2.5 Hours

It has to be the shortest stay I’ve ever spent in China in my entire life. If it’s not because of Ching Ming, I would not have spent just 2.5 hr in Jiang Men. Well, somehow it’s caused by the odd scheduling by the ferry company. There’s just 1 return trip from Jiang Men at 3:30pm. We arrived almost 12pm and with rides from and to the restaurant and the cemetery. My actual stay was just 2.5 hrs.

I did not get enough quality sleep because of the birds chorus 4am in the morning, got up at 6am. Then there’s the lousy McDonald’s dining experience at the ferry pier. Everyone tried to fight for their tables just because it’s Ching Ming. Last but the least, heavy fog at the first leg of our boat ride. It caused some delay on the overall time traveled.

It’s probably the first hottest day in 2014, I sweated like a dog under the sun at the cemetery. Sunburn? Hell yes.

And perhaps it’s the such short amount of time spent in Mainland. I was able to saw and reflect. There’s the tier one cities Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou to many people they’re the icons of China. What I see in Jiang Men is that, there’re still lots people left behind. It’s just not catching up…

3 hrs later…I was in Hong Kong again. Here I see modern people filled in a prosperous city.
In the Fog
Pee Bowl
Dumped Teddy
Stop
Cyclist
Alley
Noon Beer by the street
Cemetary
Kids
the Whatever Curtain

One of Many

Photography is one common medium to share stories in digital age. Who does not use a smartphone these days in a somewhat modern country? Who does not own a Ricoh GRD if they’re into street photography? Who does not know the magnum photographers? Everyone perceives of the idea of street photography in a very similar way. It’s like all the ingredients are already on the table, it’s up to how the person wants to cook it, plate it, pair it, eat it.

There’re plenty of people doing street photography. Some are very aggressive on the close up portraits and usually earning their popularity. I give them credit on persistence. Some are just so good at looking at the light and shadow, it’s like anywhere they can make spectacular contrasty images. Some are just so well timed on a live scene, all the elements just click. Some do journalistic documentary, as if they’re the reporters. Some do erotic staged photography, actually I kind of like following it too. They all have a favorable way to perceive their own photography. That’s the fun part of it, not entirely the place, the light, the people; it’s how the photographer demands their image and present them in a way.

It’s insane how many coffee cafés have opened in Hong Kong. I’m not talking about the international known Starbucks. I’m talking about the local indies. People are wanting to know about coffee beans these days (here in Hong Kong). It’s a fashion (the wine culture has shifted into the beans). Not only they serve up a delicious cup with latte art, some even roast their own imported beans. Don’t know their quality though, I had a bad experience with a very well known local roaster. There’s a reason why people are still dying to have brand preference on their coffee beans. Quality is one factor that determines the sustainability of their business. Quality creates a legacy. My experience in food business tells me that the Italians are good at that. Take the coffee as an example, who has not heard of Lavazza, Illy?

It’s fun when the Inspired Eye founders Olivier and Don gave me an interview for their magazine. I’ve never been asked about my photography in any way. It’s good opportunity run a quick check on myself, a self-reflection to what I’d done so far. My experience shared reaffirmed my vision ever since I started blogging. That is, I just want the world to see Hong Kong. Nothing more. The Q&As made me sound like I’m someone really special. I’m not doing photography professionally, only for my self-interest. To receive such an honor, it meant something to me. I rarely get any feedback from anyone as you can see from the bottom of each blog posts despite the number of followers. Alright the followers and likes don’t justify anything. There’s not a whole lot of ways to know how I’m doing. Perhaps that reflects how extremely unsociable i’m, or maybe not everyone understands my english well enough. Haha, just a joke. Fact is, I know I do not type anything provocative or have a extremely well thought out idea to share with. I guess it does not matter I’m not a teacher/curator/philosopher, I do what I do and shoot what I shoot. I appreciate my readers follow my blog along the way.

Fiber
The end of the road
Hallway
Fountain
Models
Lecture
Mall
Factory
Lake

Still Here, Unexpected

My last monthly series update mentioned about how I wish to put down my camera for a week or two. Without hitting the street or even think about not producing any had been disastrous. It’s just not happening when I see things I want to click. Every moment comes by as a coincidence. As the Aerosmith’s hit song goes like “I don’t wanna miss a thing, I don’t wanna close my eyes…”. From time to time, I think about my little passion. The passion that has been going ever since I started typing this blog.

It can get really boring to stay within my reach to photograph. I’m still here on a few districts I shoot most of the time. No plan on venturing anywhere. I shot and kept a very small collection this month. If I’m failing to get any input, i believe it’s just my mind not thinking straight. It’s this driving force to try again, again and again on a few chosen paths/locations. I believe I could do it, again. All I do is believe, and what tricks my mind to make me do.

