Leo Laksi’s Bangkok And Back

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Roaming around Hong Kong’s Time Square with HDR post-processing

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Standing on a traffic island with camera and tripod.

Standing on a traffic island with camera and tripod.

I’ve had HDR (high dynamic range) software for a couple of years and just never gotten around to experimenting with it.  Sitting around on a holiday with nothing to do, I decided to play with it.  HDR allows for an exaggerated range of luminance that takes a photo into the abstract and obviously loses it connection to reality.  Not everyone likes the results.  I happen to think that it works pretty well with night shots in a brightly lit urban environment.  However, a little can be insufferable sometimes.

All photos shot with a Nikon D700 and Nikkor AFS 14-24mm f/2.8 zoom lens.  Post processing with Capture One, Aperture 3 and Photomatrix HDR Tone Mapping software.

Old and the new.

Old and the new.

Bus Stop.

Bus Stop.

Waiting for the bus.

Waiting for the bus.

A wet Songkhran on Silom Road today

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"Backpack tank for squirt gun"

"Backpack tank for squirt gun"

"Wet n wild"

“Wet n wild”

For the first time in ten years, I celebrated Songkhran, the Thai New Year, in Thailand.  Usually I duck the holiday by travelling abroad for the first two weeks in April.  This year I cancelled a trip to Japan and found myself spending this week in Bangkok.

"Getting ready to squirt"

"Getting ready to squirt"

Usually people in Bangkok celebrate on Silom or Khao San Road.  It’s one big water fight with all manner of water weapons, from the smallest squirt gun to a shoulder weapon that is similar in size to a RPG launcher.  Some celebrants resort to throwing ice cold water from buckets.  And then there’s the fire hydrants.  Quite a wet day.  Nowadays, partiers also smear a water-soluble powder on faces as you can see from some of these photos.

Silom was closed to traffic for the day and there must have been fifty thousand “water babies” engaging in hand to hand combat at five paces with water guns.  And the smeary powdery liquid.  Although it sounds like the makings of a disaster, it was great fun.

For today’s raucous time, I used my Nikon D300s and the AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR zoom lens.  I didn’t want to risk other more expensive lenses, knowing that the lens (and camera) would get a soaking.  As a ready holster, I used my waterproof Ortlieb shoulder bag, unzipped.  Although the camera came under some “attack” from the squirt guns, all in all, it survived with no problems.  After I reached home, I thoroughly dried the camera and lens.  Good as new.

At times, I thought I should have brought another lens or two (14-24 or 24-70 zoom lenses) but felt it was wiser to restrict potential disaster to one lens.  Afterwards I realized that I should have used my AF-D 28-200mm f3.5-5.6 for its wider angle instead of the 70-300.  Oh well, there’s always next year.

"Posing for the pic"

"Posing for the pic"

"Didn't get me"

"Didn't get me"

"Time to get wet"

"Time to get wet"

Written by leolaksi

April 13, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Hong Kong wet market fish with Nikon fisheye lens.

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Approaching wet market from Hennesey Road.

Approaching wet market from Hennesy Road.

Whenever I visit Hong Kong, I like to stay in the Causeway Bay area for its vibrancy.  From street food to street shopping, there is plenty to do in the area.  This wet market is across the road from Times Square and is an great place to visit as evening shopping draws to a close.  Earlier in the day, it can be crowded with people which can impede one’s chances to take photos of the market’s offerings.  Just around the corner from this location are a number of high end restaurants and shops that are the modern Causeway Bay.  The market is a vestige of an earlier time that will someday disappear and become the latest skyscraper.  Enjoy while you can.

Photos were shots with a Nikon D700 and  AF Fisheye Nikkor 16mm f/2.8 lens.

Fish-eye tomatoes.

Fish-eye tomatoes.

 

Fish-eye fish.

Fish-eye fish.

Typical view at market.

Typical view at market.

Close-up.

Close-up.

Written by leolaksi

December 27, 2010 at 5:02 pm

The “Gateway To India” Arch in Mumbai.

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Gateway of India built in 1911.

Gateway to India built in 1911.

One of the best places to capture humanity in all its permutations is the area around the “Gateway to India” arch.  This area, with the Taj Palace Hotel across the street, is probably the favorite of all the sightseeing destinations in Mumbai (referred to as Bombay by local inhabitants).  Both foreign and Indian tourist like to walk this area spending equal times looking at the arch and the hotel.

