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Friday, June 30, 2006

Koh Boon Wei

Bridge
© 2005 Koh Boon Wei

Koh Boon Wei

Boon Wei owns a photo-printing lab business located in Bedok area. He inherited the business from his late father who had taught him photography and darkroom printing skill when he was young. I came across Boon Wei's work at a local online B&W forum early last year. We bumped into each other during the Photo-Imaging 2005 held at Suntec Convention Hall. A nice friendly guy who always carries a smile whenever he talks.

Here are the two images taken by Boon Wei during his free time. All taken on Ilford Delta 400 with 80mm lens on Mamiya 645. 'Bridge' was taken at the Seletar Reservoir in the late night. The composition breaks away from the conventional way though somehow it cuts the picture in halves. Playing with the bridge silhouette and its water reflection, all against the lit-up graduated sky on the background, it certainly has the contrast effect. The reflections of distant light source on the right, add up as a bonus to the whole picture. Without it, the whole picture could look dull and flat. It makes the bridge more dimensional, separating the water and the sky.

I'm not sure where did Boon Wei take of 'Staircase'. Personally I find its contrast effect pretty theatrical. The lines and shape certainly play as important parts in the composition. It's easily passed as a straight forward fine-art exposure. Well I believe Boon Wei has his own interpretation or point of view at the time of exposing.

Mamiya 645 • ILFORD Delta 400 • Not recorded

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Empress Place

Empress Place
© 2005 Martin Liew

Empress Place
This is The Empress Place. The government has certainly changed the buildings in that whole area Empress Place has turned into a western fine food restaurant and lately they have had just completed internal renovation. Perhaps it has changed management and into other sort of F&B business.
It was a full moon night but the moon was obscured by dense clouds in the night sky. The building was under the full moon charm which I was enchanted by its overall beauty. Without much ado, I took up this position and exposed for 2 bracket shots. This is the first take which is a lot better than the second one. Any further delay, the moon would have set down behind the building and the whole night beauty would have been gone.
This is another exposure with good tonality and contrast. The front structure of the building and balcony was brightly lit by the opposite lamp posts and/or spotlights, with cast shadows on the main entrance. Followed by the graduated dim-lighted area of the building and its roof. Everything falls nicely into the Zone system.
Shanghai TLR • KODAK TMAX400 • 3min 36secs
POINT TO WATCH
• The image was cropped in too tight on the left side at the time of exposing. I could have move back a little more but the unwanted items on the foreground will be included which can quite messy.
• If only the clouds are more in fluffy shapes than dissipated that acts like a layer of diffuser. Otherwise the night sky will be brighter with a more dramatic impact.
• The strong highlight on the right side window was caused by the opposite lamp post light reflection which seems kinda distracting here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Lonely Lamp Post

Lonely Lamp Post
© 2005 Martin Liew

Lonely Lamp Post

I walked around the other side of this old parliament house and spotted this part of the building that's perfect for a night shoot. This night scene resembles a 19th Century street building with one lonely lamp post shining throughout the night. I was attracted by its light that created such great contrast of shadows and the ambience atmosphere around. I stood there for a few minutes and kept looking at the scenery. I could feel a sense of peacefulness and a little curiosity about what was inside the building.

After the first exposure, I took a closer look at the building again and went in closer to the staircase on the right side. Here's a close-up exposure on which I like the great contrast between the white wall of the building and the shadow cast on the stairs with jagged patterns. It certainly has an dramatic impact that makes the image more 3-dimensional, rather than flat with dull tones.

Shanghai TLR • KODAK TMAX400 • 3min 36secs


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

'Head'

'Head'
© 2005 Martin Liew

'Head' Sculpture (1999) by Botero

Most of you might recognize this sculpture, 'Head' by Botero. Botero came to Singapore in Dec 2004 alongside with Taiwanese sculptor, Ju Ming. Botero's work can be seen around the art center, Esplanade and in the garden as well. This 'Head' is situated right at the main entrance of the art & performance center, with 4 strong spot-lights shining at it.

