Our New World (A small look at the world outside amid the Covid-19 crisis.)

I created this video for a few reasons. One I wanted to just give glimpse into what it looks like in the town where my wife works. No different than any other town at this time.
I will continue to make short videos similar to this just to document our new world.
However, the message in this video is to show that whille some are obsessed with the shopping for food and supplies there are those who not only don’t have the time for it… the shopping and standing in lines, they just look past it. They are the ones who continue to work in the stores and the supply chain to bring the products and serve the people.
The truckers, delivery workers and medical staff.
My wife has been working 8 to 10 days straight with only 1 day off and then right back at it. Dealing with her job that she actually loves and spending time alone to decompress.

Munn Smith I love more than words could ever express.

Technical Notes: Due to the current Covid-19 crisis as a photographer I have to change tactics and approach shooting documentary photos and videos in a new way. This video was created with a “long lens” a 70-200mm and most all of the time it was at 200mm.

Normally when shooting “Street Style” photography photographers will chose a fixed lens with no zoom because you want to be up close with your subject. However, now with “Social Distancing” being the buzz word of the year being close to your subject is not a good idea.

Yesteryear. (I’m just waiting for the app that delivers your food and pours it down your throat and three hours later sticks a tube up your…)

Old Polaroid Photographs & Memories.

Those scratched and blurry old polaroid’s take us back to yesteryear… to a time when life was much simpler however, we never knew it was simpler at the time. Of course, some things seem simpler today, after all just the act of creating a photo is so much easier than in the days of our youth. So, it begs the question; was life really simpler?

In my opinion; no, life was not simpler in a technical sense. So, is our sense of yesteryear jaded?

But, like me, many people would love to travel back in time if even just for one day.

We all have memories that take us back to happier times in our lives. We also have memories that were not so good. But, for most it is those good memories that we cherish and how we would love to go back and live that day or week or even that one special year all over again.

When we talk about the “yesteryear” in conversation often times the term “things were so much simpler back then.” Now please forgive me for saying this and I am not trying to crush anyone’s wonderful memories “but, no things were a lot harder.” So why do we perceive them a simpler?

Let’s just take a little trip down memory lane and look at just a few things in our daily life that were a lot harder. Now before we get started please know this list could be a long as we want to make it. Why we could write a book that would rival an edition of “War & Peace.” So, here we go…

I already mentioned that it is easier to create a photo today, every phone has a camera. Ah, “every phone” why yes phones are all together different, they are not tied to a wall in our house. Now a phone is attached to your hand or at least that is the way it seems. And the phone is not just a phone it is a gadget that is a computer and connects us to a plethora of information. Certainly, the mobile phone/device has made modern life a lot easier. But enough about phones and cameras.

How about cars and vehicles in general. Practically everything about the car is easier. Now I will admit at first a new car can seem as if it is harder to understand as opposed to the cars of yesteryear. But, after feeling those heated seats on a cold winter morning we’ll overlook the leaning curve the key that is not a key anymore. The feel of the air conditioning on a hot day helps us wash away all the other things we have to sit and take the time to learn about a new vehicle. Then there are all those other wonderful things like airbags, GPS navigation, On-Star, incredible stereo sound, lane guidance and the list of easiness just keeps going.

What about shopping? You don’t even have to stop eating your microwavable mac & cheese, you can just tell Alexa to send you more. Restaurant food delivered to your door… I’m just waiting for the app that delivers your food and pours it down your throat and three hours later sticks a tube up your ass to remove the waste. It will happen and when it does people will flock to use it.

As I said we could go on & on about easy vs hard between today and yesteryear. So why if it is easier today do, we yearn for the days of our memories. Aside from the fact that we were younger what was so nice about yesteryear?

First let me say while life was harder, we did not see at as harder or difficult at all. We did not know the life of today and how easy things are now. We didn’t know things like the ease of creating false restaurant reviews and destroying a person’s livelihood or cyber bulling. Or pausing a movie while we leave the house and resume watching two days later. But yet we yearn for the days of those memories we see when we pick up that old scratched and faded photo.

Now let’s shift gears and look at the reality of the past and the future. Most people think of the past as something pleasurable because they are thinking of loved one’s family and friends who are not with us anymore. Those memories bring us comfort and it washes away the everyday things like, how crappy cars were or that our phone was tied to the wall of the house. The same could be said for when we dream to the future. Dreaming of something about the future is often not what would really happen if the dream were to come true. Examples… of course I’ll give you my take on a few of my dreams that came true. Like that beautiful girl that I longed to be with… how I would see us together walking hand in hand, kissing and having sex and all the stuff that… well it was a dream and yes it came true. Yes, we kissed, we had sex and we really enjoyed being together… until I found out how stupid she was. Stupid is like beauty it is a relative term. However, at 22 she did not know how to cook anything other than a fried egg. If it didn’t have microwave instructions, she didn’t buy it. Her only hobby was drinking beer and I spent most of my free time fixing her car. So yeah… dreams do come true lol.

