Temple Street

I was at Temple Street a few days ago, just as the stalls were being set up.

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The overall mood is that of quiet efficiency, of people setting up their stalls on one day, just like any other day.

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Sometimes you get a sense of community.

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At other times, you see them proudly displaying their skills.

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The above reminds me of some of my favourite “ah beng” shops back in Singapore. Usually, they won’t pull a fast one on you, and you’ll actually get a phone or sim card or whatever at a lower price compared to some of the more established big-name chains. And if you need to cut your sim card into a smaller size, they have just the right tool to get it done.

I stepped out of Temple Street and couldn’t resist taking a photo of this young chap:

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I remember doing this when I was a kid. Yummy!


Again, I find myself wandering around in Mongkok.

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I find that the side streets parallel to Nathan Road are more conducive to street photography.

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The pace is slower, it’s less crowded and so you can see further and anticipate, unlike the pavements on both sides of Nathan Road on weekends or during rush hour.

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For the above, I zone-focused, snapped and turned around without even stopping.

Yes, it’s my Olympus XA2 again, loaded with Ilford XP2 400. It’s so small once you remove the flash.

So it’s always with me.

There’s yummy sugar cane juice at the coconut master’s shop.

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There’re quite a few shops selling traditional Chinese foodstuff along Woosung Street.

They sun some of their goods on the street…

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There’re lots of people in this particular shop.

So I hung around outside for a bit.

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This por por in the photograph below took some time to select the lap cheong (Chinese dried sausage).

So naturally I took a few shots of her.

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She suddenly turned around and said in Cantonese, “Oi, handsome, are you done? The hook is too high.”

So naturally I obliged.

Street photographers are supposed to fade into the background, but I suppose it’s hard to do so for me given my looks …


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Slow Day

The usual media depiction of Hong Kong revolves around skyscrapers, the Peak, and the excellent dim sum, of course.

But there is also another pace of life which you can see on weekends.

All photographs are taken at Ma On Shan, New Territories.

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You’ll see people cycling, fishing and taking leisurely walks.

There are fast-paced days and there are slow-paced days.

Today, we’ll go slow.

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The cycling route can be rather scenic.

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There’s an often-mentioned creative writing strategy: when writing a poem about love, never use the word “love”.

This entry is about cycling with my son, without photographs of us cycling.

You can see our bikes in the background though.

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At moments like this, we slip into another time. You’ll see people enjoying being alone, in their own space-time bubbles.

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This is the bike shop we go to when there’s something to the bikes I can’t fix. They’re really friendly and will actually tell me I don’t need that pair of fancy bike gloves when a generic one would do as well.

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My cynical self would think about the way they are setting up their profit margins. But they sometimes do minor repairs and maintenance for free as well.

The boss will just tell you it’s free of charge and please buy your next bicycle from him.

She was shielding her eyes from the sun, so naturally I brought my camera to my eye.

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That’s at the end of Wu Kai Sha beach. You’ll see quite a number of village houses.

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An open door.

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You could see the contrast between village life and high rise living here.

Hong Kong is a city of sharp juxtapositions.

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River Safari

We’re still on the theme of street photographs taken during family outings some time back.

This is the newly-opened River Safari in Singapore.

I went absolutely berserk with the various compositional possibilities in front of the large fish tank.

As everyone else is looking at the exhibits, no one is looking at me – that’s the perfect set up for a street photographer.

I’ll call this series The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Taking Photographs (see Damien Hirst).

Utter fascination.

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Musing. This is a work of art.

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Look! Look!

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The trick to this is knowing telepathy and fish language.

I’ve managed to convince those fishes to frame themselves around the human exhibits.

I am a very talented photographer.

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Still looking.

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Finally, a decisive moment.

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Singapore Zoo

Yet another set of street photographs taken at in-between moments during a family outing at the Singapore Zoo a few months ago.

That’s our friendly and helpful tram driver.

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My son loves the pony ride.

I am a very talented photographer – through telepathy, I’ve managed to convince the person in the background to bend a little bit so as to be confluent to the pony handler’s face and shoulder outline.

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Here’s the horse carriage driver.

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Here’s the horse.

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It’s interesting how high contrast monochrome changes things. The photographs look somewhat hard-edged and menacing at times …

Go to the zoo if you’re ever in Singapore. It’s really not so menacing …

The crowd at an animal performance show.

We go to the zoo every time we’re back in Singapore.

So, I’ve seen the performance many times.

Now, instead of looking at the performance, I look at the crowd and think about how to photograph the human exhibits.

I am a very talented photographer – using telepathy, I’ve managed to convince a stranger to stand up so as to create a contrasting element to the crowd.

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That’s err… a bird animal creature with two legs and feathers…

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I suppose that’s my nod to Gary Winogrand‘s The Animals.

Thanks for reading!

Village Life in Hong Kong

This is the dilemma I face whenever we have a family outing.

Should I bring along my Leica M6, my Olympus XA2, Canonet or Yashica? Do the kids look like they’re going to give trouble? Are we going shopping which means I need a high ISO film?

At this point I would once again settle on my Canon G11 over the 600D. With a family in tow, I’ll go for a compact auto focus auto exposure digital everything because there’s usually no time to focus (in both senses of the word) if you’re looking to do a bit of street photography at in-between moments. I’ll bring along my Leica when the kids are older…

My daughter’s kindergarten organised an outing last Saturday for their students and their families. There was a huge turnout. Five gigantic bus loads.

Here’s our guide:

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She sings very well.

Here’s our driver:

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I was 2 seats behind and this is a reflection of him from the driver’s rear-view mirror between two curtains.

We were at a farm at Sha Tau Kok. It was a 20-minute walk to the farm and there were fascinating ruins.

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I think some of these are occupied.

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There’s a certain socio-political economic situation to village houses in Hong Kong.

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In land-scarce Hong Kong, villagers are given a plot of land to build a three-storey house in recognition of their indigenous status. They could remain as they are but a three-storey set-up means you could lease out two floors and live on the rent alone.

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Usually the villagers in a single village are related and have the same surname.

And they would set up small businesses. This area for example is a cycling, fishing, kite-flying and bbq area combined with a vegetable farm.

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When we say Hong Kong is short of land, we are thinking of built-up areas like Kowloon or Hong Kong island.

Sha Tau Kok where we were is huge and relatively sparsely populated. But it takes a certain character to enjoy life here I suppose.

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Here’s another village. I was told it’s a traditional Hakka village. Because these are popular sites for local excursions, the villagers have set up small stalls selling traditional snacks.

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The black blobs are called errr… “tiny chicken poop” in Cantonese. Yummy! I was told it’s good for my sore throat.

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Sentosa Snapshots

I’ve been looking though images taken a few months ago in Singapore with my trusty Canon G11. It went through an overhaul and is now good as new.

Generally, on family outings, I bring along my G11 for family snapshots.

Usually, I make a division between street photography (film cameras only) and family pics (digital only) just to keep things simple. But life is not always simple.

I find myself in street photography mode often at various moments during family outings.

These were taken at Sentosa.

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I find the high-contrast Daido Moriyama style rather addictive.

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The scene looked so good I can’t resist another:

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I’m still waiting for my G11 to break down so as to have an excuse to get that Ricoh GR Digital.

More next time.