Victoria Concert Hall and Theatre Open House

Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall

After closing for four years for a major refurbishment costing S$158 million, the grand dame of Singapore’s performing arts venue – the Victoria Concert Hall and Theatre is finally open once again. An open house was held over the weekend of 19-20 July 2014 to let the public to check out the newly refurbished concert hall and theatre via a series of free performances. Continue reading

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Singapore Sports Hub Open House and One Year Countdown to SEA Games 2015 Fireworks

Fireworks light up the night sky in Singapore on 28 June 2014 to commemorate the opening of the Sports Hub and 1 year to the SEA Games 2015.

On 27th June 2014, the Singapore Sports Hub held an open house to its facilities. The same day also marks a year to go to the SEA Games 2015. While I was disappointed that the grand dame of the Sports Hub, the rebuilt National Stadium isn’t open to the public (so much for “Open House”), the fireworks in the evening helped lessen some of that disappointment. Continue reading

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Hiroshima Peace Memorial

The Hiroshima Peace Dome, also known as the A-Bomb Domb (Genbaku Domu) by the bank of the Motoyasu River in Hiroshima, Japan.

At 8:15am on 6 August 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb named “Little Boy” was dropped from a B-29 bomber from the United States of America. The bomb missed its target – the T-shaped Aioi Bridge and detonated approximately 600m above the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall (HMI). The force of the blast killed everybody in the building and effectively flattened Hiroshima City. Continue reading

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Futuristic Workers

Workers put in finishing touches on the futuristic-looking dome of the new National Stadium, part of the Singapore Sports Hub.

After 4 years of construction, including a few delays, due in part to the 2008 financial crisis, the New National Stadium of Singapore is finally ready. Part of the Singapore Sport Hub which consists of an aquatic centre and an indoor arena, the new stadium will play host to the World Cup 10s Rugby on June 21/22.

Meanwhile, workers put in finishing touches to the retractable dome roof – the world’s largest – of the stadium. I spotted them when I was documenting the old overhead bridge in front of the stadium which spans Nicoll Highway. As there is now a new overhead bridge nearby, I had a feeling that it’d soon be demolished and wanted to document it before it’s gone for good. More on that in a latter blog post.

I composed the shot to make use of the clear blue sky (which in Singapore also meant that it’s bloody hot!), placing the futuristic-looking dome at the bottom third of the photo.

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Analog vs. Digital Entertainment

A woman attempts to solve her Hello Kitty-themed Rubik’s Cube while most other passengers choose to be entertained by their smart phones.

In today’s digitally connected world, most people keep themselves occupied with their digital devices during their commute. They’d either be playing games, messaging friends or checking their social networks. Occasionally, there’d be a few reading a physical book, or solving  a Sudoku puzzle. It’s therefore surprising to see someone solving a Rubik’s Cube – a “Hello Kitty” themed one one at that.

I shot the above on my iPhone, and she and every one else were so engrossed that they didn’t notice anything. Maybe if I had pulled out a camera, I might be noticed more easily as I was very close to her. The shot is converted to B&W in Snapseed, no other adjustments were made. It’s slightly blurred due to camera shake but I don’t think that is a big deal here.

Anyway, we got seats later and she eventually succumbed to the digital revolution, and played with her tablet.

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The Many Faces of Mt. Fuji

Dark clouds gather above a silhouette of Mt. Fuji during sunset.

I have been awed by the beauty of Mt. Fuji since I last saw it with my own eyes during my previous trip to Japan in 2011. I had been very lucky in that trip – Mt. Fuji is known to be temperamental and it does not always reveal itself to visitors – and saw it multiple times. During my most recent trip, luck has been on my side again, and I got to look at it and admire its beauty again. Continue reading

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Budak Pantai – The Final Countdown

Local a capella group Budak Pantai on stage. From left to right, Gordon, Michael, Joe, Kah Keh and Danny.

After performing for 20 years, local a capella group Budak Pantai somehow decided to call it quits. Their final concert, aptly titled “The Final Countdown” on 24 May apparently sold out in just 3 days and they had to add a second performance the night before. I’m glad they did so, and this additional performance is the one I attended, along with two friends, David and Clarence. Continue reading

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Surreal Scene In the Air

On a flight while on the way to Penang for a relative’s wedding, I looked out of the window and saw the above scene. It sure looks surreal – it looked like the sea or lake of some sort reflecting the clouds from above. There are also distant clouds which looked like either icebergs or snow mountains! But at such an altitude, I don’t think that horizontal line can be the horizon. Wonder what can it possibly be.

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Chin Hin Eating House Bites the Dust

Chin Hin Eating House at 75, Commonwealth Drive.

Nestled among four now-empty HDB blocks at 75, Commonwealth Drive is an old-school coffeeshop (known colloquially as kopitiam) called the Chin Bee Eating House. It’s one of the last few eating places that still retained that old, traditional look and feel. Everything from the stall placement to the interior layout, to the way the coffee/toast all evokes a sense of old-world charm seldom found in today’s newer kopitiams, let alone the new-fangled air-conditioned food courts. Continue reading

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My friend David recently shared this blog post on my Facebook timeline. It features Adam Magyar‘s mesmerising slow motion footage of commuters at the platform of Tokyo’s Shinjuku station (the busiest in the world) as the train rolls in. Filmed at high speed, it captures a slice of the commuters’ expression as the train moves past them. In Magyar’s words,

“An endless row of living sculptures brought together by the same subway line, the same direction, the same intention of taking the train to get caught and carried away by the urban flow. All their motions slowed down, they are graceful and stainless, holding their breath waiting for their train to pull into the station.”

I have a Nikon 1 V1 camera which is capable of shooting at 400 or 1,200fps so I decided to try it out. I decided to go for 400fps as the 1,200fps results in a very low resolution video. As it is, the 400fps is already rather low res at only 640×240, so I do not want to sacrifice video resolution for frame rate.

When I first tried this out on my way to work, there aren’t many people on the platform as it’s Chinese New Year leave and everyone’s probably on leave. I decided to try again on the new Downtown Line while on my way to a family dinner.

I positioned myself right at the front of the train and set the camera up with the 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 CX, ISO 1,600. As soon as I caught sight of the platform, I hit record. The Nikon 1 V1 only records 5s of realtime in the 400fps mode, resulting in a 1 min of slow motion footage. Like Adam’s excellent work, the instantaneous expressions of the commuters appear to be frozen in time as the train passes. These expressions were usually missed by the casual observer but is now clearly visible.

As far as capturing the commuters go, I think I’ve somewhat succeeded. However, the presence of the platform screen doors meant that the video is interrupted every now and then. The fluorescent-lit platform also caused flicker to appear in the resulting video. So, I am going to try this out again on a station which is above ground in the day to see what happens. It might also be interesting to shoot into the train from the platform and capture the commuters within, so I’ll give that a try as well.

Watch this space.

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