Saturday, December 29, 2007

Quote from Robert Doisneau

You have to let the person who will look at the picture - provided that he isn't an ass - always walk along that visual path for himself. We must always remember that a picture is also made up of the person who looks at it. This is very, very important. Maybe this is the reason behind those photos that haunt me and haunt many people as well. It is about that walk that one takes with the picture when experiencing it. I think that this is what counts. One must let the viewer extricate himself for the journey. You offer the seed and then the viewer grows it inside himself. For a long time that I thought that I had to give the entire story to my audience. I was wrong.

Rober Doisneau

I begin to understand the power of images that can prompt a journey of wonder for the audience. I still like beautiful images like fashion images. But most fashion images are complete. It is like that we all should be eating well balanced meals with subtle flavours, but we all like to eat candy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Quote from Paul Strand

When Paul Strand was asked,

Is there a philosophy of life that you have tried to show in your photographs?

He answered,

I find in most cases that what the artist says about what he is going to do, or what he has done, is inadequate and not very meaningful statement. The this is the work itself, and in a sense the artist should not be asked for the philosophy of life upon which he bases his work. The work is the basis. The work is the thing itself.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all. It has been a roller coaster ride for the year. Next year will be another one.

Quote from Susan Sontag

I have been reading an article in Aperture called 'We are all photographers now!' by Fred Ritchin.

In the article Ritchin quotes from Susan Sontag's book Regarding the Pain of Others.

"Photography is the only major art in which professional training and years of experience do not confer an insuperable advantage over the untrained and inexperienced - this for many reasons, among them the large role that chance (or luck) plays in the taking of pictures, and the bias toward the spontaneous, the rough, the imperfect."

I guess this is one of the reasons why photography is so undervalued. Most people will probably think that anyone can take a photograph, and in some respect, they are right.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The New Pond web site for 2008

The Pond website has been updated.

In 2008 Anvin Hoo and Shin Lim will be junior associates in The Pond. You can see their work on the new website.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Corps de Ballet - Jennifer Alexander - American Ballet Theater - New York City Ballet - Dance - New York Times

Corps de Ballet - Jennifer Alexander - American Ballet Theater - New York City Ballet - Dance - New York Times

In my mind, dance is the hardest and most unforgiving art form there is. This article telling us how difficult it is to become a dancer in the corp de ballet, but not a soloist, resonates. In every job actually, there can only be a handful of stars, and no matter how hard people try, the majority of struggling .... (name a job), will be mediocre.

Truth, Responsibility and Shooting Nudes

I think that my own inspiration for shooting nudes came from my work with shooting dancers. It was my interest in the beauty of the dancer's body. In many ways, my love of shooting nudes has been an aesthetic exercise. The body as an object.

Today a young photographer has prompted me to think about the issues of shooting nudes. In Singapore, it can be a controversial activity. I am not even sure if it is legal. I am fortunate that my own parents trust me enough not to question my own judgment in my nude photography. So I do feel that there is an unjustified stigma against shooting nudes. And this to me is more of a case of since some nudes are pornographic and undesirable, then all nudes should not be taken. Too broad a stroke in my opinion.

Why do people shoot nudes? It is an organic form that has intrigued artists through the ages. It is beautiful. It is sexual. It can be portraiture. It can be pornography. It can be documentary. And regardless of the intent of the photography, people will read a nude with their own prejudices. Just like the racial, social and sexual prejudices people hold. And if truth be told, one cannot deny the sexual undercurrent of shooting a nude, regardless of the intent of the photography.

I think an all or nothing approach is meaningless. It is amazing how advertisements convey sexuality without nudity. And excuse me, not one of us would be around if our parents had not copulated. There is nothing wrong with sexuality and attraction. What does matter is how we treat one another. I think this is the crux of the matter. What matters is if we do something that hurts another being. To my mind, sexuality harnessed for consumerism is so much worse. Is it ok to promote random sexual acts to sell jeans? But we cannot look at an artistic nude because it corrupts the mind? Come on, what is wrong when two people decide to create an art work? It is of mutual consent and the two people will need to respect one another.

I think that instead of sweeping issues under the carpet and hope that bad things won't happen, we should be more open and teach the young to make their own value judgments. Young people cannot be shielded from bad things forever. The truth is that a sexual act can be an act of love or an act of violation. The photography of a nude can be a work of art or it could be a piece of cheap pornography. People should be taught to be responsible in their sexual activity. What happens if a woman gets pregnant? What happens if one gets a sexually transmitted disease? People should take responsibility when they shoot a nude. Is the photographer being respectful of the model? Is the photographer responsible in how the images are shown to an audience. And an audience has a responsibility too, to discern whether an image is degrading or respectful. And is such a depiction valid? Actually, what is the point of shooting a nude? This is an important question too.

Human interaction is very subtle and has many layers. The key is for people to take responsibility for their own actions.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sony World Photography Awards : Cannes 2008

Sony World Photography Awards : Cannes 2008

Most prestigious photography competitions have an entry fee. Submitting a few images can lead to a hefty entry fee. This looks like a pretty good competition and the entry is free.

So if you fancy yourself a world class photographer, why not submit a few images. The Sony World Photography Awards can't be that bad.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Quote from Flight to Arras

What ought we be? That is the essential question, the question that concerns spirit and not intelligence. For spirit impregnates intelligence with the creation that is to come forth. And later, intelligence is brought to the bed of creation.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

I got an e-mail from Geoff about this wonderful website. It tells us about consumerism and why it is unsustainable and why it is bad for our health. I really urge you to go visit this web site. In this day and age, we have to get out of the old capitalist mind set.

Thanks Geoff.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Ramble through my mind

Amidst working on my exhibition and trying to promote The Pond, I still have managed to go watch some movies. Things that have been provoking my mind.

The first thing was watching a Norwegian film, An Enemy of the People, based on a play by Ibsen. I do not want to spoil the story line for people, but it is about how normal people in society will take what is good in the short term, even doing something immoral, if it affects their livelihoods. It kinds of puts into perspective the materialistic world we live in, where idealists are not welcome.

The next thing I did was watch a documentary on American photographer, William Eggleston. He was the photographer that brought colour photography into the art world. His pictures are of the mundane, even the banal, but they show a singular vision, of how someone can give value to objects we walk by in the street daily by taking its photograph. There is a quote in the documentary that goes "Photography tends to show, to describe, much more than they can explain." And how true it is. Photographs can be so emotionally descriptive, but they carry very little explanation if any.

