Travel in Thailand Photography & The Internet
My main hobby is photography. I know that it is hardly essential or even necessary information for anyone travelling in Thailand but let me tell you a little bit about all things photography in Thailand.
First of all, if you are still using an old film camera, film is not so easy to come by in Thailand. Had for Foto File on the ground floor of MBK Shopping Centre in Bangkok for a shop that does stock a range of film.
Getting prints of your photos is cheap. 6 x 4 inch prints cost around 2 – 5 baht, depending on how many shots the more, the lower theper print price.
Shops can print your digital image files at the same cost as printing film, 2 – 5 baht for a 4 x 6 inch print. If you require a professional lab, I recommend IQ Labs, just off Silom Road.
As far as actually taking pictures goes, Thailand is an amazing place and there are always all sorts of interesting or even crazy things going on so there are unlimited opportunities to take lots of photos! Generally, Thai people like to be photographed and don't be surprised to see them jump into your photograph, as opposed to move away when they see a camera! This might be changing a little bit as people become conscious of the internet and the fact that there photos might unwittingly end up on some questionable website! But generally speaking – and especially outside of the capital – Thai people love to have their photo taken!
The light in this part of the world is very bright so one has to be careful when taking shots in the middle of the day. In fact any time from late morning to late afternoon with the sun almost directly overhead can be a real nuisance for photography because this harsh light which can wash out the colours of everything, and if you have a great composition, the colours might come out drab, more in shades of brown and grey, than the deep saturated colours you had hoped for. As far as taking landscape and general outdoor photography goes, the cool season, that is December through to February, is best. Also, the golden hour, that short period before sunset, is a good bet to take shots but remember that the sun drops in the sky a lot faster in Thailand than it does in countries that are further from the equator.
With digital photography becoming more and more popular, it seems that many folks want to send their digital photos home via the internet. In practicality, this is not really that easy. First, a single digital photo file may in some cases be many megabytes, which even on a high speed internet connection can take a number of minutes to transfer. Secondly, you may have hundreds of pictures so you could actually be sitting on the net for ages, trying to transfer them all. Basically, it is just not that practical. The best bet is to go to one of the many shops, usually internet cafes or photo shops, that can take the pictures from your camera's memory card and write them to a CD or DVD for you. More and more places are offering these services. Just one recommendation – get a couple of copies of each DVD in case one goes bad. Or even consider getting two copies of everything and sending one copy home while keeping the other copy on your person.
Also on the subject of digital photography, there are a lot more shops around printing pictures from digital images i.e. you can take your camera in with all of the pictures stored on the media, or even just take them in on floppies / CDs and they will print them there for you. The quality is excellent, much better than any home photo printer. My favourite shop for this type of thing is Snow White Digital Photography which is on Phyathai Road, directly opposite Mahboonkrong. The cost of photographic prints in Thailand may be cheaper than home, but in all truth and honesty, the quality is not always the same.
There is always something happening in Thailand and there are so many things that are completely different to what we have in the West. Different modes of transport, different foods and places that sell them, different architecture and the list could go on and on. You could well find that you end up shooting a lot of photographs and I bet that they'll all be interesting. I have found with everything that is going on in Thailand, unless you are an extremely talented photographer, a still photo alone does not manage to capture everything. With this in mind, it is worthwhile bringing a video camera with you if you have one. The video camera allows you to catch a lot more of what is happening and captures the sounds of Thailand too.
As the internet becomes more and more important in our lives, so too does internet access while we are travelling. Thailand's internet infrastructure has improved markedly over the last few years and you're never far from a cheap yet fast internet connection. Even in tourist areas, an internet cafe should not charge more than about 30 baht an hour.
The best hotels usually have internet access. They may have hard-wired internet access in the rooms or they may have wireless internet that covers the entire building which will requite the use of your own laptop. Some may only have internet access in a business centre where there may be laptop connections and computers to use. In the better hotels you might have to pay for internet access and in the 5 star properties this can actually be quite expensive – internet access in the Oriental Hotel runs 650 baht ++ per day! It is ironic that in the cheaper establishments internet access is usually free!
There are huge numbers of internet cafes all over the country and they can be found in all of the popular tourist areas, be it where backpackers venture or businessmen pass by. More and more venues in Thailand are offering free wireless internet access, or wi-fi.