Shoe Me the Way!

But really, I would prefer their warm feet next to mine.

Because some feet don’t wear shoes.

Or their prints too sublime.

Small soles can sometimes leave the biggest prints!

Stranded in the City

A late afternoon presentation to a client wrapped up during the end-of-work-day rush hour and I found myself stranded in the heart of Singapore’s financial district. I waited for about 40 minutes but couldn’t get a cab back to my office.

Since I couldn’t get a taxi, I decided to diffuse and distract my misery with some snaps. This photo is the strapping UOB Plaza reflected on a building hobbitised by the former’s height.

Failing to out-queue the suits for a taxi, I decided to take the long walk to Clarke Quay MRT Station and prepared myself to slip into the sardine jacket that is our public transport since our population has burgeoned to the current 5.31 million from 4.59 million just under 5 years ago. And we are not stopping.

The recent White Paper projection of 6.9 million by 2030 has brought Singaporeans out on the streets to protest.

Singapore River was very muddy and brownish today but after applying a fliter from Instagram, it turned gold!

Having been a Singaporean for almost 4 decades, that was the first massive protest I can recall, crowding during last year’s hotly ‘contanted’ General Elections not counted.

What’s my stand on the government’s population ambition? When 69 ceases to be a position but a survival proposition, will we still be having fun?

Elgin Bridge. It’s one of the oldest bridges in Singapore believed to be present since 1819 as a foot bridge, the only bridge across Singapore River. Today, it is a vehicular bridge and makes for a rather beautiful retro photo in black-and-white. But of course, standing in the middle of the road to take a picture is foreplay with the Grim Reaper!

Personally, I feel the world is so borderless now. We are kind of a global tribe. If population growth is identified as the way to go for economic sustainability especially for natural resource-poor Singapore, my question is whether do we have the long-standing power to attract high-calibre foreign talents to take root here in competition with other nations who are also tapping the same pool to boost their demographic reliant GDP (as opposed to an economy supported by agriculture, export and industry)?

We are not the only country facing the woes of a low birth rate and rapidly greying population. According to a 2050 projection by the Taipei’s Department of Manpower with data drawn from a 2009 population survey by the United Nations, Singapore is amongst the top 5 fastest greying population (also making the list are United States, Japan, Hong Kong and Taipei). Competition for young mouths seems perched to heat up. Why will foreign talents want to come here? Will they stay? Xenophobia is definitely not going to make Singapore attractive. So is congested roads, packed public transport, and living so close we can smell each other’s laundry.

As the sunset begins to fade, street lamps along the Singapore River flickered to life.

Will Singapore end up as a country of massage parlours? They are everywhere now. Not that I’ve anything against legit businesses that knead and soothe our high-strung backs crushed by inflation and rising costs of living, but my concern is more of the make-up and credentials of foreigners being offered the Singaporean citizenship. I’m proud of my country and I just don’t wish to see our citizenship being lelong-lelonged just so we can meet a quota.

Anyhoo, I’m not a political analyst or population specialist. Not being able to get a cab, of which there could be many reasons not linked to our need for headcount, just ruffled my feathers since I had lots of work to complete. Singapore is facing another prosperity challenge, like it always had, and instead of protesting or asking questions, what solution/s can we as a people propose?

No wonder Yusof Ishak looks pensive on our dollars. He isn’t smiling. Who can when our nation’s growth, or any country for that matter, is dependent on foreign investment, trade and internal consumption. We have no natural resources  such as land, produce, petrol, precious metals or gems to sell, remember? Ours is a people economy. If Singaporeans are not delivering more Singaporeans because of high living costs, long working hours and no fire to stoke the libido (pornography is outlawed and sex remains a taboo subject), how can we turn Mr Ishak’s blank stare into a triumphant glare? What’s our Vendetta agenda beyond anger?

The colourful underpass linking Riverwalk to The Central Mall at Clarke Quay. I’d seen illegal graffiti with more soul than this.

Unknowingly, I’ve walked through a key part of our country’s history that started at the very mouth of this river where many of our ancestors first stepped foot on Singapura.

