Saturday, 2 May 2009

Mutation of Swine Flu

R0014214 (Medium)(Just like pig can fly and swine flu can mutate, the iconic Micky Mouse can mutate into a furious rat as well.  It almost scared my GX200 out of its lens)

After the frst confirmed case of the swine flu in Hong Kong, a fraction of the locals are wearing surgical masks in the street.  Some of the more concerned tourists do the same.  There are not a lot of them really.  After all, the SARS outbreak happened some five years ago.

People are advised to continue their business and social activities as usual.  So people just ate out as usual and I took pictures of usual.

The thing that I wish to share for today is framing.  Use some foreground to frame the scene just as if it were the frame to hold the picture itself, says lots of the books on photographic books.  As far as my experience goes, foregrounds as frames are more usually found in landscape pictures and streetscape snaps.

But with a little bit mutation, this trick can be applied to like a photo of the "business as usual" life of the locals in a restaurant below.

R0014188 (Large)(Title: A Part of Life as Usual)

Another favorite foreground frame of mine is the rubbish bin!  I digged out some photos from the old posts to illustrate this trick, which can be used to add the photographer's opinion in the photos.

R0010893 (Large)(Title: You Are What You Eat) 

R0010646 (Large) (Title: Human Activities)

R0011346 (Medium) (Title: An Opening for Business)

R0010631 (Medium) (Title: The Inner Side)

Friday, 1 May 2009

Splash, Splatter, Sprinkle

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This is a public holiday in Hong Kong.  I went to this kids' paradise in Tung Chung, a gateway town sitting next to the international airport island (Note: Taking about the airport, I have just heard that there is a confirmed case of the H1N1 swine flu.  The infected person is a Mexican.  I have yet to watch the news after this).

A big crowd gathering around a fountain place heaved into sight when I walked towards the railway station. Initially I thought to myself that there must be a performance by some busker.  I was wrong.

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It was the kids playing in the fountain place which drew the crowd to watch and take photos, now including me.

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This fleshy boy played like crazy (above).

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And when the splashes paused, he simply rolled on the floor (below).  His parents were very likely not around because the usual Chinese parents would be alarmed by the dirty act and intervened to stop him.

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Then the fountain started up again and some expats unleashed their kids to join in the water party.
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There were two things that concerns me when taking these pictures.  First, it was the wate splashes which could easily get into the lens and camera with the blowing of the wind.  It is rather windy in Tung Chung because the town is actually at a seaside location.

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The second concern was how I could capture the atmosphere.  I had two way to tickle this.  The MY1 mode of the Gx200 is set to exactly the same of the manual mode, except for the MY1 being at 72mm and the manual mode at 24mm.  The MY1 mode also uses the infinite focus, which is different from the manual mode's.  These settings afford me a quick swift from one focal length to another to capture the decisive moment.

Of course, for most of the time I kneeled on the floor which brought the frame from the eye level of the spectating adults to that of the partying kids.  This gave a sense of being there instead of being away.

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At the end of a session, one of kids asked her parents,"Dad, why don't the adults come and join us?"

That was a very good question.  Adults are boring people, aren't we?  We just watched or took pictures.

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Anyway, I enjoyed taking photos of the kids.  Well, I admitted that it was very tempting to go in the fountain place.

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I took some photos of these little twin girls before I left for the railway station, smiling to myself how good it was to be kids.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Girls Just Wanna Have Fume

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(This photo was taken with my GX200 set on a mini-tripod.  The lady apparently noticed me taking a picture of her but she just didn’t mind)

Many years ago I met a Scot professor teaching in Australia during my first visit to the Down Under. When I expressed my puzzlement over the Aussie people not rinsing the detergent off the dishes under the tap after washing, he gushed in an amusing way, “The reason is simple. Some people are stupid.”

What an instinctive discernment! I don’t necessarily agree with him. Well, the Scottish people are known for their flair and hardiness, don’t they?

R0015077 (Medium)(I went near these girls like flies flocking around the rubbish bin and shot the photo in secret.  Do they look cool?  Make your own conclusion)
I am interested to hear his Scottish version of an answer to the trend that more women are smoking cigarettes while men are quitting. At least, this is the trend in Hong Kong. According to the latest government statistics, the number of female cigarette smokers have been on the rise after a steady drop from 1982 to 1990 when the tax on cigarette shot up. Now the daily cigarette smokers consist of 20.5% of the male and 3.6% (amounting to about 100,000 ladies) of the female population aged 15 or above, down from 28.5% and up from 2.6% in 1990 respectively. If there is a figure for the non-daily smokers, I shall not be surprised to see a higher prevalence of the bad habit among women.

Both sexes in the local cigarette smoking community are growing increasingly addicted to the illness causing sticks. On the whole in 2008, female smokers puff with 11 cigarettes a day, the same proportion as among the young smokers aged 15 to 19.

