Category Archives: Street Photography
We’ve been home now for just over 2 weeks and I’m still going through all the shots I took during our Asia trip. We flew to Hong Kong then after 1 full day and 2 nights, we were off to Bangkok for 4 days. I really wish we had stayed a full week or more but we were fitting in 3 cities in 2 weeks with the majority of time in Hong Kong.
After arriving in Bangkok and checking into our hotel, we ventured out to see the area where we were staying. Right next to the hotel was a narrow side street that we took a walk down and were immediately struck by the contrast to our 5 star lodgings next door. It was a good example of inner city poverty. I wished we had someone with us that could speak Thai as I really wanted to talk to some of the people we saw there.
For someone who comes from a smaller city, on the world stage at least, Bangkok is amazing. I never left the hotel without at least 1 camera, day or night. It was difficult resisting the urge to photograph everything I saw. It was all new to me and I ended up with many photo’s that I’ll never post but I will view them myself as every one brings me back to the place. I have to confess, that during our first night out around town, my initial feeling was ‘Blade Runner’. I felt like I had just walked into a real life version of the movie. The huge TV billboards lighting the streets, along with the regular billboards everywhere, and the endless crowds seemed so surreal and gave a certain look and feel to the streets. Also, the vendors set up on the sidewalks selling everything from dinner to clothes to electronics added another dimension to experiencing the city. Even some of the graffiti made an interesting photo.
I guess for me, one of the most amazing things about this city was the sidewalk food vendors. If you take a walk during lunch or dinner times, it seemed like every sidewalk was full of them and every one of them was busy. In many places, it was almost impossible to walk down the sidewalk because of the vendors and customers. The varieties of food was vast and the smells were mouthwatering. I have to confess that I stuck to restaurants for my meals though as I’m a bit of a ‘hot n spicy’ wimp and not speaking the language, wouldn’t be sure of what exactly I would be getting. Also, I didn’t want to risk getting sick on something my system couldn’t handle that could ruin my short time there.
I did learn a valuable lesson in keeping properly hydrated the first day we were there as I didn’t drink near enough fluids and ended up missing the second day’s outings with our group. I was fine by lunch time though and went out to do some street shots. I made sure I consumed a lot of water and Gatorade while exploring and never had that problem again.
One of the other activities we enjoyed was riding on the river. There are numerous options for river transportation and it’s also a great way to get around to different areas of the city. Another bonus is you never know what you might see along the way.
I couldn’t believe what was pulling that enormous barge train.
Of course you also see all types of boats, mostly for shuttling tourists around.
There are many interesting sites along the riverside too. One disadvantage my travel camera kit has is the lack of a telephoto lens. I would rarely use it but it would have been handy during these river excursions. I did however have my Canon G1X along, mainly for grabbing video, and this does have a zoom lens that had a bit more reach than my longest Fuji lens.
In part 2 of this blog, I’ll touch on some of the sites we toured while in Bangkok.
We are in our last full day of our 15 day visit to Puerto Vallarta. This time we stayed at our vacation club located beside the Marina which means we have a suite with a kitchen and living room. Basically a small apartment in a resort. This is the second time we have stayed at this resort and our 7th visit to Puerto Vallarta. After this many visits, it has meant that I have to adjust my mindset when going out to shoot some images. I haven’t shot any of the iconic places as much as I did in the past, although I did a few more shots along the Malecon and some sunset shots.
I also made the effort to get up well before sunrise and headed over to the marina to get set up for a sunrise shot. It was a very enjoyable time as I met a nice ex-pat lady named Jules and we had a nice visit while waiting for the sunrise.
As I mentioned, our vacation club is beside the marina so it’s quite a distance to the central region where the Malecon and the majority of the activity is going on. It’s about 1-1/2 hr walk or 15 min ride on the local buses. One thing to mention about these buses in Puerto Vallarta is the lack of springs and on the cobbled streets, they are referred to as a Mexican Massage. It takes some getting used to, but the price is right and if you are too foot sore for the long walk, they are very frequent.
