Saturday, 23 December 2017

Beyond The Frame | Yi Yi At A Tea House | X-Pro2

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy | All Rights Reserved
Having recently visited this blog's archives, I remembered it had a periodic feature called "Beyond The Frame" in which I chose a single image and wrote about its back story. As it was quite popular with readers, I decided to re-introduce Beyond The Frame as an irregular feature on The Travel Photographer blog.

Readers will recall from my many posts on The Red Qi Pao that I've produced two multimedia essays about an imaginary love story involving  a Shanghainese young woman and a foreigner in the 1930s at a time when Shanghai was a "wicked" city.

Taking the opportunity of being in Shanghai in September, I was fortunate to be introduced to Yi Yi (a pseudonym); a professional model and a budding photographer herself, and featured her as the red qi pao-clad girl of Nanjing Road; a famous road in the city.

Along with Eric, a photographer friend, we went to Guilin Park for a 3 hours photo shoot. The park's tea house provided an perfectly suitable backdrop for the photographs. I used my GFX50s along with its 63mm lens, as well as the X-Pro2 and a 16-55mm lens. 
I shoot in ambient light, and eschew strobes and reflectors.

The tea house was empty at this time of day...perhaps because it was drizzling for most of the time, the park was not at all crowded, and the light was gorgeous. 

Yi Yi was very quick to understand what I was after, and had all the accessories needed to play her part; the opium pipe, the white fur stole, the yellow fan and the high heels. I found it extremely easy to direct her as she intuitively knew what to do.

This particular photograph was unplanned. The tea house waiter just walked up to Yi Yi's table to pour her some tea during a lull in the shooting. I immediately sensed it would introduce an interesting element in the eventual story, so I snapped a couple of frames using my X-Pro2/16-55mm lens to capture a natural moment.

Technical details: X-Pro2 + 16-55mm. f4.5. iso 800. Spot Metering. Date: 2017-09-07 at 15:39:51 (Shanghai time). Post Processing using Luminar ("Center of Attention" Preset + Adjusting RGB Curves).




Guilin Park is a traditional Chinese garden, complete with rockeries, pavilions as well as stone bridges. It was once the residence of 1930s gangster-detective Huang Jingrong, who found his way into the Former French Concession gendarmerie in 1892 when he turned 24, and rose through the ranks to become the highest ranking Chinese officer in the French force in the 1930s. 

When the Communists came to power in 1949, he was stripped of his wealth and humiliated. Despite opportunities to flee to Taiwan or Hong Kong, Huang decided to remain in Shanghai, dying at home in 1953 at the age of 85. He was known to have provided support to Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975).