Posts Tagged ‘Bangkok’
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.
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.
One of the most popular pastimes this time of year is to drive to the Saraburi area 100 km north of Bangkok to look at the planted fields of sunflowers. I’m talking about sunflower fields that sometimes nearly touch the horizon. In sunny weather, these flowers broadly open and track the sun from sunrise to sunset. At night and in less than ideal conditions, the flowers slightly close up so that their appearance isn’t as spectacular.
On this day, there was an uncharacteristic steady fall of rain that detracted from their appearance. And heavy cloud cover. However, rain (or water) can add a sheen and a richness in color that can be beautiful.
In sunny weather, you might consider bringing a water mister on your next outing for sunny flower photos. And water drops can be beautiful.
Photos taken with a Nikon D700 and Nikkor Fisheye AF-D 16mm f2/8 or Nikkor AF-D 85mm f/1.4 lenses. Sunflowers located in the Khao Yai area of Thailand.
In the digital age, it’s much easier to experiment and develop your own style. You take the shot and then you instantly review the results. Nothing could be easier than that, right? With super accurate autofocus and precise metering DSLRs, one is in a position to take that perfect shot. And stopping motion. Try your hand at something just a bit different. Try taking a shot where motion is an element of the picture. In other words, you want to see motion. It seems unnatural in some ways but you may find yourself taking flawed but still interesting photographs. And motion-oriented photos do convey a feeling.
These photos were taken a couple of months ago with a Leica M8 and Carl Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 lens. I prefocused the camera and set the aperture speed at 1/45 and 1/60 sec. I shot from the hip, through the viewfinder and then over head. I can’t guarantee your results but you may find yourself taking photos that will be out of the ordinary.
I’ve having so much fun with this fisheye lens. For me, it’s important to have a subject in the foreground as it draws the viewer into the photo. The placement of the subject can be experimented with. Remember that distortion is less in the center of the frame than the edges where the barrel distortion becomes obvious. And the more you shoot, the better your photo becomes. Ideally this lens is at its sharpest around f/7 and a couple of stops past.
Photos taken with Nikon D700 and Nikkor AF 16mm f/2.8 D fisheye lens.
Fisheye lenses have always been a bit difficult to figure out and most photographers don’t get beyond the relegation of this type of lens to the “don’t have to have” bin. With it’s extreme barrel distortion, images take on a look that are far beyond an accurate depiction of the captured scene. Straight lines on the edges bend and curve to the point that sometimes the lens becomes little more than a novelty act.
Yet fisheyes can be useful in drawing one’s attention to the subject of the photo. Since distortion isn’t quite as severe towards the center of the photo, that part of the image can retain a connection to the actual appearance of your target. With slight distortion still present, it lends a perspective that is familiar yet somewhat different. It’s in these situations the fisheye is at its best.
Photos taken with a Nikon D700 and Nikkor AF 16mm f/2.8 fisheye lens.
Graffiti can always be interesting to photograph. Because of its urban grittiness and creative designs, graffitti can be a living, breathing embodiment of inner city expression. Even in Bangkok. The letters “BNE”, in sticker and graffitti forms, are all over Bangkok and after awhile the triteness of this limited message is compounded by a sense of dreariness. Not so in the free form expression found in graffiti. Take a look around your city and try your hand at graffiti.
Photos taken with a Nikon D700 and Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro lens.
Sometimes, people the world over are reluctant to take photos of strangers on the street. There are all kinds of explanations for that reluctance. Sure a photographer can sneak a shot but sometimes this only aggravates their feeling that they are doing something wrong. Most of the time, my experience has been that the problem lies with the photographer’s feelings of fear of the unknown and not necessarily the subject’s reaction to having his photograph taken. There are times when subjects may not react pleasantly and, if so, try smiling and move on.
There are a few ways for the photographer to become comfortable with street or documentary photography and that’s what I am going to discuss today.
- Locate an area where there are plenty of people engaged in some activity. A street fair and weekend market come to mind but think of some location with plenty of people.
- If you are apprehensive about shooting people, shoot an activity or object as I have done in these photographs. This is the first step. Subjects can be less suspicious if they see you photographing activities and not them.
- Smile and make eye contact. Talking to them is a good thing. They will feel less threathened and you can end up becoming part of the scene and not an intruder.
- If you feel the time is right, you should consider taking the shot. If you’re uncomfortable, smile and ask them if it’s ok to take their photo. You have nothing to lose. If they say “no”, thank them anyway, smile, and move on.
- If the activity is an ongoing event, attend frequently. After a while you end up being familiar to everyone and people will be more at ease with you. They end up recognizing you as the “camera” guy (or gal).
- Practically every photo of people that I’ve posted on this blog is the result of this approach. Sure, sometimes people will pose by smiling for the camera. Others won’t. Either way, you will become more comfortable with taking people photos.
These photographs were taken today at a street market that I visit about every Sunday. The vendors have seen me so many times that they sometimes smile at me as I approach. Most of the time, they don’t pay attention to me. When I first visited this location, I shot photos just like the ones here. Food, food and more food. I talked about the food, I smiled at the food and I bought food.
Give this approach a try and see if it works for you. Granted not all people and cultures are the same but you may find that this approach is universal and can be successful regardless of where you live.
Once you become more comfortable shooting people in the above manner, then you can branch out to other types of street shots.
Photographs taken with a Nikon D700 and either a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 or a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro zoom lens.