Richard Man’s Calligraphy and Photography

December 4, 2008

A Synthesis of Two Themes

Filed under: Chinese calligraphy, photography — Tags: , , — richard @ 11:52 am

The reason that this blog is called “..Calligraphy and Photography” is in fact one of my artisitc goals is to merge these two medium together. Afterall, if the Chinese can have painting with calligraphy, why not (perhaps manipulated) photos with calligraphy.

Here it is then:


The couplet reads (top to bottom, right to left):

The white egret flies to the blue sky

The Autumn wind watches the water flow

The cropping is different from the photograph shown earlier, I feel that the vertical crop is more suitable for calligraphy.

You can order prints:

8×10 Fine Arts Rice Paper $40.00

The Fine Arts Rice Paper I am using is gorgeous. The darkest dark and the whitest white, yet with a sensual traditional “washi”  feel.

Sadly, WordPress does not allow Paypal buy buttons. Please add $7 for S&H and paypal the amount to I can also process the credit card directly if you do not wish to use Paypal. Please contact me.


December 2, 2008

Why is the San Francisco Taiko Dojo So Good?

Filed under: photography — Tags: — richard @ 10:31 am

Well yes, practice, practice, and practice.

They also have a very dedicated “Rising Stars” team – young taiko students that put in lots of long hours.


The center drummer leaped up and came down in perfect form with his feet higher than the drum head. He is probably no more than 14 years old. The other kids were levitating as well.

Lots of practice indeed.

Dancing Ink

Filed under: Chinese calligraphy — Tags: , — richard @ 7:55 am


Chinese calligraphy is about personal expression, especially when you are doing the cursive script. Before the brush hits the paper, in my mind’s eye, I visualize how the words may flow. However, as soon as the tip of the brush touches the paper, my spirit and energy (what Chinese call the Shen and the Qi) come out and… the ink dance on the paper.

This particular word is in fact “dance,” with a spiral trailing around. It took less than 5 seconds to write. When I was drawing near the end, I felt the energy should stop, as if a dragon flinging its tail and making a snap sound. Previsualize to some degrees but highly spontaneous in execution.

December 1, 2008

The mighty OM 180/2.8

Filed under: photography — Tags: , , , , — richard @ 11:23 am

Of the many reasons I chose an Olympus E-3, one of them is the possibility of using some of the more unusual OM lens. The 90/2 macro still is one of best bokeh lens ever. While the 180/2.8 only has an OK but not stellar reputation, it does draw fine images:


Not bad for a manually focused grab shot. The E-3 has in-body stabilization that works even with legacy lens, making the 180 quite handy to use. And with the 2x FOV factor, it’s equivalent to a 360mm FOV lens. I have never been a big bird-shooter mainly because I don’t want to lug around a tripod, but with the E-3, perhaps I can make do with a 300mm ZD zoom…

November 28, 2008

40th International Taiko Festival

Filed under: photography — Tags: , , — richard @ 2:42 am

Since I went to my first International Taiko Festival 15 years ago, I always have hoped to photograph the event one day. I was fortunately enough to photograph one of the Japanese premiere taiko groups Shidara at their North America tour earlier this year, and last week, I fullfilled my dream of photographing the International Taiko Festival at Zellerbach Hall.

I still need to process most of the photos, and as always, photographing taiko performances is challenging, with the low light level, the constant motion of the performers, and sometimes there are a lot of  performers! Nevertheless, here are a few pictures to get started. When I am done, they will probably be uploaded to the site.

The San Francisco Taiko Dojo “Dream Team” is aptly named. They are some of the best taiko players in America. I have seen them play a number of times and they really outdid themselves at this festival.

O’ Sensei (Grandmaster) Seiichi Tanaka started the taiko movement in America 40 years ago. Almost everyone playing taiko in America today can trace their lineages back to him:

At the end of the evening, they played their signature piece “Tsunami”, celebrating the indefatigable human spirit in the face of challenges.

Ringtaro Tateishi, Taiko Master

Filed under: photography — Tags: , — richard @ 1:31 am

Ringtaro was a member of Ondekoza, one of the most famous taiko groups from Japan. They did a tour in the U.S. from 1990-1993.

That didn’t sound too impressive, but how about this addendum – they ran ~20+ miles just about every day during those 3 years, even when they had a performance. They ran the perimeter of the U.S.A., through rain, hot sun, snow, etc.. In fact, they would run to their performance venue, or some times just moved their drums to the top of the truck, and then played. They even ran actual marathons. In New York, they ran the NY Marathon, then played at Carnegie Hall.

That’s not all. On top of that, their goal was for the entire group to run the entire distance. Shortly into the tour, they lost their driver. So, each day one of them would drive the truck ahead 5 miles, and then wait for the rest of the group to arrive. When the first one showed up, that one would drive the original driver back to the starting point so he or she could run the length everyone else had – while the driver drove the truck ahead to 5 miles beyond the previous stopping point – and so on. (Yes, the truck drove the distance 3 times altogether!).

The best thing about Ringtaro is that he is a great person. Humorous, a good teacher, of the best in the world and yet humble.

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