I encountered this scene a short drive from the city of Kurunegala in central Sri Lanka. My family and I were sitting in the van on our journey to Dambulla when we encountered men offloading piles of coconuts, while the ruggedly weathered man nimbly sheds husks off the drupes that surround him.
I found this orange rose neglected at a corner near the exit of the Flower Dome at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. I was there to look at tulips (Tulipmania event from years ago), but was grossly disappointed. The scale of tulips on mass display did not wow me. Perhaps this attributed to frequent travels abroad and visiting the many gardens there. I have seen better glasshouse gardens abroad. People didn’t bother to take a second look at the roses. Aren’t roses the most popular flowers around? It’s fascinating seeing them bloom as nature intended, instead of being “blown wide” manually as is commonly done by florists for bouquets.
A communal activity these pigeons seem to enjoy early in the morning… It does look rather fancy how they each took turns, two at a go, in a pretty civilized queue to rinse their feathers in water at a pond.
Picture taken with the Nikon D800 and Zeiss Makro-Planar 100mm f/2 ZF lens.
I’ve always wondered how do lotuses and water lilies thrive in the murkiest of waters. They are to me a symbol of endurance, grace and purity. Some might say white water lilies look plain, the pink and purple ones look way more visually enthralling. I beg to differ. Look at how spotless the flower is compared to its gunky surrounding. Who would expect a flower of such a pure shade to emerge from swampy waters? Anyway the color of this pond is just horrendous. How did it it end up so dark? Again, this is just a random pond of the many at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The wonders in that garden is not of conventional beauty.
Picture taken with the Fujifilm X-T1 and the Nikkor MF 55mm f/2.8 Micro lens.
How time has past me by! This is my 500th post since I started the blog some 7 years ago. Alas most of my earlier entries are missing the pictures due to the cloud service where I hosted them on going bust. 😐 Oh well, nothing lasts forever in the digital domain. Just hoping this blog lasts much long! Fingers cross…
I guess I’m guilty of indulging in “gear porn” on Instagram. I would lust over old Pentax 67 cameras and other rare camera oddities on the mobile picture sharing site whenever I ran out of magazines to read. That’s exactly where I discovered Artisan Obscura, a company based out of Denver, that handcrafts soft release buttons and hot-shoe covers for cameras. I was attracted to the organic and intricate designs on their wooden soft release buttons. I was already planning to get a soft release button for my X-Pro1, but hung on until I was sure I’ve found the perfect button. I finally did when I chanced on their “Earth” button. I bought that along with a nondescript black hot-shoe cover from Artisan Obscura during their annual Black Friday sale. I think I’m pretty rough with my camera. Paint was peeling on the shutter button and the hot-shoe area of the X-Pro1, but the hot-shoe cover and threaded soft release covers the cosmetic blemishes effectively.
Lately I’ve been going to church on an almost daily basis after probably a 2-year break. I find it almost ironic that someone I know, who isn’t Catholic, is more eager to attend church than me. She probably loves this church more than I’ll ever do. Hmmm… I appreciate the Neo-Byzantine architecture but can’t help but feel the style exemplified here is pretty watered down, if you compare it with the Sacré-Cœur which the church’s design was originally inspired from. But it still looks way better than most of the other Catholic churches in Singapore. Interesting fact: This church was gazetted by the National Heritage Board as a national monument back in 2009.
Picture taken with the Fujifilm X-T1 and the XF 23mm f/1.4R attached with the Zeiss circular polarizer filter.
It’s annoying to be caught in the rain while photographing outdoors. But as I review my shots taken after that terrible downpour on that faithful day, I can’t help but admire the glittery raindrops that roll off the petals of the orchids. The raindrops just make the flowers come alive, probably serving as a lifesaver amid the humid weather.
Picture taken with the Nikon D800 and the Zeiss Makro-Planar 100mm f/2.
I wasn’t expecting to see ginger flowers blooming in the National Orchid Garden. Most people just walk past them, without bothering a second look. When you think of gingers, you usually think of the brownish dirt-covered rhizome root. In today’s modern times, not many of us get the chance to see the entire plant itself, least even its flower. We get them neatly arranged, root only, on shelves in the wet market or supermarkets. And that’s what I like about my visits to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. There is always something new to spot, to learn and grow in my understanding of nature.
