Bonded

I just can’t pretend to be an expert when I’m not. When on the street if you ever spot me, you’d notice I hardly shoot a lot. My philosophy is: shoot only the special stuff.  This became a habit and until recently I got so consumed with the film rangefinders. I brought my 35RC with me I realized I wasted too much time and effort when busy changing settings (manual exposure). I ended up missing what’s around me (got so stressed out too lately). You may argue it’s the fun part. I do not disagree but to my productivity on any normal given day, it does not add up. I need to set free with the auto mode.

The stripped down real basic of what photography should really be; it’s about how we see, how we feel about life, the people and more. It’s a calling to why I photograph. I just want to experience the life around me. What dictates the work of somebody is really how they find interesting experience and paint it like a story. It’s when I go back to the compact, always-ready attitude. It surprised me how it enabled me to produce (more). The more I produce, the more likely to get what I want. I looked back from the 2 or 3 rolls so far I’ve taken. This market scene picture had got to be my favorite. I believe it’s how I bond with my gear by spending quality time with it on the field, then celebrate the results by saying: Thank you! You did it again!

Lips
The Alternative Wedding Shoot
Woman
The Construction Work
Essence Oil
Floral Wall
Disco Neon in Market
Glass Lanterns
Outdoor Theatre (Pound Lane Concern Group)

Severed Outside the Umbrella

Let us be clear, human has to live. Democracy cannot feed people. In order to feed people, we all need money. To look around the city, traffic is blocked many major roads. Businesses lose money, workers commute for longer time to work/home, tourists wander off to some other districts. Nobody knows when will everything go back to order. Government seems using the draining strategy on the protesters. They are not doing anything but to let the protesters occupy. The effect I see is that the government wishes the affected citizen or the silent majority stand up and get together to clear them out.

While the protest is still unsettled, most people’s voices is that the protesters can still protest under the circumstances to not interfere with their daily lives. It’s the bargaining chip the protesters hold. There’s not really a clear way-out as of this moment.

I’m done with the Occupy Central related material and began focusing more on the daily lives again last week. I did 3 rolls on the Konica. I thought it was too much as well considering many of them turned out weak. It’s why they invented digital in the first place. And I knew beforehand my work as a visitor would not ever be better than the photojournalists camping at the ground zero.

Apart from that, It was a hectic week. With lots of running around in town after knowing the Black Konica has issue on focusing. Neither the previous owner nor the professional repair could fix it. Long story short, I came by a CLA’ed Olympus 35 RC, lens is scratched up (I worried for a few days). It’s 42mm, portraiture would just be fine. Whether will I be able to capture what I usually do, I’d let time answer for me. The silver/black body was something I was fizzy about, not being the most unobtrusive. I got over it after a few use. First roll came out with incredible colors and contrasts. Everything works plus it can operate with full manual control, less the battery. My heart is all over it. This is the replacement.

These images are from mix of two cameras and films, as these were some street shots I made on the test rolls. I mixed them up intentionally to express how mixed up the past week was. Some highs, some (mostly) lows; some clear, some unclear.

Central Java Indoesian Wedding Costume
Market still lives
Busy Subway Station
The Umbrella Guardians
Outside World
Barricade

Walk on the Artery

The Umbrella Revolution had taught me about the role of a photographer. Seeing all the great live images from the photojournalists, does make you wonder if you’d be able to get some. Answer is simple, yes and no. Yes, if you get paid. No, if you ain’t get a dime from a single image. There’s a fine line between your passion and your own personal safety. Riots and protests can go sour especially on the frontline when the civilians go against the police authority. You have 50% chance of getting hurt without any insurance coverage, damaging your gear (insurance associated). I just think it’s not worth it to risk on any of the above mentioned unless yourself is part of the protest party. Give the job to the journalists and leave your passion behind until the situation improved.

It was my first time in life remembering how a protest escalated and had turned into a riot of such scale in Hong Kong. My first reaction was ‘Oh my god! It’s really happening’. Right after the surprising announcement by Benny Tai of the Occupy Central founder which’s the same day midnight, they moved up the schedule to occupy Central as the students have gathered at the Government HQ and sparked a huge impact thru the news. It’s a statement just like declaring a war only the students were guerrilla and the Occupy Central with Love and Peace Movement Group is the mercenary backed by the news tycoon Jimmy Lai.

How quickly a movement like this had brought all the international news correspondents to town. I still remember I tuned in the 6pm news report just when I got home. Just when the live reporter about to describe the situation, the riot police popped a few gas grenades out. This type of scenes would only be seen through TV on the soccer-popular countries. The reporter got choked and people were escaping behind. I thought it was a surprise too, but surprises like these were necessary to contain the situation like all riot police in the world. It’s just rare happening here at our home turf. Really rare. The announcement last night I thought i was witnessing something, but then when the protesters gone mad with the tear gas i thought i was witnessing history. The history of how citizen protect their rights to protest and voice their views in indifferences.