It's a challenging one on making picture out of it and I managed to get a "good" angular position. I even flashed 3 times to get more shadow details. Sometimes with a little splash of stray flares from the spot-lights can create quite an atmosphere to one's photograph. Howsoever, I made this exposure at the "wrong" timing. If you observe closely on the left side of the photograph where the art center dome is behind the sculpture, lotsa of details were not fully captured. I could have arrive much earlier when the interior lights in the art center is still on.

Alternatively I can dodge that part in the darkroom to bring out more shadow details. Perhaps the photograph will have more contrasty impact between the textured surface of the dome and the smooth surface of the sculpture.

Shanghai TLR • KODAK TMAX400 • 3min 36secs

Monday, June 26, 2006

something in the Way

something in the Way
© 2005 Martin Liew

something in the Way

This was the night when Cindy Tan and I went out for night photography in town area. As I used my Shanghai TLR for all of my night shoots, there is exception at times where I'd use my SLR. The above image was made under this highway flyover located at the Esplanade Garden. This highway is called Esplanade Way.

Playing with the lines, I compose diagonally to make it in an abstract form and to break away from the symetrical pattern I took of the Monument. Due to the low film speed (ISO 125) rated at 100, I exposured it for full 16min to bring out the extreme contrast between the highlights on the highway railings and the dark sky, and also exposed for the shadow details.

Nikon FM10 • ILFORD FP4 Plus • 16mins

Cindy Tan

'Peak'
© 2005 Cindy Tan

Cindy Tan
It goes a long way back when I first started out Lomography. I came across a Lomo forum where I got to know Cindy. Cindy plays with different type of compact cameras such as CX-A, LOMO FrogEye, Super Sampler, Holga, etc and she shoots more than I do. She has many nice cross-processed photographs I've ever seen which included pictures of her niece and nephew as her role models. Cindy works as a freelance writer and she does wedding photography full-time professionally.

The two B&W photographs featured here are taken by Cindy using her Lubitel 166U TLR on LUCKY SHD-100 film (made in China). 'Peak' was taken during our first night photography outing as I mentioned in my early post 'The Great Monument'. 'Infinity' was taken followed by after we walked to Esplanade Garden right under the flyover, Esplanade Way. We each took a shot. I'll feature mine in the next post.

Simplicity is the main photographic element in Cindy's work. Less is more. These images have alot to say about the cold and calmness of the night. By playing with shapes and lines in her unique composition or 'art of seeing', the sense of tranquility and peacefulness are present in it.

Lubitel 166U • LUCKY SHD-100 • Timing not recorded

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Great Monument

'The Great Monument'
© 2005 Martin Liew

The Great Monument

The last time I took this shot was on 12 Dec 2004 and it didn't turn out well. I set 'B' with aperture of f/8 and exposed for 3min40sec on Efke R100. Based on the developed film negative, it was over-exposed. This time, I used KODAK TMAX400 at f/16 and exposed for 3min36sec. I used the same exposure timing on a high speed film and this is what I get.

On that night, a fellow photographer friend of mine joined me for the first time to learn about night photography. She got some good results with her Lubitel. I'll feature some of her pictures here soon.

This is the monument built to commemorate the heroes and victims of WWII during the Japanese Occupation in Singapore circa 1942-45. Visitors and veterans came to Singapore between February and September last year to rediscover the past through heritage tours, commemorative events and exhibitions all dedicated to the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of end of World War II.

Commemorations were culminated in September with ceremonies to mark the surrender of the Japanese and the jubilant liberation of Singapore; to honor the heroes who perished, and to celebrate the beginning of a new era of independence.


Shanghai TLR • KODAK TMAX400 • 3min 36secs

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Quiet Alley

'Quiet Alley'
© 2005 Martin Liew

Quiet Alley
This image was made in a quiet alley behind a bus-stop along Moulmein Road. On the right side of the alley is a Chinese Temple. I used to bypass this bus-stop everyday to work and to home, and I had seen how the whole place looks like in the night time.

