Shanghai, China: Nanjing Rd at night

Late night shoppers hanging around Nanjing Rd way after all shops have closed.
The standard tourist to Shanghai makes a pilgrimage to the perennially packed Nanjing Road. The picture of thousands of shoppers compressed through the use of telephoto lens is all over brochures of Shanghai. I could copy those, and maybe I would in the future for my project, but I was more interested in what Nanjing Rd looked like late at night, when most of the shops have already closed.

In every major city there is always that one place where you will find more out-of-towners than locals, and this is where touts, conmen, and the general unlicensed street traders hang around. So naturally, I had my iPod on with sound isolating Shure headphones so I can ignore most of them coming up to me. I’m sure I will have to spend some time waiting so I packed a book with me so I can find a bench and read it until the crowd thins down.

In my small bag, 2 cameras. A Leica M6 fitted with a Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH, my favourite lens for night time shooting, and a second Leica M2 with Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH with Tom Abrahamsson’s Rapidwinder IXMOO. Both cameras are loaded with Fujifilm’s Neopan 1600. There are no meter on the Leica M2 so I was expecting quite a number of rejected shots.

And here are the results…

The standard shot of Nanjing Road, but this one close to 11pm. There are noticeably quite a number of people still wandering around, along with touts selling underwater goods.

This is a large tidbit shop. With the shutter closed, it is still possible to see the workers cleaning up and getting ready to return home.

This private proprietor is clearly a late night worker.
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Tochigi, Japan: Return to Senjogahara Plateau

Chuzenji-no-taki: Chuzenji waterfall
You could say Tochigi is my playground. I just love the place. Take a long slow train over to Tobu-Nikko station and there are many options. Most tourists would spend the whole day at the temple complex, Toshogu, Rinnoji and of course, snap photos of the stable with 3 monkeys. But the hidden gem of Nikko is the many hiking opportunities like Chuzenji to the northwest and Kirifuri area to the northeast.I’ve been to Senjogahara and Kirifuri before, and the links are embedded in the two names in this sentence.

Senjogahara Plateau

Senjogahara is in the northwest just further up from Chuzenji. Chuzenji is, of course, synonymous with a waterfall, not just a normal waterfall, but one that drops hundreds of meters. The lake that feeds the waterfall, Chuzenji lake, is relatively large, and on a plateau in the highlands. On a summer day, there are anglers spaced evenly along its banks. I don’t have proof, but it does look like you need to have permit to fish there and you are probably assigned slots. They do look spaced out a little too evenly to be random!

Fly Fisherman on Yukawa River

... And more fly fishing...

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Keelung, Taiwan: Northern Taiwan Coastline

Keelung Harbour
Wikipedia opens the article for Keelung as a major port city situated in the northeastern part of Taiwan. Fine. That is not the reason I wanted to check out the town during the idle weekend in Taipei, but more because the town has nice rocky coastlines and most importantly food. More on that later. Being close enough from Taipei, it doesn’t require a long commute to get there, and from what I can see it looks like a different world altogether from the capital city. Do-able in a day, nice coastlines, and food. That seals it for me!

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This is why I'm here: Coastlines...

All great leap starts with a small step. Finding how to get to Keelung from Neihu is not that difficult. Its not fair, I know, but that starts by asking a secretary in the local office. After a few minutes the email came in and it is simple enough. Although it is possible to catch a train, the easiest solution would be to go over to the bus stop on the main road close to Miramar Neihu (look for the out of place giant ferris wheel) and catch a “Capital Star” bus (http://www.capital-bus.com.tw/). And if you have seen the buses in Taiwan, they are usually nice buses with ultra tacky colours, graphic designs and an interior only a pimp could love. Hope I don’t get that in the golden star!

Started off the day early, 6am and having soya milk and buns at a popular 24 hour local corner shop near Miramar. It is one of those place I never remember the name, nor do I care, but I can tell where it is on the map. For Taiwanese out there, maybe you know where it is when I tell you a couple years back some gangster got gunned down. Tofu? Get it?

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Tokyo, Japan: Shirokanedai at Night

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Now, for the last year or so, I have been staying near Meguro JR whenever I visit Tokyo on business. And 2008 this was a little more than a third of the year! To be specific, the area around the hotel is also called Shironakedai (I believe, but it could be also Shirokane) and there is a Tokyo metro with the same name. Over time I have grown to know this area quite well.

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I would say it is an upscale place, since there are all these embassies near by (Gotanda and Ebisu is one JR station away) and most people stay in houses. Sometimes from the JR station, I would take a long walk, around 30 minutes, to the hotel and since this is Tokyo, I sometimes take the small lanes at night just to see what it looked like. Most of the time it is serene, no one on the street, fresh air and there is this look to it that I wanted to capture on film. In the morning, I have found a few route through the hilly pathways and lanes here and this has turned into a routine for me whenever I stay in Tokyo.

Photoshoot Location

The pictures in this series are taken in the area labelled Kamiosaki in the map.

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Tokyo, Japan: Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Market in the early morning
It’s difficult to be sitting still. I spent most of my year in 2008 travelling, and all of a sudden, it has been Shanghai since the the trip to Tokyo for christmas 2008 till now. And it’s back to my favourite city this part of the world, Tokyo. This trip will be a multi-leg trip, with a weekend in the city before flying off to Taipei. Heard rumours before I came that Tsukiji fish market tuna auction section is now opened to tourists again. I’m sure it was closed because tourists were hindering the auction, but this I must see, being an addict of the red and fatty tuna sashimi.

Its Saturday today, and since the weather forecast is perfect for today only, plan is to visit the fish market first thing in the morning at 5am and once I covered Tsukiji, I plan to catch the first morning train to Nikko, another one of my regular destination.

Dividing up a giant tuna

According to the market’s online site, the visitor area for tuna auction is only opened between 0500 and 0630. The next next problem, other than waking up early enough, is the transportation. The Tokyo metro does not operate until 6am at least, and Tsukiji, being rather far away from Meguro JR, means that the only mode of transportation that can get me from the market that early in the morning is the taxi. Will cost me a little more than 3000 Yen just to do that.

Taxi definitely goes fast at this time in the morning, like all taxis in big cities when there are no traffic, I suppose. At 5 am I reached the market. The taxi dropped me at a location I’m not familiar with. There were a bunch of American tourists (not difficult to tell) but it looks quite obvious that no one knew where the auction really is. I know the general market where anyone can buy seafood, and on my Nokia E71’s GoogleMaps I was able to get a rough idea where I am. So I move on, and the market is already buzzing with people selling their stuff, My Leica M6 with Fuji Pro400 comes out and I take a few shots here and there, making use of the nice depth of field on the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH. At the same time, I followed a bunch of Japanese traders that look as thought they were going to buy giant tunas, but they started going to the first floor. Thinking that the auction area is up stairs (I know, didn’t make sense too, as they will have to haul the large tuna up the stairs!) I followed them and we came to a long alleyway on the second floor. After a minute or so, I decided it would be better to backtrack as I will not find it here.

A dealer at work in the general section of the market

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