While in Chiang Mai I joined Alan, a professional photographer, for a day of photography out and about in Chiang Mai. I wanted to get away from using the automatic settings on my new dslr camera, learn a bit more about the camera and, hopefully, to get some interesting shots. I got up early and made my way to Wat Phra Singh. As the aim wasn’t to take any typically tourist photos I managed to sneak a few before he arrived.
paper cutwork decorations over an archway
before the crowds arrive
mosaic naga head
We took lots of photos of the banners and the woven lantern decorations, from low on the ground looking upwards and turning the camera at different angles. Because I took so many photos that day I have made many of them into collages.
We then took a red songthaew to Wat Goo Come, or Wat Chedi Liem which had a beautiful viharn (the sermon hall and usually the busiest part of a wat). This was on the outskirts of town and therefore off the tourist track. You can visit the complex by horse drawn cart and there were a number of stalls selling food and drink.
staircase up to the viharn
Inside the viharn these lanterns were perfect for trying shots from below.
Approach a group of figures from different angles and then go really close to photograph the small ones in the front.
An attempt to incorporate a modern day clock into a more traditional composition.
We experimented with exposure compensation settings in combination with the ISO settings on these photos of the silhouette of a gable on the ground.
After refreshing ourselves with a fresh coconut our driver took us to the nearby Chiang Mai Gate market.
Inside the picture frame shop I had to try and take a photo of the Admiral with the wall of portraits in the background.
Inside the market we watched the stall holder make Thai coffee by straining it through something that looked like a sock – a great photo opportunity. I tried traditional vertical shots and some taken on the diagonal from close to the ground. The bizarre-looking contraption to the right of the lady’s head (plastic bags and a glass bottle) is a makeshift fan to be used in hot weather.
The next challenge was to use the props in the form of the small flowers in pots against a textured/coloured background.
After a delicious vegetarian buffet lunch we were driven out of town to the ancient Wat Umong situated in the forest.
There were a number of plaques on the trees with sayings on them and I had to try and get the plaque in focus but not the path – not easy.
We didn’t visit the wat itself but confined our attentions to taking some photos of the dismembered Budhha statues amongst the trees.
Look at the difference between these two photos. The top one was shot at ISO 1000 and the bottom one at ISO 800 and -2 on exposure compensation.
detail shot of the hand
playing with taking photos of shoes and feet
We then drove back into town for a much-needed cup of tea in a colonial style tea room.
strange fruit in a vase in the lobby
In the garden of the tea room (Raffles-like but without the price tag) there were squirrels chasing each other up and down the tree trunks. Examples of the beautiful pale green celadon ware were hung on the walls in the garden.
We then walked down to the night market to meet Lily, who works in a cabaret bar and who obligingly posed for some portrait photos together with one of the other artistes. I have never tried taking portrait shots before so this was a real challenge.
Apart from taking the shots of Lily her/himself Alan explained that it was important to give a sense of place too. At around 5pm the bar was empty but the shots give you an idea of the place. I have to say that I think she would be perfect for the part of one of the ugly sisters in the pantomime “Cinderella”.
By the end of the day my head was buzzing with ISOs, exposure compensation, and aperture priority shooting. It was a fascinating day and I have certainly learned to look at things differently and to make more use of shooting from low down, something I hadn’t tried before spending the day with Alan. I now need to sit down with the instruction manual for my camera and practise, practise, practise.