It has this mysterious feel to me and so I decided to make some pictures there. It took place on New Year Day 2005 on a windy night. I took my time to walk around the area, observing and looking for a good angle shot. While I was exposing, there were a couple of interruptions i.e. people walked by and a white car parked at the road side right at the end of the alley. Well I had to cut short on the exposure timing from 8min50sec to 6min20sec. A smallest aperture of f/22 was used for great sharpness.

Shanghai TLR • KODAK TMAX400 • 6min 20secs

Friday, June 23, 2006

No Parking

'No Parking'
© 2004 Martin Liew

No Parking

This is another place where I've long wanted to shoot becuz of the ambient light in that area which create this nice night atmospheric scene. I took this shot at 0045hrs on 14 November 2004. It was quiet except one or two vehicles drove by this narrow lane once in a few minutes. Fortunately I was able to take this shot without any cars passing by which can caused some unpleasant light trails. The sign board has long since been removed and the building has had been renovated for leasing.

Shanghai TLR • KODAK TMAX400 • 40secs

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Under The Flyover

'Under The Flyover'
© 2004 Martin Liew

Under The Flyover
I bypass this highway flyover pretty often and it's near to where I stay. I can't help but noticed this spot - the underpass during night time. I thought to myself that it'll be good for a night shoot. So on 13 November 2004, I packed up my gears and walked to that place. It was a total different feeling when I stood there for a moment or two.

There are 2 separate paths, about 20 - 30 meters apart. After walking around and observing, I chose this pavement as less people walk by. It was really dark except with that lamp post light shining down on the pavement. I really like the ambience atmosphere caused by that lamp post light shining down on the pavement and to the surrounding. Though it wasn't as quiet as there are many vehicles drove by, the resulting photo does portrait some peaceful mood in it.
Shanghai TLR • KODAK TMAX400 • 1min 30secs

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Digital Night Photography

Digital Night Photography

As I started out using film, I do not detest digital photography as we all know that it's more faster and convenient in processing and viewing via the camera LCD screen, not to mention post-processing and other digital manipulations which can take quite an amount of time. I do own a Nikon D70s but personally I still have an affinity in film. It just 2 different mediums and I do embrace both. It all depends on which tool to use on specific jobs/projects.

Here are some of my past digital night photographs, shot with my D70s. They were taken during my course at Photographic Society of Singapore (PSS) last July.



'Abstract Reflections'
© 2005 Martin Liew

'Central Business District'
© 2005 Martin Liew

'The Esplanade'
© 2005 Martin Liew

'The Merlion'
© 2005 Martin Liew

'Step-Wise Zoom Effect'
© 2005 Martin Liew

'Millennia Walk'
© 2005 Martin Liew

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

History of Seagull TLR camera

History of Seagull TLR camera

The SHANGHAI GENERAL Camera Factory is located in Song Jiang County, about 50 kilometres from Shanghai itself. This factory was formed in 1978, when the Shanghai Camera Factories numbers 1, 2 and 5 moved out from the city to the countryside location. Tha factory has 130,000 square meters of manufacturing area, with a like amount of space as housing for a portion of its workers. Those who don't live at the factory ride one hour each way on a company-provided bus.

One of the most interesting cameras made at this factory is the Red Flag 20, a copy of the Leica M4. It was made on the orders of Chiang Ching, the last wife of Mao Tze Dong. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s (officially 1966-76, also known as the 'ten years of unrest', in Chinese). At that time, Chinese firms were trying to show the outside world that they could produce first class quality goods. Camera factories were no exception.

The Shanghai Camera Factory's line of twin lens reflexes began in 1959, at about the same time as the 58-II camera was being produced. Called the 58-III in the early stages of development, it was marketed as Shanghai. Based on the Rolleiflex, it even has some parts that are interchangeable.

