Saturday, 28 January 2012

Blurred Vision

L1000189L (Leica X1)

The exact vision one may have after a week’s hard work and goodwill visits for the Chinese New Year.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Altitude and Attitude

L1000079DL (Leica X1)

The two commercial towers rising up on both sides of the Vic Harbour are vehemently hated by the former Director of Planning. Such an eyesore is like putting Yao Ming, the Chinese NBA player, among the contestants at a beauty pageant.  Wrong subject, wrong place.  It is said that the tallest buildings at a place speak the essence of its attitude towards what is important.  In the old Europe, it used to be churches which have invariably given way to commercial buildings.  The norm in Hong Kong has always been such buildings which are gradually rebuilt into sunlight-blocking commercial towers in competition of altitude. Why on earth businesses need buildings that high is a myth.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Man In Black

L1000157L (Leica X1; First day of work after the Chinese New Year holiday and it is still freezing at 8 degree centigrade)

With the advent of cameras painted in different colours, the reason for the traditional black colour is almost lost. Just in the unlikely case that you don't know, it is to minimise the light reflected by the camera body onto especially the surface of a close-up subject. But the camera in black still has a special charm to most male photographers. Cameras targeted and supposedly made for serious photographers are unanimously black in colour; "supposedly" because there are the likes of the Fujifilm X10.

Some X10 users have complained that it is a camera targeted at serious photographers but probably does best on autopilot. The author has no first-hand experience on the camera except having tried out briefly for its viewfinder. It is a brilliant design that the VF is mechanically linked to the lens during zooming. But the VF is obviously more for ornamental purpose than for real use owing to the misalignment of its viewing angel -- or putting it more properly, the on-paper 85% coverage feels idiotic in action. If the main purpose of a VF is for framing, this one is not. The LCD screen is also too cluttered with shooting information, bars and icons -- which can be turned off.  But the author has not came across a camera with the similarly messy arrangement of on-screen info. Together with the verdict of an old friend about the idiosyncrasies of the implementation of functions on the X100, it is not too foolhardy to sooth-say that the same could happen to the X Pro-1: everything is great on paper but feels not right in implementation. Just guessing.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Selected Excellence: Portraits of Cantonese Opera

L1000329DL (Leica X1)

Showcased at the West Kowloon Bamboo Cinema (opening session ended yesterday) are the Portraits of Cantonese Opera done by Michael Wolf, a photographer born in Munich and L1000316DL currently living and working in Hong Kong. A two-time winner of the World Press Photo Award Competition in 2005 and 2010, he has been engaged in photographing various aspects of Chinese cultural identity and local urban architecture.

In this Portraits of Cantonese Opera, Mike utilises his lens to capture the essence of Cantonese opera and its locally celebrated performers, documenting the specificity and individuality of each character and their costumes.  His approach of juxtaposing the tradition of Cantonese opera against the backdrop of the old neighbourhood conveys his reflection on the city and its diverse cultural contexts.

L1000334DL

The Bamboo Cinema was a one-off project, now finished, to provide spectators with performances at the old-day price.  Cantonese opera performed in the setting of a bamboo cinema is a traditional art form combining music, martial arts, drama and architecture. An embodiment of linguistics, literature and entertainment of the Southern China Lingnan culture, Cantonese opera has officially been inscribed into the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and remained China's first batch of intangible cultural heritage.

L1000326DL

The author had the privilege to attend the grand opening performances at the theatre. But regrettably, in the bag was only the Leica X1 fitted with the 35mm lens. Sitting next to the author were lots of shutterbugs busy clicking the shutter release. That's a slight imperfection of the night.

L1000338DL L1000339DL

Monday, 23 January 2012

Remorse

L1000250DL (Leica X1)


Fake monks from Mainland China begging for "charity donations" in the street is a known issue in Hong Kong. The author stumbled upon two police officers stopping such a monk, who showed great remorse on his face.


In Hong Kong, the unwritten rule is that on the first day of the Chinese New Year, drivers are licensed to do illegal parking. Unless the car is parked in the middle of the road, no police officers will stop it. This no-punishment rule obviously doesn't apply to fake monks.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Rosy Future

L1000176DL (Leica X1)

Tomorrow is the start of the Chinese New Year. The city is heavily decorated in red and rosy colour which culturally augurs well for the new year.

The new year will be the Year of the Dragon, which is an auspicious fictitious creature possibly originated from the totem of the ancient Chinese tribe. According to a retired curator of a local university, the painting of cloud on the bronze utensils in the ancient days may be related to the emergence of the dragon concept.

While it is the year of the important creature, the new year is also special in that it will have 384 days since it is a double leap year – a leap year according to both the solar and lunar calendars.

For further reading about the lunar calendar calculations, visit this page.