Saturday, 11 April 2009

Vestiges of Van Gogh

R0014538 (Medium)

A photography friend of mine went to the annual Hong Kong Flower Show and took tons of photos which are, pardon me, humdrum.  The photos are primarily mugshots of flowers after flowers in different angles with a blurred background, much the same as those taken by the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Government.  Such usual shots of flowers are good in their own right.  But we have seen too many of the same, haven’t we?

Photographers can pan their cameras even when they take pictures of still plants, yes.

Just remember that the shutter should be dragged to a slower speed like 1/4s in the following photos, depending on the exposure conditions.  Then be sure that you don’t pan the camera too much, but by just enough like half an inch.

Another trick is that if you make a pan shot of trees, the photo may look more intriguing, or "Van Goghish" with the tree trucks included in it.

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Friday, 10 April 2009

A Friday Said to be Good

R0013696 (Medium)(Taken with GX200, edited in PhotoScape for the flare)

Today is Good Friday, a day when the Christians remember the nailing of Jesus Christ on the cross some thousands of years ago.  Religion is something which cannot be seen or touched but trusted.  Where are we from and where are we going to after this life have been the eternal questions asked by believers and non-believers alike.

So, where are we going to?

R0013699 (Medium)
(The road is leading to where? I thougt to mself when I took this photo on a hill at night)

For a lot of times, we may think that things are under control in our hands.  But we just even don't know what is going to happen to us the next minute.  I have a friend who celebrated for his newborn one day but cried over the baby's loss of over 50% of the degestive system the other day for no apparent reason.  It happened some years ago.  He is still facing the consquences with an iron mind.  Another friend of mine in Australia lost her son who died after falling from height at home.  She won't have expected it the minute before, would she?

R0013695 (Medium)(The warm glow of the cross and the environment colours in late evening that day caught my attention.  This is an old chruch building tucked away in a rather quiet neighbourhood which used to be a residential area popular among the British migrated to Hong Kong from their homeland)

So when someone argue with cogent reasons against Jesus Christ, I doubt if that person really knows that religion is something to be trusted.  If God is the one that a person can know by just reasoning, that god will be no smarter than the person is.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Gate of Carp

R0013948 (Medium) (When night falls on this fishing village, great scenes for photofraphy present themselves like this one.  While the other photographers were holding pounds of heavy gears, I seemed a bit superior with my tiny, trusty GX200)

The photo was taken at Lei Yue Mun, known as Lyumun in the old days when the British navy stationed some garrison on the other side of the Lei Yue Mun strait to the east of the Victoria Harbour.  Lei Yue means carp, and Mun is gate.

(It reads "Lei Yue Mun" on the doorhead plate of the archway)R0013946 (Medium)

Today, Lei Yue Mun is still famous for the seafood restaurants housed in sort of shanty cottages along the bank in the background of the photo.  A visit to the other side of the Lei Yue Mun strait will give you the chance to see the Marital Defence Museum and the former Bristish navy barrack, which have lookouts overlooking the narrow strip of waters,

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Love in the Rain

R0013611a (Medium)(On a rainy night, I leaned near a window with my camera.  People passed by, business people, working people, lovers.  I took some photos.  The grainy film-like character of the GX200’s high ISo image adds a romantic feel to the scene)

Hong Kong has been misty and rainy for some weeks.  The rain is saying, "Come to dance in this season of love, in the rain!"

 

Love Won’t Leave You (Out in the Rain) ~Michael English

Why so blue
why do you start to break
under a  misty moon
under your skies of grey
well, in this life, you know
storms are bound to come
but try not to worry about it

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Sun's gonna shine again
love won't leave you out in the rain
so walk that road
remembering you're not alone
you got someone to lean on
something to call your own
just have a little faith and then
when the clouds roll In
you won't have to worry about It
love's gonna shelter you
love won't leave you out in the rain

 

Of course, there is love between a mother and her children.  The scene warmed and amused my heart as I took this.  Raising children is never easy.  And it takes more than love.  Well, so is marriage, in my opinion.

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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

LNII Series: Doors to the Past

LNII stands for Lower Ngau Tau Kwok (II) Estate, the last resettlement estate to be redeveloped in Hong Kong. The first seven instalments of this series can be read 1here, 2here, 3here, 4here, 5here, 6here and 7here. The photos presented in this series were taken by me with my GX200 during my two visits to the estate. This last post of the series showcases photos of doors taken at the LNII.

P1000874 (Looking through the ventilation holes inside a block)

When I left the LNII on the second visit, there was a wistful sense of anti-climax. After walking through the history and seeing the ways of life frozen in time at the LNII, I thrilled with the illusionary feeling that they were actually mummied people and shops putting up a show for the photographers. Probably it was a show going on forever.

