Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix 2017

Last year was the first time I got a taste of Formula 1 live action courtesy of my friend. I got to watch the Free Practice 1 and 2 sessions and I must say I was hooked by it. Hence, I decided to purchase a full 3 days ticket myself for this year’s Singapore Grand Prix. There was talk that this might be the last time for Singapore to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix, but in the end it was good to hear that they will continue to host until 2021.

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Singapore Grand Prix has always been a special one. It’s on with the longest lap time and the most turns and corners. It’s a street circuit that built from all the familiar streets that I passed by on daily basis. Hence, it added a touch of familiarity and coziness when seeing the Formula 1 race cars blazing passed all the familiar landmarks around the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

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If you are a Formula 1 or racing fan, please try to experience the race in live for at least once in your lifetime. The roaring of engines, the smell of burning fuel, the smoke from brushing rubber, and above all, the atmosphere and the crowd is simply amazing. Singapore Grand Prix goes a step further as you will get to be just a few feet away from the race track due to the street circuit’s design, which literally puts you in the action itself. Other than the race itself, there were other races such as the Ferrari Challenge and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia going on throughout the weekend. Besides that, there were also concerts and performances by popular artists around the world. I went for the One Republic concert on Friday and it was awesome!

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I spent time exploring every corner of the tracks on Friday and snapped some pictures along the way. On Saturday, the qualifying session was so intense that I can feel the rush of adrenaline and the increase of my heart beat! In the end, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel managed to snatch pole position ahead of the Red Bull duos. Yes, I’m a big fan of Ferrari team.

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The race day itself was eventful. I was there right before the first corner, and once in a blue moon, the cars from the front row got wiped out. Yes, my Ferraris and a Red Bull just crashed right in front of my eyes during the first ever night race in wet condition. What the hell had gone wrong?? Anyway, the remaining part of the race was just cheering for Ricciardo whenever the safety car was out and he got to close down the gap with Hamilton. Too bad he failed to seize the opportunity in the end. Hamilton drove a better strategy and race overall.

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There goes my first experience of a full weekend of Formula 1 Grand Prix. Very interesting and addicting indeed. Will I be back again next year? Probably I’ll just go for one day instead, we’ll see. These are pictures taken throughout the weekend. Most of the pictures were taken during the free practice sessions. I didn’t want to waste it for not indulging on the actual moment itself. I can live with less picture, so I just enjoy every moment to the fullest. Till then, looking forward for more Formula 1 Grand Prix experience in the future.

The story behind the picture: Tokyo Tower

During my trip to Tokyo in March 2016, I wanted to capture the Tokyo skyline under sunset. I planned for a few possible spots, and I decided to try out shooting from Tokyo City View at Roppongi Hills. I dropped by the viewing deck early as I wasn’t familiar with the area and would like to do some scouting before deciding where to shoot.

After looking around, I decided on my composition and planted my tripod and camera, getting everything ready and setup for the shot. For this shot I’m mounting my Leica M-P Typ 240 with Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH. No filter was used as I will be pressing the lens as close to the window as possible in order to reduce the reflection and glare. Additional dark cloth was used to cover the lens to ensure all lights were cut out from reflecting on the window.

The sky wasn’t promising being cloudy and overcast, but I’ll just wait and hope for the best. While waiting for sun to set, another young man came and sat beside me with his camera and tripod as well. I gave him a smile and leave up some space for him. After being quiet for awhile, the young man said to me: “This is probably the first time I saw a Leica mounted on a tripod.”

We laughed about it badly. Thereafter, we started chatting while waiting for the sun to set. He came from Thailand and he mentioned that he was surprised that a lot of Thais travel to Japan. We talked about photography as well, and after awhile, another guy stopped by with his camera and tripod and seated right beside us. He’s Japanese, and he asked us in Japanese: “Are you guys coming for the diamond light up of Tokyo Tower as well?”

The Thai was puzzled as he couldn’t understand Japanese. I do understand what he said, but was trying hard to figure out what is “diamond light up”. The Japanese man then show us the Tokyo Tower website on his phone, with details on the light up for tonight and when the lights will come up and so on. Apparently, that day was 14 of March, which was “White Day” or “White Valentines Day”. It’s widely celebrated in Japan, but not in my home country. And on that day, there will be a special “diamond light up” on Tokyo Tower instead of the usual one.

The three of us started chatting while waiting. The Japanese said that he came specifically for the special light up, and we talked a bit about where to shoot, what to eat as well. I’m acting as a translator in between, it was really fun chatting with someone unknown while traveling aboard. You get to see their views, and we get to share our interest in photography together. When the sun set and lights up, everyone got busy and started shooting.

