Tuesday, November 29, 2005

About My Photos

Ever since Ivan Chew submitted this blog to Tomorrow.sg, I have received many visits from young Singaporeans. I am truly heartened and encouraged by their kind remarks. I particularly love this one by yl; “wahhhhhh!!!!!!! Uncle!! YOU ROCK!!!!”

I think I need to explain a bit about the photos you see in this blog. You will notice that many of the old black and white photos had people posing (cham - my daughter is going to call me a ‘poser’). Please don’t think that people of our generation are so vain. It’s just that camera films those days were quite expensive; and thus it would be considered a waste if we took pictures only of scenery or buildings. It was thus customary to pose with the scenery as background.

Let me tell you a bit about the cameras we used those days. The earlier pictures were taken with our first camera - a Kodak Brownie. It was an ‘auto-focus’ camera, meaning you don’t need to focus - because there was no ‘focus’ function! It had small circular window behind for you to read the number of the photo you are taking. After taking 1 picture, you have to wind the film slowly till the next number appears in the window. Now if you forgot to do this, then the next picture you take will go on top of the previous one, and you have wasted 1 valuable photo plus whatever you took earlier is lost.



Our second camera was a Minolta Hi-matic. We bought it around 1969 (not 1967 as I said earlier). It of course had more features like focus, aperture etc. This time, to advance the film, you need to push a lever. But if you forgot to do it, there is an ‘idiot-proof’ mechanism that prevents you from taking the next picture. Interesting eh?


The photo below is my first colour photo. It was taken around end-1970 just after my HSC (A-levels) exams. I went on a tour to Malaysia with my parents and my elder sister. We brought along 1 roll of colour film. During the ferry ride across to Penang, we came across this beautiful scene of the setting sun and we decided that it was time to use our precious roll of colour film.

An interesting thing happened in Penang. At the hotel we stayed in, there was a stir in the evening around dinner time. It turned out that an up-and-coming teenage a-go-go star was also staying (or performing) at the hotel. Some of the girls in our tour group got very excited and wanted her autograph. Can you guess the name of the singer? Answer - Nancy Seet.


Today we are in the digital age. I am proud to say that this ‘uncle’ is quite familiar with digital photography. I was probably one of the earliest 'ah laus' to invest in a digital camera. My first digital camera was an Epson which cost about $700+. It didn’t come with an LCD screen, so I paid extra for an attachment; which was a mistake because I never got to use it. The reason was, the 4 pieces of AA batteries get used up so quickly, it was not practical to use the LCD screen; plus it was a bit clumsy to have a separate attachment. I have also learnt how to take and edit my own digital videos. I did all these not because I am a camera buff, but because my job as a consultant and trainer requires it. Actually I quite enjoy learning all these cool gadgets – only problem is people our age learn such things very slowly.

25 comments:

pinto said...

Thanks for this post on your cameras! Nice insight into the days of film. Now, I understand why some people are disappointed with my photos without people. =)

Victor said...

I too have an earlier post about my antique camera, which was a hand-me-down from my dad. It was probably even older than your Kodak Brownie. It came with a folding lens that retracted into the camera body plus a mechanical self-timer, would you believe it?

You push a tiny lever downwards and then press the shutter release to activate the self-timer. You then get into position within the next 10 seconds and watch the lever move slowly upwards with its characteristic 'z' sound. You must not forget to smile when the lever approaches its original position 'cos that is when the picture will be taken. And unlike a digicam, you can't erase whatever you've taken, however awful you think it will look - you can only censor the photograph after it is developed. If there isn't enough light, you can also attach a flashlight (shaped like a big shiny soup ladle) to the camera.

Lina said...

Hi Uncle,

Thanks for having this blog. I'm fascinated by the past and always ask my grandma to tell me stories about it. Your website is great as I can finally put a picture to the old memories I heard so much about. :)

Victor said...

Er... Chun See, I think your 'Ivan Chew' link didn't work. Probably something wrong with the HTML. You could try this in your post - as usual, replace [ ] brackets with < > brackets:

[A HREF="http://ramblinglibrarian.blogspot.com" REL="nofollow"]Ivan Chew[/A]

which should give you this:

Ivan Chew

Never mind, learn slowly. I am too. Sometimes it doesn't work for me too, hee.

