Travel Collection – 5 in Vietnam

Four weeks in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam back in 2011.

Was visiting a local famous temple for prayer. The art director wanted some pictures of the locals selling prayer items. So been a non Vietnamese, i can’t speak their native language. The art director spoke to them to get them agree for pictures. Vietnamese always love to have their picture taken, i wonder why, something that still mystify me till today.

I’ve composed in a way to capture more of the background environment in what they are selling, rather than focus just their close up portrait. It depends what story you wish to tell. As this was done indoor, i turned the subject around to the available natural light source. No flash was require to capture the 2 different scenes.

I liked the pictures because both ladies were very pleasant and i like the various details in the background of their work place.

I can see their life is not easy, but their smile showed hope and calmness in life.

Feel free to check out other of my travel collection articles
1 in Beijing
2 in Bangkok
3 in Sri Racha
4 in Nepal

Travel Collection – 3 in Sri Racha

How i learnt about Sri Racha was back in 2007, i was still learning the rope of the photography industry, more interested in the commercial aspect. I was asked to assist a photographer who is going to have an assignment in Thailand. It was my first time going to Thailand, was very excited about it at that point of time. Later i learnt we were going to Sri Racha to work for a few days. Where the hell is that??? That was then my first intro to the subdistrict town in the eastern part of the country.

Many years later, back in 2011 (has it been so long already). I travelled back to the less crowded town to pay a visit to my local friend. I took the opportunity to wander around as a tourist, more chill not too focus on making pictures. I did later transformed into a photographer mode and start my ‘hunt’.

Portrait of a local kid

Portrait of a local boy

Portrait of a young girl

Even thought my three subjects are children, i still treat them with respectful manner, more funky approach as well. Bear in mind good manner will influence others to be courteous and polite as well.

I approached each of them with a friendly smile, and with my fascinating broken Thai language, hand gesture was more universal at that point of time. Trying to engage with the kid for a while before i try to take pictures. I usually visualise how i want the picture to turn out, rather than pondering about how to compose the picture. Because i am not in a controlled environment, i never know what is going to happen next, the kid can suddenly dash off , or the parent calling for them. Is better for me to do it asap than been draggy, if the child still hang around, i can continue to take more pictures.

One tips to get their smile, is  to show the children their pictures on the LCD screen, they love it, their smile will appear if they did not smile initially. This method never goes wrong for me so far. Once that smile break open, quickly capture more pictures while they are smiling from the heart. You got yourself some great pictures.

Feel free to check out other of my travel collection articles.

1 in Beijing

2 in Bangkok

Travel Collection – 2 in Bangkok

Not sure had you read my Travel Collection – 1 in BeijingTravel Collection – 1 in Beijing

Now here goes another one of my picture story telling of why do i make this particular image and how do i approach towards the subject during travel in other countries.

As many of the pictures were taken years back. I may not remember all the small details anymore, but the scene still linger in my mind.

Portrait of a Monk

I was like a street hunter, with an eagle’s eye looking for picture opportunities in Bangkok. I can’t remember which temple i was at, there are so many temples everywhere in busy Bangkok. A Buddhism’s country that much devoted to the belief.

I wandered into this temple where i can see a row of golden Buddhas in line. I took the opportunity to rest myself from the heat of wave. While i was cooling down under the shelter, my eyes was scanning for my ‘prey’, not many visitors at that moment, kids were running around, a few monks making their way to the exit.  I capture some still life street photograph and that was about it. Something was lacking. But i don’t know what is that hollow point at that moment.

Often when i search hard for picture opportunity, that situation never appear. The moment i stopped seeking, the chance is presented and is up to you to grab it. Why do i say this? Is because much patience had already dry up while waiting or expecting for something to happen. If nothing occur as you visualise,  you may end up being frustrated, disappointed and even a waste of time.

What is the disparity between Waiting and Expecting?

Waiting – Not knowing what is going to happen next, unable to control the situation. (negative)

Expecting –  A desire to see a situation that is going to unfold. (positive)

Back to the temple. As i as was about to leave, i noticed a monk by himself standing in-front of the Buddha statue. Somehow that particular moment caught my attention. I  boosted up my confident, approached the religion man. Is a do or die moment, i don’t want to moan later why i did not even asked about it and regret for the rest of my life.

I can’t speak Thai, except for the basic “Sawadee kap”, palm together. I spoke in the most simplistic English and hand gesture to ask for a picture. Hoping he will understand. I was not nervous, but neither will i be disappointed if he rejects me.

The monk smiled, nob his head *throw fist on air*

I recalled having some difficulty in the composition, whether should he be standing at the side or the centre. I quickly made a few frames and concluded that standing in the centre would be better. Everything is all centralised from the background to the key subject. Is the the student being humble in-front of the Buddha’s teaching.

He did not smiled throughout, neither i want to control his expression. For street/environmental portrait. I decided to let the monk to be himself, and be respectful to him is important.

Personally i like this picture so much that i printed out 12 x 8 inch and hang it up on the wall.

Hope you enjoy this article, drop me a comment if you like it or how to further improve it.

The Southern Ridges

According to Npark. The Southern Ridges have a length of 10 km of green, open spaces that connect Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve.

Is been two to three years since i had explored The South Ridges. I started from Alexandra Arch towards the peak of Mount Faber. Bringing a camera attached with telephoto of 70-200mm. I also took this opportunity to polish my photography. Similar to world class pianist, if you don’t practice daily, the skill will get rusty no matter how good you are. In my mind i told myself this is an opportunity to build up my fitness for future trekking trip in Hong Kong.

