Reflections at high noon

12 o’clock.

The heat from the asphalt emanated with a kind of fury that dulled the senses and eventually the body. I tasted the salty perspiration on my lips and noticed the blazing sun was forming a haze in front of my eyes. It was exacerbated by the fact that I was growingly tired and after an hour of mindless wandering, I was lost, yet again.

This time, it was somewhere in north Jingan district (静安区). No heavy gear, just a 50mm and I was on the prowl for an afternoon of “decisive moments”.

But sanity prevailed amongst the general public which mostly stayed huddled indoors. Along quiet streets, one could only hear the whir of air conditioner units and muffled conversations from the television set. The occasional cyclist would wheel quietly by, making a most idyllic picture against leafy trees. Yet inspiration eluded me, leaving only a throbbing frustration.

On the verge of surrender, I stared longingly into a convenience store, contemplating a cold drink. Like a strange puzzle, the reflections of the street scene were especially illuminated by the afternoon sun, superimposing itself against the inside of the shop.

As if a special pair of rose-tinted glasses had been slipped over my eyes, I noticed another world unto itself – laundry hanging on the side of the road, a handsome girl cycling by with ribbons fluttering in the wind, a telephone booth and a leathery old man shuffling across the street.

Suddenly, the streets weren’t bleached by the powerful sun but cooled and colored by an interior world of sundries and shopkeepers. Feeling a hop in my step, the afternoon suddenly became a lot more interesting.

July 2011

Reflections at high noon 02

Reflections at high noon 03




  • Reply July 26, 2011

    Tan Tien Yun

    That is a very surreal shot with good layering of items of interest (quilts, laundry and the words). That fustration issue is a common problem we all have when we don’t really have an exact story to tell, but as Henri Cartier Bresson once said, you can never hunt an opportunity, you can only recieve it :).

  • Reply July 27, 2011


    In French a mirror/”miroir” can also be called a “glace”, meaning “ice”, looks like you found an innovative way to cool down. I like the #1 and #4 most. #1 is rather a mystery, how many different planes?? First I though 4: the street zebra lines, the window, the laundry and the curtain. Then I saw like a 2 or 3 hairy figures, like ghosts starring at me… or is just the window dirty??? Then #4 is so refreshing with the airco and the icecream ads… I can feel the Shanghai Summer on my skin- thanks

    • Reply July 30, 2011

      Sue Anne

      That’s a most elegant interpretation, and far more sophisticated than what I could have ever thought. Thanks for that, Chris.

  • Reply August 2, 2011


    Together the prose and photographs make me nostalgic for Shanghai. It’s as if I never left.

    A beautiful post. Thank you.

    • Reply August 3, 2011

      Sue Anne

      Thanks Katie! Many readers used to be residents of our fair city. Don’t ever go away!

  • Reply August 2, 2011


    I do love having a 50mm. I think it might be my favorite focal length – it really taught me to think about angles and framing a lot more than just ZOOM in, ZOOM out, ZOOM in, ZOOM out

    • Reply August 3, 2011

      Sue Anne

      Agree, Terence. Prime lens are much faster and train you well not to rely on the zoom. I admit I can be lazy, using my 24-70mm when I need to focus on documenting rather than for style. Practice on, I sa!

  • Reply August 3, 2011

    Adam Daniel Mezei

    This and Aug. 02nd’s latest post, SAT…I can feel the heat penetrating your shoes and the haze in your eyes…and then I marvel, it really *does* get that hot in SHA, doesn’t it? My goodness…how do you protect yourself?

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