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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jaeger LeCoultre Platinum 2

Back to regular's post is on my personal watch...the Jaeger LeCoultre Platinum 2.

A stealthy watch, if there ever was one. To the unintiated, this watch looks like a regular Reverso, with a beautiful grey dial, and power reserve. To the knowledgable, this is a sample of 500 piece limited edition, the movement is made entirely out of white gold, and is complete with a tourbillon regulator.

As the name suggests, the case is made of platinum, including the deployant buckle and I think also the crown. And as one flips the reverso case over, the movement is magnificent. Most excellently finished, and very beautifully laid out.

As this is my personal watch, I wear it frequently, and I thought it would be more authentic not to subject the watch to micro-cleaning before the shoot. Thus the dust and slightly worn look of the watch.

I also intentionally did not fully balance the colour of the movement, allowing the watch to show its personality, as it does in real life...the watch movement, as it is white gold within a platinum case within anti-reflective glass can sometimes variously show a different hue depending on lighting and angle one views the watch.

Friday, October 26, 2012

More on the Zullo MaxSilenus

More bicycle photography today, as I was not satisfied with the full bike pictues featured on Tuesday, I went outdoors...riding the bicycle and shooting. The result is today's post.

Apologies watch fans, horological photographs will return next week. But at the top end, horology and bicycle making is similar. Zullo featured here, and many of the small manufacturers are much like the independents in watchmaking. I find the parallels very amazing. Here, this frame is hand welded by Tiziano Zullo, and painted by his master apprentice Maso. This is possibly at the top of the craft...amongst other builders, Zullo is a bit unknown outside the world of handmade bicycles. Even then, Dario Pegoretti is much more famous within the same circle. Much like perhaps the comparison between Philippe Dufour and Vianney Halter. Both geni in their own right. Dufour also has a Japanese master apprentice (whose name escapes me for the moment). Small, independent, passionate.

I think the photograph above works as a documentary style approach to showing the whole bicycle.

Perhaps at an angle, from the rear, a bit more emotion?

And some photographs taken with the diminutive LX3, at Labrador Park and Keppel Island

And back home, by my carpark

And of course, a little closer...afterall macros are my speciality

The rear, full on, showing the Brooks B-17 saddle and the sexy curves of the single pivot Campagnolo Athena brakes.

The front brakes are not to be outdone either. Skeletonized, double pivot. Very effective. I find the Campagnolo brakes to be very good, with excellent modulation and stopping power.

The eagle eyed might spot that the stem is different on some of the photographs. The original stem is a titanium stem, but at 130mm, it makes the reach a bit long for me. The replacement stem is a Nitto Pearl 100mm stem...much more comfortable.

I think these are perhaps a bit better than my first experiment at photographing the Zullo MaxSilenus. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Experiment at photographing a bicycle: The Zullo MaxSilenus

An experiment combine my interest in bicycling and my photography. I have not done any work on bicycles professionally...its rather different from photographing watches, or landscape. So here is my try on a very special bicycle. Handmade by Tiziano Zullo in Italy, this is one of a limited series of only 20 worldwide.

A good friend, on hearing that I was going to return to the steel is real crowd in cycling...those of you who are cyclists know this battle cry...immediately offered me a choice of either his Zullo or Pegoretti. I thought to try the Zullo first. Tiziano Zullo handmakes the bicycles, reminds me of Philippe Dufour in watchmaking, and currently have a Japanese artisan as his master Dufour.

Frame material for bicycles started with steel, and as metalurgy and material science progressed, the general trend moved to aluminium, a fling with titanium and magnesium to the current rave of carbon fibre frames all over. I will not enter into a discussion of which is better...its another Canon-Nikon, Mercedes-BMW type of argument...each one have their preferences.

The tubeset is Columbus Max...a very strong and stiff tubeset.

Called the MaxSilenus

This particular piece, no 9/20

Handmade in Italy

Totally handmade by Tiziano himself, and painted by Masso, his master apprentice...I call Masso this because he is a fully qualified frame builder, having done his initial apprentice with the other famous Italian frame builder - Dario Pegoretti.

The paintwork is extremely beautiful. With specs within which reflect light. And the strip of multicolour bits adorn the top tube.

The lugs are magnificent too, and contribute a bit more weight to the bike, but I must say its quite impressively light...I didn't have a scale to weigh it, but I hazard a guess that it must hover around 8kg.

Built up with the silver Campagnolo Athena 11 groupset so it looks a bit retro...fitting in this build, as the frame is also a modern frame built to very traditional looks. Standard double, 53/39

11-27 cassette

Athena gets skeletonized dual pivot brakes for the front and single pivot for the rear.

Wheelset is built on a vintage Ambrosio Hypothesis rims with lightweight Tune hubs on a set of magnificent, very comfortable 25mm silk tubulars built by FMB.

Another view of the entire bike...I am not happy with either full bike pictures...will need to figure out a better way to shoot this.

