Too much going on
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/4, 1/250s, ISO 400
Readability is considered a great virtue in photographic composition: if the viewer understands what’s going on, he’s much more likely to be engaged with the photograph. There is another school of thought though that argues that the more the viewer needs to immerse himself in the photograph, the more he is engaged. I guess this photo is of the latter sort, with at least three, possibly four separate things happening.
(Click to Enlarge)Scooter Army
I have already shown a little of how crazy the scooter thing is in Saïgon. This shot taken from a rickshaw as we were overtaking the cross-road shows the scooter army poised to depart.
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A street photographer has more control over what features in his frame and how it’s composed than most people think. But one thing remains entirely down to luck and that it exactly what the subjects are doing. Getting great unprovoked facial expressions is down to pure luck. On this one, I was very lucky!
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/4, 1/250s, ISO 500
Over the last few years I’ve developed an approach to street photography that I like to partake in when possible: shooting from the back of a moving vehicle. Be it tuktuk, taxi or bus, I find that while challenging it allows me to get in real close without people reacting to me. And while in Asia people are generally OK with you taking pictures up close, the pictures are not the same when they know you’re shooting. On this particular occasion, I was visiting Saïgon’s Chinese Quarter on a rickshaw, which was perfect for such photos: not too fast and no window. Vietnamese Coffee (drank cold) is a treat and this was (I believe) what they were drinking.
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/60s, ISO 1600
I think it was in The Photographer’s Eye that I first saw words put to the importance of color contrast in photography and it’s role in composition. Not that this one is particularly anything to write home about, but it’s certainly one where I tried to put that in practice.
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/60s, ISO 800
The first time I saw such massive incense spirals burning was at Man Mo temple in Hong Kong. I was happy so see some again in Saigon, they’re such graphic objects. The light was much better in Saigon too although it makes them a tad less dramatic I guess.
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/75s, ISO 200
Sometimes you know when you take a shot that it’s going to be a good one. This was one of those times. I’ve tried to capture this moment when temple visitors light their incense sticks many times, but I’d never really nailed it until then.
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/2, 1/60s, ISO 1000
One of the things I love about Buddhist temples is that there’s always something going on, people praying or burning incense, and it’s all very relaxed, unstructured. Very different from what we expect to see in a Church in Europe.
Chinese Buddhism Abroad
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/5, 1:200s, ISO 200
You might find me masochistic but even though I live in China, I find it quite fascinating to explore the way the Chinese live abroad (when feasible obviously). It turns out that there’s a sizeable Chinese minority in Vietnam, dating back from colonial times and even before. So unsurprisingly, there’s a pretty big Chinatown in Saïgon. We visited there the Thiên Hậu Temple which is a Chinese Buddhist temple in the heart of Chinatown, and even though it is small, it had something that we rarely see in China: authenticity. Most of the temples we have visited here have been reconstructed so many times that there’s no sense of history. This one was built in the XIXth century, but still largely as was. I’ll be sharing more photos from this tiny but fascinating place.
Slow Hong Kong
Fuji x100s, 50mm, f/11, 85s, ISO 200
50mm telephoto extension + in-built ND8 filter
I always meant to explore Bulb mode for really long exposures, but have rarely found the opportunities to do it. Monday night I realized my 21st floor hotel room overlooked a highway amidst tall Hong Kong buildings. I set up my tripod against the window sill and voila! This is a rough version as I’m posting this from the airport and haven’t had time to really tweak the colour temperature, but it’s interesting (I think).