Friday, January 26, 2007

JPG Magazine Entries

I submitted a couple of images to JPG Magazine and I am supposed to pimp them myself. I am not shameless enough to spam people's mail boxes, but if you are reading my blog, GO VOTE FOR MY IMAGES!!

I would use sex to sell my entries, but then if you kept looking at some babe on my blog, you would not be voting for me would you????? So no eye-candy, no 'It will make you hard all night!' No, 'Make her beg for more' promises. Sorry, nada. Just vote for me ok? Would make me feel good if I got into the magazine. Not sure if getting into the magazine would be as good as Viagra of Cialis. Tell you what, vote me in and if I ever try Viagra and Cialis, I will do a comparison and post it on my blog. Was getting into JPG Magazine as good as a tablet of Cialis????

Man.... I don't think I am very good at this pimping thing am I? No wonder I am crap at prostituting my photography for money.....

2 Feb 2007

Well. The voting for JPG magazine is over. Thanks to everyone who voted for my images. :)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

And the stars spoke

Are you getting hit on the head by obstacles, dear Aquarius? Could it be that you simply need to allot yourself more time to complete the Herculean tasks you take on? This may be difficult for you to tolerate. You don't know how to deal with times such as these, when you must continue doing the same thing over and over again until you get results. There is a lesson here for you: Patience is a virtue.

I have not really done any shooting since Christmas, or anything significant. When people ask me what I have been busy with, I say plumbing, in a figurative sense. The truth is that I have been a computer geek, kitting out my office with computer equipment and overseeing the archiving process of my past three years digital photography. And after a year of archiving, I have lost patience once or twice in the last month. But I guess that the stars are trying to tell me that I am on the right track and I have to persevere. Onward I say.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Lunch with Alex

Had lunch with Alex. Took a couple of abstract shots with window light. Window light is always so good.

I got shot with Alex's camera phone.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

More Web site distractions

The goal of my archiving is coming closer. To get all the digital work that I have shot in the last three years onto network attached storage. But the closer the end gets, the more small irritating problems arise. Without the whole long boring story, I have to do some maintenance on my network attached drives, and it takes a long time. Sigh. So I sit around hoping to go to sleep but waiting for drives to do things. Takes hours.

In the meantime I am surfing images on the web. Wondering how there can be so much wonderful photographic talent out there, and why on earth my images are still lacking in so many ways I cannot even begin to comprehend. The experience is both inspiring and overwhelming. But here are a couple of recommendations,

Art Nudes - If you are looking for titillation, this is not the place. In fact some times I wonder how people here can take nudes that positively turn me off by their obviousness. On the other hand, I also get informed of stunning work by people like Theirry LeGoues.

Afuckaday has much more porn content than art nudes. I mean the title is there for a reason right? But there is still some great photography here.

JPG magazine is not necessarily the type of photography that gets my attention. But, like alt photos where I got the link from, here are many simple images that work because of people's eye for detail. Inspiration for opening our eyes and just seeing.

Filemagazine was a suggestion given by a reader of my blog. It is like JPG magazine, but emphasizes the quirk, unexpected aspects of photography.

Art Photo Blog is another photo blog. It is new. I got the link from Art Nudes. And it looks interesting.

Now, just take a look at the amount of incredible imaging happening out there in the world. It gives me a rush like what 99% of photography in Singapore does not. The question is 'Why do our Singaporean images seem to lack a sense of joy and life?????'

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A blog on the business of photography

This looks like required reading along with for the professional photographers. Of course the duck is more funny.

I have also joined the Professional Photographers Association of Singapore. I have not wanted to join it till now but it seems that the management has changed and they are serious about helping the professional photographers in Singapore grow.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Art and Excellence

In a recent podcast, The editor of Lenswork talks about art and the pursuit of excellence. There are so many times living in Singapore when I hear people say they want cheap and good, or that what they get from me is good enough. But money is not my main pursuit in this career. My pursuit is of the best images that I can make. And it is great that Brookes Jensen also feels this way.

