Immigration and paddy-fields...

I have been to the immigration office since my last post, seems that we got a touch mislead in the UK but we'll be sorted soon enough no doubt. There does seem to be a large amount of bureaucracy here in Taiwan, I guess there is a fair bit in the UK too. Anyway, the immigration officer was none too pleased that we turned up having been instructed to enter the country on a visitor visa and then apply for a residents visa after getting our marriage certified in Taiwan. However he soon chilled out after giving him some seven eleven stamps to help him get the pen collection he wants. As far as bribing officials goes, that it a fairly inexpensive one. Looks like the nephews will have to wait a little longer for their seven eleven pens, seeing as they are six and don't seem to have a concept of time, I doubt they'll notice. At the moment though they are impressed with my paper aeroplane making skills. Hell I am impressed with my paper aeroplane making skills as I modified a design and to my joy it worked beautifully. Unfortunately, explaining this modification and how it made the wing work to create lift just like a real plane was wasted on them, much to the amusement of my brother in-law. When asked how the plane works the 6 year old nephews simply said, "because it go woosh!", oh well, woosh it is then.

I will get on to the photography soon, I promise.

Whilst at the immigration centre there was a curious women outside the exit. She was dressed somewhat inappropriately in a very short skirt, tights patterned like stockings, leopard skin heels and a tight sweater. She was also performing some kind of dance. I pointed her out to Camille and both of us were baffled by her outfit and actions. Whilst Camille spoke to the immigration officer I watched several men approach the women, and looking at their body language flirt with her, she seemed to smile and flirt back. "I think I have figured it out", I said to Camille. "She is a siren, to catch out sham marriages. Well I ain't falling for that!". Of course I am sure this wasn't the case, there must be a perfectly legitimate reason for a women dressed like that to be dancing at the exit of an immigration office.

That evening we got a call, the iPhone 5s had arrived and we were off to get it. Cue further bureaucracy form filling and stress, but 12 hours after picking it up I have it working and am getting into it.

Oh my god, now he is going on about his bloody phone again. Actually no, I am not, I have got to the photography part, honest.

 At the weekend we went to Yilan which is a very flat area located south east of Taipei, and surrounded by mountains on three sides and the sea on the other. The road to Yilan used to take you around a wiggling mountain route, now you can take the kilometre and a half long tunnel straight through the mountain. Whilst driving through this tunnel there are announcements, the first of which we heard stated that the traffic was building up so please drive at the 90kmh speed limit. The second, which came shortly after requested we drive as close to the car in front as we could as there were a lot of cars on the road. Awesome.

To my dismay, the weather wasn't great. Heavily overcast and raining, it was all a bit flat light wise. However I did make a few shots, I also got to use the new camera on the 5s (see there was a reason I mentioned the phone). The features are pretty good, the new photo-burst works very well, keeping the view open whilst taking the photographs. The live view of the filters is also a nice feature, making a screen shot in this mode gives you a kind of cool pop art picture instantly which is a bit of fun.

First up is this evening shot. I had been out with my Nikon making some long exposures with my new ND400 filter, being amongst the paddy-fields though I couldn't stay too long as I was getting eaten alive by Mosquitoes (I bloody hate them!). On the way back I grabbed my phone to make this which is the tree outside the B&B we stayed in.

Although the light was low and it is a contrasty scene I think the iPhone 5s has handled it pretty well. Admittedly I have run it through Lightroom and put a touch of noise reduction on it. That is all I have done though and I would do the same with a file from my Nikon or my X100.

The next two are also from the 5s, again I have applied a touch of noise reduction but nothing else, the results are fairly pleasing don't you think?

This last one has the cameras in built "Process" filter applied for an aged look which I felt worked well in this scene.

The B&B that we stayed in was nice and the owners very friendly. They lent us some bicycles so the nephews could have a little ride around the traffic free, narrow roads which criss cross the paddy-fields. The shallow water in the fields act like mirrors and create this surreal and beautiful landscape. I look forward to getting there again and fingers crossed I can find some dramatic light and sky.

The clouds were low this weekend though, clearing slightly on Sunday afternoon as we headed home. Prior to the first shot above. I made the next photograph on my Nikon. Using the ND400 filter and my trusty Sekonic light-meter I calculated I needed to make a 4 minute and 16 second exposure at F16 to create this.

I turned to my little Fujifilm X100 for the rest of the weekend. It is now in my bag all the time, I am getting more and more into it. For a while we didn't get along so well but as with most things, I just needed to use it more and get to know it (maybe I should give my camera's names, sugestions are welcome). As I am concentrating on travel photography I made some shots with that in mind. The following are all from the X100 and feature breakfast at the B&B, lucky shoes at The Taiwanese National Center for Traditional Arts (worth a visit) and one of the colourful B&B's we passed on the way home. I love the contrast of the bright building and obviously how it reflects in the paddy-field.

Yummy breakfast.....

Lucky shoes....

Colourful B&B (I feel a possible series of these coming on.)

I am sure there will be plenty more photographs to come from Yilan so keep an eye on out for my blog updates. 

Be sure to remember if you need a photographer in Asia to shoot for travel articles or whatever you may need (check out my website or previous posts here for more of my work) I would be very happy to hear from you. 

More updates coming soon, don't forget to share and spread the word. Also feel free to comment, I am always open to hear your views about my work.