Dragon Boat Festival, Taipei 2011 1


This past weekend was the Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu) in Sino-World (the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China/Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, and Chinese communities worldwide.). What’s a “Dragon Boat” and why is there a festival wrapped around it? Basically, in Imperial China a statesman and poet committed suicide. He learned that his home city had been taken by a local general and, after writing a poem honoring his city and decrying the government corruption that he blamed for it’s taking, Qu Yuan grabbed a heavy stone, walked into a lake, and drowned himself. Local fishermen rowed their boats out to save him but were too late. Upon finding him dead, they splashed the water with their oars, banged drums, and tossed rice away from the body to keep the fish at bay until it could be recovered.

2300 years on and the fishing boats and splashing oars have been replaced by racing canoes with rhythmic banding drums and the rice tossed into the water is now steamed rice dumplings (zhongzi).


Now if you’re like me and sporting a lightweight, quick-shooting kit you are probably not going to get up-close-and-personal dynamic photos of the athletes that require a 600mm lens. Not unless you have a 20x teleconverter lying around. Honestly, that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing because that’s what everyone else will be shooting. This is the perfect opportunity to take unique images of what you know best: people. Being limited in gear also forces you to think out of the box compositionally, a skill that is rarely developed but remains valuable.

It was a hot, cloudless day but the races at Dazhi park in Taipei were fun and I came home with some wonderful photos.

Flood protection.


A little fan on a hot day.


Lunch break.


A sense of scale.


Is it good business policy to eat your own goods?


Snack time.


Bike path.


Water delivery.


Not named Marley.


Shade tree.


Bear ears.


Spectators.


And let’s end on a happy note. Here is a man who is much cooler in his head then in reality.


About Brian Webb

Brian Q. Webb is a photography enthusiast from Los Angeles, California who spends most of his time in Taipei, Taiwan. He is especially interested in street photography as well as large format portraiture and pinhole photography. He also likes to shoot lifestyle portraiture and occasionally acts as an agent for foreign newspapers wanting event coverage in Taipei. He was also on the staff of deviantArt and is co-founder of PhotoMalaysia, the largest photography community in that country.