These are from around Jhudong (竹東), the city where I teach. First is the exterior of Pu-Zhao Temple, a Buddhist monastery…
…and its big Buddha who overlooks my school:
Not my normal style, but something I came across while working on my processing of old RAW shots. This is from April, 2011 during the pilgrimage of Chinese deity Mazu, goddess of the sea. Here are more images.
Last Sunday, a celebration of San Tai Zi ( 三太子), a major figure in Taiwan’s popular and religious culture occurred throughout the streets of Jhubei, heading north toward Hsinfeng. I’m always excited by the chances I get to see these parades as I really get to experience the culture, practice my bad Chinese, and interact with the people.
Above: a spirit medium representing who I believe to be San Tai Zi dances in front of a moving altar with onlookers watching. This was taking place, as you might see with the truck in the background, on a busy highway bridge to Hsinfeng.
Above: a temple leader shows off his sash.
Above: a two-faced god, representing Yin and Yang (陰陽).
This is a repost of a reprocessed image I took in Tainan a year and a half ago. I decided to redo the RAW file as I’m trying to improve my processing skills by bringing new life to old photos. The original can be found partway down the page here.
For this shot, I warmed up the image’s white balance, increased some sharpening and contrast, and balanced the stark dark and light levels to even out the image but still put a focus on the faces. Any improvement here shows the importance of keeping RAW files, among other things.
This was taken quite a while ago during a trip to “Lukang,”, or 鹿港, an old town further south in Taiwan that was once an important harbor. Apparently, this cart is from the nearby Presbyterian Church, and I forgot about this picture as I was getting other shots posted and moving along.
A month ago, I visited Guqifeng, or 古奇峰, a temple in Hsinchu marked with a very large statue of the god of war, Guan Gong, on top of a mountain just east of the city. Last weekend, while visiting the general area, my wife and I noticed something going on inside and saw a lion dance troupe preparing to perform. Here are some shots from this performance.
Above: the drumline beats out the rhythm for the dancers. These guys were very talented and drumming is an art of its own in Taiwanese and Chinese culture.
A performer tests the stands before the performance by jumping between them. These performers will rarely make mistakes, but an important safety procedure for this was a group of performers underneath, holing the stand steady and acting as a buffer for falling friends. This did happen – the first time I’ve seen this happen before – and the performers who fell were perfectly fine, their fall being broken as they were caught. During this time, the drums kept going and the lion dancers were back in no time.
A confetti-covered ground marks the main ceremony area before the lion dance performer took the stage.
A walking god watches as the altar of another god “visits” the temple god. The confetti canons were set up at a climax during the ceremony and I was happy for a wider angle lens here.
Lion dancers jump across. Notice the drummers yelling below.
This man was at the Jhubei Mazu Temple parade last November, which I posted lots of photos from after the event. I’ve decided to go ahead and post a few more, as I have neglected quite a few decent shots from that day.
If you ever end up following one of these groups, it’s best to make sure you have water, a mask, and earplugs. Trust me.
This shot was taken last December, when I attended a very traditional Chinese wedding and took photos of the event after being asked by the couple. I posted one photo after the event, and refrained from posting more without the couple’s permission. I actually was OK to post a few shots all along, but am just now getting around to it months later.
The shot below became my favorite of the event in terms of a sort of “documentary” style. Since I’m no wedding photographer, I was simply trying to capture cultural concepts I didn’t understand – OH, and get pictures for the couple :) What is happening below is the leading of the bride by a “good luck woman,” a woman who must have certain roles and usually comes from a family with many children, a living husband, etc. The bride is walking over a fire on her way into the groom’s house, which offers a sort of purification before she enters.
The day itself was spent running back and forth between the houses of each family as dowries were paid and ceremonies were followed. Many firecrackers went off, and the entire event was a bit fascinating to see first-hand.
Last weekend in Tainan, I happened across a temple procession for a god I’m unfamiliar with taking place in an alley near the Confucius Temple. It was like most other processions: loud and full of energy. I found the 18mm end of my lens to be pretty useful here as well as the amazing light-bending abilities of RAW format due to the huge dynamic range present.