In Focus, Bangkok Photography Blog September 1st, 2012

The Photographers Eye, What’s your Keeper Ratio?/Chai Phraya River From The Klong Toey Port to Bang Krachao/The New Iphone 5 and Goihng Retro


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The Photographers Eye, What's Your Keeper Ratio? Chao Phraya River From The Klong Toei Port to Bang Krachao

The New iPhone 5 and Going Retro Photography News of Interest

Readers Submissions Readers Questions A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Month in Review Infocus Blog, Thailand Photo Stories by Dana


The Photographers Eye, What's Your Keeper Ratio? *menu

Most of my workshops students will remember me telling them to pay attention to where all the other people are pointing their cameras, and then turn 180 degrees and look the other way for their shot. The truth is if I wanted a postcard I’d buy a postcard and most postcard images are done better than most tourists can do themselves given the short time frame and ‘this is what you have’ conditions. So why carry the gear and go through all the hassle when a 20 baht selection of post cards will ultimately provide you with better images to send home?

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F8 1/125th 15mm ISO 100

Most of my workshops students will remember me telling them to pay attention to where all the other people are pointing their cameras, and then turn 180 degrees and look the other way for their shot. The truth is if I wanted a postcard I’d buy a postcard and most postcard images are done better than most tourists can do themselves given the short time frame and ‘this is what you have’ conditions. So why carry the gear and go through all the hassle when a 20 baht selection of post cards will ultimately provide you with better images to send home?

I want my photography to be different, to invoke emotions I’m feeling to show what I’m seeing, to share what I see in my personal mind’s eye with the viewer. Postcards can’t do that. So I use other photographers as a sort of wind sock, if they’re facing a certain way then I know to turn the other way and take a good look at what’s available. Invariably, with enough work, I’ll come up with a shot you won’t find on most postcards and I’ll like it better.

On this day I was leading a group workshop at Wat Ratchaburama in Ayutthaya, one of my favorite places to give workshop students a primer into their pending trip to Angkor Vat in Cambodia which was also on this group's itinerary.

Having passed on this nugget of information to the group I started to think about something else. One person was running around climbing the tallest structures and trying as many different angles as possible. He’d been here before and you could tell. He probably spend months looking at his last images and thinking about what he’d do differently, so once on site he was like a Tasmanian Devil possessed going from shooting location to shooting location and I’m guessing making a fair number of captures.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F8 1/125th 22mm ISO 100

Having passed on this nugget of information to the group I started to think about something else. One person was running around climbing the tallest structures and trying as many different angles as possible. He’d been here before and you could tell. He probably spent months looking at his last images and thinking about what he’d do differently, so once on site he was like a Tasmanian Devil possessed going from shooting location to shooting location and I’m guessing making a fair number of captures.

Some of those new to photography looked a bit unsure of themselves and weren’t taking any pictures so I’d stop by and chat with them and offer some suggestions. It’s amazing how well received ideas for shots become when the person is having difficulty coming up with them themselves. And still others were taking so many images that no matter how well I tried they didn’t even know I was there. Another pair were chatting about their night out in Patpong the night before and were probably only there because they were expected to be.

This got me to thinking how many images each person was taking and ultimately how many they would keep, print, or display in some way. I’ve seen students capture up to 600 images in two hours on site. Others barely 50. Some want to be sure to capture every detail of every place they visit, others take what they see others taking, and the very rare photographer is carefully taking it all in, studying the scene, the other photographers, the weather, light, angles, this person you can tell has the eye.

“The Eye” you don’t see that often. It can’t be forced and only with great difficulty can it be learned. But it’s not a “either you have it or not” trait. I firmly believe you can wake up one day and having been the worst photographer in the world for the last 30 years.. today he/she wakes up and they have the eye. The world has changed for this person.

Most often I see The Eye in a person with zero technical knowledge of their gear. They try really hard to tell me what The Eye sees and ask me to help them capture it. A young Thai lady was like this on a workshop last month. She definitely had The Eye and could see all kinds of great compositions, but her technical knowledge was limited and she just wasn’t able to make the captures without step by step instruction.

Others know all the technical and want me to teach them The Eye. I reckon it’s about 1000x easier to teach technical skills than it is The Eye. The most difficult part about teaching The Eye is in the student first realizing they need to learn it, and second in getting them to slow down long enough and look at what’s around them so the eye can develop. Breaking the old habit of documenting every possible scene can be more difficult than giving up smoking.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4 @F8 1/80th 24mm ISO 100

Others know all the technical and want me to teach them The Eye. I reckon it’s about 1000x easier to teach technical skills than it is The Eye. The most difficult part about teaching The Eye is in the student first realizing they need to learn it, and second in getting them to slow down long enough and look at what’s around them so the eye can develop. Breaking the old habit of documenting every possible scene can be more difficult than giving up smoking.

