An alternative view of the Chinese New Year

Fanning the Flames, 2012 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Fanning the Flames, 2012 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

I decided to try something new. An experiment in photographic processing. I had some extra images from the recent Chinese New Year celebration that I blogged about last week. These photos were taken at the closest point to the action. I used my smallish Olympus E-PL1 and stuck it out there almost in between the legs of the dancers to see what I can capture. What resulted was a smokey mess but the images had some potential. Unlike the very colorful photographs from my first Chinese New Year post, I decided to go in an entirely different direction. To recover the most details out of the haze, I decided to lose the color. In found with black and white, I can push the detail recovery a bit more than in color. So as an exercise, I decided to experiment with my Topaz B&W Effects plug-in. The software is designed to create black and white conversions that mimic the old style black and white films. While the software has a large number of presets, I decided to do a custom effect. As I played with the software, I ended up creating images that, in my mind, reminded me of vintage travel photographs from the Far East.

What resulted is something I find interesting. Something certainly different from my norm. If you don’t look closely and you ignore the camera bags and the bits of modernity, I find myself transported back a 100 years to some village in China. To me, these images seem timeless and exotic. So I deem my experiment a success, if only to show an alternate reality of a scene from Austin, Texas in 2012. The photograph at the top of the post is my favorite. I posted the original RAW at the bottom for comparison.

Vintage Lion Dance #1, 2012 Chinese New Year Celebration

Vintage Lion Dance #1, 2012 Chinese New Year Celebration

Vintage Lion Dance #2, 2012 Chinese New Year Celebration

Vintage Lion Dance #2, 2012 Chinese New Year Celebration

Vintage Lion Dance #3, 2012 Chinese New Year Celebration

Vintage Lion Dance #3, 2012 Chinese New Year Celebration

Lion Dancers Unmasked, 2012 Chinese New Year Celebration

Lion Dancers Unmasked, 2012 Chinese New Year Celebration


The photographs were taken with my Olympus E-PL1. Please make sure to click on a photograph to see a larger image and hover over the photo to see the exposure details.

Here is a sample of my work. I’ve posted them on my one-photo-per-day photo blog, mostlyfotos. There are a lot of images so click the << Previous Photo link to see more. You can also hover over the photos to see the exposure information.

Fanning the Flames, 2012 Chinese New Year Celebration (Unprocessed)

Fanning the Flames, 2012 Chinese New Year Celebration (Unprocessed)

10 thoughts on “An alternative view of the Chinese New Year

  1. I lived in Israel from ’78 through ’87 … just before everything really changed. There was, as there is in many very old countries with long histories … like Israel, like China … and a delicious juxtaposition of modern and ancient. I remember sitting and waiting in my car to go through Jerusalem (where I lived), but couldn’t because the Bedouins were crossing their sheep and it was a big flock. There were signs “Watch Out for Wild Camels” because if your car and a wild camel met, it wasn’t good for the camel, but it would finish off you and your car, too. And then, walking along Ben Yehuda in downtown (such as it was) Jerusalem while chickens pecked happily along the sidewalk. Where did the chickens even come from? The weekly camel market … and the shuk and the smells and sounds mixing traveling college girls in short shorts, Christian tour groups, Arabs, Jews, and who-knows-what wearing clothing right out of the middle ages … or jeans and tee shirts. That’s how it really was and still is, some places, though no longer in Jerusalem. That, alas, is gone, but I’m very glad I was there when it was still a different world. Your pictures catch that. They do it very well. The black and white works for these images better than I think color would. You caught something special: enjoy!!!

    1. What a great story and a wonderful life experience. It would have been wonderful to experience this and to take street photographs of the scene. Thank you for the compliment and thank you for sharing the story.

      Yeah, I’m strange I like all this color, sometimes really bright color but I also appreciate a good black and white.

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