Benjamin Aw: Blog en-us (C) Benjamin Aw (Benjamin Aw) Sun, 04 Feb 2018 03:26:00 GMT Sun, 04 Feb 2018 03:26:00 GMT Benjamin Aw: Blog 80 120 Snapshot #49 A section of leaves against a mosaic of tiles. A black and white image full of detail as raindrops on the leaves form a detailed image.Of Shape & ColourThe devil is in the detail. While plants are soft and infrastructure the exact opposite, they still depend on the other to look good, if not better.

Shapes, colour and texture all come together to create an amazing set. With the softness of plants set against the backdrop of mosaic tiles, even in the absence of colour, the image still stands out as each of their elements are still clearly visible. Well maybe due to the fact that is monotone too!

]]> (Benjamin Aw) and black flooring mosaic plants tiles urban white' Sun, 04 Feb 2018 03:26:04 GMT
Travel: Bhutan 2017 In short, this is a very interesting country to visit with their quirky way of life (personally to me). With a population of 770,000 living in the land size of 39,000km2, there is plenty of peace. Air quality is stunning, skies are clear, (bring sunscreen), food is good, beer is excellent, and culturally very interesting. If you are the sort who needs shopping to thrive/enjoy during your holiday, please stay away. If you however love adventure, the great outdoors and experiencing people who truly live for the moment, this is it. 


Mountains and valleys of Bhutan in 2017. Hills and more hillsMountains and valleys of Bhutan in 2017. Rolling hills everywhere.


Well, I have never been one to take photos of the food I consume, I usually barge into the plate, and contemplate later. I must share about two dishes that is staple for Bhutanese. It is the Chili-Cheese & A-Zay (pronounced as A-ZAAAAY). I most probably got the spelling wrong here. These two dishes would not normally be served to foreigners, but after we requested for our guide to give us some chili, he told us about this two. Ever since that meal on the 1st or 2nd day, he would ask that every kitchen we visit, we are given a set of chili-cheese at least. It is really good. 

They fry an assortment of chilies (mainly jalepeno's), and add Yak Cheese and another type (sorry I can't recall). Stir it into rice, pasta, and voila! Super tasty snack! Add it to your vegetable dish or fried chicken, and voila! 

A-Zay is much spicier, which is my favourite. Its main ingredient is dried chili, and again cheese. Pounded together with onions and garlic, its a dry version of chili cheese. 



Images would work better eh? 

Paro International Airport, BhutanParo International Airport, Paro City, BhutanThey only have one international airport at Bhutan, where only 11 pilots are technically proficient and certified to land. Dzong at PunakhaDzong at PunakhaBeautiful. Grand.

Another trip that I have gone full film, without the convenience of a digital camera (except for the iPhone). Lugging my Fuji GF670, Leica M2 with 3 lens and the simple Point and Shoot Olympus Mju II (3.5/35mm), I hope I caught the essence of the places I visited. Halfway through, the Olympus developed a fault where it failed to focus. It still took the shot, much to my horror as i ended up with 40% of images out of focussed. This is an absolute disaster. I would have to switch it off and turn it back on for it to resume normal operations. 


Portrait of TsherngTsherng, Vehicle Captain He drove the entire 9 days alone. The longest trip being 14hr. Without even napping. Man standing alone along the streets of Thimphu in the early morning at 730amThimphu CityA man standing below the building, which happens to have a portrait of their King. They love their king and queen. The city is calm, no crazy vehicle horn, revving of vehicles, cows and tractors blocking the traffic are non-existent, and everybody is well dressed and quiet. 


Kids having a wonderful time at a parkJoyThese two little girls were having a good laugh and were sharing a pack of chips in the afternoon sun at a nearby park. While in a simple playground in Paro City, I watched on as these two little girls shared a moment together in the shade, sharing their snacks. They didn't speak, but simply smiled and laughed their hearts out. It could have been a very simple gesture that they did for one another, or it could be their chance to share a snack after a long time. Or it could also be the fact that this was their most important thing to do all day - meet a friend. 


Staff cleaning the sifting tray in a local washi paper factoryWork HardStaff at a local 'washi factory'. This was to be my last image in the only roll of film that i had with me in the factory. I got out of the van too quick to think about bringing a spare roll of 35mm film. This was shot on the Legacy 100 film, way too slow an ISO for this indoor scene, hence the moving arm. Nonetheless, a very important image to remind me that we take many many things for granted. Paper being one of them. 

These are handmade papers, made by hand using pulp from the stem of a plant, and cured into sheets that are made into notebooks and envelopes. I bought set of notecards and envelopes as memories, but they are not cheap! 