How about those lottery winners that squander their fortune? Was that part of their dream when they were dreaming of winning the lottery? Yes, I think it safe to say we kind of “whitewash” future dreams the same as we do when we think of the past… at least to a certain degree.

Is it always this way?

In my opinion; no, not at all. As for dreams; dreams with goals attached to them seem to be more realistic. At least in my experience when I had a dream with goals attached, if and when that dream came to fruition it was very much what I expected it to be. But, for looking back at a memory it is all together different, what is done is done and the pleasure of the memory is only on the surface. So, while the mundane of everyday life was certainly harder, we don’t see the mundane in our memories unless we were to sit and actually think about it. Maybe I am different than most because I will often fixate on the mundane of a memory. Take for example the memories I have of my early 20s, I was living with my grandmother and the memories of her are very heartwarming and special. When I hear the theme music to the TV show “Taxi” it automatically takes me right back to Grammy’s kitchen at around 5-6:00pm on a winter’s evening. We would both have arrived home from work and she’d be cooking dinner while I was showering after a day’s work. I can see the gaudy pink & black tile of her bathroom and yes, it is a good memory. But if I dive into it and start walking through that memory my life at the time was not that great. Other than the fact I lived with my grandmother who I really loved, most other things in my life were not that great. I worked at a crappy job for very little pay, I drove a crappy vehicle, and my life was going nowhere. So, while I do cherish the memory of Grammy everything else about the memory is not that great at all. Again, I reiterate that I don’t think everyone digs as deep as I do. I have a good memory and it is also reinforced due to keeping journals and diaries. If it were for those writings, I don’t think my memories would be as vivid lol.

Now I have covered a decent amount of ground in the blog post and I have curtailed myself from using a certain word and that is “nostalgia.” I often cringe a little when I hear this word “nostalgia” because it is usually connected to somebody wanting to capitalize on my memories or on the days of yesteryear. In fact, “nostalgia & classic” are the two buzz words that are used in somehow making money from the days of yesteryear. Usually they (the business world) are aiming to capitalize on a period of time that their customers never actually lived in. Let’s look at the younger generations that were born in the 90s or later. Being born in 1990 would put you at 30 years old and marketing anything “nostalgic or classic” could be a very profitable venture.

I myself have seen teenagers now (born in the 2000s) wearing Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd shirts. One boy I talked to didn’t even know Led Zeppelin was a band, he just thought the shirt was cool (true story). Look at how many people wear the Harley Davidson logo and don’t even own any motorcycle, they just like the logo because it implies the “Biker” lifestyle. And speaking of “biker” lifestyle I can remember a time when that so called “bike” lifestyle mean something a whole lot different. Let me just say it like this… “I remember seeing the State Police escorting biker gangs as they would pass through our area.” “And I remember the fear it created knowing those guys were in town.” I was young so I didn’t really know what it was all about therefore I had not too much fear and I thought they looked cool on their “Harley Davidson” motorcycles. Funny thing is… none them and I mean zero were riding Hondas, Yamaha’s or Suzuki’s. Cut to today you see anybody wearing a Harley logo because they think it is cool. Talk about “whitewashed nostalgia” lol.

At 55 years old I have seen variations of the “bell bottoms” resurface a few times. Auto makers have brought back the names of their muscle cars from the late 60s, while rock bands resurrect themselves (almost literally) and head back out on tour. To be honest I’m not really a big fan of the resurrected rock band thing, because the concerts are most times (but not all) disappointing. Old rockers hiding their “turkey gobbler necks” with the silk scarf while they rasp out an old “classic” hit song that the whole audience is encouraged to sing along with so you can’t really hear the actual performance. I fell in love with the song “Proud Mary” and John Fogerty is one of my all-time favorites. But if you’re going to a Fogerty concert in hopes of hearing a good rendition of Proud Mary… it isn’t happening. Disclaimer: Fogerty actually defies the laws of the aging rocker and he does not wear a neck scarf.

So, in regards to Nostalgia as a market; it is basically the idea that the old times were better than they actually were or in some cases the old time were something they never actually were. And best of all the people buying into it never really lived it so they haven’t a clue lol. I say just let them have their fun and buy into the nostalgia thing because it makes somebody somewhere a lot of money.

 

In conclusion; Are the days of old better? Were the days of our memories a simpler way of life? Or do we just want to believe they were simpler and better? Either way for me it still feels good to pick up that scratched and faded polaroid photo and drift back through the years.

The Day Our World Went Crazy (Somehow we all arrived here at this point in time in the year of 2020)

Everything is going to be ok; you are going to be ok. We are going through a troubling time with the current spread of the Corona Virus (Covid-19). There is a lot of misinformation and a lot people making misleading statements that is causing a lot of anxiety, both personal & public. I do not have all the answers but, I do have common sense. A lot of people have common sense however, anxiety and stress will blind and deaden your common sense. We all know common sense will take you a lot further in life than any highly educated scholar. I’m not knocking education but look at history’s evidence of “common sense.”