Excluding the Sunday I counted this week, came home with only one or two captures. It was harsh. This told me I wasn’t even ready when I was physically able. Having a camera in my hand, does not mean I have it in my heart. Good thing is I still got my calories under control. I tried.

The Perfect Estonian Couple
Peek
Loving hug
The Mobile Phone Booth
Sitting Stone
Palm Print Photo
The White Balloon Dress
Against the Odd
The Shuttlecock Gathering
Mirror
Buried
Thru the Cart
Good Man's Bird
LustLust
To me this series is a gift, a bonus which I never expected. Perhaps this is the exact intend of photography, the calling of the unexpected?

Instax Mini

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The last time you hear me mention much about my own cameras was over a year ago. I settled with my X2 camera and sort of married her. I’m still using it few times a week for my working material – the daily life stuff. I even used it more than a few occasions during rainy weather. I know it’s got lots of mileage ahead of me.

I want to experience a new way of photography. I’d like to play, I like photography. It’s me. The Instax mini format filled in the gap for me. It’s film, it’s small, the Fuji Instax Mini 90 has got enough reasons for me to explore with. You can visit their official web and see for yourself.

While I’m not here to review camera, I’m taking this as a documentary of how I see myself toward the Instax. My intention to get this camera and 7 packs of film was to really see what I can do with it. I hoped to have tangible photos with my girlfriend. Until I realized I’ve already messed up perhaps 10 films out of 3 packs (30 total) for my personal stuff. The rest were photographs with my girlfriend, and they ended up alright.

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I was well informed that the Instax Mini shoots great portraits. I don’t doubt it. But to shoot just about anything except human with the (preferred) portrait orientation all seemed to be a hell of a challenge for me. My framing and distance are totally off. I thought it has a viewfinder and works just like a rangefinder, however it’s more complex than you’d imagine a plastic toy can do. It’s just odd. Ever learn a new language? This is how I feel with it. All begin from zero. The camera does have a landscape mode to extend the focus to infinity which you might thought landscape should not be a problem. I just do not believe it can do anything spectacular with it when the photo size is mini. I still firmly believe it’s just because i’m new to it after only two days of use. Time and travel will educate me the use of it, sooner or later. I already see it replacing my handy cellphone snaps of my personal life photography with my Instax.

The limitations do give me hard time. ISO800 film, no delete button, no LCD, cannot magnify photo to see more detail, no pin sharp focus, no editing, not easily shared to online…I’m up for it. 10 films per pack teaches me not to shoot just about anything. There’s the price to pay when missing the shot. I understand the fact that it’s especially a great camera when you have a life companion, family, travel; the personal stuff so to speak. There’re moments you just want to hold them in your hand and share it along. I just do not want my precious moments to be buried in my PC. I guess that’s what the unprinted megapixels can’t give us these days?

The Instant Analog

Okay. Retro is a big hit in the photography world, even Nikon’s DSLR now becomes a chunky retro machine-gun. We try hard to make our cameras and photographs look retro. How about reversing it?

I wasn’t part of my plan to pay a visit to a city park that required a bit of travel, until my girlfriend decided to finally bring out her Fuji Instax camera that hadn’t been used for years. Thanks to her! It’s a cute (pink accented) camera that produces polaroid-like results. I can assure you the Instax Mini 7S model is designed for those who know nothing about photography. While it’s as easy to use as it is, the results offered were beyond anything I had not imagined. It has basically no control at all for this model, only 4 basic modes for environment selections (They control the aperture size from f12~32 i believe). The flash fires whenever the shutter triggered.

The focal length is 60mm and it’s standard among all other Instax models. It does a hell of a job for selfie and even jaw dropping for portraits. The photographs we have come up were some good memoir. To physically hold the films and photographs is a feeling that I haven’t had for a very long while. I hate to break it down this way. The films are not cheap, but the joy to share during the shoot and after is priceless. The Instax is now our toy.

The day after I was circulating the idea about what makes the Instax photos so special. While the person in the actual photo plays a huge part, I also found out it’s the ‘extra attention’ paid to each photo makes Instax and perhaps others refer as film so special. I got no problem with the ‘extra attention’ as I shoot my digital like film in a way. The 60mm lens which similar to the standard 50mm has put new perspective to casual users who rarely use this focal, I’m for one. It puts even more attention to what’s in and not in the frame to nail the photo.

The name card sized instant photos rolls out while we hit the shutter become the precious memories. It can’t be replicated by our digital gear’s megapixels. I do not think we can compare the two, digital and instant analog together. They’re for different use for and as a user. Since that day, I’m addicted to the Instax. I can’t wait to turn the next blank film into something interesting I’ve encountered. The Mini 90 sounds like fun.