What also struck me about Eggleston is that he is a controversial figure. Ansel Adams was appalled by Eggleston's first exhibition in a museum. How is such work considered art? And there are moments in the documentary we can see the defiance and vulnerability of Eggleston. He says defiantly, "I do not care what people think". Only in a moment later to say, "yes I do". And to me, as a photographer, I understand this inner conflict. The value of a photographer is in his or her unique vision, and it is something that the photographer has to defend in defiance of what the public thinks or says. But there is the other human side of the artist, that wants people to appreciate the images, to praise the images. People who succeed with their own vision are motivated and opinionated.

This reinforces what I thought about Frank Gehry. The visionaries are controversial people. Some people will love them and others will hate them. And who does become appreciated is also dependent on how the general populace is thinking. Van Gogh died a pauper but is sold for millions today. There could have been others who are simply never appreciated. What I think is that being safe and giving people what they want, what they already know, is a good way to be forgotten in the long run. You will not be bringing anything new into this world. There is no chance of changing people's ideas or viewpoints.

So forget what other people tell you. Think for yourself, be yourself. Like Eggleston said, his audience is basically himself. Be your own audience. Be your own best fan, in the face of what people say. Martin Parr faced a lot of opposition joining Magnum. There were photographers who disliked his work. And Martin Parr has been critical of other photographer's portfolios. What can a person do? A person can simply continue his or her own search and believe in his or her own self. There is nothing else to do. Whether fame and fortune comes, it is beyond our control. All we can do is enjoy the journey.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Google Map to The Pond

View Larger Map

Ok. I am officially impressed with Google maps. And to be able to put a link like this... What more can I say?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Le Petite Portrait

I know people who are interested in getting a simple portrait by me but do not want a full portrait session. Some people even want passport photos done by me!

Anyway, in January, for the people who want a petite portrait session, who are interested to see how I work in the studio or even those who are looking for a passport photo by me, here is the promo for you. :)

One hour with me, ten shots to take back, one photo touched up with one print, one hundred Singapore dollars.

The following conditions apply!
1) This promotion entitles every individual to a SINGLE 1-hour indoor portrait session.
2) The Client will receive 10 images of their choice, of which, 1 image will be chosen for minor digital re-touching and an 8" x 12" print.
3) Photo-shoot bookings should be done at least a week in advance, scheduled between 10am to 6pm on weekdays only.
4) The Client will receive digital files of images for personal use only and shall not sell or authorize any reproduction other than for personal usage. Terms and charges for commercial usage shall be negotiated separately with The Pond.
5) Confirmation of booking is based on a signed quotation raised by The Pond and payment is to be made upon completion of the photographic service.
6) No voucher may be combined with this promotion.
7) The Pond reserves the right to modify any terms and conditions without any prior notification to the user.

Monday, December 03, 2007



I watched the DVD on Frank Gehry yesterday. It is wonderful that such a creative person has been a commercial success as well. Like other people at the forefront of the work, he has his detractors. I found this documentary really inspirational. I love the fact that Frank Gehry has taken risks again and again. And like everyone who is exploring, some of his work is better than others.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Prostitute auctions sex for charity

This article in Reuters shows that everyone can contribute to society... in their own way.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sudanese protesters demand death for teddy teacher - Yahoo! News

Sudanese protesters demand death for teddy teacher - Yahoo! News

I am still baffled by how people assume that religion preaches peace. At least monothestic religions are by definition exclusive. In fact, for religious people to live peacefully, they would have to disregard parts of their religious text that would urge believers to do things like stone non-believers.

There is another interesting story that is not being told. Of how Muslim insurgents are carrying out ethnic cleansing in Southern Thailand. You can here the BBC story here. The BBC is very brave for continually reporting on things that we would rather not be bothered with.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

No Money in the long tail - CNET Blogs

I think technology is fundamentally changing our lives. And it is important to understand the possibilities of what we do. This article on who can make money on the Long Tail makes perfect sense. What it is saying is that you have to be someone like Amazon or Google to make money from all this internet activity. You and me, who blog will not make money from it. But then we did not start doing this for money.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tekkonkinkreet - Official Site

Tekkonkinkreet - Official Site

I watched the animation Tekkonkinkreet today. I was blown away by the visual lushness of the show. The story line was not that fantastic, but there was so much character and human values in it. I just love this type of work where there are rich textures and existential explorations. Why or why are most of the things in Singapore so two dimensional and superficial? Thank goodness there are people like Royston Tan making head way. We need more imagination here. We need more people not to be held back by their fear of failure or fear of not making money. Money is not every thing. And we need the red tape to lighten up so that we can be more creative. Aaarrrrggggghhhhh........

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Javier Vallhonrat - Michele Filomeno Agency

Javier Vallhonrat - Michele Filomeno Agency

Wow. I don't see fashion photography like this in Singapore. Or am I missing something?

Eddie Izzard - Brit vs US movies

I thought the lego Darth Vader in the canteen was a one off. There is a whole series of lego sketches voiced by Eddie Izzard. Lego has never been this funny before!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Collecting Moss

A posting in the facebook group, Abandoned Spaces in Singapore, got me thinking. The writer said that he may be an abandoned space.

Lately, I am beginning to feel that way too. Like an abandoned space. A shell that has lived for over forty years. There are parts of me that are still functional and being maintained. Then there is the personal side, which has been like an abandoned house. Too many bad memories to want to visit that part of the house. Let nature have it. The place where passions used to run high, where conflict pushed me into depression. It is now strangely empty. The emotions of lonliness, tenderness, jealousy like fading, decaying paint on a cracked wall. Partly hidden by a layer of dust and dirt.

To continue with the analogy. The maintained front of the house, where I am doing my photography and continuing to live... Will it be slowly be overtaken by the decay of the abandoned spaces in me? Or can I wander through the abandoned spaces within me, like I do abandoned spaces in Singapore. Admiring the textures and history, being inspired by distant dreams of the past and future. Drawing on all those emotions I once was too weak to face, but can now examine with a more detached eye.

I am not sure if I will ever let someone else in again. Whether I will renovate the abandoned space within or keep it locked from the public, I don't know. But I am determined that it is a space that I will not deny. For all experience and textures are food for personal research. And I think the role of the work, is to bring to light the emotional textures, to highlight the common experience of being human. Advertising always shows the pretty, the ideal. But humans are so much deeper. And for me, there is beauty in survival, in weathering the storm and having cracks.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

TED | Talks | Blaise Aguera y Arcas: Jaw-dropping Photosynth demo (video)

TED | Talks | Blaise Aguera y Arcas: Jaw-dropping Photosynth demo (video)

Thanks to Ivy for dropping by my blog and telling me about this Photosynth project. It is really mind boggling what the internet is doing. And just this blogging interaction is so beautiful.

