Editor’s Pick – Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai

Hi everyone. I returned to Melbourne after living off a backpack for 5 weeks. It has been an amazing journey, the kind you just couldn’t have enough of. As a modern digital photographer, I travelled with a bunch of memory cards and laptop, backing up and posting images as I went on. I already shared images from the first couple of weeks on my Facebook page and the travel blog, so if you are interested, please check them out.

Big Krathong Day parade

I wanted to share one of the images that I had a lot of fun photographing. It was taken during the Loy Krathong, or lantern festival, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. On the last day of the 3-night parades, it started to pour down. Earlier on, every group of parade participants had to have a group of men holding rope on either side to ensure people cannot step in too close. And they were really pushing people back. At some point I pretty much gave up taking photos because too many people were in my frame of view any way.

But the drizzle turned into a heavy, pouring rain half way into the parade around 9pm. All the people watching the parade found a cover under the closed (or open) shop fronts on either side of the street, or inside a temple. At Wat Bupparam where I was photographing all week (and I was actually staying the last night of my stay in the city at), monks and novices were gathered upstairs on the covered balcony of the school, or stuck under the temple gates created by Toi and the team of the young monks earlier in the week. I went back to ‘my room’ in the far corner of the temple, put on my wind jacket, cotton hat and found a small plastic bag from a meal earlier (they give you plastic bags for everything here in Thailand – even if you said no to the bag!). And I was out, spring in my steps, and stepped into the street where the parade went on just normally, at their slow pace, despite the heavy rain.

The girls are so used to the ‘drill’, and whenever the audience point their camera or iPad or whatever to photograph them, they would pause there and smile their gorgeous smile back to the photographer. I was slowly walking backwards, watching the scene inside the parade now, but when I pull my camera up to my face, the girls in the front would stop. I gesture with my left hand, ‘Thanks! but please, keep walking!’ Girls smile back and continue their paces. A few more backward steps and I got my shot. Throw my camera down (I got a shoulder strap that allows me to drop the camera dangling down) and put my hands together to thank them, or just a thumb up for some of them. With the aids with rolls of tissue paper helping wipe the water on their face in vain, the parade continued.

I was just fascinated by their dignity. I had a great time getting drenched, trying to keep my game up at their level.

Flickr kindly picked one such image on their Editor’s Pick for the Thailand Lantern Festival images. What an honour! At the point of writing, my image got a little over 8,300 views. I’m glad you appreciate the dignity and beauty I captured in that image!

A few other images from that evening… (more on my travel blog).

Big Krathong Day parade
Monks or not, boys are boys…

Big Krathong Day parade
Gorgeous girls in cosplay, a parade team representing a Japanese brand

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade
Another tissue, just to look ‘spotless’ perfect.

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

rain-setup
Cotton hat is practically useless in the heavy rain, but enough to keep the drops out of my eyes. Jacket was wet inside out by the end of half-hour outing for me.

I had a cold shower in the dark ‘ensuite’, fighting off the cockroaches, put on the warm jumper and slept like a baby.

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White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

The city streets in the CBD were closed off of all cars, trams and bikes, and the massive flow of people filled the tram path and laneways. It was a very unusual sight in Melbourne. But first, some food. Fortunately, a table was just vacated at the French crepe restaurant off the crowded Flinders Lane. We sat down to watch the typical French ways of the waiter and enjoyed the good food.

We were just going around the block, and avoiding the main streets that are way too crowded, we managed to check out some of the recent additions of graffitis on the laneways.

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

I’d picked up the brochrue for the event so I was relatively aware of the rich list of street, open to public free performances, including jazz by some well-known local performers, light art on the building walls, galleries were also going to open its door all night to host special exhibitions. But I had no idea how massive it was going to be. I got on a train and saw lots of people filling it, and yet I still thought they were all going to some music concert or sporting event. Little did I know the streets of Melbourne were full of people like New Year’s Eve!

Tired of walking, many people found a place to sit down inside galleries and, like us, ACMI (Australian Centre for Moving Images http://www.acmi.net.au/ ). I wonder if ACMI has ever seen so many people filling its permanent display down stairs! My faint hope of seeing some of Andy Warhol’s 16mm footages were quickly scratched off, when we saw the queue building up at the stairs (little did we know, again, it would be almost 5 times longer by the time we had enough rest downstairs and came back up!).

White Night Melbourne 2013

Stepping outside, the crowd was going through the Bollywood dancing sequence with dancers demonstrating on the main stage and the big TV above it. We stepped across the crowd to go down towards the river, when the music changed to Latino. Our friend was just talking about how she wished they put on Salsa a minute ago, so I yelled them back and went back up to find a spot in the square. Her friend, who just got off the plane from UK for a holiday earlier today, has never danced salsa, and found himself learning the steps with everyone in the crowd. I managed to find a group of 3 girls and asked one of them to dance with me. It had been ages since I (tried to) lead a girl to the tunes of salsa. But it was fun dancing for a good half an hour, thanked her good bye, and then we tried the African dance that followed.

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

Up on the Princess Bridge, artists were working on the illuminated letters of WHITE NIGHT. It always amazes me how those visual artists can come up with such designs that fill that space and bring about such interesting experiences.

White Night Melbourne 2013

Well past 2am in the morning, again, feeling a bit hungry and in need for a place to sit down, we headed down Southbank.

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

3am, the cafes at Southgate are all closed. Same goes for the river-side cafes at Crown. We settled for the coffeeshop at the foyer leading into the casino entrance. At least they had cake and drinks we needed.

