Evening Descends_Chatuchuk Park_Bangkok
If you're a tourist from a western country and you have a few days in Bangkok you could probably find more interesting places to visit than Chatuchuk Park. But I'm a photographer with as much an interest in the banal as in the exotic. To clarify that statement I should say I'm fascinated in the beauty within simply things and the transforming nature of light to render what would otherwise be considered banal subject matter into something special, mysterious or beautiful. In my last post I chose to take a design approach to my exploration of Chatuchuk Park. But, as the day began to draw in, I began to explore the effects that twilight and artificial light had on the location.
The first image features a beautiful bunch of flowers suspended close to one of numerous bridges in the park. It's a slightly chaotic composition with an array of leaves and branches potentially clogging up the scene. By moving in close I was both able to place emphasise on the flowers and help to separate them from the foliage in the background. The yellow in the flowers contrasts nicely with the bluish light from the background sky.
The next image was made moments later from the opposite side of the bridge, this time shooting into the light. I opted for a defocused look (achieved in camera) to create mystery and evoke and sense of nostalgia.
Chatuchuk Park doesn't offer the grandness of major botanical gardens in western countries, but it's one of several Bangkok parks that offers Thai locals, expats and tourists alike a sense of peace and private space amidst the clamour of this busy asian metropolis. A meeting place for young Thai lovers the park is also a great place to see folks exercising, walking and jogging along well maintained pathways.
The park features a number of lawns, trees, waterways, waterwheels and fountains providing a cool and pleasant sanctuary from what, for folks like me, would otherwise be quite oppressive heat.
The fun really began when I changed over to the beautiful Leica 24mm Summilux-M f1.4 ASPH lens. As I mentioned in my previous post the Leica M9 is not a camera well-suited to telephoto photography. But, as a consequence, it excels in the wide-angle area. I find it a joy to use the Leica M9 paired with the Leica 24mm Summilux-M f1.4 ASPH lens and its accessory viewfinder. The camera offers a maximum viewing platform suitable to a 28mm focal length. When used in conjunction with the wider 24mm lens it is necessary to add an external viewfinder, a small attachment that slides onto the cameras hotshot. This requires use of the camera's viewfinder for focusing and metering, and the accessory viewfinder for framing and image design.
I have no problem with this slightly complicated procedure which has been made easier with the incorporation of a wonderful accessory from match Technical Services. As well as providing an easier and more stable grip for the camera the Thumbs Up CSEP-4 grip has two cold shoe adaptors built into the unit which allows you to position the Leica 24mm Accessory Viewfinder almost directly above the camera's built in viewfinder. This makes the process of moving from one viewfinder to the next a simpler and quicker process. While Thumbs-Up products can be purchased in various locations around the world I ended up going directly to the source, Tim Isaac the company's owner and engineer. Tim's a great guy who provided outstanding service. Based on my own experience I strongly recommend the Thumbs-Up range of products. The company's website lists a range of accessories designed for use with Leica rangefinder cameras. But, as the Leica experience is a very personal one, I suggest you take your time and study the information on the website carefully to help ensure you pick the right product for your needs.
I employed the Leica 24mm Summilux-M f1.4 ASPH lens for both images of the canal. The first of the two was made during twilight, the second with darkness encroaching, like a thief in the night. I like the sickly greenish hue of the water and the structural qualities of the bridge.
The final two images were made on my way out of the park. I opted for a black-and-white rendering to emphasise the shapes and textural qualities within each scene. Notice how slow the exposures, made hand-held, are. While I wouldn't recommend most folks photograph in this way, without practice, I do it regularly. I'd say 1/8 second is my cutoff point. Exposures slower than this worry me. Are my exposures at 1/8 second razor sharp? Probably not, but its been years since I've made large prints for display. And when I do I'II be sure to select images appropriate to the size and surface of the print in question. I feel its more important to actually make the picture than being turned off by the possibility of an unsharp result. I've seen many centre spreads in National Geographic that feature images that are not razor sharp. But the viewer is more interested in the emotional and visual impact of the image than whether it's slightly unsharp. Who are you making pictures for, millions of consumers or a camera club judge? Just click on any of these images to see them displayed larger and get an indication of their sharpness. Would you be happy with the results, particularly for web display?
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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru