A Photographic Journey

Sigma 150/2.8 Macro

Try to be different with your photos

Date: 19/3/2010 18:25 Camera: Canon 5DMk2 + Sigma 150/2.8 Macro Exposure: 1/80sec at f/2.8 on tripod Focal length: 150mm

There is an annual flower show here in Hong Kong every year during spring time, I am sure its nothing compared to those in Holland but its all we’ve and its very popular with photographers, both professional and amateur.  Tens of thousands of people with cameras in toll flock to the event every year.  I myself have been to five shows over the years and it can get pretty monotonous after a while.  The pavilions on displayed is offered by various floral organizations, embassies and government departments and as you can imagine, apart from a few exceptions, the displays tend to be similar from year to year.  It was particularly hot this year and even though I was there on day-one, many of the flowers have seen much better days after being baked under the noon sun.  In the past two years, I have made an extra effort to take photos no one would’ve thought of to take at the flower show, which is difficult when you consider how many budding photographers go through the turnstiles.  I have learnt that by challenging yourself with difficult themes, limiting your photographic potential to uniqueness, is an excellent way to sharpening your photographic eye.  The above photo is another example of looking for a natural frame, the foliage around the pond with a curious and lonesome goldfish was just perfect and not a single flower in sight!  The hour was getting late and as with many of my photos, it was taken on a tripod.  It may be a bother to carry around, I find a tripod slows me down a little and makes me think about composition, framing, lighting and contrasts of the subject more, which tend to lead to less photos but better photos.

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Egyptian style elephant

Date: 22/3/2010 16:59 Camera: Canon 1DMk3 + Sigma 150/2.8 Macro Exposure: 1/800sec at f/2.8 Focal Length: 150mm

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.


Who’s the kid?

Date: 23/3/2010 2:05pm Camera & Lens: Canon 1DMk3 + Sigma 150/2.8 Macro, Focal Length: 150mm Exposure: 1/2000sec at F/2.8

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.