Thursday, November 3, 2016

The last dark room lab in Singapore

Processing life experiences by meeting people different from those in our usual social circle enriches in many ways. It also makes me curious about the passion that drives them. One fine day, quite out of the blue, Hena my friend asked if I would like to come along to visit a dark room studio owned by her friend Lo Sheng. As my favorite motto these days is "Why not ?" I just went along for the ride. Surfing life's waves is what I call it. 

So off we went to the Analog Film Lab in Ubi which I understand is the last of its kind left in Singapore. In this digital age, you would think that such a place would be run by men in their 60s, masters of the craft back in the 1980s and 1990s. But surprisingly, they are all relatively young, men in their 30s and 40s who have day jobs but come together on special days to run this business with a kind of artisan pride. Lo Sheng explained to me the different types of films and negatives the lab processes such as the 35mm colour and black and white rolls of Kodak, Agfa and Fuji. That brought back memories of how my dad taught me to load film and that I had to make sure it sits nicely into the camera sprocket while the tail end of the film latches on and gets wound in properly. There is also the E6 slide film, unrivaled in terms of richness and depth, a favorite medium for collectors and galleries. An elderly client happened to pop by and was showing me with pride his processed slide films of soon to be demolished places in Dakota Cresent. A lightbox illuminated the film slides and through a slide viewer, I could see the vivid details of each picture. There was a shot of a banana tree laden with fruits and it looked so real that I felt like I could just reach out to pluck its fruits. Die hard fans who have experienced slide films still feel intoxicated enough to keep wanting this art form. The digital medium may be fast and convenient but to these connoisseurs, there is a pure pleasure of looking at analog pictures.

Lo Sheng also mentioned that his place has spare capacity during the day so he is on the look out for people who used to work in this trade and would like to get their hands working on this magic again. 

Different 35mm colour film rolls  from Fuji, Kodak ad Agfa 

Lo Sheng labeling the rolls to facilitate the process, making it easier for his team mates to follow through

Looks like a cloak and dagger situation but it is just the process of removing the film from the roll in complete darkness

Earnest , the guy making the right solutions

The processing solutions at work 

Films to be developed will be wound around these cartridges placed in the machines below. The solutions going through the machines will then work their processing magic.  

Every Sidekick needs a Super Sidekick !
Super Sidekick can process more films compared to Sidekick in terms of capacity

The rolls of freshly processed films has a tinge of blue which will disappear upon drying
Drying racks for rolls of processed films 

A light box that illuminates photo slides and negatives 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

A moment of bliss and beauty, lakeside at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, Australia. Through the lush and thick greenery, I saw the reflection of water and upon moving closer, discover a lake with a little boat gliding gracefully across. 

Strangely enough, a solitary seagull comes close, then prances all around me. 
Wanting company and perhaps a crumb or two.

It inspired me to write a poem on my i-phone but thought I should put it in my blog as a memory of a beautiful moment.

A silvery reflection through shades of green,
the heart beats louder when it is quiet, 
barely holding the unbridled joy thumping within.
Waves of thoughts and emotions,
a sonorous bellow between mellifluous flights.
A perky seagull encircles me in a rapturous dance,
in beat with the music in my heart.

A boat afloat, of gleaming vermilion.
Calm waters gliding it through the foliage 
I feel the flutters in the cold crisp air,
warmed by the feelings of gratitude, beauty and wonderment.
Moved that in this vast landscape of life,
bitter and sad at times 
are moments that lift, through the unpretentious beauty of nature. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

MasterChef kitchen at the Royal Melbourne Show

The clock that sends contestants' hearts racing, the balcony where "saved" ones look upon those in the heat of the pressure and mason jars of lights illuminating the place of judgement. It gives me a high to see the places of my favorite reality show Masterchef Australia.

Moment of serendipity as I didn't plan it from the start. Didn't even know I would be going to the Royal Melbourne Show which was where the MasterChef filming set was located. It was a huge bonus when I realised that it was open to the public during this event, being designated as a gourmet hall of delights. Made it in time before the place was closed at 7pm and had the most lip smacking oysters going for a song at $1 each (original price of $2.50 each) as well as the dessert sample plate from Bibelot. The Royal Melbourne Show was really fun and to see the Masterchef kitchen on top of it was truly a bonus ! 

Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne is located within the grounds of the Royal Botanic Gardens and I can't think of a place more beautiful and serene for reflection and remembrance. The spaciousness and vastness of the place gave it a surreal, calm atmosphere and to think that it is quite near the tourist bustling area of the National Art Gallery.

The shrine was first built as a remembrance to sons of Victoria who have died serving their country in the first Word War (1914-1918).  The great pillars of the Shrine was inspired by the Parthenon in Greece with architectural features such as chariot sculptures, promenades giving visitors a feeling of awe yet solitude. Inscribed on one of the walls 



 Within the heart of the shrine lies a stone engraved with the words "Greater Love Hath No Man." On 11 November at 11am each year, a ray of light goes through an aperture on the roof, shining precisely on the word "Love". This marks the moment in 1918 when the Armistice was signed signifying the end of the hostilities of World War One. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Royal Melbourne Show (Sept 17- 25 2016)

Most unplanned things give rise to happy moments of spontaneity and surprises. I didn't really plan to visit the Royal Melbourne Show until a friend in Melbourne suggested it after dinner at her place. Why not ? All I expected was a fun fair of sorts, but it was more than that. It was really a celebration of everything that the state of Victoria had to offer. The best livestock chosen through competitions- the best quality wool from the different sheep breed (I didn't know there were so many types of sheep ), the best breeds of cows, pigs, dogs and more. The DIY culture is very strong in Australia and the show didn't leave out the best bakes in categories like fruit cake, gingerbread, shortbread, carrot cake and more plus the best cake decorations. Also included were the best jam, honey, butter chosen through a series of competitions and put on display at the show. There were of course carnival rides and games for the family but what was most popular among the Australians were the show bags. Over 350 types with the best mix of goodies ranging from chocolate brands, toys, skincare and spa to teenager products. Best part of show bags -  its value came up to 3-4 times more than what you get from the usual retail outlets. My favorite part of the show was the MasterChef kitchen which featured a number of gourmet products. I was very happy with my show bags and nuts which were really a bargain and I couldn't leave without a glamorous Cupie showgirl doll souvenir complete with glitter and feathers. Apparently she is an  Australian tradition at events. And  to end off this day of surprises were a sheep herding demonstration by a farmer and his 2 frisky border collie dogs, a high thrills motorcycle stunt show that had the audience enthralled and wonderful fireworks.