The tear gas had brought more people out to the battle ground at the Government HQ the day after. The protesters had jammed the entire highway. That even brought more aware people to visit the site on foot on the first day of work after all the chaos happened over the weekend. All business district without traffic is a joke. It was a little jog from where I work but I made it there twice during lunch and once at night on the early few days of protest. The speedway of both direction to and out of Central is sealed off along with many other major passages, even the world famous double-decker Tram cannot run through Casueway Bay to Central (oops to tourists). It’s the artery to the heart of Hong Kong. Drivers are forced to drive up to the mountain to go pass all the roadblocks. That’s why business owners do not support this Occupy act.

So here I give you an exclusive view of what you might not be seen at the protest, A walk on the artery of Connaught Road.
Day - Jog
Night - Occupy
Day - Watch
Night - Participate
Day - Nap
Night - Revolution
Day - Selfies
Day - Witnessing history
Day - Look down, Step downNight - Look up, Go Hong Kong
Day - Play
Night - Charged up
Night - Sending message through chalk
Night - Sending message thru text

Off The Grid

It was my misfortune that my 2nd roll from my LCA turned out blank after the unexpected failure from the camera strap. I learned from this fatal mistake and moved on. I had gone back to the same market that surprised me of how busy it could get in the late afternoon. This is where most (older) people get their fresh produce, you may call it the wet market; though there’s also the dry section. They think they get better deals from this type of market. The younger couples would either buy their ingredients from the medium/upscale supermarket instead. I suspect due to the cleanliness and also the origins – anywhere but China. Or else the couple would just eat out to save time and effort.

I got used to this type of fishy, bloody, wet environment since I was a kid. I used to go along to the fresh market back then to just find something to do with the domestic helper (mom & dad both work during the day). It was part of my memory to hang out at the market, I did not even remember how old I was.

Nearly all districts in Hong Kong has at least a few of these wet markets all packed in a building which you would not know there’s one unless you enter one. It’s off the grid and I found myself entered a whole new world of the local community. You may still find the old fashion open markets as stalls and ground level shops in a few gathering location. But those will eventually go away due to the rents and re-development. The live chicken business may go away too one day, who knows (because of the Bird Flu). You’ll see many quirky stuff in these type of markets. Fish cut off still seem pretty much alive, toads hopping in cage, cattles’ internal organs hanging on hooks…alright just those things you thought only be possible in halloween or movies.

I still found myself enjoying this part of life. Seeing how differently people live in our city. And I get to taste what I love too, cold soya milk and hot rolls. I found a place selling just baked roll/bun/bread whatever you want to call it for just HKD$1. The size of a fist. You can get a bag full with just 10 bucks.
Aged District
Foam Price tag
Fish Stall
Fruit Stall
Chicken Cage
Chicken Stall
Chicken Butcher
Vegetable Stall
Toy Skeleton Limbs

40 Year-Old ‘Cast Away’

You’ll never know when you want to pick up a film camera. It’s can be a hassle, it’s uncertain, it’s a risk, it’s a long list of questions popping out from anywhere when not knowing what you are dealing with. Versus digital, basically when you have a camera and battery; you’re all set. The rest is history.

I must give it up to the Lomographic Society still kicking around and still pretty much very active in sharing film related knowledge to anyone with liked minds. What’s more they’ve done is that they’ve made film photography so accessible by erasing all the pain and doubts for the beginners. If you have ever consider buying a film cameras off the craiglist, ebay and other platforms; the chances are you’d spend time researching on the make and model. Once you pinpointed an issue (ex. viewfinder too tiny, battery compatibility, design/mechanical quirks, ASA limitations, limited shutter speed…) you may face, you’d just put it on hold or even just move on. If the price is in your acceptable range, you may just get it anyway; in worst case just treat it as a living room decor or some likes calling it the paperweight.  I’ve gone through these cycles a few times. I know how painful it is but nothing can go terribly wrong as long as I have a fully functional LC-A+ with me.

I’d been working with the LC-A+ for almost two months now. The fact that it’s new brings me assurance on my output. Everything just works. With Lomography’s continual improvements on features from the original Russian model, such as ASA setting up to 1600, film canister window to display film shooting on. This is a fine example how simple it is to just click and you have a frame. A great way to learn about your zone focus with the distance lever. Limited film speed means you’ve to either work all your frames during the day or snap on with a flash. A cast away type of feeling when you actually try hard enough to photograph.

Just few days ago It’s a leap of faith to get a rangefinder off the craiglist. And seriously, why the classics are always looking so darn good?! It’s quite exact the answer how I attracted to the Konica C35 FD (Auto S3). I’m aware this is also rare. What’s more is that I wanted to try the rangefinder experience. Shutter-priority is what lived during the 70s rangefinders. It’s somewhat semi-automatic. You select the shutter speed and it selects the rest for you according to the ASA setting. One of the biggest concern is the battery that powers the light meter. The camera can’t really function without it, as it selects aperture for you. There’re off a lot of debate on this battery topic: 1.35V PX675 mercury battery. To get the right voltage required is theoretically impossible with the modern cell batteries. You can compensate it by tempering the ASAs when going for the LR44 cells, but it’s just no way of knowing unless you check the light meter 24/7.  Some say the color negatives can tolerate these over/underexposure without noticeable difference from the original discontinued mercury cells. It’s everyone’s conclusion that the Zinc-Air 675 cell works best, but the design of it requires exposure to air and it lives for two months give or take. Some say the weather changes the nature of the battery. Seriously? I just want a functional camera.

