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.

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Eve of Vesak Day in Brigh Hill temple – Singapore

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

The Agfa Isolette goes to the end of the world

Moais quarry at Rano Raraku

A once in a lifetime trip, done for the second time : April – May we went on a family trip from Singapore, to Auckland, to Tahiti, to Easter Island and back. In total more than 30 thousand kilometers or travel. And on top of packing both swimsuit and polar jumpers (Auckland and Easter Island are on the cold side compare to our usual 30 degrees), the eternal question. What camera do I take.

Moais quarry at Rano Raraku

Of course the Nikon D700 is part of the trip, with the perfect travel combo: 50mmF1.8, 17-35F2.88 amd 80-200F2.8, a few filters, several cards in my new Pelican Case CF card holder, a spare battery, charger, flashgun, and Tripod (barely used). For film I immediately settled for the waterproof Heineken Camera loaded with Tri-x for fun and beach and then I pondered what serious film camera I should bring.

Moais quarry at Rano Raraku

Although I have a kind of return of love for the Leica, I think it is too fragile for this trip. The Hassie is too big for the hiking part in Easter island, the Nikons are a bit too unpredictable (although it would have been fun to bring the F3 back there after 20 years). Finally I decided for the Agfa Isolette, it is small enough not to be a pain to carry so I can eventually forgive bad results if any.

Ahu Akivi: the only moai facing the sea

The Agfa still has a problem with the rangefinder, so I have to guestimate the distance and report it on the lens but all in all with Tri-X and bright sun most of the pictures are taken around F11 so focus is not an issue.

Moais quarry at Rano Raraku

I only shot two rolls, all in Easter Island also called Rapa Nui in local dialect.

Ahu Tongariki - Easter Island
One day on the Anakena beach I met a nice Chilean lady with a Rolleiflex taking shots of the beach and the statues who are sitting on its background. I was as so happy to meet a charming fellow film photographer that I offered us a roll of Rollei RPX 400 to try.

On top of Terevaka - Easter Island Highest pic

We stayed at the wonderful Explora Hotel, unforgettable experience there; we made a couple of hikes with the new manager Francisco as above on top of the highest peak of the island.

The Moai Quary - Easter Island

Did I mention that this is our second time there? We went in 1995, 20 years ago for our honeymoon; I was carrying the Nikon F3 then, so this is why I considered bringing it back. I had a couple of old shots on my phone and inquired about people on them. Unfortunately on the three identifiable person, 2 have passed away; but the young boy visible on one, is now thirty and a father of two have I been told. I did not manage to meet him though.

The Agfa Isolette goes to the end of the world

Good bye Mister Lee – Day one

Remembering LKY

So that Monday morning the news broke out : Lee Kuan Yew had passed away. The historical leader, the father of the country was no more. I have been living in Singapore for 8 years now and we call this place home, but I am just a foreigner after all and cannot judge in one way or another the the legacy of the man. I must admit I did not had the courage to queue to see him resting, but I went in the streets that week and tried to capture the event.

The first day, the body is Mister Lee was laid in the Istana, the residence of the Singapore president (which he never was). A condolence book was set outside the residence and people start coming and queue and sign,

The Istana

And bring flowers.

The Istana

Another condolence book was set in front of parliament house which will be the final destination of the body before the funerals.

Parilament house

All Hasselblad 500CM, Planar 80mmF2.8 Kodak Trix400 and Ilford Pan 50; first shot is SMRT public transport company screen shot with Leica M4 and Summilux 50mm1.4 wit Kodak TriX 400.

Good bye Mister Lee – Day one

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