Morning Smile ( Beauty & youth are synonymous and when you add a natural smile it just melts my heart.)

1/1000 sec at f/2.8 ISO 320 140mm

 

Ok so “street photography” is supposed to be for the most part an unmediated chance encounter.

While it borders on being “candid” there is still a difference. And for those who may not know; no you do not have to be in the street while capturing street style photography.

So let me talk about these two photos because they both are at the top of my all-time favorite street style shots.

I have blogged before about the morning in 2012 when I created a project where I would stand in the village street at the busiest time of the morning and I photographed everything that passed by or that came within 3 meters of me.

It was a lot of fun and I captured some real interesting images. Now first let me say that while most photographers will show their “street style” photography in black & white and I love my black & whites. However I have always had the mindset that because

Thailand is one of those places in the world that is so vibrant in color I personally feel I need to show the color. For street I try to refrain from using “saturation” but sometimes I will break that rule too.

1/640 sec at f/2.8 ISO 200 90mm

Ok so I love this image for mainly one reason and it is her smile. Her smile is so “in the moment” and natural. I did not know her nor did I think she was actually seeing me.

It is kind of hard to miss a big white guy standing in the middle of the street with a full frame camera and a 70-200mm lens.

With that said; many of the people who passed me by that morning never even looked my way, and again I was no more than 3 meters away.

So while I was shooting the burst of about 3 to 4 shots I remember seeing her smile in the view finder and I instantly thought “unusable” I’ll have to delete them because most times when people know your taking their photo… well it just doesn’t look natural.

But this was different because she was not moving slow and as she was approaching I was face away from her shooting something that had just went by. When I turned I had the camera already up and in position, essentially the total time was like 3-5 seconds.

So for her to see me and crack such a beautiful smile (and a peace sign) so quickly while her front passenger is more than clueless just adds to the excitement of these images. Beauty & youth are synonymous and when you add a natural smile it just melts my heart.

While the images are a little soft on focus the content more than makes up for the lack of sharpness, this is the case with many great street style shots.

 

So for those of you who know me personally and hear me talk about the village my wife is from… well this is a typical morning scene right outside our front door.

 

 

Bored Senseless (But somehow I find myself Shanghaied into shopping for a mattress…)

1/125 sec at f/8 ISO 100 105mm

So I am often asked many questions about a photo after I post it or someone sees it when I’m showing a slide show. If it is a slide show the comment starts with “whoa can you go back to that photo” but there are many other questions that follow, such as; “where was this shot, how did you get this shot” and many more. Many times people who were with me at the time I captured the image ask the same questions. And when they find out it was captured while they were there perplexes them because they have no memory of me taking the photograph nor do they remember the subject in the photograph. Case in point is this image of the man bushing the bicycle in the streets of the village Hua Ngua, Kalasin Province, Thailand. My wife was there however she has no recollection of me capturing the image.

So the back story is I was bored senseless as many a husband is while waiting for your wife to shop. The day started with me going somewhere to have fun with photography, traveling to local temples and other places just to have fun shooting. But somehow I find myself Shanghaied into shopping for a mattress in a small village mattress shop. Of course I had the camera in hand and I just stood along the side of the street shooting whatever went by. It was that easy. Main thing is “always have your cameras with you and ready.” Now that does not mean to walk around bothering people with a camera, in this case I had the camera in the vehicle and because I was bored out of my wits I grabbed the camera in hopes of shooting something… anything. I was at a mattress shop and that was about as exciting and as fun as a heart attack. Matter-of-fact I started by saying to myself that “there has to be something interesting to shoot in the mattress shop… there wasn’t… I tried. Now if I cannot get at least one interesting shot then I think it’s fair to say… well I think you can see by now how bored I was. Bored enough to photograph a farmer pushing a bicycle carrying what looks like weeds up a street. However it is an interesting photo or at least I think so. At I think it is least interesting enough to put in my book of street photography from Thailand.

Now for all the camera geeks the technical info; Shot on a Canon 6D with a 24-105mm f/4L 1/125 sec at f/8 ISO 100 105mm. Edited in Photoshop CC 2017 using a “multiply” layer on top of a normal layer, converted to a smart object, shadows brightened with a camera raw filter and then Nik Color Efex Pro 4 adding Tonal Contrast, Pro Contrast and then back to Lightroom for a small amount of sharpening and watermark applied. Output to JEPG.

 

 

Simple Life (One island, one family)

1/250 sec at f/3.5 ISO 640 18mm Canon M3

1/250 sec at f/3.5 ISO 640 18mm Canon M3

While staying on Koh Chang (Thailand) I had taken a small boat and traveled out to some of the surrounding small islands. Koh Wai is one of the larger of the small islands and there really is not a whole lot on the island. However if you travel around to the south side of the island there is a beautiful lagoon located at Latitude:11.89815 Longitude:102.40552 (see map link below).

