Contemplative Photography

If you are looking for photography that makes a statement about the world and encourages you to contemplate on your place in the world, you’re in the wrong place. The contemplative photography that I’m taking about is a selfish journey that I go on when I have the luxury of time to walk explore a place and photograph as I please, by myself. During this self indulgent time, I get to think about what is going on in my life, how I’ve reacted and how I could have better handled a situation.

It sounds like the second round of lockdown has hit most people quite hard. In speaking to others, this second lockdown might even be worse than the first because we’ve tasted level 1 freedom and there is fear that in future a single community case could throw us back into lockdown. Unlike others, this lockdown has been better for me as I’m learning to strike a balance. I’ve found time to take a break and be more reflective.

I usually work 45-50 hour weeks. I generally enjoy what I do but it has been getting tougher to find joy in my work. I work best when I can interact with others to understand their point of view and collaborate effective. It doesn’t even have to be face to face. I can also work well with people who are in different locations across New Zealand. However, Covid induced lockdowns and the resulting requirement to work from home have resulted in changes to people. I observe the following emotions and behaviour quite regularly: Panic, sensitivity to comments, lack of engagement, disinterest and over reaction. I notice them because I observe them in myself.

If I take the moral high ground and absolve myself of the need to take responsibility of my actions, I would blame grumpy individuals who roll from bed to desk without the needed change in environment that encourages a shift to a work suitable mindset. I would also blame texting as a replacement for talking. Unless you’re communicating specific measurable ideas, texting concepts through SMS, Microsoft Teams and WhatsApp is simply asking for trouble.

But I want to take ownership. I want to be an architect not a victim. What that means for me is something I’m still working through. Photography gives me time to think and maybe I should see if there can be any cross overs between my life and my photography. As I wind up my exploration of Eden Terrace, I realised that my approach to communication should be summed up in two words, just enough. I should not be so anxious to explain or fill the silence. Judicious choice of words. The last word does not need to be mine. Plenty rich after 5 paragraphs.

Here are the photos from exploring the right handsome of Newton Gully that divides Eden Terrace into two unequal halves.

The good news, I’m pretty sure I’ve settled on my custom setting. It does not emulate any film stock but it has the desaturated yet vibrant look I’m looking for.

You can also Forage in Eden Terrace

Following a week of beautiful weather, I was crossing my fingers for sun to light my photograph walk on Saturday morning. Alas, it was not to be. The light was subdued at 9am from a sky covered with cloud. On a positive note, it was not as cold and it did not look like it was going to rain. Decision made. I’m going out to continue my exploration of Eden Terrace from Thursday’s burger run. Eden Terrace is only 3km away. I could cycle. But who am I kidding? I jumped into my car and off I went.

Like the analyst that I am, I drew a 3 x 3 grid pitting lighting conditions with colour temperature. Essentially, I was trying to understand which custom setting should I use in different conditions. Based on my grid, today’s conditions is Flat Light and Neutral/Cold colour temperature. Based on my grid, I should either be using Ritchie Roesch’s Kodachrome II custom setting or Luis Costa’s Classic Negative setting. However, I decided to work with my Classic Chrome custom setting. Let’s see how it works today.

Eden Terrace is small suburb around 3km wide and 1km deep. There is a mix of residential, social and commercial properties with varying levels of modernity and grunge. Eden Terrace is gentrifying like all city fringe suburbs forced to move with the times. Here are the shots from today.

This is my favourite shot of the day.

The gem of my Saturday morning would have to be the chance encounter with a foraging uncle. In Singapore, we call anyone about 10 years old than us “uncle” even though there isn’t any blood relationship. Earlier in the morning, I had taken some photos of the urban graffiti on the empty plot of land sandwiched between buildings on three sides.

As I got into my car to leave, I saw an uncle in the same spot foraging. Going against, all my instincts, I went up to him to strike a conversation. Apparently, he is foraging for herbs that go into Chinese baos (buns). I can’t remember what the herb was as I was more focused on trying to hold a conversation in Chinese. All I remember is that it is something 香(fragrant). It looked like the fine thread like leaves of an giant bush of fennel.

Last thought, I think my custom setting managed to capture a true reflection of the scene. There was no unnatural warmth that can come from a Classic Negative based simulation or a Kodachrome II film simulation. This custom setting for my Fujifilm Xpro3 is a good base for Auckland’s winter/spring scene.

A Light Filled Chicken Burger

Today’s lunch has been planned since Monday. I’m catching up with Philip for burgers at his favourite burger place, a short distance away from where he lives. As with life in general, I find it easier to motivate myself when I have something good to look forward to. That promise of something nice could range from a meal or the potential for photography in a new place. This spring day promises both.

Eden Terrace is no more than 10 mins drive from where I live. Even though it is only a short drive away, I’ve not had much opportunity to explore the area. It is just a place I travel through. not to. What I know of the area is that it is a mix of residential and industrial developments. Overtime, new buildings squeeze between old buildings, meshing modern clean architecture with visible evidence of the passage of time.

Beautiful light and a delicious fried chicken burger. What more could I ask for? I was short of time and these were the photos from a short snap before and after my burger. I think another trip to take “photos” is necessary.

I shot these using my personal classic chrome custom setting. I’m learning to understand how well it plays and more importantly, how I should work with my camera to handle different situations.

Oh, Burger Geek has the best burgers in New Zealand. That Fried Chicken Burger? Oh my…. The next burger of theirs I’m going to try is the Sombra – Black Bean and Brown Rice Pattie with Fried Egg. Yup. That’ exactly what I will be trying.

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