Piazza San Marco, Venice 2012

I recently got some overdue roll film processed in Malaysia. Some rolls were from 2008, the latest being 2012 or so. I recall getting a few rolls of Lomography’s Red Scale 120 films to test. The red scale film is simply exposing the film on the wrong side of the emulsion. The process goes through a standard development process, but depending on what ISO the film has been shot, there will always be a colour shift, from strong reds, orange to yellows. It is basically a trial and error approach for experimental effects.

These images are from a series taken at our Venice travel workshop in 2012.

Review 2012 : My Top 20

As we approach the end of 2012, at the cusp of a new year, I always look back through the months to review the images that I have taken to see what has transpired photographically for me, personally. I have selected 20 instead of 15 in 2011, having taken more images this year. I am currently working on a series which I will announce perhaps in the new year, but still lacking in numbers for now, so it is shelved until Spring comes round. Commonscapes, a series of landscapes photographed in close by Wimbledon Common was started when I discovered that I actually like walking, (and contemplating) with dog in tow. I can see myself shooting MF not too long. If only there was a digital square medium format camera to use which doesn’t cost the Earth and more.

Photography today more than ever, takes on a new meaning for me. I still like shooting street images, but because I have seen so many street images that lack intent and story lately, I focus now more on humour and irony rather than drama and contrasts. I go through phases in my photography, like reading books. I am into crime novels at the moment.

2012 has been a challenge in many respects, what, with the rise in prominence of Instagram and smartphone images to a new level, and the slow death of DSLRs  caused by the onslaught of compact interchangeable lens formats, will surely be an interesting story to follow. Now that more and more photographers are composing through LCD screens rather than viewfinders, it would be worthwhile to examine if there are any compositional differences that may be gauged collectively in the kind and style of images that are produced throughout the world.

Here are my Top 20 for 2012 :


1. Chinese tourists on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, London


2. Height of Summer, Hyde Park, London


3. Orang Asli mother and her children, ‘Magick River’, Perak, Malaysia


4. By ‘Magick River’, Perak, Malaysia


5. Butcher, ‘Little Burma’, Kuala Lumpur


6. Cult revelers, Notting Hill Carnival, London


7. Street pose, Notting Hill Carnival, London


8. Christmas display, Kuala Lumpur


9. Waiters waiting, San Marco, Venice


10. Sami, Tunisian, Venice from series Merchants of Venice


11. Wheatfield, Burgundy, France


12. Tourists, Piazza del Campo, Siena, Italy


13. Fairground boy, Wimbledon Common


14. Wild flowers, Tuscany, Italy


15. Dinosaur Coast, Brook Chine, Isle of Wight


16. Wimbledon Common pond, from series Commonscapes


17. Untitled 1 from series Commonscapes


18. Veteran and his medals, Remembrance Sunday, London


19. Winter walkers, Wimbledon Common


20. Volunteer harvester, Bothy Vineyard, Oxford

See my 2011 Review here

Venice. It’s been a while.

Click on the image to see a full preview of our latest photobook, VENICE, a collection of superb photographs taken at the Venetian Carnivale workshop by our group of photographers. Apologies that it has taken so long to complete, I can only say, it was pushed back, due to some urgent projects to be gotten out of the way in Spring, right after we returned.Spring became Summer, and Summer is now almost at an end.  Nevertheless, sitting here at my desk in the late Summer light, looking at these atmospheric and colourful images of a cold, cold February weekend in the Doge city, makes me want to get back right back amongst the canals and alleyways again during the Winter.  Venice must and should be experienced in mid Winter. When the soul is at rest, and the night is serene.

Order your copy now.

San Marco, Venice

San Marco, Venice, 2012

Photo © Steven Lee

Just been going through my Venice images from February, my, how time flies, now we are already in July. Beginning to lay out our Venice Blurb photobook, and came across many gems from our participants too! It’s amazing how everyone’s vision of a place differs when some effort is applied to create something meaningful as opposed to just snapping away at postcard type images. Photographing in limited time, and with a purpose always make one become more creatively tuned to see new pictures, and experiment with angles, emphasis and personal styles. More later…

Dearly Departed : A Venice photo project

Someday the silver moon and I will go to dreamland
I will close my eyes and wake up there in dreamland
And Tell me who will put flowers on a flower’s grave?
Who will say a prayer?

Will I meet a China rose there in dreamland?
Or does love lie bleeding in dreamland?
Are these days forever and always?

And if we are to die tonight
Is there a moonlight up ahead?
And if we are to die tonight
Another rose will bloom

For a faded rose
Will I be the one that you save?
I love when it showers
But no one puts flowers
On a flower’s grave

As one rose blooms and another will die
It’s always been that way
I remember the showers
But no one puts flowers
On a flower’s grave

And if we are to die tonight
Is there a moonlight up ahead?
I remember the showers
But no one puts flowers
On a flower’s grave

Tom Waits Flower’s Grave

I love photographing in cemeteries, and it was planned that our workshop included a visit to the San Michele cemetery island just to the east of Venice, a short boat ride across from Fondamente Nuove. The island was designated a cemetery in 1807.

According to Wikipedia, ..”Bodies were carried to the island on special funeral gondolas, including Igor Stravinsky, Joseph Brodsky, Jean Schlumberger, Frederick Rolfe, Horatio Brown, Sergei Diaghilev, Ezra Pound, Luigi Nono, Franco Basaglia and Zoran Mušič. ” The cemetery is still in use today.

As an exercise for our workshop participants, everyone had to decide on a final project that must be executed during the 4 day trip, (including Andy and myself, as instructors.) This video became mine for the workshop trip. I was simply taken by the rows and rows of graves and tombstones, and how so many dead flowers, overturned vases and pots had been left in between the tombs. A week before we arrived, Venice was under over a foot of snow, frozen canals and I can imagine how serene and calm the cemetery must have looked in under a white blanket.

A mice, a snail and a unicorn.

The last day of the Carnevale saw all manners of characters and costumes being paraded around the small narrow streets, alleys, campos and piazas of Venice. We encountered Luke Skywalker and his light sabre, a bunch of Storm Troopers, some jolly Havaiana flips flops, some talking bowling pins, several Captain Jack Sparrows,a walking shower,  a woman in scuba gear, Darth Vader, Bob Marley, amongst others.. We were jostled about in crowded alleys, flour-bombed, and confetti-strewn. It was pretty wild.

Doges City, We have landed.

Riding on the vaporetto along the Grande Canal at dusk always evokes an amazing sense of tranquility, like no other place, but comparable to say, the river taxis on the Bosphorus, or the Star ferries in Hong Kong. You know you are in a special place. Venice is a city steeped in history going back centuries, a meeting point for traders from the East and the West, the Doges,  the Palaces and Carnival. We start our photo-workshop tomorrow with a group of eager photographers, with a special  agenda lined up over the next few days.

Venice at Carnevale : There’s still time!

Just preparing our workshop for Venice in 2 week’s time. I hear it’s absolutely freezing so we’ll be prepared for cold weather photography. Plenty of hot chocolate and pasta. There’s still time to get flights if anyone’s keen on joining! Bring a sleeping bag if accommodation is scarce. It’ll be a fantastic trip, the last time I was in the canal city was in 2006 so it’s about time we made another trip. The Bellini is calling.