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Focus Defocused

defocus-2(Leica D-Lux 5)

Supposing you are asked to do a photo showing the mood of a place or an area, how would you go about it?  For sure there are plenty of ways.  One can read lots of books and study theories to come up with an idea.  However, a volley of theoretical statements can sometimes be no more than garnishment to what practical illustrations can teach.  There is much truth in it for photography.

To answer the question, there is not much chance that a theory could inspire you to make shots of legs to represent your best.  Definitely not in the case of a commercial project like for a movie poster as what Evangelo Costadimas has done here.  I choose to be inspired by practical works.

Evangelo used to be an engineer and when he was laid off in his late 40s, he took his photography hobby to a new height to become his second career.  His works are widely seen in Hong Kong and overseas and his name is among the local artists noted in the University of Hong Kong's art archive.  One of the archived works of his, Yaumatei Red, reveals his probable penchant for shooting low.  He has actually done a project SafeDistance in which shots of legs are not rare.

I learned of this Yaumatei Red shot – in fact his shooting-low works -- some years ago.  This phto was done in Yaumatei where some streets have long been Hong Kong's de facto red light district and sighting of street hookers is common throughout the day.  Whatever sensual overtone the leggy attraction / detraction might have conjured up in the viewers, it aptly befits the villainous mood looming over the area at night.

I have since worked on some shots following his example.  Today's is one of those shots of mine and was done in Yaumatei too.  Instead of making it after nightfall like Yaumatei Red, I determined to do a bit variation and made it at daytime when there is a less sinful atmosphere to the neighbourhood.  While there are normal happenings like any other neighbourhood in the day, sex workers in a short skirt or tight shorts roaming the street punctuate the sense of normality and shove in an incompatible feel of tension.  Using a secondary subject handing out leaflets and another carrying a plastic grocery bag in the background, I hope to reproduce this same feeling with the leggy subjects occupying the foreground in an conspicuous way.  The final image was defocused in post processing to complement the effect.

There are lots to tell the uninitiated viewers in matters of composition whereas to experienced photographers the compositional contrast and balance and their use in the shot may be so obvious as to be too tedious to explain. In either case, I just leave it to the viewers for their own evaluation and interpretation. Hope you enjoy the shot. 

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