Rach said...

uncle, good stuff! got your blogg address of tomorrow.sg. and i have to say it's awesome! it's been one of the most enlightening bloggs ever.

just a suggestion. perhaps rather than just touching on the stuff from the past (which is cool), you could incorporate into your blogg moral/social issues such as premarital sex, drinking, filial piety and so on. i think it'll be insightful from an adult's point of view.


awesome stuff. keep up the great work!

[P.S. my dad was from ACS too! he's a couple years your senior.]

nutnut said...

Your entries are really interesting. Any pictures of your golden age in chinatown to share?

Anonymous said...

Nutnut
I happen to read your comment asking for more Chinatown episodes...sure I will be writing again once I am settled back in Scotland when I return from the far east...China and Singapore.

Sit tight!
Chun Sing (Simon)

Lam Chun See said...

Rach, thank you for your compliment. I don't think it is advisable to go into those areas you suggested.

Firstly too much work. Those are serious issues and need careful thinking. Also they are rather sensitive topics. If I wanted to blog about them, I will probably not use my real name.

Anyway I am a Christian. My views are all biblically influenced. Much more eloquent people, like James Dobson of Focus on the Family, writes about these issues daily in Today.

Secondly, I would like to focus on a single theme - which is no small topic. My aim is to encourage other older Sporeans; esp those who are not computer savvy, to make use of this blog to share their stories - a bit like the Heritage Board tries to do thro their oral history archives.

terminalcase42 said...

I wish my parents were more like you! I used to try to persuade them to at least attempt to learn how to surf the net, etc. but they're quite resistant to absorbing new information. As it is, I still have to go over and programme their VCR for them!

Thank you so much for this blog, especially all the great photos. You've reminded me of just how different Singapore and Singaporeans were just a few decades ago. I shall remember to only show my mom photos with people in them from now on. :)

Oh, and please keep this blog going! I want to show it to my daughter when she's old enough! (She's 2.5 years old now.)

Lam Chun See said...

Dear Terminalcase42, pls tell your parents, we are now into DVD recorders. I bought 1 a couple of months back. It came with 2 manuals! I had to make a trip down to the Toshiba office at Alexandra Road to ask the young man to teach me how to set the channels for recording SCV. He was quite impatient, but did make an effort to be courteous. That was before PM's National Day Rally speech.

Lam Chun See said...

Thanks for the tip Victor.

cockroach//蟑螂 said...

wah...last time carmar like that one....

Ivan Chew said...

Hey Mr. Lam, nice conversations you've got here. Let me know how the library can support your effort in getting your peers to enter the Blogosphere. I can be reached at ramblinglibrarian@gmail.com or ivanchew@nlb.gov.sg

Victor said...

What colour photo? Looks more like a sepia-toned one to me. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Chun See,

This is my 1st time reading this blog since i read about it in TODAY. Though i am still very young, but i have always been intrigued by how the older generations lived in Singapore many years back. Your blog certainly helps to explain much more. Thanks so much. I'll keep reading, so keep posting yar ?

Btw, would it be possible for you to post in Chinese instead ? Cos my parents are chinese educated and i would love to show them all these memories of yours written here in your blog. I'm sure they will be able to tell me a lot more of their younger lifes in Chinatown as well. Thanks.

Lam Chun See said...

Friends - that photo is 35 years old. I have many photos less than 1/2 this age that are in worse condition. Credit goes to Kodak film.

Lam Chun See said...

Sorry - I just do not have the skill to blog in Chinese. A few phrases here can still manage. My Chinese is only up to Sec 2 as second language. And don't forget I was from ACS - not exactly well-known for prowess in Chinese.

kairin said...

know wat...

i've always have this liking for old cameras...

and someone else in singapore froma totally different generation is posting something that i can relate to...

amazing what internet can do sometimes...

oh

i will be greatly saddened if they do not have film anymore...

i'm running on 35mm and 120mm on crappy toy cameras to capture my own version of nostalgia...

kairin

Anonymous said...

uncle!!!!

i like ur blog!!!
actually my papa also born in the same year as u... i will show him your photos and tell him about your blog (he dont understand english in words...) see what reaction he gets =P

i read some of your entries, and one of it is about catching eels (zhuo ni qiu) i heard my dad talking about it before, but i was captivated by the way you blog about it. so real.. im 22 by the way, and wish i was born in ur era hehehe...

anyway, i really, really love your blog, because it made me understand so much more about the olden singapore, i hope more posts will be up... and i will get my dad to comment (i translate) hehe..

i would really like to know more things that happened in the past so please dun stop blogging!

your site is a gem. :)

- EteL (www.simplyetel.com)

Lam Chun See said...

