Ricoh GR1 + JCH 400
Tin Hau Temple is just down the road from me, and I walk through the temple grounds to go to the subway station. Usually, it’s the same old sights, but one Sunday a few weeks ago there was clearly a festival going on, with big papier mâché effigies and lots of decorations. And there were these five people chanting just by the temple entrance. I don’t know what the ceremony was and I certainly didn’t want to disturb them, but the robe struck me and I took a quick shot with my discreet Ricoh GR1. Colour film would have been better, probably, but there’s an « old China » feel to this one conveyed by black and white that I quite like nonetheless.
*Red and Gold Flower*
A few weeks back, I went to Ping Shan with my daughter’s class. The Hong Kong government has recently come to the realisation that it was attracting a certain kind of tourists with shopping malls and luxury hotels, but not another kind more interested in history and culture. So they opened the Ping Shan heritage trail, a string of old buildings and temples in the town of Ping Shan just by the border. I’m not sure it’ll be much of a tourist attraction, but I found it really interesting. In the last temple we visited were these paper flowers that I found quite striking…
I have a particular fondness for the straw brooms used here in China. I don’t quite know why, but it brings me back to an older time, maybe…
One thing that I find fascinating with religion in Asia is how much a part of everyday life it is. People will stop by on their way home for a quick prayer. In Europe, it’s so much more ceremonial and occasional. Anyway, it was interesting to capture how small one feels when standing in front of the huge lantern at Sensoji.
*Senso-ji at Night*
Sneso-ji at night was all it was supposed to be and more. But I had to try this one over ten times to get a decent result : long exposures theoretically erase people in front of you from the picture… except when they stand still for minutes on end in front of you to take photos. I can’t blame them, I was doing the same !
Sometimes what’s interesting in a potential shot is not the subject (or not only the subject) but the way the light hits the subject. In Kyomizu-dera in Kyoto there were many interesting subjects, but this one combined traditional Japanese architecture and interesting light…
The pervasive smell of burnt incense is part of the amazing sensory experience of Buddhist temples. This was shot on instinct as I was near blinded by the light coming through the scaffolding at Kyomizu-dera.
My daughter insists on lighting candles for the dead wherever we go (and no matter what the religious denomination) which is how I ended up on the other side of the candle rack in Kyomizu-dera temple. When I saw these two light their own candles (more likely Chinese tourists dressed in kimonos than actual kimono wearing Japanese) I knew I had a good shot.
*Tin Hau Temple*
iPhone 6 + Hipstamatic
As a Western European, you’re used to grandiose places of worship, built in the middle ages in the glory of the Lord. In Hong Kong, most places of worship are tiny and mostly discreet, but no less beautiful for it. Tin Hau Temple on Hong Kong Island (there are many more temples to Tin Hau elsewhere) is one such temple, but when the doors close at night, it takes on a very different look. This is what I wanted to capture here.
*Incense for Tin Hau*
There’s a temple to Tin Hau just down my street. It’s interesting in more than one way, but the most fascinating fact (to me) is that it used to be by the shore. With reclaimed land it’s now at least half a mile from the shore ! There are often offerings, incense or burning candles in front, and I tried to compose the incense brazier with the temple in the background.