Chris O'Dell Photographs

Old Soochow

Old Soochow

This photograph was taken on an adventure provided by Channel 4 television.  In 1984 I was one of 3 cameramen sent to China to film the first major documentary series on the country since it started to open up to the west.  The series was called “The Heart of the Dragon”, and to this day I believe it ranks as one of the most expensive documentary series ever made, coming in at about 4 million for 10 episodes.  Each team made several trips out to China, and we traveled huge distances within the country, by steam train, road, and rickety aircraft that had already been worn out by Aeroflot. 
During one of the trips we filmed in Soochow (now Suzhow), at the time a beautiful and unspoilt city on the Yagtse River a train ride from Shanghai.  Soochow is renowned for its classical gardens, and the network of waterways that criss-cross the city and give it the name “the Venice of the East”.
One day we stopped near one of the canals and I was able to take this photograph; I don’t think you would see a scene like this today.  I did not place the melons for the composition, they were just sitting there.  At that time there were very few motorised vehicles, the main unit of power was the human body; most people got about on bicycles.  The canals were living arteries of the city, busy all day and much of the night with waterway traffic. You can see one of the beautiful stone bridges that cross the canals in the far distance
The photograph was taken on Ektachrome film with my indestructible Nikon FM2 camera, and recently scanned to digital.  The beautiful saturated colour and tonal range of Ektachrome film transfers perfectly to digital imaging, and I have made large prints from this 35mm transparency that show exactly why this film was so popular with professional photographers.

Camera:  Nikon FM2 Nikkor 24mm f/2.8,  film stock Ektachrome.

Exhibition prints of this and all other photographs on this site are available size A2 on Permajet Distinction Fine Art paper 325gsm price €100 including packing and posrtage to all parts of the world.  Send email here with title of image and I will invoice you via PayPal (you do not need a PayPal account, you can pay with major credit/debit cards).

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