A very happy weekend! My short photo essay under pen name 蓝天游 on Lake Kawaguchi (near Mt Fuji) in Tokyo, Japan 日本东京《东京河口湖赏富士山美景》is featured in a special press travel edition.So happy to see it being featured nationwide in print! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, you have made my day! Thank U so much 感谢 感恩 :)
I love street art. I have been a street art fanatic for many years. What began as mere curiosity, many years ago, soon became a deep appreciation, and occasional obsession. There’s something so impressive about artists pouring themselves into works that in all likelihood will be removed or destroyed. Aside from the more technical aspects, it’s simply a beautiful way to liven the concrete backdrop of an otherwise bland, almost dismal scene. Sometimes it’s a multi-story mural exploding with colour, becoming a focal point of the neighbourhood. Other times it’s a simple stencil, maybe conveying some cheeky social commentary.
In Helsinki, the city considered by many as the cultural capital of Finland, street art isn’t just an art form. It’s an intrinsic part of the city’s history and identity. Finland has a wonderful street art program. I found a wonderful art area. In their constructions zones, they put up blank walls surrounding the scene. On these walls, street artists are allowed to “deface” them and showcase their art. This blew me away. The beauty brought to the construction site from the artists made it a better destination. The bold colours used by the artists contrasted strongly with the brown wall of the stadium. Each section held a different message depending on what the artist wanted to portray. The result is that street art has burgeoned and become one of the defining aspects of the city’s character. Buildings tall and small are daubed with beautiful murals.
Everyone, truly everyone: from Helsinki locals to avid travelers, told me to visit the Unesco World Heritage site of Suomenlinna when in Helsinki. I wasn’t entirely sure what all Suomenlinna had to offer when planning my trip. It felt a bit like: "You have to visit the Eiffel tower" when in Paris, which usually makes me want to skip a site or monument altogether. But not in the case of Suomenlinna: it is a truly unique place. Suomenlinna has a really interesting history, paralleling Finland's history. It's a fortress built over 6 islands in the 18th century, at a time when Finland was part of Sweden.
After only a short 20-minute ferry trip from the city center, I arrived in what seems like a different world - a snowy white wonderland. No cars, few tourists because of the winter season and a snow storm. It was -20°C and all the trees were covered with beautiful hoarfrost. I was able to get some pretty epic pictures thanks to all of the snow. I’m not sure what Suomenlinna looks like in the summer, but with the snow in the winter it was breathtaking.
I spent almost two weeks in Finland, exploring, discovering and learning. Finland has long been a dream destination for me, so when I had the chance to explore this amazing city for several days, I packed my warmest jackets, my favourite camera and away I went. Winter in Finland is famous for the amount of snow falling every year and for how long the snow season lasts.
Helsinki was colder than I anticipated but the weather didn't stop me from exploring even its most obscure corners. There were so many things to do in Helsinki. Helsinki is a quaint European city with lots to see and do. I like it how you could have almost the entire place to yourself, especially during the cold winter season. Unlike the more famed touristy cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, Helsinki is the salve for the over-travelled soul, looking to take a break from bus loads of Chinese and European tourists. It’s a lovely place for winter-lovely travellers, on a search for a place of peace and quiet, for themselves. I am so grateful for every encounter in Finland.
My Photo Essay on Hayao Miyazaki Clock At Nippon Television Tower In Tokyo, Japan 日本东京《钟声响起走进宫崎骏的梦幻世界》Press Publication Dated 2 March 2019
A very happy weekend! My short photo essay under pen name 蓝天游 on Hayao Miyazaki Clock At Nippon Television Tower In Tokyo, Japan 日本东京《钟声响起走进宫崎骏的梦幻世界》is featured today! So happy to see it being featured nationwide in print! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, you have made my day! :) Thank U so much 感谢、感恩 。
My Photo Essay entitled Shanghai Qibao Old Street《游七宝古镇感受千年上海》Published in LianheZaobao 联合早报 Special NATAS Travel Edition Dated 22 February 2019
A very happy start to a great weekend! My photo essay under pen name 蓝天游 on Shanghai《游七宝古镇感受千年上海》is published in today's special NATAS travel edition LianheZaobao 联合早报旅游版 dated 22 February 2019! 感谢、感恩! THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
I stole moments on benches during the winter in Finland. Sitting there helped me to take a real time out. A pause. It's a moment of just being me, doing what I wanted. No distraction, only nature. Sitting on a bench on a winter morning or night in December in solitude is a real treat to me. "Embrace it", I told myself. "It's good to be friends with yourself. It's a gift. Embrace it." And so I did. I sat on my bench and hang out with myself. I was having a great time.
