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.