This “macro” was taken during a birding trip in Mai Po, Hong Kong. I had found a good high vantage point from a tree to take photos of a few water fowl swimming past under me and as luck would have it, a helicopter flew overhead and not surprisingly frightened the birds to flight, as always I was the prepared scout as a bunch of feathers were let loose from the fleeing birds. I snapped away as the feather that was floating down into the marsh and this was one of the magical moments that was the result. You could imagine my surprise when I uploaded the photos into the computer. The reflection was pitch black and the reflected fronds went in to a crazy Bokeh with the feather remaining crispy sharp. Rendered by this wonderful prime lens like Photoshop magic, but without the computer. I have this printed up and framed in perspex at home and it is stunning.
This photo was taken at a park adjacent to Wat Lang Ka in the center of Phnom Penh, this elephant has been a part of the local urban landscape for over ten years and is something of a celebrity in Downtown Phnom Penh. The photo depicts the elephants’ cranial aspects like those found in Egyptian wall reliefs sculpture. The body of the elephant is acting as a frame in the photo holding up three sides. The elephant is wearing sandals due to an injured paw, caused by wear on the hard concrete roads. You can tell this Cambodian elephant apart from its African counterpart from their much smaller ears. Elephants in the wilds of Cambodia are endangered and those in captivity are also diminishing in numbers. Elephant handling in Cambodia is an ancient art that is also in danger of extinction, these handlers are call Phnong, who traditionally use domesticated elephants for clearing trees for land cultivation, but as the value of the elephant increase with tourism, many Phnong are selling these elephants to large companies for use as transports around tourist sites like Angkor Wat.
I wasn’t sure what was the best way to start this new journey into my camera life, so I figure I will start with the boy depicted in the header. The picture is that of a boy on the streets of Cambodia. It isn’t even a particularly technically proficient photo, its taken in harsh sunlight, the boy is squinting, its actually a crop of a poorly composed picture to improve composition. But what I’ve learnt above all about photography is that a good photo is comprised many elements, but the most important is that the subject is significant to the me the photographer. So a snapshot done by a mother of her precious child is as important and satisfying to her as it was for Ansel Adams to take photos of wild America. This photo has significance for me because it brings back a happy memory.
A friend and I arrived at Ankor Thom near Siem Reap in the heat of the noon day sun, not the best time to explore, nor to take photographs but sometimes when traveling with a time limit you don’t always have the luxury to take photos during dawn and dusk, so you make do with what you’ve got. We trekked through the ruins of Ankor Thom and this boy followed us from the car, we didn’t know what he was about as he clearly didn’t understand any English so we initially ignored him. As we were exploring the boy would tug our sleeves and point to interesting markings and areas in the ruins, so what we have here was an impromptu and unasked for guide. We continued to explore the ruins and it was sweltering hot and there weren’t many photo worthy scenes, so after a hour and a half or so, we were glad to be heading back to the air-conditioned car. We decided to get the driver to pick us up from under the shade of a large tree instead of walking all the way to the car with our heavy gear. It was time for us to say bye to the little boy that silently have been following us for all that time.
I don’t usually give money to street urchins, but he was different, he actually gave us a service. So breaking with tradition we gave the boy US$1.00. What we didn’t expect was the joy that one dollar brought to him. It was an unforgettable experience to see this boy joyously skipping away from us, waving that dollar in the air like it was a winning lottery ticket down his imaginary yellow brick road.
This photo and the header reminds me that it is the joy that we bring into another’s life that makes life worth living. It is through photography that I have captured a fleeting moment in time to forever help refresh my failing memory.