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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The FilmOut Camera

This, my dear readers, is a FilmOut Camera:

Ok, to clarify, I gave it that name because I didn't know what it was called. I went to my usual photolab to develop some shots as usual and I noticed a new toy camera they had.

Not only that, but the box showed that the roll of film was exposed?? 

(Note: Usually when a film negative is exposed to light, it becomes overexposed and everything on the negative turns white. So when doing film photography, exposing the film negative entirely is a strict no-no.)

I asked to take a look and when they took it out of the box, the film roll was indeed exposed! The key design feature that made this possible was the closeness of the camera to the slit in the roll where the film would exit. The design made it such that the film roll would sit right next to the camera so that the film would be wound from the roll to the other side of the camera (the side of the astronaut in my picture) 

I couldn't help it, I just had to give it a try for $20. 

Lo and Behold, it works!

There were caveats, of course:

The camera should be used where there is strong light, or a source of strong light. Such cameras are typical point-and-shoots and they don't have additional features like flashes or light meters to allow you to take nice pictures in dark rooms or at night. 

The pictures appear in a continuous panorama. Perhaps because the film wasn't wound enough into the camera, the lab couldn't figure out where to cut the negatives. So you might notice parts of an earlier shot spilling into the next shot, like the 6th shot of the woman at Starbucks.

There are light leaks in each one because I didn't set the film firmly against the camera. That's why you see little stalagmites of light in each shot.

Still it is a unique collector's piece! I still want to bring it out to try again! Bonne chance!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Women: New Portraits by Annie Leibovitz

Today (Sunday, May 8) I went to the Annie Leibovitz photo exhibition at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. Since one of my personal goals is to improve my photography, I thought it would be worthwhile to learn from a master, oops, mistress of the craft.

I was only armed with a humble iPhone and my lacklustre skill, so no comparisons hor...

 The exhibition was sponsored by UBS and it's a world tour which began in London in January. Other countries on the world tour include New York, Zurich, Tokyo and Hongkong.

The Exhibition Hall

While walking, I notice some light and movement inside the old ticket counter. What the...?

When I walked in, I realized they had created a reading nook inside. There were chairs and sofas and photography books from a wide variety of photographers for you to browse through.

While the area looked tempting, I couldn't stay for more than 5 minutes because it was just too hot! There were 2 reading nooks and both only had the standing air con unit for ventilation so the room became very stuffy and humid very quickly. 

This is the book which you can find her works from the exhibition as well as many more. I think I would rather browse it at Kino......

The print photographs displayed were of various well-known female figures from politics and the arts and others. I don't know if I can accurate pinpoint or describe the Leibovitz style but there were 2 points that struck me in the photos I saw:

She took photos of her subjects in their own comfort zones.
Adele was taken while seated at a piano, a prominent historian was taken while in her study, and a US ambassador in her office. The subjects weren't always the major focus of the photo and they were placed in a setting that expanded our understanding of them. So for example, in the photo of Adele, we do not see her just as Adele, we would see her as Adele, the Musician.

This is interesting because when we think of portrait photography, we always think that we should focus on the person and the face. Most commonly, we think of the studio shot, shot against a plain background. Leibovitz shows that a portrait can be taken out of the studio in order to show more of the character behind the face.

Her subjects show strength and vulnerability at the same time
I'm not sure if this was because of the rapport between the photographer and the subject or because of the subject chosen. Most of the women in the photos seem to show this contrasting dichotomy. Could it be because as working women, we are expected to be strong but yet we still have an inherent softness? Ah, I'll let my feminist friends argue that point out... 

Most striking were the 2 photos of Yoko Ono. One was a Rolling Stones cover which showed her and John Lennon in the same bed. The other was a close up of Yoko Ono's face. There seemed to be years of difference between the two but the captions will tell you that the photos were taken only 1 year apart. A few hours after the Rolling Stones cover photo was taken, Lennon was shot. And the grief and misery was clearly apparent on Yoko's 2nd photo.

All in all, I liked the exhibition though I wish that more photos were displayed and that they had better ventilation! If you want to visit, the exhibition is on till 22 May. Read more about the exhibition by clicking on these little highlighted words.

It's May!

Time definitely flies faster when I'm back at work! Suddenly it's almost time for the holidays and there are still a million and one things that I have yet to do! So how is my progress so far on my personal goals? Time for a reflection......

1. Read the book each day
Sidetracked! I read everything except my writing book! After one trip to the library and a couple more to Kino, suddenly I have more books and magazines I need to finish! Argh!

On another note, the book I am currently reading is very interesting because it's something I can relate to:

The Late Starters Orchestra is written by Ari Goldman. At the age of 60, he decided to finally pursue his longtime dream of playing the cello. In his book, he writes about the words of his long-deceased cello teacher, Mr J, and about the openness and friendliness he encountered while joining the Late Starters Orchestra. 

The LSO is a real group of people and they believe that anyone should be allowed to play an instrument in an orchestra, regardless of skill and ability. They are a real group and you can read more about them by clicking this here link.

A very familiar scenario for me as my violin rests on the wall to my right! The book is worth a read as Goldman writes in a very easy-to-read style and I think anyone who is in the process of learning something as an adult will identify with the struggles and difficulties he faced.

(Ah ha, I think I just wrote a book review for April!)

2. Write a story from Pocket Muse every week.

I managed to write only 1 short story, which is The Loudest Person. Why did I fail so badly on this one?

I attribute it to lack of proper planning. I've been planning my personal goals by writing them on a desk calendar. However, I failed to realize just how tired I would be after school and how that would affect my creativity. On some days, even when I tried, I could only sit and stare at the book because nothing would come to mind.

This is important because if I'm that tired, it would not just affect my writing but also all those other areas I want to work on, like my art. It would also affect my violin and piano playing. (I would probably end up using the massage chair at the 'piano studio' more) So what does this tell me?


Don't get so caught up with trying to finish all the work in school. Plan lessons and keep in mind what work I would expect to mark after lessons. Plan which I should mark on that day and which I can leave for another day. Finish all planned marking in school so that I feel fresher after school. Don't plan for too many mentally intensive activities on the same night.

That being said, I also realized that the time after dinner at home is a great time to flex creative muscle. It's peaceful and cooler and it becomes easier to relax and think. All I have to do is close myself in the study and leave the man to the TV.

3. Start Writing Project

Argh, this one also took a hit. I have to start again on this one. 

So What Now?

So there are some hits and some misses. I do realize now that if I want to focus on something for the month, I have to plan for it to actually happen. Writing in my desk calendar helps so I will continue to do so. 

Even then, there are times I will also miss out. That means that when I plan for something, I have to step into the study and start, anyway and any old how. As long as I start something or step into somewhere, I can start. 

Although, at least I have some slight achievement. I have one story, which is one more than I did before -_-!!! But I still have to continue progressing, so what am I aiming for in May?

To complete at least 2 photography ideas, whether it be doubles or other Lomographic weirdness.
To practise my violin and piano at least twice a week
To do one section of French a day, excepting weekends. For this, I started a diary page in my journal where I will write one sentence in (badly written) French each day. 

Wish me luck! Bonne chance!