SHSA9731-8

Stewing

In culinary terms ‘stewing can best be described as the process of combining solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy. Ingredients in a stew can include any combination of vegetables (such as carrots, potatoes, beans, peppers and tomatoes, etc.). While water can be used as the stew-cooking liquid, wine, stock, and beer are also common. Seasoning and flavourings may also be added. Stews are typically cooked at a relatively low temperature (simmered, not boiled), allowing flavors to mingle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stew).

No – this isn’t a blog post about cooking, though the analogy can be used to describe my emotions and physical state.  Although I have taken a Thai cook class and a basic sense of what ingredients and spices are added to the typical Thai meal, in this case, the solid food in this stew is me and my and my family (and mother in-law), traveling for a month in Thailand. We are not used to the heat in south east Asia, to the analogy for stewing in the heat is quite true.

Add some Thai spices; shallots (Culture), garlic (language), green and red chilies (history), dried or fresh coriander (religion), Thai chili powder (festivals), galangal (wildlife-elephants, poisonous snakes and giant insects), green peppercorns (interactions with other tourists), lemongrass (soldiers in the streets – carrying flowers and bottled water (not guns), turmeric (missing friends), kaffir lime leaves,  and fresh basil (incredibly gently and polite people).

As in a typical stew, we have added large amounts of bottled water to the broth, and beer ;>

All those spices need time to simmer and blend to allow the flavors to mingle.

Even after a month in Thailand, the flavor of the stew is not quite right. Too Spicy or Too Sweet ?.  My taste buds can’t seem to get it right; and my heart and emotions need more time to stew and enjoy all of the Thai spices and flavors.

Chaing Mai Loy Krathong Lantern Festival

On the night of the full moon of the twelve-month of the Thai lunar calendar in Chaing Mai, is the Loy Krathong festival. Although the festival continues for three days, it is the evening events that are the most spectacular.

The night sky is filled with thousands of lanterns, fireworks, firecrackers, the streets packed with people, and parade of dancers and elaborately decorated floats pass through the city streets, and Krathong (small floats made from banana leaves and decorated with flowers and a candle), launched in the Mae Ping River on the full moon night to bring good luck.

 

 

SHSB0012-2
A young Monk helps launch this lantern.

 

SHSB0114-2
Some people say a prayer before letting go of the lantern, while others write message on their lantern.
SHSB0032
Tourists launching one of the thousands of sky lanterns.
SHSB0063-2
As the lanterns slowly rise into the night sky, they gradually get smaller and smaller and eventually just disappear into the darkness.

 

SHSB0434-2 SHSB0366

SHSB0722-2
Trails from lighted sky lanterns, floating Krathong on the Mae Ping River in Chaing Mai.
SHSB1572

11,973 Photos – Too Many or Not Enough ?

11,973 Photos: Too many, or not enough ?

Before you answer – think about what do Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Salvador Dali and Rembrandt have in common ?.

None of these painters were ‘one hit wonders’; their career and popularity was not based on a single painting. They went to school, learned from the masters, imitated the masters, and developed their own techniques, and most importantly, they practiced their technique…they painted, and painted and painted.

The same for can be said for photographers. Annie Leibovitz, Joe McNally, Ansel Adams,  Yousuf Karsh, Henri Cartier-Bresson were not ‘one hit wonders’; each of these photographers took large numbers of photos during their lifetime.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’ he claims that the key to success in any field is, is for the most part due to practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.  The same concept applies to photographers;

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

― Henri Cartier-Bresson

With modern cameras, you can hold down the shutter release and easily take 10,000 photos. By the math, with a camera that can take 7 frames per second it would take 1428 seconds (or only 24 minutes). Doing this doesn’t achieve anything other than get a blister on your thumb !.

Those 10,000 photos need to be creative, they need intellectual thought, emotion and consideration of point of view, angle, shutter speed, aperture, composition, subject, and lighting. These are but a few things to consider.

Those 11,973 photos – is is enough, or not enough ?. It is not all about the numbers; practice and experience is better.

The take-away message is:

Don’t count the number of photos.

It is better to enjoy what you are doing, learn from what you are doing and and the end of the day, keep only the best.

Be like the monkey in this photo with a bag of garbage: eat (keep) the good stuff, and toss the rest.

SHSA9095

11,791 Photos – Now What ?