Picture taken with my Nikon D800 and the Zeiss Makro-Planar 100mm f/2.
So I was down at the Botanic Garden, which just recently got its UNESCO world heritage site status (yawn.), and the place was filled with orchids. Literally bursting with one single family of flowers, no exaggeration. Well I was there shortly after Singapore’s National Day so no surprise how the place was decked out to celebrate both occasions, the overrated UNESCO status and the island’s golden jubilee. Because National Parks has so kindly graced local residents with free admission to what is usually the paid section of the gardens, the place was packed with people.
This mural seems pretty new, probably done to commemorate SG50. I’m unable to get any pings online on this mural or the artist(s) responsible for it. The mural depicts scenes of the past in Jalan Besar, which includes New World Amusement Park, heritage shophouses and transportation mode of yesteryears. The mural extends to merge with imagery associated with Singapore’s national day parade, with a strong focus on depicting a strong army.
To me this mural is blatant propaganda, but it’s still nice to see something decorated on the walls of public housing, withstanding the content (Yup, I am partial to graffiti. If it looks good, why not?). Considering the mural is located near the offices of the ruling political party and its partisan grassroots organization, I am not surprised at all at the staunchly nationalistic content in the mural. It’s fascinating how if you were to look at the mural from left to right, what starts off innocently as a reflection of the past heritage of the neighborhood ends up an heroic ode to national solidarity. I’m not sure what sort of genre within propaganda art this mural falls under since it’s such a mishmash of ideas and intent. Regardless I am not surprised if a new genre will be created one day to describe the sort of government sanctioned art seen here. I guess there’s some validity to the tourism slogan “Uniquely Singapore”.
Picture taken with the Fujifilm X-T1 and the XF 23mm f/1.4R.
“Children on a Bicycle” is one of Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic’s iconic street art in Penang, and is really popular with tourists. There was a group of Chinese national tourists hogging the mixed media graffiti for their numerous selfies when all of a sudden an old man speeds down the road nonchalantly at top speed, sending the tourists to the safety of the dessert shop conveniently located opposite the mural. I nailed my shot and proceeded to cool off by ordering a bowl of chendol, but was told they were swiped clean by that same group of tourists.
Picture taken with the Fujifilm X-T1 and the XF 23mm f/1.4R lens.
The Scarlet Skimmer, also known as crimson darter (sounds pretty superhero-y to me), is a species of dragonfly native to Southeast Asia. I saw plenty of these during my visits to the Singapore Botanic Garden… But not so often do I see one perched from a leaf right next to me.
Picture taken with the Fujifilm X-T1 and the Nikkor MF 55mm f/2.8 Micro lens. Tricky to manual focus on Fuji’s X series cameras, but the X-T1 is more of a breeze compared to the X-Pro1. I rarely used this combination, or mount any manual focus lenses on my Fuji cameras because manual focus can be quite a pain on them. I know that there is now a peak focus feature for the X series cameras, but the noisy outline that confirms focus makes me second guess my focus accuracy instead. I primarily rely on live view to nail manual focus. It takes quite a bit of practice to bring it to pace.
I was looking through my archives when I spotted this picture from my last trip to NYC in 2013. Guggenheim is one of my favorite museums, both for its collection of art works as well as the building itself. I like how easy the circular ramp slope leads you up to the top of the museum. The architecture itself is perhaps the most significant artwork on display at the museum. Unfortunately you can’t shoot much of its interior apart from the glass dome ceiling. The building looks striking exteriorly, despite its age, and does not look dated at all. I guess that’s the beauty of Frank Lloyd Wright’s timeless designs.
Picture taken with the Nikon D800 and AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.
On my way to a dessert shop, I spotted this pretty ornate arch sandwiched between shophouses, serving as an entrance to the ancestral temple of the Cheah clan association. There were restoration works going on in the temple while I was there, so I skipped going in. Numerous delicate and detailed ceramic trimmings deck the beams and ceiling of the arch, each serving as a diorama of taoist mythology and auspicious symbolism. It’s plenty of fun for me to spot each of the tiny details as I look upwards at the structure.
