On the back of the Bund

Spent a lot of time walking round the streets of Shanghai. Since I resisted the urge to pack all the gear I thought I could use, and restricted myself to my Nikon D300 and a 50mm 1.4 slung over my shoulder, and an Sb-800 flash (which I strapped to my belt, embarrassingly) I was travelling light and had everything ready all the time.

Using this rig, I also got to know the variations of that Nikkor 50mm pretty damn well in all the F-stops: where the sharpness was a little lacking, where it was so damn sharp you could cut yourself, how it reacted to bright light at midday, and when it struggled to focus in the dark. No changing to a lens that would be more suited to the conditions: if I wanted the shot I had to work to make it happen. Realised that sometimes limitations are really liberations. Plus it's really small and light, and although it's a little tight on a crop sensor, it's great for people and for isolating parts of the image. I stuck a circular polarizer
on the front of it to enhance in the usual way, but also to act as a neutral density filter and give me 2-3 stops of grace in the midday sun, and it worked like a charm.

One thing that struck me about Shanghai was the juxtapositions: drab grey concrete pavements with the colour explosion of a Tai Chi class going through their movesin front of it. Young beggars on the old glory of the Bund. It's often all mixed up there, and I'd find myself decoding a completely different story to the one my wife was looking at, although we were looking at the same scene. And amid the feeling of new prosperity, there was the constant reminder that life is still really tough for many people there, and for many their next meal is in no way guaranteed.

Just behind the post office on the Bund, in an area filled with monuments to money - the old money of the original Bund buildings, all granite marble and brass, and the new buildings that call out to them from Pudong, across the Yellow River - I stumbled on a lean-to with a tiny kitchen, a bed, and some clothes. Nobody was around, but someone calls that place home. I didn't intrude, just grabbed some shots from the pavement, and went on my way.

The back of the Bund

Shanghai (22 of 712)

Shanghai (21 of 712)