The Age of Happiness

Joyous Result

OMG!! I don’t gush very often but stupendous elation doesn’t even begin to speak of how I felt about winning second place in a photo contest. I mean, ME (?!), someone who took photos with the lens cap on, someone who can’t differentiate between F-stop numbers and shutter speed, someone who’d used a DSLR for the first time… me, second place, photographic competition… Wow… I feel like Susan Boyle. I expect Mexican pigs to overcome swine flu and fly anytime soon.

The online photo contest was organized by Channel News Asia in celebration of its 10th anniversary. Anyone interested can send in an original photo in various categories but to the theme of ‘Joy’. There were about 600 entries from which 40 were shortlisted. Six winners were then selected by a panel of renowned local photogs including Steve Zhu of 8 Days and Wee Khim. To view the shortlisted entries and winners, visit :

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/10/joy.htm

My prize was a Hamilton watch S$2,000. This would be the most expensive timepiece I’ve ever owned! But I gave it away. The watch was just too big for my twig-like wrist. I can’t carry it off; and it’s a pity for such a nice watch to become a useless trophy sitting in my closet. I thought of selling it and invest the money expanding my camera kit, but chose to use it as a ‘handcuff’ instead. Heh… There’s no running away from me now… :o)

Age of Happiness CaptionFor the photo submission, I was required to title my piece and write a caption. I called it ‘The Age of Happiness’ and the caption in the photo explained why. The caption made the nun’s joy seemed so noble huh? But here’s the real reason behind her smile…

Before me, a Caucasian couple had just given her some money. I think it was a gesture of appreciation for allowing her picture to be taken, or for donation, I wasn’t sure. So as she showed a toothless grin while counting the cash, I hitchhiked the white generosity. I fumbled with my camera. After all, I’ve only gotten acquainted with a DSLR for less than 3 days, and that was one of my very first attempts at spontaneous portraiture. I was nervous. I felt like an assassin or something. Shoot and flee. So that photo, in my opinion, was very much an accident. I have neither experience nor proper technique, but I won a prize. It didn’t matter that I was second place. I was humbled by the honour. God is kind on me.

But the recognition held a deeper meaning for me. Since my lasik surgery 10 months ago, my left eye hasn’t fully recovered and my vision isn’t fully reinstated. I don’t know if I could ever see clearly again in that eye. I pray I could one day. Soon. During my Siem Reap trip where the winning photo was taken, sometimes I forgot and looked through my camera’s view finder with my left eye to frame my shot. And no matter how much I adjusted my camera, the scene before me was always blurred. Then I remembered and switched to my right eye. The scene was, and always had been clear in the first place.

I hope not, but it seems like I have only one good eye left. And I won second place in a photo contest. It’s not a big league competition or something to shout about, but it reminded me that I will not let what I cannot do, interfere with what I can do. It rejuvenated my spirit of trying. The feeling of winning something is great. I admit it. But the feeling of winning knowing that I did not focus on my shortcoming is even greater!

If Beethoven could compose such beautiful symphonies even though he became fully deaf; Van Gogh could paint a masterpiece like Starry Night though he was half mad; and I could win something even though I don’t see 100%… what more could someone who is complete accomplish! Just like the watch I can’t wear encourages me, I hope this sharing of my little triumph could unlock the shackles that bind us to the fear of trying.

Give it a shot. The Age to Try is… NOW! :o)

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56 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. yutaka2k
    May 03, 2009 @ 17:37:59

    Congrats!
    Congratulations Dear! You are too humble… I am always in awe at the photos you post online and your writing too. I remember a senior executive in Canon once told me, their problem is not finding photos taken with great skills and techniques, but finding photos that “tells a story”. And I think yours always do. Haha.. just make sure your Joy at home doesn’t get jealous she’s not the lead in your winning photo titled “joy”!
    And it brought a smile to my face to see your blog title now is “CELEBRATE LIFE!” You deserve to!

    Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jun 01, 2009 @ 18:32:06

      Re: Congrats!
      hey dearie… it is not that i am humble, but perhaps you’re too easily impressed! haha… but you’re so right about joy… i had wanted to send in a pic of her but couldn’t find pic of her that “tells a story”. and that shot was really bu luck. in fact, the nun is actually a bit out of focus so not very nice.
      and my blog has always been ‘celebrate life’ from day one leh. just to remind myself constantly i guess… cold comfort ba :o)

      Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jun 01, 2009 @ 18:32:06

      Re: Congrats!
      hey dearie… it is not that i am humble, but perhaps you’re too easily impressed! haha… but you’re so right about joy… i had wanted to send in a pic of her but couldn’t find pic of her that “tells a story”. and that shot was really bu luck. in fact, the nun is actually a bit out of focus so not very nice.
      and my blog has always been ‘celebrate life’ from day one leh. just to remind myself constantly i guess… cold comfort ba :o)

      Reply

  2. yutaka2k
    May 03, 2009 @ 17:37:59

    Congrats!
    Congratulations Dear! You are too humble… I am always in awe at the photos you post online and your writing too. I remember a senior executive in Canon once told me, their problem is not finding photos taken with great skills and techniques, but finding photos that “tells a story”. And I think yours always do. Haha.. just make sure your Joy at home doesn’t get jealous she’s not the lead in your winning photo titled “joy”!
    And it brought a smile to my face to see your blog title now is “CELEBRATE LIFE!” You deserve to!

    Reply

  3. heliosrealm
    May 03, 2009 @ 18:05:03

    gratz darren..what a great photo.
    btw what happened to your left eye ..?have you going back for the pre lasik treatment ?

    Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jun 01, 2009 @ 18:33:59

      hey thanks… it’s a fluke shot :o)
      my left eye still fuzzy since my lasik about a year ago. i’m going back for review this july and i think the doc will recommend enhancement surgery. but i’m a bit wary now… i prefer not to have any more surgery. what if it gets worse?… sigh.

      Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jun 01, 2009 @ 18:33:59

      hey thanks… it’s a fluke shot :o)
      my left eye still fuzzy since my lasik about a year ago. i’m going back for review this july and i think the doc will recommend enhancement surgery. but i’m a bit wary now… i prefer not to have any more surgery. what if it gets worse?… sigh.

      Reply

  4. heliosrealm
    May 03, 2009 @ 18:05:03

    gratz darren..what a great photo.
    btw what happened to your left eye ..?have you going back for the pre lasik treatment ?

    Reply

  5. universe8within
    May 03, 2009 @ 18:11:36

    YOur caption was great.
    … and u deserve all the great things that come your way lar. U r such a nice guy!

    Reply

  6. universe8within
    May 03, 2009 @ 18:11:36

    YOur caption was great.
    … and u deserve all the great things that come your way lar. U r such a nice guy!

    Reply

  7. abdaziz
    May 03, 2009 @ 23:11:49

    Congrats! Nice moment and you did capture it well. Was tempted to do Lasik but after reading your entry, it confirms my fear.

    Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jun 01, 2009 @ 18:42:45

      thanks thanks… it was an accident. heh. as for lasik, well, different people heal differently. Mmany of my frens who did it had fantastic results. my myopia and astig are very high… so maybe that retarded my healing process.
      but i’m sure u’re just as charming with glasses :o)

      Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jun 01, 2009 @ 18:42:45

      thanks thanks… it was an accident. heh. as for lasik, well, different people heal differently. Mmany of my frens who did it had fantastic results. my myopia and astig are very high… so maybe that retarded my healing process.
      but i’m sure u’re just as charming with glasses :o)

      Reply

  8. abdaziz
    May 03, 2009 @ 23:11:49

    Congrats! Nice moment and you did capture it well. Was tempted to do Lasik but after reading your entry, it confirms my fear.

    Reply

  9. johnnytan72
    May 04, 2009 @ 00:40:36

    Saw you on TV few days ago. Was on the phone .. didnt hear what they were saying.
    Anyway .. congrats. The picture is nicely taken. Like the sunlight shining in.

    Reply

  10. johnnytan72
    May 04, 2009 @ 00:40:36

    Saw you on TV few days ago. Was on the phone .. didnt hear what they were saying.
    Anyway .. congrats. The picture is nicely taken. Like the sunlight shining in.

    Reply

  11. t_yervor
    May 04, 2009 @ 03:49:35

    BIG CONGRATS! =)
    I like the caption of depth and texture in the photograph.

    Reply

  12. t_yervor
    May 04, 2009 @ 03:49:35

    BIG CONGRATS! =)
    I like the caption of depth and texture in the photograph.

    Reply

  13. joejunior
    May 04, 2009 @ 04:04:25

    v nice pic – i think u deserve it.

    Reply

  14. joejunior
    May 04, 2009 @ 04:04:25

    v nice pic – i think u deserve it.