The Shanghai TLR has an f/2.8, 75mm viewing lens labelled only with the company logo and a serial number. The taking lens is an f/3.5, 75mm labelled with the Shanghai logo, and a completely different serial number from the viewing lens. It also has some other markings on it. The series S13-111-1 is in front of the serial number. The camera serial number is located on top of the body casting, just above the name plate. All Shanghai TLR's numbers begin with 63XXXXX.

In 1964, when it was decided to enter the export market, the Seagull name was chosen as the registered trade mark of the Shanghai Camera Factory, and all cameras then in production had their names changed to reflect this.

Therefore the Shanghai TLR became the Seagull-4 TLR. No physical changes were made in the camera, only the names are different. A new serial number configuration was also used, serial numbers for the Seagull-4 now began 4-63XXXXX to indicate the model.

Since both the Shanghai TLR and the Seagull-4 have automatic film advance, (though the shutter isn't connected, and must be reset manually), they lack the ruby windows found on most Chinese 120 cameras. The frame number appears in the center of a window in the film advance knob. Later, a film advance crank was added and the model designation changed to 4A. The depth of field scale for both the Shanghai and Seagull-4 is found in a clear window in the focussing knob. The latest version of these cameras is called the 4A-103. It incorporates a single action focussing hood. A 4A-1 with old style focussing hood, a fresnel focussing screen, and a four element three group taking lens instead of three element three group Cooke type lens used on all other Seagull TLRs was produced. It was made for the up scale market, and had limited success.

The 4B camera was designed, on the other hand, to sell on the down scale market. It uses ruby windows, and the three element Cooke type lens of the 4A. The good part of this is that with two ruby windows, you can choose between 6 x 6cm, or 6 x 4.5cm negative format. The 4B comes with a slip-in metal mask for the 6 x 4.5cm negative size. The 4B-1 has two ruby windows, and the same three element lens as the 4A-103 and 4B, but comes with an accessory hotshoe and fresnel focussing screen. All these TLRs have in common a manually set between-the-lens shutter with speeds of 1 to 1/300 second and bulb.

The chart below shows 9 Seagull TLR models.



Monday, June 19, 2006

Night Photography

My First Night Photos
© 2004 Martin Liew

Night Photography
Night photography generally refers to photographs taken outdoors between twilight and dusk. Originally night photographers had a choice between using artificial light such as flash units/torchlights or leaving the camera on a tripod and using a long shutter exposure, often for seconds or even several minutes to hours per exposure or multi-exposures, in order to give the film enough time to capture enough light to record a proper exposure.

As of today, with the progress of films and lenses and the increasing power of urban lights, night photography can often be achieved using available light e.g. floodlights, warm tungsten spotlights and even under full moon light, however this does not make the use of long exposures or a flash obsolete.

Night photography, by its very nature, is a subjective study. Almost every photographer at some point gets curious and wanders into the darkness with camera and tripod in hand. Night Photography has the ability to take a scene and cast it in an unusual light - much like the golden hour surrounding sunrise and sunset where it can add an element of mood and uniqueness to a sunlit scene. The night has always been associated with romance, mystery, fear, and the unknown. The most magical thing about the night is the element of surprise. One can never be sure of what will happen when the shutter opens after dark.

Before I was really serious into night photography I did lotsa of day shootings (which I still do) and I discovered that most photographers pack up their cameras after sunset and call it a day. As I wanted to do total different things from the others, I started out my first night photography with excitement and enthusiasm. The first camera I used was a modified Holga 120 toy camera with a fixated plastic lens. It works like a pin-hole camera.

I chose to shoot in B&W film becuz it has this timeless sense and creates an unique mood. When night falls, the night scenes are filled with many shadows and dark areas creating high contrast visions and most colors are flushed out. Therefore I don't see the point in taking color pictures unlike nocturne photography which is a whole lot different subject. Using medium format film has more advantages over 35mm film, as it is able to record more tonality and details, basically becuz the 120 negative is much bigger. I love the square format (6x6) as it poses great challenge in composing your subjects.

