I titled this photo ‘Hawkeye’ for fairly obvious reasons, and also based on my assumption that this is some sort of bird of prey.

Again, this is a silk embroidery piece I photographed in Suzhou in 1991 so, again, probably in the Embroidery Research Institute. One key difference from the cat photo is that the artisan here is a man.

The process is the same for the cat photo – he’s copying a photo. What I particularly like in this image, and it’s also present in the cat photo, is the catchlight in the hawk’s eye. It’s a small touch but just adds a touch more realism. The sheen of the ‘feathers’ is helped by the silk threads of which quite a wide array of colors is being used by the artist.

I don’t recall how much they were selling these for back in 1991 but I do know that by my western European standards of the day, it was not much.

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Today’s image is just another cat photo – or maybe it isn’t. I find the skill of these artisans to be quite amazing.

I took this photo on a visit to Suzhou in China in 1991. I was almost certainly in the Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute but I’ve no remaining notes to confirm that.

You can see from this image that the artisan copies a photo or other image and scales it up. I didn’t see any grids to aid in the scaling up, the artists all seemed to just judge the scale by eye.

Using fine silk threads, the young lady painstakingly recreated the cats’ fur. I’ve no idea how many hours she would spend on this piece – I just know I don’t have the patience.

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I was toying with titling today’s photo ‘Yokel’ but decided on ‘Loaded’ instead. Both are applicable in this case.

So here I’ve followed the man with the bike up to the top of the bridge and I’m looking down the other side.

There, coming towards me, is this man with two fully loaded baskets, one each end of a yoke balanced across his shoulders. The baskets themselves have seen better days and are themselves full of somebody else’s cast offs.

I guess today we’d call him a ‘recycler’. I like the way he’s steadying his load, his right and forward on the yoke and his left on one of the ropes of the basket behind him t prevent it swinging.

I’ve no idea how far he’d come or how much further he still had to go, but I suspect his crossing of this bridge was a regular event. Maybe he could have traded up to a tricycle, but then he’d have had to have taken a less direct route as the ramps on this bridge are not right for a tricycle to use them.

Incidentally, this is the first image I’ve processed in the new onOne Software Perfect Photo Suite 8 (Beta 3 version). I’ve not explored this new version yet in any depth but from the little I’ve used I wholly recommend you upgrade or purchase if you don’t already have it. For time constraints I still used a layered approach in Photoshop but I’m pretty sure I could have got the same end result just with Perfect Photo Suite 8 if I’d played just a little longer.

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I found the adaptation to the canal bridge in today’s photo to be a wonderfully simple solution to aiding people with bicycles crossing over the canals of Suzhou on the many bridges in the city.

Particularly with the smaller canals, many of the bridges were foot bridges – a series of steps up to the apex and then back down again. Which is fine if you’re just walking but what if you’re cycling, like the guy in yesterday’s photo?

Someone, who is probably lost to time, unrecognized for his efforts, came up with the idea of adding a narrow concrete ramp so the cyclist could wheel his bike as he navigated the steps. And it really seemed to work quite well, both for going up and coming down.

That the ramp is an after-thought is evidenced in this photo by the way the ramp fits the uneven steps. Rather than fix the steps, the ramp was just laid for a consistent angle. I also like to small ridges that run along the edge of the ramp to help keep the bicycle on the ramp. Clearly someone thought about this and came up with a simple but effective solution.

I also note from the man descending in the photo that it’s not just the English who are guilty of wearing socks with sandals!

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For me, it was like looking through the portal to a hidden world. Much like my photo of the woman washing her hair, I felt a little as though I was intruding, but in this shot the cyclist can obviously see me.

I didn’t get to explore these alleys (in Suzhou, China) and I figure I might well have got lost had I stepped through the portal myself. I’m thinking of a more recent adventure from 2008 when I had 30 minutes to explore the old town of Bari in Italy before a meeting and found myself in a labyrinth of passageways.

I’m guessing from the man’s attire that he’s probably an office worker and not a laborer. Perhaps he’s commuting or running an errand.

Looking at the photo now, I realize I never knew how much a bicycle cost and what that was as a multiple of the typical wage. Back in 1991 when this photo was taken, cars were still few and far between and the bicycle was by far the most common form of private transport – and likely still is, even with the dramatic rise in car ownership in the intervening years.

Since I’ve not been able to post for a few days there are two today, first a black & white and then a color version.

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  • […] Particularly with the smaller canals, many of the bridges were foot bridges – a series of steps up to the apex and then back down again. Which is fine if you’re just walking but what if you’re cycling, like the guy in yesterday’s photo? […]ReplyCancel

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