Digging In The Vault #2 – Mosaic Monsters

One of my favorite shots from the Grand Palace in Bangkok was the mosaic tile monsters.  I’d call it a dragon, but do dragons have large fins on their heads?  I remain confused.

Mosaic Dragon at the Grand Palace in Bangkok

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The colors and artwork is amazing.  I should have stopped down a bit though – the depth of field at this angle is a little lacking, I think, but the focus on its face might make me reconsider.  I tried to work this shot into a masthead for the blog for a while, but the aspect ratio is all wrong so it never happened.  What do you think?

On an unrelated and nerdy note (stop reading here if those words made your eyes glaze over), I’ve had some issues with the color management on my monitor for a while.  What I was seeing in Photoshop wasn’t what was visible on the web, but I couldn’t sort it out so I just let it be.  Not anymore.  Finally figured it out and from here on out things should look better.  If I have enough time I might go back and fix some of the older ones – if things suddenly look better, that’s why.

Digging In The Vault #1 – Thailand

Sairee Beach on Koh Tao is pretty great.  Very picturesque, nice sand, and every tourist around will be there to shoot pictures like this around sunset.  But I think this post sets a different kind of record for me.

Boulders at Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, Thailand

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I’ve been employed for all of two weeks now and already I’m digging in the vault as I’m out of new stuff.  Of course this pic is from my trip a while back, but it’s still good stuff, right?

Anyway, these sorts of rock formations were all around the beaches on Koh Tao and I lived them all.  This one seemed to have particularly nice asymmetry.  I can’t figure out if I’m happy with the framing in this shot or not.  On one hand, the subject is halfway up, seeming screwing up the rule of thirds pretty good.  On the other hand, horizontally, I think the positioning is very nice.  I’m coming around to the idea that the vertical symmetry and the horizontal asymmetry make it work.  But I took it, so I’m a little biased.

If this was your walkway, you'd be home already

Koh Kret Walkway

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Just upriver from central Bangkok (an incredibly busy, smoggy, urban city) is a small island in the bend of the Chao Phraya River called Koh Kret (a small, rural non-city). Still populated largely by the ethnic Mon people, the main activities seem to be shilling their traditional pottery (and dessert, so I hear) to tourists. Once you get off the main drag on the elevated concrete walkway that rings the island, things get distinctly more agricultural and rural. Although the pathway is well built, everything strapped to it is… otherwise constructed. This is the path up to a typical house. I don’t know about you, but personally it looks a little rickety. Maybe that’s just me. In any case, it’s a nice little break from Bangkok, and at forced march speeds, you can walk the whole 5+ kilometers in just over an hour. Hopefully before your hired Long-Tail boat gets pissed at you and leaves.

Nobody Messes With The Chicken

Chumporn Chicken

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The rule of thumb seems to be that the less developed the country, the more aggressive the fowl. Comparatively, this was a smaller chicken – the largest two roosters I saw were the ones that lived under my bungalow in Koh Tao. In any case, this one had some attitude – look at that stare.

On a photo nerd note, this picture makes me want to mention that there are times you want to break some of those classic rules.  The rule of thirds makes for much more interesting pictures about 95% of the time, but this is one of the times where it’s all about the subject and leaving it off-center would probably detract from the image.  When you really want all focus on one obvious thing, put it in the middle of the frame.  If you want to remind people that there is a larger image to look at, rule of thirds is great.

    The Last of the Long-Tails

    Long-Tail Boat Close-up

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    I don’t know if I’ve done it justice so far. About 50% of my pictures are long-tail boats but I’ve only posted a couple here. I like this shot as most of mine were taken from the beach so you just see the boat in profile. It’s always nice to be able to shoot down at something or up at it – angles, man! This was from the pier in Mae Haad as we waited for our ferry to come.

    Making bowls for Monk’s Alms

    Traditional Buddhist Monk Bowl

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    Buddhist monks in Thailand traditionally beg for their food using a special handmade bowl. Like most things, now there are cheap versions from China, but in the alleys of Soi Ban Baat, the last of three villages founded in the time of Rama I still does things the old fashioned way. The picture above is of the tools used in one of the final steps. The bowls are created of 8 pieces of steel (symbolizing the 8-fold path and all that) that are then soldered together with copper and hammered into shape. The finished bowls are beautiful and have a great tone when struck with something hard. The creation process may or may not involve the use of cats. Either way, it’s a great diversion when you have an extra hour or two in Banglumphu. And you can walk there from the Koh Sahn area – don’t let the irate security guards at Chabad tell you otherwise.

    Thailand Stereotypes: Long-Tail Boats

    Tail-less Longtail Boat

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    After Phad Thai and images of the King, there is nothing you will see more often in Thailand than the ubiquitous Long-Tail Boats. Built for speed in narrow waterways (I can confirm – *very* fast), they are all over Bangkok, but also all over the numerous island shores. This shot was taken off Sairee Beach on Koh Tao. Missing, of course, is the long-tail part – you can see the usual look here. Gotta love that color-changing water too.

    Open Flame on Koh Tao

    Beach Lanterns on Koh Tao

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    Walking down Sairee Beach on Koh Tao, I stumbled across a wedding. These lanterns were bordering the fringe. Whenever I travel outside of the US one of my favorite parts is always the ability to have fun in a way that might put you on the wrong side of some lawsuit at home. These were one thing, but the flying incendiary balloons were much… better? worse? I didn’t ask if they only launch these things when the wind will take them offshore.