Thursday, October 22, 2009

Deja Vu - talk on S'pore landscape photography

Last night I attended a talk at National Museum. Have not been there for a number of years. It has undergone major renovation. The exterior looks the same, but the interior - looks very different - modern and has this futuristic look.

The talk is about early landscape capture through photographs of S'pore. The speaker, Jason Toh is the Curator of National Museum since 2004. It was an interesting talk. He chose the title Deja-Vu which in French means something in the past which seems familiar to us currently. This is how he felt looking at the old photographs of S'pore.

The speaker touch on the process of photography too. He spent some months oversea just to learn about the 'old' photography techniques. In the old days, photography used to be a profession more than a hobby as it was very tedious work developing photos in the past.

Photography is invented around 1830's. The French were the 1st to photograph S'pore landscape. Then later, the profession was taken over by Germans. There were no Chinese photographers until 1920's. The German left after the 1st World War. It was only then did Chinese photographers make their present felt.

In the old days, one could take photo between 11 am to 12 noon, when the lighting was the best. Could not take pictures of moving objects as the technique was not there yet - the images would all be just a blur.

Seems like S'pore has one of the earliest photos taken in Asia - just a few months before China. The reason is the French photographer stopped at S'pore en route to China.

The reason I like to attend talk /seminar is because just in an hour - we get to know things that the expert takes months or even years to research. Reminds me of the Chinese saying - 10 years of training /practise below stage, just to prepare for 10 mins of performance on the stage. Listening to Jason, I could tell the vast amount of research done. In fact, he has written a book on this topic.

We learn from experiences of others. Experiences take years to acquire. We only have one life time, hard to acquire experiences in many fields. But by listening to these professionals, we get to acquire knowledge in many areas.

I have discover since last year that we do not need to pay a bomb for professional talks. Some of these good talks are FOC - just like the talk I attended last night at the museum.

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