Be prepared

That title reminds me, I used to be in the Scouts. Eww, icky. Must erase that from my memory at the next opportunity. Anyway it’s nothing to do with the juvenile brainwashing program and more to do with my newfound love of photography and the growing pile of regrets I have at missed opportunities. I’ve been using the dSLR pretty much exclusively for the past five months to the point where I’ve almost forgotten how to use my compact – seriously, not having a viewfinder to squeeze my eyeball into throws me  off in all manner of ways. This poses a problem, the sheer bulk of the dSLR means I’m loathe to carry it everywhere with me but in the absence of a camera I’m missing so many potentially wonderful shots. Three cases in point:

1 – I was sitting on my bicycle at the intersection of TaichungGang and WenXin waiting for the lights when suddenly, from the roof of the Jade Market across the road, there erupted a shower of balloons. Not just 99, not just red, but hundreds of balloons of all imaginable hues. At the point of release they were merged into one seething, technicolour mass, slowly dispersing into small islands of vivid tones set against Taichung trademark white haze. The remarkable thing was that I was the only one looking – as I turned to register the reaction of my fellow commuters I saw they were all either staring blankly ahead or talking into their phones. The moment was lost forever and I had been the only one to appreciate it, the only one to notice it at all.

I never did find out why they were there.

2 – Walking out from the gym this morning I almost collided with an old man, in his 60’s or maybe even 70’s, as he ambled past the entrance. We stopped for a second to take each other  in, he looking me up and down with what seemed to be a sneer of disapproval at this sweating Westerner in his gym attire. Pot, kettle. His ensemble consisted of the tattiest, most weather-beaten shorts in existence, such as would make Robinson Crusoe cringe. The sandals were non-descript but his accessories of a gnarled, blackened walking stick, more like Saruman’s staff than anything else, and an impossibly thin pipe a good foot and a half long already had me wishing for a camera. The crowning glory however was the t-shirt. “Excellent Hitman And Shaven Head Butt” it proclaimed in it’s fire-engine red glory. I’ve become a fan of candid street photography of late and it’s instants like this which are the reason for my fascination. This  one had to go uncaptured.

3 – Again waiting for a stoplight, this time at the Xitun end of TaichungGang. My ride home after school is a joy – cool air, quieter roads, downhill and usually a refreshing breeze at my back. Last week provided an additional bonus in the form of some light rain – cycling through drizzle is one of those little pleasures I live for. Sue me. Being used to Scottish rain I tend to shun umbrellas and raincoats in these climes, preferring to revel in nature’s shower while watching the locals scurry for cover. As if to illustrate the point, screaming round the corner comes a convoy of bikers, looking like the Taiwanese equivalent of Hell’s Angels but for one tiny details. On top of their roaring hogs, protecting their layers of leather from the elements, each bad-to-the-bone rider sports a flimsy, disposable poncho from 7/11 in an array of delightful pastel shades from baby blue to a fantastically cute pink. Again I stared in disbelief while all those around me barely batted an eyelid. I love it.

So, I’m making a resolution. I’m going to get over my newly acquired dSLR snobbery and try to keep my compact somewhere near at all times when its big brother is resting at home. It’s a damn fine compact with full manual mode so there are no more excuses for letting these beautiful instants disappear into the aether. Even one good shot per day will make this worthwhile and even if I don’t get that then hey, it’s all practice, right?

Might even try that photo-per-day challenge again, who knows…


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