As we go back through the pages of man’s existence, we can attribute a lot of our accomplishments to common sense. Somehow we all arrived here at this point in time in the year of 2020 and it was not all due to high education.

When I was in my high school years I lived in a very rural part of the southern part of Virginia. I guess most would call it the “backwoods.” While living there I seen a lot of very uneducated people that my friends back in the Northeast would call “hillbillies.” Call them what you’d like but, what I found were people with a lot of common sense. Sure, they were by definition “uneducated” however they were far from stupid. “Uneducated” is just a label same as the term “hillbilly” is a label. Labels mean nothing about what a person can do or not do.

In times of a real predicament, I will often turn my mind back to where I have come across common sense people in my life. My mother, grandmother and other old sages I have met in my life.

So, in this troubling time just stop and relax, sit and think about where you are and who you are. If you have taken the time to read this far most likely you have a little (hopefully a lot) of common sense.

Look at facts.

If you are a healthy person you will be just fine. Sure, you may get sick but, you will self-resolve as you have many other times in your life that you were sick. This is a fact not an opinion.

Social distancing; certainly not a hard thing to do.

Might I add a little of my own advice; “Social Media” distancing.

I came home today and yeah, I did the “Facebook” thing. Looked at some funny memes, antagonized a few people. Then… I shut it off and I turned on some good music. I have spent the whole evening listening to music and doing little things I like to do in my private time. I like editing video and photos but, for you, you have something that you like to do, everybody has something they like to do. Something that is easy and takes your mind off of the rest of the world.

After editing a video to send to my mother, I then contacted a friend on the other side of the world via email just to say “hi” and tell them I am thinking about them.

Then I though about finishing this blog post. Not really know what I was going to write… I though about how relaxed I feel after such a hectic day. I thought about how relaxing it was to just shut off the rhetoric of the news media, social media and all other forms of BS.

Now as I finish this blog post I am already thinking about my plan for tomorrow. News & weather in the morning for about 15 minutes and again in the evening just to stay current. Social media?… Maybe the same about 20 minutes twice a day and I have had my fill.

Thank you for taking the time to read and most of all be safe, stay healthy and use your power to help the vulnerable stay healthy. Look after your elders.

 

Everything will be fine.


							

Misdirection (…like a car spinning tires in the mud… when in reality you are sitting still no matter how far down you push the gas pedal.)

What you are about to read is my advice to help a new model who is just starting out and needs direction and understanding of what a photographer is looking for in a Time for Print model. Some of this information you may not agree with and that is ok. I base this information on my own experience of working with models over the past several years and many of those models were young men & women who had a dream, they were new and they were lost as to where to and how to start. I would always offer any new model who stepped in front of my camera information that they could carry with them and that I feel would help them as they moved forward on their journey. In fact, there is actually a plethora of information that could be given but, let me start with what I feel is some of the most important information that covers a new models biggest weakness.

Emotion & Expression; I cannot over express this by any means. So many models lack emotion & expression, they stand in front of the camera and look like a ghost or a stick. Other than some times smiling and smiling is a good thing (sometimes) which is a natural thing to do in front of a camera, a model needs to learn how to show emotion. Emotion needs not only be expressed in the face but, also the body. Sounds easy to read it here in words but, if it was really that easy then everyone would be a great model… everyone is not a great model however, I feel anyone can be a great model if they learn how to pose and do it with emotion & expression.

So, now you are asking; where and how do I learn how to pose with emotion? There is no one size fits all answer to that question but… This is what I would do if I was a model. I would first take a serious look at professional models; I mean a serious look at poses and so much more. Choose some models that you like or that you are familiar with and use the power of social media to dissect what they do and how they do it. Let’s just take one professional model to use as an example. Let’s use Coco Rocha. Why Coco Rocha? Well there are a few reasons I am using her as an example. For one she is one of the greatest models of the time we are living in right now. Second; she wrote a book about posing “A Study of Pose” with 1000 poses. That book just didn’t write itself, her and a photographer passionately spent countless hours, days and months on that project. In fact; I have given her book as a gift to models who I feel are worthy and are driven. Third; I am a huge Coco Rocha fan and I would recommend anyone who is aspiring to be a paid model to follow her Instagram. Practically every prost on her Instagram is a modeling lesson if you take the time to breakdown what she is actually doing. She is a master of her trade, and a word of advice; do not ignore a master, whether you like or dislike their personality you should always bow to the fact that they are a master of their trade and they hold a wealth of information, they hold the map of the road you need to travel to achieve your goals and reach your dreams.

