Samut Songkram Boat Yards III/Canon 5d Mark II and 7d Model Dial Factory Modification/www.shipito.com Long Term Update
• Intercontinental Resort Al Ain
• Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet Hotel
• Al Bustan Residence Hotel Apartment
• Al Bustan Rotana Hotel
I have some unfortunate news to report on this project and total 100% transparency is how I feel this should be handled. My planned beneficiaries of this project, innocent very much in need children at a certain orphanage, have fallen victim to their local manager who we have found cannot currently be trusted and I doubt this is likely to change. Decisions need to be made if we're going to carry this project forward and if so who the new beneficiaries will be. I do expect this project to generate significant revenue so I take it very seriously. As you read this I'll be back in the Mae Sot area investigating further. I'll keep you informed. For now I'll still collect images with the intention of making the best most meaningful mosaics possible and as always, I'm asking for and will greatly appreciate your help with the images.
We are still accepting (and pleading for) images of children from SEA. No matter how terrible you think they are, please send them in anyway. These images will be used to complete a set of 3 high quality mosaics which will be sold to benefit the Karen and Burmese Orphans living in the orphanages and refugee camps. The more images the better, I can use all you have. Please take the time to go through your images for anything you think might help. If you missed the "No Place to Call Home" special, you can click on the link and read more about this. Thank you! [email protected]
Quick Click Links
Feature Photograph *menu
Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM @F8 1/100th 70mm ISO 100
This will be the last Feature Photograph of the year (we’ll return on January 8th, 2011) so I thought I’d share my favorite image of the year and explain to you why it’s my favorite image. Well, besides being of my youngest son.
My son comes to visit every year during his schools summer break, and since I became a part time Father these summer breaks are my favorite time of the year. A time I plan and look forward to more than anything else. This last summer had the bonus of my son asking me to take pictures for his senior book and at the last minute a senior portrait for the year book.
Not having a studio set up we made due with a couple off-camera flashes and an improvised background and set about the business of making a senior portrait. Of course being a modern teen he spent a few hours in what I called when his age a “beauty shop.” The first year without braces, a new shirt, a spiffy haircut and we were ready for business.
What ‘really’ makes a photo is the relationship of the photographer to the subject. You might think this should be easy because he’s my son, but in reality it’s much more difficult. Any family discourse affects attitudes and of course having grown up watching me work he knows all my tricks to elicit the best expressions and he was on guard against them all. There is a good reason many professions choose not to work with family when at all possible.
When working with ‘customers’ you’re establishing and taking advantage of ‘temporary mico-relationships’ to get the best portraits. That is, if you’re making good portraits. You learn enough about them and make them comfortable enough to come out of their shell just long enough to make a timeless portrait. Far too many studios operate as picture booths and turn out soulless garbage which quickly finds its way into the nearest box of trinkets and old photos.
So to me, this specific photograph will always remind me of a specific summer, the last summer before my son is off to the university, where we shared a moment of warmth and humor. A moment where he let down his protective skin to display a heartfelt laugh and a shy posture which only youth can pull off. Perhaps the best ‘feel good’ moment of the year.
Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM @F8 1/100th 70mm ISO 100
This is the portrait he chose for his yearbook, captured mere seconds after the image above. Out of over a hundred, he chose this one without realizing he was choosing it because his expression was a product of the afterglow, of a moment, of a great permanent relationship.
Samut Songkram Boat Yard III *menu
Several weeks ago a client and I traveled to the Samut Songkram Boat Yards for a workshop. About 90 minutes outside of Bangkok we’d planned to arrive in the late morning when the temperatures were cool, the air clear, and the sun hits at a certain pleasing angle. Due to a dangerous hit and run driver we were delayed for several hours filling out police reports and insurance forms, and freshly duct taped together we limped into the boat yards in the mid-afternoon vs. late morning. I couldn’t believe the difference a few hours makes!
A thick dark haze had settled over the entire area doing strange things with the light and effectively dulling the colors the naked eye could see. Clarity was drastically reduced. It really was a good example of how the local weather can really affect a photography outing. Nonetheless, we were there for an ultra-wide angle workshop and all we needed for this purpose were the interesting curved lines of the boats being refitted.
I tried, with marginal success, to eliminate the effects of the haze, and if the images were taken individually you’d have a hard time putting your finger on it. But a series of images reveals the issues.
