Last weekend in Tainan, I happened across a temple procession for a god I’m unfamiliar with taking place in an alley near the Confucius Temple. It was like most other processions: loud and full of energy. I found the 18mm end of my lens to be pretty useful here as well as the amazing light-bending abilities of RAW format due to the huge dynamic range present.
Tag Archives: 18-55mm
Nanzhuang, a township in Miaoli that simply translates its full name of 南庄鄉 to “south township,” is a tourist hot-spot on the weekends. Towns like these are common throughout Taiwan as the locale mixes an aboriginal heritage with traditional and modern Chinese-Taiwanese influence. David on Formosa also has a great guide to this place as other favorites of mine, Beipu and Lion’s Head Mountain.
Starting off is a temple situated on the “old street” at the top of a hill in the town. This was one of the few places with some “breathing room” right off the crowded street full of markets and shops.
Further into the mountains is an aboriginal village of Xiang Tian Hu (向天湖), which is an important ceremonial and cultural center for the Saisiat tribe.
Back down in the main town is a large old-fashioned movie theater, now converted to a restaurant. I was pretty interested in the mid-20th century style it possesses and the character it brings to the neighborhood.
Today’s image is a standard scene taken by thousands of photographers before me. I woke poor Yuling up at about 4:00am to meet Thean, our tuk-tuk driver for the two days of exploring temples. We then hopped in the back of the tuk-tuk at about 4:40 and rushed in after buying our park passes.
I was startled and amazed at a few things after seeing this scene in person for the first time. The first is that the water in front of Angkor Wat is NOT the famous moat around the complex as I had thought before. It is a manmade pond on the northwest corner of the complex that looks east for the sunrise. It DOES work wonderful for reflections and the fact that there are some breakfast stands to the left doesn’t hurt, either.
The second thing that startled me is the huge mass of photographers and tourists who group up around this small lake for that one picture. In the future, when I see documentaries of Angkor Wat talking about this as a “remote jungle temple complex,” I will laugh. The site itself is in the hands of the tourists now, for better or for worse.
While I’m glad I woke up for the shot, part of me is startled by how little reward there is in getting an image like this – I think this is why I like the concept and practice of street photography, which is infinitely more interesting. With that said, I’m not complaining about my chance to get “the Angkor Wat shot” I was looking for.
Last weekend, I came across Confucius Temple in Hsinchu, which is centrally located in the city near the glass museum and zoo. Temples dedicated to Confucius are common in most major Taiwanese cities and have a much more calm demeanor than the standard Taoist/Chinese temples.
On Teacher’s Day each year, there are often celebrations at these temples as they are seen as shrines to the Chinese culture of education.
This shot wasn’t used from my post last October showing a persimmon orchard in Hsinpu. It’s a good day trip and certainly popular with Taiwanese photographers.
Last weekend, we stayed in Nantou County at a sort of homestay-style place. Since this was in what seemed the middle of nowhere, my photography changed quite a bit without an urban environment. I had a good time, but am glad to be back in Jhubei.
I found myself taking a lot of macro-style shots – many more than usual. This lizard was out of the ordinary for my style of shooting, and I like how it turned out.
These palm-style trees are binlang, or “betel nut” trees. They are cultivated for their fruit, which is called a nut, and when chewed gives a sensation close to caffeine or nicotine.
The last shot for today is a landscape. Certainly something I haven’t even tried to shoot in months. While I like landscapes still, it’s interesting how my photography has shifted in terms of what interests me now.
Well, I’ve already missed my first day. I completely FORGOT about this whole thing yesterday after work and instead of getting out my camera, took out my laptop where I played Civilization IV to kill some time and relax after work. The moral of the story? Civ IV kills photo sessions.
The first one, though, is a recent favorite. It was taken at Bao-an Temple, near Confucius Temple in Taipei. I used a “film” style filter in Aperture 3 and tweaked things so the door would stand out. I liked the symmetry and even though it’s not perfectly in focus, I like how it turned out. I took this on 02-28, when visiting Taipei.
The second two come from some experimentation. When I first started my adventures in photography, I used an apartment Buddha – a gift from a relative – as a muse for playing with depth of field, lighting, and composition. He ended up in a post at one point, even, and I ended up taking him from Houston to Taiwan.
This time, I was able to practice with my SB-600.
This first image is with the 35mm set to f/1.8 to give a shallower depth of field. I liked how the curtains blurred out and the effect this gave. This was the work done on 03-01, though I did take some other photos that day outside.
My second image comes from a tiny makeshift “studio” I was experimenting with to learn more about light on Wednesday, 03-02. I took a single A4 piece of paper and set it up on a wall to give him the “floating” look.
Some more images from that shoot follow. I liked the more dramatic light created without a diffuser of any sort, but was also playing around with my diffuser to see how much it affects the image. Turns out it does quite a bit.
Oh, and no excuses this weekend! I hope to get something created Friday (today) and DEFINITELY will have material tomorrow and Sunday.
Last weekend, I took the chance to venture to a part of Taipei I hadn’t yet seen to visit Confucius Temple, located in a northwestern district of the city. It is located near Bao-an, a large Taoist temple, so I was able to see both sites in one visit quite easily.
I was struck by how minimal this temple was compared to a complex designed for the gods. There were incense pots, but not much incense in the air. There was artwork, but nothing like the extravagant displays in other temples. Where other temples can be chaotic, this was quite relaxing.
Starting off is an HDR. I took this hoping to increase the dynamic range, so I tried not to overdo saturation here. I think it worked well – because of the very bright sunlight, it was impossible to make out the shadows of the surrounding buildings in the original.
With such an empty place, I took the chance to look around at the different designs and architecture. This was a good chance to practice composition of different shapes and forms.
With a long weekend, I’ve been able to take some time exploring Wulai (more photos from that coming) and Taipei. Since I don’t want to be too busy with my time off, I decided to play it easy yesterday, spending my afternoon in Hsinchu City where I came across yet another hip-hop dance competition.
This time around, the competition in question was a freestyle dance-off, where two competing groups of three would go up against each other. The crowd in this tiny space was HUGE. They were energetic as well, swelling up when a move was performed and going nutso when someone did something amazing like a backflip.
I started out with the 70-300, but eventually pulled out the 18-55 to get the context and energy of the crowd.
Beginning is my favorite photo of the day and my “365″ photo for 2-27. Stretching out to 18mm worked well here, though I didn’t realize until after I had taken the shot that there was a small amount of fog on my lens! Apparently the humidity in the camera bag was different. I took this thinking I would throw it out, but liked how it worked when I wad one in postprocessing.
I spent most of the day using fill-flash at a super-low ISO to get things done. This worked pretty well, and I liked the tones it brought out when different white balances were applied. Flash in general is something that I’m always striving to learn more about, so it was nice to get great results from the SB-600.
Looking over a shoulder – no extra light on this one for obvious reasons.
This was hard to get sitting so close since the two sides had their backs to the crowd the whole time. I liked how the composition worked out.
This shot was taken at the Taipei 101 observation deck while my family visited last weekend. We are currently in Kaohsiung still and I’m glad to be able to spend time in the southern parts of Taiwan for a change.
I liked this mix of old and new – this monk and nun were visiting the top of the second-tallest building in the world, and I thought it showed good contrast to the many facets of Taiwan. I feel like I’ve certainly been seeing this this past week, as I’ve been dragging my family members through futuristic city districts which sit next to traditional markets.