A little photo essay of the phenomenal Gardens By the Bay in Singapore. I didn’t enjoy the luxury of entering either of the hot houses, but the general gardens were spectacular enough.
I spent just over a week in Singapore, and over the course of my time there, I developed a sense that the city-state is a little disorientated. It feels like the government is tenaciously determined to turn Singapore into a world class destination, kitting it out with luxury shopping malls, a slick metro service, shiny sky scrapers and top end attractions. It’s as if Singapore has carefully selected features of iconic cities around the world and is systematically and strategically combining them to create an ideal place.
But sadly this means major physical reconstruction and the effective overhaul of the country’s architectural history. Has Singapore forgotten that a strong sense of national identity and the preservation of important history are central to the success and appeal of a city? My short time in the country and my interactions with locals would suggest so.
Actually, Singapore reminds me of the classic line from the Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi: “Don’t it always seem to go / That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone? / They paved paradise / And put up a parking lot.”
It’s probably clear by now that I wasn’t hugely inspired by my time in Singapore, but that’s not to say that I didn’t find some little treasures and learn some valuable lessons. I’ll be sharing these soon.
There’s something special about visiting places where you can’t speak the local language. It strips you of your most basic communication tool, leaving you to rely on fundamental human connections and to establish understanding in new ways. Of course it’s also great to learn some of the essential phrases in the local language, but when you’re able to connect with someone in the absence of words, the feeling is magical.
Meet Zaheera, my friend for a moment.
Mothers’ Day. Another commercial holiday invented by card companies to make you buy their cards? Sure, but also a great moment to reflect on the good things you’ve shared with your mother over the years and to celebrate her among family and friends. I’ve had an amazing friendship with my mum throughout my life, and I count myself really lucky to be able to say that. So, to celebrate my mum on Sunday, I made dinner and a beautiful cheesecake, lit a cosy fire, popped open some bubbles and watched the wonderful Pride and Prejudice BBC miniseries with her for the thousandth time.
I have always had a fervent love of pickled foods. In my former years, I used to go to the tuckshop and, instead of buying sweets like any little girl might, I’d ask, in vain, for olives; my family teased me about my habit of eating pickled onions before breakfast; and constantly threatened that if I kept eating so many gherkins, I’d turn into one.
I didn’t know it at the time, but, quite taken with my early partiality towards pickles, an old family friend gave my parents a little pickle fork to give to me when I grew up. They recently presented it to me, having found it among some family silver, stored in a little box with my name on it.
It’s a delightful little implement! It’s very clever, with a trigger that when pulled releases the pickle effortlessly off the fork. And it carries such a lovely story! I can’t wait to bring it out at a Sunday luncheon with my lady friends.
I’m so excited about my new camera, but I really am going to need to spend some time figuring out how to use it well. I have yet to do some reading and research on how to make the most of it, and I have a free training course to attend in the near future too. In the meantime, I’ve been approaching my learning experientially, trying to figure some things out as I go along. My childhood home has lots of little treasures, so I spent some time playing with my camera around the house. These are some of my first shots with my new Canon.
For the past few years I’ve been taking pictures with analogue cameras; Lomography cameras to be exact. I’ve really enjoyed using film again, and having to wait a while before seeing the pictures I’ve already forgotten that I took. I’ve enjoyed the surrender of control over the light and the behaviour of the film, and the beauty that often emerges out of silly mistakes.
Recently though, as my enthusiasm for photography has grown, I’ve experienced more and more a frustration that arises in situations when my Lomo cameras are not at their best: in low light, when I see something interesting that I can’t get close to, and when I want to get more technical and not be quite so much at the mercy of my camera. It’s taken me a little while, because I’ve become attached to the culture of Lomography, but I finally bought myself a DSLR! I figure it makes a lot of sense, given that I’m going to be gallivanting across the world and can’t be sure to find photo labs that are still competent with film (although I’m sure I won’t be able to resist taking at least one of my Lomo cameras travelling too). Look how pretty it is.
I’m very pleased with it, and I’ve got a long way to go before I can say I’m taking quality pictures with it, but I’m sure I’ll learn quickly. I’ll also need to learn some basic editing, which is something I’ve obstinately avoided with analogue. Watch this space for some of my first snaps.