Saturday, 6 September 2014

Hanoi: The People of Tay Bac Photo Expedition

Relaxing & Tai Chi On Hoàn Kiếm Lake (Hanoi)
Despite the long grueling flight from New York City to Hanoi via Hong Kong, the inevitable accompanying jet lag made it not too difficult for me to walk around Hanoi's Hoàn Kiếm Lake for an early morning spot of photography.

It's here and at this early hour that the older generation of Hanoians come to exercise individually or in groups, and to play badminton or do tai chi. Some bring their boom boxes and dance to the tune of Vietnamese love songs. Others just practice the ancient art of people watching, and gossip about the latest news, read newspapers or have their morning bowl of pho.

If the humidity in Hanoi isn't 100%, it sure feels like it. Walking a few hundred feet, and I was drenched in sweat...a reminder that I needed to take it slowly during the first few days.

For the above photograph, I used my new Fuji X-T1 fitted with the 18-135mm lens, and it was made by shooting from the hip so as not to disturb the scene unfolding in front of me. I haven't used a zoom lens for quite a while, and while it felt a little sluggish compared to my other prime lenses, I reckon (or hope) this will improve once I get used to it.

In the afternoon, after a long walk in the Old Quarter, Huyen (my interpreter and minder in Hanoi, and I walked to the lakeshore, where I saw a number of pre-wedding photo shoots as well as aspiring models posing for their friends, usually sporting the enormous Canon DSLRs and the ubiquitous 70-200 lenses.

The one who caught my attention with her beauty and grace was Tu. She and her photographer happily agreed that I poach a few photographs of her, and this short opportunity made my day. I suspect that many of the men reading this post will agree that it was an unmissable opportunity.

If I tried to do the same in New York's West Village photo shoots, I doubt I'd be treated with such generous alacrity. Tu also agreed to pose for my group of photographers the following day should we wish to do so.

Returning to the haven of the Golden Silk Boutique hotel, its air conditioning was particularly welcome after Hanoi's humidity. Although the weather forecast called for thunderstorms, I have yet to see a drop of rain since arriving.