Ultimately a very small percentage of photographers develop The Eye. It’s difficult, it either comes naturally in rare cases or learned over time and most often with instruction for most. What about you? Where are you at? Do you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions? I’ve been in most of them at one time or the other. Either of the Arts comes to me only after a difficult struggle whether it be singing, playing my guitar, photography, or design.

But trust me on this one, if I can learn these things than anyone can learn. What about you? Where are you at? I maintain it’s a good question to ask yourself.

Ultimately a very small percentage of photographers develop The Eye. It’s difficult, it either comes naturally in rare cases or learned over time and most often with instruction for most. What about you? Where are you at? Do you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions? I’ve been in most of them at one time or the other. Either of the Arts comes to me only after a difficult struggle whether it be singing, playing my guitar, photography, or design.

Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm @F8 1/80th 15mm ISO 100

Comments about these images from top to bottom:

Image 1: I love the light first, the dark cloudy sky and sun falling on the far lawn with just enough light falling on the near wall for definition. About 2/3rds of the frame over we have an interesting wall leading straight out of the frame to an upright brick structure at the end The big wall and large openings through which you can see other structures and the dark cloudy sky adds. Every angle is controlled. And the monks taking pictures of themselves adds to an already strong composition. They weren’t needed, but I think they add. Not too busy, not too empty.

Image 2: Here the subject is the monks reviewing their images. Monk’s like photography too! And what a great scene for monks to photograph themselves within?

Image 3: One of my group workshop students had tons of energy, a repeat student with boundless enthusiasm. This is not an easy perspective to keep vertical much less horizontal as well. The man near the top lends sale to the structure.

Image 4: Shooting into the light changes all the colors and is the main reason I find value in this image. Still, I love shooting right down the center of the frame in portrait mode with the top third of the scene having a structure and fence intersect horizontally.

BTW – I took seven images at this location. Technically the shots were easy captures so I was sure of them, no need to shoot several and hope one comes out well. The hard part was working with the wider angles and perspectives. Four came out as my mind’s eye saw them, three didn’t. How many images would you have taken during this two hour period?

Chao Phraya River From The Klong Toei Port to Bang Krachao *menu

Khunklit has been a regular contributor to our Infocus Weekly and Bangkok Images. His images often give that “raw” feeling you get from actually being there. If he shows you an image or a beach you’d swear you can feel the sand between your toes. Real images you can’t help but enjoy. Working in Southern Germany as an engineer he can’t wait to get his few months of vacation each year to travel SEA.

Crossing the Chao Phraya River from the Klong Toei Port to Bang Krachao in the Phra Pradaeng district (also known as the green lung of Bangkok) is like entering a different world. Its quiet, and has tracks and elevated pathways leading through the mangroves and swamp, banana, coconut and mango plantations.

There was the sound of birds and things splashing around in the water and undergrowth. I hired a mountain bike for the day, it was nice riding around and getting lost along the elevated pathways. If a motor bike came along one of us would have to keep still on the ledge allowing the other to squeeze past. The only foreigner's I saw were a couple of bike tours with their Thai guides. All of these images were shot in RAW using a Canon EOS 50D.

Crossing the Chao Phraya River from the Klong Toei Port to Bang Krachao in the Phra Pradaeng district (also known as the green lung of Bangkok) is like entering a different world. Its quiet,and has tracks and elevated pathways leading through the mangroves and swamp,banana,coconut and mango plantations

EF-S15-85mm Lens

There was the sound of birds and things splashing around in the water and undergrowth. I hired a mountain bike for the day,it was nice riding around and getting lost along the elevated pathways. If a motor bike came along one of us would have to keep still on the ledge allowing the other to squeeze past. The only foreigner's I saw were a couple of bike tours with their Thai guides. All of these images were shot in RAW using a Canon EOS 50D


EF-S15_85mm Lens

Looking at the Chao Phraya River from the Bang Krachao side.

Looking at the Chao Phraya River from the Bang Krachao side.

EF-S15-85mm Lens

Looking at the Chao Phraya River from the Bang Krachao side.

EF 100-400mm Lens

Looking at the Chao Phraya River from the Bang Krachao side.

EF-S15-85mm Lens

Looking at the Chao Phraya River from the Bang Krachao side.

EF-S15-85mm Lens

Looking at the Chao Phraya River from the Bang Krachao side.

EF-S15-85mm Lens

Looking at the Chao Phraya River from the Bang Krachao side.

EF100-400mm Lens

Looking at the Chao Phraya River from the Bang Krachao side.

EF100-400mm Lens

Looking at the Chao Phraya River from the Bang Krachao side.

EF-S15-85mm Lens

The green lungs vegetation.

The green lungs vegetation.


EF-S15-85mm Lens

The entrance to the Si Nakhon Khuen Park. I really liked this park, at the entrance were the usual manicured lawns, hedges and flowers, but the further you moved away came the more natural vegetation and swamp land. There were many wooden bridges crossing streams and marsh. There is also a tower allowing you to view the surroundings and treetops, its ideal to see the many colorful birds.

