Not shooting much in Naoshima

L1005254
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.

L1005244

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.

L1005267

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.

L1005283

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.

L1005285

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.

L1005274

The rest of the island contains minor exhibitions in some traditional houses and some outdoors installations.

L1005240

We spent a nicely filled 10 hours there and probably enjoyed most of it. Time to take the ferry back to Takamatsu

L1005300

 

L1005210

Pictures shot with Leica M262 and Summicron 28/35 or 50.

Advertisements
Not shooting much in Naoshima

By the sea in Thailand with the Leica M6

I always found the mix of photography and beach repulsive, the salty breeze, the sand that gets everywhere, hands oily with sunscreen, splashes and the odds of falling into the water,… so much things happening that you don;t want a camera, let alone your precious Leica mixed into.

2018-51-M6-21-01

Well I must say I am a bit fantasizing here, as an adult the experience of the beach is not necessarily the one I had when I grew up along the shore of the french riviera. A stroll along the water not involving leaving the camera on a beach towel or in a bag in the sun is now more common that is use to be, and if it is a day I intend to go for  dip, I generally take a lesser camera (read MEDIUM FORMAT ON THE BEACH : “LE CABANON DE LA PLAGE” AND MORE)

2018-51-M6-21-04

The sea side always offer a special quality of light, that works particularly well in black and white.  2018-51-M6-21-05

Also it is an endless opportunity of activities, landscapes and man made constructions.2018-51-M6-21-082018-51-M6-21-092018-51-M6-21-102018-51-M6-21-132018-51-M6-21-14

All shots with Leica M6 on Kodak TMAX400 (The shop ran out of TriX), the first three were taken with the Summicron 50 v5, the rest with the Summicron 28mm Asph v1. Shooting at 400 on this very bright morning means the lenses are completely stopped down and the shutter speed at 1/500s or 1/1000s, which may not be idea technically. My favorite film the TMAX100 would surely have been better, but…

As I am here, on the same roll of film were also some street shots taken in Bangkok on the say back from Hua Hin.

2018-51-M6-21-24

A young film photog with his Olympus pen, he also shoots medium format.

Below are four shots of the food hawkers around our hotel near Lumpini park.

2018-51-M6-21-252018-51-M6-21-262018-51-M6-21-272018-51-M6-21-29

A friendly and muscular worker along the Chao Phraya river near the Grand Palace2018-51-M6-21-32

Finally below are two shots of worshipers inside the Grand Palace i think.

2018-51-M6-21-342018-51-M6-21-35

By the sea in Thailand with the Leica M6

Yes another roll of Cinestill 800T (35mm)

I shot the last of my Cinestill 800T 35mm rolls during the last holidays in Japan. This is the last roll from the batch I ordered from UK a few years back when it was first released. I must say that I am quite satisfied with this one.

2018-44-M6-17-07

The roll was kept a couple of years in the fridge but had also traveled by plane in many occasions, because it is not so easy to make up your mind to shoot a 18$ roll of film rates at 800 Iso and specified for Tungsten light.

2018-44-M6-17-32

The roll was shot with a Leica M6 camera and one my Summicron lenses, 35, 28 or 50mm.

2018-44-M6-17-09

Based on my former experiences I rated the film at 640 ISO on the M6 ISO dial and off we go lets shoot happily.

2018-44-M6-17-05

The first few shots are taken at night in the popular area of Dotombori in Osaka. Neon lights, restaurants and people, that works great for the 800T.

2018-44-M6-17-06

When shooting at night the M6 meter, which does center averaged measure, will have a tendency to overexpose : your subject is bright surrounded by a lot of darkness, so the reading will tend to overexpose. I generally underexposed by a step of diaphragm or the next speed to get the balance right.

2018-44-M6-17-312018-44-M6-17-30

On the next day we were off to Nara to visit its park and temples and the 800T was still not finished. The following shots were done without filter.

2018-44-M6-17-10

The above shot has tints that reminds of Portra 400, so it is not that bad. I tried to shot as open as possible which explains the softness. The M6 speed is limited to 1/1000 second so shooting in daylight with a 640 ISO film does not always give you a lot of latitude in term of aperture.

