In Focus, Bangkok Photography Blog July 25th, 2009

Ton Lamyai Flower Market, Chiang Mai/Glove Box Cameras

Greece Hotel Guide
Olympia Golden Beach Resort & Spa
Princess Lanassa Hotel
Liocharis Hotel
Lassi Hotel

Feature Photograph

This weeks Feature Photograph was captured at the Ton Lamyai Flower Market in Chiang Mai. Flower markets aren’t really my cup of tea, but it does make for a nice walk by the river. Many colorful stalls filled with flowers and even more colorful people. This was all available light photography which means ISO 1600 or ISO 3200 and a fast lens.

IMO a flash, even used properly, would spoil the mood. There are multiple light sources, all at different color temperatures, casting light from unpredictable directions. This gives the images a certain mood or look, a measure of uniqueness.

This image is significant because it’s an emotive moment illuminated with an attractive directional light which captured the mood accurately. I had just overheard this young lady argue loudly with someone over the phone, I think her parents, and after hanging up she took a mental break with her eyes closed. She paused for only a few moments, and then continued her walk through the market looking for her next customer.

Even if the venue is relatively plain vanilla, it’s still possible to come across a really cool photo op. Keep your eyes open and try to see “parts” of the scene as well as the entire view. Sometimes the parts, taken as an abstract, can produce an interesting image you wouldn’t expect.

There were hundreds of sets of these flowers you see hanging from rear view mirrors. This set was a bit different because of the object to the left, and the way the directional light reflected off the object. Nothing special, but a little different nonetheless.

Try to see for yourself, what everyone else doesn’t. Everyone else will be producing like images. Yours will be more interesting simply because they’re different.


Ton Lamyai Flower Market, Chiang Mai

The Ton Lamyai flower market in Chiang Mai runs next to the River Ping. Open 24/7, the flower market is a popular tourist attraction and the main market for flowers for the local Thai’s in Chiang Mai. Walking the flower market on a cool evening can be a joy.

These images are very ordinary but will give you a flavor of what to expect.

Bare light bulbs light the stalls which can be very simple.

Most of the stalls have pre-arranged bouquets on display.

Many stalls will have people threading flowers on strings or making other floral arrangements before going on display.

This stall had many arrangements ready for sale, but being a slow night the owner was able to sit quietly and eat.

Some set up easels instead of stalls, often blocking public facilities like ATMs.

There are permanent structure stores as well.

Other flower stalls look more like a junkyard than a flower stall.

These ladies were actively selling their products.

This pretty young girl had a winning smile.

You’ve probably noticed this type of arrangement hanging from review mirrors on most cars.

This lady is preparing a large “to go” order while a hotel van waits. I suspect a wedding was planned.

This is actually a small grocery store mixed in with the stalls, so they decided to sell flowers too.

Many of the stalls stick with a main theme and obviously have customers looking for specific flower types and colors. This store usually carries white flowers, but on the night before “Kings Day (Monday)” they stock yellow flowers as well.

These are simple and attractive.

Many of the stalls are run by families.

I liked this display of vivid colors.

The same flower stall also had this display of colorful flowers and stalks.

I watched this lady for about 15 minutes making these arrangements, step back and evaluate, and then arrange some more.

This stall specializes in red flowers and it looks like she’s expecting to sell a ton of them.

Finally, a composition worth shooting!

As you walk the flower market the hotels and restaurants across the river are in view.

I wasn’t going to cover the flower market, it really isn’t my sort of thing and the images do little for me. Yet, it was often requested, so on my last trip north I stopped and made this attempt. I hope it gives you an idea of the flavor of the place.


Glove Box Cameras

For most of my life I’ve made sure to have a disposable camera or some sort in the glove box of each car I own. If I have three cars a disposable camera will be in each glove box.

I say ‘disposable’ because these are easy to find. They also require no batteries so they can sit in there forever and still work. Forget about them for 2-3 years, no problem! They’re always ready to capture an unexpected moment.

Really, I didn’t carry a traditional type of disposable cameras. I carried Olympus 35mm XA models.

I’d find them in pawnshops for $10-$25, often brand new in the box. 35mm film, a sharp lens, aperture priority metering (powered by the light coming through the lens), and a sliding lens protector. What wasn’t there to like? I’d take it from the box without a scratch, load a roll of ASA 400 film, and throw it in the glove box where for the next decade or two it would roll around with everything else getting scratched and bumped and abused.. yet one never failed me.