Geek Storage

Well. Things are never perfect are they? But at least things are improving. At least I have decided how to store files in my office. I have bought 4 of the Infrant Readynas NV+ storage casings. In each casing I have put in 4 x 500GB drives. Now the box is hardware RAID5. Meaning, that there is some clever redundancy somewhere and if one of the drives fails, I can replace the drive and all my information is safe. As one drive is needed for redundancy, I have 1.5 terabytes of storage in one box right now. I have fitted out 2 boxes with drives which means I now have 3 Terabytes of storage online. I bought another 2 boxes but have not fitted them out because there is a special offer on for the boxes. The list price of each box is $1,280. The special offer ended yesterday, but it was selling at $1,080. So I saved $800 on 4 boxes.

I have fitted out 3 Teras of storage because I am archiving my work and I need that much storage right now. At the moment, the best price per gig is the 300GB drives, but in the long I figured it is better to go with the 500GB drives. One thing to note though, the 1TB drives are now out. And the price of hard drives should come down by the middle of the year. If I bought 500GB drives then, I would have 6 Teras of storage online. But if I just wait till when I need the storage, I may just buy 750GB drives. Yeah, it all sounds crazy, but there is a method to my madness.

One unexpected cost to come out of this is that I bought a 16 port gigabit switch box. The Readynas boxes use gigabit ethernet. Considering the amount of information I am shifting around, the gigabit exthernet makes sense. The good news for Mac uses is that the Ethernet ports are gigabit ready! PC users can buy a pci gigabit adpator for $49.

Now, if you understand all this, then you are truly a geek too.

Now, if only that bloody archiving of my old work gets done. I have been waiting for over a year for this archiving to be completed.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Website distraction

I have been in geek phase since Christmas. What with all the hardware and software maintenance I have done. I have spent way too many nights staring at the computer screen. But here are a few of the photographic distractions and inspirations.

Ok, you all know Flickr and I am not going to advertise it anymore. There are good photographers and images on the site, but you have to wade through a mountain of crap to find the gold.

My old friend Wesley has asked me to look at, and it looks better. Lots of professional stuff.

What is really making me loose sleep though is altphotos. To see the best, you have to look at their all time favourites. There is also a slideshow function that shows the newest postings to the sight. I have to thank Shin for introducing me to this site. I love the textures in all the photographs. There seems to be so many good photographers from Eastern Europe. And they all seem to still be shooting film in square format. Gasp.

I am inspired and am playing around now with a second hand Mamiya 6 MF from B & H.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A New Year

I start this new year with a new team at The Pond. Abby is my office manager, Shin is my Studio manager and Anvin is my digital assistant.

I have all my new lighting equipment in. Portable profoto packs to let me travel and shoot regionally.

It has been a long arduous year in 2006, but the archiving of my work has come some way. However, there are still major parts to be done. But that work is from the beginning of my career and is not that important.

As I am waiting for Adobe Photoshop CS3 and the price of hard drives to drop, I am still not in a stable computer configuration in the office yet. I hope to get things sorted by mid-year.

Work is slow at the moment and I am trying to get my photography seen out there. I am working on a portfolio brochure to mail out.

I won a merit prize in the Digital Art against aids competition. I think the image get flashed at the Heren's digital billboard.

I am in a place of transition, full to potential and busily laying the foundation of the road ahead. It is not very glamorous, but there is a good fight to look forward to.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Life is a journey, not a destination

The only constant is change.

I have been taking photographs for over twenty years now. For the first decade and more it was just a hobby. Something that I did on holiday trips. Then I accidentally became a professional photographer. And it slowly became a consuming passion. After twenty years I finally feel that I am creating photographs that I can truly be proud of, but it is just the beginning. No sooner have I reached a certain level than am I searching for the path to the next one.