This was one of my favorite images from the outing. I placed the camera directly on the rail and without looking through the viewfinder (which would have required laying in the greasy muck) made several captures. With a F11 aperture and 20mm focal length there was a great depth of field (DOF) though you can still see the first few inches from the lens are out of focus.
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F11 1/125th 20mm ISO 100
Changing the camera from landscape to portrait orientation and making sure the lens shade actually touched the rail yields a different perspective. I think the rail is more interesting, but the background less interesting. During future trips I’ll try to combine the best attributes of both.
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F11 1/100th 17mm ISO 100
This is a good example of including a foreground (wood planks on the left), a mid-ground (the cement wall extending towards the rear of the frame), and background (boats) where the extreme depth of field (DOF) a ultra-wide provides, results in an image you just can’t achieve with a normal focal length. The rope is close enough to touch and you could be sitting on the wall. An ultra-wide, properly used, places you 'inside' the composition rather than 'outside'.
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F11 1/125th 13mm ISO 100
Another like example using the green metal dollies (the boats are placed on these to drag them along the tracks) as a foreground, and in this case the ends of the dollies also provide a mid-ground, and the boats in the background. The light rays from the sun in all of the above images adds interest as well.
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F16 1/80th 15mm ISO 100
Here we’re standing not even six feet from the workmen, yet they look much further away. Using this effect you can make something brightly colored, like the bright blue wood pieces, stand out as a foreground, while letting the curved lines of the boat wrap the frame.
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F16 1/125th 21mm ISO 250
This image shows how powerful the curved hull of the boat becomes throughout the frame of an ultra-wide perspective. At the top it feels like you can actually touch the caulked wood plugs, while the mid-ground screw shaft seems much further away than it is, as does the worker.
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F11 1/13th 13mm ISO 320
This was a really fun shot. The workers zipped by me on a yard trike with huge smiles for the camera and I panned them at a really wide angle, yet I was close enough to them to almost get ran over! The wide angle provided quite a different perspective than if I’d captured this with a telephoto lens.
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F8 1/60th 17mm ISO 100
Used properly, even at 12mm (the widest rectangular focal length you’ll find on any DSLR), the image can achieve a normal perspective if held exactly perpendicular to the ground and subject at the same time. No one would guess I was less than ten feet from the hull, it appears I’m at least 50-60 feet from the boat. The point of this is: While an ultra-wide is great for fun curves and effects, there are times when you need the ‘wideness’ without apparent distortion to complete specific tasks such as interior shots and other settings where you just can’t back up to use a normal focal length.
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F8 1/80th 12mm ISO 100
This was just a fun shot. A worker pedals by on an old yard bike delivering supplies to another boat. I panned the rider at 17mm while only 3-4 feet from him. By panning the rider I kept him in focus, while using a relatively slow shutter speed and the motion to blur the background despite the deep depth of field provided by the focal length and aperture otherwise. To bring the bike rider out, I de-saturated the background using techniques discussed here.
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F8 1/40th 15mm ISO 100
This was taken from the other end of the rail and allows you to really see the thick dark haze.
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F16 1/40th 24mm ISO 100
Wide angles also allow you to show a subject, and a great amount of what’s around the subject. In this image the road wraps around the boat and the lens helps you isolate both into a decent composition.
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F8 1/60th 24mm ISO 100
I liked this scene, workers working, the yard trike parked in front, two boats, and lots of clutter. Too much clutter which looks much better in black and white.
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F8 1/125th 12mm ISO 100
My left foot was actually touching the scaffolding you can see on the left. I was leaning against it for bracing, yet it looks much further away. The hull looms from one end of the frame to the next.
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F16 1/30th 24mm ISO 100
For this shot I was right on top of the workers with my arms bracing on the wood planks you see running from left to right. They’re patching around the screw shaft. Because the boat yards are an exercise in vintage times I wanted to try not only making a photo like was done 100 years ago, but to make it look like the print was also that old.
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F16 1/13th 12mm ISO 100
It was an interesting trip. Despite the accident, the haze, and the poor light, I still managed to make several captures I didn’t make during many trips previously. I’d call that a success! Meanwhile my workshop client was having a blast climbing up into the ships and experiencing the boat yards for the first time. I’d bet anything he’ll find his way back again soon.
