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Hong Kong: fashion walk, urban grunge

Posted by Chris Wray on Mar 8, 2011 in architecture and urban spaces, commentary

The first thing that strikes you about Hong Kong is a city of stark contrasts. Gleaming skyscrapers adjacent to squalid tenements; Maserati’s weaving around ramshackle bicycles; the super-rich living along side poverty-stricken residents. Hong Kong’s income gap is the most pronounced in all of Asia, with the middle class only making up about 7% of the population. Sights like the one below are quite common. This mid-rise building complex consists of government subsidized apartments directly above trendy clothing shops replete in shiny chrome, glass and marble walls. It was an odd sensation to experience the Madison Avenue feel when strolling along Hong Kong’s Fashion Walk, while at the same time you see the crumbling, urban decay of the apartments above. Despite this dichotomy, Hong Kong is a remarkably harmonious place and I found the people to be friendly and outgoing. Stay tuned for more of my travel photo diary. Next stop: the famous Victoria Peak and harbor skyline.

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St. Mang Basilica | Füssen, Bavaria

Posted by Chris Wray on Dec 29, 2010 in architecture and urban spaces

During my recent excursion to see the Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castles in southern Bavaria, I made an unexpected visit to the Benedictine cloister of St. Mang and its adjacent Basilica. Mangus of Füssen (aka Saint Mang) was the venerated saint of Füssen and the founder of the abbey in 9th century AD. The complex was rebuilt between 1696 and 1726 in the Baroque style. The irregular medieval architecture was transformed into a massive Baroque church, based on Venetian models.

The exterior of the church is rather austere, owing to its medieval roots, but just a few steps inside the church, and you’ll be awed by the size and opulence of the Baroque interior. Hoping to grab some photos of the sanctuary, I soon realized a hand-held shot was too shaky to capture the grandeur as an HDR photo composite. Surreptitiously, I set up my tripod and camera on an elevated level separating the church organ from the nave and another shot capturing the high altar from the transept. The lighting was very dim, so I prepared a long exposure (up to 20s!) on the +2EV setting with a low ISO setting to ensure minimal noise. I have since explored hand-held interior shots using very fast ISO (3200) and was pleasantly surprised with the clarity.

Enjoy the photo results below. For larger photos, more photography notes, and other church photos from around the world, please visit my Flickr page.

St.Mang_Basilica

St.Mang_Basilica_Mary

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Ascend The Climber

Posted by Chris Wray on Jun 23, 2010 in architecture and urban spaces, art, photography

The Climber

If you’re traveling in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, be sure to visit the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. Housed in the historic Monroe School building (a great example of Classical Revival architecture), the Children’s Museum features three floors of incredible sensory and motor stimulation. Their latest installation, dubbed The Climber, is a 37-foot high, 50-ton conglomeration of structural steel, fiberglass, wood, stainless steel aircraft cable, and found objects. My kids loved this wholly whimsical and totally hands- (and feet-) on installation. “Now this is the ultimate treehouse,” enthusiastically commented my son before dashing up one of its numerous gangways.

Various perches are cantilevered throughout the structure that allow visitors to climb into or onto, including wacky themed objects:

• Flying Bathtub
• Dream Boat
• Roof Top
• Fish Walk
• Recycled Rocket

The structure is thoughtfully constructed with a third-floor observation deck that permits visitors with limited mobility (or just too pooped to continue climbing) to observe the multi-level terrain of The Climber.

Clamber, balance, maneuver and discover — The Climber will engage your mind and muscles! Don’t miss it.

— Photos were taken with iPhone 3GS camera and Pro HDR app.

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