Staff preparing the pulp for the washi paper. HandmadeStaff preparing the pulp for the washi paper. I had the right lens (Zeiss 25mm/2.8 for this, but little did I know that i only had a few more frames before I finished the whole roll. 


A lady hugging her baby as she walks pass a convenience store in Thimphu City, Bhutan. The colours of Bhutan are vibrant!Convenience store, Thimphu CityPeace & Colour I brought 3 cameras for this trip, and on hindsight I should have kept this to two extremely reliable cameras and avoided point and shoot cameras that i have not tried and tested for such occasions. 


]]> (Benjamin Aw) 35mm bhutan chili cheese delta film fujifilm leica m2 part thimphu travel zeiss Sun, 29 Oct 2017 03:57:42 GMT
Snapshot #48 I have to admit that I have been rather lazy in photographing. Time to change that!

I have always enjoyed abstract, and sometimes you really need to be able to compose well with a certain focal range to aid this. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don't. In general, a tighter lens makes it easier (personally for me), but this time round I did it with the Konica 35/2UC. This lens and a roll of Fuji Color 100 (C41)

untitled 1210untitled 1210

]]> (Benjamin Aw) 35/2 35UC 35mm FujiFilm Konica Leica M2 UC film konica Mon, 26 Sep 2016 13:04:35 GMT
Snapshot #47 It has been a long time since I worked on my photographs. Working with my Ricoh GRD4 has brought back the joy of being random in my vision. The speed and easy of 'Snap' Mode of the Ricoh series is really fun to photograph with. The strong contrast, almost film like grain gives the image a special punch at the ease of Lightroom edits.

2016 5652016 565Lines and Shapes

]]> (Benjamin Aw) GRD4 Ricoh roads Wed, 22 Jun 2016 13:15:51 GMT
Smiles Another shot from my trip to Hanoi in Oct 2015, this was done with the Summaron 2.8.

Boats at rest by the shorelines of Ba Be National Park, Hanoi, North Vietnam 2015.Rest Your SoulIn the still waters of Ba Be National Park, these little powered boats are the livelihood of the villagers by providing transportation and a vessel for them to fish.

]]> (Benjamin Aw) 35mm Delta Leica M2 TriX acros film fujifilm kodak summaron Mon, 25 Jan 2016 15:41:09 GMT
Hanoi, Vietnam A 7-day trip to the vibrant, bustling city of Hanoi, North of Vietnam during 20 - 27 Oct. The new, sprawling Noi Bai International Airport is about a 40-minute drive to the city, and please have your camera ready as you pass that huge Star Wars look-alike bridge after about 15 minutes from the airport. My camera was tucked in the bag, unloaded, together with my mobile phone.

I did this trip with the Leica M2 coupled with the Summaron 2.8 & Zeiss 25/2.8, the venerable Fuji GF670 and the Ricoh GXR & 28mm module. That is quite a stash for a short trip like this, but they all had their strengths and it was extremely tough to decide on which to bring, hence I brought them all.

This one with the GF670, on Acros 100.

Bamboo stall owners with their 5 meter bamboo on display along the pavement of Hanoi City.Its All About The LightThe way this scene was lit up was really too good to miss. Coupled with the buildings at the back as well as the owners milling around, it was such a majestic story.

Lady exiting her home with her motorbike along the pavement. Going OutI waited about 10 minutes for this image somewhere near Long Bien Bridge. The amount of details in the wall, floor all made for an excellent shot with film.

Ba Be National Park, 240km north of Hanoi. Lovely place to relax and unwind. Ba Be means '3 lakes', where the clear and calm waters were a joy to be around in (and swim). Sunrise along Ba Be National Park with a simple fishing boat idling along the river bank. Sunrise, Ba Be National ParkLocated 240km north of Hanoi, this park consists of 3 lakes joined together. Large and scattered with caves and huge mountains, the cool and calm lakes were awesome swimming opportunities I could not resist.

]]> (Benjamin Aw) 35mm 400 Delta Leica M2 TriX ba be film hanoi national park travel trix vietnam Mon, 02 Nov 2015 01:23:03 GMT
Haze - Environmental hazard through poor discipline by Indonesia A shot from my corridor, recording the poor air quality resulting from the haze that Indonesia is spewing.

Cropped from a Hexar AF, and shot on Delta 100 (I think) film, this is not in Indonesia, but in Singapore. Which is a few hundred kilometers away from Indonesia, where the forest fires, peat-lands have been burning for months. Wind conditions have brought the haze all the way north towards Malaysia, as far as Penang.

The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) went as high as 280, and has been hovering at 120 on a daily basis. This is not acceptable.

This image has the PSI rated at about 120, where a few years back, the highest PSI was 401.

