Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Sleeping Man

I wanted to have the sleeping man included in a street scene but was having difficulty getting a composition I liked. The picture also lacked other interesting subjects in the frame. I only had a moment to catch this shot but later I realized I liked the boy's purposeful stance, his deadpan expression, the contrast between his smooth young skin and the hard skin of the sleeping man's feet, the contrast between the boy's new and well pressed clothes and the sleeping man's blanket, and that the boy seems oblivious to the sleeping man.
Sometimes it pays to sit and wait for something to happen.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Firecracker Mayhem in Phuket

Firecrackers were banned in Singapore in 1972 under the Dangerous Fireworks Act. It became an offense to possess, sell or set off firecrackers and penalties were harsh. Up to $5,000 fine or 2 years in jail. Or both. Since then, enjoying fireworks has been a rather orderly and non-participative affair at organized displays, which is probably no bad thing. I well remember awful news reports of horrific injuries sustained every year around Guy Fawkes Night back in the UK.

But all this safety consciousness does take the adrenalin out of life so if you feel like throwing caution to the wind and immersing yourself in some firecracker mayhem, Phuket is the place for you.

Safety goggles and ear plugs highly recommended.

This photo featured in Reuters Blog

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Feeling charitable

A friend recently organized a charity event in aid of the Mountain Fund in Nepal. Keen to help (and maybe show off my photos a little too) I looked out some pictures from a recent Nepal trip and he displayed them in a slideshow during the event. He also asked me to prepare some prints for sale, with the proceeds going to the fund. I was a bit short of time as I was in the middle of moving house but I managed to print and frame just 3 photos; 2 of which, I'm delighted to say, sold. The third has pride of place in the hallway of my new house. With that and my recent donation of some old lenses to PhotoVoice, I'm feeling quite charitable these days.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Since my dry cabinet is as tightly packed as a Tokyo commuter train on a Monday morning I’ve refrained from buying any new gear lately. I mean, how many lenses does a guy really need? I’ve already got everything covered from 10 to 200mm, some of it pretty nice Canon ‘L’ glass too. But I have my favourites and there's some duplication and I know I’ll never use some of them again. A few haven’t seen the light of day in almost a decade and have little resale value but somehow I can’t bear to bin them. So what to do? Enter PhotoVoice. PhotoVoice is a charity that enables those who have traditionally been the subject of documentary photography to take control over how they are perceived by learning to photograph for themselves. And what does such a charity need? Donations of cameras and lenses of course.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ankle Shackles and Nice Men

I'm always interested to see where my photo site visitors come from, and what they look at. But it's what they search for that amuses me. It's not my best images that get the most hits - it's the ones that have keywords matching commonly searched words of phrases. Strangely, for my site that means two of my more obscure photos get the lion's share of the hits. If you're looking for photos of nice men (as many people are) you may find this shot of some likely lads outside the 'Nice Men' tailor in Kerala, India.
And if you're looking for photos of ankle shackles you might land on this shot from the Tuol Sleng Khmer Rouge museum in Phnom Penh.
Needless to say these visitors don't hang around browsing my other images - they're off like greased lightning to find what they were really looking for. I really must pay more attention to my keywording in future.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Disappearing Singapore

When I heard that yet another of Singapore's heritage landmarks was going to be torn down I thought I'd better take a few snaps. I intended to go back and ask to photograph inside but of course time passed and I forgot. And today as I drove past the building site where it once stood I instantly regretted having let it slip my mind. When the New Seventh Storey Hotel was was established in 1953 it was the tallest structure in the Beach Road area and, hard to believe today, it offered views of the shoreline which is now considerably further away due to much land reclamation of the past few decades. In recent years the hotel had rather oddly stood on its own, surrounded by a flat grassy area where once-crowded shophouses used to be. Its fate was problably sealed a long time ago, just a temporary stay of execution saving it from the bulldozers. My father will be sad to hear of its demise - he used to tell stories of his time on National Service in Singapore in the late 1950's. He told of having 'Taxi Dances' at the Seventh Storey Hotel. It all sounded very exotic to a young boy growing up in Glasgow in the sixties.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Qing Ming

Singapore is a modern, fast-moving, forward-thinking city state where the trappings of capitalism are all-important. One of the first things I learned about Singaporeans was the importance they placed on having the Five C's - Car, Cash, Credit Card, Condominium, and Country Club membership. But scratch the surface and you'll find that many Singaporeans are deeply religious and superstitious, evident in the many ceremonies and festivals that take place across the island throughout the year. One such festival is Qing Ming (Clear and Bright), also known as Grave Sweeping Day. It's similar to All Souls Day. The graves of ancestors are restored and tidied up and offerings are made to the spirits. This family had been by the graveside since 3am and had just received confirmation that the deceased had accepted their offerings. As with most rituals here there is an element of praying for good luck, and of course, good fortune. Paper money is being thrown into the air and a pile of this 'Hell Money' had just been burned - partly to provide for the deceased in the after-life, but also to ensure prosperity in this one. I was told (with tongue in cheek I suspect) that the value of the hell money burned by this family ran into the trillions - some of it earmarked for Obama and the global recovery effort. Every little helps..