Rural Views

I’m here again and again.

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It doesn’t look like much – but it has wonderful views.

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The environment is a work of art.

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The mood is always leisurely.

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The debris is zen.

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There’s artless beauty here.

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I’m happy to be marooned here.

Camera: Contax TVS II

Film: Venus 800

Notes to Self

The past few posts have been about Occupy Central.

After all, we could only occupy what’s central to our hearts.

This post is a change of pace.

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I’ve talked about a few sights on the campus where I work in this post.

It’s a 20-minute walk down the hill from my office and it gives me time to think about what I’m doing and where I’m going in terms of my poetry, photography, research and teaching.

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We all need space to dwell and grow.

I’m grateful to be where I am, in an unpretentious and authentic space, in service of a community I feel committed to.

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Once in a while, you need to be empty in order to be filled.

So yes, I’ll need to fill up that container eventually (figuratively speaking).

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And find a sense of balance.

Sometimes, I take a 5-minute detour and I’ll see this on my way home.

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That red flower is beautiful, but it is beautiful not in itself, but in where it is.

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And 5 minutes later, I’ll see this.

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We swim in the pond in which we find ourselves.

And in every moment there is a painterly harmony to be sought.

This is what I’m looking for in my photographs and in my work in general, and what I’m looking for in myself.


Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander 35mm F 1.4 Nokton Classic SC

Film: Fuji Natura 1600






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


Wu Kai Sha Beach

There’s something going on at Wu Kai Sha beach.

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I keep seeing Zen-like arrangements:

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The stones are speaking.

And there’s always someone painting the rocks. Sometimes, you see “God is love” in both English and Chinese etched in the sand.

And once in a while, someone builds a turtle sculpture…

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This gentleman has been at it all morning…

The sand is reclaiming its boat:

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The water has achieved what the sand is doing:

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Am I a shadow thinking I am a man or a man thinking I am a shadow?

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Or am I a shadow of a man or a man emerging from his shadow?

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I text, google, search and take a picture – therefore I am.