Coco Rocha knows how to show emotion and not just with her face, she will use her body in pose with emotion & expression and also at times use wardrobe to help convey emotion into a pose. And of course, she makes it look easy… and of course it is not as easy as it always looks. So, what do you do?  Practice it! Practice being Coco Rocha and if she is not your thing then find a model who is and practice them. It is ok to mimic a professional model when you are an amateur. It takes me back to my younger days when I first started to learn guitar. Like many musicians I would learn a cover song and play it just like the original, note for note. Then in due time once I knew that song like the back of my hand, I would improvise on the lead lines & solos and soon my personal style would start coming through. Do the same with your posing, mimic somebody and keep doing it until you start to develop your own style. And really that is the key thing here “developing your own style” but in the beginning you have no style. By mimicking you can eventually develop a style. When I started out as a guitar player, I would mimic such greats as Eric Clapton and then move on to another guitarist, all while retaining just a little bit of Clapton in my style. So, while I am just using Coca Rocha as an example, don’t just look at her. Mimic her and move on to another model and then another model and so on. Learning only stops when you leave this earth, if you have a passion you will keep learning something everyday of your life.

Tiffany In The Rain

What kind of a model do you want to be? Today there are so many avenues to pursue. Of, course you have the standards like runway & print. However, there are so many more genres of modeling like spokes models, fitness models, promotional/event models and many more. In the beginning most people really don’t know what road to take they just want to get their feet wet in front of the camera and there is nothing wrong with that. So, let’s talk a little more about being in front of the camera because I find that a new model will sometimes be clueless as to what they are supposed to do and not do and what they should know or not know before they step in front of the camera. I’ll run through what I think is the biggest question that usually comes to mind.

“Will the photographer give me directions on how to pose or am I supposed to know how to pose already?” This sounds like a silly question to some but, I found this question to be on the mind of a lot of new models.

Answer: If you are a new model and you have been truthful and said you are new model then I am going to expect that you know very little. I will direct your posing and help & walk you through it. I cannot really speak for other photographers; I can only speak for me. I use common sense; I tell people up front that I have one rule that must be followed and that rule is simply “we must have fun.” If we are not having fun then we pack up and go home. So, the mood is “lighthearted and easy going.” I will give you direction and you will respond; we create a photo and move on to the next pose.

Ah the next pose… Again, this is where a lot of new models fall flat and that is moving from one pose to another or running out of poses after two minutes of shooting. I have found that there are actually a few ways to look at this so let’s dive in here and break it down because this is where some photographers are in the wrong and not the model (in my opinion).

So, here is the setup; It is an outdoor shoot and a photographer and a model are standing next to a very ornamental lamp post on a street corner. The model is new and she will need direction, the photographer will need to move her through the poses.

Nam 1/125 sec at f/3.2 ISO 4000 142mm

 

Ok if I was the photographer in this situation, I would shoot about 10 different poses or angles and move on. It would be about 30 photos and that would be 3 photos of each pose and this is generally speaking, it could be more or less. I typically shoot 3 photos every time I push the shutter button. I do this to account for the model blinking their eyes, lip movement and other natural quirks that can often ruin a great shot. I move on because if I am directing the model, I do not want to bore them, I want to keep things moving along. I want to keep the flow going and if I spend too much time in anyone spot or location, I notice that the model (especially a new model) will start to get flatter than they already are. If I want more shots of that lamp post we could always come back to it, keeping in mind that in my experience “the best shots often come at the end of the shoot” when the model has loosened up a bit.

Now in many cases a new model may be shooting with a new photographer and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. I remember being new to shooting with models and boy did I make some stupid mistakes. One mistake was “not knowing when to move on to a different set of poses or location and I would bore the model and make her as I say “go flat.” Going flat is when he/she just doesn’t respond to your direction as well as they should and often times, they are just getting tired and want to end the shoot but, may not tell you they want to end the shoot for fear of offending you.

Now let’s take a look at the same scenario but with a model who doesn’t need too much direction. Again, here we are photographer and model at this same interesting lamp post on the street corner. The model may be very experienced or she may be an amateur that has a very good understanding of posing. She will run through her standard poses, changing poses after every 2 to 3 chicks of the shutter, she will be moving her body and her facial expressions and freezing them just long enough for the camera to capture. All the while she is doing her thing, she is using the lamp post as a prop and incorporating it into her poses and the photographer should also be changing angles and (in this scenario) I would most likely start moving 360 degrees around the model & lamp post while shooting high & low. In comparison to the first scenario this sounds like a lot of work and we are in this location a long time. In reality it is maybe a little longer but, not by much because the model is going to keep it going and only stopping for things like straightening her wardrobe or removing hair across her face ect…

I have found that when a model is experienced in posing the only direction, I have to give is technical stuff usually related to light or wind direction. I have worked with models who were as I say “a toy, you wind them up and let them go” and they do their own thing and it is like magic.

