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Month: October 2012

Auditory Reminiscence

Posted in Memories, and Music

Last night, I didn’t sleep until the small hours of the morning. It wasn’t the usual pest of insomnia keeping me from slumber but the joys of listening to music on my iPod. One of my regrets of cycling everywhere is that I don’t get to read or listen to music as part of that commute. Earlier in the evening I tuned into a radio station and heard a couple of sections on two bands that I used to listen to many years ago. I’m not going into too much detail about which bands as this isn’t meant to be a fanpage and I’ll let you supplant your own musical tastes onto it!

Both albums that were played catapulted me right back to those earlier years. Memories of the people around me at those times swam up to the surface clearly. It still amazes me how music can strike such a resonant chord within each of us. I know I am not alone in the nostalgia that music brings, both painful and pleasant.

I go through moments where life pitches up round the corner and takes me on a whirlwind tour where I get so busy that I don’t listen to any music for months at a time. I suppose I’d just been through an aural drout recently and not realised it until I decided to tune in to the radio station. This gave me a push to dig out the iPod and listen again as all my actual music is packed away at the moment.

When I was a teenager, music was very important to me. It was my world and I followed it religiously. I played guitar and bass badly, wrote songs and mumbled vocals in bands that never went anywhere. I loved it as it was a way to build a world and a way to escape into the richness of the tapestry that music can weave around you. A song can speak to you and for every person it can have a very individual meaning. I adore immersing myself in a song and hearing the soaring vocals, the pulsing bass lines and the multitude of layers in a song that often encompass varying emotions. I’m not a purist either, I used to be but now, I have a very diverse taste in music, it really is as simple as if something speaks to me deeply then I will listen to it and most likely treasure it.

There are no pictures with this blog post – I think we can all furnish it with music that evokes times past for each of us. Happy listening!

Wending through country lanes on two wheels

Posted in Cycling

With the weather turning grey and drizzly outside and looking decidedly autumnal, I was lucky to catch what was left of the rare autumn sun on the bike a few days ago. I woke up that morning and the sun was streaming in through the curtains. I knew it would be wise to make the most of this and headed out into the nearby country lanes on my Salsa Casseroll bike, Verde (or the gold bike as she is sometimes affectionately referred to as). I pedalled off at a pootle pace and took my camera with me in a pannier.

Early into the ride, just leaving the confines of suburbia there is a steep short sharp hill that beats me every time. Having gotten out of the habit of riding regularly and being nowhere near as fit as I used to be, I struggle with any form of hills or bumps. This time I managed enough momentum to make it halfway up the ascent before stopping, resting and carrying on huffing and puffing.

This photo due to the wideness of the lens angle doesn’t quite show the steepness of the hill but you get the jist of it, either that or I am just that unfit now!:

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There is some outstandingly beautiful countryside nearby which is a real joy to cycle in. Having done the majority of my cycling in London, apart from a few long rides out to the coastlines or just outside of the M25 corridor; it really is lovely to have smooth tarmac roads uninterrupted by traffic lights and delightfully clean air.

I really hadn’t planned that day to be out for long or to cycle far. I only took a sports bottle of plain water and no food. I always, always get hungry cycling, perhaps from the outset this wasn’t the wisest choice!

 

It was one of those rides where I just kept cycling, I went through Farleigh Wallop, Nutley, The Candovers: Brown Candover, Preston Candover, Chiltern Candover and then onto Swarraton.  I passed fields with black and white cows, sheep and another field with black cows looking at me with their inscrutable dark eyes giving away nothing. I cycled past sections dense with trees and many a thatched house and quaint structures before I started to realise that I was getting a bit hungry. I pedalled on further until I saw my saviour, little black jewels glistening in a hedgegrow. I stopped and hunted around for any blackberries that had not been eaten by birds and with a meagre bounty of blackberries sitting in my growling stomach, I carried on.

5837341[1]By this point I’d reached Old Arlesford and decided to turn round and head home as I was hungry, tired and the lactic acid was starting to build up in my muscles leading to burning quads. Long gone are the days of training at my lactic threshold and to be honest, I was hungry and getting tired by this stage. I pushed homewards, eyes greedily scanning the bushes for more berries as I pedalled along. I saw what looked like red currants glistening abundantly in the sun but as tempting as they were I wasn’t guaranteed that they were good to eat so cycled past. Eventually I glanced upon a bush groaning with blackberries and clambered up onto the knoll and had my fill until I was replete with the sweetness of wild berries. Motorists in their cars speeding by must have wondered what a lycra clad cyclist was doing ambling along the hedgegrow! I made it back in one piece powered by berries without collapsing in a heap by the side of the road (I have also been known to do this on very rare illness induced occasions). Twenty six miles roughly all in all.

A day of some of my favourite things, foraging for wild food, cycling uninterrupted in the country lanes and glorious sunshine.

Fire in Fa Yuen Street Market claims the lives of nine

Posted in Fa Yuen Street Market Fire Nov 2011, Hong Kong, and Photojournalism

Whilst I was in Hong Kong, I did some journalistic work and followed Ms Tse a native Hong Kong press photographer who worked for Metro HK.

