This is a bit more abstract than my usual style, but shows an oyster farm not too far from Chiayi, or 嘉義, in southern Taiwan.
Every year at the end of Chinese New Year, festivals throughout Taiwan seek to bring prosperity for the new year. One, near Tainan, is the famous Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival. People actually volunteer to have fireworks shot at them as they believe it will show their strength and health. Unfortunately, I missed it again due to unpredictable train schedules the night before I had to be at work.
Instead, I went to another festival that did not involve fireworks being shot at me, but instead at and around a dancing dragon. This Miaoli Hakka festival is called “Bombing the Dragon” and it’s easy to see why. After a few days of dancing dragons visiting storefronts and asking for red envelopes in exchange for good fortune, they are brought to an area where they dance around firecrackers. The dancers must wear protective eyewear, hoods, and masks, though a respirator is something I’d personally rather have. Even though I was further back (though still quite close), I was happy to have a mask and I will say that old clothing, earplugs, and a mask are all essentials when visiting.
Above: top, a dragon much like what was in the festival sits as the crowd arrives; bottom, festival-goers practiced their own dragon dance as a dragon team prepared for the night.
Above: a hanging dragon made of fireworks lights up as festival goers watch.
Note: I will not be posting much in the next few weeks as I’m heading back to the US to see my family and to get “married again.” You see, my wife and I were married in Taiwan. My family was unable to make the wedding and my mom would probably kill me if she couldn’t see me get married, so we’re having a second, smaller ceremony in the US. I’ll probably be posting some images from the US – including Ohio and NYC at some point.
Today’s images are from the weekend of 10/10, when a number of drum groups visited Jhubei for an annual drum competition and concert. These shots were taken during the day – others can be seen from a large concert the night before.
I know very little about this group, other than that they’re from Japan and full of energy. One of my favorite groups to see by far.
This opera performance was taking part during a temple re-dedication last weekend. Due to some computer problems, you might expect fewer pictures. While this doesn’t affect my posting, it affects my post-processing – hopefully this doesn’t last long!
This egret was spotted in the farmland just east of the Jhubei High Speed Rail station. After going under the bridge for the station, you suddenly go from an urban/suburban landscape to countryside, and being in a river valley, it’s quite a beautiful ride.
This shot was taken in the older section of Jhubei around the BoAi Street area. I find it more photographically interesting and should really go back there more as there are plenty of distractions unlike the relatively “sterile” newer parts of town.
This shot was taken at the Hsinchu Zoo quite a while ago and to be honest, I’m not sure why I didn’t post it. It’s very sharp and shows off my 70-300 lens’ capability. It was an easy shot, taking place at the monkey pen at Hsinchu Zoo. I have seen semi-wild monkeys before – in Taiwan, the best place is Songboling - just make sure you REALLY follow the rules about not feeding them.
One of the headliners for the drum concert in Jhubei was A-Lin, or 阿玲, a female Taiwanese singer of aboriginal decent who is gaining popularity. I was able to get quite close even though I was sandwiched in by adoring fans. Most of these are ranging from ISO 1600 to 3200 due to the dramatic darker lighting styles used.
Before I post the photos, here is a music video of hers. I’m not especially into Taiwanese pop (though I do have a soft spot for Crowd Liu) though it works wonders when learning the language.
On the weekend of 10/10, a drum festival was held in Jhubei which included not only Chinese drumming, but also some influences from across Asia. In addition, some Taiwanese pop stars performed at the end of the show, most notably A-Lin, who I’ll make a post about later.
These shots were taken with the slow but still usable 70-300. With the stagelights, I was usually able to make things work at 1/100 shutter and ISO 1600.
The above group was part of a traditional Hakka performance.