Riding the bicycle...its almost like a dream. The frame is very stiff...the tires, pumped to 110psi is very comfortable. The Athena 11 groupset does the job well. Could be a bit quieter, but looks beautiful and retro and works fine. The traditional 53/39 double gearing is a bit tall for me...I won't be able to climb well...maybe a 50/34 compact with the new 12-29 cassette might work better for me.

And of keep timing, what else but to depend on German engineering...

On hindsight, I should have setup my Profoto flashes and get more even lighting. Perhap another day soon.

p.s. The Brooks saddle is mine. The bike came with a matching electric blue Italian made Concorsa saddle.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jacquet Droz novelty: Bird minute repeater

Special post today on a special watch. Exclusive pictures, now only available online from my friends at Watchonista.

Unlike regular photographs featured in this blog, these series of photographs are done by Watchonista. Note copyright Watchonista. Also to ensure no confusion, they are 1000 pixels across, as compared to my original photographs which are always shown at 1024 pixels wide.

I am showing this set because of the immense beauty of this Jacquet Droz timepiece. Automation with minute repetition. Please click through this link for their review.

From the photographs, certainly looks like a magnificent watch...I am looking forward to seeing the watch in real, and photographing it myself.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Experiments with film

My Hasselblad H3D-39 digital camera comes with a 120/220 rollfilm capable back. But I have never shot one single shot with the film back since acquiring the camera. At the persuasion of my buddy AL who is a Leica film enthusiast, I went for a walkabout with experiment of sorts.

Off we went on foot...first I learnt how to load the film. I had shot film in my early years...with my first camera...a Canon EOS630, and later a short fling with the magnificent Mamiya 7II. I had thought to bring a wide angle, and took the HCD4/28...but immediately discovered that the lens, being a digital lens, is only usable with the digital back...the body would not allow the shutter to fire...luckily, I had brought along the small and light HC2.8/80, so it is with this one single, normal lens I used that afternoon.

The light was not the most flattering...cloudy, overcast skies. But we made the best of it. This was from the first roll...only a partial roll...scanned by AL for me, processed commercially at Peninsula Plaza. A second roll of bw was exposed, but AL would process the film himself, and send me the scans later.

We tried people watching...but it is rather not the easiest to do street photography, when your camera is a huge medium format beast. I think AL managed better with his Leica...afterall, he is more experienced in street and the art of disappearing. I caught this interesing Thai group doing poses, and AL himself as he walked by nonchalantly.

The exposure lattitude of film is somewhat less than what I am used to with the very good Hasselblad H3D-39 back. The digital back, processed correctly with Phocus has an amazing exposure lattitude and dynamic range. But film was a bit more...shall I say the obvious...analog in feel and mood.

Click on Esplanade image for 1920 wide image.

The scan was in tiff, 16 bit, at 2491x1831 pixels...approx 4.5Mpixels...but the details were not lacking, as can be seen in the Esplanade shot above. I guess, scanning at say 7600 pixels on the wide side will yield images which will hold up to prints with almost unlimited least A0 without much manipulation at 300dpi.

I found film interesting...the film back is somewhat lighter than the digital back...and the battery in the camera, which would shoot perhaps 200 frames in digital, would go on for a long time...2 rolls of 16 exposures hardly moved the battery level.

I am looking forward to the hand developed bw to be done up, and will share my thoughts on those when they come back from AL.

With many thanks to AL for sharing his love for film.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Port of Penang in Prai

The container ports at Penang has been steadily growing...I recently made a trip to the island, and was able to capture this from our service apartment in 1 Pesiaran Gurney.

Photograph is digitally stitched from 5 frames, giving a sweeping panorama. Final image, printed at 300dpi, full resolution, without upresolution will measure some 3m across. Shot handheld.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Window Shopping at The Hour Glass' new outlet in Paragon

Window shopping is a popular pastime...I love to indulge when I am travelling...strolling down Bahnhoffstrasse in Zurich looking at the displays, or admiring the shop fronts down the Champs Elysee, soaking in the atmosphere of Ginza, or even just walking down the Quartier Frauenkirche in Dresden.

And sometimes, I do it in Singapore too...I took the opportunity to pop in the new Hour Glass store in Paragon...

Interesting concept store...just a stone's throw away from the iconic MalMaison at Knightsbridge. I covered the interior in some detail here.

In the displays...the usual suspects...though mainly thge independents.



Parmigiani Fleurier

Dottling safes

Some bling, of course...provided by Harry Winston

And the always elegant Breguet

and the ambience of the showroom...

Friday, October 5, 2012

AP Limited Editions

AP Limited Editions is a very unique company offering handmade pens in the Japanese lacquer method. A couple of years ago, they decided to offer a special watch, skeletonized.

Based on the Unitas movement, the skeleton works is rather unexpectedly good, especially so for a company specializing in pens and not watches.

I did these series of photographs for their advertising campaign some years ago. I believe the watches are sold least they are not listed in their website anymore.

More typical of their work is this pen, depicting a scene from Indian Classical scripture...

The detail work is quite exquisite.