Polka Dot Lady

Polka Dot Lady

Have you  walked through a warren of alleys, turned a corner and been startled by a cacophony of color, light and pattern?   Visuals so loud and discordant that you had to blink three times to tone it down?

This happened to me in an outdoor market in Northern Thailand. I’d stumbled into hat makers alley. A place where ladies surrounded by  gaily colored fabric,  sewed ribbons of bubbles and baubles on to hats, aprons and vests.  They draped themselves with vibrantly patterned scarves with no apparent concern for color harmony.   The laughed and chattered among themselves, ignoring the tourist fidgeting with her camera and trying to isolate a shot.

PolkaDotLady-7374-3

Later when I uploaded my photos I ignored all of these photos.  I had liked one but decided that the frame was too full with color and pattern.  It was hard see the subject against the distraction of background.

Fast forward to years later.   I’m searching through my catalog looking for interesting B&W portraits.   I find this old photo and casually flick it to B&W.  What a difference.

The moral of this story?   Never discard photos that you like.  Maybe your eye saw something your brain did not. Time will tell.

Photo taken in Thailand, 2015

 

 

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A Portrait

A Portrait of Pat

I’ve been looking through my catalog of pictures.

I found some favorites which I hadn’t published  because I didn’t have much to say about them.

Except that I liked them.

Here’s one.

Taken somewhere near Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Playing with Light in Black & White

 

I don’t usually shoot in black & white but in my last photo walk I decided to set my LCD to monochrome.  What a difference.  I saw scenes I wouldn’t normally have seen. The absence of color forced me to look at the shadows and light.

Some pictures, like the play on reflections below, I would have missed.  In fact, when I loaded the RAW files in Lightroom, I was startled at the display of color.

These are the pictures that I took in monochrome:

 

These are the pictures that Lightroom showed:

 

Color or monochrome, they both have their appeal.

But without the monochrome LCD, I would never have seen the view.

 

Singapore. June 2017

Ice Cream Sandwich

Ice Cream Sandwich

The Sandy Food Chronicles

The New York Times posted an article on The Joys of a Classic Ice Cream Sandwich,  It says

“Designer ice cream sandwiches, made with amped-up cookies, fancy sprinkles and crazy flavors, can be tasty, but the classic combination of a chocolate base and vanilla ice cream pleases everyone”

Singaporeans might disagree.

This is what a Traditional Ice Cream Sandwich looks like.

I had mango flavor but I could have had red bean, corn or durian.

It’s a thick slice of ice cream wrapped up with pillowy soft, rainbow colored bread because it’s a sandwich.

Singapore. June 2017

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Bit and Pieces of Singapore

Painted Ladies in Joo Chiat

Seems like there are a  lot of Challenges in the WordPress blogosphere. 

I’m not sure that I can participate in all of them all of the time but I will try some, some of the time. 

Let’s see how I do.

Today’s challenge is from Cee Neuner’s Share Your World


What is something that people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of?

Mobile phones.

I’m a child of the ‘70s when portable telephones meant long extension cords. Maybe that’s why I don’t get the current day obsession with connectivity.

In my part of the world where phone plans are cheap (compared to North America) and cars are expensive (entry price is $120,000), I see lots of commuters engrossed with their phones. So engrossed that they’ll walk heads down into traffic.

Worse are the ones who play games without ear phones; as if we all want to hear their pings, dings and noise emissions.

Most distressing are toddlers held mesmerized by their parent’s phone. Mobiles become electronic pacifiers and little humans are being trained to see the world through a 7x15cm window.

What quirky things do people do where you are from?

There is no fear of color in Singapore’s buildings. Historic shop houses are painted in pretty pastels, stodgy government buildings have crayola colored shutters and ugly apartment blocks are doused in exuberant playground colors.

Shop House in Bukit Pasoh
MICA Government building. Photo credit: Erwin Soo

 

What are some things you wish you could unlearn? 

It’s too easy to pick up terms & odd wordings when living in a foreign country. Lately, I’ve been forgetting to “off the lights” when leaving a room and more often than not, I say “can” when answering with an affirmative.

It’s not a problem, so long as I’m in Singapore. My friends in Canada though, they’re starting to look at me strange.

Who is someone that you miss having in your life?

In Singapore 72% of the population is of Chinese descent with many migrating from South China in the late nineteenth & early twentieth century. As such, Singaporeans have an ethnic heritage similar to my parents and grand-parents. I see it in the faces of people on the street. My grandfather’s eyes. My mother’s nose. It’s present too in the local food and traditions. Many Singaporean dishes recall flavors from long forgotten family meals.

