Saturday, March 31, 2012

“Happy Crowd“ Photograph

What could be causing such a happy, adoring crowd?

The answer is dogs dressed up as little people, of course.

Poor things.

Photographs taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Friday, March 30, 2012

“Would you like ketchup on that, Sir?” Photograph

When I saw this tourist in his saucy, skin-tight, minimalist shorts my reaction was how inappropriate it was to be out on a Thai city street dressed like that. Yes it’s possible to do so and nobody is going to tell you not to but it made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Partly it’s the effect it might have on Thai people’s attitude to westerners in general, i.e. that we don’t know or don’t care how to dress properly in public, but I also realised that I would not have reacted in the same way if it had been a Thai man.

Apparently, I put an extra onus on us visitors to show respect for the Thai norms (which are not the same as the Thai reputation from tourist resorts). On reflection, I think this is exactly right. As guests, it’s not our job to influence/change Thai culture in this way. If young Thai’s themselves want to do so that’s up to them but personally I’d prefer it if we didn’t help speed up the process.

Photograph taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thursday, March 29, 2012

“Hair” Photograph

Before taking this photograph I had never had the urge to brush or comb somebody else’s hair but for some reason looking at this picture makes me want to comb hers until it’s as close to perfection as I can get it. I did not have this feeling at the time, only when looking at the photo.

This reaction is unexpected and slightly puzzles me. Perhaps I have been conditioned by shampoo/conditioner commercials? Or is there something more fundamental about beauty and perfection?

By the way, she is a blind lady who sings for donations and she only sits in the middle of the road after it has been closed to traffic for the weekly “Walking Street” market.

Photograph taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

“Male Humor” Photograph

The woman in the background, of course, was not actually “shhhhh’ing” these three men as they enjoyed a joke together. I’m sure she was just pondering what to do next. However, the fact that she is there with her finger up to her mouth adds another dimension to the photograph, one that I certainly didn’t notice when I took it. Making my own photographic luck again.

From a compositional point of view it’s interesting to follow where your eyes go when looking at this picture. Mine go to the middle man’s face, then to the face of the man to the right, then over to the face of the third man. These three faces and the way they are pointing form a nice circuit for the eye which then wanders to other things like the tee-shirts and woman behind, returning again to the men’s faces.

But now I’m stuck wondering why I should never trust a hippie.

Photograph taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

“Tangled Web” Photograph

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first start to…receive"

I’d like to see the diagram that explains all the connections here. Such tangled overhead cables that gradually get added to over the years are a common sight along roadsides in Thailand but it is unusual that they spill down to almost ground level. If it wasn’t for the little bit of rope tying them into a bundle they would probably sag to about knee level.

Photograph taken in Bang Saen, Chonburi, Thailand

Monday, March 26, 2012

“Two Heads” Photograph

I was going to name this photograph “Generation Gap” but that would have been a very leading title so changed it to the more neutral “Two Heads”. The problem with a title that “interprets” is that the viewer may well notice it before they look at the picture which then strongly influences their own viewing.

Sometimes there is only one real of reading a photograph so an interpretive rather than simply descriptive title doesn’t matter but here the picture has no absolute concrete meaning so it’s better to let viewer see it in their own way. At least here in the text people will see my suggested interpretation after they have looked at the picture themselves.

Photograph taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Sunday, March 25, 2012

“Eat **** and Die!” Photograph

I hope her friend isn’t taking the tee-shirt too literally.

It was unfortunate that the girl’s hand moved to slightly obscure her shirt’s message but I think it’s still clear enough even dressed up with flowers and butterflies. Another example of the wearer not quite being aware of what is written on her shirt – I prefer this explanation to the alternative that she knows but doesn’t care.

Photograph taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Saturday, March 24, 2012

“Graffiti Portrait” Photograph

As this graffiti artwork was just outside a university I like to think of it as a portrait of one of the university lecturers. I also like to think that the lecturer drives passed it every day without realising it’s of him and thinks to himself, “Ha, I used to have a lecturer just like that”.

Photograph taken outside Burapha University, Bang Saen, Chonburi, Thailand

Friday, March 23, 2012

“Cool Monk” Photograph

This photograph reminds of when I first arrived in Thailand back in 1996 and had a two-week village homestay as part of cultural and language training. At the local temple there was a young monk who was very relaxed, wore sunglasses and always had a good-quality SLR camera slung over his shoulder. All us foreigners thought he was cool guy but our Thai teachers were less impressed.

For us perhaps the best lesson about Thailand from this was that although his style was not really appropriate for a monk, he could be like that and nobody was going to stop him. Disapproval would never be expressed directly in a confrontational manner and if it was shown it would come in more subtle ways that as newcomers we would probably fail to notice.

Photograph taken in Yaowarat, Bangkok, Thailand

Thursday, March 22, 2012

“Dog Hair Station” Photograph

Waiting for a haircut can be soooo boring.

There is clearly something about poodles that hair-dressers are attracted to. I have seen several such shops in Thailand with poodles staring out of the window as if they make a good advert for the grooming talents of the establishment.