There is a man who lives at the lagoon with his wife and son. I had visited with him in 2014 and we traveled back to visit with him again this year. We found him pretty much the same as when we last seen him, although now more snorkel boats come into the lagoon and that I personally did not care to see. But for him it means more business, he sell fresh coconut water to the boaters who come and stay a while on his well-groomed beach. I had a chance to photograph is simple homestead as he invited my wife and I up to his home, something most people would never really get to do. The house is located about 100 meters from the beach area, you can see it from the beach. Also my boat driver is very good friends with the man, he brings him supplies from time to time and also brings snacks for Tula the man’s 5-year-old son.

It truly is interesting to see how this man lives, because many times we have all had that dream of “living in an island” and not having to deal with the outside world. …and that is exactly what this man does everyday.

Stay tuned and I will do a more in-depth post about my visit to this lagoon. It was very interesting and you’d be surprised what I found about his son’s behavior… being isolated and the only child on the island.

Thanks for reading and check out my Thailand video series on my Youtube channel.

YouTube Koh Kai

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Koh+Chang/@11.8980418,102.4052624,239m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x310416b31770cc1f:0xdfd424b9e3ad2a9!8m2!3d12.0479159!4d102.3234816

 

Heading Off To Thailand (…After 17 years it might be time to move on.)

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I will be heading off to Thailand on November 23rd and staying for 24 days. While the focus of my trip will be to spend time with my family and to take care of personal affairs I will spend time on photography. My wife being a Thai lady still has a small house in Thailand and she travels back every year. Myself while I would love to travel there every year and stay for six months, at this time in my life I cannot do that. So I have been on an “every other year” schedule. Most people who know me personally know that besides photography I also have a catering business and I drive school bus for the local district. While I really like driving a school bus, this year they are denying my 15 day “unpaid” leave of absence due to being shorthanded for sub-drivers. Well… while I understand their situation “that is not my problem that is theirs.” Simply put… “I think it is time to re-think the bus driving job” and possibly call it a memory. After 17 years it might be time to move on.

So with all that said; yes I will visit Ko Chang in the Gulf of Thailand, I will spend time around Bangkok and most of all I will be up in the farmland of the Kalasin province. I will visit my favorite food shops and roadside chicken BBQ places. When I mention traveling to Thailand to people, most often the reaction is either “wow Thailand I would like to go there.” Or it is “Oh yeah I love Thailand.” Either way I have never gotten a bad reaction. But at the same time both of those reactions are based on the idea of travel and vacation and rightfully so because many people from all over the world like to travel to Thailand for “holiday” as the rest of the world refers to “vacation” as “holiday.”

However for me it never really seems like a vacation or holiday in the traditional way and I think that is because there is family there. Example; most Americans who travel to Hawaii never see family there; they go for the “get away.” For me Thailand has become a place where I will live for 24 days and in the future it will be longer. I will be with family and friends and I will visit familiar places and some days just hang out in the village and stay around the house. Now of course I will seek out new places that I have never been before and I will take some day trips, but just being with my family there is what makes me the most happy. Sure we see each other all the time on Skype or Facebook messenger but it’s that act of sitting together and having dinner or lunch or just going shopping.

As for photography I know there is always something interesting just waiting to be captured. Being up in the farmland is such a great feeling… I can’t wait.

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A Glimpse of Thailand (She is in the middle of pouring water and sees a big caucasian…)

Issan Family 1/320 sec at f/4.0 ISO 400 24mm

Issan Family 1/320 sec at f/4.0 ISO 400 24mm

I was reminiscing about Thailand this morning and thinking about my plans when I arrive there this November. Everytime I go back to Thailand I plan little photo adventures. Most people would word that last sentence “when I visit Thailand.” However for me it is a home because my wife is Thai and we have a house there. So it is a home of sorts, just at this time I’m not there too much.

 

So many times I will take a trip down memory lane and just go through my images of past trips. This image is one that has always caught my heart and my eye, it resonates Issan country life . Today I worked up a black & white edit, but I have in the past edited this image in a colorized version. I don’t know who they are and I only have a general idea of where the images was captured. I was a passenger on a motorbike and I was shooting video and stills while traveling around Kalasin province. I had (at that time) my Canon T1i with an 18-55mm kit lens. Settings were 1/320 sec at f/4.0 ISO 400, captured at 3:17pm on 11/1/2009.

 

Everytime I’m in Thailand I will shoot a lot, but there will only be a handful of images that really reach out to me and say to me “This is Thailand.” Now of course I have to say that it is “in my opinion” because I think everybody forms their own opinion of likes and dislikes about anything beit person place or object. In the past you may have seen my image of the dogs sleeping in the street and that too is an image that speaks “this is Thailand.” In fact I have a friend who claims “there is a dog on every road in Thailand” and I laugh because that is most likely true.