So, I think that covers the most basic question a new model is thinking about when they first shoot with an experienced photographer. I say this based on my experience with the many new models I have shot with over the years. In asking them questions before the shoot or in some cases when we reminiscing about our first shoot together and the models tells me how nervous they were that day and the stuff that was running through their mind.

As I stated earlier in this post “I try to give people some kind of helpful information they can take with them on their journey.” There is nothing more I love than seeing people chasing their dream and moving forward on their journey to where ever it is they are going. We all have hopes, goals and dreams and aside from “not letting anyone steal your dream” one of the biggest slow downs is “fear and misdirection.” Fear, if you have it, you know you have it. We all fight fear on our own levels. But misdirection is something that we are often unaware of, we are kind of clueless and we don’t even realize it.

Looking at my Instagram feed just a little while ago and I see a few amateur models I follow who are totally clueless to posing and the use of emotion & expression. I truly feel bad for the one girl because at this time she has 325 post on her IG that are all model shots and in nearly every one of the photos she has the same exact look on her face. In nearly every shot she is looking straight at the camera and has the same exact blank look on her face. Don’t get me wrong the “blank stare” could actually be a pose but, when you do it 300 times in a row it becomes sad and it show that she is clueless about posing. Furthermore, it shows the photographers that she is working with are also clueless. Many people today use Instagram to showcase their modeling or photography and will have a dedicated account separate from their personal account. It gives people a place to see your body of work. I can tell you right now that 10 photos are all it really takes to capture someone’s interest in what you do. Someone looks at 10 of your photos and if they’re really interested, they will look at another 10 and that is just human nature. Going beyond 20 photos they are now investigating and not just looking. Imaging pulling up someone’s IG feed and seeing the first 10 photos all taken at different times and yet the model has the same expression on her face in every photo. You give your thumb a fast slide across the screen and spin down through her feed only to stop on another photo with the same exact expression the only thing different is the wardrobe. I know it sounds like I am really ripping on this girl and in a way, I am but, let’s look even closer.

This person is really putting a lot of time into what she is doing, she is planning a schedule, her makeup and hair always look great and in fact her overall look is good. I’m sure she has some sort of hopes, goals and dreams to progress at what she is doing. However, the chances go down drastically when every shoot produces the same exact look every time. You are like a car spinning tires in the mud. Stepping on the gas pedal produces a noise like you are going somewhere, when in reality you are sitting still no matter how far down you push the gas pedal. In my opinion this girl suffers from misdirection and not understanding how to make her images more interesting. Just imagine if she understood this concept… now those 350 images on her IG would look a whole lot better.

In this post I only begin to scratch the very tiniest tip of the iceberg that is modeling and I hope this information helps someone. Remember the only thing more important than you is your dream. At all costs, never let someone steal your dream, for if they steal your dream, they also steal a piece of your soul and you let them do it.

Thank you for reading and god bless.

 

 

Pig Roast in Ban Kamin Thailand (…everyone sits and eats together, this reminds me of my childhood…)

On my 2019 trip to Thailand I had a chance to capture some video of a pig roast in a local village. Although the video is not of professional quality it does show a very interesting way to roast a whole pig and I really thought the process from beginning to end was interesting & amazing.

So, this blog post will actually appear in two places, it will be posted to my photography blog and it will also be on my BBQ blog. I am a professional barbeque chef going into my 24th year of business and I have been a working photographer for about 10 years as well.

Let me first give you the setup of this story and before you click on the video, I will tell you it is not a short video. Personally, I don’t like short videos when it comes to something like this, I want to see everything that is going on… or at least as much as possible. Today we live in a world of short attention spans and instant gratification however I’m an old school dinosaur and my video is a bit longer.

Thai Pig Roast

I am married to a wonderful Thai lady and I promised her before we were married that every year, she would travel back to Thailand to be with family and friends. Myself, I try to go as often as my budget will allow, usually every other year. Sadly, it had been three years since I had been to Thailand. So, I decided 2019 was a “must do” year for Thailand and I would stay for the full 30 days of my visa. I spent 11 on Kho Kood (island) and then I traveled by pickup truck from the boat dock at Trat all the way to Ban Kamin (village) in the Kalasin Province. It was an epic trip and took a lot longer than planned due to poor planning on my wife’s part and too much stopping along the way. But we had fun.

So, after an epic 26 hours without sleep I arrived in the village around 8:00am on November 30, 2019. My Thai family was extremely excited of me coming to visit and that I would be staying for two weeks. I love my Thai family so much, they are all just the most awesome, kind and caring people, I truly am blessed to have them all in my life.

After arriving in the morning and meeting with some family members I put my things in my room and started to unpack camera gear. Quickly, I ran out of energy and tried to sleep a little. It is very hard for me to sleep when the sun is up, even if I am tired. So, I just gave up on the quest to sleep and started drinking coffee in hopes to some how salvage the day and be a bit productive. I don’t speak very much Thai although I usually understand what is going on around me. I was staying at my sister-in-law’s house although my wife’s little house is just around the corner. We could not stay at our house because the toilet was not working (due to lack of use).