The entrance to the Si Nakhon Khuen Park. I really liked this park,at the entrance were the usual manicured lawns,hedges and flowers, but the further you moved away came the more natural vegetation and swamp land. There were many wooden bridges crossing streams and marsh. There is also a tower allowing you to view the surroundings and treetops,its ideal to see the many colorful birds.


EF S-15-85mm Lens

The entrance to the Si Nakhon Khuen Park. I really liked this park,at the entrance were the usual manicured lawns,hedges and flowers, but the further you moved away came the more natural vegetation and swamp land. There were many wooden bridges crossing streams and marsh. There is also a tower allowing you to view the surroundings and treetops,its ideal to see the many colorful birds.

EF S-15-85mm Lens

The entrance to the Si Nakhon Khuen Park. I really liked this park,at the entrance were the usual manicured lawns,hedges and flowers, but the further you moved away came the more natural vegetation and swamp land. There were many wooden bridges crossing streams and marsh. There is also a tower allowing you to view the surroundings and treetops,its ideal to see the many colorful birds.

EF S-15-85mm Lens

Elevated path ways pass plantations and houses on stilts, sometimes you are meter above the ground.

Elevated path ways pass plantations and houses on stilts,sometimes you are meter above the ground.

IMGEF S15-85mm Lens

Here we have the road leading to the boat pier.

Here we have the road leading to the boat pier.

EF S15-85mm Lens

Here we have the road leading to the boat pier.

EF S15-85mm Lens

Here we have the road leading to the boat pier.

EF S15-85mm Lens


A view from the Bang Krachao side looking at the Klong Toey Port.

A view from the Bang Krachao side looking at the Klong Toey Por


IMG_4235 EF S15-85mm Lens


A view from the Bang Krachao side looking at the Klong Toey Port.


1/10 sec at f/5,6 ISO 1600 15mm

A view from the Bang Krachao side looking at the Klong Toey Port. 8


1/25 sec at f/5,6 ISO 1600 76mm


These images were taken at the BTS Wongwian Yai station and town center. The last two shots were taken at 18:50 on the return journey with the camera resting on a railing.

These images were taken at the BTS Wongwian Yai station and town center. The last two shots were taken at 18:50 on the return journey with the camera resting on a railing.


EF S15-85mm Lens

These images were taken at the BTS Wongwian Yai station and town center. The last two shots were taken at 18:50 on the return journey with the camera resting on a railing.

EF S15-85mm Lens

The one thing I never get bored with in Bangkok is to ride up and down the Chao Phraya River on a boat.

EF S15-85mm Lens


The one thing I never get bored with in Bangkok is to ride up and down the Chao Phraya River on a boat.

The new iPhone 5 and Going Retro *menu

This article was written within the context of the mobile and cell services available in the United States, but in Thailand and anywhere else I've been they all seem to have similar services and price structures with more differences in quality and actual price levels than in structure. In Thailand we buy our phones up front, in America they're most often included (cheaply) as part of higher priced package deals which include data and minutes. But when you compare the bottom line you'll find they follow.

I’m not sure anything since the Ipod has had a great electronic cultural impact than the Iphones. The blogosphere is alive months of even a full year out trying to predict when the next Iphone model will be released and what features it will have. On release day Apple fanboys&girls will line up outside authorized dealers sometimes several days in advance to get their best shot at being one of the first to get this “must have” electronic icon. And then the review sites, newspapers (yes, there are some left), magazines, everyone jumps on the bandwagon with their take on the newest Iphone. It’s a two year cycle between the last one just released, and the next new ones release date and Apple does their best to ensure we never stop buzzing about this huge money maker (for Apple) during this entire two year cycl e.

I’m not sure anything since the Ipod has had a great electronic cultural impact than the Iphones. The blogosphere is alive months of even a full year out trying to predict when the next Iphone model will be released and what features it will have. On release day Apple fanboys&girls will line up outside authorized dealers sometimes several days in advance to get their best shot at being one of the first to get this “must have” electronic icon. And then the review sites, newspapers (yes, there are some left) , magazines, everyone jumps on the bandwagon with their take on the newest Iphone. It’s a two year cycle between the last one just released, and the next new ones release date and Apple does their best to ensure we never stop buzzing about this huge money maker (for Apple) during this entire two year cycle.

Friends, family, clients, everyone can’t help but show you, over and over again, how cool their new Iphone is and how they can’t live without it. And then you have the Android phones which in sales numbers have caught up and passed the Iphones, Windows phones (huh?), Google phones (really?) and some others all trying for their piece of this very lucrative market.

Friends, family, clients, everyone can’t help but show you, over and over again, how cool their new Iphone is and how they can’t live without it. And then you have the Android phones which in sales numbers have caught up and passed the Iphones, Windows phones (huh?), Googe phones (really?) and some others all trying for their piece of this very lucrative market.

