A month ago, I visited Guqifeng, or 古奇峰, a temple in Hsinchu marked with a very large statue of the god of war, Guan Gong, on top of a mountain just east of the city. Last weekend, while visiting the general area, my wife and I noticed something going on inside and saw a lion dance troupe preparing to perform. Here are some shots from this performance.
Above: the drumline beats out the rhythm for the dancers. These guys were very talented and drumming is an art of its own in Taiwanese and Chinese culture.
A performer tests the stands before the performance by jumping between them. These performers will rarely make mistakes, but an important safety procedure for this was a group of performers underneath, holing the stand steady and acting as a buffer for falling friends. This did happen – the first time I’ve seen this happen before – and the performers who fell were perfectly fine, their fall being broken as they were caught. During this time, the drums kept going and the lion dancers were back in no time.
A confetti-covered ground marks the main ceremony area before the lion dance performer took the stage.
A walking god watches as the altar of another god “visits” the temple god. The confetti canons were set up at a climax during the ceremony and I was happy for a wider angle lens here.
Lion dancers jump across. Notice the drummers yelling below.
This man was at the Jhubei Mazu Temple parade last November, which I posted lots of photos from after the event. I’ve decided to go ahead and post a few more, as I have neglected quite a few decent shots from that day.
If you ever end up following one of these groups, it’s best to make sure you have water, a mask, and earplugs. Trust me.
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 show comes from last weekend, which gave me a great opportunity to take plenty of pictures. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to processing them all yet.
This shot is part of what I believe is a Hakka group. It is along the lines of a group of clowns or street performers who dress up in outrageous costumes. It includes some male-female cross dressing, ridiculous outfits, and a lot of noise. I’m still searching all over for what it is, where it comes from, and why it happens. I’ve taken photos of these people at a drum festival before – they participate in a lot of cultural events in the area.
EDIT: Yes, this is a Hakka performance troupe. They are involved in drumming, dance, and some theatre. You can find more out about them here (English) or here (original link) – thanks to my wife, Yuling for finding this!
Last weekend, I was able to follow and slightly take part in a Mazu festival for a local temple. I’ll tell more about the day itself when I make a proper post with the photos from that day, but I took many Instagram shots. I am enjoying the update to Instagram – it seems that they have improved sharpening and while my iPhone 3Gs is no 4s, I can’t complain. These photos look great for coming out of a phone and as more features are added to the software, it’ll be fun to see what I can do.
As I said, these are from a temple celebration in Jhubei. It involved a very large, very long parade that I followed with a friend. We were treated with great hospitality by the participants as they let us photograph them throughout the afternoon.
You can follow me on Instagram at joshintaiwan. Here’s a page with more of my photos.
On 10/10, a major part of the Taipei event was a temple procession involving a huge amount of “walking gods” which are very common in temple processions throughout Taiwan. This event was amazingly orderly compared to how these usually go – in other words, fireworks and firecrackers weren’t being set off without warning in the middle of the street.
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.
As I improve my postprocessing in Aperture 3, I try to go back to old RAW files and see what I can do to improve some of my favorite shots. One of these is a dragon “handler” from mainland China who was taking part in a cross-strait Chinese cultural festival in Jhubei last year. The original post can be found here. You’ll notice that the images aren’t resized to my new blog format – I’ll get to doing that later for that post as it was one of my personal favorite days of shooting.
Since I like the after shot more, here it is first:
…and the before:
The most obvious difference, and what I thought was the most important, was the crop. The second shot has an awkward non 3:2 or 5:4 look to it. Since my camera is a cropped-sensor, it uses the 3:2 format, which I use 95% or 99% of the time. For some reason, I’ve noticed that that natural crop is more appealing. I also changed it by lightening up the eyes (not by too much) and messing with the sharpness, contrast, and color temperature (white balance) to get a more appealing, less yellow look.
What do you think? Does it work?
This is the last post in a series about the Hakka Yimin festival, an event which takes place every year to honor ancestors who fought in a military struggle against certain rebel factions in Taiwan. It is celebrated by the Taiwanese Hakka community and coincides with Ghost Month. These are from a special performance put on in Jhubei and heavily funded – every ticket was free.
The above three photos show a show being put on by firethrowers. While much of it was hard to shoot, I was able to get a relatively nice set of shots on a set shutter speed with a high ISO. Notice how still the man holding the hoop is. I’d be thankful for that if I had to jump through!
The above two shots were taken during separate dances. The dance in the top picture included elaborate and quite crazy costumes and was actually quite hard to capture at 300mm without an f/2.8 lens. The bottom picture was not as hard, as there was less movement.
This aerial silk artist was also posted on this blog the first time I posted shots from this festival. My favorite shot from this series can be found in the first post.
As usual, Taigu (太鼓), or as the Japanese say, Taiko, drummers were a big part of the celebration. I’ve been able to get better photos due to the bad angles I had, but loved the dramatic lighting.
These shots are from the past few weeks during Ghost Month and Yimin Festival. Ghost Month recently ended (and yes, I think I got the date right this time!) which usually signifies the beginning of the school year and the end of summer. While I don’t look forward to the weather changing, I’m excited about starting a new year.
These cards are used for divination or fortune-telling. You roll a certain number, match it with the card, and see what the gods have to tell you. Found at Yimin Temple.
Above left: an altar for ghosts at a Jhubei restaurant. Above right: a scooter drives pass a burning of “ghost money,” meant to be given to the ancestors.
Above: these guys were lighting fireworks out the back of a truck – unfortunately, I only got the end of it with the camera.
Above: a San Tai Zi (三太子) god with what look like “Mickey Mouse” gloves.