Ngong Ping Cable Car IV

If you’ve read the previous 3 posts, you’ll know that the photographs below were in some of those posts, though they are in color here.

Yes, my B mode (berserk mode) in the cable car.

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Monochrome is a gift to the street photographer, because:

i) it removes distracting elements and focuses our attention on the theme and/or graphic elements such as lines/grids/repetitions;

ii) it provokes a knee-jerk reaction to do with aesthetic pretensions (ooh b/w, therefore it must be seriously worthy/arty/historical/documentary);

iii) there’s virtue in taking the minimalist less-is-more approach.

But sometimes, less can be less as well.

Slightly contrasty colors can be striking.

Here’re the cable car exhibits (which my wife said looked like Ultraman heads).

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While we’re on the subject of superheroes, it’s hard to resist that Superman blue and red combo.

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Blue and red combo again.

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Slightly desaturated colors can be … poetic.

Colors could mark our different kinds of spaces.

Colorful below, black and white above.

There’s a statement here to be made about human colors vs religious monochrome.

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The colors below look Kodak Ultramax -ish to me.

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Anyway, there’s a tussle here of course, and you could say the photograph in color is not the same as the one in monochrome.

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This one below looks Kodak Portra – ish. (Yes, yes, I miss my film cameras already.)

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Of course, there are various kinds of monochrome (low vs high contrast, different filters, etc.).

Not to mention b/w vs colors as in film photography.

Photography is a universe in itself.

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Until next time.





Ngong Ping Cable Car III

This is the third post in a series of four.

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That’s one of the twelve divine generals from Chinese mythology.

I know this because of my impressive encyclopedic mental repertoire of culture knowledge. Plus, I’m Chinese.

The information plate below the statue helped only a little bit.

More food, yes.

Food and intellectual work are closely intertwined, as we know.

Let’s see, we’ve got almond sesame soup, bean curd, tea eggs, etc.

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Etc. Ooh, did I mention tea eggs?

They’re made of chicken and tea.

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Time for the strenuous task of taking the cable car down the hill.

Again, I’m in B mode (berserk mode) with my camera in the cable car.

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I shall spare you from the awe-inspiring beauty of my other 29 photographs of passing cable cars.

And because a cable car sits a maximum of 10 people, we’re in here with another family.

This lady, too, is holding a camera.

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A poetic moment.

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There’s something to be said about being tourists – there’re always photographs telling you how to be tourists.

What better way to have fun in a cable car than to joyfully admire photographs of people having fun in cable cars. (See bottom left of photo below.)

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Finally, below is what you see at the end of the cable car Big Buddha trip, just so you know you’re back in Hong Kong land.

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Ngong Ping Cable Car II

This is the second of four posts in the series.

We stopped at the following quote in the previous post:

The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.

(Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

After the strenuous task of going up the hill via cable car, it’s time for lunch.

So, yes: here’s our very helpful waitress from the aptly named Zen Noodle Cafe (a very important kind of zen nonetheless).

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There’re exhibits of cable cars from all over the world. This is from Spain.

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This is from France.

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My wife said they look like Ultraman heads. Which indeed they do… (wait till you see them in colour in my last post).

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So, yes, we need some more food before going up those 268 steps to the Big Buddha.

My wife and I were panting (only slighty) halfway (almost) up the steps.

To encourage us, my son and daughter (bless their youthful and energetic souls!) insisted on counting those steps we’d just taken – 45, 46, 47, 48, 49 …

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I must admit these are really beautiful sculptures.

Time for another obligatory Pirsig quote:

Art is the Godhead as revealed in the works of man.

(Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

Art is the Godhead as revealed in the works of man.

ROBERT M. PIRSIG, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


Art is the Godhead as revealed in the works of man.

ROBERT M. PIRSIG, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


Art is the Godhead as revealed in the works of man.

ROBERT M. PIRSIG, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance



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And of course, I can’t help but do my street photography thing.

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There’s an interesting blend of spirituality and tourism to the place.

I can’t help but admire Hong Kong for doing it so well.

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Ngong Ping Cable Car I

This is the first of 4 posts on Ngong Ping, taken with my Canon G11.

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As mentioned here and here, the Canon G11 is my default family snapshot camera plus street photography tool when I’m playing the role of the wholesome family guy as opposed to a street photography maniac outside of my professorial hours.

When will it break?, I sometimes wonder at quiet moments, as I need an excuse to get that fabulous Ricoh GR.

As I tell my wife, it’s all for the sake of documenting our important family moments, of course.

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If you’re a poet and nothing else, then you’re not a good poet.

If you’re a street photographer and nothing else, then you can’t possibly be a good street photographer.

If you’re a scholar and nothing else … (you get my point)

So yes, I’m a father and husband too, and I can play the role of a tourist very well.

Ngong Ping is one of those tourist sites that is tastefully done, I think.

It’s a tasteful blend of commerce and spirituality.

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So yes, I was in B mode (berserk mode) with my camera in the cable car.

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I can’t decide which of the above three photographs is the best.

I feel like I’m comparing apples with oranges.

