You Are Here:→Articles→Shooting B&W Film in Singapore with Nicholas Koh
Shooting B&W Film in Singapore with Nicholas Koh
Nicholas Koh shared an engaging and surreal set of photographs he took in Singapore, titled Past Your Bedtime, with us. Nicholas, who started out with digital photography, decided to challenge himself by shooting exclusively with push-processed film for this project. By pushing his Ilford HP5+ film to extreme levels (up to ISO 6400 equiv.), he made nighttime shooting possible and imparted the whole set with a stark, high-impact look. Here’s how Nicholas describes the look of pushed film at night:
I liken pushed film to charcoal drawings. Blacks are sooty and deep, and lights, where available, are usually strong points emanating from artificial sources. Shooting at night, your images will naturally be high in contrast, and pushing the film only increases this effect.
Nicholas reports that although pushing film allows for higher shutter speeds, he still ends up shooting hand-held at 1/5 to 1/2-second shutter speeds in some cases. That’s not an issue though, as he places greater importance on composition and framing than grain or blur. Black and white photography puts compositional skill at the forefront, as the absence of color leaves you with only the basic forms, shapes, and patterns present in the image. Nicholas explains:
With B&W photography, you’re left with the most basic of compositional aids – Rule of 3rds (or not), Framing, Leading Lines, and the interplay between Light and Shadow. A B&W photo makes the most of the above 4 to capture a photograph that tells a story.
The photos in Past Your Bedtime were primarily taken in urban areas of Singapore during the very early hours of the night, as streetlife remains active well past midnight. Nicholas describes his city outings in his own words:
I will think of a place that I feel has enough lively elements during that time of the night and just wander around the area, shooting. I like the wandering aspect, as I will almost always come across something interesting. Maybe it’s a scene that will not work at night, so I file that place away in my mind to come back when it’s light and take another look. Most of the photos are taken between 2-4am. Where I live, midnight to two can still be quite lively, and 2-4am is a good balance.