Posts Tagged ‘Thonglor’
Soi Thonglor has a reputation in Bangkok as being one of the trendiest areas. That could be true at night. However, in the morning, it’s a different world. Trends never last long, always changing. Or mutating. However, stillness lasts forever, showing glimpses here and there. It’s not the noise that’s important, it’s the quiet in between.
Most neighborhood temples (wat) do not have the grandeur or fame of temples such as Wat Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha), Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha) or Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn). I visit Wat Pasee off of Thonglor (Sukhumvit 55) Soi 20 about once every month or so and find myself photographing the smallest things. And that’s the subject of this posting. Some of the best subjects to photograph are the smallest more intimate objects. I am drawn to light and shadow, fine details and vivid colors. And I like to fill the frame in the viewfinder with this intimacy.
So why didn’t I post a photo of the Wat Pasee in its entirety? Two reasons. I wanted to emphasize details. And I accidently deleted photos showing the temple. Well, maybe next time.
Photos were taken with a Leica M8 and a Summilux 75mm f/1.4 lens.
I don’t normally use my Canon 5D as I am thoroughly dedicated to my Leica M8. I decided to break it out and give it an airing. Today I attached my 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L lens and did a walk around my neighborhood in Bangkok.
However, before I got started I met the guy in the above photo who had recently purchased a 5D Mark II and 24-105mm f/4 L lens. We chatted a bit and we got around to the subject of “bokeh”. While we talking up a storm, I took the above photo with my M8 and Summicron. Afterwards, he left on a motorcycle and I continued on my walk.
Some people think that a medium zoom lens is made to bring distant subjects closer. I look at this lens in a different way. I think this zoom lens is in its element as a longish portrait lens, great for those photos within ten meters. Because my experience with the M8 and lens has taught me to judge most lenses in two ways: how they perform as a wide angle lens and as a portrait lens, I look at all lenses in this way. Obviously, the Canon lens is not a wide-angle lens. As a lens for use at portrait (or just beyond distances), it’s pretty good.
However, is it a good as the Leica for closeup portrait work? Although I didn’t take a comparable photo of him with the Canon equipment, I think the answer is in the above photo. Exceptional Leica optics.
And oh, by the way, I took only that one photo. No multiple exposure “gone wild” photography for me.
Obviously the photos below are not portraits but I have found that it is difficult to take “candid” unrehearsed photos with the Canon body and lens. It’s the sheer size of the kit that’s the impediment. People notice the camera and almost always comment.
On the other hand, the M8 is almost never noticed. With the above photo, I turned on the M8, focussed the lens at 1.5 meters and pressed the shutter. The camera was not noticed and therefore the subject was entirely relaxed. (Afterwards, I showed the photo to him to explain the concept of bokeh.)
The following photos were taken with a Canon 5D and 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L lens. All photos were shot at f/2.8.
On the other hand, it’s a huge rig to carry and can’t compete in terms of agility and ease of use with my M8 and lens. And I am not sure that’s its any quicker on the draw to use, even with auto-focus.
The Summicron 9omm f/2 is one of the finest lenses that Leica makes. On a film M-series camera it’s a longish portrait lens. On the digital M8 with its 1.3 crop factor its still a longish portrait lens. On the G1 with its 2x crop factor, it’s a full blown medium telephoto lens with the ability to focus down to less than one meter. And a fast f/2 lens.
The lens has great bokeh and pretty good contrast, making it ideal to isolate the subject from the background. On the G1, this lens is a very good performer, creating images that would rival those created by the M8. Of course its the lens that makes the major contribution.
Poor off-center resolution as seen in some images created by particular wide-angle lenses is non-existent. It had been speculated at some of the Leica-centric forums that this resolution issue was caused by the particular angle of light refraction through Leica M-mount lenses and that this would be less of an issue with longer focal length lenses.
The 90mm is still a handful on the G1 as its effectively an 180mm lens without the advantage of image stabilization. Keeping your shutter speed at or above 1/250 sec to insure a decent handheld image.