I walked outside about 10:30am and Mi had just arrived back from Kalasin City (about 20 minutes away) with a small pig. I first thought it would-be put-on ice for cooking later… I was dead wrong because he went right to work preparing this pig for roasting and to eat later that night. It was at this time I realized that they (the family) were planning a big meal in honor of my arrival and I was really taken back by this. I have been part of this family for ten years now and it seems like the love only grows stronger every year.

So, when I see the pig, I ran quickly to grab a camera, I had several cameras with me from small to large, from simple to complex. I wished I had known there was going to be this pig roast and I would have certainly been more prepared. I really would have liked to shot the scenes on the Blackmagic 6K camera. But, the Blackmagic 6K takes time to setup and assemble sadly, I had broken down the setup to make it easier to travel. Being tired when I first arrived, I figured I would assemble the Blackmagic the next day when my mind was fresh. So, I was left with the DJI Osmo Action camera. I had never owned and action camera and I kind of thought “it might be a good time” to buy one seeing’s as how I would be traveling to Thailand and all.  So, out the door I go to the side of the house where they are preparing the pig, all the while I am not even thinking about how they will cook the pig. Well, that question was soon answered when I seen Mi start to prepare a spot right there in the dirt next to the driveway. Instead of asking questions I just stood off to the side and watched everything that was going on. I started to record video of anything that I thought would be an important step in what he was doing. I might also mention Mi works at the University in Kalasin City. It is an agricultural University and he takes care of the livestock in the Swine division. Needless to say “this guy knows all things about pigs.”

He was a “man with a plan” and I could tell this was not his first time roasting a pig. Actually, I had heard and seen pictures of him roasting pigs and my wife had said that someday they would cook a pig while I was in the village… and today was that day. Mi had already prepared some sort of a marinade of sorts. I could tell be the smell it had garlic and lemon grass in it but, I also knew there was so much more. He used a strainer to separate the mushy herbs from the liquid. Mi soon recruited his teenage son and another young male family member to help with injecting the marinade while he moved on to preparing the cooking location. After marinade injecting was done everybody was working on constructing the roasting oven. I found this to be quite interesting. It was nothing more that a rectangle box made from corrugated tin roofing. It looked very odd and make-shift but, not all that unfamiliar. I had actually seen something very similar here in the USA about 30 years ago when I had attended a pig roast at a local Rod & Gun club here in Hunterdon County New Jersey.

(side story) It was really kind of funny because I go (as a customer) to this local public pig roast that was a yearly event at the local Rod & Gun Club and there were three old timers cooking three pigs, each was cooking his pig a different way and all three pigs were huge about 200 lbs. One old guy had constructed a little “hut” of sorts, made from tin roofing. The coals were directly on the ground and the pig had been cooking since the day before. He would remove a few pieces of the tin and hack away at the meat until he seen bloody meat, then he would replace the tin and keep cooking. This all took place about four years before I started my own pig roasting business and I always used this memory as a benchmark of “how not to cook a pig.” Ironically enough earlier this year that Rod & Gun Club hired my business to do their yearly pig roast. The old timers are long since gone and it was time to move on to a better way of cooking pigs.

Now back to Thailand… He I see Mi is constructing a similar tin roof cooker but somehow, I just know this tin roof oven is going to work just fine. First off, the pig is a lot smaller and I know Mi has done this many times. Once it was finished, I could see the dynamics of how it would work. It was a box with heat in the bottom, a lid to keep the heat in and the pig would be rotated above the heat source. And the heat source would be hardwood charcoal. It doesn’t really take a lot of fire to cook a pig if the oven is closed, too much heat the pig will cook too quick on the outside and not be done on the inside. So, soon the oven was finished and the pig was cooking. The pig actually went on the fire at 12:45pm and I knew it would several hours of slow cooking. Now my eyes were getting heavy and the heat of the day plus the lack of sleep were all taking their toll on my body, it was time to get some much-needed rest. I found my way to the little “couch” as they called it. Actually, it was a small “loveseat” but in this Thai village they were calling it a couch. I knew when nightfall came my wife would prepare Thai pillows on the floor as an actual bed but for now, I had to make this loveseat work. Impossible? Nothing is impossible when you have been awake for 30+ hours. I slept on the loveseat for 4 hours, a small fan on the floor blowing a gentle breeze my way and when I awoke, I was a new man. It was the best 4 hours of sleep and somehow, I found that little loveseat to be very comfortable.

November days are short, I wake about 5:00pm and it is dark already. I can hear lots of voices coming from the back of the house and I slowly make my way back there. As I step out, I see lots of food being prepared… what a relief because this means I have not really missed any of the fun. And how about that pig?… I already had my camera in hand as I walked towards the pig. Nobody was around, everybody was in the back of the house so I just stood there and looked at the tin roof oven. The aroma coming from the roasting pig was amazing, the garlic and lemon grass… as they say in Thai sap sap.

