First Roll of Film from Spotmatic F (Part 1 of 2)

Holding a Spotmatic F reminded me of my first encounter with an M16 rifle.

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Could something that felt so clunky really work?

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After having learnt how to disassemble the rifle and put it back together, I felt no better.

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It looked suspiciously uncomplicated – I actually understood how the rifle worked.

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How could that clicking sound when I pull that trigger be taken seriously?

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As I eventually discovered, after zeroing that rifle (aligning the sights to my eye for projectile accuracy) at a 300m range, it was powerful indeed, and not something to be taken lightly. I’ve never forgotten that feeling (and the recoil).

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It’s the same with a camera – after all, it involves training, preparation, positioning, proper gripping, sighting and shooting.

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And you’ll need to control your breathing to maximize shot accuracy.

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The rifle (and camera) is supposed to be an extension of your self and will.

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Did I mention I was a marksman in my previous life (2 decades ago)?

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In case you think I’m some kind of gun-crazy nut, it’s actually a common experience, if you’re a combat-fit Singaporean male who had to do national service (30 months of it in my time).

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As you can see, I’m sublimating all that weapons training, channelling it into street photography.

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It’s all about vision, discipline and decision points.

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You are what you shoot.

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You are how you shoot.

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Street photography, especially with film cameras, have taught me to respect mechanical tools and appreciate the history that came with them.

The evolution of Leica, Asahi Pentax, Voigtlander, and so on, is a history of modern life.

It is this history that gave us our Henri Cartier-Bresson, Vivien Maier, Diane Arbus, Martin Parr, Bruce Gilden, etc.

Thanks for reading.

 

Camera: Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic F

Lens: S-M-C Takumar 24mm F 3.5

Film: Kodak UltraMax 400

 

 

 

 

 

Love and Peace at Mongkok

I’m a Singaporean, a poet, street photographer, and a literature professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

My students have told me they’re boycotting classes indefinitely. I am proud of them. How can one not be moved?

We can only occupy what’s central to our heart: love, peace.

This was what I saw on the streets of Mongkok on the afternoon of 30th Sept.

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Messages pasted on the side of a bus. The tape is removable and non-destructive.

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Delivering supplies to protesters.

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Securing a supplies tent.

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Labour of love.

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Film crew on the rooftop of the entrance to Mongkok MTR Station.

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The message.

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Determination.

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There’re really people cleaning the streets! This is civil disobedience.

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The scene at Argyle Street.

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At one point, the road needed to be cleared for supply trucks.

They held hands to clear the road.

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The scene at Nathan Road.

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No violence. A reminder by a protester.

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Translation: I love Hong Kong. My sentiments exactly.

In Dec this year, I would have lived here for ten years.

My son has spent more than half his life here.

My daughter was born here.

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Note that no spray paint has been used at any point.

They used chalk.

Everything is non-destructive.

This is civil disobedience at work.

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Translation: treasured students, we love you. My sentiments exactly.

The rest of the photographs were taken by my ten-year-old son (who was standing next to me as I was writing this).

Yes – it’s the kind of protest you could bring your kid to.

I saw a few families sitting on the road with kids younger than five.

I want my son to watch and learn.

My son will eventually return to Singapore to do his national service.

He’ll hold a rifle, learn to throw a grenade and experience the effects of tear gas as part of his military training.

These are things I’ve done as a Singaporean twenty years ago.

I want him to know what it means to love one’s country.

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Democracy – that’s an important word I’ll teach my son.

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Medical station.

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A box containing yellow ribbons, with instructions as to how to wear them.

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A street exhibition.

Stay safe and don’t forget to bring your umbrellas, people of Hong Kong!