And when I say lucrative I mean lucrative! In America you’re phone and data plan can cost you in excess of $2500 annually with most paying in the $1500 range. Sure, after many court cases they costs for these data plans have went down somewhat, but I think $50 a month is about the cheapest I’ve seen. And with the multilayered taxes that gets bumped up to $70 – $75 and then of course your wife and kids and mother-in-law back in Nakon Nowhere must have one too. I’m not joking when I tell you I know several small families whose cell phone bills and phone costs exceed what a payment would be on a brand new Corvette! But that’s okay, you’ve gotta have one. Right? Well.. not exactly.

And let’s talk about battery life. An entire industry has been invented to supply chargers of all types to recharge your smartphone. Apple for some obnoxious reason known only to them and a few howler monkeys in the Amazon don’t allow the consumer to change out their batteries much less carry extras for use in the field. WHEN your battery starts to go flat or bad you’ll be sending it back to Apple for a rather stiff replacement cost. And the batteries don’t last the average person a full day! You need to charge them at your desk, in your car, and coffee shops and restaurants have started offering charging ports to bring in customers.

These small computers masquerading as a phone drain batteries at an alarming rate. Heck, they’ve even exploded in pockets alarmingly close to the family jewels. Even if you’ve installed icons to turn off your Bluetooth, hotspot, GPS, and wifi.. you’re still lucky to get a full days use. And don’t you dare talk on that phone or you’ll need to charge it in under two hours. How obnoxious is that for something so “high-tech” and so expensive?

I’ll admit to being a smartphone owner for the last several years. I wanted to see what all the buzz was about and I even reviewed my HTC Desire here : At first I was delighted to have all these features in such a small package. Heck, I could browse websites, do email, check moon cycles, take pictures, and even make phone calls! But let me tell share how I felt two years later:

I’ll admit to being a smartphone owner for the last several years. I wanted to see what all th e buzz was about and I even reviewed my HTC Desire here: At first I was delighted to have all these features in such a small package. Heck, I could browse websites, do email, check moon cycles, take pictures, and even make phone calls! But let me tell share how I felt two years later:

I might use the internet and moon cycle capabilities once every 2-3 months. I couldn’t really “reply” to my emails with any degree of thoroughness because the keyboard on smart phones are too small and not very fast and the screen is too small for composing. Text messages I think were one of its strong points, short limited character messages seemed ideal for these keyboards and screens. Yet, I only send/receive 2-3 text messages a day.

To be real honest after two years I used this full featured smart phone 99% of the time for texting and voice calls (remember voice calls?) And I’ve been disappointed with the call quality of every smart phone I’ve tested and I’ve used/tested over 100 of the most popular models. Not one of them had the crisp clear voice quality of my old style Motorola flip phones. A feature I did enjoy was the “hotspot” so I could use the data on my data plan through my smart phone to supply internet to my small laptop I’ve been joined at the hip with since I got it.

Let’s review:

After two years I felt pretty much raped by smart phone prices and data plan monthly fees / taxes and very irritated towards how they’ve seeped into our culture and became so important, where most of these people who considered them the most important used them for personal use only. What a huge amount of the family budget for a personal device! And people are camping out outside stores in the snow to get one of these? No wonder our countries have so many problems.

And after two years I found myself using the following features 99% of the time:

a. Voice

b. Speakerphone

c. SMS text messaging

d. Internet connectivity to my laptop

e. Alarm clock

The Epiphany –

Rummaging through one of my “tech drawers” looking for a new screen saver for my smart phone I ran across my old Motorola L7i candy bar phone. I was drawn to it and when I picked it up and held it in my hand it felt so small and light compared to my smartphone. I remembered carrying this one around in my back pocket for 3-4 years, sitting on it, abusing it, and it never failed. It was only in the drawer because society told me I needed a new smart phone that I think cost me 25,000 baht in Bangkok. What was I thinking?

Rummaging through one of my “tech drawers” looking for a new screen saver for my smart phone I ran across my old Motorola L7i candy bar phone. I was drawn to it and when I picked it up and held it in my hand it felt so small and light compared to my smartphone. I remembered carrying this one around in my back pocket for 3-4 years, sitting on it, abusing it, and it never failed. It was only in the drawer because society told me I needed a new smart phone that I think cost me 25,000 baht in Bangkok. What was I thinking?

I remembered my Motorola L7i Candy Bar phone being pretty decent at texting, it connected my bandwidth to my computer via either Bluetooth of a much fast 1 foot long USB cable. The alarm was easy to use and the speakerphone superb. Most of all I enjoyed its outstanding call quality especially when paired with my Plantronics Bluetooth headset. It felt so small and sleek and my fingers remembered the buttons without thought.

Soon I was over on my computer trying to find a new battery. I found several off-brand batteries but from experience I knew if I wanted the battery to last for years without issue I needed an original. But there were none available.

