Introduction of digital photography was a ‘disaster’: veteran photographer
Switching from film to digital photography was a disaster for now-retired photographer Peter Chen Ke Yong, 60.
“I almost died. All my years of experience [in photography] almost went down the drain. I had to restart and relearn,” he lamented.
It took him about 10 years to fully learn digital photo editing even though he had close to 40 years of experience in fine art and commercial photography.
Going digital created more work for Peter. He said, “It is tougher now. After photographing, [I] still continue working on the computer… to bring back the actual colour that I want, according to my standards.”
Photography was an expensive hobby he started at the tender age of 12.
“I had to save money to buy my first Kodak instamatic camera which cost $12. It took me some months to collect that amount… I still had to save money for film [and] after saving for a roll of film, which will take me another one year, I have to wait a few more months to process my film… then another roll will take me another six to eight months to save up.”
Peter bought another camera, a Minolta, in the late 1970s when he was working as an electronic engineer. During this period, he also freelanced as a wedding photographer.
It was only in the 1980s that he became a full time photographer at an advertising agency. He retired from the advertising industry after realising that he could no longer fit in with the current generation’s taste in photography.  

“Sometimes they overly saturate or overly contrast photos but they don’t understand it because not many of them go through a proper course in photography. Today, they may overdo images but they don’t realise it… If you move around to wedding studios in Singapore, China or Taiwan, you see pictures that are all overdone, the colours are a bit ridiculous, very synthetic, very unnatural – they create all kinds of colours, but clients [still] like them.”

Peter is now focusing on a personal project of fine art photography entitled “Transient Passages” – a compilation of favourite works dating back to the 1970s.  

The images in this series, shot mostly on film, resulted from spontaneous photo walks. Most of the subjects are lit using “ambient, natural street lights or house lights”.

“I just walk around. And if I see nice lighting and good subject, I will just photograph,” he said.

His subjects include clouds, rooftops and architecture.
“Fine art photography is an expression of what you see and how you interpret your subject matter through the lens. Everybody has their own way of seeing things,” said Peter, who enjoys working with natural or ambient light. Some of his works have been sold to private collectors and to hotels in Singapore, such as The Marriott, The Westin, and The Fullerton Hotel.
When asked what he thinks of photographers today, he feels disappointed that many of them depend too much on photo editing and digital manipulation – “Today as long as you are competent in using a computer, you are qualified as a photographer.”

His advice to young shutterbugs hoping to take up fine art photography: “[They should] quit chasing the latest tech in photography and pay attention to developing a unique identity for themselves – through their works. The essence of photography is in taking pictures, not the equipment. Your subject and your composition should set you apart.”

Chen uploads most of his works on his Flickr account as well.

“Flickr stood out from other platforms with its ease of use, simplicity and functionality. It observed an adequate level of security with regard to intellectual property, providing me with peace of mind when sharing my work.”

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles come to mind on Flickr.
Russian? on Flickr.

Russian? on Flickr.

Starry Night on Flickr.I can’t believe this is what we are missing every night because of light pollution!!

Starry Night on Flickr.

I can’t believe this is what we are missing every night because of light pollution!!

Man of action on Flickr.

Man of action on Flickr.


Camera Sale in Singapore 2014 Part 1

Camera Sale in Singapore 2014 Part 1

In an effort to downsize my camera collection, I am considering a sale of my equipment. I have a large number of film cameras, and I will be willing to sell them if good offers come along. All prices in SGD. Here’s a sample:

Olympus XA2 – $30 with A11 flash, $20 without

Olympus PEN FT w/38mm f/1.8 lens – $380

Voigtlander Bessa 6×9 vintage folder camera (still works) – $80

Leica M-mount 35mm…

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Konota C41 Development Bliss

Konota C41 Development Bliss

Color film development has always been hard for me, because of the absence of a water temperature controller in my apartment. At the end of my time in Baltimore, I had only ever processed E6, which is arguably more difficult than C41. Although I had a whole C41 kit, I was always waiting to accumulate enough rolls of film to justify breaking open the chemicals. I regret that greatly, because in…

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Developer Expiry Note - Ilford ID-11

Developer Expiry Note – Ilford ID-11

Almost a year ago, I returned to Singapore for my annual trip home and prepared a bottle of ID-11 developer, which I then left in a closed plastic bottle in a dark room, at room temperature (~26-28 degrees centigrade). I also diluted a bottle of Rapid Fixer to working concentration and did likewise. I did not expect either to still be active. However, out of desperation (and also a certain amount…

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Back in Singapore

I recently left Baltimore and am permanently back in Singapore. Truth be told, the transition has been difficult. Not only do I have to deal with the extremely hot and humid weather that never lets up, I’m also super stressed about work, finishing up my papers from Hopkins, and my accommodations. Right now, the wife, baby and I are holed up in my childhood (teenage?) home in Woodlands. To say…

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Garland Hall at Night on Flickr.