From dawn to the wee hours of the morning, the plaza is visited by throes interested in taking photos of both sites.  Many people stop and gawk at the Taj Palace Hotel.  Some may do so because of the grandeur of the hundred year old building while others may have a more morbid interest as it was the locale of  a 2008 terrorist attack that killed numerous guests.

Besides the sightseers, the area is frequented by vendors of every stripe, horse drawn elaborate carriages, and armies of photographers looking to make money by photographing tourists.

Photos were shot with a Nikon D700 with Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 AFS zoom lens and a Nikon D300s and  Nikkor 70-300mm f/5.6 AFS VR zoom lens.

 

Attracts thousands a day.

Attracts thousands a day.

One hundred year old Taj Palace Hotel in the background.

One hundred year old Taj Palace Hotel in the background.

School children in a line.

School children in a line.

And then the pigeons arrived.

And then the pigeons arrived.

Written by leolaksi

December 12, 2010 at 7:57 pm

A few hours in Nara last spring.

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Todai-ji, largest wooden building in the world.
Todai-ji, largest wooden building in the world.

Last spring I spent a few hours in Nara, the capital of Japan over 1300 years ago and the home to many priceless temples and shrines.  On this visit, I took a stroll through Deer Park and it’s adjacent temple, the Todai-Ji.  This temple is a World Heritage Site and offers an opportunity to view the Daibutsu housed inside.  This Buddha was cast over 1300 hundred years ago although some parts were recast due to damage several hundred years ago.  However, having been here several times, I was more interested in capturing images of people and deer.

By the way, if you visit Deer Park, be very careful as they have been known to attack people on occasion.  And they can be agressive if you offer them food.

Photos taken with a Nikon D700 with Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens and Nikon D300s with Nikkor 70-200mm VRII zoom lens.

 

Don't get too close.

Don't get too close.

 

 

 

Deer food.

Deer food.

 

 

Sip of water.

Sip of water.

 

 

Children with packs.

Children with packs.

 

 

Taking a break.

Taking a break.

 

Written by leolaksi

October 12, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Shanghai boulevard at night with Nikon wide angles lenses.

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Shanghai tower with Nikon fisheye lens.

Shanghai tower with Nikon fisheye lens.

Last month I spent a week in Shanghai on the Pudong side of the river near the large TV-radio tower.  One night I took a long walk with my Nikon D700 and two lenses, the Nikkor – fisheye 16mm f/2.8l lens and the Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 lens.  These photos are some of the results of the photo walk.  I don’t know which ones I like more, the photos with the 24mm or the fisheye.  They lend a different feel to the photos but I think that they are both pleasing.   I happen to like the fisheye results as the severe distortion does focus attention on the center of the photo, that is, the area in the photo that has the least distortion.

Taillights in motion.

Taillights in motion.

Passing bus.

Passing bus.

Bus in fisheye.

Bus in fisheye.

Written by leolaksi

August 29, 2010 at 6:56 pm

The Apple “Cathedral” in Shanghai. With a fish-eye lens.

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Spotting the Apple logo from afar.

Spotting the Apple logo from afar.

Last week I was staying at a hotel in the Pudong area of Shanghai.  In my routine photowalk I happened to notice the Apple logo. Being a partial Apple-phyte, I walked over to the glass structure curious of what it might be.  As it was in the middle of the plaza, I was a bit mystified until I got closer and noticed that the structure was the entrance to the Shanghai Apple Store located below the structure and the plaza.  I did a quick walkthrough and then came back out for a few more photos.  One quick spin around the store told me the Apple phenomenon is as strong in Shanghai as in many other locales around the world.    It bodes well for Apple’s future.  And by the way, it’s design appeared similar to some modern cathedrals.  Just substitute another icon for the apple and you get my drift.

All photos taken with a Nikon D700 and Nikkor Fisheye 16mm f/2.8 lens.

Look into the store.

Look into the store.


Shot from the spiral staircase.

Shot from the spiral staircase.

Other direction.

Other direction.

Shanghai icon dwarfed by another "icon".

Shanghai icon dwarfed by another "icon".

Enough is enough.

Enough is enough.

Written by leolaksi

August 15, 2010 at 5:16 pm

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