Introduction of digital photography was a ‘disaster’: veteran photographer
Switching from film to digital photography was a disaster for now-retired photographer Peter Chen Ke Yong, 60.
“I almost died. All my years of experience [in photography] almost went down the drain. I had to restart and relearn,” he lamented.
It took him about 10 years to fully learn digital photo editing even though he had close to 40 years of experience in fine art and commercial photography.
Going digital created more work for Peter. He said, “It is tougher now. After photographing, [I] still continue working on the computer… to bring back the actual colour that I want, according to my standards.”
Photography was an expensive hobby he started at the tender age of 12.
“I had to save money to buy my first Kodak instamatic camera which cost $12. It took me some months to collect that amount… I still had to save money for film [and] after saving for a roll of film, which will take me another one year, I have to wait a few more months to process my film… then another roll will take me another six to eight months to save up.”
Peter bought another camera, a Minolta, in the late 1970s when he was working as an electronic engineer. During this period, he also freelanced as a wedding photographer.
It was only in the 1980s that he became a full time photographer at an advertising agency. He retired from the advertising industry after realising that he could no longer fit in with the current generation’s taste in photography.
“Sometimes they overly saturate or overly contrast photos but they don’t understand it because not many of them go through a proper course in photography. Today, they may overdo images but they don’t realise it… If you move around to wedding studios in Singapore, China or Taiwan, you see pictures that are all overdone, the colours are a bit ridiculous, very synthetic, very unnatural – they create all kinds of colours, but clients [still] like them.”
Peter is now focusing on a personal project of fine art photography entitled “Transient Passages” – a compilation of favourite works dating back to the 1970s.
The images in this series, shot mostly on film, resulted from spontaneous photo walks. Most of the subjects are lit using “ambient, natural street lights or house lights”.
“I just walk around. And if I see nice lighting and good subject, I will just photograph,” he said.
His subjects include clouds, rooftops and architecture.
“Fine art photography is an expression of what you see and how you interpret your subject matter through the lens. Everybody has their own way of seeing things,” said Peter, who enjoys working with natural or ambient light. Some of his works have been sold to private collectors and to hotels in Singapore, such as The Marriott, The Westin, and The Fullerton Hotel.
When asked what he thinks of photographers today, he feels disappointed that many of them depend too much on photo editing and digital manipulation – “Today as long as you are competent in using a computer, you are qualified as a photographer.”
His advice to young shutterbugs hoping to take up fine art photography: “[They should] quit chasing the latest tech in photography and pay attention to developing a unique identity for themselves – through their works. The essence of photography is in taking pictures, not the equipment. Your subject and your composition should set you apart.”
Chen uploads most of his works on his Flickr account as well.
“Flickr stood out from other platforms with its ease of use, simplicity and functionality. It observed an adequate level of security with regard to intellectual property, providing me with peace of mind when sharing my work.”
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A photograph of a police-woman from Kerala has gone viral and given her a big social media boost.
Merin Joseph, the lady in question, is an IPS officer in training, has roots in Delhi, Trivandrum and Hyderabad, according to her Facebook profile.
The attractive 24-year-old has gained a major male following the circulation of her photograph along with the rumour that she was taking over as the ACP of Kochi.
So this attractive policewoman is sending hearts aflutter in India…
In case you were wondering how the Movenpick Heritage Hotel looks like on the inside…
Singapore director Ken Kwek debuts ‘Unlucky Plaza’ at TIFF
Singapore director Ken Kwek might be the most boundary-pushing person the country has seen in the film industry.
Kwek, whose movie "Sex.Violence.FamilyValues" was banned last year by Singapore and Malaysia, is back with a new movie that throws political correctness out of the window, yet again.
"Unlucky Plaza", a tale about a Filipino and Singapore Permanent Resident kidnapping some Singaporeans, had its debut feature at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The movie is led by Singaporean actor Adrian Pang, who also acted in Kwek’s banned movie. In this film, Pang plays an “arrogant motivational speaker” who drives a Porsche, “owns a valuable art collection and a luxury home”.
Speaking about why this hasn’t seen the light of day in his home country, the 35-year-old said he is “diffident” about “Unlucky Plaza” being passed by the censors here.
"TIFF has gifted to me a sense of freedom as an artist that I don’t enjoy back home," he said.
Kwek’s controversial film “Sex.Violence.FamilyValues” was a compilation of three stories surrounding a kindergarten student’s morbid drawings, a nightclub bouncer’s face-off with a stripper and a porn actor’s body ordeal.