On the evening of 30th November 2011, a fire of unknown cause damaged fifty stalls on Fa Yuen Street Market, an iconic market and bustling tourist destination. The fire spread to a block of residential housing causing the deaths of nine residents. Stock from the market was piled in the hallways and stairwells adding to the flammability of the block and impeding exit routes. This raises further governmental issues within Hong Kong. The flats in the block were subdivided illegally meaning existing small flats were partitioned off into even smaller spaces leading to dense, overcrowded accommodation. The lack of affordable housing, continuing rent increases and the unenforced legislation around overcrowded housing and dense market stall demarcations has culminated in the deaths of nine people. Sadly, a similar blaze happened the year before in the same street, though that time without fatalities. Unfortunately it seems the lessons learnt will be too late for those nine who sadly lost their lives.

Macaron Madness!

Posted in Food Photography, Macaron, and Pattiserie

Those of you that know me will know I have a penchant for all things food related. Savoury, sweet, adventurous, plain – you name it!

3452187[1]These little goodies have a special place in my foodie heart. I love macarons. I love making them and best of all, eating them! I went through a period of making four to six batches once a week to get them perfect. There were a lot of mis-fortunate almond ‘cowpats’ that tasted divine but were technically wrong.

A bit snowed under at present and soon to familiarise myself with the unpredictabilities of a new oven but once I’m settled, I hope to write a proper post about the art of making the macaron; however, would I just be re-inventing the wheel? I’ll think on it.

Whilst researching on my baking adventure, I found these sites which were particularly useful:
David Lebovitz
Brave Tart
Not So Humble Pie
Plus, Sucré- Ladurée was a fantastic recipe book from the Parisian patisserie that invented the modern macaron in its form we know and love today.

So a photo of my macarons with chocolate ganache to tempt you all, there will be more food related photography and write ups to come.

Signing off for now folks!

Fragrant Harbour

Posted in Documentary Photography, Identity, Personal Work, and Politics

Whilst I am reminiscing about cities; I was in Hong Kong last November working on a personal documentary project. I photographed workers and small business owners and asked them what had changed in the city recently and how their livelihoods were affected.

This was a deeply personal trip as the last time I visited was more than a decade ago when I was a young faced seventeen year old. My ancestral roots are in Hong Kong and I still have family over there. I remember a distinct feeling of having ‘arrived home’ when I set foot in the congested streets of Mong Kok which was odd, as I was born in and had grown up in the UK. The questions I was asking myself were based on identity, cultures and clashes and were things I had been working on for a long while. It was that pervasive feeling of not quite having a full foot in your home culture but also not tallying with the UK ‘English’ culture completely either. This is a theme I am drawn towards as a photographer – the idea of liminal spaces in terms of identity, emotions or physical concrete space itself:

lim·i·nal/ˈlimənl/
Adjective:

  1. Of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
  2. Occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

Hong Kong was one of those places that got under my skin. The incessant noise, the intense crowds, the pollution and the overarching capitalism knocking alongside extreme poverty really irritated me. Did I answer my personal questions? I guess I did. I have always held the answer even before I went to Hong Kong. I occupied a very special boundary of dual cultures that gave me a very beautiful unique perspective. In Hong Kong, I wasn’t a foreigner as I spoke Cantonese and grew up partially with a Cantonese culture at home and appeared to be Hong Kong Chinese but neither was I a native. I couldn’t be categorized but this was a very good thing. It took a flight across to the other side of world to realise this. Funny that, I’m sure there are cheaper ways to find this out!

I know there are many sides of Hong Kong I didn’t see or experience. I wasn’t there long enough to feel that I got to know it or its people well enough. I know I will return there again, it just is a question of when.

Here are a number of shots from the trip to give you an idea of the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong as well as the portraits I mention above:

Hi there and Welcome to my Blog!

Posted in Brixton, Personal Work, Portraiture, and Street Photography

I’ve been away from London for a little while now and am missing the city like mad. Pining for the cut and thrust of London life spilling out onto the streets.  Yearning for the chaos, dirt and richness of cultures melding together in that wonderful city. It takes being forced to be away from a place to eventually discover that you love it. I miss London terribly and all it’s inhabitants known and unknown. I have actually found a spiritual home even with its many imperfections.

This reminded me to put up some London specific shots I did a few months ago, which can be seen here; they’re the black and white shots based on a few days walking around The Square Mile. I did an analogue photography and dark room course through Photofusion and got to use one of their 35mm Pentax cameras over the spring and summer before I left. There was something remarkable about how it influenced the way I composed and thought about my shot. I took my time and really watched people passing by on the streets and waited for that moment. I loved the slowing of my normal photographic process and valued the reflection and deliberation that I gave to each image. It was fantastic to see the image take shape in the chemical bath and to smell and experience the milieu of the busy dark room.

My project for this City and Guilds course was about a topic very close to my heart as a photographer; my relationship with my subject and my ability to build a rapport with them as a person. I photographed Paul who I met by chance near Spitalfields Market as he had a young kitten with him perched on his shoulder. I hope to put up the shots that I did with him once I have all the negatives scanned. I’m planning to document and shoot more work with Paul and catch up with him once I get back to London but watch out for this and more on this blog.

In the meantime, here is a street shot from Brixton, near where I used to live in deepest, darkest Saarf london.

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