There is an old Joni Mitchell song called “Real Good For Free.” The middle verse goes like this. “Now me I play for fortune, And those velvet curtain calls, I’ve got a black limousine, And two gentlemen, Escorting me to the halls, And I play if you have the money, Or if you’re a friend to me, But the one man band, By the quick lunch stand, He was playing real good, for free.”
We were walking through The French Quarter on our way to a good dinner. Probably an expensive one. We crossed Royal Street and saw this band playing for tips. They were beautiful musicians. They were playing for tips and with hope that somebody would buy one of their homemade CDS. In between songs they held out their merchandise — or merch as the bigger bands — say. We looked at each other and felt guilty. In some other post I’ll tell you more about it. But, Joni’s song about nails it. I don’t know her. But, I get her and that makes me feel like I do.
So. We did the only thing we really could do. We put a bunch of money in her tip basket. Thanked her and the band. And left. We don’t even know their names.
The picture. I did what I always do. Framed the scene, let whatever was going to happen, happen. And, I pushed the button.
As the title suggests, one thing really does lead to another. I was only going to publish one Hong Kong picture and go back to showing you more New Orleans. But. Then I thought… I’d like to mess around with some newer pictures. So. More Hong Kong. What started as a whim has become something kin to an OCD condition. That’s just one of the things that drives me. Fear is the other. Now you know.
One of the things that I try to do with travel pictures is capture a sense of “what is it like to…?” I wrote about this in more detail on my other blog on the Hub. So. The answer to that question could be, “what is like to walk through a Hong Kong wet market?” The answer comes from what I think about Hong Kong. I love the city. I’ve spent about six years there, sometimes commuting back and forth to The United States. For me, it’s action-packed. It’s about motion, movement and color. It’s a very powerful place. That goes on almost day and night. It’s a place in which I can make “my” pictures very easily. Unfortunately, all this energy takes its toll. When I was there for long periods of time without a break, I’d find myself taking the ferry to Lantau Island to spend the weekend with my friends in what was then a bucolic backwater just 45 minutes from Hong Kong Island. It’s not such a backwater today as that’s where the semi-new international airport is located.
This picture. Since know you what I think about Hong Kong, this picture makes sense. It doesn’t always make sense to picture editors. In fact, I have another picture of this scene that is a best seller. It’s well framed. The color is a little more realistic. It was made closer to dusk. And, it is in sharp focus except where the image is compressed because I used a long lens with that intent. On the other hand, this picture is jarring. It jangles. It’s all motion. Everything moves. That is intentional just as sharpness was in the more popular image. How did I do it? First, you should know that the picture was made in early evening, which is why it is so busy. People are buying fixings for dinner. In Hong Kong many meals are cooked from raw ingredients that are fresh and local. Or, as local as possible. Second, for the more posed and sharp pictures I used a tripod. For this picture I didn’t. I hand-held the camera and let two things happen. I let the motion in the scene do whatever it was going to do. I also let my jet-lagged body do whatever it was going to do… which was vibrate a little. I set the aperture at f 5.6 and let that be my guide. I started exposing at 1/15th of second and keep slowing things down to about two seconds. This image was in the one or two second range. It was actually quite over exposed. I brought back the richness in post production. That’s it.