The film was rated M18 when it was released in October 2013, banned, and had its ban lifted in March 2013 under the R21 rating. The film remains banned in Malaysia.
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Pick your interests before upgrading equipment, says live gig photographer
Finding your favourite subject is more important than finding the best equipment, says 27-year-old Singaporean photographer Rueven Tan.
“You need to find out what you want to shoot before buying a really good one. Some people will straight away want to get a very professional camera. But if you do not know what you’re doing, you will start wasting money,” said Rueven, who works at a camera rental centre.
Rueven was influenced by his photographer father and his elder brother who taught him basic photography using his digital camera. While serving his National Service, he read up on photography and began practicing.
He discovered the kind of photography he loved before investing in the right equipment - by learning the hard way at a music festival.
In 2008, he was covering Singfest at Fort Canning Park for a regional music magazine called Junk. Music acts included bands like Lost Prophets, Simple Plan and singer Alicia Keys.
Rueven recalled: “At that point of time, my then Canon 400D was nearly dying. I couldn’t auto-focus at times and I was struggling with it after switching to manual-focus… I was praying for good luck.”
Despite the challenges, he was still proud of the photos he produced.
“I always tell myself, ‘just learn to deal with it, be happy with the shot and move on’. You learn and try to improve from there, that’s it.”
After the music festival, he learnt the flaws of his camera – it was not good enough for high-speed continuous shots and the auto-focus was slow. He later tried a Canon 5D Mark II, before switching to a Nikon D800, and sometimes a D4.
He still enjoys taking photos of rock bands during live performances, and believes that good stage lighting and the band’s showmanship are the key elements for good photos.
“If you look at my pictures, I’ve always depended on the stage light because it really plays a big part in the environment I capture in the photo…
“Showmanship is important as well. [Japanese rock band] One OK Rock jumped around – they moved around a lot. When they started moving you have a lot of really good shots. A lot of movements within the band.”
Rueven dreams of being a photographer for music magazines like the Alternative Press and NME. He said, “One of the photographers I admire is Joey Lawrence from Alternative Press. His drive and passion inspires me.”
He enjoys the social aspect of Flickr – being able to “share photos with experienced photographers and in their discussion forums”, adding that he finds it helpful in finding out what others think of his work, and improving from there.
He used photography to bring smiles to foreign workers after Little India riot
Photography is a tool that can diffuse hostility in a tense situation.
Full-time photographer Singaporean Adrian Seetho did a walkabout at the Little India neighbourhood, a popular hangout for South Asian migrant workers in Singapore.
He was exploring the area two weeks after a major riot involving about 400 people rocked the neighbourhood.
In December 2013, a fatal bus accident triggered a rowdy crowd, which attacked the bus, and set vehicles alight.
The violence left 18 people injured.
The riot was the country’s worst outbreak of violence in more than 40 years. Online reactions were vitriolic, and quick to condemn the migrant workers involved.
During his stroll in Little India, Seetho said the atmosphere was “still a little tense and hostile”. He also came across a group of foreign workers who became defensive when approached for a photo.
“It saddens me to see the most receptive and accommodating group of people turning defensive and hostile due to the condemnation they face after the incident.”
Seetho persisted, gently explaining that he was not a reporter and eventually succeeded in photographing his subjects after they warmed up to him within the same day.
“We started snapping away shortly after, and it really warms my heart to see them break away from that hostility and smiling once again,” he said.
The 26-year-old first picked up photography in 2007 after his father bought him a camera. However, he spent little time pursuing the craft.
“I had absolutely no interest in photography then. With no prior knowledge about photography, I was unable to take a decent picture after numerous attempts,” he said.
Attending a basic photography course was the turning point which renewed his interest.
“I was really blessed to have many supportive, like-minded individuals by my side, sharing their vast knowledge and experience with me,” he said. From then on, the camera became his constant companion.
Today, he takes a wide range of types of photos, including travel, sports and portraits.
“Looking back, I’m still amazed by how an unexpected gift eventually became a passion I adore,” said Seetho.
It is also passion and hard work that separates a good photographer from the rest, he said. He also advised photographers to “keep shooting” and to ask questions – even the dumbest ones – when they need to.
Seetho has been using the Flickr platform since June 2009.
“I’ve found Flickr to be the best platform to showcase my work, given its large and supportive community. Its interactive layout encourages photographers to share, browse, interact and learn from each other,” he said.
Anime characters came to life on International Cosplay Day at Scape on Sunday. Hundreds gather at the event, which took up some spaces on three levels, to show off their costumes, play games, participate in a costume contest or rub shoulders with star cosplayers Kamui and Dat-Baka.