Tag Archives: Photography

Conversations in Japan

I had two very interesting conversations while in Japan. They were with the same person and were not exactly separate from one another. In fact, it’s incorrect to consider them ‘two conversations’. Instead I might say that two very important points were raised during one conversation.

First, intrinsic motivation came up. A year ago I wouldn’t have been able to properly appreciate a conversation about intrinsic motivation, and I can thank my teaching degree for changing that. Essentially, we humans are motivated in one of two ways – intrinsically or from within – or extrinsically, by outside factors.

IMG_8819

Somehow, as only conversations with strangers in a hostel can do, a relatively deep issue was raised…. The psychology of why I started blogging. And in that moment I realised, or finally admitted to myself, that documenting and sharing my life of travelling had more to do with the recognition than intrinsic motivation to do so. Of course I might be selling myself a bit short here, a huge factor was that I was and am completely inspired by the new, intense, experiential nature of being abroad. I wrote because of that. But the gratification from climbing stats, likes and shares was a solid feeling. Ahhhh sweet recognition. (Is this delayed middle child syndrome?)

Ultimately, extrinsic motivation rather than motivation that comes from deep inside you will almost always run out, fall short. While it’s 100% true that I don’t have it in me to be a ‘struggling writer’, it is also true, for this time of my life anyway, that I’m in a motivational lull. A point where the extrinsic motivation has exhausted itself. It’s had a good 4 years! The aim is to find that internal, substantially more powerful, internal will to write and share.

No more blaming Hong Kong for sucking my creativity dry.

IMG_8741

The next point raised was the importance of experience. Not the kind of experience needed to grab that mid-level job; rather the idea that living vicariously through instagrammed photos is just not enough. It’s plain, old uninspiring. Perhaps I speak for myself, but I don’t think I do, when I say that scrolling through all the social medias hardly ever leaves me feeling inspired. It’s all just so abstract, not even real. And how sad because pictures are supposed to speak a thousand words and nothing is usually more real than a photo. (debatable with Photoshop) But en-mass they become overwhelmingly untrue.

“The Grand Canyon was the wind in my face the birds swooping into the gorge, thunder rolling in the distance. When I looked at a 2D picture of it afterwards I thought – this isn’t where I went.” Wouter. The Netherlands. Spoken in Japan.

IMG_8581

Of course I’ll probably never stop sharing my work. There’s absolutely zero to gain from that! And as for social media – streamlining rolls of beautiful imagery into your brain isn’t always a huge bore 😉

Tagged , , , , ,

The View’s my Muse: as Seen From the 21st Floor

A few weeks ago I came out and admitted that I feel Hong Kong is stifling my creativity. She’s a lovely city with many strengths like banking and shopping, but her ability to feed (at least my) creative side is a little lacking. Then one day, while working from the home office, I looked up and realised that I needed to open my eyes. This is not Barcelona who throws herself at creatives, begging them to use her assets to fuel their imagination. Its not India who’s poverty, overflowing religions, customs, cows and enlightened-wrinkled-half-naked men are available on every corner to photograph.

IMG_0857

A deeper look and a sharper eye will go a long way in Hong Kong if you wish to capture its soul and share it with the world. And then came my epiphany. The apartment I live in is the apartment I live in simply because of the view. We chose it based purely on the fact that it had a great view (and it fell into our price range). The ktichen’s not great, the bedroom only fits the bed, its generally pretty f*cking tiny- but that view!

IMG_0875

IMG_0866Cliche as it sounds, sometimes the things you’re looking for really are right in front of you. Just like my view of Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong is said to connect the east to the west, two worlds far apart in almost every respect from geography to culture. All this connecting is naturally going to keep its harbour operating at a maximum 24/7. While a busy harbour means a fruitful economy, for me it simply means a view that is in a constant state of flux. There’s not a minute that my view remains the same. In the time its taken me to write two sentences its changed again.

IMG_0882It changes with the weather, it changes with the sun, with the vessels that pass, the ones that anchor within sight and even the buildings change. The ICC is the tallest in Hong Kong and if its not disappearing into the clouds and smog, its constantly showcasing impressive moving, 3D images. Sometimes it tells me when its going to rain by way of a stormy rain cloud. In fact as I write this the whole building, from top to bottom, resembles a peppered TV screen that’s lost signal. You know how they go all black and white and make a god-awful noise? Its hard to explain.

IMG_0892

Christmas is fast approaching, and more than ever, you don’t have a choice in staying ignorant on the matter. Way before December arrives, the decorations, sales, and all round madness begins. If, for a moment, I wanted to gaze out my window and forget about it all- the consumerism, the red, green and white, the fake snow splashed all over the tropics –  my eyes would rest upon a festive, christmasy, Hello Kitty building across the water. I do wonder what their electricity bills must be like.

IMG_0894

I’ve always maintained that a good view is imperative. It does something for the soul, and at the very least it gives you something to do if the electricity goes out. Its true, one fateful night while home alone, the electricity failed and I had nothing but a half cooked meal and a dying phone to keep me company. The bright lights only kept my attention for so long before I resorted to creeping out the inhabitants of the building opposite. It really is a different life here- single apartments for whole families including grandparents and maids. Its enough to keep a creepster like me entertained.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

On Trying to Fuel my Creative Fire in Hong Kong

I don’t blog enough about Hong Kong. I can’t put my finger on it exactly but its probably got a lot to do with the fact that I’m not a city girl. As far as cities go, Hong Kong is supposed to be up there with the best and yet I find myself lacking the inspiration to produce content on it. Also my teaching job leaves almost zero hours in the day to work on my hobby. Valid excuses but excuses none-the-less right?

