Friday, April 22, 2011

Hong Kong: February 20, 2011

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All material including photographs are ©2011 Ronald Dunlap / Doglight Studio

This morning, when I walked out of the Holiday Inn at 8:30, I was surprised to find that it was Marathon Sunday in Hong Kong. The race starts here in Kowloon, just up Nathan Road a bit from the hotel, so the streets were humming with anticipatory energy. I snapped a lot of shots as runners jogged up to the starting area in their dressed-to-impress running togs.

The side streets seemed to be mostly deserted, and I had no trouble zipping in and out of BK to get my usual HKD 23 breakfast. After this sunny meal, I was all smiles as I made my way past the American and European high-end boutiques that lined Kowloon's streets on my way to the Star Ferry.

Last night, I had perused the day's take and wasn't happy. A lot of my images needed to be reshot, because they weren't up to my usual tack-sharp standard. In HK, it's extremely difficult to use a tripod, because in most places there is hardly room enough to stand. So even after I boosted the camera's ISO up to 6400, the long exposures were still creating a myriad of problems.

Over on the Hong Kong side of the bay, I got another Rickshaw Bus day pass and headed back to Hollywood Road. The skies were still slate gray as I stepped down from the bus at the Man Mo Temple stop. The temple was again overflowing with visitors, so I headed west on HR (Hollywood Road), trying to remember where I'd shot what.

I used all the tricks they teach you in school: take a deep breath, let half of it out, very gently squeeze the trigger, sorry, I mean button, and hope for the best. I reshot everything that was on my list, then left HR and headed down to Cat Street. CS is really more of a lane or alleyway than a street. It's also more appealing to most casual visitors than Hollywood Road. One of the greater advantages is that you don't have to break the imaginary plane of reciprocity by opening the door to a deserted gallery and dealing with an expectant merchant who comes wearily out to greet you. Most of the Cat Street merchants display their wares on tables out in the lane, so you can peruse to your heart's content without requesting an audience.

I was browsing amidst the different tables when I came across what looked to be a commercial poster from before World War II. It must have been 70 or so years old, but the image of a "Shanghai Girl" was still in great shape. I wasn't sure what the poster was advertising — either beauty products, Camel cigarettes, or both — but I was sure it would make a great gift for a snow-bound friend of mine. I bargained with the owner, and finally we settled on a price that included photos of her holding up my purchase. I counted out the HKD 55 and she shyly held up the poster as I moved her around to get the best light. This is one of my favorite shots from this trip; she and the poster look amazing.

I shot for a while longer, then it started to rain harder. I dashed back to the bus stop just as the purple and pink metal behemoth was pulling up. I thankfully climbed into the lower deck where I and my camera were semi-safe from being soaked.

It was hard to see much through the fogged-upped windows on our 30-minute ride back to the dock area. I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't want to go back to the hotel to sit in my room, so I decided to get on board the H1 bus and see what that part of HK looked like.

I was the only passenger on the lower deck for the next hour or so as the bus cruised through bouts of on-again, off-again rain, past the many shopping areas that HK is famous for but that I really didn't have any interest in visiting.

I don't mind the rain in the tropics, but when it's cold I hate it. I feel like the Wicked Witch of the West, afraid I'm going to melt into a slag heap of self-pitying tissue.

It was only drizzling when I got back to Kowloon. On the ferry, I made sure my camera was dry and zipped-up tight in its rain coat before we exposed ourselves to the elements again on our walk back to the hotel. A couple of blocks from the Holiday Inn, I sighted a stationery store and stopped in to purchase a mailing tube for the Shanghai Girl's journey to Minnesota.

Diagonally across the street from the stationery store was a branch of The Spaghetti House. Since I hadn't had any lunch, I walked over to grab an early dinner, but unfortunately, when I got up to the second floor, I found there was a line out the door, so I headed to the 7-Eleven to load up on more junk.

I spent the evening transferring files, doing maintenance on my equipment, and snacking on yogurt drinks and sundry other bad things.