 

So here we find a family eating in a true Thai Issan style setting. Because I was moving along at a decent speed I fired a 4 burst shot and this shot was not only the cleanest but also the framing was good. Now I will say I have cropped the image a little bit, but that cropping was really the hardest part of this edit. I wanted to be able to show the viewer the little girl’s face. She is in the middle of pouring water and sees a big caucasian guy on the back of a motorbike with a camera. She just happened to look up at the very moment I was whisking  by and I got a nice shot, all the while she never misses pouring her water. Although the image is of Asian culture if it were American it could have fit into the pages of Robert Frank’s iconic book “The Americans.”

 

I made today’s edit a black & white to go with a “street photography” feel, however I still hold true to the claim that Thailand is best viewed in color because it is such a colorful country and the people as a whole are so kind and warm. They make the mantra “Land of Smiles” really come to life.

Thank you for reading and until next time have a great day.

Wreckage (The plane is not forgotten and it is anything but untouched.)

Wreckage on a distant shore.

Wreckage on a distant shore.

The images of this iconic fuselage that sits on one of Iceland’s black sand beaches has haunted me for years. I first seen this photo of this wreckage years ago and In doing recent research for exotic photography locations, I keep seeing it pop up in my searches.

Although it is called by many names and it really seems to have no official name the wreckage of a (and I quote) “Douglas Super DC-3 airplane lies hollow and forgotten on a deserted black beach in Iceland – untouched since it crashed more than four decades ago.” Actually that statement is far from true. The plane is not forgotten and it is anything but untouched. It has been the focus of several fashion shoots and of recent it is one of the top exotic wedding photography locations in the world. I was recently reading an article about these exotic locations and again I seen this wreckage and that gave me the idea to acquire a high-resolution copy of the wreckage and give it a work up in Photoshop. I made it a little weekend project and I actually worked on some Photoshop techniques that I hadn’t used in a while. Photoshop for me is a lot like playing an instrument; If you do not keep at it you will soon forget what you have learned.

This image will be put to large-scale print for future sale as I do from time to time. This would certainly make a nice 16 x 24 inch print or larger. But I still have to fine tune it.

So for those who are wondering this is a United States Navy Douglas Super DC-3 that crash landed on or about November 23, 1973. I say “on or about” because there are some discrepancies in the details around the reason and the date. Some articles say it was put down due to “icing” and that the pilot chose the openness of the black sand beach, while other articles mention fuel calculation errors. Being a military plane I would like to believe the first story of “too much ice.” Either way all crew members survived and the Navy chose not to recover the plane. It seems that everybody who writes about the plane tells a tale of how hard the wreckage location is to find. And I find this very hard to believe, with tools like Google Earth and a good GPS unit you can drive right to it. The actual location is 63.459523,-19.364618. https://youtu.be/LwBDzMFVbnA

Thanks so much for reading.

Pavilion of The Enlightened (literally a maze of walkways over the water.)

Pavilion of The Enlightened located in Ancient Siam City, Bangkok Thailand.

Pavilion of The Enlightened located in Ancient Siam City, Bangkok Thailand.

He we see an image of the Pavilion of The Enlightened located in Ancient Siam  also known as Ancient City. Ancient Siam is a 200 acre outdoor museum located in the Samut Prakan province of Thailand and is a photographer’s paradise. Pavilion of The Enlightened is #110 on the Ancient Siam map for those who are looking to put it on their photography list. My visit there was in December 2014 the last day of my trip and what an amazing day it was. Sadly I took so many photos I could not edit them all, but this was also a good thing, because I every so often pull a set of RAW files out and run them through Photoshop’s HDR Pro and have some fun.

This photograph was a seven bracket HDR and it was shot towards the end of the day. I had rented a golf cart for the day and as I was approaching the Pavilion I was once again taken by the amazing scene, the colors are mostly Green & Yellow and the whole structure sits above the water. Although I captured many angles I really feel I did not capture the best angle of the structure and this would be due in part that I was tired and just plain wore out from not only the day of shooting, but also from my whole trip. I had been in Thailand for about a month and I was looking forward to going home.

My visit to Ancient Siam was a last-minute “on a whim” visit and I did not know what I was in for. When I arrived I almost did not rent a golf cart, thinking I could use the exercise, but in a moment of clarity I thought “hey wait a minute… if there are golf carts here then they are here for a reason.” If you ever visit and your there for photography please take my advise and rent the cart, no matter what your physical shape you’ll be glad you did because the place is huge. I really do not remember any other place I have ever been to shoot for “just the fun of it” and actually got tired of shooting amazing structures. After a while I was saying to myself “ok, I’m done this is the last one and then I would round the corner on the cart… OMG look at this, I just have to get shot of this. Yeah it really was a lot of fun.

There are basically three styles of structures Replicas of Original, Reconstructed Original and Creative Design. The Pavilion of The Enlightened is a creative design and is literally a maze of walkways over the water.