In August 2015, Singapore celebrates it's 50th anniversary of statehood. First formed in difficult times back in 1965, what was once a city of Malaysia became a country in its own right. With volatile neighbours, a difficult "birth" and a lack of natural resources, life was set to be hard for the young nation but through canny leadership, some radical policies & laws and the hard work of its people, Singapore has not only survived its first 50 years but flourished. It's now the economic hub for the region, consistently voted one of the safest locations on the planet and because of its ethnic & religious diversity has a character & life all of its own.
As part of the SG50 celebrations, Canon was kind enough to invite me to an event to showcase just a small part of the heritage of Singapore. The tour was in association with the National Heritage Board and would focus on three buildings recognised as national monuments, chosen because of their prominent personalities or because of their association with communities who have contributed to the success of Singapore.
Before the tour began I must confess I had no idea there was even a National Heritage Board! Learning about it, I did see one quote from the founder of the organisation (S. Rajaratham, Singapore's second deputy Prime Minister) which I liked, and why it's important to recognise, respect and preserve national monuments like these. He asserted that the templates, churches, mosques, houses, street names & localaties of a place constitute the collective memory of a people. Even for a young country like Singapore it's very true.
Of course, this isn't just a post about the heritage of Singapore - it was an opportunity to photograph the monuments and test out some of Canon's kit at the same time! As well as bringing along my own personal 17-40mm f/4 lens, Canon kindly donated a brand new 5DS and a 24-70 f/4 lens as well as their latest mirrorless offering, the M3 equiped with a 55-250mm lens. The pictures below are meant to give a little more insight into some of the heritage of Singapore in this jubilee year, interspersed with the occasional tidbit of camera gear nerding :)
The second stop on the tour was St Joseph's Catholic church, built by a Portugese Christian mission in 1906.
What struck me most about the Chinese temple was how colourful, vibrant and FUN the decoration was! It's unique, I have never seen anything quite like it and for something that looks so unassuming from the street, it was an absolute joy exploring it and seeing just how striking the renovations have made the temple. Definitely my favourite monument of the three!
The tour was a lot of fun. Singapore occasionally gets criticism that it lacks the heritage because it's "only" 50 years old but I think that it's a mistake. It has some interesting, colourful and unusual gems tucked away all across the city, each with their own story, and I was really happy & privileged to be given the chance to learn more about them. They are now definitely going on the "Singapore Tour" I take friends & family on when they come to visit!
As I explored each venue I had the chance to snap some street photography scenes with the 5DS. A few highlights are below.
The cameras loaned to me from Canon were another highlight of the afternoon. Getting a proper hands-on with the 5DS was an absolute pleasure - it's a solid camera, familiar & easy to use as all Canon cameras are and produces very impressive images indeed. I have the suspicion that the lenses I used with it are not good enough to get the best out of the sensor but when I get a review unit for a proper evaluation I'll be sure to check it out!
The M3 was more of a mixed bag. I must admit the camera has a reputation which preceded it! I'll reserve full judgement until I get a proper chance to play with it but it was far from being bad - it pleasantly surprised me, but didn't excite me. It struggled indoors as I expected, particularly when focusing, but outdoors it was snappy & capable. I suspect it's a stop gap effort from Canon while they work on a more complete mirrorless solution.