Monday, October 12, 2009

BLC Mooncake Festival... and the RAW difference

It's not every day that a church hosts a Mooncake Festival celebration service. And especially since it would also be the last service at BLC's premises in Bangsar before the renovation, I decided I would be there, having missed the last Sunday service the weekend before.

No lengthy reflections on the festival, or the service, or anything. Just pictures this time around.

It was a night of sandiwara, in front of a simple wooden cross with lightbulbs hanging from it. (Think Fragments!)

The audience. Almost as if they were congregated around a fire in the middle of the woods.

Come to think of it, we really can get lost even in urban jungles, no? There are no tigers to maul us or rivers to drown us, but it's so easy to lose one's soul; to lose, not our path on the trail, but our direction in life.

So it really was something to gather around a fire in the middle of the jungle.

Reverend Naomi serving tea with stories.

Wan Ching at the titbits table.

I think Jesus knew the Chinese would read the Bible someday. That's why he said;

"I have come that you may have life, and life to the fu."

Final group photo at The Father's House.

(Thanks, Doulos, for the Manfrotto!)

I think of all the things I will miss, I will miss the trademark BLC cross the most.

Esther was there that night, too.

Shooting the altar with filtered light; a burst of red light on top, and blue below.

You can do this with Photoshop, but it's so much easier (not to mention more fun) playing with the light itself!

I will miss the cross window too. It was at this cross that I had a photo of myself and Sivin taken, shortly before I left for National Service.

It remains, for me, a commissioning cross of sorts, for there has been no day when BLC's theme verse, "As the Father has sent Me, I send you," rang truer.

So on Mooncake night, I set the camera for a 30-second exposure, ran outside like there was no tomorrow, and fired multiple bursts of light from my flash unit through the window.

Farewell, The Father's House, for now.

We will see you again!

* * *

Anyway, on another note, Doulos and I have been talking about JPG vs RAW file formats recently. He told me he usually shoots RAW, and I told him I'd given up on RAW ages ago, mainly because of the inconvenience of storing large files on my puny hard drive.

On that night, I shot a few RAW+JPG pictures and, looking at them in the computer, there is a difference.

Consider this picture of Esther:

This is a 100% crop from the original JPG file:

And this is a 100% crop from the original RAW file:

Notice that the RAW is a lot noisier, but the JPG's apparent smoothness is actually a loss of detail, plus a lot of digital smudging over.

Noise aside, the RAW image is more pleasant and 'real'.

But RAW presents a host of problems, one of which is compatibility. I could not open Doulos's Nikon D60 RAW files on Capture NX because they require updated firmware. And updates are a hassle, not to mention updates are different from brand to brand of camera (e.g. Nikon vs Canon), and brand to brand of software (e.g. Photoshop vs Capture)

The other troublesome thing about RAW is that it takes quite some time sitting in front of the computer to get all the edits right. Maybe some graphic designers and computer geeks like that, but people like myself would rather spend that time doing somthing more productive, like actually taking photos or travelling or writing.

Above all, none of us really makes prints larger than 8R or 11R, so the weaknesses of JPG don't really show. If you really want poster-size prints with fantastic definition, shoot film!

Consider this photograph of Sivin and our German guests.

It was shot on Ilford XP2 Super, which is a chromogenic black-and-white film, which means it can be processed using the normal C-41 process used for the good old print film readily available over the counter at any photo shop.

Forget the firmware-requiring Photoshop, chromogenic films can be processed at any 'photo shop' (except those uber-digital ones in shopping malls). Talk about ultimate compatibility!

The white spots were due to the mistakes by the guy processing my film; this is why photographers usually develop their own black-and-whites. But the 'mistakes' actually seem to add to the festive mood: they look a bit like confetti to me. ;-)

With digital, it's much harder to screw up in style!


Lish said...

omegosh *groans*

life to the fu -___-

Alpha Lim said...

So *that's* what you were doing in front of the guys' toilet! Haha.

Very nice effect on the wall cross...