These rangefinder classics are still out there. I like at them as gems as I love how compact they are as a rangefinder. I see no reason why these rangefinders are merely collectibles cannot re-live during our times. They’ve got fantastic glass, compact body, durable and many of them still out there. The way I see it is that, if there’s a photographic community can develop cell batteries (or even better rechargeable) that works perfectly with these cameras like how it used to be; it’ll unlock more useable gems for analogue photographers. Just imagine one day a group of guys have the power, connection and money to develop something like ‘The Impossible Project’ for Polaroid, in the case of batteries.

Back to this Konica rangefinder. It built like a tank, weights 410g. I thought this thing was about to fall apart as it’s 40 years old and the lens is not like the modern glass with precision. It has a maximum shutter speed of 1/500. You either need a light meter or app to understand what speed gives the best mix of depth of field for your image, or you assess the environment with your own sense.  The later is what I called, guess it. I just received my first developed roll, i believe this is what everyone would have done to test it out. I do not see it acting erratic. More than half the roll was just click and shoot, and exposures on them were spot on! I was so afraid there’d be light leaks and inaccurate metering. What a relieve..It’s also worth mentioning I shot through the entire roll in an hour. Forcing bad shots made me feel so guilty as it’s just wrong with film.

The focus on a rangefinder is a little strange for someone who’d never done it before. Once you know the mechanism of it, you’d become part of it. I found it a bit fun actually, although zone focus still prevail in every other way. To be able to produce imagery out of this Konica, makes me feel honored. There’s no knowing on how much mileage ahead of it. Chances are until it get banged up which won’t happen on my watch.
Portugese Egg Tarts
Imagined Reality
Umbrella
Inter-exterior
Graham Street Market
CrossingLeaks
Noodle Cook
Revisit

The Painkiller

I have never imagine I’d have such regret ever when messing up with a roll of film. While I’d like to put all the blame on the OEM LCA hand strap, it’s what caused an accident like this causing the camera free fall from hip level. Nonetheless, camera did not break and all fine now i believe, but the consequence was unimaginable. The entire roll came back and only 8 frames were there, the rest were blank. Somehow the film detached in the compartment, I did not make sure if film was advancing at all. I kept shooting like a digital. Lesson learned with a heavy price paid.

Now all I wish I could do is to catch up with all my available time. I’m trying just a bit too hard. I could totally see myself in desperation. A great way to force myself to go out, an unhealthy way to produce my work.

A couple mobile images here to illustrate and remind us all how easy digital can be from start to finish. Having a handful of images produced is like a painkiller to my tension built up in the city.
Laterns & Rabbits
Skyscrapers and People
Solo
Cloud Above
Candle flame

Chef’s Passion & Love

In early September, I was helping at the Restaurant & Bar Trade Exhibition for the company I worked for. There’s so much to work for and so little to see as a staff, no surprise. Yet, from my trip to the restroom I saw something that made my eyes sparkled on the first day. That is the culinary competition for the Young Talent Trophy. The host Disciples Escoffier had a dedicated area with stage, open kitchens, judges’ panel and seating area. The first time came to my mind was the Japanese culinary challenge broadcasted on TV – the Iron Chef. I just love that show and had gone through two periods of my life, childhood and college. It brings me back so deep I just indulged into the entire environment. Chefs prepared food without the sous, all done within an hour with selected classic French dishes/ingredients. These are professionals and likely without any fame just yet in their early career. They were incredibly focused. Then there’s the catch.

There’s the female chef representing South Korea in one corner. In Asia, Korean is the trend setter. I’m no exception but to check out what she’s up to. Honestly, if that was just a young chef from Hong Kong, I might not stop and look at all. It was my first time seeing live cooking by a female chef. She’s in her own world making food, reminds me of the athletes. I was there for just a minute and i got that impression already on the first day.

The Exhibition lasts for 3 days and I was there all the way. I did not even remember what I’d done on the second day, it’s just crowded and nothing extraordinary. The third day, just when I was done for the day; I stood in as a spectator. It’s all due to the Macao representative. He’s enthusiastic looking and crunching through the last few minutes for the course. That’s the time I decided to capture a few of those moments to remember. There were some other chef candidates from Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and the mentioned Macao and South Korea. They all enjoyed cooking a lot, and had shown professionalism.

The last day I squeezed out a little of my lunch break for these incredible cooking, panel tasting action. I just could not witness the later trophy presentation ceremony for the winners and runner-ups. All I heard was the South Korean lady won, her name is Kim Eunbi. Not bad, not bad at all. I’m so happy at the same time jealous that they’ve picked their profession so early on. Everyone has their own path to take, right?

Chef's Presentation
Prep and Cook
Plating
Plating
FInal Touch
To the judges
The Escoffier International Judges/Presidents
The Magic Moment