明天的蘋果日報

Filed in Food & Drink, Press

明天的蘋果日報有我,還有我們兩隻狗,Dallas 和小白! (不是訪問而是介紹吃品的照片)

FYI:
所有對白是記者編寫的
我不喝酒更沒有蒲吧之習慣
我當天所吃的食品都不錯 ;-)

Where has the clarity gone?

Filed in Hong Kong

Since owning the Canon 350D camera, I have been taking many more photographs than I've taken in many years. I have also had to spend an inordinate amount of time loading them onto my iMac, converting to tif and then touching up and converting to jpg (in three sizes). By touchup, I don't mean opening the photos in Photoshop. In fact, I don't own Photoshop. All of my touchups are done with a scanning and image processing software called SilverFast, developed in Germany and sold around the world. A lot of professional photographers know about the software; many non-professionals don't, only aware of Photoshop which by the way is too complicated for me personally; it's true.

My touchup only involves improving the colours, contrast, colour range and lighting of the photos. Sometimes, I need to adjust the white balance which in itself is a topic I plan to discuss some time in the future. It's while making these adjustments that I have become aware that almost always, nature in Hong Kong doesn't look as beautiful as the photos. It's a shame but true. The biggest factor is contrast and clarity. They're simply not there in nature.

I remember back in the days of SARS, the scenery in Hong Kong was fabulous, better than anything I'd seen in all the years I've lived here. I had to wonder why this was so and the only answer I could come up with was pollution. At the time, masses of people were staying at home, afraid to go out. Most people would continue to work to continue providing for their families but going out for entertainment or food was simply out of the question. Combined with the effects of the economic depression in effect at the time and you get a situation where the number of cars on the road at any one time was only a fraction of what would be normal.

Driving to work in the Tseung Kwan O industrial estate, the hills were green, the sky was clear blue, and sea was crisp. Just looking at everything around me was a pleasure in itself and gave me a great feeling. It's a shame it couldn't last although nobody obviously wanted SARS to last.

Pollution in Hong Kong is pretty serious now. The Hong Kong government has a rating for air pollution levels throughout Hong Kong but they are a comparative rating from low to high (the Disclaimer is interesting). The common person is never told the actual levels of chemicals and pollutants in the air. I remember a few years ago that some interest groups in Hong Kong were complaining about the rating system compared to the actual levels of pollutants. They were especially concerned about crowded popular shopping areas like Causeway Bay. People were actually advised to stay away from these centres because of the pollution levels. I haven't heard similar warnings since but can only imagine that they'll reoccur soon with the increasing pollution and extreme heat that we'll see in the coming months.

I guess we've been lucky so far this year. The extra rain would have taken a lot of the pollution out of the air and washed it away.

Industry hasn't increased in Hong Kong in the recent years so where's the extra pollution coming from? Apparently, it's coming from China, places like Gwangdong. When asked about the pollution problem, officials replied there was nothing they could do. Every developed country had gone through a highly polluted industrial development stage and China was no different. Hong Kong would simply have to put up with the pollution while it's parent grew and developed into something better. Regrettably, it's true. We'll have to wait; maybe another twenty years or more. Development takes a long time.

China has rules and measures in place to reduce pollution from factories and industries. Some of these require the use of catalytic converters to change the pollution into something friendlier to the environment and to people. Unfortunately, the catalytic converter systems are expensive to maintain and run so many of the factories in China turn them off at night to save money. At night time, the dirty pollutants can't be seen by the average person so nobody's going to report the factories for violating the rules.

Today in Hong Kong is a wonderful day. The sun is high in the sky and there's a breeze blowing through the air. Unfortunately, the hills only a kilometer away are slightly blurry to look at simply because of the pollution and there's nothing we can do;

except touchup our photos on our computers to make the world appear better than it actually is.