Liverpool’s main Chinese new year celebrations were held yesterday to celebrate the year of the horse and I was there with my wife and our 2-year old daughter. As usual, there were the various performance events dotted around Chinatown, the fairground rides, food and paraphernalia stalls and the scheduled outdoor performances which seem to attract every DSLR owner within a 30-mile radius.
As a child, I used to love the celebrations especially the firecrackers and dancing lions. As an adult, I’ve been more interested in them from a photographic point of view. Camera-clad, I was initially attracted to getting the big, close-up, frame filling action shots, but after a couple of years the constant battle with the crowds was getting somewhat tiresome. It was turning into something out of 300 with the Spartans felling wave after wave of the Persian army albeit with slightly less blood and guts.
Now, as a parent I’m once again seeing things from a fresh (yet old) perspective. Everything’s exciting again as our daughter gets to experience it all for the first time (from up close, at least). To slightly skew an old saying it’s like seeing things with a new lens 😉
Knowing the pace was going to be fast and the lighting tricky with a bright sky and low winter sun, I had my Nikon D800 with me to make sure I got the shots I wanted, but I also took my Leica M6 with my only remaining compatible lens; the Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4 SC. I did have a Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar for a couple of years and whilst it was a contrasty, sharp and technically excellent lens it didn’t have the same level of character as the Voigtlander so I sold it on. Maybe, if I feel the need for a 50mm in the future I’ll stay in the Voigtlander stable.
At times, focussing the M6 into sun was virtually impossible as the firecracker smoke reduced contrast dramatically. That said, with bright sunlight and ISO 400 film I was able to use a fairly narrow aperture meaning I could be a bit more relaxed about focussing. Metering with subjects that would be constantly flipping from front-lit to back-lit was a pain, but Superia 400 was pleasantly forgiving. So much so that at times I didn’t even check exposure or focussing. It really was a case of f/8 and being there!
I only got the chance to shoot a single roll of film. Here’s a few of my favourites from it. Developed at Boots, scanned at home.