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

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.

Prayers for Paris (However I know they will never forget what hatred has done.)

Please Pray for Paris

Please Pray for Paris

It is a time of crisis in a city that is so loved for its history, beauty and culture. The city and it’s country are feeling a pain that us Americans know all too well. I have family (by way of my wife) and friends in France, although none in Paris. It is a time for prayer and mourning and in time the people of France will heal. However I know they will never forget what hatred has done.

Autumn Walkway ( just driving up & down Princeton using my computer until I found it.)

Hand held HDR of a walkway in Princeton New Jersey in the autumn.

Hand held HDR of a walkway in Princeton New Jersey in the autumn.

I really like this image I captured this morning while traveling through Princeton New Jersey with my wife. I like the image, but it could be better. Truth be told I did tweak the yellow just a little in Photoshop and the photo is a “hand held” HDR. For those who are not photography geeks should know an HDR image is most times captured using a tripod and it is a combination of under exposure, normal exposure and over exposure images all merged in Photoshop.

So why not use a tripod? And why do I not love the image? Like most landscape images you never really capture the “wow” factor the first time out to the location and this time was no different. I want to capture the day when there is a carpet of yellow leave blanketing the ground. So because it was not at its peak moment I decided to take a quick photo by hand holding the camera.

I first saw this location posted on a photo site three years ago and the caption read “Princeton Sidewalk.” I am familiar with Princeton because I live not far from there and I knew at some point I had walked past this place, but I could never really remember where it was. I used Google Earth Street View to actually locate it. And believe me that was not easy. I spent three different sessions on Google street view just driving up & down Princeton using my computer until I found it. And of course when I did find it, it was a big DUH!

So I will head back to the location in a few days for a second chance.

 

Photo of The Day (Thai Tractor/Truck)

Farm truck. 1/200 sec f/3.5 ISO 160 168mm

Farm truck. 1/200 sec f/3.5 ISO 160 168mm

I love this image and more so I loved capturing this image. It was late day and the sun was going down so most likely this man and his son are heading home from a hard day’s work. I was heading home too, we had been on the road for almost the whole day, traveling around photographing temples and other places. On the ride back I opted for riding in the back of the pickup truck because I knew I could get some nice shots of something… and I did.