Tag Archives: lens

Single Shot: Welcoming the Ghosts

I’ll take a break from posting a recent series from my last trip to Okinawa to show off something I saw last weekend at the Hsinchu City God Temple. This is part of a ceremony allowing and welcoming spirits to roam sort of “finish business” from the earthly realms. During this month, spirits are appeased and/or kept away from homes through incense and offerings and spirit money, or ghost money, is burned as an offering. I have some more shots from last year here.

As school is about to start, this is a bit of a culture shock to many foreigners entering Taiwan for the first time. It’s hard to believe this is the start of my third year on the island!

 

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Random Recent Shots

These shots are from the past month – as you might see from the lack of updates lately, I haven’t been out much partially due to the cruddy weather. However, with Spring’s arrival, the clear days are increasing as the temperature does too and I’ve been taking more shots this past weekend.

These are from Sinfong and Jhubei.

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Experimenting in Lightroom

As I mentioned a few days ago, my MacBook went kaput. Thankfully, everything’s backed up and the hard drive is still alive. This did leave me, however, without a photo processing tool. I’ve always used Aperture 3 just because it was the first thing I  tried. While I’d played around with Lightroom, I hadn’t had a chance to use it for my own shots.

I think I might stick with it. It’s much more responsive to Aperture 3, for one thing. Even though it always deals with the huge amount of data in a RAW file, it’s a million times faster on a PC comparable in hardware to my  MacBook. I was also able to experiment with the different settings – which do the same basic stuff – and have some more features.

A few things I was looking for include contrast, color, and sharpness. All went extremely well. Here are three results:

The above was a bit over-saturated for my taste. I’ll keep experimenting with what to do with saturation in the future.

With how poorly Aperture 3 acts on my more-than-decent MacBook, I might just have become a convert…

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Single Shot: Jhubei Mazu Festival

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!

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One Giant Leap

Forgive the clichéd title today. I was digging through my Spring Scream photos and realized I never posted this shot of th e lead singer of TAKAYUKIDAN, or 多火油機團, a Japanese band performing during the second and third nights of the festival in Kenting.

Next week is the Dragon Boat Festival – I hope this week flies by!

Sorry about the pun… I’ll stop now.

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Spring Scream, 4/3: Sea Level 海平面

Sea Level, or 海平面 (hǎi píng miàn), is a Taiwanese band that mixes certain elements of punk, rap, and rock into their songs. They were pretty great to see on stage as the lead singer’s stage presence really took hold.

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Goddess of the Sea

Before I begin, I should mention and thank GigGuide.tw, a primarily English music site in Taiwan which chronicles music on the island. They featured some of my photos in a Spring Scream guide – check them out here.

Instead of covering more bands, as I planned, I’ll switch back to Taoism after some incredible events last weekend.

One of the largest pilgrimages in the world is underway. While many people think of the Muslim Hajj in Mecca or the various festivals in India which draw millions when it comes to these events, a festival currently underway in Taiwan is drawing huge crowds for Mazu, goddess of the sea.

Mazu is worshiped across East and Southeast Asia – especially by seagoing people as in Taiwan. Her blessing is seen as so powerful that people all over Taiwan and some outside of Taiwan will be sure to visit her as she makes her way through various cities.

Last weekend, I went with Yuling to witness such an event in Changhua, a city just south of Taichung.

This festival is indeed a pilgrimage – and a large one at that. It snakes around Taiwan, through various cities which are all excited at the presence of one of the most important gods in Taiwan. The parade processions include costumes, banners, fireworks, horns, and as said earlier, massive crowds. A perfect day for a camera. With the crowds and smoke, my 35mm f/1.8 never left the camera body.

Participants, like these seen above, wear simple clothing and are fed by people while making the trek throughout the island. I was offered food and drink multiple times by complete strangers, testament to the attitude of giving throughout the day. Many temples set out vegetarian food which was free in exchange for a small temple donation.

These scooters were caught up in the endless traffic. We actually left Changhua before it got even worse, with thousands filling the streets at night.

The people kneeling above are prostrating themselves so Mazu’s altar will pass over them. It is said to bring blessings if she visits you – even more if she passes directly overhead.

This man looked over his shoulder at me as the sparklers coming from the sky rained down – the parade had to stop multiple times for fireworks, sparklers, and other things which purposely try to keep the goddess in the town as long as possible so she will bless the residents.

These men were carrying banners and large spears ahead of Mazu as a sort of honor guard. It was great to spend time with the parade in the evening as we got some beautiful light from the setting sun.

   

Left: The crowds in the above photo are waiting for Mazu to arrive as fireworks are laid out before her altar moves through. Right: …and some fireworks to finish off this post. I’ll be back later with another post about this huge event, I’m sure.

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Hakka Teahouse Exterior

This exterior of a Hakka teahouse was taken later in the evening during Chinese New Year as my family visited.  I’ve posted this located before when telling about making tea during my first visit.

I love the location of this place, as it’s on a side-street in an old town.  You get to it by going down an alley near the large temple nearby.

Taken at 35mm, f/8.0, 1/200 shutter speed at ISO 200. I found myself set on f/8 more often with this lens – I love the versatility that setting provides.

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Paradise?

First of all, I’d like to mention the fact that I broke my M-F posts yesterday by not posting as I was in Kenting with family.  We were relaxing on the beach during the day and drinking/eating at night, so I decided that I was too lazy to even get my camera out.  It was a good idea, though I did take some instagram iPhone photos – I think I might have enough of those to warrant a post on that in the near future…

…anyway, I’ll have to post this image of a “paradise” in the mountains of Taipei county from last weekend.  This pagoda was set up next to a beautiful arched bridge and everything looked very picturesque – it is near Pingxi where I was visiting the Lantern Festival.

Anyway, here’s to a relaxing weekend for all!

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Getting Ready for a Break

Next week is the beginning of Chinese New Year, and it seems like things are already winding down.  I’m planning on showing some family members around and am looking forward to exploring southern Taiwan.  In addition, we’ll be taking part in New Year’s festivities, so it’ll be a loud week, if anything!

These were taken while walking around a year-end celebration in the community.  Lots of reds here, as you’d expect!

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