My Best of 2014

The numbers aren’t good. If we’re talking sheer quantity, in 2012 I shot 18,455 photos, 12,031 in 2013 and just 7,228 in 2014. I put the blame on a full time job, a really long daily commute and a few personal issues – not the least of which was fracturing an ankle and doing major damage to an elbow in a fall in September. All of this added up to shooting far less than I would have liked. Also 2014 was the year in which I totally walked away from trying to do any kind of street photography – I just saw so many horrendously bad examples of street photos on various groups on Facebook that it left a sour taste in my mouth.

Even so, I did come away from the year having shot a few fun events and having some images I quite like. So here’s my year in photography.

In January the band Operator had a CD launch party at Backstage in Central. They were supported by Bank Job and The Sleeves.

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Also in January I had a chance to shoot with Hong Kong model Yumi at PASM. Recently she seems to be having some success as a DJ.

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In February one of my photos of Hong Kong singer Faye Wan was displayed in a photo exhibition in Soho.

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I had this idea for a year-long photo project, Hong Kong Women With Tattoos – or Hong Kong Ink, perhaps? It ended up being far more time consuming than I had expected and I was also having trouble finding women with larger tattoos to model for me. I shot Hui in March and this was a fun shoot.

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At the end of March, there was a festival of local bands called Friday Night Rocks timed to coincide with the annual Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.This show featured a large variety of terrific Hong Kong bands along with one band from Korea. Below – Hey Joe Trio, Shotgun Politics, Galaxy Express (2), Dr. Eggs.

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In April, also for my tattoo project, I shot Ines in the studio. A strong woman with a great story.

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Also in April, guitar great Robben Ford played a show in Shatin and I was able to get a “three songs, no flash” pass for that.

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At the end of August, I attended Hong Kong’s 2nd International Tattoo Convention.

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Just last week, I shot some of the bands appearing at the Wanch at a memorial concert for Hong Kong singer/songwriter Sue Shearman. Sue died from cancer at a crazy young age and the evening was called Well Fuck You Cancer and once again highlighted the amazing diversity of the independent music scene in Hong Kong. Below – Dark Himaya (2), Kestrels and Kites.

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So there you have it. I’m hoping that my move to Manila in 2015 will provide more opportunities for shooting. I won’t have a studio affiliation there as I do in Hong Kong but I’m hoping to meet many of the local photographers and to find some clubs that present some unique local bands.

 

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Well F*ck You Cancer Benefit at The Wanch

Checking back, I see it has been 3 months since my last post. That’s because my time has been split between my day job and getting ready to leave Hong Kong and move to Manila. (Here are the details on that in case you don’t read my other blog.) Actually pretty much the only photos I’ve shot over the past few months have been related to my house-hunting in Manila. I haven’t pulled out my Nikon D800 in so long, I wasn’t sure I remembered how to use it properly. But tonight, I did pull it out and shoot a show at The Wanch.

The show was called “Well Fuck You Cancer” and it was a benefit to raise money for Sue Shearman’s medical expenses. Sue is a singer in Hong Kong whom I’ve shot a couple of times and she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Here’s a shot of her I took a few years ago.

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Sadly, Sue passed away just hours before the show was scheduled to start. The musicians all went ahead with the show as a tribute to her.

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I wasn’t able to stay as long as I would have liked, but I did manage to catch 4 of the 15 scheduled bands (which also served to highlight the amazing diversity of Hong Kong’s indie music scene). Here are some shots.

Dark Himaya:

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Les Gromechkos:

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Sushi Robot with guest Joul from Dr. Eggs (Joul was the organizer of the event):

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Kestrels and Kites:

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When I leave Hong Kong, one of my regrets will be that I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked at The Wanch in the past couple of years. I hope I can find a similar kind of music spot in Manila.

 

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Orange Peel

Orange Peel is a new music bar and lounge in Lan Kwai Fong. If you know Peel Fresco in Soho, most of the people involved in that bar are also running this one. A close friend is one of the co-owners, which mean I was invited to their soft opening party last night. Lots of wine and lots of live music.