Around 6:00pm the lid came ff the pig. It was done and it looked so good. But it had to wait because we were waiting for other family members to arrive. Not everybody had the day off work and the ones we were waiting for are some of my most favorites people to be with. Soon everyone was there and it was time to eat. Eating with my Thai family is a joy beyond compare to anything I would do in the USA. First of all everyone sits and eats together, this reminds me of my childhood when my family would all sit and eat dinner together… it seems like a dream when I think about how different times were here in the USA when most all families spent time together on a daily basis. With my Thai family it is still that way, we are all together and there is always lots of talking and the mood is always good.

Oh, and that pig… It was cooked to perfection. The taste was out of this world. The skin wasn’t super crispy but it was editable. The meat was over the top delicious, I couldn’t stop eating it and that is really saying something because, while I cook pigs for a living, I rarely eat a lot of pork. I will eat from the pigs I cook at a party but, it is usually just a few little pieces. With Mi’s pig I could have just kept eating… and made a pig of myself lol.

So, there you have it a pig roast in my honor, I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family in Thailand, I love them all so much.

Thai Pig Roast in Ban Kamin Thailand from Lenzwizard on Vimeo.

Love at 1/2000 of a second in the land of smiles.

This is probably one of my most favorite photos of my current trip to Thailand. Actually it could be one of my most favorite Thai photos of all time. Like all photos there’s a back story and this one is very heartwarming.

The backstory starts with me first telling you how wonderfully treated Americans are here in Thailand. Now of course when you’re in the tourist area everyone is treated nice because… you’re in a tourist area of course. However once I venture out into heartland of the country the smiles and the hospitality are amazing.

I spent the day traveling with family far away from the village, about a two-hour Journey. We were going to see a few different locations where I could fly my drone and capture some wonderful photography. For the first half of the journey I rode in the front seat of the pickup truck taking in all the sights along the way. But as we got ready to turn around and head back I decided to ride in the back of the pickup truck. Riding in the back of the pickup truck allows me to take in the sights but at the same time it allows me to capture a lot of nice candid photos as we’re traveling.

This sounds like fun and actually it is a lot of fun but as a photographer it’s not the easiest thing to do. As a photographer we just want to be able to steady our camera and get a nice shot. riding in the back of a pickup truck is not smooth by any means. The camera settings are very important most of all the shutter speed. You want to be able to capture a photo in an instant. So while riding in the back of the truck I usually keep my shutter speed set to a constant 1/2000 of a second. Even still the photos are not going to be perfect however you are going to capture that moment instantly.

So for this photo I’m riding in the back of the truck and the backstory is how attentive some people are at what is happening around them. Sure I’m the photographer and I’m constantly turning my head to see what’s going on around me. I’m riding down the road I don’t know exactly how fast we’re going and if you’re the passerby you’re not going to see me until the truck has gone by and you look in the back of the truck.

So as I’m whizzing by this roadside market area, this lady looks up and in a Split Second she sees me and she gets a huge smile on her face and gives me the okay sign. I only captured one frame before she was out of sight. But in that one frame I caught the heartwarming happiness and the huge smile of somebody who is happy to have their photo taken. Think about it, in just that Split Second she looks up and identifies a Caucasian guy sitting in the back of a truck with a camera. And that expression on her face truly is the feeling that I feel just about everywhere I travel in this wonderful country called Thailand. For many of my friends I know you will never feel the joy of coming to this land of Many Wonders and smiles. And for those of my friends who have already been here many of them often overlooked the true beauty of this country and the people within it. There’s so much that I could say about the feeling that I get when I travel through this country. Someday I know I will complete my Photography book about Thailand, I started the project several years ago and the biggest problem I have is deciding which photos to include in the book. However I do believe I have found the cover photo for the book. My only regret is that I would never be able to find this lady and thank her for her wonderful smile.

Many people come to Thailand and take photos of all the beautiful temples and other scenery. I have to say I like those photos to but, the most important photos to me are the faces of the people and their everyday life.

Note: I still yet have to go through my GPS log to identify the location where this was taken.

Early Morning By The Creek (I want to get a decent shot of the all three creatures together before they disappear in front of my eyes.)

It was already a beautiful summer morning. I had dropped my wife and the dogs off at the farm and I had a free morning. The “farm” as we call it is actually a non-working farm were, we keep our commercial cooking equipment for our BBQ catering business. She likes to run the smoker herself and she chased me away. So, having a free morning for my photography I decided to head over to Delaware Township in hopes I would find some white tail deer grazing in a field.

It was about 5:45am the light was good, air was very warm at 70°, there was a ground fog that was quickly rising. The fog was not thick but, I thought it could add to any shot of deer grazing. I had the 70-200mm lens mounted and I also had my 24-70mm out and ready to mount if needed.