And then I came across a newer Motorola model, the U6 PEBL (Pebble), a small smart looking flip phone with a one handed magnetic release I remembered admiring 5 – 6 years ago. I found it on Amazon brand new with 4 bands which covers all the bands used worldwide, a factory battery, manual, charger, charging USB cable, and little else for $42.00. They sold optional factory batteries for $12.99. I bought two. Two days later UPS dropped off a small envelope and my new Motorola U6 PEBL was inside.

And then I came across a newer Motorola model, the U6 PEBL (Pebble), a small smart looking flip phone with a one handed magnetic release I remembered admiring 5-6 years ago. I found it on Amazon brand new with 4 bands which covers all the bands used worldwide, a factory battery, manual, charger, charging USB cable, and little else for $42.00. They sold optional factory batteries for $12.99. I bought two. Two days later UPS dropped off a small envelope and my new Motorola U6 PEBL was inside.

Taking it out and holding it in my hand I noticed how natural it felt. Opening the manual I noticed it would do the following things I needed:

a. Great voice quality

b. Superb speakerphone

c. SMS text messaging

d. Internet connectivity to my laptop via Bluetooth or USB cable

e. Alarm clock

Taking it out and holding it in my hand I noticed how natural it felt. Opening the manual I noticed it would do the following things I needed:

And some features I didn’t need:

a. 6 included games

b. A full featured phone book that connects to my Outlook email client and syncs with my contact last (okay, okay, I’ll use this..)

c. Calculator, datebook, voice records

d. Voice recorder, one button record

e. One button camera

f. One button video camera

g. Much more..

And some features I didn’t need:

I also noticed the battery was good on receive for 250 hours or 10.5 days! Talk time of six hours. Wow! I don’t get that many calls so I could go for over a week without recharging if I needed. And I could probably talk myself to death all day and still not run out of batteries.

This flip phone is small and covered with a nice smooth tactile finish which is non-slip and easy to use. The LCD is big enough for what it does and there were a ton of ring options for my calls, texts, reminders, etc. The front OLED strip would tell me who was calling or texting without needing to open the phone.

For $42 it was a fun experiment but I don’t think I was ever prepared to use it. Maybe it would have made a nice backup phone for travel overseas. But now.. now I was looking at my uber-expensive smart phone and back again at my Motorola PEBL U6. The wife walked by and looked and I covered it up quickly lest she get the idea she’s getting my smartphone. Not so quick..

With a happy sigh I reached for my smartphone and pulled the SIM card and was soon powering up my Motorola U6 PEBL. With the help of the saved VCARD file from the smartphone and a free Motorola Tools program I’d soon transferred my entire contact list to the new Motorola U6 PEBL. I selected my wallpaper, ringers, designated my speed dial contacts, and 10 minutes later I was done. Even my Bluetooth headset was paired.

ith a happy sigh I reached for my smartphone and pulled the SIM card and was soon powering up my Motorola U6 PEBL. With the help of the saved VCARD file from the smartphone and a free Motorola Tools program I’d soon transferred my entire contact list to the new Motorola U6 PEBL. I selected my wallpaper, ringers, designated my speed dial contacts, and 10 minutes later I was done. Even my Bluetooth headset was paired.

And then it rang. I could see it was a friend without opening the phone by looking at its front panel OLED and sticking my Bluetooth headset in my ear I pressed the button and said “hello.” My friend started in with a 3 – 4 minute rant about his boss and I didn’t hear a word. Or rather I heard every word, crystal clear, full dynamic range, beautiful sound.. but I was enjoying the new Motorola U6 PEBL so much I forgot to listen.

And then it rang. I could see it was a friend without opening the phone by looking at its front panel OLED and sticking my Bluetooth headset in my ear I pressed the button and said “hello.” My friend started in with a 3-4 minute rant about his boss and I didn’t hear a word. Or rather I heard every word, crystal clear, full dynamic range, beautiful sound.. but I was enjoying the new Motorola U6 PEBL so much I forgot to listen.

It’s been two weeks. I’ve bonded with my PEBL and I won’t be going back any time soon. At least none until smart phones and the corresponding data plans get real with their prices, they becomes smaller and easier to pocket, battery life increases to at least seven days, and the call quality becomes the phones priority. It is a phone after all.

I’m as high-tech as the next guy. I use and teach the latest digital cameras, build custom high-end computer workstations for clients, I’m an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, a true Audiophile, and if you go through my car or house you’ll notice I have more high-tech devices, home networks, computers, dual monitor workstations, etc. than the PC-World and CNET offices combined. But we’re talking about a phone here. Phones make voice calls as their primary purpose. Or they should if they want me to buy one.

I’m as high-tech as the next guy. I use and teach the latest digital cameras, build custom high-end computer workstations for clients, I’m an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, a true Audiophile, and if you go through my car or house you’ll notice I have more high-tech devices, home networks, computers, dual monitor workstations, etc. than the PC-World and CNET offices combined. But we’re talking about a phone here. Phones make voice calls as their primary purpose. Or they should if they want me to buy one.