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However, I, being whisked away from the LNII in a car through the long Metro tunnel flickering with whitish lights, knew that this was the last time I visited a place where I had never been to and would never be to again.

The LNII blocks have been the standing monuments to the folk history of Hong Kong. But soon, they will be brought to the destiny: be a part of the history they represent.

"Is that the only destiny?" a thought struck me.

R0013570(This view of the LNII will be gone some months later)

Can one of the residential blocks or schools be converted into something else? Half of the block into an old Hong Kong museum and the other half into a petite hotel? How about letting creative minds to try special catering ideas in some of the residential units? How about allowing the old folks to teach old tricks in some premises on concessionary, like making a paper tiger?

Pulling them all down for putting up new residential buildings is the blandest, uncreative way to destroy history.

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With residents moving out, shops closing down and the works project in the pipeline, the doors to other possibilities are sealed. And another big part of the old Hong Kong is going to vanish behind the closed doors, the doors to the past.

 

The Door     ~ by Miroslav Holub, Russian Poet

Go and open the door.
R0013449Maybe outside there's
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog's rummaging.
Maybe you'll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
of a picture.

Go and open the door.
if there's a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there's only
the darkness ticking,
even if there's only
the hollow wind,
even if nothing is there,
go and open the door.

 

R0013432a(The electricity meters, the doors and the shrine for the god of earth)

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The Lockless Door
by Robert Frost, American Poet

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It went many years,
But at last came a knock,
And I though of the door
With no lock to lock.
I blew out the light,
I tip-toed the floor,
And raised both hands
In prayer to the door.
But the knock came again.
My window was wide;
I climbed on the sill
And descended outside.
Back over the sill
I bade a 'Come in'
To whatever the knock
At the door may have been.
So at a knock
I emptied my cage
To hide in the world
And alter with age.

 

R0013650 (Posters of the Chinese guardian god of doors are posted on the door)

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 The Door to Tuol Sleng Prison     ~by Dennis Siluk

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How many have walked through those steel doors
How many have walked on those wooden floors
Shackled like a butchered boar
How many, how many more:
Were put into those stifling, stone cells scared
How many, how many more:
Tasted brutality, worse than hell or war
Died on the brick of hunger,
Died slowly on the brick of psychosis
In Tuol Sleng Prison (Cambodia) forgotten!
How many, how many more:
Died with crushed bones, and skulls
How many grass eaters, vomited their guts
In Tuol Sleng Prison (Cambodia) forgotten!
How many died by the Khmer Rouge regime
How many died by Pol Pot and Kaing Guek Eav

 

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If you shut your door to all errors, truth will be shut out

Rabindranath Tagore,
Indian Poet

 

 

 

 

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The Door
~by Richard Edwards,
English Poet

R0013646
A white door in
      the hawthorn hedge -
Who lives through there?
A sorcerer? A wicked witch
with serpents in her hair?
A king enchanted into stone?
A lost princess?
A servant girl who works all night
spinning a cobweb dress?
A queen with slippers made of ice?
I'd love to see.
A white door in a hawthorn hedge-
I wish I had a key.

 

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Youth will come here
and beat on my door,
and force its way in.

Henrik Ibsen,
Norwegian Dramatist

(This is the door to a kindergarten, well befitting the above quote )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.
Ogden Nash, American Humorist

With this, we come to the End of the LNII Series.

(Two of the photos published by permission, courtesy of Chris Guy)

Monday, 6 April 2009

LNII Series: Daipaidong (Big Row Stall)

LNII stands for Lower Ngau Tau Kwok (II) Estate, the last resettlement estate to be redeveloped in Hong Kong. The first six instalments of this series can be read here, here, here, here, here and here. The photos presented in this series were taken by me with my GX200 during my two visits to the estate. Okay, it is about daipaidong this time.

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(This is a remaining daipaidong in LNII located right next to the ground floor lobby of this residential block)

If there is one thing famous about LNII, it must be its daipaidongs. In their heydays, these daipaidongs sprawled into almost every corner on the ground floor between the residential blocks at night. It was quite a sight really.

"But wait. What is a daipaidong for goodness sake?" you may wonder.

Daipaidong is a quint-essentially old-Hong Kong style of eateries for cheap eats. The original daipaidong has two parts, namely, the open-air kitchen and the alfresco dining area. The kitchen is actually a makeshift stall made with wood or iron sheets, with a big sheet of nylon sunshade dpd_1956_MKoverhead. Except for the open side giving(This is an origial daipaidong at Mong Kok of Kowloon in 1956. The special squatting position
to take meals in an
original daipaidong  reminded people of coolies and drew tourists' curiosity)
access to the kitchen, the stall have foldable wings on the other three sides as tables with long wooden benches placed underneath. When business is good and the benches are full, the stall owner simply put more foldable chairs and tables sporadically around the stall to serve hungry customers. The sight of row after row of chairs and tables is probably why it is called daipaidong, literally big row stall. There are other versions to explain the origin of the name.

