Saturday, 22 October 2011

A Loner

R9353054L (Ricoh GX200)

He enjoys himself even being in a rather sad state. That's the food for thought on this rest day.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Leave Work Behind

R9353059L (Ricoh GX200)

The mood on Friday's evening is exactly that.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Property Hegemony

R9353045L (Ricoh GX200)

Property Hegemony is a hot issue in the city.  It refers to the near or actual cartel comprising the local tycoons in the property market.  A worthy read on the topic is a book titled Land and the Ruling Class in Hong Kong by Alice Poon, a former assistant to a local property tycoon, who wrote it after she migrated to Canada. The book won the Canadian Book Review Annual a few years ago. 

Property hegemony is not an illusionary thing.  Alice has given her readers lots of data to justify the debate.  For example, in 2010, the six richest local clans who are all property developers controlled 14.7% of the Hong Kong stock market value.  This gives a glimpse into the result of the fact that while from 1991 to 1994, 70% of Hong Kong’s private property were built by seven property developers, 55% out of this amount was developed by four of the seven developers.  Today, most major property sites are owned by the biggest three to four among them.

The adverse impacts are very strongly felt.  Hong Kong is the third most expensive Asian city for living costs; fourth most expensive metropolitan city for property costs – worst than Tokyo; second most expensive city around the world for commercial premises rents.  These are not the most updated data yet.  Never has Hong Kong been so hijacked over the property rentals and purchase prices.  Exactly because every economy is so very reliant on land, and the land in Hong Kong is monopolised by the big property developers, it strips the businesses off their bargaining power in competing for rented premises and the common people in purchasing homes.  In bad times or good, a whole lot of earnings and profits go to the major property developers, who have used the enormous proceeds to extend their control to public utilities, retailing and public transport companies.  The situation is complicated by what is known as the high land-price policy, which in the end turns into a de facto land tax heavily burdening the masses. 

This tilted development has grown a deep-rooted property speculation culture among the local upper-middles, which, worse still, is fuelled up by the nouveau riches from Mainland China.

How polarised has all these made Hong Kong in terms of wealth?  In 2009, Hong Kong is on a par with the Switzerland in terms of GDP, which amounted to US 43,000 dollars.  That was pretty cool.  But the poor and the rich were then living with a wealth gap at as high as 43.4 Gini Coefficient, second to the 43.6 of, guess where, the Central African Republic.

In 2009, out of its some 7 million population were 1.23 million people living below the poverty line.  Simply put, one out of seven on the street was poorer than you know.  Among these unprivileged lot, 10 thousands called the “caged men hostels” home.  They themselves are known as the caged men.  What are caged men hostels?  Venture into some old area in Hong Kong and you will find some dilapidated pre-war residential buildings, or known as tenement buildings.  In them are apartments split into a number of 20-by-20-metres cubicles which are cramped with three-level bunker beds.  Each caged man rents one of the levels for what they call home.

If you wish to learn more about the topic, read Alice's book.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Look Here

R9353032L (Ricoh GX200)

Wondering how the author took this shot with the subject looking right into the lens? Here are the tips:

People are curious.  We are all born that way.  Have you ever found yourself checking out other people's camera on the street? Probably you have. Now get your camera ready.  Pre-focus at 1 metre or fix the focus manually so that it won't drift by accident. Pre-set the exposure by whatever means -- PSAM mode or, like the GX200, through the one-press exposure correction.  If you cannot pre-set the "right" exposure, try to make it one EV above what you guess will be needed.  As long as the image is not underexposed and enough data is in it, you can make corrections afterwards.

It is best to fix the shutter speed at least at 1/400s beacuse you will need to shot while moving on your legs. The best is at 1/600s.  The aperture must allow an adequate DOF.

Now, walk up to the subject and sway the arm for the side of which you are holding the camera in your palm, with the camera pointing to the direction which you will full-press the shutter release. When you get to the point of shooting the subject, deliberately stop swaying the arm. There is a high chance that cusiosity will casue the subject to notice your strange movement and (and look at) the camera in your palm.  That is your decisive moment.

Of course, this tactic only applies to when you need your subject looking right into the lens; and when it is safe to do so.

Postscript: For the orientation of the image, you may end up with a tilting one.  Before practising makes your skills perfect, consider zooming out to the widest end for the shooting.  This will also give you more leeway in tuning up the shutter speed and achieving a deeper DOF.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Occupy Central

R9353042L (Ricoh GX200)

Some Hong Kong people responded to the Occupy Wall Street and took to the CBD of Hong Kong last weekend. Since then there is a bunch of people occupying the place beneath the HSBC HQ building in Central.

R9353037L There are tents, sofas, tables filled with food and drinks, haircut service and whatnots. As the "occupation" consists of just tens of persons, the Police is probably planning a clean-up.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Connect Me to Batman

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For some unknown reason, this was the first thing sprung to the author's mind when the scene presented itself before the eyes.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

CigaREST

R9353007L (Ricoh GX200)

This is Sunday. Have a good rest day!