Former French Concession District


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After living in Shanghai for so many years it's always difficult to find something new to do or see at the weekends. Also trying to avoid the crowds and find a quiet spot is almost impossible when you live in a city with a population of more than 24 million. Last Sunday we decided to try our luck and have a walk around the streets in former French concession district. It's normally relatively quiet for Shanghai and the French, god bless them, planted thousands of trees along all the streets and many have survived for more than a hundred years so it's a nice change from the usual streets lined with concrete. They also built some beautiful villas and apartment buildings that are easy to miss because of the trees and high walls that surround them. But every now and then you get a glimps of a villa and a garden and it's easy to forget that you are in China. A number of the old villas have been converted to restaurants, caf├ęs or pubs and some areas have become quite trendy.

On Sunday I noticed this small shop in the shadows of the trees with an inviting warm glow of light. The shop being framed by the trees and the texture of the surrounding wall made for an interesting shot. But the light was low because of the trees and time of day so for a hand held shot it meant lifting the ISO to 800 and a steady hand at 1/25th sec. From experience I know I can even get away with 1/15th sec and still get a sharp shot but not every time so I always take 2 or 3 shots and mostly one of them will be OK. This is using a Leica with no stabilising technology so with a stabiliser I could probably go lower. It helps when you stop drinking for sure. The resulting shot I like and I think helps to convey the mood of this area. 

Its also interesting that the Chinese do not like this area being referred to as the "former French concession" anymore and recently a western restaurant got in to trouble when they mentioned it in an advert. It's a reminder of a dark period in Shanghai's history that many people now want to forget.