Thursday, January 28, 2010

Participant's Images

Last night we had our farewell dinner at Phnom Penh's famous Foreign Correspondent's Club. Our photo tour has been an amazing journey. I have asked that each participant provide one image to post here. The following are their photographs.
Judi Purcell of Pensacola Beach Florida, a two time Jim Cline Photo Tour participant, made this image using a Casio point and shoot digital camera. As you can see, it's not about the equipment that one uses, it's about the eye of the artist. Bravo to Judy for showing us that we don't need to lug around all that heavy, expensive, high tech gear. The image was shot in a small village in Laos, during our 2-day boat trip from Chaing Khong Thailand to Luang Prabang, Laos.
Judi Purcell's husband, Harry captured the above image while visiting the Karen Long Neck Hill Tribe in Northern Thailand. Harry noticed a small child wearing the traditional neck rings and carefully positioned himself so that the child's mother was visible in the frame. The child alone would have made an excellent photo, but Harry took this image to a completely higher level by providing context and an additional area of interest. Way to go Harry! For more of Harry and Judi's images see their website HERE
Dr. Michael Rosenfeld, a primary care physician from Vancouver BC, Canada; a first time Jim Cline photo tour participant, snapped the above image of two beautiful Cambodian dancers at Bayon temple at Angkor Thom in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Using an 18-200mm Nikon VR lens, Michael captured this amazing shot. Michael commented that this image exemplifies for him, the typical Cambodian "warm welcome" which we received throughout the country. This photo should be on the cover of every Cambodian tourist brochure! Nice job Michael!
One of my favorite images of our trip was shot by Aaron Teitel. Aaron has traveled extensively and has participated in many photo tours and photo workshops, so we were delighted when he signed up for our tour. Aaron captured this moment, when three young Laotian boys were sitting on a low stone wall. The playfulness and camaraderie of the children is so typical here, and this shot gives us a feeling for not only the place, but also a feeling of a culture. Aaron shot this image with a Canon 5D Mark II, and a 28-300 zoom lens (at 170mm). Wonderful image Aaron!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Phnom Penh: Sunrise and Cyclos

We arrived in Phnom Penh last night. Our ride from Siem Reap was long and tiring but a few stops and some nice scenery along the way made it interesting. This morning only Galye made it to the sunrise shoot on the river front.

Here, Gayle reviews her shots before taking a cyclo ride around town.

Off to the Killing Fields and S21 prison....more later

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Siem Reap / Angkor Wat ..Another Epic Day!

Below: fishing nets, Kompong Kleang, Tonle Sap Lake near Siem Reap, Cambodia and a grasshopper perched on an infants back. No one freaked out when the grasshopper landed on the child, and a few moments later, the mother casually removed the grasshopper with her hand. Further below, a Khmer man wearing a traditional Kroma (Cambodian Scarf).

Above, I photographed this child playing with home made billiard table. Using marbles, a wooden stick, and plastic stools for table support, he was totally engrossed in the moment, and was not even initially aware that I was photographing him. It always delights me to see imaginative children amusing themselves with home made toys. I hope X-boxes and GameBoys never make it to Cambodia!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

I don't have much time because we are sitting here eating breakfast at our hotel, the Pavillon Indochine, eating breakfast. Today we go out to the Tonle Sap for a boat ride and then later to seldom visited Beng Melea temple, but I wanted to post some pictures from yesterday. We visited the well known, Angkor Wat, where we saw many monks. We shot the huge stone heads at Bayon and photographed a beautiful Apsara dancer, and later in the day we visited Preah Khan another amazing, yet less visited temple. Enjoy the images


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mostly Monks

It's our free day in Luang Prang and I could have slept in, but it's just to hard to resist another 6:30 am parade of monks, so most of us are up and out the door by 6:15. Today, I thought I would try for something different in terms of my images.

Choosing a low angle by placing my camera on the ground, I shot with my 70-200mm 2.8 lens. My settings were ISO 640 (my old Canon Mark II gets pretty noisy at anything above 640) my shutter speed was 1/250 of a second because I needed enough speed to stop the moving feet, the resulting 3.2 f-stop was very shallow as you can see by looking at the pavement. With my focus spot set to just left of center and my focus mode in AI-Servo in order to track the subject, I snapped off about 4 frames of each passing monk. As expected, I had to throw most away, but there were a few which I liked.