Holy moly! � Flickr Blog

Holy moly! � Flickr Blog

There are over two Billion images on Flickr. It boggles the mind to think that virtual space could possibly rival real space our attention. What with Facebook and all.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Quote from Imogen Cunningham

Oh, you ask me, what is the greatest torture of a person who does portraits for a living? I could fill several volumes with nice nasty stories. I don't know.

I enjoy taking portraits, but Imogen Cunningham's quote is just full of attitude.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Straits Times

Straits Times

How times change. Shin, my assistant also told me that one of her lecturers in America feels that it is not possible to make money just from photography anymore. Not quite true, but a sign of the times ahead.

Ken Seet on Digital Black and White

Last weekend I was at the Pix expo with Ken Seet. I was giving a lecture on basic portrait lighting and he gave a lecture on his method for digital black and white. Ken Seet has been a lover of fine art black and white prints for a long time. And he has spent a lot of time in the dark room. It is interesting that he shoots everything digitally now on a DSLR. His black and white prints from digital capture to digital output is very very good. So it was really nice to listen to him talk.

The first point he made at the start of the talk is that there are two types of contrast in an image, overall contrast and local contrast. And for him, the drama of a black and white image is in the tones and textures.

I was very happy to hear that Ken is shooting raw nowadays. What he does is he outputs three versions of the image he is working on, one that has highlight detail, one that has shadow detail and one that has mid tones. What he then does is use masking to have detail in highlights, mid tones and shadow area. In terms of overall contrast, Ken is actually lowering the overall contrast of the image by this method. It is like a one shot version of HDR using three outputs of the raw image.

Ken then burns and dodges the image to bring out the drama. He vignettes his images a lot. And in places where there is texture, he actually dodges the highlights to create better local contrast.

Thanks to Ken, I understood why I hated so much digital black and white work. People get relatively flat images from digital files. The try and put punch into the image by giving it overall contrast. This blows the highlights and kills the shadow areas, making a very unbelievable image. There is no detail to get engaged in. What a good image has is low overall contrast, bringing in detail from all over. In fact, Ken said in his talk that he likes shooting in low contrast situations. He then creates the drama by increasing local contrast. Brilliant!

Ken's insight has clarified a lot for me. But one thing I would like to add. Very good files for black and white can now be prepared from raw in Adobe CS3. The first thing is that you can do a good black and white conversion now controlling the colour response via sliders. The second thing is that you can use highlight recovery and fill light to bring out detail in the highlights and shadow areas respectively. You will then get a file that has a relatively flat overall contrast, but great as a first file to work from. This saves all the hassle of producing three versions and masking for the detail.

And one other tool is the clarity slider that increases local contrast.

I feel that an image maker still has to do selective burning and dodging for a personal interpretation, but Adobe CS3 really helps the process along.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Quote from 401 Design Meditations

If you have arrived, you had better hang it up and go away.
There is no more reason to continue. We never arrive.

Terry Marks Principal, Terry Marks Design

No where to go, nothing to be, nothing to do.

As long as I can remember, I have struggled. I have wanted to be popular, to want to have a soul mate, to be successful, to understand what my life is about. In spite of what certain people think, I have always applied myself to what I do, to go further than enough. I have no regrets. I think with all that hacking away at the outer rock, I have slowly carved myself as myself.

In this world of selling and consumerism, we are told we need to be slimmer, have bigger breast or dicks, own the newest gadget, be with the in crowd, travel to exotic places, own designer clothes, dine at the best restaurants, own a mansion, have maids, be able to have sex all night and then have stronger orgasms, look young till we are in the coffin, even have a silk padded coffin. Whatever. Marketing preys on our insecurities. In many ways we do not comprehend, we amplify our insecurities. In some ways it is simpler to be a native lost in the woods. I suppose there are petty bickerings, but the major issue is what is there to eat and where should one live. I do not think that material life causes so much unhappiness, until they get a television set and get all the sub-conscious or conscious marketing.

Everyone has an idea of what right is, how we can be happy, satisfy our needs. And they will tell you. People make themselves feel better by telling you what is wrong with your life. Well, they may be right or they may not. We all have to find a way to figure this out for ourselves. For in spite of what some great leader or thinker may say, we ultimately have to live with ourselves.

I have sampled some really nice things in life. And the best things in life can give you a momentary high, like a drug. But if you are a fundamentally insecure person, you can never be happy.

I have put my effort in and struggled to be the best, and I am just not the flavor of the day. But far from depressing me, this has given me great relief. I do not regret my experiences and now I have a better perspective of what life is about.

For me at this point of time, emotional comfort and sexual gratification are part of the human nature, not that far off from eating, breathing and shitting. Fame, wealth, comfort, luxury are all optional. If we can take care of or overcome our innate needs, it is not necessary to pursue all that external craving. I am not talking of getting enlightened either. I am not that spiritually advanced. I think we have all heard about stopping to smell the roses, and this is exactly what I mean. For me, I have begun to enjoy have a nice studio, good food in Joo Chiat, roller blading at East Coast park, exploring abandoned spaces in Singapore.

Well, some people can say Ngiap Heng is like the wolf talking about sour grapes. Not really, I still want success and the soul mate if I can ever get them. But I am not going to mope around being depressed if they do not come. I have a lot going for me already, I will just appreciate what I have instead of getting depressed over what I have not. Everyone has some things going for them and some things that are not. But we should not listen to all that advertising crap preying on our insecurities. We also have some good things going for us, enjoy that mate.

Here is to smelling the roses and knowing it takes shit to grow roses.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Letting go, finding peace

I am reading the book Six Impossible Things to believe before Breakfast by Lewis Wolpert. One of the ideas in the book is that we are programmed from young to believe in causality. This comes from our tool making abilities, where we see some action resulting in some tool or outcome.

I have always believed in hard work. And I have been brought up to respect the people around me, to treat them nice. I have been dumbfounded by why my efforts to improve myself and to treat people nicely have not resulted in acceptance. I have sub consciously believed in causality. I have believed that I am responsible for the success and failure of my relationships, my business, politics and even global warming. It makes me depressed when all that effort does not give the results I expect it to. And I have been wrong. I am responsible for my own effort and my own actions. But whether some woman likes me or whether ultimately my business succeeds or fails is beyond my control. Heck, so many of us outside the United States did not want George Bush to have a second term but were dumbfounded when he got in a second time, with a majority to boot.