I’m never far from my 2.4 pound SSD, i7 equipped Lenovo x201s laptop, or any number of other devices to compute, text, or do more with than any smart phone can do. I’ve already determined that even a tablet doesn’t fit my needs nearly as well as my laptop.. so why am I carrying around a smartphone for? Exactly.

I’m never far from my 2.4 pound SSD, i7 equipped Lenovo x201s laptop, or any number of other devices to compute, text, or do more with than any smart phone can do. I’ve already determined that even a tablet doesn’t fit my needs nearly as well as my laptop.. so why am I carrying around a smartphone for? Exactly.

One more thing. I mentioned several times I don’t make that many calls. Some business calls which I try to make from home where I use my Magic Jack Plus, and a few personal calls. My total cell phone charges, all the voice I need, all the SMS text I need, and the few times I need computer access via my phone for my laptop, runs me $99 a year. No, I’m not pulling your leg. Go to T-mobile’s website and navigate to their prepaid plans and you’ll see 1000 minutes, good for a year, are $99. Buy it on sale and you'll get 15% or 150 additional minutes. My wife and son have their own MagicJack Plus accounts and numbers and they also get by on 1000 minutes a year. For a family of three we’re spending no more than $300 for all the SMS texts and voice calls we need. Not bad.

One more thing. I mentioned several times I don’t make that many calls. Some business calls which I try to make from home where I use my Magic Jack Plus, and a few personal calls. My total cell phone charges, all the voice I need, all the sms text I need, and the few times I need computer access via my phone for my laptop, runs me $99 a year. No, I’m not pulling your leg. Go to T-mobile’s website and navigate to their prepaid plans and you’ll see 1000 minutes, good for a year, are $99. Buy it on sale and you’l get 15% or 150 additional minutes. My wife and son have their own MagicJack Plus accounts and numbers and they also get by on 1000 minutes a year. For a family of three we’re spending no more than $300.00 for all the sms texts and voice calls we need. Not bad.

What about you? I challenge you to do this: Pull out your phone invoices, add up your data plans, call plans, phone costs, for all your family members. What’s your total? Is it worth it? I suppose it is if your work demands the functionality or voice minutes, but for many of you I think you’ll find you can get by on much less. Even less than I use. They have several pre-paid plans and mine is the largest, you might need less.

Stop letting your friends and family and the advertising we’re hit with 24/7 tell you what you need and take the time to review what YOU really need. $42 for the phone, unlocked, worldwide compatibility, a battery that lasts 10 days, and more. It’s hard to beat. And the malls at your local Thai mall are full of even better deals.

Stop letting your friends and family and the advertising we’re hit with 24/7 tell you what you need and take the time to review what YOU really need. $42 for the phone, unlocked, worldwide compatibility, a battery that lasts 10 days, and more. It’s hard to beat. And the malls at your local Thai mall are full of even better deals.

Yes, I’m aware with how you’re “measured” in Thailand and many western countries, and I realize the latest smartphone makes you part of the “in” crowd. If an old style flip or candy bar phone meets your needs, then dare to be different. Set a trend. And save a pocketful of cash in the process. After all, nothing impresses more than cash so don’t give yours away to the local phone companies unnecessarily. Go retro. It feels great!

Yes, I’m aware with how you’re “measured” in Thailand and many western countries, and I realize the latest smartphone makes you part of the “in” crowd. If an old style flip or candy bar phone meets your needs, then dare to be different. Set a trend. And save a pocketful of cash in the process. After all, nothing impresses more than cash so don’t give yours away to the local phone companies unnecessarily. Go retro. It feels great!

Photography News of Interest *menu

Stunning image of Russian Girl is not a Photograph. Are such drawings possible with ballpoint pens? Read on and let us know what you think.

Stunning image of Russian Girl is not a Photograph. Are such drawings possible with ballpoint pens? Read on and let us know what you think. Stunning image of Russian Girl is not a Photograph. Are such drawings possible with ballpoint pens? Read on and let us know what you think.

Scottish Sailor Claims To have Best Picture Yet Of Loch Ness Monster Another claimed sighting of Nessie and I must say this looks about as convincing as the best I’ve seen.

Scottish Sailor Claims To have Best Picture Yet Of Loch Ness Monster Another claimed sighting of Nessie and I must say this looks about as convinving as the best I’ve seen. Scottish Sailor Claims To have Best Picture Yet Of Loch Ness Monster Another claimed sighting of Nessie and I must say this looks about as convinving as the best I’ve seen.

Lion Cub’s First Meeting With Dad Captured on Camera. AWESOME! Awesome sums this up entirely. Do you feel the tingles, almost like you were there and witnessed this moment of time in the Animal Kingdom? Are you thinking back to scenes of The Lion King? Wonderful rare emotional nature shot.

