Chinese religious folk ..... I don't even know how to title this!


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Jul 3, 2004
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Here N There
It's complicated, really complicated, so I will try to make this sound simpler.

Taiwan is a religious place. Not religious-run state kind of religious, nor Mormon way of being religious. It's religious on the folk cultural aspects. Lots of cultural religious rituals and ceremonies. Lot's of "divine spirits". These are different from Buddha or God. They are more powerful spirits that live in a world above the mortal but is responsible of protecting their human followers and worshipers.

These so-called divine spirits can come from human origins or legends. One of the most worshiped goddess was a lady who sacrificed herself in a storm by holding a lantern at the fishing port so that fisherman can see where the coast was, so folks in Southern China coastal area worship her. Many of these divine spirits were once heros, or people who represented an ideology.

Superstitious or not, I enjoy it for the colors, sounds, graphics, performance, festivals and the fact that it humbles people.

The following was taken at a major temple that worships an important divine spirit that were once the top government officials back in the Ming dynasty. People establish smaller "branches" in various locations and occasionally, those "branch-representative" divine spirits come back to the HQ to pay respect to the big guy, like how managers feel that it's important to visit the corporate HQ to not feel being forgotten. They will attach themselves onto chosen human bodies and perform rituals on their way into the temple. So the main guys in the photos are supposedly possessed at that moment, thus do not feel the pain from bleeding.

It's complicated, and I am not going to try to rationalize it. This is the beauty of it I guess. Faith.














Lastly, drum performance by one of those "branches" and a kid on the borderline between finding it noisy and awesome.



Applause at the end of it.
First of all, I like your set a lot, it is a wonderful reportage of a really nice trip!

So, please don't get offended and DON'T ASSUME that I believe I know it all when you read the next few lines. It's just in the spirit of exchanging ideas in a forum.
1,2,3,5: I like them a lot, the composition is lovely and, in spite of the not-so-good weather, you managed to highlight the yellow very well, without making it look unnatural
4: the same, but the very detailed and beautiful background would look better if it was not so blurred out. A tighter aperture would have helped.
6: does not tell me much, looks kind of random
7: might be a very very little overexposed and would have probably benefited from the good, old and boring thirds rule.
8: not sure whether it was feasible, but I think full figure would have been nicer
9 and 10: my favorite in the set. I love them, congratulations!
11: maybe a tiny little bit underexposed
12: I love it!
13 & 14: for the sake of the reportage, you should probably pick one. 14 needs to be straightened up a little.

Congratulations! Beautiful set!
Thanks for taking the time to comment.

I purposely chose to use large aperture to create more emphasize on the subject for this, except when I was using wide angle. The lens I used for this set are 50 and 20mm (full frame). I don't really have a good 35-70mm lens so I was stuck with using the 50 for the most part. For some shots, I wished I could get closer, but I couldn't. The weather didn't help and it was towards the end of the day, so lighting was a big challenge.

For the last two, the kid was watching the drum performance. It was loud so he was covering his ears, but clapped his hands when the performance was done. It was interesting to me because it showed a kind of love-hate relationship. So loud that he's covering his ears, but excited about it at the same time. That's why I posted a "before and after". I agree that I should have straightened the photo.

Also, I didn't expect this event so it wasn't planned. Which means I could not document the full process.

Actually, if you are interested, I did have a fully documented event here:

Day One:
Day Two (I):
Day Two (II):

These were taken back in 2007 when I was still using 35mm. Couldn't remember what negatives I was using.
Wow, so these are scans! They look great, I wish I could scan my old photos with the same qualities! And also: with fixed ISO (and I guess not as high as digital goes) you had a lot less flexibility. I think you did an impressive job, and I can't wait to check out all the photos in your links.

And thanks for the explanation about the kid. It makes a lot of sense now that I know, but it's hard to give the idea of how loud a noise is in a photo.

Have a great day and again congratulations!
Those were scanned from negatives, not prints. The photos would have looked a lot flatter if they were scanned from prints.

Yes, 36 exposures at one go. I think I was using ISO200 and 400 negatives.... could not remember. At one point I switched to Ektar100, but I forgot when. I feel extremely pampered now with digital power in my hands.
BTW what I could not capture was the sound and the smell. There was drums and other instruments going on all the time along with fire crackers going off, with the sulphur in the air mixed with incense fumes.
I like the series as a whole, shot on film, you show your understanding of how to use the light, that makes them that much more impressive. There are some that look like snap shots, and then the majority of others that look like you were really looking into the scene a little deeper, angles changed, etc. I can only assume that as you got more comfortable shooting in a new situation, the better photos started to happen for you. Well done.
..the little one with hands covering ears showed me the sound...... lovely - very interesting that these were scanned from negatives ..great use of film - LOVE the vivid colors.. I like the ones without the modern cars in them the best.. crop lower 1/3 off #5, straighten up.. really like it... it "takes me there" and goes above time. Thanks for sharing

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