A mahjong game attracts some observers.
I borrowed a bicycle from the hotel and took a meandering 20 km ride around central Beijing, yesterday, despite an AQI of 250, in the “Very Unhealthy” range. The bad air isn’t really noticeable at street level, however there was quite a bit of pollen and petals from the Spring flowering trees swirling around and I did catch an occasional bug in my teeth. There was also a lot of construction & destruction taking places, small scale projects in many of the hutong neighborhoods I roamed, that added blowing dust and sand to the mix. The air quality aside, it was a glorious day to be about and about, sunny and unseasonably warm with temperatures reaching the mid 80’s (30 C). My original plan upon departing the hotel was to walk the 4 km to the Bell and Drum Towers, north of the Forbidden City, but when I exited the backside of the hotel I noticed a row of matching bicycles; the doorman informed me that they are available for guests, so I checked one out–complete with helmet and lock– and rode north. Much of the day was spent avoiding the main streets and commercial lanes of Beijing in general, focusing on exploring the side alleys of the hutongs. I did make it to the two ancient, MIng structures and they are impressive, but I didn’t bother entering, choosing instead to lock my bike and wander to surrounding hutongs by foot, where I discovered this cheerful group of resident playing a spirited game of mahjong.
An elderly man takes a break from his bike ride to shoot some pictures along the Huangpu River.
Sunny, warm, and reasonably clean air found me out walking the Lujiazui area of Pudong, this afternoon. On the north side of the bend I saw this gentleman dismount his bicycle and begin to take pictures of the skyline north of The Bund.
Judging from his backpack and the seat on his bicycle he appears to be a grandfather, although I didn’t see his grandchild in the vicinity. In China, grandparents, whether they like it or not, are the free childcare, taking the children to and from school, while the parents are at work. This man saw my camera and started a conversation, but my complete lack of language skills forced me to rely on the universal language–not English, but a smile. He just shook his head at the laowai and smile back.
“The Brick” finds a new home.
Yesterday I posted a picture that included a camera, an Argus C3, that was identical to one my father had given to me. This is a picture of that camera now proudly displayed at the home of our daughter, Hannah Sharp. Hannah used most of my collection of antique cameras as table decorations at her wedding in 2012 and has repurposed them to decorate in her home. I don’t think I’m getting them back. Dad would be proud the know his camera is in the home of his soon to be great-granddaughter, Mia. I know I am.
Phototronics camera repair shop, Seattle, WA
Keeping the picture-a-day project on track is a bit more challenging on some days; those days require some latitude as I allow myself to stray a bit from the overall theme I’ve set of a “person and place.” And the more I think about the more I’m beginning to believe that I don’t photograph people, places and things, but rather I take pictures of time, tiny little slices of time, suspended in the eternity of pixels, always available to look upon to see what it was like a that precise moment. I photograph time.
Yesterday was one of those days. I had a package to mail to Poland, but FedEx wanted $200 USD, the first Post Office was closed and I had to walk south to find one where I could mail the package. I then had to head north to South Lake Union to retrieve my broken Canon 28mm lens that I had been using exclusively for this project (the past few days, after the lens broke I used my 50mm). The shop could repair the broken AF control, but not before I left for China. Shipping electronics to China is a nightmare (customs and import duties up to 50%)that neither I, nor the shop wanted to attempt. While waiting for my lens to be retrieved, I shot this picture of the behind the counter display at Phototronics. The camera in the upper right is an Argus C3, also known as “The Brick.” It was the first 35mm camera I owned compliments of my father passing it on to me after he received a SLR as a gift. To the right of that is a GE light meter that I still own. This slice of time that I photographed is the memory of my father.
*I am a day late in posting because we had Wi-Fi connection issues upon our arrival in Boise, Idaho.