cannot focus but I like taking it out a couple of times a year (exactly two times)

I kept on my decluttering habit this year, so I got rid of my broken Olympus Mju1, the EOS 1N, the Kiev and some Nikon Zoom lenses.

 

Artist at work
Camera N.7 : Minolta Hi matic with Ultrafine Xtreme 400

 

Finally my v500 scanner died in the first week on 2018, so I upgraded to an Epson v800. Frankly the difference is not that visible but it is a lot faster and the Silverfast software is quite better than the Epson one, although I must say I still have some work to master it.

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Camera N. 8 : Kodak Autographic Jr 6×9 with Rollei retro 80s.

 

If you are curious you can check the past reviews : 2015, 2016, 2017.

Happy shooting in 2019 !

2018 – The year I still shot one roll of film a week.

Anandpur Sahib

The city is one of the most sacred places in Sikhism, it is a big hour drive from Chandigarh.

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The main Gurudwara is situated on a hill, you walk up from the parking.

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It is quite beautiful and offers a great view on the surrounding area.

This place receives a lot of pilgrims as it is the place where the last two Sikh Gurus lived, so it is quite interesting to see the infrastructure. Below a hall were pilgrims can rest.

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And below a young Sikh guarding the guesthouse for pilgrims (we unfortunately could not visit one).

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The communal kitchen of this Gurudwara is also hudge. They have big pots.L1000515

In the kitchen he lady below started singing while making chapatis.

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Finally a good shot of the chapati making machine:L1000527

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Next we walked to a nearby temple with a sacred well a hundred stairs below ground.

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From the outside there is a beautiful view on the Virasat-e-Khalsa, the museum of Punjab and Sikhism.L1000561

This museum is very well done, interesting and didactic, although it may sound a bit propagandist or proselyte , it gives a lot of information on the history of Punjab and Sikhism. I think it is a must do, to help memorize or clarify the things we learned through our trip.

Anandpur Sahib

CHANDIGARH – THE CAPITOL COMPLEX

 

The Open Hand Monument

So here we are on the last day of our trip, on the road to visit the Capitol Complex; the heart of Chandigarh, designed (partially) by Le Corbusier in the late 1950’s. An ode to modernist architecture that we have been longing to visit for years.

Palace of Assembly

Well not quite; aside from the bad planning (in my own opinion) of our travel agent, visiting Chandigarh is a bit more complicated than we thought. So apart from the 3 sites cited in my last post, there is nothing organised to visit the habitations buildings and finally you have to go through a guided tour to visit the Capitol Complex.

The Shadow Tower

This is not quite all : the two main buildings on the Capitol, the High court and the Assembly are in use (why should they not be after all?). So you cannot enter the High Court and you are lucky (we were) to enter the Assembly ( but no photos inside).

Punjab and Haryana High Court or palace of Justice

Add bye the time the guide assembled the small crowd of tourists we started our visit by mid morning, time was starting to be short and the light was quite bad for taking pictures.

As you can see above the high court is in use with layers in their work outfits.

Palace of assembly

In the opposite site of the plaza from the Hight court, the Palace of Assembly has a better lighting. It is overseeing a large pond and offers a spectacular view.


The holes in the front walls give nice perspectives and see through views.

Patterns on the assembly walls, reminding that man is the scale of the construction.

Getting out of the Assembly House the inevitable Ambassador car, now a civil servant official car, which used to be common taxis.

Mister Mohan

Our visit was accompanied by Mister Mohan, from the tourist Police who turned out to be a friendly person.

A few more things:

  • For the habitations buildings there are no restrictions to go and visit them, ask inhabitants,… we met some passionate french people who were spending a full week there. But Chandigarh is a big city so you better plan for what you want to see.
  • You can “pass by” on a road at the back of the Open Hand monument, in  a certain distance, without getting into a tour and then be able to take picture at better moments (I did not)
  • The tour of the Capitol Complex is a bit rushed through, you are not welcome to wander around or take too long with your photography nonsense,
  • You do not see on the pictures, the parking lots, the vans, the 20 Spanish tourists of our tour, the barriers,…
  • How did I manage to take so poor pictures of a site I longed to visit for decades? It shows (if needed) that some skills need working on.
  • Camera geekerry : color shots Leica M262, black and while Leica M6, Summicron 28 and Summicron 50
CHANDIGARH – THE CAPITOL COMPLEX

2017 – A(nother) year in film

Here we go again, here is my new year message to the world : happy new year to all go out and keep shooting film.

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Camera n.1: Leica M6 with Cinestill 800T

I think 2017 has been another very good year for film photography; the medium is getting more and more momentum. We saw a lot of new films released :Cinestill finally delivered the 120 version of 800T and 50D, Rollei gave us the Vario slide, Kodak is working on reviving Ektachrome, Japan Camera Hunter made more street pan and now has a second line, and more niche brands are creating or reviving special films. Of course Fuji keep on thinning his product line and Film Ferania is still not able to deliver its products. All in all the future of film is bright and it looks we are living more than just a fad. On the down side film camera prices are going up, but for most of it probably just from insanely low to still acceptable. The most expensive gear, Leica like, has not gone up much. Only the lenses that can be used on DSLR or four third cameras has seen unreasonably hikes.