I’ve been in Thailand for three weeks, and already have 11,791 photos. That works out to 3930 photos per week….561 photos per day.  It is nuts. Really Nuts, though with a camera that can do 7 frames per second – it would only take 28 minutes to take that many photos.  I digress – it isn’t just about the numbers.

For me, photography can be compared to picking berries. You pick, and pick and pick while the picking is good and only stop when either your basket is full, or there are no more berries to pick.  Then the real works starts by making jam from all those berries. Simply, the more berries you have, the more time you have to spend making jam.

It is all about collecting.

So – assuming that there is an infinite supply of berries and baskets ?. In photography terms that would mean an infinite supply of things to photograph, and endless hard drive space. Really this is entirely possible: there is so much to photograph and hard drives are cheap.

At what point do you need to say  ….ENOUGH !.

11,791 photos. Not commenting on the quality of the photos, surely 11,791 is enough; what the heck am I going to do with all those photos anyway ?.

My basket is (at least temporarily) full, and it is time to do some thing with those images.  Step one is to categorize and rank them, and delete the obvious bad images, decide on which images to keep as-is, which images need additional post processing (touch-ups) and, which to keep for additional creative processing (stretch and pull, wring and squeeze post processing). The process of categorizing, ranking, and deciding on how to process these images can take days!.

How many Wat (Temples) photos is enough ?. How many photos of Buddha is enough ?. How many photos of the market stalls piles high with spices, fruit, or meat (?), do I really need ?. How many photos of Thai people is enough ?.

There is probably no easy answerer to these questions, no ‘Coles’ to give the short answer, and asking Buddha will not give you the right answer.

Oh – I miss the days of film. Each roll could only hold 36 exposures – so you were more selective before pressing the shutter.

 

SHSA9208-2
Sunset at Wat Chedi Luang in Chaing Mai, Thailand.
SHSA9269
Rice fields in northern Thailand.
SHSA9403
Elephant in black & white, in Chaing Mai, Thailand.
SHSB8937
Live fish in the baggie, market in Chaing Mai, Thailand.
SHSB9314
View from the train, from Bangkok to Chaing Mai.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 11 – Rememberance Day

In Canada, Remembrance Day is a memorial day to remember the sacrifices made by young men and women in the service of their nation. At cenotaphs in towns, villages across Canada, at the National War Memorial in Ottawa and at Canadian War Memorials around the world (Vimy Ridge – France, El Alamein Memorial -Egypt, Canadian Korean War Memorial Garden -Republic of Korea, The Man with Two Hats -The Netherlands, Kanchanaburi War Cemetery -Thailand, Juno Beach Centre -France, Sai Wan Memorial -Hong Kong).

Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918.

Canadian soldiers, airmen, sailors served in World War 1, World War 2, The Korean Conflict and in Afghanistan.

SHS_1457
The National War Memorial In Ottawa, Canada

SHS_1459

Although I am now in Thailand, seeming half-a world away from Canada it is 11am on November 11th. My thoughts are in Canada, and thinking about Canadian Veterans: those that survived the battles to protect our County and liberate other countries, and those that did not. My thoughts are on those brave and young Canadians that died during times of peace. This photo is was taken not far from the National War Memorial in Ottawa. I am proud of our Veterans and all that they have done.

 

 

SHSB7506-2

Day 56: Beautiful Bangkok – in black & white and color.

Three days in Bangkok is definitely not enough. Add in some serious jet-lag after a flight from Toronto (Canada) to Abu Dhabi (UAE), then onward to Bangkok.

Wow – Bangkok is absolutely amazing. We only saw a tiny part of the City, and what we saw is so diverse and sensory stimulating; sight, smell, taste, sounds and touch.

The tiny part of Bangkok that we experienced was the Pranakorn district, and we explored Khao san Road and the cultural sites in the Rattanakosin area including The Grand Palace, The Temple of The Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), The Royal Ground,  The Democracy Monument and the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

The next post will have photos from Wat Pho, ‘Temple of the Reclining Buddha’.

All photos taken with a Fuji X-series X-Pro1 with Fuji 18-35mm, or Fuji X-series X-E1 with Fuji 14mm lens. Some of the photos are in black  & white, and some are in color,  with notes below.

