Last Post of the Year!

Before I start, I’d like to a wish a quick Happy New Year to everyone.  While I’m at work today, I look forward to a fun weekend.  This year brought me quite a few things – including a great (CRAZY?) decision to move to Taiwan and buy a DSLR.  I’m pretty happy with the results, and my time overseas has been a blast.  In the next year, I look forward to bringing my photography to the next level and might have to change the name of my blog if/when I leave Taiwan.  Of course, I’ll have to add more countries to my passport stamp area – as it’s a little too blank for my liking.

The first photo today is a family of three driving by on BoAi street, in the “old” section of Jhubei.

Whenever I see them, I’m always intrigued by families which decide to load up all the kids on one tiny motorbike and use that method to get around town.  It’s very common here as it is in other parts of the world, and you’ll occasionally see 4, maybe 5 people sharing one tiny bike at once.

I took this to practice panning, a technique I only recently learned the name of but had practiced before.  A fast lens is important for this, especially at night, as the camera needs to grab the subject and hold it while the background blurs.  Ideally, this would be done during the day, but my work schedule doesn’t allow for that to happen.

This woman looks a little confused, but I’m glad I at least got her face as her kids were bundled up for the windchill.  All in all, I’m happy how this came out, but look forward to practicing more.

Another recent photo that I liked was this pet dog, used as a storefront display.  He was standing on the shopkeeper’s scooter and working quite well, as he attracted a small crowd.  I was pretty impressed by his calm demeanor.  I used on-camera fill flash on this to brighten things up, then darkened the contrasts in Aperture 3.

The last photo of the day (year?) is a crazy attempt at finding more Christmas material here in Taiwan.  This inflatable Santa is in front of a pachinko parlor near BoAi street here in Jhubei.  It’s important to note, first, that this is not a “casino,” as gambling is outlawed in Taiwan.  This game – also popular in Japan – involves a pinball-style game where you try to get more small metal balls. You can then exchange these for prizes and conveniently exchange these prizes in turn for cash at an “unrelated” establishment nearby.

I thought the Santa was interesting, and figure he is probably meant to symbolize good luck and gift giving.  You’ll see holiday decorations in stores here, but I think it’s more a matter of stores wanting to use it to make more money rather than people really being committed to making Christmas the next Taiwanese holiday.  Of course, store owners WANT it to be the next big thing!

With a scooter driving by a gambling… erm… “pachinko” parlor, I’ll say “Happy New Year!” again – thanks to all who have visited and commented.  It’s been fun so far.  See you next year… or Monday!


Filed under taiwan2010

8 responses to “Last Post of the Year!

  1. Nice shot with the panning – I like the positioning of the baby in the background picture. A fast lens is not really necessary for panning – what is important is the correct shutter speed. The background blur comes from the motion of your body rather than the aperture. In fact, if you were panning during the day, you’d probably have to use very small apertures like f16 or f22 in order to bring the shutter speed down enough to make panning possible, which would totally defeat the need for a fast lens. I actually prefer night panning in Taiwan over day because of all the possibilities with LED and neon.

    • Thanks, Craig. I think I was referring to the aperture in the sense that with AF and getting a faster shutter speed, an f/2.8 would be better than my 70-300’s 5.6 on the 300 end.

      I was lucky to be close enough to use the 35mm f/1.8 at about 2.8. I’ll keep this shutter speed question in mind for the next time and will try to fiddle around with it to get a more crisp subject.

      Looking at the EXIF, I was at ISO 1600, maybe something higher would be good, too next time.

  2. You just bought a DSLR? Nice work, thought you had been shooting for years.

    • Thanks – actually, in April 2010 I got the D5000. It’s been a bit of an obsession and having taught in Texas and having last summer off after my girlfriend had moved back to Taiwan gave me lots of time to practice/learn.

  3. Michael Graziano

    Happy New YEAR !!!!!!! Very nice shots.Looking forward to this years pics.

  4. love the dog! reminds me a bit of scobby

  5. Pingback: Practicing Panning Still «

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