A Photographic Journey

Hong Kong

More Tin Hau firedragon

Date: 4/10/2009 21:06 Camera: Canon 5DMk2 + Canon 50/1.2 L Exposure: 1/800sec at f/1.2 Focal Length: 50mm

Here is a third photo from the same event, the man in the picture is holding the lure that is the way the villagers use to direct the fiery dragon, at the end of the festival the fire dragon is extinguished by returning it to the sea.  The geometric shape of the lure, made of incense makes for an interesting composition, though the handler is in the bokeh you can still feel his intensity.

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More Tin Hau firedragon

Date: 4/10/2009 20:56 Camera: Canon 5DMk2 + Canon 50/1.2 L Exposure: 1/1000sec at f/1.2 Focal Length: 50mm

As you know so far, I use many systems but this setup with this lens is the fastest low light monster I own (with the exception of the equally good Canon 1D mark III), even a Leica 50/0.95 is a few stop slower if you take into account the ISO 3200  that I am using with confidence on this mobo.  Not to mention the rapid fire of the camera, even the relative slow Canon 5DMk2 can manage 3.9 fps with a much larger memory buffer than the digital Leica M9.  This photo depicts the man manning the tail, it is the most active part of the dragon and needed a new person to handle every minute as its very tiring.  As the tail is swooshed around the sparks fly!  It’s actually quite dangerous for prospective photographers!  Note that unlike the other photo, there is no faux film grain added to this photo as the grain with compete with the point sparks for the viewer’s attention.


Tin Hau firedragon

Date: 4/10/2009 20:32 Camera: Canon 5DMk2 + Canon 50/1.2 L Exposure: 1/1000sec at f/1.2 Focal Length: 50mm

Here I had the privilege of a press pass to get close and personal with the Tin Hau firedragon, it is a part of the full moon festival that occurs annually around April, but in Tin Hau, Hong Kong there is a twist to the usual dragon, its a fire dragon.  The story goes that the old fishing village that was Tin Hau had a plague, a seer advice the villagers to raise a potent fire dragon to frighten away the disease and as the myth goes it worked and it has been a tradition ever since.  The dragon itself is huge needing hundreds of volunteers to manuveor, the body core is made up of a very long roll of straw and stuck in the straw all along its long length is tens of thousands of burning incense.  It was painful to photograph as the smoke of all those incense stung the eye badly and I was weeping all the while.  The results were worth the pain though.  Here is one of my favorite photos, its composition turned out perfect with dynamic subjects this is very difficult, or should I say fortunate.  The photo retains the vital energy of its subjects and it is this dynamism that attracted me to this photo.  With all these people basically running through the scene, the high ISO, f/1.2 aperture and rapid autofocus was essential to keep the shutter speed up to capture this scene.  The gritty black and white look was added post-processing.


Shades of green

Date: 28/5/2010 14:31 Camera: Rollei 6008AF + Schneider 80/2 Xenotar PQ + Sinar eMotion 75 Digital Back Exposure: 1/25sec at f/4 on a tripod Focal length: 80mm (645 format with a crop factor of 1.1x)

This photo was taken at the southern tip of Hong Kong at a sea side village call Shek O, its a popular spot for budding photographers to visit, it has a very laid back atmosphere, good food and friendly locals.  The area is full of picturesque locales and the villagers of late have been painting their houses in bright primary colors.  The photo is of a freshly painted green fence.  It was taken with a medium format digital back that have a dynamic range of 12 stops and capture color with 16 bits per RGB channel, which translates to 16 thousand colors per channel compared to 4096 colors per channel of a professional Nikon body producing a 12 bit per channel NEF file.  On top of that the sensor of this professional digital back is 33 mega-pixels and resolves much more detail than its current DSLR counterparts.  What this means for this photos is a lusher greener fence with more color detail than possible with a DSLR.  All this power doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t use it wisely and produce good compositions!  In the hands of a child it’s still a toy!


