Oranges are not the only fruit

Mrs. Ha and I went into the local town for lunch today. Noodles and satay beef, omelette, toast and rib-stripping strong tea for HK$44 per person. Thats less than 6 US$. Its cheap and not very cheerful but the food is good enough. I never mind the cafe lunch because it means I can take the camera with me.

I wanted to play with my 24mm lens today. This is the one that I dropped in Cambodia. You get what you pay for. Not a problem. It did not bounce. The metal lens hood absorbed the shock, picked up a few scars but shrugged off the impact. The lens continues to be optically perfect as far as I can tell. It is tricky however photographing when Mrs. Ha is with me. She gets confused when I walk past the same place 4 times in quick succession, trying to get the shot I want. I am also chivalrous enough to carry anything we buy so I end up with shopping in one hand and camera in the other. Here the M9 comes to the fore as it is light enough to operate one-handed. I simply wrap the strap around my wrist to prevent accidents (it didn’t work in Cambodia but that’s another story) and can shoot vertical or horizontal format. The 24mm lens actually needs an external viewfinder if you intend to use one. The viewfinder can just about cope with a 28mm lens but wider than that and you see less than 100% of the shot when you look through the built-in finder. I do have one that goes in the hot shoe but frankly I normally just guess.

Today was not good. I didn’t really get anything I was happy with. The one below I have processed in a couple of ways and this version was my final choice. This lady has a tiny stall selling fruit. She is very elderly but still works each day, to make ends meet I imagine.  These small enterprises can not survive much longer in my view. They will cease to exist when the owners pass on. Nobody will want to continue the business. I photograph them to document the changing of the times. Just like the fruit and veggie man and his shop. I am sure that within a few years it will be another tourist boutique catering for some of the HKSAR’s forecast 70 million tourists each year. Heaven forfend. I am not against progress but somewhere a line has to be drawn and I feel we are stepping over it now. My late father always wanted to live to the year 2000. He wanted to know what life would be like as we turned the millennium. He fell well short and sometimes I think he would look at the world today and wonder where it all went wrong. Perhaps the fruit vendor feels the same.

Fruit VendorNote the cardboard boxes of the ubiquitous Pocari Sweat in the top left corner. I have cropped the very front of her stall but that is all she has. Two or three rows of trays and a few boxes out the back. Making ends meet the hard way. I have a black and white version but somehow the sepia felt right.


26 thoughts on “Oranges are not the only fruit

  1. I’ve arrived at this post waaay too late but I love the photo and it reminds me a little of the elderly men in the market here in our corner of Andalucia. They sit in out in all weathers with just a few vegetables or fruits to sell, things that they have grown in their gardens.

  2. I really enjoy that you are out and about Andrew but I wish you were here with me in Costa Rica to teach me how properly identify and photograph birds. I am glad that it sounds like you are feeling better.

    • Thanks Bruce. I wish I were in Costa Rica too. Some friends of mine have just spent 4 weeks birding there plus 2 in Ecuador. The nearest I got was Galapagos. I think you are more than capable of getting your photos but rainforest is hard habitat – often low light and difficult to get clear views. I found that in Papua New Guinea. If you get a few good keepers a day and lots of record shots that would be pretty impressive. I would suggest enjoying the birding first and just take what comes photographically. I would be out with a macro lens every night too looking for moths and other nightlife. I do envy you.

  3. Sepia is perfect for this picture, Andrew. It adds an old world strength to the situation. Very effective.
    “Rib-stripping strong tea”?? Your way with words equals your talent behind a camera lens.

    • I just read the 28mm article and it was very interesting. I was hooked on my 50mm. Now I am almost at a stage where I prefer my 35mm and I am experimenting with 24mm. The 28 isn’t a lens I own – too close to the 24 and 35 to justify the outlay but I think the principles are similar for the 24mm. Thanks for the share, Lynne.

  4. Interesting photo with lots to think about when viewing the elderly woman and the limited amount of her wares. That old adage- “time changes everything” continues on, day after day. All we can do is bemoan what was in the past and then continue on our merry way.

    • Very true Yvonne. No matter how much we grizzle and look back we can’t change things. We have to adapt and move on. I just hope the old lady sells her fruit each day.

  5. Sounds like a balancing act! I miss drinking Pocari Sweat… the last time I had it was in Japan.

    A part of me would like to believe that the small and traditional businesses in HK will continue in the years and decades to come, existing alongside the trendy boutiques and chain shops. Every time I’m in HK, I’m amazed to come across such small businesses and workshops (e.g. car repair garages or shops making those ubiquitous checkered plastic carriers), though mostly in areas like Mongkok and Sheung Wan.

    Going off on a tangent, there is an interesting Ted Talk that I watched today about innovating out of necessity so as to solve real problems for people:

    • I watched the TED talk. I knew about some of the African ideas as we did a lot of business there and I used to go once every 12 months. HK still has some small businesses for sure but the rising rents are killing them. If they own eventually the temptation to sell must be huge. I think they will disappear as the generations change. Quite sad.

      • I have yet to see much of Africa. Just a drop on the continent with Marrakech and Oran (in Algeria). Hate to see this bit of HK disappear… :/

  6. She certainly does look very elderly, bless her – what tales she could tell, I’m sure.
    I laughed at the image of you carrying all the shopping and trying to operate your camera. I have a friend with two teenage daughters. When he takes them shopping (with his fairly new and expensive wife), they call him Cash and Carry. He doesn’t mind, he’s very benevolent. 🙂

    • I like Cash and Carry, Jenny. It sounds as if your friend has his eyes open as far as maintaining a high octane wife is concerned. Benevolent is always good.

  7. It’s a universal problem. Years ago in Hyde Park we used to have soap box orators on Sunday. That’s all gone now as are newspaper sellers, bread and milk delivery. The rabitto, all gone.
    Just noticed that the Russian share-market has been the worst performer this year and best performer Greece. Is there a link somewhere that makes sense.
    The only thing that makes sense are your photographs Andrew. They keep me sane. Thank you.

    • Reg Wools used to deliver all our groceries in his van. Milk was on the doorstep, bread also arrived by van and the newspapers came twice a day, national in the morning, local in the evening. All now dead as an Abbott’s brain cell. All we have left is pile em high and sell em cheap. Supermarkets you can drive through. Dreadful. But that’s progress.

  8. Imagining you juggling the shopping and snapping away Andrew, … but the great result above made me stop and think, same here as regards to the ‘little’ shops, … fruit and veg stalls, etc… you’re still able to find Markets now and again but pretty soon the BIG 3 (or is it 4 now) Supermarkets will kill off all opposition .. whilst taking the soul out of shopping and provide all you want, under one roof, … Yet we fall willingly under their spell,…. at least I seem to have… all for that over used word… Convenience… at the cost of someone’s livelihood,…for progress sake? Nope, for profit… saving shoe leather and (I could go on , but my coffee’s getting cold ) 😉 xPenx

    • I went ‘home’ last year and bought some stuff in a giant ASDA. I said to the cashier “didn’t this used to be Carrefour?’ She stared hard at me and said “you haven’t been in much recently have you? That was 30 years ago”. How time flies 😱

  9. I share your sense of loss, Andrew. When considering the changing of society it always strikes me as ironic that the world as it evolves will some day be remembered as the good times and as that time fades another shall be bemoaned.
    I think the image you have shared is a fine addition to your archives of changing HK. Her character and diligence as a vendor is displayed and her story shared.

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