*Monks in the Headlights*
Every morning in Luang Prabang around 5:30 AM, processions of monks walk down the streets as locals give them sticky rice for their day’s meals. It’s quite a sight, and of course in the summer it happens at dawn. But in December, it’s still night, which meant I had to expand my bag of tricks to get some interesting shots. I didn’t want to disrupt the scene, so I used a zoom lens. I cranked up the ISO to a whopping 25600, first time ever. I’m surprised at how good and usable the results are. This silhouette shot of a young monk backlit by the headlight of a motorcycle is my favourite.
With waterfalls there’s always a trade off between wide shots to try and capture the grandeur of it all, or closer focused shots to capture the flow. For this shot I chose the latter, and I like how it just feels peaceful.
The Kuang Si waterfalls had many levels of successive waterflows, including this natural stairwell with many tiny steps of water flowing on top of each other. The blue colour of the water is natural as well, the result of particles of limetone being carried by the flow from further up the river.
*Kuang Si Falls*
I’m a sucker for waterfalls, and it’s become a point of contention with my family since I’ll spend so much time trying to get the perfect shot on my tripod that they don’t get to spend time with me. This time, in the gorgeous Kuang Si Falls near Luang Prabang, I adopted a half-way strategy that has worked well: instead of using the tripod, in most instances I used the lens’ stabilization to shoot at around 1/15s. In my experience, with rushing water that’s what delivers the most pleasing yet natural looking results. And family saw more of me and was pleased as well. This huge waterfall park is by far the most impressive I’ve seen yet, and if you go to Laos I strongly recommend not missing out on it!
*Moody Lantern Portrait*
The beauty of really wide open lenses is that even at night you can do portraits with wonderful background bokeh. This guys was standing a few meters from me, and I waited a while for him to be looking in (roughly) my direction. This is the final shot I selected of a few and I really like it.
*Keep your Lantern Trimmed and Burning*
I took a lot of portraits of lantern bearers. I was looking for interesting subjects, but also interesting moments. Here, I liked how the lantern light was directly lighting the young man’s face. Of and yes, the title is a bit of a nod to an old, old song…
*The Dragon’s Head*
Getting a good shot of the Dragon’s head is devilishly hard. Since it’s made of rope with only the teeth and eyelamps to actually understand what it is, you need the right angle. Also, it’s nighttime, there’s incense smoke everywhere, and it’s constantly in movement. So I was quite pleased with this shot, and quite thankful I took my f/1.2 lens with me (this was shot at 1.4). The rest of the shot is blurred, but hey, you have to imagine that everything is in motion!
*A Dance with Dragons*
Last week-end was the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance (nothing to do with George RR Martin, despite my facetious title). I had attended last year, with only my trusted 35mm x100F in hand, and while I got a few good shots including this great portrait I felt the need to revisit the event (which is fun in its own right anyway) and try to capture more diverse shots. I carried both my 56mm 1.2 and my 50-140 2.8 and both were put to great use. This is a broad shot of the wonderfully lit lantern display at the top of Wun Sha Street where the Dragon is dressed with incense sticks.
Erik Della Penna is the lead guitarist in the latest line-up of Hazmat Modine (@hazmatmodine), and while (obviously) his guitar and banjo stylings were awesome when I saw them live last year, the other thing that struck me about him were his clear blue eyes. The kind of stare that pierces the soul, as the poets would say. I hopefully captured that, at least as much as you can from a half-length portrait.
I normally try to take neat or well detached concert photographies. Not that there aren’t fantastic live photos that are more grungy or cluttered, but I don’t have a knack for them. Once in a while though, I’ll shoot a photo that isn’t neat, where you can’t quite distinguish the details. Often, when I’m lucky, these convey something different, a bit more of the atmosphere of the venue maybe. Such is this photo of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s Kevin Harris, a quasi black and red.