Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement


Colour on a Drab Day

I was overcast when I woke this morning.  Although its summer here, one of the westerly fronts that regularly arrives from the Tasman Sea during summer is making a visit today.  After the wonderful sunny weather we have had for the past few weeks, today feels drab and grey.  It reminds me of the day in 2008 when we visited Fengdu on the Yangtze River in China, but without the air pollution which gives the grey sky a yellow hue to match the muddy river.  At least in “Ghost City” there was colour to be found but, to give today its due, the sun is at least trying to break through.

Yangtze Cruise Ships, Fengdu, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Temple at Fengdu, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Red & Green, Fengdu, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Blue & Red, Fengdu, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013


Fan Ladies

Fan Ladies, Old Chongqing, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2008

And now for the last of the Chongqing series.  This was also almost the last photograph taken at the end of our Yangtze River adventure. It was a warm afternoon. It was the fans that caught my attention as these two ladies emerged from the shop doorway.  In order to capture moments like these in street photography you have to be constantly on the lookout, but patience and persistence pays off. And thus our second trip to China, the first was in 1987, came to an end.

Lunch Time

Lunch Time, Old Chongqing, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2008

This is the last of my series on street vendors in Old Chongqing. Here the lady is cooking in the street.  In the bowl there appears to be a type of tofu, while the wok contains what looks like sliced tofu in a broth.  It is clearly a popular dish, judging by the number of people seated at the tables in the background.  Whenever we ventured into the back streets in China we came across food outlets similar to that shown above.

Food Parcels – Eat In or Take Away

Food Parcels, Bamboo Leaf, Street Vendor, Old Chongqing, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2008

This is another image in my Old Chongqing street vendor collection.  Food is prepared in a similar way to this in many countries.  Here it was wrapped in bamboo leaves.  In Greece grape leaves are used, and in the Pacific islands it is banana leaves.  Food steamed on a bamboo basket placed in a wok is a common way of cooking food in China.

Refreshments and Fags

Refreshments and Fags, Street Vendor, Old Chongqing, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2008

Fag is a British colloquialism for cigarette.  In the narrow lanes of Old Chongqing we found this fellow selling a selection of refreshment items including Wrigley’s chewing gum! Also on the stand was a range of Chinese branded cigarettes and lighters.  I don’t know what was in the clay pots and bamboo cylinders. That’s what makes walking in foreign lands so fascinating.

Sugar Dragons

Sugar Dragons, Old Chongqing, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2008

A walk through the narrow lanes of Old Chongqing on China’s National Day in 2008 was a fascinating experience.  We arrived in Chongqing at the end of our Yangtze River cruise early in the morning.  A personal tour guide met us at the boat and took us on a walking tour of the second largest city in China in the time we had available before our flight to Hong Kong left late in the afternoon. The last highlight of this tour was a visit to Old Chongqing, part of the old city that has been preserved as a tourist attraction and living museum.

The streets of the old town were packed with people making the most of the holiday weekend.  Street vendors were plentiful and offered a colourful array of food and other goods for sale.  This man was of particular interest because of the way he fashioned melted sugar toffee into dragon-like confections.  Curious onlookers stopped to watch him create his masterpieces.

Balloon Lady

Balloon Lady, Chongquing, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2008

What would a celebration be without balloons? We found this balloon vendor near the edge of the square below the Great Hall of the People in Chongqing on China’s National Day.  Later in the day we came across another person also selling balloons at the entry to Old Chongquing, where the people of the second largest city in China crowded in the narrow lanes to experience how their city used to look.  I doubt that it was as well presented in the old days as it is today where this small remaining part of the old city is now used as a tourist attraction.

Special Day

Bride & Groom in Chongquing, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2008

Every bride wants her wedding day to be something special. If it can happen on a nationally significant day, it makes the day even more special.

Our visit to Chongqing in 2008 coincided with China’s national day. On the steps leading up to the Great Hall of the People we came upon this young couple having their wedding photos taken. Below them in the large square a crowd of people was gathered to watch dance and drum competitions that form part of the day’s celebrations.  Apparently girls like to be photographed in a western style wedding dress, as well as in traditional Chinese costume.