I believe in order for people to remain healthy, strong, viable providers for their family and to be positive forces in society, they need to take time out for themselves. The world as we know it now – a society based on antagonisms and competition – has left many people feeling like most of their lives are lived against the world but little or not time is spent living in it. The only way I have found to constructively deal with this, is by taking time out through solitude. It is one of the most practical ways to reconnect with oneself, to regain clarity and to be reminded of one’s deepest passions and purpose. Spending time alone allows us, as humans, to see clearly that which either we can’t see, or society won't let us see, because we are so busy trying to outdo everyone else.
I adore being outside and sitting on a bench and just enjoying the sounds of nature, the gust of the wind or feeling a light breeze. Another thing I adore to photograph is benches and seats found in parks or on trails and paths or other outdoor areas. I love to photo benches with or without people on them. Maybe I long to have more outside time with the nature. This is the first time in which I really enjoyed being outside, especially in winter. I can actually participate in it rather than wish I could.
The tram is part and parcel of everyday life in Finland in much the same way as gastronomy is. It is a good reason to involve the tram in Finland in every possible sense. A quintessential Helsinki tram experience takes you past the city’s palatial monuments.
The living pace in Singapore is fast, and we demand high speed in transportation too. The slow going tram in Finland, by comparison, is like a gentleman walking nobly on the street and living out his own unique lifestyle. The tram came into service on dating back to hundred years ago, and is one of the earliest forms of public transport in Finland. Getting around Helsinki on tram is an interesting experience as you can observe and photograph the lives of people in a relaxing way without needing to worry about the snow, sun or rain. Most tram passengers are not rushing for time. Instead they may just want to take a rest and think during the ride.
In trams, the history is visible in the present. The tram simply looks very different from the other vehicles in the city and it is often pretty old-fashioned, even the latest versions of it. More importantly, surprisingly old models are in active use. In Helsinki, the oldest tramcars are actually older than many parts of the city.
芬兰的有轨电车于如今它依然是赫尔辛基城主要的交通工具之一。每日乘坐电车的旅客超过二十万人次，它墨绿色的车厢早已与这座城市融为一体。在过去一百多年的风风雨雨里，电车上的乘客换了一批又一批，如果电车有记忆的话，也许它自己也数不清在这一百多年里见证了多少历史时刻，见证了多少人的悲欢离合。它就像一位百岁老人，带人游走在新旧之间，饱览城市的各种景象。搭乘电车能够带着人穿越赫尔辛基 450 多年的历史，体味从现代到古老，从悠闲到繁忙，从静谧到生动的韵律。
My Photo Essay entitled Prague, Czech Republic 捷克布拉格《穿越世纪的布拉格古典老爷车》Published in LianheZaobao 联合早报 Dated 9 February 2019
A very happy weekend! My short photo essay under pen name 蓝天游 on antique cars in Prague, Czech Republic《穿越世纪的布拉格古典老爷车》is featured in today Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报 dated 9 February 2019! Thrilled to see it being featured nationwide in print! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, you have made my day! :) Thank U so much 感谢、感恩 。
Notes on Finland as promised…Going on holiday and taking my favourite camera along can quickly turn into a photographic journey where you’re always in the right place at the right time. As a photographer, I love looking at great imagery. We all do. It’s what inspired most of us to pick up our own cameras and it’s one of the main things that continues to inspire us as we evolve as artists and image technicians throughout our lives.
I’ve taken my work and style further by incorporating a very tasteful element of HDR into my imagery. I’m not talking the kind of HDR that gets a bad rap, so much of which is overdone and just looks, well, you know…kind of “off”. There is also a time and place when doing HDR photography has its benefits. This is where ‘street’ style photography is perfect and I hope to work at it more as I found it can be liberating.
HDR photography can be a bit polarizing in terms of personal tastes. It's like opera and sushi – you either love it or hate it. All I can say is that personally, for me, I prefer the look HDR gives. Maybe because it’s my first experience with HDR, or maybe because I just feel comfortable with it.
When hectic times occurred, I would have to really boil down my priorities to the essentials. I succeeded in clinging to what I was really committed to, but that was because I made choices and, again, didn’t try to do so much.
