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Tuesday, July 18, 2006


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Nikon D70 @ 10mm, 1 sec, f/4, ISO 200

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After 24 hours of travelling and a day of rest, I'm back in blogging action and ready to share my experiences of Thailand. It was by far the most amazing place I've ever been to, probably because it was so completely different to anywhere I've visited before. I feel as if I've got so much to say about the trip, but I'll try and contain my excitement and just explain it shot by shot.


I'll start by saying I love this shot. I love it because it totally reminds me of my first crazy tuk-tuk experience. It was our first night in Bangkok and we had just visited Khao San Road which our Thai tour guide told us was the first place every backpacker had to visit. We were in Thailand during the rainy season and when it rains there, it really rains - so we thought a tuk-tuk would get us back to the hotel as quickly as possible.

It probably wasn't the best idea in the world: a Bangkok tuk-tuk is a light weight vehicle resting on three wheels with an open frame and a canvas roof which doesn't provide the passengers with much protection from the elements. They're very popular in traffic congested cities like Bangkok as they can maneuver in and out of traffic with alarming speed.

And at an alarming speed did we go at that night in the pouring rain! You get the sensation that your on a theme park ride but without the certainty that you'll be alive at the end of the journey. It's probably partly because once you've negotiated your fee with the driver it's in his best interests to get you there as quickly as possible so that he can pick up his next victim.

I don't want to give the impression that I don't like tuk-tuks. Are they dangerous? Yeah, a little. But are they fun? Definitely! Sticking my head out of the side of the tuk-tuk that while snapping away meant that I inevitably got soaked but what an experience it was. I got the picture I was after so I didn't mind that I was drenched by the end of the ride.

I was actually quite surprise that the shot came out so well as I can't emphasise enough how much I was being bumped about at this point (and which you can clearly see from the light trails!). But a little fill flash freezing parts of the foreground enable a little calm to be brought to the chaos.

Tuk-tuks - you gotta love 'em!


Blogger Carlo Ferroni said...

Welcome back! Amazing shot, the driver is so perfectly in focus against the chaos of lights! Love it!

9:26 pm, July 18, 2006  
Anonymous Paul said...

I feel like I'm on the ride with you! What a great shot, I need to learn the shooting from a moving vehicle technique!

11:53 pm, July 18, 2006  
Blogger Michelle said...

Glad you enjoyed your trip! Recently got turned onto your site and LOVE your work! Can't wait for more. Michelle T.

3:07 am, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Richard and Diane said...

Great shot and evokes the Tuk-Tuk experience. Having lived in Thailand for a year, I can def relate to it. Good capture

10:36 am, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Marc said...

welcome back.
love the shot, really captures the spirit of the ride.

12:12 pm, July 19, 2006  
Anonymous m a r i n u s said...

lovely shot, it expresses your feeling very well, it has the feeling of a rollercoaster ride

12:35 pm, July 19, 2006  
Anonymous Phil said...

Really cool shot John, very clever. Kind of reminds me of a more rickety version of 2001! ;) Great story too, can't wait to see/hear the rest.

7:02 pm, July 19, 2006  
Anonymous Dougie said...

Hi John nice to see you back and a great starter shot from your trip looks awesome .


10:19 pm, July 19, 2006  
Anonymous Darkness said...

Loved this shot, I remember the first time I took a tuk in Thailand, I was terrified. You REALLY managed to illustrate exactly what it's like. *bows*

1:15 am, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Ladyred said...

awesome! I love the technical info as well that you post. I am slowly learning about my new (used) digital camera, but I am feeling the need to upgrade already! I also need to start posting something *sigh* Anyway keep up the awesome work! Gives me inspiration!!

7:02 pm, July 20, 2006  
Anonymous Neil said...

Wow, that's such an intense image! Great photo!

7:15 pm, July 20, 2006  
Anonymous david said...

i have been to thailand and SE asia many times (check out my pics) and been on many tuk tuk rides. you have captured the midnight crazy run very well here! look forward to seeing more.

9:16 pm, July 20, 2006  
Anonymous Proud mama said...

I love not only your photographs, but the lovely descriptive and evocative text that accompanies them. You express your feelings in such a way that it makes the scene come alive, and reflects your personality and innermost thoughts in a deeply personal and moving way. I get to find out a lot about you by reading your comments.

9:25 am, July 21, 2006  
Anonymous D@zed & Confu$ed said...

Glad you enjoyed your trip, but I don't quite agree with the gushing praise here - it's an evocative snap, for sure, but your ISO was low - you could have pumped it up a bit and still got the trails but not had to use as much flash. The slightly smug description of your use of flash is misplaced too - "a little fill flash freezing parts of the foreground enable a little calm to be brought to the chaos."? The use of flash here is no more professional and clever than anyone else popping their flash up on their point-and-shoot in auto mode. You're a talented photographer for sure, but this is just a nice snap from a tuk-tuk and the description a trifle self-indulgent... Looking forward to more deserving shots from you, though.

11:56 am, July 21, 2006  
Blogger PhotoSam said...

Excellent shot..it really brings out the spirit of the place(yes, I love that place too)...an Asian country developing and still keeping to its roots.

12:31 pm, July 21, 2006  
Blogger John said...

Thanks for all the kind comments guys - it's nice to be back.

As for you, D@zed and Confu$sed: I appreciate your honesty, honestly :)

I'm not quite sure how the picture managed to upset you so much (or perhaps it was the nice comments?) but I think you may have misinterpreted my intentions.

Lets take each point in turn.

Low ISO: I wanted a slow shutter speed (obviously within reason) to convey exactly how bumpy the tuk-tuk ride was. The slower the shutter speed, the more jerky the light trails are going to be. So if I had upped the ISO I would have lost that effect.

Smug description: it is a wonderful shot though, isn't it? ;) I've learned the most about photography from reading about the techniques people have used to create their shots. Whether or not I've heard of the technique before, I like being reminded about them so that the next time I'm out in the field it may be of use. That's all I'm trying to do here. I think it's more smug when people don't tell you how they've achieved the shot because they want to keep it secret. As far as I'm aware I'm not the first person to have used a flash and if I am, I'm sure there's people out there who have considered using it. Look at one of my earlier attempts without a flash here here - bit blurry isn't it? I virtually never use a flash other than in indoors so I was pleased when I finally remembered that I could use it in this kind of situation as well!

Non professional use of fill flash: the D70 in aperture mode uses the flash in fill flash mode (as opposed to point and shoots which fully expose the foreground). I also dialled in -1 flash compensation to further reduce the intensity of the flash. Remember that it's always going to be difficult to use a flash at 10mm when the nearest object to you is white.

Anyway, enough said. Constructive criticism is always appreciated. Hopefully I'll be able to post something worthy of your viewing next time ;)

11:50 pm, July 21, 2006  
Anonymous Jem said...

Great to have you back John - and I agree it is a great shot ;)

Love the colours, and the composition is incredibly pleasing to look at. Look forward to hearing your tails of Thailand - I sadly only have 1 day left in Cyprus atm ;/

9:27 am, July 22, 2006  
Blogger Owen B. said...

Blimey - how did you have chance to think about all those settings in what must have been a dark, wet, frighteningly fast tuk-tuk? Very evocative shot.

I wish I didn't have to start considering saving for pension/driving lessons/house-buying etc or I'd be off somewhere else round the world at the moment. Should have done it when I was younger, etc etc...

10:30 am, July 22, 2006  
Blogger John said...

Haha, because it was about my 10th shot from the tuk-tuk and I was finally figuring out what settings to use! :)

3:10 pm, July 22, 2006  

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