Grapefruit Vendor

Grapefruit Vendor, Chongqing, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2008

Some of the earliest visions I have of a Chinese peasant come from story books in my childhood.  This was very much a British colonial view of “coolies” carrying heavy loads on both ends of a wooden pole and wearing baggy clothes and a flat conical straw hat.  While fashions in language and clothing have changed through the years, the ubiquitous wooden pole is still commonly seen in the streets of towns and villages all over China.

At the end of our Yangtze River cruise at Chongqing our cases were carried off the boat by men with poles.  Here in The People’s Square in Chongqing a woman carries heavy baskets full of grapefruit which she hopes to sell.  It was China’s National Day when we visited the square and it was thronging with people who had gathered to watch performances of dance and drum by groups from the surrounding municipality.

Tricycle Pickup

Tricycle Pickup

In some ways this image reflects a blend between the old and the new.  While the number of cars is rapidly increasing in China, older forms of transportation still survive.  Tricycles like this one can be found all over China.  They are real work-horses and can be seen carrying enormous loads, sometimes to the extent that the rider has to get off and push!  Note the spare inner-tube dangling at the side corner of the tray.

The modern Citroen taxi in the background  is a sign of the new China.

Mahjong Game

Card Game

One of the things you see as you wander around the streets of any Chinese town is groups of people gathered to play or watch others playing cards or mahjong.

This gathering in Yichang was interesting also because of the other activities taking place on the pavement.  There is the man fixing the bicycle tire while the bike owner quietly smokes a cigarette in the background. In the foreground is an old and hard-worked communist-era bicycle with a construction helmet in the basket.  There is a ship building yard across the street. The gathered onlookers are in discussion with one of the players while the other player contemplates his next play.

Yichang is the closest city to the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River and is one of the departure points for Three Gorges river cruises.

Talk Time

Yichange, China, Yangtze River, Copyright Chris Gregory 2008

Talk Time

This is one of my favorite images from our 2008 trip to China.  Its not because it is a technically great image, but that it represents part of how China had changed so much since our previous trip in 1987.

Here we have a modern girl riding her electric scooter and talking on her mobile phone.  In 1987 she would not have had either of these possessions, would probably have been riding a bicycle at best, and been wearing a green “Mao” uniform.  The bridge across the shipping canal beside the Gezhou Dam would not have been built, nor the dam itself which was a precursor to the Three Gorges Dam further up the Yangtze River.

Small Boy in Ghost City

Ghost City, Fengdu, Yangtze River, China, Ming Mountain, Copyright Chris Gregory 2008

Ghost City, Fengdu, Yangtze River, China

I was sorting through photographs of our 2008 trip to China a few days ago when I came across this image of a small boy squatting in a plant border next to a temple at Ghost City on the Yangtze River.  It was only later when my wife pointed it out that I realised what he was doing.

For the whole of our four day cruise on the Yangtze the weather was overcast and the atmosphere smoggy.  This added more than a little atmosphere during the stop at Fengdu to visit the Ghost City.

Fengdu is modelled after the Chinese Hell in Taoist mythology, built over 1800 years ago. The Ghost Town has become an island since the Three Gorges Dam project was completed, and  part of the ghost town of Fengdu has become submerged. Scenery above the “Door of Hell” has remained however.

Silk Embroiderer

China has a long tradition of silk making, dyeing, and tapestry making.  Many fine exhibits can be found in museums around the world and up-market shops throughout Asia.  Then there is the tourist market,  Hardly a tourist goes to China without being exposed to a constant barrage of attempts to lure dollars from their wallets in special tourist silk shops, street markets and the gaggles of street vendors near any major attraction.

Such was the case on our journey from the airport at Yichang to the city which was escorted by China National Tourist Corporation guide and driver – first stop a silk embroidery demonstration and shop.

Sony Alpha DSLR A200, 1/13 sec, F5.6, ISO 400, Sony DT 18-70 mm Lens at 45 mm