Saturday, 26 June 2010

Separate Ways

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This  picture was taken in the CBD of Hong Kong.  The curves may conjure up a feeling of people racing on the tracks for the business-world rat races.

It is all well and good to take pictures of people on the street walking towards a direction like crossing a road.  But the final image may give an extra point of interest if the subjects are moving their separate ways at their own pace towards different directions.

Stay at the same point and observe enough before you shoot.  Chances are that you'll land some much insightful shots.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Witnessing History

RIMG8737 (Small)Some youngsters are practising what is known as "ascetic march".

Hong Kong is at the crossroad of its political development.  The atmosphere  outside the building of the legislature has been hugely politically charged in the past few days.  While history is being made there, it provides a photographic opportunity which no photographers should miss.

More images to come.  I was glad to be there witnessing history.

Square Images: Golden Mean vs Rule of Thirds

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A labour worker is waiting for someone on a hot day.

Two of the ever useful rules of composition, the Rule of Thirds and the Golden Mean, can apply to images in square format.   However, factoring in the equal-distance diagonal lines and the shorter dimension of such an image, I have rather found it less effective in square images to accentuate the focal point or the subject by placing it at the intersections of the golden-ratio lines.

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A mechanic is having a respite while clearing his arms with a bucket of water.

Instead, I prefer sticking to an adapted Rule of Thirds for such images.  As in the original Rule of Thirds, I divide the scene in three equal parts and compose it in thirds either vertically or horizontally.  Now that the scene is divided into three sections, I place the dominant subject matter or the focal point normally one third or two thirds up or down, or from the right or left side but mostly in the middle part of the image.

The point that composition also depends on the photographic theme and the intention of the photographers should not require making.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

3:2 4:3 16:9 < 1:1

R1230135 (Medium)New buildings versus old buildings; a road jam-packed with Euro-standard compliant double-decker bus; the UK-style traffic light; bamboo scaffolds; a Chinese oldie reading newspaper on the street -- these factors conspire to represent one thing: Hongkongness.

Of all the image formats, the one-to-one, or also 6-by-6 for that matter, format is the most unique in its own way. Owing to its confined space, it is not intended in any way for landscape works or whatever shots which require a wide view. But that is only one side of the coin. This special image format is actually tailored for certain effect.

Since the framed space is crampy, the 1:1 format is best for accentuating the subject or whatever images which highlight a sense of compression, like the typical sight of Hong Kong's crowded city scene. The 1:1 format can fake in the final image a compressed depth of field as done with a zoom lens like in the picture here. I like this picture for the rich cultural references given by the elements, as well as for the sense of depth/ compression.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Why Are You Shooting What?

R1230130 (Large) This shot of Hong Kong's city view was done around ten at night. Although the slow shutter did exaggerate the brightness of the lights a bit, light pollution is an issue in Hong Kong.
The May issue of an international magazine, Sky and Telescope, made the night view of the Victoria Harbour of Hong Kong aglow in neon lights its cover, which is not a good news at all. In that issue, the magazine writes on the topic of light pollution.
I have learnt that the Ricoh R10 camera will soon arrive at the Hong Kong stop of the "Ricoh Around the Globe" project. Being the first of the two photographers at this stop, I am brewing a photographic theme. Light pollution is the likely choice.
So this brings us to today's topic: Why are you shooting what? There are two parts in this question - what you should chose to shoot and why.
Except those super-brainy persons like Aristotle (the Great Mind also wrote about cosmetics!) or Leonardo da Vinci (too famous for almost anything), most people are okay at doing a large variety of things but good at just a small amount of them. A life, unless it is not intended to be well spent, should eventually be spent mostly on what we are good at; that is if the person is to achieve "success" in a general sense.
A pack of colour pencils can be a trump for an illustrators; for a painter it is anything but. Give a pin-hole camera to a sports photojournalist and he will end up in frustration, and with failed shots too. Just as the right tool for the right person is important to a job well done, the right job for the right person is essential for a great result.
You may wonder how this is related to the question above. The relation is actually direct: scan through your photos, observe and think carefully. Eventually, you will surely find out that you have been better off doing shots for certain themes than others. Now, keep sharping your skills by specialising in those two or three themes you are talented in. You may even make yourself a photography project to that purpose like Dean's The Wonderful Game which we looked at last week, or like those here, here and here.
Take for another example the success story of SY HSU of Taiwan. He has been introduced here (search the site) and some of you may recall that he is good at doing female portraits. He is now doing a Crying Ladies project. A large part, if not most, of his works is about female portraits. He has won some international prizes and fame for this portraits.
When you are clear about what you should, or to be exact, can shoot for a better result, give yourself some reason. Why? Because we are sane. Doing a task for a reason actually gives us the drive to excel at it. Just in case you can't think of a good reason, we may adapt George Orwell's, the British writer, for what he said about why he wrote books. The reasons are sort of grand but they are good ones to ponder on:
(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death.
(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in lights and shadows and their right arrangement.
(iii) Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.
(iv) Political purpose. — Using the word 'political' in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples' idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.
Now, take some time to scan through your photos.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Links to Posts About Scaffolds

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Today's picture is an abstract one which echoes and leads me to collect the posts about scaffolds. First, about this picture: it is one of my keepers. It was done when I was having breakfast on a leisure morning in a Victorian-style hotel. On a usual business day, I might not have noticed this scene which still interests me. This shot reminds me that it is the photographer's spirit which takes picutres, not the camera really.

For the first posts after the links below, I wrote about the nitty-gritty of scaffolding, ranging from their types to the culture and traditions of the trade. For the rest of the posts, I posted shots of the scaffolds and the builders in the city which caught my attention and therefore were captured with my GX200.

1) Bamboo Magic 2) Bamboo Luck Charm 3) Grating the Skyline 4) Artistic Assembly Works 5) Modern City, Ancient Trade 6) Building a Bamboo Stage 7) Woody Heritage 8) Making a Living on Monkey Bars

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Scavengers

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This intriguing picture was the work of Riddick Douglas Ning who graduated with distinction in Creative Media from the City University of Hong Kong. Riddick won the Creative Media Award 2009. The scene of this image bears a strong resemblance to Jean-François Millet's (1814-1875) Des glaneuses dit aussi Les glaneuses in 1857. The French farm ladies become Hong Kong's troop of old-lady scavengers while the outline of the farmhouse and the landscape are replaced by the skylines of Hong Kong's skyscrapers.

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Riddick has done a photography project titled Hong Kong Happenings which considers the relationship between photography and painting. His intriguing pictures retouch some key Western paintings with satirical overtones using modern Hong Kong as the background. In addition to this poetic work The Scavengers, The Spoiling of Adam is another example.

The picture, alongside with other great ones featuring Hong Kong photographers' works, is to be exhibited by DIORAMA PROJECTS in its second annual exhibition at Diorama Rue Raspail, Arles, France from 3 -10 July 2010, part of the Festival Voies Off.

This Time Is for Africa...ns

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This is Sunday.  Have fun!