Chinese New Year Parade 2009

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The 15 block parade route from Market Street up to Chinatown was PACKED Saturday night under the clear skies and almost fully waxed moon, with the sound and smell of nearly a million firecrackers exploding. The firecrackers are thrown in front of Gum Lung (the 238′ dragon leading the parade) to keep him awake for the parade. It’s also said that the firecrackers frighten away the mythical beast of the Nian (year), which was believed to come on the first day of the new year to devour livestock, crops, and children.

The San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade is the largest of its kind outside China and the largest Asian cultural celebration outside of Asia. It now holds a spot on the list of the top ten parades in the world. San Francisco has hosted the parade for nearly 150 years.

I’ve seen the parade almost every year for as long as I can remember. I took just over 600 pictures this year with no other lens than my Canon 85mm 1.2 prime (a huge chunk of glass if you’ve never seen one). Picture taking is a challenge when packed in crowds 20-deep though. I also killed my flash in the first 200 pictures and forgot spare power for it, so most of the night was high ISO and the lens opened up wide. Opening this lens all the way to 1.2 is a challenge because your focus dot needs to be precisely on the subject and the depth of field is razor thin. Here are a few pics:

Chinese New Year 2009
Chinese New Year 2009
Chinese New Year 2009
Chinese New Year 2009
Chinese New Year 2009
Chinese New Year 2009
Chinese New Year 2009
Chinese New Year 2009
Chinese New Year 2009
Chinese New Year 2009
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