Canon 5d Mark II and 7d Locking Mode Dial Factory Modification *menu
Last week Canon announced a Service Center installed upgrade to their uber-popular EOS 5d Mark II and EOS 7d DSLRs. The upgrade replaces the existing mode dial located on the top left of both cameras with a new locking mode dial released by a convenient center release button.
Why? Professionals used to the solid and well designed 1d series bodies can immediately tell you. It is considered a professional feature to be able to ‘lock-down’ your settings so you needn’t be bothered with checking your settings when you should be taking pictures, or worse.. that you don’t end up taking a series of important pictures (think sports events, weddings, news journalism) before realizing your camera was in the wrong mode or using the wrong settings. And not just wrong, settings chosen inadvertently for you by the action of a mode dial brushing up against your jeans or the AF switch on your lens being moved to MF by the neck strap. When I work a wedding friends are often surprised to see my cameras and lenses sporting big thick pieces of gaffers tape making sure these settings are impossible to move without my express intent.
It really does happen more often than you’d imagine. But it only happens a few times before you realize you’d better take preventative action before blowing an assignment. My favorite 24-70mm F2.8L USM lens is a great example, the ‘easy to position’ AF/MF switch I’m sure Canon considered a feature, is so easily moved you can end up with it in the MF position by accident several times during the same wedding! Subsequent lenses have a slightly redesigned switch which is worlds of improvement, but until Canon replaces this excellent lens you’ll see mine with big pieces of gaffers tape preventing accident movement.
Does your mode dial move? It depends on you. More specifically it depends on how you use and specifically how you carry your camera. For some I’m sure this isn’t an issue at all. For me, I often let my arm hang down my side with camera in hand when not in use. When walking through crowds my arm will go up behind my back with the camera, shielding the camera with my body from bumping into people. This causes the mode dial to brush against the fabric of my pants which often moves the dial. You might not have this problem, but those of you who do know exactly what I mean. And the problem is common enough for Canon to have corrected their newest models and designed this upgrade for some of the older models.
Canon Service Center Bangkok
They know me. I don’t know how else to put it. As a CPS (Canon Professional Services) member who isn’t afraid to speak up, and contact Canon Japan if necessary, they try very hard to provide the best service. But I wanted to know what kind of experience a normal consumer would have with Canon Service Center Bangkok so I asked a friend to take it in under their name and have the camera totally serviced and the locking mode dial upgrade installed.
This is their address and contact information:
Canon Marketing (Thailand) Co.,Ltd
179/34-45 Bangkok City Tower,
9th-10th Fl. South Sathorn Road, Thungmahamek,
Sathorn, Bangkok 10120
Tel : 0-2344-9999
Fax : 0-2344-9961
E-mail : [email protected]
Business Hours : Monday – Friday from 08.15am. to 05.15pm.
(closed on public holidays)
BTS : Chong Nonsee
On first contact by phone she was told we didn’t have the right model for the upgrade. Eh? Calling back and asking to talk with a supervisor revealed the first person we talked to was mistaken about both the upgrade and the camera model. The upgrade was indeed available. Asked how long it would take she was told she’d need to leave the camera overnight.
The next morning at 815am when they open she was there with my EOS 5d Mark II and requested a complete servicing (cleaning the outside, mirror box, and sensor) and the locking mode dial upgrade. She was told it would take 5 days because of their backlog, customers before her.
Having experienced Thai business practices many times before I’d expected this and prepared her so she knew what to do. She smiled and asked to speak with a supervisor. When the supervisor came she explained that she talked to Ms. Xxxx and produced the name of the person she talked with, the date and time of day, and the number. She explained that she was told it would take “overnight” and had made plans based on this information. The supervisor tried the “but we’ve taken in so many more cameras since your call” routine, but she just smiled and asked to speak with HIS supervisor. This was all it took, he now offered to have it ready the next day as promised.
The next day she received a text message at 3pm saying it was ready for pickup. Total charges came to baht 2840, baht 400 for the servicing and 2255 for the upgrade and 185.85 in VAT charges.
The service center delivers the camera in a bubble wrap bag, placed in a nice Canon bag. Unwrapping the camera I immediately noticed it looked brand new! Months of sweat and dirt which had worked its way into the crack and crevices and caked on the rubber wrapped body had all been restored to new condition.
