Thaipusam 2020 – What to expect

2019-05-M6-05-33I am by no means a specialist of Hindu religion, so please forgive any mistakes, I am happy to be corrected. This is a a small guide for fellow shutterbugs on what to expect on next Thaipusan day.

This year Thaipusam falls on 8th of February, it is a Saturday so there is no excuse for not going out and shoot ; and Thaipusam offers many different photo opportunities.

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The Chariot at Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (2013 Nikon D700)

The eve of Thaipusam, on the Friday, the Chariot of the temple will take Lord Murugan for a day’s visit to his brother Lord Vinayagar at Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple on Keong Saik Road. Along the route, he stops at several places, including Sri Mariamman temple on South Bridge Road (Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple), to greet the goddess within, a manifestation of his mother. He then continues on to see his brother.

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On Clemenceau Avenue (2009 Nikon F4)

The Chariot leaves around 6pm and comes back around 9pm ; then it is parked in front of Tank road temple and visited by many devotees. Later in the night starts the Thaipusam procession : devotees start from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple (Serangoon Road aka SSPT) at 11.30pm.

Inside Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (2016 Leica M4 Cinestill 800)

Doors at Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (Tank Road aka STT) will open at 12.01am on 08/02/2020. You can enter the back of the temple and watch the priests opening the inner shrine, and then let the devotees came in and receive their blessings. The activity is quite low around that time but it gets busier around 2am.

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2019 inside STT (Leica M6 Ilford Delta 3200)

Devotees will keep on leaving the Serangoon Garden temple until midnight on Saturday. My usual routine is to reach Serangoon Road temple before 8am. The sun is still very low and and the light inside the temple is dim. The temple and the nearby parking area are used to set-up the kavadis of the devotees and prepare themselves for the procession. Groups are constantly setting up, so no pressure to shoot. All of this happens under canopies to the light can be tricky.

2011 Inside SSPT (Nikon D700)

You can follow one group all the way to Tank Road, or walk a bit faster and move from group to group. Beware, when you reach Clemenceau Avenue, the only way to get inside the temple is to queue with the devotees until you reach the temple. I never did it 10 years, but if you do you will be able to enter the temple by the front door.

2013 Ready to go (Hasselblad 500CM)

If you are not that brave enough, you can walk along the queue of the devotees and arrive at the back of the temple. Where you can see devotees exiting the temple then arriving at the rest are and disassembling the Kavadis. Moments of rest and relief.

2013 After the procession (Nikon F3)

Finally if you go on the path of the procession at night you will see lighted-up kavadis!

I have no idea of what happens at both temples after the last devotee leaves or arrives

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2018 – Leica M262 – 35mm Summicron asph v2 

So plan for a great day : you can shoot from Friday 6pm to Midnight on Saturday.

A few advises:

  • The Chariot procession can be fun, especially if you spot it in town or upon its return to Tank Road. But chasing it may be complicated.
  • The evening when the temple at Tank road open is interesting, I have been two or three time, I may skip it this year
  • During the day I prefer going the morning like getting ready to shoot at 8am for a couple of hours
  • You can spent another hour at the disassembly area

Practical: the places will be busy, many visitors attend all stages of the event, and many buddy photographers, hot (but I never felt the need to bring water), and yo have to leave your shoes outside of the temples (I don’t mind, but you can also bring flip flops and put them in your bag)

Technical stuff: I shot with DSLR (from 17 to 200 mm), SLR, Leica film and digital and the Hasselblad. This is a busy event, so you don’t have much time to fiddle around. Last year I shot only with 35 and 50mm, with a couple of shots on 28. With 28 and 35 you get a lot of “noise”  in the frame, maybe something around 80mm would be nice if you want to shoot portrait or the actual  moment piercings are performed (I am a bit less interested in this now). People are super friendly but I avoid to be too a nuisance and to thrust your camera in people face, show some respect.

For film: I used 400 ISO for B&W in the temple in the morning , for the night events I used 3200 Kodak TMZ or Ilford Delta and Cinestill 800.

For more information you can visit the Hindu Endowments Board website https://heb.org.sg/

You can see some of my past posts on Thaipusam here.

Thaipusam 2020 – What to expect

Singapore road side market

L1009624I was a bit surprised when I was invited by my friend KC Eng to a night outing starting in the a “road side wholesale market” in the center of Singapore.

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The market is located in Toa Payoh area which is in the central part of the city, it is open six days a week from around 11pm to 6.30am. It is closed on Sundays.

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From 11pm the stalls are set-up, the vegetables align of tarpaulin.

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… and customers start to gather

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This is supposedly a wholesale market, so you sea the hawkers sorting and preparing big packs of vegies, probably for smaller merchants.

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Sorting bhindies (or okra or lady-fingers) at the light of torch light.

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dreamy green leaves (Summilux wide open)

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More greens.

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Chives for our guide.

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For this challenging light, I picked up the Summilux 50mm V2, not the fasted lens to use, but the widest I own. Combined with Iso set to 2000 on the M262, I can shoot between 1/30 and 1/125.

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Some wide open shots are very soft and the dark areas can show some banding.

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and now its past midnight and time head to the Senoko fisheries port, but this is another story.

Singapore road side market

Roll 37 of year 2019 – Hanging around Singapore

This is one of the last rolls of 2019, finished on the 31st December morning.

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Hong San See temple celebration

It is a Kodak Portra 400, shot with the Sumaron 35mm F3.5 lens on the Leica IIIc.

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Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple

As usual I shot the roll over two weeks, I was lucky on the first day to stumble upon a ceremony at Hong San See temple around the corner, where deities coming from China to be worshiped here were sent back home by the lion head lorry. A few moments later I went to Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple in Chinatown for a the temple consecration ceremony after its renovation.

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Rainbow

December is a wet month in Singapore, umbrellas are out (and colorful).

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Focused

Pre-Christmas the Orchard road shopping area was busy.

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Girls in uniform

At the “wings” watering hole in Clark quay I finally managed a decent picture of girls in uniform. I just printed it for them, to give away next time I walk by. This was shot wide open at 1/60 or 1/30.

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Banana
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To the top

The newly opened Funan mall with its climbing wall is just around the famous Peninsula shopping center with its many cameras shop and my fav lab.

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I like the Portra for many reasons, I think it is very good for shots as above with muted colors.

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Orange is the new black

Christmas is also an opportunity to visit churches for office or to watch the Christmas cribs.

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Off to work
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Burning Angel

Finally on the 31st of Dec, I carried the M4 along, to finish the roll. This was to Chinatown again with a group of photographers. Weather was just great.

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I must say I also love the Portra for its saturated colors.

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All shots, Leica IIIC, with the Summaron 35mmF3.5 LTM lens and assorted 35mm Viewfinder. Kodak Portra 400

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Leica IIIc, Summaron 35mmF3.5 with filter, hood and viewfinder

Scanned at home with Epson v800

Dropped for processing at Ruby Photo (not sure who does the actual processing)

Roll 37 of year 2019 – Hanging around Singapore

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

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.

Chinese new year 2018
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