Victoria Park in the wet

Date: 8/2/2009 14:32 Camera: Olympus E-P1 + Olympus 17/2.8 Pancake (M4/3) Exposure: 1/4000sec at f/2.8 Focal length: 17mm or 34mm in 35mm equivalent

I frequently use many different cameras, both large and small.  If it was a planned photo outing, I would always try to bring the best tool for the job and that usually means the camera with the best sensor.  But it is the small cameras that shine through and save the day for that impromptu and unplanned shot.  I am unlikely to have my Rollei 6008AF with me on my tram ride past Victoria Park on this rainly day and I would have miss this shot if I didn’t have my little Olympus E-P1 with me.

As the tram went pass the park, a thought flashed past my mind.  The wet green asphalt of the football grounds in the park would make a wonderful reflective surface and the interesting cloud formation would be spectacular in this otherwise a rather uninteresting scene.  I haven’t reached my destination but I jumped out of the tram anyway!  Life of a photographer!  I was wet from head to toe, but I was able to capture this photo just as the sky was clearing up.  I converted the photo to black and white to make the clouds stand out more, and left the color green in the photo to give attention to the reflections in the wet asphalt.


Try to be different with your photos

Date: 19/3/2010 18:25 Camera: Canon 5DMk2 + Sigma 150/2.8 Macro Exposure: 1/80sec at f/2.8 on tripod Focal length: 150mm

There is an annual flower show here in Hong Kong every year during spring time, I am sure its nothing compared to those in Holland but its all we’ve and its very popular with photographers, both professional and amateur.  Tens of thousands of people with cameras in toll flock to the event every year.  I myself have been to five shows over the years and it can get pretty monotonous after a while.  The pavilions on displayed is offered by various floral organizations, embassies and government departments and as you can imagine, apart from a few exceptions, the displays tend to be similar from year to year.  It was particularly hot this year and even though I was there on day-one, many of the flowers have seen much better days after being baked under the noon sun.  In the past two years, I have made an extra effort to take photos no one would’ve thought of to take at the flower show, which is difficult when you consider how many budding photographers go through the turnstiles.  I have learnt that by challenging yourself with difficult themes, limiting your photographic potential to uniqueness, is an excellent way to sharpening your photographic eye.  The above photo is another example of looking for a natural frame, the foliage around the pond with a curious and lonesome goldfish was just perfect and not a single flower in sight!  The hour was getting late and as with many of my photos, it was taken on a tripod.  It may be a bother to carry around, I find a tripod slows me down a little and makes me think about composition, framing, lighting and contrasts of the subject more, which tend to lead to less photos but better photos.


Feather in space

Date: 14/5/2009 16:23 Camera: Canon 1DMk3 + Canon EF 400/5.6 L Exposure: 1/3200sec at f/8 handheld Focal length: 400mm

This “macro” was taken during a birding trip in Mai Po, Hong Kong.  I had found a good high vantage point from a tree to take photos of a few water fowl swimming past under me and as luck would have it, a helicopter flew overhead and not surprisingly frightened the birds to flight, as always I was the prepared scout as a bunch of feathers were let loose from the fleeing birds.  I snapped away as the feather that was floating down into the marsh and this was one of the magical moments that was the result.  You could imagine my surprise when I uploaded the photos into the computer.  The reflection was pitch black and the reflected fronds went in to a crazy Bokeh with the feather remaining crispy sharp.  Rendered by this wonderful prime lens like Photoshop magic, but without the computer.  I have this printed up and framed in perspex at home and it is stunning.


Lamma Sunset

Date: 11/4/2009 17:56 Camera: Canon 5DMk2 + Canon EF 24-70 L Exposure: 1/8000sec at f/2.8 handheld Focal Length: 40mm

This photo was taken on Lamma Island, Hong Kong after a long hike around the island.  I came upon this magical scene and immediately saw the potential of the Tim Burton inspired tree.  I thought: here was a scene straight out of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.  I took a series of snaps, some focused to infinity some like this one was focused on the tree which threw the clouds into cotton ball Bokeh masses, the extreme vignetting was added post-processing for a telescopic effect which further directed the viewers attention and with the faux film grain made the sky look like a Chinese silk screen.  The settings on the camera were intentional to get the tree in a harshly sharp silhouette that strongly contrasted against the fluffy sky.  This was my favorite shot ever taken with the Canon EF 24-70 L lens, which has never been one of my favorites, but this shot has help much to change my mind.