I am at peace now. I have not given up. I am still going to try and succeed in the photography business and in photography. I am going to continue to treat people as nicely as I can. But the difference is that if things do not go the way I had anticipated it, I am not going to take it personally anymore. My father has told me time and again that things are not under our control. I guess that I have understood it intellectually but it never sunk it. It has now.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thousands in US anti-war protests

BBC NEWS | Americas | Thousands in US anti-war protests

One of the national co-ordinators of the protests, Leslie Kielsen, told Reuters that the "half a trillion" dollars spent on the war was money that could have been used for education, social housing and to feed the hungry.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Unwanted prints - No more

I have been approached by a theatre company who needs 4R prints to destroy in a play next year. They say they need about 2000 prints. I think that I have a couple of hundred lying around that I can donate. Does anyone out there have photographic prints they are willing to let some artists creatively destroy? :)

I have been told that the theatre group has found their prints, so there is no more need for prints. Thanks.

The Pond web site updated

I guess it has been a while. With two blogs and Face Book, updating The Pond web site does not seem to be so important. But it is time.

I have updated the portraits and fashion sections under work.
I have also updated the project and figure work under personal. I have added a lot of my work from Tuscany. I think this is an indication of the direction that I want to go to.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Josef Koudelka

Josef Koudelka

"The maximum, that is what has always interested me."

This is the only quote from Koudelka, but what a quote.

Somewhere Deep Down, We Still Care. Don't We?

Somewhere Deep Down, We Still Care. Don't We?

When I hear about the fires going on in California or the uprising in Burma, I know that something wrong is happening. But I am no longer able to emotionally react to it. There is just so much happening out there in the world. I really wonder, do we still care? With the difficulty with staying alive today, how cane we address other people's suffering? This article is timely.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Strobist: Young Blood: A Chat with Photographer Joey Lawrence

Strobist: Young Blood: A Chat with Photographer Joey Lawrence

Wesley pointed out this young 17 year old photographer Joey Lawrence. There are these young prodigies who are taking over the commercial market. Their work is 50% imagination and 50% photoshop work. Their photographic school is Flickr.

There is a Singapore prodigy, on Flickr she is known as Zemotion.

I think that the dropping price of decent DSLRs and photoshop is allowing these young gifted people make an impact that is changing the landscape of photography in general and commercial photography in particular.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

In the eye of the storm

I have pursued photography for eight years now, confounding some people that I have come this far, surprising others that I am still struggling to find work. These eight years have been full of discoveries and firsts. I have slowly overcome my own misgivings about my own photography by looking at the different aspects of my practise and working on them. There is still a lot that I want to do in photography, but there is a part of me that is confident that I can produce good photographs. Good enough to be paid for my services. I have worked on the photography as well as the business. I am still working on my photography and promoting my company, but things are still almost silent. At this point, I may be in the eye of a storm, or I may be in a country where there is not a market for the type of photography I practise. The trend in photography in Singapore tends to be advertising and fashion photography. These types of photography are not that interesting to me. I like to take portraits and dance photographs.

The point of this all is that I may be good at what I do, but it may be that other people are really just not interested. Like classical music nowadays and its dwindling audience. It is not that these musicians are not good, it is just that the masses prefer popular music.

I think that by the end of next year, I will have to asses the situation and see if my present working model works or if I have to change it. It has been about a year since I restarted work as a corporate portrait photographer. Maybe it just takes more time.

I realise, while talking to friends, that no one owes me a living or with so many photographer out there, there is no reason why I am more special or better than anyone out there. It is up to me to find the meaning in my work and to convince an audience of the worth of what I do. In other words, if I want anything done, I have to do it myself. At least in initiating projects and work. While doing a project it is possible to get people to assist and do parts of the work, but I have to orchestrate the process. Once I have a body or work, I have to present and market the work. Everyone is looking for attention to their own work, and the competition is fierce. I feel this of all walks of life in this modern age, not just photography.

Once again I will say, that the path I have chosen has challenges, but so does every other path. I continue on this path because I have no interests in other paths. And even if my current model does not work, I am not giving up photography. I will simply find another way to continue being a photographer. Better to live a life struggling for a cause, than drifting aimlessly in relative comfort.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

PRIVATE international review of black and white photographs

PRIVATE international review of black and white photographs

And here is another online magazine that is interesting. This suggestion is from Geoffrey Pakiam.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blueeyes Magazine

Blueeyes Magazine

I just had a photographer's gathering at the studio because Wes is in town. Bryan van der Beek told me about this site. Check it out. A site for long term photo stories.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Abstinence hurts

Abstinence hurts

It is funny that I went to the Christian Aid web site because someone is using the name of Christian Aid to con me out of money. I wanted to report the letter to them.

I came across this letter and I am pleased that at least some practical Christians have come to the realization that asking the congregation to abstain actually hurts because it breeds ignorance and young people then get infected with HIV.

Expat Living Cover

Expat Living magazine has chosen an image of mine to be put on the cover of their magazine this month. They did an article on my favourite photo. They liked it so much that they decided to use if for the cover. creating photo memorials from ashes. creating photo memorials from ashes.

I read about this in Gizmodo and wondered if this was a joke. But here is the actual site. I have been thinking about death quite a bit recently. But I really cannot think how mixing ask of a loved one and printing a picture is relevant????

Wednesday, October 03, 2007



Ok. I like Japanese Girls and I like dance. So people send me links like this, cute Japanese girls dancing to advertise knitware. :) Man, if I don't do any work for the next month you know why. Thank goodness I have unlimited broadband or else I would loose so much money on internet access. Muahahahahaha.

Power Breakthrough: Betavoltaic Battery Could Power Your Laptop for Thirty Years - Gizmodo

Power Breakthrough: Betavoltaic Battery Could Power Your Laptop for Thirty Years - Gizmodo

Unbelievable. Could this be for real?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Quotes from Memories of a dog by Daido Moriyama

In the same way that people have them, towns have dreams and memories. Just as people's memories are made from a weave of various strands, so too a town is a mixture of all matter and space-time. Towns have survived by mercilessly consuming all of the ambition and despair that humans have. From ancient times people, inspired by countless dreams, have built towns on this earth, and as ambition gave way to futher ambition, countless towns were also lost from the earth. Towns unfailingly mix the traces of this human ambition and despair in memory, which then continually queries human beings with new dreams. In all of the towns on earh, no matter how often they may turn to dust beyond the reach of time, the memory of the dreams of the people who came before are securely conveyed to the people of the next generation. I am often carried away by an inexpressible thought: The memories of how many towns lie in layers under the piece of earth I am standing on right now! This is fabulous, like pausing on the bridge that spans the river of space-time that flows from ancient times to the present, and on into future. When I walk now, camera in hand, through an actual town, I am listening to the memories of dreams spoken by a town that once was, and I am also envisioning a modest documentation addressed to the dreams of the town to come.

