Amritsar street photography

Tea merchant

India is a feast for the street photographer, photo friendly people, a lot of color, everything is so different, so many things happening all the time. The tea merchant with his yellow scarf is one of the first pictures I took. Through the window of the car stuck in the traffic jam.

One of the many horse carts around

Soon we had to step out and walk to the golden temple as the traffic was so bad on Sunday. I stumbled on one of the many horse carts with the driver standing up gauging the traffic.

You can read the visit of the temple here.

Rickshaw driver

After the temple visit looking for our car, I came across this friendly rickshaw driver.

In the afternoon we went to Wagah border ceremony; here also the crowd after the ceremony on the way out offers many photo opportunities.

Ice cream

The crowd after the ceremony is eager to partake in ice cream, pop corns

The last pop corn parlor before the border

It gets dark quickly, and there is nearly one km of little stalls stretched along the car parks.

A fruit stall
Some more spicy stuff
“Let’s ride”: the burger stall

There is not enough time to stop at every stall to take some shots of vendors and their patrons. In this early evening, the lights, the fumes and the colors of the stalls make a beautiful composition every meter.

All shots with the Leica M262, Summicron 50mmF2.

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Amritsar street photography

Wagah Border Ceremony

The lowering of the flags ceremony at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan is a daily event attracting crowds of locals and tourists alike. It is a well oiled affair and when following a few basic instructions if very easy to attend.

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From the Indian side, once you reached to the last parking before the border you will have to walk 1 or 2 Km before getting to the venue. You need to carry your passport if you are a foreigner, which will bring you to a separate seating area (more later)

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You cannot carry much apart from cameras and wallet. No bags are allowed, I read that bringing in water is not allowed, but you can buy some inside.

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I carried 2 Leica M bodies with lenses and the 90mm in my pocket, my passport, cell phone and wallet without problem.Note that cell phones are not working in the area.

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The venue looks like a stadium with the actual border being at the center. The crowd can go as high as 2000 people from the Indian side.

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The event starts at 5h30pm and last 30 minutes. You need to arrive well in advance ( we were there by 4h30pm ) to secure a seating;  I was told that some people were sent back on the day we were there.

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The ceremony is a show of rivalry and cooperation between the two countries, It starts with preliminaries of Bollywood style music played full blast, and displays of flags.

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After a moment the guards will enter the arena and do their show.

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The crucial bit is the seating, the area reserved for foreign passport holders in quite close to the border and on the top of the seats, this has the advantage of giving us some shade (the sun sets in the Pakistani side and it became very hot at some point), but the view of the Pakistan side is quite limited.

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Also you are quite far ways form the show; the pictures here are done with the 90mm Elmarit on the M262, they give a good description of the event but are not great. Also keep in mind the light it not great and goes down, I needed higher ISO (400, then 640 then 1000) and also the place is very dusty.

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Can you do better? Well yes: hang around until the top sits are full so you can sit lower and have a closer / better view. But the border guards are trying hard to make you sit at the right place.

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At the end of the show it is possible to go close to the border and have a shot or two with some Indian guards.

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I am not a great fan of demonstrations of national pride, but this was really fun. I was a bit concerned by the security aspect, being so close to the border, but it did some seem to bother the many foreigners that were present and I it did not feel unsafe there.

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All shots done with Leica M262, Elmarit 90mmF2.8

Wagah Border Ceremony

A morning in Myanmar

During our trip to Chiang Rai one of the most exciting activities available is to walk into Burma, for a few hours only. Driving one hour from our resort in Chiang Saen (already one hour north of Chiang Rai), we arrive in the Mae Sai checkpoint where it is possible to cross the border and enter Myanmar at Tachileik.

This in the Shan State; Tachileik boasts 50000 inhabitants.

Crossing the border is allowed provided that you leave your passport at the border and pay a nominal fee. Overnight stay is not permitted and I read that guesthouses in the border areas of Myanmar are not allowed to host foreign tourists.

The area close to the checkpoint has a busy market where Thai and Chinese tourists like to shop, for cheap counterweight of handbags, watches and so on. We rode a tuck tuck outside of this area in a more rural side of the city with its food market.

Aside from the usual colorful street life, a nearby covered market, shows more food stalls.

But also some fashion shops; tailors, housewares,…

A few streets from there, a Buddhist monastery, hosts young and old monks who were having their lunch when we arrived. There we could witness the ceremonial of meals, who its first, who last who eats what is not eaten by the others.

The main attraction in Tachileik may well be the replica of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Situated on a small hill. There are a few tourist / devotee stalls outside and food stalls on the parking.

One of the food stalls around the pagoda.

I tried one of these sweet pancakes, delicious. Grilled for you on the spot on the ground of the parking.

Our guide was very knowledgeable or the area and spoke fluent Burmese which made the experience very enjoyable.

3 hours in Myanmar, a new Stamp on our passports, time to head back in Thailand.