It’s very interesting to talk to people from different nationalities, face to face about photography, about traveling. Although we do not know each other, but the common interest between us has managed to connect us together at that point of time. Lovely indeed, and when I think back on that moment, I still feel a bit of warmth in my heart. It’s a memory that I will cherish for years to come.

Back to where it begins: Fujifilm X100F

X100FIt may come as a little surprise to some, but yes I’m back owning a Fujifilm camera, and this time it’s the X100F. Those who know me or followed my blog will remember I am a big fan for Fujifilm camera in terms of their controls and JPEG rendering, but I sold off the whole Fujifilm X system two years back for a couple of reasons.

I had also owned the Fujifilm X100S briefly for a few months when I’m using it alongside my X-E2, but sold it because of some issue with the configuration and ergonomics of the camera, which was annoying when use alongside with X-E2 at that point of time.

X100FNow, enters the fourth generation. Is this the ultimate Fujifilm X-series camera that will lure me to switch back to Fujifilm? Well, I guess that’s not the question here. I know when I decided to ditch my Fujifilm system, a lot of people started to label me as “anti-Fujifilm” and seems like I had become the traitors of the local Fujifilm community here in Singapore. It didn’t bother me, it’s my photography journey anyway, and I don’t need anyone else to dictate what should I use.

All I can say is, I know what I want, what I need, and what my camera can deliver. Hence, I choose whichever camera that I want regardless of the brand it is associated with. For those people who choose to remain as a fanboy (doesn’t matter what brand), I wish you all the best and please stay out of my life.

X100FThe reason why I decided to get this camera is because I’m looking for a simple go-to camera for daily use, preferably not too pricey and flashy. In fact I had been looking around for quite some time. I pondered about micro four third system with a pancake lens, I pondered about other mirrorless camera with a pancake lens, I pondered about 1″ compact cameras, I pondered about the “ultimate” compact camera which is the RX1 series… but in the end, after considering the size, weight, ease of use, ergonomics and other factors, I decided to give Fujifilm another chance by trying out on X100F.

I knew that lens, I’m still familiar with their menu, I can grasp the control quickly, the only unknown is how well will the new X-Trans III sensor performs. I won’t be doing a review on this camera as there were already a whole lot of them on the internet, but I will definitely share my unbiased thoughts and feelings about this camera once I clock enough milage on it. Let’s see how everything unfolds. Till then.

Shooting Slides

Xpan + Provia 100F
Slides, or positive film, is another type of film that has been favoured by most in the past for producing extremely sharp and detailed print with very little grain. Unlike ordinary colour film or black & white film which were negative film, when slides exposed and developed, you get to see the picture itself on the film in full colour. I can still recall the feeling of receiving my first roll of slides… it’s magical.

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In the past, people prefer to mount the film onto holder, then project the film directly in order to share and view the picture. This is something that can only be done on positive film but not the usual negative film.

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I had shot a roll of Velvia 50 sides before this, and the result were horrid. From there I learned on how to work with slides and expose them properly, as they have very limited room to push and pull in post, and luckily my second roll of slides, which was Provia 100F, came out pretty well in terms of exposure.

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Slides certainly produced very good image quality, and it’s not hard to understand why there are photographers who are still swear by slides and using them, especially for large format shot. But the trouble of getting slides processed and the price of it do put me off to shoot more. Perhaps once I get a hang of it, I’ll work out some personal projects that shoot on slides. But for now, I’ll probably stick with negative film.

Portrait orientation with Hasselblad X-Pan

I think most of us are quite familiar in seeing Xpan being shoot in landscape orientation, but not often it was done in portrait orientation. For those who don’t know, Xpan is a camera that shoot panoramic frame with 35mm film, each frame is about the size of 2 frames of standard 35mm frame.

Composing this panoramic frame in landscape orientation is already challenging due to the abnormal width of the frame, but it’s still possible for one to think and frame it, you just need to switch your mind to think of cinematic frame all the time.

However, things get a little quirky when you flip your camera to the side and shoot in portrait orientation. Suddenly everything looks odd to you again and there isn’t much of similar framing in real world that can be used as reference. The closest I can think of is probably advertising banner, but those are rarely associated with photography.

When you look into it, the fundamental of shooting the Xpan remains the same, regardless of you shooting it in portrait or landscape orientation – try to fill up the frame with stuffs. It’s easier to do it in landscape orientation because we are used to seeing it this way, but when it comes to portrait orientation, we can feel kinda lost, especially when you are using wide angle lenses like the 45mm f4 (35mm equivalent of around 24mm).

I had tried to shoot my Xpan in portrait orientation, the results were a little of mix bag, some picture works while some doesn’t. Anyway, it’s a fun way to explore for new composition and idea. As much as I struggled, I do enjoy the process of searching. If you have an Xpan with you, how often do you shoot it in portrait orientation? Feel free to share your experience and pictures. Till then.