On a recent trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia and the temples of Angkor Wat I spent some time with Buddhist monks and others at a small shrine near Bayon called Preah Angkmoav Temple. Tep Kosal a senior Buddhist monk there introduce me to a small troupe of young Khmer women who are learning to be Apsara dancers. The indigenous ballet-like performance art of Cambodia, is frequently called “Apsara Dance“.
One of the great things about living in Thailand is that there are many things to photograph within a short distance from my home in northern Thailand. Back in my working days I would spend Monday through Friday working in Bangkok, take the train later in the day and arrive first thing in Ban Pin, Thailand to greet my family. We would load in the truck and head for the village always passing a turn off to small shrine on highway 1023 on the way to Phrae. The video posted is but a brief walk outside the shrine. The actual hilltop shrine is a presentation for later.
Recently I made a bus trip from my home in northern Thailand to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. As an old backpacker, retired wire service photographer, an eight hour bus ride seemed an excellent way to see the Cambodian countryside as well as a chance to meet fellow travelers. My first visit to Angkor was back in 1997 and there were times then and in the following years that I could visit the complex and see very few humans. Times have changed and Angkor Wat is now a massively visited tourist attraction.
Often in the past when I visited Myanmar on official business, I was told there were really only two jobs in this southeast Asian nation, soldier and Buddhist monk. I will say that there a lot of Buddhist monks and Buddhist nuns on the streets of Yangon. Myanmar for me is a great place to walk, photograph and walk more. I really love the monsoon season, it is cool and colors are electric it seems.
The faithful gather to offer prayers at the Chiang Mai hilltop temple known as “Doi Sutep.”
The colors are amazing… especially in bright sunlight and the scene is part over the top tourist and part spiritual. A visit to the temple is on most western tourist’s to do list when in Chiang Mai. For me it is a great place to shoot both stills and video.
I am going into my 18th year living here in Thailand and many people have asked why I stay. Like all things that work, there has to be a reason. For me the reason has been and will always be the images. Southeast Asia has undergone change since I first arrived back in Jan of 1997 but somethings still remain the same. The Phuket Vegetarian Festival still “WOWS” me as do many of the others. Where on earth can you go watch and photograph a man having steel spikes shoved though his cheeks. Amazing….
Oh and be sure to listen to the background sounds…
Recently I was out on assignment for “Have Camera will Shoot” using my Fuji X-T1 at Wat Dhammayaka for Makha Bucha and later that week at the Wat Bang Pra Wai Kru Tattoo gathering. What I can tell you is once I decided to go “mirror less” I have had moments where I could swear it was not a good idea. But once I get into it, do more research and make adjustments I find the quality is there as is the system for what I am shooting in my life now.
Thiry years as a wire service shooter I have covered my share of Super Bowls, Final Fours, a World Cup, Gran Prix racing in Malaysia and Japan as well as just about all manner of insanity called spot news from riots to political campaigns. Then it was about getting the image and getting it out. To compete it was necessary to stay ahead of the pack with the latest technology. When I photographed Pol Pot dead in the jungles of Cambodia I did it with an NC2000, filed the photos, 1.7 meg per image, using a Mac laptop with 24 megs of RAM, and a portable satelight dish that took about 45 minutes per image, 1000k or less, to file. But, I am retired now and who wants to carry all that heavy gear around anyway.
“Here and Now”
What I need now is system that lets me wander the alleys and streets of the world and not send out visual signal that I am anything other than just another tourist. The Fuji gear, XPro 1 and XT-1 let me do that. I pack it all into a small bag, and only take the cameras out when I am ready to shoot. People, I have noticed, react to me differently. No funny looks, no suspicion and most definately no fear. In Asia as well having a full head of almost all white hair helps, they respect age here so I use that to my advantage.
so here at “Have Camera will Shoot” we will continue to produce images from assignments we think are worth going to.
I have upgraded to the Fuji XT-1 for many reasons and I am shooting again to see if this is the one. I think it might be. Looks like a camera, all the dials and buttions make sense to an “Old School” guy like me. It is small, maybe to small, not sure just yet and it has amazing quality. The attached images are all shot with the XT-1, thanks to the ethnic minority known as the “Yellow Leaf” and their friend Gene Long who lets me come to his mountain in Thailand to have the world’s best coffee, home grown, and to his lovely bride Mary who makes the best bread in Thailand.