Lion Cub’s First Meeting With Dad Captured on Camera. AWESOME! Awesome sums this up entirely. Do you feel the tingles, almost like you were there and witnessed this moment of time in the Animal Kingdom? Are you thinking back to scenes of The Lion King? Wonderful rare emotional nature shot. Lion Cub’s First Meeting With Dad Captured on Camera. AWESOME! Awesome sums this up entirely. Do you feel the tingles, almost like you were there and witnessed this moment of time in the Animal Kingdom? Are you thinking back to scenes of The Lion King? Wonderful rare emotional nature shot.

Site of Deadly Bear Mauling Remains Closed in Alaska’s Denali National Park. I suppose no photographer plans to get eaten by a bear, but if we’re going to photograph grizzlies maybe we should. And how not to.

Site of Deadly Bear Mauling Remains Closed in Alaska’s Denali National Park. I suppose no photographer plans to get eaten by a bear, but if we’re going to photograph grizzlies maybe we should. And how not to.

Bring on the Reverse Airbrushing Who can argue Jennifer Lopez’s innate sexiness has much to do with her ample curvature or that the only real reason for Kim Kardashian’s talentless climb to stardom is linked to her almost comically large derriere sitting atop some of the shortest legs in Hollywood this side of Danny Divito. To give Kim her due, her face is stunningly beautiful and when combined with the upper half of her body there might be equals, but no superiors. And we can’t argue in these and other cases healthy and attractive curves are becoming the fashionable draw as people tire of stick thin models. SO is it any surprise when the airbrush artists start adding on a few pounds and attractive curves?

Bring on the Reverse Airbrushing Who can argue Jennifer Lopez’s innate sexiness has much to do with her ample curvature or that the only real reason for Kim Kardashian’s talentless climb to stardom is linked to her almost comically large derriere sitting atop some of the shortest legs in Hollywood this side of Danny Divito. To give Kim her due, her face is stunningly beautiful and when combined with the upper half of her body there might be equals, but no superiors. And we can’t argue in these and other cases healthy and attractive curves are becoming the fashionable draw as people tire of stick thin models. SO is it any surprise when the airbrush artists start adding on a few pounds and attractive curves?

Readers Submissions *menu

Steve

We all get busy and sometimes don't double check things when processing photos, tonight I was showing my father-in-law how I made a HDR photo, as he was very impressed with the one of the Tall Ship and guess what!

I noticed that the lens profile I'd used wasn't for the Tokina 11-16mm but for the Sigma 18-125mm, there isn't a lot of difference, but it still pings me off that I could have made a error like this.

I found that I'd overwritten the lens profile setting for it with that of the Sigma. Now I'll have to go back and re-do these 11 HDR images.

here is one example to show you what I mean, the file "National_Maritime_Museum_22a_Barque_James_Craig" is the one with the correct lens profile

Charles

Charles –

Your HDR is getting better and better. Yes, I can see the differences. Tall ships are really cool and something I’ve always enjoyed. Thank you for sharing these!

Steve

I’d like to mention that everyone, myself included, is really enjoying the current trend of readers submissions. Everyone loves them, but remember we can really use more. I have only another week’s worth in my queue, so please take the time to put together a few images and words if you can and send them in. Thank you. [email protected]

Readers Questions *menu

Hi Steve,

Hope all is well with you.

Please find attached images of some shots I took. Would appreciate if you could help me on the same as I don't still feel it has a WOW affect.

I used 2 Elinchrom Dlite 4 flash heads with a Light Tent Box. Most of the time my light power setting was on 3.

Regards,

Jason

Before After

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Before4 After4

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Before6 After6

Hi Jason –

What you’ve done is shot the scene with a very flat light (the tent) and expected the effects of hard light (shadows, more contrast, pop, etc). Soft light in a small tent is easy to pull off.. but hard light will take you much more practice. You’ll want to try building a cardboard set instead of the tent, a snoot to focus light where you want it, background lights, etc.. and then you’ll be turning out product shots like a pro.. but keep in mind the pro spent many year learning his craft.

The next best thing is to take your flat images and process “wow” into them. I’m not sure exactly what you’re after but I included six samples processed within the limitations of your original shots. If the lighting was really good we could process much better. Let me know which one is the closest t what you envision and where you want to go from there and I’ll see what we can take it.

Product photography really should be approached from with a plan from top to bottom and it can be difficult, but you can make huge improvements with even the smallest of charges during capture.

Also.. if you can shoot raw. You’ll end up with much nicer images.

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 Month in Review *menu


Bangkok Images should change its name to Bangkok Web Development for this month and maybe next. I took on some commission to build quality CMS websites for a medical clinic and popular outdoors show you might have been watching for years. I’m still not as competent as I’d like to be which means I spent 2 – 3x as long per project as a true professional would, but I accept this as the price of learning.