As I made my way along with no particular location or direction in mind, other than heading to the farmland, I felt peaceful and I actually said to myself “this is a good morning.” After heading down Route 202 I contemplated “should I just do a walk-around in the town of Lambertville?” Maybe I could catch some great street photography? Maybe not. I quickly turned up Headquarters’ road and on to Seabrook. “There it is” I thought, “that beautiful horse farm with the long winding lane.” I have captured this location in the past during the autumn colors but, hey, why not capture it during the early morning hours of a summer day.

Chicken Mushroom

I made my way down Seabrook and over to Grafton road where I was moving very slowly in fist gear and I seen a Chicken Mushroom off to the left about 50-70 yards away. And to make matters worse it was about 15-20 feet up a tree. I love Chicken Mushrooms and if that thing had been reachable from the ground, I would have snatched it. Still I took a nice photo of it to tantalize my wife with.

Then from Grafton I made my way over to Worman road, the road nobody ever seems to go down… Actually, not true lol there are several homes on Worman but, it does have a short distance of solitude where there are no houses or farms. And there they were… a doe and her lovely fawn, in the morning down by the creek for a drink of water. The fawn looked up rather quickly and flinched a bit when she first seen my truck slow down. The mother was somber but, very alert. They were about 150 feet away, down a ravine and on the opposite side of the creek. I just took a second to take in the scene, for I know once I raise the camera they will flee quickly.

 1/60 sec at f/2.8 ISO 400 185mm 6:03:58am

I moved quick with steady movement and raised the camera and snapped off a shot, then another and they started to move. Oh wait… this is not a good morning; this is an awesome morning. There is a blue heron with them and he is chomping away on minnows, having a delightful breakfast.

At this point I start going in to actions that I really don’t think about, they come rather instinctively from years of being around wildlife and knowing what’s going to happen next. First is “the blue bird is going to fly away and the deer are going to run up the hill,” I need to act fast. The road is downhill for about the next ¼ mile or more, I shut the engine down and put on the four-way flashers and shift to neutral, foot on the brake, knee on the bottom of the steering wheel. Now the deer are getting skittish and the bird is just looking. I want to get a decent shot of the all three creatures together before they disappear in front of my eyes.

1/60 sec at f/2.8 ISO 250 95mm 6:04:25am

This is how the whole sequence went down; I fired the first shot not knowing the heron was even there at all, the second shot I notice the heron and I go into the afore mentioned action of shutting down the engine. By time I take my 4th shot everybody is starting to move. Keep in mind the first shot was at 6:03:58am and the fourth shot is at 6:04:10am. Ok, so the deer are turning and getting ready to head up the hill but, my focus is on the blue heron. I know he will fly away because the always do. At 6:04:20am I get a shot of all three creatures. Next shot 6:04:23am I zoom to 200mm and get a (not good focus) shot of just the heron. I release my foot from the break and my truck rolls forward with only the gravel under the tires making a slight noise and zoom out taking another shot of all three at 6:04:25am, the heron is hopping a few steps and using the weeds as a curtain to hide form my line of sight. At 6:04:29am the deer are now heading up the hill and the heron is looking at them. 6:04:30am the heron flies but, not far. I’m still feathering the brake as my truck continues to roll down the gravel road ever so slowly.

1/60 sec at f/2.8 ISO 400 200mm 6:04:44am

The blue heron lands on a dead tree spanning the creek and positions himself so another tree is blocking my line of sight. At 6:04:44am I get a decent shot of the blue bird perched on the tree. It is not a perfect shot by any means, I’m in manual mode, 1/60 sec at f/2.8 ISO 400 200mm. I can live with those settings except the 1/60 second shutter speed, if it could have been 1/125 second, I would have had a wonderful shot. Not complaining because I am happy to just see this whole scene even if I had no camera. It is nature at it’s finest on a peaceful Sunday morning, I love it.

He now jumps from the tree down into the creek where I can barely get a view of him but, then I see him and he is already eating more minnows. I try to get shots of this but, to no avail, at 6:6:05:25am I get a shot where I can barely see he has something in his beak but, the shot is marred by weeds in my line of sight. I continue to follow him as he walks in the ravine of the creek and I fire the last shot at 6:05:38am. He is now staying stationary where I cannot see him and I know if I get out of the vehicle he will fly for sure and I get no shot because of the trees and lighting. Also, if he flies, he loses out on his minnows. So, I let him just stay hidden as I roll a little further down the road and fire up the engine and move along.

Now I continue on down Worman road seeing squirrels and birds and nothing more as interesting as the scene I had just witnessed.  Most people who are not from New Jersey think of this state as a congested wasteland of cul-de-sacs, highways and housing developments and while that is true of most of the state, there still are a few nice places where a person can witness a beautiful scene such as the one presented to me this morning.

 

Thanks for reading and have a great day.

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