One afternoon in the Luang Praband heat I did something I rarely do (but maybe should do more often): it took some street shots with the zoom lens. In photography circles many will tell you that street is in your face 35mm or nothing. This shot was shot at 210mm. But I like it a lot, the compression from the zoom lens creates nice detachment, and the scene was quite cute…
The decorations on many of the temples in Luang Prabang was simply some of the most detailed and beautiful I’d seen anywhere, magnified by the warm sunlight around. I can’t remember 100% which temple this was but it’s likely to have been Wat Sensoukharam.
*Monk on the Bridge*
There’s an old Eiffel style bridge that crosses the Nam Khan river in Luang Prabang. Appropriately, the locals call it the old French bridge. The road is for two-wheelers only, and there’s a rickety wooden platform attached to the side of the bridge for pedestrians. I managed to dodge the mopeds to take this shot that I quite like.
*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!