This week I’m using the G1 with the Carl Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 lens. I’ve used this lens off and on since I purchased the Rayqual adaptor in Osaka about a month ago. The image’s resolution off center is not quite as good as I would expect, given the excellent performance of this lens on my Leica M8. Also, focusing at infinity in the viewfinder is slightly off in that the image is not in perfect focus in the viewfinder. Again this is in contrast to the M8′s ability to focus at infinity.
Check out my previous posting where I discuss (and link) the off-center resolution issue that the G1 has with some wide-angle lenses.
There is a new restaurant at the Marketplace on Thonglor that has opened to rave reviews. It’s located in the space that used to house a Vietnamese Restaurant. In many ways, it’s no different than other suki restaurants in town, except it offers you the choice of three soups, the standard clear soup and then two other soups that can only be described as spicy and extra-spicy. These “hotter” choices are the way to go as can be attested by the customers almost without except ordering the tastier of the three selections. I found the clear soup somewhat bland although it got better as you added more ingredients. The other two have big time tastes that don’t need anything to make them taste better.
The meats and vegetables are standard fare and are simply excuses to taste the great soup. One warning. You can not order rice as it is not on the menu. However, there are a number of noodles that you can order.
It you’re scratching your head trying to locate Marketplace, think Top Supermarket.
Check it out. The letters “BNE” are found on stickers all over Bangkok. In my neighborhood there are hundreds of these stickers. Sometimes the letters are accompanied by Japanese characters.
Some have speculated that the letters are part of a worldwide graffiti movement, for the stickers have been seen all over the world. During the fall of 2006, San Francisco was plagued by the same stickers. And so have Tokyo and New York City. There are a number of explanations for BNE including its use as the three letter airline designation for Brisbane, Australia.
There’s been some great reporting on this phenomenon. Check out the hyperlinks for more info.
If you want, photograph the stickers you see and I will post them on my blog.
Yup, it’s winter in Bangkok and the temperature is down to 20C at night. Now’s the time to visit your favorite beer garden. Mine just happens to be my neighborhood pub, known affectionately as HOBS. They are still offering some of the best beers on the planet, Belgian beer, and an expanded menu to include pastas and Thai food. I visited HOBS last night and after a few rounds of Stella, we had a dinner of Spaghetti Bolognese and Spaghetti Tom Yum. Both were good and Spaghetti Tom Yum, although sounding weird, actually works. Part of the reason the pastas are good is because the chef had worked for years at various Italian restaurants in Bangkok.
The beer garden will run into January in the parking lot of Penny’s Balcony. HOBS is located at the corner of Soi Thonglor and Soi 18. It’s across the street from J Avenue. You can’t miss it. Check my other posting for more info.
Thonglor has the reputation of being one of the trendier neighborhoods in Bangkok and I suppose it fulfills that reputation. It is an area of affluence with lots of higher end restaurants and other businesses. But there are still vestiges of traditional Thailand that are apparent everywhere, especially if you are up early.
From monks making their morning rounds to neighborhood people going early morning shopping at the local talat (market). And that brings up the subject of today’s posting.
Located on Thonglor Soi 18 is a brand-new although still vacant low-rise condominium project called the Clover. That’s not so unusual in this neighborhood since there are lots of condo projects in varying states of construction. What is a little unusual is its location next to Thonglor’s largest talat. Imagine if you can, a high-end project overlooking a fresh market offering live seafood, meats, vegetables and other foods.
The market is only open during the morning but you can imagine the consternation suffered by the occupants of the condo upon awakening.
I consider this market, which is about 200 meters in depth, one of the highlights of Thonglor, although I imagine that one day it will disappear, a victim to progress. Take a walk any morning and check it out. Before it’s gone.
J Avenue is a great location to chill. Sit back, people watch, a little bit of latte, then some cake. But most of all, chit-chatting with your friends.