“He” was photographed in a museum showing Hong Kong’s history dating back to the late Ching Dynasty (Photo 1). “He” was obviously not a real man, but really looks like one in this kind of lighting. This “man” is holding a book and reading the contents out loud to his student. This was the traditional teaching method of Chinese teachers in the older days, when students memorized all the stuff in their textbooks and took part in public exams for entry into government offices.
Shown in Photos 2 and 3 are officers in the Ching Dynasty. Their looks were so solemn that it really freaked out some children. And Chinese people were particularly skinny in those days, maybe due to their poorer lives, bad nutrition, or whatever that led to the weird look shown here (Photo 3). Since flashes are not allowed in museums, I could only use ambient light in this venue, but the lighting is way too good, and it highlighted the spirit of these people who happened to live in a period that marked the major turning point of world history.
I don’t really like the idea of a red iron gate. It really looks like someone poured red paint on the gate for some bad reasons. Anyway, it was good for photos.
The red iron gate is fine as the subject here, but the letterbox hanging on it made it look even better. There wouldn’t be a focal point in the picture if it weren’t for the letterbox. But frankly speaking, don’t ever try to shoot these kinds of gates if you are in the center of the city unless you want to be scolded with the worst words ever. People behind the gates probably think you are some kind of paparazzi or private detective finding clues to secret affairs happening nearby.
I shot this picture (Final Image) without fear though, since this is again somewhere on Cheung Chau, an outlying island of Hong Kong, where people are used to photographers wandering everywhere, showing off their gear. You can see in reference Photos 1 and 2 that the gate looks quite common either without the flash or with the flash not properly located.
To get the result shown in the final image, I put the V5-flash 4 or 5 feet away from my camera, directing it at the subject as some kind of side light. Bear in mind that you might get flare in the lens when shooting at an angle like this. Try to avoid it if you want a mysterious mood here. Mark your aperture a bit smaller and use a focal length bigger than 50 mm, allowing the subject to “stand out.” You will get the idea if you look at Reference Photo 3, which gives you an example of how bad the photo looks when using a lens not wider than 50 mm and letting too much light “appear” on the gate.
Is one type of personality an observer? I have heard of something like that. Being a photographer may imply that you have that kind of personality. I mean if you are inclined toward candid or news photography, that would be close. On the other hand, some like to create their own images, like filling their works with different props and added elements; that would be another kind of personality. And I think the differences can also explain why some filmmakers shoot documentaries while others create fictional films.
One of the best things about Hong Kong is that you can see a different facet of our lives at night. Of course nightlife exists in every city, but here people live their night lives on the streets and you can really see it. So people in this city like to take photographs at night, and so do I; it is the observer’s personality in me.
Observers are also scattered around parks in Hong Kong, be they beggars or retired old men. Frankly speaking, ‘they’ are mostly men, while retired women seem to have their own things to do instead of wandering around the streets at night. So as an observer, I leap at the chance to capture all these observers in parks, night markets, whatever. Here was a guy sitting in the park beside Temple Street (Photo 1), one of the busiest night markets in Hong Kong. I also sat down in the same park watching him and for a long while he was just sitting there staring at nothing. So was the man sitting beside him, who was staring at his own cell phone instead (Photo 2). And curious people just stopped at his side peeking at the cell phone to see his secret. I guessed it was news on horseracing or the like. Anyway, they are all observers, like me.
Shown in Photos 3 and 4 are glimpses of the Temple Street night market. The man keeping his stall in Photo 3 was selling paper cutting artifacts while a woman stopped by to look at an item that interested her. Photo 4 shows you the stall and the famous Mei Do Restaurant in the background, the landmark of Temple Street.
I always find myself running out of time when shooting landscape photos. It is time consuming waiting for the perfect sunlight and it takes extra effort to take magic hour photos to get the best results. The fact is if you are on a trip in a foreign country, it seems that so many things are there for you to capture, you might worry about missing something along the way. So you end up busily taking pictures on the road but forget about the whole magic hour.
I find it really crucial to remind myself to get ready for the magic hour before it is too late, which means sparing at least 30 to 45 minutes for my magic hour shots. This is because something interesting may come up at the site, which can make beautiful pictures with the magic hour scene.
I found this restaurant by chance when I was getting ready for my magic hour landscape shots. As you can imagine, I decided in an instant to shoot the restaurant at the magic hour instead. I tried to capture the contrast between the surreal blue coming from the landscape and skyline background and the warm candle light for that matter. I tried to figure out the best composition for the shot before the sky got too dark to be shot. What you can see here is the result I got (the final image). After the magic hour was gone, you can only shoot photos like the trial photo shown here.
Anyway, it would look better if the sky is a bit brighter. Sometimes it is useful to let the flash help out. I found seaside restaurant the next day but I missed the magic hour. The sky got too dark but I still wanted to make a try. I put my V5-flash at the right to light up the tables (as shown in reference photo 2), yet the sky was too dark so the result was not that good.