Saturday, 17 March 2012

Stand to Reason

R9364984L (Ricoh GRD4)

It stands to reason that if one has the money to burn, shops will keep the doors open to cheer that person on. But when I stood here to reason at the sight of this big billboard, what sprang to mind was an ad in February about the Mainlanders' "invasion" into Hong Kong. The ad was reported in some international media like here*.

Hong Kong people are feeling irritated by the situation not for no reasons. And this has as well something to do with the Mainlanders' money burning in so fierce a way that the sight of shops selling luxury brands is running the full length of almost every streets in major shopping areas. In shopping malls, the existence of other shops is turning fewer and farther between. Just last night I went to a previously quieter shopping centre and hoped to do window-shopping at an old used-camera store.  But the shop and, in fact, the whole array of neighbouring shops have become a run of pharmacies. Why? The Mainlanders come to Hong Kong for milk powders and Chinese tunics! I don't have to mention how trustworthy the food items in Mainland China are. Their sort of "scare buying" has left Hong Kong a constant shortage of milk powders and many new parents in chagrin.

It stands to reason that when these happen, the locals are asking to fight them back, which is a deplorable development.

* In Chinese, or at least Cantonese, locust can be used as a derogative euphemism for people who do harm and no good. The mountain atop which the locust perches in the ad is called the Lion's Rock which, after the broadcast of a popular sitcom "Under the Lion's Rock" in the 1970s, epitomises the can-do spirits of Hongkongers.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Red Dot Saves the Day

L1000258L (Leica X1; Shoe-shining is an old trade disappearing in Hong Kong. This lane in Central is where to find the shoeblacks)

Maybe it was the month-long lingering mist or the call of photographic duty or simply some unknown chutzpah that brought me too close to the subjects, but I was pretty certain that the tiny Leica red dot had worked wonders and saved me from being told or punched off by the peevish man with the irritated look clearly written on his face.

He fixed his gaze into the lens to show me his anger. Which made me an even more busy clicking bug. I took a few more shots before walking away unscathed with the Leica X1 which, if it had life, had to be smiling a boastful smile. Pardon me for the unseemly act, mister, but these were the decisive moments not to be missed or asked in advance for permission.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

So You Want to Paint with Light

R9364985L (Ricoh GRD4)

Can just anyone with a camera and a bit of a practice somehow spice up an otherwise uninspiring scene? If you think no, think again. 

Simply see lights and shadows from a camera’s perspective, and we can take hold of such a scene as we do to a hard nut, break it open and extract some jewel of visuals. In that perspective, light can be gingered up with a longer exposure time for the photographer to paint to the heart’s content. Achieving a desirable result is just a matter of experience in different exposure and white balance combos, the effects of random directions of camera movements and on reflective surfaces as varied as the galvanised panels in today’s shot. There is no magic, but just practices make perfect. Well, I can’t quite mention the word “perfect” for today’s shot in any sense of the word.

Here, a man was leaning against the panels which reflected passers-by milling about the bustling street. While their reflections in the panels were already impressionistic, a slow 15th of a second shutter speed gives interest to the final image in that the blurry images of the primary subject (the man) and the reflections become layered on two distinctive levels. It can be said to be reminiscent of an impressionistic painting on a canvas, where the painters employed diverse dabbing and brushing arrangements to reinvent the light and shadows and to hint the subjects.

No one is too daft to be not able to do it. Experiment, make mental note of the results and add in observations and creativity, and then anyone can be an ace at light painting.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Snappy Hours

R9364929L (Ricoh GRD4)

If simplicity is the philosophy of Leica, snappiness can probably be said to be Ricoh's. It is best epitomised in not the GXR system but the GRD with its handy size, unassuming form and extremely flexible customisation which combine to make it the right machine for street shots. That said, as in the case of the likes of it, say the Canon S100, it can land you on the wrong footing if you chose to go up to strangers for permission to take shots: it doesn't look serious or showy, depending on how you look at it. Oh, if you've read my postscript here, the reason has been obvious to you. It had never occured to me that being seemingly serious is important for snapping shots in the street. But if you prefer going stealthy, the GRD will be like a suit you ordered from a tailor's shop: it is bespoke for you.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Make Believe

R9364927L (Ricoh GRD4)

I'm very fond of a quotable Chinese quote which goes, in Cantonese, "Kungfu zoi si ngoi". To paraphrase it, it means that a poet perfects his poem writing skills through gaining experiences from outside of poem writing.

The same logic can be said to photography as life experiences and artistic skills learnt from elsewhere can definitely enrich one's photographic results. For today's shot, and the shot of last Saturday, I relied on a tact which bears resemblence to an arrangement conceived for stage plays to work around the space constraint for some particular scenes. Anyone who has watched plays is familiar with this: the props and extras in the background behind a character who is facing the audience are actually meant to be fronting that character in the foreground. This may be used to express the sense of distance in a tele-dialogue scene, or to keep characters from turning to face the background in a fighting scene, so on and so forth. 

When I came across this scene, it seemed to me that the road sign symbolised the focus which the lady photographer was working on. So I went up near her and took the shot.

Monday, 12 March 2012

When Paths Crisscross

R9364916L (Ricoh GRD4)

Today's photo brings up some poetic thoughts in my mind. Let's share a poem by Carolyn Wells (1862–1942). The title is Fate.

Two shall be born the whole world wide apart,
And speak in different tongues, and pay their debts
In different kinds of coin; and give no heed
Each to the other’s being. And know not
That each might suit the other to a T,
If they were but correctly introduced.
And these, unconsciously, shall bend their steps,
Escaping Spaniards and defying war,
Unerringly toward the same trysting-place,
Albeit they know it not. Until at last
They enter the same door, and suddenly
They meet. And ere they’ve seen each other’s face
They fall into each other’s arms, upon
The Broadway cable car – and this is Fate!

Sunday, 11 March 2012


R9364915L (Ricoh GRD4)

Doesn't matter coz this is Sunday. And don't let anything ruin your mood on Sunday.

Have fun!