People live in the immediate present. If one has an instant awareness of being alive, it is nothing but the immediate present. We no longer have any feel for the past we have lived. When people realize that the time they supposedly lived through actually has no substance and that there are no means of self-verification, they tend to be seized with fear and an unspeakable apprehension about the excessive certainty of it all. Because we are living our everyday lives does not mean that we are constantly aware of being alive, not does it mean we have a definite tomorrow. In the end human existence has essentially nothing to rely on. The scenes I am certain I saw some thirty years ago could just be something that I am convinced that I saw in my own memory, and it is possible they were imaginary scenes to start with. With a completely transformed landscape before me, I am suddenly aware of how forsaken my life is, and how it is not possible to verify to anyone else the scenes that I once saw.

It is amazing to me how self-aware Daido Moriyama is. I usually think that photographs should speak for themselves and if the photographs need explanation, then the photographer has failed. But these insights are not Moriyama describing his photographsb, but Moriyama musing about his thoughts and life. You do not see how he photographs, but his process leading up to his photography. Reading Moriyama's thoughts has given me much food for thought. There is so much wider perspective, that can add new dimensions to my own work as an image maker. This is wonderful! I cannot and do not want to be a Moriyama wannabe, but he has shown me new possibilities. And that is all one photographer can do for another, show possibilities.

Tzuki Cool!

In spite of my age, I am drawn to this character of a rabbit by Wang Momo. Here is the site for Tzuki (rabbit) emoticons.

Monday, October 01, 2007

How to Quit Facebook - wikiHow

How to Quit Facebook - wikiHow

If Facebook is taking over your life, here is a DIY cure yourself treatment. If this fails, you probably will need professional help!

Web of cash, power and cronies - World -

Web of cash, power and cronies - World -

It is interesting that we have an arms industry here in Singapore that sells arms to oppresive regimes.

Stand with the Burmese Protesters

Stand with the Burmese Protesters

Please sign a petition against the violence in Burma. It is a sad thing that is happening there.

Stand with the Burmese Protesters

Stand with the Burmese Protesters

Please sign a petition against the violence in Burma. It is a sad thing that is happening there.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Our current obsession sung

The weight of an image

The right photo strikes the eye, as the right chord strikes the ear. Mark Riboud.

I learnt about Contacts in Tuscany from Anders Peterson. It is a series of short films in which photographers talk about their contact sheets and the way they take photographs. It is so fascinating being able to get a peak into the minds of great photographers. The above quote by Mark Riboud is from his short film.

As I watch photographers pick their selected images from countless others, I wonder what makes an image the image? All images are abstractions, just little dots forming patterns on paper. And as Ansel Adams said,

There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.

What makes patterns on a paper a good photograph? The way the patterns create a visual form which resonates with the viewer? That is just a pretty picture no? When the symbols in the image, that is the content of the image, strikes a chord in the viewer? And if the viewer does not have knowledge of the symbols in the image, is it that striking? And there those images that speak of the human condition, probably universal to all human viewers. Do we not all cry when we are sad and laugh when we are happy. Or are emotions in an image enough to make an image good? So many questions.

There are rules and methods that can help us make a dynamic, visually striking image. And sometimes, when an image is so visually strong, it can inspire the viewer to other thoughts. But there are even stronger images, that make us think about the condition of existence, images that make us question our own values, our own lives. How are these images made? I do not think that the images that are great have a formula and you cannot teach people how to take them. Like Imogen Cunningham said,

I don't think there's any such thing as teaching people photography, other than influencing them a little. People have to be their own learners. They have to have a certain talent.

Photography is an alchemy of unconscious emotions and thoughts. The training of photography is not to be found in geometry, philosophy or mechanics. It is an art where the photographer is like a stone under a waterfall, slowly being washed into a shape by the torrent of visual experience. You basically learn photography by taking photographs again and again. And each time you see the results build a intuition for the resonant image, the image that can touch strangers around the world.

So young photographers, ask not about the technique or the method. You can learn that yourself. Look to the process of the photographer you admire. What drives the photographer, how his alchemy loops from photograph to editing to print to the next photograph and the ongoing internal discourse. And that will teach you nothing as a photographer's process is as unique as the photographer. What you will see is the possibilities of seeing. And what you must learn is how to find your own loop of alchemy.

Photographs are not an end game, not even for commercial photography in my view. Photographs are partial answers begging for more questions. Pictures that are complete are easily forgotten. Pictures should haunt the viewer long after they have left the presence of the viewer.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Dance Europe Cover

Well, it sure has been a year of first for me. This was an unexpected surprise. An image that I shoot for the Legacy of Goh Choo San made it to the cover of Dance Europe. Apparently the editor bumped a cover from the Bolshoi Ballet for this. Crazy.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I have been thinking about how to foster a sense of community in Singapore amongst photographers. This came from reading a post by Geoffrey Pakim on Midnight Tales.

I think something like a forum would be good. But to feed this forum, a roundup of what is being blogged is good. I have used Yahoo pipes to make a feed of some of the blogs of Singaporean photographers. Please check it out and let me know your thoughts.



Ok. I have managed to find a free forum hosting site. So I have started a PhotoblogSG forum. And instead of using pipes I have used bloglines to collect Singaporean Photographer's blog. I have cobbled together a website which I am hosting of The Pond web site. Ok folks, it ain't pretty. But it has a forum and listing of blogs. Can you please try it out. See how the forum and blog readings go for you. Let me know if there are forum groups I should include or blogs I should list.

Check out

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dead and resurrected

The original hard drive in my Mac G5 died last night. The computer seemed to hang. When I rebooted the computer, I had no operating system. The Apple warranty was for a year and this computer is over two year old. But I had backed up the operating system onto a firewire external drive. So I went to Sim Lim and got a replacement drive for $89. Plonked the new drive into the G5, booted from the firewire external drive, and restored the system. The program I used for copying the system drive to the external and then back is called Super Duper. I think that there are free ways of doing this, but the Super Duper interface is simple.

I keep wanting to do this with the windows machines I have. But the main program that does this is Ghost and it does not seem to have a simple clone function. Then you cannot boot a windows machine from an external hard drive either. There are real reasons why the Mac is easier for users.

