On the last night of Chinese New Year 2009, the question I asked myself wasn’t whether I was going to use additional lighting when we lit the firecrackers but how many. My dad, the torch bearer, wasn’t going to wait for my decision so I quickly put together one light and a couple of Pocket Wizards into the mix and we had lift off. If you believe in coincidences, you’ll be delighted to know we had a full moon too just as we did last year.


The additional of a directional strobe made this moody event significantly dramatic. I shot this on the EOS 20D using EFS 10-22mm ultra wide angle lens so you can imagine how near I was—too near for comfort. Hope you guys like this shot!


As I was going through the images, I noticed the smoke rings and thought it’s fascinating to share. So far I had only seen rings made by cigarette smokers and never crossed my mind that they are possible at such high velocity. The backlight from the flash seems to have made it a lot obvious.



The first day of Chinese New Year is by traditionally and culturally celebrated with family members. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation where I spent the first day with people other than family although one of my associates (in a unique situation of his own) accepted an Open House assignment that started lunch time and lasted till late—great ang pow incentive too!


The morning of the first day has always been the busiest for us. Unlike  last year, this year I wanted something where my relatives would enjoy themselves and perhaps even entertain themselves while I spent time with the adults. With so many teenager and young adults in the mix, I set up my backdrop, one 60-inch umbrella and lighting powered by Quantum Turbo and wirelessly triggered by Pocket Wizard.

Satay on Chinese New Year? If you thought this is a little odd, check out my Hong Kong buddy Roland whose pre CNY dinner consisted of “a simple dish, Alaskan King Crab Legs Salad with Perilla and Yuzu dressing” followed by “Panfried Iberian Pork Chop, Pancetta Dolce, Chinese Noodles with Apricot and Madeira Sauce” then “Panfried Australian Lamb Cutlets with Raspberry and Port Wine Sauce.”—SHEER INDULGENCE is what it was! :D


Back to earth, the satays were a hit esp the chicken sticks. Not many satay vendors get the beef right though I know one that does beef just nice. I took this picture because I happened to be the one handling them and shot these right before my guests arrived and then it was chaos!


Interesting thing I noted. The Pocket Wizard is a universal fit on DSLR hotshoes. Knowing that my guests would bring their Nikon D cam, the first test shots had blue casts in them. Not wanting to waste time troubleshooting, I switched Tity to shoot with my 20D and 24-70mm instead. Why there was a blue cast in the Nikon pictures I have no idea .. I’ve had my partner’s Nikon D3 with similar setup it was OK and we were dealing with JPEGs straight out of the camera too.




Tity had fun posing her subjects against the backdrop though I suspect she would rather do what she does best—cupcakes! You may have come across her blog where she showcases her works of art. For the ones below, it was her first attempt at writing Chinese characters and the attention to detail is simply amazing. It appears that she had written more Chinese than I had in my lifetime!



Anyone wondering about the lightsource behind the 60″ umbrella … it’s just one Speedlite 580EX in Manual mode triggered by a Pocket Wizard II Plus. In a small room setup, I could have really used the Canon ST-E2 as a trigger as it supports E-TTL but the original idea was to have the setup work on the Nikon too. But it was not meant to be.


Here is another side of the setup with a view of the custom “buddy bracket” I had ordered from the US. I had hoped that it would arrive in time for Steven’s wedding but I now know better what  $16 “flat rate” Global Priority Mail translates to—four weeks! Yesterday, I brought home a reputed JINBEI ™ 800W studio light and a 70 x 100 cm soft box to complement my setup. Though a costly solution, the Pocket Wizard triggers give you the creative freedom to work with different cameras without being bogged down by proprietary technology.


Chinese New Year and red cushion covers seem rather stereotype. While at my in-laws, one of my wife’s nephews started wearing glasses and I couldn’t help noticing the rather interesting FCUK signature frames. Wonder if his classmates are old enough to play scrabble with the word!


One of the most anticipated attraction of the celebration is non other than the lion dance. It has also become a family tradition to have the blessings of the lions. As you may know, the noise from the firecrackers, lion dance performances were believed to scare evil spirits away and bring good luck, health and prosperity.  And so the tradition carries on from one generation to the next.

Firecrackers are dangerous and I put myself at great risks going really near them. Though it seems that this picture was shot with a tele lens, it was in fact shot on the 24-70mm on my 5DII so you can imagine how near I must have been to capture the explosive moments—not forgetting to also mention how loud these ones were! It’s common to get hit by flying remnants. The nearest I’ve ever gotten to a long string of firecrackers was this—5D and ultra wide angle 17-40mm—just take a look at the number of red debris on the road afterwards!

The kids loved feeding red packets into the lion’s mouth. Jamie and Jewel seen here having a blast. For about 30 minutes of so, relatives and visitors from various kampongs congregate where the little ones enjoyed themselves immensely.



Performers from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce on their way to a neighbour’s house.



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