The locking mode dial looks as it should, like it came from the factory. The detents are fairly strong and you can depress the center locking button with relative ease, but not too easily. One hand operation is certainly possible and the way I’ll use it most of the time.
Having carried it around a few days like I normally do, the switch stayed in position as you’d expect. One major improvement for sure!
I should write a bit about how they cleaned the sensor. Canon Service Center Bangkok is the only service center I know who refuses to ‘wet clean’ a sensor. This is rarely necessary, but when it is there is no other way to get the sensor clean. What they do here, is nothing more than using the Giotti Rocket Blower to blow the dust off the sensor. This gets most of it, but it’s far from a comprehensive cleaning.
Having been through this with them on numerous occasions before I didn’t even bother to contact them, I simply cleaned it properly myself. The equipment and training to do this properly is beyond the casual DIYer, so exercise caution before doing it yourself. I’d recommend taking your Canon to the Nikon Service Center for a proper sensor cleaning!
It should also be mentioned that while my previous generation cameras required frequent sensor cleaning, sometimes as often as weekly, my newer 5d Mark II rarely requires sensor cleaning, sometimes going for as long as 3-4 months between cleanings. The new vibration system built into the newer cameras really works well.
Overall the experience was good. In some ways the Canon Service Center Bangkok is much better than your typical Thai business model, but when it comes to customer service and their unwilling to honor the information promised over the phone, they have a lot of room for improvement. It’s sad the Thai customer service concept is present to such a strong degree.
The actual work performed, with the exception of their sensor policy, was top notch. I feel comfortable leaving my professional gear in their hands. The times I’ve talked to their technicians in person I’ve found them to be knowledgeable and more than willing to listen to my concerns. No complaints in this department.
My complaints have always been and continue to be the lack of training and poor attitudes of the receptionists staff you must deal with to leave and pick up your camera. As a matter of routine they remove your body cap and walk around with your cameras sensor exposed to the environment and then scowl at you when you insist they not do this. It’s not that they handle your gear roughly or without care, it’s that they do so without the proper training or experience. I absolutely insist they not touch my professional gear. I deliver it packed in a hard case and insist only the technicians open the case. To facilitate the paperwork I have a list of serial numbers prepared which they’ll need to complete the forms.
They tell you a rote list of best case scenarios over the phone, but when you arrive in person it’s often different. It shouldn’t be. When a customer feels it necessary to ask to speak to a supervisor this means they’re already not happy with the service or issue. The supervisor needs to arrive on scene with this in mind, and not the protection of their staff. Professionalism is all I ask for.
Overall I’m very happy with the servicing, pricing, and new locking mode dial upgrade. I wouldn’t hesitate to use the Canon Service Center Bangkok.
www.Shipito.com, Long Term Update *menu
Back when I wrote the review I’d only used them three times which is hardly the basis for true love. Now, I’ve used them to ship 55 packages to, and then they consolidated the 55 packages into 9 main shipments forwarded to me here in Thailand. True Love it is!
The chart above is the bottom line. 55 processed packages consolidated into 9 main shipments forwarded to Thailand at a cost savings of $1643.82. There’s not a lot more to say.
I’ve verified their claimed price savings and if anything they saved me more when you consider individual taxation and duties on the Thailand end of the journey.
As soon as your shipment from your retailer arrives at www.shipito.com you are notified within the hour via email. I’ve compared the times of these notification emails to the UPS and FedEx delivery tracking information to come up with the “within an hour” time frame.
Once you’re notified you’re asked to log on to www.shipito.com and fill out the customs information and if all your packages have arrived, provide consolidation and shipping method information. This takes just minutes as their online system is both intuitive and their servers fast.
I keep my customs information as ‘general’ as possible and of course I always declare the full value of each item. I keep it general because I realize not all Thai Customs Personnel understand all English words, so I try to keep it general to help speed things along. Instead of saying “10” Ginzu fillet Fish knife” you can simply put “kitchen knife.” It’s legal, and it works.
I’ve had zero questions and zero hold-ups by customs officials or my local post office. I always choose the “US Postal Express Mail” because it’s a bit cheaper and my local post office is convenient. You can choose DHL, UPS, or FedEx if you want door to door delivery.