But for iphone users who have unlocked their phone, beware. With the next software update, you could have the ibrick.

An ode to Leica in the New Yorker

A Critic at Large: Candid Camera: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

This is an ode to Leica. Makes me want to go out and buy one, but I really do not have the cash for it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Does anyone want to learn Digital workflow from me?

I rather talk about living as a photographer, but I have spent quite a bit of time learning about digital workflow. How should we shoot digitally, download files, rename, process stuff etc. I wonder whether anyone out there would be interested in like a one day seminar on digital workflow?

alec soth - blog � Blog Archive � This post is not about sex machines

alec soth - blog � Blog Archive � This post is not about sex machines

Alex Soth invited Tim Archibald to talk about his work. A fascinating insight to how one photographer is digging into “all the rich stuff, the complex emotions.”

Thursday, September 20, 2007

BBC NEWS | UK | Fund to fight 'witchcraft' abuse

BBC NEWS | UK | Fund to fight 'witchcraft' abuse

What people are willing to do for their beliefs can really be terrible. Torturing children because they are accused of being possessed. Yucks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Just how I feel right now

YoungJedi: The Story of Monkey God Tree in Jurong West Street 42

YoungJedi: The Story of Monkey God Tree in Jurong West Street 42

This is a hilarious story about a local story. :)

Artificial Sweeteners: No Calories ... Sweet!

Artificial Sweeteners: No Calories ... Sweet!

I am almost diabetic. So I take a lot of artificial sweeteners. In reservists, someone told me that Aspartame is neurotoxic. And there are horror stories found on the internet. I guess that it is scary for me.

Fortunately, organisations like the U.S. Food and Drugs administration has informative web sites. For now, I am continuing to take Equal. But it looks like Splendour, made from a sugar that does not get absorbed, may be a better long term sweetener.

'The New York Times' drops online subscription service | Tech news blog - CNET

'The New York Times' drops online subscription service | Tech news blog - CNET

Hmm. This is really significant I think. In the way media gets to people. We are really becoming a digital world.

Also interesting to note that The Straits Times online is still through subscription only. I wonder how long this will last?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Bounty set over Prophet cartoon

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Bounty set over Prophet cartoon

So remind me again how religions promote love and peace? Except maybe for the Jains, I am not convinced. And before you tell me that it is only the Muslim fundamentalists, explain the crusades and the war in Ireland.

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Gods row minister offers to quit

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Gods row minister offers to quit

The power of belief over rational science.

More than 190 arrested at D.C. protest - Yahoo! News

More than 190 arrested at D.C. protest - Yahoo! News

Naked Truth - An interview with Jock Sturgess

Jock Sturgess is an art photographer who has shot nudes of people of all ages. He usually works in naturalists camps where people are very comfortable being nude. However, some right-wing Christian group managed to convince the FBI to investigate him as a child-pornographer. He has not convicted, but the experience has changed his life. In this interview he talks about his work and the experience of being investigated.

I came across this article from Alex Soth's Blog.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Toscana Photographic Workshop - Photographer of the Month

::: TPW ::: Toscana Photographic Workshop

The Toscana Photographic Workshops are featuring me as The Photographer of the month. The nice folks there. I let them have some of my new dance photography. =)

mrbrown: L'infantile terrible of Singapore: the mrbrown show: the pre-guard duty test

mrbrown: L'infantile terrible of Singapore: the mrbrown show: the pre-guard duty test

All we talk about in reservists is the guy going AWOL with a gun. And Mr Brown captures this so well.

Islamic Spain: history's refrain - Yahoo! News

Islamic Spain: history's refrain - Yahoo! News

Amongst all the news of religious fundamentalism arising today, here is a nice piece of history. Showing that a religiously tolerant Islamic Spain, brought many achievements to Europe.

At its peak, it lit the Dark Ages with science and philosophy, poetry, art, and architecture. It was the period remembered as a golden age for European Jews. Breakthroughs in medicine, the introduction of the number zero, the lost philosophy of Aristotle, even the prototype for the guitar all came to Europe through Islamic Spain.

And an intolerant inquisition lead the downfall of Spain.

Ultimately, Christian kingdoms gained the upper hand as the Muslim kingdoms of Islamic Spain fell. Spain's Muslims and Jews were forced to either leave or convert. This led to the rise of the Inquisition, whose purpose was to verify the loyalty of suspect converts. The expulsions and inquisitions racked Spain economically, culturally, and morally. Its power was severely compromised. The fall of pluralism in Spain was the fall of Spain itself.

I have always believed that even if we are inherently selfish, but intelligent enough to realize that no man is an island, the world will be a better place. I want to have a prosperous and peaceful life. And to ensure this, I want to make sure that the people that surround me are well taken care of. I want the people whom I work with to be prosperous so that they will continue to work with me. And I want to be able to interact and support as many people as I can. And thus I would prefer that as many people as possible are tolerant to differences in race, religion, social status and sexual orientation. We have to treat people well to ensure our own well being. And for me, treating the people around me well is more than physical security, it brings me satisfaction to see happy contented people around me. And being surrounded by good vibrations is my heaven on earth. I do not have to wait for the after life for my rewards.

Separation by race, religion or political beliefs, leads to friction, energy spent not on development but enforcement of a precarious peace. We need to integrate not segregate.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mother Teresa's Crisis of Faith - Yahoo! News

Mother Teresa's Crisis of Faith - Yahoo! News

There is so much to think about when you read about Mother Teresa's crisis of faith. While reading about this, it is important that one makes up his or her own mind. There must be an innate need for faith in mankind. Still, I hope that people will fully engage and realize that as a world, we have to put our differences aside. Faith can inspire people to do great things, but other people can use faith as a reason for war, genocide and terrorist acts.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Facebook 'costs businesses dear'

I have recently received many invitations to join facebook and finally succumbed. I already have an account on Friendster and am a relatively active user of Flickr. Facebook starts of as a social networking tool but then has many applications that do so many esoteric things. It was interesting to come across this article on BBC news about Facebook being a real time drain on work.

I am already so short of time to do things that updating the blog is time consuming. It remains to be seen if Facebook will become a true networking tool or a fad.

In reservists

I was informed that I am the oldest person in my unit. I guess there is a price to be paid for all those years abroad studying. I will still have a couple of years more of service to the country at least.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rude Singaporeans - Couples making out

I came across this article on Rude Singaporeans blog. Interesting blog. I feel like mounting a video camera in my car to capture the dangerous and rude vehicles I constantly see on Singapore roads and posting it on this site.

