The Streets Are Calling

We can only occupy what’s central to our heart.

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Love. Peace.

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A way of life.

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Reading a future into existence.

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We seek the wisdom of the streets.

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The streets will decide.

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Who’s the butcher.

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Who’s the meat.

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Love the best we can.

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Find peace the way we can.

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And hope something beautiful comes.

We pray this is good enough.

 

 

Ladies’ Market

This is Ladies’ Market at Mongkok.

It’s a short stretch of market stalls popular with tourists and locals alike.

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We were a bit early so we got to see the stalls being set up.

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This is the ubiquitous red/white/blue canvas.

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The material has been used to make awnings, bags, covers, etc.

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It was a hot day.

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The goods were arriving.

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People were doing all these calculations.

Hong Kong, of course, is defined by numbers.

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I was using my Olympus XA2.

The 35mm lens was great for tight situations.

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I was worried about the shutter speed in the shade and hence was using the Fuji Superia 800 film.

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The film has a “powdery” painterly effect sometimes.

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Wonderful colours.

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Seasoned tourist.

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I like the (faux?) leather notebooks.

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Hong Kong’s street markets are literally full of colours.

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A bit of heartfelt advertising.

I especially like the above image because the slight blur as a result of the camera shake adds to the sense of urgency in the way we look.

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A bit of effort.

For collectors: open-edition prints are available at my Saatchi Art page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inexhaustible Hong Kong

The range of imagery in Hong Kong is breathtaking.

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You look.

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You think about things.

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There’s a mental itch you can’t get to and a glimmer you’re aiming at.

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When will Godot arrive? You look again.

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At things we do.

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At how we live.

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Our ambitions.

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The road not taken.

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We have an apparatus for looking.

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They look back.

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This is something we look for.

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Sincerity.

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Attitude.

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A kind of mental space.

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We work and rework.

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And hope everything comes together at the end.

Some images are available here as open-edition prints at my Saatchi Art page.

 

 

 

Street Photography with my Leica M6

Street photography is to some extent about the art of making do.

I tend to think that street photographers are in the same category as street musicians, street performers and street hawkers.

There is technique but it’s the kind of technique shaped by being immersed in a specific environment, rather than one accrued by looking at charts, manuals, and pixels on computer screens.

I am in many ways reassured by David Gibson’s comments in his book The Street Photographer’s Manual, in which he says: “My technique is to get technique out of the way so that I can take pictures” (pg. 36).

He talks about respected street photographers who use the P mode (and cracked a photographer’s joke about “P” being the professional mode).

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This is the view from my office window – what I like about it is the contrast between nature (the hill) and the man-made (the air-conditioning whatchamacallit box-thing sticking out).

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I pay attention to composition, once I get the thing with the aperture/shutter speed and focus out of the way.

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So, buying a new lens for my Leica M6 provokes a crucial question about technique: what could a 35mm lens do that my 50mm Summicron couldn’t?

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If you have a 50mm lens, take 2 steps back and you have a 35mm lens… that’s street wisdom.

But a 50mm lens gives me that reach, as when I’m trying to capture part of a building, as in above.

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Or when I’m taking a picture like the one above. (Could you guess where I was?)

All photos above are taken with my 50mm Summicron Type II lens.

The rest below are with my newly acquired used Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic SC, which I think of as a budget (relatively speaking in Leica land) “old-school” lens for Leica film shooters.

All images from this post are from the same roll of film: Fuji Neopan 400CN.

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Was it money well spent?

Well … I couldn’t have taken the above shot otherwise, unless I take 2 steps back, which would have placed me in the path of traffic at Nathan Road at Tsim Sha Tsui during rush hour.

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I would have captured a smaller portion of the building above.

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Ditto.

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Ditto.

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Ditto at Shamshuipo.

There’s a hard-edged feel to the above that I like.

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I was trying to capture both people and buildings. The light wasn’t so good that day.

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This was on another day, with better light.

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Hmm… this brings me back to 1960s newsprint…

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Somehow the composition looks complete.

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The f 1.4 aperture means I could do some indoors street photography…

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Can you guess how the above was done?

Hint: it’s not double-exposure, and I don’t use Photoshop.