SHSA8600
A typical food stall on a side street in Bangkok. On the original color photo, the sun was shining through a blue tarp causing the man’s skin to have a blue tinge. In color, the blue tinge was unacceptable and the image could not be used. Converted to black and white the blue tinge is gone, and the photo is quite usable.
SHSA8604-2
A small side street in Pranakorn district.
SHSA8626-2
Good luck trying to cross the Prachathipatai Road, and remember to look Right – then Left (opposite from North America).
SHSB7512-2
Authentic Pad Thai at a food stall on Khao san Road, in central Bangkok. In former times the street was a major Bangkok rice market, and had now become a “backpacker ghetto”; with cheap accommodation, tour buses depot, many pubs and bars, and small shops that sell everything from handcrafts, paintings, clothes, local fruits, pirated music on DVDs, and second-hand books. At night, the streets turn into bars and music is played, food hawkers sell barbecued fish, insects, and other exotic snacks.
SHSB7513
One of the many food stalls on Khao san Road
SHSB8929-2
Fish in bags at Chatuchak Weekend Market. Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the world’s largest weekend markets and contains more than 15,000 booths selling goods ranging from Amulets, antiques, art, books, collectibles, clothes, food shops, furniture, handicrafts, home décor, household appliances, and pets. We saw many species of exotic birds, squirrels, and large turtles selling for 60,000BHT.
SHSB8931-2
Pet food ?? at the Chatuchak Weekend Market
SHSB8941-2
Delicious home-made Thai food at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Food stalls are an orgy of color, which can sometimes look good in black in white, though how would you tell the food apart if they were all shades of grey ?.
SHSB8943
Boy selling ducks at Chatuchak Weekend Market. The original color version of this photo was had a overwhelming range of color, all of which was too distracting to the story – a boy selling ducks at the market.
SHSB8982
I am not sure what the sign says. Any one read Thai ?
SHSB8993-2
Pan fried Quail eggs at a food stall in the Chatuchak Weekend Market
SHSB9029-2
Inside view of the chaos inside the huge Chatuchak Weekend Market
SHSA8823-2
The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings at the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782.
SHSB8916-2
View from the ‘Bearing’ BTS station
SHSB9118-2
Above ground BTS track, and MBK Shopping Center in the distance. There wasn’t much color in the original photo – shades of bleck grey concrete. In black and white, the tones, and shades are more powerful.
SHSA8646
‘Old and New’. Wooden Wat (Temple) from several 100 years ago, with a modern structure (apartment building). In black and white, the orange-red-gold colors on the temple are now the same shade as the more modern, and drab colored building in the background.
SHSA8819
Traditional Thai show. Not sure that the show was about ??
SHSA8889-2
Boat taxi. In many ways, similar to a city bus on a scheduled route, though speeding through the canals and the fee collector wears a life jacket and a helmet.
SHSB9091-2
A busy street in Central Bangkok. I love the colors of the cars and taxis; bright pink, and bright yellow. This photo would also look Ok in black and white, showing the range of shades of gray, though in color the insane colors of the cars would be lost.
SHSB9110-3
A fancy building in downtown Bangkok – Of course, the ‘Anti-Money Laundering Office’.

SHSB7492

SHSA8709-54

Day 55: Wat Pho (‘Temple of the Reclining Buddha’)

The Wat Pho or “Temple of the Reclining Buddha” is the largest and oldest wat (temple) complex in Bangkok, and it houses more than 1,000 Buddha images that were moved from abandoned temples in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai by order of King Rama I. Wat Pho, officially named Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimonmangkhalaram is one of the six temples in Thailand that are of the highest grade of the first class Royal temples.

The temple is renowned for the enormous gold plated Reclining Buddha image that was built during the reign of King Rama III (1824 – 51) and represents the passing of the Buddha into final Nirvana after death. The Reclining Buddha, is 46 meters long and 15 meters high and is the largest Buddha image in Thailand. Constructed out of plaster around a brick core, the reclining Buddha is decorated with gold leaf and his eyes and foot soles are inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

The Buddha’s feet are 5 metres long and are divided into 108 arranged panels, each exquisitely decorated in mother-of-pearl illustrations of symbols by which Buddha can be identified like flowers, dancers, white elephants, tigers and altar accessories.

There are 108 bronze bowls in the corridor indicating the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. Visitors drop coins in to each of these bowls in belief that this will bring good fortune, and to help the monks maintain the wat. The sound of these falling coins is quite distinctive and can be heard throughout the temple.

Now – on to the photos.