Initially it was a trial-&-error process for me as I learnt to estimate on the long exposure timing based on reciprocity failure. The faster film speed (400 and above) at wider aperture (f5.6 - f2.8), it requires shorter exposure timing. The slower film speed (200 and below) at smallest aperture (f8 - f22), the longer exposure timing. Not to forget about Depth of Field which depends on how much is required on the subjects based on personal preferences and the art of seeng.

The results from the Holga were really bad but I did not give up easily. I switched camera to an old Shanghai TLR (equivalent to a Seagull-4) which I inherited from my dear mother. It is the first model and predecessor of all Seagull TLRs (I'll touch on the history of Seagull TLRs soon). I got better photographs out of it and use it ever since. As I made more night pictures, I learnt from my mistakes and finally came up with a set of long exposure timing. I recorded every single exposure details on my small notebooks and it really helps a long way. As Stever Harper stated in his article "
Dark Venture: A Study of B&W Night Photography".

"Night photography remains an experimental subject primarily because it is uncontrollable in its further reaches. Even if one wishes to reshoot exactly the same photograph the following night, the end result will be different because one is dealing with imponderables-the atmosphere and the unexpected things that happen in front of an open shutter during a time exposure. Consequently, each effort is fresh, exciting, and filled with new insights."

Through all the endless sleepless Saturday nights in photo-making, I got more serious about my photographic work and thus my Nite Projekt was born. I truly enjoy making pictures in the night, for its beauty, tranquility and calmness. Maybe it's a way of seeking solitude I guess. Nothing is more pleasing and relaxing than making night pictures in the wee hours all by myself. Night photography makes me think harder on every single exposure before I press that shutter release. I've learnt to be more self-critical on my work. Photography is all about self-expression and night photography gives me that freedom and space for expressing my artistic views.

Talking about local security, never take it for granted. Once a photography instructor told me, "Never take night pictures alone. Always go out in a small groups." Well he has a point there. It's a lie if I say I've never encountered any incident/situation during all those night outings. Yes I did encounter once and it was a strange one though. Inspite of this, Post-9/11 is a tough time for night photographers, not only in the States but globally. Don't let it put you down. With individual's art of seeing, there are still many possibilities in taking night pictures at any "safe" locations.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Ngee Ann Photographic Exhibition 2006

'Lurking...'
© 2005 Martin Liew

'Under The Flyover'
© 2004 Martin Liew

'Quiet Alley'
© 2005 Martin Liew

'No Parking'
© 2004 Martin Liew


Ngee Ann Photographic Exhibition NAPE 2006

This was the second year Ngee Ann Cultural Center has organised such mass group exhibition where they called on all local photographers, young and old to participate so as to promote photography as an art form and encourage more people to pick up photography as a life-long hobby. They are organising this event annually. I was told that they have confirmed in organising early next year in March but no exact date yet. Well there might be changes later on. Who knows? If you're interested in taking part, do watch out for their island-wide advertisement in local photography magazines and posters in all major photographic stores.

I took part for the second time this year and four of my night photographs were selected for the exhibition, as shown above. All photographs were made with an old twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera on 120 medium format films. They are selected from my Nite Projekt series which I'll put them up on the next post.
As for next year's exhibition, I'll submit some of my best nocturne photographs (in color) which I will be uploading here soon. Do drop by often for more updates.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Eye é City 2005

Eye é City 2005:
A Visual Account of the Last 24 Hour of 2005
2005年岁末二十四小时人文记录

This was the fourth year of Eye é City. Through this project, the organiser encourages the documentation of social changes, recorded through photographs on the last day of the year to form the collective memories of Singapore from the eye of ordinary individuals. While for the past few years, they have had being collating photographs of amateurs, novices and professionals alike, and showcased them at exhibitions and in publications. Last year they also invite Secondary School and Junior College students to join in this meaningful event which they hope to see Singapore through the eyes of our young future leaders.