Since it was a Saturday night and since I intended to drink more than Coca Cola, I didn’t want to lug a bag full of gear along. I slipped my Sony RX100 Mark III into my pocket to see how well it would do. The answer is – for the most part, quite good for its size.

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(1/160th of a second, F2.8, ISO 5000)

These days I tend to mostly shoot semi-manual – manual shutter speed, manual F stop, auto ISO.

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What I’m liking:

Of course, the faster lens, that only drops down to F2.8 instead of the useless (for me) F4.9 of the older Sony RX100 Mark I.

The tilt screen and electronic viewfinder (EVF) were both amazingly helpful for composing shots.

The shots when the camera chose ISO 4000 or ISO 5000 were all quite acceptable.

There’s no noticeable lag between pushing the shutter button and actually taking the shot, meaning I could capture the moments I wanted.

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What I’m not liking:

When the camera “dropped down” to ISO 6400, the results were starting to get unacceptably noisy, as seen in this photo:

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Also, I clearly need to go back to the manual and read more about the focus modes. I must be doing something wrong, because I tried just about every combination of focus and metering modes and the camera kept selecting faces off to the side, rather than the one smack in the middle of the image, to focus on. Even though depth of field when shooting wide open on a small sensor camera isn’t quite as narrow as on a full frame, it’s still “off” enough to be noticeable.

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Overall, I’m quite pleased with the results. The Sony RX100 Mark III is an amazingly capable camera for its size. I can only begin to guess how much better a Mark V or Mark VI might be a few years down the line.

I also had a really nice time at Orange Peel and wish them a lot of luck going forward.

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Sony RX100 Mark III

I finally got the Sony RX100 Mark III. The improvements over my old Sony RX100 Mark I (much faster lens, EVF, tilt screen and lots of other small things) were too many and I felt offered good reasons for an upgrade. It was just a matter of when I was going to pick it up, I suppose.

I realized that as capable a camera as the Sony RX10 is, it’s just too big and heavy to be an every day walking around camera. Looking back through my photos, I saw that while I had shot a lot with the RX10 when I first got it (it was the camera I brought with me to Paris for my honeymoon), I hadn’t really touched it in several months. So as much as I liked it, selling it off made sense.

I’m just “getting to know” my new RX100 and I am liking it every bit as much as I hoped I would. The only annoying bits I’ve found (so far) are Sony’s menus (as always) and the weird fact that when you pop the EVF back into the camera body, the camera shuts itself off.

Anyway, a small series of photos – not great photos but I think they show what this camera can be capable of.

They’re tearing down a house in my village. The house is less than a year old and was never occupied. I think that it was built without a government permit, the government found out and ordered it to be torn down – at least that’s my best guess. I came out of my house one morning and saw that the demolition had begun.

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I came home around 8 PM and took a few more shots.

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That shot above is at ISO 4000. If you zoom in on it, it’s a bit noisy, but still quite acceptable.

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The shot above, believe it or not, is at ISO 8000. Very noisy now, the fine detail is all but gone, but yet as a simple image documenting something on the street, it’s still quite good enough. At least I think so.

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This final shot is taken using the camera’s built-in pop-up flash. That little flash is insanely powerful.

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Every day, a little bit more of the house is gone. I just hope that when they finish tearing it down, they cart off the debris and don’t just leave it lying there in the lot. Given that this is Hong Kong, it’s a distinct possibility.

Meanwhile, I’m quite pleased with the Sony RX100 Mark III. Now I just gotta get out there and find some good stuff to shoot with it!

 

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2nd International Hong Kong Tattoo Convention 2014

 

 

 

 

 

I was traveling last year when Hong Kong’s first tattoo convention was held. Fortunately I was home this year for the 2nd International Hong Kong Tattoo Convention 2014 and wasn’t going to miss it. Here’s some shots from the show, a whole lot more can be found on the  gallery page for the event.

 

 

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