The Pond web site blocked

A friend from reservists told me that he was once able to access my web site but is not able to anymore. He suspects it is because I have figure work on the site. Just curious to know if anyone here in Singapore has problems accessing The Pond website?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Kaki 5 Farewell

Please sign a petition for curbing global warming

I thought you'd like to know about this urgent call for action on global warming. I'm one of hundreds of thousands who've signed a petition on climate change at This petition will reach leaders from some of the world's largest polluters at the APEC summit--please join me in challenging them to address the climate crisis! Click here:


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Art is made by the alone for the alone

I remember in Secondary 4, in Anglo-Chinese School, we had the option to wear long trousers instead of the shorts we wore from primary school to secondary three. Most boys, wanting to grow up quicker, opted for the long trousers. I kept to my shorts because it was cooler. And my shorts were shorts.

And in university, while most Singaporeans were hanging out in Chinese restaurants, I was taking dance classes. I also took classes in Iranian cooking. I had no wish to go all the way to England to live in Singapore. There was also the radicals from Singapore who after years of being controlled, let loose completely. That was not my cup of tea either. All forms of drugs has never been for me, except caffeine in coffee and diet coke.

I have not purposefully opted out of society. My career in photography and my clients are pretty normal. But my personal interests, are not in the mundane. For me, the secure job and income, the comfortable lifestyle, dulls the senses. Life should be lived like a raw wound, stinging in the rain, bleeding in the wind. My choices are not made by how much money I can make and how secure I will be, but by how I can push my boundaries and expand my personal horizons.

The students from my year in Anglo-Chinese School are having a reunion dinner this weekend. They have asked me to join them several times but I have said no. Perhaps my peers from school feel comfortable where they are now and have time to reminisce. I still feel hungry. I have many books to read, videos on photographers to watch. I am driven to go forward, to meet people whose lives are lived out on the bleeding edge. Perhaps I am wrong, but at the moment I am not that interested in a school life that was relatively uneventful for me. I am also not that interested in family life and answering questions on why I am still single and struggling with a career without security. There is a part of me that wonders if I am missing something by not going to this reunion dinner. But previous reunions have not excited me very much. How are you? I am fine, I am working here. I married so and so and I have so many children.

This normality and success that we were trained for does not interest me. It was meant to be in a way. The details of the divorces, the defeats and the blood, sweat and tears to scaling heights interest me. Battles with death, endemic psychosis in society is a call to arms for me. A need to tear away the wrappings of a privileged life, to expose the wounds of existence and taste the air of life on my tongue. There is much to do and little time to do it in.

I will, perhaps in a wheel chair or bed bound, remember strands of the past when my body fails me. I doubt that it will be the polite conversations that remain embedded in my failing memory. The memories will be of being overawed by sensory overload. I will remember my most passionate sessions of making love, the wounds of breaking up, the fear of death that I encountered on several occasions, the shortness of breadth in Tibet, my teachers who have helped pry open my inward looking mind. It will be the joy of dancing, being alive and then having an aching body from the exertion but that ache once again confirming life... it will be that which will rise to my memories at day's end.

For now, it is too early to look back. I feel alone, but I need to keep moving ahead with my work. Obsessively, single-mindedly, even cruelly.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

alec soth - blog » Can/should art be taught?

alec soth - blog » Blog Archive » Can/should art be taught?

This is a really thought provoking article by Alec Soth on the problem of teaching art.

I have always felt that art cannot be taught. We can only share our own experiences and inspire people to find their own path. I love the quote by architect Luis Barragan: “Art is made by the alone for the alone.”

Monday, September 03, 2007

Kaki 5 Farewell concert

I met a busker Idrus at Wheelock Place and arranged to take some photographs of him busking with his friend Amran. Then Idrus told me that he would be singing some songs at a Cafe at Haji Lane. So I took my camera down to Haji Lane yesterday and found out that the cafe Kaki 5, was closing down. This was a farewell concert on the street to say good bye. And there were some bad bands, and there were some great bands. This is a couple of brothers who are excellent, not Idrus. I will update with names and pictures at a later date.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

More quotes from Anais Nin

When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow.

There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.

Life is truly known only to those who suffer, lose, endure adversity and stumble from defeat to defeat.

I will not be just a tourist in the world of images, just watching images passing by which I cannot live in, make love to, possess as permanent sources of joy and ecstasy.


I think I will have to start reading her books.

Singapore Girl, you're a great way to fly!

Friday, August 31, 2007

We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.

Quote by Anais Nin

The more I experience life, the more I realise how right Anais Nin is. And it is so hard for us to see the truth, because as we see the world as we are, we are distracted from ourselves. The truly innocent eyes are those of a baby, too young to comprehend what he or she sees. Once the person starts to comprehend what is being seen, the people around the child start to colour and alter the mind's eye. Family background, ethnic roots, religious beliefs, peers, marketing, mass media, and just plain life's experiences, cause us to formulate ideas and reactions to life. But no one has perfect knowledge and at some level our deductions are bound to be wrong. What is more frightening to me are people who do not question and challenge their beliefs. It is inherent in our lot that we lack knowledge and make mistakes. And we all do. So we have to be forgiving of others and ourselves and be willing to change ourselves for the better throughout our lives. But this is a hard and tiring task.

We have already seen on news items children being trained to be soldiers in third world countries. We have also seen Muslim fundamentalists displaying much anger and rage. And they are frightening. Tonight I watched Jesus Camp, where there are churches in America indoctrinating children to be God's army. And in their intolerance and refutation of science, that is frightening. There will be a battle in America between the religious moderates and the religious fundamentalists. And if the fundamentalists win, the consequences for America and the world will be staggering.

I am told that I should respect other people's faith and beliefs. And I am pretty happy to live and let live. But when people are willing to die and kill for their beliefs, when they are willing to refute science and teach their children that creationism is the only logical explanation for life on earth, it frightens me. I mean early Chinese history dates back 8000 years. The Creationists believe that the earth is only 6000 years old as calculated in the bible.

I am afraid that religious belief, especially for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is mutually exclusive. You either believe in their god or not. How is this a message of love? Why should I not expect religious fervour to ferment wars? Religious war already exists in the middle east, in Ireland between Catholics and protestants, in Indonesia and now in Thailand. Religious tolerance does not come from within the religion, it comes from secular community which wants to have a peaceful life and prosper. The United Nations is not a religious organisation. It was formed by world governments sick of seeing the world in the chaos of war. Christian backed George Bush launched two invasions of sovereign states, and got United Nations approval as an afterthought. When you look at the Chaos and suffering of the Iraqi people, somehow I am unable to see a loving God condoning such suffering.

