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).
Itinerant Fruit Seller
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/8, 1/60s, ISO 1000
One of the things I love in Asia is that people tend to be happy to be photographed. They smile, sometimes they stop to give you a chance to really capture them. It’s a change from Europe, I can tell you. I have two shots of this vietnamese fruit seller, one where she looks straight at me, and one where she looks on the side. I prefer this one. Tell me what you think !
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/8, 1/60s, ISO 250
I’d once seen a similar street food vendor in Delhi, but not from so close. This guy was happy to be photographed, and righly so: not only did we buy him some pastries, but we attracted attention to him and several more people did too. Marketing himself in the best possible way.
Notre-Dame de Saïgon
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/40s, ISO 3200
It’s easy to forget after all that happened there in the last 50 years that Vietnam was once French. In fact, there seems to be a certain pride still in Saïgon that South Vietnam was once Cochinchina, the only French colony in Indochina (the other regions were protectorates) and that Saïgon used to be know as the Pearl of the Far Orient. There are lasting traces of the French colonial times, but none so impressive as Notre-Dame de Saïgon, a cathedral built entirely of pink stone from Toulouse. Inside there is to this day a blend of Christian imagery and vietnamese votive plates, something I found photographically quite irresistible.
Saïgon Mass Transport
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/5.6, 1/60s, ISO 200
I spent a week in Southern Vietnam over the winter holidays. The first thing that strikes you in Ho Chi Minh Ville (still called Saïgon by its inhabitants) is the teeming mass of scooters with unreasonable numbers of passengers. Of course, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to try my panned shot skills. This isn’t the best one technically (the framing is odd and it’s ever so slightly blurred) but five on a scooter and a winning smile ? I couldn’t let that pass.
The Jugged Hare
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/5.6, 1/60s, ISO 500
This is one of those times when I wished I’d had the 28mm converter for the x100s. I always argued that I didn’t see enough difference between 35mm and 28mm to justify buying it, but in this case it would clearly have helped. My back was to the wall, I couldn’t frame any better. Still, I kind of liked it, not just because of the brick façade but because the biker is so off center it makes for an unusual composition.