That being said I’m going to do my best to change my ways. I won’t be here forever so it really is in my best interests to take a deeper look and let myself be inspired and challenged to document this Gateway to the East.

I started my new leaf turning by taking my camera to work one day so that afterwards I could stroll past the arts festival/mardi gras happening in the famous Victoria Park. Finally I was being proactive and exploring (the bf was away and this was a better option than Saturday night in an empty apartment). Luckily my hopes weren’t high since the majority of stalls and activities had already shut down, and although there were a good amount of people around they were 70 percent infants and I felt like I was back at work.

I stayed a couple minutes photographing the mediocre dance routine on the main stage before continuing my walk in the direction of home. There’s a great little modern art museum/gallery on the way and I noticed it was still open so I popped in. I’m hesitant to label it ‘modern art’ since I really don’t like modern art – least not their museums. So lets call this a hands-on cultural center, with a current showcase called ‘Imperfect’.

IMG_0351

I’d been in a couple months before to finally get a closer look at a very cool installation they had up. It was a massive mirror erected at a 45 degree angle to the ground. Below it was the facade of a building. The cool part? That you could lie on the facade and by looking into the mirror above you it would appear that you were dangling, standing, posing on the side of a building. (No idea what I’m talking about? see here) Naturally this would have made a fantastic photo opportunity but naturally by the time I got my ass there it no longer existed. This was when I discovered the ‘Imperfect’ exhibition.

It was too hot to explore so I drank some free hot tea on the hot day and took part in the exhibition by writing something on a coaster which was there to be written on and soon went on my way again.

IMG_0359IMG_0371 IMG_0349

That exhibition was still going strong the evening I strolled onto the property again. This time I was game to have a better look around. I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. In an Asian country focused on education, good grades, math, shopping and banking, I was intrigued to find a little artistic sub-culture manifesting itself inside these walls. I was more compelled to photograph then than I had been in a long while.

The idea behind it, I believe, is to partake in various activities, whatever tickles your fancy, or none if you just wish to wander around. There’s a room full of old sewing machines available to the public to make use of and donated clothing with which to sew. Or you can make a post card with hand made stamps which is what I took ten minutes doing. I was told though that the volunteers would help me if came by and wanted to sew. Maybe I should do that.

Upon further investigation, this arts and cultural center is called Oi! and you can read more about it here.

IMG_0856 IMG_0852 IMG_0833 IMG_0828 IMG_0817 IMG_0814

 

Tagged , , , , ,

My New Camera and Me

It’s been roughly two years since I last owned an SLR camera. I didn’t have mine for long before I drowned it in sprite and made the decision to replace it with the more compact Canon G12. My thinking behind this was that I would take way more photos with a camera that I could put in my handbag.

My little compact SLR has served me well- give or take- but there are certain things that it’s not, and at the end of the day, it’s not the kind of camera I need to be shooting with if I have any intention on improving my photography skills.

It’s always more of a dream than a reality- buying a camera. And even then, it’s not something I fantasise about because I know myself and big, expensive possessions are not my thing. I can’t seem to look after my belongings properly and I can’t even blame it on my lifestyle, it’s just me. So a couple days ago when I found myself in the right place at the right time I made a (fairly) impulse buy and the fantastic Orms Direct in Cape Town.

IMG_3462

Trying out my new toy in the evening light- using the fixed 50 mm lens. Perfect for low light shooting. Photograph taken by Sian Cohen.

My friend and host while in Cape Town, Sian, was going there anyway to replace one of her lenses. On top of that, someone else had suggested I visit this fantastic camera shop while I was in the Mother City. Next thing I knew I was doing a little research on what I wanted and could afford. Less than 24 hours later I was the proud owner of a new Canon EOS 650D, three lenses, a tripod, two SD cards and a great camera bag. Gotta love package deals.

I realised it was time for an upgrade on my first day in Cape Town when Sian put her camera in my hands and encouraged me to shoot with it. We were heading into town to be tourists with two Brazilians. Taking photos left right and centre- I realised how much I had missed actually looking through a view finder. That’s just not the vibe of the g12 point and shoot- the view finder on it is, quite frankly, a joke.

IMG_9482

So long to framing shots through a screen.

The rapid shutter speed is also something I’ve missed- the amount of great shots I didn’t get all because for two years I’ve been pressing a button and having the photo take a spilt-second later. Now it’s instantaneous. Here’s to many more, better executed, ‘in the moment’ shots which are arguably my favourite. I’m a big fan of shooting people going about their lives, whether they’re aware of it or not.

IMG_3264

Having fun driving around Cape Town, loving the shutter speed and ability to capture rapidly.

In my experience people aren’t really too fussed about having their photograph taken. If they’re not comfortable with it they’re probably a criminal. Just flash them a smile and maybe a thumbs up afterwards, just to say thanks. Obviously it all depends on the person and the situation but there’s hardly ever a time where I’ve needed to verbally ask someone if I can take their picture. At most I’ll use eye contact and body language. Others may feel differently about the lines this kind of photography crosses, but my journalistically trained brain reminds me that if its in a public space its photographable.

I feel good about my new toy and furthering my skills with it. Stick around to see what (and if) I can do.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Barcelona- a month in pictures

What better way to wind down after a long summer of work than to immerse myself in the captivating city of Barcelona. With so much to see and do, its only fitting that I stay for an extended period of time and really get to know it. Click on the first image to start the slide show and enjoy 🙂

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,