One month with X100 – Episode II: People of Sham Shui Po

Photography

Sham Shui Po

Indonesian Ladies

Old lady hawker

Sham Shui Po

Sham Shui Po

Steel watch trader

Chinese medicinal cups

Sham Shui Po Buildings

Pulling the rope

Newer part of Sham Shui Po

Scratching

Pakistan man on a bike

At the shop window

Sham Shui Po

Market in Sham Shui Po

Old man

Got lost

Sham Shui Po

From the last post One month with X100 – Episode I, had received the most followers’ ‘like’ since Freshly Pressed last May. Judging from the reaction from the crowd, this series seems be a nice one. So, dear followers/friends, Thanks for checking out!

This series is derived from my two visits to Sham Shui Po. It’s one of the last districts I’d think about doing street photography. It’s the poorest district of Hong Kong. Don’t worry, It’s perfectly safe to travel. Just when you do photography you have to be very selective knowing what to shoot. In general, you’d face some resistance on the stall market. It’s best to earn permission or shoot with a compact camera. Using a VF and bring it up to the eye can create tension to some stall owners especially if you’re shooting up close.

Other than that, it has become my favorite location for photography. It has a very good mix of people with different ethnicity and background. The district is perhaps not getting enough government funding to do just about anything. I see it as a good way to slow down the rapid city development. Many tenement buildings can be found around Sham Shui Po. These are the historic landmarks of the old Hong Kong. This district is notorious for its sub-divided units. It’s due to the Government’s lack of public housing for the poor.

My impression to this district is that there’re two majority groups of people on the street – Middle-aged men and elderly. Middle aged men wants to do honest business without the ripped off rent. The elderly are struggling with their lives, trying to earn a buck or two with their own hands. I even saw an old curb side Chinese doctor, I don’t think it’s a scam but he might not have certifications or might have their own story ended up on the street. He does have his patients. Are there youngsters? Yes, they can be found indoor, at the crowded computer shopping mall (Golden Computer Center).

I’m so amazed by how many shots I’ve missed, nearly missed and nailed. I just don’t know whether I should be happy or upset. More of a mixed feeling. It’s good to know how I miss, why I miss. It’s sad to know i repeat mistake like framing subjects out of a photo. I would love the X100 to have fixed frame marks even the shutter is not half-pressed.

From a photographic standpoint, I’ve included shots with scenery, objects, and etc. That definitely had added varieties to the set. The idea of adding more proportion of scenery came from my visit to Tsing Yi. I was so into shooting up close with subject in the past few months. No doubt, it ‘s interesting from time to time highly depend upon the subject/environment/timing/action..etc. Think of it as a fine dining, you want appetizer, soup, main courses, desert and wine to go with the entire meal. A meal with only courses of the same sort will very likely to end up boring unless it’s very very tasty. So picking/arranging photos on a set is a serious business.

Continue to Episode III

One month with X100 – Episode I: The B&W City of Hong Kong.

Photography

Street of Sham Shui Po

Lady by a column in Sham Shui Po

Fuk On Lane

Fuk On Lane...

Chef

Pollution

Indoesian ladies

Napping at lunch

Black cat

_

Woman

Smiling Dog

Man

a Kid Fishing

Couple under the sun

Eating Ice Cream

Lady

Up and down

Biker

Man outside a cafe

Dog on a trolley

Bus Driver

I’m finding my routine daily photo taking on my way home to be very repetitive with the similar settings and environment. I’m only capturing very few photos a day. Only comfort is at least there’s one or two that represents the day. I try to travel/walk less due to the humid, warm weather. The weather could go up to 33°C on the street with all the skyrise in the city. Ventilation is terribly bad, there’s hardly any wind in many places. I get so sweaty whenever I go home. I’d rather go home earlier for catch my favorite political show on TV (I Want To Be Chief Executive).

