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Matinee: 'Photography in Chinese' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

20 February 2016

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 123rd in our series of Saturday matinees today: Photography in Chinese.

Today just happens to be the day of the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco and to celebrate, we thought we'd get you started with a little Chinese lesson in photography. In five minutes, you'll learn how to tell when someone asks you to take their photo and, if they aren't too happy with your shot, how to suggest taking a selfie with them.

Which, no question, will happen somewhere tonight along the parade route.

The San Francisco parade, which kicks off at 5:15 p.m., originated in the 1860s during the Gold Rush and is now the largest Asian event in North America as well as one of the world's top 10 parades. And great fun, too.

The plot thickens (don't ask, we won't tell) nearly enough to make this into an off-Broadway production if not quite 'CSI: Beijing.'

Parade highlights include lavishly-decorated floats, quite a few school marching bands, almost as many martial arts battalions, the hilarious stilt walkers (not a few of which practice after school around the corner from us), scary lion dancers, lithesome Chinese acrobats, the new Miss Chinatown USA with her court and the Golden Dragon. The Golden Dragon, which ends the parade, is over 201 feet long and will be serenaded by over 600,000 firecrackers. So, if you're going, bring earplugs (especially for the little ones).

Meanwhile, spend the afternoon with our short video to learn how to say "camera" and "lens" before moving up to "photograph." With that under your belt, you'll learn how to say "take a photograph," which is almost useful.

Our entertaining teacher (with an English accent himself) doesn't just teach you pronunciation, though. He shows you the ideograms and phonetic spelling and even delves into the grammar so you get a glimpse of the culture too. You'll feel like a genuine foreign-exchange student without the jet lag.

Feel free to rewind (you're just a minute into the clip) if you need to practice.

But the real fun begins 50 seconds in when our instructor finds himself at the Great Wall (backdrop) with a Chinese tourist who asks him to take her photo. She has a camera with a big lens and (of course) a smartphone too.

The plot thickens (don't ask, we won't tell) nearly enough to make this into an off-Broadway production if not quite CSI: Beijing.

There's even a little photo advice about shooting girlfriends with a smartphone's wide angle lens (which in the wrong hands can get a person in hot water). You might even be fluent enough at the end of the video to read through the online guide the instructor recommends for more tips.

But if not, don't worry. You can still rise above the crowd as a stilt walker.

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