Friday, 7 November 2008

Buntings

R0010825 (Custom)

This is of an old building in the neighbourhood. In case you wonder whether the underwear was what first caught my attention, my answer is a resounding YES. In fact the shot was taken on a footbridge which was just thR0010901 (Custom)ree metres away. How embarrassing that the tenants have to dry the underwear virtually in front of the passers-by! 

The way of drying clothes like this has its history. In the colonial era (Hong Kong had undergone British colonial rule for over 100 years until 1997, in case you don't know) when I was a little boy, most locals lived in shaggy  resettlement blocks. The apartments were so tiny that meals were R0010903 (Custom)prepared in the public corridors and washing had to be dried on bamboo sticks hanging on the walls of the blocks. Imagine the scene: motleys of washing of different sizes and shapes flapping in the wind with the bamboo sticks rattling. We nicknamed them "makwokate", or literally "buntings of all nations". Buntings on bamboo sticks are still common sights in the older residential areas.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

GX200 vs LX3 vs G10 vs DP1 vs P6000

Wow, this comparison or review of the photos by GX200, LX3, G10, DP1 AND P6000 will be of interest to many of us. The following are photos taken for the same scene by a photographer with various serious compacts (click to see): GX200 LX3 G10 DP1 P6000 What say you? Shed light (also see: the nightshots comparison):
Your Market Research Here

Monday, 3 November 2008

Selected Excellence: St. Paul's Halo

st paul halo
(Courtesy and copyright of Paulyrichard.  Taken with GX200)

This is one of Paul's many intriguing works which can be found in his florilegium at Flickr. This shot caught my eye because of the photographer's unique treatment of the St. Paul's dome: its usual (or somewhat dutiful) position should be on the upper part of a photo, presumably giving the viewers a sense of solemnity and enormity, about which I would write a point or two later. Here, the photographer's special viewpoint causes the viewers to stop, look and think, the three essential responses that a great photo will attract. But a successful shot takes more than just that.

More often than not, a good shot possesses a message (goal) to give substance to the treatment (means) bestowed on it. The photographer does not do the tricks just for the sake of being unique, but for a purpose. The title of this photo is "St. Paul's Halo". But, where is the halo? First, instead of being at the usual dutiful position in the photo, the dome descends to the lower part. Now, instead of a regular circular halo supposedly right above the dome, there are two rectangular reflective surfaces on both sides. (The photographer is probably refering to the dome itself; then what a halo it is being squelched!) The existence of the cathedral hinges on the person or machine which decides when to close the doors (presumably it is shot through the space between the doors). At first glance, it seems that the photographer has given a sacred sort of atmosphere to the photo. But by looking more closely, the viewers would discover that it is full of contrasts and sarcarsm, with or without an intent, of the photographer: the survival of the cathedral is important on the surface and between a narrow space, hence the values that it represents.

Let's go back to what I called the dutiful postion. In a lot of photos and movies I have seen which showed the imperial houses of ancient Chinese emperors, most photographers also dutifully placed the houses so that the tops were at four-third up from the bottom of the shots. Most of the photos were taken through the space between some foreground, which is a standard technique to give viewers a sense of a prospect, with the foreground usually being the doors. These photos justifiably depict a solemn place that the viewers have to visually hide behind something (the door, for example) to get a glimsp of. With such images in mind, I have found the St. Paul’s Halo even more interestingly unconventional.

Surely, I can write more about this photo. Take for example, Paul being an Englishman has subconsciously given a taste of essential western culture in the shot, which is the concept of symmetry (an evidence is that the architect of St. Paul's, Christopher Wren, once said that natual beauty came from anything being identical and proportional). In the oriental cultures, for sure for the Chinese, balance preponderates over symmetry. But this is a quite different topic.

All in all, the special quality about a shot does not only reflect in its good composition and technicality, which this photo boasts. It is more about the personality of the photographers, reflecting in a viewpoint which is obvious but generally ignored by many through the photographer's eyes at the right timing. And through such a viewpoint, messages are given in the shot which should have been obvious to but lost on the viewers. Surely, a good shot can't do without some luck. But photographers being a head above the rest have the ability to foretell when there will happen to be some "luck". St. Paul's Halo is one of those works after good calculations of the photographer.