Making a painter’s resolution is my new creativity in life besides my passion for travel photojournalism (I still have many other photo stories on Finland to blog in due course). I want to spend more time critically assessing my compositions before picking up a brush. I want to sketch an idea, play with color options, and think it through — really enjoying (and not hurrying) through the process. Artists tend to be a friendly, supportive, caring group of people, generally happy for other artist's successes, and concerned about the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants. There are many artists and art organizations doing great things in the world and we need to support one another. The world needs more artists.
My Photo Essay entitled Hokkaido Sapporo 北海道札幌《雪白世界之旅》Published in LianheZaobao 联合早报 Special Travel Edition Dated 18 January 2019
A very happy start to a great weekend! My photo essay under pen name 蓝天游 on Hokkaido Sapporo 北海道札幌《雪白世界之旅》is published in today's special travel edition LianheZaobao 联合早报旅游版 dated 18 January 2019! 感谢、感恩! Thrilled to see it being featured nationwide in print! THANK YOU VERY MUCH !
In December, I spent almost two weeks staying in Finland in my best attempts to experience it like a local. If you travel as much as I do and you are giant homebody on the inside like me, you really value unpacking your suitcase for weeks and tossing your crap absolutely everywhere. I like to think of myself as almost a turtle traveler – I like to take it as slow and mellow as possible. What’s the rush? You’ll miss the best bits.
Winter in Finland consists mainly of silence, darkness and stillness, making it the ideal environment for inner journeys. Days are short and the sun stays low on the horizon. Shades of white, black and grey dominate the monotone landscapes, long blue moments preceding the dark.
One of the most beautiful places I visited was the Töölönlahti Bay in Finland. Footpaths meander through trees along the waterside; within minutes you leave the city behind and nature envelops you. The bays were frozen over and snow glittered crisply in the sunshine. There is a walking path going around the Töölönlahti Bay and I love walking around to listen to pure nothing. This is what many of the locals do as well. To listen to the serene silence in Finland. Walking through parks in Finland was mesmerizing from the very first moment. No sound of cars in the distance, no birds chirping or wind whistling through the high trees near the frozen lakes. Only me, the stillness and our breaths that stopped for a while in awe. That’s the silence in Finland.
I used to blog pretty regularly and I really enjoy looking back through my old archives of posts. I felt that I did not blog a lot last year due to many other commitments. During my Finland winter trip, I’ve done quite a lot of self-reflection. I promised myself that I will blog more in 2019 and in a meaningful way. I reminded myself why I started this path years ago and I wish that I could continue pursuing this passion outside of a professional job.
It is wise for each of us, from time to time, to stop and evaluate our lives as we seek to make the most of them. The start of a calendar year provides an opportunity to look back at the decisions that shaped our lives during the past year and gives us an extra push to make adjustments for the next one. Every new January represents a natural opportunity to evaluate the direction of our lives, adjust course if necessary, adopt new habits, or make healthy changes.
I can’t say that I’m perfect or that I’ve achieved my ideal self, because there’s still so much I’ve to work on. I also think that becoming a better person is an on-going goal to be worked on, and there’s never a real end point to reach. Someone once told me that this isn’t about making yourself liked by others — it’s about becoming someone you truly love and adore, which will in turn attract the right people and opportunities into my life. I’m always grateful to that person who told me that because it reasonates so much with me.
There are actually things — besides Christmas — that I look forward to about winter each and every year. There’s something about winter holidays that I can’t seem to get enough of. Snow, of course, is magical, but there’s a slower pace in the cold and it’s completely acceptable to spend cosy hours sipping mulled wine or indulgent hot chocolate.
And I always love waking up to my street blanketed in a beautiful white layer of pristine snow. One of the things I truly love about snow is how silent it is. Unlike rain, you never really know it’s snowing until you look outside. Huge blizzards can happen in complete SILENCE. It’s eerie in a really magical way.
With this coming trip to Finland in two days’ time, I think winter is absolutely ON THE WAY! I foresee that i will return with lots of amazing photos and stories for publication next year and i can't wait to blog them in due course.
In the meantime, I’m wishing you all the blessings of a wonderful Christmastime and I hope Santa is good to you this year because you only deserve the best.
The gift of love. The gift of peace. The gift of happiness. May all these be yours at Christmas.