If they can run, so can I.

25 04 2012

What an experience.

Eye-opening, hugely motivational and quite simply, amazing – such was the All China Junior Athletics Championships 2012. Now as I try to adjust back to study-leave life at school, my mind is not on my upcoming exams, but rather the track that I raced on, the elite runners whom I saw, the 11 minutes and 55 seconds that I ran.

My event was the 3000m steeplechase, and this was my second timer ever to run it. I had first run the steeplechase only a few weeks back, clocking a time of 12:12. Coming to the All China Junior Athletics Championships, my mindset had been to run my own race, against myself. Realistically, there was no way that I would be able to compete with the mainland Chinese athletes – they simply much more experience. My goal, therefore, was to break the 12 minute mark. And I did!

The Changzhou Olympic Sports Stadium. Pretty fancy.

My water hurdles were atrocious, my pacing fluctuated wildly (fastest lap was 87 seconds, slowest lap was 99.99), I was quite nearly lapped by the winner, and I finished 11th out of the 12 runners. Nevertheless I was thrilled with my result – I had slashed 17 seconds off my previous time and set a new Hong Kong Junior Record.

What was also very exciting was seeing the elite Chinese athletes in action. Prior to this race, mainland Chinese athletes to me had always just been an abstract blur in the distance – a standard too high to even consider trying to reach. Not any more. Actually seeing them run and racing together with them has eliminated that psychological barrier, and has served as a reminder that they too are young female Chinese runners like me.

And if they can run that fast, so can I.

That, I think, is what I’m taking away from this race. If those girls can run a 3000m steeplechase in 10:19, there’s nothing to stop me from doing the same. All I have to do is train hard and train smart. I’ve completed the challenge of representing HK and running my first ever national-level race. The next challenge now is running the steeplechase in 11:30…and who knows, maybe even 11:00!

Some of my fellow HK teammates, along with the super-cool Coach Paul.

Doing a bit of history revision in my hotel room.

A bit of exploring

In between training and racing, I went out exploring the streets of Changzhou. Armed with my iPhone (I had been too lazy to lug my DSLR to China), I finally gave iPhoneography a proper try. Here are some of my favourites shots.

Woof!! As I bent down to snap a photo of this little puppy, he flinched and barked at me!

This lady was just casually knitting on the street.

Who's da boss?

Mmm...street food. This was a kind of crepe/pancake, with an egg cracked over it and garnished with pickles, spring onions, parsley, gravy and a small fried cracker.

Close up of the crepe/pancake in the making.

Sesame oven baked puff pastries. Yum.


Smartphone Photography: A Darkroom In Your Pocket

17 02 2012

As a well known photography adage goes, the best camera is the one that’s with you. And with skyrocketing  smartphone usage, many of us have come to realise the accessibility, sociability and endless possibilities of smartphone photography.

Here are some tips I picked up from five of Hong Kong’s best smartphone-photographers at last night’s “Getting Social With Smartphone Photography” panel.





1. Every little moment can be awesomised.

by @mochachocolatarita

We might not notice it, but no matter where we are, fascinating stories and captivating moments abound.

Even if something appears to be tediously mediocre, what photographers have to remember is that every little moment can be awesomised. There’s always a story, no matter how dull it seems. (Thanks to panelist Rita Suttarno for this timeless tip).


2. The iPhone puts a darkroom in your pocket.

by @twheat

And that’s why you should take a lot of photos and let your photographic passions run wild. Tyson Wheatley, a CNN editor by profession but really an iPhoneography/Instagram-crazy photographer, has taken so many photos on his iPhone over the past year that he now sees the world “through filters”. For him, iPhoneography has brought the city of Hong Kong alive and allowed him to discover the hidden beauties of this bustling city. Quite simply, he says, “It’s changed my life”. So, go take a lot of photos, get close to your subject,  experiment with apps – and most importantly, take advantage of your own pocket sized darkroom!




3. iPhone photography is NOT fake.

There are some who may think that iPhone photography is not ‘real photography’ (whatever that means), but Lester Lim certainly disagrees. What is ‘real photography’ anyway – aren’t all photos, to strip them to the bare minimum, a manipulation of light?

I was interested to see what Tyson, coming from a journalistic background as a CNN editor, thought of the impact of smartphone photography on citizen journalism. Would the heavy use of filters and editing distort the transparency and democratic nature of citizen journalism? “I suppose yes. But editing of images is not new, and the key for news organisations is to be transparent in the vetting process”.

4. Have patience to capture the moment.

Jason Tse wants you to tell a story within the confines of that little photographic frame. Photography, to him, is capturing

by @jasonbonvivant

something that you want to express, and often, patience is the prime ingredient. He willingly puts life on hold just to get the perfect photo, frequently missing tram stops to capture, create and express!

5. Capture the details.

Vilja Sormunen(the only non-iPhone photographer on the panel), reminds us to look out for details, and use your smartphone

camera as an extension of your memory. With so much information flowing in and out every single second, this tip will surely come in useful for years to come.