Wednesday, 23 January 2008


Today many Tamils in Malaysia, Singapore and South India celebrate the feast of Thaipusam, being a day where families gather in Hindu shrines across the country to celebrate the birthday of Lord Murugan, the youngest son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, also to commemorate the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a vel (lance) so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman. Many young Hindus have their head shaved and fast on this day as a form of spiritual preparation on this pilgrimage to the temples.

Devotees also bear Kavadis (a form of physical penance) on their shoulders, and many also have skewers and piercings on their bodies as they make their way to the temples to offer milk to their deities.

I often photographed at Thaipusam in Kuala Lumpur when I am in Malaysia, and the portrait above of a young boy having his head shaved was taken last year and is in my book, MALAYSIANS.

Below are 6 images from Transcendence, part of a series of photographs in black and white I did on the theme of Thaipusam and self-purification. These were all photographed with a 50mm lens on film, Fujifilm Neopan 400, in 2002. I hope to resurrect this series one day.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Coincidental friends..!

Konichiwa! from London

Honey and Cakeater, my prolific Japanese diarist blogger friends seem to have a 'following' here in London, more precisely, in Wandsworth town where I live close to. A new patisserie and cafe just opened up with an unusual and coincidental name of Honey Cake! The amusing thing is that Honey and Cakeater both blog a lot about food too! Do check out their blogs for unbelievably mouth-watering Japanese dishes.

How strange can this be, when I see those big red words everyday I drive past this road! Will go and check out the offerings there soon. This photo was taken by my mobilephone camera, a 2 year old Sony Ericsson, from my stationary car at the traffic lights.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Nikon Salon : Tokyo Exhibition

The photographs by the Professional Award winners of the 2007 Photo City Sagamihara Image Festival will be exhibited at the Nikon Salon in Tokyo from the 5 ~ 18 February 2008.

I would love to be able to attend the exhibition as my series of photographs from Outside Looking In : Kuala Lumpur will be amongst the display at the Nikon Salon bis, a public gallery at the Nikon Plaza in downtown Shinjuku, however, it may not be possible this time, perhaps I will make another trip soon.

For my Japanese visitors, please do try to visit the exhibition as I think the works by the overall Winner, Hiroshi Watanabe titled ''I See Angels Everyday'' strikes a particular chord in me.

His winning works comprise large format square black & white photographs depicting portraits of inmates from a run down leprosy hospital in Quito, Ecuador, including everyday objects, photographed with extreme compassion and stark beauty.

The Award winners are :


Hiroshi Watanabe
渡邉 博史(ワタナベ ヒロシ)
1951年札幌市生まれ。75年日本大学芸術学部写真学科を卒業後、米国ロサンゼルスに移住。テレビコマーシャル制作の仕事につく。93年UCLA(カリ フォルニア州立大学)でMBA修士号を修得。95年ごろから個人的な作品を撮り始める。2000年本格的に写真に取り組み、ファインアート写真家として活 動を始め、以来アメリカ国内で多数の個展を行う。作品はフィラデルフィア美術館、ヒューストン美術館、ジョージ・イーストマン・ハウス、サンタバーバラ美 術館などでコレクションされている。06年フォトルーシダからクリティカル・マス賞を受ける。

Steven V-L Lee(スティーヴン・リー)
1964年マレーシア・クアラルンプール生まれ。肖像や旅の撮影を中心に活動。フランス(パリ)、トルコ、ベトナムやシンガポールで撮影した写真と旅行記 を企業の社内誌に掲載する仕事をきっかけに写真家への道を進む。現在は肖像やイベント写真(ファッションや編集用)を専門とする。英国・ロンドン在住。

Hiroshi Aoki
青木 弘(アオキ ヒロシ)

中田 聡一郎(ナカタ ソウイチロウ)
Akira Nakada Ichiro

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Cultivate : Calling all Photography Graduates!

Rhubarb-Rhubarb is pleased to announce that the long-awaited Cultivate section of the site has now gone live. Bookings can now be made for the seminars at the London College Of Communication on 9th and 16th February 2008. Photographers can also reserve their place at the portfolio session on 1st March 2008. Portfolio sessions are only available to those attending both seminars. To help you decide who you would like to see, reviewers’ profiles are available online for viewing.
Rhubarb-Rhubarb is a Birmingham based agency set up to help and guide new photographers in various stages of their careers by developing methods and opportunities for exhibiting, publications and commissions within the photographic industry. It runs an annual Festival of the Image during the summer with workshops, talks by professionals, seminars and portfolio reviews, and has grown over the last few years to becoming one of the most anticipated and well-supported events in the photography calendar.

This year Rhonda Wilson and Lorna-Mary Webb (co-founders) have initiated Cultivate to bring Rhubarb-Rhubarb to London, specifically aimed at Photography graduates, promising an exciting series of seminars and portfolio reviews starting February 9th (see website for exact schedules). I have been invited to be one of the Portfolio Reviewers on the 1st March.

Friday, 4 January 2008

GRD 2 : Pocket Rocket !

I am astounded by the many visits to my blog recently from fellow GRD2 users in Japan, you are all very welcome! Konichiwa! I would love to hear your comments, even if English is not your first language. There seems to be such a great following over there of this little machine I nickname 'pocket rocket', that I have decidedly to delve a bit more into the capabilities of this little Ricoh.

I am continuously amazed by the little GRD2 which I have been using over the recent holidays, especially the in-camera black and white setting and the 1:1 square format. I love to photograph architecture up close in bright light, especially walking around London where so many fine Victorian buildings are built of stone and wrought iron. In black and white mode, the files remind me of a medium grain 35mm film like Neopan 400 which I use to photograph with a great deal with my Konica Hexar and Leica M6. Sadly, I sold the Hexar and the M6 sees very little light of day! I don't usually pixel peep (there are sites in the internet for these people!) but I would safely say that the GRD2 DNG files are similar, if not a tad better and cleaner in detail, resolution and tone gradation than 35mm film scanned from my Minolta Dimage Elite 5400. In black and white, that is. Colour files are close but noise is more evident.

The small size sensor produces noise in black and white like film grain when blown up and to all intent and purpose, say, for enlargements up to 13'' x 19'' its superb for a 10MP digicam!

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

010108 : A New Year begins

Happy New Year to all!

As traditional as the rain falls over London, the 1st of January begins with the annual New Year's Day Parade in Central London. This year an estimated 300,000 visitors lined the streets from Parliament Square, up Whitehall, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly to see the many marching bands, vintage cars and bikes, clowns, lion dance, US cheerleaders and many, many more floats.

The weather was rather mild today, hovering around 9C, so it wasn't too wintery for the thousands of American school groups that came to perform. I even saw a school brass band from Honolulu! As we completely missed the fireworks on the river Thames last evening, I am pleased to have wandered along and watched the parade today. I noticed that almost every one now owns a point and shoot digital camera, the prices of these machines have fallen to less than £80 for a decent 8MP camera, and there is always an 'older' model to buy off eBay for even less money!

Despite this growth in ownership of digital cameras, the same old argument in consumer photography still exists, do you merely take a picture, or do you want to make a photograph? What does a photograph mean to you? Is it merely to record an event passing, to show a location, to capture something unique or beautiful? Why do we take photographs? Is it because we now can? If the camera did not exist, would we all be artists? Would we all be good at drawing?
Would our need to record the moment be subdued because of the less instantaneous process of drawing or painting?

How important are aesthetics and composition in your photographs? Are you aware of what you are photographing every time you press the shutter release?

I hope to ponder on these questions this coming year, as a long term thought process to share with you and hope to gain some answers with your help.