“Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome to an area of turbulence” announced the hostess, just a few seconds after the Air China 777 had lurched and shuddered, prompting gasps and exclamations from around the plane. Enroute from Shanghai to Beijing, sitting next to a 40-something woman in ocelot-patterned tights, her eyes closed as she was lost in the synthpop from her MP3 player, the hostess’s sentiment seemed perfectly apt.
So it’s gone, bubbled-wrapped and brown papered, stamped and mailed on its way back to Canon. As ever with mechanical widgets, it’s the cheapest parts that break — 2-cent battery clips and a 5-cent button cap. Just the same it’s under warranty, and off it goes. No DSLR. So at least for a while it’s no CF cards, no chargers, no PCMCIA slots, no USB or burning CDs or connector cables — at least not when it comes to making pictures. I put them all away in a big bag at the back of the cabinet.
The Contax 35mm as ever is solid and quick and surprisingly light after carrying around the 300D for a while (probably 1/3 the weight of the Canon w/lens). What have I been doing with this bulky digicam? Heck, I can carry the G and all three lenses, ten rolls of film, toss-in the RTS for good measure and the bag still feels shockingly light. What was I thinking, dragging around that digital brick?
Four airports in the past five days — a busy trip. Currently Sunday morning (I think) in Tokyo.
This morning, while randomly surfing I came across Vincent Laforet’s Website. Laforet is an excellent well-known shooter with the New York Times.
Looking into his “Projects” area, I saw “China - Past and Future Intertwined …shot in Beijing and Shanghai, China over a period of eight days.” Figured I should take a gander, having just returned from a similar trip (though not for the purpose of making photos, but to attend developer events and meetings — photography simply gives an excuse and structure to my compulsive flanerie, squeezed in for an hour or two in bits during the week).
What surprised me was just how much the photos Laforet had made, and my own photos, overlapped — at least in terms of very particular locations, situations, and in one or two cases, I think we may have even photographed the same people (in a country with a billion population).
It’s only natural to make a lot of photos when travelling. This past trip has seen me chewing through two to four hundred shots a day. More on some days. Let’s see, that’s something like 3000 shots or around 85 rolls, about six or seven rolls per day. Surprising to me, it’s not a lot more than I might have shot without the digital camera (the Contax only got used for about four rolls, total — though it’s a joy to handle compared to the lunking Canon).
When the trip is rushed it’s especially true that you’re likely to see the things most typical, or most different from those at home. They stand out as obvious. The stone tanukis, the tricycle cabs, the massive portraits of Mao. And on occasion the things surprisingly transplanted or morphed where you’d least expect them: the subtitled Korn tracks in the Karaoke machine, the Cadillac Fleetwoods negotiating slowly through the streets of Shinjuku, the Beijing DQ store. There’s simply not a lot of time for contemplation. Bang off the shot and move, you’ve got other places to go.