I see the world as I am, a person who dislikes confrontation and aggression. And the stress and intolerance that I see in this world makes me uneasy. And I am dubious of beliefs that divides groups of people into us and them. I want the world to participate in activities that bring people closer together, not ones that create tension.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Symptoms of Low Self Esteem

Just the Photographs Maam'...just the Photographs.: The Symptoms of Low Self Esteem

I was just surfing by and saw this article on low-self esteem. I can sympathize, but I realize that I am powerless to help other people with low self-esteem.

Andrea Meislin Gallery - Barry Frydlender

Andrea Meislin Gallery - Barry Frydlender

I came across Israeli photographer Barry Frydlender in Aperture. He uses digital composites to create densely populated scenes reflecting a perceived reality.

Christian Dating Spam

I am used to the Viagra, porn and gambling spam. I am wary of people phishing for my bank details or trying to transfer huge sums of money from Africa. This is the latest spam in my mail box. Christian dating. A paid service, for people living in America and Canada. Just how Christian and religious is that? Sending spam to a non Christian who cannot even use the service because he is not in the country. Well, this is spam just like the Viagra, porn and gambling spam.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Physical Laws: Mathemeticians Figure Out What Makes Women Beautiful - Gizmodo

Physical Laws: Mathemeticians Figure Out What Makes Women Beautiful - Gizmodo

I know that Jessica Alba is supposed to be perfectly beautiful in mathematical terms, but she still cannot act. On the other hand, she still looks beautiful...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Womad 2007 Dancer

I went to Womad tonight. It has become a yearly affair for me. I really love the energy there of the people and the music. I have taken my camera a couple of times to Womad before. I have posted some of the images on this blog, but I am now more inclined to leave my camera at home and just enjoy the evening. However, this enthusiastic audience dancing prompted me to take out my NV10 and take pictures of him enjoying himself. Power to the people.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

road trip: psyched

road trip: psyched

David Alan Harvey describing his apprehension before a commission. It is so comforting to know that even the best need to prepare themselves. We have to learn to prepare ourselves to overcome obstacles on a shoot. And the other thing is that obstacles are normal.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Passing Gas

American-Journal Magazine - Gary Gladstone's Portraits from the heartlands

Here is an excerpt on American Journal of Gary Gladstone's book Passing Gas. He chose towns with interesting name and took some interesting portraits of people in the American heartland.s The images are a little tongue in cheek, but full of warmth. The story brought a smile to my face.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ha ha ha

Back to the Usual postings

I have been mixing my images with my postings recently because it made sense to write about my trip and show the images. But the images really look nicer by themselves and larger. So I am shifting images back to pond images.

lens culture photographer interview: Anders Petersen

lens culture photographer interview: Anders Petersen

Anders Petersen does not have his own web site, but this small collection of images on lensculture is accompanied by a superb audio interview.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Yes. I have heard this one before!!

1DS MK III - Official Announcement

About Canon: Press Room >1DS MK III Press Release

Here it is folks. 21.2 mega pixels with 14 bit colour depth. Blow my socks off man.

Canon's 21.1 megapixel EOS 1Ds Mark III: thanks, Amazon - Engadget

Canon's 21.1 megapixel EOS 1Ds Mark III: thanks, Amazon - Engadget

The Jesus DSLR??

But wait, if you really want a kick in the guts!

The Sinar Hy6

Some Portraits from Tuscany

Andreas Bitesnich

Sussane Wuest

Herve Mudry

Andrea Astesiano

I have no idea why, but I started taking a lot of portraits in my last week in Tuscany. I was tickled pink to be able to convince Andreas Bitesnich to be my subject. Susanne is his girlfriend. she has this amazingly glowy skin and I just had to take her portrait. She was very obliging. She is an actress and was very generous during the shoot. Herve and Andrea are class mates of mine.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tuscan Sun Fried Brains

Reality is a big bluff. - Anders Petersen

For the first few years of my career, I struggled with the technicality of photography. Knowing the cameras, lighting and composition. With the digital age, learning has become a constant companion. The cameras, computers and software keep evolving, and one has to work hard to understand bot the basics as well as the esoteric advance possibilities of image capture.

Then I took a workshop with Paul Elledge, and he showed me how to connect my emotions with my images. And this is the struggle that I have been engaging with for about four years now. This battle to command all the technical and compositional aspects of photography to create images that evoke an emotional response from the viewer. And to a certain extent, I think I have succeeded. There are always improvements to be made and lots to struggle with, but I feel that I have at least begun to make the connections.

But I am a restless soul. It was nice hearing compliments from people at the workshop in Tuscany about how beautiful my images are. But I know that my images are a little too 'perfect'. They have a studied, arranged beauty. Which is okay in itself. There is nothing wrong with pretty pictures, but it is eye candy, not a visual meal.

Philippe Pache pushed me in the first workshop to reveal less in my images, to find a way to deepen the dialog between my images and the viewer. I guess it is like seeing a semi-naked woman, it is more sexually charged than going to a nudist beach and seeing everything revealed.

I must admit though, it is Anders Petersen who haunts me, who has left a crater in my brain. He has not only challenged my notion of photography, but my notion of living. By using my camera to create beautiful images, I am kind of living vicariously through my lens. To Petersen, he is not interested in photography, he is interested in life. Don't take pictures of what you see, take pictures of what you feel.

One of the strongest statements from Petersen is 'No pictures without longing.' And like any other human, I long to be loved and accepted. But my relationships have left emotionally scarred. I have been taking happy pictures, desperately running away from the pain that makes it hard for me to engage fully with people I am attracted to. And then I realise, the pain, fear and insecurity are part of me. And it is alright to have fear. Petersen says he is very shy and has fear, but he does not fear to have fear. And I realise we are all scarred, and I should not be ashamed. To connect with people, I have to be as vulnerable as my subjects.

I have been sharpening my skills as a photographer for eight years now. And I was beginning to wonder if all I had ahead of me was the practise of my photographic skills. And now I realise, that the only way to become a better photographer is to become more human. To go out there and really live life, to stop hiding behind my camera.

My personal work really needs to change. My brains really fried.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

International Photography Awards 2007

I was just awarded third place in nudes for this image by IPA. I have quite a few honorable mentions as well.

I finally win an award and all I can think about is Anders Petersen telling the class in Tuscany, 'Be careful, this is a photographic warning, you will win an award.' Petersen has a very low impression of photographic awards unless it is the Hasselblad prize. But if other people who win IPA awards are like Paul Elledge and Nadav Kander, I can live with it.