Sunday, July 28, 2013

Always, Always Carry a Camera

Woman at a hair expo in Siam Paragon, an upscale mall in Bangkok

I carry a camera with me pretty much everywhere I go, including to the malls, the movies or grocery shopping. I have for as long as I can remember, going back to when I was between college and my first newspaper job in 1984. Especially in a place like Bangkok, you never know what you're going to see.

Last week I was running errands. I had no intention of making pictures when I left my apartment. I ended up at Siam Paragon, and there was a hair expo going on, so I hauled out my little Micro 4:3 camera and made a couple of photos. 

The week before I was looking for some Mac peripherals and ended in Gateway, a small technology mall in central Bangkok and there was a cosmetics show going on among the computer shops. I made a couple of frames of a woman pitching cosmetic samples in a hallway in the mall. 
Hawking cosmetics in a technology mall

These aren't great photos and I'm not sure they're very marketable - I didn't even send them to a photo agency. But they do reveal a side of life that most tourists don't see in Bangkok, or if they do they just pass on by. They also reflect the remarkable diversity of this city.
Father and son, for dad on the gate of their pickup truck. I came upon them while I was walking home in my neighborhood after a run to a noodle stall. This picture was made with my Canon 5D Mark III and 50mm f1.2 lens

My normal working kit is a pair of Canon 5D Mark III bodies and four lenses: 24mm f1.4, 50mm f1.2, 100mm f2 and 200mm f2.8, a couple of flashes and a bunch of memory cards. It's a set up that allows me to photograph everything I do. The downside is that it's kind of heavy. 

My "walking around" kit is a Panasonic Lumix GX1 with the 14mm f2.5, 20mm f1.7 and 45mm f1.8 lenses. The Lumix is a Micro 4:3 camera, which means it is a 2X crop compared to the 5D Mark III, so the 14mm lens is the equivalent (roughly) of a 28mm lens on full frame, the 20mm lens is a 40mm on full frame and the 45mm is a 90mm on full frame. 

This kit is tiny, it all fits in a small fanny back, and weighs next to nothing. I can spend the whole day on the street and in the Skytrain and not notice that I'm even carrying a camera. The lenses are very sharp. The outfit gives me the versatility to do about 85% of what I need to do. The little cameras can't equal the Canons for speed, high ISO/low noise and battery life so they're not a complete replacement for the full frame digital SLRs. But they are so close, so small and so much fun that I wouldn't be without them. 

Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts. 

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