Here be dragons

Yesterday was a celebration day in the busy metropolis of Sai Kung. I can’t for the life of me recall what was being celebrated. It entailed lots of dragons, a sedge of stilt-walkers and plenty of noise. For the Chinese noise is like rice. It is part of daily life. Most of the noise yesterday came from the banging of drums and the clashing of cymbals. I can never think of cymbals without the great Gerard Hoffnung springing to mind. Who remembers this?


This sprang to mind as I watched the ‘warm up’. Children play an important part in life here and it was good to see so many taking part. Here is the Anti-Hoffnung, waiting for her moment of glory.

And here are more youngsters waiting in the shade of the dragon. It was very hot and they were there a good 30 minutes before the whistle blew and the parade started.

The elderly just sat in their own shady nook and donned their raybans:

If you see the dragon’s head up close it is a fearsome sight:

And you can see the head is pole-assisted. Due to the fire hazard there is no flame breathing here.

And as there were maybe 15 dragons on the loose the roads were partially closed and the parking bays blocked off. Extra traffic police were on duty. This one was well into the spirit of things.

The dragons don’t just parade. The ‘operators’ can create wonderfully energetic movements and as the creatures are long and heavy it is extremely hard work. Of course the slimy scales and pungent breath don’t help.

This chap was exhausted and he was only holding the flag, I think.

The stilt walkers were excellent. One had a brolly on which was written Cirque du Soleil so I did wonder whether they had been brought over from Macau for the afternoon, where CdS performs at The Venetian each evening.

Here they are entertaining the youngsters (and me).

But even the hardiest of performers needs a rest now and again. This one decided to hold on to the awning rail of a local restaurant for a few minutes to get his breath back:

And shortly afterwards I took my own break and headed home. These events are quite tricky to photograph. There are so many people it is tough to isolate good moments in a single frame. I used my 70-200 F4 lens throughout, mounted on the recently dropped 5D mk3. It is well nigh impossible to get a good shot of the dragons themselves – the backgrounds are either buildings or bright skies and that means either a muddled distracting background or a brightness that creates huge dynamic range issues. Nevertheless I enjoy trying my hand at these events. It is not my forte but it is fun. And that, in a nutshell, is what photography is about for me. Enjoy.


8 thoughts on “Here be dragons

  1. Enjoyment is the important part. You might not manage to capture the image you have in mind but you get great images that you didn’t. I think it’s a great set.

  2. Really tough to go about this event with a 70-200mm but the shots here are awesome though. I prefer a standard zoom like the f2.8 24-70mm. People in this kind of activity are always all out for others to take pictures of them. You ask them and they will pose for you. Back to the photos in this thread, awesome, indeed.

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