The other day Eadwine seemed kind of jaded. The journey seems like a long an arduous one. But this is the truth of the matter, even if we are drawn to photography, or some other activity, it does not mean that we do not have to work hard or that all obstacles to our growth would miraculously fade away. The endeavour of a top photographer is no different from that of a top sportsman, musician or even businessman. The dominance of Tiger Woods in golf is awe-inspiring. But it is his example of humility and constant strife that is so important to the rest of us. The BBC and the United Kingdom are stunned by the utter defeat of their cricket team by the Australians in the ashes tournament. The English team won the last ashes and were praised, but commentators wonder if they became complacent. Tiger Woods will not rest on his laurels. That is what makes him so frightening. Even at the top of golf game, he is aware of the weaknesses of his game, and he is working on it.

My photographic heroes include Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Paul Elledge and Albert Watson. Every one of them are hard working people, even workaholics. They are all known in their lifetimes, but none of them stopped working on their photography. Avedon, after a successful career as a fashion photographer, went on to shoot amazing portraits of normal American people. When I was interning in Chicago, I was awed by Paul's achievements as a photographer. I first picked up a camera when I was eighteen and became a professional six years ago. Paul's Grandfather and father were enthusiastic photographers. Paul has been around cameras since he was young and he has decades of experience. When we were metering for portraits in Chicago, Paul was concerned over 0.1 of a stop of exposure. I cannot see the difference in anything till there is 0.3 of a stop of a difference, but Paul said that he can see 0.1 of a stop and it does make a difference. I concluded that I am still at the beginning of my photographic journey.

In a small way, I have already made my mark in photographing the arts scene in Singapore and in the wedding photography market. But that is not what drives me. It is a continuous journey of refining my vision and the skills to create the vision. Last year I interned for Paul Elledge, this year I will taking workshops in Tuscany with photographers like Antonin Kratchovil and Andreas Bitesnich. I am learning all the time. There are no longer any leaps in my photography, that happens only in the beginning. As you get better, it takes more effort to continue to improve and get to the next level. I think that to keep improving and pushing myself, I need to stay hungry. I was financially stable in the wedding line, but I am taking a gamble in the commercial world. I want to be able to earn enough money to maintain my studio and still have time to work on my personal photography. But I could just have thrown my career out the window.

There are small celebrations when I reach new levels, but they are short lived. I know that I have some skill, but I am always humbled by the multitude of talented photographers before me and working today. The photographs are a by-product of a well lived life. Life is a journey, not a destination.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Frank Hilario Saga continues

I feel like I am in one of those Phillipino political intrigues. What gives?

I wrote to the American Chronicle to warn them of Frank Hilario's propensity to use images and ask permission later. I got the following reply from the American Chronicle today,

Dear Tan, thanks for your note. We have advised the author not to use images that are not in the public domain or images he does not have permission to use. Thanks for the alert and all the best.

- Pete

Well and good. Frank was not too pleased and sent me this e-mail,
I don't understand why you did not respond to my letter of 2 Jan 7:14 AM CST flickr email which, among other things, I said I couldn't afford it. You asked me what I meant by 'Thanks' but you did not wait for my reply; my flickr mail of 2 Jan was my reply. Your letter of protest (protesting a would-be violation) was grossly unfair.

In the end, Frank did do right by me and did not use my image. He did however, use an image from the web site and acknowledged it in the American Chronicle article 'We'. I wrote an e-mail to Nick Stubbs, owner of the all-things-photography web site to let him know an image from his site was used in Frank's article. If the proper permission was given, all is well.

But here is my answer to Frank,
Dear Frank,

I think it was unfair of you to simply declare that you were going to use one of my images in your article without asking politely first. And it was unfair of you to answer my polite response to my email with an unspecific 'Thanks!'. I saw your article entitled 'We' in American Chronicle and see that you have used an image from all-things-photography web site. I hope that you have asked permission as I have informed Nick Stubbs, the owner of the web site, of the usage. If you have asked him politely and gotten permission, things should be fine.

