Exploring the Past

The old Central Market has been restored and reopened. I went there yesterday to see what photographic opportunities I could find. Heritage preservation / restoration is not one of the strong points here and the quote below is not atypical.

“An architectural gem has become a sterile cacophony of mostly unneeded shops.”


Some of Fan Ho’s most iconic photographs were taken here.


I went to see if I could find inspiration. I did a recce a few weeks ago and wasn’t sure the magic had been preserved. Set aside the trashy shops and the fact that the tribute to Fan Ho consists of just 3 photographs tucked away where few will find them, what I was after was light. Perhaps I need to try different times of the day but yesterday was disappointing. I found one spot where the harsh contrasts gave some pleasing opportunities but none of the soft rays bathing the main staircase. I think there may be a project here. However photography is about creating in the present not copying the past.

Walking through light 1
Central Market, November 6th 2021 © the photographer

I tried shooting the main staircases and my 35mm lens was probably about the right focal length although I think experimenting with a 24mm lens is worthwhile. Shooting across the staircase a 50mm lens would have been fine. There was just nothing to capture my attention. The image above was taken at the top not the bottom. The entrance from another walkway has people walking through regularly. Ideally what I look for is balance in the figures. Here I am trying to balance the figures and their shadows. It is not quite right but close and I like the pool of light at their feet. This is very 2021 as the only face-lit figure wears a mask that gives his shadow a simian appearance as does the exaggerated hunched appearance created by the angle.

For Fan Ho aficionados like me it is good to know that a new Fan Ho book is imminent. You can order from Blue Lotus Gallery here https://bluelotus-gallery.com/shop/photography-my-passion-my-life-fan-ho (I have no financial interest in the gallery!)

Later I found another spot where I think the light and shapes have potential. Called simply The Center this tall office building has some interesting geometry at the base and the shiny metals and glass create pools and ripples of light with hard shadows in sunlight. I sat down to rest here back from the hubbub of Queen’s Road Central. Only then did I see the potential. I think a 50mm lens would have been better but I do have some images taken with the 35mm on my Flickr page.

Every time I go out it is an exploration of light. No two trips are the same. This is the attraction of photography, whatever the genre.