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Street Atmosphere

goldsouk (Sony A55)

The Gold Souk was one of the few places I managed to check out and snapped some street shots during the Dubai trip. This first shot reflects enough of the road leading to the place for its street atmosphere which to me is the combination of street furniture clustering randomly and frequent sighting of darker skin people. (By the way, can you guess the one thing in this shot which is characteristic of Dubai? Leaving out the Arabic words, it is the green(ish) colour which connotes hope in the Islamic culture.)

The Dubai trip was meant not so much as a photographic trip as that to get a bit of novel tastes of a nation as unique as Dubai. I was actually attending an international convention there while wishing to get around town for some photographic opportunities when a chance arose. But the unexpected -- and frustrating -- hacking of my various online accounts and disconnection of the phone roaming service, compounded with the extreme hot weather (real feel was plus 50 degree celsius/ 122F), had forced me to spend time mostly in the convention centre, the hotel lobby and what is familiar to Hongkongers, the malls of all sorts. The prohibition of snapping female passers-by, even accidentally, was another disincentive for it flies in the face of accepted street photography practice to make a shot candid. A difficulty it is to convey the sense of candidness with the need to consicously avoid ladies in the scene. But culture is to be respected regardless.

That said, with the itchiness of a street photographer, I somehow ended up on some brief photographic sessions. One of the destinations was the Gold Souk where there is a vernacular quality to it in that the place lacks all the spawning manmade grandeur of Dubai. My cup of tea. Although the market was selling precious gold, it was the soda peddlers and perspiring workers earning their keep who were the most catching in the bustling pedestrian flow. Starting from this perspective, I tried to capture the street atmosphere of working and sweating by making them targets, employing a high colour saturation setting and using the panning technique to reproduce the movements of the place.

Low angels were also used for the candidness of the shots. Afterall, it is the only way to tell the extensiveness of the covered market in the shape of a long strip.

I have read some street photographers' pondering on the gist of street photography. No dispute have I over the varied definitions and conclusions, but to me a good street photograph must be able to aptly reproduce the street atmosphere as of the time of snapping. To conclude this post, I would say it is exactly the reproduced atmosphere which makes the viewers smell the street. I hope today's three shots can achieve that aim.


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