Published on: 30th Jul 2017In December I will again take a group of photographers to China, this time specifically to Shenzhen and surroundings. To make sure I am not missing some great photo opportunities I am working through my old photographs to remind me of the places I visited. I found quite a number of night photos and decided to share them in this article.
The Shenzhen local government is actively marketing Shenzhen as a tourist destination. It has many special tourist attractions, but I have not visited most of these tourist "traps" as I prefer to experience the real Shenzhen, but even then you find some interesting scenes that are most likely specially created with tourists in mind. Scenery such as the water fountain in the above anaglyth is easy to find, and it also has some surprises such as a building crane decorated with lights because they are busy building in an area normally visited by tourists on a regular basis.
As a die-heart landscape photographer, I always look for landscape opportunities, even when inside a city. I even used my fisheye lens when photographing car light trail in order to get the skyscrapers in the photo.
One evening we went to the movies in one of the many shopping centres, and while walking to the bus stop after the movie I noticed how "foreign" (in Chinese terms) the fashion in the windows look. Brands such as Prada, Dior, Louis Vuitton and most other well-known world fashion brands are lined up next to each other.If one sees these photos out of context one could think this is a city somewhere in Europe or the USA.
Most shops stay open until midnight (or even later) and it is not strange to see somebody going for a haircut at 10 pm after returning from work. Even small shops such as a makeshifthair salon will be open. And it is not only the shops that will operate until late, most other services will also operate any time of day or night. Walking down the street after dinner one night I found a small entrepreneur sitting next to the road waiting for a phone call from a restaurant the ran out of gas.
The typical way of family life is to have dinner very early in the evening and then to go out to the park to get some exercise before retiring to bed for the night. Exercises range from "normal" jogging and speed walking or playing badminton to coordinated dances,Tia chi exercises and even ballroom dance classes. No wonder the typical Chinese person is slim and ultra fit! Although the light is very dim, I found that the modern cameras are very capable of capturing these social gatherings at night - even hand held. By using a wide angle lens (I prefer the 23mm or 27mm on my Fuji cameras) it is possible to get a steady photo at about a 20th of a second (and I even managed to get sharp photos at a 10th of a second). A good tip for this kind of photos is to expose for the brightest part of the scene and leave the rest to be reasonable dark. This not only ensures that you do not have over exposed highlights, but it also creates a mood close to what you have seen when taking the photo.
One of the most unusual scenes I have ever photographed in Shenzhen is the night kite flying scene. We were walking in Honghu park after dinner (at a pace that was just a bit uncomfortable for me) and from a distance I saw these strange colourful lights hovering in the air. I could not work out what itis or how far away it is and asked Xiaoyi if she knew what it is. She tried to explain to me but with my limited Chinese I did not understand her explanation. She then said that she will take me there. I only realised what it is once we arrived at the specific part of the park. Several people were busy flying kites, and these kites are specially prepared for night flying with led lights decorating the kites. As they launch the kites, they also attach lights to the thread at certain points. This is definitely not a scene I have ever seen in South Africa and I am quite sure I will never see it in South Africa. Over the past 3 or more decades our culture has grown away from any outside socialising activities, let alone things such as specially designed night flying kites as a hobby!
If you are interested in joining this photography tour to Shenzhen (from 17 to 26 December 2017) read more about it in this article.
(If you have read up to here and did not click on a photo yet, do so to see them in larger format and also to browse through the rest of this gallery)