Why did they pick me for these sites when admittedly I’m not a web professional? First for my photography. As we all know websites are visual and if you want the best website you need the best visuals. This is where I come in. Design also. Maybe through years of different compositions I’ve developed an eye for design in that which catches the eye of the viewer helps bring more viewers which is the most important part of making a website successful.

And my hope is that along the way I develop another skill I can use to help advance my primary skills. This is how we all do it right? We don’t sit back all smug and comfortable and stop learning? Good.

Speaking of new skills. How about bygone skills? My equipment reviews have been lacking because I don’t have the proper test equipment to thoroughly test review equipment. Roughly 30+ years ago I was very highly trained in electronics and cryptography. I have more classroom and laboratory hours than is required for any EE Masters program. Yet, like any skill if you don’t use it then over time you forget and of course you never learn how new technology and advances have changed that skill.

It started with a ham radio I was familiar with on eBay. They were selling it for parts. $25. For fun I bid on it and won the bid I think for $32 and days later a nondescript box arrived on my doorstep and opening the box revealed the transceiver. I’m not sure what got over me, but for the next 4-5 hours I couldn’t put it down. Not until it was fixed and operating at 100%. Now it’s a $500 radio. Or at least that’s what it sold for on eBay the next week.

What I learned was that a skill I grew exceptionally bored with 30 years ago when I was doing it 10-12 hours a day is now like a fun game or puzzle because I’m at the position in life where I can pick and choose when I do these things. Not that I needed yet another hobby, but.. I had so much fun repairing that old radio that I wanted to do more. But I couldn’t keep getting lucky with an $8 Radio Shack Multimeter and improvised test equipment.

So this month I shopped carefully for a Fluke 189 Digital Multimeter, next month I’ll get a Tektronix’s 500mhz 4 channel oscilloscope, and maybe the month after a spectrum analyzer. I’ll see what’s needed after that. Then I’ll have a nice hobby which is enjoyed the same was as a puzzle, and makes a small amount of income at the same time. Most hobbies cost money but they don’t have to.

What’s your hobby? During my time in Thailand hobbies were something missing from the life of most every expat I knew. Well, unless you call drinking and the other attraction of most bars a hobby. The ones I did know with a hobby: bikes, golf, photography, boating, diving.. they were without exception more successful and ultimately more happy than those who didn’t. What’s your observation?

We sure can use more Readers Submissions and Readers Questions and if anyone is interested in working up a Feature Destination or even an Equipment Review I’ll help you as much as I can. Let me know if I can be of assistance. Until next month..

Infocus Blog, Thailand Photo Stories by Dana *menu

Two days later Edith came next door to my mother's kitchen to cry. She had the picture in her hand. Hot tears fell on the mallard duck standing on the rock in the pond. I stood and watched. Edith died while I was away at college. Later I wondered which one of the grown up children from next door got the picture and if any of them could connect the picture to a woman's heart.

Growing up the family next door was husband, wife, four children, and the live-in servant named Edith. Edith, a Scottish foundling, was given to Mrs. Brooks as a wedding gift in 1919. Human chattel. Mrs. Brooks was sixteen years old on her wedding day, and Edith was fourteen years old. Edith served for life.

Much later the husband was dead and the four children had grown up and moved away to start their own families. Just Mrs. Brooks, aged 84, and Edith, aged 82, left in the house; linked by time and experience for sixty-eight years.

On a blistering hot July day an air conditioner salesman was summoned to the house. Edith polished the wedding gift silver in the glass case before he came. She had been polishing this goddamn silver monthly for sixty-eight years. Anyway, he explained that they needed an air conditioner in the bedroom of Mrs. Brooks, in the living room, and in Edith's bedroom. No, Mrs. Brooks said; we don't need to buy an air conditioner for Edith's bedroom. She's not family.

Edith came next door to my mother's kitchen to cry. As a Scottish orphan sixty-eight years ago she had not had any rights and now after a lifetime of service and love she had no dignity. Two days later she was back in my mother's kitchen all smiles and holding a picture. It was a picture of a mallard duck standing on a rock in a pond. Her camera club had sponsored a nature picture contest and her picture had one first prize. People smiled at her and clapped in support of her photographic skills at the meeting. She received a prize and she explained how the picture was taken. People solicited her opinions and listened to her when she talked. She was respected and treated as an equal.

At the next month's meeting of the camera club someone stood up and pointed out that careful examination of the picture showed a strand of fence wire. Nobody else had noticed it but there it was so the picture was not really a nature picture because something man-made could be seen. A vote was taken and Edith's first prize for best nature picture was taken away.

Two days later Edith came next door to my mother's kitchen to cry. She had the picture in her hand. Hot tears fell on the mallard duck standing on the rock in the pond. I stood and watched. Edith died while I was away at college. Later I wondered which one of the grown up children from next door got the picture and if any of them could connect the picture to a woman's heart.