My entire month of July has been dedicated to my X100. I spent every single bit of time with it when I shoot photo, while my GRD is well kept in my dry box. Other than that, my commitment to the X100 is well maintained. There were moments I wished the focus could be sharper when I had the aperture set at f5.0-5.6. It turned out okay. I’ve also experimented with the film simulation setting from Astia to Provia. I get lots of blown out highlights with Provia during the day, while Astia gives more saturated colors. After running the presets on pc, the differences are minimal. I’m actually using the blown highlights and shadow bands to develop my b&w photos. It’s giving me another kind of cool effect without compromising the original details. I still prefer individual image settings applied to each film simulation like Ricoh (now the image setting applies to all simulation…logical?!).

The photos all seem so random when I look at them individually (or I should say they’re not too stand out). I try to somehow tie them to a theme. I think it’s best to have them displayed as a monthly series of my city. I think the more I look at what some of the better known street photographers (Jacob aue Sobol, Andreas Herzau, Daido Moriyama) do on their photo books. I found there’s always a good mix of portraits (from different point of view), environments (with or without human), objects (some) and abstract compositions. I believe that’s what keeping their displayed work interesting. Martin Parr had said in his recent broadcast of Google+ Hangout – “In order to have good pictures, you need to have bad pictures.” He also mentioned that it’s fine to taken many bad pictures if we could learn from it. It’s so true when only the good ones go on display. It all comes down to the photo selection.

Showing/posting photos is easy. The way we present it such as the arrangement,  essay that goes with it, color/b&w, photo effects that applied (if digital), and more…can be a complicated art. I always focus on these aspects when I do mine. However, I took one step further and spent more time arranging them (really hope it flows better on this series). And this time I had done a slight variation on my black & white processing. I enjoy this evolving development, though I still try not to overdo with too much manipulation. It’s a great way to keep myself engaged and know more about the image adjustments on both my camera and software. Recognizing this is only my 2nd priority and not the 1st (photo shooting) would prevent me from overloading myself.

This ‘one month with one camera’ project is likely to continue for another month or two. I found restricting myself shooting with only one camera would help myself visualize things with only one focal length. Like I’ve mentioned before, it could be tight to frame tall buildings and huge structure. With careful framing, it’s absolutely possible to only hunt for ‘the meat’. It helps me to understand what has to be in a photo and what are the important elements to be included in the frame.

Continue to Episode II

Push to The Limit with Ricoh GRD IV + GW-2: Episode II – Tamar CGC

Photography

A very humid and foggy day it’s in Hong Kong. Fortunately, there’s fair amount of wind blowing, made my city architecture shot attempt turned out okay. I brought my portable gorillapod for the shot. This is something I enjoy doing once in a while really. Doing urban lanscape is a very relaxed activity, it’s yet a good dose of ‘photography med’  after a whole week of street photography, hehe..

The place where I went shooting was in Admiralty, Hong Kong. Admiralty really doesn’t have much in it. Mostly a place for offices, 5 star hotels, and a few interconnected shopping malls. And also a whole bunch of bus stops. It’s a ‘gap’ between Central and Wan Chai. It’s only filling in the space. However, it’s an interesting spot for shooting above the highway/streets. There’re bridges all over the place.

I went up to the new Central Government Complex (添馬艦新香港政府總部辦公大樓) podium as it’s opened to the public not too long ago. The CGC is a beautiful place at night. The huge arch-like structure reminds me of the St. Louis Arch.  It’s modern, quiet, I’d imagine it’s going to be a great place for couples dating 😛  I’d…

Central Government Complex (CGC) - 添馬艦新香港政府總部辦公大樓
ISO80 f7.1 6secLight trails on Connaught Road and the SkylineISO125 f8.0 4sec

Central Government Complex (CGC) - 添馬艦新香港政府總部辦公大樓
ISO800 f2.8 1/6sec

The last photo was a bit of a gamble. I didn’t want to push my ISO higher. 1/6sec s. speed handheld. The far away lady added mood to my capture and showing how tiny she’s compared to the building.

It’s proven once again. The 10 megapixel Ricoh GRD IV has the necessary flexibility to achieve shots like these. It’s got enough dynamic range and gosh,..the setup weights only a fraction of a DSLR and perhaps a bit lighter than a mirrorless. Well, mirrorless is another animal, i won’t go there. Most importantly, it’s done with a compact point & shoot camera.

Thanks to the GW-2 21mm lens conversion, i was able to capture the entire block of CGC. Happy shooting with yours too!