Saturday, 23 July 2011

Cantonese Opera Demonstration and Performance

Hong Kong is simply not just a business city but also full of hidden cultural treasures.  Fact is, the Cantonese language, the mother tongue of Honghongers, preserves most of the pronunciations of the ancient Chinese language.  Cantonese is the right language for studying ancient Chinese poems because it gives better insights into the phonetic devices used in those poems compared to studying them in Putonghua.

The gem of the Cantonese culture (which represents the Chinese opera genre of the south while the Beijing opera the of the north) is Cantonese opera. This is because Cantonese opera, as in most operas around the world, combines a great variety of cultural elements in a big pot: the phonetic devices, singing, acrobatics, music (instead of "do" to "so", the Cantonese opera music goes in 13 steps), Wusu, to name a few.

If you are interested in getting some idea about Cantonese opera, a Cantonese opera summer camp is going to stage some demonstrations and a finale performance.  For details, check this out.

Alternatively, the demonstrations and performance include:

1) Dawn Radiance Opera Troupe performs The Ghost Wants to be Avenged (from A Ghostly Tale) and The Official Seal, Jul 21, 7.30pm, Tai Po Civic Centre, 12 On Pong Rd, Tai Po.

2) The Cantonese opera troupe also performs:

- The Gift of a Sword (from Baihua from Pavilion of a Hundred Flowers) and Three Duels Against the Skeleton Demon (from Journey to the West), Jul 22, 7.30pm; and

- Negotiating with the Qing Emperor and Sacrifice of a Princess (from Princess Chang Ping) and Cantonese Opera Summer Camp participants sing and perform scenes that include fighting with weapons and flicking their long sleeves, Jul 23, 7.30pm, Yuen Long Theatre, 9 Yuen Long Tai Yuk Rd, Yuen Long,

- ticket: HK$40 at Urbtix. Inquiries: 2268 7325

Friday, 22 July 2011

What Normal Tourists Won't Do

R0010281L (Ricoh GX200)

On front coverage today, the Headlines Daily reveals an example of the stunning things you may come across in Hong Kong. It reports, in Chinese:

"Local pedestrian precincts have turned into places for buskers to perform magic shows , singing and whatnots. But their performances are dwarfed by their youthful counterpart donning a monk robe who was recently seen in Causeway Bay doing literally ‘bloody’ acrobatics like, to name a few, thrusting chopsticks at the throat, pounding the head with glass bottles and bending steel bars with fingers. He was seen not only doing the acrobatics but also dripping blood from the wounds on his throat, chest and tummy. What a bloody scene! Many spectators were horrified and turned their face away.

"A district councillor who was among the crowd recalled, ‘At first, the young monk did some Kungfu jumps and kicks. Then, he bare-handedly bended steel bars thick as fingers into rings. And then, he broke some glass bottles with his head. At the very last, he forcefully drove some three to four chopsticks at his throat, giving out sounds of chopsticks breaking while he broke them like that.’"

The person is believed to be a fake monk on travel visa. The incident reminds the author of recent spotting of beggars like, for example, a woman with a sound asleep (drugged to sleep?) child, a horrid heavily burnt person and a very badly deformed man on the footbridge leading to the Central pier. Judging from their clothes and many similar spotting in Shenzhen – the Mainland boom town neighbouring Hong Kong, it is safe to say that all these people come from Mainland China, undoubtedly on travel visa, to beg money there at the instruction of some criminal masterminds.

For the sake of these people, don’t be fooled to be their spectator or give them money. If no one patronise the distasteful ideas, they will vanish sooner.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Coming Out

DSC01321L (Sony A55)

The Sun finally breaks through the thick clouds after a run of boring wet days. To the author, it is like some long-awaited response from the camera dealers to loan requests to do field tests. Let's hope the shyness doesn't prevent the plans from seeing the light of the day.