A small girl sitting on a tiny stool caught my attention and I watched her looking up at the monks as they passed, her hands pressed together in the traditional sign of respect called the "wai". I framed the shot by sitting on the ground perpendicular to her and fired off a few shots each time an opening between the monk's orange robes appeared.

On the walk back to the hotel, I spotted some laundry hanging out on the front porch of a Laotian home. It wasn't even 7:30 am and I had already shot more than 150 images. It's just another great start to a phtoto-rich day here in Luang Prabang.

Luang Prabang, Laos

Last night we arrived at the boat dock in Luang Prabang at around 5:30 pm. Our two day river trip allowed us the opportunity to sit back, relax and discuss photography, share images and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Mekong river.

On of our last stops along the way was the amazing Pok Au cave, where hundreds of Buddha images have been placed in a large riverside cave. 

Now we're at the Chang Inn right among many of the famous monestaries of this old French provincial capitol of Laos, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Luang Prabang is truly a jewel of a city, known for it's delicious food, friendly locals and countless Buddhist temples.

But the real reason that we are here is to photograph the procession of 600 saffron clad monks every morning. This morning was fantastic and we all captured some wonderful images!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

LensFlare 35 interview

Just for your information, I was interviewed by  LensFlare35 last month, the interview is now available here if you're interested.

We are off to Luang Prabang today....I gotta' get down to the boat dock....cheers, Karl

Mid way along the Mekong River

I can't believe that I'm blogging from Pak Beng! Check it out on any map, Pak Beng is the middle of nowhere, yet our hotel has internet access...this is amazing. Today we left Thailand and traveled on a private boat for about 7 hours. Pak Beng is our midway stop before arriving in Luang Prabang tomorrow afternoon.

In a small Laotian village west of here, these children in a window caught my attention due to their contemplative expressions. I shot these in color but felt that they would be more dramatic in black and white.

I'll blog more tomorrow and update things from Luang Prabang. Until then...enjoy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Long Neck Tribe and the Burmese Border

Today we visited a long neck tribe about one and a half hours away from our hotel. Along the way we stopped to photograph some workers in a rice field, pulling up seedlings and replanting them. The action was fast and furious. Everyone got some great, up close images, and no one fell into the water!

Meeting, observing and photographing The Karen Long Neck tribe is always an amazing experience, and today was particularly good because the lighting conditions were ideal. Overcast skies, the shade provided by the bamboo and thatch market stalls, combined with nice, warm, bounce light coming off of the dirt floors, gave our pictures a wonderful "glow".

After visiting the long neck tribe we headed to the Burmese border at Tachilek, where we crossed through immigration and spent a few hours photographing a local market and a large hill top pagoda. Tomorrow we head down to Chaing Khong and then cross the Mekong to Huai Sai, Laos, and pick up our boat to Pak Beng.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Golden Triangle Tranquility

Today we left the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, flew to Chaing Rai and drove north to the small, tranquil town of Bon Sop Ruak. This is the area known as the Golden Triangle, where Burma, Laos and Thailand all converge, with the Mekong and Ruak rivers separating the three countries. Once know for it's opium and illicit drug trade, the area is now becoming a bit of a tourist attraction, with its easy access to the Burmese border and several local hill tribe villages.

Upon arrival we took an orientation walk along the Mekong river and then hiked up to my favorite Buddhist Monastery, where at 6:00 pm a monk rings a large iron bell, signaling the time and alerting other monks to gather for chanting. We had the opportunity to photograph the ritual and then returned to our hotel for dinner.

Tomorrow we set off to see the long neck tribes, followed by a brief border crossing for some photography in Burma. Wish you were here!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tuk Tuks and Thai Boxing

Our photo tour is moving along nicely, although traffic here in Bangkok is terrible. After leaving Wat Pho we spend nearly two hours in traffic to cover the 3 kilometers back to our hotel! The streets are full of cars, trucks, motorbikes and the ubiquitous Thai Tuk Tuk. In the above photo, I panned at a 30th of a second and caught this image of a passing Tuk Tuk.

