Friday, March 8, 2013

Please don't break on me now camera!

The last time I visited Wat Pho, home of the giant golden reclining Buddha, was fifteen years ago. I was on a 12 month journey around South East Asia, India and Nepal. I was about half way through after having initially spent a couple of months in Thailand and then three months in India with my then-girlfriend, now wife.

As I headed into the giant hall to see the Buddha I noticed my camera acting funny. I always turn the beeping sound for my autofocus off, but still check the little light on my viewfinder to make sure it comes on to tell me autofocus has been achieved. That's especially important in dark places.

Anyway that little light suddenly started flashing every time I half pushed the shutter button down. For some reason it wasn't auto-focussing. I took the lens off and re-attached it. No good. Changed lenses. No good. Took the battery out and put it back in. No good. My autofocus was stuffed and I would have to focus manually.

But was what I was seeing through the viewfinder accurate? In other words if I focussed manually would the focus be OK? This was the days of film so I had literally no idea. And I was shooting slide film so there was no real way of checking. Plus we were headed to the Philippines for a month of diving the next day so no time to get it looked at in Bangkok.

So, with 6 months, the Philippines and Nepal still to go I was more than a little worried. I eventually bought a cheap roll of print film in the Philippines and did a bunch of test shots. Everything seemed to be OK so I just kept on using it. My venerable 21st birthday present lasted until the end of that trip with no more problems but I sure gained an appreciation for the guys who worked before the invention of auto-focus!

So as I headed back into Wat Pho fifteen years down the track I was sending a few wishful thoughts out to the big golden Buddha not to let it happen again. He had the same serene smile on his face as last time so I was hopeful. By the time I walked all the way down to his feet and photographed back along the length of the statue, then walked around the other side and out the door I was officially safe. No second time jinx for me!

Of course if my camera had broken it would have given me an excuse to go and buy a shiny new camera. :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wat Arun at sunset

If there's one thing I've learnt over the years it's that work is work and holiday is holiday. Which when your work (photography) is one of the biggest passions in your life - well it can be tough balancing your needs with that of the family.

So I try to put them first whenever possible and squeeze in photo opportunities around our holiday schedule. Which sometimes means sacrificing wonderful photos in order to come back with wonderful memories.

I'm sure my wife will tell you I step over the boundaries quite a bit but I try!

Anyway this is one example of where a photograph came together pretty much as I had envisaged and I was right on family schedule! We were coming back on the river ferry from a day of sightseeing and I could see the sun going down quite rapidly and Wat Arun off in the distance. I had my fingers crossed our boat would get there in time.

As we got closer and closer to the temple I could see the sun rapidly heading for the horizong, as it does so close to the equator. I managed to get a few shots of other interesting buildings with the sun behind them but this was my main goal.

Luck was on my side and with Bangkok being so smoggy, the sun quickly turned into a giant red orb and sent the surrounding sky a similar hue. Ten minutes earlier and the sun would have been quite a bit higher in the sky and possibly even more spectacular, but when you're on holiday you have to be grateful for what you get. And this time I'm pretty darn happy with what I got!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chao Praya

One of our greatest joys was catching the Chao Praya river ferries to various temples and palaces around the city. When the temperatures were nudging 40 degrees Celsius it really was one of the coolest ways to get around - as long as you didn't have to wait in the sun on the dock too long for a boat to come!

There are a couple of different ways to get up and down the river. You can hire your own long-tail boat (most expensive). get an all day ticket for tourists (next expensive), ride the tourist boat (second cheapest) or catch the regular local ferries (cheapest).

We found that the price of the tourist boat (40 Bahts) compared to the regular local ferry (15 Bahts) was so insignificant that we often ended up catchin the tourist boat. They seemed to be less crowded and run more frequently.

After a couple of times not being able to get on to a local ferry after waiting for 30 minutes in the scorching sun we stopped using them!

Monks are everywhere in Thailand and they always give off such a sense of serenity.It was nice to be able to place two iconic symbols of Bangkok in the same image.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Guess where I've been?

Well not just me. I went with my wife and kids to Bangkok for a couple of weeks and what a blast it was! We figured it out and the last time we'd been was 15 years earlier when we were backpackers staying on good ol' Khao San Rd!

This time we had a lovely self-contained apartment in Sukhumvit and spent our days exploring the famous temples, decadent shopping centres and even a Thai theme park! Stay tuned for more pics and lots of adventures for what really is a great place to go on holiday.

This image was taken in the grounds of Wat Arun, on the banks of the Chao Praya River. From our accommodation it was a leisurely BTS Skytrain ride followed by a more hectic river ferry trip. All an adventure.