It’s never the same river, I’m not the same me from one moment to the next, and strictly speaking even cameras of the same model are not the same.

You get the picture *drum roll, with crashing cymbals* (yes, pun intended).

Which is why I have 2 Yashica GX’s, 2 Contax TVS’s and am planning for another lens for my Leica M6.

Don’t tell my wife. (I was joking about the planning bit.)

I often go shopping with the intention of not buying another film camera.

Anyway, back to the main plot – it was raining so the view was rather poetic…

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So – a quiz. Are the above three Buddhas or one?

I’ll just end with this quote from one of my favorite books. I read it once every few years.

I mean the book.

The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.

(Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

ROBERT M. PIRSIG, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


Noah’s Ark in Hong Kong

I am a creature of habit, of the Homer-Simpson-couch-potato-beer-belly-belching variety.

So when my wife announced we’re spending a night in Noah’s Ark, part of me wanted to resist, though curiosity (plus the fact that I’ve basically [and wisely!] outsourced my recreational and social life to my better half) took over.

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It’s a theme park mostly for children (I have 2!) with parents attached.

It’s located in Ma Wan, an island cum residential estate with a policy of banning entry to private vehicles.

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We did a night’s stay literally on the third floor of Noah’s Ark, and got bumped up to a eight-bedded suite.

Sadly, though, you can’t find a bar in Noah’s Ark…

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It’s a rather postmodern experience, as it’s a biblical-themed park and complex concocted out of secular/capitalist/entertainment motivations by the Sun Hung Kai property conglomerate. It requires a bit of roller-coaster thinking.

As a Christian of the church-going, serious-bible-study-home-group-acoustic-guitar-worship variety cum literature-professor-and-poet-who-has-read-his-Derrida type of person, I was rather intrigued.

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So was my street photographer persona, who wisely decided to rely on a Canon G11 to do the job of taking family snapshots as well as street photography.

Yes, there’re still people out there proudly carrying their G11’s, evidence of the longevity of what is now a classic camera. (I’ve seen G9’s, 10’s and 11’s for sale at vintage camera shops.) I know someone who still carries a G9.

Back to the main story.

The above was in an educational exhibit room for kids teaching them about geology. I do like the religious motif with the light shining down and the person in front whose head is bowed in devotion…

Free souvenir photos! Check out the psychedelic set-up, to remind us of God’s cosmological creations, I’m sure.

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There were various events, including this 35-minute tour of religious exhibits and replicas.

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This guy playing Moses jumped right into our midst.

He spent the next 20 minutes telling us of the Ten Commandments and of how Hong Kong has strayed somewhat from the biblical plot.

It was amusing to see Moses code-switching between Cantonese and English. (Note to self: I must remember to tell my Applied English Linguistics colleagues of this.)

As a Christian of the church-going, serious-bible-study-home-group-acoustic-guitar-worship variety cum literature-professor-and-poet-who-has-read-his-Derrida type of person, I was rather intrigued.

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Someone has put serious effort into reproducing replicas of the tabernacle as well as the Dead Sea scrolls.

There were authentic illustrated Victorian bibles plus various other stuff on display. This really appeals to the literature nerd in me.

We were told the exhibits were rotated regularly.

Check out the life-sized 3D replica of the Last Supper.

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The animals coming out of the Ark after the Flood.

As a Christian of the church-going, serious-bible-study-home-group-acoustic-guitar-worship variety cum literature-professor-who-has-read-his-Derrida type of person, I was seriously intrigued.

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After the end of 40 days and nights of flooding and another 150 days for the waters to subside, a giraffe sniffs the air tentatively, with the Tsing Ma bridge in the background.

Very postmodern.

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Very postmodern white tigers emerging from their stay in Noah’s Ark, set against the Tsing Ma bridge …

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I felt a need to get out of the theme park after a while.

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Though in honesty, there’s no getting out of the giant theme park known as Hong Kong.

Nonetheless, I do appreciate honest-to-goodness aesthetics. Someone has done a bit of landscaping for this village house nearby.

Thanks for reading!

London Street Photography II

From my London folder again…

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I was happy to have caught this gesture…

He’s framed by various pictures, and there’s a statement here to be made about the idealised/commodified/cosmetic appearances of the pictures vs his heartfelt sincerity. Check out the arrow that’s about to pierce his heart.

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The British Museum … it’s difficult to photograph such an iconic place because you know it has been done so many times…

I chose the seemingly unthinking approach: capture it at any angle and it’ll still look wonderful. Kudos to the architects…

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Here’s a museum interior that plays with religious icons … there’s definitely a connection between religious devotion and museum space.

In a way, we’re here to worship art and/or the past.

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At the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Here’re the acolytes …

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I’m a tourist!

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A busy scene with the seated person as a focal point, at the still point of the turning world …

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“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.”

(T. S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton”, The Four Quartets)

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Thanks for reading!

London Street Photography

These were taken from a London trip some time ago with my trusty now classic Canon G11.

I’ve been looking through my folders and was actually surprised to realize I had been doing street photography without really knowing that was what it was.

These are all shots taken in-between vacation family pictures when I thought the combination of people and scene looked interesting.

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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.