I tried reading up on Fujian architecture, of which this temple arch is broadly categorized under, but there seems to be little found on Google. Much of what I’ve found details on Hakka architecture in Fujian province, but of course Fujian consists of more than just the Hakkas. I tried my luck searching up on Mazu architecture to see if I got any related pings, but instead I got search results for unique architecture on the island of Kinmen. Makes sense in retrospect considering this temple is not dedicated to the goddess Mazu, for which the people of Kinmen patronize.
All that online sleuthing made me wonder if Fujian architecture is too diverse a topic for discussion or if the internet has yet taken much interest in it. I think it’s pretty relevant a topic to dabble with, considering most Chinese in the region have Fujian ancestry. Yet we are barely scratching the surface on it… Well, appreciating architecture is not something folks this part of the world commonly do. At least the situation isn’t that bad in Penang, considering how structures such as these are being protected. But in Singapore, too many buildings are going the way of demolition for “progress”.
Picture taken with the Fujifilm X-T1 and XF 23mm f/1.4 lens.
I can’t find the exact name of this graffiti or the artist(s) responsible for it. The style of the caricature reminds me of 1980s anime, and seems to play on surreal humor on the classic box cutting magic trick. The idea of the magician’s boxes plays off nicely on the grid surface of the shophouse shutters. This graffiti seems particularly popular with tourists, despite the clutter surrounding it. Despite its popularity, I wasn’t able to get a ping of its name or creator from the internet, unlike the other graffiti I took along Armenian Street.
Picture taken with the Fujifilm X-T1 and XF 23mm f/1.4 lens.
P.S. Quite oddly, I found the screaming girl resembling a friend of mine.
I was walking around Penang’s Armenian Street when I chanced upon this graffiti. The mural was created by artists Jim Oo and John Cheng, collectively known as Penang I-Wall, back in 2014. The street art extends all the way to the concrete drain covers at the bottom, which used to feature speech bubbles of common daily life Hokkien phrases. But as you can see in my picture, most of those speech bubbles have faded away. The wrought-iron sculpture next to the mural is part of a series of wall sculptures called “Marking George Town”. Each wall sculptures narrates the history of the oldest roads in Georgetown.
Picture taken with Fujifilm X-T1 and the XF 23mm f/1.4 lens.
There’s so much going on at Penang’s KOMTAR bus interchange… There are plenty of commuters going about to work, trishaw peddlers double checking their rides and then there’s this dude sitting by the side of the bus ticket kiosk deep in thought. He seems to be the only one not particularly in a rush to go anywhere.
Picture taken with Fujifilm X-T1 and the XF 23mm f/1.4
The architectural style of the Pagoda of Rama VI, also known as the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas (万佛塔), is an amalgamation of Chinese, Thai and Burmese influences to reflect Kek Lok Si (极乐寺) temple’s embrace of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism, along with trickles of Taoist traditions. The octagonal base of the 7-storey pagoda is distinctively Chinese, while the middle of the structure draws reference from Thai architectural design. The pagoda tops off with a stupa with Indochinese (Burmese) influence.
The pagoda was built to house 70,000 sacred scripture bestowed by Qing China’s Emperor Guang Xu (光绪). Thailand’s King Rama VI (otherwise known as Vajiravudh) laid the foundation for the construction of the pagoda during his visit to Penang, which explains why the pagoda was named after him. I guess the design of the pagoda paid homage to the benefactors of the temple. The medley of cultural influences makes the pagoda the most unique structure within the sprawling temple complex and makes the temple clearly distinctive from other Buddhist temples of the region. Tiger Balm’s Aw Boon Par and Aw Boon Haw too have contributed to the expansion of the temple. Which utterly makes sense in retrospect since much of the landscaping on the temple grounds are reminiscent of the design seen at Haw Par Villa.
Picture taken with the D800 and my favorite wide-angle zoom, the Nikon AF-S 14–24mm f/2.8G ED.
I spotted this mansion perched atop a slope as I was walking down a flight of stairs after lunch at Penang Hill. It made me curious as to who owns the place and if it, like many other mansions on top of Penang Hill, has a name of its own. The mansion may have great views, but I can’t imagine the daily commute up and down the hill.