Mr Hilario, your blog entry on Bloghard, blogeasy, shows a basic disrespect of other people's rights and feelings. You even revel in the idea of committing the perfect crime. Just how do you square that with being a god-fearing Roman Catholic? Does a simple confession absolve you of the sin that you have committed?

My images and the images of other people are the means of our living. We put food on our tables and pay our rent with the images we make. We have to put them out for display so that other people will purchase our images, but this does not give other people the right to abuse our copyright. Even if I was an amateur whose images are for my own pleasure; it does not mean that I appreciate you taking my images and using them to illustrate unspcified articles. Looks like you have done this before and am proud of it.

When you repeatedly abuse people without given them a 'fair' chance to respond, just what do you expect from other people? Did the bible not say, 'Do unto others what you others unto you!' ?

Mr Hilario, if you want to be treated fairly, start with the way you treat others.

Yours sincerely,
Tan Ngiap Heng

I know why I have to protect my copyright and other people's copyright. Mr Hilario has a different take on his being different and what should apply to him. Here is his reply.

This was my first email to you:

I don't really like nudes, but this one appeals to me. It's very appropriate, so I'm using it to illustrate one of my articles to be published by American Chronicle. I hope you don't mind - I always give full credit in any case:
Image by Tan Ngiap Heng who captions it 'TNH_061217_4069.'
I will email you when it does get published.

I said I hope you don't mind, and that I will email you when it does get published. And then you said you did mind. And I replied. And then you did not reply to my flickr mail.

You are all missing the point of my blog. It just happens I'm a different sort of guy. And I'm not the one to point it out - If nobody gets the point, if all you are after is intellectual property rights, then you don't get it. (If I get jailed for pointing out something, no problem.)


Sigh... We are all different. But we all live together in communities. If someone is different, does that mean he is allowed to abuse other people, misappropriate their work? I don't get it.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Flickr, A double-edged sword


I recently put this image up on my Flickr site and got the following email,

I don't really like nudes, but this one appeals to me. It's very appropriate, so I'm using it to illustrate one of my articles to be published by American Chronicle. I hope you don't mind - I always give full credit in any case:
Image by Tan Ngiap Heng who captions it 'TNH_061217_4069.'
I will email you when it does get published.


To which I replied,
Dear Frank,

Thank you for your email and considering using the image for your article in the American Chronicle. I am afraid that the model in the image is a professional model. Although I own the copyright of the image, I am unable to release it for commercial use. It was a test shoot which allows usage in our portfolios only. If you desire to use the image, I will have to negotiate with the model's agency and charge a fee. I might add that the model is from the US, so it is unlikely that it will go unnoticed by her agency.

If you are willing to pay usage rights I am willing to speak to her agency and quote a price. As it is to do with the model and my livelihood as a professional photographer, I am unable to release this image for free. I hope you understand.

Yours sincerely,
Tan Ngiap Heng

I got a reply with one word in it, 'Thanks!'.

I used Frank's Flickr profile to find out more about him. In his blog, he actually states that he regularly uses images from Flickr for his blog without asking permission first... The article is here.

I have written to the American Chronicle about the incident and am tempted to write to Flickr as well. But in this particular case, Frank Hilario has not actually infringed my copyright yet.

I guess that the more one exposes oneself to the public, the more abuse one exposes oneself to.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Drama at Bedok Jetty

I took a walk to the end of Bedok Jetty after dinner on Friday night. I was expecting a quiet moment looking out at the sea and ships. I sat down on one of the stone benches. Not five minutes had passed when a fisherman suddenly got all excited, picking up his fishing rod and pulling. I am so used to seeing the small fish that is caught at Bedok Jetty that I was surprised that this fishing rod could curve as much as it did. It was like everyone at the end of Bedok jetty could sense a life and death battle ensuing. The outcome was not really in question, but the fish gave a good fight, causing the fisherman's friend having to step in to help reel in the fish. The result of the battle was the capture of one mid-sized stingray. It was definitely the biggest fish that I have seen caught at Bedok Jetty.