A vibration of the old, neo-colonial and modern footsteps of Singapore coursed through me. We have always been a population of immigrants. Our today is the light from yesterday, and tomorrow, is what we set aglow today. 🙂

Editing Tricks to Enhance Mobile Phone Photos

Since stopping my one-photo-a-day project titled FUNicating 2012 with the conclusion of the year, I continue to shoot almost on a daily basis and posting the shots on my Facebook (darrenn9) through Instagram (darrenn9).  The shots are nothing spectacular but I’ve been receiving quite some emails asking about how I achieved certain effects. I am thankful for the positive feedbacks on the photos and thought I’d share in this post how they were created with free phone apps to answer the most frequently asked questions.

What camera are you using?

For Instagram posts, all the photos were taken with my Android mobile phone. I’m not stating which phone I use because I believe most current mobile devices (phones and touchpads) have pretty decent imaging capabilities. However, I would still use my Casio Exilim ZR1000 and DSLR if I want more flexibility, faster response and achieve higher quality pictures.

Mobile phone snaps are lossy on details and high pixellations (especially during low light situations or night shoots) may manifest even for online usage so I still can’t live without better photographic gadgets at the moment.

What image editing software do you use for your photos?

The good news is, I’m using FREE photo editing apps that anybody can download! The apps I use are for Android but I believe they are available for IOS too. Here’s the list of photo apps I currently have on my phone which I regularly engage :

Pixlr-o-matic (they have an online photo editor here)

LINE Camera



Of the lot, Instagram is the least flexible in image manipulation but its filters make for fast ‘pop-arting’ of shots for online postings.

How did you achieve ‘this effect’ or ‘that look’ for your photo?

Frankly, it’s all about experimentation. After taking a shot, I would usually activate the apps to apply the different filters and effects on a photo to see what enhances my subject matter and looks good to me 🙂

Here’s an example :

BEFORE : Original photo taken with my handphone of a coloured-glass butterfly fridge magnet on my work desk. No editing done.

AFTER : Image editing done entirely on phone with LINE Camera, Pixlr-o-matic and Instagram.

Here are the processes I went through :

Step 1 : Snap photo with phone’s Camera (I find that taking photos directly from the Instagram app isn’t sharp enough).

Step 2 : Activate Instagram app to crop the photo to a square. ‘Share’ the photo from Instagram to Pixlr-o-matic.

Step 3 : In Pixlr-o-matic, I applied the ‘Morning’ filter. Then I ‘Share’ the resulting image to LINE Camera.

Step 4 : In LINE Camera, I applied the ‘Grunge’ filter and used the Text function to key in the all-inspiring message (haha…). Then I ‘Share’ the resulting image back to Instagram.

Step 5 : In Instagram, I applied the ‘Rise’ filter to brighten up the centre portion of the photo further before posting on the app and Facebook.

The apps are so powerful nowadays that they allow all of us to become not just photographers, but instant graphic designers! The prescribed filters and effects from the various phone imaging apps definintely added a new dimension to creating images to tell stories beyond the realm of traditional photography.

Here are some more BEFORE and AFTER photos. Most of the staged pics were shot on my light beige work desk. A clean background removes distractions and allows more dramatic effects from the apps to manifest.

If your work desk is not of a uniform colour like mine, place a clean A4 sheet beneath the subject before shooting…

勉强是没有幸福的。Created this firey background with the ‘Wave’ filter in Pixlr-o-matic.

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” – Mark 11:24. Applied these retro lines in Pixlr-o-matic. The filter didn’t come with the basic app and must be downloaded. Downloading is easy. Just scroll through to the last filter on the list and tap on the ‘+’ icon. It’ll load more filter collections which can be downloaded. Most of the apps have additional downloable filters and they are mostly free!

Tea time is a crunch back into health. LINE Camera comes with facial parts (eyes, eyebrows, nose, etc) and accesories (glasses, hats, tattoos, etc) that can be applied onto a subject.

Fruity bunny says eating more bananas will keep your most important organ alert and perky. That organ is the brain.

Rapbit says it’s time to mumbo jumbo and boogie!

We grow into the twists and turns of life.

I hope this post provided useful info on artifying mobile phone photos with imagaing apps. For more photos, please visit my Instagram gallery.

Have fun! 🙂

Big Dreams Start From Small Goals

Took this photo along Balestier Road during my walk to work and the scene struck me about ‘vision’ and ‘dreams’. The sharp, foreground leaflets represented the clear and achieveable goals, the vision in our heads of what something should be; while the greater, blurred background of the tree’s foliage stood for the bigger dream of what something could be.

A dream is built through the near and immediate visions we have and actions we take. When the visions come together, what do we know, we’ve actually been living our dream all along!

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