Sunday, 4 September 2011

Saturday Camera Action

I spent almost all day yesterday outside with the camera. After my morning trip to the park, I decided to go out for another drive around Tseng-wen reservoir. Instead of following the signs and ending up having to pay the entrance fee at the west end of the reservoir where the dam is, I took the backroad through the farms into the Dapu district of Chiayi County. That takes you up to the south end of the reservoir, from which you can freely go either northeast into Chiayi or northwest back toward the dam. I already knew I wanted to go northeast again and follow the road further than I allowed myself to last time.

Setting off from Tainan city, the sky was hazy and slightly on the dull side, but once I got out into Yujing and Nanxi, things started to brighten up considerably although it was still very hazy. Lining up the electricity pylons is a great subject but this one isn't particularly good - partly because of the haze obscuring the distance.

This is a bottle of Paolyta (pronounced "Bow-lee-da") I picked up at the store I usually stop at in Yujing. I quite like it, though Taiwanese friends tell me they regard it as "low level" swill for the construction workers. It contains a mixture of alcohol, caffeine and B vitamins, has a very sweet, partially anaseed taste to it and is usually mixed with coke or beer - but I prefer it straight with a bottle of water on the side for balance. It helps to stave off any hunger pans until you get back to town.

Here is a view from the south end of the reservoir where the reservoir ring-road intersects with the main county back road. From this point I went northeast, but stopped to take pictures first. The haze was still impenetratable so that helped firm up my decision not to head over to the dam. So off I went...

I stopped at this feeder stream with a newly constructed weir to let the dog cool off for a while. The water is brown due to the large amounts of clay having been dislodged higher upstream by the recent typhoon.

This is the view from the east out toward the west. The haze was so bad it wasn't worth trying to capture the dam - it was little more than a vague line in the distance. What's notable about this shot however, is that it shows how low the water level actually is. After the typhoon I would have expected it to be higher than last time I was here, but it was actually lower. You can see a sandbar in the middle of the image.

Here is a long-lens shot of the same thing. I was thinking that the low-water level can't be due to discharge from the gates following the typhoon, simply because that would have been far too much - why let the water run down to such a low level? So the alternative would seem to be that the rains from the typhoon weren't actually sustained enough to significantly replenish the reservoir, but that doesn't sound right to me. I'm not sure what's going on here. (Later... unless what you see there is not a sandbar and is actually just flotsam and jetsam)

Toward the north end of the reservoir, as it begins to tail out into a river, I stopped again at this older, much smaller weir with a fair sized pool to cool off in. The water was actually quite chilly, which is perhaps why the dog wasn't too keen on following me in when I whistled for her. I took the picture by balancing the camera on a rock and setting the timer. I think it's not too bad.

Funny-looking grasshopper on another nearby rock. Not quite as sharply focused as it should be - this was with the 18mm lens.

This is the tail end of the reservoir at the north. I decided to head back as I was getting hungry - only about twenty minutes into the return journey we were soaked to the skin in a downpour, but on a weekend excursion like this that doesn't bother me enough to bother with a raincoat. My airforce T-shirt is enough and having the sunlight and wind dry it on my way back into the west end of the county was a nice sensation.

And then later that night after I got back I went out for a beer in Tainan. I was going to go to Kaohsiung, but I left my helmet in the little bike at the mechanic's place when I got back. So only having the big bike but no helmet, I didn't feel like driving all the way down to Kaohsiung and back.

A couple of bands were on. The guitar guy didn't seem to appreciate me taking pictures and told me off, but then someone said he was German - and then it hit me: ahso! Alles klar... - he had just been trying to be funny! Germans...

We had a chat later on about Berlin and after I mentioned that weird squatter place on the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Oranienburgstrasse, he was telling me about the typically weird sound that East Berlin bands used to have prior to 1989, with one band in particular standing out - but the names were too much of a memory stretch. Anyway...

One of the foreign girls had got hold of a DSLR (although there is a billion-monkey job in the foreground) and were shooting away at the bands. Taking pictures of other people taking pictures is an easy way to capture them not posing for the camera.

Not having a mobile flash means it's very difficult to get any sharp, clear images of people playing musical instruments; they're always jiggling about on stage so much that the only way to get anything sharp is to use a high shutter speed, but that's self-defeating as it means not enough light will get into the lens. What I did here with E was wait until he was between songs so I could shoot him when he was kneeling down to twiddle with feed back pedals and tuning. It's still not sharp though. The maximum ISO on my camera is only 1800 (girlfriend's is 6400!) so the only solution is the external flash. Not that I'm going to blow a load of cash on one...

Forget this chap's name. At one point he sang an old Lancashire working men's song, which our resident Hank Williams-listening Canuck enjoyed. Everybody wanted to pose for the camera last night. Here's our Canuck lad with J posing for the camera...

I have a few pictures of J on her own, but I think she tends to look better, expresses herself more naturally, when she's paired up with somone else in the shot - especially with our mischievious Canuck.

These Taiwanese kids couldn't get enough of the lens either...

... and nor could these daft sods. The guy on the left, D, had been telling me something about a paper on sub-conscious awareness or something with behavioural studies showing 100% positive results. I can't remember clearly what it was but I do remember thinking "load of bollocks"....

This morning I went out to the park and noticed that Picky was carrying a squirrel around in her mouth. Before I could get the camera out of the bag she'd already went off to sit on the hill with her prize - so I took this shot before realizing I'd forgotten to change the colour settings from last night. Compositionally that was the best shot too - look at her smiling like an imbecile over her latest murder victim. Daft dog. I don't know whether it was her who killed the squirrel, or Black & White, or that local idiot with one arm who occassionally goes out of his way to catch them.

That picture does at least look like a morning headache.

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