Just to clarify, this is a hair-dressers for people, not dogs.

Photograph taken in Bang Saen, Chonburi, Thailand

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

“Missed the Toes!” Photograph

This photograph of a sleeping man in Bangkok’s Chinatown illustrates one of the potential pitfalls of taking photos by shooting from the hip as I do. It would be a better picture if the whole foot had been included but I accidentally cut the toes off.

However, the pitfall isn’t that it’s hard to compose a picture when shooting from the hip (which, of course, is true), the pitfall is that I shot from the hip at all. The man’s asleep! I could easily have looked through the viewfinder and composed the shot more careful without any risk of him changing from his natural expression. Apparently once I’m in the groove of shooting from the hip it becomes automatic and I forget that I have a choice.

However, it is also true that I was worried that he might suddenly wake-up and not take kindly to having a camera poked at him so took a very quick picture and moved on.

Photograph taken in Yaowarat, Bangkok, Thailand

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

“Faceless Trader” Photograph

Although most of the time the stall owners I buy food from are faceless in the sense of not knowing them personally, most of them are actually very happy to get on friendly terms. This is partly just their open friendliness and partly good business sense as they know we are more likely to buy from them again once it becomes personal.

Whenever I do get to know a food-stall owner a little I then feel very guilty to the point of betrayal if I ever buy something from another trader nearby. At this point I usually have to find somewhere else to do my shopping.

Photograph taken in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Monday, March 19, 2012

“Eat Your Spinach” Photograph

I hadn’t realised until I took this photograph that Popeye’s reliance on spinach for his strength is a deliberate attempt to get kids to eat their vegetables.  Unfortunately, this young boy is taking it a stage too far in eating the spinach on his own shirt.

I love the way he is helping Popeye by grabbing himself by the scruff of his own neck.

Photograph taken in Bang Saen, Chonburi, Thailand

Sunday, March 18, 2012

“Seaside Postbox”

An official postbox taking a holiday by the beach in the seaside town of Bang Saen. I found this unusually decorated postbox in Burapha University campus and it was certainly a pleasant surprise even though the collection times have been painted over. I particularly like the way that the ugly concrete base has been included as part of the scene.

I have no idea if it is an officially sanctioned work of art but I hope it’s a trend that catches on.

Photograph taken in Burapha University, Bang Saen, Chonburi, Thailand

Saturday, March 17, 2012

“Picked Up” Photograph

I don’t remember ever seeing quite as many people as this squashed into the back of a pick-up truck before. There’s a lot of trust being put in the driver – any small mistake could easily send a passenger or two sprawling into the road and end in disaster. 

This slightly carefree attitude to safety is one result of the Thai Buddhists’ belief in destiny and what happens to you being the result of past actions. If it’s going to happen then it’s going to happen, and what influences this is more to do with past behavior than present safety measures.

Still, I really hope 13 wasn’t an unlucky number for them.

Photograph taken in Bang Saen, Chonburi, Thailand

Friday, March 16, 2012

“Shark Teeth Security Shards” Photograph

An ugly photograph for an ugly habit.

These jagged shards of broken glass are cemented into the top of a garden wall. This is a very common security measure in Thailand that, in a way, is a good re-use of an unwanted material. However, they are usually placed high up along tall walls and act as a deterrent without the risk of accidents but these particular “shark’s teeth” are only about 4 feet off the ground just waiting to snag an unwary hand.

Photograph taken in Bang Saen, Chonburi, Thailand

Thursday, March 15, 2012

“Mildly Impressed” Photograph

This is my 100th post. Not a very big milestone in the world of blogging but at least this woman seems slightly impressed. She’s probably even texting her friends to let them know as well.

Photograph taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

“Grainy Crossing Man” Photograph

The digital grain in this photograph comes from over-processing the picture after it was taken. More specifically it comes from pushing things too far when using a single image to produce a High Dynamic Range effect (which I discuss briefly here). Technically speaking, this is not good.

However, in this case I like the way it has given the sky a coarse texture as if there was a material backcloth hanging behind everything or the sky was made of cement. In the old days of film cameras, graininess was often a desirable quality that enhanced many pictures with pleasing texture. The general consensus is that modern digital grain is far less pleasing overall and rarely enhances a photograph but I think it works here.

Photograph taken at “Sunday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

“Student Life Graffiti” Photograph

I found this piece of graffiti art just outside Burapha University campus in Bang Saen town. To me it looks like an indictment of student life, although perhaps it could also be taken as an advert for student life!

Not the usual graffiti spray-can style, a lot of work has gone into it. Well done Hemp, whoever you are.

Photograph taken in Bang Saen, Chonburi, Thailand

Monday, March 12, 2012

“Light Beer” Photograph

At 5.3% I wouldn’t call Singha (pronounced “sing” with a rising tone) a light beer but I must admit things often do seem a bit brighter after a can or two.