I liked these so much I bought a few more. But I was a bit more patient and found ones that had the optional X11 flash which attaches to the side via a thumb screw. The flash takes a single AA battery and is good for about 100 images on a single battery. I kept these handy for guests, or those times I knew I’d need a flash and didn’t want to take an expensive or larger camera.

Heck, I still have a few of these here with me in Thailand. One is in the glove box of my SUV.. ;o)

Why? It’s all about lost memories. Those memories that we live every minute of every day, something cute or meaningful happens, and you forget about it. It wasn’t cute or meaningful enough to stick in your mind permanently, but now it’s on film to be discovered at a later date.

I’d pull out these ‘disposable’ cameras on such occasions, snap 1-2 images, and throw them back in the glove box. Years would go by and they’d collect a couple dozen shots, maybe less, and I’d yank the film on the way into a Costco or something similar and get the film developed. It was such a nice surprise, because the prints I’d get back were lost memories that I’d forgotten all about! Isn’t that a nice surprise to make your day or share with your wife or kids? Look honey, remember 2-3 years ago when? And watch the smiles..

And of course if aliens ever landed in front of my car, or a Pulitzer winning news story, or Spiderman leapt off a building right in front of me.. then I was prepared. It doesn’t matter that none of these things ever happened. The Lost Memories were enough.

Modern Glove Box Cameras?

I’ve given this a lot of thought. Can a digital camera be as useful and survive under the same set of circumstances? I think it’s possible. I’m keeping my eye out on clearance websites for a compact digital point and shoot for under $50 that accepts AA batteries for power. You laugh, but there are many such deals out there.

Once I find one I like I’ll buy one for each car, and load it with the small flash memory card that comes with it (the small ones good only for 10-20 images that we normally throw away or in a drawer and forget about), and install a set of AA Lithium disposable batteries. These have a shelf life of 12+ years! The only real question is can the electronics take the humidity over the years rolling and bouncing around in a glove box? I’m not sure, so I’ll put it in a 3 baht Ziplock bag before I put it in there.

Some of my favorite family and travel photographs were taken with Glove Box Cameras. Why not throw one in your glove box, even if it is a true disposable? In the coming years the lost memories will bring a smile to your face.

Some Glovebox Lost and then Found Memories:

Son’s first day of life.

Son’s first day of school and first bus ride.

Harley in Japan.

Yours truly climbing his antenna tower in Japan.

The last picture of a great friend with my son. 17.5 years old.

Photography News of Interest

I’ve talked before about how easy it is for your photos to be stolen and end up being used almost anywhere? Imagine this, you send out a family Christmas photo to family and friends, put it on your photo website, and then as a matter of chance you learn someone stole your image and made a huge print and posted it on a grocery store window in Prague. And you live in St. Louis! In a way this is kind of fun and interesting. In a more serious way its outright theft and should be a warning to you to be very careful with your images. You can read about thishere.

Olympus announces their rendition of a Micro 4/3’s camera, the E-P1, to complete with Panasonic’s G1h. The feature sets are the same with some key differences. The Olympus E-P1 lacks a viewfinder but sports an all metal body. This is a very interesting camera and I look forward to the first review. For now we can read the preview here.

WOW! Are you thinking that USB memory sticks of 16gb – 32gb are huge? How about 128gb? Kingston announces the availability of their new USB flash drives in 32gb, 64gb, and 128gb. These are fast memory and will work with Vista or Win7 “Readyboost.” Built in encryption with password security. Very high end. You can read more about them here.

How much did one of the original prints of Albert Einstein sticking out his ton fetch? Captured in 1951 after a 72nd birthday celebration, nine original prints were made. I wonder what happened to the negative? You can find out how much this last print went for at auction here. (embed on “here”: )


Readers' Submissions

Hello Steve,

I enjoy viewing the images that you feature in your 'In Focus' column. However, some of the really technical stuff goes over my head! Nevertheless, it is a very interesting column. Keep up the good work!

Since my first readers submission, I have purchased a Canon 450D SLR camera. Here are a few images that I have taken with my new Canon camera. I have experimented with 'depth of field' photography and night shots.

Your readers can see more of my images on my blog – DaveTheRaveBangkok

Kind Regards,

Dave

Dave –

It appears you’re having a good time with your new Canon 450D DSLR! It’s always fun to watch someone new to the hobby experiment and progress. Nice shots!

