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.

End of winter

wet evening at the end of winter

Little did I know it at the time, but a couple of weeks ago I was walking in the last week of winter in Melbourne.

wet evening at the end of winter

It was dark, heavy and wet.

wet evening at the end of winter

20 August 2013

Some days, the cloud seem so heavy. You could see the spots of heavy rain across the horizon.

Altona Beach

Monet's Pond

I realised that the art-filled winter is coming to an end. I jumped in to NGV to have a quick look at their Monet’s Garden exhibition. They are rather good. I’m hoping to check out again this weekend, before it closes on Sunday.

dusk in early spring

And one day, we woke up, to see the soft light shining through.

dusk in early spring

No more harsh cold wind. It’s just soft, hazy air out there.

dusk in early spring

People are starting to dress in shorter clothes.

dusk in early spring

Even the arrival of the night is not as depressing…

And we know…

Melbourne

The winter is gone.

thunder storm

dusk Thursday 21 February 2013

I’ve been missing the rain. That sound, that smell, the calm look on people’s face as they walk on the street, their shadows and reflections. My ‘The Other’ project is still unfinished and I am waiting for the return of the colder season with its changing weather and early sundown. But then again, I have been enjoying this summer. Drove down to the beach the other day just to cool down at the end of the hot day. Lie down with a paperback and bottle of water. Not bad at all… On a day like this, I drop the camera and just focus on relaxing. We all need to rest our mind.

Coming back to the working week, the weather forecast started to look a bit more interesting. There seem to be some rains on the way. So I swapped the small camera that currently has only a wide angle street lens, with the old trusted Canon, and grabbed the zoom lens as well.

Despite the warning of decent rain and thunders, it did not really come down. I decided to head back home a bit early before the sun was down, when the sky began to look rather interesting. Arriving at the station near home, the light on the storm clouds just caught my eyes, with its graceful moves, the shade of orange to dark blue and purple, under the layer of the blanket in front.

dusk Thursday 21 February 2013

dusk Thursday 21 February 2013

I was lucky enough to find this spot in the middle of an oval (cricket/footie field – for those from other part of the world, those are the two favourite sports played in this part of the planet). After walking around it and looking at it from many different angles, leaving a lady jogger staring at me from the end of the oval behind me for a good few minutes deciding what this weird guy was doing, I was down on my knees, then onto elbows to find the frame I was after. The elbows of my black button-down shirt were wet as I walked home, but I was pretty happy with that.

dusk Thursday 21 February 2013

The lights dramatically change on a stormy day. Only a minute later, before leaving the oval, I looked up and the last orange light is no longer reaching the sky above me and I saw the gloomy cloud but somehow peaceful, transparent blue of the sky still visible in the gaps.

As I resumed my 10-minute walk home, I saw flashes on a regular intervals from the direction I was heading. I’m in luck. As I got home, I went straight through the room to the balcony, as a lightening just flashed in the sky right in front of me. I watched for a few minutes to see where the thunder clouds are moving and went back in to grab a tripod and remote cable.

To my disappointment, it was not a full orchestra of thunder and rains. It was happening somewhere else. I heard it even hailed in some suburb during the day. But here I was, at the edge of the weak thunder system, clicking through on long exposures staring at the sky in the frame. Then I ended up with this.

It was a total surprise to me that the light should go up and across to the side like that. I was expecting straight up, in a series of lines. But people seem to like it, as it gained a lot of Likes in the Facebook album. So here it is for you, if you are not following my Facebook page.

dusk Thursday 21 February 2013

On a day like this, you can believe there is something more than just us in this place. How can this beauty be just an accident of chemicals and pressue and light and what not? To me this was given to me, to us, by somebody. Could that be the spirit of my friend’s grandmother who just passed away the day before? Is she dancing around in the sky, telling us, everything is going to be okay, we all live in such a beautiful place. Someday, when I close the door to this life, I join those who walk on ‘The Other’ side (as my project is focusing on). What show shall I put on? That is an intriguing thought!

The end of summer is near.

Spring rain

rain

It started to rain at lunch time on Friday. When I hit the street as usual a little after 5pm, it had not not been raining for a while but it was just a matter of time before it came back. If you are new to my blog, you may not know this, but I love shooting in the rain. It just makes such a wonderful environment for photography. Here are a few of the shots I made today.

rain

rain

When the rain became harder, it seems everyone was moving to the rhythm of the rain. People stepping to the same beat, as fast as the rain coming down hard on them.

bike in rain

Cyclists are also passing fast, overtaking a slow-moving pedestrian at tram stop.

bike in rain

Another bike commuter, not quite dressed for the weather.

The Other

And here’s one, too, on the other side…

The Other

A man crosses the street on the other side.

The Other

Blue umbrella

The Other

The light shines through from the other side.

rain

And when the sun shines while the rain is still coming down hard, that is the most beautiful sight.

Rain on the forecast

Dragging myself out of bed, I open the macbook. Check email, facebook updates, and then see the weather forecast page. Rain towards the afternoon. Wind stronger. Yes! I pick the L.L.Bean water-proof anorak that I bought more than 20 years ago. I had the same top on when I came to Melbourne for the first time during summer holiday in uni. Anyhow, rainy days are beautiful. It is full of light – you might think it is darker on rainy days – it is actually much brighter, and often more saturated. You just cannot miss the rainy days.

Buskers had packed up their gig and gone home for the day. I knew this because they told me just the other night. Maybe they are deciding where to go eat together. But it is the precious golden hour for me. Looking around for street corners where something interesting may be happening, I walk on.

rainy evening

Rain got stronger as I came to my familiar corner. Looking at the pool of water always formed on a rainy day, I think about Cartier-Bresson. I wonder what was going through his mind. He is known to be one who just mysteriously come out with the ‘goods’ while casually walking with friends. Did he have a very different approach than, say, Elliot Erwitt, another of my idol, who I’ve seen uses bike horns to let the passers-by turn their face towards him. I do not interfere with what’s happening as much I can help it – standing there with a camera is already an interference, sure. But I do not pose people.

rainy evening

While walking around a few blocks, the rain seems to have passed, and I can see clouds flying by pretty quickly. The sun will have to drop the orange light somewhere. I moved up towards the top of the city where I knew there is a better chance of western sun creating shadows on people crossing the street…

rainy evening

rainy evening

rainy evening

It was a beautiful afternoon. Bring on the rain!