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Camera N.2 : Leica IIIC with Ultrafine Extreme 400

As in the past (2015, 2016) lets see how I plaid my part this year.

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Camera N.3 : Hasselblad 500CM with Cinestill 800T

I managed to beat my own record once again by shooting 65 rolls this year, 1 more that last year. With both 120 and 35 mm format that should be close to 2000 pictures. I would say that 1 roll per week is a good average, as I also shoot digital.

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Camera n.4: Leica M4 with Polypan PF50

Below is breakdown of the rolls shot by camera:

Rank Camera Number of rolls Last year rank
1 Leica M6 25 1
2 Leica IIIc 13 5
3 Hasselblad 500CM 10 3
4 Leica M4 9 2
5 Agfa Isolette III 3 7
6 Kodak Autographic Jr 3a 2
7 Nikon F 1 6
8 Heineken Toy Camera 1
9 Dacora Digna 1

Clearly the Leica’s are the star of the year, now I shoot Leica digital, I always carry the M6 on holidays. Apart from a small issue on the winding side, this is a perfect image making machine and I now have a good set of lenses (28, 50, 90) that are foolproof and cover most situations. The Leica IIIc, is still my most used “lesser” camera, I invested in a beautiful 35mm F3.5 Summaron this year, and despite maybe a small intermittent curtain problem I can now use it without second hesitation.  I still love the M4, but lacking meter it stayed home most of the year, until I dig it out this autumn, this one is faultless. I still love the Hasselblad, but I hardly carry it with me on holidays anymore, pity because my fridge is loaded with 120 rolls ,I have a long standing project of portraits that I may finally launch this year… The rest is done with my older cameras which for most have issues now, so I managed to make some odd nice shots but I would think twice before using them again.

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Camera N.5 : Agfa Isolette with Rollei 80s

This year again I offer you a breakdown of the films I shot :

Row Labels Count of Film No
Polypan PF50 9
Rollei Retro 400s 7
Cinestill 50D 5
Kodak TMY 400 4
Kodak TRI X 4
Cinestill 800T 4
Fuji Fuji Xtra 800 4
Kodak Portra 160 4
Ultrafine 400 3
Kodak TMX 100 3
Rollei Retro 80s 3
JCH 400 pan 2
Bergger Pancro400 2
Kodak Portra 400 2
Rollei Superpan 200 1
Fuji Superia 400 1
Fomapan 400 1
FilmNeverDies Shirokuro 400 1
Fuji Velvia 50 1
Rollei  Retro 80s 1
Ilford Delta 100 1
Rollei ATP 32 1
Rollei CR200 1
Grand Total 65

This is a big variety; but as last year majority is 35mm, back and white; but there are about 20 colors rolls (10 last year) and a total of 16 120 format films (7 last year). The surprise may come at the Polypan 50 iso coming first with 9 rolls, these (and more) were given to me by my friend Ray, I like how it goes out and enjoy shooting at iso 50. Kodak and Rollei are still high up in the list.

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Camera N.6 : Kodak Autographic Jr 3a with Cinestill 50D

The news was the Bergger Panchro, the Cinestill 50D and 800T in 120 format, but I did not made anything outstanding with them.

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Camera N.7 : Nikon F with Polypan PF50

I confirmed this year my attachment to Leica systems, I nearly did not shoot any Nikon, apart on digital for some events. This year I plan to stick to the same program, camera and film wise, I have  a bulk roll of Ultrafine Extreme 400, so this will give me 20 roll of 36 shots more or less, and the fridge is still stocked (around 50 rolls in there). I plan to upgrade my scanner, I have the Epson 500 for 8 years now, it served me well, I may have scanned, 300 rolls with it so that’s 1.5 $ a roll for scanning, I think it paid well for itself.

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Camera N. 9 : Dacora Digna with Bergger Panchro 400

Happy shooting in 2018 !

2017 – A(nother) year in film

Amritsar street photography

Tea merchant

India is a feast for the street photographer, photo friendly people, a lot of color, everything is so different, so many things happening all the time. The tea merchant with his yellow scarf is one of the first pictures I took. Through the window of the car stuck in the traffic jam.

One of the many horse carts around

Soon we had to step out and walk to the golden temple as the traffic was so bad on Sunday. I stumbled on one of the many horse carts with the driver standing up gauging the traffic.

You can read the visit of the temple here.

Rickshaw driver

After the temple visit looking for our car, I came across this friendly rickshaw driver.

In the afternoon we went to Wagah border ceremony; here also the crowd after the ceremony on the way out offers many photo opportunities.

Ice cream

The crowd after the ceremony is eager to partake in ice cream, pop corns

The last pop corn parlor before the border

It gets dark quickly, and there is nearly one km of little stalls stretched along the car parks.

A fruit stall
Some more spicy stuff
“Let’s ride”: the burger stall

There is not enough time to stop at every stall to take some shots of vendors and their patrons. In this early evening, the lights, the fumes and the colors of the stalls make a beautiful composition every meter.

All shots with the Leica M262, Summicron 50mmF2.

Amritsar street photography