So anyway, I hope I’ve convinced you (and myself) why that 35mm Voigtlander lens was necessary.

Now that I have 2 lenses, what’s missing of course is another Leica body.

Perhaps a Leica M4 body might be a good backup/variant for the M6… which means I could do a double Leica combo on the streets…

Thanks for reading, and check out my Saatchi Art page!

 

 

Tai Tong Valley Organic Ecopark

I’ve been reading David Gibson’s The Street Photographer’s Manual and he really has good advice to give.

Referring to Geoff Dyer’s books The Ongoing Moment (on photography) and But Beautiful (on jazz), Gibson makes the connection between street photography and jazz:

I identify an empathy with the mindset of jazz musicians. They get lost; they have an idea where they are going, they are in control but they are open to chance and what feels right in the moment. That alternative name for street photography could be ‘lost photography’ – street photographers need to get lost. (pg. 8)

That’s my thing with writing poetry as well – you start somewhere … you have an idea of what to do but do not know what will happen or what you’re really going to say until you’ve written it all out.

Writing for me is (improvisatory) thinking that reaches for something that wasn’t there before.

Perhaps the same might be said of jazz and street photography. How else would you reach something fresh/new/innovative if you already know what you’re aiming for right from the beginning?

Have an idea of A; do A; attain A, and you will still get A. That’s not quite satisfactory.

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We’re always in search of that breakthrough, that gap which broadens.

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Following David Gibson’s advice on looking through layers, I’ve been looking through glass, windows, mesh, etc.

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I can’t decide whether the monochrome or colour version is better.

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Both are equally valid, I think.

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Here.

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Here again. There’s a filmic quality to the color.

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The photographs here were taken during a family trip to Tai Tong Valley Organic Ecopark.

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It’s a study in what we’ve made of animals…

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We’ve domesticated many animals.

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They are tame, chained and obedient.

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Perhaps they’re the external manifestations of ourselves as well.

Perhaps we need to learn to look through animals at ourselves.

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We’re all tamed, chained and obedient to one thing/idea or another.

The above is a playground that looks like a roped enclosure … actually, it is a roped enclosure.

You could allegorize and say the human playground is at the same time a roped enclosure of sorts.

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We’re all “(m)echanical beetles never quite warm” (Wallace Stevens, “The Man with the Blue Guitar”).

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That I suppose, is the seed of cultivation…

 

Check out my open-edition prints!

 

 

 

 

Somewhere in Yuen Long

Sometimes I don’t know where I am.

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This place is accessible via a walking or biking trail.

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And you get to see a sinking village house.

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My wife organizes these day trips for the family and I simply tag along… I’m fortunate that way.

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I’ll go anywhere as long as there’re things to see.

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I know for sure this is somewhere in Yuen Long.

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And the village is accessible only via a boat.

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It’s another way of life.

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It’s a “can do” DIY attitude I need to learn.

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He saw my camera but basically ignored me and went on with his work.

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I’m trying to improve my Chinese.

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Assuming I got that right, it says “the only human-operated bumboat in the whole of Hong Kong, from 6am till 11pm”.

My set up for the day was a Contax TVS II loaded with Ilford XP2 400.

Thanks for reading!

Check out the open-edition prints!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Rice Stall Series

Let’s say you’re standing in a long queue – the longer, the better.

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You’ll have an excuse to loiter and try different compositions as you move closer…

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There’s a rhythm you’re trying to capture.

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You try for a kind of harmony, a convergence of human actions.

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You don’t know when to stop looking.

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You go on trying one shot after another.

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Would the stack of bowls add to the composition, you wonder.

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Or is it better with the person out of focus but framed by the hanging chickens?

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Would it work better in landscape or portrait?

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Landscape is better – I think … but here the person is hidden.

There’s a potential statement here to be made about how human relations are obscured by commodities.

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Maybe having him framed after all is better.

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Is it better with the bowls partly showing?

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Or not? Maybe my next shot would be better.

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Maybe it’s better with the spoon container fully captured.

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Would it be better like this? Probably not. If only she’d turn around.

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Or this, after all? Nice, clean and simple. And the composition is busy enough to be interesting.

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Or perhaps this?

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