It was my first year participation in this event. It was a fun and fruitful day on 31st Dec 2005 Saturday. Six months later, on 12 June 2006, Monday, I received 2 emails from the Organising Committee. One stated about the launch of photo-book and photographic exhibition which will be featuring the 100 B&W pictures selected for the photo-book. Here the details of the event:


Book Launch cum Sharing Session
新书发布与分享会
Date: 8th July 2006, Saturday
Time: 2:30pm - 5:00pm
Venue: National Library Board, Central Lending Library @ Basement 1
100, Victoria Street

Exhibition Period: 01 - 31 July 2006
Opening Hours: 10am - 9pm


A talk (in English) by Mr Lee Tiah Khee, Chief Photographer of Lianhe Zaobao, has also been scheduled for you on the 29th July 2006, Saturday at 3.00pm at the same venue. Everyone is most welcome with their friends or colleagues to attend this talk to gain some insight on photojournalism.

All above mentioned events are free admission.

The second email is a good news for me. It stated that one or more of my submitted photographs was/were selected to be printed in the photo-book and for the exhibition as well. As a compliment, I'll be receiving a copy of the photo-book. This is really exciting for me! Awesome!

I'll post the selected photograph here on that actual day. Watch out for it!

'Lurking...' #2 《另途之期望》 三


'Lurking...' #2 《另途之期望》 三

'Lurking...' #3 were taken on 02 Feb 2006. As part of the series, #3 have a different perspective of Life. #3 symbolizes leadership and self-improvement. With every single step on the stairs, one learns the Way of Life and be a better Man who leads and guides others to attain their own Life achievements.

'Lurking...' #2 《另途之期望》 二


'Lurking...' #2 《另途之期望》 二

'Lurking...' #2 was taken on 15 Jan 2006. As part of the series, #2 has a different perspective of Life. Individual's fate differs but when it comes to the end of the road, we are all the same. #2 symbolizes to those who lead a well-to-do and luxurious lives as the many lights from the lamp posts shown in the picture.

'Lurking...' series 《另途之期望》 系列


'Lurking...' series 《另途之期望》 系列

After making many successful B&W nite pictures, I'm proud to know that I have a representative series of work and I titled it 'Lurking...'. Yes I have it in Chinese titles too. It's pretty much in metaphors about Life. It's still ongoing and I'm planning to have a series of 12 monographs. So far I have 3. More coming soon.

'Lurking...' #1 was taken on a Friday night dated 18 March 2005. I walked past this underpass towards Fort Canning Park. Upon reaching the other end of the underpass tunnel, there's a 2-way divergence. In front of me, one spiral stairs to climb up and on my right, a low steep curvy slope path with 2 high walls on each side, both leading to the same destination.

I took a walk to the latter one, walking up & down, looking & observing the area. Finally i found myself back to the starting point and set up the camera at a lower angle. I took 2 bracket shots of different angles. This is the 2nd exposure with the best result.

I like this shot becuz the curvy pavement leading to a right angle turn making you think what's behind there. There's some mysterious impact that makes this picture much interesting and appealing. Just in Life, one will never know nor predict the future, as in this case, what lies beyond the other side of the path. Life's path is never be straight and smooth as there are highs and lows and many other obstacles where one has to learn to overcome it with great courage and strength. As one moves along the way, one may lose his/her ways and this is when that light from the lamp post, which symbolizes hope and future. It guides us through our lives.

DWELL IN THE NIGHT

Quiet Alley
DWELL IN THE NIGHT is a personal photographic project which started out in late 2004. The objectives is to capture the cold and calmness of the night where time and space stand still. The scent, the climax, the beautiful night vision, and the most neglected night scenes that send off the sentimentalism or nostalgia value of one's own feelings to his/her surrounding environment.

Some mysterious combination of feeling light and the smell of an unrecognized plant bring back to some men the sense of childhood, and of future hopes and to others the sense of something which has been lost and nearly forgotten.

DWELL IN THE NIGHT, by its very nature, is a subjective study. It may covers or touches on a wide aspect of night photography but howsoever, every single picture made that captures the very moment at that time and space which are intangible enough (I hope) to interlink them together.

Therefore DWELL IN THE NIGHT is opened for interpretations...