We look forward to more of your submissions.

Steve

I suspect the readers submissions will be a highly anticipated section of this column and I encourage anyone with photographs and travel accounts they'd like to share to please send them to me at: [email protected]


Readers' Questions

Hi Steve,

Got 1 quick question about Lightroom. I’m about to reinstall my laptop, and I’ve made a backup of the catalogue in Lightroom, and separately copied all my raw files to an external HDD for backup.

Once I’ve reinstalled my OS and Lightroom, do I have to put the raw files back in the exact same directory structure as where it was before in order for the Lightroom database to find the files? If so, what would be the easiest way to change your directory structure once this has been done? I’m not happy with it at the moment and want to change a few things.

Hope this short question requires only a short answer, I don’t want to eat into your time with your son :p. Looking forward to meet him this weekend.

Best regards,

KVW

KVW –

You have two choices to change the directory structure:

1. Use Lightroom to drag and drop your directories, rename them, etc. This is awkward at best.

2. Just make your new structure and then copy the files to this structure. Then, have Lightroom read your new directory tree.. and let it build a new database and catalog. The most important changes, your edits, will transfer with the files so you won’t lose those. The catalog merely keeps track of your keywords and directory locations. The database holds your previews. You can test this before you commit: After you install Lightroom have it import one of your RAWs from the external drive that you copied them to. Copy one you know you’ve adjusted. The adjustments should copy over..

Steve

Please submit your questions to [email protected] All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.

A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review

A individual workshop, a group portrait commission, and a fair amount of traveling and picture taking. Overall a great week!

Infocus Blog

Video in Digital Cameras

Do we really want HD video in our DSLRs and compact cameras? Do we want whatever added cost these capabilities add to the retail price? Taking up the extra room inside the camera for the necessary electronics? Perhaps the manufacturers deleted a more useful feature in order to give us video capabilities?

HD video is the latest “must have feature” being pushed on all the latest DSLRs and even the higher end compacts. You’re buying a still camera, yet the manufacturers are telling you that you NEED HD video in your still camera and that you must pay for it! This is nothing new. Manufacturers have been adding new features we don’t actually need to our cameras for a long time and then charging us extra for it.

They even have the gall to tell us we must have this feature. And we must, you can’t get the camera without it. This would be like going through the McDonalds drive-thru and being told that the baht 60 Big Mac we ordered requires that we must buy an order of French fries and a hot pineapple pie, and that our baht 60 Big Mac now costs baht 90. Oh, and it’s healthy and better for us too! Thank you very much..

Since video cameras became available to the consumer public I’ve bought exactly three of them. Each time the wife envisioned documenting our lives and the life of the newest son. Each time we ended up making the obligatory private video (which is a heck of a lot of fun) before sticking the expensive video camera in the drawer to be forgotten about forever. The only good thing I can say about these video cameras is that they keep getting less expensive (always a good thing) and smaller, thereby taking up less room in the drawer.

You’ve probably had video capabilities on your compact point and shoots for the last ten years. Did you know you had it? Did you care? Have you ever used it? If you’re like me you’ll test the feature, remark “that’s nice”, and then never use it again. Why? Because you purchased the camera for still pictures and the cameras video capabilities are lackluster at best.

Has anything changed? With true HD video on high-end DSLRs we can now make truly high quality video, and being able to use our expensive lenses is a plus over all but the most expensive dedicated video cameras. Yet, shooting video from our DSLRs eats up the batteries in record time, fills up the biggest flash memory card in just minutes, and a little known fact is that they heat up (and thereby reduce the life) the sensor. The more hot a sensor becomes, the more noise it produces. Now you know why Canon dropped the maximum length you can record a movie using their new 5d Mark II almost in half!

The truth is, even considering the high quality possible with DSLRs, DSLRs lack many of the most basic features that make a video camera both easy and convenient to use. An example would be an articulating LCD screen. Proper grip handles. Variable aperture during shooting. And much more.

I don’t know about you guys, but if I want a video camera I’ll look in the drawer and use one of the ones already there. I don’t want my DSLR to be bigger, more costly, or have less USABLE features because the manufacturers marketing department decided they could sell more DSLRs if they pushed the heck out of their HD video capabilities. What, do they want their DSLRs to end up forgotten about in a drawer somewhere?

Until next time…