My family history is not Singaporean but our Chinese heritage share a common root. It would have been nice to have my mother and grand-mother (long deceased) around to ask questions and compare memories.

Did you ever make that? What was it called? Do you remember this?

Singapore. 2017

 

Photo Challenge: Order

I’m going to try this.

Once.

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Order


I took this shot at Chow Kit Market in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  It’s part of a series on local markets where I try to capture their look and feel.  I had a simple intent of showing a dry goods shop, different from the standard shots of vegetables and meat.

What caught my eye about this photo?

Originally it was the orange color of his shirt. The eye-catch which connected the passer-by to the shelves in the shop. But then the color became lines and my eye followed the network of lines within lines, the boxes within boxes. Unconsciously, my eye was drawn to the pattern within the picture, the order imposed on this chaos of small things. But then my eye grew tired of straight lines. It pulled back to follow the curves. The dark slope of the shopkeeper hunched over the counter. The blurred profile of the passer-by. The orange color of his shirt.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  2017


So that’s it then.

My first response to a Photo Challenge. 

But this program is Weekly. 

Maybe I’ll have the discipline to try it again.

Later. 

Familiar Faces in Saigon

It’s hot in Saigon. At 10 o’clock in the morning it’s already thirty degrees with a mounting noon day sun. Rivers of sweat stream down my chest and my t-shirt is wet against my skin. We’re in the market area of old Cholon, the Chinese quarter of  Ho Chi Minh City.  I avoid a passing motorcycle and hug a shade on the sidewalk.

Up ahead Arnaud our photo guide,  is telling us to use f3.5 for close-up portrait shots.

“You muss go in cloze,” he says.

Arnaud is a Frenchman living in Vietnam and enjoying the life of full time street photography.   His enthusiasm is passionate and relentless. We’ve spent three hours walking  and he hasn’t stopped talking once. Lucky for me, he latches on to my Paris born husband and lapses into French.

Two street vendors set-up stalls across a narrow pathway; one selling food, the other selling flowers.  I take a quick shot of the flower vendor. She seems familiar. The set of her mouth, the curve of her nose, the slant of her eyes. She reminds me of my grandmother.

Her friend across the street calls out, laughing and a little jealous of her attention.  I take her picture too. I’m rewarded with a bright mischievous grin

Up ahead Luc and Arnaud are circling a bemused old man. He’s been caught waiting for his wife. Arnaud’s behemoth Nikon hovers near the man’s face. He catches my eye and I shake my head apologetically. After they’ve moved on, I take my shot from a respectable f5.6 and 35mm distance.

“Are you Japanese?” he says in perfect English.

I shake my head and un-mindfuly say “Chinese.”

“Wo shi hua ren,” he says. He holds his hand three feet off the ground. “Wo li kai zhong guo shi, hai shi ge xiao nan hai.”

I catch the words ‘zhong guo’ for China. I gather that he’s originally from China and that he left for Vietnam when he was very small.

Later when I look at the map of Vietnam, I realize how close it is to China. It shares a border with Guangxi, the southern most province and homeland of my great great grandfather.  Looking closer at the old man’s photo, I see the familiar Han nose and hooded almond shaped eyes. Clumps of stiff white hair bristle from his cheek.

It reminds me of my father, who at eighty three years doesn’t see or shave as well as he used to. In fact this man has an uncanny resemblance to my father’s friend, Uncle Louie. I call him uncle not because he’s a relative but because it’s the traditional term of respect for Chinese elders. When I was little I used to think that I had the biggest family in the world. Maybe I wasn’t half wrong.

Photos taken in HCMC, Vietnam. 2015

SG-çoise Salad

This is a SG-çoise salad.

What’s that?

It’s a not-Salad Niçoise made from ingredients found in Singapore.

Ingredients like ‘granola washed’ Brastagi potatoes from Indonesia, ‘crunchy crisp tomatoes’ from Malaysia. Bottled olives from Spain, Carrefour mustard from France and Kewpie mayo from Japan. The eggs are brown not white, are never refrigerated and sold only in multiples of five, not twelve.

Why is it not Niçoise?

A classic niçoise is made with olives, tomatoes, beans, eggs and anchovies – never potatoes. I don’t like anchovies. I do like potatoes.

What makes it Singaporean?

That not an ingredient is made or grown in Singapore.
That everything is imported.
That it’s a mixture of savory, salty, bitter and sweet.
That it’s food and it tastes good.

Is it there a recipe?

There can be. But it is here and not here. Because this not a recipe blog.

Singapore. March 2017