SOFT LOCK-DOWN WEEK 7

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It is hard to believe this “new normal” has already been in place for 7 weeks. A quick heads-up for the near future : a phased “unlock” will start from first of June, the only sure thing is that schools will reopen on on a rotational basis. So it looks I will be able to write a few more of these posts.

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I did not take the camera out of my bag this week, or did not even took a bag. Finally today, I decide to put the M262 + 28mm Cron around my neck on my walk to Chinatown to collect my dinner.

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Excellent light when crossing from People’s part to Chinatown

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The old Samsui woman seems lonely without any tourists around. I hesitated taking pictures of the stalls of Chinatown, all curtains pulled down, but the light was not great.

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On the area in front of Chinatown Complex a few old folks were hanging around in relative self distance.

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In front of the Buddha tooth relic temple, the incense burner was covered with a cloth, an unusual sight,

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Finally I think I managed to capture the new life of the F&B outlets adapting to the crisis by offering take away and delivery, Above in front a a Korean BBQ, delivery men waiting on social distanced chairs.

And below patrons waiting outside the popular  Kok Sen local eatery in Keon Siak Road.

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Or a Japanese restaurant spelling out loud.

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It seems that the female figures will be masked for a while on the pictures

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So long…

 

All shots Leica M262+28mm Summicron Asph V1

SOFT LOCK-DOWN WEEK 7

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

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

Wagah Border Ceremony

The lowering of the flags ceremony at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan is a daily event attracting crowds of locals and tourists alike. It is a well oiled affair and when following a few basic instructions if very easy to attend.

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From the Indian side, once you reached to the last parking before the border you will have to walk 1 or 2 Km before getting to the venue. You need to carry your passport if you are a foreigner, which will bring you to a separate seating area (more later)

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You cannot carry much apart from cameras and wallet. No bags are allowed, I read that bringing in water is not allowed, but you can buy some inside.

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I carried 2 Leica M bodies with lenses and the 90mm in my pocket, my passport, cell phone and wallet without problem.Note that cell phones are not working in the area.

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The venue looks like a stadium with the actual border being at the center. The crowd can go as high as 2000 people from the Indian side.

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The event starts at 5h30pm and last 30 minutes. You need to arrive well in advance ( we were there by 4h30pm ) to secure a seating;  I was told that some people were sent back on the day we were there.

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The ceremony is a show of rivalry and cooperation between the two countries, It starts with preliminaries of Bollywood style music played full blast, and displays of flags.

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After a moment the guards will enter the arena and do their show.

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The crucial bit is the seating, the area reserved for foreign passport holders in quite close to the border and on the top of the seats, this has the advantage of giving us some shade (the sun sets in the Pakistani side and it became very hot at some point), but the view of the Pakistan side is quite limited.

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Also you are quite far ways form the show; the pictures here are done with the 90mm Elmarit on the M262, they give a good description of the event but are not great. Also keep in mind the light it not great and goes down, I needed higher ISO (400, then 640 then 1000) and also the place is very dusty.

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Can you do better? Well yes: hang around until the top sits are full so you can sit lower and have a closer / better view. But the border guards are trying hard to make you sit at the right place.

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At the end of the show it is possible to go close to the border and have a shot or two with some Indian guards.

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I am not a great fan of demonstrations of national pride, but this was really fun. I was a bit concerned by the security aspect, being so close to the border, but it did some seem to bother the many foreigners that were present and I it did not feel unsafe there.

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All shots done with Leica M262, Elmarit 90mmF2.8

Wagah Border Ceremony

Singapore Photo Walk – March 2016 – Rochor Center

Rochor Center classic view

I joined Bernard Goh’s Singapore Photo Walk outing of March with my son.

Rochor Centre is group of buildings built by the Housing and Development Board of Singapore. It was built and completed in 1977 and consists of 4 blocks painted in vivid colors yellow, green, red and blue.

Rochor Center classic view

This is an iconic building in the east side on Singapore center that can be seen by tourists going to Arab Street or Little India.

The buildings comprise habitations, shops and hawkers ( food stalls). On the ground floor you still can find some religious artefacts.
Rochor Center classic view

Rochor Center classic view

The center has started closing as later this year it will be torn down to give way to a motorway joining the north to the south of the island. A lot of the shops have already relocated, but some are still open. The habitations seems to still be occupied if I can judge by the drying laundry.

Rochor Center classic view

The void desk is a classical feature of the HDB blocks, an open area for inhabitants to congregate and do activities.

Rochor Center classic view

Rochor Center classic view

Our friend Long Siew Leng aka Jumping girl.

Pictures 1 and 2 : Hasselblad 500cm+80mmF2.8, Rollei CR 200 slide film

Pictures 3,4,and 5 : Leica M6, summaron 28mm2.8, Kodak Portra 400

Pictures 6 : Hasselblad 500cm+80mmF2.8, Rollei RPX 100 film

 

Singapore Photo Walk – March 2016 – Rochor Center

Alms ceremony at Wat Palelai – Singapore

Someone at the photo lab tipped me that Saturday that the next day, there will be an alms ceremony at Wat Palelai, a Thai Buddhist Temple located in Bedok, in the east of Singapore.

Devotees stood around the yard of the temple and gave their offerings to the monks who made a procession around the yard.

Later the monks gathered at their dining room.

There was 30 to 50 monks for the ceremony but I think only 5 are permanently staying  at the temple. Others are going through a temporary monk-hood.


This day was the fiftieth Singapore National Day, happy birthday Singapore. The ceremony was interrupted by the singing of the national anthem at 9am.

It was very nice to discover this temple and be able to attend this ceremony. I also met two people who always hang around the photo lab, so we could have coffee and chit chat a moment after the ceremony was over.

