29 October 2009

Hong Kong Mid-Levels

Quick picture of the Mid-Levels below Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island. Was walking from Wan Chai a little ways up the hill and came across this scene as the sun was setting. It still amazes me how beautiful the city here is, with structures leaping from the ground on the sides of mountains surrounded by dense jungle and housing hundreds, sometimes thousands of people in a single building.

27 October 2009

Victoria Harbor Hong Kong

Victoria Harbor and the infamous Hong Kong Skyline are a couple of the most photographed spots in Asia. Although there are quicker options to cross the harbor by taxi or car in one of the tunnels or on the MTR lines that access Hong Kong Island, many people still use ferries like this one regularly. A trip from Tsim Sha Tsui to Wan Chai or Central takes about nine minutes and offers some really nice views of the city. This particular image was taken from the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Father down the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui are quieter and less touristy places which offer equally nice views of the skyline on Hong Kong Island. This was taken near the Hung Hom MTR station along the waterfront.

Hong Kong is known worldwide for its food. In addition to having its own specialties of Dim Sum and "stinky tofu" along with many other things, Hong Kong offers some of the best ethnic food from all around Asia. Sushi restaurants can be found on almost every street and block in the densely populated Kowloon Peninsula and are very easy to stumble across in the New Territories. This sushi was at a place in Festival Walk not too far from the Sha Tin MTR station.

23 October 2009

Canon 7D

Test shot with the new Canon 7D! Picked up the camera yesterday at one of the shops on Mong Kok's famous Sai Yueng Choi South Street. Buying cameras and electronics in HK is a simply wonderful experience, as the prices are unbeatable. And, providing you go to the right shops, the camera or whatever else you may be buying is not from the 'grey market' but rather a completely legitimate piece of equipment!

Anyways, took this earlier. It is Hong Kong's famous skyline yet again (get used to it, there will be lots of skyline pictures from now on). Settings: ISO 100, F/22, 30s, 17mm, Canon 7D

The colour may be a bit off on the picture above, but that is 100% human error. Forgot to change the K-Temp from earlier in the day and this image is 100% unedited except for a very very slight realignment/crop.

The video capabilities of the camera are pure quality as well. Once I learn how to shoot them properly I'll add a clip to Vimeo and embed something here on the blog.

19 October 2009

Fa Yuen Mong Kok

Been a busy first week in Hong Kong. Heck, it hasn't even been a week yet! Well, some news first: one of the pictures I took in Kashgar over the summer placed well in a photo contest and will be published in an Asian magazine! Can't say which mag right now because of a confidentiality thing, but I'll make sure to upload some pictures of the spread and full details when it comes out in December! (Picture is of a Uyghur man in Kashgar)

Second bit of news is that one of my photo stories was featured by JPG Magazine! Check it out, and, if you like the images enough, please vote for the story to get published! (although featured online is cool enough as it is!) Karakoram Highway

This is another new pic I took today. It is the Fa Yuen Street Market in Mong Kok, an awesome place to buy cheap clothing (really good quality too) and amazing fresh fruit.

18 October 2009

Mong Kok

This was taken earlier tonight looking west over Mong Kok, Hong Kong. Mong Kok is the most densely populated area in the world, and for now, the place I call home. Its estimated that there is an average of 130,000 people per sq. km. Home to many famous markets specializing in anything from flowers to high-tech computers and cell phones, Mong Kok is an absolutely incredible place where there is never a dull moment. Whoever gave New York City the title of 'the city that never sleeps' obviously didn't know about Mong Kok!

I have been in the country for a few days now and am ready to get everything started with my new life. The hardest part is getting out of the apartment. Not because of culture shock (thats what I got in the United States, not here) but rather a matter of forcing my legs to operate as they should. A couple of nights ago my cousin and I both had our idiot hats on and participated in a 40km nighttime hiking race on Lantau Island. The first 35km were not bad at all, but the last 5km included a rather brutal climb up Lantau Peak, starting near sea level and rising up to the peak (934m) within a distance of around 1.3km before an even more painful descent down the opposite side.

15 October 2009

Back to Hong Kong

Over the last week I had the privilege to attend the Eddie Adams Workshop in upstate New York. To say it was incredible would be a drastic understatement, as there is nothing out there that can compare to it.

The people I met, both students and pro's at the top of their field, were such an inspiration. What I learned from them is beyond comprehension and will most likely take weeks, if not months to fully process.

I would like to sincerely thank all of the sponsors of the workshop, the editors and photographers who took time out of their busy schedules, my fellow students and everyone else who made this once-in-a-lifetime experience possible.

The workshop was the single reason why I went back to the States after this summer and it was worth every single bit. Above is an iPhone picture from the window of the plane I took to my new life as an expat shortly after the end of EAW XXII. From the workshop and New York I got on a plane to Hong Kong and slept for 14 of the 16 hour flight. This was somewhere over Siberia.

To everyone else who had the opportunity to go to EAW, I hope that you had as good a time as I did. You are all truly inspirational and I hope to keep in touch with all of you. Thanks for making it such a great experience.

