“What WAS I THINKING?”

I have a saying I share with friends at the end of emails, “Keep on Shooting”.  Many of the images you see on my blog and in my IMovies are the product of this notion because I have always felt that once you put your cameras down, “you loose them”.

The daily act of picking up the gear, looking through the viewfinder, adjusting exposures and lenses is all part of staying engaged.  That of course leads to shooting.  In the case of the three images shown:

A Buddhist monks hold his begging bowl outside of Wat Bencha in Bangkok while on his morning rounds.A Buddhist monk cradles his begging bowl and flowers while waiting for the faithful outside Wat Bencha in Bangkok.  “What was I Thinking” when I made this frame was part of a process called “Entire to Detail” shooting that was taught to me back in the mid 70’s by my good friend and mentor Frank Hoy.  Frank was big on making sure you had a shot for what he called the “bag” that one image that when all else failed you had at least a record of the event.  Then what he taught me was to go inside my mind and search out the details, the finer points.  the silver begging bowl, the hands cradled over it and the lotus flowers all combine to form an image of peace and faith.Layers of Thailand 16Contrast this against the image of the novice Buddhist monk as he walks barefoot through Bangkok’s China town with his begging bowl slung over his shoulder like a school bookbag as he carries orchids and pamphlets.  Shooting head-on does not really say much about the young novice however from behind and high you get a sense of urgency of mission ad he makes his rounds.  The fact that it was dark adds to this, the fact that he looks very young and is ALONE.  Wide lens, a Canon 24mm shot at f/4 or less, renders the background to just there.

Thailand Daily LifeThe wrinkles, the white hair, the pushed down glasses, a beautiful portrait shot with a Canon 300mm f/4 at f/4.  Faces to me either grab me or I move on.  This one was a no brainer.  Soft light and no backbround forces you the viewer to just look at this senior Buddhist monk.    When I shot this I was thinking “nice older face, no background, soft light, it should pop right out and it does.

Be sure and check out the iMovie, “LayersofThailand” s1 to see how some of these moments were packaged into a show.

 

 

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“LayersofThailand” s1

New concepts taking shape at LayersofThailand.com.  It’s all about sharing the images and the knowledge from the adventures and journeys I take in Thailand and Southeast Asia.  For now, I am assembling images in IMovie, a dash of “Ken Burns” some cool music and collection of images from recent and past events.  Never more than two minutes, after all people are busy. The rainy season is here, the long days 100 plus temperatures are fading and best of all new landscape filters arrived from Ebay with the clouds.  I am excited to beging shooting these long exposure, tripod images of the region.  More than once I have looked at a scene and added a mental note, “better in the rainy season”.  “LayersofThailand” s1, show.  Come and join me as I detail just “what I was thinking” when I made the shot.

 

 

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“Thailand Rockets”

After years of booking hotels and bus tickets to Yasothon, Thailand, I finally made the journey, 12 hours on a bus from my home in northern Thailand to the “Rocket Festival”.  In the travel world this festival has always been a “must attend” for travel photogaphers like myself.  I arrived at 2300 hours at the Yasothon bus terminal, no taxi’s but as always here in Thailand there always seemed to be someone ready to help and in my case an older motorcycle taxi driver loaded me on his bike and off we went the the JP Emerald hotel.  The people at the hotel  were very helpful, the room a baragain $25 a night and breakfast everyday.  I was walking distance to the street festivals, plenty of loud music, drinking and more loud music.

Raw Friday features all-night performances of “Mor Lam Sing” very loud music that continues into the early morning hours.  “Mor Lam Sing is a type of music that is popular in the Isan area of Thailand.  The songs are usually about something sad, lost love, sick water buffalo  or no good luck with the lottery.  I failed to understand it but the locals are having great fun and after it is about their culture not mine.

Saturday was street parade day.  It features traditional dance and plenty of women dressed as men and men dressed as women in traditional costumes sitting atop decorated floats.  The parade last most of the day and as night comes the loud music gears up and the party continues.  Did I mention it was hot.  Daytime temperatures are in the low 100’s and humidity is up there as well.

Sunday is all about the rockets though.  It’s called Banfai and the rockets are launched in various categories, height, distance travelled, and extra points for beautiful vapour trails.  What I love about living and working in Thailand is for the most part once you move beyond Bangkok all measures of control slip away.  Such is the case at  festival, there really isn’t any which means if you want to photograph the event no one is stopping you.  Plenty of photographers, no police or officials moderating and everyone having a good time.  There have been accidents though, in 1999 a Lan120 kg rocket exploded 50 meters above ground killing five people and wounding several.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“For Granted”

When you live in a place like Thailand and you are not a “native” what seems dull to the locals, such as watching rural farmers plant rice, turns into for me an opportunity to photograph something new.  Last year when it came time to plant the seedling in the paddies around our home in northern Thailand I could not have gotten a better day.  High clouds, soft light and plenty of “real Thais” working together.  It s a ritual that comes every year, one that after almost 16 years living here still catches my eye.

 

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“Angkor Wat Dancers”

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“.

Traveling in Cambodia is cheap, but everything costs and if you want to see more work like this feel free to donate.  Just go to “subscribe” button at the bottom of the page on the right.

 

 

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“Thailand Jungle Shrine”

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.

 

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“Bangkok’s Wat Bencha”

Bangkok’s Wat Bencha is an excellent place to photograph Buddhist monks attending to the faithful each day.

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“Angkor Wat”

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.

Traveling in Cambodia is cheap, but everything costs and if you want to see more work like this feel free to donate.  Just go to “subscribe” button at the bottom of the page on the right.

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Myanmar Faithful

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.

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Miss Tiffany Universe

Years past I have covered the Miss Tiffany transgender beauty pageant held in Pattaya, Thailand.  It is a must attend event if you are in working in Thailand.

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