Friday, 16 April 2010

Flying

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Today's post is a bit late (as a Friday post) because I went to the movies for this hilarious thing.

I caught sight of the copters while on the road holding the NX10 mounted with the long zoom lens.

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The copters are two of the rescue aircraft of Hong Kong's Government Flying Service (GFS), previously known as the Royal Flying Service during the days of the British's rule.  Well, there were lots or royal this and royal that then.

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Maybe because of the sovereignty change, the GFS didn't use the Black Hawk of the US soon after the British administration left and switched to the Eurocopter Super Puma AS332 L2 Helicopter (first photo, and the one immediately below) and Eurocopter EC155 B1 Helicopter (rest of the shots).

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Interestingly, there is a big mistake about the name of the EC155 copter.  Locally, it is dubbed the dolphin copter (well, versus the hawk).  Fact is, the copter belongs to the Dauphin family of copter; so, dauphin rather than dolphin.  There is a big difference.

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The difficulties about shooting the pictures were the relatively slower focusing speed of the camera, the high contrast between the sky and the copters and the thin mists of water droplets  blown to my position when the copters went near the waters.

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I switched to the manual focus and overexposed a bit, leaving the tweaking for the contrast to the PP process, and moved to a higher ground for some of the shots.  I hoped I had had a filter with me.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

What You're Doing is Recording History

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This is a picture taken in the Chinatown of San Francisco by Arnold Genthe  (1869-1942) between 1869 and 1906.  The people in the picture were likely from a family of high class as shown by their clothes.  In those days Chinese so well dressed were not common in the States at all.

Almost every time when I look at an old photo like this, I wonder, "What if the photos I took are passed around for the same length of time?"  This somehow rekindle my interest in taking photos when the busyness of the day has dampened me.  I can be as well recording the history which gives another dimension to what I am photographing and how I approach it.

Some history about the photographer: Originally trained as a classical scholar, Genthe taught himself photography soon after emigrating from Germany in 1895.  The success of his photographs of San Francisco's Chinatown led him to establish a local portrait studio. He became famous for his impressionistic portrayals of society women, artists, dancers, and theater personalities. Moving to New York in 1911, Genthe experimented with the new Autochrome color process and executed one of the first documentary commissions in color.

(The information and photo from the Library of US Congress, according to which the photo has no known restrictions for use but rights assessment is the user's responsibility)

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

King of Chachangtans

_SAM2712 (Medium) Drawings resembling those in the old days to show customers of food offered in a chanchangtan

A repeatedly resurfaced topic of GX GARNERINGS, chachangtans are eateries unique to Hong Kong which offer a wide array of localised western food.  Previous posts about chanchangtans can be found by using the search box on the left column.

_SAM2715 (Medium)Of all the chanchangtans in Hong Kong, there are some with a long history which are held dear to the hearts and, obviously, stomachs of the locals. For those living and working in Wanchai on the Hong Kong Island and the neighbouring areas, the luck is theirs because of the reign of the king of chachangtans in Wanchai: Kam Fung (literally, Golden Phoenix) Chachangtan.

_SAM2720 (Medium)It is housed in a really small shop on the ground floor of an old building nestled in a side street (Spring Garden Lane) just a few steps away from the bustling Queen's Road East.  But don't be mistaken that it is quiet.  Hungry patrons are seen queuing up outside it for most meal hours in any day.

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If you have a chance to go there, you don't just order anything.  Some of the signature dishes are: the egg tart, the boloyo (literally, Pineapple Butter; but it has nothing to do with the pineapple) and Si Mut (literally, stockings) milk tea (tea with milk).

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Kam Fung's egg tarts are not to be found in just any chachangtans or bakeries in Hong Kong for the specially good taste.  They are out and out yummy.  Once the egg tart is served on your table, wafting through the air to your nose is its smell of the perfect flavour of Chinese eggs without the usual overpowering sweetening taste of sugar adulterated in the ingredients by bakers elsewhere. 

By the way, if you haven't, try the Chinese eggs.  They are just more delectable.

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The boloyo refers to a special fluffy bun with a crispy top resembling the pattern of a pineapple in which an extremely thick slice of butter is sandwiched.  The boloyo is served warm to make the slice of butter melt just right.  Kam Fung's boloyo is good for munchies.  It just gives you the power for the rest of an exhausting day.

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The Si Mut milk tea earns its name through its traditional way of making by sieving the tea repeatedly through a long, stocking-like tea bag to give it a special aromatic flavour.  Here in Kam Fung, the Si Mut milk tea is thick and truly aromatic.

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Kam Fung is always so full of customers that they have to duck the trays of hot tarts and breads being carried almost every other minute from the kitchen through the aisle between the tables to the shop front for customers waiting for their takeaways.  The waiters would shout, "Lok Tsun Butt Ying!"  It is a play on words: Lok  Tsun Butt Ying is a Chinese idiom which describes people so solely focusing on being successful by all means that they don't bother about their family and relatives.  Here, the phrase is homophonic in meaning, "Get Burnt At Your Own Risk".

Lok Tsun Butt Ying! A really great atmosphere with good food there!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Balance and Echo

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Unless prevented by circumstances, a photographer should take good care of not only all elements across the screen but also their interrelationship before pressing the shutter release all the way down.  The balance and echo are two prominent considerations in respect of interrelationship.

In general, human eyes prefer balanced images while the room for viewers' imagination can be expanded by any echo in an image, together making yoru images more intriguing and sometimes philosophical.

Briefly put, the image here achieves a balance by:

1) bisecting the image vertically (that's why sometimes you've to turn on the gridlines)

2) distributing the weights of the man with the wooden cart and the road markings by not putting them on the same axis (I waited until the man moved up to the upper right position)

The image also hopefully achieves an echo by:

3) juxtaposing the SLOW marking and the man moving slowing with the wooden cart on, paradoxically, the fast lane.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

How?

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Here is a conversation of two dumb thieves under broad day light.

"How?"

"Keep pushing it up and I'll screw the wheels off .  And sell' em."

"Okay but make haste, bloke."

This is Sunday.  Have fun!