Saturday, 31 March 2012

Representing Ugliness

R0010672L (Ricoh GX200; The two big jewellery billboards are common sights along Nathan Road. At night the powerful spotlights lightening up them have been a long-time source of light pollution to which the government, under the reign of the out-going, pro-business Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, has been turning a blind eye.)

Walking on Nathan Road, the lifeline of the Kowloon Peninsular, is becoming an experience of continuous eyesores. Whereas Nathan Road was once an epitome of the quintessential Hong Kong streetscape with a variety of local shops on both sides, it is very regrettable to see an increasing number of jewellery shops, cosmetics stores and Chinese medicine pharmacies running almost the full length of the road. The springing up of these shops is a corollary of the relentless money-shelling by troops of Mainland Chinese visitors who, for some cultural reason maybe, seemingly prefer flashy and remedial kinds of goods. Nathan Road should now be more aptly thought of as an uninspiring, flattened-out one-level shopping mall.

What was the original Nathan Road like? Martin Booth wrote in his memoir, Gweilo, the streetscape of the place in the 1950s:
As the weeks passed, I grew bolder and – more confident in facing traffic – I traversed Nathan Road, the main artery running up the spine of Kowloon, to enter the district of Yau Ma Tei, as area that was more residential than Mong Kok. Many of the three- or four-storey buildings were old, with arcades, their balconies lined with green-glazed railings patterned to look like bamboo. The roofs of some were covered in green-glazed tiles and curved upwards at the eaves. A few bore ceramic ridge tiles of dragons and lions in faded blue, red or gold. I felt an added excitement coming upon old rusty signs at the entrance to some side streets declaring Out of Bounds to Troops. It was as if I was the first explorer of my race to tread these urban jungle paths. Even soldiers had not come this way before.

Then he went on with what you can still find in the open-air Mong Kok and Yaumatei wet markets:
The shops here were more traditional than those in Soares Avenue. A bakery sold soft bread buns with red writing stamped on them. Dried fish shops displayed desiccated shrimps, squid, cuttlefish, scallops, mussels, sharks' fins and other unidentifiable seafood. Butchers offered raw meat hanging from hooks under 100-watt bulbs beneath red plastic shades. Poultry shops sold chickens, ducks, quail, exquisitely plumaged pheasants and geese but, whereas the butchers' fare was  slaughtered, the live poultry was crammed into bamboo cages. No self-esteeming Chinese housewife bought fowl that was not still breathing and it was commonplace to see someone walking down a street with two trussed hens clucking with avian irritation.

For the last part of the illustration, Hong Kong has now banned the selling of poultry alive unless in a few numbers of registered outlets after a near miss of an Avian Flu outbreak some years ago.

So next time when you come to Hong Kong, you may skip Nathan Road and take to the side streets direct.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Back to the Origin

R0010624L (Ricoh GX200)

Haven't been out with the GX200 for a bit of a time – arguably the origin giving birth to GX Garnerings. A day with the GX200 proves that my heart still weights in favour of it over the D-Lux5 in terms of ergonomics. But this is 2012, and one is doubtlessly less than delighted to see its IQ at and over ISO 400. It is a shame that the GX series has been scrapped and replaced by the GXR S module.

Today's shot was deliberately overexposed to give some interest in the final image. Some said that it reminds them of a maze while some the origin of mankind – the Heaven.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Serial Shooter

Dont shoot me (Leica x1)

Freeze, or Bang! Bang! Bang! Don't be silly. I'm just shooting with a camera. It's tiny, not terrifyingly big and, look here, expensive. Hey, don't move. Don't hide your face….

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A Fleeting Wisp of

L1000599L (Leica X1)

I'd say, of a chance. Shots of the same scene taken at even slightly different moments ooze with distinctive feelings. The same was said to me by a professional photographer graduated from a Paris photography course. What he learned in class from a rather scientific study is that the general viewers, when asked about the feelings arisen in them prompted by such shots, invariably had different interpretations of the same scene reproduced in different photos. Fleeting is the combination of light, subjects and the feelings of the person behind the camera, which combine to shift the nuances in the final images.

Repeatedly anticipated in my mind had been a photo with a person puffing a wisp of smoke. I was very excited at coming across this scene but actually missed the right moment. Today's photo lacks the strange, nostalgic feelings this scene initially presented to me of a gentleman attired in a full set of sleek western suit waiting for someone or something anxiously in a local area smack of an old Hong Kong. The reason is that I walked past him wondering how I could go near him to get the shot. I knew the light was right to catch the wisp of smoke in the final image because I had done several before when it wasn't. It is exactly because of the hesitation that I failed to catch the first feelings I saw in the scene. But I went back anyway and snapped this shot. The man went away after this shot. I didn't ask; he would have left if I had asked.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Love Is in the Air

L1000503L (Leica X1)

I am being hospitalised for some minor maintenance, so here is a selected shot from my keepers. It was near the Valentine’s Day, and lovers were getting romantic. They were not giving the kiss yet when I, crossing the road, noticed them. But anticipating it, I got the camera ready and was glad that I did. Look through under their chins  and see the envious expression on the woman's face, which add an extra dimension of interest to the final image.

Sometimes, photography can be very additive. I am with the computer for doing the blog post and even a camera in the bag with me. But where am I? Hospital. Addicted for sure.

Monday, 26 March 2012


L1000213L (Leica D-Lux5)

The better pictures I have done usually consist of contrast or tension which, I think, gives more substance or interest to an image. It doesn't matter whether the contrast or tension is achieved by ways of colours, composition or a combination of such and other elements.

The longer one has been into photography, and with a bit of a practice, the more intuitive one becomes sensitive to the existence of such a scene. Here in today's shot, I was some five metres away from the subjects. At the very glimpse of the monk, the incompatible co-existence of a Caucasian face, using a high-tech smart phone, with a lay helper who is a female, at an haute couture shopping area was not among the images I managed to fumble from my mind. I lost no time in pointing the camera to them, paused a bit when going close and snapped the shot.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

You Really Have to Do This?

L1000404L (Leica D-Lux 5)

Sometimes something may become so very unbearable to bear. But there are always better ways to handle it.

This is Sunday. Stay put. Think twice before tomorrow comes.