Thank you Etel for your encouraging comments. I am so happy that my blog has contributed a little to improving bonding between generations. Your father is blessed to have such a patient son (or is it daughter? - sorry).

Anonymous said...

Thank you for keeping a piece of the common SGP history.

Used to visit Sago Lane in the early seventies as a kid. My mum bring me along to visit the relatives that came from her home town in China...those are the "sum sui" women. However, i think the Hospice has already relocated.

What i miss most about Chinatown (your previous post) is the walk through the wet market lining along the street in the morning and the night time hawkers along the street... my father used to work in a goldsmith shop across the street opposite the mosque last time too.

Anonymous said...

Hello Chun See ! Surprise ! I stumbled upon your blog some weeks ago when I was in Frannxis' blog (I became Cantonese Opera fan lately and got into Franxxis' blog while googling for Canto Opera info - so got to thank Frannxis !). You were not so "famous" then, but lately you have become quite a hit among the young and old alike. And Thanks to Mr Miyagi, you even got published in TODAY! And I am not surprised - I like your blog the first time I saw it, it brings back the memories. I especially like your black and white photos. And you are ever so neat and organised. There is "system" so we feel we have learnt something - ever the trainer huh!

Oh, by the way, I am surprised at your quite frequent use of Chinese. Never expect it from you, 'cos you always come across as a "gantang". But then, the same goes for me too. I have recently liked Chinese a lot - because of the Canto opera where you find beauty in the lyrics -lots of poetry and meaning in just a few words. This helps in my work too, as some of my target audience are more comfortable with Chinese, I decided to do my slides and presentations in Chinese. So good thing my hanyu pinyin still OK and I could use the Chinese facility in Windows XP.

Oh, by the way, I too like to roam Chinatown. There is plenty of life and colour. Although many parts have been renovated and it gets a bit "touristy", but somewhere in a little corner here and there, a little bit of the old Chinatown peeks through, you just got to know where to look, esp when you have been there before in hte early days. Take a look too at the shopkeepers in Chinatown Complex where the hawker centre is, they are part of the whole "flavour".

Oh by the way, you should visit the "yuan mao guan" or the Chinatown Heritage Centre http://www.chinatownheritage.com.sg/aboutchc(m).htm where they showcase what life was like in old Chinatown - just as your friend Chun Sing described it. It is worth a visit.

And in case you are still guessing who am I - its Min lah!

Lam Chun See said...

Heh Min, What a pleasant surprise. Glad you like my blog. I suppose now you understand why my kids keep so many different types of pets in our house.

For your info, this "gantang" knows how to appreciate 华乐 OK. Maybe I will try to progress to Canto opera next. Afterall my sis is a big fan and my parents fequently brought us to watch cantonese opera movies. My mother‘s favourite was Tang Pek Wan.

Are you surprised as I am that many of the young people who visit this blog are quite keen to know about the past? Maybe you can contribute something - of course you stories won't be as old as mine lah.

fuzzoo said...

I read about your blog in Today. I absolutely love your blog!! I am neither young nor old (I am the same age as your colour photo); I was a kid in the 70s but unfortunately can't remember all that much about the old days. I am amazed at how much you can recall! My dad who is about 10 years your senior also likes to tell stories about the old days and I am always fascinated by his tales so I'm really glad that someone is actually blogging on this topic. I've told my dad about your blog; I'm sure he will enjoy it. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Hi Fuzzo - I am actually in the age group of your dad. Being educated in English, my Chinese Language ability is actually ' half-past-six'. The influence of Cantonese opera has made an impact on me due to my frequent visits to cinemas in the sixties. Because of this, my bond with the Chinese Culture has gone stronger. I strongly believe dialect speaking has its virtue, inspite of the speak Mandarin Campaign. The roots of dialects are fast dying, and would be obsolete in the not-so-distant future. Would there be a revival of speaking dialects in the future ?