In parallel, after months and months of purposeful leaks and rumours, the A77 has come up closer to the surface. The look in the leaked shots is enticing; so is the price tag. Congrats in advance to those who are contemplating and likely to add it to your acquisitions.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Existential Questions

DSC02016L (Sony A55, Minolta 70-300mm)

Keep staring at the stars will likely cause the beholder to ask existential questions of one sort or another. The other ocassion to ask existential questions is to do it silently to yourself when watching a movie. Not any kind of movie, but the one you have to think along as the story unfolds. A recommendation is The Tree of Life starring  Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain. This is a very slow-going movie with no typically apparent storyline.  It just stretches the limitation of your patience when you are watching it. You will even regret wasting your time on it right afterwards.  But if you are the philosophical type of person, the questions it asks and causes you to ask will linger on your mind for a whole week. The aftertaste is superb.

The movie has been on in Hong Kong, and is still on for a limited number of screening sessions at a few Broadway Circuit cinemas. Recommended.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Where're We Going From Here

DSC01377L (Sony A55)

The new vicious cycle to chuck out "new" cameras has set in. "New" is in quotation because to any sensible photographer, a few minor twists here and turns there do not make a camera new in substance. They are not much a wholehearted response to the competitor's move as a derivative afterthought to forestall the drifting of potential customers.

From the début of the serious compact, we have come a long way but are now seeing enough cameras of similar specs and image performance. After the advert of the reduced-size interchangeable-lens cameras, the camera makers have also inundated the market with look-a-like models in terms of functionality.  

Fact is, what the photographers need is not the same. As an interview with Sony representatives in China reveals, the company has strategically segmented the market according to different preferences of photographers.  If this is a normal thinking among the camera makers, which is probably so, there will be two implications to the potential buyers.  First, the highly divided segments will have lots of intertwining common needs. We can then expect to see more functionally slightly different "new" cameras coming to haunt us. Second, the buyers really have to understand the targeted market of the cameras they contemplate before making a deal.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Some Thoughts about Sony

DSC02202L(Sony a55; Polarised Colour mode)

The  camera market has seen so keen a  compeition that the camera makers seem to be struggling hard to get their fifteen minutes of fame before the next new camera is on the block.  Even the money-hungry Sony has shown evidence of building goodwill among customers by, for example, pricing competitively and offering new functionalities to preivous camera models through firmwares.  Taking about firmwares, the creative styles bestowed recently on the older NEX and Alpha SLT cameras are fun to play with. While the Pop Colour gives outputs of vivid images as if done with a polariser, the Polarised Colour turns a scene into some intriguing images which may give the photographer a new thinking about the scene.


Some photographers may sneer at using such funky colour modes. The author was among one of them. However, the proof of the pudding is, so to speak, in the eating. It was after playing with such modes on the, say, NX10 that the creativity and convenience of having such modes to get a "funky " image as-you-see-it became obvious to the author. This not only saves the trouble of PP but also enable the photographer to improvise at the spur of the moment which with hindsight during PP will be more time-consuming and overly dictated by logical thinking. 

Taking about logical thinking, people rarely buy products of a brand from the outlets of the same brand. But if you are buying Sony products in town, try the Sony Store in Harbour City.  Find a shop attendant and ask for a giveaway in private to go with your purchase. Don't be timid or you will never know the surprise. The other day a buyer of the Xperia Neo samrtphone was successful in getting a pricy "(can't tell)(= 1/6 of the smartphone in price)" as a free giveaway. This doesn't seem to work at the Sony Store in Mongkok though.

The last thought about Sony is that, after a period of observation, the guesstimate is that the Sonyalpharumours site is operated by a Chinese or at least a person who knows Chinese. The telltables are in the sources and the English. Well, this doesn't have anything to do with photography. Just some gossip.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Waiting for the Train

DSC02347L (Sony A55, Minolta 24-105mm)


They are tourists going to drop after having shopped.

This is Sunday. Spend some money.