I decided that on this trip I would shoot primarily for color images. This is a shift in mindset for me as I usually concentrate on black and white with only an occasional color shot. Of course with digital I could process the shot either way but there is a difference when actually looking for shots. It’s hard to explain but I guess it is mostly to do with the light and contrast. Another thing to consider when shooting for color is really being careful with the background to ensure there isn’t some bright and flashy object that will compete with the main subject of the shot. I have to admit that it was more challenging for me as I’ve gotten a bit lazy in this aspect because of the amount of black and white that I’ve done on previous trips.
Lighting can be tricky with color street shots. There was a festival going on from Dec. 1 until Dec. 12 and everyday in late afternoon there was a procession and lots of crowds on the streets. Although it was later in the day, the light was still quite strong and hard so I was constantly trying to keep the sun to my left or right and slightly behind me.
I also spent a lot of time looking for shady areas and trying to position myself so I could minimize or eliminate bright hotspots in the background.
Sometime though, I just shot the scene I wanted to capture even though the lighting situation was far from ideal.
On a couple of occasions I asked to take a portrait. I gave out my card and told them if they emailed me, I would email back their pictures for them to do with as they pleased. This got a very favorable reaction and the pictures really turned out nice. I do hope to hear from them.
So to sum it up, this trip has been a bit different for me on the photography side. Even though we have visited here many times, I was able to make the photography interesting and challenging. The amount of pictures has dropped from other visits but I did shoot every day and enjoyed other activities as well. Now I have to get home and get ready for Hong Kong and Bangkok in 3 weeks. That is going to be very interesting.
The cameras I had on this trip were the Fujifilm X100S and the Fujifilm X-Pro1. The X100S has a 23mm lens and for the X-Pro1, I brought all my lenses for it. The 14mm, 18mm, 35mm, and 60mm.
One thing we do a lot of is walking when we travel. By walking, we can take our time and stop at the places that interest us. We can also explore areas off the beaten path, so to speak, and discover areas less frequented by the regular crowds. With the photography that I like to do, getting away from the main tourist thoroughfares is important to get some ‘real life scenes’ type of photographs. I love the common, everyday, what people do type of shots that can be difficult to find in the high tourist traffic areas. This means I have to do a lot of exploring off the beaten track. Prior to our trip to Europe, we spent a lot of time researching Paris and London to get an idea of where we would like to visit. Being that this was our first trip to these cities, the locations, for the most part, were the popular tourist areas. We did choose hotels in each city that were well located for seeing the popular attractions as well as easy access to the city transit systems, the Metro of Paris and the Tube in London. I also researched the use of these and the first thing we did in Paris was buy a 10 pack of tickets and in London, an oyster card. We didn’t even use up the 10 tickets in Paris even though we were out exploring every day, rain or shine. Our hotel was about a 10 minute walk to The Louvre museum and only a couple of blocks away from the Tuileries Gardens. From here we could walk to many different areas that we wanted to see. In London, our hotel was right beside St Paul’s Cathedral, about a 15 min walk to the Thames River Walkway. We were also a 5 min walk to the St Paul’s Tube station where we could easily travel to areas of the city that were too far to walk to where, after a brief tube ride, we could wander at our leisure and have lots of time to do so. The great part about walking to a set destination is that you find many different interesting places along the way. For the most part, I don’t pay attention to the time when wondering around. I rarely have a set time for any place that I have to worry about so if I detour for a while, I’m not messing up a schedule. Many of my favorite shots were taken during the journey to a destination, not the destination itself. There have been occasions where we have booked a tour to get a good idea of the different areas of a city and we could then revisit locations that interested us and explore further at our leisure. We did this in Havana and Puerto Vallarta. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time in Havana to revisit some of the areas that we would have liked to but someday hope to return there and do so. We have visited Puerto Vallarta many times now and are very comfortable getting around there but still make new discoveries with every trip. Many of the side streets and small markets that are great for photography would have remained unknown if we hadn’t done a lot of walking around. In Havana, part of our city tour was a walking tour of Old Havana but it was done at a quick pace and there are many areas that I would love to revisit and explore off the path we took. I guess my suggestion for less experienced travelers would be to book a city tour early during your visit, make note of places you see that you would like to explore, then get out there and walk lots. Check out anything that looks interesting. Most important of all, don’t leave your hotel without your camera.