Saturday, 20 February 2010

Romantic Shadows

There is a good reason for the photo not to be displayed at the top. You'll know.

I like bringing a camera with me. This not only obliges me to use it more often – well, it is human nature to treasure less what's readily available -- but also gives me more chances to practice my photographer's eye.

Click to enlarge the photo. I came across this scene by chance and liked how the balanced shadows of the two lovers I supposed. So I took the photo. It reminds me of the closing scene of just any Disneyland cartoon about the prince and princess living happily ever after.

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I said bringng the camera with me helped me observe better through my photographer's eye. Here is why:

The shadows are actually not shadows. They are the reflections of my pants and black shoes. I took the photo behind the window above the observation deck.

Bring a camera with you to train your photographer's eye!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Stick Around Where Sticks Around

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From the gazes of passers-by, I can tell that sometimes I acted in a weird way when shooting in the street.  No wonder.   I walk hither and thither to find the best shooting location, check the scenes up and down and then do photographs seriously with a tiny toy-like GX200 which most think can only be achieved by a bulky DSLR.

Here is one of the photographs I did in such a fashion.

I was actually waiting for the traffic light at a crossing when I turned back to discover this dramatic scene for the contrasts.  While the bamboo sticks crisscross to cut up the scene into harmonic sections, the passers-by break the  harmony.  The sticks are static but the pedestrians are flowing.  The centre is spotlighted and the edges are darkened.  The bamboo pole in the middle bisecting the image is the focal point to me, adding an interest of boldness to the image because we don't normally mar an image with a line in the middle.

Sometimes, acting weirdly pays off.  The heavy noise is not very nice though.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

How Do You Photograph Coldness

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Hong Kong is chilled by the mistral.  It is 8 degrees centigrade by the thermometer but feels like six or five because of the rain and wind.

Photography and creative writing have a blood relationship for two reasons.  Both are creative activities, and both are without the references of certain senses.   For example, in a photograph, how do we tell coldness?

Can we photograph a street where the pedestrian traffic is sparse but dotted with passers-by apparently heavily clad in warm clothes?  With a camera like the GX200, we may even tint the image with some colour of coldness.  Better still, we can underexpose the scene to give it a sense of desertion.  These were what I did to the first photo.

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Or can we take a photo of places where the focal point combines both the feelings of fullness and emptiness?  This is actually a technique borrowed from creative writing: contrast.  There are numerous examples in classic Chinese poems -- if the poet wrote about the emptiness of the mountain, he would first write about the multitude of dirt roads where were, as he would later reveal, empty; if the poet wrote about the pity on a beggar, he would first describe how busy the passers-by are.  In the second photo, the well-lit playgrounds covered by a thin chilly mist are all empty.  The message conveyed may not exactly be "cold" as I hope, but certainly "desolate".

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Or how would you tell your viewers in a photo the specific sense of feeling you hope to reveal?  Coldness is a challenge not only to the body, but also to photographers.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Going to Work and Back

R0015093 (Medium)^Going to work after the CNY is very stressful because one has been already too exhausted to keep the mind alert.

The hectic days of the Chinese New Year are not over yet while the working people returned to their workplaces today after the long weekend.  Usually, the CNY ceremonial visits will go on until two weeks after the new year day. 
 R0018361 (Medium)^Echoing the first image.

I am really looking forward to the seventh day of the CNY for the chance to see lion dances in the business districts.  Lion dances will be staged to inaugurate the new year for the businesses who normally take the seventh day as the time to resume the daily normality: making money.
 R0018685 (Medium)^Checking out what the words on the clothes say is a great way of amusement on the road. 

If you are in town, be sure to bring your camera then.  Wander around the big malls to look out for the lion dances.  Otherwise, you may call their building management offices to ask if and when such dances will be staged.  The Langham Place which is accessible via a Mongkok MTR exit can be one of your choices.  I saw the lion dance there last year around 5 to 6 o'clock.
 R0018704 (Medium)^I wonder how well or badly the G11 sells.  But lots of the Mainland Chinese comrades visiting Hong Kong use the G11, while many local young boys and girls use the GF-1 for shooting anything and everything that you will simply skip.  The new pink GF-1 is ugly, but suits the market.

It's a long day.  Back from work, I'm still working on the GXR final remarks.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Digestive Disruption

R1229236 (Medium)^Special pastries in a semi-circular shape with decorative edges are the must-try Chinese New Year treat when paying visits to people's homes.

This is the second day of the Chinese New Year (CNY).  In Hong Kong, as in any Chinese communities around the world, the first three days of the CNY are regarded as a celebrative period.  Here in Hong Kong, these three days are public holidays.  Contrary to what you are probably thinking now, a lot of shops are doing business as usual.  The CNY is a great time to visit Hong Kong for all the annual celebrations going on in town, from parade, fireworks to some folk culture activities like making wishes upon the wishing tree.

R1229235 (Medium)^Oily CNY treats are best to be taken with Chinese tea.

The CNY is also the best time to disrupt stomach because, except for the vegetarian bowls to be eaten on the first day of the CNY, all the CNY foods are oily.  The most representative are the CNY cakes.

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There are several kinds of such cakes.  The above photo shows the ones made with turnip (the top two) and taro (the rest), respectively.

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These are my favourite, made with glutinous rice and water chestnut.

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This last dish is of the kind made with glutinous rice and cane sugar.  Usually they are fried with scrambled eggs.

Why do the Chinese take these oily CNY cakes?  The Chinese language is a good tool to play with words because a large percentage of the characters are homophonic.  The CNY cakes are pronounced in Cantonese as Nin Go, or Nian Gao in Mandarin.  Nin Go is also the pronunciation of the Chinese words meaning Year(ly) Advances, which carries an auspicious meaning.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Kung Hei Fat Choi

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Today is the Chinese New Year day.  The Year of Tiger is in!  And this is also the Valentine's Day, a coincidence every half a century.

R0011651 (Medium)Kung Hei Fat Choi is the well-known Cantonese way of greeting people in the Chinese New Year, literally meaning, Wish (you) Happiness (in) Getting Rich.