]]> (Benjamin Aw) AF fires forest haze hexar indonesia konica Sat, 17 Oct 2015 12:54:00 GMT
Quotes: Sebastiao Salgado - 'From my Land to the Planet' 2014 "If you don't like to wait, you can't be a photographer."

- Sebastiao Salgado, 2014, From my Land to the Planet, Contrasto Books.


The first line of the book that hit me like a blue whale travelling at 30 knots. From here on, I know that this is a book that will guide me in my journey of photography.

]]> (Benjamin Aw) Tue, 15 Sep 2015 14:01:23 GMT
Snapshot #46 Portra 160 with the Hexar AF.

I need practice to find a consistent way to process and edit Kodak's Portra 160. It is an excellent film where I have seen fantastic results from other photographers, yet I am struggling with my results.


]]> (Benjamin Aw) 160 35mm Kodak Portra film Mon, 18 May 2015 13:41:52 GMT
Snapshot #45 An orchid stands tall amongst the crowded city, giving a brief moment of peace. PeaceStanding alone sometimes helps calm you down.

Technical Specifications:

Nikon D3s, Nikon 105mm 2.8 AFD Micro

]]> (Benjamin Aw) macro orchids still life Fri, 01 May 2015 15:39:05 GMT
Snapshot #44 Finally got down to some close-up work in the past week. Sometimes when the light is right, things just fall into place much easier :)


Plants enjoying the early morning light rays as it hits their leaves and flowers, providing much needed energy and sugar. Rays of LightWhen the going gets tough, you need to look out for the light to guide you.

Technical Specifications:

Nikon D3s, 105/2.8 AFD, RAW processed with Adobe Lightroom.

]]> (Benjamin Aw) Nikon 105mm AFD Nikon D3s botanic gardens close-up macro nature plants Fri, 01 May 2015 15:30:26 GMT
Portraits with the Mamiya RZ67 Pro I finally had the time to bring the Beast out for a 1hr portrait session at the garden.

Sitting on the Manfrotto tripod, the RZ67 Pro mounted with the Sekor 110/2.8 C lens, this setup is stunning. Many people give this camera the thumbs down due to the bulky dimensions, but I am one of the naysayers. This is an excellent camera.

The way it works, it beats the Hassalblad 500CM hands down. I can rotate the film back, change aperture and shutter settings with ease, not to mention that I can use either hand to focus with the twin knobs.

Loaded with Acros 100 & Provia 100F, these are two of my favourite shots from the session with Rakiv.

2015 6342015 634


2015 6152015 615

]]> (Benjamin Aw) Mamiya RZ67 film Fri, 10 Apr 2015 14:19:05 GMT
Remembering Lee Kuan Yew, Funeral Procession This is one of three images I made during the funeral of our Founding Father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

This image was conceived after the initial idea had to be scrapped due to City Hall being too crowded. This image contains two very important elements in the work of the late Mr Lee, where he mooted and executed two (of many more) valiant ideas - a) Multi-storey living b) A Garden City. Farewell Mr Lee. May your passing inspire the people of Singapore to live out their lives as One United People.

Mr Lee was Singapore's first Prime Minister, serving with passion and determination since 1962. He was 91 during his passing on 23 Mar 2015. The nation mourned for 7 days, where we saw Singapore come together in honour of him, visiting him during the Lying-in-State at the Parliment House in City Hall, Singapore.


He will always be remembered.


Mr Lee Kuan Yew's body laying on the Gun Carriage with the Singapore State Flag. The highest honour accorded.Remembering Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's Founding Father. Passed away on 23 Mar 2015.

Technical notes: Mamiya RZ67 Pro, 50/4.5 Mamiya C-Sekor

Kodak TriX rated at 1600, developed at 800 with Ilford DDX.

]]> (Benjamin Aw) 400 Ilford Mamiya RZ67 TriX film Thu, 02 Apr 2015 10:24:16 GMT
Ilford FP4 rated at 3200 Oh my. Not many may approve of this, but this was really accidental on my part. Here is what I did, and the results are pretty interesting for me to re-do, just to see if it was a fluke.


This next two images are done on Ilford's FP4 (125 ISO) film. This is 35mm film, developed myself with Ilford's DDX developer. Pardon the water marks and dust from scanning please.

2015 4312015 431


The film seems to be slightly blotchy, thick and grainy, but it works. It actually works! I thought I had 3200 film in my M2, but it was actually 125 ISO FP4. I had a shock when I ejected the roll, and left it hanging for a couple of weeks before I developed it. I think as a control measure, I would have to retry another roll, this time rate it similarly as 1600, developed as 125 as a comparison. I believe this film would actually work rated up to 1600!