It’s not hard to pinpoint, that if you can arrange to have your package arrive either right before or on a weekend, it gets passed through without taxes or duty. Or as least 5 out of 5 of mine which arrived during this time frame passed through without taxes or duty regardless of their claimed value. On other days they’ve charged the 7% VAT and never any other type of duty on any item. I’ve shipped a variety of merchandise from Levi jeans, to food items to expensive computer parts. Average shipping time is 4-5 days.
www.shipito.com is professional, reliable, and fast. I’ve only used their “special services” to expedite one shipment and within hours of the request my package was consolidated and sent out for shipment. They’ve saved me tons of money through consolidation and removal of excess packaging when requested to reduce shipment weight.
Overall the experience of sending consumer products from the USA to Thailand has been very positive, easy, and I’ve been able to get the products I need/want at greatly reduced prices when compared to local prices. And many times I’ve ordered and received professional camera and computer items just not available here at any price.
Photography News of Interest *menu
Blackberry and Nokia are toast! Says Tech Ticker. Phones are now an afterthought as people now choose their purchases based on who runs the best and most aps, rather than how well the phone works. Apple and Google are poised to win the SmartPhone wars while Nokia and Blackberry will go the way of the dinosaurs.. And they’re blaming it on Angry Birds..;o)
This is an interesting article about how to train yourself to see certain colors. Definitely a valuable skill for the aspiring photographer. I wish I would have read this sort of stuff when I was beginning, it would have saved me a lot of time.
As you can see from the picture, GPS devices in America are becoming more useful than we imagined!
Available here for the IPhone, and also available for Android on the Android Market Place, a model release form manager. After seeing this I downloaded the Android version which allows you to use your own forms. Pretty cool as I have them in both Thai and English. You can take a thumbnail shot of the person signing the release using the phone camera, show them the form, and then they can use their finger to record a signature.
Aperture 3.1.1 for Mac’s has been released. This is a great raw processing program and photo manager which is now compatible with iLife Media Browser and improved handing of photos to social sites.
The surprise star of Photokina the announcement of the Fuji Finepix X100 stole the entire show! The soon to be released Fuji Finepix X100 information site keeps revealing more tantalizing information. It's now revealed its raw modes. The X100 is destined to be the new professionals choice for a small compact camera if marketed correctly. It sports a APS-C sized sensor like the Sony NEX-5 for optimum image quality, but a more traditional user interface which looks and feels more like a traditional camera.
The viewfinder is a brilliantly designed hybrid offering both and OVF (optical viewfinder) and EVF (electronic viewfinder) options which you can switch back and forth between! There is also a liveview mode on the rear LCD like the point and shoot crowd is used to! Solid design, solid detented shutter speed and EV dials and a beautiful aperture control ring around the lens in the style of the older but hugely popular Olympus OM series SLR's. They've managed to combine the old and the new in a beautiful design with Leica like build quality. If this camera tests/reviews as well as it looks, it's destined to become a great.
Fuji releases a new firmware version 1.01 for their popular Finepix F300EXR. This fixes several small bugs.
Dxo Labs releases DxO Optics Pro version 6.5.2 for both Windows and Macs. Added support for the Sony NEX-5 and 50 new modules are added.
Nikon releases firmware upgrade 1.1 for its new P7000 compact. This fixes some bugs with the zoom features and reduces recording time of RAW images so you’ll want to do the upgrade.
High speed photos have always been fun, but required a ton of work. New equipment is making such shots much easier than ever before and in fact, there are several television shows centering on high speed video shots of fun events like breaking balloons, bullets piercing glass, and so forth. This small gallery of high-speed captures should wet your appetite for such fun images. Fascinating images!
The SNITCH AP is here! IPhone users can now become rats and snitch on all types of law breakers via a new “snitch network” which makes ratting out your fellow citizens as easy as touching the appropriate icon on your IPhone. This worries me for a myriad of reasons. What say you? There truly is an ap for everything…
Readers Submissions *menu
Thanks for the tip on Chotika Riverfront Hotel. Great venue and so too was the area which is generally very untouched in a lot of ways.
Although I intended to go back to the ship yards I found myself engrossed in the river, market and local sights generally.
Here are a couple of pictures some with some early touch ups following my first lessons with you on Lightroom.
