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

MastaMic (流行無罪 – 街頭發佈會) Single Release Show 2012 @ Mong Kok.

Music, Photography

MastaMic (right) & Big Sammy (left)

(中文在頁底)

For those who don’t know MastaMic (most probably you don’t), he’s a Hong Kong underground (indie) rapper. He’s the undefeated freestyle rapper of Hong Kong. Carrying this title could be a double-edged blade. Losing a rap battle would be a big hit. Apparently, he managed to continue and inject even more energy to his music and use this to market himself and his crew. And his humorous character brings joy to his fans.

Let the show begin!

Last time/early this February, I attended his ‘Justice is What I Rap For’ mixtape release show at Fringe Club. That was my first time seeing his live show. I still remember the anticipation of the mixtape and being distributed from the selected locations. I love his political tracks from his mixtape. The year before the mixtape release, some of those tracks were being played on a fun sarcastic/political program (Headliner – RTHK) on the major TV channels. That’s how I knew this guy. Thanks to the internet or I won’t be able to google him.

MastaMic on the mic.

I admit I’m NOT his no.1 fan. I’m not too into hiphop but I used to listen to the mainstream hiphop/rap music (I’m more of a rock/metal person). I really want to show support to someone that has potential to be who he wants to be. That’s why I came out to his free gig, twice!

MastaMic and his crew is currently undergoing the recording of his first official album. It’s due to release in September. Good luck!

I have mentioned before the pedestrian zone of Mong Kok is full of artists and performers. This time a better known performer MastaMic takes on the street for a single release gig. They have set up a place nicely. There’s even a mini-backstage. At the front there’s the PAs, workspace for the DJ. I arrived at 4:45pm. There were hardly anyone waiting. But there I was..i guess there’s my early reward to be able to photograph MastaMic and Big $ammy while they were not busy. Big $ammy has got some really nice body art!

It was a 1-hour show as scheduled. There were two camera guys filming the entire gig -one with a go-pro fisheye and another one with a Lumix G3 + fisheye lens. I was thinking about bringing my GRD and 21mm lens before heading out. But then, I need to stick with my plan to photograph with my X100. I totally forgot to charge my battery today…I only had a 3/4 full battery. I was so afraid that It’s going to run out during the show.

Police crashing the party

As soon as the show begins, the street was packed. Audiences and fans gathered and surrounded the stage. They’ve introduced the crew. It’s great that DJ Moka is running the show for MastaMic today. Guess what, briefly after the second song, two policemen arrived at the scene. As we all have imagined, the sound level was pretty powerful. I was standing by a speaker so I could feel it!!! The crowd had gone mad as soon as the show was interrupted. Lots of boos.. I did not know under what circumstances they managed to continue with the same sound level even with more vocal intensity. Shortly after the police were gone. MastaMic played a song that’s not on the original rundown – (D.O.G. – Death Of the Government). It’s dedicated to the annoying police 😛

Get back to the show

MastaMic

MastaMic doing the dance

MastaMic's expression

Recording the chorus section for the coming album

I forgot how many songs they’ve played. All I remembered was I had a great time. They’ve played a couple tracks of the recent mixtape which I liked. And the last song they played was the new single. They had done an excellent job to let the crowd involved on the chorus of the song. A nice tune indeed.

DJ Mocha

He had done a freestyle rap. He rapped about his working partner, Gerald. It was cool.

MastaMic + Big Sammy

MastaMic + Big Sammy

Posing

Couragous shout to the crowd

At last but not least, time for some dollar dollar. MastaMic pretended as a pirated CD seller at the DJ’s table…hilarious… He was actually selling his CDs.

MastaMic selling CDs.

I snapped photos throughout the show, some turned out fine… Anyway, it’s so damn nice to be there and witnessed a rising star to go from the street to the mainstream (that’s his vision and his dream). Not sure if I’d be able to see him that close later on. All the best, my friend!

Go find out his music here

Official Site: http://www.mastamic.com.hk/
FaceBook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/MastaMic

相信大家都有可能聽過馬米MastaMic的名字。他是一位非常活躍於Hiphop 的rapper/地下音樂/表演人。他的出眾之處就是他的靈活、速度等rap技術,因此可rap得出極之到位的詞/rhyme。再加上一副可笑+朝積的臉子,真是好有趣的呢!

而我是由’頭條新聞’認識他。就是’Hate ‘em Now’這一曲讓我得知原來香港的Indie/Underground音樂是存在的 (他在MV跳上鐵絲網這個動作好搞鬼!!!)。在外國的Indie音樂是一個成立的單位,很多band, singer/songwriter在比較低層次的舞台上表演及進行活動。因機緣巧合之下被上了位的主流音樂人提拔而跟隊同台表演。香港比較商業化的K歌世界天下, 提攜往往是非常難發生的事。MastaMic同他的crew (Justice League)也是花不少光陰走他們的路。

今年九月是MastaMic首張大碟推出的大日子,之前兩張免費download的Mixtape都已經有那麼高水準,相信他的debut album會更加有”鑊氣”。不過我也擔心他的rap material 材料會太過主流,可能未必會有我想聽到的政治、民心音樂。

回想上一次聽MastaMic的live是差不多半年前的事,在上旬二月的Mixtape release show我介紹了朋友一起看他演出, 大家都讚不絕口。今次的單曲發報是我第一次到的街頭演出,在室外的感覺極之自由,加上是在出名人多的旺角行人專用區,氣氛非常熱鬧!

我本人不是什麼超級fan屎,但我知道什麼叫支持, 我支持的不單只是MastaMic或獨立音樂人, 而也是為著支持本土的音樂藝術文化,他們的堅持是值得我們加許同學習。

我幸好早到少少, 有頭位之餘還拍下MastaMic跟Big Sammy的合照。這除是我的喜好外也是我對他們的支持, 希望他們不太介意啦!!!

街頭發佈會表演開始時, MastaMic rap出一段快速的opening,像AK47般做了一個少少熱身。接上演出了兩曲後…兩位警察叔叔到場了解事情, 關心聲浪太大, 我心想一年得一兩次,隻眼開, 隻眼閉吧! 有少部份人因此噓表示不滿。警察叔叔查詢後 – 隻眼開, 隻眼閉!!! MastaMic 因此加唱了一首歌 (D.O.G.) 給叔叔。 其實之後都應多謝他們吧。

我相信警察叔叔的出現把演出更加成功, 令大家更珍惜同投入! MastaMic演出了數首的政治民心曲, DJ Moka在MacBook上做的Shuffle, Mute同Remix都到位, 末段的Freestyle同新曲 ’流行無罪’ chorus更令全場’互動’了不少。

最後,MastaMic在DJ台上假裝賣’老番’!! 其實是賣他的Single CD。