SHSA8706-9
Side view of the Reclining Buddha

SHSA8709-54   SHSA8713 SHSA8714-24 SHSA8724 SHSA8737

 

SHSA8710

Yes, All the photos are in black & white. Why ?

1) The color versions of the photos do not show the stark beauty of the gold plated Reclining Buddha image or the intricate paintings on the walls. You simply have to go there yourself, and don’t simply look at on-line photos. In black and white – you have to use your imagination.

2) The photo are also in black and white because there were so many jack-asses inside the temple, photographing the Buddha  using the flash on their cameras. Flash-Flash-Flash…..and more Flash, Flash, Flash…..on and on. This is really disturbing – and for me really the flash really destroys the moment of appreciating the Reclining Buddha.  How can appreciate the beauty, when the other tourists beside are taking a bunch of photos, and each time the flash reflects off the golden Buddha and blinds you !.

So – end of my Rant. Other tourists, don’t be a jack-ass, and try to be considerate of others !.

Leaving it Behind

So – We are on a long trip and like everyone else, there is the debate on what to bring – and what to leave behind. Some folks say – “If it doesn’t have more than one use – leave it behind”. For most of our stuff, it is easy to decide – leave it behind. It seemed so easy, until it got down and dirty, real dirty.

My beloved Nikon D700 is the latest item to hit the leave it behind pile.

DSCF7987

 

Of all the things I can leave behind – why my favorite camera ?. Simply, it is too heavy.

Heavy, yes too heavy. Add on a couple of lenses (17-35mm, 70-200mm), and it all adds up to a heavy lead.

Heavy, and also hard to keep safe. At least my neck strap doesn’t say Canon 5D Mark iii, or 6D on it – letting every thief (or robber) within 100 yards that you got the goods.

 

So…My Nikon and all the extra lenses are now being shipped home, in water proof boxes, to wait until I get back from travelling in another 10 months.

 

I’ll miss you ol’Nikon. We’ve been good friends these past few years.

Lake Superior

The shoreline of Lake Superior is my playground. In this area, the beach is mine – mine to discover and mine to let my mind be creative. There are people camped at the far end, and they too also seem to be in their own mind space. There are no radios, no barking dogs, or loud voices. Even better, we are in a cell phone and internet dead-zone (at least for Bell customers) so we are essentially disconnected from the rest of the world. No need to check Facebook, Gmail or Twitter for the latest update. How awesome is that !.

In this small area of rock and pebbles on the northern shore of Lake Superior I have taken 100’s, maybe even a 1000 photos. Some better, some worse – all photos are unique. With digital cameras, who’s counting !

My eyes feel alive with the scenery; taking in all the shapes, tones and hues. Also my ears feel alive, picking up the faint chirp-chirp of a small shorebird around the corner, and the sound of small feet on the pebbles on the shore.

My hands, automatically adjusting the dials on the camera, and feeling the smooth wave polished rocks.

Click on a photo to view is larger.

 

Terry Fox – A Canadian Hero

For those that can remember seeing Terry Fox and “Marathon of Hope” come running through town – it was an unbelievable and awe-inspiring sight. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always like that. In many towns in eastern Canada Terry passed through virtually unnoticed. He pushed on, and continued, and eventually became a house hold name. Unfortunately Terry was not able complete his goal of running across Canada, he did however raise the awareness of a cancer and raise millions of dollars for cancer research so that others with cancer have a better future.

 

While in remission from cancer, Terry Fox set out to run across Canada in 1980 to raise money for cancer research. Despite having lost his right leg to the disease, this determined athlete ran 5,373 kilometers – nearly a marathon a day for 143 straight days – before being forced to stop east of this spot in the community of Shuniah when his cancer returned. His “Marathon of Hope” captivated Canadians with its bold humanitananism, transformed out vocabulary about personal courage, and revolutionized fund-raising. To date, hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised by Fox and in his name to the benefit of cancer suffers around the world. The heroic nature and tragic interruption of his run have made Terry Fox an enduring Canadian icon.
Government of Canada

 

SHSX6961-2

 

 

 

SHSX6963-2
Terry Fox – still on his Marathon of Hope, running into the sunset on a hilltop over looking the ‘Sleeping Giant’ in Thunder Bay Ontario.

DSCF7441-2 DSCF7442-2

 

 

 

 

 

A Blog about 360 degree panoramas, travel photography, tips and gear