by Peter Stone
I had been using a camera since a very young age, initially a 'traditional' Kodak box brownie, and then a 2-1/4 x 2-1/4 inch reflex with a top screen viewer, probably a Kodak again; this I used on my trip to Europe in 1954 when eleven years old. At Christmas 1955, I visited the family in Singapore. Dad's good friend T.Y.Cheong was head of Voiglander's in Singapore, and T.Y. gave me a 35mm single-lens reflex Voiglander VitoB to use. Dad was quite surprised when T.Y. said I could keep it, but he wasn't impressed when I opened the back of the camera at the end of the roll. With typical attitude of not teaching me how to use the camera, I did not know that with a 35mm camera, you wind the film back into the casette at the end of the roll - unlike roll cameras which simply required the winding forward of the film at the end of the last shot, and removing it. I therefore ruined the film. Well, not quite. I recognised what I had done as soon as the back was opened, and quickly closed it again. I knew this would have ruined the last few shots I had taken, but those further back on the roll, covered tightly by the end of the roll, would have been protected. No, my father said, I had ruined the lot. So I pulled it out. I was right. I could have wound it back and saved at least eighty percent of the film; my advice from Dad was wrong!! 

I took my photography seriously and read up what I could. The first thing to do was to master exposure. There was no exposure meter on the Vito B. Kodak film, Pan X or somthing like it, was black and white film, rated at around 100ASA. I had to find out what that meant first, and then used the 'instruction' that came with the film to set the exposure - ie, to set the speed and the aperature. It was something like 1/100 sec at f16 on a sunny day. I kept a notebook and recorded all my exposures, then consulted this when examining my prints - contact prints, the same size as the 35mm film. I still have the original album with the contact prints fixed. I soon became a good judge of exposure which set m up well even when my next camera, my father's Vitessa, (jnhrited when he died), had an exposure meter built in - and one that was not accurately calibrated I might add. During the practice in setting exposure, I learnt the maning of the relationship between shutter speed and aperatur, and the concept of depth of field. And from then on, there was no holding me back. Composition was next. I understood the rudiments and took some well composed shot, but of the early photographs were straightforward scenic or people shot. At least they provided a record for these wonderful years.
All of the following shots were taken around Christmas 1955, and on the next visit at Christmas 1958, just months before my father died. On this last trip I was joined by my school-mate Peter Hocking. In January, Peter and I joined a Britsih Army river patrol that as despatched to collect rifles issued to villages on the Johore River (Malaya). This gave me an opportunity to take the photos of villages rarely visited by white people. 

What follows is a small photographic essay over a very brief time in Singapore and Malaya. My father's photographs add to the record. I shoulkd mention that although Dad was using the very early Kodachrome film, of 25 ASA, I did not use colour until I went to Syndey with the scouts at the end of 1959. By then my father had died, and I ended up with his Vitessa which I used for many years. The Vitessa had a unique featur - the film winder was activated by a plunger at the opposite end to th shutter. It was possible to take 36 shots in thirty seconds by a quick click and plunge, click and plunge etc. Quite snazzy for its day. 

Most of the small-image photos shown may be linked to get a bigger image. (This may not be applicable if the website has been accessed from the internet. The website was established for in-computer use on a CD-ROM. In time, internet speed will be such tht the larger images can also be loaded without compromise on download speed.)
LINK ON TO PHOTOGRAPH TO ENLARGE To Dick Stone's photographs.
To 'start' page.

Thaipusam, Singapore, 
January 1959. 
Old priest under a trance. Thaipusam, Singapore 1959. 
Fullerton Building, (the General Post Office), from Queen Elizabeth Walk. The Department of Inland Revenue was located at the Fullerton Building, Dad's office is on the top floor  on the side shown. That is where he died on 16 February 1959. The Queen Elizabeth Walk was a fine esplanade next to the sea but with land reclamation, it is well inland now.  The bridge shown crosses the Singapore River. 
Photos circa 1958.
Chinatown, Singapore, 1959.
Orchard Road, Singapore, 1959. 
Scenes of Singapore.
Cathay Theatre.
Far right-Sky Globe Theatre at Great World.
Supreme Court.
Kallang airport.
Botanic Gardens.
House of Jade.
Singapore Royal Island Golf Club swimming pool, Christmas 1958. Mum, Dad and Peter Hocking in the photograph. Singapore Swimming Club.
Empress Place.
Singapore River.
Haw Par Villa, Singapore, 1959. >
The Singapore House: a 'black & white bungalow', colonial built 1920s. (a) 5 Seton Close, (b) Pringitt Hill, Malacca.
Changi village, eastern end of Singapore, now demolished for the international airport complex.
Tin dredge, Malaya.
Near the Malacca Swimming Pool, 1959.
The Malacca pool was a sea bath, not particularly attractive in itself, but in a pleasant setting. 
Panchor village on the Johore River, January 1959.

Adapted for internet, public viewing.
20 July 2013