I started off the walk close to mid afternoon sun. Perhaps not the best time to do outdoor photography, most people might be at home chilling out or hang out in the mall to enjoy the air con. However i embraced the hot weather, and but am sure there are pictures opportunity in the recent monsoon weather season. Make sure to apply lots of sunblock lotion on your face and neck to protect yourself.

Took me a total of 2hrs to slowly admire the scenery it has to offer.

Below are some of the pictures that i liked.

Feel free to check out the rest on my Facebook page

Recovery in Nepal

My thoughts suddenly flow in about the devastating earthquake that took place on 25th April 2015. Mother nature needs to be respected and nothing less. Buildings and roads that were build can be easily wipe out in a few minutes. Lives are lost, the passing of love one will never be return. Life move on to rebuild the future.

I visited Nepal in Nov 2012. I would say it was a memorable trip for my life. To witness how life is there makes me appreciate my life here in Singapore. Of course i never took for granted. But is good to self-reflect of what we have here.

I hope people i had met in my Nepal’s journey are holding well and fine, bless the country to be able to quickly stand feet and attract the tourist back soonest. Personally i would love to visit the country again if opportunity arise.

Below are some of the beautiful pictures i capture on my trip.

I self assume this is the Himalayas from far, such a majestic sight spotted. Advantage of sitting beside the window plane rockz!

Aerial shot of a province. I don’t even know where is it. I like how the road leads to the mountain in the background.

One of my first few picture on land. A chopped up wild boar i presume.

Sunrise from the guesthouse rooftop, it still felt like yesterday.

Life without smart phone or tablet. I felt am back to my days of childhood.

My favourite picture! Seeing these kids hanging out on a weekday makes me wonder do they have the opportunity to have an education. One of my To-Do-List is to assist kids in Nepal who wants to have an education.

If you like to see more do check out my Kathmandu and Kirtipur galleries.

Afro Asia Building in Singapore

Wandering in Central Business District during the weekend prove to be the most effective way for me to do architecture photography exploration. The area is almost free from human and traffic interruption, allowing me to be focus on capturing pictures. Is also a good idea to bring my not-so-light-tripod and set it up anywhere without hindrance and getting weird stares.

In Sept 2014 i came across Afro Asia Building, a commercial building in Raffles Place district. It has this old MPH bookstore on the ground floor, there ain’t many of it in left in Singapore as compare to more than 10 years back. The building gives me a feeling of struggling against the resistance of time against all the steep cost modernised building as the nation progress. Afro Asia building gives me a disciplinary design identity. It is also prominent and hard to miss for the first timer’s visit.

I went back a few more times throughout the months to capture the building in it most presentable moment,hopefully. If possible i want the light to be as beautiful when light reflected on the building with minimum traffic distraction. As is this a personal work, i can afford to choose the best time and day to return, or when am available for the day. Funny to say it never happen to have the best light, let’s say out of 10 trips, 9 doesn’t work. I started to study why it was so difficult to get it. Because the building is surrounded by tall buildings in a circle. Light is blocked from the east and the west. The only decent light is only from mid afternoon to about 2pm. I was extremely lucky to encounter a great shot in this time slot.

A beautiful ray of light shined right in the middle of the road, in the centre of the building. A yellow taxi came in to give a contrast to the almost dull color of the building. Lights were reflected from the opposite building to offer glittering effect. That was my first and last best light ever.

1 May 2015 i went back to check it out. The sky was cloudy as usual, i thought it was another unsuccessful attempt. As i was at the junction waiting for the red man to turn green. I took a step back into the shelter and looked diagonally across, tilted my head up to discovered these huge buildings behind Afro Asia Building. I changed my perspective of viewing it in landscape and adjusted it to portrait format. I looked into my viewfinder and was excited by the scene took place. I quickly set up my tripod to get the job done. As you can see below is the result.

I always enjoy going back to a particular area many times to search and explore, over the months i get familiar with the place and i get to see and learn more things, this process will result the fruit of labour.

Commercially doing architecture photography for client, doing a detail ground survey before the shoot is very important. Architecture photographer need to see for himself to understand/feel the building and it’s surrounding, where can he place his tripod, is there any possible high ground for an even better perspective, taking note of the light shifting, which particular spot is going to cause reflection/glare from the window at this particular point of time-is it possible to rescue in post-process, is this a decent season to photograph depending on the country season, checking the weather forecast for the next day. As all said, sometimes time is limited and i got to do whatever the time is given and budget to produce the best result.

Hope and Happiness

My trip to Kathmandu, Nepal was an eye opener. Use to travel around city in various countries. Nepal greatly lacks proper infrastructures and proper amenities. This would be the least pleasant place to visit if one hope for shopping spree or entertainment during the night. There is still a pure rawness in this country. Something primitive yet very slowly advancing. If you are interested in the mountain and landscape scenery, this is the perfect place to do days of trekking.

My trip to Nepal was rather impromptu as usual. Book an air ticket which is running on promotion, did some research (which is a must) for travel photography purposes. One of the day i was in an open flea market where traders were busy finalising business deal with interested parties. I came across this small pavilion where i saw a group of Nepalese children were having fun by themselves. I approached them to capture some images, i showed them the preview on my camera LCD screen. They seems delighted, suddenly the girls started to form up a line and started to sing. Somehow it becomes a private entertainment for me. I click for more pictures.

I was looking at my archive today, pondering which pictures to print. This image appear and a string of questions runs through my mind. Do they sing to break through poverty? Do they sing to have a happy face? Through their eye i recalled, i don’t see hardship in their character, perhaps they are hoping for a miracle of true happiness in life.