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).
Qibao Food Stall
Fuji TX2 (XPAN), 45mm, f/4, 1/60s, ISO 50
Film: Ilford Pan F
I used a roll of Pan F recently in Shanghai. I love that film, but at 50 ISO it’s bloody hard to use, especially on the TX2 which at best will open to f/4. I do plan to do a project on people and motion using Pan F with a tripod but this wasn’t it. I had a few shots left on the roll, so one sunny lunchtime I headed out to Qibao, a water town really close form the center of Shanghai. Probably two close and consequently overcrowded, but I got this shot of the (numerous) food stalls which I quite like.
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/60s, ISO 2000
It’s that Yangshuo food market again. You never realize the incredible variety of vegetables in the world until you visit a food market on another continent. The number of unknown vegetables you’ll see is astonishing. Things that you have never seen, have no idea what they’re called, and most of all no idea what they taste like. There’s a French charity here in Shanghai called APM that released a number of trilingual cook books (French/English/Chinese) to raise money. Their next project is a book on local fruit and vegetables and how to prepare them. I can’t wait to read that!
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/8, 1/60s, ISO 3200
If there’s one minor quibble I have with the Fuji x100s it’s that the in-built ND filter stays on after you shut the camera off. So when you finish a shoot with the ND on and forget to switch if off then, you start the next shoot with the ND filter on. And since the auto-ISO pumps up the ISO when you have insufficient light, you end up shooting at 3200 ISO in daylight. But the power of the x100s engine is such that even then you get a workable photo, as demonstrated here. There’s many countries in the world now where you could shoot people speaking on mobile phones all day long. It’s certainly the case here, and this one is tame compared to some of the guys driving scooters with cumbersome lateral cargo and still talking on their mobile phone. That’ll be for next time.
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/60s, ISO 640
While in Yangshuo we went to a food market. I love open air (or, in this case, covered) markets, they teem with life and tell us more about how people live than many other sights in a city. This was a massive hall with lots of fruit and vegetable sellers (there were meat sellers in a different section, I’ll cover that later). We saw all kinds of odd vegetables, some of which we didn’t even have names for. We also noticed that you could buy garlic either as nature intended or pre-peeled. This guy was passing the time peeling his garlic…
Fuji x100s, 35mm
Despite the rain, the kids of Liu Gong were playing outside while the adults played cards inside. I managed to capture these two little girls. It helps to have a little blonde girl with you as she becomes the center of attention…
Fuji x100s, 35mm
Rain was pouring down when we walked through Liu Gong. This dog had found one of the few dry areas around, and lounged there waiting for better weather. It didn’t even move when we walked past. I loved the fact that the clothes were hanging above him and dripping down…
The Men’s Card Game
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/8, 1/60s, ISO 1250
The weather in Yangshuo was quite abominable, but the bamboo raft cruise on the river Li was booked, so we had to do it. Thankfully, our guide took us to a little village out of the beaten path which according to my notes was called Liu Gong. The guide said it meant something like « the husband cannot leave », so a shorter English name might be « Man Trap » ? Anyway, it was an eye opener, coming from Shanghai and having seem mostly touristy places in China so far to see how peasants truly live. It was dirty and run-down, but it was full of life as well, although an unusual life since this was the heart of the Golden Week and people weren’t working. They weren’t all playing cards… but not far off!
Fuji x100s, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/125s, ISO 200
The second ethnic minority in the Longsheng area, after the Zhuang, is the Yao minority. The Yao women have a complex and intricate relationship to their hair. They only cut their hair three times in their lives: when they turn 18, when they are wedded and when they are 36. The keep the braids they cut and integrate then into their daily bun. How much hair is apparent also says something about marital status and the number of children. When we met this Yao grandmother, she agreed to show us how she does her hair, and it was quite fascinating.
The Chinese Sweets
x100s, 35mm, f/87, 1/60s, ISO 2000
On the long walk down from Ping An we stumbled upon these craftsmen. The woman is baking chili oil, but the men are slamming down on sweets with their mallets to mix them with nuts. Quite an amazing sight for our sadly too industrialized eyes. We bought some sweets, it was a kind of nougat, flavoured with osmanthus and it was quite good although it stayed stuck in your teeth for a long time. Just like French nougat.