In the evening we had a delicious dinner at the Mango Tree restaurant and then headed over to the Pink Panther for thire nightly Mua Thia (kick boxing) show. This is where the newer, high ISO capable cameras really shine. With my old Canon Mark II I'm limited to ISO 1600 which is just barely enough speed. The action is fast an furious, and with ring side seats we have to be careful not to get hit by the boxers as they are up against the ropes!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bangkok Thailand

I'm in Bangkok leading the first of two back to back 2010 Thailand, Laos, Cambodia Photo Tours which I lead annually for Jim Cline Photo Tours. Check out this link for the full itinerary of our tour.

Today we started our tour with a visit to some salt drying areas along the roadside en route to the famous floating market of Damnern Saduak. In the above image I chose a low angle and caught a worker pushing a wheel barrow of salt towards Michael Rosenfeld, a physician from Vancouver BC. Michael is a veteran of photo tours and workshops and a first time tour guest with Jim Cline photo tours.

Workers  harvest the salt by hand, and using wheel barrows, transfer the dry salt to collection areas, begfore it is cleaned and packaged for sale.

At the floating market flowers, fruits, vegetable and cooked food are available for purchase. I shot the above image using a 16-35mm F2.8 lens to accentuate the steaming pot while, including the cook, seated in her boat preparing a bowl of soup.

One of my favorite subjects, an elderly woman who sells pot stickers, was in her usual spot today, so our group all had the opportunity to photograph her.

At the royal palace, this security guard near the royal residence caught my eye, so I positioned myself to place him on a background, created by a rust colored pillar. Waiting for him to look up, I then fired off a few frames, of which, I like this one best.

Later in the day, Harry Purcell, who has travel with me before (on our Peru tour), was interviewed by a group of students wishing to practice their English. Harry didn't seem to mind all the attention and the girls were really getting a kick out of talking to him.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Back in Colombo

Late last night I arrived back in Colombo after visiting several Asia Foundation programs in central and eastern Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with several large coastal cities, lush fertile lowlands and cool, fresh hill stations. A "leftover British flavor" lingers and in many ways Sri Lanka reminds me of a more tidy, more sedate, more manageable, India.

Over the past 30 years the Sri Lankan government has been fighting the LTTE  (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) and just recently the Tigers were defeated. A sense of guarded optimism is palpable as the country enters a new chapter in its history.

While traveling around the country, police and military roadblocks are frequent. One of the components of The Asia Foundation’s Peace Building Initiative is a program wherein police receive Tamil language training, so that they can better communicate with Tamil people.
Even though the war is over, the government is still preoccupied with security.  East of Kandy, where a bus load of passengers were being screened at a checkpoint, I took the opportunity to photograph the procedure. All the passengers were asked to off load, pass through a document check, and then reboard the bus. I photographed the police and the Tamils, Sinhalese, and Muslims traveling to eastbound destinations. All was calm and orderly. The government has set a date of January 31 to resettle all internally displaced Tamils in the country.

 Earlier today, I was shooting in the main fish and vegetable market in Colombo, grabbing some Sri Lanka daily life images. The market was frenetic but as most markets are here in Asia, they're great places for photography. Above is an image of a worker in the fish market, pausing for a cigarette. He was delighted that I took the time to photograph him and we chatted briefly before I moved along.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

48 Hours in Transit

I've arrived in Colombo Sri Lanka after what seemed like a very long time. First was an 18 hour flight from LA to Bangkok, followed by a 12 hour layover, then a short 3 hour flight to Colombo. Arriving at the airport last night at about midnight, I was picked up and transported to the hotel. The streets of Colombo were virtually devoid of cars and people, with only the occasional military check point, slowing our progress to the hotel. I awoke this morning anxious to get shooting with the Asia Foundation. I'll be documenting a Post Conflict Peace Building Initiative, aimed at improving the relationship and communication between the police and the Tamils.

The last time I was here in Sri Lanka, I my work was centered around the recovery efforts following the 2004 Indian ocean Tsunami along the south coast. This time  I'll be driving across the interior of the country and on to the east coast. In less than one hour I will be traveling to Kandy to meet Bent Jones, who's writing the story and the Asia Foundation's local staff who will be assisting us.  Given the opportunity, I hope to have the opportunity blog again soon, and to provide a more interesting image...the one above was all I could muster from the window of my hotel room this morning.