05 October 2009

Hong Kong, Eddie Adams Workshop and Life

To say that the next two weeks will be busy and full of change would be the understatement of my life so far. I have been back in the United States for roughly six weeks and my time here is rapidly approaching an end. For the past month I have been on the East Coast building my new website and blog and preparing for a new life.

Today is Sunday. On Friday the Eddie Adams Workshop begins. It is said to be one of the most prestigious workshops in the country, if not the world. 100 "students" (a combination of university students and pro's, some young and some not so young) gather in Jeffersonville, New York for four of the most intensive days imaginable. To teach and assist at the workshop are 100+ professionals including Pulitzer winners, editors from major national and international publications and agencies and simply some of the best shooters out there. I applied for the workshop earlier this year, before I initially left for Asia and was not expecting to get in at all. They must have made some sort of mistake when they sent out acceptance emails because one popped into my inbox while I was in Kashgar, China!

The four days of the workshop will be filled with portfolio reviews, having the opportunity to talk to the best people in the industry and, of course, taking some photos too. It is not uncommon to get three hours or less of sleep each night. To be honest, I'm nervous as hell! I've seen the work of the other participants who were also accepted into the workshop and it is nothing short of amazing and beautiful in every regard.

Monday night marks the end of the workshop and Tuesday morning marks the beginning of my life as an ex-pat. For those who are new here, a couple of months ago I decided to finally give photojournalism school in the States a swift kick out the door because it was not adapting to the rapidly changing industry or challenging in any way. The work being produced by fellow students had no individuality or personal style and was geared towards a clientele that I have no interest in. Courses being taught were preparing students for an industry that is on its last legs and is whose workforce is now supersaturated with photographers with 20+ years of experience and no job.

University was far from being the only factor in the decision. Another big factor was that I felt at home in Asia. To me, home is not a specific house or a town or even a city, but rather a state of mind. That state of mind has always made me feel uncomfortable and awkward in the United States, and to remove those negative aspects was one of the most incredible experiences I've been privileged to have. Perhaps the most important thing that aided my choice to become an ex-pat is my photography. From an imagery point of view, I discovered myself while in Asia. Photographing the people and cultures of the few parts I traveled to opened my eye through the viewfinder to an entirely different level from where it was during university.

I will be unable to post anything new on this blog until I am in Hong Kong, but will try my hardest to make sure it doesn't take too terribly wrong.

To wrap up this post is a picture I took from Denver International Airport earlier this year... I find it very appropriate for this post. Thank you for reading thus far.

01 October 2009

Kashgar: Fabled City of the Ancient Silk Route

Kashgar, located in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, lies at the heart of Central Asia along the ancient Silk Route. Many of the city's 350,000 residents lead a simple life reminiscent of the past. A bustling old town district with mud and clay houses, dusty alleyways and thriving markets selling everything from dried lizards for medicinal purposes to rare spices from Tajikistan and India. Traditional trades are commonplace, with copper pots being pounded into shape with rustic hammers alongside kebab stands and mosques.

In recent decades, aggressive immigration policies set in place by the Chinese government in Beijing has drawn thousands of Han Chinese to Kashgar with promises of wealth and fame. Kashgar as it was known as recently as 1980 is fading away. The old walls that once protected the city from Mongols are being torn down and replaced with cheap Chinese high-rise buildings. Much of the old town area is already gone and what little is left is being destroyed in the name of Chinese prosperity.

At the current rate, there will only be a handful of traditional structures left standing in twenty years and the city will become fully Chinese.

Uyghur Child in the Old Town district of Kashgar.

Muslim Uyghur woman in Kashgar.

Uyghur man holding the reigns to a donkey he bought at the Livestock Market in Kashgar.

Uyghur men selling spices from India to Tajikistan at the Sunday Market in Kashgar.

Uyghur man scraping hair off lamb heads with a wire brush in Old Town Kashgar.

Uyghur men making naan bread in Old Town Kashgar.

Uyghur blacksmiths in Old Town Kashgar.

Cityscape of Kashgar with Old Town in the center surrounded by new Han Chinese buildings.

Links to images included in this blog post:
Poverty Child, Muslim Woman, Kashgar Livestock Market Donkey, Kashgar Sunday Market Spices, Lamb Heads, Naan Bread, Uyghur Blacksmith, Disappearing Kashgar

To view more of my photos of Kashgar and Uyghur people in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, please click on the colored links.

I traveled to Kashgar in June/July 2009. It is an absolutely beautiful city that I fell in love with and will be returning to again, hopefully before the Old Town is bulldozed by the Chinese government. While I was there (also in Urumqi) it was easy to see the tensions between the Uyghur and Han Chinese populations. Rampant racism, both visible and audible, was a very depressing thing to experience. I remember talking to some Han Chinese at a restaurant in Urumqi and when I asked them about their thoughts on Uyghurs and the destruction of their main city, the Hans replied saying they hated the Uyghurs because they were not Chinese. They were a part of China, but they would be better off without them.

When I asked Uyghurs about the Chinese and what was happening to their city, they did not want to speak about it. They knew and understood what was happening and one elderly Uyghur man told me that they were all aware of what was happening and there was nothing anyone could do about it. He said that while Tibet got all of the world's attention, China was free to do whatever they desired in Xinjiang and Kashgar and get away with horrible things with no punishment from the outside world.