R0013466 (Medium)(Food is prepared near the walkway leading to the ground floor lobby of the block. The wires and cables along the ceilings are not for the daipaidong but the blocks, giving another glimpse of the poor living condition in LNII)

The 1960s and 1970s were the burgeoning years of daipaidongs when these cooked-food stalls were commonly found on streets, alleyways and not least in the resettlement housing estates like LNII. They were open until the small hours. But mostly gone are these original daipaidongs. In place of them, eateries with seats and tables spilling over onto the shop fronts are taken as modern daipaidongs. They can be found in market buildings, cooked-food kiosks in public housing estates and open markets like the Temple Street night market. The first two bear no comparison with the old daipaidongs for the crude atmosphere and the hubbub of lively (a.k.a. swearing) conversations which make daipaidong dining a very unique experience.

R0013469(The greasy stains on the wall and the fan are as spectacular as sickening.  Could it be the effect of cooking there for 40 years, the same age of LNII? Likely. And I like that big, think chopping board.  A very daipaidong sight indeed)

So head to the Temple Street night market for the daipaidong experience closest to the original one in the present-day Hong Kong.

In case you wonder what to expect in a daipaidong, here are some suggestions:

R0013470First things first, germs. The most special aspect about any greasy spoon like a daipaidong is its crudeness, including whatever defies cleanliness. So prepare a strong stomach for it in case you are lucky enough to catch germs (don’t worry because the germs will be only strong enough to cause a running stomach for a night).

(Daipaidongs are not where to take clean food for sure.  But most germs are believed to be unable to survive the fierce heat and rough environment of the kitchen) 

Second, check out for the locals in cheap T-shirts and counterfeit Levis or stinky white-yellowish vests and shorts with flip-flops on a hot summer night. These are the daipaidong dress codes, another informal aspect of daipaidongs which makes them popular among the locals. For sure, listen and tell yourself if you hear the locals speaking up in foul language.

R0013481(Baring the upper body is another daipaidong dress code, alas, at least for men)

Third, certainly, try the wide array of inexpensive homely food ranging from Canton hotpots, Si Zi Tou (literally, Lion's Head Pot which is a meat pot marinated in thick sauce with veggies) to You Yu Pin (slices of squid heavily dyed in orange colour).

R0013480(Eggs, veggies on a walkway…. Wonder where the raw meats are placed? You don't want to know.  The meat will make a tastyLion's Head Pot anyway)

Lastly, take your camera and (ask for permission to) visit the kitchen. Check out for the chefs frying ingredients in oversized iron-cast woks on huge fire which almost reach their height. Take a photo of that but don’t get burnt.

R0013471(Note that the daipaidong chefs don't wear the iconic chef hat. Look rather for sweating bald headed middle-aged guys like him)

Mark that there are different variations of modern daipaidongs. Skip the daipaidongs which are actually chachantangs (restaurants offering HK-style western dishes) in disguise. Pay a visit to a real chachantang instead. And about the heavily orange-dyed squid, it is a special Chowchau dish. Usually, a daipaidong offering the dish displays a whole giant orange-coloured squid, which cannot be missed if you look carefully.

So, is there still any old-style daipaidong in Hong Kong? The one on Wellington Street in Central, featured in the video clip below, is probably still in business. But, you know, old things are weak. And weak things can be gone in any minute.

(The marvelous video is used by permission, courtesy of Hip Hong Kong. Thank you, Liza)

- continue here -

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Selected Excellence: Mountains

MOUNTAINS (Large)

A reader, Christopher Guy, sent me a photo which I consider excellent and wish to share with all of you today. It is taken with a LX3.  I like this photo a lot.  Well done, Chris.

Regrettabely, Chris hasn't given me his blog or other addresses.

The first sight of the photo reminded me of this song: Climb Every Mountain.  Good photo and a good song.  Have a great day!  :)

 

 

(The part after the song seems moving. Anyone speaking Dutch can enlighten us on what are being spoken after the song? I copied a gist translation for the Dutch part anyway: "At 2:36 he say's: Well done. Then he says: This is a moment for you, aw sweetheart! Well done. A song with a story. This is a very special moment for you.. it's a hard song. Should you do that song? She said yes, because: I can't talk.. she said. She sung the song for someone who isn't living anymore. The people on the blue chairs thought it was amazing and they had tears in their eyes!")