    Reply

  15. kykydiary
    May 04, 2009 @ 06:36:15

    Congrats!!! I like the picture very much 🙂

    Reply

  16. kykydiary
    May 04, 2009 @ 06:36:15

    Congrats!!! I like the picture very much 🙂

    Reply

  17. icezworld
    May 04, 2009 @ 08:58:22

    Hope your eye will be ok soon. 😛

    Reply

  18. icezworld
    May 04, 2009 @ 08:58:22

    Hope your eye will be ok soon. 😛

    Reply

  19. gentlegiantt
    May 04, 2009 @ 13:01:49

    wah!!! congrats!! i didn’t know there was such a contest! i better open my eyes big big next time!

    Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jun 01, 2009 @ 18:55:19

      wah… better don’t let you know or i sure lose! heh heh… there’s a photo contest organised by the singapore heritage board now. u can log on to their website for details and submission. will keep u posted if there’re other contests on :o)

      Reply

      • gentlegiantt
        Jun 02, 2009 @ 01:18:19

        haha! darren ah, darren! aiyo…dun see me so up lah, actually my photos are worst than half-past 6 lor…till i show u the not edited ones, you probably foam in your mouth! :p
        i’ll surf NHB’s site and look see! thanks!
        how are u?

      • celebratelah
        Jun 02, 2009 @ 03:26:54

        heh heh… well, same same lor… my pics also need contrast and brightness enhancements la :o) i’m doing fine and hope all’s good with u too :o)

      • celebratelah
        Jun 02, 2009 @ 03:26:54

        heh heh… well, same same lor… my pics also need contrast and brightness enhancements la :o) i’m doing fine and hope all’s good with u too :o)

      • gentlegiantt
        Jun 02, 2009 @ 01:18:19

        haha! darren ah, darren! aiyo…dun see me so up lah, actually my photos are worst than half-past 6 lor…till i show u the not edited ones, you probably foam in your mouth! :p
        i’ll surf NHB’s site and look see! thanks!
        how are u?

    • celebratelah
      Jun 01, 2009 @ 18:55:19

      wah… better don’t let you know or i sure lose! heh heh… there’s a photo contest organised by the singapore heritage board now. u can log on to their website for details and submission. will keep u posted if there’re other contests on :o)

      Reply

  20. gentlegiantt
    May 04, 2009 @ 13:01:49

    wah!!! congrats!! i didn’t know there was such a contest! i better open my eyes big big next time!

    Reply

  21. Anonymous
    May 04, 2009 @ 16:05:52

    It is a good shot, that’s for sure! And surely, there’s raw talent in it too…And that little essay you wrote is very simple but yet poetic…don’t know how to describe it…but what i’m pretty sure…it doesn’t look run of the mill…Congrats!
    dedutes

    Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jun 01, 2009 @ 18:57:52

      thanks dedules… being an anonymous commentor, i appreciate your insight and view, and i hope we’ll get acquainted over lj and i can visit ur thoughts :o)

      Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jun 01, 2009 @ 18:57:52

      thanks dedules… being an anonymous commentor, i appreciate your insight and view, and i hope we’ll get acquainted over lj and i can visit ur thoughts :o)

      Reply

  22. Anonymous
    May 04, 2009 @ 16:05:52

    It is a good shot, that’s for sure! And surely, there’s raw talent in it too…And that little essay you wrote is very simple but yet poetic…don’t know how to describe it…but what i’m pretty sure…it doesn’t look run of the mill…Congrats!
    dedutes

    Reply

  23. evadoet
    May 05, 2009 @ 04:35:36

    Congratulations!! Your pic was very nice!!
    BTW, Asian Geographic has an on-going “Asia Without Borders” Photography Competition 2009. CLosing date is 30 September 2009. Check out http://www.asiangeo.com or http://www.asiawithoutborders.com.

    Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jun 01, 2009 @ 19:01:15

      hey… thanks for the encouragement :o) it was a stroke of luck with that pic!
      and thanks for pointing me to the natgeo competition. i visited the site and was eager to try if not for the submission charge. i’m still trying to pour through my measly photos for worthy entries or creating more so pray i’ll make it in time! :o)
      thanks again…

      Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jun 01, 2009 @ 19:01:15

      hey… thanks for the encouragement :o) it was a stroke of luck with that pic!
      and thanks for pointing me to the natgeo competition. i visited the site and was eager to try if not for the submission charge. i’m still trying to pour through my measly photos for worthy entries or creating more so pray i’ll make it in time! :o)
      thanks again…

      Reply

  24. evadoet
    May 05, 2009 @ 04:35:36

    Congratulations!! Your pic was very nice!!
    BTW, Asian Geographic has an on-going “Asia Without Borders” Photography Competition 2009. CLosing date is 30 September 2009. Check out http://www.asiangeo.com or http://www.asiawithoutborders.com.

    Reply

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