I’ll give myself a few days to cool off this feeling…

Gone missing
Around the clock
End of the day, start of the night
Eye
Bananas
American School Bus
Restaurant
Fruit stall
Gardener and the construction
Monitoring
Nathan Road
Flowers
Poses
The famed tv host as the fortune god
Flowers and rain water

Endlessness

It’s hard to maintain the intensity over time. It’s true. I seem to be shooting less but instead feeling more on the reason behind each photo taken. I’m looking more into the entire processing cycle and theme goes into each batch instead. Maybe because the fact that I shoot less, I treasure more each and every frame i got. I arrange no assignment or project for myself. There’s not a need for me to meet the schedule. The only thing that stands between me and my photographic output is my motivation, the passion to make it happen. My every brief walk counts into each frame.

Life is too short. It’s pieces of moment I want to remember. Places change too fast, familiar faces come and go. I’ve been living in an apartment for 20 years or so, but I do not know anyone in this 36-story building. I do not expect everyone would live the same place forever. I remember when I was a kid, I could easily go visit neighbors or have them as guests. Kids cares no privacy, it’s one thing I realized. Adults demand their own privacy/personal space and putting up walls against everyone, assuming everyone is strangers. It could be just me, no wonder adults all wish to move out.

I do not really know if a break is really needed for a photographer. It’s a thought I’m always questioning in my mind. The more I urge myself to produce, the less I seem to having production. It’s this endless chase day by day, week by week, on and on.

Close
Before close
Watery Light
Street Battle of Chess
Banana and Conversation
Closing Gate
Head Chef
Day Time Cantonese Diner
Lunch
After Hour 1After Hour 2
After Hour Drink
Affection
Fish Ball Brothers
Thru the Glass of a Cantonese Cafe

Crowded Attractions

It’s our nature of many Hong Kongers to go with the trend, do what others do. From the hoax of salt that could prevent radiation during the tsunami, I saw how people react and fight for the last bag of salt in many supermarkets for a few days. We can’t afford to lose opportunities. And many of our younger generations are increased to the level of connected to the social networks. Our TV stations (or actually just one main channel among no more than 5 cantonese channels) are not producing inspiring programs let alone how lousy some of the night time dramas can be. Our window to the world becomes faster but perhaps narrower.

Our news are increasingly localized to cater the mass audience’s appetite. Newspapers influences people’s minds. Politicians may stir up the facts not being subjective and hindering the good of Hong Kong people. Now if the audience do not know the facts and hear one version of opinion, he/she is going to believe what has been told. That’s how we receive news daily. We’re less connected when we’re social connected.

We’re sensitive to the little things, when it’s mentioned by your friends, the news, the social networks. Things stir up and escalate into something else. The Hong Kong Government is extremely terrible in doing long term strategic planning. It’s a known fact that we’re reaching the full capacity of hosting tourists (especially from Mainland) on some districts. Tsim Sha Tsui/Causeway Bay are namely the two common locations for tourists do their shopping. It’s a common scene for them to line up to enter the Luxury clothing shops. We can easily see how crowded on some subway stations, it’s especially worse during rush hours. Not only human are packed into the platforms and trains, but also suitcases. There were folks pissed about the tourists from Mainland and founded an anti-mainland tourist movement. I personally think that the movement is way over the line. However, we must face the fact that Hong Kong is really lacking of tourist attractions. I even avoid visiting some part of the city to prevent any inconvenience for myself and my significant other.

When someone sees rare sakura blossoms in HK, we take ferry travel to an island just to see a small tree with it. When there’re maple leaves, we travel hours and jog up to the mountain to photograph as a momento. One photo posted on the social network and spreads like mad disease makes them also wants to own that momento. It may sound silly already. Couples flock to those scenes when it’s really not a scene we all imagined from others’ photographs. I was one to be disappointed. If I think deeper, I realize it’s because we the people wish to see “new things” we don’t ever see here. I’m for one who’s into zoo and wild animals. I’d like to see a zoo built in the city. Governments must consider facilities not only for the tourists but also for the locals.

Our society is facing the issue of aging population. Singles are not getting married. How are people going to date without sufficient meeting spots, hangout places, spectacular atmospheric experiences? Families are considering not giving birth. How is our next generation going to have their children without quality public spaces? It’s so complicated, all we could do is hope; and our fate is left for the politicians and governments to decide.

Sakura
Come for just one tree
Poses
Maple leaves
Meeting in the dock
Sunset

These’re odd set of photos taken when I was hanging out with my significant other, moments to remember so to speak. It touches my feeling to the city lately… I’m displeased and so I get not much inspiration lately. It’ll really slow down my pace in capturing what I feel in the city.