Please let me know if they are coming out a bit dark at your end as I still seem to have this auto adjustment thing going on in the background somewhere.
I’m really glad you enjoyed the trip. The Chotika River Front Hotel is a well kept secret, a great place for a personal getaway with your favorite significant other. I have a gallery here which gives a good look at it.
I really enjoyed your images, especially the one of the girl washing in the klong and the one of the Buddha in the door frame. The Power Wagon was fun too!
I don't mind saying, your pictures make it clear you've completed several workshops. I love watching the progress!
Can’t wait to see more!
Hope all is well with you.
Lots of short trips to BITEC, flower shows, Golden Mount Temple and new Sky Train across the river. These all offer good opportunities for me to try out various setting on the NEX-5 while staying close to home.
I am finding out that the close up or portrait shots are coming out nicely by using you suggestions on DOF and focus points.
My "mid range shots" and landscape still need a bit of fine tuning but that will come with more practice.
The normal setting on the Sony is PA for 90% of the pictures taken and then just adjusting focus and metering setting as needed.
Attached find a few shots from the Temple which offers a full range of opportunities for great pictures.
Thanks so much for the help and advice over the years.
You’re really putting that Sony NEX-5 to good use! Every series you send in looks better and better. I really like the shot of the three bells. Excellent. Can’t wait to see more!
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 *menu
I am interested to know how to price images. I do get requests for people to use my images via Flickr. There is an example below. I am right in thinking the guy is just taking the piss?
I have just received another request on Friday from another company. Can you give me some guidelines on pricing as this is also for an aircraft magazine?
I’m afraid the stock photography world has changed drastically since I’ve been heavily involved in it. I will give you information I use for myself, but I can’t guarantee it would be accurate for you.
5-6 years ago many “micro-stock” agencies went in business selling images for as little as a dollar. This was brought on by the digital photography craze and the fact that many if not most web designers were stealing the images from their sites. At last count my ‘stolen’ image total has images taken from my internet presence at over 2000 sites. It’s a fact of life professionals deal with and factor into our original quotations. Because of this practice the micro-stock agencies were started as a sort of peace offering/compromise between photographers and web designers.. photographers get paid a bit, web designers are legal. This has been moderately successful, but there are still tons of stolen images being used.
Publications, especially on-line publications, find it far cheaper to scour Flickr and other such sites in search of images they will use for an article, rather than pay freelance or staff photographers. This sounds like what you’re dealing with. Often the most you’ll get is the cost of a nice dinner. Not bad if you don’t depend on your work for a living.
If it’s a printed publication I’d want to know their circulation intentions for my photo, size used, and if it’s a limited license. Fees can range up to several thousand dollars.. but this is becoming increasingly rare.
Digital photography has effectively eliminated the jobs of many photographers.. amateurs purchase a $1000 camera/lens, make up business cards, and start shooting $600 weddings for instance. Many people are happy with this level of quality/price and don’t want to pay the $3000-$5000 for a real photographer. This is just one example, but it’s happening throughout the industry. Potential clients are increasingly happy with “good enough” work which is really pretty poor in most cases.
I’m sure this didn’t answer your question, but maybe it will give you a bit more insight and help point you to your answer.
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 *menu
As the year draws to an end I purposely limit my external workload so I can clean up my files and take care of admin issues before the new year starts, while leaving plenty of time for the family and holidays. This column will be the last for the year, and we’ll see you back on January 8th 2011 with some brand new material!
I wanted to mention that we’ve out of readers questions and readers submissions, so please continue to send them in over the holidays so I have material to work with in the new year. www.BangkokImages.comWhat’s New page will be updated during the holidays, but not as much as you’re used to. Check in from time to time and if there’s any important camera news such as firmware upgrades or exciting new products I’ll be sure to post them. And of course I’ll share a few images of whatever I’m shooting along the way.
I don’t usually talk about site traffic, but as the year ends I wanted to let you know www.bangkokimages.com is doing better than ever and generating record high traffic! In fact, this last week saw the highest numbers ever, record numbers of unique visitors and like returns of regulars. No phony Google promotional hits others use to inflate their numbers, just regular viewers and contributors and new traffic directed from the search engines as people explore Thailand and certain equipment reviews. Thank you for being part of those numbers!
