Hey fellow travel photo fans and camera junkies, welcome to this short post on Singapore and a lovely Sunday evening stroll with an old friend that I have fallen in love with all over again - the Lumix GF1. I posted recently (GF1 Revisited) on my rediscovery of my GF1 and how I found that somehow I really liked to shoot with it and this short article expands on that a little and attempts to rationalize this affinity while having a look at Singapore's Marina Bay area.
I have been shooting a lot recently with the little Nikon V1 and getting pretty reasonable results However, certified camera addict that I am, I spotted a 14mm f2.5 pancake lens for the M43 system on Singapore camera communities Clubsnap market place and scooped it up from a very nice guy for S$245. Regular followers of this blog will know that the vast majority of my work is shot at wider angles and I am at a total loss to explain why I have never bought this lens before - well better late than never. Looking resplendent with its new lens in place I set off for Singapore's Marina Bay with the GF1 back home on my shoulder.
Marina Bay is a pretty new part of the city and built on reclaimed land. The main attraction for me is the Sands Resort casino complex with its stunning views and fantastic riverside boardwalk. It goes without saying that boardwalks just cry out for late afternoon shooting when the shadows and contrast is at its highest. This was a great test for the new 14mm and I have to say that I was really loving shooting with it and it handled the contrasty scenes superbly.
I have always believed that Black and White is the GF1's true forte and although I have never had the good fortune to use a Leica, I felt that the little GF1 with its primitive EVF attached gave something close to that experience. Let me explain what I mean by that. It's a waste of time trying to use an LCD screen in this kind of light so I always use the hot shoe attachable viewfinder accessory. Now, as I have said before, this is a stone age device compared to the new Sony's however, for this kind of shooting I am only interested in the framing and I find that because I am left eye dominant I can look into the VF and use my right eye to scan for approaching subject material and that is how I got the shot above.
In addition to the framing experience, the GF1 also allows for excellent manual control of the camera and I find two aspects of that to be invaluable. Firstly, its a dawdle to change exposure compensation through the little thumbwheel that also controls aperture, and secondly, its so simple to bracket exposures using the shooting control dial lever. This to me is a hugely underused feature but one that is essential to getting the best from the GF1. Set it up to bracket 3 exposures at 2/3 + and - and you will seldom get a badly exposed shot. I firmly believe that when the light begins to fall you need to use this on the GF1 to avoid having to mess about too much with the exposure in editing thereby minimizing the amount of noise you bring in if above ISO 400. I like to pride myself a bit on my ability to judge exposure and get the compensation right but this method is faster and gives a good margin for error. This really came to my attention when I watched a wonderful show on Kelby Training which was Scott Kelby wandering the streets of New York with Jay Maisel and guess what? Jay exposure bracketed all of the time.....
Here's the final B&W against the light shot of the day and I have to say that I am so pleased with the little 14, I think that coupled with the 20mm f1.7, this is one of the finest walkabout kits going. These lenses appear to take the contrasty, straight into the sun shots in their stride and are still fast enough to use when the light goes down.
Back to color and a bit more about Marina Bay. It really is a photographer's paradise for evening shooting and you will see loads of tripod, and kit laden, sunset hungry shooters on the go. It's a very easy place to walk around and I would recommend starting at the far end from the theatre centre to get the sun descending through the buildings before you come around to the front of the casino complex for the sunset shots. If, like me, you don't like tripods there are loads of barriers and pillars that you can steady against when the light goes down.
This is a pretty dodgy shot that was taken wide open from the Helix bridge that links the Esplanade to the Sands Resort. To be honest, despite what I said above, this could really use a tripod :) This is the last leg of the walk and its worth going over to the other side of the bridge to get the shot looking back.
You may be wondering a little about the projected images on the Lotus shaped science and arts complex and this is all part of the sustainable light show that has been running this month and sadly closed on Sunday, how lucky was I to get there on the last day.... Well, as you should all know by now, its not luck at all, there are always, always, always interesting things to be shot and if I hadn't meandered along here to try out the new 14 I would have missed out, for me going here is a no brainer whether there are light shows or not its just an interesting place with great light. If I hadn't set out on this trip to try the new lens I would have missed the following shot which I enjoyed taking so much. I have no idea whether this appeals to anyone else but I was really tickled at the image of Andy with the giant, colorful explosion above. This is how I imagine his mind to look if I could ever photograph it.....
I hope this isn't too pretentious for you folks, but I am really serious that I enjoyed the craft of making these last two shots so much with the GF1. They were both bracketed in the way I describe and shot with the little 14 wide open. I have no idea how this lens reviewed and frankly, I don't care. I often find that when I use kit it behaves differently from the reviews, I don't shoot walls or dolls but I do shoot into the sun and don't want washed out over-flared images. I also like to shoot open with these kind of lenses and this one did just fine.
Well, back in love again with my GF1, here's the last shot from the shoot and again one of the two personal fave's along with the Andy shot above. Until next time, happy wanderings,