Evening Rush Hour in Shanghai

By: Gustav Hoiland

Jan 29 2010

Category: china

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Focal Length:40mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:NIKON D80
Chinese Bike Lane

Ohhh, the vibrant colors of Shanghai!  Ok, I pulled most of the color out of this – the red ball on that strange tower is usually incredibly red.  That being said, beigey-tan is still the dominant force in this image, from the concrete in the buildings to the clothing and the skin. Why desaturate? Because I love love love the look of it.  You’ll see it in a lot of my work – photos that at first glance or from afar appear to be black and white (or monotone), but upon further seconds of attention subtle colors appear.

There’re three things I quite like about this composition. First is the solidness of the crowd of people.  They’re commuters really – just waiting for a red light to change, yet because they’re not encased in the cocoons of cars, you can actually see them.  Like people in cars though, most appear bored.  I noticed this quite a bit in Shanghai – people just looking terribly and utterly bored while driving cars or navigating the masses on their scooters.  Also the blacks have been pumped up considerably, meaning anything that was close to black has been sucked into the abyss.  Heads floating on empty space, legless moped drivers, etc…

Secondly, all of the buildings in the background are ever so slightly tilted.  Especially that neat building on the left (certainly not Chinese architecture right there), it’s just … it doesn’t look right.  Why’s this happening?  Because these people are on a bridge, and that bridge is sloping downward.  The main reason you don’t notice people leaning backwards is because they’re all on bikes, leaned forward to grab the bars.

Finally, the power lines.  What could be a beautiful gradient-ed cloudy sky is interrupted by a big mess of black lines.  The tallest building ever so slightly breaks through this barrier to open space, but everything else is trapped beneath, and they’re all just looking to the left, waiting for that darned red light to change.

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