2018-44-M6-17-12

But shots taken in the shade allows a wider aperture and to play with out of focus.

2018-44-M6-17-11

The next few shots are taken in restaurant in Takamatsu the main city in Kagawa prefecture.

2018-44-M6-17-29

2018-44-M6-17-24

2018-44-M6-17-22

The south most part of our trip was Hiroshima where we visited the peace memorial.

2018-44-M6-17-28

At this point I played it old school and rewind the film which was about 28 shots and store it aside. I loaded a roll of Rollei CR200 slide film and when back in Osaka, I loaded the Cinetsill back again, put the cap, turn the aperture rint to on F22, set the speed to 1/1000 and fires 29 shots to find more or less the point where I was last and use my last 8 frames below:

2018-44-M6-17-262018-44-M6-17-212018-44-M6-17-192018-44-M6-17-182018-44-M6-17-172018-44-M6-17-152018-44-M6-17-142018-44-M6-17-02

2018-44-M6-17-27

Yes another roll of Cinestill 800T (35mm)

Tadao Ando’s Church of the Light – Osaka

The Church of the light is Osaka, is one of the most famous designs of Japanese architect Tadao Ando and it was the highlight of our first day is Osaka.

L1000582

Built in 1989, is it located 20km from the center of Osaka. It is a quite small building the chapel which is the original building is only a bit more than 100 sq meter.

2018-43-M6-16-12

When the parish approached Tadao Ando, the most important point was the lack of funding that was available for the building. That suits the minimalist approach of the architect who also chose to use some recycling planks for instance to built the bench.

L1000540

The most iconic feature of the building is the wall of the chapel at the back of the altar wit its hollowed cross from which the light pours.

L1000553

L1000556

L1000558

Bare concrete, narrow spaces, the emptiness is expected to make room for the spirituality.

 

L1000550

The chapel also contains an organ (with rear view mirrors)

10 years later a second building, the Sunday school,  was added on the side of the chapel with similar architectural elements.

L1000560

From the practical side : you ca visit the web site of the church : http://ibaraki-kasugaoka-church.jp/e-forvisitors.html

You will learn that the church is not open for visits every day and that you have to register online for the visits. (we did). The ladies there were so nice so I don’t think it is  a problem if you forget to do it, but given the time to get there better be safe. The entrance of free but you are asked to do make a small donation for the  maintenance of the building

2018-43-M6-16-11

Accessing the church from Osaka you have to take the train to Ibaraki station (30 minutes) and then the bus the church. All in all it should take 45 minutes to an hour. At the station there are not many signs, you have to take but number two  which starts on the left most bust stop outside of the station when you face outside. There is a taxi stand there, you better ask than wandering for 20 minute like me.

The are plenty of excellent resources on the web of the church.

Color shots Leica M262, BW leica M6+Ultrafine Xtreme 400ISO lens – Summicron 28,35 and 50

Tadao Ando’s Church of the Light – Osaka

The Alms ceremony – Luang Prabang Laos

L1003035

The alms ceremony in Luang Prabang is a unique ritual that makes the charm of this small city. It is a also a well know one and pictures of the monks lining the streets of Luang Prabang at 5am are famous worldwide. I could not attend it the first time I was there 10 years ago, but I made sure to see it this time.

L1003047

The little lady above lives on the other side of the street, where I am shooting from. The people on her right on the first picture are tourists (Korean, Thai, Chinese?) renting a stool, and buying alms from the merchants. So this has become a real touristic attraction, many stools are ready for Buddhist tourists or anybody who want to participate, and the non participating are legion.

L1003057

I try to keep a safe distance and show respects for the monks but as usual this is not the case for everybody. This is a bit frustrating, but I generally prefer to miss a shot than to fight or be a nuisance. All of this spoils a bit the ceremony for me, but it can be that I am just a tad difficult.

L1003063

I may stand corrected but what make it unique is the fact that monks from the 7 or so monasteries in town go out in the street to collect alms in procession, rather that visiting houses of people who will donate food.

2018-14-M6-06-007

If you are out in the street at 5h30 you can assist roughly to one hour of procession, and i f you follow the rules you can approach the monks up to 3 meters.

