Without an H

Photography from south-east Asia by Jon Sanwell

Posts tagged ‘black and white’

Narrow neighbourhoods

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Between the Red River and the dyke road, there’s a long stretch of narrow neighbourhoods which are home to some of my favourite aspects of everyday Hanoi life, like markets, food stalls and men playing chequers in the street. These pictures were all taken during a few walks through these neighbourhoods last month.

[Apologies if this post looks familiar. I first published it last month, but accidentally deleted it, so I am posting it again now.]

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A parade of pineapples

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The wholesale fruit and vegetable market under Long Bien bridge in Hanoi is at its busiest at night, when the city’s market traders buy their stock fresh from trucks newly arrived from the countryside. During the day it’s quieter, but there is always some activity. Here, pineapples are being delivered in the late afternoon.

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Caught by the Fuzz

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The police in Hanoi are – how can I put this? – not known for their affability. So I was pleasantly surprised to find three in one afternoon who were all happy to have their photograph taken.

Hanoi street portraits (#43)

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Back in January and February of last year, I posted a series of Hanoi street portraits, a collection of tightly-framed black and white portrait pictures, taken in my immediate neighbourhood. I briefly revived the idea one afternoon in October, but never got round to posting the resulting pictures – so here they are. I’ve been taking some more pictures in this style more recently, which I will be posting soon.  

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A sort of spring

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It’s been a while since I posted any pictures from Hanoi. I’ve spent the last few months editing and posting my pictures from my October / November trip to Myanmar. It took a long time to go through them all, because I’m slow and, to be fair, there were a lot of pictures. So while the blog has been travelling slowly through Myanmar, I’ve been back living and working here in Hanoi, not taking photographs. Or not taking very many. I’ve written before about how I find it difficult to keep the momentum going when I get back from a trip. Since coming back from Myanmar, I just haven’t often felt the inclination to go out and take pictures, and on the few occasions I have, I haven’t found it very satisfying. But last week, I took my first proper look at the pictures I took in Hanoi in February and March, and I was pleased to find that they’re not all completely terrible. And today, I went out with my camera and really enjoyed photography for the first time in ages. Some of those pictures will no doubt appear here in due course, but in the meantime, here are some pictures taken in February and March, in what passes for spring in Hanoi.

Finally, as a way of drawing a line under the Myanmar pictures, I have added a Streets of Yangon slideshow to my gallery page.

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The thieves’ market

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The thieves’ market in Hanoi is nowhere near as sinister or unwelcoming as the name suggests. It’s a network of narrow lanes and alleys in Hai Ba Trung district, packed with open-fronted shops and ramshackle market stalls, offering machine parts, car parts, bike parts, wires, cables, chains, locks, springs, pipes, lights, screws, rivets and countless other mysterious (to me, at least) pieces of metal and plastic. It has a reputation for being the place where stolen vehicle parts and electronics turn up – hence the name – but I didn’t experience any aggression or suspicion as I wandered around with my camera, just a bunch of busy people going about their day-to-day business of buying and selling stuff made of metal. As is so often the case in markets in south-east Asia, very similar stalls are tightly clustered together – a row of electricity meter merchants here, a stretch of hub cap vendors there – apparently unconcerned by the close proximity of direct competition. Some of the shops are little more than booths, just a few feet wide, where shopkeepers sit in tiny, cramped, cluttered spaces, surrounded by their wares. Take a wrong turn (or a right turn, or maybe a left) and you end up in the nearby fish and poultry market. If you need new sprockets for your motorbike and a freshly slaughtered chicken for your dinner, this is the neighbourhood to come to.

I hadn’t originally intended to present these pictures in black and white, but I like the contrast between the dark, dirty shadows of the shops and the soft afternoon sunlight filtering through from outside, and I think the black and white treatment brings this out better than colour would.

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