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Showing posts from February 19, 2012

Between Brain and Camera

(Leica D-Lux 5) The question left half unanswered from the first post of the discussion is what we are actually learning in photography.  Previously, we discussed that the ultimate goal is to learn to not believe what we see or see what we believe. For the learning process, I suggested focusing on three aspects. First, the psychological aspect is to cultivate one's empathic thinking so that eventually it will preponderate over dualistic thinking in judging the reality. This will enable a photographer to see new connections in a scene or happening and be better positioned to reflect new insights in the final, unique images. This is where we stopped last time. In this post, we will discuss the other two aspects. The second, aesthetic aspect requires the photographer to practise holistic seeing.  A photo should first be thought as a medium more than two dimensional or an aesthetic interplay of with and without light only.  Observation should no longer be made just on the visual le…

An Opportunity to Shed Light

(Sony A55)

Hong Kong has been veiled in mist for a whole week. What a luck it was to run into an amazing scene like this! By the way, the photo exhibition at the Upper House Hotel runs from today to until roughly a week later. A cocktail party to celebrate the event will be on next week. I will be meeting some photographer-collaborators of the project and hopefully will learn a few tricks from them.

Between Seeing and Interpreting

(Leica D-Lux 5)To continue from yesterday, there is still an unanswered question: What actually are we learning in photography?Again, the final answer is a matter of context. The perceptions of what photography is for and the self-assessments of one's photographic skills carry a great deal of weight in forming the answer. If I need to give just one ultimate answer, it is that photography requires us to learn to neither believe what we see nor see what we believe. The learning process takes three parts.First, psychologically, it is to learn to transcend duality in interpreting the happenings around us. This takes an attitude to make the known unknown as Einstein put it or, as  the modern version goes, to take the truth as prejudice.  For the latter, I borrowed from Eugene Smith but am not referring to manipulating images – it is that if we use subjectivity and assume "truth" as adulterated, our empathy will begin to take an increasing measure of control over our dualisti…

Between Light and No Light

(Sony A55)

The other day I approached a kid with my camera and he asked, "What's so special about photography?" He is a 10 year old and his ability to point out the gist of the question should be admired.
So, what's so special about photography? And what actually are we learning in photography?
There is no canned, simple or uniform answer for either question, which must be considered in the right context. But these two fundamental questions are for all photographers to ponder on. To me, on the first question, photography is interesting as it can capture the nature of things and, more importantly, that of mankind. But what is special about photography goes beyond the captured images. An image itself reflects how well the photographer can see and understand such natures. The more insightful a photographer becomes, the better the images will be. Therefore, philosophically speaking, the advancement in the art of photography hinges on the breakthrough from the "non-un…

A Charming Face

(Leica D-Lux 5)

See the charming grinning face of a lady with a big oval eye, long eyelashes and straight hair going round her ear? This shot corresponds to the one featured last week.
Doing street shots on a daily basis does not necessarily guarantee any intriguing shots. To the contrary, one may come up with more mundane ones if the seeing is not combined with visions of the mind's eye. While daily practices can shift a photographer from being adpated to adept about the technical bits, the practising must gradually move from there to the active use of all the senses to see the intricacies in a scene and make manifest the desired message in the final image. A decade ago, I met the niece of the chairlady of an association of Hong Kong's professional photographers. A secret of the chairlady's success is she never takes a shot from the perspectives which have been in existence as she is aware.  For the shot of the same object or subject matter, she always racks her brain to c…

Best Cinema Experience

(Leica D-Lux 5, Film Grain mode)If you are a cinephile, being new in town or travelling to Hong Kong or surprisingly having been here for a while but not heard about it, the best cinema experience is only to be found in the Broadway Cinematheque tucked among the back lanes but close enough to be accessible from the Yaumatei MTR station. The Cinematheque does screen popular movies. But for roughly half of the screening slots, it shifts away from the lousy Hollywood stuff in favour of the classy productions of note from all over the world. It also puts up special regular movie festivals. Such a taste is shared by the Cine-Art House, a cinema of the UA line, located in a busy shopping mall at Kowloon Bay which is exactly why the Cinematheque is much preferred by cinephiles.The place has just undergone a 6-month long renovation, bringing the building a spick-and-span whitewashed facade with random voids outlined by wooden-frame-like fittings. Hanging on the facade are two huge canvases fo…

Spellbound Reader

(Leica D-Lux 5)Hush, approach in silence. She is spellbound by the goddess of sleepiness.This is Sunday. Why not take an afternoon nap?