Week 52: Low Key

NOTE: This is the final posting for the 52-week challenge! Next week starts another year and 52 new themes to shoot during the year Aug. 1, 2016-July 31, 2017. I think my photography pals are I are are moving into the fifth year doing this!

I was roaming around the corporate park in Lakewood Ranch a couple of weeks ago in the heat of the day, early afternoon, the worst possible time for shooting. But it was a little overcast, and the spirit moved me. With no goal in mind, I stopped at a small nondescript pond where many dragonflies flitted about. Shot some pond plants, too. when I uploaded my images it struck me that this one would qualify for the low key theme, although it wasn’t my intent at the time I shot it. I love those little surprises that pop up when we take a look at the catch of the day.

Low Key Flowers

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Week 51: Tell a Story

I learn a lot from Google. After having recently spent three weeks in China, including four days in Hong Kong, I left Hong Kong as confused about its relationship to mainland China as when I arrived. So I turned to Google to learn the story of this exploding thoroughly modern city—Hong Kong—into one of the world’s most significant financial centers.

The population of Hong Kong Island, a mere fishing hamlet, was 7,450 when the Union Jack was raised there in 1841. In the following decade, Chinese immigrants fled there seeking shelter from rebellions and natural disasters on the mainland.

In 1898, Britain obtained a 99-year lease from Qing under the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong. As the area grew, Hong Kong’s population increased from 530,000 in 1916 to 1.6 million by 1941. Then came the Second World War and Hong Kong fell to the Japanese on Christmas Day of that year.

After the Japanese occupation, the population of Hong Kong dwindled to 600,000 due to atrocities and starvation at the hands of the Japanese, but it recovered quickly after the war, as Chinese refugees fleeing strife and communism on the mainland settled in Hong Kong.

Some 40 years later, 1984, the United Kingdom and China agreed to return Hong Kong’s sovereignty to China on July 1, 1997. The agreement stipulated that for at least 50 years after the transfer (2047), Hong Kong would retain its laws, maintain its capitalist economic system and guarantee the rights and freedoms of its people. On July 1, 1997, the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China took place, officially marking the end of Hong Kong’s 156 years under British colonial governance. At last, I understood the stark difference between life on mainland China and the glitz that is Hong Kong.

The 2015 edition of the Global Financial Centers Index listed Hong Kong third, after London and New York, as the world’s most economically powerful city. I’d say you’ve come a long way, baby.

Downtown

Week 50: Celebration

The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Tueng Ng Festival, takes place on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, but goes on all summer as I understand it, and it was in full swing when we were there in June. The event goes as far back as the 3rd century and is known for its energetic and colorful dragon boat races, where teams of paddlers race the long narrow boats accompanied by the beat of the drum down to the finish line.

According to one popular legend, the Dragon Boat Festival has its origins in the old man Qu Yuan, an official that was so disillusioned with his country’s government that he drowned himself in protest by jumping in the river (not enough of us are doing this in the States).

The locals rushed to the site, paddling on their boats and banging drums, gongs and everything they could find to scare away anything that might harm Qu Yuan in hopes to find and rescue him, but alas, they were not successful. You win some, you lose some.

Today the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated all over the world, but nowhere more so than in Hong Kong, which attracts hundreds of international teams and hosts a series of events and races throughout the summer months at locales throughout Hong Kong.

Dragonboat Races

Week 49: Nighttime

Hong Kong lights up Victoria Harbor nightly for 15 minutes, staging a light show on its skyscrapers set to classical music. People come to the harbor in droves to see the impressive display. Not part of the show, but certainly a fixture in the harbor, is this red-sailed (the sails are bright red) Chinese junk, the Aqua Luna, known in Cantonese as the Cheung Po Tsai. I saw it during the daytime from our 18th-floor harborside hotel room, not realizing it would be lit up at night. It was launched in 2006, and while its English name is Aqua Luna, in Cantonese it is named after the 19th-century Chinese pirate, Cheung Po Tsai. It was an unexpected feature last month as I took in the show. The ship is a party boat and can accommodate 80 passengers in addition to the crew. It rents for $80,000.

Red Sails