Photograph taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

“Street-level Eating” Photograph

Full marks to this man for getting down to street level to eat his bowl of noodles – easy for most Thai’s, it can be a challenge for those of us who haven’t sat on such a small seat since early school years.

The “cramped” composition in this photograph helps emphasize the cramped eating position, but I am annoyed that I chopped the top of his head off.

I hope he managed to get back up okay.

Photograph taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

“Look, see” Photograph

I am starting to prefer taking photographs at the Chiang Mai “walking street” markets at night rather than late afternoon because, as this man is pointing out, you can’t see the overhead cables which usually criss-cross the background.

After dark the crowds get much denser which does offer more photo-opportunities but also makes it more challenging to actually capture the picture whilst being jostled from all sides.

Photograph taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand 

Friday, March 9, 2012

“Towel Mask” Photograph

Chiang Mai and most of the rest of northern Thailand is in the midst of an annual blanket of “haze” at the moment. Perhaps more accurately called smog, it is a mixture of aerial pollution from forest fires, agricultural burning and traffic exhaust all held in place by a lack of rain and high pressure weather systems.

Many people walk the streets in face masks but this man seems to have taken to carrying a small towel around for the purpose. At least, that’s what I assume he’s doing.

 Photograph taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thursday, March 8, 2012

“Busy Crossing” video

A short video for a change. This is a time-lapse taken next to Tapae Gate in Chiang Mai on a Sunday evening when lots of people were trying to cross the road to get to the “Sunday Walking Street”. I think it catches something of the confusion.

The video is played at x11 normal speed but I found the sound horrible to listen to at this speed so slowed the audio down to only x5 faster than normal for a more pleasing motor-racing effect.

Video taken at Tapae Gate, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

“Cultures” Photograph

Chiang Mai is a great place for foreigners to come and learn about Thai culture and particularly Thai Buddhism. There is an openness and comfort with all types of travellers here that makes it easy for visitors to gain insights that elsewhere are perhaps more surrounded by barriers.

Some of the large and famous temples in the city center even have designated corners where foreigners can sit and chat with monks which acts as an exchange of local cultural knowledge for English language practice.

Photograph taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

“Stool Guy” Photograph

With this photograph I was very tempted to clone out the orange stool in Photoshop so that he would be left floating above his shoes but decided that that would be taking manipulation a stage too far for a street photography blog.

There was also a “No Parking” sign just to the right but unfortunately it was only in Thai so I left it out.

Photograph taken on Wua Lai Road, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Monday, March 5, 2012

“Yonder” Photograph

Although westerners make up a significant proportion of the street market wanderers in Chiang Mai I find that I am far more drawn to take pictures of the Asians. Maybe it is something to do with finding “difference” more interesting so that as a European I find Asian faces more photogenic. However, I suspect it is also to do with culture as I carry a subconscious feeling that a westerner is more likely to react unpleasantly if they notice me taking their photograph without asking first. A Thai person might not be happy about it but would not confront me and a quick smile from me would be sufficiently placating.

But sometimes I do “risk” photographing the fierce foreigners and manage to survive.

“Yonder” is also one of my favorite words.

Photograph taken at “Sunday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Sunday, March 4, 2012

“No, This Way” Photograph

A good-natured dispute between a young couple as to which way to go.

Care to bet which way they went?

Photograph taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Saturday, March 3, 2012

“Bike Pusher” Photograph

This was the first picture where I tried using the High Dynamic Range (HDR) technique on a single photograph. Normally HDR is used to increase tonal range by combining several photographs that are identical except for bracketed exposures. However, this is hard to do with moving subjects such as people in a busy street but it is possible to do a pseudo-HDR like this one if the photo is in RAW format.

It produces a very distinctive look that is easily over-done but I love the way it increases local contrast to bring out detail throughout the image. It has the great benefit of often being able to make an ordinary picture look more interesting.

Photograph taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Friday, March 2, 2012

“Stunt Rider” Photograph

As a foreigner who first came to both Thailand and motorbikes as an adult I was a little intimidated at the ease at which Thai people of all shapes and sizes controlled their bikes compared to my awkward and overly cautious approach. The reason, of course, is that they grow up on them and even quite young kids can be seen riding around on their own motorbike.

This young girl seemed particularly comfortable on this motorbike. Fortunately, the man noticed her before he jumped on.

Photograph taken at “Saturday Walking Street”, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thursday, March 1, 2012

“Cracked Paint Abstract” Photograph

Abstract patterns and colors were one of my first photographic loves. I started with leaves, treebark and rocks then moved into the urban environment looking at corroded metal and, as in this case, old paintwork. Although I now spend more time focussed on the living streets I still do occasionally drag my eyes back to the inanimate.

This cracked paint was part of an old piece of graffiti artwork on a wall in Bangkok. It is exactly the sort of beautiful detail that we walk passed every day but tend to dismiss as an ugly blemish without a second glance.

Stopping to smell the roses is good advice but I suggest also stopping to stare at the wall occasionally.

Photograph taken in Rangsit, Bangkok, Thailand