White Night Melbourne 2013

Bidding good night to friends, I walked solo back the southbank towards NGV. Almost 5am, still got a couple of hours to check out the two photography exhibitions that are on concession entry fee tonight. Upon turning up the steps back up towards Arts Centre I now recall the art exhibitions on tonight. The music was playing loud in that tent in front of Arts Centre, which we so should have checked out, but I personally preferred the NGV. And then I saw that installation – the one that gives you the sensation of touching the cloud.

White Night Melbourne 2013

It’s this big pile of what looks like the bubble that build up on the surface of water in washing machine. It seems the stuff keeps bubbling out so some pieces may fall, or stretch out close enough to people, who would then grab some piece off (yes, you can touch the cloud!), and gently lift it up to float above our heads. Like cloud, really. It was pretty cool sight. Expression on people’s faces said it all.

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

By the time I’d seen enough of this, I decided I was just too tired to properly appreciate photography exhibitions right now. There is still the exterior wall light paint that I wanted to photograph, and there are more on the street, I was sure. Picking up the heavy gear and tripod reluctantly from cloak room again, I stepped outside again.

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

6am – the morning was approaching. Everyone was looking forward to the first light of the day, leaning against the Eastern side of the Princess Bridge.

White Night Melbourne 2013

White Night Melbourne 2013

Big crowd was building on the other side of the bridge, though, with the band and a large group of chorus singing what sounded like Big Band marching and funky music. Some people cannot hold themselves down and start dancing, clapping hands, cheering to the music. Then the band moved on to under the roof of the station, where I could hear their sound much better. But the time was up. With the last tune of the Saints Are Marching In, they wrapped up their performance, and with the happy exhaustion on their face, the band pushed through people back towards the bridge.

White Night Melbourne 2013

And then, all of a sudden, the another day was already here.

White Night Melbourne 2013

How did you enjoy your White Night?

VITS New Office Opening Event

2012-11-22 VITS new office

I don’t just photograph artists and shadows in reflection. I photograph events and family as well. Did I tell you that? Well, here are a few snaps from the recent assignments. VITS: Victoria Interpreting & Translating Service has asked me to photograph their new office opening event.

With kind permission of VITS, I’d like to share a few images. Please note that copyright belongs to the photographer. You may not link, reproduce or save any of the images without express written consent of the photographer as well as VITS.

VITS provides the interpretation and translation support for the multicultural community of Victoria, supported by a large group of professional interpreters and translators. Their new office is a brightly lit comfortable working environment, from which the team provides a quality service.

2012-11-22 VITS new office
The speech

2012-11-22 VITS new office
The audience

2012-11-22 VITS new office
The guests

2012-11-22 VITS new office
The venue

2012-11-22 VITS new office
Yuval, the Musician

2012-11-22 VITS new office
Smiling catering team

2012-11-22 VITS new office
and the team photo!

VITS has also kindly contracted me on photographing their Christmas function, management team profile photograph shoot, and season’s greeting team photo on another occasion. Thank you for using my service. I look forward to working with you again!

VITS website: http://www.vits.com.au/

Solstice Celebration – At Fed Square this Saturday evening!

This looks like a beautiful, colourful event in Federation Square this Saturday evening. Get there at 4:30pm and receive a lantern!

For details, see That’s Melbourne website. Here’s the description from the event programme that you can download from The Light in Winter page of Federation Square site.

Solstice Celebration
Saturday 18 June, 5pm – 8pm
Arrive at 4.30pm to get your lantern!

Each year, on the Saturday night closest to the true winter solstice we gather together at Federation Square to celebrate the moment when the days begin to get longer again. The winter solstice can be rightly thought of as the longest night of the year,but more optimistically as the beginning of the journey towards Spring, hope and renewal. That’s how we see it as our everexpanding family comes together to sing, dance, eat and banish
the cold from our souls. It’s an uplifting entertaining night and you are invited to participate, completely free of charge!

A Ghanaian choreographer brings together dancers from multiple continents to create a ‘flame’ dance of global connectedness. A Pacific Islander hot rocks dance follows a Mexican ritual during which a fire-breathin’ bull charges the audience (all in fun!) A Japanese butoh dancer creates a fire dance for her people, to express their grief, the vulnerability of
being human and the ultimate hope for transformation. Sudanese dancers jump for joy, shining the light for their people post referendum. And our founder members from Turkey, Afghanistan, Burma, Kiribati/Tuvalu, Chile and India are with us again.

Get the family together to celebrate the great midwinter. Join us and shine your light on the
Solstice night. It’s a beautiful time to be at the heart of the city. You may discover
a joyous and colourful aspect you never knew existed.

For full Solstice details, visit
fedsquare.com/thelightinwinter

Buddha’s Day

Buddha's Day 2011

It’s been pretty cold in Melbourne. A little too early to go into winter, I wish it had stayed in a cool ‘autumn’ for a few more weeks. Saturday started off just like any other day of the week with dark cloud, quiet rain blanketing over the city. I had this event marked on the calendar but half gave up on it seeing how wet it is out there. By the time I finish my rourtine saturday grocery shopping at Victoria Market, it had stopped raining and it was beginning to look like it was going to be sunny for a while. So I parked the car in the gardens, had a cup of coffee at NGV and walked to Fed Square to check out what’s going on. Check out Buddha’s Day, on till tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon. Continue reading “Buddha’s Day”

Corporate event photo shoot

It’s been over a week without any update on this blog. The quake in Japan left me with a week of cancelled location shoot job last week, but now I’m back shooting for yet another friendly bunch of people.

This time I was capturing the moments at an information night organised by Solutionware, an expert in IT solutions for small and medium scaled businesses in Melbourne. It was a fun evening filled with lots of jokes, good food and latest mobile gadgets.

Photos are expected to appear on Solutionware‘s website, but here’s a few shots to share with my friends…

Many thanks to the event organiser and Solutionware for choosing me for photographing this event.