Positive comments continue to pour in about our new look and much faster more interactive site. If you haven’t already checked it out, visit www.bangkokimages.com to see my latest galleries, share your own galleries, participate in the forums, and scour our large repository of photography related articles. The “What’s New” page continues to be very popular with almost daily updates and interesting content.
I’m still testing more equipment and have more reviews in the pipeline. If you have any neat gear you’d like to write a review on shoot me an email and I’ll do what I can to help.
Infocus Blog, Racism Among Expats *menu
Canon 1ds Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM @F2.8 1/125th ISO 100
A sad subject. It repulses me that I need to address the issue in this column, a column I’ve put a lot of work into over the last three years with the only purpose being to help people enjoy and understand photography. All people. Yet I must.
“Adults” understand, that despite ideological and theological differences, there are certain venues where its considered poor form, in fact rather low class, to inject these differences into the venue. This column would be one of those venues. We’re here for everyone, and we welcome input from everyone. The topics are technical and artistic in nature and these are areas shared by everyone.
And even when differences exist, and you choose to address them, you should be able to make your case in a mature and respectful manner. Vulgarity and baiting are qualities no one respects.
I’m genuinely saddened.
And insulted. Someone came into my ‘house’ and insulted my guests.
Not long ago someone from back home asked me “what’s your favorite part of living overseas.” The answer came instantly and with ease.
My favorite part of living overseas is the people. The people who are native to the countries I visit, the tourists who visit these countries, and most of all my fellow expats I share these countries with. Would it be a surprise to anyone that as an American, the vast majority of those I consider good friends are not American?
Canon 1ds Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM @F8 1/500th 200mm ISO 200
It has nothing to do with where someone comes from, it’s mostly about proximity, common experiences, and a shared desire to experience anyone with the same human principles and values. And to a degree, those who share the same interests such as hobbies, foods, travel, etc..
My parents if alive wouldn’t be surprised, but they’d take notice of the differences between who I am now, and my environment where I was raised. As a child I think my parents and close family hated everyone (who wasn’t like them) equally, but held an even greater hate for certain races and religions. I rejected them from the moment I found my own voice. From a logical standpoint which is all I had at this young age, their viewpoints didn’t make sense to me.
Yet, as I lived life I noticed even though I rejected their racism I still carried terminology and sometimes habits from my past. Sometimes I would surprise, and then hate myself, for what came from my own mouth without thought or reason. Conditioning is a powerful thing.
Canon 1ds Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM @F8 1/400th 200mm ISO 200
One example stands strong in my mind: It was during the first Gulf War when emotions were high. I was in a staff meeting and perhaps because I wanted them to listen to me, or respect me, I used the term “raghead” during my brief. Most every head nodded in approval. I enjoyed their response. During a break a fellow serviceman of higher rank came up to me and told me he was offended because he and his family were of Arab descent. He said this softly and without malice or threat, then turned and walked away.
I could have easily dismissed him, no one would have defended his complaint if indeed he made a complaint. However, during the remaining minutes of the break I asked myself why I used that specific terminology. I’d realized once again something had come from my mouth without the ‘right’ thought or reason.
When the briefing resumed and I had everyone’s attention I reminded them of what I said, and I told everyone there I was wrong and had inadvertently offended someone. I then apologized publically to the person I offended and promised to not use this or other like terms again. It felt good. Several murmured, and one outside my team even voiced concern I was soft. My team immediately corrected him. I have never been known to be soft in such matters.
Canon 1ds Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM @F8 1/640th 160mm ISO 200
During our deployment and when operating in the Mideast I remembered this lesson and I can’t count the number of times I benefitted. Or the number of times I saw others loudly make the same stupid errors of judgment, and then immediately or later pay a huge price for their ignorance.
My point is an intelligent and reasonable man learns and progresses. Perhaps they weren’t always such, but they become such.
When overseas, my greatest joy and that which I value the most, are the diversity of my hosts, acquaintances, and especially my friends. They’ve taught me much and given me great insight into their culture, religions, and values. What greater gift?
Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM @F5.6 1/60th 46mm ISO 100
And I try to remember, like it or not, every stupid thing which comes from my own mouth, is used by those around me to judge my fellow Americans. The timeless cliché “we’re all ambassadors of our own countries” remains as true today as it did when it was first coined.
Does your culture and/or religion allow wishes? I have a Christmas wish..
Until next time..