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(I took several photos of her right in front of her.  To my surprise, she didn’t give me a scold or any attention.  She just kept on smoking her cigarette on one hand and holding the LV handbag on the other)

What does smoking 11 cigarettes per day mean?

Tobacco emits carbon dioxide which jams the delivery of oxygen once it enters the body system. The skin takes the blunt of the harm, turning dry, dull and delicate. Wrinkles show up at the edges of eyes and the mouth. Nails, teeth and the skin will grow yellowish. The aggregate effect could be that Hong Kong has fewer healthy, good-looking ladies.

Well, they may apply thicker foundation to cover up the external flaws. But they may only wear lots of cosmetics some of the time, or some cosmetics all the time but not lots of cosmetics all the time. The defects will show. After all, it is their health which they are putting in the harm’s way. My remark to this is just a little short of the possible Scottish version of the witty professor.

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(This was the last shot before she was so annoyed that she went away)

If any of them think that the illed effects of smoking cigarettes can be reverted after quitting, they are dead wrong. And ladies, what you forsake in health with huffing fume you don’t make up for with a characteristically cool look. Fact is, I can swear that smoking ladies are off-putting to most straight men if that is a concern.

Men or women, I hope this post makes you a bit more circumspect in reaching for the next cigarette.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Peddler

R0013968 (Large)(This old man is selling clothes on a sidewalk beside a busy road.  The photo was taken with my GX200 set to the MY1 mode and the focus fixed at 1m focal distance)

As in any country in this part of the world, peddlers have a long history in Hong Kong.  They are very good survivors of the tides of economy, especially when the economy is depressed.  There is always a flourishing number of them whenever the unemployment rate is up.  But don't mistake peddlers as poor people, they can be very rich.  I know an information engineer who have been working for an European cellphone manufacturer hawked in the street during weekends for good money.  To be exact, he sold cheap clothes using his makeshift mobile kiosk.  Now he lives with his family in a bungalow worthy of almost US$1.5 million.  Of course, hawking is just one of his source of income.   The point is peddlers can be weathy people.

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Without the need to pay for rents or taxes, hawking is a surefire way to restart a nomral living with a steady flow of income when people is unemployed or retired for whatever reasons.  The haphazard growth of peddlers in an increasing number once forced the Bristish Colonial Government to budge.  A 1958 government document shows that the number of peddlers was shooting up so fast that they were allowed to co-exist with the 42 government retail market throughout Hong Kong at that time, in effect ending the government's policy to curb hawking activities.

1920fh(A peddler in the street at an unspecified location in Hong Kong at 1920)

Before the return of Hong Kong's sovereignty to China, the now defunct Urban Council and Regional Council passed motions to eliminate peddlers in the street.  The purge ceased when Hong Kong became one of the hardest hit city during the Asian Financial Crisis, giving rise to a large number of peddlers.

Apart from those with a fixed pitch, the licensed peddlers in Hong Kong have an interesting official title, "licensed itinerant hawker".  The title suggests that these peddlers are supposed to move around in the street.  Of course, for the unlicensed ones, it just doesn't matter at all.

7-4-94(Old Hong Kong in this historical scene with peddlers of different trades)

Monday, 27 April 2009

Going Home, China

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Going home is a much loved theme of me and I did this theme twice here and here. Late this night, I strolled around along the street in a China town. Before long, I came to a light box with an ad saying in four big Chinese characters, "Help you go home". So there I stood and held up my GX200, waiting passers-by hurrying home to come past the light box.

As China is the world factory, it is imaginable that lots of its citizens earn their living in factories of all sorts. The factory workers are mostly people with little formal education from remote and poorer areas. They are generally known as Min Gong, literally "civilian workers". Every year, millions of these Min Gong compete for train tickets to go home before the start of the Chinese New Year. This ad says it can help these Min Gong go home. A big draw for them really.

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Sometimes, to fix at a spot and take photos as the scene changes with time is interesting. The photos will give a richer texture to the scene than otherwise. Here, the best I like about the photos is it affords me to make a good guess about the background of the people passing by: people in this area are mostly blue-collar workers and some are probably peddlers with their makeshift mobile kiosks or luggages.

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I like this shot of the tall man because he was curious enough to stand right in front of me to get an exact view of what I was looking at.

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At the town, there are still tricycles used for whisking people from place to place for a fee. The rider is the person who truly can help people get home.

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Home is always a sweet place. I hope that this is the same case for all of you.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Leisure Time

R0014655 (Medium)(This photo was taken near Chongking Mansion, a name well known for its cheaper beds for backpackers. The black community gathers around Chongking Mansion. When it was first built, Chongking was an upmarket residential building boosting a seaview over the Victoria Harbour)

Sunday. A time for leisure. This picture aptly depicts the control we can have on our leisure time.

Sun bathing. Checking out your foot. And do nothing.