All shots with Leica M262 and Summicron 28mmF2.

A morning in Myanmar

The Fire Dragon – Part 1

“it all started as a riot”

 

I felt very lucky last week when a friend of my wife told us a bout a fire dragon performance organized by a temple in Balestier area in Singapore. In 9 years here I have never seen such a thing and was very thrilled to see one.

The Fu De Gong temple is located in Kim keat lane, very easy to access by bus. I have been told by the friendly member of the temple that this is a taoist temple. I did not see the actual temple as we arrived at night fall and the premises were covered by the tent hosting the celebration.

There was maybe a couple of hundred people attending, on one side of the tent was a stage with a Cantonese opera (or wayang) on the other side a large shrine and in the middle an area for the performances.

When we arrived a very good quality lion dance was in process and we enjoyed for a good half hour until the riot begin. From the end of the road the Dragon was approaching; with music and flames; until it finally enters the tent (but that’s another story)…

The Fire Dragon – Part 1

NORTH THAILAND TRIP – PART 4 – SUKHOTHAI

We had decided to fly from Bangkok to Sukhothai, that was half a good idea as the plane was mid afternoon and staying at the airport we missed nearly a full day of holidays.

Despite its name being quite well known, Sukhothai is actually a very small city. The center is mostly made of hotels and restaurants for tourists visiting the main attraction; the Historical Park.

The Sukhothai historical park is a vast compound of ruined temples just outside the city centre. This is a very large area, better be visited by bicycle as some temples are quite remote. You can easily spend a half day in there. We went for the walking option, but we missed a couple of nice spots.

This man is picking what seems to be algae from the moat surrounding the main temple.

You can find there dozens of temples, shrines and shedis (pagodas), in various states of conservation. You can take hundreds of pictures of Buddha statues in various positions and state of decay.

There are also some nice pieces of water, used for the Kratong festival, which unfortunately would happen a few weeks after our visit.

NORTH THAILAND TRIP – PART 4 – SUKHOTHAI

Moai Galore – Easter island – May 2015

Rano Raraku – Moai quarry

We had the chance to pay a second visit to the quarry where the Moais were carved on a sunny afternoon. The statues were there waiting for us.

The guy above was called “The tattooed Moai” by our guide. He wears a carving of what looks like the westerner boats that came to the island in the 17th century. Was it carved by locals or by un-respectful traveler, that’s another mystery.

Apart from its iconic statues Rano Raraku also offers a fantastic scenery with a view on the ocean and further left the platform with the 11 Moais.

Also the site is beautiful view from a distance.

Camera:Nikon D700
Lens:Nikkor 50mmf1.8 / Nikkor 17-35F2.8 / Nikkor 80-200F2.8D

Most of thee shots make use of circular polarizer, I hope the effect is not too heavy.

Moai Galore – Easter island – May 2015

Singapore Photo Walk – Jan 2015 – Pulau Ubin (1 on 2)

All the rituals are starting again with the new year and the “Singapore Photo Walks” organized by Bernard Goh are part of them.
My son loves them because of the lunch that follows in local eateries; they are quite informal and Bernard makes his best to bring us to interesting places of Singapore; we go some new places and we also revisit some. This is not very technical outing, but discussing gear and techniques is always part of the outing. I realized I am no more the only film shooter ; some ladies came last summer with some Canon or Olympus SLR and last month Mano turned up with a Leica M4-P.
So January was time to go back to Pulau Ubin; Ubin is  small island at the north east of Singapore, 10 minutes from the cost, in the middle of the straight between Singapore and Malaysia. This is my 3rd or 4th time there but the first with the group. Taking the boat is already an adventure, they are some oldish style motor boats that take a dozen people for the ride from Changi Village.
The walk was actually a ride, as Ubin is known as a cycling place among Singaporeans, there is not traffic apart from a couple of local cars and taxis; the island is flat. This is the first time I cycle there, I normally prefer to walk.
Cycling implied that the gear is kept to a minimum. My son took his Nikon p7100, I took the folding Agfa loaded with TMAX100 and the Leica M4 with some Rollei Slide film.
The discovery of the day was the Wei Tuo Fa Gong Temple ;it really made us feel like being on holidays in one of the surrounding countries.
 
The kitchen inside a village (Kampong) house on the island of Pulau Ubin. The man leaving there is selling drinks to tourists cycling by; I think he cooks just for himself.
Singapore is so small we also managed to bump into some friends I have not seen for a while; we dropped out of the group for lunch back at Changi Village and had some Ipoh hor fun (noodles with chicken) at the hawker center.
The  rangefinder of the Agfa is not fixed nor is the winding knob, but the guessometer works just fine thank you.
Second part to follow with the slides soon as they take a good two weeks to process and this week most business were closed for Chinese new year.
Singapore Photo Walk – Jan 2015 – Pulau Ubin (1 on 2)