2018-14-M6-06-010

We were sitting on the pavement of the main street and it is quite busy. I think there may be many “spots”, like places  where the procession turns who may offer better photo opportunities, same from the exits of the monasteries of the path along the river.

L1003089

Outside of the center you will see random people waiting for monks from place to place, which surely would enable a closer encounter with this local customs.

2018-14-M6-06-012

Regardless of the crowd it is a great experience.

2018-14-M6-06-013

We enjoyed very much sitting opposite the lady-from-across-the-street as we regarded her devotion more authentic. But this is quite subjective and I don’t want to be judgmental.

L1003080

Flash photography is forbidden or course, so high end DSLR will probably have the upper hand here.

L1003070

For this lady renting stools and selling alms this is time to ring the end of the show.

L1003082

2018-14-M6-06-016

2018-14-M6-06-015

2018-14-M6-06-017

L1003096

Color shots taken on Leica M262 with 50mm F2 Summicron v5, Black and white taken with Leica M6 classic and Summicron 28mm F2 Asph on Ultrafine Xtreme 400ISO film.

 

The Alms ceremony – Luang Prabang Laos

Anandpur Sahib

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

L1000484

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

L1000489L1000491

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.

L1000494

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

L1000501

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.

L1000520L1000525L1000526

Finally a good shot of the chapati making machine:L1000527

L1000540

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

L1000551L1000558

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

On the road from Patiala to Chandigarh

Patiala looks to be a very interesting place, but we had little time to hang around. We try to visit the two palaces but both were under renovation and although we were allowed to the grounds in both (many thanks to our guide), I was denied using my camera. The first palace was a residence for the maharajah and his many spouses; the buildings we could see are set around a very large pond. It is located in a residential area on the town outskirts.

L1000329
This may have been some sort of Natural Sciences museum
L1000330
Under construction
L1000331
The “pond” is what separate the girls here to the building in the background.

 

The second palace, Qila Mubarak, is located in the heart if the city, it is normally hosting a museum which was closed at the time of our visit (Oct 2017) and the building also under renovation. This is an incredibly big compound to be located in a city center. There is a fort behind the main buildings and more buildings behind the fort. No pictures available unfortunately.

2017-49-m6-24-003

We then start our drive to Chandigarh through the busy city streets and then on the very good roads off Punjab. Chandigarh is only 70 km away, but with a few stops, we got there in about 4 hours.

The main stop was in Sirhind-Fategarh, the Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib there is famous as it is the place where younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, who were bricked-up alive in 1704 by Wazir Khan and a place to commemorate the memory of the brave Sikhs who were killed while fighting with Mughal forces.

L1000351

L1000359

L1000363
Gurudwara Bhora Sahib, the wall where the younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh were bricked-up alive

L1000368

Outside the Gurdwara itself is a  shop for religious artifacts where I finally decided to satisfy my long lasting envy to buy a  Kara (a Sikh bangle). After a long debate we decided to by one each (ok my wife wanted two) and to our great surprise the shop keeper refused us to pay for them and offered them as presents. Another sign of the great Sikh hospitality and friendliness.

L1000380
The Gurdwara shop keepers 

Next to the main Gurdwara is another one, where we met the guy in charge (below). Very happy to talk about his religion; probably on of the first guys we could exchange in English.

2017-49-m6-24-008

Not far from this site is a Mosque, which is supposed to be linked to friendly Muslim people at the time of the war with the mughals. The complex is very nice and spacious. Not all places are allowed for women to visit and photography is a bit more limited than in the Gurdwaras.

L1000388L1000390L1000392

The basement of the main building above contains the tombs of some saints where people come to make offerings.

L1000394L1000399

L1000401

Back on the road again, our guide stopped us by one of the many places where a few men where boiling some sugar cane to make some solid sugar.

2017-49-m6-24-015

L1000410

L1000411
Pressing the cane to extract the sugar

We tasted the sweets and pack-up after a little while and finally made it to Chandigarh.

All shots Leica M262+Summicron 28 or 50

B&W shots Leica M6+Summicron 50

 

On the road from Patiala to Chandigarh