All black and white pics with Leica M6 and either 35mmF2.8 or 50mmF1.4. Film is Rollei RPX 400ISO. Scanned at home with Epson v500.

Color pics with the old faithful Nikon D700 with either the 85mm F1.8 or the 17-35 F2.8.

Alms ceremony at Wat Palelai – Singapore

Lao Sai Tao Yuan – A Chinese Opera – Singapore

Lao Sai Tao Yuan; is said to be the oldest troupe in Singapore performing Teochew  opera or Wayang.

These shows are generally performed for the 7th month or during Chinese thanks giving during the mid autumn festival.

They are particularly friendly and you can go backstage to take pictures while they dress-up and do the make up.

All shots with Nikon D700 and Nikkor 85mm F1.8.

Lao Sai Tao Yuan – A Chinese Opera – Singapore

Good bye Mister Lee – Day two

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On the second day or the mourning, the body is mister Lee was visible in the Parliament house. A large crowd attended the transfer itself early in the morning. From then the body of mister Lee was visible for the public inside the parliament.

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A large queue started to form and when I stepped outside of home and head to the river, by 3pm the queue was zig zagging along more than 6km to end up around Clark Quay.

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People with flowers were trying to reach the start of the queue

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The queue was turning along new bridge road up to Hong Lim park. Luckily there was shade for most of this stretch.Facebook-7

Not so lucky were the people still on the bridge.Facebook-14

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The police organized the queue, but everybody was polite and patient it seemed. No the policeman is not pointing at me.

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Some more far-sighted people have brought umbrellas and seats.

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Staff from Song Fa Bak Kut Teh shop were distributing water to people in the queue passing by their shop.

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I made it to Canvenagh bridge in 30 minutes, probably it will be 4 hours minimum for the people in the queue and from here a good one to two hours extra to get the parliament. I could not cross so I walked back along the queue.Facebook-17

Opposite the Fullerton hotel, some guys were distributing water.

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Another refreshment point in front of Maybank

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The queue passed with Marina Bay Sands in the background, the latest Icon of the capital city.

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I really hope this woman did not have to go back all the way to Clarke Quay to queue. People I met at this point had no idea how far the start of the queue was.

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Today’s walk from the back of the queue up to Cavenagh bridge, took me a good hour.

All pictures with Leica M4

Summilux 50mm1.4
Rollei RPX100 or Kodak Tri-x

Good bye Mister Lee – Day two

Around Chinatown for Chinese new year – Singapore

So the last week-end before the start of the year of the goat I went with the family in Chinatown. I brought the Leica IIIc and a couple of lenses actually 3.

Most of the shots below are done with the infamous back focusing Jupiter 8, 50mm f2.

Quite fun anyway.

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Chinatown is very busy around this time. People shop for food, decoration, or just stroll around.waex99-01029

These two guys selling chestnuts are here all year roundwaex99-01031

But other stalls are just temporary,

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Just selling nutswaex99-01019

or fruits in the side of the streetwaex99-01021

Some of the sellers are coming from China just for the event, or so have I been told.waex99-01022
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Sausages and cured meat stall.

This was the first time I use Kentmere 100 ISO film; reasonably cheap, I understand it is manufactured by Ilford now. As I rarely use Ilford product (except fro Pan 50 and Pan 400) I cannot really tel how it compares to FP4 for instance. Nothing to rave about, I’ll probably finish my stock and go back to Tmax or Rollei RPX 100.

Around Chinatown for Chinese new year – Singapore

Calcutta – The potters colony

The first stop of our fourth trip to India was Calcutta, or Kolkata as it is called now.

At first I was very excited to go to India at the period of Diwali the festival of lights, but it turned out that is is more a private event celebrated at home than something you can experience in the street. True, the cities were all lighted-up and people were busy shopping for lights and decorations for their homes. Actually, that week was just after the Durga puja which is a popular celebration in West Bengal, but also the week of Kali Puja which is another big celebration in the area. And particularly in Calcutta.

If we were first struck on the night of our arrival by the number of people sleeping in the street, we were also very surprised to see number of bamboo structures being erected across the city. This, were we told, was for the construction of temporary temples for the upcoming Kali puja.

The next day one of the highlights of our tour was the “potters colony” or Kumartuli. I did not do much research before and was afraid to be inflicted one of the pseudo artisanal attractions you see from time to time. It turned out that the potters colony is the place where these craftsmen are building statues of deities (or idols as our guide reffer to them) for the various celebrations of the hindu year. That week all the colony was busy making statues of Kali for the upcoming festival.


The highly decorated statues present Kali, with a necklace of severed demons heads that she defeated but also stepping on her husband Shiva, she generally has her tongue sticking out. The explanation we were given can also be found on wikipedia:

Once Kali had destroyed all the demons in battle, she began a terrific dance out of the sheer joy of victory. All the worlds began to tremble and sway under the impact of her dance. So, at the request of all the Gods, Shiva himself asked her to desist from this behavior. However, she was too intoxicated to listen. Hence, Shiva lay like a corpse among the slain demons in order to absorb the shock of the dance into himself. When Kali eventually stepped upon Shiva, she realized she was trampling and hurting her husband and bit her tongue in shame.

It is difficult to imagine that so many statues will found someone to buy them; but they actually do. Strolling through the colony you can see statues of various shapes, colors and sizes; but all describing the same scene. You will see idols at various stages of their completion, from gross straw shapes, to fully finished ones. Most of the statues will have their head covered if they are not finished. Artists are painting the fine details of eyes or decorations, some even using spray paint for shades.

All pictures with Nikon D700 + Nikkor 17-35F2.8D, I use a polarizing filter mostly all the on this lens.

Calcutta – The potters colony