Black and White iPhone Photography

iPhone photography may have had a new star app, a camera app called Filmborn by Mastin Labs that I stumbled upon last week. It’s a free app loaded with nine presets to simulate the classic analog films ; Fujifilm 160NS, 400H and 800Z, Ilford Pan-F, HP5 and Delta 3200, Kodak Portra 160, 400 and 800. Six colour film presets and three for black and white for you to choose from. The app has film live-preview that allows you to see how the final image will look like based on the film preset you choose. If you want more control, you can purchase their Curves Tool that allows you to apply a custom tone curve to your photos and adjust the shadows, midtones and highlights to your liking. I have not purchased this tool yet. Will just play with the standard presets for now.

This weekend, I went out to shoot black and white images using its Ilford Pan-F preset, a high contrast low grain black and white film with a wide tonal range and high edge contrast. No post-processing done to the photos, they are all straight out of the Filmborn app and I liked what I saw, especially the contrast in the black and white images I shot of the Getai performance in Kreta Ayer, Chinatown. The app is only available for iPhone now. Not sure if they are working on an Android version.

Singapore Getai

Waiting for the getai performance to start.

Getai, literally means song stage, is a live performance by local artists singing mostly songs in Mandarin and other dialects like Hokkien and Cantonese. In the old days, the getai is usually held during the month of Hungry Ghost Festival, but nowadays you can watch the performances in various local neighbourhoods during other festivals too, such as Chinese New Year for example.

To many of the elderly folks, getai is more than just an entertainment. It is a channel for them to reconnect with each other and for some to show their support for their loved ones or their favourite getai singers by presenting them with bouquet of flowers and hongbao (red envelope with money inside). Many of the getai singers are elderly too who have probably been in the business for many years. This could be one of the dying trades of Singapore soon.

Getai in Singapore

While waiting for the getai performance to start.


Getai performance in Chinatown Singapore

Getai singers preparing themselves backstage.


Male getai singers

A getai singer taking a photograph of his fellow singer backstage.



Two getai singers checking the schedule of the show backstage.


Getai singers

Picture time before the performance.


Getai singers

Getai singers backstage before their performance.


Singapore getai

Getai singers getting ready backstage.


Singapore getai show in Chinatown

The musicians on stage.


Singapore getai

Getai singers waiting backstage.


Singapore Getai

Show time!


Getai Singer

Getai Singer

Traditionally, getai singers receive hongbao (red envelope with money inside) from the audience as an appreciation for their performance.


Singapore getai artist

Getai singers having fun backstage while waiting for their turn to perform.


Getai Show

Getai show is mostly attended by elderly folks in Singapore.


Getai Show

Singapore getai show

Free show for all!


Singapore getai singers

Two getai singers chatting before a performance.


Singapore getai - a dying trade

A getai singer filming his fellow singer on stage.


Getai Singers

Singapore Getai

A singer receiving hongbao from the audience.


Singapore Getai

A getai singer performing on stage while her fellow getai artist filming her on a smartphone.


Getai Performance in Singapore

Singapore getai show in Chinatown

An audience filming a getai singer performing on stage.


Singapore getai singer

Getai musicians

The getai musicians


A getai show

Watching a getai show

Watching a getai show

A getai show


"A photographer and a memory keeper (a.k.a junks collector) who finally decided to quit his day job in 2017 after two decades to focus full time on photography. Check out also his outdoor children, family and pet photography work at

In 2010, this website won the Singapore Best Photography Blog Award."

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