Saturday, 24 April 2010

Blue is Cool

Honestly, I seldom use my GX200 to shoot primarily in either of its four tinted colours. Occasionaly, yes; a whole day shooting in such colours, no. I did the blue for today. The final images show that blue reflects the world with a sense of indifference. The taste is similar to what is found in black-and-white images but even calmer, cooler and more muted.

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Friday, 23 April 2010

Observing in Black and White

I put into practice what I wrote yesterday. I took my GX200 for a walk and fixed it to black and white. The following were what I observed.

1) A woman was crossing the road with worries written all on her downcast face.

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2) Two dogs ready to be made given hot dogs

R1229736 (Medium) 3) Two elder ladies were watching a rounder lady enjoying her pedicure performed by a slimmer and younger lady.

R1229740 (Medium) 4) The evidence of genocide, and the killer at work

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5) A shopkeeper in a shop full of boxes and bottles of whatnots

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6) A passer-by was too engrossed in her contemplations to notice my camera at a close range.

R1229746 (Medium) 7) "What do you think I want?" questioned the customer.

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8) Maybe this is such a busy city that no one bothers to check me out while I was standing in the middle of a road junction to shoot photos.

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Thursday, 22 April 2010

Do the Shooting with Curiosity

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If the photographer's eye is the spirit of photography, curiosity is the guardian of that spirit. Living in Hong Kong where there are some of the world's busiest business districts and most breathtaking scenic views, I could have felt that I had seen too much to be really curious about anything. After all, this is a truly dazzling and trendy city with a good mixture of races, cultures and, most notably, foods.

But acutally I have managed to remain a bit stand-off from this city. I keep observing it, reconstructing the meanings it has brought to me and to the viewers of my images. The aim is clear: to prove that I have lived here as a photographer.

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This is more or less -- more than less -- true to every photographer. Without curiosity, the photographer's eye is blinded and the images are already dead before birth. This is especially true if you have been shooting the similar themes or around the same areas or the scenes seemingly without much changes.

Do the shooting with curiousity in the heart, not just the skills in your head. See how people interact in the world of colours or even black and white; the heart-warming smiles on their faces or read the saddness on them; the body language of the youngesters with an untroubled mind; the buildings growing old in the stream of history; the changing clouds in the sky lit up by the red setting sun; the business of the world.

Curiosity can be nurtured by taking different routes to a familiar place or at different time in a day, walking while looking up to observe the things overhead, studying the masters' photographic works, fixing your camera to different settings on individual days, using a new camera or the same camera with different lenses or converters. The most important of all is to stay calm and cheerful as many days and hours and minutes as you can. Then the world will look just too beautiful to become bored and the curiosity in your heart will just keep growing -- the guardian of your photographer's eye.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Relative Humidity 98 per cent

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Before the onset of the humid and hot season, Hong Kong usually turns humid around this time of the year. Sometimes, the relatively humidity is as high as 99%. When I took these photos, it was just 1 per cent lower.

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The results of the foggy weather are low visibility like 50 metres ahead, swollen wooden doors which can't be closed and power point failure.

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The extreme humidity veils the city behind a mystic haze. The buildings, the roads, the sky... everything is whitewashed to become one piece of white whatchamacallit. The saving grace is that this presents a unique photographic opportunity to the photographers. One of the best shooting locations is the Peak, especially on a windy day: you will see the mist/ haze/ fog roll together in one second and being blown away in another, giving the shooters a quick glimpse of the aerial view of the city.

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Out of the four photos, three were given a -0.3 EV for the exposure. The thick fog freely dispersed the street illuminations, turning the scene a bit too bright to show the darkness at this nighttime. Also, attention should be paid to the AF, which can miss the focus because of the fog as you see in the last photo.

Precious Ghost Street

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There has been a long-standing rumour that when the England Queen was the nominal Head of Hong Kong, the British officials at the helm of the colonial government were given derogatory Chinese names – the Chinese names were for the sake of RIMG8432 (Medium)governance – by the government translators based on their original ones. Surely, it was done in such a subtle way that the real decipherment was only known to the people speaking Cantonese, the local language, to a colloquial level.

John Bowring (1792-1872), with the salutation Sir if you like, was the 4th governor of Hong Kong. His translated Chinese name is Bo Ling or, literally, Precious Soul. But to the locals, or the Chinese in general, the character Ling conjures up the feelings more often related to death – in fact, Ling is more in the sense of "ghost" here.

As in the case of other British governors and senior officials, some places and streets came to be named after them; as Bowring Street after John Bowring.

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What's special about Bowring Street is that it is a unique open-air market selling all kinds of clothes and clothing. The market is set in this quiet side street tucked away from the adjoining bustling Nathan Road.

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Unlike other open-air markets in the territory, the one along Bowring Street has a tranquil atmosphere. No one is shouting for business. And if you click open the photos, you'll notice that the street is overwhelmingly pastel in colour which is uncommon for any outdoor market of its kind.

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When strolling along the market, you'll probably be impressed that the people doing business in fact don't care about the business much. They appear to be care more about chatting and reading newspapers. It was interesting to look at how the merchandises were neatly arranged with patrons checking them out and passers-by moving past at a seemingly muted setting. Doing business in a soundless way at a market supposedly more noisy is just philosophical to me.

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When you come here and go near the Nathan Road in the Jordan area, do make a trip to Bowring Street:

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A final note about the photos: if you go back and check the photos again, you would hopefully have the idea that I purposely did a balance in the composition for each of them, be the balance between left and right, up and down, the centre and the edges plus corners or movements and stillness. This is as well a footnote to the post of yesterday which says that the elements in every photos should be there for a reason.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Counting the Compositional Elements

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The elements, even the edges and the corners, in an image are not just there because they are included as the time of shooting for no reasons. All the elements can and should be used. A simple image even as the one here today can consist of several compositional elements.

1) Avoidance of Dead Space The lady is positioned at the right edge to show the direction of her movement rather than being moved to the further left, thus avoiding the dead space at her back otherwise.

2) De-centering Depending on the scene, de-centering the subject in defiance of the Golden Rule can result in a more interesting composition.

3) Leading Lines Lines are used to lead the viewers' eye to the subjects. It is a very classical way of composition for images, more often used in the perspective of depth into an image. It can of coure be used horizontally and vertically as in this photo. The lines can be made up of different elements in an image, like a road, the railings or a queue of people waiting for the bus. Here the lines of the rolling gate lead the eye to the lady, and also reciprocally to the direction she is moving.

4) Tilting The camera was tilted a bit to give the image an extra dimension of interest.

Sunday, 18 April 2010


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Sai Yeung Choi Street South (with) beauty[ies] all around (who are with) human curvature, which says it all: Fantasy!

The oriental and occidental proofs were done with a street snapper which suits the name better, the GX200:

R0015485 (Medium) RIMG8408 (Medium)Obviously from the angle, I did the candid shots real close to the ladies, risking a stop and search by the patrolling cops.

This is Sunday. Have a beauty beautiful day!