Archive for May, 2008

Good Night, Ah Kong

I’m sorry I wasn’t there today as you took leave of your ailing, sick body.

But I look to God and I know you’re together with Him now, reunited with Papa as well. What’s it like to have a new body, whole and perfect? To run and leap and never to tire?

Good night, Ah Kong. I’ll see you in heaven.

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63

David is in the wilderness of Judah, the dry and barren land that overlooks the Dead Sea, when he pens Psalm 63. I close my eyes and I try to imagine.. the chalky, sandy soil, stretching for miles in every direction; the sea is silent, as always, and he is alone, in every heavy, absolute sense of the word; maybe it is that time of the year where not even the pastures he used to bring his flock to graze at are present. The cold, lifeless ground is his only companion.

The king of Israel pulls his cloak tighter around himself against the desert night. On the run for his life, his face is smudged with dirt, some of it caked under his fingernails. His fine garments are in tatters, pale shadows of its former opulence. Running his fingers through his hair, he feels the grains of sand caught in it trickle down his neck.

David is tired, famished, parched and exhausted. As he trudges across the long reaches of the wilderness, blistered feet shuffling against the loose and shifting soil, his legs finally give out. He collapses in a weary heap, his noise of his fall echoing across the vast and sparse landscape.

A sigh escapes his throat, but it is dry, crackling sound. He leans back to lie on the ground, staring into the night sky, a tapestry of the deep, dark hues of evening, dotted by the stars. King no more, he is the shepherd boy who sought his Lord in the pastures, earnest and yearning.

David whispers in his gravelly voice:

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;

Beaten down, broken, come to the end of himself, and so distanced from his kinghood, he finds himself with nothing. Finally, he returns to his Refuge, his only comfort and solace. He feels the presence of his Elohim, his Immanuel, envelop and embrace him. Once again, he feels that sense of desperation for Him, all of Him, stirring from within.

David continues, glimpsing into eternity:

My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.

Did it matter that he was on the run for his life? Did it matter that everything he had could be lost in a moment? He decides: no, it did not; for now, he stood in the moment between the moments, in the presence and majesty of his El Shaddai. And that was all that mattered.

So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

His weariness bleeds away from his bones, renewed with strength. He closes his eyes and feels Love surround him, trembling over every fibre of his being. He raises both hands to the heavens, unconsciously. Smiling, he speaks again, his voice clear:

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

David laughs. He knows that all will be well. All will be well. All will be well. He nods, grinning.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.

But those who seek my life, to destroy it,
Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
They shall fall by the sword;
They shall be a portion for jackals.

The shepherd boy sits up and rises to his feet. He is filled with fresh vigour, as if rested for days, filled with the knowing that his Lord fights his battles. Victory cannot be denied to those whose trust is in Him, he thinks. He shakes off the sand caught in his robes and hair, a fierce glint in his eyes. David now shouts:

But the king shall rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him shall glory;
But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

He turns to face Jerusalem, so many miles in the distance, but his destination is now clear to him. David begins striding toward his home, every inch of him a king.

*

All I wanted was to write about the Zone concert. Next post then. 🙂

In Grain


the gate to the field we used to snuck in to play football

Got back my first batch of rolls sent to Kim Tian, the one that Nic frequents. The grain is crazy. It’s expected for the black and white shots – I was using Tmax 400 pushed to 1600 – but I also used Sensia, Provia and Velvia at the appropriate ISO, cross-processed, but the grain is hyper-intense nonetheless. Needless to say, I was shocked. I never got results like this with the consumer film like Superia or Gold. Now I don’t really know whether it’s from the scanner or the negs, so while the costs at KT is pretty attractive, I’m not quite sure whether I’m going back. The trip there isn’t exactly convenient as well, though I wish, wistfully, that I was still at my old office where I would often head to Hong Lim for lunch.

So far, I haven’t really found a lab that I’m completely satisfied with – in terms of colour correction and pricing. Photohub is professional, but horrendously expensive. The one at the Parkway basement is functional, with acceptable results, but with no clue about pushing/pulling film or cross-processing.

My first dab at cross-processing yielded rather interesting, albeit terrifying, results. Grain aside, a large majority of the shots had primarily red tones, the kind you get with Sensia. Funnily enough, one roll had no difference (I’ve the sneaking suspicion that it wasn’t cross-processed), with regular colour tones. The rest, however, came out awash in faded red. The skies are burnt out crimson, like a post-holocaust nuclear dawn. Looking at them gives me the chills.

All in all, I’m pretty bummed out with the Melbourne/Adelaide shots. A lot of them came out badly focused or blurry, evidence of my weak areas in shooting techniques. Creative-wise, nothing really jumped out at me; somehow, I’m not as inspired as I usually am when taking landscape or street shots, as opposed to portraiture which I enjoy the most.

Bring on the next roll, then.

Black Sea

I try to think of the words to say
but they do not come.

So let June arrive in earnest
with all of the sun and its bare blue,
to burn skin and memory
and allow me to bleed into the
green
into the damp earth,
into that grinding, chewing machine
of toil
filled with the soil of dreams
and desires
of thousands of other young men

Let me be iron or stone,
lean, cold, unyielding or tempest-forged,
through the deep dark of
uncertainty,
even through journeys unnavigable
in the seas of midnight ink

Here it is then, the truth:
The words do not come
and I no longer know what to do.