Ladies’ Market

This is Ladies’ Market at Mongkok.

It’s a short stretch of market stalls popular with tourists and locals alike.

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We were a bit early so we got to see the stalls being set up.

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This is the ubiquitous red/white/blue canvas.

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The material has been used to make awnings, bags, covers, etc.

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It was a hot day.

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The goods were arriving.

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People were doing all these calculations.

Hong Kong, of course, is defined by numbers.

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I was using my Olympus XA2.

The 35mm lens was great for tight situations.

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I was worried about the shutter speed in the shade and hence was using the Fuji Superia 800 film.

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The film has a “powdery” painterly effect sometimes.

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Wonderful colours.

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Seasoned tourist.

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I like the (faux?) leather notebooks.

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Hong Kong’s street markets are literally full of colours.

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A bit of heartfelt advertising.

I especially like the above image because the slight blur as a result of the camera shake adds to the sense of urgency in the way we look.

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A bit of effort.

For collectors: open-edition prints are available at my Saatchi Art page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Rice Stall Series

Let’s say you’re standing in a long queue – the longer, the better.

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You’ll have an excuse to loiter and try different compositions as you move closer…

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There’s a rhythm you’re trying to capture.

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You try for a kind of harmony, a convergence of human actions.

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You don’t know when to stop looking.

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You go on trying one shot after another.

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Would the stack of bowls add to the composition, you wonder.

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Or is it better with the person out of focus but framed by the hanging chickens?

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Would it work better in landscape or portrait?

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Landscape is better – I think … but here the person is hidden.

There’s a potential statement here to be made about how human relations are obscured by commodities.

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Maybe having him framed after all is better.

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Is it better with the bowls partly showing?

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Or not? Maybe my next shot would be better.

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Maybe it’s better with the spoon container fully captured.

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Would it be better like this? Probably not. If only she’d turn around.

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Or this, after all? Nice, clean and simple. And the composition is busy enough to be interesting.

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Or perhaps this?

Check out my Saatchi Art page!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Singapore Speaks Monochrome

Singapore is a work in progress, and the physical landscape never fails to remind you of this.

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There could be cranes in the sky in built-up areas, and there could be views like the one below.

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Occasionally, it gets a bit postmodern, like this:

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The inside wants to be outside.

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Our desires/appetites/wants/needs are very well structured and catered to.

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Everything is for sale.

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Cities are places where appetites are met.

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Appetites transcend national boundaries …

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Pig organ soup, anyone? It’s actually quite yummy.

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Waiting.

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Doing.

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Working.

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Cooking.

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Buildings are structures of desires.

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There’s ambition in the architecture.

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These are homely desires.

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There’s an architecture of modernity.

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An architecture of nationhood.

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And space in which we simply do nothing at all.

Thanks for reading!

 

Open-edition prints are available at my Saatchi Art page.

 

 

 

 

 

Singapore Speaks Colour

Various scenes in Singapore – some iconic, others a little whimsical.

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Singapore the Garden City.

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Executives waiting for a bus. This was taken while I was in a bus.

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For the love of country.

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Country loving fashion.

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Looking up.

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He posed for me.

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The above and below few images are of workers who are maintaining a playground.

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They saw what I was doing, smiled, and gamely went on with their work.

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They were very thorough.

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They were tightening all the screws.

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And checking to see if everything is in order.

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That’s a chicken rice stall – the kind of food I go for whenever I am in Singapore.

This is part of the everyday Singaporean culture often take for granted.

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A sack of something on the pavement.

It makes for a wonderful art installation idea.

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Barrier – though I wonder what the triangular cut-outs are for.

 

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The durian.

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Lamp shade.

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That’s a partial rendering of the Marina Bay Sands, a tourist destination.

It reminds me of a Star Trek phaser.

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Rooftop facade of the Esplanade – also known as the durian.

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Swissotel the Stamford, designed by I.M. Pei.

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A construction worker taking a break at a public housing void deck.

 

For collectors: open-edition prints are available here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Singapore Heartland

Heartland is the title of a novel by Daren Shiau.

We don’t meet often, though our paths have crossed a few times at various literary readings/events.

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The novel is about the coming of age of a young man who grapples with class disparities, national service (conscription) and romance.

It is also about every Singaporean son…

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The heartland is the social-cultural space we grew up in.

For me, it’s what nostalgia is made of.

There is a shiny global Singapore (Gardens by the Bay, Marina Sands, Clarke Quay, etc.), and there’s also the heartland of Singapore we return to in the evenings.

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It’s the uncle we see every day, loitering at the void deck.

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It’s hawker food!

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It’s that uncle on a bicycle I side-stepped to avoid in the morning.

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All of that adds up to a sense of community…

And both national and personal growth is a kind of departure, a severing of ties from the past…

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We’ll never return to the seesaw of our childhoods again.

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Things are too new to be comfortable.

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All that unearthing and shifting of foundations…

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There’s always work in progress.

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Hence all we can do is learn to look back and find a glimmer of our home again in our imagination…

For collectors: open-edition prints are available at my Saatchi Art page.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Singapore: Monochrome Visions

These pictures were taken around late July/early August, when National Day (9 Aug) was just around the corner.

I was in Singapore for about three weeks, and every single day, I carry at least 2 (and sometimes 3) cameras with me when I’m out and about.

So in a way, this post (and those that come after) is a partial answer to the question of what it is about Singapore I celebrate.

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This was at the entrance of City Hall MRT station, and they saw what I was doing and posed for me.

They were holding up the sign to direct people who were going to watch the National Day Parade rehearsals.

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It looks like they were posing. They were already in that position and they turned to look at me as I approached.

All the pictures here were taken on a single roll of Kodak BW400CN, on my Minolta AF-C, and as I looked at the negatives, I was amazed to see so many images of Indian and Bangladeshi workers.

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In many ways, they are responsible for literally building Singapore.

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Singapore is what it is partly because of them.

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The physical infrastructure works like a clock partly because of them.

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I was walking on a pavement and they were holding grass-cutters, looking at me the whole time.

They were waiting for me to walk past so they could resume work.

And my wife said, quick, quick, take out your camera, and so I did and took the above photo.

Check out the chiaroscuro.

I waved and they nodded and went on with their work.

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This is Singapore.

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This, too, is Singapore.

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Definitely Singapore.

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This picture was taken while I was in a queue. Yummy.

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She spotted me and smiled.

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This too is Singapore.

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There were quite a number of soldiers in the area because of the National Day Parade rehearsals, directing crowds and traffic.

I’ve done my share of that when I was an army boy.

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Lion City banner – I aimed my camera at the banner, and waited for someone to come along to complete the picture.

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Check out the logo on the T-shirt. That’s the crescent and the five stars of the Singapore flag.

Patriotism is in the air.

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Is he a tourist or a Singapore resident? You can’t tell these days.

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This is a global Singapore.

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This was at Little India.

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Another take at Little India.

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Sometimes I wonder: why do I take street photographs? What is it about street photography, such that I feel compelled to take pictures of strangers?

An answer of sorts:

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Because I’m afraid of being conditioned by market forces into thinking of people as mannequins…

Thanks for reading, and check out my prints!