Beautiful Mistakes

Sometimes, mistakes can be surprising.

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The focus is off, but the colours are there. There’s some kind of neon lighting that is projected onto the ceiling which changes every 10 seconds or so.

The above and below are taken in a shopping mall at TST near my church. No prizes for guessing which.

I was on an ascending escalator, trying to focus on those buildings outside the glass window and the gentleman entered the frame, descending from top left. It’s underexposed so we can’t really see the person, but the repetitions of the grid and the colours are there. The metal fasteners (is that what they’re called?) look like flying seagulls.

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I’m not sure what went wrong with the photograph below. I think there’s motion blur and it’s overexposed… I don’t remember making this mistake…

I do this every Sunday on my way to church, to the taxi driver when he’s paying the toll at the Lion Rock tunnel.

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In all honesty, I’ve done a bit of post-processing to heighten the colours. But I’ve spend no more than 3-5 minutes on each, simply going along with what the images are telling me, and only with levels and curves with the generic software that came with my scanner.

I suspect they’ll look gorgeous when printed with textured paper and mounted on non-glare glass.

Now I’m beginning to see the appeal of lomography, which is essentially about creating something beautiful from intuition, serendipity and “errors”. That’s the kind of artlessness in photography I’m drawn to…

Thanks for reading.

The Camera as Sketchbook

I’m prepping for a talk on my manuscript in progress which features street photography and poetry.

In some ways, the camera has become my sketchbook.

Here’s Henri Cartier-Bresson from The Mind’s Eye (and the first part of the book is titled “The Camera as Sketchbook”):

For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to “give a meaning” to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. (The Mind’s Eye pg. 15)

For the street photographer, the camera is a tool for thinking …

Here are some of the photographs I’ll be talking about, the first of which has been featured in a previous entry.

They are each paired with a poem in the manuscript.

I’m only including fragments of the accompanying poems here.

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“how hong kong works, no one knows,
though everyone says mm goi, mm goi,
thank you, small favour, another name
for waiter, excuse me, help.”


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“one can only be a tourist
constantly taking pictures

posing and making sense”


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“i tell myself i am a camera
though i am a camera trying to be a man

because a camera captures everything
and is nothing in itself.”


What they have in common: they’re about looking at the act of looking. In a way, these are photographs of myself…

Thanks for reading.