There is no post-editing work done on these two images, and they are showed straight from an Epson V600 scanned at 2400dpi.

]]> (Benjamin Aw) 35mm 400 Delta Leica M2 TriX film Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:18:42 GMT
Snapshot #43 Training my eye with the 1:1 format via the GXR - M Mount and the Voigtlander 35/1.4 SC. Super fast with loads of character, this lens really depends on your state of mind while shooting. You really have to be in it, to win it!


Ferns being watered via a sprinklerFerns & Water

]]> (Benjamin Aw) GXR Ricoh Voigtlander Sun, 15 Feb 2015 12:34:49 GMT
Snapshot #42 2015_ 83Load Up!Loading the bicycles onto our bumboat to Desaru, Malaysia via the jetty at Changi Beach, Singapore

Costing about S$12/head with an additional $2 for a bicycle, this is a quick way (2hr ride) to get to the town of Desaru.

The 18km journey from the jetty to the town is a joy to ride. Road quality is good, but traffic is kind and polite. Malaysians are courteous drivers, who respect your space and are generally kind to road users. This is of course my personal view, and your mileage may differ.


]]> (Benjamin Aw) Mon, 19 Jan 2015 08:38:07 GMT
Snapshot #41 2014 Street 8552014 Street 855

Acros 100 | DDX | YashicaMat 124

This image has an important story to tell. In this one little square, I see the destruction of animals, while humans stand and watch. Well, mainly because it is the humans who are destroying everything.

We waste plastic, water, metal, basically everything in our path is abused by the lust for money and 'growing the economy'. Yet we bitch about the weather, about how hot it is. We suffer the force of nature in thunderstorms, earthquakes and typhoons, yet we refuse to acknowledge that we are the Fault Lines.

Its time to take action.

]]> (Benjamin Aw) TLR acros eco-tourism ecology film Thu, 11 Dec 2014 14:00:45 GMT
Snapshot #40 2014 Street 8612014 Street 861

Acros 100 | DDX | YashicaMat 124

Its been some time since I gave this super value for money medium format camera. This shot seems a little off focus, but what the heck! If the YashicaMat had a screen like the Mamiya RZ67, this would be a kick-a** TLR (Twin-Lens-Reflex) camera. Even at f3.5, its fast (aperture wise) with ISO 100 film.

]]> (Benjamin Aw) 124 TLR acros film yashica yashicamat124 Thu, 11 Dec 2014 13:45:10 GMT
Products: Van's SK8-Hi Reissue This is a reissue of the SK8-Hi, in Coated Canvas Dress Blues, size US8. To be honest, I bought this pair of sneakers after I had to send my Model 875 Red Wings to be re-soled. The Red Wings was my only footwear that I used on a daily basis. The other being my Birkenstock sandals during my off days and the days I needed to go down to the market for groceries. After the Birkenstocks and the Red Wings, I'd thought I would never find a more reliable and sturdy footwear. I guess I was wrong.

These Vans (my second pair from the Company), are delicious.

I bought them through an online portal, or rather iPhone App (Carousell). This means I could not test for actual fit. I did however, try on a pair of Vans at their local retail outlet, who by luck, did not have this model on hand. They even claimed they did not bring in the high rise versions at all. I resorted to contacting Vans.

Too much talk. Here's an image.

The eyelets, quality of the stitching, robust canvas and high quality shoe-laces all shout value for money. I paid S$140, that rounds off to  roughly US$114.  Pricey for a pair of sneakers, but if you compare these to my Converse (high rise versions), these are worlds apart. The soles are rugged and would take a beating anytime. No wonder they are the World's #1 Skate Shoes.

Oh yes, I must speak about the laces. I am a sucker for good quality laces after I tried the laces from Red Wings. Those Red Wings, even after 3 years of daily wear, they never, never once got untied just by walking. Never. I doubt these Van's ever will too.

The sneakers are light, fit extremely well and rugged all at once. My Red Wings, you may take your well deserved rest on alternate days.

]]> (Benjamin Aw) Thu, 04 Dec 2014 15:32:49 GMT
Assignment: Victoria's Graduation 2014 I've been lagging behind in posting my recent work, and its time to rectify that!

Here is a recent assignment to record Victoria's graduating class, well just at least just before she heads of to Primary One! Its amazing what kids at this age learn and are capable of at their age. I don't think I could do what they are doing during my time.

Graduation 2014A short clip recording their performance and a short reception after they think they regain their freedom from graduating.

]]> (Benjamin Aw) 35mm Childcare Children DSLR Kindergarten Nikon Nikon 180mm 2.8 AFD Nikon 24-120mm F4 Nikon D3s graduation performance Mon, 01 Dec 2014 13:41:21 GMT