July 2012 Hong Kong (and Macau) workshop report

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Central. Olympus OM-D, 45/1.8

Yes, we got rained on. Post-typhoon Hong Kong was an interesting (and very wet) environment to shoot in; even more interesting to teach in, but our little band of drowned rats – probably the only ones in Hong Kong without umbrellas – did admirably.

Day one started with a portfolio review and briefing session, running over commonly made mistakes as well as identifying key themes for each participant to work on; with that, we made our way over to Central with the intention of easing into street with a little architecture that might or might not include people. Seems like the rain kept a lot of commuters away at lunchtime, and we eventually headed away from the business district to the shopping district, where things got a bit more lively (and I narrowly missed losing an eye to umbrella points).

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The diving board. Leica M9-P, Zeiss 28/2.8

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Common street view during the rain. Olympus OM-D, 45/1.8

Crossing under the bay after lunch and a detour to an interesting photographic bookshop at IFC, we were presented with a much more interesting and dynamic shooting environment – the chaos of Mong Kok. Coupled with rain, low light and the general chaos of the place, it proved to be a very challenging place to shoot.

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Signs. Olympus OM-D, 45/1.8

We repaired to a randomly insalubrious rooftop – the ‘penthouse suite’ which came with an attached garden – for a different view, and a break from the pedestrian jam.

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Group portrait. Leica M9-P, Zeiss 28/2.8

We continued to shoot for a few more hours before repairing to dinner, and after that a cigar at a private club and extended discourse on photography and life in general.

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Untitled. Olympus OM-D, 45/1.8

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Showing off. Olympus OM-D, 45/1.8

Day two took us to Macau – across a rather rough crossing that had the ferries throttled down to about 2/3rds speed; in any case, we spent most of the journey discussing the importance of workflow and backups. Today’s assignment was to capture an image or two which instantly said ‘Macau’ – but not in a cliched fashion; travel photography with a twist. The ‘food street’ of Macau proved to be somewhat anticlimactic; but it did yield an excellent Portuguese restaurant, whose flaming sausages proved to be interesting photographic material.

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Yet more rain. Leica M9-P, Zeiss 28/2.8

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Getting one last shot in before lunch. Leica M9-P, Zeiss 28/2.8

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Lunch is on fire. Leica M9-P, Zeiss 50/2

The old section of Macau, in the warren of streets near the ruins of St. Paul’s – proved to be a rich hunting ground of photographic opportunity, despite the even heavier rain. Even though I felt this was an equally or perhaps even more challenging environment than Mong Kok the day before – the group acquitted itself admirably, and produced some of their best work. Perhaps it was because this portion of the assignment was undertaken individually, without the pressure of hunting in packs; nevertheless, some stayed behind to continue shooting at catch a very late ferry home.

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Yellow wall. Olympus OM-D, Panasonic 20/1.7

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Not exactly ice cream weather. Olympus OM-D, Panasonic 20/1.7

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Cinematic alleyway. Olympus OM-D, Panasonic 20/1.7

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Spot the photographer. Leica M9-P, Zeiss 28/2.8

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Chimping time. Leica M9-P, Zeiss 28/2.8

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A good shot shared. Olympus OM-D, 45/1.8

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Rain, Macau. Olympus OM-D, 45/1.8

The final day of the workshop was split between evaluating images, the editing process, and an introduction to Photoshop; I say introduction because for a new user, it’s not the kind of thing that can be mastered in an afternoon – though the participants did well, especially given that it was their first time in both Photoshop and using an editing tablet.

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Inspiration break. Note laptops in background. Leica M9-P, Zeiss 28/2.8

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Contemplating escape at lunch. Leica M9-P, Zeiss 28/2.8

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Untitled portrait. Leica M9-P, Zeiss 28/2.8

All in all, a great time was had by all – to the point that the final day’s debrief didn’t end until about 3.30am!

There’s still one final place left for my Tokyo 2012 workshop which runs from 12-14 October, with a two day focus on street photography, architecture and travel, and one day on Photoshop. Full details are available here. More images from the Hong Kong workshop will go up in the near future as a series of photoessays.

I run workshops in small groups (no more than five) to ensure that I can tailor teaching content to individual participants. I’d be happy to do a location workshop or come to you; if you can get a bunch of friends together it’s a fun and informative way to spend a few days. Please send me an email if you’re interested. MT


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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards. All rights reserved